Memories of Turtucaia; Pirin-Planina: tragic and comical episodes in captivity (war memorial)


The members of the infantry were all reservists or members of the militia force [reservists between 30 – 36 years of age], some enrolled since winter – most of them men over 40…In their eyes you couldn’t see that youthful feeling of missing home, but only that sad worry about their wife and little children, left with no support, God knew where, in the middle of a shabby household.

– I left my wife six months ago, alone with four children and only three francs, one of them told me. How come those high up in command don’t think of us too, we’re not dogs after all?

After some time, their dark and ceaselessly worried faces started to make me wonder and a feeling of unresolved fear and disappointment crept in: will these sad and tormented men be able to face the war? For God’s sake! The enemy, who could be arriving every minute now, shouldn’t find us thinking about our wife and children.

However, I did think to myself: how could they have, in those dark and saddened souls of theirs, the light of patriotic love, that’s the only thing that can justify the suffering of war and provide the impetus for action? For what purpose (which they would have gladly understood) and from whom would they have learnt selflessness? But did those grand people who plotted this war go to the towns to talk to them, explain and ask them? And now, darkened and saddened, they had to give their lives for their beloved country.

They were especially peasants from Muntenia [the south-eastern part of Romania] – they had it the worst of all. I looked at them worriedly. They did not fit the image of the ‘Romanian soldier,’ from the present or the past, as it was painted in my soul by many glorious parades and especially by our tragic national history, so harsh and heroic.


George Topîrceanu. Amintiri din Turtucaia; Pirin-Planina: episoduri tragice şi comice din captivitate (memorii de razboi) (Bucureşti: Humanitas, 2014).


George Topîrceanu, “Memories of Turtucaia; Pirin-Planina: tragic and comical episodes in captivity (war memorial),” War in other words, accessed May 24, 2019,

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