Paul Goma (born October 2, 1935) is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he currently resides in France as a stateless political refugee. After 2000, Goma has raised much controversy for the opinions he expressed on World War II and the Holocaust in Romania, claims which have led to widespread criticism on grounds of antisemitism.
Goma was born to a Romanian family in Mana village, Orhei County, which at that time was a part of the Kingdom of Romania, nowadays part of Republic of Moldova. His parents were school teachers. After the 1940 Soviet occupation of Bessarabia, Paul Goma's father was taken away by the Soviet authorities and deported to Siberia. In October 1943, he was found by his family, as a prisoner of war, in "Camp No. 1 for Soviet Prisoners", in Slobozia, Ialomiţa County, Romania. In March 1944, the Goma family took refuge in Sibiu, Transylvania. In August 1944, finding themselves in danger of involuntary "repatriation" to the Soviet Union, they fled to the village of Buia, by the Târnava Mare River. From October to December 1944, the Goma family hid in the forests around Buia. On January 13, 1945 they were captured by Romanian shepherds and turned over to the Gendarmerie in Sighişoara, where they were interned at the "Centrul de Repatriere" ("Repatriation Center"). There, Eufimie Goma managed to forge documents for his family; however, Maria Goma's brother, who didn't have forged papers, was promptly "repatriated" to Siberia. In June 1945, taking advantage of the forged documents, they returned to Buia. Later on, Paul Goma would describe his family's refugee saga in the novels Arta refugii ("The Art of Refuge", a wordplay on the Romanian words for "refuge" and "taking flight"), Soldatul câinelui (Dog's Soldier), and Gardă inversă (Reverse Guard).
In May 1952, Goma, while a student in 10th grade, was detained for eight days by the Securitate for speaking out in the classroom about Romanian anti-communist partisans and for keeping a coded personal journal. In September-October of the same year he was barred from all the schools in Romania. After some unsuccessful attempts at re-admission he was finally allowed to attend Negru Vodă high school in Făgăraş. In 1954 he was admitted to the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest. In November 1956, he was one of the organizers of the Bucharest student movement, in support of the Hungarian Revolution. As a result, he was arrested by the Communist authorities, incarcerated for two years in Jilava and Gherla prisons, and then put under house arrest in a village in the Bărăgan Plain until 1963. In September 1965, he was re-admitted as a first-year student at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest. In the fall of 1967, under pressure from the Securitate, he was forced to give up his studies at the University.
At the end of August 1968, Paul Goma became a member of the Romanian Communist Party, in an act of solidarity with the Romanian position during the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Romania did not take part, indeed condemning the invasion). In 1971 it was proposed that Paul Goma be excluded from the Communist Party because he published his novel "Ostinato" in West Germany after the Communist censors refused to allow him to publish the book in Romania. Paul Goma refused to give up his Party membership by his own will. In 1977, Paul Goma's public letter calling for respect for human rights in Romania and for Romanians to sign Charter 77 was read on Radio Free Europe. As a result, he was excluded from the Writers' Union of Romania and was repeatedly followed, arrested, and tortured by the Securitate. On November 20, 1977, Paul Goma and his family left Romania and went into exile in France.
In 1979, Paul Goma was active in the creation of the Free Workers' Syndicate. On 3 February 1981, Paul Goma and Nicolae Penescu (former Interior Minister) received parcels in their post. Penescu opened his parcel to find a book and when he lifted its cover an explosion wounded him. Goma, who had received two death threats since his arrival in France, called the police. Both packages had been sent on instructions by Carlos the Jackal. In 1982, the Securitate planned to assassinate Goma. Matei Haiducu, the secret agent sent by the Securitate to carry out the plan, turned to French counter-intelligence (DST). With the help of the DST, Haiducu simulated an attempt on Goma's life, by poisoning his drink at a restaurant; the drink was then spilled by a French agent, pretending to be a "clumsy guest".
Although Goma's numerous works (both fiction and non-fiction) were translated worldwide, his books, except the first one, were published in Romania only after the 1989 Revolution. He now lives in Paris as a stateless political refugee, his Romanian citizenship having been revoked after 1978 by the communist government. He turned down an offer of citizenship from the French Republic, extended simultaneously to him and to the Czech writer Milan Kundera. In September 2006, a petition in favor of restoring his Romanian citizenship did not result in any progress on the issue.
Goma's literary debut came in 1966 with a short story published in the review Luceafǎrul with which he collaborated as well as with Gazeta literarǎ, Viaţa românească and Ateneu. In 1968 he published his first volume of stories, Camera de alături (The Room Next Door). After Ostinato and its West German publication in 1971 came Uşa ("Die Tür" or "The Door") in 1972, also in Germany. After his forced emigration in 1977 and until his books could again be published in Romania after the 1989 revolution, all his books appeared in France and in French. (His novel Gherla had in fact been published in 1976 first in French by Gallimard of Paris before he left Romania.) There followed such novels as Dans le cercle (Within the Circle, 1977); Garde inverse (Reverse Guard, 1979); Le Tremblement des Hommes (The Trembling of People, 1979); Chassée-croisé (Intersection, 1983); Les Chiens de la mort (The Dogs of Death, 1981), which details his prison experiences in Piteşti in the 1950s; and Bonifacia (1986). The autobiographical Le Calidor appeared in French in 1987 and was subsequently published in Romanian as Din Calidor: O copilărie basarabeană (In Calidor: A Bessarabian Childhood, 1989, 1990; translated as My Childhood at the Gate of Unrest) in the Romanian émigré journal Dialog.
In its totality, Goma's literary work comprises a "persuasive and grimly fascinating exposure of totalitarian inhumanity" from which, in his own case, even foreign exile was no guarantee of safe haven. (From Wikipedia)
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