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Fort 13 Jilava became a political penitentiary in 1948.

The detention regime of Jilava was one of extermination: in the underground area of the cell blocks 3000 prisoners were incarcerated each year in 52 overcrowded rooms. Each prisoner had an average of 30 cm2. When there was no room left on the bunks, they would sleep on the concrete floor.

Jilava was renowned in the communist prison system for its "welcoming" of new prisoners: the so-called “tunnel” that consisted of guards arranged in two rows and armed with bats, spades and rubber batons. While walking through the tunnel, the prisoners were savagely beaten.

The cell walls were painted in black up to a height of two meters. Water was constantly running thus the air was constantly humid. The windows were closed with shutters and nailed down. The daily bread allowance consisted of 200 grams along with some kind of porridge and rotten carrot soup.

Ion Antonescu, Zelea Codreanu, Nicolae Steinhardt, Corneliu Coposu, Mircea Vulcănescu, Constantin Noica, Monsenior Ghika, Eugen Haţiegan and many other key political and social figures were imprisoned here and some died in Fort 13 Jilava.