Online protest against book confiscation in Romania

Romanian Police officers confiscated “for further investigation” several volumes of the Hungarian novelist and poet Albert Wass, condemned in absentia as a war criminal by Romanian People’s Tribunal after the Second World War.
The books were on sale during the biggest Hungarian pilgrimage that takes place every year on the day before Whitsunday in the city of Miercurea Ciuc (Harghita County, Transylvania, Central Romania).
The editor-in-chief of the publishing company whose volumes were confiscated told local media that Wass is not included on the list of the forbidden authors in Romania and named the action “an abuse of power”.
The measure angered many Hungarian ethnics from Romania, who consider the police action an abuse and a reminiscent of the Communist mentality.
As a form of protest, people started posting on social media (especially on Facebook) pictures of themselves while reading Albert Wass volumes.
Most of the pictures are taken at home, others in nature, in the car, or in public spaces.
A candidate for Senate in Arad County in the 2012 parliamentary elections posted a picture of himself reading a Wass volume on a boat, while being on vacation in Turkey.
A Facebook community named “Kiállunk Wass Albert mellett” (meaning “We support Wass Albert” in Hungarian), created in 12 June, was liked by more than 3 100 people in the first five days.
In May 1946 count Albert Wass (born in Cluj County, Romania) and his father were sentenced to death for ordering the killing of Romanian peasants in September 1940, during the march in of the Hungarian forces to North Transylvania.
In 1944 he moved to Germany and later in 1952 to the United States of America, where he lived until his suicide in 1998, after a long struggle with a medical condition.
Romanian authorities requested the U.S. to extradite him and the Wiesenthal Center denounced the author for being among those accused of killing Jews.
After an investigation, the U.S. dropped the charges against him.
Wass continued to insist that he had nothing to do with the killings, and claimed he was the victim of a “Zionist-Romanian” conspiracy.
In 2008, his son, Andreas Wass, appealed to Cluj Court of Appeal to review the death penalty, but the request was rejected.
However, his volumes can be purchased in libraries and online stores in Romania and Hungary too.
A national book survey conducted in Hungary in 2005 included three of his novels (on the 25th, 31st and 68th spots) in the Top 100 most popular volumes.

Photo: Facebook / “Kiállunk Wass Albert mellett” community