Traian Orban is not your average museum curator: unshaven and wearing clothes that might have been charity shop rejects, he points to a painting on the glass of a door: “These are demonstrators, wounded, with blood,” the Romanian says, in softly whispered English. .... [but], in case it isn't obvious, the Memorial Museum of the Revolution of Timisoara is not your average repository of history. #
Photo: Traian Orban, in front of an image of the crowds protesting against the communist regime in Timișoara in December, 1989. This photo is from my 2010 visit, before the museum moved to its present location.
It was all by chance, or so it seemed. It was early November, 2010, and I was in Timișoara to write a profile of the city, at the south-western extremes of Romania, for the Financial Times. I was walking through the old city, on my way to interview someone for the piece. A motley collection of once noble, now mostly shabby - some derelict - buildings lined the street, when I noticed a nameplate, one among several, by a doorway.
Now my Romanian is non-existant, but it doesn't take a PhD in Latin languages to work out a rough translation for Asociația Memorialul Revoluției.
I went back the next day, unannounced, found Traian Orban, the driving force behind this initiative. and asked him to tell me his story. Alas, time was short: I had another interview with a German investor looming, and it couldn't all be done. But I determined to return and do the tale justice - a feat (I hope) I managed five years later. (see link at the end of this post.)
And on 23 December 2020, 32 years after the revolution in Romania, I thought to use some of the photos of the remarkable Mr Orban and his museum for KesterTester62. (Traian Orban is an ethnic Romanian, by the way, and no relation to the more famous - some might say infamous - Hungarian politician who also lays claim to 'fighting communism'.)
As for the results of KesterTester62 – Ghosts of Christmas Past - readers clearly struggled with the first two photos, but once the third was posted, the sleuths swooped.
As Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann put it: “We have gone from impossible to too easy in 2 pics :) Revolution Memorial Association (Asociația Memorialul Revoluției), Timişoara and the chap likely is Traian Orban.
Both Tom Chilton and Greg Dorey, the former suffering from self-isolation, quickly followed with similar notes: “Hi KJ, it is the Museum of the Revolution in Timisoara. His name is Traian Orban.I guess it is unique as the only museum of the revolution in Romania,” wrote Tom.
Alan Sutton waded in with bursts of accuracy, and added one of his own testers to boot:
“Of course. Christmas 1989. The last picture of course gives it away as Romania, and the Museum of the Revolution is in Temesvár - Timisoara. But the question is about the building in the picture which is not that as there is a direction to it.
(It is, Alan! The direction notice is merely to get you round the corner to the entrance.)
"The man is not Tökes László and that is not the Church. (Both correct.) From a look at Google Maps, I would think it is the Military Museum next door, which is also described as "Comenduirea Garnizoanei Timișoara", or " Timișoara Garrison Command".
(There may well be a military building nearby, Alan, I don't know. The museum is to the north of the old town centre, just outside the inner ring road.)
"Was the man one of the doctors involved with trying to move Tökes László's wife?
(I don't think so, Alan. Very unlikely, I think.)
"And one for you: Name a British football team where at the moment one may only watch them legally when they play away from home?"
(Hmmmm. Pure guess: Maybe one of the Welsh teams, which have – or perhaps had at the time you wrote - different lock-down regulations to the English teams? Since you are a Chester lad, I'll guess at Wrexham? It could, similarly, be Berwick Rangers I suppose, since they play in the Scottish League. Do I get the right to buy you two beers?)
But back to competitors for KT62.
Regular (but so far lacking the luck of the draw) Zsolt Maroti also proffered “Museum of the Revolution in Temesvár? Zs PS: Happy New Year,” while John Cantwell wrote: “I know it’s to do with the 1989 Romanian uprising in TImișoara, but I got no further than that.”
Since I have accidentally omitted John's correct entries to two earlier KesterTesters, I made him number six in this draw, even though he didn't really get the full correct answer.
(Note, intriguingly, nobody guessed what the graffitied concrete Mr Orban was sitting on in the last photo – it's part of the Berlin Wall.)
Anyway, the incredibly lucky winner, now probably able to live off his celebrity status for his KesterTester wins, was number 2, and now out of isolation – Tom Chilton.
Congratulations, TomChi – and to all the others who sleuthed and entered.
# The opening description of this post is taken from an article that I wrote for BNE-Intellinews on Mr Orban and the museum soon after my last visit to Timișoara in October, 2015, and refers to the photos shown in KT62.
I'm rather proud of this piece, as I don't believe any other researched article in English has appeared on the former vet and his life's work to this day. Since writing this, I've learned that Mr Orban has gone into well earned retirement.
I'd like to add that Timișoara is a fascinating city - one of my favourites in Europe - for a variety of reasons. While there in 2015, I did some research into the local football club(s), which have something of a tortuous recent history. This includes the establishment of a breakaway "Phoenix" club (formed by disgruntled supporters of the traditional club) called SS Politehnica Timișoara, which play (or were playing in 2015) at the university sports ground.
I'm really grateful to several supporters of the "Phoenix Poli" - including Sebastian Novović, Narcis Arjoca, Cornel Biholari and journalist Florin Teordorescu, for their time and insights - and I have to apologise, but the website I originally did this for has not used the material in the meantime.
So here's a photo of the phoenix team supporters taken on that Saturday to make up.
Photo: The wildly enthusiastic (and notably friendly) supporters of "phoenix Poli" at the university ground, photographed at half time versus Pandurii Tirgu Jiu (I hope I've got the name correctly). Unfortunately I was no visiting talisman, and the home team lost 0-1, if I remember correctly.
Finally - I have twice updated the text of the latest Tester - KT63 - with a clarification and more information to help KT Resident Sleuths (and anyone who thinks they can crack it) answer the question posed regarding the veracity of film footage of the "Hitler Annexes the Sudetenland" post.
Answer by the site system or by email, but if the latter, please ensure KT63 is in the headline - that way there is less chance I may overlook your entry.
Have a great week!