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Poem (LXVI): Smaranda BRAESCU (1887–1948), Pioneer Pilot, World Parachute-jumping Champion, anti-Communist Fighter

October 22nd, 2009 · 5 Comments · PEOPLE, Poetry

‘Queen of the Heights’, ‘Virtutea Aeronauticà’, (Gold Cross), (1897 – 1948) Pioneer aviator, first Romanian woman parachutist (1928), 1931 European parachute champion (6,000m), 1932 World Parachute Champion (7,200m), WWII fighter pilot, underground anti-communist freedom fighter, buried under an assumed name

‘Queen of the Heights’, ‘Virtutea Aeronauticà’, (Gold Cross), (1897 – 1948) Pioneer aviator, first Romanian woman parachutist (1928), 1931 European parachute champion (6,000m), 1932 World Parachute Champion (7,200m), WWII fighter pilot, underground anti-communist freedom fighter, buried under an assumed name

Biographical Note:

Winner’s Glory:

” My life means nothing if I’m keeping it for myself. I dedicate my life to my country, and I want to live it in glory. I will only come back as a winner.”

(Smaranda Bràescu addressing American lournalists in 1931, in New York, before she beat the World record at parachute jumping, at 7,000 m)


” I brought a record to my country, and I can’t transform the glory into a business. I represent Romania and I must act accordingly.”

(Smaranda Bràescu, declining a lucrative contract for show jumping in America, after she beat the World record for parachute jumping, in 1932)

Extract Bio Note from the Anthology:

“Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”:


With the advent of WWII, Smaranda Bràescu enrolled with other women pilots in the ‘White Squadron’, active on the Eastern front, where Romania was trying to retrieve from the Soviets the provinces taken by Russia as a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. After 1944, Bràescu joined the 13th squadron, which was fighting the Germans on the Western front, first in Transylvania, then in Hungary (Nyiregyhaza, Miskolc) and Czechoslovakia (Rimaska Sabota, Trencin and Piestany). Although a war hero Smaranda Bràescu soon fell foul of the communist puppet régime which was installed in Romania by Stalin’s armies. She protested to the United Nations about the legality of the 1946 elections and her letter of protest to the Allied Command in Romania fell into the hands of a Russian general. Thereafter Smaranda Bràescu became a pariah and had to join the underground resistance in order to escape imprisonment and certain death. She operated under an assumed name, first from a convent and then as an anti-communist resistance fighter. She died of cancer at the age of 51, and was buried in Cluj, under her assumed name of Maria Popescu, in a grave on which her merits and real identity could not be spelled out. The people who helped her were hounded out and given long prison sentences, including the doctors who looked after her in hospital.

But the wrath of the communist vendetta followed this woman-hero to her grave: twenty two years after “Maria Popescu” died, the tomb of Smaranda Bràescu was desecrated, the bones dispersed and the plot where her grave was located in the Central Cemetery of Cluj was sold to another family in 1970: now the conspiracy of silence was complete.

After the fall of Communism and 42 years after Smaranda Bràescu died, many a town street throughout Romania was named after her and in 1996 the President of Romania signed a decree for the award of the honorary parachutist battalion colours named after Bràescu (‘drapelul de luptâ al Batalionului 498 Parasutisti ‘Smaranda Bràescu’’).

In the summer of 2006, at the initiative of Tudor Sàlàgean, curator of the History Museum of Transylvania, the grave of the fallen hero was finally inscribed on a monument at Cluj Central Cemetery and a street in the city where she died under an assumed name was be named after her.


Smaranda Braescu (1897-1948)

In Memoriam

Smaranda, unde esti?

Te-ai avantat in zboruri printre nori

Din ceruri coborat-ai ca un fulg

Peste Ocean, cantata indelung

Urale ti-au adus de sarbatori.

N-ai vrut onoruri si nici bani mai multi

Cinstit-ai vrut sa stai printre Romani

Si te-ai intors atunci la noi in munti…

Cu “Escadrila Alba” ai rapus

Dusmani din Rasarit si din Apus.

In ’46 cand s-au masluit

Alegerile suflul ti-au taiat

Ca bunii tai cu jalba in protap

Mai-marilor de-atuncea te-ai jelit

Dar soarta ta fugar-ai fost sa fii.

Din talcul vietii tale ti-a fost dat

Sa nu renunti la lupta nici de cum

Cu fruntea-n sus sa mergi pe-acelasi drum

Cand boala floarea vietii ti-a curmat

Si-n groapa zaci sub nume de-mprumut.

N-au fost nici popi, nici rude, nici parinti

O candela sa-ti  puna pe mormant

Nici vesnici pomeniri, pomeni sau sfinti

Nu s-au aflat s-aline trupul tau

De cine-ai fost sa sufle vre-un cuvant.

Dar pilda ta n-a fost intr-un zadar

Acum ca roata vietii s-a rotit

Si patru zeci de ani trecut-au, chiar

O strada cu-al tau nume in sfarsit

Te va slavi atata cum mai stim.

(Poem by Constantin ROMAN, London, May 2006)

Constantin Roman © 2009. All Rights Reserved


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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Smaranda Barsan

    I never knew, however I’m really proud of the past ^^.

    • editor

      Thank you – well a lot of people would not know – hence the idea of an Anthology of Romanian Women: “Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”
      in Cluj, a few years back they were going to name a street after Smaranda braescu – I do not know if they have done it yet.

      How are you related to the Pilot?

  • Dr. Ana-Maria Sireteanu

    Buna ziua!,
    De cativa ani doresc sa intru in contact cu dvs. intrucat fiind descendenta pe linie materna a celebrei Smaranda Braescu am fost profund impresionata de aprecierile Dvs. si de poemul pe care i l-ati dedicat. In curand fratele meu, dr. Tudor Sireteanu, si cu mine vom edita cartea “Jurnalul celebrei Smaranda Braescu”, bazat pe marturii si documente. Sper ca ne dati permisiunea sa includem doua strofe din poemul scris de Dvs. Cu multumiri anticipate,
    Dr. Ana-Maria Sireteanu

    • editor

      Cu multumiri pentru mesaj si permisiunea de a publica integral cele sase strofe. In aceasta perspectiva va rugam sa binevoiti a ne indica titlul, editura, data aparitiei si referinta ISBN.

  • Ileana Costea

    Organizez un eveniment pe Zoom Smaranda Braescu “Lasati0ma sa zbor” pe 20 mai 2021 orele 10am PST. Ati putea face acest eveniment cunoscut si poate sa aduceti niste participanti interesati in audienta. Nu am gasit care este numele dumneavoastra. Am o invitatie pe care v-o pot trimete daca imi dati o adresa de email Prof. Dr. Ileana Costea, Prof. Emeritus, California State University, Northridge PS Mi-a placut mujlt ceea ce scrieti.