The ceremony of consecration of St. “Maria-Magdalena” Church, on 10 June 1928, was held at the same time with ceremony of the foundation stone of Monument – Crypts, place of great reverence, built with the purpose of housing the remains of soldiers killed in battles from Mărăşti, and a place where eternal gratitude should perpetuate their sacrifice. The ceremony took place in a majestic setting.
At the ceremony which was preceded by the inauguration of the village church attended Crown Prince Regent Nicholas, IPSS Pimen, Metropolitan of Moldova and Suceava, Marshal Alexandru Averescu, General Alexandru Mărgineanu, other members of “Mărăşti” Society, delegates of Reserve Officers’ Union, representatives of the regiments that fought at Mărăşti and towns residents from Putna County. The build- out of the mausoleum was approved on March 23, 1928. The build-out and the mausoleum plans have been proposed by architect Pandele Şerbănescu – Diplomat of Higher School of Architecture in Paris. The mausoleum had to contain “12 ossuaries for the remains of the heroes […] in the middle, 6/8 meters hall for ceremonies” provided on one side with an altar, and vis-a-vis with a larger encrypt for two sarcophagi. The latter had to “remain visible,” and they had to have enough space in order for people to “move freely” around them. The same build-out stipulated that “in the middle of the large hall on a higher pedestal” a large sarcophagus should be built, the crypts must be lit vertically, “with light drains that should have different effects obtained by stained windows.”
Outside, above the crypts, on the right and on the left, “in front”, there were foreseen the two entrances in the crypts, and on the side – to the central axis – two pillars were designed with the intention to support two large bronze pots needed for the burning out of the incense. The exterior level is supported by massive pillars, with two frontal pedestals, reserved for sculptures, and between the pillars, on a large marble plate with two ancient Doric columns, were to be graved the names of the mighty heroes. There were placed 15 marble plaques with the names of 900 heroes and their regiments. Originally the mausoleum was planned to be raised to 536 quota, but for financial reasons this idea was abandoned, being planned that later, on that place a statue of King Ferdinand, Generals Averescu and Margineanu should be raised, but this proposal remained only a project.
The building of the mausoleum started later than other objectives built by the Society in 1928. The monument was placed at the north exit of the village, on the place expropriated from residents: Ioan Băeşu, orphans I.N. Iancu and part of the Community Mărăşteni land, an area of 1,000 sqm. It was expected that during 1935 by July 12 most of the work should be done, which would have corresponded to the promise made to King Carol II in 1934, with the inauguration of the “Victory” statue from Tişiţa, and with General Averescu desire. The works for the construction of Heroes Monument from Marasti lasted until 1941, due to the lack of money and adding natural causes (floods, earthquakes). This was also the reason for the postponement of the inauguration until the second world war period and after the outbreak of war and the subrogation of the communist regime, it was impossible to be done.
Come and visit the mousoleums of Vrancea
The shrines of the 2nd Army Commanders, at the mausoleum
Marasti Mausoleum is a two underground floors building, with a 7 meters total depth. At the first floor there was the Mausoleum Museum and on the second floor there were 12 ossuary crypts, in which are inhumed approximately 5342 known and unknown heroes, Romanians, Russians and Germans. In 1935, in order to close the ossuaries, The Romanian Industry of Crystals and Mirrors made 12 pieces of semicristal windows, 7 mm consistency, 2/1,40 cm in size, flat with round top, mate and engraved with a picture of Queen Mary, made in Art Nouveau style. Later in 1940, the Disposal of “Heroes Cult Society”, sergeant Panait move the bones in the crypt Mărăşti, work completed in September 1941. The bones were placed in general on “ternary niches” on reinforced concrete boards, and skulls were arranged on six steps. Then, in front of the crypts, crystals were assembled, with openwork ornaments aside.
Also at this level, in the central hall, there are four sarcophagi which house the remains of the most important former commanders of the Battle of Mărăşti: General Alexandru Averescu ( the double one in the central hall); at his right the sarcophagi of General Alexandru Mărgineanu and General George Văleanu. They were made by sculptor Carroll Thot. Surrounding the two sarcophagi there were made crypts to house the remains of hero officers fallen at Mărăşti. In place of the former Altar (left to central sarcophagus) it the sarcophagus for General Arthur Văitoianu that was achieved only in 1941, by sculptor Alexandru Nache (Bordenache). To all original ornamentation of sarcophagi were then added others represented by lion heads with rings made of bronze and small reliefs with generals faces.
Exterior ornaments of the Monument from Marasti
Regarding the exterior ornamentation of the Monument, we state that it was made by sculptor Aurel Bordenache. While in 1928 for the first time in Mărăşti participating in the ceremony of consecration of the church and putting the foundation stone of the mausoleum, because he could not perform the church painting, Aurel Bordenache promised to General Alexandru Mărgineanu that he will make with “no material claims” all modeling work which will be needed at the Mausoleum, promise which he honored in 1929.
On November 10, 1929, in the presence of architect Pandele Serbanescu, the delegate of “Marasti” Society, all modeling works of the Monument were received and took into possession, as it follows:
Haut –relief placed on the left at the entrance, 4 x 2,75 size, representing “The worship of Country’s Heroes – Army and Widows”, composed of three figures and a horse, in bas- relief, two widows, a young teenager and a small child;
Haut –relief placed on the right at the entrance into Marasti Mausoleum. Its dimensions are 4×2,75 meters and it is composed of 6 figures: a horse and an eagle, on a background flag the Country’s Eagle appears bringing an oak branch in its beak; a soldier on an horseback giving the honor to the flag; a veteran – also with the flag and old father and mother with two grandchildren;
Central group of statues, placed in the mausoleum park and which symbolizes “the example given by heroes to their followers, designed from two people bigger than their original size, represented by a dying soldier who passes the Flame to a peasant teenager;
In 1934 all these modeling works were already cast in plaster by Carroll Girolami, under the supervision of sculptor Aurel Bordenache, and they could be found in Bucharest, being placed on plywood in a large hall at the furniture factory from Basarab road no. 27, to be seen by bronze foundries for the bids that were to be made.
In the summer of 1935, the patterns were cast in bronze at “Gh. Danila” foundry in Bucharest. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that the material necessary for those works was provided by the Ministry of Armaments, Army Technical General Inspectorate – Department of Materials by governmental approval, as it was coming from the pipes of heavy guns. Outside, the monument was plated in 1935, with Slanic white stone, on the recommendation of the entrepreneur Gabriel Petrescu. Outside the front of the Mausoleum, at the bulge between two stone pillars, there were placed 15 white Cararra marble tiles, polished, on which were engraved the names of heroes known, buried in Mausoleum. This work was executed in 1935 in marble by sculptor Nicolae Colios, from Focsani.
On February 4, 1936, Balaban Trifu was the contractor undertook to perform, within 40 days, the fence surrounding the monument, from iron, measuring 300 ml, with two small and two large gates. Every four meters, ornaments, “torches” and “swords” were fixed on the fence, total: 104 “torches” and 52 “swords”. Two bronze eagles, sculptor Spiridon Georgescu’s work, guard the two major entrances, in the memory of an iconic battle.
The bust of Marshal Averescu
In the memory of Marshal Alexandru Averescu, “Marasti” Society built, in front of the mausoleum, a bust made of bronze, which was later declared Historic Monument, LMI Code : VN – III- mB – 06585. The bust was made, properly speaking, by sculptor Oscar Spathe, size 11 (quarter past one), to below the waist, and it depicts the great strategist ” in campaign garments, with the jacket on the shoulders, of a perfect likeness and with an attitude worthy of the place indicated. ” The work was completed and received on July 10, 1940 in Bucharest. Then followed the performing of the foundation to support this bust, which was conducted by “Marmi” company from “plywood Vratza stone.” The final reception was made on October 7, 1940. The inscription is: Romanian Marshal Alexandru Averescu, 1859-1938.
Marshal Averescu has similar busts in other areas of Romania, one of them can be seen in Iasi. During communism, Averescu personality was overshadowed, only Marasesti 1917 period was treated with openness.
Improvements for consolidation
In 1936 they performed other works on the monument, which included: “making stone masonry around the monument, paving, consolidation of banks, installing water and drain it from the basin built in front of the monument; it was ordered all necessary smithy fence, including two floor lamps, made at the carving shop “Gh. Stănculescu”. In front of the monument were assembled on poles the iron lamps needed, the ground in front of the fence was leveled and paved, strengthening the banks of the front by a huge stone wall with railing; all internal and external bronzes that decorate the monument were assembled, and in the following year, 1937, on the space reserved for vehicles, to be made a cobblestone, by strengthening the right bank.
In the period 1940-1941 other works should be done, “stonemasonry work” being performed at Mărăşti Mausoleum, a new pediment on the central axis was done, enabling raising fitting coat of arms, which was cast in bronze. However, this coat has not lasted long, because, like other ornaments reminiscent of royalty, was removed after the instauration of the communist regime. At the beginning, these decorations were covered with paper or red colored fabric, after which they were finally removed.
Mărăşti Mausoleum is under Vrancea Museum administration and it is taken cared by custodian Costică Tecuceanu. The mausoleum has undergone several repairs and consolidation between 1971-1999. From 2009 to 2014 the mausoleum was in a long process of restoration, works were financed by the European Union through Regio program. The beneficiary of this work was Vrancea County Council, who implemented the project “The Glory Road of the Romanian Army in World War First”.
As additional information, we mention an investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to Vrancea Courthouse who verified the tomb of Marshal Averescu, with suspicions about his displacement in the 70s. The investigation did not confirm this hypothesis.
The Glory Road of the Romanian Army
How to get to Marasti Mausoleum
This website is informative and has been developed using information from public sources or information published by various historians, among which we would like to mention dr. Valeria Balescu, curator at “King Ferdinand I”National Military Museum, Bucharest and dr. Horia Dumitrescu, Director of Vrancea Museum. However, we also provided information from Queen Mary and Marshal Averescu memoirs.