The Story of Balta Outlaw

3 Aug

Costica Panaite


The history of the outlaw

The outlaw was the name given to those characters from the modern age in Balkans, especially in: Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, around which many legends were created. Within the stories of these legends, the outlaw robs the rich, specially the noblemen and the Turks giving a part of the prey to the peasants, in order to gain their support.

The outlaws are characters surrounded in a romantic aura, being the eastern models of Robin Hood. That’s the reason their deeds were put in popular ballades.


Balta clan

We can talk of a real outlaw’s clan, naming Balta clan. Balta clan was founded in 1936 by Neculai Balta, being followed by his brother, Costica Balta and Milita Balta, the best known and the last of Moldavian outlaws. They were joined by Unguru and Maituca Vasile. The outlaws had a well-founded community and many women, each outlaw having his own harem. Their children were brought up in the outlaw spirit.

The institutions responsible for security and the Russian were real problems for the outlaws, watching and killing them. The outlaws used to rob monasteries, sheepfolds and rich people, helping those in need.

The outlaw’s clan came to an end in 1946, Balta being caught and killed by Sofrona Prudena. Costica Panaite, ranger in Cracauani, born in 1919, will share his meetings with Milita Balta with us:

“Thieves were lurking through the woods. Balta comes in sight. He had brothers, also thieves. The fierce outlaw took some women, and had children born in the woods and used to force the monks of Horaita to cradle them.



The meeting of Balta with Costica Panaite ranger and the Jew

I wasn’t dealing with him. I used to spot him, through the woods, supplying with goods. I didn’t get involved because I was afraid, he would’ve shot me. There were 3 – 4 of them, with women taking the roads in the woods. The Russians and the security were watching them. They used to steal and share the prey with those who would take the watch for them. They would gather goods from noblemen and make supplies.

Another Jew was coming from Targu Neamt to buy some parquetry. I was supposed to take the Jew merchant to show him the wooden parquetry. The rich Jew was coming with a coachman, another Jew a bit sorer. As soon as we got into the clearing of the wood, Balta showed up and stopped us: Do not stir! We stopped. I already knew him, and he knew me. So, where are you heading? Only Mitita Balta was in sight. The others were hidden, with their guns ready. Jew, where are you going? Balta asked him. From a handsome blonde Jew he became a little man, black as his coat. It is man’s fear, God forbid! So, are afraid? Don’t be afraid! They lighted a fire pretty fast, because it was autumn. Well, now we can talk. So, what should we talk about?

Look what I say, Jews! Let’s go up to the monastery. You stay here, while I go to bring 10 kg of wine from the monastery! The superior father would start to yell: Valieuuuuu! What I am to do?, because he was afraid of him.

Afterwards he let the Jew leave, on the promise that he would give me a radio. I wasn’t happy, what was I supposed to do with his slave? Are you crazy? And you got me these? The Jew didn’t even want the parquetry anymore. He went to Hell!


The betrayal and the murder

The ranger Costica Panaite from Cracauani continues his legends about Balta outlaw, telling the story of his murder.

A thief died in jail. Balta had heard of him, but didn’t know him. A convoy of inmates was made pretending to be taken somewhere, one of the “inmates”, Sergeant Sofronea Prudenea, escapes. He went into the mountains where he looked for   Balta for years, until he finally met him. The outlaw accepts him as his companion and together they took the roads for another year.

It was near the Christmas in 1946, when Balta and Sofronea were walking through Negresti. A thick mist was covering everything. A man was travelling with a carriage. The outlaw sees him and sends his subject, Sofronea, to check him. Sofronea asks for a weapon for safety, and Balta gives him an ax. As soon as he put his hands on the ax, Sofronea beheaded the legendary outlaw Balta. “

I left Costica Panaite from Cracuani after he shared his histories with me, not noticing the passing of the time, being night already when we were done. The old ranger will be back with us at Romanian Spirituality, telling us how he fought against the communists before they took over Romania, and after these pagan murderers enslaved the country.


Cristian Bodnarescu

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