- Nicolae Ceauşescu
Infobox_President | name=Nicolae Ceauşescu
Scorniceşti, Olt, Romania
death_date=death date and age|1989|12|25|1918|01|26
Târgovişte, Dâmboviţa, Romania
Valentin Ceauşescu, Zoia Ceauşescu, Nicu Ceauşescu
order=General Secretary of the
Romanian Communist Party
March 22, 1965
December 22, 1989
Communist Party of Romania
President of Romania
December 9, 1967
December 22, 1989
Nicolae Ceauşescu (pronounced|nikoˈlaje tʃauˈʃesku) (January 26, 1918 – December 25, 1989) was the communist dictator of
Romaniafrom 1965 until December 1989, when a revolution and coup removed him from power. The self-called revolutionaries' representatives held a two-hour military tribunal trial and sentenced him and his wife Elena to death for crimes against the state, genocide, and "undermining the national economy." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/25/newsid_2542000/2542623.stm BBC on this day] ] The hasty trial has been criticized as a kangaroo court. [Juan J. López, "Democracy delayed", p 22, Johns Hopkins University Press] [Houchang Esfandiar Chehabi, Juan José Linz, "Sultanistic Regimes", p 242, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998] [Daniel Chirot, "Modern Tyrants: the power and prevalence of evil in our age", p 258, Princeton University Press, 1996] His subsequent execution marked the final act of the Revolutions of 1989.
Early life and career
Born in the village of
Scorniceşti, Olt County, Ceauşescu moved to Bucharestat the age of 11 to become a shoemaker's apprentice. "(See Ceauşescu familyfor descriptions of his parents and siblings.)" He joined the then-illegal Communist Party of Romaniain early 1932 and was first arrested, in 1933, for agitating during a strike. He was arrested again, in 1934, first for collecting signatures on a petition protesting the trial of railway workers and twice more for other similar activities. These arrests earned him the description "dangerous communist agitator" and "active distributor of communist and anti-fascist propaganda" on his police record. He then went underground, but was captured and imprisoned in 1936 for two years at Doftana Prisonfor anti-fascist activities. [http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/ceausescu_chronology.htm Ceausescu.org] ]
While out of jail in 1939, he met Elena Petrescu (they married in 1946) —she would play an increasing role in his political life over the decades. He was arrested and imprisoned again in 1940. In 1943, he was transferred to
Târgu Jiuinternment camp where he shared a cell with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, becoming his protégé. After World War II, when Romania was beginning to fall under Soviet influence, he served as secretary of the Union of Communist Youth(1944–1945).
After the Communists seized power in
Romaniain 1947, he headed the ministry of agriculture, then served as deputy minister of the armed forces under Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej's Stalinist reign. In 1952, Gheorghiu-Dej brought him onto the Central Committeemonths after the party's "Muscovite faction" led by Ana Paukerhad been purged. In 1954, he became a full member of the Politburoand eventually rose to occupy the second-highest position in the party hierarchy.
Leadership of Romania
Three days after the death of Gheorghiu-Dej in March 1965, Ceauşescu became first secretary of the Romanian Workers' Party. One of his first acts was to change the name of the party to The Romanian Communist Party, and declare the country the Socialist Republic of Romania rather than a
People's Republic. In 1967, he consolidated his power by becoming president of the State Council.
Initially, Ceauşescu was a popular figure in Romania, due to his independent foreign policy, challenging the supremacy of the Soviet Union in Romania. In the 1960s, he ended Romania's active participation in the
Warsaw Pact(though Romania formally remained a member); he refused to take part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces, and actively and openly condemned that action. Although the Soviet Union largely tolerated Ceauşescu's recalcitrance, his seeming independence from Moscowearned Romania maverick status within the Eastern Bloc.
In 1974, Ceauşescu added "President of Romania" to his titles, further consolidating his power. He followed an independent policy in foreign relations—for example, in 1984, Romania was one of only three Communist-ruled countries (the others being the
People's Republic of China, and Yugoslavia) to take part in the American-organized 1984 Summer Olympics. Also, the country was the first of the Eastern Bloc to have official relations with the European Community: an agreement including Romania in the Community's Generalised System of Preferences was signed in 1974 and an Agreement on Industrial Products was signed in 1980. However, Ceauşescu refused to implement any liberal reforms. The evolution of his regime followed the Stalinist path already traced by Gheorghiu-Dej. Their opposition to Soviet control was mainly determined by the unwillingness to proceed to de-Stalinization. The secret police ( Securitate) maintained firm control over speech and the media, and tolerated no internal opposition.
Beginning in 1972, Ceauşescu instituted a program of systematisation. Promoted as a way to build a "multilaterally developed
socialistsociety", the program of demolition, resettlement, and construction began in the countryside, but culminated with an attempt to reshape the country's capital completely. Over one fifth of central Bucharest, including churches and historic buildings, was demolished in the 1980s, in order to rebuild the city in his own style. The People's House ("Casa Poporului") in Bucharest, now the Palace of the Parliament, is the world's second largest administrative building, after The Pentagon. Ceauşescu also planned to bulldoze many villages in order to move the peasants into blocks of flats in the cities, as part of his "urbanisation" and "industrialisation" programs. An NGO project called "Sister Villages" that created bonds between European and Romanian communities may have played a role in thwarting these plans.
The 1966 decree
In 1966, the Ceauşescu regime reversed the 1957 Communist Party decree permitting all
abortion, and introduced other policies to increase the very low birth rateand fertility rate- including a special tax amounting to between ten and twenty percent on the incomes of men and women who remained childless after the age of twenty-five, whether married or single. The inability to procreate due to medical reasons did not make a difference. Abortion was permitted only in cases where the woman in question was over forty-two, or already the mother of four (later five) children. Mothers of at least five children would be entitled to significant benefits, while mothers of at least ten children were declared "heroine mothers" by the Romanian State; few women ever sought this status, the average Romanian family during the communist era having two to three children ("see Demographics of Romania"). [ [http://www.country-studies.com/romania/demographic-policy.html Communist Romania's Demographic Policy, U.S. Library of Congress country study] for details see Gail Kligman. 1998. "The Politics of Duplicity. Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu's Romania." Berkeley: University of California Press.] Furthermore, a considerable number of women either died or were maimed during clandestine abortions. [ [http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/dhm_archive/index.php?display_article=vn318cohort_of67ed Ceausescu's Longest-Lasting Legacy - the Cohort of '67 ] ]
The government also targeted rising
divorcerates and made divorce much more difficult - it was decreed that a marriage could be dissolved only in exceptional cases. By the late 1960s, the population began to swell, accompanied by rising poverty and increased homelessness( street children) in the urban areas. In turn, a new problem was created by uncontrollable child abandonment, which swelled the orphanagepopulation (See Cighid) and facilitated a rampant AIDS epidemicin the late 1980s - created by the regime's refusal to acknowledge the existence of the disease, and its unwillingness to allow for any HIV testto be carried out. [See, for instance, Bohlen, Celestine, In 1966, the first abortion law was passed which declared abortion in that country, illegal. This law was followed by other measures which ensured compliance with the law. These include financial advantages for families who bear children, guaranteed maternity leave, and childcare support for mothers returning to work, work protection for women, and extensive access to medical control in all stages of pregnancy, as well as after. Medical control is seen as one of the most productive effects of the law, since all women who became pregnant were under the care of a qualified medical practitioner, even in rural areas. In some cases, if the women was unable to attend a medical office, the doctor would make visits to her home. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C0CE5DA103AF93BA35751C0A966958260 "Upheaval in the East: Romania's AIDS Babies: A Legacy of Neglect,"] February 8, 1990, in "The New York Times".]
Ceauşescu visited the
People's Republic of China, North Koreaand North Vietnamin 1971 and was inspired by the hardline model he found there. He took great interest in the idea of total national transformation as embodied in the programs of the Korean Workers' Partyand China's Cultural Revolution. Shortly after returning home, he began to emulate North Korea's system, influenced by the Juchephilosophy of North Korean President Kim Il Sung. Korean books on Juche were translated into Romanian and widely distributed in the country. On July 6, 1971, he delivered a speech before the Executive Committee of the PCR. This quasi-Maoist speech, which came to be known as the July Theses, contained seventeen proposals. Among these were: continuous growth in the "leading role" of the Party; improvement of Party education and of mass political action; youth participation on large construction projects as part of their "patriotic work"; an intensification of political-ideological education in schools and universities, as well as in children's, youth and student organisations; and an expansion of political propaganda, orienting radio and television shows to this end, as well as publishing houses, theatres and cinemas, opera, ballet, artists' unions, promoting a "militant, revolutionary" character in artistic productions. The liberalisation of 1965 was condemned and an Index of banned books and authors was re-established.
The Theses heralded the beginning of a "mini
cultural revolution" in Romania, launching a Neo-Stalinist offensive against cultural autonomy, reaffirming an ideological basis for literature that, in theory, the Party had hardly abandoned. Although presented in terms of "Socialist Humanism", the Theses in fact marked a return to the strict guidelines of Socialist Realism, and attacks on non-compliant intellectuals. Strict ideological conformity in the humanities and social sciences was demanded. Competence and aesthetics were to be replaced by ideology; professionals were to be replaced by agitators; and culture was once again to become an instrument for political-ideological propaganda.
Ion Mihai Pacepa, a senior member of the Romanian political police ( Securitate), defected to the United States. A 2-star general, he was the highest ranking defector from the Eastern Blocin the history of the Cold War. His defection was a powerful blow against the regime, forcing Ceauşescu to overhaul the architecture of the Securitate. Pacepa's 1986 book, "Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief" (ISBN 0895265702), claims to expose details of Ceauşescu's regime, such as collaboration with Arab terrorists, massive espionageon American industry and elaborate efforts to rally Western political support. After Pacepa's defection, the country became more isolated and economic growth faltered. Ceauşescu's intelligence agency became subject to heavy infiltration by foreign intelligence agencies and he started to lose control of the country. He tried several reorganizations in a bid to get rid of old collaborators of Pacepa, but to no avail.
Ion Iliescudeemed Pacepa "a confused man," who gathered illegal properties in Romania by using his influential position, according to an official declaration made when Pacepa asked for the return of his properties and rank. The Romanian Supreme Court disagreed (Decision No. 41/1999,) overturning Pacepa's death sentences, restoring his military rank, and ordering the restoration of his properties.
Despite his increasingly
totalitarianrule, Ceauşescu's political independence from the Soviet Union and his protests against the invasion of Czechoslovakiain 1968 drew the interest of Western powers, who briefly believed he was an anti-Soviet maverick and hoped to create a schism in the Warsaw Pact by funding him. Ceauşescu did not realise that the funding was not always very favourable. Ceauşescu was able to borrow heavily (more than $13 billion) from the West to finance economic development programs, but these loans ultimately devastated the country's financial situation. In an attempt to correct this situation, Ceauşescu decided to eradicate Romania's foreign debts. He organised a referendumand managed to change the constitution, adding a clausethat barred Romania from taking foreign debts in the future. The referendum yielded a nearly unanimous "yes" vote.
In the 1980s, Ceauşescu ordered the
exportof much of the country's agriculturaland industrial production in order to repay its debts. The resulting domestic shortagesmade the everyday life of Romanian citizens a fight for survival as food rationingwas introduced and heating, gasand electricityblack-outs became the rule. Between 1980 and 1989, there was a steady decrease in the living standard, especially the availability and quality of food and general goods in stores. The official explanation was that the country was paying its debts and people accepted the suffering, believing it to be for a short time only and for the ultimate good.
The debt was fully paid in summer 1989, shortly before Ceauşescu was overthrown, but heavy exports continued until the revolution, which took place in December.
By 1989, Ceauşescu was showing signs of complete denial of reality. While the country was going through extremely difficult times with long bread queues in front of empty food shops, he was often shown on state TV entering stores filled with food supplies, visiting large food and arts festivals where people would serve him mouthwatering food and praising the "high living standard" achieved under his rule. In late 1989, daily TV broadcasts showed lists of CAPs (
kolkhozes) with alleged record harvests, in blatant contradiction with the shortages experienced by the average Romanian at the time.
Some people, believing that Ceauşescu was not aware of what was going on in the country, attempted to hand him petitions and complaint letters during his many visits around the country. However, each time he got a letter, he would immediately pass it on to members of his security. Whether or not Ceauşescu ever read any of them will probably remain unknown. According to rumours of the time,who|date=June 2007 people attempting to hand letters directly to Ceauşescu risked adverse consequences, courtesy of the secret police
Securitate. People were strongly discouraged from addressing him and there was a general sense that things had reached an overall low.
Revolution and collapse
Ceauşescu's regime collapsed after a series of violent events in
Timişoaraand Bucharestin December 1989. In November 1989, the XIVth Congress of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) saw Ceauşescu, now aged 71, re-elected for another 5 years as leader of the PCR. Demonstrations in the city of Timişoarawere triggered by the government-sponsored attempt to evict László Tőkés, an ethnic Hungarian pastor, accused by the government of inciting ethnic hatred. Members of his ethnic Hungarian surrounded his apartment in a show of support.
studentsspontaneously joined the demonstration, which soon lost nearly all connection to its initial causeand became a more general anti-government demonstration. Regular militaryforces, policeand Securitatefired on demonstrators on December 17, 1989. On December 18, 1989, Ceauşescu departed for a visit to Iran, leaving the duty of crushing the Timişoara revolt to his subordinates and his wife. Upon his return on the evening of December 20, the situation became even more tense, and he gave a televised speech from the TV studioinside Central Committee Building (CC Building), in which he spoke about the events at Timişoara in terms of an "interference of foreign forces in Romania's internal affairs" and an "external aggression on Romania's sovereignty".
The country, which had no information of the Timişoara events from the national media, heard about the Timişoara revolt from western
radiostations like Voice of Americaand Radio Free Europeand by word of mouth. A mass meetingwas staged for the next day, December 21, which, according to the official media, was presented as a "spontaneous movement of support for Ceauşescu", emulating the 1968 meeting in which Ceauşescu had spoken against the invasionof Czechoslovakiaby the Warsaw Pact forces.
December 21, the mass meeting, held in what is now Revolution Square, degenerated into chaos. The image of Ceauşescu's uncomprehending expression as the crowd began to boo him remains one of the defining moments of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. The stunned couple (the dictator had been joined by his wife), failing to control the crowds, finally took cover inside the building, where they remained until the next day. The rest of the day saw a revolt of the Bucharest population, which had assembled in University Square and confronted the police and the army on barricades. These initial events are regarded to this day as the genuine revolution. However, the unarmed rioters were no match for the military apparatus concentrated in Bucharest, which cleared the streets by midnight and arrested hundreds of people in the process.
Although the broadcast of the "support meeting" and the subsequent events on national television had been interrupted the previous day, Ceauşescu's senile reaction to the events had already become part of the country's collective memory. By the morning of
December 22, the rebellionhad already spread to all major cities. The suspicious death of Vasile Milea, the defence minister, was announced by the media. Immediately thereafter, Ceauşescu presided over the CPEX meeting and assumed the leadership of the army. He made an attempt to address the crowd gathered in front of the Central Committee building, but this desperate move was rejected by the rioters, who forced open the doors of the building, by now left unprotected. The Ceauşescus fled by helicopteras the result of a maybe poorly advised decision (since they would maybe have had safer refugeusing existing underground tunnels) [see Dumitru Burlan] .
The events of December 1989 remain controversial. Many, including Filip Teodorescu, a high-ranking Securitate officer at the time, allege that a group of conspiring generals took advantage of this opportunity to launch a
coupin Bucharest. Some have made more specific claims about the nature of the conspiracy. Colonel Burlan asserts that the coup had been prepared since 1982, and was originally planned to take place during the New Yearcelebrations, but was spontaneously adapted to the new developments. It remains a matter of controversy whether there had been any advance conspiracy to stage a coup, and, if so, precisely who was involved. The two main alternative possibilities are that these events were simply a combination of genuine revolutionary drive and inherent confusion, or that various figures in the military simply took opportunistic advantage of public protests, in an effort to capture power for themselves or for others whom they supported.
December 22the army found itself without a leader: Ceauşescu (the official commander-in-chiefof the army) had been sent by his (possibly conspiring) adviser Stănculescu to the countryside, and the defence minister Vasile Mileawas dead. Initially some claimed that Milea was assassinatedon behalf of Ceauşescu. Another possibility is that he might have refused to join the coup and been killed on that account. The still official story is that he committed suicide. Confused, the army leaders in Bucharest decided to avoid conflict and ordered their troops to fraternise with the demonstrators.
Fierce fighting occurred at that time at Bucharest Otopeni International Airport between troops sent one against another under claims that they were going to meet
terrorists. There are reports of several similar events.
Allegations of foreign intervention
Filip Teodorescu claims that a number of instigators—possibly a small number, and probably Russians—started various incidents (including the violence in Timişoara); he also alleges that the level of violence was greatly exacerbated by elements within the military who propagated a myth of "securist-terrorists."
Ceauşescu and his wife Elena fled the capital with Emil Bobu and
Manea Mănescuand headed, by helicopter, for Ceauşescu's Snagovresidence, from where they fled again, this time for Târgovişte. Near Târgovişte, they abandoned the helicopter, having been ordered to land by the army, which by that time had restricted flying in Romania's air space. The Ceauşescus were held by the police, while the policemen listened to the radio. The police eventually turned over the couple to the army. On December 25, the two were sentenced to death by a military court on charges ranging from illegal gathering of wealth to genocide, and were executed in Târgovişte. The film crew recording the events missed the execution since the firing began too quickly. [ George Gallowayand Bob Wylie, "Downfall: The Ceausescus and the Romanian Revolution" p. 198-199. Futura Publications, 1991 ]
The Ceauşescus were executed by a firing squad consisting of elite paratroop regiment soldiers Ionel Boeru, Dorin Carlan and Octavian Gheorghiu who shot them with
AK-47assault rifles. After the shooting had stopped, the bodies were covered with canvas. The hasty trial and the images of the dead Ceausescus were videotaped and the footage promptly released in numerous western countries. Footage of their trial and pictures of their corpses (but not of the execution itself) were shown the same day on television for the Romanian public. [ [http://danielsimpson.blogspot.com/2001_12_01_danielsimpson_archive.html Daniel Simpson, "Ghosts of Christmas past still haunt Romanians"] ] [ [http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stern.de%2Fpolitik%2Fausland%2F%3ACeausescus-Scharfrichter-Der-Diktator-Henker%2F547930.html&hl=en&ie=UTF8&sl=de&tl=en The dictator and his henchman] ]
The Ceauşescu couple's graves are located in
Ghencea cemeteryin Bucharest. Nicolae and Elena are buried on opposite sides of a path. The graves themselves are unassuming, but they tend to be covered in flowers and symbols of their regime. Some allege that the graves do not, in reality, contain their bodies. As of April 2007, their son Valentin has lost a lawsuit asking for investigation of the matter. The elder son Nicu Ceauşescu, died in 1996, and is buried close by in the same cemetery. According to " Jurnalul Naţional", [" Jurnalul Naţional", January 25, 2005] requests were made by their daughter and supporters of their political views to move them to mausoleums or churches built for the purpose of housing their remains, but such requests were denied by the government.
Personality cult and authoritarianism
Ceauşescu created a pervasive
personality cult, giving himself the titles of " Conducător" ("Leader") and "Geniul din Carpaţi" ("The Genius of the Carpathians"), with help from Proletarian Culture( Proletkult) poets such as Adrian Păunescuand Corneliu Vadim Tudor, and even had a king-like sceptre made for himself. Such excesses prompted the painter Salvador Dalíto send a congratulatory telegram to the "Conducător." The Communist Party daily "Scînteia" published the message, unaware that Dalí had written it with tongue firmly in cheek. To avoid new treasons after Pacepa's defection, Ceauşescu also invested his wife Elena and other members of his family with important positions in the government.
Under Ceauşescu, Romania was Europe's fourth biggest exporter of weapons. He made efforts to act as a mediator between the PLO and
Israel. He organised a successful referendum for reducing the size of the Romanian Armyby 5%. He held large rallies for peace and wrote a poem that was part of each literature manual. His poem paraphrased Isaiah 2:4and was (in a word for word translation)::"Let us make from cannons tractors":"From atom lights and sources":"From nuclear missiles":"Plows to labour fields."Ceauşescu also tried to play a role of influence and guidance to African countries. He was a close ally and personal friend of dictator President Mobutu Sese Sekoof Zaïre. Relations were in fact not just state-to-state, but party-to-party between the MPR and the Romanian Communist Party. Many believe that Ceauşescu's death played a role in influencing Mobutu to "democratize" Zaïre in 1990. [ [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+zr0173) Relations with the Communist World] Library of Congress Country Studyon Zaire (Former), Library of Congress Call Number DT644 .Z3425 1994. ( [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/zrtoc.html#zr0173 TOC] .) Data as of December 1993. Accessed online 15 October 2006.] Also, France granted Ceauşescu the Legion of Honourand in 1978 he became an Honorary British Knight [ List of honorary British Knights] (GCB, removed) in the UK.
Ceauşescu's Romania was the only
Warsaw Pactcountry that did not sever diplomatic relations with Chileafter Augusto Pinochet's coup. [Valenzuela, J. Samuel and Arturo Valenzuela (eds.), "Military Rule in Chile: Dictatorship and Oppositions", p. 321]
Ceauşescu's control of every aspect of religious, educational, commercial, social, and civic life [Tănase, p.24-25] further aggravated the situation. In 1987, an attempted strike at
Braşovfailed: the army occupied the factories and crushed the worker's demonstrations.
Throughout 1989, Ceauşescu became ever more isolated in the Communist world: in August 1989, he proposed a summit to discuss the problems of Eastern European Communism and "defend socialism" in these countries, but his proposal was turned down by the
Warsaw Pactstates and the People's Republic of China. Even after the Berlin Wallfell and Ceauşescu's closest comrades, GDRleader Eric Honeckerresigned, and Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov, was replaced in November 1989, Ceauşescu ignored the threat to his position as the last old-style Communist leader in Eastern Europe.
Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu had two sons, nuclear physicist
Valentin Ceauşescuwho was adopted as a part of RWP Campaign to adopt war orphans in the late 1940's, Nicu Ceauşescu(1951 - 1996) also a physicist, and a daughter Zoia Ceauşescu(1950 - 2006), who was a mathematician. After the death of his parents, Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the construction of an Orthodox church, the walls of which are decorated with portraits of his parents. [" Jurnalul Naţional", January 25, 2005]
Ceauşescu's official annual salary was 18,000 lei (equivalent to US$3,000 at the official exchange rate). Of this, some 5,000 lei was deposited in a bank every month for the use of his children. Nevertheless, he used to receive presents (e.g., a golden plated door handle) from countries and organisations that he was visiting, the misappropriation of which was one of the accusations against him at his trial. While he tried to keep account of his finances, his younger son Nicu was much less restrained and rumours abounded that he paid a gambling debt incurred in Las Vegas with a herd of horses belonging to the Communist Party (the herd of Jegalia, formerly administered by the Romanian Royal Cavalry). Fact|date=June 2007
Despite his relatively low salary for an average world leader at the time, Ceauşescu was known for his luxurious lifestyle spending vast amounts of money borrowed from the west on his own lifestyle while his people were left to reap the effects of his disastrous policies. He owned over 15 luxury palaces around Romania including a riverside villa at
Snagov, a lakeside resort at Cernavodă, and a mountainside lodge at Braşov. The "Primaverii Palace" at Bucharest (the palace was later looted and transformed into a NATO headquarters after the revolution) had whole rooms filled with trappings of wealth. [ [http://www.casanato.org/index.html?action=about Official site of Casa-NATO] ] One such room was devoted to Elena's vast collections of fur coats and another room was filled with Ceauşescu's bespoke suits, tuxedos and hunting uniforms (many of which were never even worn). The palaces were no less equipped either as they were filled with priceless silk, porcelain, marble (some valuing over $1,000 per square metre), silverware, chandeliers, and carpets. The collections of wealth found outside the palaces equalled what was inside, such as a vast collection of cars including a Buick Electragiven to him as a gift by U.S. President Richard Nixon, a Mercedes Benz Limousine from Mohammad Reza Pahlavithe last Shah of Iran, several Ferraris, Lamborghinis, BMWs, a Rolls Royce from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and a custom-built Trabantfrom East German leader Eric Honecker. The palaces also contained large guards comparable to the ones at the Palace of Versailles, Ceauşescu's collection of 'Rocket' speedboats and large yachts such as the "Snagov I" and "Snagov II".
Ceauşescu's security detail was relatively small, numbering only 40 people for his residences and for his whole family. His security chief was Col.
Dumitru Burlanwho claims that his troops had only two guns. According to Burlan, Ceauşescu was overconfident that the Romanian people loved him, and believed that he did not need protection; this explains much of the ease with which Ceauşescu was deposed and captured.
Ceauşescu is the only recipient of the Danish
Order of the Elephantever to have it revoked. This happened on December 23, 1989, when HM Queen Margrethe II ordered the insignia to be returned to Denmark, and for Ceauşescu's name to be deleted from the official records.
Ceauşescu was likewise stripped of his honorary GCB (Knight, Grand Cross of the Bath) by Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdomon the day before his execution. Queen Elizabeth also returned the Romanian Order Ceauşescu had bestowed upon her. [The Official Website of the British Monarchy: " [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page4872.asp Queen and Public - Honours] ", retrieved on 2008-01-04.]
On his 70th birthday in 1988 Ceauşescu was decorated with the
Karl-Marx-Ordenby then Socialist Unity Party of Germany(SED) chief Erich Honecker; through this he was honoured for his rejection of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms.
In a similar way to some EU countries, praising the crimes of totalitarian regimes and denigrating their victims is forbidden by law in Romania; this includes the Ceauşescu regime.
Dinel Staicureceived a 25,000 lei (approximately 9,000 United States dollars) fine for praising Ceauşescu and displaying his pictures on his private television channel ("3TV Oltenia"). [ [http://www.cna.ro/comunicare/comunic/2006/c0207.html Official communique of the National Board of the Audio-Visual] ]
Ceauşescu's last days in power were dramatized in a stage musical, "The Fall of Ceauşescu", written and composed by Ron Conner. It premiered at the Los Angeles Theater Center in September 1995 and was attended by Ion Iliescu, the then president of Romania who had been visiting Los Angeles at the time.
While the term "Ceauşism" became widely used inside Romania, usually as a pejorative, it never achieved status in
academia. This feature can be explained taking in view the largely crude and syncretic character of the dogma. Ceauşescu attempted the inclusion of his views in mainstream Marxist theory, to which he added his belief in a "multilaterally developed socialist society" as a necessary stage between the Marxist concepts of Socialist and Communist societies (a critical view reveals that the main reason for the interval is the disappearance of the State and Party structures in Communism). A Romanian Encyclopedic Dictionary entry in 1978 underlines the concept as "a new, superior, stage in the socialist development of Romania [...] begun by the 1971-1975 [sic] Five-Year Plan, prolonged over several [succeeding and projected] Five-Year Plans". ["Mic Dicţionar Enciclopedic"]
The main trait observed was a form of Romanian
nationalism, [Geran Pilon, Chapter III, "Communism with a Nationalist Face", p.60-66; Tănase, p.24] one which arguably propelled Ceauşescu to power in 1965, and probably accounted for the Party leadership that was gathered around Ion Gheorghe Maurerchoosing him over the more orthodox Gheorghe Apostol. Although he had previously been a careful supporter of the official lines, Ceauşescu came to embody Romanian society's wish for independence after what were broadly considered to have been years of Soviet directives and purges, during and after the SovRomfiasco. He carried this nationalist option inside the Party, manipulating it against the nominated successor Apostol. This nationalist policy was not without more timid precedent:Geran Pilon, p.60] for example, the Gheorghiu-Dej regime had overseen the withdrawal of the Red Armyin 1958.
As well, it had engineered the publishing of several works that were subversive of the Russian and Soviet image, such as the final volumes of the official "History of Romania", no longer glossing over the traditional points of tension with Russia and the Soviet Union (even alluding to an unlawful Soviet presence in
Bessarabia). In the final years of Gheorghiu-Dej's rule more problems were brought out in the open, with the publication of a collection of Karl Marxtexts that dealt with Romanian topics, showing Marx's previously-censored, politically uncomfortable views of Russia.
However, Ceauşescu was prepared to take a more decisive step in questioning Soviet policies. In the early years of his rule, he generally relaxed political pressures inside Romanian society, [Tănase, p.23] which led to the late 1960s and early 1970s being the most liberal decade in Communist Romania. Gaining the public's confidence, Ceauşescu took a clear stand against the 1968 crushing of the
Prague Springby Leonid Brezhnev. After a visit paid by Charles de Gaulleearlier in the same year (during which the French President gave recognition to the incipient maverick), Ceauşescu's public speech in August deeply impressed the population, not only through its themes, but also by the unique fact that it was unscripted. He immediately attracted Western sympathies and backing, which lasted, out of inertia, beyond the liberal phase of his regime; at the same time, the period brought forward the threat of armed Soviet invasion: significantly, many young men inside Romania joined the "Patriotic Guards" created on the spur of the moment, in order to meet the perceived threat. [Geran Pilon, p.62] Alexander Dubček's version of " Socialism with a human face" was never suited to Romanian communist goals. Ceauşescu found himself briefly aligned with Dubček's Czechoslovakiaand Josip Broz Tito's Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The latter friendship was to last well into the 1980s, with Ceauşescu adapting the Titoist doctrine of "independent socialist development" to suit his own objectives. Romania proclaimed itself a "Socialist" (in place of "People's") Republic to show that it was fulfilling Marxist goals without Moscow's overseeing.
The system exacerbated its nationalist traits, which it progressively blended with
Jucheand Maoist ideals, a synthesis that may find a parallel in Hoxhaism. In 1971, the Party, which had already been completely purged of internal opposition (with the possible exception of Gheorghe Gaston Marin), approved the " July Theses", expressing Ceauşescu's disdain of Western models as a whole, and the reevaluation of the recent liberalisation as "bourgeois". The 1974 11th Congress tightened the grip on Romanian culture, guiding it towards Ceauşescu's nationalist principles:Geran Pilon, p.61] notably, Romanian historians were demanded to refer to Daciansas having "an unorganised State [sic] ", part of a political continuum that culminated in the Socialist Republic. The regime continued its cultural dialogue with ancient forms, with Ceauşescu connecting his cult of personality to figures such as Mircea cel Bătrân(whom he styled "Mircea the Great") and Mihai Viteazul; it also started adding Dacian or Roman versions to the names of cities and towns ("Drobeta" to Turnu Severin, "Napoca" to Cluj). [Geran Pilon, p.61-63]
A new generation of committed supporters on the outside confirmed the regime's character. Ceauşescu probably never gave importance to the fact that his policies constituted a
paradigmfor theorists of National Bolshevismsuch as Jean-François Thiriart, but there was a publicised connection between him and Iosif Constantin Drăgan, an Iron Guardist Romanian-Italian émigrémillionaire (Drăgan was already committed to a Dacian Protochronismthat largely echoed the official cultural policy).
Nicolae Ceauşescu had a major influence on modern-day Romanian populist rhetorics. In his final years, he had begun to rehabilitate the image of pro-Nazi dictator
Ion Antonescu. Although Antonescu's was never a fully official myth in Ceauşescu's time, today's xenophobic politicians such as Corneliu Vadim Tudorhave coupled the images of the two leaders into their versions of a national Pantheon. The conflict with Hungaryover the treatment of the Magyar minority in Romania had several unusual aspects: not only was it a vitriolic argument between two officially Socialist states (as Hungary had not yet officially embarked on the course to a free marketeconomy), it also marked the moment when Hungary, a state behind the Iron Curtain, appealed to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europefor sanctions to be taken against Romania. This meant that the later 1980s were marked by a pronounced anti-Hungarian discourse, which owed more to nationalist tradition than Marxism, [Geran Pilon, p.63] and the ultimate isolation of Romania on the World stage.
Nicolae Ceauşescu championed a version of the virtually defunct
Non-Aligned Movementin the 1970s. While the regime was sought after as mediator of several conflicts between the Arab worldand Israel throughout the decade, it moved towards supporting only the Palestine Liberation Organisationand, gradually, showing interest in an alliance with Islamism. As such, Romania was the only Socialist state to openly condemn the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
The strong opposition of his regime to all forms of "
perestroika" and " glasnost" placed Ceauşescu at odds with Mikhail Gorbachev. In a dramatic twist, Ceauşescu demanded that the Soviet leadership return to its previous stance, even asking for a Soviet crackdown on all Eastern Bloc liberation movements in the second half of 1989.
In November 1989, at the XIVth and last congress of the PCR, Ceauşescu condemned the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pactand asked for the annulment of its consequences. In effect, this amounted to claiming back Bessarabia(most of which was then a Soviet republic and since 1991 has been an independent state) and northern Bukovina, both of which had been occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and again at the end of World War II.
Relationship with the United States
Some authors allege that Ceauşescu was supported either overtly or covertly by the
United Statesthroughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1975 Romania gained Most favoured nationtrading status; that was six years after President Richard Nixonvisited the country. [ [http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/ceausescu.html "Nicolae Andruţă Ceauşescu"] , More or Less: Heroes and Killers of the 20th Century"] According to Noam Chomsky, it was partially due to Ceauşescu's divergent views on policy (such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and other ideological breaks with the Soviet Union) that Ceauşescu garnered warmer relations with some western countries. [Chomsky, Noam, " Hegemony or Survival", 2003, pp. 112-114 ] . This support, it is argued, was a major obstacle to the overthrow of Ceauşescu.
Because Romania was a Communist state, this support is frequently used by some figures to argue against conventional understandings of the
Cold War. For example, in response to Robert Kaplan's allegation that Chomsky makes no distinctions between US-backed dictators and Russian-backed dictators, using the example of Ceauşescu, Chomsky argues that America backed Ceauşescu. [ [http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20020416.htm "Hot Type on the Middle East"] , Noam Chomsky interviewed by Evan Solomon, "Dissident Voice", April 16, 2002]
elected published works
* "Report during the joint solemn session of the CC of the Romanian Communist Party, the National Council of the Socialist Unity Front and the Grand National Assembly: Marking the 60th anniversary of the creation of a Unitary Romanian National State", 1978
* "Major problems of our time: Eliminating underdevelopment, bridging gaps between states, building a new international economic order", 1980
* "The solving of the national question in Romania (Socio-political thought of Romania's President)", 1980
* "Ceauşescu: Builder of Modern Romania and International Statesman", 1983
* "The nation and co-habiting nationalities in the contemporary epoch (Philosophical thought of Romania's president)", 1983
* "Istoria poporului Român în concepţia preşedintelui", 1988
*"Mic Dicţionar Enciclopedic" ("Small encyclopedic dictionary"), 1978
* Edward Behr, "Kiss the Hand you Cannot Bite", ISBN 0679401288
Dumitru Burlan, "Dupa 14 ani - Sosia lui Ceauşescu se destăinuie" ("After 14 Years - The Double of Ceauşescu confesses"). Editura Ergorom. July 31, 2003 (in Romanian).
Juliana Geran Pilon, "The Bloody Flag. Post-Communist Nationalism in Eastern Europe. Spotlight on Romania", ISBN 1-56000-062-7; ISBN 1-56000-620-X
* Marian Oprea, "Au trecut 15 ani -- Conspiraţia Securităţii" ("After 15 years -- the conspiracy of Securitate"), in [http://www.lumeam.ro/nr10_2004/index.html "Lumea Magazin" Nr 10, 2004] : (in Romanian; link leads to table of contents, verifying that the article exists, but the article itself is not online).
* Viorel Patrichi, " [http://www.lumeam.ro/nr12_2001/politica_si_servicii_secrete.html Eu am fost sosia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu] " ("I was Ceauşescu's double"), "
Lumea Magazin" Nr 12, 2001 (in Romanian)
* Stevens W. Sowards, [http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/ "Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History (The Balkans in the Age of Nationalism)"] , 1996, in particular [http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lect24.htm Lecture 24: The failure of Balkan Communism and the causes of the Revolutions of 1989]
* Victor Stănculescu, [http://www.jurnalul.ro/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=14985 "Nu vă fie milă, au 2 miliarde de lei în cont"] ("Do not have mercy, they hold 2 billion lei [33 million dollars] in their account [s] "), in "Jurnalul Naţional", Nov 22, 2004
* John Sweeney, "The Life and Evil Times of Nicolae Ceauşescu", ISBN 0091746728
Stelian Tănase, "Societatea civilă românească şi violenţa" ("Romanian Civil Society and Violence"), in "Agora", issue 3/IV, July-September 1991
* Filip Teodorescu, et.al., , featuring the remarks of Filip Teodorescu.
* [http://www.ceausescu.org/ Ceauşescu, Nicolae - Romania under Communism]
** [http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_media/ultima-video.html Nicolae Ceauşescu's last speech in public]
** [http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/trial-eng.htm Ceauşescu's trial transcripts (in English)]
** [http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/trial-ro.htm Ceauşescu's trial transcripts (in Romanian)]
* [http://www.country-studies.com/romania/demographic-policy.html Communist Romania's Demographic Policy]
* [http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/Politic.htm The Politicians and the revolution of 1989]
* Gheorghe Brătescu, [http://www.clipa.com/pagpolitica638.htm "Clipa" 638: Un complot ratat] ("A failed scheme"). On how Milea died, probably killed by Stănculescu according to this writer, and the life of the Ceauşescu family. (In Romanian)
* [http://cidc.library.cornell.edu/dof/romania/romania.htm Death of the Father: Nicolae Ceauşescu] Focuses on his death, but also discusses other matters. Many photos.
* [http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/ceausescu.html "Killer File" entry on Nicolae Andruţa Ceauşescu] Chronological overview of important events in his life and rule.
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Romanian politician, General Secretary of the
Romanian Communist Party
DATE OF BIRTH=
January 26 1918
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Scorniceşti, Olt, Romania
DATE OF DEATH=
December 25 1989
PLACE OF DEATH=
Târgovişte, Dâmboviţa, Romania
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