A retrospective: Romania and Nicolae Ceaușescu

Romania is a country of south Eastern Europe and its capital city is Bucharest. Romanians claim to be direct descendent of the Romans who conquered Transylvania in 105 AD. Most Romanians are devout followers of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and even under Communist rule there were no sanctions of it, the government accepted that it was a personal matter.

Palatul Parlamentului government building

Nicolae Ceaușescu

Nicolae Ceaușescu was born in Scornicești, Romania in 1918. He was one of nine children, and lived on a primitive farm that his father maintained. His father was extremely strict, and extremely religious, and at eleven years old, he ran away to Bucharest to live with his sister.

After education he became an apprentice shoe maker, and the man he worked for was a member of the Communist party, which at the time was illegal, and Nicolae soon also became an active member of the Communist party, and due to him being so young he was only given light duties, but he soon made a name for himself and got arrested for protesting and fighting. He was accused of spreading Communist propaganda and was sentenced two years in prison. He spent his early adult life in and out of prison and ended up sharing a cell with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who would become the first Communist leader of Romania, and Nicolae became his protégé.

Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej,

After escaping from prison, the Communist party gained control of Romania, and Gheorghe became the leader, and Nicolae gradually climbed through the ranks until he became the second most powerful member. In 1965 after Gheorghe died, he became the leader of the Communist party and head of state, and the first thing he did was declare the country as a Socialist republic. He was extremely intolerable of opposition, and sent many of his political opponents to prison, or mental institutions.

Nicolae Ceaușescu

He adopted the title Conducător (leader) and his main focus was to turn Romania into a world leading power. In 1966 he banned abortions and contraception and this put the orphanages under tremendous strain, and mortality rates soared as women sought unsafe and illegal ways to carry out abortions.

Nicolae ruled Romania with an iron fist, and many people despised him. The country was heavily in debt and he exported most of the results of agriculture, which meant people were literally starving to death, and the country had the lowest standard of living in the Eastern bloc countries.

The Securitate which was a common word used for Departamentul Securității Statului (Department of State Security) was Romania’s heavily staffed Secret Police, and they were renowned for their brutality and terror tactics. Their main aim was to crush dissent and this involved anything from harassment, to torture and even assassination. The human rights abuse from the Ceausescu regime had him described by many as a megalomaniac.

In 1974 he became the country’s first president and every five years after that he was automatically elected as President. In 1989 at Timișoara there were protests about a Hungarian pastor being deported, and Romanian students joined the demonstrations, that quickly became anti-government. Under Ceausescu’s orders the army opened fire killing men, women and children. The country went into revolution and Ceausescu and his family had to escape the Central Committee building by helicopter and flew to Târgoviște. It’s December 22nd 1989, and they were eventually captured by the army and arrested, and three days later on Christmas Day Nicolae and his wife went on trial.

Nicolae and his wife before execution

The trial lasted one hour and they were found guilty of several charges but the main offence was genocide, for this they were both sentenced to death, and they were immediately taken outside and killed by a firing squad, which was filmed and shown on Romanian television.

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