Abstract

 

Nineteen-eighty-nine was a year filled with revolutions which finally dissolved the Eastern Communist Bloc and integrated Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and eventually Romania into democratic Europe. The revolutions were generally not what many people expected them to be. Unlike the archetypal French revolution in 1789, there was little violence and the transition to democracy occurred smoothly. Romania’s overthrow of Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989, however, was the one notable exception and countered the peaceful trend with 1000 casualties, 3,350 injured civilians, and the hasty execution of the dictator himself. This leads historians to wonder about the causes for the bloodshed. Some analysts argue that the outcome was predictable because Ceausescu’s way of governing was violent itself. Could, therefore, the very nature of Ceausescu’s regime have contributed to the violence of his overthrow?

This essay aims to answer this question. Firstly, it will provide insight into Ceausescu’s distinct ideology and its influence on the Romanian State, as it is necessary to understand historical background when analysing a revolution. The essay will then continue by examining several factors which contributed to the revolutionary events of December 1989: economic conditions, totalitarianism, and Ceausescu’s failure to provide reform. It will then analyse how each of these factors links with the revolution and how they explain its particularly aggressive nature. In its conclusion, the essay will indicate that the nature of Ceausescu’s regime did indeed greatly contribute to the violence of the Romanian revolution. The overall extremity of Ceausescu’s Romania as expressed in harsh economic conditions, social repression, and lack of reform fueled such popular discontent that a violent reaction seemed justifiable to the majority of Romanians.
 

 

An Analysis of the Reasons for the Violent Nature of the Romanian Revolution of 1989

 
Introduction – A Year of Revolutions    

 

The year 1989 was the momentous “Year of Truth.”[1] It was the year which personified “civic dignity and political morality”[2] and finally dismantled the “iron curtain” separating East from West, thus marking the end of forty years of Communist control in Eastern Europe. With Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of his Perestroika and Glasnost policies, which aimed to reform the Soviet-style Communist system, dissident movements in the Eastern Bloc gained the courage to confront the repressive governments which had governed them since the 1940’s. One by one, countries controlled by hard-line Communist regimes transitioned relatively smoothly to democracy. The non-violent nature of these revolutions was surprising, given the fact that Soviet-Bloc Communism was so oppressive. The “velvet revolutions,” therefore, were seen as symbols of the “unfathomable potential of the human spirit”[3] and created a new alternative to violent revolution. Beginning in June 1989 with the victory of Solidarity in Poland, the DDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria soon followed with peaceful revolutions of their own which overthrew their Communist governments. By December of 1989, the only Communist stronghold left in the Eastern Bloc (with the exception of Albania) was Romania, and it was in Romania alone that revolution involved bloodshed, army intervention, and total civilian suppression before Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist regime could be dislodged from power.

In 1989, even as Communist regimes collapsed around him, Ceausescu still believed strongly in his party ideology and in the strength of his securitate,[4] who, with the help of the army, he thought would crush any incipient revolution. Thus, when unrest surfaced in the town of Timisoara on the 17th of December 1989, Ceausescu, as usual, resorted to violence by ordering the army to shoot at demonstrators.[5] The adage “violence begets violence” might therefore explain the bloody nature of the Romanian revolution. Violence, which had so effectively oppressed the Romanian people for decades, was used in full by the state when the uprising began, thus causing a violent reaction from Ceausescu’s opponents.

Could, therefore, the very nature of Ceausescu’s regime have contributed to the violence of his overthrow? Ceausescu had overseen harsh economic, social and political conditions largely incomparable to the situations of other Eastern Bloc countries and had made sure that any political dissidence in Romania was crushed so that he could remain in power. This situation, as well as his unwillingness to consider reforms, generated widespread popular frustration. As historian Martyn Rady claims, because Ceausescu’s “regime proved incapable both of adaptation and of accommodation, the only way it could be changed was by its violent overthrow.”[6] The bloodiest revolution, therefore, occurred in the country where the Party’s totalitarian control was the greatest.
 
Chapter 1 -- Historical Background: Ceausescu’s Ideology and the Nature of the Ceausescu State
 

When looking at the causes of Ceausescu’s overthrow, one must investigate Ceausescu’s very distinct ideology, as it influenced the Romanian state to such an extent that it set it apart from other Communist states in Eastern Europe.

Ceausescu’s ideology was based on several different political principles. Ceausescu was, above all, a fiercely dedicated Stalinist.[7] His form of Stalinism, however, had some peculiar characteristics, which may have played a factor in exacerbating economic and social conditions in Romania. It even received its own name, “Ceausescuism,” which historian Vladimir Tismaneanu defines as “a complex of political, social, economic policies, which, taken together, comprised a coherent alternative to the development strategies pursued by other state-socialist regimes in Eastern Europe.”[8] Indeed, Ceausescu was not just a Stalinist; he was a National Stalinist; a curious mixture of Hitler and Stalin, the representatives of radical right and radical left.

National Stalinism, although definitely leftist, had certain extreme rightwing tendencies which influenced the original Stalinist ideology. The adjective “national” alone implies a rightwing regime dominated by ideas of patriotism, militarism, and economic self-sufficiency. Stalinism, on the other hand, is defined by “political voluntarism, sectarianism, cult of authority, and scorn for parliamentary democracy and constitutionalism.”[9] Despite their differences, both ideologies were characterized by intolerance, lack of democracy, and centralized government; they both used ruthless secret police, concentration camps, and terror to abolish opposition.

Ceausescu acted under both of these ideological principles. Perhaps the combination of radical leftwing and rightwing politics is to blame for the severity of Ceausescu’s totalitarian regime and the violent nature of its downfall, because, in effect, Romanians suffered the extremes of both political ideologies. Remaining true to Stalinism, for example, Ceausescu maintained the abolition of private ownership and refused to give compensation for expropriated land and buildings, which caused the poverty and powerlessness experienced by many Romanians. Following the idea of nationalism, on the other hand, Ceausescu heavily stressed economic self-sufficiency and patriotism. Ceausescu’s dreams of autarky resulted in a highly criticized systemization program,[10] economic depression, and drastic food shortages which plagued Romania for decades.

Ceausescu was known to be a leader of “immense will and ambition”[11] and was extremely determined to impose his particular ideology on all of society. As Ceausescu “never deviated from the principle of democratic centralism,”[12] every policy of the Romanian state, whether economic, social, or political, adhered to National Stalinism. Ceausescu’s fierce ideological belief, combined with his megalomania, “spawned a system which crushed the individual”[13] and enabled him to run the country in an extremely repressive, totalitarian way. It was this authoritarian implementation of the National Stalinist ideology and its effects which resulted in the societal strains that eventually became so great that revolution was inevitable. Ceausescu failed to realize that National Stalinism was not suitable for modern society and did not see, or did not care, that both economic and social conditions were degenerating because of it. He also consistently refused to provide any economic, social, or political reforms to improve the system, because for him, “the best leadership was a petrified one, with predictable reactions.”[14]  The rest of this essay will focus on three main factors influenced by this ideology which contributed to the unusually violent nature of Ceausescu’s overthrow.
 
Chapter 2 -- Factors which contributed to Ceausescu’s Overthrow
 
            2.1—Economic Conditions

With the benefit of hindsight, historian Daniel Chirot argues that although “not even Romania was an Ethiopia or a Burma with famine and primitive economies, Romania’s [economy] in particular was heading in that direction”[15] during the Ceausescu era. This indeed suggests that by the time the revolution broke out in 1989, Romania was in such a bad economic state that this decade-long failure was one significant factor which prompted the citizens into revolt. Indeed, historian Peter Siani-Davies claims that “at the heart of the sense of grievance which fueled popular mobilization was the economic catastrophe sweeping the country.”[16]          

Ceausescu was a firm believer of the Stalinist Model, based on the idea of rapid and intense industrialization. He failed to realize, however, that this model, designed earlier in the century, would prove inadequate for modern Romania. Ceausescu’s obstinacy and wish for autarky was simply “unsuited to the global market and conditions of the 1980’s”[17] and resulted in a stagnant economy which could not meet peoples’ needs. The quality of life for most Romanians was, therefore, appallingly low. Ironically, Romania had huge economic potential because of its excellent agricultural resources and rich oil reserves. Continuous economic mismanagement, however, prevented the country from fulfilling its economic promise and the 1980’s, in particular, saw a harsh economic downturn. A well-run agricultural program may have been able to save the country from economic disaster, but the obsession with rapid industrialization resulted in the government’s neglect of this promising branch of the economy. Lack of funding made simple farming machinery unavailable, so that even in the 1980’s, “the scythe and the horse-drawn cart plough remained the principal instruments of husbandry.”[18] The promising oil industry also came to nothing. After the revolution in Iran, the costs of crude oil imports climbed so significantly that the price of Romania’s secondary oil products could not proportionately rise in relation to the higher costs.[19] As a result, the early 1980’s plunged Romania into a $1.5 billion trade deficit and, at its peak in 1982, an $11 billion dollar foreign debt.[20]

To pay off this debt, Ceausescu restricted imports and exported most of his country’s industrial and agricultural products. Romania now had hardly any domestic products for its own use, and, since Ceausescu believed so strongly in autarky, he refused economic aid from other countries. This policy resulted in extreme poverty, hard living conditions, and, worst of all, food shortages. Food rationing was introduced in the early 1980’s and persisted until the eve of the revolution in 1989. The 1980’s, therefore, became a time of “unrelieved austerity and deprivation for the majority of Romanians.”[21] Bread was heavily rationed, yet available, but “foodstuffs such as sugar, coffee, and rice were virtually unobtainable.”[22] Throughout the decade, many Romanians depended on food packages sent from relatives living abroad.[23] Historian Smaranda Vultur, providing valuable personal accounts as she lived in Romania during this time, recounts that in the late 1980’s, her family of four was “allowed two sticks of butter per month and that meat was so rare and desired, that it was stored and kept for weeks if one happened to find some.”[24] By December of 1989, the monthly ration per head was only a kilogram of flour, sugar, and meat, a half kilogram of margarine, and five eggs. Food was not the only necessity which was continually rationed; household essentials were equally scarce. Soap was “a gift,”[25] while queues for toilet paper were common.[26] In both private homes and offices, electricity, heating and water were all rationed to only several hours a day. Additionally, “street lighting was forbidden in rural areas,”[27] and “in 1988, the use of private cars was prohibited in the winter months.”[28]

Undeniably, these severe economic conditions helped spark the revolution in 1989, although other factors must be considered before reaching a definite conclusion.
 
 

2.2—Totalitarianism: Terror and Social Control

While enduring dismal economic conditions, Romanians also had to suffer under extreme totalitarianism during the Ceausescu era: night raids against dissidents, blatant rewritings of history to suit Party policies, and the use of informers were continuous occurrences. The extent to which society was controlled and terrorized into submission eventually played a large role in the violent nature of the revolution, as it caused great public dissatisfaction. As an eyewitness, Vultur believes that the revolution was so violent because “the amount of suppression reached such an absurd level that there was no peaceful alternative.”[29] Although Vultur may be influenced by the emotions of having suffered under Ceausescu, her assertions are supported by other witnesses of the times and by historians, such as Siani-Davies and Tismaneanu.

In a typical totalitarian manner, Ceausescu aimed to control every aspect of a person’s life, even to the ridiculous level of making it illegal to slaughter one’s own calf.[30] “What one could own, on how many square meters one could live, what one ate was all in the command of the state.”[31]  Letters were often intercepted, even if they were only thank-you cards[32] and from 1985, “failure to report conversations with foreigners became a criminal offence.”[33] The intrusive program to increase the birthrate by making abortions illegal and submitting women to monthly gynecological check-ups became one of the most distinctive human rights abuses in the Ceausescu era and further added to the sense of injustice. [34]

Amid these oppressions, propaganda painted a different picture by incessantly telling Romanians they were living in a “golden epoch,” thus becoming another method of control and manipulation. Posters, poetry,[35] and television programs continually praised Ceausescu,[36] while history books were rewritten to glorify the Conducator[37] and to justify his policies. During the 1980’s “scarcely a single achievement, from the building of a new school to a bumper harvest, did not owe something to the contribution of the party leader.”[38] Television and newspapers were the main propaganda tools, as they were controlled entirely by the state. As a result, “potentially harmful information”[39] was never reported to the people.[40] As a foreign observer with outside perspectives, Dennis Deletant provides valuable information by claiming that this “‘sanitizing of the news’ was very effective in containing protest and in inculcating a sense of isolation and frustration amongst protestors.”[41]  In effect, the exceedingly transparent propaganda served to further frustrate Romanians who began to feel as if they were living in a parody.[42]

Opposition to this social control, however, was ruthlessly suppressed. Ceausescu did not only resort to propaganda, regulations, and decrees to control the population; he also resorted to terror, coercion, and violence. Romanians, therefore, “were kept in check by a ruthless security apparatus and by frequent resort to physical and psychological coercion.”[43] The secret police, the securitate, with its job of spying on civilians, enforcing decrees, harassing dissidents, and organizing informer-networks, played a significant role in controlling Romanian citizens.[44]  The securitate regularly punished those who did not obey decrees and tortured, as well as murdered dissidents. Members of the few popular resistance movements[45] which arose were deported, imprisoned or otherwise silenced, so as to discourage any other opposition. Dissidents were also notoriously sent to psychiatric hospitals, where securitate officers administered both psychological and physical abuse.[46] Moreover, the securitate also organized a large informer-network which, according to various estimations, consisted of 400,000 paid informers.[47] Informers, inconspicuously integrated into society, reported anyone who criticized the regime. The ubiquity of the secret police created a “corrosive atmosphere of deceit which made personal acts of resistance seem both futile and self-defeating.”[48]  It also effectively enforced compliance[49] with and acceptance of the regime by Romanian society.

The general atmosphere of fear and distrust, however, built up an immense pressure for change that was to produce a violent explosion in 1989. This pressure might have been able to be released gradually through reforms, but as the next chapter will demonstrate, no reforms were carried out.
 
 

2.3—Failure to provide Reform

An additional factor which greatly added to popular frustrations, especially during the late 1980’s, was Ceausescu’s inflexibility and his failure to provide social, political, and economic reforms. Requests for more meat, milk, and bread or for more rights were ignored or rejected. In accordance with his ideology, Ceausescu was opposed to any form of liberalization, because he viewed “deviation from [the universal laws of socialist revolution] as betrayal of class principles.”[50] 
Therefore, when it became fairly obvious that his Stalinist policies produced discontent as the late 1980’s drew near, Ceausescu still refused to diverge from his hard-line principles. He showed his disdain for Gorbachev’s ideas of reform by heightening social repression. It remains debatable whether or not Ceausescu truly believed in his professed ideology or whether he simply wanted to retain absolute power,[51] but either way he continually refused to change any aspect of his regime and crushed any form of opposition with the securitate. In November of 1987, for example, “the most violent and significant popular demonstration of opposition to the government,”[52] prior to the revolution took place in the town of Brasov. Tens of thousands of workers,[53] joined by townspeople protested against salary cuts by marching through the town center and ransacking party headquarters while shouting slogans such as  “we want our Sundays back!,” “don’t lie to us anymore!,” “we want food for our children!,” and “we want light and heat!”[54] Typically, however, Ceausescu made no concessions and, as usual, sent the securitate to quickly crush the disturbance and punish those in charge.[55] Although the Brasov uprising was unsuccessful in achieving its goals, it highlighted the unyielding nature of the regime and gave Romanians a further reason to violently overthrow the regime in December 1989.

In March 1989, another rebellion demanding reforms occurred, and was met with equal repression from the government, although it was not a popular movement. Rather, it took the form of a letter written to Ceausescu by six “distinguished members of the old Communist guard”[56] asking him to suspend his systemization program on the basis of “humanitarian, cultural, and economic grounds.”[57] The signatories also requested that “Ceausescu cease his violation of human and constitutional rights, so that Romania could be restored to the rule of law.”[58] Other points criticized the “use of the securitate against workers demanding their rights, the requirement that employees work on Sundays, the opening of mail, and the cutting of telephone conversations.”[59] Once again, however, Ceausescu did not listen or make amends: the signers were simply removed from their posts and placed under house arrest. No reforms took place and the pressure continued to grow.
 
Chapter 3 – Analysis: Linking to Ceausescu’s Overthrow
 

When put together and combined with the international context of 1989, the above factors provide reasons for Romania’s revolution and Ceausescu’s overthrow. In particular, they explain the violent nature of the revolution and its stark contrast to the other anti-Communist movements of the time. Throughout the following analysis, one must keep the international context in mind, as it provided Romanians with the “now-or-never”[60] mentality which helped prompt them to revolt.
 
 

3.1—Economic Conditions

It can be argued that the impact of extreme economic deterioration on the Romanian population was a principal factor in sparking the revolution in December of 1989. Siani-Davies argues that it was “the realization that the policy of consumer austerity would continue which finally tipped the Romanians to the streets.”[61] Indeed, Romanians became increasingly frustrated with their economic degeneration, especially when they heard of the improvements elsewhere in Eastern Europe or of the lavish lifestyles of the Ceausescus. The utter poverty in which they lived prompted the people’s anger at their leader, who, in complete contrast to them, drove a Mercedes and wore a new suit everyday.[62] This disparity was unjustifiable to Romanians and “undercut the last vestiges of popular support enjoyed by the regime.”[63] When the opportunity to protest against the harsh economic conditions finally arose in December 1989, Romanians did so with full force. The dire economic situation also weakened the State’s response to the revolution, because soldiers were equally angry about their living conditions, for “unlike elsewhere in Eastern Europe, army officers in Romania also suffered the indignity of having to line up for even basic foodstuffs.”[64] Members of the army were, therefore, equally frustrated and were, as a result, more eager to endorse and participate in the revolution themselves. By December, the economic conditions under Ceausescu had become too unbearable and perhaps the sentiment of taking revenge upon those who had reduced Romania to poverty explains the aggressive nature of the revolution.

Important to note, however, is that “poverty and deprivation in themselves do not produce revolt.”[65] The causes of Romania’s revolution cannot be limited to this one factor; other factors also played important roles in triggering the revolution and also explain its particularly violent nature.
 
 

3.2 — Totalitarianism: Terror and Social Control

For two reasons, it can be argued that fierce social repression was the main reason Ceausescu’s overthrow was so violent; one is mainly psychological, while the other is more concrete. Firstly, by 1989, almost all Romanians had experienced such extreme repression at the hands of the regime that they felt extremely resentful. For decades, mounting resentments had grown throughout the country, but the securitate had effectively managed “to nip any form of dissent or resistance in the bud.”[66] The oppression was extremely frustrating. In effect, when Romanians finally had the chance in 1989 to express their anger, which had been largely bottled-up for decades, a “velvet revolution” was not sufficient. The strength of people’s repressed anger made a violent outburst more likely, because built-up frustrations could be released at last. To put it metaphorically, it was as if simmering water had finally erupted into an uncontrollable boil. To Romanians, it seemed only fair that Ceausescu be treated as ruthlessly as he had treated them. Ceausescu’s violent overthrow can be seen, therefore, as revenge for the terror they had undergone. Given the circumstances, a violent reaction seemed natural.

The second, and perhaps even more important, reason why the strict social control directly resulted in the bloody nature of Ceausescu’s overthrow is that it effectively prevented the formation of any dissident groups which could have organized a more peaceful revolution. The knowledge that the securists[67] and their informers were everywhere undermined any hope of creating a resistance group. As a result, Ceausescu’s oppressive totalitarian rule and fierce social coercion ensured that Romania did not have an equivalent to Poland’s Solidarity or to Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77. Because of active, united dissident groups, both Poland and Czechoslovakia were able to transition smoothly to democracy. In Romania, however, dissent had been abolished and thus, a smooth transition was not possible.[68]
 
 

3.3 — Failure to provide Reform

When linking this factor with the bloody nature of the revolution, it is important to first note the international context of 1989, as it played a key role in emphasizing the lack of reform taking place in Romania to the citizens, which, in turn, sparked more violent anger against the regime. Throughout 1989, other Communist regimes, encouraged by Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika policies, slowly allowed reforms to take place and, eventually, permitted themselves to be dismantled. With the willing resignations of their leaders, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary engaged on the road of becoming democracies. Despite strict media control, Romanians did hear about what was happening in the neighboring countries, but, to their dismay, Ceausescu still showed no signs of reforming, even though he was becoming more isolated. This obduracy and inflexibility, combined with the harsh economic and social conditions of the time, caused more dissatisfaction in the Romanian population. Other Eastern Europeans were becoming free, while they saw no prospect of liberation. This sentiment certainly added to the passionate anger which found its expression in the revolution.

While other Communist leaders slowly gave way to the demands of their people, Ceausescu did just the opposite: he vehemently increased repression and dismissed reform. Ironically, the severe repression and lack of change that were meant to keep him firmly in power, contributed in the end to his violent downfall. Historians such as Tismaneanu and Rady argue that because Ceausescu refused to change, the only effective way to bring about the reforms the country desperately needed was to get rid of him completely. Therefore, in December 1989, when Romanians realized that their leader would not yield, despite the wave of revolutions around them and the pressure from Moscow, they decided to act. To them, “the only option left was a violent overthrow,”[69] because the uncompromising, inadaptable nature of Ceausescu’s regime made a peaceful change unlikely.
 
Conclusion -- Violence begets Violence
 

“The sudden and violent collapse of the Ceausescu regime could actually have been anticipated.”[70] By stating that Romania’s violent revolution was foreseeable, Tismaneanu implies that the way in which Ceausescu ran Romania impacted the nature of the revolution to a great extent. After careful research and analysis of written and oral history sources, this essay has reached the same conclusion. The extreme nature of Ceausescu’s regime called forth the extreme and violent nature of its overthrow. In no other Eastern Bloc country were the economic conditions so bleak, the social repression so fierce, and the reforms so inexistent. When the time for revolution came in 1989, therefore, these combined factors exacerbated popular frustrations to such an extent that a violent reaction seemed justifiable. Romanians were so resentful of the regime that a “velvet revolution” proved inadequate, as it did not give them the opportunity to vent suppressed anger.

The Romanian revolution, however, remains shrouded in mystery, and the causes for its aggressive nature cannot be limited to the three concrete factors presented in this essay. While the public events of the Romanian revolution and Ceausescu’s execution were broadly displayed on television for the entire world to see, the concrete causes of his hasty sentencing to death still need elucidation. So does the securitate’s and army’s contribution to the initial attempts at quelling the protests and to the subsequent street fights. Almost eighteen years have passed since the revolution, and it is still unclear, for instance, who was behind most of the shootings against the population in Timisoara and Bucharest. Such research will no doubt be undertaken as the archives become more easily available to historians. By finding answers to these questions, one will certainly find other potential causes for the violent demise of the Ceausescu regime.
 

 
 
Works Cited
 
 
Cesereanu, Ruxandra. Decembre '89--Deconstructia unei Revolutii. Bucharest: Polirom, 2004.
 
Chirot, Daniel (ed.). The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1991.
 
Deletant, Dennis. Ceausescu and the Securitate--Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-1989. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1995.

Garton Ash, Timothy. The Magic Lantern—The Revolution of ’89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague. London: Vintage, 1993.

Gheorghiu, Lidia. Personal interview. 6 August 2006.
 
 Judt, Tony. Postwar--A History of Europe since 1945. London: Penguin Group, 2005.

Okey, Robin. The Demise of Communist East Europe--1989 in Context. London: Hodder Arnold, 2004.

Pacepa, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai. Red Horizons--The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption. Washington DC: Regnery Gateway, 1987.

Rady, Martyn. Romania in Turmoil. London: IB Tauris and Co Ltd, 1992.

Siani-Davies, Peter. The Romanian Revolution of December 1989. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2005.

Tismaneanu, Vladimir (ed.). The Revolutions of 1989--Rewriting Histories. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Tismaneanu, Vladimir. Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism. London: University of California Press, 2003.
 
Vultur, Smaranda. Personal interview. 6 August 2006.
 
 
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Chirot, Daniel (ed.). The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1991.
 
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Garton Ash, Timothy. The Magic Lantern—The Revolution of ’89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague. London: Vintage, 1993.

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Vultur, Smaranda (Historian.) Personal interview. 6 August 2006.



[1] Garton Ash, Timothy . The Magic Lantern. London: Vintage, 1993, p.131
[2] Tismaneanu, Vladimir (ed.). The Revolutions of 1989--Rewriting Histories. New York: Routledge, 1999, p.1
[3] Okey, Robin. The Demise of Communist East Europe--1989 in Context. London: Hodder Arnold, 2004, p.83
[4] Romania’s secret police: the securitate was made up of 7 directorates, including “internal newsgathering” (mainly spying on citizens,) economic information, counterespionage, military counterintelligence, guarding and order (harassing dissidents and protecting the Ceausescus), criminal investigation, and informer networks.
[5] According to the data collected by the Museum of the Revolution in Timisoara, 110 demonstrators were killed on that day.
[6] Rady, Martyn. Romania in Turmoil. London: IB Tauris and Co Ltd, 1992, p.44
[7] Stalinism: “the bureaucratic, authoritarian exercise of state power and mechanistic application of Marxist-Leninist principles associated with Stalin,” Rady, p.37
[8] Tismaneanu, Vladimir. Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism. London: University of California Press, 2003, p.30
[9] Ibid, p.34
[10] Ceausescu’s systemization program aimed to cut down Romania’s villages from 13,000 to 5000 by razing them down and placing its inhabitants in new agro-complexes. 11 million villagers were to be displaced. Fortunately, severe Western criticism and the revolution prevented Ceausescu from completing it. Rady, p.68
[11] Tismaneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism, p.34
[12] Rady, p.44
[13] Deletant, Dennis. Ceausescu and the Securitate--Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-1989. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1995, p.265
[14] Tismaneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism, p.227
[15] Chirot, Daniel. The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1991, p.4
[16] Siani-Davies, p.31
[17] Rady, p.64
[18] Rady, p.63
[19]It was estimated that Romanians were losing $25 on every ton of refined products sold to the West.” Siani-Davies, p.32
[20] Ibid, p.32
[21] Rady, p.64
[22] Ibid, p.64
[23] Gheorghiu, Lidia. Personal interview. 6 August 2006.
[24] Vultur, Smaranda. Personal interview. 6 August 2006.
[25] Vultur
[26] Ibid
[27] Rady, p.64
[28] Ibid, p.64
[29] Vultur
[30] Ibid
[31] Ibid
[32] Ibid
[33] Siani-Davies, p.12
[34] It has been estimated that 10,000 women in Romania died due to illegal abortions. Judt, Tony. Postwar--A History of Europe since 1945. London: Penguin Group, 2005, p.622
[35]The poet’s odyssey is a sad one, unless he is ready to sing the politician’s glory.” Rady, p.59
[36] Some of Ceausescu’s ridiculous “titles” included: “the Danube of Thought,” “the Genius of the Carpathians, “the Secular God,” and “the Nimbus of Victory.” Rady, p.59
[37] Ceausescu’s title, meaning “leader”; the Romanian equivalent of Führer or Il Duce.
[38] Rady, p.49
[39] Deletant, p.246
[40] In 1977, for example, a significant miners’ strike was never reported. Similarly, in 1987, when workers in Brasov held huge protests, the Romanian media barely reported the incident.
[41] Deletant, p.246
[42] “Personal opinion has been abolished. Any attempt to utter unpleasant truths is classified as heresy and promptly punished. Today when you read the Constitution, it seems like a fairytale from The Thousand and One Nights.” Ibid, p.281
[43] Rady, p.54
[44] Although the size of the securitate is still debated, historians estimate it as being 70,000 – 100,000 members in Ceausescu’s later years. Ibid, p.56
[45] For example, the Jiu Valley miners’ strike in 1977 or the 1987 workers’ protest at the Red Flag Factory in Brasov.
[46]Threats, injections, and sometimes beatings were given if the prisoner refused to admit his or her guilt. Admittance of guilt led to the termination of drug treatment and even early release, but the dissident was required to sign a statement promising not to reveal details of his or her treatment on pain of re-incarceration.” Deletant, p. 99
[47] Ibid, p.xiv
[48] Rady, p.57
[49]The securitate’s most potent weapon was fear, and the depth of its inculcation into the Romanian population provides the principal reason for its success. Fear induces compliance and is, therefore, a tremendous labour-saving device.” Deletant, p. xiii
[50] Tismaneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism, p.33
[51] Historian Vladimir Tismaneanu believes that “Ceausescu realized that unless he intensified his repressive policy, the whole edifice of what he called the multilaterally developed socialist society would immediately and ingloriously crumble.” Ibid, p.227. This idea implies that Ceausescu didn’t sincerely believe in what he was preaching; he only wanted to remain in power.
[52] Siani-Davies, p.35
[53] Rady, p.73
[54] Cesereanu, Ruxandra. Decembre '89--Deconstructia unei Revolutii. Bucharest: Polirom, 2004.
[55]The majority of the more active workers were arrested on the spot while the rest were carried off in the middle of the night.” Deletant, p.251
[56] Rady, p.75
[57] Ibid, p.75
[58] Ibid, p.75
[59] Deletant, p.276
[60] Siani-Davies, p.47
[61] Ibid, p.33
[62] Pacepa, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai. Red Horizons--The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescus' Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption. Washington DC: Regnery Gateway, 1987, p.250
[63] Siani-Davies, p.25
[64] Ibid, p.39
[65] Ibid, p.14
[66] Tismaneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism, p.21
[67] Derivative for members of the securitate, whether they were officers or informers.
[68]Because of the securitate, resistance to the regime was always muted and it never even remotely approached the scale found in neighboring socialist countries” Rady, p.60
[69] Siani-Davies, p.52
[70] Tismaneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons--A Political History of Romanian Communism, p.20