This English edition of Adriana Georgescu?s book, ?In the Beginning Was the End?, was created as part of the Romanian Oral History Project    supported by the Aspera Foundation, and hosted on the Internet at

It is an eye-witness account of the communists? rapid takeover of Romania at the end of World War II and of the workings of Stalinist-type propaganda, a victim?s rendition of the first show trial of that period, a memoir of years spent in communist prisons (1945 ? 1947), and a tale of escape and exile. To our knowledge, this book, written in 1949 - 1950, was the first to describe the mechanisms by which the Communists effectively destroyed the other political parties and Romanian civil society in the years after the war, as a prerequisite to establishing the Soviet-supported totalitarian rule that lasted in Romania until the fall of the Ceaușescu regime in December of 1989. This description is done by a lucid observer who was not only at the center of events, but, trained as a lawyer and journalist, was also politically sophisticated.

It was also the first book to describe the treatment of political prisoners in the Romanian Gulag. The fate of  victims of the early communist repression  is portrayed in clear, vivid lines. So is the inhumanity of their interrogators. And yet, in writing about prison life, the author, then a young woman in her twenties, transcends the horrors and finds at times a fresh, even humorous tone. The psychology and language of the common criminals with whom she spends time in squalid, over-crowded cells come to life, rendered with  sympathy  and warmth.

Adriana Georgescu wrote ?In the Beginning Was the End? in Paris directly after her escape from Romania in 1948, with the intention of ?opening the eyes? of Westerners as to what was going on behind the Iron Curtain. Monica Lovinescu[1] translated it into French while it was being written. The French edition of Au commencement était la fin was published by Hachette in 1951. Forty years later, when, after the fall of communism, the book could finally be published in Romania, it had to be translated into Romanian from French. Humanitas published a first edition in 1992, and a second edition followed in 1999 under the supervision of Micaela Ghițescu of the Memoria Cultural Foundation. The present translation into English by Dr. Dan Golopenția, with input from Guy Bradley, follows the 1999 edition of the Romanian text.

Growing up in Romania in the sixties, hearing one version of history from my parents and being taught a different one in school, I started wondering how the regime change from a constitutional monarchy to a communist dictatorship actually occurred. I must have been about twelve years old when I first heard, from my parents, whispered accounts of Adriana Georgescu?s suffering. My father was related to her, and I have fond memories of her mother and sisters, whom we used to visit at Sinaia and in Bucharest. However, even the child I was then could sense, underlying their warmth and friendliness, suffering and fear. After leaving Romania in the early ?80s I was often asked to explain to foreign friends how Romanian communism came to develop its extremely dictatorial form. Presenting Adriana Georgescu?s account in English is the best answer I can give. 

 I met Adriana in 2001 in England. At over eighty, and in spite of the continually recurring depressions she has suffered as a result of her years of torture and imprisonment, her energy shines through her eyes, it resounds in her voice. She has never stopped denouncing totalitarianism: of characters like hers the stuff of resistance to tyranny and manipulation is made. Her book is relevant today, and will be relevant at every point in history when ideology prevails over civil liberties.

This edition benefits from the research of the Institute of Recent Romanian History (IRIR), whose historians Marius Oprea and Stejarel Olaru created and edited the explanatory notes; from the research of the Memoria Cultural Foundation, which allowed us to use the maps of Romania showing the locations of prisons and areas of activity of post-war resistance groups; from the generous advice of Professor Sanda Golopenția of Brown University; from the thoughtful assistance of Mircea Ivănoiu of the Aspera ProEdu Foundation in Brasov and the technical help of Simona Ceaușu, who typed the translated manuscript.

Lidia Gheorghiu Bradley,

The Aspera Foundation, Boston


September 27, 2003

[1] Monica Lovinescu (b. November 19th, 1923, in Bucharest): literary critic, writer, essayist and radio analyst living in Paris since 1947. A strong voice of the Romanian exile and a harsh critic of the communist regime, she contributed for decades to Radio Free Europe broadcasts. In the ?80?s the Romanian political police Securitate tried to assassinate her.