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NICOLAE CEAUSESCU

By Mehmet Varinli

 

 

Nicolae Ceausescu was the president of Romania between 1965 and 1989. He was called the "Danube of Thought", "Genius of Carpatians" and "The enlightened One" by the Communist Party but best way to summarize the feelings of the general opinion of the Romanian people is by Eugene Ionesco "Ceausescu is a mad man. His wife...is also mad. And it is these people who are being allowed freely to torture 23 million people."

Nicolae Ceausescu was born third of ten children to a peasant family in a rural community and, at age eleven, was working in the factories of Bucharest. Ceausescu entered a revolutionary working-class movement in 1932 : and he was arrested for his participation four years later. When he was in jail he was beaten so bad that he had a mild speech impediment for the rest of his life, but he also managed to study Marx and Lenin with his cell mate, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, a revolutionary who later became Rumania's first communist leader. When Russia liberated the Nazi occupied Romania they were still in jail, and they were included in a group of political prisoners rescued by front line Soviet soldiers disguised as Nazis in August of 1944. Gheorghiu-Dej had made it known long before his death on March 19, 1965 that he wished Ceausescu to become his successor. At 47, Ceausescu became the youngest party leader in the Eastern European Communist block.

 

When Ceausescu came to power he promised lots of reforms and he seemed to be very willing to do best for his 23 million countrymen. As Mary Ellen Fischer, who is the author of a book on Ceausescu stated "He sounded a lot like Gorbachev. He promised a lot of reforms" but unfortunately he turned out to be a very capricious and dangerous paranoiac. The early years of his leadership were marked by political independence from the Soviet Union. The New York Times of Dec. 26, 1989 reported that "he ... denounced the Soviet military sweep into Afghanistan in 1979, refused to take part in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and other Warsaw Pact maneuvers and barred Soviet bases on Romanian soil". Ceausescu was appreciated in the West for his free-trade stances and enjoyed most favored nation trading status with the United States.

In 1982 Ceausescu decided to close their national debt of $21 billion assumed in 1972, so as a result Romanians were to stand tremendous privations for the next eight years and in 1990 the country got within $1 billion to reach the goal. And that is the exact amount that Ceausescu secretly transferred into his accounts in foreign banks. Ceausescu's policy of exporting anything that can be exported has put the country into economic depression and created food and energy crises. Bucharest was in permanent brownout from electricity shortages, meat nearly disappeared from the markets and the gasoline was rationed to one tank full a month. In 1989 country's infant mortality rate was rated highest in Eastern Europe by The Economist. In order to tighten his hold on the country Ceausescu has packed the government with his and his wife's relatives. Ceausescu's brothers ran the army forces, state intelligence network and agricultural department and his wife Elena's brother ran the trade unions. Another creations of Ceausescu was the securitate, a secret police force of 60,000 which was composed of royal and highly trained well equipped soldiers.

 

 

This force was so loyal to the family of Ceausescu that even after the arrest of Ceausescu they have continued fightCeausescu was living a life of luxury when the country was suffering. Ceausescu's homes had acres of marble, bathrooms with golden fixtures and caches of art and antiques. Ceausescu's wife had closets after closets of fur, couture gowns and hundreds of expensive shoes. Ceausescu was also a paranoiac, he feared that his enemies were constantly trying to kill him by poisoning his clothes so he used to wear a different suit each day. A year's worth of clothing was kept under constant lock and after each suit was worn it was burned. When Ceausescu's traveled they took their own food together with them, sealed in special coolers and guarded by armed forces. They also had a personnel engineer whose job was to protect their clothing from radioactive and bacteriological contamination and the places he might touch were disinfected before his visit. His wife Elena had strange habits too. She had a passion for pornography; she used the secret police and the intelligence service to secretly film the love liaisons of foreign diplomats and used these tapes to blackmail them, according to the chief of intelligence, Ion Mihai Pecepa she event had tapes of her own daughter Zoia. "They were able to do anything they wanted to" as stated by the US ambassador to Romania David Funderburk. Even when their son Nicu ran over a girl while driving drunk, they have used their power to pass the incident unreported. The bookstores had show cases of the 30 volumes of his speeches, news kiosks carried digest versions and music stores had records of his speeches.

 

Although Ceausescu had an iron grip on the control of Romania in the last few years of his rule he was loosing his control over the country. In November 1987, housands of workers stormed the Communist Party headquarters, burning personnel records and a portrait of Ceausescu. In mid December 1989 there were huge demonstrations calling for his ouster. Then finally on Dec. 22, a helicopter plucked him and Elena from the roof of the Communist Party's Central Committee building. Rebellious troops had taken the Ceausescus captive in the town of Tirgoviste. For the next three days they were held at a nearby army base. In his last hours Ceausescu denied his wrongdoing and refused to accept the authority of the military court provided by the interim government which was called the National Salvation Front. During the trial, in the streets of Bucharest, crowds broke into bookstores burning thirty volumes of speeches. He was executed in December 25, 1989 along with his wife Elena Ceausescu. There were 300 arm soldiers who volunteered for the firing squad, a lottery was held and the three chosen soldiers shot the couple ending an era of corrupt leadership.-

 

References:

1) Copyright 1990 Gale Research Inc.: Newsmakers 1990, June 1990; issue 2 , " Nicolae Ceausescu.

2) Copyright 1990 Time Inc Magazine Company.: People, Jan. 15, 1990., 1038 words, " After the revolution, a shocked Romania discovers the luxuries of its ruler"

3) Copyright 1989 The New York Times Company.:The New York Times, Dec 26, 1989. section a, page 18, column 1, "Upheavel in the East: obituary;

4) The Ceausescus: 24 years of Fierce Repression, Isolation and Independence " by Ralph Blumenthal. Economist.

 

 

 

 

 

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