Over 20 years have passed since Nicolae Ceausescus regime collapsed in Romania. Today it is a different country. But the legacy of the past still casts a long shadow. Find out more about what happened in Romania and how it affected people. The kick off for the revolution started in 21st December 1989: it was Ceausescu`s last speach.
Nicolae Ceauşescu (Romanian pronunciation: [nikoˈla.e tʃa.uˈʃesku]; 26 January 1918 25th December 1989) was a Romanian politician who was the Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, President of the Council of State from 1967, and President of Romania from 1974 to 1989.
All "wonderful" programmes were initiated by Ceauşescu, but they were comletely detached from reality, both in the cities and the countryside. The mass meeting of 21 December 1989, held in what is now Revolution Square, began like many of Ceaușescu's speeches over the years. Ceaușescu spoke of the achievements of the "Socialist revolution" and Romanian "multi-laterally developed Socialist society." He also blamed the Timișoara riots on "fascist agitators who want to destroy socialism."
However, Ceaușescu had misjudged the crowd's mood. Roughly eight minutes into his speech, several people began jeering, booing and whistling at him, others began chanting "Timișoara!". He tried to silence them by raising his right hand and calling for the crowd's attention before order was temporarily restored, then proceeded to announce social benefit reforms that included raising of the national minimum wage by 200 lei per month. Images of Ceaușescu's facial expression as the crowd began to boo and heckle him were among the most widely broadcast of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
Failing to control the crowds, the Ceaușescus finally took cover inside the building that housed the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, where they remained until the next day. The rest of the day saw an open revolt of Bucharest's population, which had assembled in University Square and confronted the police and army at barricades. The 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. The day after he started his and his wife escape, but that`s another dramatic story. The inhabitants in Romania changed the country, but what has Ceauşescu been replaced with? That`s also another story.
His rule was marked in the first decade by an open policy towards Western Europe and the United States, which deviated from that of the other Warsaw Pact states during the Cold War. He continued a trend first established by his predecessor, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who had tactfully coaxed the Soviet Union into withdrawing troops from Romania in 1958.
Ceauşescu's second decade was characterized by an increasingly erratic personality cult, nationalism and a deterioration in foreign relations with the Western powers as well as the Soviet Union. Ceauşescu's government was overthrown in a December 1989 military coup, and he and his wife were executed following a televised two-hour session by a kangaroo court.
Read more about Nicolae Ceauşescu on Wikipedia.
Read more about adventures in Romania on Travel Explorations.
Stein Morten Lund, 30th April 2015