Romania, 1948-1989: A Historical Overview
Romania was cemented into the Soviet bloc from a military point seven years before the establishment in May 1955 of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. The rationale for this assimilation can be found in the statement made by Soviet Foreign Minister Veaceslav Molotov after the conclusion of the treaty of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between Romania and the Soviet Union on 4 February 1948. The treaty was based on the idea of common defence against 'Germany or any other Power which might be associated with Germany either directly or in any other way'. Its full significance was explained by Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov who said that the treaty it was 'especially important now when the fomentors of a new war from the imperialist camp are endeavouring to knock together political and military blocs directed against the democratic states'.
With the treaty the Communist regime in Romania secured itself externally, thus taking the first fundamental step towards establishing totalitarian rule.
by Dennis Deletant
The second step to totalitarianism was the consolidation of the single mass party composed of an elite and dedicated membership. This was achieved by dissolving the major opposition parties, the National Peasant and National Liberal parties in summer of 1947, and by the forced merger of the Social Democrat Party with the Communist Party on 12 November 1947 as the result of Communist infiltration. At the last SDP Congress on 5 October 1947, a resolution on merger with the Communist Party was passed by acclamation. According to figures presented at the Congress the SDP at that time had some half a million members, only half of whom appear to have joined the newly-fused party which was known as the Romanian Workers' Party and had a combined membership of 1,060,000.
The Romanian Workers’ Party held its First Congress on 21-23 February 1948 and Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was re-elected Secretary General and Ana Pauker, Vasile Luca, and Teohari Georgescu as the other three members of the secretariat. Emphasis was now given to the elite character of the Party and stricter membership requirements were introduced. Prime importance was attached to ideological training which not only helped to reinforce the sense of belonging to an elite, but also inculcated loyalty to the Party and cocooned the member from insidious external influences. The feeling of elitism and exclusivity also served to increase coherence and unity within the Party, although both were threatened by internal dissension, until the threat was removed by Gheorghiu-Dej's purge of Georgescu, Luca and Pauker in 1952.
A third step in the imposition of the Soviet totalitarian model upon Romania was the adoption of the constitution of the People's Republic in April 1948 and the introduction of Soviet-based judicial system. The constitution followed the pattern of the 1936 Soviet constitution. The Party moved swiftly to transform Romania, following the Soviet model and employing Stalinist norms and practices. The nationalization in June 1948 of industrial, banking, insurance, mining, and transport enterprises not only allowed the introduction of centralized quantitative planning but destroyed the economic basis of those stigmatized as class enemies. Confiscating private share holdings and threatening their owners was relatively straightforward; agriculture posed more complex problems. On 2 March 1949, the ownership of land was completely removed from private hands. This permitted the liquidation of the remnants of the old landowning class and of the 'kulaks', a Soviet term defining as 'rich peasants' those who hired labour or let out machinery, irrespective of the size of their holding. The land, livestock and equipment of landowners who possessed property up to the maximum of fifty hectares permitted under the 1945 land law was expropriated without compensation. Virtually overnight the militia moved in and evicted 17,000 families from their homes and moved them to resettlement areas. The confiscated land, totalling almost one million hectares, was either amassed to create state farms or was organized into collectives which were in theory collectively owned but in fact state run since the Ministry of Agriculture directed what crops were to be grown and fixed the prices. Members of the collective were allowed to keep small plots of land not exceeding 0.15 of a hectare.
The majority of peasants, ranging from the landless to those who worked their holdings using only family labour, were organized into state or collective farms. This required extensive coercion. Resistance to collectivization resulted in some 80,000 peasants being imprisoned for their opposition, 30,000 of them being tried in public. Collectivization was completed in 1962 and its results put 60 per of the total area of 15 million hectares of agricultural land in collective farms, 30 per cent in state farms, and left 9 per cent in private hands. The latter was upland whose inaccessibility made it impractical to collectivize.
A new security police, the Securitate, was set up by the Communist Party. Its role, defined under its founding decree no. 221 of 30 August 1948, was 'to defend the democratic conquests and to ensure the security of the Romanian People's Republic against the plotting of internal and external enemies'.  Defence of the 'democratic conquests' meant the maintenance of the Communists in power and thus the new Romanian People's Republic officially certified itself a police state. The top leadership of the Securitate were all agents of the Soviet security police and their activities were supervised by counsellors from the Soviet Ministry of State Security.
At the time of its emergence in the politics of postwar Romania, the Communist Party leadership fell into three groups, categorized to whether they had stayed in the country, or in Moscow during the War, and, if the former, then whether they were in gaol or were operating in successful clandestinity. The first group, conventionally called 'the native faction', was led by Gheorghiu-Dej and was composed largely of workers and activists jailed during the strikes of the 1930s. This group spent the war years in the Târgu-Jiu internment camp and included Gheorghe Apostol, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Miron Constantinescu, Alexandru Drăghici, and Teohari Georgescu. The second faction comprised some members of the pre-war Communist leadership who had taken refuge in Moscow to escape arrest, hence their name the 'Moscow bureau'. This group was led by Ana Pauker, a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern and head of the External Bureau of the RCP. Pauker forged close links with Molotov and Vyshinski; her associates included Vasile Luca (Laszlo Luka), Leonte Răutu (Lev Oigenstein), and Valter Roman (Ernst Neulander). The third group was made up of veteran Communists who had remained in Romania and acted clandestinely. Its leading members were Ştefan Foriş, a Hungarian who was confirmed as secretary general of the RCP by the Comintern in 1940, Remus Koffler, Constantin Pârvulescu, Iosif Rangheţ, Constantin Agiu, and Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu. These three factional divisions to a large extent mapped out the targets for the purges.
Dancing to Stalin's tune eventually allowed Gheorghiu-Dej the chance to consolidate his faction's hold on the Party by removing the principal members of the 'Moscow bureau', Ana Pauker and Vasile Luca, from the leadership, but Gheorghiu-Dej would not have been able to do this without his consummate ability to create options for action as insurance against Stalin's next move. Pauker's downfall was linked to the drive to 'verify' Party membership, which was designed to eliminate Iron Guard elements. The investigation lasted from November 1948 till May 1950. It resulted in a purge which removed 192,000 'exploiting and hostile elements' from the Party who had been granted membership in 1945 by Pauker when she was in charge of the mass recruitment programme.
By 1950, Zionism had replaced Titoism as the heresy of the day and by this token Pauker was suspect. She was further undermined by elections to Party organizations held on 13 March 1951. In the spirit of 'Romanianization' of the Party, which was the corollary of the anti-Semitic drive being launched in all the satellite parties on Stalin's orders, Gheorghiu-Dej managed to have elected figures his own placemen. In May 1951, at the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Party, Gheorghiu-Dej recognized Pauker and Luca as the oldest serving members of the Party leadership but they acknowledged Gheorghiu-Dej as the sole leader.
The arrest of Rudolf Slansky, the Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Communist party, on 24 November 1951 as part of a Zionist 'conspiracy', sent one signal to Pauker that despite her close relations with Stalin and Molotov she was not immune, and another to Gheorghiu-Dej that she was not untouchable. That said, the degree to which pressure from Stalin and/or an internal power struggle within the Romanian Party leadership was responsible for the attacks on Luca, Pauker and Georgescu at a Central Committee plenum held on 29 February and 1 March 1952 which resulted in their eventual purge, still resides in the realm of speculation.
The struggle for power within the Romanian Communist Party
Gheorghiu-Dej's pre-eminence in the Romanian Party was sealed by his appointment, on 2 June 1952, as President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister), a post which he combined with that of Secretary General of the Party. He thereupon intensified the attack on Luca, Pauker and Georgescu. In a speech delivered on 29 June, he blamed Luca for 'retarding the development of heavy industry', for protecting thousands of kulaks by disguising them as middle peasants, and for encouraging capitalism and profiteering. Pauker was condemned for obstructing the organization of cooperative farms and Georgescu for allowing the abuses committed by Luca and Pauker to take place. Pauker and Georgescu were spared arrest but the political liquidation of the former proceeded rapidly. A rumour campaign was launched by the Securitate that she had contacts with Western intelligence agencies through her brother who lived in Israel, and that she had money deposited in a personal bank account in Switzerland. She was dismissed from her posts. Her association with Stalin and Molotov may well explain her gradual elimination from public life as contrasted with Luca's abrupt arrest. The manner of her exit from politics, as well as the fact that she was succeeded as Foreign Minister by Simion Bughici, also a Jew, shows that her demise had little to do with the anti-Semitic drive which was at its height at the time in the rest of Eastern Europe. She lived a secluded life in Bucharest until her death in 1960.
Luca was less fortunate. He was tortured, perhaps in order to extract a confession implicating him with Pătrăşcanu on charges of spying for Britain and the United States, but Stalin's death on 5 March 1953, and the trial and execution of Beria in December removed the pressure on Gheorghiu-Dej for a major show trial and ushered in a power struggle in the Kremlin. The struggle confused the Party leaderships in the satellite states but did not affect the master-servant relationship. In internal and external policies Romania, like the other East European satellite states, continued to imitate the Soviet Union. Gheorhiu-Dej showed himself to be both cunning and cautious in handling the repercussions of the Soviet political succession. By continuing with the trials of 'spies' and 'terrorists' he could arm himself against possible criticism of relaxing 'vigilence' against 'imperialist' enemies and earned himself some time to see which way the wind was blowing in Moscow.
It became clear that separation of power was to be the order of the day when Khrushchev became First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in September 1953 and Georgi Malenkov was made Prime Minister. Yet this very separation of power in the Soviet Union gave Gheorghiu-Dej more room to manoeuvre, and he resisted Soviet pressure to separate his own powers as General Secretary and Premier by introducing collective leadership until April 1954. Before doing so he took perhaps the most cynical decision of a career littered with shameful deeds of repression. In order to eliminate a possible rival to his personal power whom he anticipated might receive the support of the 'reformist' Soviet leadership, he ordered the trial of Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, who had been held in custody since 1948, to be finally staged. Pătrăşcanu was found guilty of ‘espionage’ in favour of Britain and the United States and executed in April 1954.
A clear sign that there had been no concession to Khrushchev's sanitized socialism was Gheorghiu-Dej's reassumption of the position of First Secretary and the reelection at the Second Congress of the Romanian Workers' Party in December 1955 of the same figures to the Political Bureau as had been chosen in May 1952 when the purge of Pauker and Luca had taken place.  Two new members were added, Ceauşescu and Drăghici, thus confirming the parallel rise of the two up the Party ladder. It was not long, however, before Gheorghiu-Dej had to face the implications of another reappraisal of the Stalinist legacy by the new Soviet leader.
Khrushchev's secret speech at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956 threw Gheorghiu-Dej completely off balance and it took him a month to regain his composure. Gheorghiu-Dej had led the Romanian delegation to the Congress (the other members were Iosif Chişinevski, Miron Constantinescu, and Petre Borilă) and his first comment on the Congress was made on 23 March in a report of the Romanian delegation to an enlarged plenum of the RWP Central Committee which was only published in abridged form in Scînteia, six days later. Gheorghiu-Dej admitted only that Stalin had soiled his reputation by indulging in the personality cult and by allowing the security police to use terror; he added that Stalin's 'departure from the Marxist-Leninist concept of the role of the personality' had a 'negative influence'. Nothing was said about Khrushchev's secret speech. 
Gheorghiu-Dej tried in his report to anticipate and deflect criticism of his own allegiance to Stalinism by pointing to, although not naming, Pauker, Luca and Georgescu as the real Stalinists in the Party. Since the dismissal of these leaders the Party, he alleged, had taken decisive steps to democratize itself, citing the second Party Congress of December 1955 as the beginning of the new phase by which collective leadership and internal democracy had been reintroduced. In an allusion to the use of terror by the security police, he recognized that although the security forces had achieved great successes, especially in unmasking Western spies, they had gone beyond the bounds of legality during, it was implied, the period of Georgescu's office. The only way to counter this was to consolidate Party control of the securitate. Drăghici emerged unsullied but ironically the arguments marshalled by Ceauşescu twenty-one years later to denounce Drăghici and to call for a return to legality by the Ministry of the Interior were startlingly like those presented at this plenum by Gheorghiu-Dej.
Gheorghiu-Dej's vulnerability over the indictment of Stalin was exposed by the attack made on him during the plenum by two other delegation members, Constantinescu and Chişinevski, who accused him of following Stalinist principles and employing Stalinist methods. The convergence of their opposition to Dej brought the two together. Chişinevski was perhaps driven by his friendship with Ana Pauker upon whose shoulders Gheorghiu-Dej was attempting to place the burden of past mistakes. Chişinevski himself was heavily implicated in the Pătrăşcanu affair, as was Constantinescu. Constantinescu possibly saw the Khrushchev speech as an opportunity for discussion on the need for liberalization in the Party and country.  For Gheorghiu-Dej, on the other hand, the demolition of Stalin's personality cult was most unnerving in view of his pliancy in the hands of the Soviet dictator, and he did his best to play it down, reserving it, as a US source remarked, as 'matter for party cabal and not for public discussion.' 
Gheorghiu-Dej's caution in this respect is shown by his convocation of a secret meeting at the Floreasca sports' hall at the end of March 1956, only a few days after the Central Committee plenum. The audience of three thousand represented the Party elite. The meeting was chaired by Gheorghiu-Dej and it was announced that note-taking was forbidden. He read out a shortened version of Khrushchev's secret speech to the Soviet Twenty-Second Congress, commenting that the speech had no relevance to the Romanian Party since 'thanks to the consistent Marxist-Leninist policy of the Central Committee' the excesses of the personality cult had been eliminated in 1952. In the six speeches that followed, all made by minor figures in the Party, only one showed a discordant tone, calling for an assessment of the Party leaders' actions in the light of Khrushchev's criticisms. Gheorghiu-Dej's speech fixed the Party line for the next few years; it placed the RCP amongst the most hardline of the Communist camp. The meeting itself was of major significance. It was the only one in Romania in which Khrushchev's text was presented in public; it showed the resistance of the Party leadership to the process of destalinization; and finally, it highlighted the weakness of opposition to Gheorghiu-Dej within the Party. By refusing to embark on destalinization with the backing of the Party cadres, Gheorghiu-Dej managed to reinforce his own control of the Party and to bind it more closely to his person. 
The Impact of the Hungarian Uprising
The Hungarian uprising allowed the Romanian leadership to amply demonstrate its fidelity to the Soviet Union. The revolt began with a massive popular demonstration in Budapest on 23 October 1956 during which the Stalin monument was destroyed and the national flag hoisted with the emblem of the People's Republic removed. The repercussions were soon felt in Romania. On 27 October, there were student and workers' demonstrations in Bucharest, Cluj, Iaşi and Timişoara. The emphasis of the student protests was upon the abolition of the teaching of Russian in schools and universities. At the polytechnic in Timişoara a group of students, namely Caius Muţiu, Teodor Stanca, Aurel Baghiu, Ladislau Nagy and others, backed by a lecturer Gheorghe Pop, held a secret meeting where on 28 October 1956 at which they decided to convene a general meeting of students from all the educational establishments in Timişoara to discuss the meagreness of food in the student canteens and shortcomings in the teaching. The meeting was arranged over the heads of the polytechnic administration and the Party organization and took place at the faculty of mechanical engineering on 30 October. More than 1000 students attended. According to a report prepared by the Party Regional Committee at the time the Party representatives, headed by Petre Lupu and Ilie Verdeţ, were jeered and forced to leave the hall, whereupon the army units were called in to seal off the polytechnic campus and arrests were made.  The protests, however, made their mark. On 5 November, Miron Constantinescu addressed a student meeting in Cluj and promised that the compulsory classes in Russian at universities would be abolished and living conditions raised. Two weeks later he was made Minister of Education.
On 29 October, railwaymen at the Griviţa yards in Bucharest held a protest meeting calling for improved conditions of work and in Iaşi there were street demonstrations in support of better food supplies. An exceptionally poor harvest had drastically cut food production and queues in Bucharest and the other main towns were commonplace. Gheorghiu-Dej and a Romanian delegation cut short a visit to Yugoslavia on 28 October to address the crisis. Thousands of arrests were made in the centres of protest, especially amongst students who participated in meetings in the Transylvanian capital of Cluj and in Timişoara. One of the largest meetings took place in Bucharest. In the clamp-down persons amnestied in 1955 were also re-arrested. Khrushchev himself alluded to the demonstrations in an address to the Moscow Komsomol on 8 November 1956 when he said that there were 'some unhealthy moods' among students 'in one of the educational establishments in Romania' and he congratulated the RCP on having dealt with them quickly and effectively.  On 30 October, the Timişoara, Oradea and Iaşi regions were placed under military rule as Soviet troops were brought in across the Romanian border in the east and concentrated on the frontier with Hungary in the west. To placate the workers the government announced on 29 October that the minimum wage would be raised, and special concessions were given to railwaymen in the form of free travel. On 2 November, Gheorghe Apostol addressed a raiwaymen's meeting and promised help. Gheorghiu-Dej, himself a railwayman, stayed away. 
Convergence of interest with the Soviet Union and not just slavish obedience determined the stance adopted by Gheorghiu-Dej and his colleagues. They had two main concerns: a successful revolt in Budapest against Communist rule might spread to the two-million strong Hungarian community in Transylvania, thus sparking an anti-Communist rising in Romania; and a non-Communist Hungary might lay claim to parts of Transylvania. Their fears had been fuelled by the participation of Hungarian students and workers in demonstrations in Cluj, Timişoara and the Autonomous Magyar Region. Khrushchev and Malenkov paid a secret visit to Bucharest on 1 November 1956 to discuss the Hungarian crisis with Romanian, Bulgarian and Czechoslovak leaders and, according to some Western reports, Khrushchev demanded that Romanian troops be used to crush the Budapest revolt. Gheorghiu-Dej and Bodnăraş allegedly replied that, owing to a large Hungarian minority in the Romanian army and general sympathy for Hungary, the army could not be relied upon for such an operation.  Romanian reluctance to play a direct military role could also have been attributed to the fear of irreparably antagonizing the Hungarian minority in Romania, but such a stance is contradicted by the memoirs of Khrushchev who claimed to have received offers of military assistance from the Romanian and Bulgarian leaders. 
One thing is clear. Gheorghiu-Dej and Bodnăraş pushed for firm military intervention against Imre Nagy's government and the Soviet troops based in Romania had been among the first to cross the Hungarian border on 26 October to reinforce the Soviet presence. A key figure in the Romanian Party's support for Soviet intervention in Hungary was Emil Bodnăraş. During the uprising, he was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications and in this capacity he supervised the widening of roads of strategic importance to Soviet troops for their transit through Romania. He was probably instrumental in making arrangements for the detention of Imre Nagy in Romania for on 21 November he and Gheorghiu-Dej paid a visit to Janos Kadar, the new First Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party, and on the following day Nagy was abducted by KGB officers and flown to Bucharest where he was granted what the Romanian Foreign Minister Grigore Preoteasa termed 'asylum'. In fact, he was held, along with other members of his government, in a securitate safe house in a locality just north of Bucharest, where their interrogation was coordinated by Boris Shumilin, chief KGB adviser 'for counter-revolutionary affairs', and not allowed the visits from UN officials promised by Preoteasa to prove that he was not under duress.  Shumilin permitted Valter Roman, a senior RCP member, to question Nagy's associates.  Many other prominent suppporters of Nagy were interrogated in Romania, among them the Marxist critic Georgy Lukacs.
Gheorghiu-Dej's concern over the reaction of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania to the uprising led him to pursue a policy of integration and his first step was to dilute the provision for Hungarian language teaching in schools, making it more difficult to receive a Hungarian-language education up to university level in Romania. At the apex of the system of primary and secondary education in Hungarian stood the Hungarian-language Bolyai university in Cluj, the Dr Petru Groza agricultural college in the same city, and the Medical-Pharmaceutical Faculty at Târgu-Mureş. After 1956 the system was whittled away. Hungarian-language instruction began to be moved from single-language schools to dual language ones.  This effectively blurred the distinct status of the language and was carried to its logical conclusion with the merger of the Bolyai university in Cluj with the Romanian-language Babeş university in the same city in 1959.
Romania was the Soviet Union's most active ally during the Hungarian crisis. Its support of the Soviet Union went beyond beyond the political arena into the domain of practical assistance and open encouragment. Gheorghiu-Dej and Bodnăraş were the first foreign leaders to visit Budapest after the Soviet invasion and in their official communiqué they opined that the Soviet action 'was necessary and correct.'  The Romanian government echoed Soviet propaganda, denouncing the 'counter-revolution' as the work of 'reactionary Fascists' provoked by 'Western imperialists'. Additional bases were provided on Romanian soil to the Soviet forces, roads were widened, and railway traffic interrupted to carry military transport. Soviet satisfaction with Romania's role during October and November 1956 stood to the country's advantage two years later when Khrushchev decided to withdraw Soviet troops.
The Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Romania
According to Khrushchev's memoirs it was Bodnăraş who, as Minister of War, first raised the question of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Romania during the Soviet leader's visit in August 1955.  Khrushchev was convinced that the matter had already been discussed by the Romanian Party leadership and Bodnăraş was no doubt chosen to broach the subject because of his impeccable credentials: his past services to the Soviet Union, the confidence and respect which Khrushchev acknowledged he enjoyed amongst the Soviet leaders; and the senior position he occupied (he was one of the three vice-premiers). Khrushchev records that Bodnăraş justified the subject by pointing out that there was little threat to Soviet security interests because Romania was hemmed in by other Socialist countries and that there was 'nobody across the Black Sea from us except the Turks.’  To suggest such a move so soon after Stalin's death was certainly extremely bold and may imply, as Sergiu Verona writes, 'some sort of clairvoyance and possibly even some political gambling.'  The international situation in 1955 did not permit the Soviet leader to act on the idea straightaway but the idea of withdrawal had been planted in his mind and he used it at the time he regarded most appropriate.
That judgement had to be made firstly, in the context of a wider scenario composed by Khrushchev for his policy of a new opening towards the West, and secondly, with regard to the Romanian Party's ability to ensure internal security. The key foreign policy element was the unilateral Soviet move to withdraw a limited number of troops from Eastern Europe as a whole which, Khrushchev hoped, might prompt a similar response from NATO. It was no coincidence that the Soviet announcement of the withdrawal from Romania was made on the same day, 24 May 1958, as that of Soviet troop cuts of 119,000 in Eastern Europe. Romania's strategic position, flanked as it was by other Warsaw Pact states, made it a safer proposition for the Soviet Union on security grounds for a troop withdrawal, and any fears about Romania's reliability as an ally had been dispelled by its actions during the Hungarian revolution. By the same token, the precautionary measure of keeping a large number of Soviet troops in Hungary after the revolution allowed Khrushchev to partially offset any overall reduction of Soviet troops in the area.
On 25 July 1958, the last of the 35,000 Soviet troops left Romania. The most significant impact of Soviet withdrawal upon the Romanian leadership was its psychological one. Romania was still tied firmly within the Soviet bloc. Soviet air and naval bases remained on Romanian territory, and Soviet divisions in southern Ukraine and across the Prut in the Moldavian Republic could descend at once in an emergency. Nevertheless, whatever the Soviet motives for the withdrawal, Gheorghiu-Dej could regard it as a concession wrought from the Soviets and with the confidence thus gained could embark, albeitly cautiously, on policies which placed Romanian above Soviet interests.
A New Period of Terror
To compensate for the Soviet withdrawal, and to allay Soviet fears that it might demolish the underpinning of the Romanian regime Gheorghiu-Dej approved the immediate introduction of stringent internal security measures in order to maintain the Party's control. Amendments were made to the penal code which were even more draconian in their remit than the provisions for the death penalty enacted in 1949. Under decree 318 of 21 July 1958 new crimes attracting the death penalty were defined. Article 9 of the code imposed the death penalty on any Romanians contacting foreigners to perpetrate an act 'which could cause the Romanian state to become involved in a declaration of neutrality or in the declaration of war'. This was clearly designed to deter those who might be tempted by the example of Imre Nagy in Hungary who, during the 1956 revolution, proclaimed his country's neutrality and thus, implicitly, its withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. That temptation might prove even greater in the absence of a Soviet occupation force. The definition of 'economic sabotage' was enlarged to include theft and bribery, as was that of so-called 'hooligan' offences committed by juveniles. By the autumn of 1958 the first death sentences for the new crimes were applied.  The application of these new measures, especially that of decree no. 89 of 1958 which ordered the arrest of former members of the Iron Guard, led to a rapid rise in the numbers of political prisoners. If in 1955 there were, according to official figures, 6,406 persons imprisoned for offences against state security (this does not include those imprisoned without trial for which official figures are not available), this number had fallen to 6,211 in January 1958 only to rise in December of that year to 10,125, and in January 1960 to 17,613. 
A further decree of 1958 signalled another wave of purges from government employment of former officers in the royal army, former landowners, persons with a record of 'political' crime, and children of all the above. On a much more petty scale, divulging the location of Romanian archives also attracted the death penalty.  It was not just the exceptional severity of these new measures which sent a clear signal to the Romanian people that the regime of terror was not to be relaxed; the failure to publicize them in the press or on the radio (the provisions were merely printed in the Monitorul Oficial) generated uncertainty about the legislation and so amplified the fear inculcated into the population. The apparent randomness in the legislation's application by the instruments of the police state served perfectly to enhance the regime's control by terror at, ironically, the moment when the most public Soviet symbol of power, the Red Army, was withdrawn.
Autonomy from the Soviet Union
Behind the irony lies the explanation: Gheorghiu-Dej was making a distinction between the Soviet model and the Soviet Union. In opting for the former, Gheorghiu-Dej took his Party and the country on a new course of autonomy from his Soviet overlord by refusing to accept for Romania the role within Comecom of 'breadbasket' for the industrialized members such as East Germany and Czechoslovakia. There is also a paradox here, as Michael Shafir has pointed out. Gheorghiu-Dej's commitment to the Leninist-Stalinist values of industrialization turned him into a 'national communist.'  Furthermore, this same consistency as a Stalinist eventually led to a diminution of institutionalized terror.
The rift with Moscow was produced gradually and unevenly, with fluctuations in its development. The campaign to establish Romania's new course was at once active and reactive. It was not only in furtherance of Gheorghiu-Dej's aim to distance Romania from the Soviet Union, thereby gaining greater popularity for his party, but it was also a reaction to two major developments which posed a threat to Romania's new course. The first was Khrushchev's plan, presented in Moscow on 3-5 August 1961 to members of Comecon, to give the body a supranational planning role which, if accepted by Romania, would have obliged her to remain a supplier of raw materials, and to abandon her programme of rapid industrialization, thus risking economic chaos at home. Such a move would have made the country susceptible to further economic exploitation by the Soviet Union, which was precisely what Gheorghiu-Dej had sought to avoid by embarking on the policy of industrialization.
The second major development was the Sino-Soviet rift, which first emerged at the Eighth Congress of the Romanian Communist Party in June 1960. Gheorghiu-Dej used the Chinese formula of equality of all socialist states to justify his own autonomous policies towards the Soviet Union and received Chinese backing for his rejection of the Comecon plan.  The rift was indispensible to Gheorghiu-Dej's challenge to Khrushchev  , but the Romanian leader was careful to preserve neutrality in the dispute. In an effort to mediate in the conflict a Romanian delegation visited Peking in February 1964 but it returned empty-handed and this led only to further arm-twisting by Khrushchev to bring the Romanians back into line. One source states that Khrushchev formally, but not publicly, raised the question of territorial revision in Transylvania during the Romanians' stopover in Moscow on their return from China, and even indicated a willingness to hold a plebiscite in Bessarabia as well as in Transylvania.  This linkage of the Transylvanian issue with the Sino-Soviet conflict unnerved the Romanians and pressure from Moscow was stepped up in the same month when a plan to create an economic region encompassing much of the Moldavian SSR, half of Romania, and part of Bulgaria was launched in the Soviet capital. Known as the Valev plan after its author who was a professor of economics at Moscow university, it met with a hostile response from the Romanian government which publicly condemned it in the Romanian media.
These signals from Khrushchev, coupled with the realization that the Chinese were unable to help the Romanians economically, drove the Romanians into a public declaration of their autonomy which, apart from pre-empting any move by the Kremlin, would also stake a claim to Western political and economic support against Moscow. The Romanian policy was formally legitimized in the Statement on the Stand of the Romanian Workers' Party Concerning the Problems of the World Communist and Working Class Movement which was published in Scînteia at the end of April 1964. At the same time the Party's Central Committee authorized the publication of a manuscript by Karl Marx relating to the Bessarabian problem in deliberate response to the Soviet threats.
Khrushchev's removal on 14 October 1964 as Soviet leader offered Gheorghiu-Dej a further chance to consolidate his break with Moscow. Exploiting the change in the Soviet leadership, he summoned the Soviet ambassador on 21 October and requested him to withdraw the KGB counsellors from Romania. Moscow reacted quickly and furiously. On the following day, the Chairman of the KGB, Vladimir Yefimovici Semichastny, sent a telegram to Drăghici reminding him that Romania lived 'under the Soviet protective umbrella' and that it would regret Gheorghiu-Dej's move. A similar telegram from General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, the head of the First Chief Directorate and former MGB adviser in Bucharest, landed on the desk of General Nicolae Doicaru, the head of the DGIE. In November, Sakharovsky arrived unexpectedly at Bucharest, followed by Semichastny. 
The discussions between Gheorghiu-Dej and Brezhnev in connection with the withdrawal of KGB counsellors from Bucharest allegedly went on until the end of November and also involved Aleksandr Shelepin, who until December 1961 had been KGB chairman and had been moved to head the Committee of Party and State Control which oversaw the work of the KGB. Sakharovsky was particularly wounded, since he had nursed the securitate into being in 1948, but eventually the Soviet leadership relented and in December 1964 the counsellors were withdrawn, being allowed to take all the contents of the flats which they had requisitioned. Thus the Romanian security and intelligence services became the first such agencies of a Warsaw Pact country to get rid of its Soviet counsellors, and, as regards the Foreign Intelligence Directorate, the DGIE, the only foreign intelligence agency in the Eastern bloc to enjoy this privilege down to the collapse of Communism in 1989. This did not mean, of course, that it ceased to collaborate with the KGB.
Gheorghiu-Dej's rift with Moscow, by striking the chord of deep anti-Russian sentiment felt by most Romanians, attracted some support for his regime. Drawing on the inherent anti-Russian sentiment offered Gheorghiu-Dej a simple way of increasing the regime's popularity whilst at the same time putting a distance between himself and his Soviet master. A series of anti-Russian measures introduced in 1963, which involved closing the Russian Institute in Bucharest, eliminating Russian as a compulsory school subject, and replacing the Russian names of streets and public buildings with Romanian ones, signalled the wider autonomy from Moscow. With these changes in Romania's relationship with the Soviet Union came a notable shift in the severity of police rule.
The Relaxation of Terror
According to official statistics, the number of persons sentenced to imprisonment for crimes 'against state security' (i.e. against the one-party state), stood in January 1960 at 17,613. The first notable decrease occurred between January and December 1962 when the number fell from 16,327 to 13,017 as many former Iron Guardists were freed. In the next twelve months, following pardons pardons decreed by Gheorghiu-Dej in 1963 (nos. 5 and 767), the figure fell to 9,333 and in 1964 (no. 176 of April and no. 411 of July, most of the remainder were released.  The amnesty marked the end of an era of political terror which had cost the lives of tens of thousands of Romanians, ranging from the pre-Communist political, economic, and cultural elite, but the instrument of that terror, the securitate remained intact, unreformed, and ubiquitous. It, and its powerful and ambitious head, the Minister of the Interior Alexandru Drăghici who had held office since May 1952, remained a constant reminder of the past and a threat to the future.
In late January 1965, the first signs of serious illness appeared in Gheorghiu-Dej. He was treated for cancer of the lungs but despite this the disease spread to his liver and foreign doctors were called in. On the afternoon of 19 March, the party secretary lapsed into a coma and died. Three days later, on 22 March 1965, Nicolae Ceauşescu emerged as the first secretary of the Romanian Communist Party.
The Rise of Nicolae Ceauşescu
The party was still inextricably linked with the terror of Romania's post-war history. Born the third of ten children, on 26 January 1918, into a poor peasant family in the north-east of Oltenia, Ceauşescu himself could point to a youth spent on the wrong side of authority. After leaving home at the age of eleven to find work in Bucharest, he joined the Communist Party as a teenager and went to gaol on four separate occasions between 1933 and 1938 for his political convictions (since 1924, the Party had been outlawed). By 1936 he was a secretary of a regional committee of the Union of Communist Youth and two years later was promoted secretary of the UCY's Central Committee. In September 1939 he was tried in absentia and sentenced to three and half years in gaol. He continued to work underground until July 1940, when he was finally caught. 
During the war Ceauşescu was held in various prisons until, in August 1943, he was moved to the internment camp at Târgu Jiu where he remained until the overthrow of Antonescu in August 1944. It was here that he met senior members of the Romanian Communist Party, among them Gheorghiu-Dej, Chivu Stoica, who became president of the Council of State when Ceauşescu was later elected first secretary, and Ion Gheorghe Maurer, who served as prime minister under both Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceauşescu. After release Ceauşescu occupied a number of party posts before being made regional secretary for Oltenia in November 1946 in preparation for the general election due that month. Ceauşescu's experience of local Party work undoubtedly made him particularly useful to Gheorghiu-Dej as the planks in the platform of Communization of Romania were put into place. When the programme for the collectivization of agriculture was announced in March 1949, Ceauşescu was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as a deputy minister. In the following year, he was transferred to the same position in the Ministry of Armed Forces, with special responsibility for the 'Higher Political Directorate of the Army', the party body set up to bring into being a People's Army. In was in this capacity that Ceauşescu served an invaluable apprenticeship for ensuring his complete control of the armed forces when he later acquired dictatorial power.
When Gheorghiu-Dej purged his major rivals in May 1952, he promoted Ceauşescu to full membership of the Central Committee, and after the execution of Pătrăşcanu in April 1954, he made both Ceauşescu and Drăghici candidate members of the Politburo, and full members in the following year. The growth in party membership that Gheorghiu-Dej called for at the 1955 Party Congress was supervised by Ceauşescu in his capacity as Central Committee secretary for organization and cadres. This control exerted by Ceauşescu over party appointments for much of the following decade gave him a powerful base on which to seek election as party leader after Gheorghiu-Dej's and, subsequently, to consolidate his position.
On paper Ceauşescu was but one of a number of senior party officials who could put a case for election to the leadership. Yet only he, Drăghici, Chivu Stoica and Gheorghe Apostol were not ruled out from the post by virtue of their ethnic origin, the other Politburo members being of Bulgarian (Coliu), Ukrainian (Bodnăraş) or German (Maurer) background. The manoeuvres which enabled Ceauşescu to emerge as first secretary were not made public and it was only after 1989 that some light was shed upon them. Although Gheorghiu-Dej appears to have designated Apostol as his successor, Ion Gheorghe Maurer, who had been elected President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) as recently as 12 March, proposed Ceauşescu as first secretary. Maurer gave the reasons for his choice in a number of interviews after Ceauşescu's overthrow, the principal one being that he regarded Ceauşescu as having the courage to stand up to the Russians; at the same time Maurer let it be understood that he regretted his action.  Drăghici, as the long-serving Minister of Internal Affairs, was feared by everyone, Stoica was not considered up to the job, and Apostol was deemed too headstrong. According to one inside source, Maurer did a deal with Ceauşescu: Ceauşescu would support Maurer's nomination as Prime Minister (he did so on 12 March) and, in exchange, after Dej's death, Maurer would propose Ceauşescu as first secretary.  In this way Maurer outmanoeuvred Apostol. Stoica was bought off with the post of president of the Council of State.
Most surprised by Maurer's proposal was Drăghici, who considered himself as close to Gheorghiu-Dej as anyone else in the politburo. What Drăghici failed to appreciate, or did not want to appreciate, was that his election as first secretary would have compromised the party, for as Minister of the Interior he had presided over too many crimes and abuses. It was precisely the relaxation of terror, instituted by Gheorghiu-Dej, which characterized the early years of Nicolae Ceauşescu's leadership of the Romanian Communist Party.
On succeeding Gheorghiu-Dej Ceauşescu continued those policies which had earned his predecessor the description of a national communist: rapid industrialization accompanied by an autonomous line in foreign policy. In pursuing an autonomous foreign policy Ceauşescu was able not only to offer the West an opportunity to exploit an apparent breach in the Communist bloc, but also to draw on his people's dislike for their Soviet overlord. Romania was the first country in the Eastern bloc to establish diplomatic relations with West Germany in 1967, and did not break diplomatic ties with Israel after the Six-Day War. Autonomy led axiomatically to greater popularity and, inevitably, to a cultivation of national sentiment, appeals to which were made in addressing the situation of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and in raising the issue of Bessarabia.
The 'Problem of the National Minorities'
The Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 presented Ceauşescu with his first major challenge concerning the Hungarian minority. The convergence of Soviet and Hungarian interest was once again mirrored in the strong criticism which both governments levelled at Ceauşescu for condemning the invasion. Fears that unrest among the minorities might be used as an excuse by the Soviet leaders to intervene in Romania led Ceauşescu to make a rapid tour of the major urban areas with significant Hungarian populations at the end of August. His speeches in the two Hungarian counties of Covasna and Harghita were concessionary: ten major enterprises would be built there during the current five-year plan, for 'there can be no true equality of rights, the national question cannot be considered solved, if material conditions are not ensured.'  Two telegrams from groups of Hungarian and German intellectuals in support of the party's attitude over Czechoslovakia were widely published.  In September, Ceauşescu visited the counties bordering Hungary and Yugoslavia, obviously to nip any possible ethnic problems in the bud and to consolidate his position as a leader of all the peoples of Romania. Ceauşescu's fear of an outbreak of minority discontent was probably exaggerated: the Hungarian contribution of troops to the invasion of Czechoslovakia aroused as much disapproval amongst Hungarians in Hungary as it did amongst the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, and a common fear of the Soviet Union helped to improve relations between the ethnic groups in Transylvania. This improvement was reflected in increasing the number of radio and television programmes in Hungarian and German, and in extending the print-runs of minority language publications. Greater representation of Hungarian and German interests was suggested by the establishment in 1969 of separate Hungarian and German Nationality Workers Councils.
Romanian sensitivity to the status of its German minority had grown as a consequence of the Polish government's decision to allow members of its own German minority to emigrate to West Germany after the signing of the non-aggression treaty between the two states on 7 December 1970.  The Polish decision prompted calls from the Germans in Romania to be allowed to emigrate in greater than hitherto numbers, to which the Romanian Government responded by launching a press campaign highighting the difficulties experienced by those who had already left. Ceauşescu himself spoke out against German emigration, stressing that there would never be 'any agreement or understanding with anyone on the removal of of the population of German or any other nationality,'  while official spokesmen pointed to the advantage to the Romanian economy of the skilled German workers. No mention was made of the secret agreement reached by Ceauşescu with West Germany at the time of the opening of diplomatic relations in 1967 for the payment in Deutsche marks to the Romanian Government of a 'head tax' on each German allowed to emigrate. The sums to be paid by the West German government ranged from 4,000 to 10,000 DM, depending upon the age and professional qualifications of the persons concerned.  These monies were transferred to the Romanian government in the form of credits. In addition, similar sums were also demanded unofficially by officers in the Directorate of Passports of the Ministry of the Interior in Bucharest, or by the local securitate commandants in the provinces via whom applications for emigration had to be made, from those seeking to emigrate. In practice, the ransom for the Germans of Transylvania and the Banat was paid twice, once by the West German government, and a second time by the family, and an idea of the sums involved can be gauged from the fact that almost 200,000 Germans emigrated from Romania between 1967 and 1989.
There were no such similar hard currency spoils to be made from the Hungarian minority. The Hungarian currency was a soft one and presented little interest. Second, from the ideological point of view, emigration of an ethnic minority from one fraternal socialist state to another, could be construed as a failure to solve the 'minority problem' in the state of origin. For the Hungarian government there was certainly every reason to discourage large-scale emigration of the Transylvanian Hungarians to Hungary: it would pose enormous social and economic problems since a considerable proportion of a population some one fifth the size of the total population of Hungary was involved.
Ceauşescu Consolidates his Authority
Ceauşescu's denunciation of securitate abuses and the reforms of 1965-1968 created an atmosphere of optimism and an expectation of even broader liberalization. The events in Czechoslovakia during the 'Prague Spring' elicited a sympathetic response from the party since they conformed with the Romanian advocacy of the view that each Communist regime was entitled to determine its own policies without outside interference, explicit since the Comecon clash. In public statements and speeches, such as that made by Ceauşescu at the plenary session of the Central Committee of in March 1968, this view was reiterated: 'No one can claim a monopoly of absolute truth as regards the development of social life; and no one can claim to have the last word in the realm of practice as well as in social and philosophical thought.' 
However, one must be cautious not to draw too close a parallel between the Czechoslovak and Romanian experience of early 1968. None of the internal reforms emanating from the party in Romania, for example, the return to the pre-Communist division of the country into counties and the restructuring of education, weakened to any degree its leading role. This is not to deny that a measure of 'liberalization' was admitted by the Party. Indeed, Ceauşescu in the same March speech invited intellectuals to participate in a discussion about political life in Romania in which they should not show 'the slightest apprehension or reserve in public debates about internal politics.'  Of equal importance for writers and intellectuals was the plenary meeting of 25 April of the Central Committee at which Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, executed in 1954, was rehabilitated and the abuses of the Minister of the Interior at the time, Alexandru Drăghici, condemned.
At the same time, on the economic level, Romanians were beginning to enjoy the rise in living standards which the whole of Eastern Europe, except Albania, experienced in the late 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. Car ownership increased significantly as the Romanian version of the Renault, christened Dacia, began to roll off the assembly lines at a newly-built factory in Pite]ti; the number of cars sold annually jumped from 9,000 in 1965 to 25,000 in 1970, and 45,000 in 1975. Sales of television sets, refridgerators and vacuum-cleaners, most of them Romanian-made, also soared.  Although caution must be exercised in accepting all of these figures at their face value, in view of the propensity of factories in inflate production figures, they do reflect a trend which was evident to the population. A relaxation of the ideological controls governing popular entertainment allowed Romanian television to show Western television serials and sagas, most notably 'The Saint', which led to Bucharest streets being deserted between 8pm and 9pm on Saturdays evenings. The opening of a Pepsi-Cola bottling-plant in Constanţa in 1968 represented the ultimate symbol of concessions to Western 'capitalism'. Of even greater importance for the population's moral given the severe shortage of accommodation for workers moved to the cities to provide the manpower for the new factories, was the regime's programme of apartment building and its toleration of private house constructions on rural plots. The number of dwellings built rose from 56,000 in 1955, to 133,000 in 1960, and 192,000 in 1965. In the period 1966-70, 648,000 flats and houses were completed, and from 1971-75, 751,000. 
A consequence of the massive drive to industrialize under Gheorghiu-Dej had been the creation of what might be termed a middle class of technicians, scientists, and economic managers. The ability of the new class to articulate a group interest was linked to the degree to which the party leadership was prepared to relax its monopoly of central planning and to introduce a measure of managerial autonomy, as the New Economic Mechanism in Hungary was to show in 1968. However, any such reformist ideas that Ceauşescu may have had were abandoned by him in 1967.  The Central Committee's rigid control over central planning was maintained, thereby suffocating any collective voice that the technocrats might have found in influencing policy. Ceauşescu's failure to reform therefore prevented any move towards market socialism and the development of even the most slender political constituency within the party which a more pluralistic economic approach might have spawned.
The Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968)
The stifling of the technocracy left the intellectuals in the forefront of public life. Ironically, it was the Warsaw pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 which allowed Ceauşescu to discover that appeals to national sentiment were an efficient mechanism of social control and personal dictatorship. It persuaded him of the rewards to be gained by giving emphasis to national symbols and to his own importance. The huge rally in Bucharest on 21 August and its acclamation of Ceauşescu's denunciation of the invasion proved to be his finest hour. It left an indelible mark upon him and whetted an appetite for the excesses of the personality cult. Significantly, Ceauşescu's defiance on that day also prompted several prominent writers to join the Romanian Communist Party. Their action shows how superficial it would be to dismiss all postures of writers as being dictated by opportunism or self-interest.
The most forceful affirmation of independence from Soviet dictates was Ceauşescu's refusal to participate in, and condemnation of, the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. In view of the Romanian party's policy of 'non-intervention in the domestic affairs of another state', propounded in 1964 during its rift with the Soviet Union, Ceauşescu's refusal to join the other East European members of the Warsaw Pact in their invasion of Czechoslovakia on 21 August was hardly surprising; his denunciation of the invasion was. It was an act of courage for which he and his country gained a worldwide respect. Ceauşescu's defiance of the Soviet Union seems all the more remarkable if we are to believe claims from Romanian military intelligence, the DIMSM, that at the meeting of Warsaw Pact heads of state in the Crimea in July, to which Ceauşescu and Dubček were not invited, a decision was taken to invade Romania as well as Czechoslovakia, on 22 August.  An invasion was averted only as a result of delicate crisis-management talks between Ceauşescu and Leonid Brezhnev. Yet Brezhnev’s determination to bring errant Warsaw Pact members to heel through the use of force left Ceauşescu in no doubt that he might seek on some future occasion to put pressure militarily on Romania by using the lever of Warsaw Pact exercises on Romanian soil. By insisting in spring 1970 that such exercises take place only on the basis of a bilateral convention between Romania and the Soviet Union  – no such conventions had existed heretofore – Ceauşescu sought to circumscribe the Soviet Union’s military assumptions regarding its junior Warsaw Pact partner whilst at the same time erecting a legal obstacle to any Soviet-led use of force against Bucharest.
The Paradox of Foreign Policy
Ceauşescu's reaction to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia drew its political justification from the Romanian Central Committee declaration of 1964. This declaration remained throughout the period of Ceauşescu's rule the fundamental premise upon which Romanian autonomy within the Warsaw Pact and Comecon was based. Romanian foreign policy under Ceauşescu thus showed a continuity after 1968 which, by contrast, domestic policy lacked. In foreign policy, Ceauşescu demonstrated the same skill, sensitivity and resourcefulness that had been displayed by Gheorghiu-Dej and Maurer in taking Romania on its autonomous course. In domestic policy, he showed the opposite, becoming tyrannical and insensitive to the needs of the population.
A fellow Communist who shared a cell with Ceauşescu before the war detected in him, even at this early age 'an unlimited confidence in himself which was nurtured by his equally unlimited lack of confidence in everyone else and especially in those to whom he was professionally subordinated.'  That lack of confidence became manifest in his refusal to accept advice, a refusal which meant that he would accept only sycophants around him and these appeared in increasing numbers throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His intolerance of others drew him closer to his wife, Elena, a woman of unbounded ambition and vindictiveness, who exploited her husband's growing paranoia, thereby encouraging him to give reign to his prejudices and pretensions. Her pernicious influence was most manifest in the preposterous personality cult which was generated around her husband and which, in the course of the 1970s, encompassed her as well as she began to assume more of her husband's powers. Inconsistency, unpredictability, capriciousness and obtuseness became the hallmarks of Ceauşescu's rule. It not only humiliated the Romanians, but robbed them of their dignity in their everyday lives and reduced them in the 1980s to an animal state, concerned only with the problems of day-to-day survival.
The great paradox of Ceauşescu's rule in this period is that his mismanagement of Romania's internal affairs contrasted so starkly with his conduct of foreign policy. At the beginning of the 1970s, Ceauşescu could still bask in the applause and respect which the international community had accorded to him in August 1968 and he exploited this to the full. An appreciation of Romania's political usefulness as a thorn in the flesh of the Soviet Union prompted a period of increasing Western courtship of Ceauşescu, exemplified by President Nixon's visit in August 1969. The Romanian leader returned the visit in December 1970. There followed a succession of economic favours. In 1971 Romania was admitted to GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) and in 1972 it was accepted into the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Yet this Western cultivation of Ceauşescu produced a second paradox: it took place at the very time when he was lapsing into what one observer has described as 'neo-Stalinism without terror'.  Whereas Romanians felt that Ceauşescu had been moving forward at the end of the 1960s, they regarded him in the early 1970s as moving backwards.
An obvious question springs to mind, namely, 'Why did Ceauşescu fail to live up to the promise he showed in the late 1960s ?' One explanation given is that it was part of a strategy of consolidation adopted by Ceauşescu.  By neutralizing the old guard of Alexandru Drăghici, Gheorghe Apostol (sent as ambassador to Argentina), and Chivu Stoica, (removed as President of the State Council in 1967), Ceauşescu was able to show he was a reformer. By the Tenth Party Congress in 1969, he had crammed the Executive Committee of the Party with his own supporters such as Manea Mănescu, Paul Niculescu-Mizil, Vasile Patilineţ, Virgil Trofin and Ilie Verdeţ. Only Emil Bodnăraş and Ion Gheorghe Maurer survived from the Gheorghiu-Dej leadership to accompany Ceauşescu in the Presidium. Maurer retired from politics in March 1974, and Bodnăraş died in Janaury 1976, leaving Ceauşescu surrounded only by 'yes-men' whom he had promoted. Each one of these figures became a victim of their patron's capriousness, as 'rotation of cadres' became a principal plank of Ceauşescu's political manoeuvring. By constantly shuffling his pack of pliant cardboard characters, the party secretary was able to prevent each one of them from establishing a serious party clientele and a position in the public eye, thereby eliminating any possible opposition.
Disillusion with domestic policies came in July 1971. A short time before, Ceauşescu had visited China and North Korea. It is now clear that this visit aroused in him an admiration for the cultural revolution and for the grandiose spectacles dedicated to the personality cult.  The stage-managed adulation of Mao and Kim Il Sung, so meticulously choreographed, fired Ceauşescu's imagination and he demanded the same upon his return to Romania. While Ceauşescu may have genuinely believed that a drive against inertia was required, his proposals for the 'political-ideological activity, the Marxist-Leninist education of Party members and of all the working people', presented at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the RCP on 6 July 1971 filled most intellectuals with despair. The seventeen proposals, or 'theses' as they were popularly dubbed, were elevated to the status of a 'mini cultural revolution' by most observers. Although couched in the term 'socialist humanism', they in fact constituted a return to the method of socialist realism, and were therefore a reaffirmation of an ideological basis for literature that had, in theory, hardly been abandoned by the Party.
The application of the proposals was to be supervised constantly and exactingly by the Party. Fortunately, however, the efficacy of their implementation in literature was woefully wanting in comparison with the achievements of the original brand in the 1950s. The proposals called for 'the continuous growth of the Party's leading role in all domains of political-educational activity', an emphasis on 'the great achievements recorded by the Romanian people - builder of socialism', the improvement of … forms of political and ideological training of the Party cadres and members', ' a more rigorous control … to avoid publication of literary works which do not meet the demands of the political-educational activity of our Party, [of] books which promote ideas and conceptions harmful to the interests of socialist construction'. In the repertoire of 'theatres, operas, ballet and variety theatres', stress was to be laid 'on the promotion of national productions having a militant, revolutionary character'. 
President of the Republic
Yet another sign of the degeneration of Ceauşescu's rule had been Ion Gheorghe Maurer's decision to retire in 1974. It was Maurer who, above all, gave an element of style and class to the leadership of the Romanian Communist Party. Unlike Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceauşescu, his ethnic roots were mixed and he came from a professional background.  Gheorghiu-Dej valued Maurer highly for his wisdom, moderation, objectivity. He had shown great skill in charting Romania's new course in its relations with the Soviet Union at the end of the 1950s and was Gheorghiu-Dej's most trusted colleague. When the latter fell gravely ill in March 1965, he entrusted Maurer with the affairs of party and state. It was with Maurer's backing that Ceauşescu had been elected first secretary. But as Ceauşescu began to show despotic tendencies, so the position of Maurer and others assumed more of a cosmetic character and, invoking injuries sustained in a car accident, Maurer retired as prime minister in March 1974. His resignation, and Ceauşescu's election to the newly-created office of President of the Republic on 28 March 1974, delivered a crushing blow to anyone wishing to reign-in the party leader.
It was failure in the economic field that was the principal reason behind Romanians' disillusionment with Ceauşescu. To a certain extent, he became a victim of the regime's economic achievements of the 1960s. Expectations of an ever-brighter economic future were raised by the increasingly availability of consumer goods in the late 1960s and when cut-backs became the order of the day in the 1970s and 1980s, these hopes were rudely shattered. In the light of Ceauşescu's admiration for Stalin, it is not surprising that economic policy should have been characterized by the former's obsession with industrialization and total opposition to any form of private ownership.  He was, therefore, all the more irritated that the champion of economic reforms in the Eastern bloc in 1985 should be the new Soviet leader, Mihail Gorbachev, and his implacable opposition to change was expressed at the November 1985 Central Committee meeting. 
This ideological fossilization did not mean that Ceauşescu left the economy untouched. In fact, quite the reverse was true. He constantly intervened in economic matters, and his attention was typified by his 'working visits' to enterprises in which he would give 'valuable advice' (indicaţii preţioase). This advice was dutifully recorded by party officials in a ritual of note-taking which characterized such visits and was faithfully implemented, but its application meant that continual adjustments were being made to economic policy and practice which left managers and workers in a daze and merely had the opposite of the desired effect by increasing inefficiency. 
Ceauşescu had turned to the West for loans but the country's creditworthiness had been assessed on over-optimistic estimates of its ability to repay through exports since these proved to be of poor quality. Not only did the exports fail to generate the anticipated income, but the energy-intensive heavy industry plants became increasingly voracious due to inefficient running. In the mid-1970s Ceauşescu expanded Romania's oil-refining capacity in excess of the country's own domestic output, and in 1976 was forced to begin the import of crude oil. When the price of oil soared on the international market in 1978 Romania was caught out and soon faced a major trade deficit. Her problem was exacerbated by the revolution in Iran, a chief supplier to Romania of oil, which put a halt to deliveries.
Nature was also against the régime. A severe earthquake of 1977, followed by floods in 1980 and 1981, disrupted industrial production and reduced the exports of foodstuffs which Ceauşescu now looked to in order to pay off the foreign debt incurred through industrialization. In late 1981, the country's foreign debt rose to $10.2 billion (in 1977 it stood at only $3.6 billion) and Ceauşescu requested its rescheduling. On the recommendation of the IMF imports were reduced and exports, especially of machinery, equipment and petroleum products, increased. The implications of this reduction of imports were not fully appreciated by foreign analysts at the time; since in 1981 Romania had a net importer of food from the West (food imports from the West in that year totalled $644 millions and exports $158 millions).  In the same year, Soviet statistics show that Romania exported 106,000 tons of frozen meat to the Soviet Union. Cutting back on food imports, while at the same time continuing to export meat to the Soviet Union, forced Ceauşescu to introduce meat rationing.
More importantly, the very act of having to accept conditions from the Western banks was a great blow to the Romanian leader's inflated pride. On its heels came political isolation which made him less dependent on the support of foreign governments that might have exercised some influence in persuading him to moderate his policies towards his people. He declared defiantly in December 1982 that he would pay off the foreign debt by 1990, and to achieve this introduced a series of austerity measures unparalleled even in the bleak history of East European Communist regimes. Rationing of bread, flour, sugar and milk was introduced in some provincial towns in early 1982, and in 1983 it was extended to most of the country, with the exception of the capital. The monthly personal rations were progressively reduced to the point where, on the eve of the 1989 revolution, they were in some regions of the country one kilo of sugar, one kilo of flour, a 500-gram pack of margarine, and five eggs. At the same time, heavy industry was also called upon to contribute to the export drive, but because its energy needs outstripped the country's generating capacity drastic energy saving measures were introduced in 1981, which included a petrol ration of 30 litres per month for private car owners. Other strictures stipulated a maximum temperature of 14 degrees centigrade in offices and periods of provision of hot water (normally one day a week in flats). In the winter of 1983, these restrictions were extended, causing the interruption of the electricity supply in major cities and reduction of gas pressure during the day so that meals could only be cooked at night. During the severe winter of 1984-85 it was calculated from medical sources in the capital's hospitals that over 30 children had died as a result of unannounced power cuts affecting incubators.
The miners' strike of 1977 in the Jiu Valley was the most important challenge posed by a group of workers to Communist power in Romania since the spate of protests in Bucharest, Iaşi and Cluj triggered by the Hungarian uprising of 1956. The failure of the Romanian media to report the Jiu valley strike characterized its total subservience as a tool to be manipulated by the regime, and illustrated the blackout tactics used by the authorities throughout the postwar era to stifle the passage of potentially 'harmful' information to the populace. Access to information is just as essential for the individual to defend himself against authority as is manipulation of it for the government to protect itself. This control of the media and the 'sanitizing of news' was very effective in containing protest and in inculcating a sense of isolation and frustration amongst protestors, and played a self-fulfilling role: if no opposition to the regime was reported, then most of the public not only assumed that there was none, but, guided by this assumption, questioned the point in displaying any.
Despite this negative attitude, there were courageous yet spasmodic attempts by groups of manual workers to challenge authority. In January 1979, a group of fifteen workers from the naval yards in the Danube port of Turnu Severin approached a Dr Ionel Cană, a general practitioner who had worked in Olt county amongst workers and had recently moved to Bucharest. Dr Cană had acquired a reputation for helping workers to draw up petitions complaining about labour conditions and he agreed to the men's proposal to set up S.L.O.M.R, the 'Free Trade Union of the Working People of Romania'. The founding declaration was broadcast over Radio Free Europe on 4 March 1979 by Noel Bernard, the head of the Romanian section, and the union attracted more than 2,400 signatures of support from workers in towns such as Ploieşti and Constanţa, and Hungarian workers in Târgu Mureş and Timişoara. The dissident Orthodox priest Gheorghe Calciu offered to be a spiritual adviser. The group circulated a manifesto calling for the legalization of unofficial trade unions and observance of the right to free association. In April the union, in an open letter to Ceauşescu, protested against the arrest of its members, among them Cană and an economist, Gheorghe Braşoveanu, the latter being confined to a psychiatric institution in March. Cană's successor as chairman, Nicolae Dascălu, was sentenced in June to 18 months in prison for allegedly passing state secrets to Amnesty International.
The growing economic hardship imposed on the country by Ceauşescu sparked off more strikes in the early 1980s. Miners in seven metal mines in the Maramureş region of northern Transylvania went on strike in September 1983 in protest at wage cuts introduced under a new wage law. Security police were sent in to break up the strike. Following a reduction of the daily bread ration to 300 grams per person and pay cuts of up to 40% for failure to fill output targets, Romanian and Hungarian workers went on strike in November 1986 at the Heavy Machine Plant and the Refrigeration Plant in Cluj, and at the glass factory in Turda. Leaflets in both languages demanding 'meat and bread' and 'milk for our children' circulated in Cluj, thus demonstrating inter-ethnic solidarity. Party officials rushed food to the factories and promised to meet the workers' grievances, whereupon the strikers returned to work, but just as in the Jiu valley in 1977 the securitate launched an investigation into the organization of the strike and several workers were moved to other areas.
Within three months unrest had spread to the east of the country, encompassing for the first time in decades both workers and students. Once again, wage cuts imposed for failure to meet production targets and food supply problems were the trigger. On 16 February 1987, some 1000 employees at the Nicolina rolling stock works in the Moldavian capital of Iaşi marched on the Party headquarters protesting at the pay cuts. Their demands were quickly met. On the following day, in what appears to have been an uncoordinated action, several thousand students from the university and polytechnic marched through the centre of the city in protest at the power and heating cuts imposed in student hostels, chanting 'we want water to have a wash and light to be able to study'. The authorities again gave in and no repressive action was taken against the students. At the Nicolina plant, however, 150 of the most prominent strikers were dismissed after the customary securitate directed post-mortem.
Behind this string of protests against Ceauşescu's economic policies lay the introduction of draconian measures designed to reduce food and energy consumption, and wage reductions. Yet instead of heeding the warning signs of increasing labour unrest, Ceauşescu plunged blindly forward with the same measures, seemingly indifferent to their consequences. A sign that the cup of privations had filled to overflowing came on 15 November 1987 in Braşov, the country's second largest industrial center when several thousand workers at the Steagul Roşu plant (with a workforce of 22,000) came off the night shift and assembled, ostensibly to vote in the local elections taking place across the country that day. They marched off from the plant at about 9 am in the direction of the Party headquarters in the centre of the city singing the anthem of the revolution of 1848 Deşteaptă-te, române (Awake, Romanian) and chanting 'Down with the dictatorship' and "We want bread'. They were joined by workers from the Braşov Tractor Plant (workforce 25,000) and by many townspeople as they made their way to the city centre where they forced their way into the county Party headquarters and sacked the building, throwing into the square portraits of Ceauşescu and food from the well-stocked canteen. A number of arrests were made after the disturbances. Sixty-two of the protesters were transferred to jobs in other towns, the majority in Moldavia. 
The fact that this protest took place in a major industrial centre whose production of lorries and tractors was largely for export, and whose workers were formerly amongst the best-paid in Romania, showed to what depths discontent with Ceauşescu's policies had sunk, especially after 1982, the year in which the austerity programme was luanched in order to pay off the foreign debt. This fact was highlighted not only by Doina Cornea, a leading dissident, but also by a former leading member of the Romanian Communist Party. Mihai Botez, a mathematician and erstwhile economic adviser, and a prominent critic of Ceauşescu, issued a statement emphasizing that the protests signalled a 'rejection of the leadership's economic and political strategies' and constituted 'a severe warning to the leaders' from the working class. Botez warned that 'repression would be the costliest option, with disastrous implications for the country.' 
Even more significant, and unprecedented, was the intervention of Silviu Brucan, deputy editor of the party daily Scânteia from 1944 to 1956, and Romanian ambassador to the United States (1956-59) and to the United Nations.(1959-62). In the evening of 26 November 1987, Brucan invited two Western journalists to his house and handed them a statement to Western correspondents in Bucharest invoking the authority of the Party and alerting Ceau]escu to the fact that 'a period of crisis has opened up in relations between the Romanian Communist Party and the working class.’ After a rise in the standard of living in the 1960s and 1970s, 'the situation of the workers has deteriorated and the explosion in Braşov is a sign that the cup of anger is now full and the working class is no longer prepared to be treated like an obedient servant.’ He warned that 'repression may result in total isolation, this time not only from the West, but also from the East.’  Excerpts from Brucan's declaration were broadcast the following evening on BBC World Service News and the whole text in Romanian was transmitted on the BBC Romanian Service, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, thus enabling millions of Romanians to hear for the first time a warning to Ceau]escu delivered from a senior Party figure.
Signs that Ceauşescu was severely shaken by the Braşov disturbances were evident in his decisions to postpone the National Party Conference by a week and not to attend Mikhail Gorbachev's briefing for Warsaw Pact leaders in East Berlin but to send his Foreign Minister instead. At the same time, in order to prevent further criticism of the regime at a time of unrest, prominent dissidents were detained or placed under house arrest in early December. They included Doina Cornea, the university lecturer from Cluj who was dismissed from her post in September 1983 for having used Western philosophical texts in her lectures, and her son Leontin Juhas, who together with Cornea distributed a leaflet outside Cluj factories expressing support for the Bra]ov workers. Others who either confined to their homes or arrested were Mihai Botez's wife Mariana Celac, an urban planner who was a critic of the urban and rural resettlement programme, Ion Puiu, a veteran National Peasant Party politician and critic of the regime, Florian Russu, the leader of the outlawed National Peasant Party youth group, Radu Filipescu, a young electronics engineer who had been sentenced on 12 September 1983 to 10 years imprisonment for printing and distributing anti-Ceauşescu leaflets but was released in April 1986, Nicolae Stăncescu and Ion Fistioc, both Party members, who had submitted proposals for reform to the Romanian leadership and to the Soviet Embassy in Bucharest with the request that they be forwarded to Gorbachev, Nelu Prodan, a young Baptist, and Gabriel Andreescu, a 36 year old geophysicist, who sent an open letter to a human rights conference sponsored by Solidarity in Cracow at the end of August 1988 calling on Romanian citizens to adopt a policy of non-cooperation with the regime.
The Impending End
Ceauşescu's notorious 'systematization' plan, accelerated to reduce the number of the country's villages by half by the year 2000, represented a spectacular own goal by the Romanian leader for it managed to draw international attention to the excesses of the regime and brought Doina Cornea her largest measure of domestic support. Twenty seven teachers, writers and workers from the towns of Cluj, Sibiu, Făgăraş, and Zărneşti in Transylvania, including Iulius Filip and Dumitru Alexandru Pop, founder members of the free Trade Union Libertatea , put their names to Doina Cornea's third open letter to Ceauşescu.  This letter marked an example rare in Romania of collective dissident protest from intellectuals and workers. Written in July 1988, but broadcast by RFE only at the beginning of September and published by The Spectator and Le Monde, it was devoted entirely to the systematization plan and presented a ringing condemnation of it. Cornea's arguments were presented in the language of Romanian traditionalists who placed village life at the core of national identity: 'By striking the peasant's house, you are striking at the nation's soul'.  Following the publication of this letter, Cornea was placed under house arrest, a restriction which was only lifted on 22 December 1989. Her treatment at the hands of the regime remained unique until March 1989, when she shared her predicament with such writers and political figures as Mircea Dinescu and Silviu Brucan, but she had taken her stance long before the changes in the Soviet Union offered a political umbrella, however pervious, to those whose professional or family ties linked them to the home of Communism. Cornea remained for almost seven years a largely isolated figure and yet because her views were formed from her own experience of daily life, one shared by her audience, her message gained in power.
It is no exaggeration to say as regards Doina Cornea, no single case drew more attention to Romania's abuse of human rights and to the country's consequent, but belated, quarantining by the international community. Amidst an avalanche of criticism from both West and East the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva adopted on 9 March 1989, by 21 votes for to 7 against, a resolution calling for an inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in Romania, the first such investigation to be authorized in any country for five years. A mark of the country's growing isolation was the abstention from voting of her Eastern bloc allies, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and East Germany, while Hungary went even further and joined the resolution's sponsors. The resolution highlighted the rural resettlement (systematization) plan and the country's treatment of its ethnic minorities, drawing attention to the many thousands of Hungarian refugees who had fled Transylvania in the preceding months.
These moves taken by the international community coincided with the growing disaffection with Ceau]escu within senior political circles. On 10 March 1989, an open letter to the President was made public by the BBC bearing the signatures of six veteran figures in the Party. Three of them were former members of the Political Executive Committee (Politburo): Gheorghe Apostol, First Secretary of the Party from April 1954 to October 1955; Alexandru B[rl`deanu, the Party's leading economist who played a key role in charting Romania's autonomy from the Soviet Union; and Constantin Pârvulescu who was a founding member of the RCP in 1921 and one of its secretaries for a brief period from April 1944 until 1945. The other signatories were Silviu Brucan, Corneliu Mănescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1961 to 1972 and President of the UN General Assembly from 1967 to 1968., and Grigore Ion Răceanu, a veteran member of the Party.  All were placed under house arrest. The regime's obsession with security was confirmed by the dismissal on 17 March 1989 of the poet Mircea Dinescu from the Party and from the editorial staff of the literary weekly România literară and his placement under house arrest. Neither he nor his wife were allowed to receive visitors. Like Doina Cornea, Dinescu received 'black spot' letters - threatening, unsigned letters with black edges in the form of obituary notices - during this period of house arrest which lasted until 22 December 1989.
Several weeks before the opening of the 14th Party Congress, which took place on 20 November 1989, the protest against Ceauşescu had received significant momentum from the clandestine circulation of two letters, one in the form of an appeal to the Congress delegates not to re-elect Ceauşescu, the other putting a number of questions to him about his mismanagement of the economy and human rights violations. Both letters were issued in the name of 'The National Salvation Front' (Frontul Salvării Naţionale) and were sent to the West in the summer of 1989, being broadcast by Radio Free Europe respectively on 27 August and 8 November.  The composition of this 'Front' remained a mystery until a short while after the revolution and naturally invited claims that the National Salvation Front which assumed power after Ceauşescu's overthrow was this same clandestine group. However, the two letters sent six months earlier under the name of the NSF were said by Silviu Brucan to have been written by Alexandru Melian, a professor at Bucharest University, who had no connection with any of the leading members of the post-revolutionary NSF.  This was contradicted by General Nicolae Militaru who claimed that he and Ion Iliescu were leading members of the clandestine NSF and that 'Iliescu agreed with the name NSF from the very beginning. He was the one who had the idea to write the appeal to the November Congress, which was then written by a professor, Alexandru Melian.' 
The letters had no impact whatsoever on the Congress proceedings, for immediately after the opening national anthem applause broke out amongst the 3,308 delegates, and to the accompaniment of rhythmic clapping chants of 'Ceauşescu re-elected at the 14th congress!', 'Ceauşescu, RCP!', 'Ceauşescu and the people!', 'Ceauşescu, Romania !', and 'Ceauşescu, Peace !' went up. The very first resolution put to the congress by Manea Mănescu, a member of the Politburo, was to have Ceauşescu proclaimed chairman of the congress and it met with universal acclamation. This set the pattern of mechanical voting for proposals from the chair which was repeated throughout the congress proceedings.
It was as though the Party leadership and the delegates had buried their heads in the sand, oblivious to the warnings set out in the letter issued in the name of the National Salvation Front. Yet another Front signalled its existence in the Moldavian capital of Iaşi on 10 December when handwritten leaflets issued in the name of the Romanian Popular Front (Frontul Popular Român) were displayed in the History Faculty of the university calling on students to join a protest meeting at 2 pm on 14 December in Piaţa Unirii against 'the policies of the the madman and his madwoman'. To prevent the meeting taking place the militia and fire-tenders were brought in to cordon off the square and even a tram-stop was removed to prevent people from alighting in it. At the same time a party meeting of university teachers was hastily arranged for 2 pm in the university to distract staff from joining the students. As an extra precautionary measure a national judo meeting was arranged in Iaşi on the same day and many of the rooms in the Unirea hotel overlooking the square were occupied by members of the Dinamo team, the club of the Ministry of the Interior. These measures succeeded, for those who responded to the call were reduced to standing around in groups on the fringes of the cordon. The local securitate office managed to identify some of the members of this Front, one of whom was a poet named Cassian Maria Spiridon, and they were arrested but released on 22 December.
Whilst not relying on the extremes of terror pursued during the early years of Communist rule in Romania, the Ceauşescu regime showed that it was capable of resorting to the practices of the past in order to maintain its dominance of Romanian society. The institutions and legal codification of coercion remained unchanged. Some provisions of the penal code remained dormant until Ceauşescu found it convenient to resuscitate them; such was the case with the decree requiring the registration of typewriters with the police which was revived in a decree which came into force in April 1983, and with a provision of Gheorghiu-Dej, introduced in 1958, which made failing to report a conversation with a foreigner a criminal offence (decree no. 408 of December 1985). Photocopying machines were a rarity, and the few that were available in national libraries were closely supervised and special permission was required for their use. The materials and number of copies made were carefully recorded by a librarian.
The degree of Ceauşescu's interference with the lives of individuals was most potently illustrated by measures of family planning. Abortion on demand had been legalized in 1957 and became the principal means of family planning. When the 1966 birth rate dropped to 14 per thousand people (much the same as in Britain), thereby heralding a decline in the workforce and a threat to the pace of the country's industrialization, the law was adjusted to allow abortion only to women over 40, mothers of four or more children, victims of rape and incest, and in cases of possible foetal abnormality. After the 1966 law went into effect, the abortion-related mortality rate among Romanian women increased to a level ten times that of any other European country. Since contraceptives, while not illegal, were virtually unobtainable, many women used abortion as the main method of birth control and were forced to obtain it illegally.
From a peak of 21 per thousand people in 1969 the birth rate showed an annual decline thereafter, due both to the increase in the number of illegal abortions and the fall in living standards in the late 1970s. Figures for 1981 showing the birth rate at 6 per thousand people led Ceauşescu to insist that steps be taken to reverse this trend. Prime Minister Constantin Dăscălescu took up this theme in a speech in September 1983. In March 1984, Ceauşescu issued a summons before a gathering of National Women's Councils in Bucharest to 'breed, comrade women, it is your patriotic duty'.  At the same time he issued one of his notorious unpublished orders that women of childbearing age were to be subjected to compulsory gynaecological examination to check that they were not breaking the law by using contraceptive devices. Women doctors were required to conduct monthly examinations of factory women in Bucharest and to ask each one of them if she was pregnant, and if not, why not. In fact they consistently falsified records in the patients' favour and sold contraceptive pills to them which they had obtained from other East European countries.
To bolster the drive to increase the birth-rate Ceauşescu introduced punitive tax measures, introducing additional taxation for all childless couples over 25. In 1986, he raised the minimum age for women to be allowed an abortion from 40 to 45, and lowered the age at which women could marry from 16 to 15. Although the birth rate did rise between 1986 and 1988, it fell again in 1989 to 16 per thousand. But the measures led to tragedy. There was a dramatic increase in back-street and self-induced abortions, especially among young working women, despite the harsh penalties given to those involved in them. Doctors risked fines and imprisonment if they gave medical help without legal authorization when self-induced abortions went wrong, and the delays in securing this often led to fatalities. Securitate officers were assigned to every maternity hospital to ensure that the provisions of the abortion law were strictly observed although in some cases they turned a blind eye.
The figures for deaths among Romanian women resulting from the anti-abortion law are the single most powerful indictment of the inhumanity of Ceauşescu's regime. In the 23 years of its enforcement, the law caused the death of over 10,000 women from unsafe abortion. The majority died from post-abortion hemorrhage and blood poisoning.  The black irony of this tragedy is that it took place in a country whose 'First Lady', Elena Ceauşescu, was lauded in its media as the 'Woman-Mother'. 
In the face of the severe austerity measures which Ceauşescu had introduced in order to pay off the country's foreign debt, most Romanians began to ask whether autonomy was worth the price. The question was put even more frequently after Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet party leader in March 1985. By the time Gorbachev visited Romania in May 1987, a remarkable one hundred and eighty degree turn had occurred in Romanians' perception of the Soviet Union and its relationship to Romania. This change in attitude hinged on the evolution of Ceauşescu himself: if in 1965 Ceauşescu presented a young, dynamic face of Communism compared with the ageing, reactionary Brezhnev, now, thirty years later, it was Gorbachev who had assumed Ceauşescu's mantle and the latter that of Brezhnev. In a speech broadcast live during his visit to Bucharest on 26 May 1987, Gorbachev presented to the Romanian public his concepts of glasnost and perestroika and in doing so offered an implicit criticism of Ceauşescu's resistance to reform. The enthusiasm for reform could be seen in the queues that formed in July 1988 in front of the Aeroflot offices in Bucharest as Romanians were admitted five at a time not to purchase airline tickets, but to pick up free copies in Romanian of the Soviet leader's report to the nineteenth conference of the Soviet Communist Party, coverage of which had been restricted in the Romanian media to those measures which had already been taken in Romania. Here was yet another irony of Ceauşescu's continued rule: the arch-nationalist had succeeded in making Romanians look to Soviet Union for hope!
Ceauşescu had reiterated his commitment to rigid central economic planning and insisted that market forces were incompatible with Communist society in his address to the Romanian Party Conference on 14 December 1987. In dealing with the reforms advocated by Gorbachev, Ceauşescu argued that he had already applied similar measures in Romania. Thus Scânteia, in its report of the 19th Soviet Party Conference in 1988, restricted coverage of Gorbachev's speech to those measures which had already been taken in Romania, thereby suggesting that the Soviet leader was following Ceauşescu's example. Furthermore, Gorbachev's admission that the Soviet Union had taken important decisions without 'proper consultation with friends' gave Ceauşescu a justification for not applying perestroika and glasnost. 
Ceauşescu’s ‘neo-stalinism’ also caused severe friction with the other superpower, the United States. Since the granting of Most-Favoured-Nation tariff treatment in 1975, the US Congress had been able to hold Ceauşescu’s feet to the fire over human rights issues in Romania, most notably the right or opportunity to emigrate. It was in recognition of Ceauşescu’s success in ‘tweaking the nose of the Russians’  that in early 1975, Congress, in passing the Trade Act of 1974, permitted the president to extend MFN to Communist countries. Section 402 of this act, known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, prohibited the extension of MFN to any country that denied its citizens the right to emigrate, but also allowed the president to waive this provision if he found that such a waiver would ‘substantially promote the objectives of freedom of emigration’. The initial 18-month waiver could be renewed for 12-month periods by the president, but either house of Congress could reverse such a decision. This annual review of Romania’s performance on emigration was to prove a key factor in Romania’s relations with the United States in the 1980s. President Ford took the decision to grant Romania MFN status in 1975 after receiving an oral ‘assurance’ from Ceauşescu that he would ‘contribute to the solution of humanitarian problems on the basis of mutual confidence and goodwill.’  Quite apart from its considerable trade benefits to Romania - Romanian exports to the US almost doubled from $133 to $233 million between 1975 and 1977 - which the award of MFN brought, of even greater value to Ceauşescu was the certificate of respectability that it implied not only for his emigration policies, but also for his treatment of wider human rights issues in Romania.
It was the deteriorating human rights situation in Romania that threatened US-Romanian relations in the early 1980s. The resulting US alienation from Romania in 1987 and Ceauşescu’s growing irritation with American expressions of concern about Ceauşescu’s treatment of his opponents, as exemplified by the Brucan case, led Ceauşescu in February 1988 to renounce MFN status before suffering the indignity of having it withdrawn by Congress or by President Reagan. Ceauşescu’s action showed that he would not submit to pressure from any direction, West or East. He appears, however, to have cherished hopes that Reagan would grant MFN treatment without the Jackson-Vanik but in doing so completely failed to appreciate how negative his image had become in Congress as well the constitutional impediments facing the US president. 
Of the thousands of exhortations made by Ceauşescu to the Romanian people none was seized upon with more alacrity by the international media than his call, made in the name of ‘systematization’, that 'we must radically reduce the number of villages from about 13,000 at present to 5,000 to 6,000 at most', made in an address to the National Conference of the Presidents of People's Councils on 3 March 1988.  His intention was understood by the Western media as a plan to physically demolish seven to eight thousand villages. Coming at a time when conservation and concern for the environment had been promoted to the top of Western political agenda, Ceauşescu's plan sent shock waves around the capitals of Europe and North America. Public awareness in the West of Ceauşescu's disregard for Romania's architectural heritage had been aroused by reports which trickled out in the early 1980s of his razing of the centre of Bucharest to make way for a new administrative complex of gargantuan proportions. The centre-piece of this project was a presidential palace, whose original name 'The House of the People' assumed Orwellian overtones since some 40,000 hapless citizens were forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for its construction. As the project proceded, the palace was rechristened 'The House of the Republic' since around it were to be concentrated new ministry and other public buildings.
The spotlight of media attention was redirected on Romania at the time of the workers' demonstrations in Braşov in November 1987 and it was in this ambience of heightened interest in the internal situation in the country that Ceauşescu announced in March 1988 his renewal of the drive for systematization. Coupled with revelations about the demolition in Bucharest of churches engulfed by an ever-expanding drive to extend the area of the presidential complex, the systematization plan led environmental groups in the West to coordinate both national and international actions of protests. The most effective in terms of attracting media attention, and in providing moral support to the Romanian people, was Opération Villages Roumains.
This movement recommended that European villages 'adopt' Romanian ones. Tens of thousands of letters addressed to the mayors of Romanian villages proposing 'adoption' were sent from European communities to Romania as the numbers of adoptive villages grew: by the beginning of May 1989, 231 communes in Belgium, 95 in France, and 42 in Switzerland had adopted Romanian villages. The British campaign, mounted in June with the backing of HRH The Prince of Wales, who in an unprecendented political intervention by a member of the Royal Family had condemned the systematization programme in a speech delivered on 27 April 1989, had secured 52 adoptions by September. As soon as a village in the West adopted a Romanian one the news was broadcast by the Romanian services of the BBC and Radio Free Europe and visitors returning from Romania reported the gratitude expressed to them by Romanians for the outside support. In the autumn of 1989, children throughout Belgium built 250,000 small paper houses as a symbolical present to the children of Romania and exhibited them in the village of Floreffe. One year later the exhibition occupied the vast floor of the 'House of the Republic', Ceauşescu's former 'House of the People'.
Through his plans for systematization Ceauşescu succeeded in imprinting Romania upon the consciousness of Europe for only the second time in his career. The first occasion had been his denunciation on 21 August 1968 of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. But whereas then he won the admiration of Europe and the rest of the world for his courageous defiance of the Soviet Union, his claim in 1989 was one to notoriety. Ceauşescu became the ogre of Europe. The international media probed deeper into the character of his repressive regime and the Romanian Foreign Ministry was instructed in May 1989 to counter the Opération Villages Roumains campaign with the claim that the policy of systematization was to be applied more slowly. In fact Ceauşescu's plans continued to be carried out to the letter. On 24 May, a large number of private houses were demolished in the villages of Otopeni, Dimieni and Odăile to the north of Bucharest and their rubble taken in 200 dump trucks and deposited in two large pits. The dislodged population of the three villages were rehoused in four-storey apartment blocs in Otopeni. In the case of Buda and Odoreanu, in the county of Giurgiu, these were evacuated to make way for a large reservoir being constructed as part of the Bucharest-Danube canal.
Whether the international campaign eventually led Ceauşescu to temper his policy of bulldozing homes in the summer and autumn of 1989, as some foreign diplomats alleged, is an open question, but at least we have no evidence that it was accelerated, as was the case with the works to complete the presidential complex in the centre of Bucharest. What the campaign did achieve was to let the Romanian people know that their villages would not, as one campaigner has written, borrowing a line from the poet Dylan Thomas, 'go silent into that dark night', forgotten by the rest of Europe.  What no one associated with the campaign could have foreseen was that the links established between communities throughout Europe and the villages in Romania provided the perfect springboard for humanitarian aid to be channelled to an identifiable destination after Ceauşescu's overthrow. The full enormity of the dictator's rule and the suffering it caused prompted adoptive communities in Europe to target their own Romanian villages as recipients of food, clothing, medicines, and practical aid. Hospitals and children's homes in the area became the special focus of attention. Thousands of ordinary European citizens travelled overland in convoys to their own adopted village with aid supplies and having assessed the needs of the Romanian community, made return visits.
Systematization under Ceauşescu was not just a planning process; it was an attempt at social engineering. It threatened to destroy traditional skills, a way of life linked with the land, and the individuality of the village and its inhabitants. Ceauşescu's obstinacy procured a success, in his terms, for his plan but its execution trampled on the moral being of his citizens. The plan, like so many of his other infamous edicts, such as the abortion decree, eventually provoked a reaction in that moral being which led to the dictator's downfall. Few localities in Romania do not show the mark of systematization; the suffering that the plan caused is less easy to identify.
A protest which sparked off a revolt
Among the persistent critics of the Communist Party's interference in the affairs of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Transylvania were Istvan Tokes, a former deputy bishop, and his son Laszlo, a pastor, who had initially been appointed to a parish in the Transylvanian town of Dej. Laszlo was a contributor to Ellenpontok, a clandestine Hungarian-language journal produced in Oradea in 1981 and 1982, and amongst his articles was one on abuses of human rights in Romania, which led to his harassment by the securitate. He and his friends were followed and eventually Tokes was dismissed from his parish in Dej by order of bishop Nagy and assigned to the village of Sânpietru de Câmpie some forty kilometres from Cluj. Tokes refused to go and instead went to his parents' house in Cluj where he spent two years unemployed. He used part of this time to launch a letter-writing campaign in 1985 amongst the Hungarians of Transylvania to gather statistics about facilties for education in Hungarian.  His plight was brought to the attention of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate and as a result bishop Papp was instructed by the authorities in 1986 to appoint Tokes assistant pastor in the city of Timişoara, one of mixed Romanian, Hungarian, and German population. 
As the village-systematization programme gathered momentum, so Tokes used his sermons to encourage resistance to it. He called for solidarity between Hungarians and Romanians who were both suffering at the hands of the regime and made no special pleading for Hungarian villages. In the summer of 1988, he talked with representatives in all thirteen deaneries of the Reformed Church to organize resistance to proposals to destroy villages, and at his own deanery meeting in Arad in September he and three other Hungarian pastors spoke in favour of a statement denouncing the programme.
The statement was sent to bishop Papp and within twenty-four hours every signatory had been visited by securitate officers and cross-examined about the meeting. Tokes's own file was handled by the head of the Timişoara securitate, Colonel Traian Sima, who authorized visits to Tokes's church flat by anonymous visitors who would hurl insults and threats. A cultural festival organized with the Catholic Church in Timişoara on 31 October 1988 led to threats of expulsion being made against those students who had participated. Bishop Papp sent a letter to Tokes banning all youth activities in the Oradea dicoese, which included Timişoara, but undeterred, Tokes decided to hold another festival in the spring of 1989 with the Orthodox Church whose metropolitan agreed. On 31 March, at the instigation of the department of Cults and the securitate, Bishop Papp ordered Tokes to stop preaching in Timişoara and ordered him to move to Mineu, an isolated parish in northern Transylvania. Tokes refused to comply with the order and his congregation expressed its support for him. The bishop then began civil proceedings to evict him from his church flat. Since he was no longer deemed by the Timişoara authorities to be a resident of the city, his ration book was withdrawn and power supplies to his flat were cut off. Tokes's parishioners ralled round, bringing him and his wife and young child food and fuel. Their action contrasted with that of his fellow pastors. Fear of incurring bishop Papp's displeasure - 70 per cent of the two hundred pastors in the diocese had never been promoted from probationary status and were still directly answerable to Papp - , coupled with a feeling that Tokes's defiance was pointless, meant that the authors of an open letter appealing to the bishop to put an end to the harassment of Tokes could not find one pastor who was prepared to add his signature. 
In the meantime, members of Tokes's congregation were arrested and beaten. One parishioner, Erno Ujvarossy, who in May had petitioned Bishop Papp in support of Tokes, was found murdered in woods outside Timişoara on 14 September. Istvan Tokes was arrested briefly in October when he arrived in Timişoara to visit his son. A court order was made for Tokes’s eviction on 20 October. Tokes lodged an appeal. Tudor Postelnicu, the Minister of the Interior, ordered Sima to enforce the order. On 2 November, four attackers armed with knives broke into the flat while securitate agents looked on but fled after Tokes and friends managed to fight them off. After this incident, in which Tokes was cut on the forehead, the Romanian ambassador was summoned to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry and told of the Hungarian government's concern for the pastor's safety.
Parishioners continued to smuggle in food and firewood for Tokes to the sacristy of the church, despite the attention of securitate agents. On 28 November, Tokes was informed that his appeal had been turned down and that his eviction would be enforced on 15 December. As Christmas approached parishioners brought gifts of food to the sacristy in groups and afterwards gathered outside Tokes's flat next to the church to show their support. The two guards were unable to move them along and this gave hope to his supporters. On the day fixed for the eviction a human chain was formed around the block in which he lived and the militia were unable to gain access. Tokes leaned out of his window and thanked the crowd but advised them to leave. His advice was met with cries of 'we won't leave' and several hundred stayed in groups close to the flat.
The victimization of Tokes and his family took its toll of his pregnant wife Edit who, depressed and exhausted with the strain of harassment and a sleepness night awaiting eviction, fell ill. Tokes asked his neighbour to get word to the family doctor on the morning of 16 December and she duly appeared. Within half an hour, the mayor of Timişoara himself appeared with three doctors. Desperate to defuse the situation, the mayor tried to persuade Mrs Tokes to go into hospital, but the family doctor encouraged her to resist. The mayor relented. Shortly afterwards workmen arrived and began to repair the windows to the flat, shattered a month earlier as an act of intimidation. The door broken down by the four attackers was also restored, to the amazement of his supporters who maintained their vigil outside. Throughout the morning their numbers grew, swelled by young Romanians who were attracted by the sight of such a large crowd and the rumour that the securitate were unable to disperse it. 
Tokes acknowledged to the mayor that the situation was improving and the latter seized upon this to ask him to tell the crowd to disperse. Tokes agreed and went to the window. Thanking them for their support, he advised them to leave, saying that their gathering was illegal. The crowd roared its disapproval, chanting in chorus 'Don't believe him !'. Furiously the mayor stormed out of the flat, to the jeers of the crowd. At noon he returned, complaining angrily to Tokes that the protesters had not left. Tokes took the mayor to the window and invited him to address the people. The mayor gave an assurance that Tokes would not be evicted but to no avail. Some in the crowd accused the pastor of collaborating with the authorities. 'We want it in writing', they cried, and added to their demand a retraction of the decision to transfer Tokes to Mineu, and confirmation of his appointment as pastor in Timişoara.
Rashly, the mayor promised to produce such a document in one hour, but being a Saturday this was unrealistic. The ministries closed at lunchtime on that day and after an hour the excuses were trotted out; no one was available in the legal department. At 2 pm the deputy mayor arrived. He warned that unless the demonstrators went away, Tokes would be held responsible for the consequences. Tokes suggested that the leaders of the different churches in the city be brought to the flat to witness the mayor's promise, and the deputy mayor telephoned the mayor with the idea. It was rejected. The pastor then proposed that a delegation from the street be brought in. The deputy mayor agreed. Six Romanians and four Hungarians sat down in the church office and discussed the situation with him. Progress was reported to the mayor who, strangely, now promised that a document would be sent from Bucharest in an hour. Representatives of the congregation would be able to collect it from the town hall. The repesentatives duly went to the town hall after an hour but there was no document. Instead, the mayor sent back an ultimatum with them that if the crowd had not dispersed by 5 pm. the fire-brigade would be sent in to scatter them with water cannon.
The demonstrators' defiance had been fuelled by the conviction that members of the securitate were in Tokes's flat and were either holding him against his will, or preparing to evict him. This fear was incited by provocateurs in the crowd, who could be clearly seen shouting. While the core of the crowd was made up of people who had joined the vigil against eviction, most of the newcomers had been drawn by the sight of the original protest, or by news of it. After the mayor's warning Tokes pleaded with the crowd to go home, but they were convinced that he was acting under threats from the securitate and refused. Some called upon him to come down into the street and lead them but Tokes realized that this might play into the hands of the regime who could put the blame for the protests on the Hungarian minority.
By 7 pm the crowds now filled several streets extending from the church. It contained many students from the local polytechnic and university. Around the church Romanians linked hands with Hungarians in a human chain and hymns were sung. About thirty minutes later the first bars of Deşteaptă-te Române ('Romanians awake !'), a Romanian national song which had been sung for the first time in a public place during the Ceauşescu era in the Braşov protests of November 1987, were falteringly taken up. Unknown in the Hungarian community, the song was an anthem of resistance to oppression and a sign that a Hungarian protest had now become a Romanian revolt.
After the anthem came the first, bold cries of 'Down with Ceauşescu !', 'Down with the regime !', and 'Down with Communism !'. The crowd then began to move off from the church and cross the bridge towards the city centre and the Party headquarters. They stoned its windows before militia reinforcements, brought up just before 10 pm, managed to drive the demonstrators back to Tokes's church where they turned water cannons on them. The crowd seized the cannons, broke them up, and threw the parts into the river Bega. They then marched on shops, smashing the windows, and broke into a book store where they burned copies of books on Ceauşescu in ceremonial piles. By midnight the street outside Tokes's flat and the church was relatively quiet as the violence continued elsewhere in the city.
The vigil held in support of Tokes on 15 December turned into major demonstrations on the following day and on the 17th which were brought to a halt by the intervention of the army which opened fire on the crowd. The number of casualties was initially estimated at several thousand, but subsequent investigations put the figure at 122.  On Elena Ceauşescu's orders, 40 of the dead were transported by lorry to Bucharest and cremated to make identification impossible. Here was a clear sign of her cruelty and ruthlessness On 18 December, industrial workers in Timişoara staged peaceful protests in their tens of thousands within the factory gates but on 20 December these overflowed into the streets and effectively brought an end to Communist rule in the city. The crowds proclaimed Timişoara a free city and this two days before Ceauşescu fled from Bucharest. On the streets of Timişoara there were chants of 'Today in Timişoara, tomorrow throughout the whole land', and the fervour there was gradually transmitted to all those who had been waiting for years for the end of the dictatorship. Romanians learned from Western radio stations details of the number of dead in Timişoara. The figures given were exaggerated but nevertheless it was clear to the audience that grave events were taking place in the city.
Despite the gravity of the situation, Ceauşescu made a brief visit to Iran, leaving his wife and Manea Mănescu in charge at home. On his return on 20 December, he made a series of tactical errors, which led to his lightning downfall. In a televised address to the nation that evening, he completely misjudged the mood of the people by displaying no hint of compassion for the victims of Timişoara - rumoured by this time to number tens of thousands -, and by dismissing the demonstrations as the work of 'fascists' and hooligan elements', inspired by Hungarian irredentism.
His second mistake was to convene a public meeting of support on the next morning in Bucharest. To his bewilderment, his speech was interrupted by cries of 'We are not hooligans' by a protester whose proximity to the microphones caused them to be heard by sections of the crowd. Those around him panicked for fear of being identified by the securitate as accomplices in the cries and dropped their banners of support for Ceauşescu which were trampled under foot. The sound of cracking produced by the breaking of the wooden poles carrying the banners resembled gunshots and led the crowd to flee. The sound of the commotion was heard in the background of the live television and radio coverage of Ceauşescu's speech and the broadcast was cut for several minutes. When he resumed his speech, Ceauşescu attempted to placate the crowd by announcing salary and pension increases, but this stratagem only angered them further. At the end of his speech, large groups of young people remained in the city centre and, encouraged by the mild, unseasonal weather, lingered into the evening, and formed a barricade in University Square. During the night they were fired upon by units of the army and of the securitate troops, and many were shot dead.
On the following morning of 22 December, a communiqué was broadcast on television in which the demonstrators were dismissed as 'hooligans', 'Fascists' and 'foreign agents' ; at the same time, it was announced that Defence Minister Vasile Milea was a traitor and had committed suicide. Senior army commanders, on learning of Milea's death, ordered the units in front of the Central Committee to withdraw. At the same time, waves of protesters were coming in the other direction from all parts of the city. They assembled in front of the central Committee building and began to chant: 'Ceauşescu should be judged for the bloodshed', and 'Yesterday in Timişoara, tomorrow throughout the whole land'. When Ceauşescu appeared briefly at the window of the balcony of the Central Committee, stones were thrown and he was hustled inside.
The withdrawal of the troops was a signal to the crowd to storm the building. Ceauşescu and his wife fled from the rooftop in a helicopter accompanied by his wife and two of his closest allies, Manea Mănescu and Emil Bobu, and two bodyguards. Ceauşescu ordered the pilot to land at Snagov, some 30 kilometres to the north of Bucharest, where he had a villa, and it was here that he and his wife collected a suitcase of clothing. Manea and Bobu remained behind as the helicopter took off again with the Ceauşescus and their bodyguards in the direction of Piteşti, but shortage of fuel prompted the pilot to put down on the main road south of Târgovişte. Here they highjacked a car driven by a doctor who took them to the outskirts of the town. They then commandeered a second car and tried to reach the local party headquarters, but were recognized. The driver took them to an agricultural research station, where they were locked in a room until the local police arrived. The couple were eventually taken to the Târgovişte military garrison. They were tried before an improvised tribunal there and executed there on Christmas Day 1989.
Fate has its own way of rewarding the courageous and of punishing tyrants. Despite the diviseness of Ceauşescu's policies towards the peoples of Romania, their shared experience of suffering under his rule brought them together. It was the defiance of Tokes which provided the catalyst for the display of ethnic solidarity which sparked off the popular uprising against Ceauşescu. This convergence of circumstance started the series of events which led to the overthrow of the dictator. One may argue that it was only a matter of time before Ceauşescu fell, given his isolation in the international arena and the growing dissent at home. But it was the merit of Tokes and of his parishioners that they pressed on with their protest against a bishop's abuse of power which was characteristic of a denial of human rights typical of the Ceauşescu regime.
The events of late December 1989 showed that the forces of the Securitate were only as efficient as their weaknesses allowed them to be. They were not trained in dealing with crowd control, still less was the army, and the heavy-handed actions of forces from both bodies resulted in the deaths of many of the 1,033 official victims of the revolution. 270 of the dead were soldiers as were 673 of the 2383 wounded.  Most of the soldiers were killed in exchanges with snipers, the so-called 'terrorists'. About 800 suspected 'terrorists' were arrested by the army but were later freed in the course of 1990. Major General Mugurel Florescu, the deputy prosecutor general, said that many had been released through lack of witnesses since the people who had brought them in left and did not return.  A partial list of those detained as 'terrorists' was published in the weekly Tinerama in September 1993, but we cannot be sure that all those named actually fired on soldiers and civilians. Still less do we know under whose authority, if any, they might have been acting. As the account of some of the events in Bucharest on 21 December shows, the forces deployed against the demonstrators were drawn from the army, the Ministry of Interior troops, the troops of the militia, the Patriotic Guards, and USLA. It is quite likely that the 'terrorists' were an assortment of renegade elements from all these forces, and the use of the term 'terrorist' by the populace and the media was an attempt to rationalize opposition to the fledging authority of the revolutionary government. This same assortment made it difficult for the authorities to clearly implicate, in the case of the Securitate, and disculpate, in the case of the army, particular forces in their resistance to the new order and therefore to avoid the embarassment of admitting that soldiers, militia, and Securitate officers were equally involved in shedding innocent blood after Ceauşescu's execution, the military procurator was given the order to release all 'terrorist' suspects. By whom is not yet clear.
We should bear in mind that mass demonstrations against Ceauşescu occurred only in a small number of Romania's cities and that in the majority there was a relative calm. The greatest anti-Ceauşescu demonstrations before 22 December were in Timişoara, Bucharest, Cluj, Arad, and Sibiu, but in the majority of towns in Moldavia and Wallachia there was an uneasy calm. The violent manner of Ceauşescu's demise set Romania's experience of political change apart from that of the other Central European states and was itself an indication that in Romania the peaceful overthrow of dictatorship was impossible. Whereas Ceauşescu succeeded in uniting Romanians in opposition to him, his fall threw them into confusion. The legacy of totalitarian rule in Romania was therefore markedly different from that elsewhere.
DENNIS DELETANT is Professor of Romanian Studies at the University College, London.
 G. Ionescu, Communism in Romania, 1944-1962, London: Oxford University Press, 1964, p.148.
 Organizarea şi funcţionarea Organelor Ministerului de Interne de la Infiinţare pînă în prezent, Bucharest; Ministry of the Interior, 1978 (mimeographed), p.106.
 M.E. Fischer, A Study in Political Leadership, Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 1989, p.51.
 G. Ionescu, Communism in Romania, 1944-1962, London: Oxford University Press, 1964, p. 259.
 Ibid., p.261; see also V. Tismăneanu, 'Miron Constantinescu or the Impossible Heresy', Survey, vol.28 (Winter 1984), p.182.
 S. Verona, Military Occupation and Diplomacy. Soviet Troops in Romania 1944-1958, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1992, p.88.
 G. Haupt, 'La Genese du Conflit Soviéto-Roumain', Revue Française du Science Politique, vol.18 (1968), no.4 (August), p.676.
 NU, no.108 (6-13 May 1993), p.9.
 G. Ionescu, op. cit., p.272.
 G. Ionescu, op. cit., p.269.
 Observer, 25 November 1956, quoted from S. Verona, Military Occupation and Diplomacy. Soviet Troops in Romania 1944-1958, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1992, p.103.
 Ibid., p.103.
 C. Andrew and O. Gordievsky, KGB. The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev, London: Sceptre Books, 1991, p.435.
 Judit Ember, Menedekjog-1956, Budapest: Szabad Ter Kiado, 1989, pp.146-48; Matei Călinescu and Vladimir Tismăneanu, 'The 1989 Revolution and Romania's Future', Romania After Tyranny, ed. by Daniel N. Nelson, Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford: Westview Press, 1992, p.42, note 41.
 Whereas in the school year 1955-1956 there were 1,022 primary schools in which education was offered solely in Hungarian, by 1958-1959 this number had dropped to 915. In that same period the number of primary schools giving instruction in both Romanian and Hungarian increased from 38 to 124. In the sphere of secondary education a parallel decrease in Hungarian-language provision took place: in the same interval of time the number of 493 schools had fallen to 469, whereas the number of dual-language ones had risen from 10 to 77 (R. King, Minorities under Communism. Nationalities as a Source of Tension among Balkan Comunist States, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1973, p.153).
 S. Verona, Military Occupation and Diplomacy. Soviet Troops in Romania 1944-1958, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1992, p.103.
 Ibid., p. 83. See also Bodnăraş’s account in the US State Department Memorandum of Conversation between Emil Bodnăraş, Vice President, Romanian Council of State, and Harry G. Barnes, American Ambassasor to Romania, US Embassy, Bucharest (document 21 in this volume).
 Op. cit., p.85. The résumé of the Romanian politburo meeting of 3,4,6 and 12 April 1956 corroborates Khruschev's account. Much of this meeting was taken up by an attack on Gheorghiu-Dej launched by Miron Constantinescu who accused the party leader of ignoring the opinions of other politburo members. Constantinescu based his charge on, amongst other things, Gheorghiu-Dej's 'failure' to carry out a decision of the politburo in August 1955 to raise the question of Soviet troops in Romania. Constantinescu claimed that Gheorghiu-Dej made Bodnăraş raise the issue with Khrushchev 'against his will' ('Arhivele secrete şi istoria comunismului românesc,' Sfera Politicii, no.25 (February 1995), p.18). In interview given to the review Lumea Magazin, (no.8, 1994), Paul Niculescu-Mizil, a senior Communist under Ceau]escu, stated simply that Gheorghiu-Dej instructed Bodnăraş in 1955 to propose to Khrushchev the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Romania.
 G. Ionescu, op. cit., p.290.
 Cartea Albă a Securităţii, vol.III,1958-1968, Bucharest: SRI, 1994, p.107, note 75.
 G. Ionescu, op. cit., p.290.
 M. Shafir, Romania: Politics, Economics and Society, London: Frances Pinter, 1985. p.48.
 R.R. King, 'Rumania and the Sino-Soviet Conflict', Studies in Comparative Communism, no.4, 1972, p.375.
 Stephen Fischer-Galati, The New Rumania: From People's Democracy to Socialist Republic, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1967, pp.78-103.
 Ibid., p.101.
 I. Pacepa, Moştenirea Kremlinului, Bucharest: Editura Venus, 1993, p.253.
 According to the official history of the securitate, 10,014 political prisoners were released as a result of the application of the decrees 176 and 411 of April and July 1964. These figures do not tally if we accept the same history's claim that in January 1964 there were 9,008 political prisoners, unless of course more than a thousand persons were arrested in 1964 ! (Cartea Albă a Securităţii, vol.III, 1958-1968, Bucharest: SRI, 1994, pp.33, 425. According to official figures, in 1965 only 258 persons were arrested by the securitate for 'actions hostile to the state'; in the following year, 294 were arrested, and in 1967, 312.
 Mary Ellen Fischer, Nicolae Ceau]escu. A Study in Political Leadership, Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 1989, p.2.
 See the interviews with Apostol, Maurer and Alexandru Bârlădeanu in 'Cum a venit la putere Nicolae Ceauşescu', Magazin Istoric, vol.29, no.7 (July), 1995, pp.3-7.
 E. Mezincescu, 'Din nou despre fantoma lui Dej', România literară, no.41 (16-22 December 1992), p.14.
 M.E. Fischer, op. cit., p.148.
 R. King, Minorities under Communism. Nationalities as a Source of Tension among Balkan Communist States, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1973, p.165.
 Limited emigration of Germans from Romania had been permitted in the 1950s and 1960s to East Germany but the bulk of the 17,290 Germans who had left since 1950 had gone to West Germany after the opening of diplomatic relations between Romania and West Germany in 1967.
 Ibid., p.166.
 An article in Der Spiegel on 21 October 1985 stated that the rate was 4,000 DM per child and 6,000 DM for a pensioner.
 Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Partei und Literature in Rumänien seit 1945, Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 1975, p.148.
 The figures are: 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975
Washing machines 0 31,000 84,000 109,000 149,000
Refrigerators 0 7,000 117,000 144,000 260,000
TVs 0 25,000 159,000 242,000 395,000
(Anuarul Statistic 1976, Bucharest: Directia Centrală de Statistică, p.369)
 Anuarul Statistic 1976, Bucharest: Directia Centrală de Statistică, p.330.
 M.E. Fischer, Nicolae Ceauşescu. A Study in Political Leadership, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1989,
 Maj. Gen. P. Şarpe, 'Consideraţii cu privire la evoluţia organului militar român de informaţii de-a lungul vremii. Direcţia Cercetare-Locul şi rolul său în structura actuală a armatei române', 133 Ani de Existenţa a Serviciului Militar Român de Informaţii 1859-1992, Bucharest, 1992, p.9.
 See the Letter of General Ion Ioniţă, Minister of the Armed Forces, to Nicolae Ceauşescu about planned Warsaw Pact manoeuvres in April 1970 (document 14 in this volume).
 Pavel Câmpeanu, 'Pe marginea unei recenzii. Mistere şi pseudo-mistere din istoria PCR', 22, no.34 (23-30 August), 1995, p.12.
 J.F. Brown, Eastern Europe and Communist Rule, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1988, p.275.
 Michael Shafir, Romania. Politics, Economics and Society, London: Frances Pinter, 1985, pp.70-76.
 See the Stenogram of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the CC of the RCP of 25 June 1971 in this volume.
 N. Ceauşescu, Romania on the Way of Building Up the Multilaterally Developed Socialist Society. Reports, Speeches, Articles, May 1971-February 1972., vol.6, Bucharest: Meridiane, 1972, p.608.
 Maurer was born in 1902 to a Saxon father and a Romanian mother of French origin. After graduating in law, he acted as a defence lawyer for Communists and joined the party in 1936. During the war, after being interned for a period in 1943, Maurer maintained contact with Gheorghiu-Dej at Târgu-Jiu and acted as a link between the latter and members of the party who had escaped internment. Between 1944 and and 1947, Maurer held senior posts in the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of National Economy. He kept a low profile until 1957 when Gheorghiu-Dej appointed him Foreign Minister, and in the following year he became nominal head of state as chairman of the Grand National Assembly. In 1960, he was elevated to the politburo and in 1961 became prime minister.
 In an interview with Newsweek given four months before his death, Ceau]escu displayed his admiration for Stalin: 'In twenty years, Stalin raised Russia from an undeveloped country to the second most powerful country in the world.....He won a war. He built nuclear weapons. He did everything a person should do in his job.' (Quoted from Mark Almond, The Rise and Fall of Nicolae and Elena Ceau]escu, London: Chapmans, 1992, p.67).
 Scânteia, 21 November 1985.
 Ceauşescu’s increasing distrust of innovation is reflected in his criticism of the reliance upon electronics in the Romanian defence industry and his claim that old technology was more reliable; see his comments in the Stenogram of the Meeting of the Defence Council of 31 May 1989 (document 31 in this volume).
 A.H. Smith, 'The Romanian Enterprise', in Industrial Reform in Socialist Countries, ed. by I. Jeffries, London: Edward Elgar, 1992, p.204.
 A list of 74 workers who were released after the 1989 revolution appeared in România liberă on 9 January 1990.
 Vladimir Socor, 'The Workers' Protest in Bra]ov: Assessment and Aftermath', Romania Background Report /231, Radio Free Europe Research, 4 December 1987, p..3.
 S. Brucan, Generaţia Irosită: Bucharest: Editurile Universul & Calistrat Hogaş, 1992, pp.168-69.
 The others were George Vasilescu, a lawyer from Cluj; Haralambie Circa and Samoilă Popa, both teachers from Sibiu, Puiu Neamţu an electrician from Făgăraş, Teohar Mihadas, a writer from Cluj, Isaia Vatca a painter from Cluj, Dan and Gina Sâmpăleanu, both teachers from Blaj, Crucita Mariana, a housewife from Turda, Peter Ivan Chelu, a theatre director and Melinda Chelu, an architect from Cluj, Zoltan and Judith Wrabel, Eniko Tabacu, Rachel Szocs, and Viorica Hecia, all teachers from Cluj, Marius Tabacu, a musician from Cluj, Marin Lupeu, Ioan Voicu, Mihai Torja, Marin Brâncoveanu, Bogdan and Monica Şerban, all workers from Zărneşti, and Mihai Hurezeanu and Ion Rostas, both workers from Cluj. Iulius Filip, one of the founder members of the independent trade union Libertatea had been arrested in 1982 after writing a letter of support to the Polish trade union Solidarity. After five years in prison, during which time he was beaten, he was released but forced to chose from three places of work, none of which was close to his home and family in Cluj. He chose the town of Zlatna, some 150 km from Cluj and commuted to work. He and his wife were placed under constant surveillance and they applied to emigrate. In June 1988 pressure was brought to bear on the couple to withdraw their application but they refused. In July, Filip went to Bârlad in Moldavia to meet fellow workers who were sympathetic to the aims of Libertatea but he was arrested upon arrival and accused of a robbery committed in Cluj. He was badly beaten and detained for four days before being freed. On his return to Cluj he was rearrested, this time for a robbery carried in Bârlad, and he was beaten again, by a Major Jurcut of the securitate (East European Reporter (Spring-Summer 1989, p.24).
 D. Cornea, Scrisori deschise şi alte texte, Bucharest: Humanitas, 1991, pp.84-85.
 For the full text of the letter see Michael Shafir, 'Former Senior RCP Officials Protest Ceau]escu's Policies', Radio Free Europe Reseach, Romania/3 (29 March 1989), pp. 8-11. A good deal of misinformation and perhaps disinformation has circulated concerning the manner in which the letter reached the West. There seems little doubt that Silviu Brucan sent at least two copies of the letter on 1 March through the open post, one to the offices of Associated Press in Vienna, the second to a friend in London. The friend in London informed the BBC World Service who sent a messenger to collect the letter. It was broadcast by the Romanian service of the BBC on 10 March and on the same evening a despatch from London by Misha Glenny containing details of a telephone conversation with Brucan on the subject of the letter was transmitted in English (I am grateful to the Caris Information Service of the BBC World Service for providing me with a copy of the despatch). That same evening I was interviewed by the BBC English-language service on the significance of the letter and shown a translation of it. In an alleged declaration made by Silviu Brucan to the securitate on 23 March 1989 which was published in the Romanian weekly Express Magazin in its edition of 13-19 March 1991 (p.9), Brucan said that he had sent a copy of the letter to me in London. I have no reason to disbelieve this. However, the only text of the letter which I saw was that shown to me in English translation on 10 March at the BBC. The name of the American correspondent William Pfaff has also been invoked in connection with the transmission of the letter to the West. Here is what Pfaff has to say about the matter: 'I have been credited by Radio Free Europe (and elsewhere) with having brought the text of the dissident Communist leaders' letter of March 1989 to the West. This is not true. I seem to have provided a useful diversion in these events, but the text of the letter was simply mailed by Mr Brucan to addresses in Vienna and London, for transmission to The Associated Press and the BBC. When after several days the BBC had broadcast nothing, Mr Brucan concluded that the letter had not got through (actually it had) and made another handwritten copy that he gave to the American Embassy, asking that it be immediately typed on an embassy machine and his version destroyed. His arrest promptly followed. According to him, the embassy had been penetrated by the Romanian security service, the securitate, and an American officer had been turned.' Pfaff also revealed that Brucan had shown him a draft proposal for reform of the Romanian Communist Party during a visit to Bucharest 'in the late winter of 1988-89' (International Herald Tribune, 6 June 1991, p.10).
 M. Shafir, 'Ceauşescu's Overthrow: Popular Uprising or Moscow-guided Conspiracy ?', Radio Free Europe Research, Report on Eastern Europe, vol.1, no.3 (19 January 1990), p.15.
 S. Brucan, Generaţia Irosită, p.218.
 Author's interview with General Nicolae Militaru, 7 January 1995.
 D. Aspinall [D. Deletant], 'Romania: Queues and Personality Cults', Soviet Analyst, 16 May 1984, p.4.
 P. Stephenson, M. Wagner, M. Badea, F. Serbanescu, 'The Public Health Consequences of Restricted Induced Abortion - Lessons from Romania', American Journal of Public Health, October 1992, pp.1328-1331).
 Orizont, 6 January 1984. Elena’s callousness is evident from her comments on the Poles in the Stenogram of the Meeting of the Consultative Political Committee of the CC of the RCP of 17 December 1981 (see this volume).
 M. Shafir, 'From Sofia to Beijing: Reactions to the 19th Soviet Party Conference', Radio Free Europe Research, Background Report/133 (13 July 1988), p.5. Ceauşescu’s barely-concealed irritation with Gorbachev’s policies is evident in his speech at the Meeting of Warsaw Pact leaders of 29 May 1987 (see this volume).
 The phrase was used by Corneliu Bogdan, one-time Romanian ambassador to Washington, is describing one of the reasons for President Nixon’s visit to Bucharest in August 1969, and borrowed by J.F. Harrington and B.J. Courtney for the title of their book Tweaking the Nose of the Russians: Fifty Years of American-Romanian Relations, 1940-1990, Boulder: East European Monographs, 1991.
 R. Kirk, M. Raceanu, Romania versus the United States. Diplomacy of the Absurd, 1985-1989, New York: St Martin’s Press, 1994, p.5.
 Ibid., pp.184-85.
 Scânteia, 4 March 1988.
 J. Loraine, 'Operation Ursoaia': Porlock's Village in Romania, privately printed in 1990.
 L. Tokes, With God, For the People, as told to David Porter, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1990, pp.65, 79.
 M. Rady, Romania in Turmoil, London: I.B. Tauris, 1992, p.86.
 M. Rady, op. cit., p.88.
 L. Tokes, op. cit., pp.147-48.
 Adevărul, 21 December 1991, pp.2-3.
 Adevărul, 21 February 1990, p.1.
 The Times, 22 December 1990.