Romanian Revolution of 1989

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Romanian Revolution of 1989


December 1989 (Berlin Sector) The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a week-long series of increasingly violent riots and fighting in late December 1989 that overthrew the government of the totalitarian president Nicolae Ceauşescu. After a trial, Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were executed. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country to overthrow its government forcefully or to execute its leaders.

Three major components provided reason for and provoked the Romanian Revolution:

  1. The secret police (Securitate) were becoming so ubiquitous as to make Romania essentially a police state. Free speech was limited and opinions that did not favor the Communist Party were forbidden. There was no right to free speech or to express political or economical views other than those that favored the Communist Party. The "Securitate" (secret police) were assigned to make sure that no one spoke against the government and this included all forms of media from television to books to movies. Radio Free Europe became a popular way to get news from sources outside the government.
  2. Nicolae Ceauşescu's draconian austerity program, designed to enable Romania to liquidate its entire national debt in only a few years, plunged the population into painful shortages and increasing poverty. The Romanian TV channels were reduced to one channel which transmitted only 2 hours per day. Electricity was interrupted for hours, mostly at night. There were long lines at the grocery stores. All of these shortages were because electricity, food, clothes and all Romanian domestic production was exported in exchange for international currency to pay the country's debt.
  3. Nicolae Ceauşescu created a cult of personality, with weekly shows in stadiums or on streets in different cities dedicated to him, his wife and the Communist Party. There were megalomanic projects, such as the construction of the grandiose House of the Republic (today the Palace of the Parliament), the biggest palace in the world, and the future Communism and Ceausescu's Museum, today the Casa Radio. All these projects drained the country's finances and aggravated the already embattled economic situation. Thousands of Bucharest residents were also evicted from their homes, which were subsequently demolished to make room for the huge structures.