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Daily History

December 22 1989 Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania ends


Nicolae CeausescuOn December 22nd 1989, Nicolae Ceaucescu’s dictatorship in Romania ended, after politician Ion Iliescu became the new President.

It was also the official end of Communism within Romania, after 42 years of Communist rule under leaders Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Nicolae Ceausescu.

While Gheorghiu-Dej is often condemned as a neo-Stalinist ruler, despite his attempts to abandon such labels, most of the negative light is dispensed by historians onto the second leader, Ceausescu, who took over in 1965.

A reluctance to become involved in foreign affairs is a key characteristic of the political careers of both Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceausescu, contributing to a tense relationship with the USSR.

While they complied somewhat with the Warsaw Pact, they inevitably refused to become involved in any direct action affiliated with the Pact.

As such, the relationship between Romania and the USSR was never strong, something which became a problem during the later years of Romanian Communism.

Ceausescu effectively ended Romania’s active participation in the Warsaw Pact when he refused to send Romanian troops to fight in the USSR invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Nevertheless, Ceausescu’s attitude towards internal affairs was in some ways even direr.

From 1966 onwards, the Romanian leader began to carry out various policies that adversely affected the life of Romanian citizens, beginning with a ban on all contraception and abortion.

At the same time, Ceaucescu began to slowly invoke a personality cult amongst Romanian culture, claiming himself to be the “Genius of the Carpathians,” all the while covering up the building foreign debt due to Romania’s political separation from the USSR.

Extreme food shortages in Romania became apparent in 1989, despite government propaganda that suggested otherwise.

Despite constant propaganda endorsed by Ceaucescu, political unrest was building amongst Romanian civilians.

His introverted view on foreign affairs was his eventual downfall, when the Hungarian majority of Romanian town Timisoara revolted in support of Hungarian minister Laszlo Tokes.

Those in the revolt – mainly students – began to attack the Romanian Securitate police forces, leading to a violent response from the Securitate.

News of the revolt and the revolt itself soon spread to the Romanian capital of Bucharest, forcing Ceaucescu to retreat.

Ceaucescu was finally caught on December 22, after a riot the day before which is seen as one of the defining moments of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife, Elena, were held under trial before being found guilty and executed.

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