Know Your History: Romania and Ceausescu

In December 1989, the brutal Communist tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife met their bitter end.

Ceausescu had built himself up into a personality cult to such a degree that when he came to greet the massive throngs from a balcony high off the ground, he expected the people to cheer for him. He couldn’t believe that they had come to jeer and demonstrate instead.

It was one of those moments of history when all things become possible. When people who have been abused for a generation finally glimpse a sliver of hope and are willing to take a step of faith that this time things will be different.

They were. The Romanian army was no longer on the side of the Ceausescu regime, setting up a bloody confrontation between the secret police fighting for their lives and the throngs of people wanting freedom. The people stormed the police headquarters, dumping countless police records into the streets, putting an end to the oppressive regime’s reach into their lives.

Ceausescu escaped in a helicopter but was found a few hours later. After a quick show trial, he and his wife were executed for crimes committed against the citizens of Romania. Thus ended one of the most brutal sidebars of the communist grip on Eastern Europe.

Nine-teen eighty nine was the unforgettable year which started the end of the Cold War and the restoration of rights and freedom into the Soviet Bloc nations. Romania’s story played a large role in the process.

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