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Nicolae Ceausescu

1967-1989

 

 

Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu, was born in 1918 in the village of Scornicesti, Romania. He was a son of a peasant. When he was eleven, Nicolae was sent to Bucharest to work as a shoemaker's apprentice. While there, he became interested in politics. At a very early age, Nicolae became active in the Romanian Communist movement. In 1932, Nicolae joined the Romanian Workers Party. The year after that, 1933, Ceausescu decided to become a member of the Union of Communist Youth, and that same year, he was elected to the Anti-Fascist Committee, a part of the Romanian Workers Party. In the course of his political activism, Nicolae was arrested numerous times as a revolutionary. He spent the 1930s and early 40s in prison. During his stay in prison, Ceausescu became acquainted with the future first secretary of the Romanian Communist party, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. Gheorghiu-Dej had a profound effect on Ceausescu and transformed him into a diehard Communist.

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Ceausescu escaped from prison in 1944. Soon after, in 1946, he was married to Elena Petrescu. She was also a fervent communist and never left her husband's side. They had three children: a daughter, Zoia, a son, Nicu, and an adopted son, Valentin.

After the Communist had taken over in 1948, Ceausescu held a variety of positions within the various Communist party organizations and government ranks. He soon became a member of the party's central committee, and in 1955, a member of the Politburo. Upon Gheorghiu-Dej's death in March 1965, Ceausescu succeeded him as first secretary of the party and the effective ruler of Romania. In 1967, he became the country's president.

As leader, Ceausescu continued his mentor's policy of nationalism and independence from the USSR. He promoted closer relations with the People's Republic of China and with the West, as well as industrial and agricultural development. Unlike his foreign policy, his domestic policy was a catastrophe. During the 1980s he imposed a tremendously harsh program to liquidate Romania's foreign debt. This program included forced relocation of the rural population. Many Romanians were not pleased with this program and began to dislike Ceausescu. To further the hatred of the population, Nicolae rejected the political and economic reforms introduced in the USSR and other East European countries in the late 1980s.

The last straw occurred when Ceausescu brutally suppressed a demonstration for human rights in the city of Timisoara. The suppression of the protest at Timisoara sparked widespread demonstrations against Ceausescu's dictatorship and the Communist Party rule. By this time, even the army had turned against him. His attempt to flee Bucharest on December 22, 1989, with his wife Elena, also a member of the Politburo, was unsuccessful. The two were captured and secretly tried. Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were executed by a firing squad. Their corpses were initially moved to unmarked burial sites in Ghencea Cemetery in Bucharest.


Bibliography:

Rady, Martin. Romania in Turmoil: A Contemporary History. I B Lauris & Co. 1992.

Ratesh, Nestor. Romania. Praeger Publishing Company. 1991.

"Ceausescu." Grollier's Encyclopedia. CD-ROM.


Edited, Researched and Written by: 
Eram Alan
Mercedes Romero
Kasia Lipinski

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