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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rise of the Communists
The early years of Communist rule in Romania were marked by repeated changes of course and by numerous arrests and imprisonments, as factions contended for dominance. The country's resources were also drained by the Soviet's SovRom agreements, which facilitated shipping of Romanian goods to the Soviet Union at nominal prices. In all ministries, there were Soviet "advisers", who reported directly to Moscow and held the real decision-making powers. All walks of life were infiltrated by agents and informers of the secret police.
In 1948 the earlier agrarian reform was reversed, replaced by a move toward collective farm. This resulted in forced "collectivization", since wealthier peasants generally did not want to give up their land voluntarily, and had to be "convinced" by beatings, intimidation, arrests and deportations.
On June 11, 1948, all banks and large businesses were nationalized.
In the communist leadership, there appear to have been three important factions, all of them Stalinist, differentiated more by their respective personal histories than by any deep political or philosophical differences:
Ultimately, with Stalin's backing, and probably due in part to the anti-Semitic policies of late Stalinism (Pauker was Jewish), Gheorghiu-Dej and the "Prison Communists" won out. Pauker was purged from the party (along with 192,000 other party members); Pătrăşcanu was executed after a show trial.

The "Muscovites," notably Ana Pauker and Vasile Luca, had spent the war in Moscow.
The "Prison Communists," notably Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, had been imprisoned during the war.
The somewhat less firmly Stalinist "Secretariat Communists," notably Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu had made it through the Antonescu years by hiding within Romania and had participated in the broad governments immediately after King Michael's 1944 coup. Early years of the communist state
Gheorghiu-Dej, a firm Stalinist, was not pleased with the reforms in Nikita Khrushchev's Soviet Union after Stalin's death in 1953. He also blanched at Comecon's goal of turning Romania into the "breadbasket" of the East Bloc, pursuing a program of the development of heavy industry. He also closed Romania's largest labor camps, abandoned the Danube–Black Sea Canal project, halted rationing, and hiked workers' wages.
This, combined with continuing resentment that historically Romanian lands remained part of the Soviet Union, in the form of the Moldavian SSR, inevitably led Romania under Gheorghiu-Dej on a relatively independent and nationalist route.
Gheorghiu-Dej identified with Stalinism, and the more liberal Soviet regime threatened to undermine his authority. In an effort to reinforce his position, Gheorghiu-Dej pledged cooperation with any state, regardless of political-economic system, as long as it recognized international equality and did not interfere in other nations' domestic affairs. This policy led to a tightening of Romania's bonds with China, which also advocated national self-determination.
In 1954 Gheorghiu-Dej resigned as the party's general secretary but retained the premiership; a four-member collective secretariat, including Nicolae Ceauşescu, controlled the party for a year before Gheorghiu-Dej again took up the reins. Despite its new policy of international cooperation, Romania joined the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) in 1955, which entailed subordinating and integrating a portion of its military into the Soviet military machine. Romania later refused to allow Warsaw Pact maneuvers on its soil and limited its participation in military maneuvers elsewhere within the alliance.
In 1956 the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced Stalin in a secret speech before the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU. Gheorghiu-Dej and the leadership of the Romanian Workers' Party (Partidul Muncitoresc Român, PMR) were fully braced to weather de-Stalinization. Gheorghiu-Dej made Pauker, Luca and Georgescu scapegoats for the Romanian communists' past excesses and claimed that the Romanian party had purged its Stalinist elements even before Stalin had died.
In October 1956, Poland's communist leaders refused to succumb to Soviet military threats to intervene in domestic political affairs and install a more obedient politburo. A few weeks later, the communist party in Hungary virtually disintegrated during a popular revolution. Poland's defiance and Hungary's popular uprising inspired Romanian students and workers to demonstrate in university and industrial towns calling for liberty, better living conditions, and an end to Soviet domination. Fearing the Hungarian uprising might incite his nation's own Hungarian population to revolt, Gheorghiu-Dej advocated swift Soviet intervention, and the Soviet Union reinforced its military presence in Romania, particularly along the Hungarian border. Although Romania's unrest proved fragmentary and controllable, Hungary's was not, so in November Moscow mounted a bloody invasion of Hungary.
After the Revolution of 1956, Gheorghiu-Dej worked closely with Hungary's new leader, János Kádár. Although Romania initially took in Imre Nagy, the exiled former Hungarian premier, it returned him to Budapest for trial and execution. In turn, Kádár renounced Hungary's claims to Transylvania and denounced Hungarians there who had supported the revolution as chauvinists, nationalists, and irredentists.
In Transylvania, for their part, the Romanian authorities merged Hungarian and Romanian universities at Cluj and consolidated middle schools.
Romania's government also took measures to allay domestic discontent by reducing investments in heavy industry, boosting output of consumer goods, decentralizing economic management, hiking wages and incentives, and instituting elements of worker management. The authorities eliminated compulsory deliveries for private farmers but reaccelerated the collectivization program in the mid-1950s, albeit less brutally than earlier. The government declared collectivization complete in 1962, when collective and state farms controlled 77% of the arable land.
Despite Gheorghiu-Dej's claim that he had purged the Romanian party of Stalinists, he remained susceptible to attack for his obvious complicity in the party's activities from 1944 to 1953. At a plenary PMR meeting in March 1956, Miron Constantinescu and Iosif Chişinevschi, both Politburo members and deputy premiers, criticized Gheorghiu-Dej. Constantinescu, who advocated a Khrushchev-style liberalization, posed a particular threat to Gheorghiu-Dej because he enjoyed good connections with the Moscow leadership. The PMR purged Constantinescu and Chişinevschi in 1957, denouncing both as Stalinists and charging them with complicity with Pauker. Afterwards, Gheorghiu-Dej faced no serious challenge to his leadership. Ceauşescu replaced Constantinescu as head of PMR cadres.
Gheorghiu-Dej never reached a truly mutually acceptable accommodation with Hungary over Transylvania. (The same could be said of all leaders of the two nations as long as they have had identities as nations.) Gheorghiu-Dej took a two-pronged approach to the problem, arresting the leaders of the Hungarian People's Alliance, but establishing an autonomous Hungarian region in the Székely land. This erected an ultimately meaningless façade of concern for minority rights.
Most Romanian Jews initially favored Communism, in reaction to the anti-Semitism of the Fascists. However, by the 1950s, most were disappointed with the increasing discrimination of the Party and the limitations for emigration to Israel.

The Gheorghiu-Dej era

Main articles: Romanian anti-communist resistance movement, Bărăgan deportations, and Piteşti prison Persecution, the labor camp system and anti-communist resistance
Gheorghiu-Dej died in 1965 in unclear circumstances (his death apparently occurred when he was in Moscow for medical treatment) and, after the inevitable power struggle, was succeeded by the previously obscure Nicolae Ceauşescu. Where Gheorghiu-Dej had hewed to a Stalinist line while the Soviet Union was in a reformist period, Ceauşescu initially appeared to be a reformist, precisely as the Soviet Union was headed into its neo-Stalinist era under Leonid Brezhnev.
In 1965 the name of the country was changed to Republica Socialistă România (The Socialist Republic of Romania) — RSR — and PMR was renamed once again to Partidul Communist Român — The Romanian Communist Party (PCR).
In his early years in power, Ceauşescu was genuinely popular, both at home and abroad. Agricultural goods were abundant, consumer goods began to reappear, there was a cultural thaw, and, most importantly abroad, he spoke out against the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. While his reputation at home soon paled, he continued to have uncommonly good relations with western governments and with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank because of his independent political line. Romania under Ceauşescu maintained diplomatic relations with, among others, West Germany, Israel, China, and Albania, all for various reasons on the outs with Moscow.
The period of freedom and apparent prosperity was to be short-lived. Even at the start, reproductive freedom was severely restricted. Wishing to increase the birth rate, in 1966, Ceauşescu promulgated a law restricting abortion and contraception: only women over the age of 40 or who already had at least four children were eligible for either; in 1972 this became women over the age of 45 or who already had at least five children.
Other abuses of human rights were typical of a Stalinist regime: a massive force of secret police (the "Securitate"), censorship, relocations, but not on the same scale as in the 1950s.
During the Ceauşescu era, there was a secret ongoing "trade" between Romania on one side and Israel and West Germany on the other side, under which Israel and West Germany paid money to Romania to allow Romanian citizens with certified Jewish or Saxon ancestry to emigrate to Israel and West Germany, respectively.
Ceauşescu's Romania continued to pursue Gheorghiu-Dej's policy of industrialization, but still produced few goods of a quality suitable for the world market. Also, after a visit to North Korea, Ceauşescu developed a megalomaniacal vision of completely remaking the country; this became known as systematization. A large portion of the capital, Bucharest, was torn down to make way for the Casa Poporului (now House of Parliament) complex and Centrul Civic (Civic Center), but the December 1989 Revolution left much of the huge complex unfinished, such as a new National Library and the National Museum of History. During the huge demolitions in the 1980s, this area was popularly called "Ceauşima" - a bitter satirical allusion of Ceauşescu and Hiroshima TV broadcasts were limited to two hours daily, mostly propaganda, with most people choosing to watch Bulgarian, Serbian, Hungarian or Russian TV, wherever the signal was sufficiently strong, using illegal antennas or mini satellite dishes. There were almost no computers 8-bit clones of Western home computers being directly shipped to serve as workstations in factories and such.
Another legacy of this era was pollution, with Ceauşescu's government scoring badly on this count even by the standards of the Eastern European communist states. Examples include Copşa Mică with its infamous Carbon Powder factory (in the 1980s, the whole city could be seen from satellite as covered by a thick black cloud), Hunedoara, or the plan, launched in 1989, to convert the unique Danube Delta — a UNESCO World Heritage site — to plain agricultural fields.

The Ceauşescu regime

Main article: Romanian Revolution of 1989Communist Romania Controversy over the events of December 1989
< World War II | History of Romania | 1989 Revolution >

List of Romanian communists
Scînteia - The Romanian Communist Party's Newspaper
The Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania
Administrative divisions of the Peoples' Republic of Romania

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