Romania shaped by Communism.
Disclaimer! This post is the author’s approach of storytelling Romania’s history. The analogies, metaphors and sarcasm are personal touches. All of the historical facts are based on thorough research and valid sources of information.
It doesn’t seem that long but the effects of this regime are still present in Romania’s society of today. Out of all the Communist figures, two would win the popularity contest. George [Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej] and good old Nick [Nicolae Ceaușescu].
What is Communism?
Communism looks good in theory, on paper, and sounds like this. They say that all factories, farms, property should be owned by the public or the state. The state. And wealth should be equally divided amongst the citizens. No classes, everyone gets the same rewards for their work. Sounds good, no?
But what if I work harder than you? Or better than you? No mate, we get the same. The state decided that already. But that seems unfair? No. It’s not. Remember the state knows better.
The state meaning the leader of the Party. In our case George or Nick. They would decide the faith of 20 million Romanians. Because they know better. Fuck it, they don’t even have to ask the people if they cool with it. They know better. I wanna mention that George and Nick were poor farmers boys. Their leadership and management skills were not really forged by education. Not to say that is bad. I, myself am a farm boy, but I did not go on to “dictate” how my people should live their life.
George’s Communism in Romania.
Let’s reinvent Romania!…said George. First we need to get rid of the people who think. You know the educated ones. How? Round them up and throw them in jail. What for? What do you mean what for? For expressing their opinions, that’s why. Ok boss.
Secondly we need to ban the church. What? Why? Because it’s a place where people gather and they might talk shit about us. And fuck that! I say that’s not allowed. Ok boss.
Afterwards we need land and business. Take all the land and business from individuals and make them state property. But what if they don’t want to do that? We know better boys, remember our mission, to think for the nation of Romania. And if they don’t want to, throw them in jail. Ok boss!
What else? Ah, yes. Finally we are gonna create a secret police. Call it Securitate. They’re gonna be everywhere, listen to everything. And if someone dares to talk shit about us they go straight to jail the next day. Ok boss! Cool!
So everyone knows what they have to do? Let’s get to work. Ah yeah, forgot to tell you we’re gonna rename a few cities. To show how much we appreciate the mentorship of our good friends from Moscow. Where should we start? Mmmh, Brasov. Yes, Brasov will be called Stalin City starting with tomorrow. That should make them happy.
Years went by. George and his mates worked and turned that plan into reality. Nick was close friends with George. And when George passed away he took over the rule. Karma gave our George a bit of lung cancer. The universe gives you what you put out there, isn’t it?
Nick’s Communism in Romania.
Nick continued the “great work”. An important point on his agenda was to make Romania very Romanian. Remember how after WWI with the new territory gains Romania became ethnically diverse? Well he didn’t like this so decided to make everyone “Romanian”, it’s either that or you go back to your county.
Also he wasn’t particularly fond of Moscow directives. He did not support the Soviets “intervention” in Czechoslovakia. Or the invasion of Afghanistan. Good on you Nick. This won him recognition from the U.S. and Western Europe. They had hope in the little bastard. But his mind was far away from democracy and liberal values. He had his own agenda. His own type of Communism. National Communism.
And so he went on a casual visit to his fellow friends to get some inspiration. People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Vietnam, you know his other communists mates. And what he saw there wooed him and his wife. Massively organized choreographies. Tens and thousands of people cheering for their president, declaring their unconditional support and appreciation for the supreme leader. By their “own will”, of course.
Nick: Damn it wifey! Why don’t we have this? The Romanians love us so much anyway.
Elena: Don’t worry hubby! We’ll take care of this when we get back. I’ll round up all the factory workers and peasants and we’ll declare a holiday for you.
And then our Nick became really ambitious. Woke up one morning and had a dream of clearing all debt that Romania had to other countries. Great! But how do we do this? Well, people should eat less and energy supplies should be limited. We sell all the extra production and energy. Make money and pay out debts. Awesome plan Nick!
The “scientists” came up with a “diet plan” for people to not become obese. What a funny joke! You could only buy this much bread, oil, sugar, and milk. But what if I wanna stock up? Nope, that is illegal? You go straight to jail if you buy more than what the state decided.
Also, you can buy only 20 liters of gasoline per month. And on Sunday everyone will take the bus or train. No cars on the roads.
Electricity? Only in the evenings, for two-three hours. That should be enough, but why stop here?
Heating? It is illegal for the temperature to be higher than 16 degrees Celsius. Apart from schools and kindergartens. Are you feeling cold? Put another coat on.
You wanna leave the country and look for a better life. Fuck you! You stay here and help the supreme leader pay the country’s debs. Try leaving and we’ll put you in prison.
The little fucker managed to make his dream reality. In March 1989, Romania paid all its external debt of 11 billion dollars. Great job Nick! Good on you boy!
The cost of Nick’s ambitions.
But with what great cost. Romanians were battered beyond imagination. Their spirits were broken. They were resilient as always but this shit was way too much.
So close to Christmas the same year they went out on the streets. Started out a revolution. Captured the supreme leader and his wife. And after a short trial, we shot them dead on Christmas Day.
Maybe they did not deserve to die like that? But that’s a topic that would need a lot of debate, research and objective analysys. From someone who is not emotionally involved, for that matter I don’t consider myself fit to do so.
Communism was over in Romania. But we were not ready for democracy. Even less ready for capitalism. But they came. Without notice. A period of havoc followed.
The worst thing that happened was that most of the figures that took over power were none others than former Communists, starting with the newly elected president, Ion Iliescu.
How I regard Communism.
I was an infant when the revolution happened but I feel the consequences of that era very much present in my life. Through my parents. And their way of thinking. Thirty years after the event, they still have days when they feel nostalgic after Nick’s times.
They tell me “Oh you know, the state would provide you with free education. They’ll give you a job. And even an apartment to live in. What do you get today? You have to struggle for everything”. Most of the times I got this “talk” I would be going bananas on them until I grew up and learned more and more about those times.
Dear mom and dad, you forget that all that was paid by you in the most expensive currency. Your right to have an opinion, your living conditions as human beings. That regime broke your spirit beyond repair.
You’ll never fully understand why I value the freedom of speaking my mind. My desire for traveling the world. Why I enjoy the struggle of making it. Why I believe that today we live in better times. But that is ok.
I stopped fighting with you. I know you think you know what’s better for me, even though you never asked me what I want. It’s ok mom. I now know what you guys have been through. I understand.
And mom and dad know this. I am coming back home. I’ll show people all around the world our country. I ran away for a few years, only to learn to love Romania more than before. Oh! I’m glad I took that off my chest.
What have we learned today?
The worst thing that Communism did to Romania, in my opinion, is the deprivation of critical thinking. Looking beyond all the material things lacking in the day to day life, this would prove to be the hardest aspect to rebuild.
If for over 40 years you drill into the population of a country the fact that they shouldn’t think about what is good or bad. But instead just follow what a group of individuals decide for them. And silence whoever dares not to do so. You end up with a generation prone only to follow. A generation that lacks self confidence and doubts and rejects everything that is not Romanian. And that takes a long, long time to heal.
The next post will be the end of this tale about Romania and a wrap up of the events that shaped the country throughout the history. Let me know how I did so far with this storytelling affair.