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Nicolae Ceaușescu (1918–1989) was
batshit crazy the ruler of communist Romania from 1965 to 1989, and was considered eccentric and tyrannical even among the rulers of the Eastern Bloc. The closest equivalent of him is Kim Jong Il, and like Kim, Ceaușescu formulated the combination of orthodox Marxism-Leninism with extreme nationalism, appropriately called National Communism.
Ceaușescu came into power in 1965, and was initially seen as a reformer who became popular with Romanians and the West when he gave a speech denouncing the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This won him praise from Western capitalist states, including ardent anti-communist Richard Nixon, as well as by China and North Korea, non-aligned communist states who also opposed the Soviet invasion. Ceaușescu was soon taking large loans from the West, and at home he set out to imitate China's Cultural Revolution and North Korea's nepotist personality cult. He created a personality cult around himself and his wife, Elena Ceaușescu. Elena was an uneducated peasant but was promoted to the people as a scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Among the tenets of National Communism was the heavy promotion of Romanian nationalism, and since Romania was largely agricultural and lacked the industrialization of its neighbors, nationalism provided a bigger draw for the large rural population. To build the nationalist mythos, Ceaușescu also rehabilitated pre-WW2 era fascist dictators such as Ion Antonescu, who was rebranded as a "misunderstood patriot". Concurrently, Ceaușescu also promoted anti-Sovietism and anti-Slavism, and found solidarity with non-aligned communist states such as China and North Korea.
Ceaușescu even resuscitated the legend of Dracula for the purpose of stimulating the tourist trade and Romanian nationalism. At the same time, he badly mistreated the large Hungarian minority and was nicknamed "Draculescu" both within fellow communist state Hungary as well as Hungarians in general. This mistreatment would eventually contribute to his demise, but not until December 1989.
During the 1980s Ceaușescu decided to quickly pay off Romania's debts to the West by ordering the mass export of goods from the country and putting Romanian people on a severe austerity program. While food, fuel, and electricity were strictly rationed and Romanians were living at barely subsistence level, Ceaușescu was also ordering the demolition of blocks of houses, evicting the residents, and replacing them with apartment buildings. At this time a pro-natal policy of enforced large families was in place which people could not support, and this all added up to a humanitarian disaster. Ceaușescu destroyed the Romanian economy and uprooted farmers from lands they had occupied for generations. Eventually, even inner-circle members of his party got pissed off with him, including his eventual successor Ion Iliescu, who favored Perestroika-style reforms. Open rebellion started in Timișoara and soon spread to the capital, Bucharest.
In Ceaușescu's final public speech on the morning of December 21, 1989 he was stunned into silence when the crowd started booing and jeering. By the very next day the streets of Bucharest were taken over by the people. Ceaușescu ordered the Romanian Army to fire onto peaceful protesters, and the Romanian Army turned on him. Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu escaped the capital by helicopter. Stupidly they had overloaded the helicopter with loot for starting new lives, and crashed into the Black Sea.
They were captured and shot dead on Christmas Day, 1989 after being convicted of genocide and plunder in a hasty show trial by the National Salvation Front (FSN). Before his execution, Ceaușescu proclaimed "We could have been shot without having this masquerade!". It is unknown whether Romanians have somehow integrated a celebration of the death of Ceaușescu into their Christmas festivities, but if they have, it's probably pretty bad ass.
However, due to Romania's current social problems such as poverty, political corruption, and a shrinking population (ironically caused by the ex-communist party politicians who overthrew Ceaușescu and are still politically influential today), as well as Ceaușescu's promotion of nationalism and independence from the USSR, a large number of Romanians today still reminisce about the good old days of Ceaușescu.
Ceaușescu served as the model for Tim LaHaye's antichrist in the Left Behind series (he is named Nicolae Carpathia, a name roughly equivalent to someone in Alaska naming their kid Joe Denali, but whatever).
Sometimes, when a communist government comes to power, they quickly enact a set of policies aimed at some degree of equality for women. Romania was not such an occasion.
In a twisted inverse of China's one-child policy, Ceaușescu's regime was known for some extremely restrictive policies on abortion; prior to him taking power, Romania had three to four abortions per live birth. Ceaușescu put the kibosh on this recklessness with Decree 770 (decreţei 770), banning abortion entirely, advocating vigorously for Catholic-sized families (minimum five children) and imposing an almost self-parody stupid enforcement regime whereby women in the workplace were regularly rounded up and given pregnancy tests by government agents referred to formally as "Demographic Command Bodies" and informally as "menstrual police". Women without a threshold number of children who repeatedly failed to conceive were required to pay a steep tax. The effects of the strictly-enforced policy coupled with food shortages eventually led to families giving up children to orphanages because they couldn't feed them, overflowing orphanages that could not adequately care for the children, and permanent mental health issues for the children who were institutionalized. Another law established that people exposed as homosexuals could be imprisoned for up to five years, with the prisoners often being extrajudicially killed before their sentences were completed.
Sadly many of the extra births ended up being orphans, and many were infected with hepatitis, AIDS and other diseases transmitted from blood transfusions given in lieu of food. It was the policy of the Ceaușescu regime to inject the inmates of state orphanages with blood purchased from donors in the cities. Most of the people who ended up selling their blood were prostitutes and drug users, and the blood was not screened for disease before being distributed to the orphanages. Ceaușescu was completely in denial of AIDS even existing, so the blood was not tested and no precautions were taken.
- Vampire — based on another Romanian bloodsucker, Vlad the Impaler
- Nicolae Ceausescu: a profile of the former communist dictator
- Ceaușescu still most beloved President of Romania Transylvania Today. December 27, 2018
- How communist Romania destroyed an entire generation of children by Maurício Brum (August 10, 2018) Wise Up News.