1956-1968 since 1989

A People's Republic, 1968-1989

Administration . Nicolae Ceaucescu, party general secretary since 1965, president of the state council since 1967, president since 1974, had amassed titles and concentrated all authority on his own person. General elections were held in 1969, 1975, 1980, 1985 and 1987.

Foreign Policy . After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in 1968, in which Romania did not participate, the country officially withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in 1969. The image of Romania's Ceaucescu as someone willing to stand up to the USSR was enforced by Romania's participation in the 1984 Olympic Games at Los Angeles (which were boycotted by the Warsaw Pact states). Romanian relations with socialist neighbour Hungary were extremely poor.

Political History . Romania's secret service, the Securitate, was regarded one of the most ruthless. Ceausescu's wife was minister of science and education. Conditions in Romania, the Orwellian-style atmosphere, hazardous working conditions, lack of freedom, were regarded appalling even by citizens of other socialist East European countries.

The Economy . As elsewhere in the socialist block, the economy deteriorated as time went on. The Ploesti oil field had reached the peak of its productivity when the Oil Crisis of 1973 set in (c.14 million metric tons annually, IHS p.427); whatever oil Romania exported, was sold to fellow COMECON members below world market prices. With oil production declining since 1977, Romania tried to make maximal use of its coal deposits (thus increasing the pollution, as little was done to prevent it). Anything which could be sold in western Europe for hard currency, for instance canned meat, was exported, little remaining to be sold on the domestic market.
In 1968, Romania produced 4.84 million metric tons of wheat, in 1970 3.35 million, in 1972 6.04 million, in 1988 9.00 million (IHS pp.294-295). In the 1980es, food rationing was reintroduced.

Ethnic, Religious Minorities . Nicolae Ceaucescu was not the good guy as some westerners wanted to see him. He put pressure on the country's ethnic German minority, the Siebenbürger Sachsen, in order to obtain financial concessions from the FRG, which since 1969 pursued the Ostpolitik, a policy aimed at gaining humanitarian concessions from the socialist governments of Eastern Central Europe in exchange for credits in hard currency. Almost the entire German minority emigrated to West Germany. Pressure was also applied on the country's ethnic Hungarian Szekler minority; the Hungarian Autonomous Province had been abolished in 1968.
With the economic crisis worsening, Ceaucescu attempted to play one group against another, the Hungarian minority being among those victimized. In 1989, Hungary operated refugee camps for ethnic Hungarians fleeing Romania.

Social History . The census of 1977 counted 21.5 million inhabitants of Romania; the census of 1992 22.8 million (Lahmeyer). Romania eliminated birth control c. 1970, causing a rise in the birth rate.

Cultural History . Romanian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics of Munich 1972, Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988. They won 3 gold in Munich, 4 inMontreal, 6 in Moscow, 20 gold in Los Angeles and 7 gold in Seoul. Romanian female gymnast Nadia Comaneci (5 gold) became the country's most famous athlete.
In 1986, Romanian soccer team Steaua Bucharest won the European champions trophy against FC Barcelona, 2-0 after penalty shootout, the goal keeper, who held 4 penalties, obviously being the hero of the day.

The Fall of Communism . When everywhere else in the former Soviet bloc governments had given in to popular demand for democratization, Ceaucescu still was determined to hold on. Yet during a speech he saw, on a monitor, violence break out in the (organized) crowd. This time he was fooled, even this 'spontaneous violence' had been orchestrated by media people. He fled in a helicopter; the Soviets refused him asylum. In the meantime, a 'revolutionary' government had been formed; when Ceaucescu and his wife Elena landed, they were arrested, sentenced and executed; immediately afterwards, the death penalty was abolished.

Articles Elena Ceausescu, Nicolae Ceausescu, Elections in Romania, Romania at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1976 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1980 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Nadia Comaneci, FC Steaua Bucuresti Communist Romania, Systematization, Hungarian Autonomous Province, from Wikipedia
Post World War II History of Romania , Revolution, from Brief History of Romania
When and Why Romania Distanced Itself from the Warsaw Pact, by Raymond L. Garthoff, from CWIHP Bulletin
Biography of Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu, from WFU
DOCUMENTS Romanian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money and from Currency Museum
Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Situation in Romania, December 27, 1989, posted by Bush Library, TAMU
Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Violence in Romania, June 14, 1990, posted by Bush Library, TAMU
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Romania, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1969 pp.664-665, 1970 pp.671-672, 1971 p.654, 1972 pp.615-616, 1973 p.602, 1974 pp.601-602, 1975 pp.606-607, 1976 pp.603-604, 1977 pp.603-604, 1978 p.621, 1979 pp.611-612, 1980 pp.609-610, 1981 pp.608-609, 1982 pp.609-610, 1983 pp.603-604, 1984 pp.605-606, 1985 pp.551-552, 766, 1986 pp.547, 765, 1987 pp.517, 733, 1988 pp.473, 685, 1989 pp.474, 685, 1990 pp.491-492, 701 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1970-1971 pp.1263-1270, 1975-1976 pp.1269-1276, 1976-1977 pp.1262-1269, 1978-1979 pp.1018-1025, 1979-1980 pp.1025-1032, 1980-1981 pp.1018-1025, 1981-1982 pp.1021-1028, 1983-1984 pp.1014-1021, 1984-1985 pp.1011-1018, 1985-1986 pp.1013-1020, 1986-1987 pp.1013-1020, 1987-1988 pp.1017-1024, 1988-1989 pp.1020-1027, 1989-1990 pp.1032-1039 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : The World in Figures 1st ed. 1976 pp.252-253, 2nd ed. 1978 pp.252-253, 4th ed. 1984 pp.252-253 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Americana Annual 1970 pp.593-595, 1971 pp.587-588, 1972 pp.582-583, 1973 pp.585-586, 1974 pp.508-509, 1976 pp.480-481, 1988 pp.466-467, 1989 p.457, 1990 pp.454-455 [G]
Article : Romania, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Encyclopedia Year Book 1983 p.355 [G]
Article : Romania, in : Yearbook on International Communist Affairs 1980 pp.59-67 (Robert L. Farlow) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 9th 2007

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