The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Strictly Personal Research and Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Beyond Dracula and Nadia: The (Personal) Political Introduction to Romania of an American (1985-1986)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 31, 2014

A child of detente and the Cold War, my first introduction to Romania was probably typical of many children of the time in North America:

in 1976-1977, gymnast Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, and Dracula, courtesy of Leonard Nimoy (Spock from Star Trek)’s In Search Of.

I analyzed the issue of media frames and images of Romanians in the North American popular consciousness, here, for those who might be interested in the topic:



John M. Goshko, “Shultz to Warn Romanians on Human Rights,” Washington Post, 5 December 1985, p. A32.  (Like the “four alarm fire” meme in Airplane II , wow!  look folks a Mattress sale, as in 1985, so in 2014!)

Between 1977 and 1984, I am not quite sure what I knew or heard about Romania, politically.  It was probably, for most of the period, the idea of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania as a “Latin island in a sea of Slavs” and as a “maverick,” a perpetual thorn in the side of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.

Politically-speaking, I only remember my introduction to Romania as an 18 year old, first year student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (I was an in-state student having gone to high school at W.T. Woodson in Fairfax, VA).  Originally a chemistry major, I quickly sought refuge as an English major in the fall of 1984.  In early 1985, I remember trekking to the Earth Sciences building early on frosty mornings:  I would take in the giant printouts of the latest weather maps and study them.  Unfortunately, I soon realized being interested in meteorology meant having at the very least a certain tolerance and capacity for…physics…that I clearly did not possess.  I ended up going “pre-Comm,” taking courses to enter the Commerce School at the end of my first two years–ironic since my (first generation immigrant) credit card salesman father had told me not to go into business…even though he thought that in order to have any chance of getting a job, I should…go business.

Anyway, in January 1985 I remember being bored out of my skull with my then courses and reading, for whatever reason (probably the Irish connection), a lot of Leon Uris.  Somehow this led me to being interested in Hungary and the 1956 Revolution.  In the stacks of old Alderman Library–where the graffiti at the time read “Reuben Kincaid (of Partridge Family fame) for (Virginia) Lieutenant Governor” and “nothing is as overrated as a bad f*** and nothing is as underrated as a good sh**”) and where you enter on fourth floor (a source of endless confusion)–I somehow stumbled upon books on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.  Romania was mentioned, almost universally in a pejorative fashion.  I vividly remember the novelist James A. Michener’s Bridge at the Andau in which he recalled, if I remember correctly, a Hungarian college roommate or acquaintance who spoke about Transylvania and Romanians in terms that, today, could only be termed racist.

Alan Freeman, “When is a Renault Not a Renault?  When It’s  a Dacia,” Wall Street Journal, 14 March 1986.





Fast forward to late May 1985, my first trip to the “Eastern bloc” to “Eastern Europe,” i.e. Budapest.  On a hot afternoon, waiting in line at the Ibusz tourist office at Keleti pu., having arrived by train from Vienna via Hegyeshalom, I met a Brazilian named Daniel and a Scot named Leslie.  We agreed to share a triple in the way young people do in that universal fraternity of young backpackers.  I remember at one point on the second day we were in the City Park, Leslie had stepped away, and Daniel said sheepishly something about not understanding everything Leslie said.  I laughed and said join the club:  between my degraded hearing and Leslie’s remote Scottish accent, I was no more sure of what he said than someone whose first language was not English.  Nevertheless, I understood enough from Leslie that he was planning on traveling onward to Romania (I was returning to Vienna) and he regaled us with tales about a place which today would likely qualify as “adventure tourism.”  He talked about the daily minimum ten dollar exchange (more money then) and the international train that somehow would cross into Romania from Hungary and not enter Bulgaria until at least 20 and possibly 30 dollars had been squeezed from the tourist who never had a real opportunity to get off the train.  He spoke of privation and shortages and the seemingly ubiquitous “secret police” (known as the Securitate).

When I came back to the U.S. I started paying more attention to Romania in the news.  What a fascinating place I thought.  Hungary was comparatively easier to travel to and more “at ease” for the foreign tourist, but Romania was no doubt intriguing.  What I learned, if I remember correctly, was about the ubiquitous personality cult of Nicolae Ceausescu, and, increasingly, his wife Elena Ceausescu, and their determination to pay off Western debts they had accumulated, in a painful fashion for the population–they and their appetite for kitschy luxury, by contrast, would not be affected.  In fall 1985, my second year, I took Rhetoric and Communication as a prerequisite to enter the Commerce School at the end of the year.  The name of my professor escapes me, but I vividly remember how I chose to speak about Romania for a particular presentation and how, he questioned my contention (understandably perhaps given his role as teacher) about Romania’s comparative independence from the Soviet Union and invoked the famous Gerald Ford gaffe of the 1976 campaign when he alleged that Poland was “independent” and “not dominated by the Soviet Union”:

Meanwhile, Romania’s once stellar media image of the detente period–predicated primarily on Romania’s foreign policy, and turning something of a blind eye to its domestic policy–continued to deteriorate as time passed, as the following articles suggest (I realize the xeroxes are truncated; if you wish a full rendering of a particular article, please feel free to contact me and I can attempt to scan in again, thank you).

Manuela Hoelterhoff, “Romanian Holiday:  Think Not, Want Not,” Wall Street Journal, 28 August 1986.


Jackson Diehl, “Romania Criticized Over Treatment of Minorities,”  Washington Post, 25 October 1986, p. A20.


Posted in decembrie 1989 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #7 Nicolae Ceausescu Leaves on a Less-than-spontaneous Trip to Iran (18 December 1989)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 26, 2014

(Purely personal views as always, based on over two decades of research and publications inside and outside Romania)

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe–Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.  This (likely aperiodic) series looks at 25 things I have learned about the events of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989.  The numbering is not designed to assign importance, but rather–to the extent possible–to progress chronologically through those events.

Significance:  On Monday 18 December 1989, the morning after the bloodbath in Timisoara, Nicolae Ceausescu left on a state visit to Iran.  On the one hand, some observers have jumped to the conclusion that this was a spontaneous, last-ditch effort by the dictator to seek the moral support of a friendly regime for the crackdown and perhaps to ask for military reinforcements or materiel.  As it turns out, Nicolae Ceausescu did not go to Iran as the result of a snap decision.  Instead, high-level Securitate and regime personnel had gone ahead to prepare for Ceausescu’s arrival, as early as 9 December 1989 (a fact we have known since March 1990, see article from Expres below)–therefore, a full week prior to the outbreak of the uprising against Ceausescu’s regime in Timisoara.  It is possible that Ceausescu brought gold for his hosts with him on this trip.

below a previously unposted article


An excerpt from

A chapter from my Ph.D. Dissertation at Indiana University: Richard Andrew Hall, Rewriting the Revolution: Authoritarian Regime-State Relations and the Triumph of Securitate Revisionism in Post-Ceausescu Romania (defended 16 December 1996). This is the original chapter as it appeared then and thus has not been revised in any form.  (traducere in limba romana: si traducerea de catre marius mioc)

Ceausescu Departs for Iran

On Monday morning 18 December 1989, President Nicolae Ceausescu departed on a previously-scheduled state visit to Iran. He was the first head of state to pay an official visit to Tehran since the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini in June 1989.[1] By the time the presidential jet took off for Iran, Timisoara was under virtual military occupation by units of the Army, Securitate, and Militia. Ceausescu was apparently sufficiently satisfied by the news he was receiving on the status of the crackdown, that he judged it safe to leave the country. In his absence, the “Permanent Bureau of the Political Executive Committee (CPEx)” was left in charge. In effect, this meant that power resided with the First Deputy Prime Minister, his wife Elena–hardly a stranger to such power–and the Vice President of the country, Manea Manescu, who was married to Nicolae’s sister Maria.[2]

On the one hand, the fact that Ceausescu would leave the country in the midst of the most serious challenge ever to communist rule in Romania–fully aware of what had happened to his fellow communist leaders in the region earlier that fall–was a testament to how supremely overconfident and detached from reality he had become. On the other hand, Ceausescu’s absence from the country between 18 and 20 December for a period in excess of forty-eight hours provided regime elites with the perfect opportunity to oust him from power had they wanted to. Ceausescu would likely have been granted asylum by the Iranian regime. In theory it seems, had Ceausescu’s ouster been premeditated, this was the ideal moment to strike.

Most regime elites had a vivid memory of how Ceausescu’s absence from the country during the devastating earthquake of March 1977 had paralyzed the regime apparatus.[3] Moreover, having been threatened by Ceausescu at the emergency CPEx meeting of 17 December with removal from their posts and possible execution–and Ceausescu had been persuaded merely to defer, rather than to cancel this decision–Ceausescu’s commanders had a strong incentive to act fast. Instead, Ceausescu’s henchmen faithfully executed his orders and patiently awaited his return. This is a powerful argument against any suggestion that Ceausescu’s subordinates were scheming to replace him and had intentionally allowed the Timisoara unrest to elude their control.

Theories which maintain that Ceausescu was overthrown by a foreign-engineered coup d’etat also have trouble explaining why the plotters did not attempt to seize power during the period while Ceausescu was out of the country and then prevent him from returning to Romania. The Timisoara events had already assured that Ceausescu’s ouster would contain the popular dimension which was reputedly so central to this coup d’etat scenario. Furthermore, if the Timisoara protests had been instigated by foreign agents, why were these agents unable to “spread the revolution” to Bucharest (which remained surprisingly quiet) during these days?

In support of his contention that the December events were a Soviet-backed coup d’etat, Cornel Ivanciuc has cited the March 1994 comments of Igor Toporovski (director of the Moscow-based Institute for Russian and International Political Studies) which allege that the Soviet Politburo “…chose the moment when Ceausescu was in Teheran [to oust him] because otherwise the action would have been difficult to initiate.”[4] Yet the facts tell another story. Ceausescu was not driven from power at the most opportune moment–while he was in Iran–and the uprising in Timisoara did not spread outside of Timisoara until after Ceausescu’s return. These points cast doubt upon Toporovski’s claims.

[mai mult despre Ivanciuc...]

[1].. Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta, “Iran Embarrassed by Ceausescu Visit,” The Washington Post, 17 January 1990, E17.

[2].. Martyn Rady, Romania in Turmoil: A Contemporary History (New York: IB Tauris & Co Ltd., 1992), 94. For Manescu’s link to the Ceausescu family, see ibid., 52-53.

[3].. Indeed, the abortive military coup d’etat attempt planned for October 1984 while the Ceausescus were on a state visit to West Germany had been inspired by memories of the March 1977 experience. See Silviu Brucan, The Wasted Generation: Memories of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), 131-134.

[4].. Cornel Ivanciuc, “Raporturile dintre Frontul Salvarii Nationale si KGB,” 22, no. 21 (24-30 May 1995), 11.

in relation to Ceausescu’s trip to Iran, from Orwellian…Positively Orwellian (2006)

[85] …In no.8 (23-30 March 1990) Expres p. 8, Cornel Nistorescu wrote in “Tot Felul,”

“Our compatriots tried and are trying to sell a lie:  that the USLA had no role in guarding the dictator.  Mr. General Stanculescu, we communicate publicly to you something you know:  that every time Ceausescu went out in Bucharest, in each convoy there was an USLA team.  And for Ceausescu’s visit to Iran on flight RO 247 of 9 December to Istanbul and on to Teheran were the following:  Mortoriu Aurel, Ardeleanu Gheorghe, Bucuci Mihai, Ivan Gelu, Grigore Corneliu, Floarea Nicolae, Rotar Ion and Grecu Florin.  These weren’t diplomats and they weren’t going for a snack.”

Revista “Expres,” nr. 8 23-29 martie 1990, p. 8.

for further details on UM 0666 Directia V-a of the Securitate and some of the personalities listed above and below (Mihai Bucuci et. al.) see

Atentie, in special, la USLA, Stetikin/Stecikin, si “seviciu 150 Directia V-a a Securitatii”… (Vasile Surcel)

Contrar majorităţii “excursiilor” externe ale lui Ceauşescu, cea din Iran a fost foarte scurtă: a început la 18 decembrie 1989 şi s-a încheiat la 20. “Antemergătorii” au pornit însă la drum pe rând, cu mult înainte. Securiştii şi angajaţii MAE au plecat cu avionul, în primul “val”, la 9 decembrie, iar specialiştii în comerţ exterior la 12. Au făcut escală la Istanbul, de unde au ajuns la Teheran, tot pe calea aerului. Doar traseul ziaristului de la Agerpres a fost mai complicat. Plecat la 13 decembrie, el a trecut mai întâi pe la Moscova, unde a fost găzduit peste noapte la Ambasada României. La Teheran a ajuns abia a doua zi, la 14. În declaraţia sa, Ivanici nu a pomenit despre ciudatul ocol făcut pe la Moscova, într-o perioadă extrem de delicată pentru regimul comunist. Este drept că nici anchetatorii nu s-au arătat prea curioşi în privinţa acelui episod, despre care nu l-au întrebat absolut nimic.

Mihai Bucuci, Ioan Rotar şi Nicolae Florea, trei dintre “antemergătorii” delegaţiei oficiale, erau ofiţeri superiori de Securitate. Incluse în dosarul “T-Iran”, declaraţiile lor sunt interesante chiar şi acum, după atâţia ani de la prăbuşirea regimului comunist. Din ele aflăm, în premieră, cu ce se ocupau securiştii care pregăteau detaliile “tehnice” ale vizitelor externe la nivel înalt. Mihai Bucuci era colonel la UM 0666, iar de la el aflăm: “În toate cazurile am făcut parte din grupele pregătitoare care plecau în avans faţă de delegaţiile oficiale. Aceste grupe erau conduse de cadre cu funcţii importante: miniştri adjuncţi, secretari de stat sau şefi de unităţi. Activitatea grupei se baza pe un mandat scris, compus din 8-10 puncte. Concret, erau avute în vedere stabilirea şi organizarea măsurilor de pază la aeroport, la sosire şi la plecare, traseele de deplasare, reşedinţa şi obiectivele din program, dar şi asigurarea securităţii membrilor delegaţiei când se depuneau coroane de flori ori la vizitele în fabrici, uzine şi muzee”. Bucuci a plecat la 9 decembrie 1989 şi a ajuns la Teheran la 11, după o escală de o zi la Istanbul. Timp de o săptămână a pus la punct, cu organele de specialitate iraniene, paza delegaţiei oficiale. Pentru a evita orice manifestări ostile la adresa lui Ceauşescu, securiştii români au predat organelor locale de poliţie şi de siguranţă liste cu persoanele “periculoase”, de origine română sau străină, aflate în Iran ori în ţările vecine, liste întocmite “de unităţile centrale de Securitate”. Încercând poate să convingă că nu era un apropiat al Ceauşeştilor, Bucuci s-a plâns procurorilor: “Deşi am lucrat mult timp în UM 0666, care asigura paza fostului dictator, nu am fost agreat în reşedinţe, în apartamente sau birouri. Sarcinile «de intimitate» erau rezervate cadrelor din Serviciul 1″. În acelaşi timp, Bucuci a încercat să-i convingă pe procurori că nici nu prea era mare lucru să fii în slujba directă a lui Ceauşescu: “Serviciul 1 de la UM 0666 Bucureşti, care a asigurat securitatea lui N.C. şi a soţiei sale, era compus din 20 de ofiţeri cu vârste între 25 şi 55 de ani, care lucrau în ture, 24 cu 24. Salariile nu erau mult mai mari decât ale celorlalţi militari”. El a ţinut să menţioneze special că acei ofiţeri “trebuiau să aibă o condiţie fizică foarte bună, dar şi să joace bine volei, sport foarte agreat de Ceauşescu”. Aproape că îţi vine să le plângi de milă.

Securiştii care pregăteau vizitele oficiale răspundeau şi de legăturile telefonice cu ţara. În Iran această sarcină i-a revenit maiorului DSS Nicolae Florea, de la UM0695, specialist în telecomunicaţii. A ajuns la Teheran la 11 decembrie şi în câteva zile a pus pe roate întregul sistem de comunicaţii cu ţara. Era vorba despre telefon şi telex, precum releul tele-foto pentru Agerpres. Principalul “beneficiar” al muncii lui a fost chiar Ceauşescu. Cei care au stat în preajma preşedintelui afirmă că acesta a vorbit foarte mult cu Elena, pe care, în anumite perioade, a sunat-o şi din jumătate în jumătate de oră. În mod ciudat, convorbirile lui telefonice, la fel ca şi restul legăturilor cu ţara, nu au fost secretizate, fapt menţionat clar de fostul maior DSS Florea. Anchetatorii din 1990 nu au fost însă curioşi să afle de ce şi cine a avut interesul să nu codifice convorbirile lui Ceauşescu, făcând astfel accesibile toate ordinele date de el de la distanţă în acele zile tulburi.

Această ciudăţenie tehnică nu a fost singura. În decembrie 1989, Ion Tâlpeanu era locotenent colonel în Serviciul l în Direcţia a V-a a Securităţii şi aghiotant prezidenţial. El relatează că delegaţia propriu-zisă, cea condusă de Ceauşescu, a plecat în Iran la 18 decembrie la ora 9:05 şi a ajuns la Teheran la ora 12:00. Ciudăţenia de care vorbeam a constat într-o adevărată premieră: în spaţiul aerian naţional şi al apelor teritoriale din Marea Neagră, avionul prezidenţial a fost escortat de patru avioane de vânătoare MIG 21, aparţinând flotei aeriene române. Aceleaşi măsuri de siguranţă neobişnuite s-au luat şi la 20 decembrie ’89, când, în jurul orei 15:00, aeronava prezidenţială a revenit acasă. De ce s-o fi considerat Ceauşescu vulnerabil atât timp cât a zburat “pe cerul patriei”? Nu vom şti niciodată.

Planificată cu mult înainte, această ultimă vizită oficială s-a înscris în tiparul celorlalte. Încă sigur pe el şi pe poziţia lui politică, probabil că lui Ceauşescu nici nu i-a trecut prin cap că, la 18 decembrie 1989, când pleca la Teheran, intrase în ultima lui săptămână de viaţă. Şi că peste doar câteva zile regimul comunist din România, pe care îl condusese 24 de ani, avea să se prăbuşească. În dimineaţa plecării, Ceauşescu a vorbit la reşedinţa din Primăverii cu generalii Iulian Vlad, Vasile Milea şi cu ministrul Tudor Postelnicu, veniţi la el rând pe rând. La întâlnirile cu ei, părea calm şi foarte liniştit. La ducere, Ceauşescu a discutat, în avion, în compartimentul de lucru, cu membrii delegaţiei: Ion Stoian, fost ministru de Externe, Constantin Mitea, consilier prezidenţial pe probleme de presă, secretarul personal Mihai Hârjeu, precum şi generalii Neagoe şi Iosif Rus.

Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta reported in mid-January 1990–in article that referenced “Iranian and Romanian sources and intelligence sources,”–that “Ceausescu had become so enamored of Iran, according to Romanian sources, that in November he secretly deposited millions of dollars in gold for safekeeping in Iranian banks.”

Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta, “Iran Embarrassed by Ceausescu Visit,” The Washington Post, 17 January 1990, E17. (syndicated copy above) WASHINGTON — Romanian despot Nicolae Ceausescu got some help last-minute help from a soul mate who is now embarrassed about coming to the aid of a loser.  Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani tried to prop up Ceausescu by sending Iranian security goons to Romania to protect him.  Ceausescu’s three-day visit to Iran while his troops massacred dissidents at home contributed to the foment that eventually overthrew him.  Rafsanjani’s embrace of the Romanian dictator on that trip has not helped his stock with the Western diplomatic community. Iranian and Romanian sources and intelligence sources now tell us what went on behind the scenes when Ceausescu was in Iran. He flew to Tehran on Dec 18 while his troops were brutally putting down a riot in the Romanian city of Timisoara. The day before, Ceausescu’s secret police had used tanks and machine guns to open fire on crowds of demonstrators. Hundreds of men women and children were murdered. The battle continued while Ceausescu was being welcomed by an elated Rafsanjani. In his first six months as president of Iran, no other head of state had bothered to visit. The two men openly conferred about trade issues. Romania has been a major trading partner with Iran, and their business amounted to about $1.8 billion last year.  Ceausescu had become so enamored of Iran, according to Romanian sources, that in November he secretly deposited millions of dollars in gold for safekeeping in Iranian banks. He mistrusted Western banks after seeing some of them freeze the ill-gotten gain of another opportunist Ferdinand Marcos. On the second day of his visit to Tehran, Ceausescu placed a wreath on the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. In doing so, he became the only head of state to kiss up to Khomeini after death.  In retrospect, it was a kiss of death back home.  That night, with word that the demonstrations were out of control in Romania, Ceausescu begged Rajsanjani for help.  Rafsanjani supplied some of his most loyal Iranian bodyguards to protect Ceausescu on his return.  The next day, Dec 20, a contingent of Iranian Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard, secretly flew to Bucharest. Two days later, when the Romanian army turned against Ceausescu’s security police. the despot knew it was over.  He and his wife Elena fled Bucharest but were captured by peasants. Meanwhile, Timisoara was still a battleground where eyewitnesses to the shooting claimed the forces were not all Romanians.  According to some witnesses, Iranians or Libyans were doing some of the shooting. Similar reports of Iranian and Libyan snipers came from the industrial city of Craiova. In a two-hour secret trial on Christmas Day, the Ceausescus were convicted of genocide of 60,000 Romanians and theft of more than billion. “You should have stayed in Iran where you had flown to, the prosecutor told them. “We do not stay abroad,” Elena Ceausescu said. “This is our home.” The two were executed by firing squad. Rafsanjani was fit to be tied. He was embarrassed about helping Ceausescu at the end because he feared it would jeopardize trade arrangements with the new Romanian government. Rafsanjani dismissed his ambassador to Romania for not telling him about the power of the anti-Ceausescu forces in time to spare Iran the humiliation of hosting a has-been.

Petre Dumitru (cu un ofiter din Directia V-a), “Noi amanunte privind vizita lui Ceausescu in Iran,” Expres Magazin, nr. 9 (1991), p. 11.


Articles suggesting that Ceausescu had been sending gold to Switzerland for safekeeping, prior to the outbreak of the December 1989 events.



Marian Dumitrescu, “Cum au fost transportate 40 tone aur in Elvetia,” Romania Libera (?), 30 ianuarie 1990, p. 3.

Dan Badea reported later in the summer of 1991 about Ceausescu’s efforts in the summer of 1989 to have the USLA move some of his gold to Switzerland.

Dan Badea, “Transporturi Masive de Aur in Elvetia,” Expres nr. 23 (72) 11-17 June 1991, p. 16.


25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #1 The Securitate Deny Foreign Instigation of the Timisoara Uprising

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #2 Shattered Glass: Securitate Vandalism to Justify Timisoara Crackdown

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #3 “Anti-terrorism” and Regime Repression

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #4 Timisoara Demonstrators Injured and Killed by Dum-Dum Bullets

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #5 Timisoara (Podul Decebal) Evidence Suggests only the Securitate Had Dum-Dum Bullets

25 for 2014: 25 Things You Should Know about the Romanian Revolution on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime: #6 The Securitate Sends a Coded-Message to Its Undercovers in the Field (“Citeva sfaturi pentru cei aflati in aceste zile la mare,” Scinteia Tineretului, 18 December 1989)

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Braila in zilele revolutiei (III)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 22, 2014


from Libertatea (Braila), 24 octombrie 1991

Maiorul Ionel Taralunga:  Pe seara, dupa caderea intunericului s-a tras asupra comandamentului diviziei si unitatii noastre, care se afla in aceeasi curte, in special din blocurile in constructie.  Aceleasi pocnete seci, care s-au auzit si in alte zone.  Am adunat destule asemenea gloante pe care le-am predat procurorului militar.  Erau calibrul 5.6 mm, cilindrice dintr-un metal dur de culoare alba. De altfel gaurile facute de ele in cladirile noastre se mai pastreaza inca.  Sint mai mici decit cele produse de gloante de calibru 7,62 mm.  S-a tras si cu munitie 7,62 mm…


Locotenent-colonel Dumitru Marvela:  Aceleasi care s-au strins si din comandamentul diviziei si din alte obiective militare.  Gloante calibru 5,6 mm….Cred ca scopul atacului n-a fost de a cuceri acest obiectiv ci de a provoca, a stinjeni aprovizionarea cu munitie a unitatilor miltare, a produce panica.  Altfel actionau cu forte mai serioase.  N-au fost decit mai multi, 4-5 persoane.  Nici ranitul sau mortul n-a fost identificat.

Locotenent colonel Tache Ene:  Si la Braila, ca si in alte orase din tara, acelasi sistem de operatiuni asupra unitatilor militare si obiective de importanta deosebita:  “Trage si dispari!”, binecunoscut principiu al actiunilor grupurilor de comando.  Atacurile s-au petrecut aproape in exclusivitate noaptea, intunericul fiind o masca ideala pentru aceste misiuni.  S-a folosit indeosebi armament usor, calibru mic (5,6 mm), dotat cu dispozitive de ochire in timp de noapte….Ce scopuri urmareau?  Crearea unei situatii confuze, paralizarea conducerii unitatilor militare, dispersarea fortelor de aparare in cit mai multe puncte si altele.

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Braila in zilele revolutiei (II)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 20, 2014


Maistrul Mihai Cruceanu, de la “Laminorul”:  Pe 23 seara eram in Laninorul 4.  La un moment dat am auzit serii scurte de arma cu automata, de pe acoperisul laminorului.  Se vad si acum urmele gloantelor in gardul unitatii si in peretii cladirilor cazarmii dinspre laminor.  Pocnetele armei pareau diferite de cele ale armelor de calibru 7,62 mm.  Erau seci.  De altfel am adunat de pe linga gard gloante de o facatura deosebita.  Ricosasera din placile de beton ale imprejmuirii unitatii.  Erau din metal alb, aveau capul tronconic.  Le-am masurat cu sublerul.  Aveau diametrul de 5,6 milimetri.


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Braila in Zilele Revolutiei (I)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 18, 2014


Locotenent-colonel Ionita Ioan:

Interesant e, ca aparitia pe ecranele radiolocatoarelor a proiectiei unor tinte aeriene neidentificate a fost dublata de ivirea pe cerul Brailei a unor luminite rosii pilpiitoare, care se deplasau dinspre Insula Mare a Brailei.  Se vedeau cu ochiul liber.  Pareau a fi beculete de semnalizare ale unor elicoptere….

Ne-am dat seama ca sintem supusi unei actiuni sistematice de dezinformare.  Scopul?  A provoaca deruta, panica, a dispersa unitatile militare, pentru a nu mai reactiona cu intreaga capacitate de lupta in cazul unei interventii straine…


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Virgil Magureanu despre decembrie 1989 (Strict Secret, 18 decembrie 1990; Romania Libera, 1 iulie 1994)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 17, 2014





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Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (II)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 16, 2014

Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (I)





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Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (I)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 15, 2014






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Declarations of Alexandru Kos (aka Alexandru Koos, aka Koos Sandor) from Timisoara in December 1989

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 12, 2014

(purely personal views as always, based on two decades of prior research and publications)

From the 630 am broadcast of Kossuth Radio on 23 December 1989 (Hungarian Monitoring transcripts of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany) :

Sandor Koos discusses in an interview (presumably performed on the evening of 22 December 1989 before nightfall based on the discussion of coming nightfall) from Timisoara how he and civilians found 9 Securitate members on the property of the Hotel Timisoara next to the Opera building in the center of Timisoara, took their guns and turned them over to the Timisoara military garrison. (p. 1752)



Alexandru Kos’s declaration for the military prosecutor, from 14 January 1990:

“[pe 23 decembrie 1989] am fost impuscat…cu o arma de calibru mare si probabil cu gloante dum-dum”

[on 23 December 1989 I was shot by a high caliber weapon probably with dum-dum bullets]

After discussing the exact incident mentioned above in the interview from 22 December 1989 about rounding up Securitate personnel on the grounds of Hotel Timisoara, where he says they had been for several days, he continues:  “I saw two of those who shot at me, one in a blue uniform with a white helmet, the other dressed in black with something white on his head.” [in other words, no stupidity here about the Army shooting into itself  and into civilians in the confusion of it all...]

imaginea 207
imaginea 208



From this site ].  The following are from Volume V.  Alexandru Koos’ courtroom testimony during the so-called Timisoara trial (date of his testimony appears to be 3 October 1990).  Koos discusses all of the above incidents in detail, and also the specifics of those detained during these days.

Alexandru Koos who was wounded on the night of 22-23 December 1989 also was treated in Austria however, where both doctors and experts confirmed that the bullet in question was a dum-dum bullet. (p. 600)

Alexandru Koos:

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Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the Historiography of December 1989, and Romanianists

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 10, 2014

(purely personal views as always, based on two decades of prior research and publications)

I, for one, haven’t forgotten….In recent days, some of those rushing to bury the journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu–and to argue that they always knew and considered him a bad apple–are exactly the same people who conveniently turned a blind eye to Stanescu’s past as a Securitate collaborator, even after it became public knowledge in 1992.  They did so because it was ideologically and politically convenient.  They never asked at the time how or if that fact had affected his reporting before or after it became public knowledge…and in fact they still never have.  But then again there are always such people who, consciously or unconsciously, engage in the constant revision of their own personal history and selectively remember or forget past doubts, silences, or expressions of support as the situation dictates.

–One Romanian political analyst, Alina Mungiu, has castigated the political opposition and independent press for their response in cases such as that of Rosca Stanescu.  Mungiu suggests that an opportunistic double standard leads those opposed to the Iliescu regime to “draw an illogical difference between the ‘bad securisti” of those on the other side, whose head they demand, and those [securisti] who are ‘ours’, those of the ‘good’ world, like F.G. Marculescu, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, rehabilitated by Petre Mihai Bacanu [Romania Libera's senior editor]…” [Richard A. Hall, "The Dynamics of Media Independence in Post-Ceausescu Romania," Special Issue:  Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe (ed. Patrick H. O'Neil), The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Volume 12, no. 4 (December 1996)]


Back in late 1995/early 1996, fellow former Indiana University of Political Science Ph.D. Patrick H. O’Neil (at the time a Hungarianist) asked me if I wanted to participate in a special journal issue on the media in post-communist “Eastern Europe.” (I suppose I should be thankful that he and the publishers allowed me to publish a chapter as narrowly-focused as the one I did:  on coverage of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 in the Romanian media.)  I could have written an anodyne, predictable Frankenstein-like chapter–Regime press bad; opposition press GOOOOD–that would have been easily accepted and cited by the Romanian studies community.  But by then that was impossible.  My dissertation year of 1993-1994 in Romania had truly undermined my previous views and understandings of many things in post-communist Romania that I had accepted as gospel before that field research.  On the other hand, I probably should have heeded the words of a professor who cautioned several years earlier about not publishing while still writing the dissertation, but I desperately needed a publication to keep any chance of an academic career a possibility (it didn’t work and if anything hurt me!).  Indeed, the years 1994-1996 were years of great confusion for me in working through what I had found to that point and full of false starts.  Therefore, I am not particularly proud of this chapter as it contains ideas and directions (it was written in March-May 1996) that in the face of evidence I was soon to abandon (i.e. yes, I made mistakes and I freely admit so!).  I did, however, get some things right, and one of those was the case of Sorin Rosca Stanescu.


Senior Romanianists, Vladimir Tismaneanu and Tom Gallagher, two leading authorities on opposite sides of the ocean in the English-speaking world, did not publish a word of dissent or questioning of Sorin Rosca Stanescu until the mid-2000s.  Indeed, Tom Gallagher’s 2005 Modern Romania continued to portray Stanescu in almost heroic terms.  Tismaneanu only seemed to have remembered Stanescu’s Securitate past in 2006 when Stanescu and Stanescu’s daily Ziua bitterly criticized him.  These things are verifiable.  Any doubts they may have had significantly never seem to have made it to print or the Internet until the mid-2000s at the earliest.  In fact, Tismaneanu still seemed to focus on the “good” Stanescu until quite recently, as the following excerpt about June 1990 makes clear:   ” …despre conversatiile cu Sorin Rosca-Stanescu (pe atunci unul dintre cei mai acerbi critici ai fesenismului) dar si cu Florin-Gabriel Marculescu, ziarist de o impresionanta tinuta morala, amandoi inca la Romania Libera,”

I recall in the mid-90s attempting to relate my doubts and misgivings about Stanescu’s reporting on December 1989 to Tismaneanu.  He neither cared, nor took it seriously.  In the tradition of academic putdowns, Gallagher actually accused me in a review of low standards of professionalism for questioning journalists of the independent press.  Hence, why I was so thankful to come across Alina Mungiu-Pippidi’s  1995 observation–cited above–that crystallized and explained the double standard I had been witnessing (of course, at the time, I hadn’t realized that there was more of a back story to why Mungiu had Rosca Stanescu in her sights, but her analysis was still spot on and a breath of fresh air.)




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