The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

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

Nicu Ceausescu, Sibiu, teroristii, combinezoane negre, si decembrie 1989 (articole uitate, revista Expres 1990)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on April 8, 2010

from Orwellian, Positively Orwellian (2006)

MEN IN BLACK:  The Recurring Theme of “Black Jumpsuits”

Part of the great riddle of the “terrorists” concerns their clothing.  In Brasov, it was noted the individual arrested on 23 December firing a 5.65 mm Thomson automatic was wearing a “black jumpsuit.”  The descriptions go by different names—“combinezoane negre,” “salopete negre,” or “de culor inchis,” for example—but they all note the black or dark outfits of many of those suspected of being “terrorists.”

It is critical to note that we have evidence that the focus on the black clothing of those identified as “terrorists” occurred among participants at the time, and is not merely some ex post facto artifact.  Major A.D. of Directorate V-a (probably Major Aurel David) recounted in early 1991 that while under arrest on 27 December 1989, the Army soldiers guarding him asked “If” as Major A.D. had sought to convince them, “it isn’t Ceausescu’s guard [i.e. V-a]” who was firing, “then who are the black-shirted ones [emphasis added]?”[52] The report of the SRI [the Securitate’s institutional successor] on Timisoara indirectly confirms Army suspicion when alleging that Army Colonel Constantin Zeca gave the order after 22 December 1989, to shoot at anybody “in a blue, navy blue, or black jumpsuit.”[53] Why this clothing in particular, and why the suspicion then?

Some of those shot as “terrorists” turn out to have been wearing “black jumpsuits.”  Bucking the hegemony of official, elite interpretations denying the very existence of the “terrorists,” a poster calling himself “Danka” posted the following on the Jurnalul National web forum in April 2006:

“22 decembrie 1989, military unit 010_ _ at the edge of the Branesti forest.

The Branesti forest houses one of the largest munitions depots around the capital.  It is said that an explosion at this depot would destroy the Pantelimon neighborhood from the beginning of the no. 14 tram [route].  Towards evening gunfire opened on the unit from the railroad.  Everything was a target, [and] small caliber arms and semi-automatic weapons were being used [emphasis added; note:  possible reference to 5 mm weapons].  Based on the flashes from the gun-barrels it appeared that there were 3 persons hiding among the tracks who opened fire with the goal of creating panic.  The soldiers came out of their barracks and set up in the car-park under trucks.  They couldn’t stay inside the buildings, “the terrorists” were shooting the windows [out].  Even though an alert had been given earlier in the day, nobody was prepared to respond except those on duty.  A group of soldiers with officers and n.c.o.s equipped with AK-47s, and TT pistols launched an attack from the surrounding area.  All reached their destined locations without problem by nightfall, in part because the intruders were preoccupied with maintaining a continuous gunfire on the unit.  At a given moment, the soldiers opened fire, the gunfight lasted less than 10 minutes.  Their little UZIs weren’t equipped for long-distance and thus could not stand up to the renowned AK 47.  One of the terrorists was shot in the head, while the other two were wounded when they tried to flee through a field leading away from the military unit.  The three were transported to the guard post where the lights were turned on (until then the unit had been in complete darkness) and we realized that one of the two survivors was in fact a woman.  All three were olive-skinned, clothed in black jumpsuits [emphasis added] and the two wounded survivors struggled to say something in Arabic.  After a half hour an ARO [vehicle] of the Army arrived saying they had come from the Chief of Staff’s Division and they took all three.  After a few days all the soldiers who participated in the activities of that night were made to sign a declaration pledging not to divulge anything about what had happened.  All of this is true and can easily be verified.”[54]

Another small group of people wearing “black jumpsuits” held a military convoy under fire near the city of Buzau. On the evening of 23 December 1989, a military convoy from Piatra Neamt en route to Bucharest reached the community of Maracineni near Buzau.  Members of the local military unit told the soldiers from Piatra Neamt that

…the unit had been attacked by two people, a civilian and Militia NCO, who disappeared with an Oltcit [car] and an ABI vehicle [an armored transport used exclusively by the Securitate’s USLA].  Shortly after [being told] this, gunfire opened on the convoy.  And gunfire reopened on the local military unit….those from the unit fired back with ordinance that lit the sky, in this way enabling them to observe a group of 3-4 armed people, wearing black jumpsuits (“salopete negre”) who were shooting while constantly changing position.  At the same time, on the radio frequencies of the convoy, they received messages about coming devastating attacks, and even Soviet intervention.  All of these proved to be simple disinformation.  The next day, in a moment of calm, villagers brought the soldiers food, and related how the terrorists had occupied attics of their houses.  They said they [the occupiers] were Romanians and that in a few words they had ordered [the villagers] to let them into the attics of their houses….In general, they shot at night, but on 25 December the cannonade continued during the day…. Curiously, the ‘fighting’ in Maracineni continued until 30 December.  Who and for whom were they trying to impress? [emphasis added][55]

Indeed, there are three key aspects here:  1) this was not a heavily populated area, thereby undermining arguments about “operetta-like” fake warfare to impress the population, 2) it is difficult to explain this episode as the result of “misunderstandings” between units, and 3) the gunfire lasted well over a week, a fact that is difficult to ascribe to confusion.

Did the black-suited ones have any affiliation to any institution?  After all, is it not odd that so many of them would appear to be dressed in the same garb?  In 1990, an engineer, Mircea Georgescu, expressed his frustration about the post-December disappearance of the “terrorists” in Sibiu, Nicu Ceausescu’s fiefdom, as follows:

“Who fired from the attics of Sibiu on 21-22 December 1989?  Who are the so-called terrorists?  Where are their guns with scopes and unmistakable cadence?  Silence on all fronts:…

c) A fighter from the guards, along with his brother, captured in these days (23-25 dec.) some 8 securisti among whom:  one about 45-50 years old, at the State Theater Sibiu, we surrendered him to the Commander at the Army House.  He was taken under guard by 4 civilian fighters (one in front had a club in his hand) and by a soldier with a gun at his side.  He was dressed in a vest (like a smith’s) and a pant-suit (combinezon) that was black or a very dark grey…brown with short hair, well-built and 1,70-1,75 m tall….What, nobody knows anything about this guy either?…[emphases added]”[56]

Lt. Col. Aurel Dragomir, former commander of the “Nicolae Balcescu” Military Officers School in Sibiu, described in 1994 those killed as “terrorists” in Sibiu in December 1989:

…On the morning of 22 December…I was informed that on the rooftops there were some suspicious persons.  I saw 2-3 people in black jumpsuits.  The Militia told me that they weren’t their people.  At noon there appeared 10 to 15 people in black jumpsuits who opened massive gunfire on the crowds and soldiers. I ordered them to respond with fire.  I headed to the infirmary—the reserve command site, and col. Pircalabescu [head of the Patriotic Guards] called and asked me “why was there gunfire?”  I told him we were being attacked.  He told me to cease fire.  Ilie Ceausescu [Ceausescu’s brother, and an Army General] told me to surrender.  I slammed the telephone down.  Then [Army General] Stanculescu called.  I told him that we are under attack. Stanculescu said to me:  ‘Defend yourselves!’….The attackers had on black jumpsuits under which they had on civilian clothes….Weapons and ammunition that weren’t in the arsenal of the Army were found, guns with silencers were found, that aren’t in the Army’s arsenal….After the events declarations given to the investigating commissions disappeared, notebooks filled with the recordings of officers on duty (ofiterii de serviciu), and a map that noted from which houses gunfire came. The dead who were in jumpsuits and had several layers of clothing were identified:  they were cadre from the Sibiu Interior Ministry (Militia and Securitate)…. (“black jumpsuits” emphases and “weapons and ammunition…” emphasis added; rest in original)[57]

Finally, in this context, the comments of a Codrut H. in July 1990 about what he and other civilians found when they occupied Securitate headquarters in Brasov on the night of 22 December:  “What appeared suspicious to me was that the Securitate there appeared to have been prepared [for something]….  Out front of the building there was a white ARO [automobile] in which there were complete antiterrorist kits [emphasis added].” What else did the civilians find there?…combinezoane negre. [58]

Sibiu, 19-22 December 1989

In Sibiu, Siani-Davies tells us:

Controversy also continues to surround a commercial TAROM flight, which is alleged to have brought up to eighty USLA troops from Bucharest to Sibiu on December 20, 1989.  It is not clear if the USLA forces were actually on the airplane, or, even if they were, what they actually did in Sibiu…[Serban] Sandulescu (c1996), 57-58…suggests they were not members of USLA but the DIA [Army’s Intelligence Unit].[151]

From the standpoint of Siani-Davies’ unsuspecting reader such a conclusion may seem not only credible, but judicious.  But one of Siani-Davies’ habits—identified negatively by even those who praise the book—is his tendency to draw negative equivalencies:  i.e. there is about as much evidence to support x as there is to support y, in order to disprove or discount both propositions.  In a review, Doris Mironescu writes:

“Very common are claims such as the following:  ‘Finding the proof to sustain such an explanation of the events [that the Army’s Intelligence arm, the DIA simulated the “terrorist diversion,” to permit the Front’s takeover and a possible Warsaw Pact invasion of the country] is as difficult as proving that special units of the securitate took up arms against the revolution’ (p. 154).  Mutually contradictory hypotheses are invoked in order to negate each other, not so much because of the weight of the claims, but through the ideological similarity of both.”[152]

This tendency definitely affects Siani-Davies’ analysis of the “terrorists” and its accuracy.  To begin with, in the very book (Sandulescu) invoked by Siani-Davies, the head of the DIA (Battalion 404 Buzau), Rear Admiral Stefan Dinu, is quoted as having told the Gabrielescu commission investigating the December events (of which Sandulescu was a member) that “we hardly had 80 fighters in this battalion.”[153] It is known that 41 of them were in Timisoara from the morning of 18 December and only returned to their home base in Buzau on 22 December.[154] This makes it highly unlikely that they were on the 20 December TAROM flight to Sibiu that is in question.[155]

Contrast this with the signs that exist pointing to the mystery passengers as having been from the Securitate/Interior Ministry, in particular the USLA.  Nicu Silvestru, chief of the Sibiu County Militia, admitted in passing in a letter from prison that on the afternoon of 19 December 1989, in a crisis meeting, Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu, party head of Sibiu County, announced that he was going to “call [his] specialists from Bucharest” to take care of any protests.[156] Ceausescu’s Interior Minister, Tudor Postelnicu, admitted at his trial in January 1990 that Nicu had called him requesting “some troops” and he had informed Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad of the request.[157] If they were, indeed, DIA personnel, why would Nicu have called Postelnicu, and Postelnicu informed Vlad of the request—would such a request not have been relayed through the Defense Minister?

The first two military prosecutors for Sibiu, Anton Socaciu and Marian Valer, identified the passengers as USLA.  Even Nicu Ceausescu admits that this was the accusation when he stated in August 1990:

“…[T]he Military Prosecutor gave me two variants. In the first part of the inquest, they [the flight’s passengers] were from the Interior Ministry. Later, however, in the second half of the investigation, when the USLA and those from the Interior Ministry began, so-to-speak, to pass ‘into the shadows,’ – after which one no longer heard anything of them – they [the passengers] turned out to be simple citizens…”[158]

Beginning, at least as early as August 1990, with the allusions of Major Mihai Floca, and later seemingly indirectly confirmed by former USLA officer Marian Romanescu, it was suggested that when USLA Commander Ardeleanu was confronted at the Defense Ministry on the night of 23/24 December 1989, Ardeleanu reportedly admitted that “30 were on guard at [various] embassies, and 80 had been dispatched to Sibiu with a Rombac [aircraft] from 20 December 1989 upon ‘orders from on-high’.”[159] Finally, and along these lines, we bring things full circle—and recall our “phantoms in black” again in the process—with the testimony of Army officer Hortopan to the same Serban Sandulescu at the Gabrielescu Commission hearings:

Sandulescu:  About those dressed in black jumpsuits do you know anything, do you have any information about whom they belonged to?

Hortopan:  On the contrary.  These were the 80 uslasi sent by the MI [Interior Ministry], by General Vlad and Postelnicu to guard Nicolae Ceausescu [i.e. Nicu].  I make this claim because Colonel Ardelean[u] in front of General Militaru, and he probably told you about this problem, at which I was present when he reported, when General Militaru asked him how many men he had in total and how many were now present, where each of them was:  out of which he said that 80 were in Sibiu based on an order from his commanders.  Thus, it is natural that these are who they were.[160]

Bringing us up to the morning of 22 December 1989, and setting the stage for what was to come, Lt. Col. Aurel Dragomir told the Army daily in November 1990:

Dragomir:  Events began to develop quickly on 22 December.  In the morning some of the students posted in different parts of the town began to observe some suspect individuals in black jumpsuits on the roofs in the lights of the attics of several buildings.

Reporter:  The same equipment as the USLAsi killed out front of the Defense Ministry…

Dragomir:  And on the roof of the Militia building there were three or four similar individuals…[161]

Of course, the fact that these individuals were posted on the top of the Militia building on this morning, speaks volumes in itself about their affiliation.  Indeed, in a written statement dated 28 January 1990, Ioan Scarlatescu, (Dir. Comm. Jud. Sibiu), admitted that he was asked by the Army on that morning if the unknown individuals “could be from the USLA?”[162]

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One Response to “Nicu Ceausescu, Sibiu, teroristii, combinezoane negre, si decembrie 1989 (articole uitate, revista Expres 1990)”

  1. Ah! salam de vară ……

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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