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.


Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on September 30, 2010




by Richard Andrew Hall

Disclaimer:  All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or any other U.S. Government agency.  Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or CIA endorsement of the author’s views.  This material has been reviewed by CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

This paper MAY be cited when accompanied by a full, proper citation.  Thank you.

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]

Where and From Where Was There Gunfire?

So if there is evidence of ammunition that cannot be accounted for in standard arsenals and of people killed and identified as “dead terrorists”—who clearly do not fit into the standard categories of those killed during the events—what is perhaps the next logical question?  That might be:  where and from where did the gunfire come?

To continue with Sibiu and Lt. Col. Dragomir’s claims, former Prosecutor Marian Valer, who claimed to have “noticed shortly after the publication of his resignation from this position [claiming obstruction] that I was benefiting from the services of the organization of Virgil Magureanu [i.e. the SRI, the Securitate’s institutional successor],” stated in September 1990:

…during the events of December 1989 in Sibiu, the army found a map with the safehouses of the Securitate, around the city’s military units, in which Securitate cadre were to be placed to act against them, in the eventuality of a defection by the army from the Ceausist regime.  Following the investigations conducted, it was determined that from these same houses gunfire was opened on some of these military units, beginning with the afternoon of 22 December 1989, therefore after the overthrow of the dictatorship.  It was also established that, in general, in these respective houses lived former cadre of the Securitate and Militie, who had retired or crossed into reserve status, or informers of the Securitate, and also that, following the outbreak of the antiCeausist demonstrations in Sibiu, at these houses entered cars that had license plates from other counties, for example Constanta, Iasi, [and] Bacau.  Thus upon the [Army unit] U.M. 01512, gunfire was opened from the house at no. 7 Stefan Cel Mare Street…in which lived the families of a former Sibiu Securitate commander and an informer of the Securitate…On U.M. 1606 there was shooting from no. 47 Moldoveanu Street, in which lived a former Militia chief of Sibiu county, while upon U.M. 01080 there was fire from vila Branga [see earlier discussion of this location referencing five mm caliber bullets]…It was determined that the owners of these places were not at home during the events, having left several days earlier, and that in some houses there was no furniture or signs of habitation.  The map of the safehouses of the Securitate and Militie came into possession of Lt. Col. Dragomir, commander of the Sibiu garrison, but when he was asked to present it to the investigatory commission he said he could not find it.[59]

In 1991, Dumitru Mazilu, a key player in the December events who quickly fell out of favor with those who seized power and was marginalized, posed these appropriate observations about the fighting in Bucharest:

The involvement of some units and soldiers of the Interior Ministry during this particular period [after 22 December] is confirmed by the following observations:  a) the sites from which crowds were fired upon certainly belonged to the Interior Ministry (for example in the case of the buildings near the Central University Library, that belonged to the Guard Directorate [V-a] of the Ceausescus] or with great probability (the apartments from the Building General across from the work space of the tyrant; the apartments near the villas of Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu, as well as those near objects of strategic importance, such as the Defense Department, Television, and Romanian Radio etc.)…[60]

…Without a doubt two other issues could play a major role in finding out who those were who were firing on Television:  a) First, to request the identity of the meeting houses of the organs of repression, in the area around the Television.  Then to verify who the people were who used these houses in the days from the afternoon of 22 December until 27, 28 December.  Again these sites could play a big role in the success of the investigations; b) Then to find out the other places from which people were fired upon in these dramatic days and nights.  And those who put their places at the disposition, either willingly or under duress, as well as their neighbors, could play a big role in discovering the terrorists.[61]

In 2003, Senator Sergiu Nicolaescu, who headed the first investigation into the December events back in the early 1990s was asked by an interviewer, “Mr. Senator, by now I also have reached the conclusion that in order for something like this to function there had to exist at least two things:  a plan and a leadership.  Who led it?”  Nicolaescu responded as follows:

There are links to the Securitate here.  They had made this strategy.  They had long had this mission, when these people were selected and conspired and received their orders.  In order to understand the phenomenon we started an investigation from the ground floor, with the most basic information.  There existed safehouses. I asked officially for information about these safehouses.  I don’t know if this is what they are technically-called, but we are talking about apartments, empty spaces in safehouses, some even in hotels, while another category that should not be confused with the first is that of guesthouses, where their people lived.  That was something else altogether.  They met there with informers.  That is different.  In the safehouses there were weapons and military outfits of different grades and specializations, as well as civilian clothing.  I asked the SRI [the Securitate’s official institutional heir] for the list, but they never gave me it.  I had the list of the apartments from which there was gunfire.  I attempted to reconstitute [a list] with the help of specialists and identified the places from which there was gunfire.  My intention was to compare this list with the list of safehouses.  They wouldn’t give it to me.  Thus, I made recourse, unofficially, to a different method to secure a copy of the list of safehouses.  It turned out exactly as I suspected—they matched exactly.  Thus I was able to learn who were the terrorists from this category who acted, since there were some houses from which there was no gunfire, where they did not go into action. [emphasis added][62]

[52] Maior A.D., “Scenariile si Realitatea:  Marturie la dosarul ,Teroristi’ (VI),” Timpul (ed. Raoul Sorban), 1 March 1991, p. 11.

[53] See Raportul SRI EPISODUL I (2/2) Timisoara ’89 at texts/revolution/raportul sri12.htm. As if to confirm the suspicions, Securitate officer Filip Teodorescu told the Gabrielescu Commission that “Whoever had the idea to dress [them] in combinezoane negre had a clever idea!” (using the English translation at sedintei de audiere din 14 decembrie 1994).

[54] Posted on the web forum at Jurnalul National, April 2006, online edition.

[55] Stoian, Arta Diversiunii, 1993, pp. 55-57.

[56] Ing. Mircea Georgescu, “Sibiu (III),” Expres, no. 28 August 1990.

[57] Quoted in Dan Badea, “Secretle Revolutiei,” Expres no. 22 (6-13 June 1994), pp. 8-9.

[58] Quoted in Alin Alexandru, “Brasov (II):  Linistea dinaintea macelului,” Expres, no. 26 (July 1990).

[59] Marian Valer, interview by Monica N. Marginean, “Asistam la ingroparea Revolutiei [We are witnessing the burying of the Revolution],” Expres, no. 33 (September 1990), p. 2.  In 1994, Dragomir maintained:  “After the events some declarations given to the investigating commission disappeared, as well as notebooks filled with the recordings of officers on duty, and a map that had markings of the houses from where there was gunfire.”  See his comments in Dan Badea, “Secretele Revolutiei,” Expres, no. 22 (7-13 June 1994), p. 9.

[60] Dumitru Mazilu, “Cine sint teroristii?” Flacara, no. 39 (25 September 1991), p. 4.

[61] Dumitru Mazilu, “Cine sint teroristii?” Flacara, no. 41 (9 October 1991), p. 4

[62] Sergiu Nicolaescu, interview by Alex Mihai Stoenescu (2 September 2003), “Teroristi din URSS, Ungaria si Occident,” Jurnalul National, 10 December 2004, online edition.



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