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.

The Romanian Revolution for Dum-Dums (Part I) by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 8, 2010


(like me…and perhaps even you)

by Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Standard 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.

I am an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. I have been a CIA analyst since 2000. Prior to that time, I had no association with CIA outside of the application process. [Submitted for clearance 22 April 2008, approved 22 May 2008]

I have been researching the Revolution for the better part of the past 18 years. I first visited Romania in 1987 while backpacking through Europe, and I spent a total of about 20 months in the country during the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993-1994, and 1997, when I conducted pre-dissertation, dissertation, and post-dissertation research on the Revolution.

I have written on the topic of the Revolution, voluminously some might say, publishing in 1996, 1999, and 2000 before joining the Agency, and since I entered the Agency in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

It will and should be hard to believe for the outsider to this problem, but my work has been essentially the only systematic, ongoing investigation of the ballistics evidence—such are the shortcomings of small “communities of interest” investigating a peripheral historical topic and the perils of “group think.”

This article is, for lack of a better description, about “connecting the dots.”

–The story of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 since December 1989 has been the struggle of disparate voices who share their memories, often with great frustration and a sense of resignation. They are hardly a unified chorus.

The accounts of ideologues seek to suggest to us that “the truth” miraculously is the province of people of this or that particular political persuasion in post-communist Romania. That is morality play and fairy tale; it is not the work of the serious historian. Would that history were so neat and tidy! It is not.

Instead, what one finds is that the people with the details that matter most are spread across the ideological and political spectrum—including people with what many of us might term distasteful, illiberal, ultranationalist, and nostalgic views.

There are those who relate these details in a narrative consistent with where those details lead.

There are those who relate these details even though it contradicts their narrative and ultimate conclusions about December 1989.

Finally, there are those—and there are many of them—who just know they experienced what they experienced. They aren’t sure exactly how it fits in with a larger narrative: they merely want to tell their story.

Together, they relate these details in the face of cynicism, indifference, and an often stunning intellectual conceit and deaf ear.

Theirs, however, and not the ideologues’, is the story of December 1989.

There was a lot of talk during the crimes of December ’89 about the special bullets with which the young and old alike were killed, bullets which—it is said were not in the arsenal of our military units. There was so much talk that there was no more to say and after there was no more to say for a sufficient amount of time the discussion was reopened with the line “such things don’t exist!” The special bullets didn’t exist!—our highest authorities hurried to tell us…In order to search for proof a little work is necessary by our legal organs that they are not terribly inclined to take….

[Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]



The Internet allows the researcher to piece together history as never before. That’s a pretty bland statement, but the reality of it never ceases to amaze me. Take the case of those killed in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (officially 1,104 people perished in those events). Scroll through the list of those killed on the procesulcomunismului (“the trial of communism”) and portalulrevolutiei (“the portal to the revolution”) websites. For most, there is only limited information about the circumstances in which they died. For others, however, there is greater detail. As one scrolls through the names and photos, one of the similarities that begins to become apparent is that in cases where there is more information about the circumstances of the death, dum-dum bullets are mentioned. Thus, for example, we find the following five cases:

BUTIRI Florin, born in Joia Mare, 11 April 1969, he was living in Bucharest and was employed by the Bucharest Metro. He played rugby. On 22 December he participated in the demonstration at Sala Dalles [next to University Square]. On 23 December he went to defend the Radio Broadcast center on str. Nuferilor, and while he was saving some old people from a burning building he was shot. Brought to the Military Hospital because of a wound to his hip, caused by a dum-dum cartridge, they tried to ampute a leg. His stomach was also ravaged by a bullet. On 26 December 1989 he died. (

FILOTI Claudiu
Profession: Lieutenant major UM 01171 Buzau, post-mortem Captain
Born: 30 July 1964
Birthplace: Vaslui
Date of death: 22 December 1989
Place of death: Bucharest, in the area of the Defense Ministry
Cause of death: Shot in the chest with dum-dum bullets (

LUPEA Ion- Gabriel from Hunedoara, born in 1970…In 1989 he was sent from Bucharest to Anina [Resita], then to UM 01929. On 9 December 1989, he went on leave, but he was recalled. On the evening of 23 December he was on duty defending the unit [Anina-Resita], at the checkpoint, when around 11 pm they were attacked from the front and from the left flank. While crawling on hands and knees to bring more ammunition he was hit by a dum-dum bullet that entered above his left leg and exited through his left hand. Brought to the hospital he died Christmas Eve, making him the unit’s first hero; he was posthumously awarded the rank of sub-lieutenant. (

MANESCU Dan, born 25 March 1964, a student in the Transportation Department, he joined with the other young people on 21 December and participated in the demonstrations in the center of the town [Bucharest]. Friday morning he went with his brother to the demonstrations and he returned after the flight of the dictator. He changed his clothes and returned for good, when on the night of 22/23 December a dum-dum bullet punctured his stomach in Palace Square. Brought to the Emergency hospital, he could not be saved. (

POPTEAN Petre, born 27 December 1965, in Margau near Huedin, living in Bucharest…he worked as a driver for the Bucharest Transportation Department. On 21 December he went into town to protect his sister on her way home from work. The two of them left on Calea Victoriei and arrived at [Sala] Dalles, where in horror they watched…Petre called to his sister to aid the wounded. While on the ground, he was hit in the abdomen and left hip by dum-dum cartridges that caused him major wounds. His sister, Monica, was able to stop an ambulance with a Targoviste license number, but he didn’t make it to Hospital 9. At around 6 pm Petre passed away. (

Let me draw the attention of the reader to two important details here. First, the use of dum-dum munitions was not confined to Bucharest (multiple locations), but includes the southwestern city of Resita (the case of Ion Lupea). Second, the use of dum-dum munitions occurred not just after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fled at midday on 22 December 1989, but also before, on the evening of 21 December (the case of Petre Poptean).

Dum-dum bullets—which fragment and cause substantially more and more lethal damage to the organs of those who are hit—are outlawed by international convention (see more below). Moreover—or perhaps better-put, officially—no Romanian institution had them in their arsenal in December 1989. Yet, as we can see, almost two decades after the events, the obituaries of those gunned down in December 1989 include references to those munitions as having played a role not only in the wounding of people, but also in their deaths.

Despite the claims above attesting to not just the wounding, but the death of several people (civilians and soldiers) over several days in several locations from dum-dum bullets in December 1989, what did General Dan Voinea—removed from his post in December 2007 by Attorney General Laura Codruta Kovesi for violating basic judicial norms in another case[1]—who headed the investigations into December 1989 for well over a decade, have to say about them in late 2005? “Such things didn’t exist!”:

Romulus Cristea: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea: There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets. During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[2] (Emphasis added)

So, there is no wiggle room here, no room for misinterpretation: according to Prosecutor Voinea , nobody was killed by dum-dum bullets in December 1989.

That’s a common claim among officials of the former communist regime—Voinea was a military prosecutor since 1982 and he was directly involved in the trial of the Ceausescus. Such conclusions were also repeated in late 2005 by Dr. Vladimir Belis, who was the head of the Medical Forensics Institute (IML) in Bucharest in December 1989: asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used, he did not know and couldn’t say because he claimed no autopsies were ever performed.[3] The apparent official disinterest in munitions and autopsies is—ahem—shall we say “interesting” given the comments attributed to Belis’ subordinates and to doctors at Bucharest’s main hospitals—comments made in the early 1990s, but also made well over a decade later, in the mid 2000s.[4]

General Dan Voinea spoke in late 2005. Voinea’s argument that there were no dum-dum bullets, that there were no atypical munitions used, is directly linked to his contention that there were therefore “no terrorists” in December 1989. It has been routinely repeated in various forms by the media for well over a decade and by his supporters in intellectual circles at home and abroad. The encomia for General Voinea before and since that December 2005 interview by noted Romanian intellectuals and Romanianists are breathtaking. Tom Gallagher refers to him as the “indefatigable General Voinea”[5] and Western journalists have described him as “a one-man mission to uncover the truth about exactly what happened during those days.”[6] Sorin Iliesiu justifies his claims about the Revolution squarely on Voinea’s words:

General Dan Voinea has said clearly: The terrorists did not exist. Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead[7], wounded[8] or arrested[9].”[10][11]

Highly problematic and damning for General Dan Voinea, Dr. Vladimir Belis, and fellow deniers are the following, detailed written testimonies of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea presented by Dan Badea in April 1991, attesting to what they had found in December 1989 in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate:

Balasa Gheorghe: From [Securitate] Directorate V-a, from the weapons depot, on 23-24 December 1989, DUM-DUM cartridges, special cartridges that did not fit any arm in the arsenal of the Defense Ministry were retrieved. Three or four boxes with these kinds of cartridges were found. The special bullets were 5-6 cm. in length and less thick than a pencil. Such a cartridge had a white stone tip that was transparent. All of these cartridges I personally presented to be filmed by Mr. Spiru Zeres. All the special cartridges, other than the DUM-DUM [ones] were of West German [FRG] make. From Directorate V-a we brought these to the former CC building, and on 23-24 December ’89 they were surrendered to U.M. 01305. Captain Dr. Panait, who told us that he had never seen such ammunition before, Major Puiu and Captain Visinescu know about [what was turned over].

In the former CC of the PCR, all of those shot on the night of 23-24 December ’89 were shot with special bullets. It is absurd to search for the bullet in a corpse that can penetrate a wall…

[of course, V-a worked hand-in-hand with the USLA, or the Securitate’s “special unit for anti-terrorist warfare,” and thus it was not suprising that in Directorate V-a’s headquarters…] Among things we also found were:…the training manual for the USLA. It was about 25 cm thick, and while there, I leafed through about half of it…[and I also came across] a file in which lots of different people under the surveillance of USLA officers were listed…

(Interviewed by Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991.)

Moreover, we know from the 2005 publication of the testimony of a detained V-th Directorate officer dated 2 February 1990, that he must have been asked to comment specifically on the existence of dum-dum ammunition—since he makes a point of emphasizing that “we didn’t have dum-dum ammunition or weapons with special properties, of foreign origin.”[12] So, in other words, we know from this interrogation document that six weeks after the Revolution, those who had taken power or at least the military prosecutors of the time were still interested in the existence of these munitions—thereby suggesting that they must have had some reason for believing in their existence, say for example the character of the injuries suffered by those shot during the events, as well as perhaps recovered bullet fragments, the testimonies of the doctors who operated on those wounded, etc…

Voinea’s ceaseless interviews and revelations during this period have been reprinted repeatedly since they took place and his conclusions been given wide circulation by journalists and people such as Sorin Iliesiu. Yet those who just relate what happened in December 1989 continue to mention the existence of dum-dum munitions. Thus, if one turns to the tourism site for the western border town of Curtici (near Arad) one can read the following about the history of the city, including the events of December 1989:

The following night [at the train station], the first team of five doctors from the Austrian “Lorenz Bohler” Hospital , who arrived in Curtici with a “hospital-wagon” took 18 people in critical condition to Austria for special treatment that lasted two to three months. That is, they needed organ transplants or special care, because of the monstrous results of dum-dum bullets.[13]

Or take the case of a poster on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, who begins:

The Romarta (central Bucharest) file? What about the file on those who fired at me at the Astronomical Observatory on Ana Ipatescu Boulevard or those who at 1700 on 24 December fired near Casa Scanteii [press building] where I found a dum-dum cartridge in my bed—us having had to sleep in the bathroom.[14]

Finally, there are the cynical comments of those—no matter what they believe about December 1989—who cannot help but remember the dum-dum munitions and the horrible pain and trauma they caused their victims, many still living with the consequences of those wounds today…and how nobody wishes to remember them; for them, this is essentially a cruel, open secret.[15]

Unfortunately, no one in Romania has tied together such claims and the evidence I present above. I do not know how many of these people are still alive, but if the Romanian media were interested, the names are there for them to contact in order to confirm the claims above: Gheorghe Balasa, Radu Minea, Spiru Zeres, Major Puiu, and Captain Visinescu.

[1] See, for example, Dorin Petrisor, “Procurorul Voinea, acuzat ca a lucrat prost dosarul Iliescu 13 iunie 1990,” Cotidianul, 7 December 2007, online edition. Voinea’s removal generally went unpublicized abroad—it was understandably not a proud day for his supporters. Kovesi claimed to have been taken aback by Voinea’s inexplicable, seemingly incompetent handling of the June 1990 files.

[2] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition. Cristea’s apparent effort/belief—shared by many others—to suggest that it was only “the press of the time”—something I take to mean December 1989 and the immediate months after—that was filled with such claims and accusations is untrue. (The suggestion is to say that civilians with no knowledge of weapons and munitions repeated rumors spread out of fear and fueled by those who had seized power but needed to create an enemy to legitimize themselves and thus exploited those fears…) For examples of such claims “in the press of the time,” see the words of an employee of the Municipal Hospital (“In the room was a boy, very badly wounded by dum-dum bullets that had blown apart his diaphragm, his sacroiliac, and left an exit wound the size of a 5 lei coin,” Expres no. 10 (6-12 April 1990), p. 5) and the discussion of how Bogdan Stan died (“vidia bullets which explode when they hit their ‘target,’ entered into the bone marrow of his spine,” Adevarul, 13 January 1990). But such claims also appear long after the December 1989 events. Two and a half and three years after the December 1989 events, Army Colonel Ion Stoleru maintained in detail that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip [more on this and the relation to dum-dum munitions below]. Really modern weapons” and added, significantly, “The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…” (see Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.) Voinea’s steadfast denials would seem to validate Stoleru’s allegations more than a decade after he made them. Not surprisingly, but highly unfortunate, Cristea’s interview with Voinea forms the basis of conclusions about the terrorists on the Romanian-language Wikipedia webpage on the Revolution: see

[3] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, “Frumos (Nice)…” as the Romanians say. Belis may not have interested himself in the ballistics evidence—but some of his employees apparently did (see IML Dr. Florin Stanescu’s comments in Ion Costin Grigore, Cucuveaua cu Pene Rosii (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), pp. 70-72). Moreover, there were exhumations. (“For a long time the Brasov Military Prosecutor didn’t do anything, even though there existed cases, declarations, documents, photos and even atypical unusual bullets brought in by the families of the deceased and wounded.” On 14 June 1990, General Nicolae Spiroiu, future Defense Minister (1991-1994), appears to have been in the city of Brasov, assisting at the exhumation of people killed there during the December 1989 Revolution. Such a step was a rarity, and apparently followed earlier talks between Spiroiu, five other officers, and the staff of the local newspaper Opinia, who were seeking clarification over who was responsible for the deaths of their fellow citizens. “They found in particular bullets of a 5.6 mm caliber that are not in the Army’s arsenal,” wrote the journalist Romulus Nicolae of the investigation. (Romulus Nicolae, “Au ars dosarele procuraturii despre evenimente din decembrie,” Cuvintul, no. 32 (August 1991), pp. 4-5, cited in Richard Andrew Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,”

[4] Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, surgeon at Coltea Hospital: “I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias. He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of a department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate]. He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him. Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments. I didn’t hear anything back from Chircoias or any expert. Those who made the evidence disappear neglected the fact that there still exist x-rays and other military documents that I put at the disposition of the [Military] Prosecutor.”


[5] Tom Gallagher, Modern Romania: The End of Communism, the Failure of Democratic Reform, and the Theft of a Nation, (NY: New York University Press, 2005), p. 190.

[6] Jeremy Bransten, “Romania: The Bloody Revolution in 1989: Chaos as the Ceausescus Are Executed,” RFE/RFL, 14 December 1999 at This unfortunate comment aside, Brantsen’s series is an excellent journalistic introduction to the December 1989 events.

[7] Iliesiu is dead wrong. See the signed testimony to the contrary by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi dated 26 December 1989, reproduced in Ioan Itu, “Mostenirea teroristilor,” Tinerama, no. 123 (9-15 April 1993), p. 7. I translated the important parts of this document in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” Significantly, according to this document, Dr. Belis had access to the dead terrorists:

Dead Terrorists. Although their existence is vehemently denied by all official institutions, we are able to prove that they existed and have sufficient details to identify them.…We continue with some excerpts of the declaration of Ion Lungu, head of the group of fighters who guarded the ‘Institute of Legal Medicine’ [IML, the main Bucharest morgue], beginning from the evening of 22 December 1989:

“Starting from the 23rd, there were brought, in succession, more ‘special’ corpses. They were brought only by military vehicles and were accompanied by officers. They were all dressed the same: kaki uniforms, with or without military insignia, fur-lined boots, cotton underwear. All the clothes were new. The established procedure at that point was that when the bodies were unloaded from the trucks, at the ramp to the back of the IML, to be disrobed and inspected. The documents found were released to Prosecutor Vasiliu and criminology officers. The weapons and munitions we found and surrendered—on the basis of a verbal procedure—to the officer on duty from UM 01046. Weapons and ammunition were found only on those ‘special’ corpses. Those who brought them said that they were terrorists. I turned over to this military unit five pistols (three Stecikin and two Makarov—all 9 mm caliber), two commando daggers and hundreds of 9 mm and 7.62 mm cartridges (compatible with the AKM machine gun). They were held separately from the other corpses, in a room—I believe that it used to be the coatroom—with a guard at the door.…

Access to the room with the terrorists was strictly forbidden. Only Prosecutor Vasiliu, criminologist officers, Dr. Belis, and the chief of autopsies could enter. On top of them, next to the arms, there were personal documents, passports (some blank), all types of identity cards—one of them was clearly false, it stated that the dead terrorist was the director at Laromet (at that plant no director died)—identity cards that were brand new, different service stamps in white. All had been shot by rifles (one was severed in two) and showed evidence of gunshots of large caliber. Some had tattoos (they had vultures on their chests), were young (around 30 years old), and were solidly built. I believe that their identity was known, since otherwise I can’t explain why their photographs were attached to those of unidentified corpses. They were brought to us in a single truck. In all, there were around 30 dead terrorists. [The document is signed by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi on 26 December 1989]”

[8] Once again Iliesiu is wrong. Professor Andrei Firica at the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” apparently also was paid a visit by Colonel Chircoias (aka Ghircoias), see fn. 4. He claims that he “made a small file of the medical situations of the 15-20 suspected terrorists from [i.e. interned at] the Emergency Hospital,” but as he adds “of course, all these files disappeared.” Firica reports that a Militia colonel, whom he later saw on TV in stripes as a defendant in the Timisoara trial [i.e. Ghircoias], came to the hospital and advised him “not to bring reporters to the beds of the terrorists, because these were just terrorist suspects and I didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone” (!) The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects into a bus and off they went. (Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.) Cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian”

[9] I don’t even know where to begin on this one. As I have written before, not all of those detained were terrorists, and many of the terrorists seemed to have eluded arrest, but there are so many accounts of people arrested as terrorists who legitimately fit that description that I don’t even know where to begin. See the multiple translations in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian”

[10] Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, found at (note: this is NOT the Romania Libera daily newspaper). One will find many well-known names in the West among those who signed this petition: Dragoş Paul Aligică, Matei Călinescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Tom Gallagher, Gabriel Liiceanu, Norman Manea, Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Horia-Roman Patapievici, Radu Portocală, Nestor Ratesh, Lavinia Stan, Stelian Tănase, Alin Teodorescu, and Vladimir Tismăneanu. Sorin Iliesiu, who is a filmmaker and Vice President of the “Civic Alliance” organization, has written that he was part of the “team” that “edited” the seven page chapter on the Romanian Revolution contained in the Report of the Presidential Commission to Analyze the Communist Dictatorship of Romania (PCACDR). He is not a scholar and most certainly not a scholar of the December 1989 events. A textual comparison of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution and Vladimir Tismaneanu’s chapter in a Dawisha and Parrott edited volume from 1997 is unambiguous: the introductory two paragraphs of the Report’s chapter are taken verbatim in translation from p. 414 of Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter, and other verbatim paragraphs, sentences, and phrases from pp. 414-417 make up parts of the rest of the Report’s Revolution chapter without any reference to the 1997 chapter. As the author(s) of an earlier chapter in the Report cite(s) Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter (see p. 376 fn. 55) correctly, this leaves really only two possible explanations for the failure of Iliesiu et. al. to cite that they have borrowed wholesale from Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter: a) an absence of scholarly knowledge, or b) an attempt to mask their dependence upon and deference to Tismaneanu, the Chair of the Commission, since the citations that do appear are the exact citations from the 1997 chapter and claims are translated word-by-word, so much so that Iliesiu et. al. did not even bother to change verb tenses despite the passage of a decade. Iliesiu et. al. can attempt to avoid answering questions and attempt to change the subject, but the textual analysis is unambiguous: Tismaneanu’s unattributed 1997 chapter forms the bulk of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution. The only question that needs to be answered is: why and why are they unwilling to admit the textual identicality?

[11] All of this eludes Charles King in his Winter 2007 Slavic Review essay “Remembering Romanian Communism.” In his five page essay, he pauses no less than four times to mention the Revolution, despite the fact that its coverage takes up barely one percent of the PCACDR report. He relates the most banal of conclusions—“The report thus repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as having been hijacked…”—yet misses or avoids what Iliesiu clearly seems most proud of: having inserted the claim that Nicolae Ceausescu was responsible for “only 162 deaths,” thereby insinuating Ceausescu’s successors bear responsibility for the other 942, and the claim to which such a reckoning is intimately related, namely Voinea’s that there were “no terrorists.” (It is interesting to note how Iliesiu et. al., the eternally suspicious of the state, miraculously become assiduous promoters of “official” and “state” claims once they turn out to be their own, thereby suggesting that their skepticism of the state is primarily situational rather than inherent—these are not equal opportunity skeptical and critical intellectuals.) King’s treatment of the Report is overall insufficiently informed, and as a consequence contextually-wanting and one-sided. He cites a handful of Romanian reviews of the Report, but they are almost uniformly positive accounts, almost as if supplied by the Chair of the Commission himself (see fn. 1, p. 718). He pauses to cite the former head of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian Research Division Michael Shafir’s 1985 book, yet makes no mention of Shafir’s trenchant criticisms (he gave the report a 7 out of 10 and mixed the positive with the negative) in a 1/12/07 interview in Ziua de Cluj, his extended critique “RAPORTUL TISMĂNEANU: NOTE DIN PUBLIC ŞI DIN CULISE” available in spring 2007 at http:// (no. 11), or his “Scrisoare (ultra)deschisa” in Observator Cultural no. 382 (25 July-1 August 2007) [given the timeline of scholarly publication, I am attempting to give King the benefit of the doubt here …He would certainly do well to read Shafir’s most recent discussion in Observator Cultural NR. 148 (406) 17 – 23 ianuarie 2008, “Despre clarificari nebuloase, plagiate, imposturi si careerism,” to see what a venerable critic and serious scholar was subjected to as a result of deigning to not wholeheartedly embrace the Report. Shafir’s treatment by the Report’s zealots has little to do with the liberal democratic view of the open society the Report’s authors ceaselessly profess.] Finally, had Charles King bothered to read Ciprian Siulea’s “Tentatia unui nou absolutism moral: Cu cine si de ce polemizeaza Vladimir Tismaneanu?” (Observator Cultural, nr. 379, 5-11 iulie 2007, once again conceivably within the publishing timeline) he might have refrained from parrotting the polarizing and unhelpful plebiscitary logic applied to the Report when he closed “The question is now whether the commission’s report will be used as yet another opportunity to reject history or as a way of helping Romanians learn, at last, how to own it” (p. 723). This, of course, suggests a certain infallible quality to the Report—which is far from the case—a conclusion only enhanced by King’s willingness to focus on the “hate speech” directed against the Report, but yet failing to cite and discuss any of the Romanian scholarly criticism of it.

[12] “Aghiotantii lui Ceausescu povestesc minut cu minut: O zi din viata dictatorului,” Romania Libera, 2 December 2005, online at “Declaratie Subsemnatul TALPEANU ION, fiul lui Marin si Elena, nascut la 27 mai 1947 in comuna Baneasa, judetul Giurgiu, fost aghiotant prezidential cu grad de lt. col. in cadrul Directiei a V-a – Serviciul 1. Cu privire la armamentul din dotare arat ca, noi, aghiotantii aveam pistol “Makarov” cu 12 cartuse, iar sefii de grupa si ofiterii din grupa aveau pistolet “Makarov”, pistolet “Stecikin” si pistol-mitraliera AKM, cu munitie aferenta, care era cea obisnuita, in sensul ca nu aveam gloante dum-dum sau cu proprietati speciale, de provenienta straina.” (Dated 2 February 1990). His denial of dum-dum bullets is, of course, par for the course for former Securitate officers, who remember and thus “know nothing.”

[13] Quoted from This raises an interesting point: there were foreign doctors who participated in Romania or in their home country in the surgery, treatment, and rehabilitation of those wounded. It would be interesting to hear what they remember and what they have to say regarding the munitions.

[15]Adina Anghelescu-Stancu refers to the “crippled and handicapped by dum-dum bullets” who do not number among Romania’s celebrities and about whom no one wishes to remember in today’s Romania, “Dureri care nu trec! (despre decembrie ‘89),” Gardianul, 18 December 2007, online at


One Response to “The Romanian Revolution for Dum-Dums (Part I) by Richard Andrew Hall”

  1. […] …for most recent reposting here see… […]

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