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.

Archive for December 16th, 2014

25 for the 25th Anniversary of the Romanian Revolution: #2 Shattered Glass: Securitate Vandalism to Justify Timisoara Crackdown

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 16, 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 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:  I have essentially been the only researcher who has consistently advocated this understanding.  Most others–including Peter Siani-Davies–tended to dismiss it.  Now we have documentary evidence that it took place.

An excellent documentary from 1991 posted to the internet by Florin Iepan only recently and seen rarely if at all since its showing in 1991.  There is much interesting information in this film.  (The film seems to start at min. 19:00 and has to be rewound to its beginning.)  Here, I will focus on the claim beginning at approximately min. 17:40 that the destruction of Timisoara shops and storefronts was organized and a pretext to justify–including legally–the repression by the Ceausescu regime of Timisoara demonstrators.  Interior Minister Tudor Postelnicu’s declaration of 17 March 1990 confirms this claim and the observations of eyewitnesses.

Timisoara Decembrie 1989 / Timisoara December 1989,

regia/directed by – Ovidiu Bose Pastina
imaginea/camera – Doru Segal

Sahiafilm 1991

Tudor Postelnicu (Ministerul de Interne in decembrie 1989):  “Unii militari de la trupele de securitate ale brigazii Timisoara au facut unele provocari la unele magazine si vitrine spargind geamurile sa imprastie participantii de pe straziile din apropriere, apoi au intrat in altercatie cu ei, si acum (?) vor sa le faca militia ordine.  ‘Nu am aflat ca costa provocare a zis Gl. Nuta, am trimis pe …” (17.III.1990) 

http://sensidev.com/fc/dosare%20de%20urmarire%20penala/dosar%20%20de%20urmarire%20penala%20volumul%2011/IMG_2576.JPG (Dosarul de Urmarire Penala, Vol. 11, IMG 2576)

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Before we move on here, it is worth noting how this destruction was covered in Peter Siani-Davies’ 2005 volume The Romanian Revolution of December 1989.  As I have written on many occasions, Siani-Davies’ volume is wonderfully-written and is excellent, but the claim by Daniel Chirot that is a “near-definitive” account is far off the mark.  One of the negative characteristics of Siani-Davies’ work is the use of “filler” rational choice, cui bono arguments where he concludes there is not enough information to make a valid judgment.  The problem is the question is never one of “what was possible?” “what makes ‘sense’?” but rather what did happen?

Thus, for example in the case of the destruction of Timisoara Siani-Davies argues that there was already enough of a basis for the regime to crackdown, therefore why would they need to create a pretext for cracking down:  “Given the seriousness of the situation and the fact that shots had already been fired elsewhere, the security forces hardly needed to produce a further ‘excuse’ for the massacre which was to follow.” (p. 68)

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Back to exploring more of the evidence…

An excerpt from Chapter 5 of 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.

Chapter Five.  The Beginning of the End: Timisoara, 15-17 December 1989

The “Window Breakers”

The reportedly unusual scope of physical destruction which occurred in Timisoara, particularly on the afternoon and evening of 17 December 1989, has fueled revisionist arguments. Estimates of the damage during the Timisoara unrest are in the neighborhood of four to five billion lei (approximately forty to fifty million dollars at the time), a reasonably large sum given Romania’s standard of living at the time. A huge number of windows was broken and as many as 300 to 400 stores suffered some sort of damage, although relatively few were actually looted. On the evening of 17 December, stores, vehicles, and kiosks were burning in at least ten different areas of the city.[65]

Former Securitate officers clearly wish to link this destruction to the “foreign tourists” who were supposedly so ubiquitous in Timisoara during these days.[66] Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, former Securitate Director Iulian Vlad argued at his trial that

…the acts of vandalism, theft, destruction, arson… acts without precedent…could not have been the work [“opera”] of the faithful [apparently referring sarcastically to Tokes’ parishioners], nor the revolutionaries. They were produced by elements which wished to create a certain atmosphere of tension.[67]

Eyewitness accounts recorded soon after the events–therefore at a time before the various plots and scenarios had permeated the popular imagination–support the hypothesis that the vandalism was organized. Moldovan Fica remarks:

I admit that I cannot escape a certain conclusion. All of this [destruction] was done by a group of about five or six individuals, whose calm demeanor and self-control continues to stay with me to this day. They did not run from the scene, they appeared as if they did not fear anything; I would say that, in fact, they were doing what was required of them, something which had been ordered directly of them![75]

Describing destruction in a different part of the city, Andras Vasile observed that

…four young men with shaved heads and wearing civilian clothes had sticks–I would term them special sticks–1.7 to 1.8 meters long, equipped with metal rings on the top of them. They were breaking the windows, but not taking anything, as if they only had something against the windows, something which they thus went about with great enjoyment…they were led by two individuals in leather jackets.[76]

Other eyewitnesses supply details which confirm the widespread character of the vandalism; its undeniably organized quality; the disinterest of its perpetrators in looting the stores; and the almost “drugged” nature of the perpetrators, who seemed unperturbed by the chaos and repression going on around them.[77]

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/rewriting-the-revolution-1997/

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Moldovan Fica (martor ocular)

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Andras Vasile (martor ocular)

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Ioan Savu discussed the windowbreakers as follows:

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Other depictions of this event available online:

Conducerea partidului, alarmată, a trimis în Piaţa Maria, conform Ordinului 02600, numeroşi miliţieni şi trupe speciale, pentru a lichida manifestaţia care luase amploare. Circulaţia în zonă se întrerupsese. În Piaţa Maria au fost trimişi aproximativ 200 de activişti de partid, miliţieni şi numeroşi ofiţeri de securitate, îmbrăcaţi în haine civile. Au urmat ciocniri violente, mai ales după ce manifestanţii s-au încolonat şi au pornit spre sediul CJ PCR, strigând “Libertate”, “Vrem pâine”, “Vrem căldură”, “Azi la Timişoara, mâine în toată ţara”.
În acea seară echipe de miliţie dinainte pregătite au spart vitrinele magazinelor din centrul oraşului, pentru a avea argumente pentru o intervenţie în forţă. Desigur, multe vitrine au fost sparte şi de derbedei, asupra cărora s-au găsit bunuri furate. În acea noapte au fost arestate aproape 5-600 de cetăţeni. Ei au fost duşi la Penitenciarul oraşului, unde au fost bătuţi în mod bestial. În zilele care au urmat arestării au fost anchetaţi în vederea trimiterii lor în judecată. Bineînţeles, dacă Revoluţia n-ar fi reuşit.

“Azi la Timişoara”
Ivan Sabin

http://revista.memoria.ro/?location=view_article&id=371

Totuşi, se ştie că în acele zile fierbinţi din Timişoara au existat „personaje neidentificate” care au acţionat în mai multe zone ale oraşului. Am să amintesc aici doar două aspecte concrete cu privire la implicarea acestora în evenimentele din Timişoara. În zilele de 16 şi 17 decembrie au fost sparte aproape toate vitrinele magazinelor din zona centrală a oraşului. Sunt zeci de declaraţii ale revoluţionarilor care fac o descriere clară a celor care au spart acele geamuri. Au fost oameni bine îmbrăcaţi, robuşti şi tunşi scurt. Aceştia erau dotaţi cu nişte beţe speciale cu care printr-un gest scurt şi foarte bine exersat loveau vitrinele, după care plecau fără a încerca să sustragă ceva din magazine. Aceste persoane au fost văzute chiar şi de forţele de ordine desfăşurate în acea zonă, care în mod ciudat nu au luat măsuri împotriva lor, ci au acţionat împotriva manifestanţilor ce demonstrau împotriva regimului ceauşist. Un alt aspect relatat de mulţi timişoreni se referă mai ales la zilele de 17-19 decembrie, când, în rândul cordoanelor militare din diferite dispozitive amplasate în zonele importante ale oraşului, între soldaţi, erau intercalate persoane mai în vârstă, nebărbierite îmbrăcate doar parţial în uniforme militare, care nu făceau parte din acele unităţi militare.

Cine au fost acele „persoane neidentificate”? De ce s-a dorit în unele cercuri, cu insistenţă chiar, acreditarea ideii că oamenii au fost scoşi în stradă de agenţi străini? De ce, chiar şi după 20 de ani, se fac afirmaţii de genul: cadavrele celor arşi la Crematoriul „Cenuşa” erau ale unor agenţi străini? Nu voi căuta acum răspunsuri la aceste întrebări, dar, cu siguranţă, ele există.

Kali Adrian Matei

nascut in 30 iulie 1968 la Timisoara, muncitor la IJPIPS (1989), profesor de istorie la Liceul de informatica (1998), impuscat in spate

La Bijuterii concetatenii nostri tigani carau ce puteau. Numai la “Modex” nu era spart. Un grup de oameni se uitau cum niste indivizi bine instruiti spargeau geamurile de linga restaurantul Bulevard. Am rugat oamenii sa apere Modexul, pentru ca era clar ca spargatorii n-aveau nimic comun cu revolta.  30 septembrie 1995  http://timisoara.com/newmioc/4.htm

“În data de 14 decembrie, securitatea a spart toate gemurile din partea străzii principale, iar clădirea arăta ca o cetate asediată. Fostul primar al Timişorei, Petre Moţ l-a vizitat pe Tokes şi a ieşit la geam pentru a vorbi mulţimii. Moţ a cerut să se pună geamuri noi. Erau foarte multe maşini ale securiştilor. Întreaga stradă era ocupată. Se făcea filaj. Eu locuiam acolo, ba intram, ba ieşeam. Nu se vorbea încă revoluţie. Era o solidaritatea faţă de pastor”, declarat Iosif Kabai (foto), care locuieşte şi acum în clădirea bisericii reformate.Citeste mai mult: adevarul.ro/locale/timisoara/16-decembrie-1989-ziua-timisoara-s-a-strigat-data-democratie-jos-comunismul-1_50bd3d887c42d5a663c8e01f/index.html

Radu Tinu cu Angela Bacescu…

The reportedly unusual scope of physical destruction which occurred in Timisoara, particularly on the afternoon and evening of 17 December 1989, has fueled revisionist arguments. Estimates of the damage during the Timisoara unrest are in the neighborhood of four to five billion lei (approximately forty to fifty million dollars at the time), a reasonably large sum given Romania’s standard of living at the time. A huge number of windows was broken and as many as 300 to 400 stores suffered some sort of damage, although relatively few were actually looted. On the evening of 17 December, stores, vehicles, and kiosks were burning in at least ten different areas of the city.[65]

Former Securitate officers clearly wish to link this destruction to the “foreign tourists” who were supposedly so ubiquitous in Timisoara during these days.[66] Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, former Securitate Director Iulian Vlad argued at his trial that

…the acts of vandalism, theft, destruction, arson… acts without precedent…could not have been the work [“opera”] of the faithful [apparently referring sarcastically to Tokes’ parishioners], nor the revolutionaries. They were produced by elements which wished to create a certain atmosphere of tension.[67]

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RADU TINU:…SINGURLE COMPLEXE COMERCIALE RAMASE INTREGI AU FOST CELE DIN FATA MILITIEI JUDETENE SI CEL DE LANGA FABRICA “MODERN”…

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The significance of window-breaking as a justification for repression–something the Securitate would have realized–was outlined by Nicolae Ceausescu in his teleconference of 17 December 1989 as follows:

“Oricine intra intr-un Consiliu Popular, intr-un sediu de partid sau sparge un geam la un magazin trebuie sa primeasca riposta imediat.

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Col. Ion Popescu (sef IGM)’s defense lawyer appealed to Legea 21 and Decretul 121 specifically as obligating Interior Ministry (M.I.–Militia and Securitate) forces to intervene in response to the breaking of windows of commercial units…

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Thus, the breaking of windows, which according to Interior Minister was instigated and carried out in part by Securitate Brigade 30 under the command of Ion Bunoaica served a bureaucratic and legalistic function–a tactic not unknown in the annals of other totalitarian or authoritarian regimes…

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An excerpt from Chapter 5 of 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.

Chapter Five.  The Beginning of the End: Timisoara, 15-17 December 1989

The “Window Breakers”

The reportedly unusual scope of physical destruction which occurred in Timisoara, particularly on the afternoon and evening of 17 December 1989, has fueled revisionist arguments. Estimates of the damage during the Timisoara unrest are in the neighborhood of four to five billion lei (approximately forty to fifty million dollars at the time), a reasonably large sum given Romania’s standard of living at the time. A huge number of windows was broken and as many as 300 to 400 stores suffered some sort of damage, although relatively few were actually looted. On the evening of 17 December, stores, vehicles, and kiosks were burning in at least ten different areas of the city.[65]

Former Securitate officers clearly wish to link this destruction to the “foreign tourists” who were supposedly so ubiquitous in Timisoara during these days.[66] Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, former Securitate Director Iulian Vlad argued at his trial that

…the acts of vandalism, theft, destruction, arson… acts without precedent…could not have been the work [“opera”] of the faithful [apparently referring sarcastically to Tokes’ parishioners], nor the revolutionaries. They were produced by elements which wished to create a certain atmosphere of tension.[67]

“A group of former Securitate officers” wrote to the Ceausist Democratia in September 1990 that after the Militia and Securitate refused to respond to the demonstrations provoked by the “foreign tourists”: “they advance[d] to the next stage: the massive destruction of public property designed to provoke forcible interventions–human victims were needed.”[68]

Nevertheless, here is how one opposition journalist, Grid Modorcea, has described the strange character of Timisoara destruction:

For the first time in history, a revolution…was announced in a previously unknown and absolutely original manner, both literally and figuratively speaking: through the methodical breakage of thousands of windows. On 16 and 17 December 1989, Timisoara was the city of [glass] shards. Well-trained groups of athletes spread throughout the town, tactically, but energetically smashing to pieces hundreds of huge windows without apparently being interested in stealing from these stores…they were like mythical Magis coming to announce the end of one world and the beginning of another. And they gave it an apocalyptic quality: the sound produced by the breaking glass was infernal. The panic this caused was indescribable….Those who “executed” the windows did so with karate-like kicks while yelling “Liberty and Justice”!…The crowds of people who came out into the streets transformed spontaneously into columns of demonstrators, of authentic revolutionaries. The effect was therefore monumental: the breaking of the windows unleashed the popular revolt against the dictator.[69]

Modorcea is convinced that the Tokes case was “merely a pretext” and that “someone–perhaps those who planned the vandalizing of the windows–has an interest in preventing it from being known who broke the windows.” Although Modorcea maintains he is unsure who was responsible, he insists on observing that:

Only the Customs people know how many tourists there were. All were men and long-haired. Inside their cars they had canisters. This fits with the method of the breaking of the windows, with the Molotov cocktails, and the drums used as barricades–they were exactly of the same type….To what extent the new regime which came to power was implicated, we cannot say![70]

Many Timisoara protesters appear torn between wishing to rationalize the extensive destruction as the courageous response of an enraged, long-suffering population, and denying that the perpetrators could have come from among their ranks. Even those investigators attuned to the retroactive psychology of the protesters cannot help but admit that widespread destruction occurred and that it could not have been wholly spontaneous.[71] Furthermore, as Laszlo Tokes has observed in discussing the events at Piata Maria, manipulation and attempts to instigate the crowd to violence were constant features during these days.

Tokes maintains that Securitate provocateurs had tried to agitate the crowd by shouting things like, “Let’s break into the house. The Securitate are in there; they’re trying to kidnap Laszlo Tokes! Let’s rush them!” and by appealing for him to “Come down into the street and lead us!”[72] According to Tokes:

I was alarmed at the obvious provocation from individuals in the crowd clearly intent on making the situation uncontrollable….Later, thinking about the events of those two days, I realized that the authorities would have had a great deal to gain if the situation had become a riot.[73]

Mircea Balan questions whether the protesters would have set stores on fire which were located on the ground floor of the buildings in which the protesters themselves lived.[74] Moreover, he wonders how even the revolutionary fury of the crowd could drive protesters to break so many windows, particularly given the presence of repressive forces on the streets. It is what Balan has termed the “systematic devastation” of property which raises questions.

Eyewitness accounts recorded soon after the events–therefore at a time before the various plots and scenarios had permeated the popular imagination–support the hypothesis that the vandalism was organized. Moldovan Fica remarks:

I admit that I cannot escape a certain conclusion. All of this [destruction] was done by a group of about five or six individuals, whose calm demeanor and self-control continues to stay with me to this day. They did not run from the scene, they appeared as if they did not fear anything; I would say that, in fact, they were doing what was required of them, something which had been ordered directly of them![75]

Describing destruction in a different part of the city, Andras Vasile observed that

…four young men with shaved heads and wearing civilian clothes had sticks–I would term them special sticks–1.7 to 1.8 meters long, equipped with metal rings on the top of them. They were breaking the windows, but not taking anything, as if they only had something against the windows, something which they thus went about with great enjoyment…they were led by two individuals in leather jackets.[76]

Other eyewitnesses supply details which confirm the widespread character of the vandalism; its undeniably organized quality; the disinterest of its perpetrators in looting the stores; and the almost “drugged” nature of the perpetrators, who seemed unperturbed by the chaos and repression going on around them.[77]

Mircea Balan has little doubt who committed this “systematic destruction”:

Demonstrators might have thrown rocks in windows, but the destruction of the entire store was not their work…Nobody need believe that for such a thing foreign intervention was necessary, seeing as there were enough first-class specialists in destruction and demolition right here at home. The Securitate could not have been foreign to what happened, no matter how much it fiercely attempts to deny this today. They were professionals in the art of destruction. They needed a justification for the bloody repression.[78]

In March 1990, Puspoki had been willing to identify the culprits more specifically. According to Puspoki, as the demonstrators began to gather to prevent Tokes’ eviction:

The USLA’s Sabotage and Diversion team was readied to break store windows, to devastate and set fires–to create the conditions necessary for mass repression: the existence of disorder in the streets and theft on the part of the demonstrators.[79]

Securitate Major Radu Tinu’s observation that the commercial complex “in front of the county Militia building” (i.e. the Inspectorate in which both the Securitate and Militia offices were located) was one of only two such complexes in the whole city to remain intact during these days may also be an indication of the source of the destruction.[80]

It is possible then that to the extent that this destruction did indeed contain an organized component, it was designed by the regime to subvert and cast suspicion upon the intentions of the protesters and to create a pretext for repression. To the extent that an organized component did contribute to the destruction, it was far more likely to have been regime forces attempting to undermine the protests than foreign agents attempting to provoke an uprising against the regime.

[65].. See, for example, Grid Modorcea, “Spargerea Geamurilor [The Breaking of the Windows],” Expres Magazin, no. 49 (1991), 8-9; Mircea Bunea, “Eroii noi si vechi [New and old heroes],” Adevarul, 2 February 1991, in Bunea, Praf in Ochi, 448-449; Suciu, Reportaj cu Sufletul, 57-58.

[66].. See, for example, the comments of Radu Tinu, the deputy director of the Timis County Securitate, in Bacescu, Din Nou in Calea, 67-85.

[67].. Mircea Bunea, “Ipse Dixit,” Adevarul, 21 February 1991, in Bunea, Praf in Ochi, 463. Vlad’s determination to emphasize that these were “acts without precedent” makes one wonder if they were indeed without precedent.

[68].. A group of former Securitate officers, “Asa va place revolutia? Asa a fost! [You like the revolution? Here is how it was!],” Democratia, no. 36 (24-30 September 1990), 4. The lengthy defense by these officers of the Fifth Directorate in this letter suggests that they were members of this directorate.

[69].. Modorcea, “Spargerea Geamurilor,” 8.

[70].. Ibid.

[71].. Balan, “Masacrul.”

[72].. Tokes, With God, for the People, 153, 156.

[73].. Ibid., 156.

[74].. Balan, “Masacrul.”

[75].. Suciu, Reportaj cu Sufletul, 96.

[76].. Ibid, 118. The fact that the two persons supervising the destruction are described as having worn “leather jackets” strongly suggests they may have been Securitate men. Mihai Decean claims that on a train headed for Bucharest on 25 December (therefore after Ceausescu’s flight), he helped in the arrest of two USLA officers whom he describes as “athletic, with shaved heads, and wearing leather jackets.” See Laura Ganea, “La Timisoara se mai trage inca” Tinerama, no. 77 (July 1991), 3.

[77].. Ibid., 71, 122. Some of the eyewitnesses cited in Modorcea, “Spargerea Geamurilor,” say similar things; Modorcea, however, gives them a very different interpretation.

[78].. Balan, “Masacrul.”

[79].. Puspoki, “Piramida Umbrelor (III).”

[80].. Bacescu, Din Nou in Calea, 80.

The following was added some years later as a footnote to the section above in republications of this chapter.  Badea says here “many years later” Postelnicu admitted this, but as we can now see from the Timisoara files, he wrote it in his declaration/statement dated 17 March 1990.

(In connection with the “window breakers” we do know a little more today than we did then back in 1996.  Dan Badea wrote in 1999 Bunoaica and the Window Breakers that “Tudor Postelnicu, the Interior Minister at the time, was to declare many years later that the “breaking of the windows” was a mission executed by personnel from the 30th Securitate Brigade led by col. Ion Bunoaica).  Orele 20.00 – 21.00: Sint sparte toate vitrinele magazinelor de pe Bulevardul 6 Martie (Tudor Postelnicu, ministru de interne la acea vreme, avea sa declare multi ani mai tirziu ca “spargerea vitrinelor” a fost o misiune executata de militari ai Brigazii 30 Securitate condusa de col. Ion Bunoaica).

25 for the 25th Anniversary of the Romanian Revolution: #1 The Securitate Deny Foreign Instigation of the Timisoara Uprising

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25 for the 25th Anniversary of the Romanian Revolution: #1 The Securitate Deny Foreign Instigation of the Timisoara Uprising

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 16, 2014

(strictly personal views, based on more than two decades of prior research and publications)

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/a-response-to-watts-ii-preliminary/

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/a-response-to-watts-the-pitfalls-of-not-having-any-evidence/

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe–Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.  This 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.

Looking through the Romanian media’s articles devoted to the 25th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 that overthrew the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, one cannot help but be reminded of Valentin Ceausescu’s 1997 claim according to which (paraphrased),

–“Have you noticed? All the heroes…now are the militia and the Securitate.” “The villains are now the heroes…and the heroes are now the villains!”

Until the documents [screen captures] below were made publicly available and I unearthed the following, we had to rely primarily on arguments emphasizing the Securitate roots of these claims and/or about the implausibility and often absurdity of these claims.  We now have documentary evidence that in the immediate wake of December 1989 not even the Securitate believed in the claims they would make so frequently later on according to which foreign agents were allegedly responsible for the Timisoara uprising.

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Back in 1997, the American novelist and Pulitzer Prize Winner William McPherson wrote of what Valentin Ceausescu, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s eldest son, told him about the events of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989.  Here are some excerpts:

  • Valentin and I were having coffee in the Vox Maris, the same grand casino where the funeral feast was held. It was morning, two days after the funeral [of Nicu Ceausescu], and the crowds had not yet arrived.
  • “Nicu was never groomed to be the successor. That was [only] the rumor.” He paused for a moment. “But rumors even become the reality.”
  • “Yes. Especially in Romania.”
  • “Maybe others in the party thought it would be a good idea. He could command a lot of sympathy. He always wanted to look tough and act strong, but he wasn’t. He was more like a child than anything else.”
  • “What about the 90 people killed in Sibiu?”
  • “He did not order the shooting. I know when he’s trying to lie, and he wasn’t lying. I knew immediately. That’s why I defended him so strongly.”
  • He paused and lit another Pall Mall. “Have you noticed? All the heroes in Sibiu now are the militia and the Securitate – all the dead people, and now they are the heroes of the revolution.”
  • “So the villains are now the heroes?”
  • “Yes.”
  • And the heroes are now the villains.
  • The official toll of the dead, revised frequently with a final version released three years after the events, is 1,104; only 160 were killed before the dictator fled.
  • Curious – if the figures are accurate – that the majority of them were killed in Sibiu. “A lot of effort,” Valentin once said, “to kill these two old people.”

William McPherson, “A Balkan Comedy,” The Wilson Quarterly, Volume 21, Issue 3 (Summer 1997)

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Thus it is that at Evenimentul Zilei, long hailed by Romania’s westward leaning intelligentsia and Romanianists in North America as the most authentically anti-communist and credible of Romania’s dailies, articles continue their reliance–very selectively–of recent years on the claims of senior former Securitate officers, Iulian Vlad, Emil Macri, Filip Teodorescu, Nicolae Mavru, etc., or on the research of Alex Mihai Stoenescu, whose work is detailed and meticulous and thus deserves to be read, but, who, it turns out, not accidentally, is also an acknowledged former Securitate collaborator.  (Not for nothing, the Evenimentul Zilei series is entitled “25 de ani de la evenimentele din decembrie ’89. Lumini si umbre” thus intentionally or unintentionally conjuring up the name, appropriately enough, of the current preferred vehicle of the former Securitate for discussing December 1989, http://www.acmrr-sri.ro/categorii/19/revista-vitralii–lumini-si-umbre.html )

(See, for example, http://www.evz.ro/document-strict-secret-1989-raportul-generalului-iulian-vlad-catre-nicolae-ceausescu.html or http://www.evz.ro/25de-ani-de-la-evenimentele-din-decembrie-1989-generalul-iulian-vlad-daca-oamenii-nu-erau-nemultumiti-strainatatea-nu-l-putea-rasturna-pe-ceausescu.html; http://www.evz.ro/timisoara-protestul-pentru-laszlo-tokes-si-povestea-agentilor-straini.html; http://www.evz.ro/dec-1989-cum-a-izbucnit-revolutia-romana-revolta-de-la-iasi-si-scanteia-maghiara-de-la-timisoara.html; http://www.evz.ro/25de-ani-de-la-evenimentele-din-decembrie-1989-declaratia-generalului-iulian-vlad-seful-securitatii-din-procesul-revolutiei-de-la-timisoara-daca-oamenii-nu-erau-nemultumiti-strainatatea-nu-l-putea-rasturna-pe-ceausescu.html)

[Oh, but wait, there is good news!  In addition to all these articles furthering the viewpoint, to a lesser or greater extent, of the former Securitate, is the beginning of the chapter on December 1989 in The Greatest Tribute to Truth and Justice in the History of the World!, the so-called Final Report of the Tismaneanu Commission (CPADCR) of December 2006 condemning communism http://www.evz.ro/25de-ani-de-la-evenimentele-din-decembrie-1989-raportul-final-al-comisiei-prezidentiale-de-analiza-a-dictaturii-comuniste-condusa-de-vladimir-tismaneanu.html, which continues the glorious copy-paste tradition of the original, failing to cite that the text used in 2006 and now again in 2014, is from a 1997 chapter by the chair of the commission, Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu–that this is inarguable, see here https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2010/05/01/the-romanian-revolution-for-dum-dums-by-richard-andrew-hall/ , the xeroxes in fn. 10 in particular)]

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The Timisoara files about December 1989 are now publicly available (when the link works!) on the Internet at http://dosarelerevolutiei.ro/.  What they show is that Securitate, Militia, and other regime officials from Timis County were asked by Bucharest–communicated via the person of Securitate Director, General Iulian Vlad–to investigate the role of foreign elements, specifically tourists, in the Timisoara protests of mid-December 1989.  But they were not the only ones.  General Vlad tasked senior Securitate officials from Bucharest sent to Timisoara to report back to him on this very topic alleging external involvement and manipulation of the Timisoara demonstrations.  What remains unclear is how much of this tasking was General Vlad communicating his own “hypothesis” or how much of it was he relaying Nicolae Ceausescu’s “theory” about what was going on.  This much is clear:  neither those stationed in Timis County, nor those officials sent from Bucharest could find evidence of a foreign hand in the Timisoara uprising, despite being asked to investigate exactly this aspect.  How do we know this?  From their own written confessions immediately after the December 1989 events.  (Below are four of them:  Nicolae Mavru, Liviu Dinulescu, Emil Macri, and Filip Teodorescu.)

Niculae Mavru, fost sef al sectiei ‘Filaj si investigatie’ de la Securitatea Timis, declaratia din 13 ianuarie 1990:  …la ordinul col. Sima Traian, am primit…misiuni de a observa si sesiza aspecte din masa manifestantilor, din diferite zone ale orasului in sensul de a raporta daca sint straini (ceea ce nu prea au fost) care incita la dezordine, acte de violenta sau altfel de acte… 0331 25 iunie 1991 “Desi ne-am straduit nu am putut raporta col. Sima implicarea completa a vreunui cetatean strain in evolutia demonstratiilor cit si fenomenlor care au avut loc la Timisoara,..”

0173

“Sarcina primordiala pe care am primit-o de la col. Sima a fost daca in evenimentele declansate la Timisoara erau implicate elemente straine din afara tarii.  Cu toate eforturile facute nu a rezultat lucru pe linia mea de munca.” 0174

26 iunie 1991, Declaratia lui Liviu Dinulescu, cpt. la Serviciul de Pasapoarte al jud. Timis (in decembrie 1989, lt. maj. ofiter operativ Securitate judetean la Serv. III, care se ocupa de contraspionaj)

“Precizez ca anterior declansarii evenimentelor de la Timisoara din datele ce le detineam serviciul nostru nu rezulta vreun amestec din exterior in zona judetului Timis.”

0197

Generalul Emil Macri (seful Dir. II-a Securitatii, Contrainformatii Economice),

Declaratie 2 ianuarie 1990:

“Rezumind sintetic informatiile obtinute ele nu au pus in evidenta nici lideri si nici amestecul vreunei puteri straine in producerea evenimentelor de la Timisoara.  Raportarea acestor date la esalonul superior respectivi generalului I. Vlad a produs iritare si chiar suparare…”

IMG_1219 IMG_1215 Filip Teodorescu (adj. sef. Dir III Contraspionaj D.S.S.), Declaratie, 12 ianaurie 1990:  Seara [luni, 18 decembrie 1989], dupa 23:00, responsabili (anumiti ?) de generalul-maior Macri Emil pe diferitele linii de munca au inceput sa vina sa-i raporteze informatiile obtinute.  Au fost destul de neconcludente si cu mare dificultate am redat o informare pe care generalul-maior Macri Emil a acceptat-o si am expediat-o prin telex in jurul orei 01:00 [marti, 19 decembrie 1989.  In esenta se refera la: –nu sint date ca ar exista instigatori sau conducatori anume veniti din strainatate… IMG_1453 IMG_1438 https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/04/29/high-time-to-unpack-already-why-the-restless-journey-of-the-soviet-tourists-of-the-romanian-revolution-should-come-to-an-end/

Mai jos, declaratiile lui Petre Pele, Tudor Postelnicu, Gheorghe Diaconescu, si Iulian Vlad Excerpt from Chapter 5 of 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 have not been revised in any form. https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/rewriting-the-revolution-1997/

A Review of the Evidence

Although at first glance the regime’s treatment of Pastor Tokes seems strange and even illogical, within the context of the workings of the Ceausescu regime and the regime’s strategy for dealing with dissent it makes perfect sense. There is simply no convincing evidence to believe that the Securitate–or a faction within it–purposely dragged its feet in enforcing Pastor Tokes’ eviction, or was attempting to spark a demonstration in the hopes of precipitating Ceausescu’s fall. The regime’s decision to evict Tokes was not a last-minute decision. Moreover, the regime exerted tremendous and sometimes brutal pressure to silence Tokes in the months preceding this deadline. Interestingly, according to high-ranking members of the former Securitate, Nicolae Ceausescu’s unwillingness to approve the more definitive measures requested by the Securitate allowed the Tokes case to drag on without resolution (see below). The Tokes case suggests the bureaucratic and byzantine mentalities of the Ceausescu regime, and the clash between a dictator’s instructions and how the institutions charged with defending him interpret their mission. … The suggestion that the Securitate treated Tokes gently prior to his eviction is simply incorrect. On 2 November 1989, four masked men burst through the locked doors of the parochial residence, wielding knives and screaming in a fury. Tokes was slashed on the forehead before his church bodyguards could come to his rescue, causing the four to flee. The numerous Securitate men posted out front of the building had done nothing to intervene in spite of calls for help. Puspoki suggests that these “Mafia-like thugs,” who attacked as if from “an Incan tribe,” were some of Colonel Sima’s “gorillas,” sent to deliver a clear message to Tokes that he should leave immediately.[40] The view of the former Securitate–as expounded by Colonel Sima’s senior deputy, Major Radu Tinu–insinuates a “tourist”-like scenario. According to Tinu, the incident was clearly a “set-up” designed to draw sympathy to Tokes’ cause since the assailants fled away in a car with West German tags.[41] Not for the last time, the Securitate thus appears to attempt to attribute its own actions to foreign agents. A week after the mysterious attack by the masked intruders, all of the windows of the parochial residence and nearby buildings were smashed. Interestingly, the report drawn up for Bucharest by the Timisoara Securitate attempted to argue that “workers” from the Timisoara Mechanical Enterprise, offended by pastor Tokes’ behavior, had broken the windows. According to Puspoki, the use of a propaganda-like description was not accidental: the local Securitate was trying to present the incident as evidence of “the dissatisfaction of the working people of Timisoara” in the hope that it would finally prompt Ceausescu into approving definitive measures against Tokes.[42] Was Ceausescu responsible for the fact that the Tokes case dragged on without resolution? Support for such a conclusion comes from the comments of Securitate officers Colonel Filip Teodorescu and Major Radu Tinu. Teodorescu was dispatched to Timisoara with sixty other Securitate information officers in order to “verify” the request of the local Securitate that proceedings for treason be initiated against Tokes.[43] Teodorescu laments: Unfortunately, as in other situations…Nicolae Ceausescu did not agree because he didn’t want to further muddy relations with Hungary. Moreover, groundlessly, he hoped to avoid the criticisms of “Western democracies” by taking administrative measures against the pastor through the Reformed Church to which [Tokes] belonged.[44] Major Radu Tinu suggests that Ceausescu’s approval was necessary in the case of Securitate arrests and that the local Securitate remained “stupefied” that after having worked so long and hard in gathering information with which to charge Tokes with the crime of treason, Ceausescu rejected the request.[45] Tinu speculates that Ceausescu “did not want to create problems at the international level.” Because former Securitate officers rarely pass up the opportunity to absolve themselves of blame, and it would appear both easier and more advantageous to blame the deceased Ceausescu for being too unyielding in the Tokes affair, these allegations seem plausible. Thus, it would appear that because Nicolae Ceausescu was skittish of further damaging Romania’s already deteriorating relations with the international community, and the Tokes case was a high-profile one, he refrained from approving visible, definitive action against the pastor. The Securitate‘s attempt to goad Ceausescu to bolder action would appear to confirm Ghita Ionescu’s suggestion that where the security apparatus comes to dominate regime affairs it attempts to impose its institutional prerogatives upon political superiors. Ceausescu and the Securitate appear then to have had sometimes conflicting views over how to resolve the Tokes affair in the quickest and most efficient fashion. By December 1989, a huge group of Securitate officers were working on the Tokes case: the entire branch of the First Directorate for Timis county, the special division charged with combatting Hungarian espionage, high-ranking members of the First Directorate and Independent Service “D” (responsible for disinformation) from Bucharest, and members of the division charged with “Surveillance and Investigation.”[46] Puspoki describes Timisoara at this late hour as follows: Day and night, the telex machines on the top floor of the [County Militia] “Inspectorate” incessantly banged out communications, while the telephones never stopped ringing. Minister Postelnicu yelled on the phone, Colonel Sima yelled through the offices and the hallways. The officers ran, as if out of their minds, after information, besieged neighbors of the pastor, and dispatched in his direction–what they call–”informers with possibilities.”[47] Yet the case lingered on. On Sunday, 10 December 1989, Pastor Tokes announced to his congregation that he had received a rejection of his most recent appeal: the regime would make good on its threat to evict him on Friday, 15 December. He termed this an “illegal act” and suggested that the authorities would probably use force since he would not go willingly. He appealed for people to come and attend as “peaceful witnesses.”[48] They came.

[40].. Puspoki, “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont, no. 11 (16 March 1990), 4.

[41].. Bacescu, Din Nou in Calea, 78.
[42].. Puspoki, “Piramida Umbrelor (III).”
[43].. Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 45-46.
[44].. Ibid., 90.
[45].. Bacescu, Din Nou in Calea, 78.
[46].. Puspoki, “Piramida Umbrelor (II).”
[47].. Ibid.
[48].. Tokes, With God, for the People, 1-4. ————————————————————————————————

Tudor Postelnicu:  “Ceausescu Nicolae facuse o psihoza, mai ales dupa ce s-a intors de la sedinta de la Moscova in toamna lui ’89.  Era convins ca se planuieste si de cei de pe plan extern caderea sa, era convins ca toti sint spioni…” 0160 Petru Pele (Dir I, DSS). Declaratie, 16 ianuarie 1990:  “Printre sarciniile mai importante efectuate de catre acestia in  perioada 17-22.12.1989 s-a numerat (?) constituierea (?) listelor celor retinuti de organele militie cu listele celor predati sau reintorsi din Ungaria, intrucit s-a emis ipoteza ca evenimentele de la Timisoara au fost puse la cale in tara vecina…” 0299 0291 Gheorghe Diaconescu, Declaratie 31 decembrie 1989 “Luni 18 decembrie gl. col.  VLAD IULIAN a avut o convorbire cu colegul meu (local?) RADULESCU EMIL … 0476 Vlad Iulian (continuarea, declaratia lui Gheorghe Diaconescu) “?… foarte dur (?) ca nu (?) ca ‘un grup de turisti isi fac de cap in Timisoara’” 0477 0472 Tocmai Iulian Vlad, el insusi, recunoaste ne-implicarea strainilor in evenimentele de la Timisoara, aici… 0289 0290 Incepind cu noaptea de 16/17 dec. si in continuare pina in data de 20 dec. 1989 organul de securitate local col. Sima cit si gl. Macri si in lipsa lui col. Teodorescu imi comunicau date din care rezulta ca sute de elemente turbulente au devastat orasul, si ca elementul strain nu rezulta a se fi implicate in continuarea fenomenului.” 0291 “Mai exact, cei trimis de mine la Timisoara mi-au raportat ca nu au elemente din care sa rezulte vreum amestec al strainatatii in producerea evenimentelor de la Timisoara.” https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2013/03/17/o-indicatie-pretioasa-de-pe-malurile-dimbovitei-implicarea-strainilor-in-evenimentele-de-la-timisoara-paranoia-lui-nicolae-ceausescu-sau-confirmarea-lui-iulian-vlad/0292

All this is important to keep in mind when coming across claims about the alleged role of these tourists in the overthrow of the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu:  none of the authors purporting such claims have addressed the documents above.  Among the authors who allege such a role and whose work is available on the Internet are the following:

James F. Burke (citing Grigore Corpacescu, General Iulian Vlad, and a well-known article from September 1990 in Democratia) http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/december_revolt_moscow.htm (I have dealt with these allegations here https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2010/12/29/presa-din-1990-despre-turistii-rusi-din-decembrie-1989/, and  https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2010/09/22/the-1989-romanian-revolution-as-geopolitical-parlor-game-brandstatter%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Ccheckmate%E2%80%9D-documentary-and-the-latest-wave-in-a-sea-of-revisionism-part-iii/)

Catherine Durandin (citing Radu Portocala) http://www.diploweb.com/english/romania/durandin1.htm  (I have addressed this allegation here https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2010/09/24/the-1989-romanian-revolution-as-geopolitical-parlor-game-brandstatter%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Ccheckmate%E2%80%9D-documentary-and-the-latest-wave-in-a-sea-of-revisionism-part-four/)

Alexander Ghaleb (fn. 9, citing “police sources”) http://www.sferapoliticii.ro/sfera/165/art03-Ghaleb.php

Jacques Levesque (citing a 1992 book by Filip Teodorescu) http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft4q2nb3h6&chunk.id=d0e6746&toc.id=d0e6638&brand=ucpress

John Simpson (citing Virgil Magureanu and the SRI) http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/ten-days-that-fooled-the-world-1387659.html

Alex Mihai Stoenescu (p. 186 of 340, Petre Roman citing Mihai Caraman) http://www.scribd.com/doc/105257958/Alex-Mihai-Stoenescu-Istoria-Loviturilor-de-Stat-Din-Romania-Vol-4-1

Larry Watts (fn. 90 p. 26, Petre Roman citing Mihai Caraman) http://www.larrylwatts.com/excerpts/with_friends_like_these_excerpts.pdf  (Roman ironically himself undermined such a claim here:  http://adevarul.ro/news/eveniment/petre-roman-ceausescu-acceptat-controlul-psihiatric-proces-putea-scape-1_50ad124a7c42d5a6638e48ab/index.html , Watts’ claim has been televised in the series “Mostenirea Clandestina,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAPOEu0ebwI start at about 46:10 to 46:60 and then assisted by Cristian Troncota, who discusses the “Soviet tourists,” including Watts’ claim, from 47:05 to 49:50…conveniently not mentioned here or anywhere else where Troncota appears (for example with Grigore Cartianu in Adevarul), Cristian Troncota was a Lt. Maj. in the Securitate:  see the index here from a 1987 issue of the Securitate‘s “strict secret” journal, (page 4 of 46 on the pdf) with a historical article beginning on page 78:  http://www.cnsas.ro/documente/periodicul_securitatea/Securitatea%201987-4-80.pdf  (vol. 80 from 1987).

 

 

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