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.

Iulian Vlad on Jeopardy!: “What is an understandable if unfortunate history error, Alex?” (I)

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Jeopardy! is a syndicated American television game show that goes back to the 1960s and in its most recent iteration, since 1984, with its well-known host Alex Trebek.  It is known for providing the answer, to which the contestant must attempt to respond in the form of a question (if you don’t respond in the form of the question, you do not get any credit, even if you are right!).  For example, “Alex Trebek”:  “Who is the host of Jeopardy!”…Anyway, much to my and the surprise of a lot people who know anything about modern Romania, the last head of the communist era secret police, the Securitate, was a game show answer the other night.  (I happened to catch it, only because my wife and I have an agreement that…after the first 30 minutes of cable news on the politics of the day…because I am a political junkie and she gets exasperated…she gets to change it over to Jeopardy or whatever she wants to watch…anyway, so I was wasting time at the computer, what’s new, Alex? and happened to catch this in passing…)

“Iulian Vlad, secret police chief in this country, helped bring about its tyrant’s downfall in 1989” (min. 11:15)

Well, shall we say, this was indeed news, news to me in particular.  Since we don’t know who came up with this answer/question and under what circumstances, we can only speculate.  I was and am not surprised, being fully aware of the success of Securitate revisionism since 1989.

Let’s spend a little time explaining why this answer is simply wrong.  For starters, let us begin with the period of December 1989 before the Ceausescus fled on 22 December 1989.  There are those who have sought to suggest that although perhaps Vlad started out executing Nicolae Ceausescu’s and the CPEx’s order to repress demonstrators in Timisoara 15-20 December 1989 (for some of Vlad’s orders during that time period, see Madalin Hodor’s, that by 21-22 December in Bucharest he had started to abandon Ceausescu, thereby allowing the regime to fall the next day.

Available evidence suggests that General Iulian Vlad, head of the Securitate (D.S.S.), was involved in ordering the repression of anti-Ceausescu demonstrators on both the afternoon and evening of 21 December 1989, as the intercepted transcripts of Militia, USLA, and other Securitate personnel, published in the Romanian press in early 1990, show:

In March 1990, a demonstrator alluded to Vlad’s role at University Square on the night of 21/22 December: “we were several hundred people then, when the sinister person who hid behind the codename ‘M-88’ gave the order for us to be massacred.”[113] In the transcript of communications among USLA and Militia personnel on 21 and 22 December, “88” is indicated as General Vlad’s code.[114] Furthermore, as our discussion of the events in University Square revealed, Securitate forces were clearly involved–and in fact appear to have been the main component–in the brutal repression which took place on this night.

[113].. Vasile Neagoe, “Noaptea cea mai lunga,” Expres, no. 8 (23-29 March 1990), 6.

[114].. See “Dintre sute de catarge,” Libertatea, 1 February 1990; 9 February 1990; 12 February 1990.

15,30 – Catargul 1 nimic deosebit.
– Catargul 4 linişte. Se vede o porţiune din stradă spre Magheru, unde se văd manifestanţi.
– Catargul 5, linişte.
– Tridentul, sînt Catargul 5.
–  Comunicaţi.
– Am primit acum o informaţie: pe Calea Victoriei, au trecut de magazinul Victoria spre Sala Palatului, circa 1 000.
– …şi vorbesc cu Gogu să trimiteţi o maşină. Aici avem luptători, da? Să ne ocupăm niţel de 88.
– Am recepţionat.
– …Am ordin de la 8 (…)8 să nu mă ating de ea.

USLA – …Legătura cu 159/1 exact cum am vorbit cu dv. pentru 88 (Iulian Vlad). In plus comunicaţi lui 159/1 (of. USLA) că are şi pe cei din efectivele de la pionul S.

—    … să vină Ia mine, varianta ultimă şi co-
laboraţi (coroboraţi)     cu ceea ce aţi primit     de la 88 (Iulian Vlad).

Această afirmaţie pare totuşi îndoielnică. În martie 1990 un demonstrant a făcut aluzie la rolul lui Vlad în Piaţa Universităţii în noaptea de 21/22 decembrie: „eram atunci cîteva sute, cînd sinistra persoană care se ascunde sub codul ‘M-88’ a dat ordin să fim măcelăriţi” <Vasile Neagoe, “Noaptea cea mai lungă”, Expres, nr. 8 (23-29 martie 1990), pag. 6>. În transcrierile comunicaţiilor dintre USLA şi Miliţie din 21 şi 22 decembrie, „88” e indicat ca fiind codul generalului Vlad <Vezi “Dintre sute de catarge,” Libertatea, 1 februarie 1990; 9 februarie 1990; 12 februarie 1990>. Mai mult, după cum discuţia noastră despre evenimentele din Piaţa Universităţii a arătat, forţele Securităţii sînt clar amestecate, şi par a fi fost principala componentă a represiunii brutale care a avut loc în acea noapte.

Rich Andrew Hall: „Rescrierea istoriei revoluţiei. Triumful revizionismului securist în România” (6). 22 decembrie 1989: Ce l-a făcut pe Ceauşescu să fugă? Ianuarie 24, 2009

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