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.

Psychological Warfare and the Widely and Wildly Misunderstood Terrorist Tactics of December 1989 in Romania (III. Guerrilla War)

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

Psychological Warfare and the Widely and Wildly Misunderstood Terrorist Tactics of December 1989 in Romania (I)


I discussed Dumitru Mazilu’s 1991 description of the guerrilla warfare tactics used in Romania beginning from the evening of 22 December 1989 and who they concluded was responsible for the guerilla attacks in pp. 317-318 of my Ph.D. Dissertation at 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).

In 1991, Dumitru Mazilu, who had sought exile in Switzerland the previous year, published excerpts from his memoirs.[20] Mazilu has few kind words for his former Front compatriots, Brucan and Militaru. Nevertheless, Mazilu claims that during the events, “at least seven times they were informed that the ‘Guarding Directorate’ [the Fifth Directorate] had been trained in guerilla warfare.”[21] Mazilu elaborates:

From the evening of 22 December it turned out that the units and soldiers who continued to shoot in the population belonged to the Interior Ministry….this is confirmed by the following findings:

  1. a) the places from which the population was shot belonged to the Interior Ministry with certainty (as in the case of the Central University Library, which belonged to Ceausescu’s Guarding Directorate) or with probability (the apartments of the building across from the work offices of the tyrant; the apartments in the vicinity of the villas of Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu, as well as those near objects of strategic or political importance, such as the Defense Ministry, Romanian Television and Radio, etc.);
  2. b) the use of special equipment, especially simulators, specific actions of guerilla warfare in order to confuse the revolting population;
  3. c) the actions of snipers with nightscopes around objects of major interest from the inside of neighboring buildings, where the access to other persons was almost non-existent;
  4. d) the organization of commando actions, such as what happened at the command post of the Central Committee building on the night of 23/24 December when many suspects were found with four or five identity cards on them–a procedure used by the Interior Ministry.[22]

Dumitru Mazilu, “Cine sint teroristii?,” Flacara, nr. 39, 25 septembrie 1991, p. 4.




Dumitru Mazilu, Revolutia furata, Cozia, 1991.

Mazilu’s characterization of what transpired in December 1989 as having been “guerilla warfare” is in line with many of the reports in the field in December 1989, as the following excerpts suggest.

A United States Government official said that at this stage, it appeared that Securitate troops were ”reconstituting themselves as guerrilla forces, operating under cover of darkness and using hit-and-run tactics.”

Assisting the hit-and-run tactics of the Securitate forces since Friday has been a vast system of secret tunnels and at least 48 intelligence safe houses built in Bucharest, some of which were uncovered today, according to the Bucharest radio. In some of the tunnels are bunkers containing supplies of food and ammunition.

Friday night’s jubilation in Bucharest at Ceausescu’s ouster gave way Saturday morning to confusion and fear as pro-Ceausescu forces continued to wage guerrilla warfare in the city streets with a seemingly limitless supply of weapons and ammunition.

Revolutionaries Find Scores of Arms-Laden Safe Houses and Tunnels With PM-Romania, Bjt

VIOREL URMA , Associated Press

Dec. 25, 1989 12:15 AM ET

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Romanian revolutionary soldiers found a vast labyrinth of safe houses and tunnels used by police forces loyal to Nicolae Ceausescu, some with secret entries in cemetery burial vaults and subway systems.

Army officers speaking on Bucharest radio Sunday said the sprawling maze of tunnels criss-cross the city and link two airports, Communist Party headquarters and Ceausescu’s palace in downtown Bucharest.

Army units siding with pro-reform protesters have been battling Ceausescu’s secret police for control of the country. The highly trained and heavily armed security forces have been making hit-and-run guerrilla attacks, mostly at night.

The radio report went into stunning detail about the hundreds of safe houses and miles upon miles of underground tunnels stuffed with weapons.

The reported execution came as the army announced plans for a “final offensive” against the pro-Ceausescu security forces who have carried on guerrilla warfare throughout the capital and cities elsewhere in the country since the dictator’s downfall.
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