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 (IV. Guerrilla War, 1990 Press)

(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)

Psychological Warfare and the Widely and Wildly Misunderstood Terrorist Tactics of December 1989 in Romania (II. “Cui bono?”)

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/psychological-warfare-and-the-widely-and-wildly-misunderstood-terrorist-tactics-of-december-1989-in-romania-iii-guerrilla-war/

Romanians and Romanianists are fond of trying to deconstruct and debunk the testimonies of people [doctors, military officers, civilian revolutionaries) who allege Securitate terrorists fought on behalf of deposed communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989.  This is especially the case when these witnesses talk about the tactics, equipment, and bullets used in December 1989.  They therefore have great trouble acknowledging and rebutting the words of Romania’s Olympic Sharpshooters, three months after the Revolution, talking about the guerrilla warfare waged by Ceausescu’s loyalists in those days (see text in red below:  “The army was not trained for this kind of war in the city [i.e. urban guerilla warfare], and the psychological warfare. The Securitat already had alternate plans in case something like this happened. The army just wondered what it should do.”)

Ion Corneliu
Sorin Babii
 

Romanian Olympic Shooter Downplays His Role in Revolution

April 14, 1990|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

From every revolution blossom legendary moments.

Paul Revere’s ride. Marie Antoinette’s beheading. A lone Chinese man blocking the path of a Red Army tank in Tien An Men Square.

Situations are magnified when performed in the theater of change.

But sometimes, in this chaotic environment, circumstances become muddled and legends exaggerated.

Last December, the world was entranced by an unfolding drama on the streets of Bucharest, Romania. Previously faceless citizens were voicing opposition to the repressive rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

In contrast to nearby Czechoslovakia, where the downfall of the Communist Party was accomplished peacefully, Ceausescu was being uprooted by force.

Daily televised reports showed mobs in Bucharest’s Palace Square chanting slogans and opposing the Securitat, the dictator’s private army that controlled the country through intimidation.

In 11 days of bloodshed, many riveting stories were reported. But perhaps none was as captivating as those about Romanian Olympic pistol shooters Ion Corneliu and Sorin Babii, who reportedly volunteered to flush out Communist forces and defend a military target.

Now, though, Corneliu, Romania’s three-time Olympian in pistol competition, says such reports were exaggerated.

“It’s just not true,” he said last week at the 1990 World Cup USA tournament at Petersen’s Prado Tiro Ranges in Chino.

Corneliu, 39, one of six Romanians on an international tour, downplayed his role in last winter’s fighting. He and Tiron Costica, the national team trainer, spoke about the revolution and its legacy with the help of U.S. national pistol coach, Dan Iuga, a Romanian who defected seven years ago.

“The shooters (mostly military personnel) were confined to their units,” Corneliu recalled. “They stayed put and fought from there.”

Corneliu, a major, won a gold medal at the Moscow Olympics and a silver at Los Angeles. Partially because of these performances, he recently was named president of the Romanian Shooting Federation.

During the 11 days that shook Romania, Corneliu had more important concerns than target practice at his military club in the Ghencea neighborhood of northeast Bucharest.

“During the first night of fighting, the captain of our (national) rugby team [RAH note:  see https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2009/12/23/la-inceput-adevarul-povestea-unui-tanar-rugbyst-florin-butiri-impuscat-cu-gloante-dum-dum-pe-24-decembrie-1989/ and for the case of another rugby player Bogdan Serban Stan, see https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2009/11/14/gloante-vidia-de-56-mm-22-24-decembrie-89-zona-tvr/]  was killed and a couple others were wounded at our base,” Corneliu said. “Somehow the people were prepared to fight the regime. But you know, it is scary to start to fight. . . . They were shooting real bullets.”

Corneliu said the national shooting team missed the major battles because it was stationed outside the city center. He said that although most of the shooters were military club personnel, they were considered soldiers once the rapid-fire events began.

That was a few days before the actual fighting, Corneliu said. When it was apparent that independent movements from cities such as Timisoara were spreading throughout the country, army leaders were told to suppress the activists.

Commanders, however, emerged as a pivotal opposition force, and earned enormous prestige.

“When the time came for Ceausescu to leave, we received orders to defend our position against anybody who would try to attack,” Corneliu said. “We suddenly became part of the revolution.

“It was very lucky that the army was ordered not to move. If we had received an order to fight against the revolution it would have been a blood bath.

“The army was not trained for this kind of war in the city, and the psychological warfare. The Securitat already had alternate plans in case something like this happened. The army just wondered what it should do.”

In an effort to thwart revolutionaries, Securitat forces tried to overtake strategic points around Bucharest, including television, radio and telephone communication centers, the airport and Corneliu’s base.

Corneliu said Ceausescu’s forces wanted access to the base’s gunnery.

“They would shoot in our direction and we would answer,” he said. “But we didn’t know who was there or where they were.

“The terrorists had a lot of sophisticated equipment. So, even though they were small in numbers they could cover a great area. The Securitat ran the country, even the army.”

The loyalist sharpshooters were equipped with infrared telescopic sights and were able to pick off Romania’s revolutionary soldiers at night, the Soviet news agency Tass reported last December.

Whereas Corneliu and other Romanian national shooters were isolated in their fortress, Costica was among the thousands in Palace Square demanding Ceausescu’s ouster after 24 years of control.

Costica said the gripping, spontaneous scenes will stay with him forever.

“A separate group of security forces were dressed like riot police one day,” he said. “We were face to face with them. We asked them, ‘You’re our brothers. What are you doing?’ They did not say anything. They were unmoving, as if they were on drugs.”

Some of the poignant moments downtown occurred when armored trucks and tanks crushed people who tried to block their way. Corneliu said his brother, a doctor who worked in a hospital emergency room, treated some of those victims.

After a month’s traveling, the Romanians looked a bit weary but understood the importance of talking publicly about their country’s plight. Western curiosity has generated an endless stream of questions.

Four months ago, they would have been uncomfortable discussing the East European political landscape in the United States.

“(Before), when we left the country we couldn’t say anything,” Costica said. “We could never tell people that we didn’t believe in the Communist system but only played along because it was the only way to participate in what you wanted to do.

“Our athletes feel they have been persecuted by the system too. We didn’t get any special advantages. We would have been thrown in prison the next day if we said anything while out of the country.”

(Page 2 of 2)

Romanian Olympic Shooter Downplays His Role in Revolution

April 14, 1990|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some of the poignant moments downtown occurred when armored trucks and tanks crushed people who tried to block their way. Corneliu said his brother, a doctor who worked in a hospital emergency room, treated some of those victims.

After a month’s traveling, the Romanians looked a bit weary but understood the importance of talking publicly about their country’s plight. Western curiosity has generated an endless stream of questions.

Four months ago, they would have been uncomfortable discussing the East European political landscape in the United States.

“(Before), when we left the country we couldn’t say anything,” Costica said. “We could never tell people that we didn’t believe in the Communist system but only played along because it was the only way to participate in what you wanted to do.

“Our athletes feel they have been persecuted by the system too. We didn’t get any special advantages. We would have been thrown in prison the next day if we said anything while out of the country.”

So now they talk. And they dream.

The political and economic realities have replaced the giddiness of those heady days just after Ceausescu and his family were executed.

To the west, there is the Hungarian question in Transylvania. The Romanians do not want the minority population there to join neighboring Hungary.

To the east there is the Moldavian question in the Soviet Union. The Romanians want to reunite with the Soviet republic. A secret pact by Hitler in 1939 allowed Moldavia’s annexation by the USSR.

Corneliu said he cannot predict the outcome of these pressing issues.

But revolutionary hero or not, he is proud to have played a role in determining Romania’s future.

http://articles.latimes.com/1990-04-14/sports/sp-1113_1_romanian-olympic

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1989/12/28/page/29/article/marksmen-score-with-new-rulers

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2014/12/14/romanias-olympic-sharpshooters-during-the-revolution-against-nicolae-ceausescu/

Shortly after the December 1989 Revolution, in early January 1990, the former head of foreign intelligence under Ceausescu, General Ion Mihai Pacepa, had described what had taken place as similar to a Securitate plan for guerrilla warfare he was familiar with until his defection from Romania in 1978.

Romanian Defector Describes Executed Dictator’s Escape Plan

BRYAN BRUMLEY , Associated Press

Jan. 5, 1990 12:42 AM ET

(AP) _ Executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu once had contingency plans to flee to China and direct a guerrilla war from there against anyone who tried to topple him, his former head of intelligence says.

Under a secret ”Plan M,” the Securitate secret police were to disguise themselves as civilians, retreat to hidden bunkers and wage guerrilla war, Ion Pacepa said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

”My job would have been to take Ceausescu out of Romania,” Pacepa said in one of the few interviews he has given since he defected in 1978.

”Ceausescu’s refuge at that time was China, where he was to live there as long as need be,” said Pacepa. He declined to disclose his current address, where he lives under an assumed name.

Ceausescu, the last of the hardline Warsaw Pact bosses to fall from power, kept close ties with officials in other conservative communist countries, such as China and North Korea, as well as with Islamic leaders in Iran.

At the time of his defection, Pacepa was a two-star general and acting head of Romanian external intelligence. In his book, ”Red Horizons,” he detailed Ceausescu’s efforts to obtain Western technology on behalf of Moscow.

The book also chronicled the extravagant use of power and wealth by Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who were executed after a secret trial on Christmas Day.

Pacepa said he agreed to speak to the AP because his daughter, Dana Damaceanu, her husband and two other relatives were being escorted to safety from Romania by U.S. Rep. Frank A. Wolf, R-Va. His daughter had been under virtual house arrest for a decade and was arrested by the Securitate during the upheaval, he said.

The contingency plan for Ceausescu to survive a rebellion, as described by Pacepa, resembled what was occurring in Romania until the fugitive leader was captured in a secret bunker on Dec. 23.

Officials of the provisional Romanian government said they killed the Ceausescus because they feared the Securitate might rescue them and because they wished to encourage pro-Ceausescu forces to give up. Romanian television repeatedly broadcast footage of the secret trial and the bodies of the executed Ceausescus to prove they were dead.

By the time Pacepa defected, Ceausescu had built miles of secret tunnels linking his downtown palace to other buildings and to two airports on the outskirts of Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

Romanian radio reported during the uprising that the Securitate retreated into a maze of secret tunnels, from which it was launching attacks.

As part of Plan M, said Pacepa, Romanian intelligence established safe houses in West Germany and two neutral countries, Austria and Switzerland, to ”give Ceausescu the means to wage a guerrilla war from abroad.”

The safe houses were occupied by Romanian ”illegals,” Romanian-born agents who had documents saying they were natives of the countries in which they were living. They used ”burst transmitters” to broadcast coded messages in brief transmissions that are hard for intelligence agencies to detect, he said.

”There were a dozen radio stations to illegally communicate with the Securitate in Romania and Ceausescu in China,” he said.

Pacepa cooperated with Western intelligence after he defected and said most of the ”illegals” had disappeared or were taken into custody.

Ceausescu’s agents tried several times to kill Pacepa after his defection, and they harassed and repeatedly arrested and beat his daughter in Bucharest, he said. The threats and harassment worsened after Radio Free Europe broadcast Pacepa’s book over its Romanian-language service, he said.

The U.S.-funded radio station ”deserves a lot of the credit” for toppling Ceausescu, said Pacepa. ”In Romania, people were not able to watch West German or Austrian television” as reformers could in East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. ”The only source of information was Radio Free Europe, and they did a marvelous job.”

The Securitate numbered 10,000 agents when Ceausescu took power in 1965, said Pacepa, and reportedly reached 180,000 by the time of his ouster.

”Because he did not have confidence in the army, he built his own army,” said Pacepa. In the end, the Romanian army revolted and defeated the Securitate.

© 2014  The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

[GOOGLEANALYTICS]

http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1990/Romanian-Defector-Describes-Executed-Dictator-s-Escape-Plan/id-55032d93884f3f809557edf497518643

 

Early eyewitness/participant accounts that appeared in the Romanian media in early 1990, talked about the details of guerrilla warfare they confronted.  An especially memorable account appeared in the cultural and literary journal Romania Literara on 18 January 1990.

 

“Cum au fost luptele?…“Extrem de complicate.  O gherila citadina pentru care armat romana nu era pregatita si care s-a dus in prezenta populatiei….”

Radu Anton Roman, “Batalia pentru Bucuresti” Romania Literara, anul 23, nr. 3, 18 ianuarie 1990, pp. 14-15.

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2011/08/21/radu-anton-roman-batalia-pentru-bucuresti-romania-literara-anul-23-nr-3-18-ianuarie-1990-pp-14-15/

 

Later in 1990, a former Securitate recruit told the press how he and those he trained with had received instruction in urban guerrilla warfare techniques.

image0-001

“Saptamina trecuta am incheiat un ciclu de 2 saptamini de pregatire si examinare, la Baneasa, pentru obtinerea gradului de subofiter.  Acest ciclu l-am efectuat la Baneasa, deoarece stagiul militar de 9 luni, l-am satisfacut intr-o unitate apartinind Securitatii Statului.

–Ce specific a avut pregatirea?

Am fost antrenati pentru lupta de gherila urbana, in caz de agresiune externa.  Eram organizati in grupuri mici care actionau pentru destabilizarea inamicului, pe teritoriul ocupat de el.

–S-au facut afirmatii in perioada revolutiei, ca nu exista trupe specializate in gherila urbana!  Este adevarat?

Nu!  In cazul in care se face exceptie de notiunea de inamic strain sau agresiune externa, pregatire multor generatii de militari au acest specific.

–Ati fi activat doar in termenul celor 9 luni?

Nu!  Noi sintem la dispozitia lor in permanenta.  Putem fi convocati telefonic sau printr-o alta modalitate conspirativa.  Existe case conspirative si depozite de munitie in plin Bucuresti, de unde ne-am fi aprovizionat cu armament si munitie pentru a efectua ambuscade, aruncari in aer si altele.

–Considerati ca dupa revolutie lucrurile s-au schimbat, cum apreciati ca ati fost chemat tot la o unitate fosta a Securitatii?

Am fost indignati si chiar ne-am manifestat in sensul acesta!  La toate intrebarile noastre n-am primit raspuns.  De abia la sfirsitul stagiului am aflat ca ne-am pregatit, de fapt, la trupele de jandarmi.

–Si pina atunci?

Col. Porumbelu ne-a tacut un mic istoric din care am sa citez:  “Din 22 dec. in 28 am fost teroristi!  Din 28 pina in martie am fost M.Ap.N.-isti.  Pina pe 5 iulie sintem trupe de jandarmi….

[Dinu Ispas, “Banease–Comedie muta ’90” Expres, iulie? /august ? 1990, p. ?]

https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/2014/01/16/baneasa-comedie-muta-90-si-lupta-de-rezistenta-revista-securitatea/

 

 

 

 

 

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