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.

Posts Tagged ‘Poland 1989’

The Light and Guns of 19 August: Media Accounts and Video about an Important Day in the Fall of European Communism in 1989 (featuring Hungary, Poland, and Romania)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on August 16, 2014

(purely personal views, as always)

Just as 3-4 June 1989 was a very crowded news-weekend–Solidarity’s overwhelming and dramatic victory in communist Poland’s first competitive parliamentary elections, the brutal crackdown by the Chinese military on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran–so too the weekend of 19-20 August 1989 was full of, in retrospect, important events in the fall of communism in Europe in 1989, even if many of these events are less-well known than those from June:  the pan-European picnic of 19 August on the Hungarian-Austrian border which resulted in East Germans fleeing to the West; the designation of Solidarity’s Tadeusz Mazowiecki for the post of prime minister and the formation of a non-communist government; and panicked by the loss of communist control in Poland, Nicolae Ceausescu’s attempt to call for intervention by fellow Warsaw Pact members to prevent the Polish crisis from spreading elsewhere in the region.


West German TV,  Tagesschau vom 19.08.1989

I was reminded of this in late June of this year when I found the following interview in the weekend Hungarian publication Vasarnapi Petofi Nepe.  Like Forrest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates, you never know quite what you are going to get in a weekend publication.  In this case, an unexpected find:  Miklos Nemeth’s comments about discussions with the West Germans in the lead up to the pan-European picnic.





Picnic Becomes Chance for 200 to Flee West

Published: August 20, 1989

ST. MARGARETHEN, Austria, Aug. 19— More than 200 East Germans used a symbolic picnic on the Austrian-Hungarian border today as a cover to flee to the West.

A group of about 100 East Germans pushed through a partly open gate leading to a muddy track at the border fence and walked into Austria. Smaller groups, estimated at more than 100 people, followed as Hungarian border guards turned a blind eye.

”They just marched straight through,” said an Austrian border guard near this northeastern border village. Mostly young people, some with children, they fled Hungary with just the clothes they were wearing.

More than 1,000 East Germans have escaped west through Hungary in the last two weeks. The exodus has soured relations between the Germanys and embarrassed reform-minded Hungary.

The picnic, called ”Tear It Down and Take It With You,” had been planned as a celebration of European unity.

Visitors from Austria and Hungary were encouraged to clip bits of barbed wire as souvenirs from the border fence Hungary is dismantling. Hundreds of Austrians arriving for the event stared in amazement at the East Germans coming toward them.





(Note I do not know Polish; I would appreciate insights from those who know the language about anything posted here, thank you){%222%22%3A%22RI%3A17%22}



Published: August 19, 1989

WARSAW, Aug. 18— A senior Solidarity official said today that he would be nominated as Poland’s Prime Minister. He would be the first non-Communist head of government in Eastern Europe since the early postwar years.

Various reports in the capital said that the official, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, would be formally nominated by President Wojciech Jaruzelski on Saturday. The nomination would then face a vote in Parliament.

Mr. Mazowiecki, a close aide to the Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, met with General Jaruzelski today and said afterward that he expected to be nominated and that he would accept. Key Posts for Communists

If he is indeed chosen as the head of a non-Communist coalition government, it would mark a sea change in Eastern European politics, which have been controlled exclusively by Communist Parties since the aftermath of World War II. But in a gesture to Moscow and to the continued strength of the Communist Party in Poland, the new government would allow the Communists to control the army and security police, which can be activated upon the orders of the President.

The office of the Commmunist President, General Jaruzelski, did not officially confirm the choice, but a newscast on the national radio said the President had met with Mr. Mazowiecki, who was ”generally believed to be the candidate for Prime Minister.”

Asked how soon he thought a cabinet could be assembled, Mr. Mazowiecki replied: ”I would like to know that myself. There is a great social impatience. But it is a Government formed on a completely new principle, and I need some time.” ‘Somebody Has to Try It’

He added: ”I am afraid of many things, and if I were only afraid, I would be a total pessimist. But somebody has to try it.”

His meeting with the President today became necessary after the Communist Prime Minister, Czeslaw Kiszczak, announced his resignation on Thursday after failing to assemble a cabinet against the staunch opposition of Solidarity, and General Jaruzelski announced that he would urgently consider a proposal for a Solidarity-led Government.

The government crisis followed the Communist Party’s crushing defeat in elections in June. The elections, the first virtually free vote in the East bloc since the war, were a product of negotiations involving Solidarity and the Government that ended in April. Those talks, which also led to the restoration of legal status for Solidarity after eight years of suppression, came in reaction to two waves of labor unrest that swept Poland in 1988.

Entering the white stucco Parliament building after his talks with the President, Mr. Mazowiecki was asked by reporters whether he would accept the nomination. ”Yes,” he replied, ”but everything depends on Parliament.” The next scheduled session of Parliament, at which it could take up the Mazowiecki nomination, is set for Aug. 23. But a special session could be scheduled earlier. Confers With Solidarity Leaders

At Parliament, Mr. Mazowiecki met with the Solidarity floor leader, Bronislaw Geremek, and the leader of Rural Solidarity, Jozef Slisz. Mr. Mazowiecki was clad in a gray plaid suit and was accompanied by Jacek Ambroziak, the lawyer who went to the Jaruzelski meeting with him.

Solidarity officials said details of the cabinet formation remained to be negotiated. They said Communist politicians would most certainly fill the jobs of Minister of the Interior and of Defense, essentially responsible for the army, the police and the secret police, though it remained unclear whether the Communists would demand other ministries, including Foreign Affairs. The officials said the Communists might also demand the post of Deputy Prime Minister.

Such an arrangement, if accepted by Solidarity and its coalition partners, the United Peasant Alliance and the Democratic Alliance, would essentially leave political and military responsibility to the Communists, while awarding the care of the economy to Solidarity.

The President can appoint a Prime Minister, dissolve Parliament and call elections. He is also ultimately responsible for foreign relations and national defense and is the commander in chief of the armed forces. Church-Appointed Negotiator

The choice of Mr. Mazowiecki, a leading Catholic layman, underscored the role of the Roman Catholic Church as power broker.

Last year Mr. Mazowiecki was among the Catholic laymen asked by the Polish episcopate to negotiate an end to labor unrest that led to the sweeping talks between the Communists and Solidarity and yielded the present developments.

Mr. Ambroziak, a lawyer and Catholic writer, is legal adviser to the episcopate, and after the meeting with General Jaruzelski the two men drove across town to the red brick building of the episcopate to meet with Poland’s Primate, Jozef Cardinal Glemp, before going to Parliament.

Reflecting his devotion as a Catholic, Mr. Mazowiecki said while at the Parliament building, ”I think I am a believer, and I believe that Providence looks after me.”

”There have been several historic moments,” he said, ”that have demonstrated that Poles can strive for new solutions, unusual ones and truly innovative ones, and that we can get somewhere. I hope that such a moment even now, psychologically, is nearing, that people will feel that there is such a situation in which it depends on us.” Meetings With Other Parties

Mr. Mazowiecki appeared to be moving quickly to establish channels to the parties that will be represented in his cabinet. This evening the Polish press agency announced that he met in the afternoon with Mieczyslaw Rakowski, the new Communist Party leader, and with the leaders of the small Peasant and Democratic parties.

The prospect of Mr. Mazowiecki’s nomination loomed larger after leaders of the Peasant and Democratic parties, long loyal satellites of the Communists, voted on Thursday to desert their traditional allies and support a Solidarity-led cabinet.

This sudden threat to their political dominance prompted Communist leaders to call a session of their Central Committee on Saturday. The party leadership faces deep divisions in the rank and file.

On Thursday, 28 of the Communists’ 173 parliamentary deputies usually numbered among those most oriented toward change issued a resolution calling for the establishment of greater independence from party dictates and saying they would seek talks with Solidarity about greater cooperation.

At the same time, a meeting of 208 party secretaries from major national enterprises met with Mr. Rakowski and later adopted a resolution denouncing Solidarity for seeking power.

Mr. Mazowiecki, though facing an economy in collapse with serious problems of material supply, bare stores, soaring prices and the collapse of the currency, remains a reflective person. Asked by a reporter what his first steps as Prime Minister would be, he laughed and replied, ”I intend to take a trip to the woods and think about it.”

He paused and added, ”And then get to work.”

Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who said he had been asked to become Poland’s Prime Minister, visiting Parliament to meet with Solidarity members (Agence France-Presse) (pg. 1); after announcing that he would be named Poland’s Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, right, went to Parliament to meet with Solidarity members, including Jozef Slisz, the leader of Rural Solidarity. (The New York Times/Witold Jaroslaw Szulecki) (pg. 4)



Romania’s Ceausescu Proposes Warsaw Pact Intervention in Poland

AP , Associated Press

Oct. 3, 1989 12:19 AM ET

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania proposed that forces of the Warsaw Pact military alliance intervene to stop Poland from forming a government headed by non-communists, a Hungarian official says.

The pro-Solidarity Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza said Friday that Hungary’s Communist Party had received such a proposal from Romania’s Communist leaders, who staunchly oppose the wave of reform sweeping the East bloc.

Geza Kotai, secretary in charge of international affairs of the Hungarian party, said his party had rejected the proposal. His remark came in an interview with the party newspaper Nepszabadsag.

Gazeta Wyborcza said Ceausescu called in the Polish ambassador in August to complain about the planned formation of a Solidarity-led government in Poland.

It said Ceausescu decided to turn to the leaders of the Warsaw Pact to ”jointly act in favor of preventing a serious situation in Poland, in favor of defending socialism and the Polish nation.”

The article did not say if Ceausescu had appealed to other members of the seven-nation alliance led by the Soviet Union.

Kotai said, however, the Hungarian Communist Party received a call for intervention ”and we gave a definite rejection.”

Solidarity journalist Tadeusz Mazowiecki became leader of the Polish government last month, the first non-Communist prime minister in the Soviet bloc.

The Hungarian Communist Party is among the most liberal in the East bloc. It has agreed to hold free elections by June and says it will yield power and join the opposition if it loses.

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Hungary Rejects Reported Romanian Proposal to Intervene in Poland

AP , Associated Press

Oct. 2, 1989 9:34 PM ET

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ The Hungarian Communist Party has rejected a proposal by Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu for Warsaw Pact intervention to prevent formation of Poland’s new government led by non-Communists, an official said Monday.

Geza Kotai, the Communist Party’s secretary in charge of international affairs, made the remark in an interview with the party newspaper Nepszabadsag. He was confirming reports published in a Polish newspaper that said the Hungarian Communist Party had received such a proposal from Romania’s Communist Party.

A pro-Solidarity Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, published articles Friday saying Ceausescu had summoned the Polish ambassador in August to complain about the planned formation of a Solidarity-led government in Poland.

It said Ceausescu had decided to turn to the leaders of the Warsaw Pact to ”jointly act in favor of preventing a serious situation in Poland, in favor of defending socialism and the Polish nation.”

The report did not say if Ceausescu had made such an appeal to other members of the Warsaw Pact, a seven-nation military alliance led by the Soviet Union.

But Kotai said the Hungarian Communist Party had received a call for intervention ”and we gave a definite rejection.”

Nepszabadsag quoted Kotai as saying, ”In present day Europe, the fate of a nation is decided by the majority of the society in that country, and not by a single party”

Last month, Solidarity journalist Tadeusz Mazowiecki became the leader of the Polish government – the first non-Communist prime minister in the Soviet bloc.

Hungary’s Communist Party, among the most liberal in the East bloc, has agreed to hold free elections by June and has said it would surrender power if it loses and join the opposition.

”We categorically reject the idea of any interference here, and the Warsaw Treaty can give no grounds for such action,” Kotai told the newspaper.

At recent Warsaw Pact meetings, the members expressed the stand of non- interference in each others’ internal affairs.

© 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.

Chilly Days for East Germans Outside Embassy in Prague

Published: September 30, 1989

PRAGUE, Sept. 29— The rain has gone, giving way to crisp and cold weather, and there is no sign of a resolution to the case of 2,500 or so East Germans camped out on the grounds of the West German Embassy in Prague….

Evidence of the delicate position of the Warsaw Government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki emerged today when the Solidarity daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, published the text of a confidental document showing that the hard-line Rumanian Government called in August for Warsaw Pact intervention in Poland to prevent the passage of power to non-Communists.



Gazeta Wyborcza nr 103, wydanie z dnia 29/09/1989, str. 6


Dziewiętnastego sierpnia o północy ambasador PRL w Bukareszcie został wezwany do MSZ, gdzie’ sekretarz KC Stojan przekazał mu ustnie oświadczenie, w którym z upoważnienia władz Rumuńskiej Partii Komunistycznej i osobiście Nicolae Ceausescu wypowiedział uwagi dotyczące obecnej sytuacji w Polsce, która uważana jest za bardzo poważną.Władze RPK śledzą tę sytuację z dużym zainteresowaniem i zaniepokojeniem. Oświadczają, że nie chcą ingerować w wewnętrzne sprawy Polski, ale powaga wydarzeń wykracza p…



Gazeta Wyborcza nr 103, wydanie z dnia 29/09/1989, str. 6


na stanowisko PKW KC RPK i prezydenta SRR. Nicolae Ceausescu w sprawie oceny aktualnej sytuacji w Polsce, w tym powołania rządu PRLW związku z oświadczeniem sekretarza KC RPK, tow. I. Stojana w obecności wiceministra spraw zagranicznych SRR, C. Oancea, przekazanym w dniu 19.08. br. ambasadorowi PRL w Bukareszcie, z upoważnienia Biura Politycznego KC PZPR stwierdzam co następuje:1. Z uwagą zapoznaliśmy się ze stanowiskiem PKW KC RPK, które wyraża troskę o losy socjalizmu w Polsce, o nasze zobowią…


Comuniştii polonezi explicau celor români “calea socialismului”

22 Aug 2009 – 00:00

22 august 1989, ora 01:45
CC al PCR – tovarăşului secretar Ion Stoian,
MAE – tovarăşului ministru Ioan Totu, – tovarăşului adjunct al ministrului, Constantin Oancea, DR I,

În seara zilei de 21.08.1989 am fost convocat la CC al PMUP, unde am fost pri­mit de tovarăşul W. Natorf, secretar al CC cu probleme internaţionale, şi de B. Kulski, ministru adjunct la MAE polonez.

Tovarăşul Natorf mi-a făcut cunoscut că m-a convocat pentru a-mi comunica punctul de vedere al conducerii PMUP referitor la considerentele condu­cerii de partid şi de stat ale RS România, personal ale tovarăşului Nicolae Ceauşescu, secretar general al Partidului Comunist Român, preşedintele Repu­blicii Socia­liste România, transmise în seara zilei de 19-20 august a.c. conduce­rilor de partid şi de stat din toate ţările socialiste.

În cuvântul său a spus următoarele:
“Conducerea de partid a fost informată despre problemele respective şi nu ascunde faptul că nu a primit cu prea multă satisfacţie această declaraţie. Noi ne străduim să informăm despre situaţia din Polonia fără a ascunde ceva, dorim să fie clar pentru conducerea Partidului Comunist Român că nu vom ceda pu­terea, că nu vom renunţa la sistemul socialist şi la obligaţiile faţă de alţii, atât în ce priveşte Tratatul de la Varşovia, cât şi cele din CAER. Ne-am străduit să fim purtătorul de cuvânt al Tratatului de la Varşovia, iar între partidele noastre să fie o colaborare cât mai bună. De aceea, sutem surprinşi de unele reproşuri care sunt cuprinse în declaraţie. Cu atât mai mult cu cât aceasta a fost transmisă şi altor ţări din Pact. Noi ne aşteptăm la sprijin, în situaţia grea pe care o avem, şi nu la critici”.
A precizat că nota nu este un protest, ci este un răspuns la punctul de vedere român.
După această introducere, mi-a înmânat punctul de vedere scris al condu­cerii PMUP, cu rugămintea de a-l transmite conducerii noastre de partid şi de stat, şi cu precizarea că acest material va fi înaintat şi celorlalte conduceri de partid, cărora partea română le-a transmis punctul ei de vedere.
Vă transmitem alăturat conţinutul integral al notei înmânate, urmând ca, prin curierul TAROM din 23.08.1989, să transmitem originalul materialului.

La punctul de vedere al Comitetului Politic Executiv al Partidului Comunist Român şi al preşedintelui Nicolae Ceauşescu în legătură cu aprecierea actualei situaţii din Polonia, inclusiv cu formarea guvernului Republicii Populare Polone.

În legătură cu declaraţia secretarului central al Partidului Comunist Român, tovarăşul Ion Stoian, în prezenţa adjunctului ministrului Afacerilor Externe al Republicii Socialiste România, Constantin Oancea, transmisă în ziua de 19.08.1989 ambasadorul Republicii Populare Polone din Bucureşti. Din însărcinarea Biroului Politic al Comitetului Central al Partidului Muncitoresc Unit Plonez, afirm cele ce urmează:
1. Am luat cunoştinţă cu atenţie de punctul de vedere al Comitetului Politic Executiv al Comitetului Central al Partidului Comunist Român care exprimă îngrijorarea faţă de soarta socialismului în Polonia, faţă de obligaţiile noastre de aliat şi eventualele implicaţii ale dezvoltării evenimentelor în Polonia pentru interesele comunităţii statelor socialiste.
Încercăm să înţelegem intenţiile tovarăşilor români, nu putem să acceptăm şi să recunoaştem motivaţia nici a aprecierilor şi nici a concluziilor formulate în declaraţia conducerii Partidului Comunist Român.
Analiza actualei situaţii din Polonia, inclusiv poziţia partidului în legătură cu formarea noului guvern, a fost prezentată în hotărârea celei de-a XIV-a plenare a Comitetului Central al Partidului Muncitoresc Unit Polonez. În aceasta se afirmă, între altele, că “numai un guvern care se bucură de cea mai largă încredere şi sprijin social, cu participarea reprezentanţilor tuturor forţelor politice din Seimul Republicii Populare Polone poate scoate Polonia din criză pe calea reformelor evolutive şi consecvente”.
Partidul nostru, definindu-şi actuala linie politică, se conduce după interesele supreme ale poporului şi statului, luând ca bază realităţile existente.
Suntem convinşi că linia aceasta este singura justă în condiţiile concrete poloneze şi nu există o altă alternativă la ea. Nu pierdem din vedere, de asemenea, interesele generale ale socialismului ca formaţiune socială.
Acordul partidului nostru privind crearea guvernului, cu participarea tutu­ror forţelor reprezentate în Parlament, nu înseamnă renunţarea, de către Partidul Muncitoresc Unit Polonez, la influenţa asupra formării politicii statului care să corespundă intereselor socialismului şi aşteptărilor poporului.
În conformitate cu rolul partidului nostru în societate, în organele statului şi administraţiei locale, în forţele armate şi de ordine, vom face totul pentru a fi păstrată, de asemenea, poziţia puternică a partidului în guvernul care se va forma. Baza acţiunii lui o va constitui platforma politică, asupra căreia se va cădea de acord de către partenerii coaliţiei. Garantul continuităţii regimului statului polonez şi a caracterului evolutiv al schimbărilor socialiste este funcţia de preşedinte, cu prerogativele sale constituţionale largi, cunoscute.

2. Respingem afirmaţia tovarăşilor români că participarea în guvernul Repu­blicii Populare Polone a reprezentanţilor “Solidarităţii” serveşte “celor mai reacţionare cercuri imperialiste” şi că aceasta este “nu numai oprobelmă internă a Poloniei, ci se referă la toate ţările socialiste”.
Considerăm că tovarăşii români nu au avut nici un fel de motiv de a face astfel de aprecieri, componenţa guvernului polonez şi modul lui de creare constituie o problemă exclusiv internă a poporului nostru, orice încercări de subminare a acestui principiu din afară ar fi în contradicţie cu normele fundamentale de drept internaţional – neamestecul în treburile interne ale altor state.
Conducerea româna întodeauna a expus cu o desoebită forţă acest principiu referitor la propria ţară, un caz univoc în acest sens l-a constituit nepaticiparea României la intervenţia în Cehoslovacia în 1968.
Este indamisibilă imputaţia făcută a priori unui guvern al unui stat suveran că ar sluji vreunor forţe străine.

3. Considerăm absolut nefondat reproşul că transformările care au loc în Polonia constituie o lovitură serioasă pentru Tratatul de la Varşovia, creează pentru aceasta un mare pericol şi că constituie un sprijin puternic pentru NATO; vedem aceasta ca o încercare nefondată de subminare a loialităţii ca aliat al ţării noastre. Polonia, chiar şi din punct de vedere al intereselor propriei securităţi a fost şi va rămâne fidelă obligaţiilor sale de aliat în cadrul Tratatului de la Varşovia şi, ca şi până acum, va face totul pentru a întări legăturile între partenrii-părţi ai Tratatului de la Varşovia. În această operă, Polonia are un aport serios şi care nu poate fi contestat.
Am exprimat clar acest lucru în hotărârea celei de-a XIV-a plenară a Comitetului Central al Partidului Muncitoresc Unit Polonez afirmând: “Polonia trebuie să rămână un stat loial din punct de vedere economic şi militar al CAER şi Trata­tului de la Varşovia. Participarea noastră la Tratatul de la Varşovia este de câteva decenii garanţia securităţii naţionale”. Arătăm că ţelul partidului nostru este că schimbările care au loc în Polonia să ducă la stabilizarea internă, pe baza ameliorării situaţiei economice, la consolidarea poziţiei şi rolului Poloniei în Europa şi în lume. Şi, în acelaşi timp, la întărirea participării noastre la securitatea europeană şi creşterea importanţei Tratatului de la Varşovia în relaţiile internaţionale.
Dorim să amintim că şi forţele politice din afara Partidului Muncitoresc Unit Polonez, în declaraţiile lor publice precum şi în obligaţiile adoptate în cursul desfăşurării “Mesei rotunde”, stau la baza faptului că Polonia este membră a Tratatului de la Varşovia şi îşi va menţine obligaţiile de aliat, conducându-se, bineînţeles, nu de premisele ideologice ci de realismul politic normal.
Partidul Muncitoresc Unit Polonez va transpune, cu toată puterea, în practică, păstrând controlul – printre altele – asupra resorturilor Apărării Naţionale şi Afa­cerilor Interne.

4. Considerăm că statele participante la Tratatul de la Varşovia trebuie să respecte întocmai poziţia adoptată în comun. Declaraţia română prezentată ambsadorlui nostru este în contradicţie cu comunicatul de la ultima consfătuire a Consiliului Politic Consultativ de la Bucureşti, adoptată de asemenea şi de către partea română, unde s-a afirmat că “nu există nici un fel de modele universale ale socialismului şi că nimeni nu dispune de monopolul adevărului, construcţia societăţii noi este un proces creator, care se desfăşoară în fiecare ţară, în conformitate cu tradiţiile şi necesităţile sale”.
Aşteptăm respectarea de către toţi, inclusiv şi de partea română, a principiilor aoptate în documentele comune ale statelor participante la Tratatul de la Varşovia în ceea ce priveşte dezvoltarea relaţiilor dintre ele “pe baza egalităţii, independenţei şi dreptului fiecăreia dintre ele de a-şi elabora propria linie politică în mod independent, a propriei strategii şi tactici, fără amestec din afară”.
Dorim să subliniem că transofrmările care au avut loc în Polonia şi în alte ţări socialiste nu încalcă cu nimic interesele României, ci dimpotrivă, servesc întăririi socialismului în lume, revenirii la vitalitatea ideilor socialismului şi a forţei ei de atracţie, şi prin aceasta nu dă Partidului Comunist Român motive să vină, nici faţă de celalalte partide comunsite şi muncitoreşti, cu aprecieri şi concluzii de acest gen referitoare la situaţia din Polonia, prezentate în declaraţia dată.
În situaţia aceasta, suntem nevoiţi să facem cunocsut partidelor comuniste şi muncitoreşti ale statelor participante la Tratatul de la Varşovia răspunsul nostru la această declaraţie.
Partidul Muncitoresc Unit Polonez, fiind într-adevăr într-o situaţie dificilă, se aşteaptă la ajutor şi sprijin, dar, totuşi, nu de acest gen, cum o face Partidul Comunist Român. Din partea noastră, suntem gata, ca şi până acum, să împărtăşim cu Partidul Comunist Român, în mod deschis şi sincer, experineţele şi aprecierile noastre.
Exprimăm speranţa că aceasta va permite tovarăşilor români să înţeleagă mai bine condiţiile noastre şi să-şi reconsidere aprecierile de până acum în interesul suprem al colaborării celor două partide şi state.
Varşovia – 21 august 1989
Ion Teşu

Document din volumul: 1989 – Principiul dominoului. Prăbuşirea regimurilor comuniste europene, Ediţie de: Dumitru Preda şi Mihai Retegan, Bucureşti, Editura Fundaţiei Culturale Române, 2000, p 164-167


Petre Opris
27 Aug 2009 – 00:00

Nicolae Ceauşescu, despre Eric Feferberg/AFP/Mediafax

În perioada 26-27 august 1989, Eduard Şevardnadze, mi­nistrul sovietic al Afacerilor Externe, s-a aflat la Bucureşti pentru a discuta cu omologul său român, Ioan Totu, despre modul cum se putea rezolva criza politică din Polonia.

Vizita a fost solicitată oficial chiar de către Nicolae Ceauşescu, la 19 august 1989. Liderul suprem al PCR a aflat în ziua respectivă despre faptul că generalul Wojciech Jaruzelski, preşedintele Poloniei, a acceptat să-i încredinţeze lui Tadeusz Mazowiecki mandatul de prim-ministru, deşi era unul dintre liderii sindicatului anticomunist “Solidaritatea”.

Reacţia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu, după aflarea informaţiei respective, a fost rapidă. Potrivit propriei declaraţii, prezentată în şedinţa Comitetului Politic Executiv din 21 august 1989, “sâmbătă (19 august 1989 – n.r.) ne-am sfătuit cu câţiva tovarăşi care au putut fi găsiţi imediat şi am adresat un mesaj conducerii sovietice, apoi un mesaj tuturor ţărilor socialiste. (…)

În mod corespunzător, adresându-ne celorlalte state, în aceeaşi seară, până la ora 3:00 dimineaţa, au fost transmise mesaje şi ţărilor socialiste, prin ambasadori. Toţi au spus că vor transmite mesajul imediat. Unii au făcut şi comentarii proprii, dar toţi au spus că sunt îngrijoraţi”.

După primirea unui răspuns oficial de la liderul sovietic Mihail Gorbaciov, Nicolae Ceauşescu a trimis la Moscova un nou mesaj, în ziua de 21 august 1989. Printre altele, secretarul general al PCR a solicitat ca Eduard Şevardnadze să efectueze de urgenţă o vizită la Bucureşti pentru a prezenta opinia sovieticilor în legătură cu “actul de trădare” de care se făcea vinovat generalul Jaruzelski în faţă “mişcării muncitoreşti şi socialiste din întreaga lume”. În şedinţa din aceeaşi zi a Comitetului Politic Executiv, Nicolae Ceauşescu a declarat: “În orice caz, insistăm ca Şevardnadze să vină aici zilele acestea, independent de (sărbătorirea zilei naţionale de la – n.r.) 23 August. Poate să vină şi mâine, şi poimâine, pentru că aceasta poate va determina şi conducerea sovietică să mai reflecte puţin”.

Ministrul sovietic al Afacerilor Externe a ajuns la Bucureşti pe data de 26 august 1989. Rezumatul discuţiilor sale cu Ioan Totu şi opinia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu faţă de poziţia adoptată de sovietici în criza politică din Polonia au fost dezvăluite chiar de preşedintele României, în şedinţa Comitetului Politic Executiv din 22 septembrie 1989.

Din conţinutul stenogramei reuniunii respective, pe care o edităm în continuare sub forma unui extras, rezultă în mod clar faptul că Nicolae Ceauşescu nu a solicitat, în mesajele sale din 19 şi 21 august 1989, intervenţia în Polonia a trupelor statelor membre ale Organizaţiei Tratatului de la Varşovia.

De asemenea, se poate deduce reacţia lide­rilor comunişti polonezi, maghiari şi iugoslavi. Aceştia i-au reamintit lui Nicolae Ceauşescu, direct sau voalat, că încălcase unul din principiile afirmate de el însuşi, în repetate rânduri, amestecându-se în “treburile interne ale altor state”. La rândul său, Nicolae Ceauşescu a făcut tri­mitere la statele capi­taliste, la “planul şi programele acestora de amestec în treburile ţărilor socialiste, de destabilizare, de finanţare a politicii de renunţare la construirea socialismului”.
Stenograma şedinţei Comitetului Politic Executiv al CC al PCR din ziua de 22 septembrie 1989
Tov. Nicolae Ceauşescu: Şi, în fine, unele probleme in­ter­na­ţionale.
După cum ştiţi, în legătură cu evenimentele care au avut loc în Polonia, noi ne-am adresat ţărilor socialiste, inclusiv polonezilor, cu o scrisoare, am trimis-o şi altor partide comuniste.
Am primit, practic, răspunsul din toate ţările socialiste, aproape. Din ţările din CAER am primit de la toate şi din Pactul de la Varşovia de la multe partide comuniste şi muncitoreşti.
Sovieticii au spus că împărtăşesc complet punctul nostru de vedere, dar consideră că trebuie să-i înţelegem pe tovarăşii polonezi că au probleme serioase, să vedem cum vor acţiona.
Şi asta, pentru că, de fapt, într-un anumit fel, ei au încurajat şi sunt de fapt principalii vinovaţi de organizarea aşa-zisei “mese rotunde”, că fără ei nu avea loc “masa rotundă” şi nu se întâmpla ce se întâmplă în Polonia; de altfel, nici în Ungaria nu s-ar fi putut întâmpla. De fapt, ei au încurajat acest lucru şi, în ultimul timp, ei au o poziţie, nu mai sunt chiar aşa entuziasmaţi, pentru că văd unde duce acest lucru.
Polonezii ne-au spus că sunt complet de acord cu aprecierea noastră, dar consideră că nu este bine că le dăm o asemenea apreciere, dar că sigur, într-adevăr, că n-au altă ieşire.
Ungurii ne-au spus că ei nu împărtăşesc părerea noastră că, sigur, sunt probleme, dar e o pro­blemă a partidului polonez şi că, de fapt, noi încălcăm principiile pe care le-am spus şi ne amestecăm în treburile altora.
Iugoslavii împărtăşesc părerea, dar, sigur, sunt probleme care să le soluţioneze polonezii, aşa, nici o poziţie fermă, dar nici altfel.

Toate celelalte partide sunt complet de acord. Au subliniat şi mai mult că – germanii, cehoslovacii, foarte mult cubanezii, vietnamezii – de altfel am trimis la tovarăşi să vadă o hotărâre a tovarăşilor vietnamezi, cum privesc ei problemele privind evitarea la ei – mongolii, bulgarii. Adică, în general, unii au subliniat şi mai mult şi au spus că într-adevăr sunt foarte mult îngrijoraţi şi trebuie să vedem.

Dintre partidele comuniste, în afară de ita­lieni, care au spus tot cam aşa, că trebuie să vedem perspectivele, şi ceva francezii, dar totuşi ei sunt preocupaţi, dar restul, toate partidele, unii chiar au spus că consi­deră că trebuie neapărat să se acţioneze într-un fel sau altul, adică, în general, au împărtăşit pre­o­cu­pă­rile şi poziţia noastră, ceea ce înseamnă că noi am procedat just şi că aceasta corespunde intereselor ţărilor socialiste, a socialismului, a mişcării comuniste şi muncitoreşti în ge­neral.

Bazat, sigur, ceea ce se poate spune acuma, este că va trebui să ne gândim cum va trebui să acţionăm în viitor pentru a determina o poziţie mai fermă faţă de ma­ni­festările ţărilor imperialiste, pe pla­nul şi programele acestora de amestec în treburile ţărilor socia­liste, de destabilizare, de finanţare a politicii de renunţare la construirea socialismului.

Este adevărat că, concret până acu­ma, n-au dat decât promisiuni şi pro­babil că au plătit pe cei care sunt în slujba lor, asta fără nici o îndoială, că pe gratis nimeni nu lucrează, dar a ajuta ţările respective pentru a de­pă­şi situaţia economică (dificilă – n.r.)
n-au făcut-o.

De altfel, cu o sută de milioane (de dolari, oferiţi – n.r.) în trei ani în Polonia şi cu 25 de mi­lioane (de dolari – n.r.) în Ungaria nu se reface economia şi se ridică nivelul de trai al popoarelor din ţările respective. Dimpotrivă, îi împinge şi mai rău spre regres şi de altfel, după datele publicate recent în Ungaria, pe 8 luni producţia a scăzut cu câteva procente, venitul naţional a scăzut, inflaţia a crescut mult. În Polonia este aceeaşi situaţie şi nici nu se poate, mergând pe această cale, să se refacă economia.

Sigur, poziţia noastră este de a acţiona pentru a dezvolta relaţiile şi cu Polonia, şi cu Ungaria. Dorim să realizăm o asemenea zisă colaborare cât mai largă, însă, desigur, nu pentru dezvoltarea sectorului capitalist, cum a spus (preşedintele american George – n.r.) Bush, ci pentru în­tă­ri­rea sectorului socialist şi suntem gata să conlucrăm foarte larg cu ei, inclusiv în cooperarea în pro­duc­ţie, în realizarea diferitelor acţiuni care să ajute realmente la depăşirea situaţiei din Polonia.
În acest spirit, aş propune Comitetului Politic să fie de acord cu aceasta, să apreciem că am procedat just şi să continuăm în acest spirit, să acţionăm în toate direcţiile.
În celelalte probleme inter­na­ţi­o­na­le sunt cunoscute, poziţia noastră este cunoscută şi nu vreau să mă refer la ele.
Sunteţi de acord?
– Toţi tovarăşii sunt de acord.

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(NEW for the 20th Anniversary) Bullets, Lies, and Videotape: The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989 (Part II: “A Revolution, a Coup d’Etat, AND a Counter-Revolution”) by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 22, 2009

for Part I see  His name was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape:

The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989

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.  [Submitted 19 November 2009; PRB approved 15 December 1989]

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.

Part II

Romania, December 1989:   a Revolution, a Coup d’etat, AND a Counter-Revolution

This December marks twenty years since the implosion of the communist regimeof Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. [1] It is well-known, but bears repeating:  Romania not only came late in the wave of communist regime collapse in the East European members of the Warsaw Pact in the fall of 1989 (Poland, Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria), it came last—and inevitably that was significant.[2] Despite the more highly personalist (vs. corporate) nature of the Ceausescu regime, the higher level of fear and deprivation that characterized society, and the comparative insulation from the rest of the East European Warsaw Pact states, Romania could not escape the implications of the collapse of the other communist party-states.[3] Despite the differences, there simply were too many institutional and ideological similarities, or as is often most importantly the case, that is how members of both the state and society interpreted matters.   “Going last” [in turn, in show] almost inevitably implies that the opportunities for mimicry, for opportunism, for simulation[4] on the one hand and dissimulation[5] on the other, are greater than for the predecessors…and, indeed, one can argue that some of what we saw in Romania in December 1989 reflects this.

Much of the debate about what happened in December 1989 has revolved around how to define those events…and their consequences.[6] [These can be analytically distinct categories and depending on how one defines things, solely by focusing on the events themselves or the consequences, or some combination thereof, will inevitably shape the answer one gets].  The primary fulcrum or axis of the definitional debate has been between whether December 1989 and its aftermath were/have been a revolution or a coup d’etat.  But Romanian citizens and foreign observers have long since improvised linguistically to capture the hybrid and unclear nature of the events and their consequences.  Perhaps the most neutral, cynical, and fatalistic is the common “evenimentele din decembrie 1989”—the events of December 1989—but it should also be pointed out that the former Securitate and Ceausescu nostalgics have also embraced, incorporated and promoted, such terminology.  More innovative are terms such as rivolutie (an apparent invocation of or allusion to the famous Romanian satirist Ion Luca Caragiale’s 1880 play Conu Leonida fata cu reactiunea[7] , where he used the older colloquial spelling revulutie) or lovilutie (a term apparently coined by the humorists at Academia Catavencu, and combining the Romanian for coup d’etat, lovitura de stat, and the Romanian for revolution, revolutie).

The following characterization of what happened in December 1989 comes from an online poster, Florentin, who was stationed at the Targoviste barracks—the exact location where Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu would be summarily tried and executed on 25 December 1989.  Although his definitions may be too economically-based for my taste—authoritarianism/dictatorship vs. democracy would be preferable—and the picture he presents may be oversimplified at points, the poster’s characterization shows that sometimes the unadorned straighttalk of the plainspoken citizen can cut to the chase better than many an academic tome:

I did my military service, in Targoviste, in fact in the barracks at which the Ceausescu couple were executed…It appears that a coup d’etat was organized and executed to its final step, the proof being how the President of the R.S.R. (Romanian Socialist Republic) died, but in parallel a revolution took place.  Out of this situation has transpired all the confusion.   As far as I know this might be a unique historical case, if I am not mistaken.  People went into the streets, calling not just for the downfall of the president then, but for the change of the political regime, and that is what we call a revolution. This revolution triumphed, because today we have neither communism, nor even neocommunism with a human face.  The European Union would not have accepted a communist state among its ranks.  The organizers of the coup d’etat foresaw only the replacement of the dictator and the maintenance of a communist/neocommunist system, in which they did not succeed, although there are those who still hope that it would have succeeded.  Some talk about the stealing of the revolution, but the reality is that we live in capitalism, even if what we have experienced in these years has been more an attempt at capitalism, orchestrated by an oligarchy with diverse interests…[8]

This is indeed the great and perhaps tragic irony of what happened in December 1989 in Romania:  without the Revolution, the Coup might well have failed,[9] but without the Coup, neither would the Revolution have succeeded.   The latter is particularly difficult for the rigidly ideological and politically partisan to accept; yet it is more than merely a talking point and legitimating alibi of the second-rung nomenklatura who seized power (although it is that too).  The very atomization of Romanian society[10] that had been fueled and exploited by the Ceausescu regime explained why Romania came last in the wave of Fall 1989, but also why it was and would have been virtually impossible for genuine representatives of society—led by dissidents and protesters—to form an alternative governing body on 22 December whose decisions would have been accepted as sufficiently authoritative to be respected and implemented by the rump party-state bureaucracy, especially the armed forces and security and police structures.  The chaos that would have ensued—with likely multiple alternative power centers, including geographically—would have likely led to a far greater death toll and could have enabled those still betting on the return of the Ceausescus to after a time reconquer power or seriously impede the functioning of any new government for an extended period.

The fact that the Revolution enabled the coup plotters to seize power, and that the coup enabled the Revolution to triumph should be identified as yet another version—one particular to the idiosyncracies of the Romanian communist regime—of what Linz and Stepan have identified as the costs or compromises of the transition from authoritarian rule.  In Poland, for example, this meant that 65 percent of the Sejm was elected in non-competitive elections, but given co-equal authority with the Senate implying that “a body with nondemocratic origins was given an important role in the drafting of a democratic constitution”; in fact, Poland’s first completely competitive elections to both houses of Parliament occurred only in October 1991, fully two years after the formation of the first Solidarity government in August 1989.[11] In Romania, this meant that second-rung nomenklaturists—a displaced generation of elites eager to finally have their day in the sun—who to a large extent still harbored only Gorbachevian perestroikist views of the changes in the system as being necessary, were able to consolidate power following the elimination of the ruling Ceausescu couple.

The self-description by senior Front officials (Ion Iliescu) and media promoters (such as Darie Novaceanu in Adevarul) of the FSN (National Salvation Front) as the “emanation of the Revolution” does not seem justified. [12] It seems directly tied to two late January 1990 events—the decision of the Front’s leaders to run as a political party in the first post-Ceausescu elections and the contestation from the street of the Front’s leaders’ legitimacy to rule and to run in those elections.  It also seems difficult to defend objectively as a legitimate description, since even according to their own accounts, senior Front officials had been in contact with one another and discussed overthrowing the Ceausescus prior to the Revolution, since there had existed no real competing non-Ceausescu regime alternative on 22 December 1989 (an argument they themselves make), and since they had clearly not been elected to office.   Moreover, when senior former Front officials, Iliescu among them, point to their winning of two-thirds of the votes for the new parliament in May 1990 and Iliescu’s 85 percent vote for the presidency, the numbers in and of themselves—even beyond the by now pretty obvious and substantiated manipulation, surveillance, and intimidation of opposition parties, candidates, movements and civil society/non-governmental organizations that characterized the election campaign—are a red flag to the tainted and only partly free and fair character of those founding elections.

But if the FSN and Ion Iliescu cannot be accurately and legitimately described as the “emanation of the Revolution,” it also seems reasonable to suggest that the term “stolen revolution”[13] is somewhat unfair.  The term “stolen revolution” inevitably suggests a central, identifiable, and sufficiently coherent ideological character of the revolution and the presence of an alternative non-Ceausescu, non-Front leadership that could have ensured the retreat of Ceausescu forces and been able to govern and administer the country in the days and weeks that followed.  The absence of the latter was pretty clear on 22 December 1989—Iasi, Timisoara, and Arad among others, had local, authentic nuclei leading local movements (for example, the FDR, Frontul Democrat Roman), but no direct presence in Bucharest—and the so-called Dide and Verdet “22 minute” alternative governments were even more heavily compromised by former high-ranking communist dignitary inclusion than the FSN was (the one with the least, headed by Dumitru Mazilu, was rapidly overtaken and incorporated into the FSN).

As to the question of the ideological character of the revolt against Ceausescu, it is once again instructive to turn to what a direct participant, in this case in the Timisoara protests, has to say about it.  Marius Mioc[14], who participated in the defense of Pastor Tokes’ residence and in the street demonstrations that grew out of it, was arrested, interrogated, and beaten from the 16th until his release with other detainees on the 22nd and who has written with longstanding hostility toward former Securitate and party officials, IIiescu, the FSN, and their successors, gives a refreshingly honest account of those demonstrations that is in stark contrast to the often hyperpoliticized, post-facto interpretations of December 1989 prefered by ideologues:

I don’t know if the 1989 revolution was as solidly anticommunist as is the fashion to say today.  Among the declarations from the balcony of the Opera in Timisoara were some such as “we don’t want capitalism, we want democratic socialism,” and at the same time the names of some local PCR [communist] dignitaries were shouted.  These things shouldn’t be generalized, they could have been tactical declarations, and there existed at the same time the slogans “Down with communism!” and flags with the [communist] emblem cut out, which implicitly signified a break from communism.  [But] the Revolution did not have a clear ideological orientation, but rather demanded free elections and the right to free speech.[15]

Romania December 1989 was thus both revolution and coup, but its primary definitive characteristic was that of revolution, as outlined by “Florentin” and Marius Mioc above.  To this must be added what is little talked about or acknowledged as such today:  the counter-revolution of December 1989.  Prior to 22 December 1989, the primary target of this repression was society, peaceful demonstrators—although the Army itself was both perpetrator of this repression but also the target of Securitate forces attempting to ensure their loyalty to the regime and their direct participation and culpabilization in the repression of demonstrators.  After 22 December 1989, the primary target of this violence was the Army and civilians who had picked up weapons, rather than citizens at large.  It is probably justified to say that in terms of tactics, after 22 December 1989, the actions of Ceausist forces were counter-coup in nature, contingencies prepared in the event of an Army defection and the possibility of foreign intervention in support of such a defection.  However, precisely because of what occurred prior to 22 December 1989, the brutal, bloody repression of peaceful demonstrators, and because the success of the coup was necessary for the success of the revolution already underway, it is probably accurate to say that the Ceausescu regime’s actions as a whole constituted a counter-revolution.  If indeed the plotters had not been able to effectively seize power after the Ceausescus fled on 22 December 1989 and Ceausescu or his direct acolytes had been able to recapture power, we would be talking of the success not of a counter-coup, but of the counter-revolution.

A key component of the counter-revolution of December 1989 concerns the, as they were christened at the time, so-called “terrorists,” those who were believed then to be fighting in defense of the Ceausescu couple.  It is indeed true as Siani-Davies has written that the Revolution is about so much more than “the Front” and “the terrorists.”[16] True enough, but the outstanding and most vexing question about December 1989—one that resulted in 942 killed and 2,251 injured after 22 December 1989—is nevertheless the question of “the terrorists.”  Finding out if they existed, who they were, and who they were defending remains the key unclarified question of December 1989 two decades later:  that much is inescapable.[17]

[1]The hyperbolic and popular academic designation of the Ceausescu regime as Stalinist is not particularly helpful.  Totalitarian yes, Stalinist no.  Yes, Nicolae Ceausescu had a Stalinist-like personality cult, and yes he admired Stalin and his economic model, as he told interviewers as late as 1988, and we have been told ad nauseum since.  But this was also a strange regime, which as I have written elsewhere was almost characterized by a policy of “no public statues [of Ceausescu] and no (or at least as few as possible) public martyrs [inside or even outside the party]”—the first at odds with the ubiquity of Nicoale and Elena Ceausescus’ media presence, the second characterized by the “rotation of cadres” policy whereby senior party officials could never build a fiefdom and were sometimes banished to the provinces, but almost were never eliminated physically, and by Ceausescus’ general reluctance to “spoil” his carefully created “image” abroad by openly eliminating high-profile dissidents (one of the reasons Pastor Tokes was harassed and intimidated, but still alive in December 1989)  (see Richard Andrew Hall 2006, “Images of Hungarians and Romanians in Modern American Media and Popular Culture,” at Ken Jowitt has characterized the organizational corruption and political routinization of the communist party as moving from the Stalinist era—whereby even being a high-level party official did not eliminate the fear or reality of imprisonment and death—to what he terms Khrushchev’s de facto maxim of “don’t kill the cadre” to Brezhnev’s of essentially “don’t fire the cadre” (see Ken Jowitt, New World Disorder:  The Leninist Extinction, especially pp. 233-234, and chapter 4 “Neotraditionalism,” p. 142).   The very fact that someone like Ion Iliescu could be around to seize power in December 1989 is fundamentally at odds with a Stalinist system:  being “purged” meant that he fulfilled secondary roles in secondary places, Iasi, Timisoara, the Water Works, a Technical Editing House, but “purged” did not threaten and put an end to his existence, as it did for a Kirov, Bukharin, and sadly a cast of millions of poor public souls caught up in the ideological maelstorm.  Charles King wrote in 2007 that “the Ceausescu era was the continuation of Stalinism by other means, substituting the insinuation of terror for its cruder variants and combining calculated cooptation with vicious attacks on any social actors who might represent a potential threat to the state” (Charles King, “Remembering Romanian Communism,” Slavic Review, vol. 66, no. 4 (Winter 2007), p. 720).  But at a certain point, a sufficient difference in quantity and quality—in this case, of life, fear, imprisonment, and death—translates into a difference of regime-type, and we are left with unhelpful hyperbole.  The level of fear to one’s personal existence in Ceausescu’s Romania—both inside and outside the party-state—simply was not credibly comparable to Stalin’s Soviet Union, or for that matter, even Dej’s Romania of the 1950s.  In the end, Ceausescu’s Romania was “Stalinist in form [personality cult, emphasis on heavy industry], but Brezhnevian in content [“don’t fire the cadres”…merely rotate them…privileges, not prison sentences for the nomenklatura].”

[2] For a recent discussion of the “diffusion” or “demonstration” effect and regime change, see, for example, Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik, “International Diffusion and Postcommunist Electoral Revolutions,”

Communist and Postcommunist Studies, vol. 39, no. 3 (September 2006), pp. 283­304.

[3] For more discussion, see Hall 2000.

[4]For discussion of the term see Michael Shafir, Romania:  Politics, Economics, and Society (Boulder, 1985).

[5]For discussion of the term see Ken  Jowitt, New World Disorder (University of California Berkely Press, 1992).

[6] For earlier discussions of this topic from a theoretical perspective , see, for example, Peter Siani-Davies, “Romanian Revolution of Coup d’etat?” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 29, no. 4 (December 1996), pp. 453-465; Stephen D. Roper, “The Romanian Revolution from a Theoretical Perspective,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 27, no. 4 (December 1994), pp. 401-410; and Peter Siani-Davies, The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 1-52 ff, but especially (chapter 7) pp. 267-286.  For a recent effort to deal with this question more broadly, see Timothy Garton Ash, “Velvet Revolution:  The Prospects, The New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 19 (December 3, 2009) at For a good comparison and analysis of public opinion polling performed in 2009 and 1999 about classifying what happened in December 1989, see Catalin Augustin Stoica in


[8] Entry from forum at!

[9]This is a point that was first made credibly by Michael Shafir in Michael Shafir, “Preparing for the Future by Revising the Past,” Radio Free Europe Report on Eastern Europe, vol. 1, no. 41 (12 October 1990).  It becomes all the clearer, however, when we consider that the XIV PCR Congress from 20-24 November 1989 went off without the slightest attempt at dissidence within the congress hall—a potential opportunity thereby missed—and that the plotters failed to act during what would have seemed like the golden moment to put an end to the “Golden Era,” the almost 48 hours that Nicolae Ceausescu was out of the country in Iran between 18 and 20 December 1989, after regime forces had already been placed in the position of confronting peaceful demonstrators and after they opened fire in Timisoara.  In other words, an anti-regime revolt was underway, and had the coup been so minutely prepared as critics allege, this would have been the perfect time to seize power, cut off the further anti-system evolution of protests, exile Ceausescu from the country, and cloak themselves in the legitimacy of a popular revolt.  What is significant is that the plotters did not act at this moment.  It took the almost complete collapse of state authority on the morning of 22 December 1989 for them to enter into action.  This is also why characterizations of the Front as the ‘counterstrike of the party-state bureaucracy’ or the like is only so much partisan rubbish, since far from being premised as something in the event of a popular revolt or as a way to counter an uprising, the plotters had assumed—erroneously as it turned out—that Romanian society would not rise up against the dictator, and thus that only they could or had to act.  It is true, however, that once having consolidated power, the plotters did try to slow, redirect, and even stifle the forward momentum of the revolution, and that the revolutionary push from below after December 1989 pushed them into reforms and measures opening politics and economics to competition that they probably would not have initiated on their own.

[10] I remain impressed here by something Linz and Stepan highlighted in 1996:  according to a Radio Free Europe study, as of June 1989 Bulgaria had thirteen independent organizations, all of which had leaders whose names were publicly known, whereas in Romania there were only two independent organizations with bases inside the country, neither of which had publicly known leaders (Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 352).  For more discussion of this and related issues, see Hall 2000.

[11] The presidency was also an unelected communist holdover position until fall 1990.  See Linz and Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, pp. 267-274.

[12] For a discussion of the roots and origins of these terms, see Matei Calinescu and Vladimir Tismaneanu, “The 1989 Revolution and Romania’s Future,” Problems of Communism, vol. XL no. 1-2 (January-April 1991), p. 52, especially footnote no. 38.

[13] Stephen Kotkin associates the concept, accurately if incompletely, with Tom Gallagher and Vladimir Tismaneanu in Stephen Kotkin, Uncivil Society:  1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library Chronicles, 2009), pp. 147-148 n. 1.  Similar concepts have taken other names, such as “operetta war” (proposed but not necessarily accepted) by Nestor Ratesh, Romania:  The Entangled Revolution (Praeger, 1991) or “staging of [the] revolution” [advocated] by Andrei Codrescu, The Hole in the Flag (Morrow and Company, 1991).  Dumitru Mazilu’s 1991 book in Romanian was entitled precisely “The Stolen Revolution” [Revolutia Furata].  Charles King stated in 2007 that the CPADCR Report “repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as being hijacked,” a term essentially equating to “stolen revolution,” but as Tismaneanu headed the commission and large sections of the Report’s chapter on December 1989 use previous writings by him (albeit without citing where they came from), it is hard to somehow treat the Report’s findings as independent of Tismaneanu’s identical view (for an earlier discussion of all this, see Hall 2008)

[14] Mioc does not talk a great deal about his personal story:  here is one of those few examples,

[15] Quoted from

[16]Peter Siani-Davies, The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2005), p. 286.

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