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 ‘romania december 1989’

Revisiting the Myths of the Revolution: “Romania’s TV Revolution had only one side…everyone had been on it.”

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on April 20, 2013

Previous material on the same general topic (strictly personal views as always):

Revisiting the Myths* of the Romanian Revolution.  Part I:  The Hegemony of Conspiratorial and Postmodernist Explanations https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/revisiting-the-myths-of-the-romanian-revolution-part-i-the-hegemony-of-conspiratorial-and-postmodernist-explanations/

Myth 1:  The “Timisoara Syndrome” or the “False Timisoara Grave (the Paupers Cemetery)/Massacre” https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/revisiting-the-myths-of-the-revolution-part-ii-the-timisoara-syndrome-or-the-false-timisoara-grave-the-paupers-cemeterymassacre/

Myth 2:  The water is posioned!  (Apa este otravita!) https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/revisiting-the-myths-of-the-revolution-part-iii-the-water-is-poisoned-apa-este-otravita-dr-heyndrickxs-toxicology-report/

Myth 3:  The Romanian Television building is in danger, danger of an explosion!   (TVR e in pericol–Pericol de explozie!) https://romanianrevolutionofdecember1989.com/revisiting-the-myths-of-the-revolution-part-iv-the-romanian-television-building-is-in-danger-bomba-in-subsolul-televiziunii/

image0

“Romania’s TV Revolution had only one side…everyone had been on it.”

So told us Andrei Codrescu in a Harper’s Magazine article–“Big Chills:  My High School Reunion in Romania,” an apparent play on the 1983 reunion film, The Big Chill–published in November 1990 (see the link below for an online version).  Codrescu’s article is unintentionally a tour de force in relaying to English-language readers Securitate (the Romanian secret police of the communist era) disinformation regarding their role in December 1989.  I was, ironically, myself in the same city, Sibiu, during the same month (mid-late July 1990), and heard many of the same details and arguments from Romanians that Codrescu recounts in the article.  Of course, I have learned an awful lot since then…

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:R0rgBuN52mUJ:alina_stefanescu.typepad.com/files/big-chills-my-high-school-reunion-in-romania-by-andrei-codrescu-1.pdf+romania+big+chills+codrescu+one+side&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgdk_7CPbEjBWbb_Qu0X-f8DTaCv4LzfLkp32-9uQ0FM5IQBPrp55QzDOlUlRa8ATqFHD_zuf5-Duji83oZsMIOxFtpCGqm1v1-MUq52PRv6HSrazFkl6oYCZeVKT6N24DvX_by&sig=AHIEtbT7nr99RVabjfFfuNQpOD5okuapCA

There are many ways to disprove the myth that “Romania’s TV Revolution had only one side…everyone had been on it.”  I choose here one that has gone unmentioned inside Romania and in the English-language literature on December 1989–and one of which so few people appear to be aware:  the statements of senior military officials of a neighboring country attesting to the fact that Romania’s TV Revolution did not have only one side, but had an adversary, Securitate forces.  In fact, the Hungarian military relayed to the Romanian military the locations of Securitate transmitters, allowing the Romanian military to neutralize those facilities.

(26 December 1989 1730 GMT Budapest Domestic Service in Hungarian,FBIS-EEU-89-247, p. 39)

Colonel Gyorgy Keleti, head of the Hungarian People’s Army Press Department:

“…I would like to say that a progressive weakening of the Securitate has been experienced.  We ourselves can see this, because our radio searching and locating units which were in Hungary a few days ago were monitoring broadcasts from 31 Securitate radio centers–yesterday 19, and today only 5.  We of course put this data at the disposal of the Romanian military leadership.”

The Hungarian Defense Ministry repeated this claim in a statement released on 11 January 1990:

1990. január 11., csütörtök 18:55


A Honvédelmi Minisztérium közleménye (4. rész) (OS)
A kezdeti időszakban, amikor a diktátorhoz hű Securitate a
forradalom vérbe fojtására jelentős erőket vetett be, a Magyar
Néphadsereg speciális képzettségű rádióbemérő alakulatainak egy
részét átcsoportosította a magyar-román államhatár közelébe a
Securitate rádióállomásainak bemérésére, helyeinek meghatározására.
Ezeknek az adatoknak az átadásával, az adók bemért földrajzi
helyeinek megjelölésével feltehetően segítséget nyújtott a Magyar
Néphadsereg a Securitate-bázisok felszámolásában, megsemmisítésében.
Szinte napról napra érzékelhető volt ezek számának csökkenése, ami a
magyar szakértők szerint arról tanúskodott, hogy a diktátorhoz hű
erők törzseit a román hadsereg folyamatosan számolja fel. Ezt
példázza, hogy a december 26-án nyilvánosságra hozottak szerint
24-én még 31, 25-én már 19 és 26-án csupán öt
Securitate-rádióközpont működését rögzítették és mérték be a magyar
rádiófelderítő és bemérő alegységek.

 

and Ferenc Karpati, Hungarian Defense Minister at the time of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989, maintained this claim in an article published in Historia in 2000:

Ferenc Karpati:  “A Securitate erői ellen hosszú, küzdelmes harcot folytattak a hadsereg és a forradalom más erői. Felszámolásuk érdekében a Magyar Honvédség speciális képzettségu rádióbemérő egységeinek egy részét átcsoportosítottuk a román államhatár közelébe, s így sikerült rádióállomásaikat bemérni, álláshelyeiket pontosan meghatározni. Az adatok átadásával jelentősen elősegítettük a Securitate-bázisok felszámolását.”  KÁRPÁTI FERENC: A román forradalom és Magyarország, 1989. Egy volt miniszter emlékezése

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Bullets, Lies, and Videotape: The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989 (by Richard Andrew Hall)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 8, 2010

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape:  The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989[1]

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; cleared by PRB 15 December 2009]  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.

(PERHAPS) ONLY IN ROMANIA!:  Twenty Years Later Romanianists and Romanians Continue to Deny the Existence of Atypical Munitions in December 1989…Even Though Clear Video Evidence Exists to Confirm Their Presence!

DUM-DUM MUNITIONS OF THE SECURITATE’S ELITE SNIPERS (above); VIDIA BULLETS (below)

Holland & Holland (London) magnum bullets found in Securitate V-a building

VIDIA bullets (Bucuresti, zona TVR) below– individual demonstrates how much smaller they are than Army’s standard 7,62 mm munitions

VIDIA bullet

Possible VIDIA bullets (Brasov) below; doctor describing wounds to the head caused by these munitions

for full PDF file see here:

blv 111909tk6

blv 111909tk6 97 compat (for earlier versions of word)

His name was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias.

And in Romania in December 1989 and January 1990, Nicolae Ghircoias was a very busy man.

We know, officially, of Nicolae Ghircoias’ actions in the last days leading up to the fall of the regime of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on 22 December 1989, as a result of what he and others said at a trial later in January 1990.  In bureaucratic parlance, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias, was the Director of the Criminalistic Institute of the Militia’s [Police’s] General Inspectorate.   In colloquial terms, in December 1989 it appears that this amounted to being something of a “cleaner,” or “fixer,” the kind of guy who could make unpleasant things—such as corpses—go away, without leaving a trace.

After regime forces opened fire on anti-regime protesters in the western city of Timisoara on 17 and 18 December 1989, Colonel Ghircoias was dispatched to recover the corpses of those with gunshot wounds from the city’s morgue.  The unautopsied cadavers of 43 demonstrators were stolen from the morgue in the dead of night and then transported to the outskirts of the capital Bucharest by refrigerated truck , where they were cremated.[2] Ghircoias was also in charge of collecting and destroying the hospital records and any other incriminating material that might indicate not just the death, but also the life of those who had perished—the official explanation for the disappearance of these citizens was to be that they had fled the country, thus taking their documents with them.  In other words, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias’ job was primarily, it seems, the destruction of evidence.[3]

COLONEL GHIRCOIAS MAKES THE ROUNDS OF BUCHAREST’S HOSPITALS

Unofficially, we also know of Colonel Ghircoias’ exploits after the Ceausescu regime collapsed on 22 December 1989, exploits for which he was not charged at his trial and for which he has never been charged.  Of the 1,104 people killed and 3,352 people injured during the December 1989 bloodshed, 942 of them were killed and 2,251 wounded after Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu fled power on 22 December 1989.  At the time, personnel of the communist regime’s secret police—known as the Securitate—and allied foreign mercenaries fighting to restore the Ceausescu regime—collectively christened “the terrorists”—were thought to be the primary source behind the post-22 December bloodshed.

It was in this context, that doctors from Bucharest’s various main hospitals recall Colonel Ghircoias’ sudden, unannounced appearances during the last days of December 1989 and first days of January 1990.  Professor Andrei Firica of the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” recounted in a 2004 media interview largely the same details he had conveyed to the press in the summer of 1990.  According to Firica, some 15 to 20 suspected terrorists had been interned at the “Emergency Hospital” in varying states of medical distress.  He says he made a small file of the medical situations of these patients.  A Militia colonel, whom he later was to see in [prisoner] stripes on TV as a defendant in the Timisoara trial—i.e. fairly clearly Ghircoias—came one day and counseled him to keep nosy foreign reporters away from the beds of the “terrorists,” stating ominously that “these were just terrorist suspects and he [Dr. Firica] didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone”!   The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects onto a bus and off they went.  Firica maintains the files he kept on the terrorist suspects “of course, disappeared.”  He noted, however, that he asked his son, who had studied theater and film at university, to film the terrorists tied down to the hospital beds, and he claims he gave copies of this cassette to the Procuracy.[4]

[5]

[In viewing these photos, witness what Constantin Fugasin recounted in “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, in 1990, based in part on an interview with Dr. Andrei Firica:

At the Emergency Hospital 13 suspected of being what we call terrorists were interned.  Among these a few were definitely foreign, even though all had Romanian papers.  Two clearly had ‘Mongoloid’ (‘Asiatic’) features (one stated that his mother was Romanian, while his father was from Laos), while four others were Arabs.  Nevertheless, they spoke Romanian very well.  Doctor Nicolae Staicovici, who worked a time in Egypt and who treated them for a time spoke with them.  At a moment, he formed a question in Arabic.  One of the injured responded to him perfectly.  All were well-built, one was a ‘mountain of a man.’  He said nothing, although he probably had terrible pains.  There were also two terrorists who were not wounded.  One arrived at night, under some pretext.  Those on guard suspecting him, immobilized him.  He had on three layers of clothing and several ids.  They tied him to the stretcher, but although he appeared rather frail, at a given moment he ripped the restraints off.[6]]

[7]

[Dr. Andrei Firica, 2004:  From a diagnostic perspective, those who maintain that the terrorists didn’t exist are telling an outrageous lie…In the Emergency Hospital, people were brought who were shot with precision in the forehead, from behind, just a few yards in the crowd of demonstrators, such people who did this can only be called terrorists…[8]]

Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, chief surgeon at the Coltea Hospital, also was paid the honor of a visit by Colonel Ghircoias during these days:

I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias.  He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of I-don’t-know-what “criminalistic” department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate].  He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him.  Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments.

To the question of whether he informed the Military Procuracy?

Of course, I announced the Prosecutor’s Office, and requested an investigation [of those shot in the revolution].  For example, when I showed them the apartment from where there were was shooting during the revolution, on the fourth floor of the ‘Luceafarul’ cinema, the prosecutors told me that they sought to verify it and uncovered that there was a Securitate ‘safehouse’ there and that was it.

In 1992, I signed along with other doctors, university professors, renowned surgeons, a memorandum [see page 5 for an article apparently linked to the memorandum] addressed to the Prosecutor General in which we requested an investigation regarding the wounded and dead by gunfire.  Not having received any response, after six months I went there to ask what was going on.  They told me they were working on it, and they showed me two or three requests and that was it.  One of the prosecutors took me into the hallway and told me “I have a child, a wife, it is very complicated.”  He asked me what I thought I was doing…I lit back into him, I told him I wasn’t just any kind of person to be blown off.

I showed him the x-rays of those who were shot, I showed him the bullets in the liver.  The x-rays exist, they weren’t my invention, I didn’t just dream all this up to demand an investigation!  I told them that there are some people who wish to find out the truth and they signed a memo to the Procuracy and they aren’t just anybody, but doctors with experience, experts in the field.  In vain, we requested ballistics tests and other research, in vain we presented forms, documents, x-rays, studies.  They did not want to undertake a serious investigation.[9]

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. [10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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[13] on the one hand and dissimulation[14] 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.[15] [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[16] , 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…[17]

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,[18] 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[19] 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.[20] 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. [21] 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”[22] 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[23], 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.[24]

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.”[25] 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.

“LOST”…DURING INVESTIGATION:  WHEN ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.[26]

From early in 1990, those who participated in or were directly affected by the December 1989 events have attested to efforts to cover-up what happened.  Significantly, and enhancing the credibility of these accusations, those who claim such things come from diverse backgrounds, different cities, and from across the post-Ceausescu political spectrum.  Further enhancing their credibility, in many cases, they do not attempt to place these incidents into larger narratives about what happened in December 1989, but merely note it as a fact in relating their own personal experiences.

Let’s take the case of Simion Cherla, a participant in the December 1989 events in Timisoara.  Here is how Radu Ciobotea recounted Cherla’s story in May 1991:

Simion Cherlea also arrives, agitated.  He received a death threat, wrapped in a newspaper.  Next to it, in his mailbox, a bullet cartridge was also found.  To suggest to him that that is how he would end up if…

–If I talk.  Or if I have a copy of the file that I removed on 22 December 1989 from the office of the head of the county Securitate.  There was a map of the 8 Interior Ministry formations from Timisoara and “registry-journal of unique ordered operational activities.”  I gave them to Constantin Grecu (since transferred to the reserves), who gave them to Colonel Zeca and General Gheorghe Popescu.  These documents were of great use…in the Army’s fight against the terrorists.

–Do you know what the deal is with such formations?…When I looked at the map, my eyes glazed over.  Their formations were for entire zones where 10 to 12 nests of gunfire were programmed to shoot at a precise hour and minute!  Can you imagine!  And I, because I was trying to help in the fight against the terrorists, I turned it over to them!  So now I asked for it to be used at the trial.  In the registry everything was written:  who ordered, who executed the mission, the place, the hour, how long it last, the impact.  Great, all these documents are now said to have disappeared.  And I am threatened that I too will disappear like them.[27]

The discovery and then disappearances of such maps showing the placement and actions of Interior Ministry units—in particular, the Securitate—was recounted by others in the early 1990s.[28]

Nor, as we saw earlier from Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu’s testimony above, could one count on the military prosecutor’s office.  Jean Constantinescu [no apparent relation], who was shot in the CC building on 23 December 1989, stated the following in a declaration he gave just last year (as recounted by the investigative journalist Romulus Cristea):

I had two encounters with representatives from the prosecutor’s office.  The first prosecutor visited me at home, around two months after the events, he listened and noted my account, and as a conclusion, informally, he said something to me such as “we already know a good part of the shooters, they can be charged and pay civil damages, you can be part of the lawsuit and request appropriate damages.”  After hesitating, I added such a request, at the end of my written declaration, which I signed….

The second prosecutor, who later came to head the institution [the procuracy], invited me after several months to the office near Rosetti Square.  At the end of the conversation, he attempted to convince me that we shot amongst ourselves [ie there was no real enemy, no terrorists].[29]

The second prosecutor’s actions, according to Constantinescu’s recounting, are very familiar.  Already in mid-January 1990, participants in the gunfights of Brasov were telling the press that important evidence was missing and that the former Securitate were attempting to change the story of December 1989:

Florin Crisbasan:  Now the securisti are spreading their version:  “You guys shot into one another like a bunch of idiots.”…About 100 people were arrested as terrorists, but now they tell us they no longer have them…documents are missing, they don’t know how or what type:  a video cassette that I wished to access, with film from the events, can no longer be found….

Emil Ivascu:  If they tell us that “we shot among ourselves,” how the hell do you explain the ammunition with which they [the terrorists] fired? A bullet would rip your foot apart.  We saw for ourselves these type of arms.  Could just average civilians have been in possession of these?[30]

In May 1991, Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea described in detail for journalist Dan Badea the atypical ammunitions they found in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Vth Directorate (charged with Ceausescu’s personal security) building, including dum-dum bullets and special bullets (apparently vidia bullets).  They noted the civilians and soldiers who had witnessed this find, and mentioned that a certain Spiru Zeres had filmed the whole sequence, cassettes that were available for the military procuracy.[31]

Journalist and documentary-maker Maria Petrascu, who with her since deceased husband Marius, had for years investigated the Brasov events, also drew attention to the type of ammunition used in December 1989 when she recalled in 2007 that, “For a long time the Brasov Military Procuracy didn’t do anything, although they had evidence, statements, documents, photos and even the atypical bullets brought by the families of those killed or wounded.”[32] A soldier shot on 23 December 1989 in Buzau recently admitted that his doctors changed their declarations regarding the bullet with which he had been hit—identified by another soldier with whom he was interned as a ‘vidia’ bullet—to standard 7.62 mm ammunition.[33] In fall 2006, the daughter of a priest recalled:

In December ’89, after he arrived from Timisoara, my father stayed with me on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard [in Bucharest].  We returned to our home, on the corner of Admiral Balescu and Rosenthal.  I found the cupboard of the dresser pure and simple riddled with bullets, about 8 to 10 of them. Someone who knew about such things told me they were vidia bullets. They were brought to a commission, but I don’t know what happened to them.[34]

This echoes something that Army Colonel Ion Stoleru was saying back in 1992:  that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip.  Really modern weapons,” to which he added, significantly, The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…[35]

And yet, amazingly—despite all these testimonies regarding the existence and use of atypical munitions, or perhaps better put, precisely because of them—as of August 1991, Rasvan Popescu could report that “of the thousands of projectiles shot against the revolutionaries during  December 1989, the Prosecutor’s office has entered into the possession of…four bullets.  A ridiculous harvest.”[36]

BANKING ON THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE…

If Rasvan Popescu’s account is correct, it is understandable why functionaries of the Ceausescu regime have long banked on an absence of evidence.  For example, when asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used in December 1989, Dr. Vladimir Belis, the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine (IML) at the time, claims he doesn’t know and can’t say, because he claims no autopsies were ever performed—leading journalists to conclude that “therefore the tales of terrorists who shot with ‘dum-dum’ bullets, ‘bullets with vidia tips’ or bullets of large caliber, atypical for Romanian military units, will remain just stories that can neither be confirmed nor denied.”[37]

Former Securitate officer-turned journalist, novelist, and celebrity, Pavel Corut, has written alternatively derisively and sarcastically—well-nigh tauntingly—about the existence of such atypical ammunition and its use in December 1989:

“…Later I read fantastical and pathetic accounts according to which this [Army] officer died by being ‘hit by vidia and explosive [dum-dum] bullets.’  It isn’t the only case of a solider killed accidentally in warfare…”[38]

“Now we know that all the information…was false:  there did not exist a special guard unit that pledged an oath of (legionary-like) fealty to the dictator, there did not exist snipers with infrared sighting systems, no one shot vidia bullets…”[39]

“Vidia bullets don’t exist anywhere in the world.  And yet even the Army believed that the ‘Securitate-terrorists’ used vidia bullets….All this information was designed to create [the impression of] terrorists.  To show the people and the whole world fanatical terrorists.”[40]

Last, but hardly least, military prosecutors with roots in the Ceausescu era, have assimilated or mirror such arguments.  General Dan Voinea who headed the investigations from 1997-2001 and 2004-2008 said as much:

Romulus Cristea (journalist):  “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims?  The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea:  There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets.  During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[41][42] (Emphasis added)

The wonderful legalistic (alibi-bestowing) logic for Voinea and his colleagues then goes something like this:   there exist victims requesting damages for injuries, loss of life, livelihood or property sustained during the violence of December 1989, their loss was real and deserves to be compensated by the Romanian state; but those initially considered guilty of causing much of this injury, loss of life, and damage and taken into custody in December 1989—the”terrorist” suspects—were released in January 1990, and so juridically there do not exist defendants; nor does there appear to still exist in the hands of the military procuracy much of the material evidence presented in 1990-1991—maps, videos, etc.—and, apparently, only four bullets; and no autopsies were officially performed on those shot in December 1989.  So in essence, the only things left are the crimes themselves and the testimonies of those interviewed over the past two decades:  no autopsy records, little material evidence, and the original suspects have gone missing…Conclusion:  no atypical munitions existed, were used, or maimed or killed anybody, and there were no terrorists, everyone shot into everyone else in the chaos of the moment—or in other words, the exact argument which as we have seen has been with us since Florin Crisbasan and Emil Ivascu of Brasov related the former Securitate’s “line of reasoning” in mid-January 1990.

VIDEO KILLED THE DICTATOR…AND EXPLODES THE LIES OF HIS  SUBORDINATES:

Four Videos in the Battle against Amnesia and Denial

For years, former Securitate and Militia personnel, and senior former communist party officials—in other words those most vested in the former Ceausescu regime and its legacy—have banked on the fact that the material evidence that could contradict their claims was absent, in fact did not and had never not existed.  As a result of the odd twists, turns, and vagaries of post-Ceausescu politics—combining rigidly partisan political narratives with a remarkable permeability to the arguments and information of “the enemy of my enemy”—it is also the case, ironically, that many on the liberal, anti-communist side of political spectrum, have become vested in this assumption too. [43]

Before the advent in the mid and late 2000s of user-generated content video sites, much of what had been seen of the Revolution came from the studios and cameras of Romanian Television or foreign networks.  The Internet and video sites such as Youtube, Daily Motion, and others have broken down the centralized control of other often individually-recorded images, ultimately challenging the sort of control over information exercised by a state agency such as, in this case, the military procuracy.

Video No. 1:  Bucharest, Securitate Archives in the Central Committee Building, Dum-Dum and Vidia Bullets

In the first video (posted by Alexandru2006 at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rojm_revolutia-romana-22-dec-1989-cd5_shortfilms) , the sequence from roughly 1:20 to 2:50 shows civilians in the bowels of the CC building in Bucharest—the focal point of the December events, from where Nicolae Ceausescu gave his famous “final speech” on 21 December and from which Front leaders addressed crowds on 22 December and after—showing the munitions found in the Archives of the PCR’s CC.  The “dum-dum” bullets of “the elite shooters/commandos”—he mentions they are of West German manufacture—are identified for the camera, as are smaller, special bullets—which appear, based on other video, photos, and accounts, to be “vidia” bullets.  [Following the two screen captures below is an article from 31 December 1989, “Cu ce trag teroristii?” (With What are the Terrorists Shooting), in which the journalist discusses having a West German-manufactured (RWS firm) “dum-dum” bullet in his hand, as well as the “unfortunately now-famous small bullets of 5,62 mm caliber” (vidia bullets).]

DUM-DUM MUNITIONS OF THE SECURITATE’S ELITE SNIPERS (above); VIDIA BULLETS (below)

Video No. 2: Bucharest, Piata Aviatorilor, near TVR (Romanian state Television) headquarters, Vidia Bullets

In the second video (posted by Alexandru2006 at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rob0_revolutia-romana-22-dec1989-cd4_shortfilms), a civilian shows how the bullets shot by “the enemy”—i.e. “the terrorists”—are different than the standard ammunition (7.62 mm) he and the others are using.  Based on other video, photos, and accounts, these appear to be “vidia” bullets—there are many testimonies from those who fought in the area near the TV station regarding these bullets.  [Below the screen capture:   a photo posted on the Internet by Alexandru Stepanian, that he claims is a photo of one of these vidia bullets]

Imaginea a glontului vidia de 5,6 mm, tras la poarta din Pangrati a sediului TVR, in 22-23 decembrie 1989, de tineri vlajgani, in blugi, prinsi, dar eliberati de tov. General Tudor, activat de tov. Ion Iliescu.

Material primit de la dl. Alexandru Stepanian.

www.portalulrevolutiei.ro, glont vidia, zona TVR, Alexandru Stepanian

Video No. 3:  Bucharest, Soft-nosed (“Dum-Dum”) Bullets Found in the Headquarters of the Securitate’s V-th Directorate

The third video was found by the blogger who goes by the handle “Claude 2.0” (Claude 2.0 Dupa 19 ani – Gloante dum-dum ? postare din 14 aprilie 2009). It shows people going through material including bullets found in the headquarters building of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate (that charged with the personal protection of the Ceausescus).  An article from March 1990 appended below has a senior arms specialist discussing his being summoned during these days to the zone around the CC building (where the Vth Directorate building was located), where he verified that “soft-nosed” bullets (known colloquially as “dum-dum”) were discovered (he then goes into detail about their properties).  Discussion in the videotape about the box in which the bullets were discovered, as well as the comments of the arms specialist, suggest these were Kynoch-Magnum “soft-nosed” bullets—described in the article as “cartridges for [hunting] elephants.”

Video No. 4:  Brasov, Morgue, Atypical (“Vidia”) Bullets

Video 4 comes from part 7 of Maria Petrascu’s 2005 documentary film “Revolutionary Brasov” (Brasovul Revolutionar PARTEA 7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9z4wLuma0Q).  It shows both the small, atypical, [“vidia”] bullets with which civilians and soldiers were killed, as well as an unidentified doctor speaking on 23 January 1990 in which he states that four of six soldiers he had looked at had been shot with great precision in the forehead with such bullets (film is also shown of their gruesome injuries).   Maria Petrascu has described elsewhere what she and her husband found on 29-30 December 1989 at the County Morgue:

Even the halls were filled with the dead, there were over 100.  They didn’t have any place to put them all, we walked through pools of blood, we saw the cadavers of children, young people, adults, shot in the forehead, in the heart, in the feet and abdomen with brains and intestines having exploded, nightmarish scenes that I shall never forget.  It was then that we decided we wouldn’t rest until we discovered who fired, because we had begun to understand that many of those killed had been shot by guns with infrared scopes, by some professionals.[44]

Those Who Have Told Us the Truth [45]

As opposed to the aforementioned Vladimir Belis, Pavel Corut, and Dan Voinea, all of whom who have strenuously and repeatedly denied the existence and use in December 1989 of atypical munitions of dum-dum bullets and vidia bullets, there exist those who have told us of the existence and use of these in December 1989.[46] They are essentially, for lack of a better term, former Securitate whistleblowers, who have admitted the Securitate’s role in providing the “terrorists” who caused so much destruction, mayhem, and loss of life in those days.

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989.  What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding [dum-dum] bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions” [emphasis added]—in other words, exploding or dum-dum bullets.[47]

The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89.  In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched.  Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition.  In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances.  I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets.  In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox.  We had been drugged.  We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us.  Don’t publish my name.  I fear for me and my parents.  When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’  The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize.  I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’.[48] [emphases added]

As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention:  the former Securitate.  That is not accidental.[49]

Those discussed as alternatively “commandos” or “professionals” appear to have been members of the so-called USLAC—Special Unit for Anti-terrorist and Commando Warfare.  In 1991, Dan Badea summarized former USLA Captain Marian Romanescu’s description of the USLAC as follows:

THE USLAC COMMANDOS:

Those who had and have knowledge about the existence and activities of the shock troops subordinated directly to Ceausescu remained quiet and continue to do so out of fear or out of calculation.  Much has been said about individuals in black jumpsuits, with tattoos on their left hand and chest, mercenary fanatics who acted at night, killing with precision and withdrawing when they were encircled to the underground tunnels of Bucharest.  Much was said, then nobody said anything, as if nothing had ever happened.

Traversing the [Securitate’s] Fifth Directorate and the USLA, the USLAC commandos were made up of individuals who ‘worked’ undercover at different posts.  Many were foreign students, doctoral students and thugs committed with heart and soul to the dictator.  Many were Arabs who knew with precision the nooks and crannies of Bucharest, Brasov and other towns in Romania.  For training these had at their disposal several underground centers of instruction:  one was in an area near Brasov, while another—it appears—was right under the former headquarters of the PCR CC [communist party central committee building], a shooting range that was—discovered by accident by several revolutionaries during the events of December .”[50]

We also know from Romanescu and a second source that USLA commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu (Bula Moise) addressed his troops as follows:

“On 25 December at around 8 pm, after the execution of the dictators, Colonel Ardeleanu gathered the unit’s members into an improvised room and said to them:

‘The Dictatorship has fallen!  The Unit’s members are in the service of the people.  The Romanian Communist Party [PCR] is not disbanding!  It is necessary for us to regroup in the democratic circles of the PCR—the inheritor of the noble ideas of the people of which we are a part!…Corpses were found, individuals with USLAC (Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare) identity cards and identifications with the 0620 stamp of the USLA, identity cards that they had no right to be in possession of when they were found…’  He instructed that the identity cards [of members of the unit] had to be turned in within 24 hours, at which time all of them would receive new ones with Defense Ministry markings.” [51] [52]

In other words, a cover-up of a now failed attempt at counter-revolution—having been cut short by the execution of the Ceausescus, the object of their struggle—had begun.  In the days and weeks that were to follow, the Securitate, including people such as the seemingly ubiquitous Colonel Ghircoias discussed in the opening of this article would go about recovering those “terrorists” who were unlucky enough to be captured, injured, or killed.  By 24 January 1990, the “terrorists” of the Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989, no longer existed, so-to-speak, and the chances for justice and truth about what had happened in December 1989 would never recover.[53]

THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED. THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION WAS VIDEOTAPED.

Poet, essayist, and NPR contributor Andrei Codrescu memorably turned Gil Scott Heron’s famous social commentary—“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”—on  its head, saying that contrary to what Heron’s song had led them to expect …in Romania, the revolution was televised!  But if you read on or listen to Codrescu closely, it would be more accurate to say that he, like many Romanians and Romanianists, believes that what happened in December 1989 was a coup d’etat—he talks about the“staging of the revolution” and how the coup plotters “seized the means of projection”—and thus what he really seems to intend to say is that “the coup d’etat was televised.”[54]

On the other hand, Vladimir Tismaneanu is quoted as once having memorably said:  ”The VCR killed Ceausescu even before his execution…It was the most important factor in terms of creating a mass consciousness.”[55] It is an important and insightful observation about the power of technology and the challenges it poses to centralized control, especially of the totalitarian state.

Ceausescu’s image and control was damaged by the video-player—to say nothing of, by live television, with the infamous “mirror-shattering” moment of 21 December 1989.  However, as this paper has demonstrated, it is the video-recorder that has undone his final and unfortunately (ever)lasting “Christmas gift” to his Romanian subjects, and that has undone the lies of those—including certain past military prosecutors with roots in the communist era—bent on covering this up.

[1]For some of my previous publications on this topic, see Richard Andrew Hall:

Hall 2008 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romrevfordumdums042108tk.html,

Hall 2006 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html,

Hall 2005 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html,

Hall 2004 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/doublespeak%20romania%203-2004.html,

Hall 2002 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html,

Richard Andrew Hall, “Theories of Collective Action and Revolution:  Evidence from the Romanian Transition of December 1989,” Europe-Asia Studies 2000, no. 6 (September 2000).

Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity:  The ‘Staged-War’ Theory and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies vol 13, no. 3 (Fall 1999) (University of California Berkeley Press).

[2] For a good discussion of this in English, which explains how cremation practices were  at odds with Romanian burial traditions, see the article entitled “The Red Mask of Death:  The Evil Politics of Cremation in Romania 1989,” in the journal Mortality, no. 15 (1).

[3]For more information online, see, for example, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Ghircoia%C5%9F, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera%C5%A3iunea_Trandafirul, http://www.romanialibera.ro/a51078/cine-a-organizat-furtul-cadavrelor-din-morga-spitalului-judetean.html, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/53.htm, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/67.htm. Even the 1994 SRI report admits that confusion surrounding the identity of those who were cremated stems from Ghircoias’ burning—after the flight of the Ceausescus on 22 December—of all relevant documents he had seized from the Timisoara county hospital http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/raportul_sri11.htm.  Thus, it seems appropriate to say Ghircoias’ job involved making things disappear…

[4]Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition, cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. For similar accounts, see Florin Mircea Corcoz si Mircea Aries, “Terorist ascuns in Apuseni?” Romania Libera, 21 August 1992, p. 1–“Colonelul Ghircoias, former director of the Securitate’s penal investigative unit, brought together the individuals accused of being terrorists and made them disappear”; Andreea Hasnas, “Reportajul unui film cu TERORISTI,” Expres, no. 10 (6-12 aprilie 1990), p. 5; Constantin Fugasin, “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, 1990.

[5] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[6] Significantly this video is in direct contradiction and contests the claims of the Sorin Iliesiu who maintains that “General Dan Voinea has said clearly:  The terrorists did not exist.  Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead, wounded or arrested  (Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709).  For a discussion, see Hall 2008.

[7] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[8] Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.

[9] Dr. Professor Nicolae Constantinescu, interview by Romulus Cristea, “”Nici acum nu-mi dau seama cum am putut sa operez nonstop timp de trei zile,” Romania Libera, 20 December 2006, online edition.

[10]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 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/huroimages060207tk6.html). 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].”

[11] 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.

[12] For more discussion, see Hall 2000.

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

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

[15] 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 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23437. 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 http://www.jurnalul.ro/stire-special/a-fost-revolutie-sau-lovitura-de-stat-527645.html.

[16] http://ro.wikisource.org/wiki/Conu_Leonida_fa%C5%A3%C4%83_cu_reac%C5%A3iunea

[17] Entry from forum at http://www.gds.ro/Opinii/2007-12-20/Revolutia:+majoratul+rusinii!

[18]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.

[19] 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.

[20] 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.

[21] 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.

[22] 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)

[23] Mioc does not talk a great deal about his personal story:  here is one of those few examples, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/5.htm.

[24] Quoted from http://mariusmioc.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/o-diferentiere-necesara-comunisti-si-criminali-comunisti/#more-4973

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

[26] The origin of this phrase is apparently ascribed to the astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan, and only later became a favorite of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

[27] Radu Ciobotea, “Spitalul groazei nu are amintiri,” Flacara, nr. 19 (8 mai 1991), p. 4.

[28] See the sources listed in endnote 59, Hall 2006.

[29] http://romuluscristea.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/cautari-dupa-20-de-ani/#more-2603 It would be interesting to say the least to know who the second prosecutor was, although I have my suspicions as to who it could have been.

[30] Mircea Florin Sandru, “Brasov:  Intrebari care asteapta raspuns (II),” Tineretul Liber, 17 ianuarie 1990, p. 1, p. III-a).

[31] I discussed all of this in detail, including a partial English translation of the article, in Hall 2008.

[32] http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214 Reply #131.

[33] http://1989.jurnalul.ro/stire-special/baiete-ai-avut-zile-526579.html.

[34] Christian Levant, “Dacă tata nu-l salva pe Tokes, dacă nu salva biserici, tot se întâmpla ceva,” Adevarul, 30 September 2006, online at http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/dac-x103-tata-nu-l-salva-pe-tokes-dac-x103-nu-salva-biserici-tot-se-nt-mpla-ceva/200090.

[35] Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.  Cited in Hall, 2008.

[36] Rasvan Popescu, “Patru gloante dintr-o tragedie,” Expres, nr. 32 (81) 13-19 August 1991, p. 10 (?).

[37] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/34668/belis-nu-a-vazut-cadavrele-ceausestilor, discussed in Hall 2008.

[38] Paul Cernescu (aka Pavel Corut), “Cine a tras in noi?” Expres Magazin, nr. 66 (43) 30 October-5 November 1991, p. 12.  Paul Cernescu is Pavel Corut’s acknowledged alias.  During his journalistic career at Ion Cristoiu’s Expres Magazin, he began by writing under this pseudonym.

[39] Paul Cernescu (aka Pavel Corut), “Cine a tras in noi?” Expres Magazin, nr. 65 (42) 23-29 October 1991, p. 12.

[40] Pavel Corut, Fulgerul Albastru (Bucuresti:  Editura Miracol, 1993), p. 177.  For background in English on Corut, see Michael Shafir, “Best Selling Spy Novels Seek To Rehabilitate Romanian ‘Securitate,'” in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report, Vol. 2, no. 45, pp. 14-18.

[41] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition.  Reproduced at, for example, http://asociatia21decembrie.ro/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=31&sid=f9403c7a52a7ac9c8b53b8042226f135.

See also the claims of former military prosecutor Teodor Ungureanu (Facultatea de Drept, 1978) also in December 2005, at, for example, http://www.piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3912&sid=c76d79333718bc7fdfad0eb8e22eb913

and

http://www.piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=202&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0. Nor does Teodoru Ungureanu believe in terrorists, vidia bullets, dum-dum bullets, or atypical ammunition:

“La cele de mai sus va trebui să adăugăm fabulaţiile cu privire la celebrele “gloanţe-widia”. Prin lansarea acestei aberaţii, cei mai de seamă reprezentanţi ai Armatei s-au compromis lamentabil. Ceea ce prezentau în emisiuni tv ori în paginile unor ziare ca fiind teribilele instrumente ale morţii, nu erau nimic altceva decât miezurile din oţel care intrau în alcătuirea internă a proiectilului cal. 7,62 mm-scurt destinat armelor tip AKM. Tot aşa aveau să fie făcute speculaţii asupra folosirii muniţiei explozive (de tip dum-dum), de către persoane care erau fie străine de efectele povocate asupra corpului uman de proiectile cu diverse energii cinetice (la momentul străpungerii), ori de fragmente din proiectile dezmembrate la un anterior impact cu un corp dur, fie de cei angajaţi într-o reală acţiune de dezinformare….”

[42] According to Sorin Iliesiu, the filmmaker who claims to have edited the chapter on December 1989 in the so-called Tismaneanu Raport Final, the “spirit of Voinea’s findings can be found in the Chapter.”  Indeed, the chapter includes snippets from an interview between Dan Voinea and Andrei Badin (Adevarul , December 2006).  The “indefatigable” Voinea, as Tom Gallagher has referred to him, continues to be defended by Vladimir Tismaneanu who has expressed support for Voinea’s investigations “from both a juridic and historic viewpoint” (see the entries for 21 September 2009 at http://tismaneanu.wordpress.com), avoiding any mention of the reasons for Voinea’s dismissal from the Military Procuracy, mistakes that Prosecutor General Laura Codruta Kovesi says “one wouldn’t expect even from a beginner” (for more on this and background, see Hall 2008):

Ce îi reproşaţi, totuşi, lui Voinea? Punctual, ce greşeli a făcut în instrumentarea cauzelor?

Sunt foarte multe greşeli, o să menţionez însă doar câteva. Spre exemplu, s-a început urmărirea penală faţă de persoane decedate. Poate îmi explică dumnealui cum poţi să faci cercetări faţă de o persoană decedată! Apoi, s-a început urmărirea penală pentru fapte care nu erau prevăzute în Codul Penal. În plus

, deşi nu a fost desemnat să lucreze, spre exemplu, într-un dosar privind mineriada (repartizat unui alt procuror), domnul procuror Dan Voinea a luat dosarul, a început urmărirea penală, după care l-a restituit procurorului de caz. Vă imaginaţi cum ar fi dacă eu, ca procuror general, aş lua dosarul unui coleg din subordine, aş începe urmărirea penală după care i l-aş înapoia. Cam aşa ceva s-a întâmplat şi aici.

Mai mult, a început urmărirea penală într-o cauză, deşi, potrivit unei decizii a Înaltei Curţi de Casaţie şi Justiţie, era incompatibil să mai facă asta. E vorba despre dosarul 74/p/1998 (dosar în care Voinea l-a acuzat pe fostul preşedinte Ion Iliescu că, în iunie 1990, a determinat cu intenţie intervenţia în forţă a militarilor împotriva manifestanţilor din Capitală – n.r.).

Apoi au fost situaţii în care s-a început urmărirea penală prin acte scrise de mână, care nu au fost înregistrate în registrul special de începere a urmăririi penale. Aceste documente, spre exemplu, nu prevedeau în ce constau faptele comise de presupuşii învinuiţi, nu conţin datele personale ale acestora. De exemplu, avem rezoluţii de începere a urmăririi penale care-l privesc pe Radu Ion sau pe Gheorghe Dumitru, ori nu ştim cine este Gheorghe Dumitru, nu ştim cine este Radu Ion.

„Parchetul să-şi asume tergiversarea anchetelor”

Credeţi că, în cazul lui Voinea, au fost doar greşeli sau că a fost vorba de intenţie, ştiind că acuzaţii vor scăpa?

Nu cunosc motivele care au stat la baza acestor decizii şi, prin urmare, nu le pot comenta.

Poate fi vorba şi despre complexitatea acestor dosare?

Când ai asemenea dosare în lucru, nu faci astfel de greşeli, de începător. Eşti mult mai atent când ai cauze de o asemenea importanţă pentru societatea românească.

Excerpted from http://www.evz.ro/articole/detalii-articol/868918/Kovesi-despre-revolutia-ratata-a-lui-Voinea-A-gresit-ca-un-incepator/

[43] See, especially Hall 1999 and Hall 2002 for a discussion.

[44] Reproduced at http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214.

[45] This section borrows heavily from Hall 2008 and Hall 2006.

[46] In addition to these videos, I have thus far accumulated 45 mentions/claims of use of dum-dum and/or vidia bullets in December 1989.  These include the testimonies of doctors who treated the wounded, but also military officers—not just recruits—who are familiar with ballistics.  Separately, I also have accumulated 36 mentions/claims of people who were either killed or wounded by such atypical munitions during the events.  Significantly, these include people killed or wounded prior to 22 December 1989 as well as after, and they are from multiple cities and a variety of locations for both periods—suggesting not accident, but a well-executed plan by the repressive forces of the Ceausescu regime, the Securitate and their foreign mercenary allies.  See Hall 2008 for some of these.

[47] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara:  Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[48] “Dezvaluiri despre implicarea USLA in evenimentele din decembrie ’89,” Romania Libera, 28 December 1994, p.3.

[49] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html .

[50] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[51] Captain Marian Romanescu, with Dan Badea, “USLA, Bula Moise, teroristii si ‘Fratii Musulmani’,” Expres (2-8 July 1991), pp. 8-9.

[52] What evidence do we have that the “USLAC”—a reference attributed to Ardeleanu, discussed by Romanescu, and alluded to by Vasilevici (“commandos,” he specified the involvement of Arabs in his book) and the anonymous recruit (the “professionals in black camouflage”)—in fact existed?  To me, the most convincing evidence comes from the comments of Dr. Sergiu Tanasescu, the medical trainer of the Rapid Bucharest soccer team, who was directly involved in the fighting at the Central Committee building.  One has to realize that until his comments in March 1990, the very acronym “USLAC” and its extension does not appear to have appeared in the Romanian media—and has very rarely appeared since.  Here is what he said:

Ion K. Ion (reporter at the weekly Cuvintul):  The idea that there were foreign terrorists has been circulating in the press.

Sergiu Tanasescu (trainer for the Bucharest Rapid soccer club):  I ask that you be so kind as to not ask me about the problem because it is a historical issue.  Are we in agreement?

I.I.:  O.K.

Tanasescu:  I caught a terrorist myself, with my own hands.  He was 26 years old and had two ID cards, one of a student in the fourth year of Law School, and another one of Directorate V-a U.S.L.A.C. Special Unit for Antiterrorist and Commando Warfare [emphasis added].  He was drugged.  I found on him a type of chocolate, “Pasuma” and “Gripha” brands.  It was an extraordinarily powerful drug that gave a state of euphoria encouraging aggression and destruction, and an ability to go without sleep for ten days.  He had a supersophisticated weapon, with nightsights [i.e. lunetisti], with a system for long-distance sound…

Ion K. Ion:  What happened to those terrorists who were caught?

S.T.:  We surrendered them to organs of the military prosecutor.  We caught many in the first days, their identity being confirmed by many, by Colonel Octavian Nae [Dir. V-a], Constantin Dinescu (Mircea’s uncle), [Army Chief of Staff, General] Guse, but especially by [Securitate Director] Vlad who shouted at those caught why they didn’t listen to his order to surrender, they would pretend to be innocent, but the gun barrels of their weapons were still warm from their exploits.  After they would undergo this summary interrogation, most of them were released.

I.I.:  Why?

S.T.:  Because that’s what Vlad ordered.  On 22 December we caught a Securitate major who was disarmed and let go, only to capture him again the next day, when we took his weapon and ammo and again Vlad vouched for him, only to capture him on the third day yet again.  We got annoyed and then arrested all of them, including Vlad and Colonel Nae, especially after a girl of ours on the first basement floor where the heating system is located found him transmitting I don’t know what on a walkie-talkie.

I.I.:  When and how were the bunkers discovered?

S.T.:  Pretty late in the game, in any case only after 24 December.  Some by accident, most thanks to two individuals [with a dog].

Sergiu Tanasescu, interview by Ion K. Ion, “Dinca si Postelnicu au fost prinsi de pantera roz!” Cuvintul, no. 8-9, 28 March 1990, 15.  From Hall, 2006.

[53] For some of the discussion of how the problem was made to “go away,” see Hall 2006 and the section “Foreign Involvement.”

[54] Andrei Codrescu, The Hole in the Flag (Morrow and Company, 1991).  For a discussion of this Codrescu’s sources and arguments, including his allegations of a Yalta-Malta conspiracy, see Hall 2005.

[55] Quoted in Alexander Stille, “Cameras Shoot Where Uzis Can’t,” New York Times, 20 September 20 2003, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/20/arts/cameras-shoot-where-uzis-can-t.html.

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Bullets, Lies, and Videotape: The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989 (Part I: “His name was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias”) by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 20, 2010

Bullets, Lies, and Videotape:

The Amazing, Disappearing Romanian Counter-Revolution of December 1989[1]

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 2009]

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 I

His name was Ghircoias…Nicolae Ghircoias.

And in Romania in December 1989 and January 1990, Nicolae Ghircoias was a very busy man.

We know, officially, of Nicolae Ghircoias’ actions in the last days leading up to the fall of the regime of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on 22 December 1989, as a result of what he and others said at a trial later in January 1990.  In bureaucratic parlance, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias, was the Director of the Criminalistic Institute of the Militia’s [Police’s] General Inspectorate.   In colloquial terms, in December 1989 it appears that this amounted to being something of a “cleaner,” or “fixer,” the kind of guy who could make unpleasant things—such as corpses—go away, without leaving a trace.

After regime forces opened fire on anti-regime protesters in the western city of Timisoara on 17 and 18 December 1989, Colonel Ghircoias was dispatched to recover the corpses of those with gunshot wounds from the city’s morgue.  The unautopsied cadavers of 43 demonstrators were stolen from the morgue in the dead of night and then transported to the outskirts of the capital Bucharest by refrigerated truck, where they were cremated.[2] Ghircoias was also in charge of collecting and destroying the hospital records and any other incriminating material that might indicate not just the death, but also the life of those who had perished—the official explanation for the disappearance of these citizens was to be that they had fled the country, thus taking their documents with them.  In other words, Colonel Nicolae Ghircoias’ job was primarily, it seems, the destruction of evidence.[3]

COLONEL GHIRCOIAS MAKES THE ROUNDS OF BUCHAREST’S HOSPITALS

Unofficially, we also know of Colonel Ghircoias’ exploits after the Ceausescu regime collapsed on 22 December 1989, exploits for which he was not charged at his trial and for which he has never been charged.  Of the 1,104 people killed and 3,352 people injured during the December 1989 bloodshed, 942 of them were killed and 2,251 wounded after Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu fled power on 22 December 1989.  At the time, personnel of the communist regime’s secret police—known as the Securitate—and allied foreign mercenaries fighting to restore the Ceausescu regime—collectively christened “the terrorists”—were thought to be the primary source behind the post-22 December bloodshed.

It was in this context, that doctors from Bucharest’s various main hospitals recall Colonel Ghircoias’ sudden, unannounced appearances during the last days of December 1989 and first days of January 1990.  Professor Andrei Firica of the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” recounted in a 2004 media interview largely the same details he had conveyed to the press in the summer of 1990.  According to Firica, some 15 to 20 suspected terrorists had been interned at the “Emergency Hospital” in varying states of medical distress.  He says he made a small file of the medical situations of these patients.  A Militia colonel, whom he later was to see in [prisoner] stripes on TV as a defendant in the Timisoara trial—i.e. fairly clearly Ghircoias—came one day and counseled him to keep nosy foreign reporters away from the beds of the “terrorists,” stating ominously that “these were just terrorist suspects and he [Dr. Firica] didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone”!   The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects onto a bus and off they went.  Firica maintains the files he kept on the terrorist suspects “of course, disappeared.”  He noted, however, that he asked his son, who had studied theater and film at university, to film the terrorists tied down to the hospital beds, and he claims he gave copies of this cassette to the Procuracy.[4]

[5]

[In viewing these photos, witness what Constantin Fugasin recounted in “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, in 1990, based in part on an interview with Dr. Andrei Firica:

At the Emergency Hospital 13 suspected of being what we call terrorists were interned.  Among these a few were definitely foreign, even though all had Romanian papers.  Two clearly had ‘Mongoloid’ (‘Asiatic’) features (one stated that his mother was Romanian, while his father was from Laos), while four others were Arabs.  Nevertheless, they spoke Romanian very well.  Doctor Nicolae Staicovici, who worked a time in Egypt and who treated them for a time spoke with them.  At a moment, he formed a question in Arabic.  One of the injured responded to him perfectly.  All were well-built, one was a ‘mountain of a man.’  He said nothing, although he probably had terrible pains.  There were also two terrorists who were not wounded.  One arrived at night, under some pretext.  Those on guard suspecting him, immobilized him.  He had on three layers of clothing and several ids.  They tied him to the stretcher, but although he appeared rather frail, at a given moment he ripped the restraints off.[6]]

[7]

[Dr. Andrei Firica, 2004:  From a diagnostic perspective, those who maintain that the terrorists didn’t exist are telling an outrageous lie…In the Emergency Hospital, people were brought who were shot with precision in the forehead, from behind, just a few yards in the crowd of demonstrators, such people who did this can only be called terrorists…[8]]


Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, chief surgeon at the Coltea Hospital, also was paid the honor of a visit by Colonel Ghircoias during these days:

I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias.  He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of I-don’t-know-what “criminalistic” department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate].  He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him.  Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments.

To the question of whether he informed the Military Procuracy?

Of course, I announced the Prosecutor’s Office, and requested an investigation [of those shot in the revolution].  For example, when I showed them the apartment from where there were was shooting during the revolution, on the fourth floor of the ‘Luceafarul’ cinema, the prosecutors told me that they sought to verify it and uncovered that there was a Securitate ‘safehouse’ there and that was it.

In 1992, I signed along with other doctors, university professors, renowned surgeons, a memorandum [see page 5 (below) for an article apparently linked to the memorandum] addressed to the Prosecutor General in which we requested an investigation regarding the wounded and dead by gunfire.  Not having received any response, after six months I went there to ask what was going on.  They told me they were working on it, and they showed me two or three requests and that was it.  One of the prosecutors took me into the hallway and told me “I have a child, a wife, it is very complicated.”  He asked me what I thought I was doing…I lit back into him, I told him I wasn’t just any kind of person to be blown off.

I showed him the x-rays of those who were shot, I showed him the bullets in the liver.  The x-rays exist, they weren’t my invention, I didn’t just dream all this up to demand an investigation!  I told them that there are some people who wish to find out the truth and they signed a memo to the Procuracy and they aren’t just anybody, but doctors with experience, experts in the field.  In vain, we requested ballistics tests and other research, in vain we presented forms, documents, x-rays, studies.  They did not want to undertake a serious investigation.[9]

[1]For some of my previous publications on this topic, see Richard Andrew Hall:

Hall 2008 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romrevfordumdums042108tk.html,

Hall 2006 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html,

Hall 2005 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html,

Hall 2004 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/doublespeak%20romania%203-2004.html,

Hall 2002 http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html,

Richard Andrew Hall, “Theories of Collective Action and Revolution:  Evidence from the Romanian Transition of December 1989,” Europe-Asia Studies 2000, no. 6 (September 2000).

Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity:  The ‘Staged-War’ Theory and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies vol 13, no. 3 (Fall 1999) (University of California Berkeley Press).

[2] For a good discussion of this in English, which explains how cremation practices were  at odds with Romanian burial traditions, see the article entitled “The Red Mask of Death:  The Evil Politics of Cremation in Romania 1989,” in the journal Mortality, no. 15 (1).

[3]For more information online, see, for example, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Ghircoia%C5%9F, http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera%C5%A3iunea_Trandafirul, http://www.romanialibera.ro/a51078/cine-a-organizat-furtul-cadavrelor-din-morga-spitalului-judetean.html, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/53.htm, http://www.timisoara.com/newmioc/67.htm. Even the 1994 SRI report admits that confusion surrounding the identity of those who were cremated stems from Ghircoias’ burning—after the flight of the Ceausescus on 22 December—of all relevant documents he had seized from the Timisoara county hospital http://www.ceausescu.org/ceausescu_texts/revolution/raportul_sri11.htm.  Thus, it seems appropriate to say Ghircoias’ job involved making things disappear…

[4]Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition, cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. For similar accounts, see Florin Mircea Corcoz si Mircea Aries, “Terorist ascuns in Apuseni?” Romania Libera, 21 August 1992, p. 1–“Colonelul Ghircoias, former director of the Securitate’s penal investigative unit, brought together the individuals accused of being terrorists and made them disappear”; Andreea Hasnas, “Reportajul unui film cu TERORISTI,” Expres, no. 10 (6-12 aprilie 1990), p. 5; Constantin Fugasin, “Unde ne sint teroristii?” Zig-Zag, 1990.

[5] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[6] Significantly this video is in direct contradiction and contests the claims of the Sorin Iliesiu who maintains that “General Dan Voinea has said clearly:  The terrorists did not exist.  Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead, wounded or arrested  (Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709).  For a discussion, see Hall 2008.

[7] Screen capture from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7rp6b_revolutia-romana-2225-dec1989-part_shortfilms posted by Alexandru2006.

[8] Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.

[9] Dr. Professor Nicolae Constantinescu, interview by Romulus Cristea, “”Nici acum nu-mi dau seama cum am putut sa operez nonstop timp de trei zile,” Romania Libera, 20 December 2006, online edition.

 

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“ORWELLIAN…POSITIVELY ORWELLIAN:” PROSECUTOR VOINEA’S CAMPAIGN TO SANITIZE THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION OF DECEMBER 1989 (Part 10, The Drumbeat of the Myth of the “Heroic” Prosecutor Voinea Grows Nearer)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 6, 2010


“ORWELLIAN…POSITIVELY ORWELLIAN:”

PROSECUTOR VOINEA’S CAMPAIGN TO SANITIZE

THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION OF DECEMBER 1989

by Richard Andrew Hall

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.

This paper MAY be cited when accompanied by a full, proper citation.  Thank you.


The Drumbeat of the Myth of the “Heroic” Prosecutor Voinea Grows Nearer

The construction of Prosecutor Dan Voinea’s “heroic” image—better yet, myth[175]—is well under way.  No doubt, the story will be ineluctable for the international press (already in June 2006 Le Monde ran an article of the kind)[176] once Voinea “finalizes” the files of the Revolution, perhaps this December, in time for the 17th anniversary of the events (fittingly, a decade since the anti-Iliescu opposition first came to power).  And it undeniably makes for a great story:  the man who was one of the tribunal that sentenced Ceausescu to death “admits to having been duped,” he has since committed himself to a one-man struggle for the “truth”…and finally it is being realized.  Romania’s long nightmare, as Voinea has referred to it, will finally be over. [177]

Or will it?

Even if Voinea were getting things right, it is true the second-guessing, questioning, and reconsideration would continue.  That is simply the nature of human events, especially contentious key historical moments in a modern media age.  But I believe the accumulation through the years of so much convincing countervailing evidence, the continued telling and retelling by participants of accounts that don’t square with Voinea’s forced conclusions—despite the deaf ear much of the Romanian media has shown toward them—and Voinea’s ties to the Ceausescu regime (a military prosecutor since 1982) and his presence and role at the trial of the Ceausescus, will provide more impetus for reinterpretation and challenges to Voinea’s conclusions than a typical historical event does.

At the same time, the “group think” among Romanian journalists and intellectuals that has prevailed on the question of the “terrorists” for so long and the conviction and certainty of so many of them—captured so well in Stejarel Olaru’s wish expressed to Voinea in his open letter quoted earlier:  “…on 17 December 2006 I can enjoy for the rest of my long life that I could see two defendants in the box and not just one:  Nicolae Ceausescu and Ion Iliescu”—will continue to prevent acceptance and serious presentation and discussion of any evidence that does not incriminate Iliescu and other senior Front officials of the time.

So the next stage in this—and one cannot be clear how long this will take or how strong it will be—is likely the argument that the “terrorists” did in fact exist, and that Voinea’s decision to argue otherwise is designed to protect Iliescu and his comrades from even greater embarrassment and punishment.[178] True, that will still leave us a fair distance from what happened, but at least it will bring us a step to closer to admitting the “terrorists” existence and revealing their affiliation with the Securitate.  Small steps are probably the best we can hope for, given the present starting point.

Until then the “terrorists” will remain only a hallucination.  For that feat, the only appropriate response to Prosecutor Voinea and his promoters and embracers at home and abroad is aplauze indelungate.[179]

[175] The terminology of “myth” has been used (and arguably abused) in connection with December 1989, almost from the beginning.  In English, Michael Shafir (1990 in Radio Free Europe Research) and Dennis Deletant (1994 in the Slavonic and East European Review) used it prominently.  Vladimir Tismaneanu’s excellent exegesis about mythological or “magical” thinking in post-communist Romania and the former Eastern Europe is even entitled Fantasies of Salvation—a play on words undoubtedly meant to conjure up and inspired by Iliescu and Co.’s “National Salvation Front”…(all-too-conveniently, of course, those who believe in and advocate myths, according to Tismaneanu, are the opponents and competitors of liberal democratic intellectuals such as Tismaneanu).   Monica Ciobanu’s review of Siani-Davies The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 and Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania:  Theft of a Nation is entitled “The Myth Factory” (found at http://www.tol.cz).

[176] See Paul Mirel Bran, “Le parquet militaire promet un ‘rapport explosif’ sur les dessous de la revolution,” Le Monde, 18 May 2006, online edition.

[177] I suspect that as the Voinea myth grows and even garners some minimal international press coverage (a possible precursor can be seen in Le Monde June 2006), glib Romanian émigré academics in North America who have dabbled in the Revolution will be tempted to add their voices to the chorus.  We have an idea of what they might say.  Well-known writer and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu wrote last year:

“The new President (1996-2000)[Emil Constantinescu] did all he could to stop the thieves and tried also to bring to justice the murderers who created the fake revolution of 1989 in Romania, an event during which more than a thousand people were assassinated at random to give the world the illusion that an actual revolution was taking place. This is a long and sordid story, told in many books, including one by me [The Hole in the Flag], and unresolved to this day. The new President jailed some of the killers (most of them escaped) but none of them did any time when he was voted out of office and the bad old guy came back.”

(Andrei Codrescu, “Humor and Responsibility,” Jewish World Review 26 May 2005 at http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0505/codrescu052305.php3 and in The Penny Post Downtown Express Volume 18, Number 1 ( MAY 27 —JUNE 2, 2005) at http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_107/thepennypost.html.

Vladimir Tismaneanu wrote with Peter Gross in the Journal of Democracy in April 2005:

“Many Romanians now hope that the truth about the postcommunist leadership and its policies and actions will be revealed…They expect that there will finally be a dignified and responsible effort to examine the nation’s true communist and postcommunist histories, including the still unresolved questions regarding the December 1989 revolution…[such as] the secret military tribunal, and Ceausescu’s execution.  Who was shooting at the crowds?  Who and what drove the evolution of events?  Was this a series of premeditated events and if so, who was responsible?” (p. 150; emphases added).

If Tismaneanu’s loaded and leading questions aren’t enough to telegraph his understanding of the “truth,” then his approval of Siani-Davies’ grasp of “the myths and realities” of the Revolution and his pronouncement of Andrei Codrescu’s The Hole in the Flag as “impeccably accurate [!!!  …such a characterization speaks volumes]” (Jurnalul National, February 2005) should add clarity.

In Prosecutor Voinea’s conclusions Codrescu and Tismaneanu will no doubt find the discovery of the “truth” for which they have so long been waiting.

[178] The title of a recent article perhaps captures what it might look like:  “Everyone is ‘happy’:  The Revolution had no terrorists, while no one is guilty for the mineriada [of June 1990],” see “Toata lumea –I ‘multumita’:  La Revolutie n-au fost teroristi, iar pentru mineriada nu sunt vinovati,” Cronica Romana, 13 June 2006, online edition.

[179] The “prolonged applause” of a bygone era.

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“ORWELLIAN…POSITIVELY ORWELLIAN:” PROSECUTOR VOINEA’S CAMPAIGN TO SANITIZE THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION OF DECEMBER 1989 (Part 9, Orwellian Sanity/Won’t Get Fooled Again)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 5, 2010

“ORWELLIAN…POSITIVELY ORWELLIAN:”

PROSECUTOR VOINEA’S CAMPAIGN TO SANITIZE

THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION OF DECEMBER 1989

by Richard Andrew Hall

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.

This paper MAY be cited when accompanied by a full, proper citation.  Thank you.

Orwellian Sanity

Prosecutor Voinea’s campaign to “sanitize” the Revolution—to simplify the story to make it more “sane” and digestible for the outsider…by cleansing it of the “terrorists”—has generally succeeded to date.  Of course, the credit is hardly his alone:  he has had almost seventeen years of word-of-mouth, print, broadcast, and electronic revisionism to help him out, and he has, as we saw in the introduction, repeated the same accusations almost like clockwork upon the anniversary of the Revolution for the past decade.

But my use of the term “Orwellian” in the title of this paper is not only designed to capture Voinea’s uncanny ability to make definitive statements that are demonstrably wrong, to argue that black is white and white is black—from his denial of the use of gunfire simulators in December 1989, to his claim that the only “lunetisti” who acted after 22 December were from the Army, to his denial of the existence of weapons and (especially “vidia”) bullets not in the arsenal of the Army, to his denial of the existence of “terrorists,” to his denial that any military unit was attacked during the events, to his denial of the role of foreigners in the events….

I use the term “Orwellian” here as much to describe the ease with which he has gotten and gets away with errors, misunderstandings, and falsehoods that could easily be challenged, if not combated by his interlocutors in the Romanian media and intelligentsia.  For it is the fact that he has been able and is able to get away with all this that is truly “Orwellian” and that is indeed a tragedy for Romania’s citizens.  The tragedy is thus less the predictable “supply side” of the post-authoritarian lie, than the enthusiastic consumption and appetite for it.  This is why I believe, accurately I would argue, that “December 1989” long ago became more about post-Ceausescu Romania than about what happened in December 1989.

Still, there are those who will respond to the information presented here—in part, in tacit admission that it is pretty hard to challenge what I have presented here—with the argument that Prosecutor Voinea is doing his best, that he has done and is doing more than his predecessors, that at least those senior Army officers who were responsible for the repression of demonstrators in Timisoara, Bucharest, and elsewhere before the Ceausescus’ flight on 22 December 1989 will finally be brought to account.  Indeed, I don’t discount that in the trials of Stanculescu, Chitac, and others this can and will perhaps happen—but even then as I will show below, this will be partial justice for those events, as key elements of the context (including other guilty parties) will remain expunged from the story, and there is likely a heavy element of post-December 1989 political and personal payback in their trials and sentences.

Moreover, I should add, I do not necessarily doubt Prosecutor Voinea when he says that there is no “juridical basis” or that his investigations have not revealed the existence of “terrorists” in December 1989.  As multiple quotes above should make clear, already in 1990 and 1991, maps of Securitate safehouses, bullets, weapons, and video entered as evidence in files on the Revolution had disappeared or been lost.  And, of course, the question of investigations is a tricky one:  someone who lived their formative years and much of their adult life in a totalitarian regime such as Ceausescu’s communist Romania knows well the questions not to ask, the places where not to look, the people not to interview.  A military prosecutor since 1982, Voinea likely knows that doubly-well.  Certainly, the wealth of detail provided above suggests that Voinea has hardly turned up every stone in searching for the truth.

Others may respond with an understandable question:  how could so many people have gotten things so wrong?  This is the numbers game and it is powerful where as we saw earlier already a decade after the events 90% of those polled rejected “the lie with the terrorists.”  I will demonstrate that it is indeed possible, by showing the about-face that occurred in the media regarding the role of the USLA in the repression prior to 22 December 1989.  One could argue that this change in treatment of this question does not necessarily have implications for the treatment of the “terrorist” question after 22 December, and the role of the USLA.  In all probability it does have implications, however, and it is unlikely that it was just happenstance that the unit involved in this change in understanding was precisely the USLA.  Certainly, one would have hoped that a realization that they had gotten things so wrong with the USLA before 22 December would have translated into a more skeptical and critical reassessment of USLA actions after 22 December, but that did not—and has not—happened.

One of the interesting and unexpected elements of Romulus Cristea’s late 2005-early 2006 Romania Libera series on the Revolution, is what it communicates—mainly through the selected quotations of participants in the events—about the role of the USLA prior to Ceausescu’s flight from power on 22 December, namely their direct involvement in repression, particularly in University Square in Bucharest on the night of 21-22 December 1989.  For example, the title of Cristea’s article in the 22 March 2006 (online) edition of Romania Libera could not be more direct:  “The Militia and the USLA tortured demonstrators.”

Readers unfamiliar with the Romanian press of the early 1990s might be surprised to learn that what Cristea reports almost prosaically—as if it were uncontroversial—was vigorously and repeatedly contested back then…but perhaps nowhere more so than in the pages of the same Romania Libera daily.  After the then freshly-appointed Defense Minister, Victor Athanasie Stanculescu, had declared in late February 1990 that not only had the USLA not had any connection to the post-22 December “terrorism” but that they had not been involved in the repression of demonstrators in Timisoara, Bucharest, or elsewhere during the week preceding the 22nd[141], Petre Mihai Bacanu had gone out of his way to assure readers of his series on the demonstrations in University Square in Bucharest on the night of 21-22 December 1989, that “We must clarify that the USLA detachments did not fire a single shot, nor arrest a single person among the columns of demonstrators” (16 March 1990), and “…we have incontrovertible proof that the USLA officers had only one mission, to defend the American Embassy and the El Al Israel Airlines ticket office” (17 March 1990).

Won’t Get Fooled Again…

Unintentionally indicative of the coverage of the USLA’s pre-22nd role that has predominated since February 1990 is that when it comes to the role of the USLA in Bucharest from the afternoon of 21 December to the early morning hours of 22 December 1989, Siani-Davies chooses to shunt this issue to a footnote and suddenly whereas the issue for other forces is the role they played, for the USLA it is the role they “may have played [emphasis added].”[142] According to Siani-Davies, Horia Alexandrescu’s March 1990 “Heroes in Action” series in Tineretul Liber, “undoubtedly painted a rosy picture of the [USLA] unit, [but] they do seem to hold a kernel of truth.”[143] To say that this is a charitable interpretation of Alexandrescu’s articles is to say the least:  it certainly places the bar incredibly low.  A “kernel of truth”…yes, but on a cob or core of falsehood.

Alexandrescu denies any responsibility by the USLA for either repression of demonstrators before 22 December or the terrorism after!  Alexandrescu’s comments are just plain weird at points:  “Without pusti cu lunete, without vidia bullets, without sophisticated simulators,” he says the USLA operated in December.[144] If they didn’t have these things, then why mention them, and why be so specific?  But as we have seen, specifically, with the revelations of USLA officer Alexandru Cristescu earlier in the discussion of “lunetisti,” the USLA clearly did have these PSLs and were posted with them on rooftops at least on 21 December.  Moreover, to raise the issues of vidia bullets and sophisticated simulators is to almost admit their presence in December—which as we have seen was the case.  Finally, as we have seen, somehow out of nowhere, the otherwise bizarre interest in the fate of a TAROM flight to Warsaw in late January 1990, filled with Libyans, found its way into Alexandrescu’s series on his USLA “Heroes in Action.”

Alexandrescu, it should be noted, was not the first journalist to whitewash the role of the USLA in December 1989.  That distinction goes, it appears, to Octavian Andronic, senior editor of Libertatea who wrote on 6 January 1990 that, “The USLA was one of the first units belonging to the Interior Ministry that declined any participation in the repressive actions against demonstrators on 21 and 22 December [emphasis added].”[145] Like Alexandrescu, who had been editor of the chief sports daily in the late Ceausescu era, Andronic had been editor of Libertatea’s immediate Ceausist predecessor, Informatia Bucurestiului—in other words, intimately and almost unavoidably entangled in the politics and the blind spots of the old regime.  The difference when Alexandrescu was writing was that, as he notes in his article introducing the series, after two months of suspicions, the new Defense Minister Stanculescu had, as one of his first acts in late February 1990 “lifted the haze that had enveloped” the unit during the interim.

Timisoara, Iasi, and Cluj, 14-21 December 1989

To support his argument, in the “Heroes in Action” series Alexandrescu wrote that Colonel Popescu, “director of the USLA service in Timisoara” had four times refused to obey orders to engage in repressive actions against the demonstrators.  In point of fact, in accordance with Order No. 2600 Colonel Ion Popescu as head of the General Inspectorate of the Militia had ordered into action the “intervention platoon” (that included USLA personnel) that violently dispersed protesters from Piata Maria on the evening of 16 December 1989 in Timisoara.[146] Vasilevici and the anonymous USLA recruit quoted earlier have both maintained the USLA played a repressive role in Timisoara, with the latter claiming directly they opened fire.[147] Weapons inspections immediately after December 1989 revealed that the USLA had been armed and had indeed fired their weapons:

“The witness Constantin Gheorghe, former junior officer in the Timis USLA Service, declares that, on the afternoon of 17.12.1989, upon the order of Lt. Col. Atudoroaie Gheorghe (editor’s note:  deputy of the Timis County Securitate), 43 machine guns and ammunition were distributed, some to USLA cadre and others to Securitate cadre who reported.  The witness specifies that he distributed arms and ammunition without any documentation and that when he ran out of arms from the stockade, he sent some other personnel to…The witness M.M. Pantea Ambrozie, supervisor of the Militia Inspectorate’s armory, who acknowledged that he signed out 272 machine guns and ammunition…Upon examining the table drawn up by M.M. Pantea Ambrozie, it follows that the first to be armed were 114 officers and junior officers of the Securitate, out of which 29 were from the USLA….It is worth mentioning in this regard that a part of the Securitate personnel repeatedly collected new ammunition, for example Captain Bratosin Tudor from Service I, Lt. Dragomir Florin PCTF, and Lt. Iaru Florin and Plutonier Timbula-Cojocaru Gheorghe, both from the USLA Service.  And, not accidentally, upon the investigation of mixed Defense and Interior Ministry teams, it was established that the arms of these personnel showed gunpowder marks, denoting the fact that these had been fired (see the exchange S.201/12.01/1990 copied in the charges). Moreover, gunpowder marks were found on the weapons of 28 Securitate cadre.”[148]

Does this sound like the USLA in Timisoara were “reluctant to intervene?”  Did Horia Alexandrescu, barely two and a half months after the Revolution, just “happen” to give Colonel Popescu and the USLA in Timisoara the benefit of the doubt?

Nor was it, of course, simply “incidental” that the USLA were included among the forces of “crowd control” and repression.  The abortive 14 December 1989 demonstration in Iasi, saw in the words of Dan Emilian Stoica, “the city fill up with securisti and policemen to which was added an USLA company.”[149] In 2001, the deputy Militia chief for Cluj county, Vasile Pintea, admitted at a trial concerning the killing of demonstrators on 21 December 1989 in Cluj, that “…amid the street clashes in Piata Libertatii a special antiterrorist brigade of the Securitate was dispatched, although he didn’t specify if the soldiers from this platoon used their weapons.”[150] This then led the former commander of “Brigade 60” of the Securitate, Vasile Mihalache, who had moments earlier affirmed that the only people to fire in demonstrators in Cluj in December 1989 had been soldiers of the Defense Ministry, to suddenly recall that “…indeed, among the soldiers there had been these Securitate men, who were dressed in uniforms similar to those of the Defense Ministry cadre, although he denied they shot demonstrators.”

So, in other words, both General Stanculescu and Horia Alexandrescu were “incorrect” when they denied any repressive role for the USLA during the week of 16-22 December 1989.  Forgive me, but this seems a little more than just a “rosy” picture.

Sibiu, 19-22 December 1989

In Sibiu, Siani-Davies tells us:

Controversy also continues to surround a commercial TAROM flight, which is alleged to have brought up to eighty USLA troops from Bucharest to Sibiu on December 20, 1989.  It is not clear if the USLA forces were actually on the airplane, or, even if they were, what they actually did in Sibiu…[Serban] Sandulescu (c1996), 57-58…suggests they were not members of USLA but the DIA [Army’s Intelligence Unit].[151]

From the standpoint of Siani-Davies’ unsuspecting reader such a conclusion may seem not only credible, but judicious.  But one of Siani-Davies’ habits—identified negatively by even those who praise the book—is his tendency to draw negative equivalencies:  i.e. there is about as much evidence to support x as there is to support y, in order to disprove or discount both propositions.  In a review, Doris Mironescu writes:

“Very common are claims such as the following:  ‘Finding the proof to sustain such an explanation of the events [that the Army’s Intelligence arm, the DIA simulated the “terrorist diversion,” to permit the Front’s takeover and a possible Warsaw Pact invasion of the country] is as difficult as proving that special units of the securitate took up arms against the revolution’ (p. 154).  Mutually contradictory hypotheses are invoked in order to negate each other, not so much because of the weight of the claims, but through the ideological similarity of both.”[152]

This tendency definitely affects Siani-Davies’ analysis of the “terrorists” and its accuracy.  To begin with, in the very book (Sandulescu) invoked by Siani-Davies, the head of the DIA (Battalion 404 Buzau), Rear Admiral Stefan Dinu, is quoted as having told the Gabrielescu commission investigating the December events (of which Sandulescu was a member) that “we hardly had 80 fighters in this battalion.”[153] It is known that 41 of them were in Timisoara from the morning of 18 December and only returned to their home base in Buzau on 22 December.[154] This makes it highly unlikely that they were on the 20 December TAROM flight to Sibiu that is in question.[155]

Contrast this with the signs that exist pointing to the mystery passengers as having been from the Securitate/Interior Ministry, in particular the USLA.  Nicu Silvestru, chief of the Sibiu County Militia, admitted in passing in a letter from prison that on the afternoon of 19 December 1989, in a crisis meeting, Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu, party head of Sibiu County, announced that he was going to “call [his] specialists from Bucharest” to take care of any protests.[156] Ceausescu’s Interior Minister, Tudor Postelnicu, admitted at his trial in January 1990 that Nicu had called him requesting “some troops” and he had informed Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad of the request.[157] If they were, indeed, DIA personnel, why would Nicu have called Postelnicu, and Postelnicu informed Vlad of the request—would such a request not have been relayed through the Defense Minister?

The first two military prosecutors for Sibiu, Anton Socaciu and Marian Valer, identified the passengers as USLA.  Even Nicu Ceausescu admits that this was the accusation when he stated in August 1990:

“…[T]he Military Prosecutor gave me two variants. In the first part of the inquest, they [the flight’s passengers] were from the Interior Ministry. Later, however, in the second half of the investigation, when the USLA and those from the Interior Ministry began, so-to-speak, to pass ‘into the shadows,’ – after which one no longer heard anything of them – they [the passengers] turned out to be simple citizens…”[158]

Beginning, at least as early as August 1990, with the allusions of Major Mihai Floca, and later seemingly indirectly confirmed by former USLA officer Marian Romanescu, it was suggested that when USLA Commander Ardeleanu was confronted at the Defense Ministry on the night of 23/24 December 1989, Ardeleanu reportedly admitted that “30 were on guard at [various] embassies, and 80 had been dispatched to Sibiu with a Rombac [aircraft] from 20 December 1989 upon ‘orders from on-high’.”[159] Finally, and along these lines, we bring things full circle—and recall our “phantoms in black” again in the process—with the testimony of Army officer Hortopan to the same Serban Sandulescu at the Gabrielescu Commission hearings:

Sandulescu:  About those dressed in black jumpsuits do you know anything, do you have any information about whom they belonged to?

Hortopan:  On the contrary.  These were the 80 uslasi sent by the MI [Interior Ministry], by General Vlad and Postelnicu to guard Nicolae Ceausescu [i.e. Nicu].  I make this claim because Colonel Ardelean[u] in front of General Militaru, and he probably told you about this problem, at which I was present when he reported, when General Militaru asked him how many men he had in total and how many were now present, where each of them was:  out of which he said that 80 were in Sibiu based on an order from his commanders.  Thus, it is natural that these are who they were.[160]

Bringing us up to the morning of 22 December 1989, and setting the stage for what was to come, Lt. Col. Aurel Dragomir told the Army daily in November 1990:

Dragomir:  Events began to develop quickly on 22 December.  In the morning some of the students posted in different parts of the town began to observe some suspect individuals in black jumpsuits on the roofs in the lights of the attics of several buildings.

Reporter:  The same equipment as the USLAsi killed out front of the Defense Ministry…

Dragomir:  And on the roof of the Militia building there were three or four similar individuals…[161]

Of course, the fact that these individuals were posted on the top of the Militia building on this morning, speaks volumes in itself about their affiliation.  Indeed, in a written statement dated 28 January 1990, Ioan Scarlatescu, (Dir. Comm. Jud. Sibiu), admitted that he was asked by the Army on that morning if the unknown individuals “could be from the USLA?”[162]

Bucharest and Tirgoviste, 21-22 December 1989

As for the events in Bucharest on 21-22 December 1989—the events about which Siani-Davies refers to the role the USLA may have played—Romulus Cristea appears to have finally clarified the source of a transcript of communications among the Securitate, Militia, and senior political figures on the afternoon and evening of 21 December 1989 and from the morning of 22 December.  According to Cristea, the intercepts and transcripts were made on the personal initiative of some of the radiotelegraph operators and others employees of the Central Control [Office] of Radio[tele]communications at Strada Oltenitei no. 103 “at great risk to themselves, as recording the frequencies of the Securitate and Militie was illegal.”[163] That explains in part the incomplete nature of the transcripts—in particular, the gap of key hours in the middle of the night when regime forces opened fire on the demonstrators in University Square and brutally carted those who weren’t killed off to jail (48 people were killed, 604 wounded, and 684 arrested).

Cristea does not note—and may not know—that the text of the transcripts appears to be the same as what was published in Libertatea between 27 January and 15 February 1990 under the heading “Dintre sute de…catarge! [From hundreds of “masts!” (the radio identification for USLA officers conducting surveillance)].”  When they appeared at the time, it was not clear from where the transcripts had come, although the absence of exchanges from the period of bloodiest repression overnight was obvious even then.  Still, the truncated transcripts nevertheless revealed clear USLA involvement in the repression in Bucharest.  According to the transcript, upon the orders of Securitate Director General Vlad, the USLA launched tear gas grenades at demonstrators.  They also show USLA “intervention units” claiming to have “restored order” and one USLA member communicating in reference to protesters, “These hooligans must be annihilated at once.  They are not determined.  They must be taken quickly.  The rest are hesitating.”

That more than a decade and a half would pass before these transcripts were reproduced is telling in itself.  For what appeared in the Romanian press in January and February 1990 concerning the USLA’s culpability was to melt away beginning with Army General Stanculescu’s exoneration of them on 26 and 28 February 1990 in an interview with the very same Libertatea.  The USLA had already been trying to “correct” the memories of citizens, prior to Stanculescu’s “clarification” of their role.  When a participant in the demonstrations at Piata Romana in central Bucharest related on 12 January 1990 in Libertatea the role of the USLA in beating demonstrators there on the 21st and later the presence of the USLA among the gunmen who killed demonstrators in University Square in the early hours of 22 December, USLA chief Ardeleanu rushed to issue a public denial in the paper several days later.  But it was, as I have noted, Stanculescu’s official sanction of the revisionist history of the USLA’s actions that opened the floodgates.

It took almost four years—following Horia Alexandrescu’s “Heroes in Action” series and Petre Mihai Bacanu’s impassioned postscripts in his “Intercon 21/22” series protesting the USLA’s innocence—before Bacanu returned in Romania Libera and declared that, on the basis of what he claimed was “new” information from Army soldiers who had been in the square that bloody “longest night of the year,” he had changed his mind about the USLA’s role:

“Very many officers talk about these ‘civilians’ in long raincoats and sheepskin coats, who arrested demonstrators from within the crowd and then beat them brutally…No one has been interested until now in these dozens of ‘civilians’ with hats who shot through the pockets of their clothes…For a time we gave credence to the claims of the USLA troops that they were not present in University Square.  We have now entered into the possession of information which shows that 20 USLA officers, under the command of Colonel Florin Bejan, were located…among the demonstrators.”[164]

In March 2006, Cristea quoted Nicolae Victor Gheorghe, 38, as saying:

“…Around 23:30 I was arrested with a group that had fled toward the History Museum.  We were surrounded by USLA.  I was surprised to observe that among us several individuals dressed in fur-lined coats stepped forward and pointed out to the ones with the shields who to arrest….We were beaten.  I lost consciousness and when I woke up I was face-down in a van.  I was full of blood.  On top of me had been thrown a pile of other demonstrators.  We were taken directly to Jilava [jail].”[165]

Significantly, USLA Commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu admitted in passing in court testimony that USLA personnel operated in civilian clothes on this evening.[166] At the very least, it is clear that uniformed USLA personnel participated in the repression.  An official at the National Theater—located next to the Hotel Intercontinental in University Square—claims USLA troops beat demonstrators and policed the building to see if any were hiding there.[167] According to the Military Prosecutor’s 4 June 1990 charges:  “The witness [Spiru Radet] specified that one of the soldiers from the USLA troops, who had a machine gun in his hand, fired warning shots and then shot at the demonstrators.  At that point, the witness was wounded in the hand by bullets and transported to Coltea Hospital.”[168]

Certainly, USLA who were involved in the events of 21-22 December 1989 or who came in contact with the demonstrators who were involved were merciless, and behaved as if they had something to hide.  In summer 1990, Expres reported on two young men recovering in an Italian hospital from wounds inflicted during the December events.[169] They recalled how, at the Intercontinental on 21-22 December, “those in kaki [i.e. Securitate, likely USLA] shot us.  The first two rows of troops [Army] shot tracers, while those behind them opened live fire.”  The two, one injured on the 21st, the other on the 23rd, claimed that after they arrived in Italy, a certain 40 year old Iordan Cristian, who admitted to them he had been USLA, visited the hospital—he had been shot in the hand at an earlier time and recovered (!)—snatched any reading material showing photos of the 13-15 June rampage against the opposition in Bucharest, and kept them in a general state of fear.  In addition, he asked them to surrender their passports, something which “made even the Italians realize something was not quite right in all of this.”

Similarly, in an article that captures in a microcosm the complexity and fluidity of the first years of the post-Ceausescu era, one-time leader of the small “Liberal Democratic Party,” Elena Serban, maintains she was blackmailed in 1990 by Radu Grigore (a name that was to crop up again in some of the more underhanded political affairs of 1991-1992) who threatened her that “…if I betrayed him, he would kill me, and that I only needed to remember he had been an USLA officer…who had been in charge of the USLA machine-gun detachments on the night of 21 December in University Square.”[170]

It is noteworthy that eyewitnesses who reached the top of the CC building in Bucharest at noon on 22 December 1989 report that they were prevented from arresting the Ceausescus by two armed individuals in “dark jumpsuits”—i.e. likely either V-a or USLA/C.[171] In Tirgoviste, where the Ceausescus were later to meet their end, shortly after 12:30 PM on 22 December 1989, Army Colonel Gheorghe Badea relates the following:

“At a given moment, after spirits had calmed a bit, I heard a voice:  ‘Colonel, get out of here or we’ll shoot you!’  I turned in the direction from which the voice had come and, behind me, I saw a detachment of USLA troops, with shields, arms, the whole nine yards…I don’t know who addressed me, but I said to them:  ‘Don’t shoot boys…We are your brothers…’  At that point, the crowd surrounded them and they retreated.”[172]

Constantin Paisie, one of the Militia officers involved in the transport and custody of the Ceausescus later that afternoon of 22 December, makes clear upon whom the Ceausescus were placing their bets to rescue them:

“Sir, they didn’t know what was going on.  Indeed, they gave indications that they were waiting for someone to come and take them away to some place in which they would be more secure, for, you see, first and foremost they were banking on the Securitate.  I know that at a moment, Nicolae Ceausescu told me to take him to a unit of the Securitate, a special unit at Baneasa, but from the Militia and the Army he didn’t expect any immediate help.”[173]

Here’s betting that the “special unit” at Baneasa in question was the one Marian Romanescu departed from above (page 39)—using a cover ID—the “Special Unit for Antiterrorist Warfare,” based at Baneasa…

One thing should be abundantly clear here:  notwithstanding the overwhelming consensus that prevailed for years in the Romanian media denying USLA involvement in the pre-22 December repression, it turns out the USLA were, after all, deeply implicated.  This fact should be kept in mind when one considers the reluctance of Romanian journalists and intellectuals to reassess the question of the USLA and the “terrorists” after the realization of the USLA’s pre-22nd role, and the current and continuing overwhelming consensus that denies the “lie with the terrorists.”[174]

[141] ROMPRES 8 March 1990 in FBIS 15 March 1990.

[142] Siani-Davies, The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, p. 87, fn. 107:  “For a detailed discussion of the part USLA may have played see Hall (1997), 219-224.”

[143] Ibid., p. 151.  I may in part have myself to blame for Siani-Davies some inappropriate choice of language here:  i.e. the term “rosy image.”  Siani-Davies highlights my use of the phrase “less-than-pure intentions” in describing the actions of the USLA unit at the Defense Ministry on 23-24 December (p. 152, fn. 31)—perhaps to suggest that even I had my doubts about their actions (see discussion of this episode earlier in article).  My phrasing was inspired by the description of the event by Captain Victor Stoica who witnessed the incident:  “Anyhow, based on how these two vehicles behaved, it is clear that they did not come with friendly intentions (‘intentii prietenesti’)” (Major Mihai Floca, “Crima?!, Armata Poporului, no. 23, 6 June 1990, p. 3.)

[144] Horia Alexandrescu, “Eroi Cazuti la Datorie:  Adevarul despre U.S.L.A.,” Tineretul Liber, 4 March 1990, p. 3.

[145] Octavian Andronic, “Combaterea terorismului—o chestiune la ordinea zilei,” Libertatea, 6 January 1990, p. 3.  After the waters had subsided, and he had been “vindicated” in his beliefs about the USLA, he published a response to that article by people who asked “does the author have a vested interest in the rehabilitation of the USLA,” leaving off their names since ,as they wrote, they did not want the USLA to “come defend [them]”, “Din Nou Despre U.S.L.A.: teroristi sau antiteroristi?” Libertatea, 9 May 1990, p. 2.  As Libertatea was to remain in the Iliescu-Front camp in the initial years, allegations appeared against Andronic in Evenimentul Zilei that his house was rented from the SRI, the Securitate’s institutional successor, and had formerly been a safehouse of the Securitate, 14 May 1993, p. 3.  If memory serves correct, years later in Curierul National, Andronic was to refer to finding out about the collapsing of the Ceausescu regime from USLA officer, Alexandru Ioan Kilin.  These are circumstantial allegations but they suggest the possibility of at least close relations with former Securitate people—not unheard of for the former editor of a Ceausescu era paper.

[146] See Hall, 1997, pp. 183-184.  It seems worth pointing out that the doctor who treated Dorneanu, the head of the USLA intervention brigade, at Piata Maria, and was involved in altercations with protesters, appeared to the doctor as “having been drugged.”

[147] As we saw, the anonymous USLA recruit referred to “the masked ones” shooting in Timisoara.  Although the Army clearly did fire on and kill many demonstrators in Timisoara, and the notion of unknown “phantoms in black” being responsible for the carnage is a useful alibi, I don’t believe things are so simple—given the actions of those in “combinezoane negre” across the country, as discussed in detail earlier.  In early 2006 at the “Timisoara trial” against most notably generals Stanculescu and Chitac,  former Army Colonel Dumitru Daescu could not identify those who fired in December 1989, but declared “fire was opened by some men dressed in combinezoane negre” (“Noi martori in procesul Revolutiei de la Timisoara,” Romania Libera, 16 March 2006, online edition), while Army officer Gheorghe Ciubotariu stated “they fired shoulder strapped machine guns in front of the Cathedral, first toward the roof then in the demonstrators…those who fired were civilians and people in combinezoane negre from the Interior Ministry.” (I.D., “General Stanculescu se apara cu amanari si absente,” Gandul, 19 January 2006, online edition).

[148] Laurian Ieremeiov, “Lista securistilor si militienilor care au tras la Timisoara,” Ziua, 20 July 1998, online edition.  To this, it is interesting and pertinent to add the following information.  In 1991, Grid Modorcea went to interview the priests of Timisoara’s Orthodox Cathedral.  Sorin Leia, age 22, was shot during a demonstration on the steps of the Cathedral on the evening of 18 December 1989.  Father Ioan Botau related the following:  “…Sorin Leia pulled a flag out and began singing ‘Awake Romanians!’  At 5:15 pm he was shot by a lunetist and killed.  The crowd then fled and scattered and there was no more shooting.  They brought this young person who had been shot inside the church and put a candle in his hand.  He had been hit by the bullet in his upper torso and had not died on the spot.  Father Mituga came out and called the ambulance.  But the youngster was already dead.  There was a pool of blood around him….Who shot people in Timisoara?…The Army didn’t shoot.  Camouflaged securisti shot and today they have made them into heroes!…Until when did they shoot?…They shot on Christmas day, all the way up until 29 December” (Grid Modorcea, “Dumnezeu citat ca martor in procesul de la Timisoara,” Expres Magazin, 1991.)  The late Iosif Costinas wrote in that same year that “a former Securitate officer, currently employed by the SRI, recently called two neighbors to repair a pipe in the bathroom.  He got drunk and told them:  ‘on 17 December I shot from the Cathedral’s [bell-]tower.  I also shot later.  And now, if I wish, I can shoot.’  The two told the story but didn’t want their names published.”  (related in Laura Ganea, “La Timisoara se mai trage inca,” Tinerama, no. 77 (July 1991), p. 3.)

[149] Quoted in M.P., “‘Revolutia de la Iasi trebuie legitimata’,” Evenimentul, 15 December 2003, online edition.  “Lunetisti” were spotted on the first and second floors of hotels surrounding the square where the demonstration was to take place—those rooms apparently occupied by participants of the “Dinamoviada” martial arts festival from the Interior Ministry, see Vasile Iancu, “Sa nu uitam!,” Romania Libera, 14 December 1990, p. 1.

[150] A.A., “Un fost ofiter de Securitate acuza Armata de crimele din decembrie ’89,” Ziua, 16 January 2001, online edition.  A soldier from the Someseni unit, Gheorghe Timis, spoke about what happened in a different square in Cluj, Piata Marasti, as follows:  “…it was not possible that no one would die, because there was shooting from the balconies and blocs by Securitate cadre.  When I heard the first use of a weapon, I recognized, from the whistle, that it wasn’t a caliber that we had in our arsenal.  After this I saw a man on the asphalt, who had a hole in the top of his head, a sign that he had been shot from above, from the buildings, and not by the soldiers, as is always maintained,” A.A., “In procesul Cluj ’89, militarii pun mortii pe seama Securitatii,” Ziua, 2001, online edition.

[151] Siani-Davies, 2005, p. 152, fn. no. 32.

[152] Doris Mironescu, “Revolutia româna, asa cum (probabil) a fost,” Timpul no. 1 (January 2006), at http://www.romaniaculturala.ro.

[153] Serban Sandulescu, Lovitura de Stat a Confiscat Revolutia Romana (Bucharest:  Omega, 1996), p. 214.  Sandulescu’s book was marketed and printed by Sorin Rosca Stanescu’s Ziua press.  Rosca Stanescu was a former USLA informer between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s.  Who was Sandulescu’s chief counselor on these matters?  Stefan Radoi, a former USLA officer in the early 1980s!  These are the type of people who, of course, believe the passengers were DIA and not USLA!  See my discussion of this whole fiasco in “The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale,” RFE “East European Perspectives” 4-6/2002, online.

[154] See Dinu’s testimony in Sandulescu, Lovitura de Stat, p. 220.  Also see the claims of another senior DIA officer Remus Ghergulescu in Jurnalul National, March 2004, online edition.

[155] Speaking even more broadly, Army parachutists (whether from Buzau, Caracal, Campia Turzii, or Boteni) were in Timisoara, Caransebes, and Television, Piata Palatului and the Otopeni Airport in Bucharest during the December events, but that clearly leaves many places where there were “terrorist actions”—including Sibiu—without them, decreasing their likelihood as plausible suspects.  See Catalin Tintareanu, “Sarbatoare la Scoala de Aplicatie pentru Parasutisti ‘General Grigore Bastan,” Opinia (Buzau), 10 June 2005, online edition.

[156] Nicu Silvestru, “Cine a ordonat sa se traga la Sibiu?” Baricada, no. 45, 1990, p.5.

[157] Emil Munteanu, “Postelnicu a vorbit neintrebat,” Romania Libera, 30 January 1990, p. 1

[158] Interview with Nicu Ceausescu in Zig-Zag, no. 20, 21-27 August 1990.

[159] Adevarul, 29 August 1990.  Also, Romanescu with Badea “U.S.L.A, Bula Moise…” 1991.

[160] “Virgil Magureanu sustine ca revolta din 1989 a fost sprijinita din interiorul sistemului,” Gardianul, 12 November 2005, online edition.

[161] Lt. Col. Aurel Dragomir, interview by Colonel Dragos Dragoi, “Sub tirul incrucisat al acuzatiilor (II),” Armata Poporului, no. 46 (November 1990), p. 3. Remus Ghergulescu specified USLA appearance as follows:  “Over their black jumpsuits (‘combinezoanele negre’) in which they were dressed they had kaki vests.  This was normal.  They were equipped with the jumpsuits as “war gear,” while the vests were “city wear.’”  (Colonel Remus Ghergulescu, interview with Razvan Belciuganu, “Teroristii au iesit din haos,” Jurnalul National, 29 November 2004, online edition.)

[162] See Evenimentul Zilei, 25 November 1992, p. 3.

[163] Romulus Cristea, “Huliganii astia trebuie anihilati,” Romania Libera, 28 March 2006, online edition.

[164] Petre Mihai Bacanu, “Au evacuat materiale…stropite cu sange,” Romania Libera, 28 December 1993, p.  10.  As I have noted elsewhere, the revelations were not “new” and what they describe is remarkably similar to what Army recruits had described to Armata Poporului in the 17 January 1990 issue.

[165] Quoted in Romulus Cristescu, “Astia ne impusca, ca la Timisoara,” Romania Libera, 29 March 2006, online edition.

[166] Paul Stefanescu, Istoria Serviciilor Secrete Romanesti (Bucharest:  Editura Divers Press, 1994), p. 288.

[167] Vasile Neagoe, Expres, 30 March-5 April 1990, p. 6.

[168] The Military Prosecutor’s report dated 4 June 1990 is reproduced in Mircea Bunea, Praf in Ochi:  Procesul celor 24-1-2 (Bucharest:  Editura Scripta, 1994), quote found on p. 88.

[169] Victor Radulescu, “Excursii prin Contul Libertatea,” Expres, no. 11 (August 1990), p. 5.

[170] Dan Badea, “Securitatea—un joc in numele trandafirului,” Expres, 8-14 September 1992, p. 9.

[171] In Simion Buia, jr. “Justitia ‘cocheteaza’ cu Puterea Politica?” Romania Libera, 13 June 1991, p. 2a, quoting Ioan Itu.  The aforementioned Liviu Viorel-Craciun claimed he was told by a Securitate officer who claimed to have been on the roof when the helicopter departed that “they could not do anything against Ceausescu there because on the roof were ‘lunetisti.’” (Liviu Viorel-Craciun, “Ex-ministrul de interne CRACIUN LIVIU-VIOREL isi continua destainiurile,” Expres, no. 14-15 (1990).)

[172] Colonel Gheorghe Badea, quoted in Domenico, p. 164, from an interview 3 June 1997.

[173] Constantin Paisie, interview by Marius Tuca, “Ceausestii au crezut ca o sa-I salveze cineva,” Jurnalul National, 18 March 2004, online edition.  USLA training in the Baneasa area is mentioned in Stoian, 1993, pp. 85-85.

[174] I fully expect that when the “house of cards” about post-22 December finally crumbles—with the same sudden, thunderous crash of the Ceausescu regime itself—that as with the about-face on the USLA’s role in the pre-December 22 repression, it shall occur with little reference to the vats of ink spilled in years before denying such accusations—as if the previous articles had never been written…Winston Smith would recognize the method…

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Richard Andrew Hall — Doublespeak: The All-too-Familiar Tales of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Double

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on September 19, 2010

(after clearing CIA Publications Review Board, this was submitted to Habsburg H-Net, where Nicolae Harsanyi had published an interesting article on December 1989 back in 1999.  The Habsburg editors never responded, and the article does not appear on the site.  Nevertheless, several years later it came up as Habsburg Occasional Paper No. 3, 2004, in a yahoo search.  So that is what I list it under.  Go figure…)

Doublespeak: The All-too-Familiar Tales of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Double

by Richard Andrew Hall

HABSBURG Occasional Papers, No. 3. March 2004

Romania does not need the “Dracula-land” that officials seem intent on building; the historiography of the December 1989 Revolution already supplies more than enough absurdity, fantasy, and kitsch.

Epilogue as Prelude

The capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein—from the Romanian perspective, in December of all months!—inevitably evoked comparisons even in the international media with the fall of the Ceausescu regime in December 1989. In Romania, Hussein’s capture touched off comparisons between how Hussein will face real justice and how the Ceausescus were summarily tried and executed on Christmas Day 1989. Combining the contrast with the comments of the famous Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovski—who while visiting Romania in November stated that the KGB orchestrated the events of Ceausescu’s overthrow—the Romanian press had a field day. “Case closed,” many editorialists, intellectuals, and politicians hastened to pronounce in their comments on this year’s anniversary of the Revolution.

Bukovski’s comments were interpreted as gospel precisely by those who have for years accepted and promoted this theory and who recognize its utility in contemporary Romanian political debates. Bukovski’s credibility is enhanced by his stature and integrity as a former Soviet dissident, and by his post-1991 access to Soviet archives and publication of the documents he was able to surreptitiously photocopy. But two critical points have to be made with regard to Bukovski’s claim about Romania’s December 1989 events. First, he alleges that the collapse of communist rule throughout Eastern Europe—including the fall of the Berlin Wall—were part of an elaborate KGB plot, hatched beginning from 1988. Second, he first made such allegations well-before he got access to those Soviet archives.

In a book that is now several years old, the Romanian author Vladimir Alexe, who endorses a similar viewpoint on Romania‘ s December 1989 events, quoted Bukovski’s comments in 1990 on the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, as follows:

Never has the role of the KGB inside the country [the USSR] or abroad been so important. The Soviet secret services are the ones that watched the overthrow of Ceausescu in Romania, launched the “velvet revolution” in Czechoslovakia, [and] that took measures to overthrow Erich Honecker in East Germany, producing especially favorable circumstances for the destruction of the Berlin Wall (” L’Empire du moindre mal,” Libre Journal, Paris, nr. 1, se pt-oct, 1990, p. 30) (quoted on http://www.geocities.com/nicutim/BSIlies cu.pdf).

At least one Romanian commentator attempted to legitimize the credibility of Bukovski’ s recent statements in Romania by appealing to the fact that the documents substantiating Bukovski’s claims are “on the Internet, anybody can access them.” It is true that Bukovski has published Soviet archival documents on the Internet, including from the period 1988 to 1991—however, none of them are about the December 1989 events in Romania (http://psi.ec e.jhu.edu/~kaplan/IRUSS/BUK/GBARC/pdfs/sovter75/sovter75-e.html). Indeed, given the amazing antennae of the Romanian press for anything that substantiates their beliefs on this matter—and their deafness to anything that challenges those beliefs—one would expect that did such documents exist they would have been reproduced in the Romanian press by now.

It would be one thing, of course, if arguments about the Romanian Revolution existed in a vacuum—but they don’t—and unfortunately claims like those of Bukovski are a godsend to those with less-than-noble intentions in Romania, particularly as regards establishing the truth about who was responsible for the violence that took so many lives in December 1989.

Late last July, there was a book-signing in Bucharest. The man signing books was Dumitru Burlan—64 years old, a colonel in the former Securitate’s Fifth Directorate, and, last but not least, Nicolae Ceausescu’s so-called “unique double.” On the occasion of his book-signing, Burlan was kind enough to say a few words about his book to the journalists gathered for the event. A correspondent for Reuters quoted Burlan as declaring: “Romania’s secret service [i.e. the Securitate] staged Nicolae Ceausescu’s down fall…the KGB wanted to overthrow Ceausescu, even his son Nicu did…I wrote the book to show the Romanian people a small part of the truth.”

The title of Burlan’s book is “Sensational: After 14 Years Nicolae Ceausescu’s Double Speaks!” That it is possible that anything could be “sensational” in Romania after the past 14 years is in itself difficult to believe. The bigger problem with the title, however, is that Burlan did not really wait 14 years to “confess.”

Two years ago Burlan gave a multipart interview to the Romanian monthly “Lumea Magazin” (http://www.lumeam.ro/nr10_ 2001/politica_si_servicii_secrete.html). In that interview, he commented on the biggest enduring controversy of the Romanian Revolution: Who was responsible for the violence that claimed 942 lives—85% of the total 1,104 people who died in all “between 22 December, when the Ceausescus fled power, and Christmas Day, when they were tried and executed? At the time, elements of the Securitate who remained loyal to the Ceausescus—the so-called ‘terrorists'”were blamed for the bloodshed. However, despite the pledge by the former communists who seized power from Nicolae Ceausescu to prosecute those responsible, justice has never been served.

In the same interview, Burlan answers that those responsible for the bloodshed “were from the Army, [specifically] from DIA [the Army’s intelligence unit].” According to Burlan, the DIA were also responsible for the placement of gunfire simulators “so that everything—[the staged war that Ceausescu’s successors allegedly put in motion]—would appear credible.”As for the Securitate, Burlan protests: how could they have done anything “with just their Makarov pistols?”

Burlan’s answers seek to accredit the idea that the former communists who took power from Ceausescu simulated resistance by alleged Ceausescu loyalists in order to ease their seizure of power and gain a revolutionary legitimacy they otherwise would have lacked. The Securitate were thus victims of their poor image among the populace and of a power grab by unscrupulous nomenklaturists who wished to legitimize themselves by heaping false blame on the Securitate.

Burlan’ s argument that the revolution was “staged,” some group other than the Securitate was responsible for the post-22 bloodshed, and that the Securitate did not open fire is a familiar tale by now. What has changed through the years is that certain variants—including the DIA variant Burlan markets—have become more common in the literature and interviews of the former Securitate and Ceausescu nostalgists. One doesn’t have to look far to see former high-ranking Securitate officers accrediting the idea that DIA, and most assuredly not the Securitate, bears responsibility for the December bloodshed. Just in the past three years, former Securitate officials such as Nicolae Plesita, Teodor Filip, and Ion Hotnog have argued this thesis. Nor is it the least bit surprising that these same officials marry the thesis with another perennial Securitate favorite: the suggestion that Russian and Hungarian agents posing as tourists—for those who with a distaste for detail, “occult forces”—played a seminal role in provoking the downfall of the Ceausescu regime and in the bloodshed that followed the Ceausescus’ flight from power. (For additional discussion of these ” tourists” see http://www.rferl.org/eepreport/2002/04/8-170402.htm l.)

The DIA variant, so dear to the hearts of Ceausescu’s double and his Securitate counterparts, has a long and fabled history. In the early and mid-1990s, it became a favorite of the opposition to the communist successor regime of President Ion Iliescu—an opposition that included many of those who had suffered most under the old regime. (After being voted out in 1996, Iliescu returned to the presidency in the 2000 elections.) In the opposition press, noted journalists such as Ioan Itu and Ilie Stoian at “Tinerama,” Cornel Ivanciuc at “22” and later at “Academia Catavencu, ” and Petre Mihai Bacanu at “Romania Libera” promoted the DIA thesis at one time or another.

Opponents of the Iliescu regime believed the “staged war” story and its DIA variant be cause it seemed plausible given the undemocratic way the Iliescu regime behaved in the early post-Ceausescu years, and because it compromised Iliescu and his associates by suggesting that they “stole the revolution” through an elaborate plan to feign resistance by pro-Ceausescu elements of the Securitate. As with all beliefs that are viewed as spontaneous, grassroots/bottom-up, and therefore “pure,” the “staged war” theory possessed a power and hold on the imagination that ideas regimented “from above,” by a regime, can simply never achieve. Moreover, it possessed something of an (intellectual) haiduc romanticism and it was empowering at a time when the opposition was hounded by the Iliescu regime and weak, providing opponents with an issue of comparative consensus that could bind them together and provide them political identity. The theory thus fit with their fears, suspicions, and prejudices, and was politically expedient—a potent mixture that left them ripe for manipulation.

Unfortunately, very few of the opposition were familiar with or cared about the origins of the DIA thesis. The DIA thesis was older than they realized. Gheorghe Ratiu, the former head of the Securitate’s First Directorate (the one most considered “the political police”), was disseminating the theory back in early 1992. Indeed, the DIA theory can be traced back to a November 1990 interview with a former Securitate officer in a well-known provincial weekly (“Nu”), and probably even earlier—to two articles written by Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan for “Zig-Zag” magazine in April 1990 and particularly July 1990. In fact, Olbojan lauded himself for this accomplishment—and for its spread and influence since—in a book he published in 1994. Olbojan’s pre-1989 occupation deserves mention, however: as he admits in the book, he worked for the Securitate. The roots of the DIA theory thus lie in the former Securitate. (For additional discussion of the Olbojan case see http://www.rferl.org/eepreport/2002/04/7-030402.html.)

For the former Securitate, the DIA theory had one goal above all others, and it is as old as history itself: blame someone else in order to hide your own responsibility. Unfortunately, although some journalists in Romania have written with skepticism and sarcasm about the effort of Ceausescu’s double to disinform history, it is telling that they leave much of his discussion of the Revolution untouched. The confluence of blind political partisanship, opportunism, half-truths, misinformation, and disinformation a la Burlan have simply debased and devalued the currency of truth as regards what exactly happened in December 1989. To believe in Romania today that the Securitate were responsible for the vast majority of the bloodshed in December 1989 is to be viewed as the equivalent of a flat-earther.

If not Ceausescu himself from the grave, at least his double, is having the last laugh.

Richard Andrew Hall holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University He currently works and lives in Northern Virginia. He welcomes comments or questions on this article at hallria@msn.com.

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Romania December 1989. ‘Mos G(h)erila’: Nicolae Ceausescu’s Final and Lasting ‘Christmas Gift’ to His Romanian Subjects

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on May 1, 2010

THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION FOR DUM-DUMS:

(like me…and perhaps even you)

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.

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. [Submitted for clearance 22 April 2008, approved 22 May 2008]


I have been researching the Revolution for the better part of the past 18 years. I first visited Romania in 1987 while backpacking through Europe, and I spent a total of about 20 months in the country during the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993-1994, and 1997, when I conducted pre-dissertation, dissertation, and post-dissertation research on the Revolution.

I have written on the topic of the Revolution, voluminously some might say, publishing in 1996, 1999, and 2000 before joining the Agency, and since I entered the Agency in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

It will and should be hard to believe for the outsider to this problem, but my work has been essentially the only systematic, ongoing investigation of the ballistics evidence—such are the shortcomings of small “communities of interest” investigating a peripheral historical topic and the perils of “group think.”

This article is, for lack of a better description, about “connecting the dots.”


–The story of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 since December 1989 has been the struggle of disparate voices who share their memories, often with great frustration and a sense of resignation. They are hardly a unified chorus.

The accounts of ideologues seek to suggest to us that “the truth” miraculously is the province of people of this or that particular political persuasion in post-communist Romania. That is morality play and fairy tale; it is not the work of the serious historian. Would that history were so neat and tidy! It is not.

Instead, what one finds is that the people with the details that matter most are spread across the ideological and political spectrum—including people with what many of us might term distasteful, illiberal, ultranationalist, and nostalgic views.

There are those who relate these details in a narrative consistent with where those details lead.

There are those who relate these details even though it contradicts their narrative and ultimate conclusions about December 1989.

Finally, there are those—and there are many of them—who just know they experienced what they experienced. They aren’t sure exactly how it fits in with a larger narrative: they merely want to tell their story.

Together, they relate these details in the face of cynicism, indifference, and an often stunning intellectual conceit and deaf ear.

Theirs, however, and not the ideologues’, is the story of December 1989.


There was a lot of talk during the crimes of December ’89 about the special bullets with which the young and old alike were killed, bullets which—it is said were not in the arsenal of our military units. There was so much talk that there was no more to say and after there was no more to say for a sufficient amount of time the discussion was reopened with the line “such things don’t exist!” The special bullets didn’t exist!—our highest authorities hurried to tell us…In order to search for proof a little work is necessary by our legal organs that they are not terribly inclined to take….

[Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

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The Internet allows the researcher to piece together history as never before. That’s a pretty bland statement, but the reality of it never ceases to amaze me. Take the case of those killed in the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (officially 1,104 people perished in those events). Scroll through the list of those killed on the procesulcomunismului (“the trial of communism”) and portalulrevolutiei (“the portal to the revolution”) websites. For most, there is only limited information about the circumstances in which they died. For others, however, there is greater detail. As one scrolls through the names and photos, one of the similarities that begins to become apparent is that in cases where there is more information about the circumstances of the death, dum-dum bullets are mentioned. Thus, for example, we find the following five cases:

BUTIRI Florin, born in Joia Mare, 11 April 1969, he was living in Bucharest and was employed by the Bucharest Metro. He played rugby. On 22 December he participated in the demonstration at Sala Dalles [next to University Square]. On 23 December he went to defend the Radio Broadcast center on str. Nuferilor, and while he was saving some old people from a burning building he was shot. Brought to the Military Hospital because of a wound to his hip, caused by a dum-dum cartridge, they tried to ampute a leg. His stomach was also ravaged by a bullet. On 26 December 1989 he died. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_2.htm)

FILOTI Claudiu
Profession: Lieutenant major UM 01171 Buzau, post-mortem Captain
Born: 30 July 1964
Birthplace: Vaslui
Date of death: 22 December 1989
Place of death: Bucharest, in the area of the Defense Ministry
Cause of death: Shot in the chest with dum-dum bullets (http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=1&jud=53)

LUPEA Ion- Gabriel from Hunedoara, born in 1970…In 1989 he was sent from Bucharest to Anina [Resita], then to UM 01929. On 9 December 1989, he went on leave, but he was recalled. On the evening of 23 December he was on duty defending the unit [Anina-Resita], at the checkpoint, when around 11 pm they were attacked from the front and from the left flank. While crawling on hands and knees to bring more ammunition he was hit by a dum-dum bullet that entered above his left leg and exited through his left hand. Brought to the hospital he died Christmas Eve, making him the unit’s first hero; he was posthumously awarded the rank of sub-lieutenant. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

MANESCU Dan, born 25 March 1964, a student in the Transportation Department, he joined with the other young people on 21 December and participated in the demonstrations in the center of the town [Bucharest]. Friday morning he went with his brother to the demonstrations and he returned after the flight of the dictator. He changed his clothes and returned for good, when on the night of 22/23 December a dum-dum bullet punctured his stomach in Palace Square. Brought to the Emergency hospital, he could not be saved. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_5.htm)

POPTEAN Petre, born 27 December 1965, in Margau near Huedin, living in Bucharest…he worked as a driver for the Bucharest Transportation Department. On 21 December he went into town to protect his sister on her way home from work. The two of them left on Calea Victoriei and arrived at [Sala] Dalles, where in horror they watched…Petre called to his sister to aid the wounded. While on the ground, he was hit in the abdomen and left hip by dum-dum cartridges that caused him major wounds. His sister, Monica, was able to stop an ambulance with a Targoviste license number, but he didn’t make it to Hospital 9. At around 6 pm Petre passed away. (http://www.procesulcomunismului.com/marturii/fonduri/ioanitoiu/aeroi/docs/album_7.htm)

Let me draw the attention of the reader to two important details here. First, the use of dum-dum munitions was not confined to Bucharest (multiple locations), but includes the southwestern city of Resita (the case of Ion Lupea). Second, the use of dum-dum munitions occurred not just after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fled at midday on 22 December 1989, but also before, on the evening of 21 December (the case of Petre Poptean).

Dum-dum bullets—which fragment and cause substantially more and more lethal damage to the organs of those who are hit—are outlawed by international convention (see more below). Moreover—or perhaps better-put, officially—no Romanian institution had them in their arsenal in December 1989. Yet, as we can see, almost two decades after the events, the obituaries of those gunned down in December 1989 include references to those munitions as having played a role not only in the wounding of people, but also in their deaths.

Despite the claims above attesting to not just the wounding, but the death of several people (civilians and soldiers) over several days in several locations from dum-dum bullets in December 1989, what did General Dan Voinea—removed from his post in December 2007 by Attorney General Laura Codruta Kovesi for violating basic judicial norms in another case[1]—who headed the investigations into December 1989 for well over a decade, have to say about them in late 2005? “Such things didn’t exist!”:

Romulus Cristea: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”

Dan Voinea: There were no victims (people who were shot) from either vidia bullets or dum-dum bullets. During the entire period of the events war munitions were used, normal munitions that were found at the time in the arsenal of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. The confusion and false information were the product of the fact that different caliber weapons were used, and therefore, the resulting sound was perceived differently.[2] (Emphasis added)

So, there is no wiggle room here, no room for misinterpretation: according to Prosecutor Voinea , nobody was killed by dum-dum bullets in December 1989.

That’s a common claim among officials of the former communist regime—Voinea was a military prosecutor since 1982 and he was directly involved in the trial of the Ceausescus. Such conclusions were also repeated in late 2005 by Dr. Vladimir Belis, who was the head of the Medical Forensics Institute (IML) in Bucharest in December 1989: asked if other than the standard 7.62 mm caliber weapons belonging to the Army were used, he did not know and couldn’t say because he claimed no autopsies were ever performed.[3] The apparent official disinterest in munitions and autopsies is—ahem—shall we say “interesting” given the comments attributed to Belis’ subordinates and to doctors at Bucharest’s main hospitals—comments made in the early 1990s, but also made well over a decade later, in the mid 2000s.[4]

General Dan Voinea spoke in late 2005. Voinea’s argument that there were no dum-dum bullets, that there were no atypical munitions used, is directly linked to his contention that there were therefore “no terrorists” in December 1989. It has been routinely repeated in various forms by the media for well over a decade and by his supporters in intellectual circles at home and abroad. The encomia for General Voinea before and since that December 2005 interview by noted Romanian intellectuals and Romanianists are breathtaking. Tom Gallagher refers to him as the “indefatigable General Voinea”[5] and Western journalists have described him as “a one-man mission to uncover the truth about exactly what happened during those days.”[6] Sorin Iliesiu justifies his claims about the Revolution squarely on Voinea’s words:

General Dan Voinea has said clearly: The terrorists did not exist. Those who seized power lied to protect the real criminals….The diversion of the ‘terrorists’ has been demonstrated by [the] Justice [System], not a single terrorist being found among the dead[7], wounded[8] or arrested[9].”[10][11]

Highly problematic and damning for General Dan Voinea, Dr. Vladimir Belis, and fellow deniers are the following, detailed written testimonies of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea presented by Dan Badea in April 1991, attesting to what they had found in December 1989 in the headquarters of the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate:

Balasa Gheorghe: From [Securitate] Directorate V-a, from the weapons depot, on 23-24 December 1989, DUM-DUM cartridges, special cartridges that did not fit any arm in the arsenal of the Defense Ministry were retrieved. Three or four boxes with these kinds of cartridges were found. The special bullets were 5-6 cm. in length and less thick than a pencil. Such a cartridge had a white stone tip that was transparent. All of these cartridges I personally presented to be filmed by Mr. Spiru Zeres. All the special cartridges, other than the DUM-DUM [ones] were of West German [FRG] make. From Directorate V-a we brought these to the former CC building, and on 23-24 December ’89 they were surrendered to U.M. 01305. Captain Dr. Panait, who told us that he had never seen such ammunition before, Major Puiu and Captain Visinescu know about [what was turned over].

In the former CC of the PCR, all of those shot on the night of 23-24 December ’89 were shot with special bullets. It is absurd to search for the bullet in a corpse that can penetrate a wall…

[of course, V-a worked hand-in-hand with the USLA, or the Securitate’s “special unit for anti-terrorist warfare,” and thus it was not suprising that in Directorate V-a’s headquarters…] Among things we also found were:…the training manual for the USLA. It was about 25 cm thick, and while there, I leafed through about half of it…[and I also came across] a file in which lots of different people under the surveillance of USLA officers were listed…

(Interviewed by Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991.)

Moreover, we know from the 2005 publication of the testimony of a detained V-th Directorate officer dated 2 February 1990, that he must have been asked to comment specifically on the existence of dum-dum ammunition—since he makes a point of emphasizing that “we didn’t have dum-dum ammunition or weapons with special properties, of foreign origin.”[12] So, in other words, we know from this interrogation document that six weeks after the Revolution, those who had taken power or at least the military prosecutors of the time were still interested in the existence of these munitions—thereby suggesting that they must have had some reason for believing in their existence, say for example the character of the injuries suffered by those shot during the events, as well as perhaps recovered bullet fragments, the testimonies of the doctors who operated on those wounded, etc…

Voinea’s ceaseless interviews and revelations during this period have been reprinted repeatedly since they took place and his conclusions been given wide circulation by journalists and people such as Sorin Iliesiu. Yet those who just relate what happened in December 1989 continue to mention the existence of dum-dum munitions. Thus, if one turns to the tourism site for the western border town of Curtici (near Arad) one can read the following about the history of the city, including the events of December 1989:

The following night [at the train station], the first team of five doctors from the Austrian “Lorenz Bohler” Hospital , who arrived in Curtici with a “hospital-wagon” took 18 people in critical condition to Austria for special treatment that lasted two to three months. That is, they needed organ transplants or special care, because of the monstrous results of dum-dum bullets.[13]

Or take the case of a poster on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, who begins:

The Romarta (central Bucharest) file? What about the file on those who fired at me at the Astronomical Observatory on Ana Ipatescu Boulevard or those who at 1700 on 24 December fired near Casa Scanteii [press building] where I found a dum-dum cartridge in my bed—us having had to sleep in the bathroom.[14]

Finally, there are the cynical comments of those—no matter what they believe about December 1989—who cannot help but remember the dum-dum munitions and the horrible pain and trauma they caused their victims, many still living with the consequences of those wounds today…and how nobody wishes to remember them; for them, this is essentially a cruel, open secret.[15]

Unfortunately, no one in Romania has tied together such claims and the evidence I present above. I do not know how many of these people are still alive, but if the Romanian media were interested, the names are there for them to contact in order to confirm the claims above: Gheorghe Balasa, Radu Minea, Spiru Zeres, Major Puiu, and Captain Visinescu.

D’oh…Dum-Dum…(Tweedle) Dumb and (Tweedle) Dumber: Dum-Dum=Vidia

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When I first viewed the youtube video “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E ), what struck me was: here, finally, after a decade and a half of almost unopposed revisionist denial, here was someone who claims to have been an eyewitness and has photos and details of the incident, and who maintains the now almost heretical idea that the Securitate’s “Special Unit for Anti-terrorist Warfare”(USLA for short) had indeed attempted to attack the heavily-guarded Defense Ministry Headquarters on Drumul Taberei in Bucharest on the night of 23-24 December 1989! But, in fact as we shall see, although important, that is actually not the most important thing about the one and only youtube video posted by “destituirea.”

For me the transcript of the USLA unit claiming to have witnessed army units attacking their own ministry and thus the supposed reason that the USLA men who witnessed it “had to be silenced by being killed”—a transcript leaked to the press in 1993 and which led scholars such as Denis Deletant and Peter Siani-Davies to consider this “case closed” essentially—was always highly problematic. It supplied what was said, but, if we are to believe the words of the USLA Commander Gheorghe Ardeleanu, speaking to the notorious Securitate cheerleader Angela Bacescu, it did not supply the much needed context: Ardeleanu claimed that he had been placed under arrest and that it was he who chose the names of the USLA officers who were to report to the Defense Ministry. The USLA units thus came in a situation in which those who had taken control of the country were in the Defense Ministry holding their commander under arrest.[16]

But more importantly, the transcript could not explain a) the lack of any corroboration since of these supposed Army units attacking the Defense Ministry on the night of 23-24 December 1989—truly hard to believe, given all the young recruits and given their comparative willingness to talk to the media after all these years, in comparison to the former Securitate, and b) the claims in summer 1990 by the Army cadre who had been involved in the firefight with the USLA and the interviews of civilians in the surrounding blocs of flats who had lived through the fighting in December 1989 and related what they had seen.[17] The interviewees had detailed the suspicious actions of the USLA convoy and made it clear that they came with less-than-friendly intentions.

Now, here, 17 years after those famous articles by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica is a video supporting the claim that the USLA units attempted to force their way into the Defense Ministry. The photos of the inside of the USLA ABI vehicles and of the dead USLA men (wearing black jumpsuits underneath Army clothing) are perhaps the most extensive and detailed seen to date, and the anonymous poster plays coy as to where he got them from (he claims he does not want to reveal the source—something which, given the sensitivity of the issue, I am not surprised by).

But, as I mentioned previously, it is actually not the confirmation of this understanding of the Defense Ministry incident that is the most significant thing about this youtube video. It is at the 2:01-2:05 of 8:50 mark of this silent video that the poster makes the following interesting and critical insight/claim…

USLA’s bullets were called “vidia” or “dum-dum” were usually smaller than the regular army’s bullets…Most of the capital’s residents have found this type of bullets all around the military buildings near by. (at 2:01 of 8:50)[18]

And thus, it becomes clear that the discussion of “vidia” bullets and “dum-dum” bullets is interchangeable (or at least is treated as such)! (Hence, perhaps why Romulus Cristea asked his question of General Voinea as he did in December 2005: “Did special ammunition, bullets with a vidia tip or dum-dum bullets, claim [any] victims? The press of the time was filled with such claims…”) “Vidia” translates as “grooved,” and thus describes the modified feature of the bullets which makes them so lethal, thereby making the treatment of vidia and dumdum as de facto synonyms understandable.

This is critical because as I have previously written in detail, citing interviews and reminiscences in the Romanian press…vidia bullets showed up across the country in December 1989. In “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989” (http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html) I detail examples of vidia bullets showing up across the country—Brasov, Sibiu, Bucharest (multiple locations), Braila, Caransebes, Craiova, and Hunedoara—as recounted by civilians and Army personnel, at various times since the events—not just during or right after. Such wide dispersion of the use of officially non-existent munitions is critical too because it infirms the notion that somehow demonstrators or the Army put their hands on such “free floating weapons” and used them during the December 1989 events—that it would have happened in one or two places could be explained, but that the same thing would happen in so many geographic centers is scarcely plausible.

Recall from our earlier extract from Prosecutor Dan Voinea’s December 2005 interview, his unambiguous denial of the use of vidia munitions. Nevertheless, significantly, since that interview we continue to find people who remember what they remember and they remember the use of vidia munitions. I have found yet more references. Alexandru Stepanian, who writes under the motto “Dreptate si Onoare! (Justice and Honor!),” not only claims to still have a vidia bullet from 22-23 December 1989 in the area around the TV Station in Bucharest, but he has placed a photo of it on the portalulrevolutiei website.[19] In fall 2006, the daughter of a priest recalled:

In December ’89, after he arrived from Timisoara, my father stayed with me on Stefan Cel Mare Boulevard. When we returned to our home, on the corner of Admiral Balescu and Rosenthal. I found the cupboard of the dresser pure and simple riddled with bullets, about 8 to 10 of them. Someone who knew about such things told me they were vidia bullets. They were brought to a commission, but I don’t know what happened to them.[20]

In 2007 a book entitled The Tales of the Terrorists was published in Galati. In one section, a Eugen Stoleriu recounts his dispatch to Bucharest as a military recruit during the events and how for the first time in his life he came across vidia bullets that were shot at him.[21]

Another apparent synonym for “vidia” is “crestata” or “notched.” I take it that the reference is to the same type of munitions because the damage caused to those wounded by them was equally catastrophic. In December 2007, Alexandru Tudor, a soccer official famous apparently for his stern, unsmiling demeanor, who was shot on 23 December 1989 around 10 am in the area of Piata Aviatorilor near the TV studio, recounted the episode that ended his career:

They brought me to Colentina Hospital and there I had the great fortune of two great doctors. If they had operated on me, they would have to amputate both my legs beneath the knee, but instead they left the bullets in there 12 days. Their explanation was that the bullets were too close to arteries, and since they were gloante crestate (notched bullets), it was very dangerous. After they were removed, I kept the bullets, I have them at home. I was on crutches for six months, I went through therapy, but I had to give up soccer.[22]

Also on the 18th anniversary of the Revolution, a frustrated poster to another site asked pointedly:

Who in Romania in 1989 had 5.5 mm caliber NATO-type munition, that in addition was “notched”—something outlawed by the Geneva Convention, while it is known that the Romanian Army had only the caliber used by Warsaw Pact nations for their weapons, that is to say 7,62 mm….At that time even the Olympic speed shooting champion, Sorin Babii, expressed his surprise….I had in my hand several samples of this cartridge: small, black, with a spiral on the top, or with 4 cuts (those who know a little bit about ballistics and medical forensics can attest to the devastating role caused by these modifications). I await a response to my questions…perhaps someone will be willing to break the silence. I thank you in advance. [emphases added][23]

In other words, the existence of crestate/vidia/dum-dum bullets is known, and not everyone has so blithely forgotten their existence.

A Dum-Dum by Any Other Name: Gloante explosive (exploding bullets), gloante speciale (special bullets)

Crestate, vidia, dum-dum…by now we know: these are very dangerous munitions…

In the field of firearms, an expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact. Such bullets are often known as Dum-dum or dumdum bullets. There are several types of dum-dum designs. Two popular designs are the hollow point (made during the manufacturing phase) and X-ing made usually by the user by making two notches perpendicular to each other on the tip of the bullet, commonly with a knife. The effect is that the bullet deforms and sometimes fragments upon impact due to the indentations. This creates a larger wound channel or channels with greater blood loss and trauma.

The hollow-point bullet, and the soft-nosed bullet, are sometimes also referred to as the dum-dum, so named after the British arsenal at Dum-Dum, near Calcutta, India, where it is said that jacketed, expanding bullets were first developed. This term is rare among shooters, but can still be found in use, usually in the news media and sensational popular fiction. Recreational shooters sometimes refer to hollow points as “JHPs”, from the common manufacturer’s abbreviation for “Jacketed Hollow Point”.

To be most correct, the term “Dum Dum Bullet” refers only to soft point bullets, not to hollow points, though it is very common for it to be mistakenly used this way.

The Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibits the use in warfare of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the body, and was an expansion of the Declaration of St Petersburg in 1868, which banned exploding projectiles of less than 400 grams. These treaties limited the use of “explosive” bullets in military use, defining illegal rounds as a jacketed bullet with an exposed lead tip (and, by implication, a jacketed base).[24]

Thus, under the synonym for dumdum/vidia/crestate bullets of “exploding bullets,” we find the following on the Internet:

On the evening of 27 December 1989, Eugen Maresi, 20 years old, a military draftee, was sent to organize a checkpoint on soseaua Chitilei, at the entrance to Bucharest….A group of 25 soldiers came under fire from the belltower of a church. Eugen was the first shot…. “The doctors told me my only child was shot with (gloante explosive) exploding bullets. The fragments shattered all of his internal organs,” says Dumitru Maresi, the father of the [Drobeta Turnu] Severin hero. http://2003.informatia.ro/Article42788.phtml

and

Gheorghe Nicolosu, was shot in the leg…After he was operated on, it was established that the bullet with which he was shot did not figure in [the arsenal of] the Romanian Army. Nicolosu was operated on in Hunedoara, then arrived in Italy, where he underwent another surgery…In the same area, on Lipscani, Cristea Valeria, 36 years old, was shot in the stomach by ammunition that did not belong to the army. He died a few hours later, the doctors trying to save his life, but the glontul exploziv (exploding bullet) perforated his intestines. Another youngster, 18 year old Ion Gherasim was shot in the back at the entrance to UM 01933 by munition that did not belong to the army. (Emphases added) http://www.replicahd.ro/images/replica216/special2.htm

Once again, we are speaking here of far-flung locations across the country—Chitila (Bucharest) and Hunedoara—which makes the idea of accident and “free floating weapons” unlikely.

Ammunition…Consistent with the Confessions of Former Securitate Whistleblowers

And so, who was it, who has told us about “exploding bullets” and “special cartridges” like this, and who has it been said possessed them in December 1989?

For years I have been essentially the sole researcher inside or outside the country familiar with and promoting the claims of 1) former Timisoara Securitate Directorate I officer Roland Vasilevici—who published his claims about December 1989 under the byline of Puspoki F. in the Timisoara political-cultural weekly Orizont in March 1990 and under the pseudonym “Romeo Vasiliu”—and 2) an anonymous USLA recruit who told his story to AM Press Dolj (published on the five year anniversary of the events in Romania Libera 28 December 1994…ironically (?) next to a story about how a former Securitate official attempted to interrupt a private television broadcast in which Roland Vasilevici was being interviewed in Timisoara about Libyan involvement in December 1989).

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Vasilevici claimed in those March 1990 articles and in a 140 page book that followed—both the series and the book titled Pyramid of Shadows—that the USLA and Arab commandos were the “terrorists” of December 1989. What is particularly noteworthy in light of the above discussion about “exploding bullets” was his claim that the USLA and the foreign students who supplemented them “used special cartridges which upon hitting their targets caused new explosions.”[25]

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The anonymous USLA recruit stated separately, but similarly:

I was in Timisoara and Bucharest in December ’89. In addition to us [USLA] draftees, recalled professionals, who wore black camouflage outfits, were dispatched. Antiterrorist troop units and these professionals received live ammunition. In Timisoara demonstrators were shot at short distances. I saw how the skulls of those who were shot would explode. I believe the masked ones, using their own special weapons, shot with exploding bullets. In January 1990, all the draftees from the USLA troops were put in detox. We had been drugged. We were discharged five months before our service was due to expire in order to lose any trace of us. Don’t publish my name. I fear for me and my parents. When we trained and practiced we were separated into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’ The masked ones were the ‘enemies’ who we had to find and neutralize. I believe the masked ones were the ‘terrorists’. [emphases added]

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As I have pointed out, despite the short shrift given these two revelations by Romanian media and Romanianists, one group has paid close attention: the former Securitate. That is not accidental. [26]

With the advent of the Internet, unverifiable bulletin board postings also pop up. On 23 December 2003, under the name of “kodiak,” the following appeared:

In ’89 I was a major in the USLA…and I know enough things that it would be better I didn’t know…15, 16, 20, 30 years will pass and nothing will be known beyond what you need and have permission to know…” (http://www.cafeneaua.com)[27]

Clearly, the legal constraints of security oaths and fear continue to cast a long shadow, long after the events of December 1989.

Si totusi…se stie [And nevertheless…it is known]

It took over three years into my research on the Revolution—and physically being in the Library of the Romanian Academy—before I came to the realization: oh yeah, that’s a good idea, yeah, I should systematically compare what the former Securitate have to say about December 1989 and compare it with what others are saying. It took a maddening additional half year before I came to the conclusion: oh yeah, and how about what the Army has to say? It may seem ridiculous—and it is in some ways indefensible from the perspective of performing historical research—but you have to understand how Romanian émigrés dominated early investigations of the Revolution, and how they divided the post-communist Romania media into the pro-regime (untrustworthy) press and the opposition (trustworthy) press, and the influence this “research frame” and methodology had at the time upon younger researchers such as myself.[28]

A more systematic mind probably would have come to these revelations long before I did. Instead, it took the accidental, simultaneous ordering of issues from 1990 and 1991 of the vigorous anti-Iliescu regime university publication NU (Cluj), the similarly oppositional Zig-Zag (Bucharest), and the former Securitate mouthpiece Europa to discover this. There I found Radu Nicolae making his way among diametrically opposed publications, saying the same things about December 1989. And it mattered: the source for example of Radu Portocala’s claim that there were “no terrorists” in December 1989 was Radu Nicolae. But more important still, was the discovery of Angela Bacescu revising the Defense Ministry incident, exonerating the USLA, and claiming there were no Securitate terrorists in Sibiu (only victims) in Zig-Zag…only to show up months later in Romania Mare and Europa months later writing the same stuff, and in the case of the Sibiu article republishing it verbatim. Nor was Bacescu alone among the former Securitate at Zig-Zag: she was for example joined by Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan, the first to pen revisionist articles about the Army’s DIA unit.[29]

But without a broader comparative framework and approach to the Romanian media, all of this eluded the highly partisan Romanian émigré writers on the events. Nestor Ratesh alone among this group did seem puzzled and bothered by the similarity of Romania Libera Petre Mihai Bacanu’s conclusions on the V-th Directorate and those of Bacescu (he only alluded to her dubious reputation, however, and did not name her.) But Bacanu was fallible: memorably, but also upstandingly, in December 1993, he admitted based on what he claimed were new revelations, that his previous three and a half years of exonerating the USLA had been in vain since they were erroneous: they had after all played a significant role in the repression and killing of demonstrators on the night of 21-22 December 1989 in University Square. That alone should have precipitated a rethinking about assumptions and approaches to investigating the December 1989 events and particularly the role of the Securitate and the USLA, but it did not, and has not to this day…

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Romanians and Romanianists like to indulge in the reassuring myth that the “schools” of research on the Revolution were separate from the beginning—that the defining feature was the political orientation of the author and whether he or she viewed the events of December 1989 as a revolution or coup d’etat. To the extent they are willing to admit that discussions of the “terrorists” cross-pollinated and became intertwined across the borders of the political spectrum, they assume that this must have happened later, after views had become consolidated.[30] But such a view is simply ahistorical and wishful-thinking. It is simply impossible to defend honestly when you have Angela Bacescu who “showed up with lots of documents and didn’t need any money” and wrote her revisionist tracts in the oppositional Zig-Zag, when she and Olbojan were the first ones to voice theses that later became staples of the anti-Iliescu opposition—long after they had left its press.

It is indicative that Romanians still have yet to confront this methodological flaw that one of the few studies in the country to read Securitate and Army sources in addition to journalist and participant accounts, still failed to address the key similarities across the political spectrum regarding the existence and identity of the “terrorists.” Smaranda Vultur wrote in a review of Ruxandra Cesereanu’s (otherwise, groundbreaking in comparison to what had appeared before it in Romanian in book form) Decembrie ’89. Deconstructia unei revolutii (Iasi: Polirom 2004):

Beyond this, I would underscore however a deficit that results directly from the choice of the author to classify her sources based on how the source defines the events: as a revolution, a plot, or a hybrid of the two. Because of this one will thus find, contained in the same chapter, Securitate people and political analysts, revolutionaries and politicians of the old and new regimes, and journalists.[31]

In other words, my exact indictment of the approach inside and outside Romania to the study of the Revolution, and the reason why people are simply unable to acknowledge the similarity and even identicality of views of the “terrorists.”

After the aforementioned realizations in 1993-1994 about the need to be more comparative and systematic in investigating accounts of the Revolution, it took yet another two maddening years before I started to realize the significance of the ballistics evidence. It thus came comparatively late in the dissertation process. My timing was fortuitous, however. I wrote a short article in November 1996 that was published in two different forms in 22 and Sfera Politicii in December 1996—the mood in Romania was euphoric as seven years of the Iliescu regime had just come to an end through the ballot box. [32] True, it didn’t spark debate and loosen some lips as I had hoped, but it made my visit to Bucharest the following June —especially my interviews on one particular day with a journalist at Cotidianul and, several hours later, a member of the Gabrielescu Parliamentary Commission investigating the events (Adrian Popescu-Necsesti)—memorable to say the least….

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Of course, not then, or even since, has anybody who has investigated the December 1989 events inside or outside Romania systematically attempted to replicate, test, or expand upon my earlier findings—other than myself. As I have noted elsewhere,[33] in Peter Siani-Davies’ otherwise excellent The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 he devotes essentially a paragraph to the ballistics’ topic in a 300 plus page book—and it is only in the context of addressing my own earlier research. Monica Ciobanu could thus not be more wrong in her declaration that Peter Siani-Davies’ 2005 volume had disproven the “myth of Securitate terrorists.”[34] Siani-Davies has nothing to say about dum-dum/vidia/exploding ammunition: hence why he does not believe in Securitate terrorists!

Since then, I have written on Securitate revisionism, “the terrorists,” and the ballistics evidence of Romanian Revolution of December 1989, in the words of one critic who seems unable to call things by their name “voluminously, although never exhaustively, elsewhere”—publishing in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. [35] Now, more than a decade after those original ballistics’ articles, I return here putting things together I should preferably have put together long before…

The high stakes of what was at play in late December 1989 become all the clearer here. Nicolae Ceausescu’s successors faced not only the dilemma of having foreign citizens arrested for firing at and killing in cold blood Romanian citizens[36], but members of a Romanian state institution—the Securitate—in addition to those foreign citizens, had injured, maimed, and killed Romanian citizens using munitions that were outlawed by international conventions to which Romania was a party. Thus, beyond the culpability of an institution that was key to the ability of the nomenklaturists who had seized power to continue in power—i.e. the Securitate—and who undoubtedly had compromising information on those leaders, the new potentates were faced with a problem of international dimensions and proportions.

Dan Badea’s April 1991 article with which I opened this paper concluded thusly:

There are in these two declarations above[–those of Gheorghe Balasa and Radu Minea–] sufficient elements for an investigation by the Police or Prosecutor’s Office. [Dan Badea, “Gloante speciale sau ce s-a mai gasit in cladirea Directiei a V-a,” Expres, 16-22 April 1991]

That, of course, never appears to have happened. I hope that the information I have supplied above—significantly, much of it new, much of it from the Internet in recent years—should at the very least encourage Romanians and Romanianists to reopen and reexamine the ballistics evidence. Let us hope that on the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution, we may be able to read serious investigations of the ballistics evidence, rather than be subjected to the false and jaded refrain… such things did not exist!



[1] See, for example, Dorin Petrisor, “Procurorul Voinea, acuzat ca a lucrat prost dosarul Iliescu 13 iunie 1990,” Cotidianul, 7 December 2007, online edition. Voinea’s removal generally went unpublicized abroad—it was understandably not a proud day for his supporters. Kovesi claimed to have been taken aback by Voinea’s inexplicable, seemingly incompetent handling of the June 1990 files.

[2] General Dan Voinea, interview by Romulus Cristea, “Toti alergau dupa un inamic invizibil,” Romania Libera, 22 December 2005, online edition. Cristea’s apparent effort/belief—shared by many others—to suggest that it was only “the press of the time”—something I take to mean December 1989 and the immediate months after—that was filled with such claims and accusations is untrue. (The suggestion is to say that civilians with no knowledge of weapons and munitions repeated rumors spread out of fear and fueled by those who had seized power but needed to create an enemy to legitimize themselves and thus exploited those fears…) For examples of such claims “in the press of the time,” see the words of an employee of the Municipal Hospital (“In the room was a boy, very badly wounded by dum-dum bullets that had blown apart his diaphragm, his sacroiliac, and left an exit wound the size of a 5 lei coin,” Expres no. 10 (6-12 April 1990), p. 5) and the discussion of how Bogdan Stan died (“vidia bullets which explode when they hit their ‘target,’ entered into the bone marrow of his spine,” Adevarul, 13 January 1990). But such claims also appear long after the December 1989 events. Two and a half and three years after the December 1989 events, Army Colonel Ion Stoleru maintained in detail that the “terrorists” had “weapons with silencers, with scopes, for shooting at night time (in ‘infrared’), bullets with a ‘vidia’ tip [more on this and the relation to dum-dum munitions below]. Really modern weapons” and added, significantly, “The civilian and military commissions haven’t followed through in investigating this…” (see Army Colonel Ion Stoleru with Mihai Galatanu, “Din Celebra Galerie a Teroristilor,” Expres, no. 151 (22-28 December 1992), p. 4, and “Am vazut trei morti suspecti cu fata intoarsa spre caldarim,” Flacara, no. 29 (22 July 1992), p. 7.) Voinea’s steadfast denials would seem to validate Stoleru’s allegations more than a decade after he made them. Not surprisingly, but highly unfortunate, Cristea’s interview with Voinea forms the basis of conclusions about the terrorists on the Romanian-language Wikipedia webpage on the Revolution: see http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolu%C5%A3ia_rom%C3%A2n%C4%83_din_1989.

[3] Laura Toma, Toma Roman Jr. , and Roxana Ioana Ancuta, “Belis nu a vazut cadavrele Ceausestilor,” Jurnalul National, 25 October 2005, http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/34668/belis-nu-a-vazut-cadavrele-ceausestilor. “Frumos (Nice)…” as the Romanians say. Belis may not have interested himself in the ballistics evidence—but some of his employees apparently did (see IML Dr. Florin Stanescu’s comments in Ion Costin Grigore, Cucuveaua cu Pene Rosii (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), pp. 70-72). Moreover, there were exhumations. (“For a long time the Brasov Military Prosecutor didn’t do anything, even though there existed cases, declarations, documents, photos and even atypical unusual bullets brought in by the families of the deceased and wounded.” http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/forum/index.php?topic=1.msg214) On 14 June 1990, General Nicolae Spiroiu, future Defense Minister (1991-1994), appears to have been in the city of Brasov, assisting at the exhumation of people killed there during the December 1989 Revolution. Such a step was a rarity, and apparently followed earlier talks between Spiroiu, five other officers, and the staff of the local newspaper Opinia, who were seeking clarification over who was responsible for the deaths of their fellow citizens. “They found in particular bullets of a 5.6 mm caliber that are not in the Army’s arsenal,” wrote the journalist Romulus Nicolae of the investigation. (Romulus Nicolae, “Au ars dosarele procuraturii despre evenimente din decembrie,” Cuvintul, no. 32 (August 1991), pp. 4-5, cited in Richard Andrew Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian: Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.)

[4] Dr. Nicolae Constantinescu, surgeon at Coltea Hospital: “I remember that on 1 or 2 January ’90 there appeared at the [Coltea] hospital a colonel from the Interior Ministry, who presented himself as Chircoias. He maintained in violent enough language that he was the chief of a department from the Directorate of State Security [ie. Securitate]. He asked that all of the extracted bullets be turned over to him. Thus were turned over to him 40 bullets of diverse forms and dimensions, as well as munition fragments. I didn’t hear anything back from Chircoias or any expert. Those who made the evidence disappear neglected the fact that there still exist x-rays and other military documents that I put at the disposition of the [Military] Prosecutor.”

( http://www.romanialibera.ro/a113826/revolutia-5-000-de-victime-nici-un-vinovat.html)

[5] Tom Gallagher, Modern Romania: The End of Communism, the Failure of Democratic Reform, and the Theft of a Nation, (NY: New York University Press, 2005), p. 190.

[6] Jeremy Bransten, “Romania: The Bloody Revolution in 1989: Chaos as the Ceausescus Are Executed,” RFE/RFL, 14 December 1999 at http://www.rferl.org/specials/communism/10years/romania2.asp. This unfortunate comment aside, Brantsen’s series is an excellent journalistic introduction to the December 1989 events.

[7] Iliesiu is dead wrong. See the signed testimony to the contrary by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi dated 26 December 1989, reproduced in Ioan Itu, “Mostenirea teroristilor,” Tinerama, no. 123 (9-15 April 1993), p. 7. I translated the important parts of this document in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. Significantly, according to this document, Dr. Belis had access to the dead terrorists:

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Dead Terrorists. Although their existence is vehemently denied by all official institutions, we are able to prove that they existed and have sufficient details to identify them.…We continue with some excerpts of the declaration of Ion Lungu, head of the group of fighters who guarded the ‘Institute of Legal Medicine’ [IML, the main Bucharest morgue], beginning from the evening of 22 December 1989:

“Starting from the 23rd, there were brought, in succession, more ‘special’ corpses. They were brought only by military vehicles and were accompanied by officers. They were all dressed the same: kaki uniforms, with or without military insignia, fur-lined boots, cotton underwear. All the clothes were new. The established procedure at that point was that when the bodies were unloaded from the trucks, at the ramp to the back of the IML, to be disrobed and inspected. The documents found were released to Prosecutor Vasiliu and criminology officers. The weapons and munitions we found and surrendered—on the basis of a verbal procedure—to the officer on duty from UM 01046. Weapons and ammunition were found only on those ‘special’ corpses. Those who brought them said that they were terrorists. I turned over to this military unit five pistols (three Stecikin and two Makarov—all 9 mm caliber), two commando daggers and hundreds of 9 mm and 7.62 mm cartridges (compatible with the AKM machine gun). They were held separately from the other corpses, in a room—I believe that it used to be the coatroom—with a guard at the door.…

Access to the room with the terrorists was strictly forbidden. Only Prosecutor Vasiliu, criminologist officers, Dr. Belis, and the chief of autopsies could enter. On top of them, next to the arms, there were personal documents, passports (some blank), all types of identity cards—one of them was clearly false, it stated that the dead terrorist was the director at Laromet (at that plant no director died)—identity cards that were brand new, different service stamps in white. All had been shot by rifles (one was severed in two) and showed evidence of gunshots of large caliber. Some had tattoos (they had vultures on their chests), were young (around 30 years old), and were solidly built. I believe that their identity was known, since otherwise I can’t explain why their photographs were attached to those of unidentified corpses. They were brought to us in a single truck. In all, there were around 30 dead terrorists. [The document is signed by Ion Lungu and Dumitru Refenschi on 26 December 1989]”

[8] Once again Iliesiu is wrong. Professor Andrei Firica at the Bucharest “Emergency Hospital” apparently also was paid a visit by Colonel Chircoias (aka Ghircoias), see fn. 4. He claims that he “made a small file of the medical situations of the 15-20 suspected terrorists from [i.e. interned at] the Emergency Hospital,” but as he adds “of course, all these files disappeared.” Firica reports that a Militia colonel, whom he later saw on TV in stripes as a defendant in the Timisoara trial [i.e. Ghircoias], came to the hospital and advised him “not to bring reporters to the beds of the terrorists, because these were just terrorist suspects and I didn’t want to wake up one day on trial for having defamed someone” (!) The colonel later came and loaded the wounded terrorist suspects into a bus and off they went. (Professor Andrei Firica, interview by Florin Condurateanu, “Teroristii din Spitalul de Urgenta,” Jurnalul National, 9 March 2004, online edition.) Cited in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[9] I don’t even know where to begin on this one. As I have written before, not all of those detained were terrorists, and many of the terrorists seemed to have eluded arrest, but there are so many accounts of people arrested as terrorists who legitimately fit that description that I don’t even know where to begin. See the multiple translations in Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[10] Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, found at http://www.romanialibera.com/articole/articol.php?step=articol&id=6709 (note: this is NOT the Romania Libera daily newspaper). One will find many well-known names in the West among those who signed this petition: Dragoş Paul Aligică, Matei Călinescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Tom Gallagher, Gabriel Liiceanu, Norman Manea, Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Horia-Roman Patapievici, Radu Portocală, Nestor Ratesh, Lavinia Stan, Stelian Tănase, Alin Teodorescu, and Vladimir Tismăneanu. Sorin Iliesiu, who is a filmmaker and Vice President of the “Civic Alliance” organization, has written that he was part of the “team” that “edited” the seven page chapter on the Romanian Revolution contained in the Report of the Presidential Commission to Analyze the Communist Dictatorship of Romania (PCACDR). He is not a scholar and most certainly not a scholar of the December 1989 events. A textual comparison of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution and Vladimir Tismaneanu’s chapter in a Dawisha and Parrott edited volume from 1997 is unambiguous: the introductory two paragraphs of the Report’s chapter are taken verbatim in translation from p. 414 of Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter, and other verbatim paragraphs, sentences, and phrases from pp. 414-417 make up parts of the rest of the Report’s Revolution chapter without any reference to the 1997 chapter. As the author(s) of an earlier chapter in the Report cite(s) Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter (see p. 376 fn. 55) correctly, this leaves really only two possible explanations for the failure of Iliesiu et. al. to cite that they have borrowed wholesale from Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter: a) an absence of scholarly knowledge, or b) an attempt to mask their dependence upon and deference to Tismaneanu, the Chair of the Commission, since the citations that do appear are the exact citations from the 1997 chapter and claims are translated word-by-word, so much so that Iliesiu et. al. did not even bother to change verb tenses despite the passage of a decade. Iliesiu et. al. can attempt to avoid answering questions and attempt to change the subject, but the textual analysis is unambiguous: Tismaneanu’s unattributed 1997 chapter forms the bulk of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution. The only question that needs to be answered is: why and why are they unwilling to admit the textual identicality?

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[11] All of this eludes Charles King in his Winter 2007 Slavic Review essay “Remembering Romanian Communism.” In his five page essay, he pauses no less than four times to mention the Revolution, despite the fact that its coverage takes up barely one percent of the PCACDR report. He relates the most banal of conclusions—“The report thus repeats the common view (at least among western academics) of the revolution as having been hijacked…”—yet misses or avoids what Iliesiu clearly seems most proud of: having inserted the claim that Nicolae Ceausescu was responsible for “only 162 deaths,” thereby insinuating Ceausescu’s successors bear responsibility for the other 942, and the claim to which such a reckoning is intimately related, namely Voinea’s that there were “no terrorists.” (It is interesting to note how Iliesiu et. al., the eternally suspicious of the state, miraculously become assiduous promoters of “official” and “state” claims once they turn out to be their own, thereby suggesting that their skepticism of the state is primarily situational rather than inherent—these are not equal opportunity skeptical and critical intellectuals.) King’s treatment of the Report is overall insufficiently informed, and as a consequence contextually-wanting and one-sided. He cites a handful of Romanian reviews of the Report, but they are almost uniformly positive accounts, almost as if supplied by the Chair of the Commission himself (see fn. 1, p. 718). He pauses to cite the former head of Radio Free Europe’s Romanian Research Division Michael Shafir’s 1985 book, yet makes no mention of Shafir’s trenchant criticisms (he gave the report a 7 out of 10 and mixed the positive with the negative) in a 1/12/07 interview in Ziua de Cluj, his extended critique “RAPORTUL TISMĂNEANU: NOTE DIN PUBLIC ŞI DIN CULISE” available in spring 2007 at http:// www.eleonardo.tk/ (no. 11), or his “Scrisoare (ultra)deschisa” in Observator Cultural no. 382 (25 July-1 August 2007) [given the timeline of scholarly publication, I am attempting to give King the benefit of the doubt here …He would certainly do well to read Shafir’s most recent discussion in Observator Cultural NR. 148 (406) 17 – 23 ianuarie 2008, “Despre clarificari nebuloase, plagiate, imposturi si careerism,” to see what a venerable critic and serious scholar was subjected to as a result of deigning to not wholeheartedly embrace the Report. Shafir’s treatment by the Report’s zealots has little to do with the liberal democratic view of the open society the Report’s authors ceaselessly profess.] Finally, had Charles King bothered to read Ciprian Siulea’s “Tentatia unui nou absolutism moral: Cu cine si de ce polemizeaza Vladimir Tismaneanu?” (Observator Cultural, nr. 379, 5-11 iulie 2007, once again conceivably within the publishing timeline) he might have refrained from parrotting the polarizing and unhelpful plebiscitary logic applied to the Report when he closed “The question is now whether the commission’s report will be used as yet another opportunity to reject history or as a way of helping Romanians learn, at last, how to own it” (p. 723). This, of course, suggests a certain infallible quality to the Report—which is far from the case—a conclusion only enhanced by King’s willingness to focus on the “hate speech” directed against the Report, but yet failing to cite and discuss any of the Romanian scholarly criticism of it.

[12] “Aghiotantii lui Ceausescu povestesc minut cu minut: O zi din viata dictatorului,” Romania Libera, 2 December 2005, online at http://www.romanialibera.ro/a5040/o-zi-din-viata-dictatorului.html. “Declaratie Subsemnatul TALPEANU ION, fiul lui Marin si Elena, nascut la 27 mai 1947 in comuna Baneasa, judetul Giurgiu, fost aghiotant prezidential cu grad de lt. col. in cadrul Directiei a V-a – Serviciul 1. Cu privire la armamentul din dotare arat ca, noi, aghiotantii aveam pistol “Makarov” cu 12 cartuse, iar sefii de grupa si ofiterii din grupa aveau pistolet “Makarov”, pistolet “Stecikin” si pistol-mitraliera AKM, cu munitie aferenta, care era cea obisnuita, in sensul ca nu aveam gloante dum-dum sau cu proprietati speciale, de provenienta straina.” (Dated 2 February 1990). His denial of dum-dum bullets is, of course, par for the course for former Securitate officers, who remember and thus “know nothing.”

[13] Quoted from http://www.tourismguide.ro/html/orase/Arad/Curtici/istoric_curtici.php. This raises an interesting point: there were foreign doctors who participated in Romania or in their home country in the surgery, treatment, and rehabilitation of those wounded. It would be interesting to hear what they remember and what they have to say regarding the munitions.

[15]Adina Anghelescu-Stancu refers to the “crippled and handicapped by dum-dum bullets” who do not number among Romania’s celebrities and about whom no one wishes to remember in today’s Romania, “Dureri care nu trec! (despre decembrie ‘89),” Gardianul, 18 December 2007, online at http://www.gardianul.ro/2007/12/18/editorial-c27/dureri_care_nu_trec_despre_decembrie_89_-s106259.html.

[16] I have examined the incident in detail several times, for the references to other works, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[17] Once again, see “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.pdf, and “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html. The critical articles were authored by Mihai Floca and Victor Stoica, who interviewed the Army cadre who had been involved in the incident and the residents of the surrounding apartment blocs who survived the fighting of those days.

[18] destituirea “Romanian Revolution USLA attack Dec 23 1989 Revolutia,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlBRSxUVQ5E

[19] For the photo see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/documente/glont.htm; for one of his posts see http://www.portalulrevolutiei.ro/index.php?menu=6&pg=forum_thread.php&lnk=1&pagina=39. I cannot verify that this is indeed a “vidia” munition.

[20] Christian Levant, “Dacă tata nu-l salva pe Tokes, dacă nu salva biserici, tot se întâmpla ceva,” Adevarul, 30 September 2006, online at http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/dac-x103-tata-nu-l-salva-pe-tokes-dac-x103-nu-salva-biserici-tot-se-nt-mpla-ceva/200090.

[21] Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, Povestirile teroristilor amintiri preluate si prelucrate de Cezar-Vladimir Rogoz, (Alma Print Galati 2007), p. 297, available online at http://www.bvau.ro/docs/e-books/2007/Rogoz,%20Cezar-Vladimir/povestirile_teroristilor.pdf.

[22]“A invatat sa zambeasca, [He learned how to smile],” http://marianmanescu.wordpress.com/2007/12/21/a-invatat-sa-zambeasca.

[25] Puspoki F., “Piramida Umbrelor (III),” Orizont (Timisoara), no. 11 (16 March 1990) p.4, and Roland Vasilevici, Piramida Umbrelor (Timisoara: Editura de Vest, 1991), p. 61.

[26] For the discussion of the former Securitate response to those who have violated the code of silence, see Hall, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[28] I refer here to, for example, the works of Vladimir Tismaneanu, Matei Calinescu, Andrei Codrescu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Radu Portocala, and Nestor Ratesh. Some, like Tismaneanu in a 1993 article in EEPS, “The Quasi-Revolution and its Discontents,” were more explicit about this rather rigid dichotomous approach to the Romanian media, but it also comes through clearly in the sourcing, citations, and footnotes/endnotes of the others. (It continues to haunt the historiography of post-communist Romania, as works such as Tom Gallagher’s aforementioned Modern Romania make clear). To say the least, the issue of ballistics evidence essentially goes unanalyzed in these accounts. Moreover, although as we have seen, these authors have no problem affixing their names to petitions and the like, none of them has published any research on the December 1989 events since the early 1990s. It should tell you something that they continue to rely on and repeat the accounts they wrote in 1990 and 1991…as if nothing had been discovered or written since. In that way, it is almost fitting that the Report of the PCADCR reproduced Tismaneanu’s 1997 Dawisha and Parrott chapter in some places verbatim, down to failing to even change verb tenses when it states that certain questions “remain to be clarified.” I deconstructed the methodological faults in source selection in these émigré accounts in “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/checkmate040405.html.

[29] For earlier discussions of all of this, see Richard Andrew Hall, “The Uses of Absurdity: The Staged-War Theory of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” East European Politics and Societies, vol. 13, no. 3, and Richard Andrew Hall, “The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale,” Radio Free Europe East European Perspectives, April-May 2002, three part series, available at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/romania%20securitate%205-2002.html.

[30] In “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game,” I demonstrated how even the so-called French and German schools (really the schools of Romanian émigrés in those countries) in 1990 were not and could not be independent from accounts in Romania, and that the accounts fed into and reinforced one another. It is simply intellectual myth—and an all too convenient one—to argue the antisceptic separation of these accounts as independent.

[31] Smaranda Vultur, “Revolutia recitita,” 22 no. 787 (9-15 April 2005) online at http://www.revista22.ro.

[32] Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Adrian Bobeica, “Ce demonstreaza probele balistice dupa sapte ani?” 22, no. 51 (17-23 December 1996), p. 10, and Richard Andrew Hall, trans. Corina Ileana Pop, “Dupa 7 ani,” Sfera Politicii no. 44 (1996), pp. 61-63.

[33] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

[34] Monica Ciobanu’s review of Siani-Davies The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 and Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania: Theft of a Nation is entitled “The Myth Factory” (found at http://www.tol.cz).

[35] Charles King, “Remembering Romanian Communism,” Slavic Review, Winter 2007, p 719. In King’s short article, he does not hesitate to make occasionally gratuitous citations for things he did not need to cite. Yet in discussing December 1989 and using the term “elsewhere”—which usually prefaces a description of “where else” one might find these things—there are no citations. “Although never exhaustively” is itself a gratuitous choice of words and far from accidental: in my last work on December 1989, I made light of how ridiculous it was for Daniel Chirot to claim that Peter Siani-Davies’ The Romanian Revolution of December 1989, an otherwise excellent work, was “near definitive” when so much was missing from Siani-Davies’ discussion—notably, for our purposes here, the question of dum-dum/vidia/exploding munitions. One could indeed be left with the impression that King intends to deliver a put-down, that some fellow Romanianists will no doubt catch, but yet deny the broader audience references to what he alludes and simultaneously protect his image from having delivered such a “palma” as the Romanians would say. It would appear that at least for readers of this paper, his goals won’t go completely fulfilled.

[36] See my discussion in “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian,” at http://homepage.mac.com/khallbobo/RichardHall/pubs/Voineaswar091706.html.

Posted in raport final, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

(VIDEO) Brasov, gloante atipice (vidia), si revolutia romana din decembrie 1989

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 8, 2009

Vedeti si ascultati secventa 1:57 – 3:20–filmat pe 23 ianuarie 1990–in care vorbeste un medic brasovean despre cum au murit patru din sase soldati, impuscati cu gloante penetrante (cu alte cuvinte se pare:  gloante vidia)

un film de Maria Petrascu, Brasov partea 7-a Intervalul 1:58-3:17 gloante penetrante vidia

alte referiri din cazul Brasov in legatura cu gloante vidia

image-44

BRASOV

1)  Alin Alexandru, “Brasov (III):  Teroristii au intrat in pamint,” Expres, nr. 27 iulie 1990, p. 6.

“Versiunea oficiala a generalului Florea impartasita si de Procuratura Militara a Brasovului  este cunoscuta:  nu au fost teroristi, oamenii s-au impuscat intre ei…”

“Andrei N…:  In 23 dimineata de la Unirea se tragea ca si de la [hotel] Postavaru.  Am urcat spre poligonul de sub Timpa.  Am vazut un individ care tragea.  A sarit gardul, eram mai multi si l-am prins.  Avea arma cu luneta.  Mai tirziu s-a tras de la Liceul Sanitar.  La spalatorie am vazut o tapla ce nu era cizma militara.  Am doborit usa.  Individul era urcat pe o mobila.  L-am ranit.  Era imbracat in combinezon negru, pe dedesubt avea pulovar gri.  Poseda un automat Thomson calibru 5.65.  La el avea cam 2500-3000 de cartuse.”

2) Adrian Socaciu, “Dupa nopti de groaza si tortura, toti teroristi sint liberi,” Cuvintul, nr. 1-2 ianuarie 1991, pp. 3-5.

Pe pagina 3, ziaristul scrie despre gloante de calibru special, cap vidia sau exploziv.
Pe pagina 4, despre un individual la cantina partidului imbracat in negru, cu o pusca cu teava scurta, gloante 7,62 mm dar explozive, despre gloante de “grosimea unui creion, de culoarea aluminumului.”
Pe pagina 5, ca au fost arestati 5 indivizi suspectati ca teroristi, 3 arabi si 2 romani…

3) Romulus Nicolae, “Au ars dosarele procuratorii despre evenimente din decembrie,” Cuvintul, nr. 32 august 1991, pp. 4-5.

In iunie 1990, dupa o convorbire intre Generalul Spiroiu, citiva ofiteri, si ziaristi din publicatia locala Opinia, au fost dezhumati morti din decembrie 1989.

CE S-AU GASIT?

“S-AU GASIT IN SPECIAL GLOANTE DE CALIBRUL 5,6 MM CARE NU SINT IN DOTAREA ARMATEI.”

In legatura cu subiectul acesta, mai cititi:

decembrie 1989: Dosarul nr. 97/P/1990 … si gloante perforante (aka vidia, crestate)

31 decembrie 1989 celebrele gloante mici de calibru 5,6

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The Securitate Roots of a Modern Romanian Fairy Tale: The Press, the Former Securitate, and the Historiography of December 1989 by Richard Andrew Hall

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on July 17, 2009

Submitted February 2002, cleared without changes by CIA Publications Review Board March 2002

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3 April 2002, Volume 4, Number 7

THE SECURITATE ROOTS OF A MODERN ROMANIAN FAIRY TALE: THE PRESS, THE FORMER SECURITATE, AND THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF DECEMBER 1989

By Richard Andrew Hall

Many analysts and observers of Romania lost interest in and shut down their investigations of Romania’s December 1989 Revolution relatively early — most in 1990, some “held out” until 1991. They either made up their minds and settled on a particular theory or became irretrievably cynical, assuming a Straussian-like stance that nothing new could come out or be written about the December 1989 events and resigning their audiences to platitudes like “We may never know.” Perhaps most destructive of all has been the common, schizophrenic approach of declaring that, “The truth will never be known,” but then displaying a very fixed and rather immovable understanding of those events. This is not only disingenuous; it has set back serious study of the December 1989 events. Moreover, it provides a convenient rationale for avoiding the ambiguity and challenge that come with seeking to make sense of this landmark event. Ten years of declaring that “We may never know” has predictably proven a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But as William Faulkner once said of his mythical Yoknapatawpha County (as apt a metaphor for Romania as there ever was), “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.” This certainly applies to the Romanian Revolution of December 1989. The December 1989 events remain “living history” — the “present past” as Timothy Garton Ash would say — and have continued to be the subject of controversy throughout the postcommunist era (see Siani-Davies, 2001). Thanks in large part to communications developments such as the Internet, few modern events have offered themselves so well to tracing the evolution of their historiography in their aftermath as the December 1989 events.

Blind partisanship, selective analysis, and a smug reluctance to reexamine earlier claims in the light of new evidence have driven the “mystery” of the Revolution of December 1989. Many who have written on the December events have simply failed to “stick with the story,” and have certainly failed to keep their minds and options open. Romanian journalists, politicians, and other interested parties have routinely assimilated the revelations and arguments of former “Securitate” and “Militia” members with little hesitation — all because the claims in question have dovetailed with their post-December 1989 political suspicions, prejudices, and interests. Similarly, they have routinely failed to reassess their understanding of the December 1989 events after previously undeclared former Securitate members publicly admitted their past ties. The public admission of Securitate ties should at the very least compel investigators to examine what an individual stated about the December 1989 events PRIOR to the admission. Unfortunately, in Romania it has not, and this has created tragic consequences for popular and scholarly understanding of the December 1989 events.

In the following three-part article, I examine three cases that illustrate these costly mistakes. In the first, I discuss the case of Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan, a former Securitate officer who, prior to his public acknowledgement of this fact, disseminated disinformation designed to inflate the army’s culpability for the December 1989 bloodshed in the interests of reducing the culpability assigned to the Securitate. In the second part, I explore the early history of the “tourist” myth, a scenario fabricated by the Securitate whose travels — including into the work of respected Western scholars — have been truly stunning. In the final part, I examine the hallucinatory revelations of former Militia officer Petre Olaru, whose claims in 1999 became the centerpiece of revisionist theories exonerating the former Securitate. This last example is evidence that this is far from a simply “historical” topic, but instead continues to this day.

ION CRISTOIU’S ‘ZIG-ZAG’ AS GATEWAY
In the early 1990s, perhaps no mainstream publications served more as a haven for former Securitate officers and informers than the weeklies edited by Ion Cristoiu, in particular “Zig-Zag” and “Expres Magazin.” The Timisoara revolutionary Marius Mioc has gone so far as to call Cristoiu “the spearhead of the campaign to falsify the history of the revolution” (Mioc, 2000a). Cristoiu’s two most famous alumni are undoubtedly 1) Pavel Corut, a former Securitate officer who wrote under this name and the pseudonym “Paul Cernescu” for “Expres Magazin” during 1991 and 1992; and 2) Angela Bacescu, who since writing for “Zig-Zag” during the spring and summer of 1990 has been a mainstay for the notorious “Europa,” a veritable mouthpiece of the former Securitate (see Hall, 1997; for background on Corut, see Shafir 1993). Both strove during their tenure at Cristoiu’s publications to minimize and negate the Securitate’s role in the deaths of over 1,100 people in December 1989, particularly the Securitate’s responsibility for the so-called post-22 December “terrorism” that claimed almost 90 percent of those who died during the events.

Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, Cristoiu’s “Zig-Zag” and “Expres Magazin” were widely regarded as pillars of opposition to the rump Communist Party-state bureaucracy that made up the National Salvation Front (FSN) regime of President Ion Iliescu — including a large proportion of the former Securitate. To the extent that Cristoiu and his publications became the object of suspicion and cynicism within the opposition, it was because of an alleged slipperiness and inconsistency in his treatment of Iliescu — he was accused of cozying up to the regime when it appeared to benefit his interests (based on my own experience in discussions with various journalists and intellectuals in Romania between 1991 and 1994).

Probably no publication played a larger role in 1990 in rewriting the history of December 1989 than “Zig-Zag,” edited at the time by Ion Cristoiu. Because those analysts who have commented on the role of “Zig-Zag” in 1990 have focused almost exclusively on the change in coverage — a turn toward more favorable coverage of the FSN and President Iliescu after former Ceausescu court poet Adrian Paunescu took over editorship of the weekly from Cristoiu for a time during late 1990 and early 1991 — it is important to note that much of the most damaging revisionism began long BEFORE Paunescu became senior editor. As Marius Mioc notes, in an interview with Lucia Epure of the Timisoara daily “Renasterea Banateana” in September 1990, the notorious Ceausescu court poet Corneliu Vadim Tudor was asked which paper he enjoyed reading most (Mioc, 2000a). His response: “‘Zig-Zag.’ I like this boy, Ion Cristoiu.” The reason for Tudor’s appreciation of Cristoiu’s journal is “easy to understand,” according to Mioc, since that weekly “was the first [publication] that, after December 1989 (and especially after the May 1990 elections), began the campaign to rehabilitate the pro-Ceausescu theory of the revolution” (Mioc, 2000a). Indeed, in June 1990 when “Romania Mare” — a publication that at the time was supportive of the Iliescu regime — first began to appear, Tudor would list his favorite publications. At the top of the list with five out of five stars was “Zig-Zag,” a publication that under Cristoiu had developed a reputation as a critic of Ion Iliescu and the FSN!

It is hard to state with certainty what exactly Cristoiu’s role was in having his publications serve as a conduit for revisionist Securitate disinformation. This much is clear, however: Cristoiu was not unwitting for long about the backgrounds of the former Securitate personnel who came to work for him. Asked point blank about the Bacescu case in a book-length interview in 1993, Cristoiu was unrepentant. He claimed that he realized from the beginning that Bacescu was writing to defend the interests of the former Securitate but, since “there was something true in what the Securitate was saying,” he allowed her to publish (Iftime, 1993, p. 126). Cristoiu stated that he had “no regrets” and denied that it was accurate to assert that “Zig-Zag” had been “manipulated,” even though he admitted that Bacescu had shown up “without need of money…and she brought a lot of documents with her.” Cristoiu justified Bacescu’s sympathetic presentation of the Securitate in the December events as follows:

“Until April, 1990, the Securitate had been presented as a force of evil…. [Thus] [i]t was an absolutely new theme [to write that the Securitate had been innocent of the charges against them]. A shocking point of view in a period when the government was still glorifying the Revolution and always talking about martyrs…” (Iftime, 1993, p. 126).

Only in this way, Cristoiu concludes, was it possible to learn that “not a single terrorist had existed” in Sibiu — the city in which Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu Ceausescu, the so-called “Little Prince,” was party first secretary — a story which he maintains “was later confirmed” (Iftime, 1993, p. 127).

Despite Bacescu’s unambiguous ties to the former Securitate since she transferred to “Romania Mare” and then permanently to “Europa” in late 1990, to my knowledge — short of Marius Mioc — no Romanian writer has gone back to compare what Bacescu wrote after leaving “Zig-Zag” with what she wrote while at “Zig-Zag” or to scrutinize the validity of the allegations she made about the December 1989 events in the pages of that weekly. Significantly, for example, the article written by Bacescu to which Cristoiu alludes as exonerating the Securitate in the Sibiu events was reprinted VERBATIM in Tudor’s “Romania Mare” after she transferred to that publication in the second half of 1990 (Bacescu, 1990 a and b). Clearly, the publication of an article exonerating the Securitate by someone who did little to hide her connections to the former secret police — first in a publication bitterly critical of the Iliescu regime and then in a publication supportive of the very same regime — should have raised alarm bells and led to scrutiny of her claims. In the confused, stultifying, and slightly surreal context of post-Ceausescu Romania, however, it did not do so.

THE CASE OF GHEORGHE IONESCU OLBOJAN
Less well known than the comparatively high-profile cases of Corut and Bacescu is the case of Gheorghe Ionescu Olbojan. Olbojan’s treatment by the Romanian press corps differs little from that of Corut and Bacescu. Like Corut and Bacescu, in the early 1990s Olbojan was writing in the pages of Ion Cristoiu’s publications — specifically “Zig-Zag” in 1990. By the late 1990s, journalists who wrote about Olbojan’s publications did not hesitate to identify him as a former Securitate officer. A reviewer of Olbojan’s 1999 book, titled “The Black Face of the Securitate,” and Ion Mihai Pacepa in the satirical weekly “Catavencu” described Olbojan’s allegations that Ceausescu was overthrown by the Soviet Union in conjunction with Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Israel, and bluntly stated that Olbojan was a disgruntled former Securitate officer (“Catavencu,” 23 July 1999). Filip Ralu, a journalist working for the daily “Curierul national,” was even more specific: Olbojan, he wrote, was a DIE (Foreign Intelligence Directorate) officer (“Curierul national,” 19 March 2001).

Why so bold and so sure, we might ask. Because it was no longer a secret: Olbojan had admitted in print — at least as early as 1993 — that he indeed served in the former Securitate. On the dust jacket of his 1994 book “Pacepa’s Phantoms,” a polemic apparently in response to criticisms of his earlier book, “Goodbye Pacepa,” his editor proudly touts the “latest raid effected by former Securitate officer Gh. Ionescu Olbojan” (Olbojan, 1994). Inside, Olbojan describes how he was recruited in the 1970s while at the Bucharest Law Faculty, finished a six-month training course at the famous Branesti Securitate school, and worked at an “operative unit” of the “Center” from 1978 to 1982 and then at the famous Securitate front company “Dunarea” until being forced — he claims — to go on reserve status in 1986 after violating certain unspecified “laws and regulations of security work” (Olbojan, 1994, pp. 17-19). According to Olbojan, as early as the fall of 1990 — at a time when he was writing a series on the makeup of the former Securitate and when Cristoiu would address him with the words, “Olbojan, did you bring me the material?” — he “pulled back the curtain of protection behind which he had been hiding for so long” and revealed to a fellow journalist his Securitate background (Olbojan, 1994, pp. 14-15). There is thus no doubt here: It is not a question of supposition or innuendo by this or that journalist — Olbojan has publicly admitted to a Securitate past.

APRIL 1990: OLBOJAN WRITES ON THE REVOLUTION
In the ninth issue of “Zig-Zag,” which appeared in April 1990 — an issue in which Angela Bacescu wrote a famous piece revising the understanding of the deaths of a group of Securitate antiterrorist troops at the Defense Ministry during the December events, a piece that was vigorously contested by journalists in the military press (for a discussion, see Hall, 1999) — Olbojan wrote an article entitled “Were The Corpses In The Refrigerated Truck DIA Officers?” (Olbojan, 1990). In the article, Olbojan attacked the official account regarding the identity of 40 bodies transported by the Securitate and by the Militia from Timisoara to Bucharest on 18-19 December 1989 for cremation upon the express orders of Elena Ceausescu. The FSN regime maintained that these were the cadavers of demonstrators shot dead during antiregime protests, but Olbojan now advanced the possibility that they might have been the corpses of members of the army’s elite defense intelligence unit, DIA.

Olbojan’s “basis” for such an allegation was that nobody allegedly had come forward to claim the corpses of the 40 people in question and therefore they could not have been citizens of Timisoara. Mioc counters that this is preposterous, and that unfortunately this myth has circulated widely since Olbojan first injected it into the press (Mioc, 2000b) — despite the publication of correct information on the topic. Mioc republished a list with the names, ages, and home addresses of the (in reality) 38 people in question and noted that it was published in the Timisoara-based “Renasterea Banateana” on 2 March 1991, the Bucharest daily “Adevarul” on 13 March 1991, the daily “Natiunea” (also published in Bucharest) in December 1991, as well as in the daily “Timisoara” on 29 November 1991 — but significantly was refused publication in Tudor’s “Romania Mare”!

THE IMPLICATIONS AND INTENTIONS OF OLBOJAN’S APRIL 1990 REAPPRAISAL OF THE TIMISOARA EVENTS
On the face of things — in the spring 1990 context of a publication that appeared courageous enough to stand up to the rump party-state bureaucracy and with no public knowledge about Olbojan’s past — Olbojan’s article could be interpreted as a laudable, if poorly executed, effort at investigative journalism or at worst as innocuous. But context can be everything, and it is in this case. It seems significant that Olbojan considers his April 1990 “Zig-Zag” article important enough to reproduce in its entirety in his 1994 book “Pacepa’s Phantoms” and then discuss the impact the article had upon getting people to rethink the December 1989 events and how later works by other authors (including those with no connection to the former Securitate but also including the previously-mentioned notorious former Securitate officer Pavel Corut) confirmed his allegations (Olbojan, 1994, pp. 276-299).

The importance of suggesting that the cadavers transported to Bucharest for cremation were the bodies of army personnel and not average citizens may not be readily apparent. To make such a claim insinuates that the Iliescu leadership was/is lying about the December events and therefore should not be believed and may be illegitimate. It also insinuates that the events may have been more complicated and less spontaneous than initial understandings and the official history would have us believe: If those who were transported to Bucharest for cremation were not average citizens but army personnel, then is it not possible that Timisoara was a charade, a manipulation by forces within the regime — perhaps with outside help — to overthrow Ceausescu and simulate both revolutionary martyrdom and political change?

Moreover, it was significant that Olbojan maintained that the cadavers belonged not just to any old army unit but specifically to DIA. The army’s DIA unit — a unit which appeared to benefit organizationally from the December events, including having its chief, Stefan Dinu, for a time assume the command of the Romanian Information Service’s (SRI) counterespionage division (until his former Securitate subordinates appear to have successfully undermined him and prompted his replacement) — would during the 1990s become a common scapegoat for the post-22 December “terrorism” that claimed over 900 lives in the Revolution and initially had been blamed uniformly upon the Securitate (see, for example, Stoian, 1993 and Sandulescu, 1996). If the 40 cadavers were indeed DIA officers, then anything was possible with regard to the post-22nd “terrorism” — including that DIA, and not the Securitate’s antiterrorist troops, had been responsible for the tremendous loss of life. Indeed, in his 1994 book “Pacepa’s Phantoms,” Olbojan claims just that: In December 1989, there allegedly had been no Securitate “terrorists,” the “terrorists” had been from DIA, and it is they who were thus culpable for the bloodshed (Olbojan, 1994, pp. 276-291).

Nor can it be said that the timing of Olbojan’s publication was of inconsequence here: The trial of the Securitate and Militia officers charged with the bloody repression of demonstrators in Timisoara in December 1989 had begun the previous month and was still in progress at the time of the article’s appearance. Olbojan’s allegation clearly had implications for the verdicts of this trial. Mioc has noted of Olbojan’s account: “[T]he theory of the ‘mystery’ of the 40 cadavers would become the departure point for efforts to demonstrate the presence of foreign agents in Timisoara” (Mioc, 2000a). Indeed, during the Timisoara trial, reputed Securitate “superspy” Filip Teodorescu had attempted to implant this idea and would later reveal that among those his forces had arrested during the Timisoara events were two armed, undercover DIA officers in a Timisoara factory — the massive influx of foreign agents supposedly having eluded the “underfunded and undermanned” and “Ceausescu-distrusted” Securitate (Teodorescu, 1992). For Mioc, Olbojan’s echoing of Teodorescu’s attempts to muddy the historical waters of the birthplace of the Revolution, and Olbojan’s specific effort to sow wholly unnecessary confusion about the identity of the 40 cremated corpses (an issue which no one had considered the least bit suspicious until that time) cannot be separated from Olbojan’s admitted collaboration with the Securitate and his warm praise of that institution throughout most of the 1990s.

OLBOJAN’S CASE AS TYPICAL RATHER THAN ABERRANT
Significantly, even at the time, Olbojan’s account sparked innuendo in the press regarding his past, his credibility, his capacity for the truth, and his agenda in writing such an article. Unfortunately, but very tellingly, these accusations came not from the civilian press — of any political stripe — but from the military press. Colonel V. Gheorghe wrote in early May 1990 that Olbojan’s account was merely “yet another face of the diversion,” the latest in an emerging campaign attempting to exonerate the Securitate for the bloodshed, blame the army, plant the idea that the December 1989 Revolution was little more than a coup d’etat engineered from abroad, and cast doubt upon the spontaneity and revolutionary bravery of those who protested against Ceausescu and participated in the December events (Gheorghe, 1990).

Mioc notes accurately that “[I]n order for the [Olbojan’s] disinformation to succeed, the article was written in an anti-Iliescu and anticommunist style,” but he seems to imply that this was an exception (Mioc, 2000b). As the next two parts of this three-part article will demonstrate, far from being an exception, such an approach — in fact the dovetailing and entangling of Securitate disinformation with the agenda of the anti-Iliescu/anticommunist opposition — was all too common and ultimately a key cause of the destruction of the truth about the December 1989 Revolution and the Securitate’s institutional responsibility for the tremendous loss of life in those events.

(Richard Andrew Hall received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University in 1997. He currently works and lives in northern Virginia. Comments on this article can be directed to him at hallria@msn.com)

SOURCES Bacescu, A., 1990a “Adevarul despre Sibiu,” [The Truth On Sibiu] in “Zig-Zag,” (Bucharest) 19-26 June.

Bacescu, A., 1990b “Noi lumini asupra evenimentelor din decembrie 1989,” [New Light On The December 1989 Events] in “Romania Mare,” (Bucharest) 21 August.

“Curierul national,” (Bucharest) 2001, Internet edition, http://domino.kappa.ro/e-media/curierul.nsf.

Gheorghe, V., 1990, “Inca o fateta a diversiunii,” in “Armata poporului,” (Bucharest), 3 May.

Hall, R. A., 1997, “The Dynamics of Media Independence in Post-Ceausescu Romania,” in O’Neil, P.H. (ed.), Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe, (Portland, OR: Frank Cass,), pp. 102-123.

Hall, R. A., 1999, “The Uses of Absurdity: The Staged War Theory and the Romanian Revolution of December 1989,” in “East European Politics and Societies,” Vol. 13, no.3, pp. 501-542.

Iftime, C., 1993, Cu Ion Cristoiu prin infernul contemporan [With Ion Cristoiu Through The Contemporary Inferno], (Bucharest: Editura Contraria).

“Catavencu,” (Bucharest), 1999 (Internet edition), http://www.catavencu.ro.

Mioc, M., 2000a “Ion Cristoiu, virful de lance al campaniei de falsificare a istoriei revolutiei,” http://timisoara.com/newmioc.51.htm

Mioc, M., 2000b “‘Misterul’celor 40 de cadavre,” http://timisoara.com/newmioc/53.htm

Olbojan Ionescu, G., 1990 “Mortii din TIR-ul Frigorific — ofiteri DIA?” [Were The Corpses In The Refrigerated Truck DIA Officers?] in “Zig-Zag,”, no. 23, 23-29 April.

Olbojan Ionescu G., 1994, Fantomele lui Pacepa [Pacepa’s Phantoms], (Bucharest: Editura Corida).

Sandulescu, Serban, 1996, Decembrie ’89: Lovitura de Stat a Confiscat Revolutia Romana [December ’89: The Coup d’tat Abducted the Romanian Revolution], (Bucharest: Editura Omega Press Investment).

Shafir, M., 1993, “Best Selling Spy Novels Seek To Rehabilitate Romanian ‘Securitate,'” in “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report,” Vol. 2, no. 45, pp. 14-18.

Siani-Davies, P., 2001, “The Revolution after the Revolution,” in Phinnemore, D. Light, D. (eds.), Post-Communist Romania: Coming to Terms with Transition (London: Palgrave), pp. 1-34.

Stoian, I., 1993, Decembrie ’89: Arta Diversiunii, [ December ’89: The Art Of Diversion], (Bucharest: Editura Colaj).

Teodorescu, F., 1992, Un Risc Asumat: Timisoara, decembrie 1989, [An Assumed Risk: Timisoara, December 1989] (Bucharest: Editura Viitorul Romanesc).

Compiled by Michael Shafir


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17 April 2002, Volume 4, Number 8

THE SECURITATE ROOTS OF A MODERN ROMANIAN FAIRY TALE: THE PRESS, THE FORMER SECURITATE, AND THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF DECEMBER 1989

By Richard Andrew Hall

Part 2: ‘Tourists Are Terrorists and Terrorists are Tourists with Guns…’ *
The distance traveled by Securitate disinformation on the December 1989 events can be breathtaking. Bubbling up through the springs of popular rumor and speculation, it flows into the tributaries of the media as peripheral subplots to other stories and eventually wends its way — carried upon the waves of consensus and credibility that flow from its acceptance among prominent Romanian journalists and intellectuals — into the writings of Western journalists, analysts, and academics. Popular myths, which either have their origins in disinformation disseminated by the former Securitate, or which originated in the conspiratorial musings of the populace but proved propitious for the former secret police and thus were appropriated, nurtured, and reinjected into popular discourse, are today routinely repeated both inside and outside Romania. Frequently, this dissemination occurs without the faintest concern over, or knowledge of, the myth’s etymology or much thought given to the broader context and how it plays into the issue of the Securitate’s institutional culpability.

Take, for example, the “tourist” myth — perhaps the former Securitate’s most fanciful and enduring piece of disinformation. This myth suggests that in December 1989, Soviet, Hungarian, and other foreign agents posing as “tourists” instigated and/or nurtured anti-Ceausescu demonstrations in Timisoara, Bucharest, and elsewhere, and/or were responsible for the “terrorist” violence after 22 December that claimed over 900 victims, or almost 90 percent of those killed during the Revolution. The implication of such allegations is clear: It questions the spontaneity — and hence, inevitably, to a certain degree, the legitimacy — of the anti-Ceausescu demonstrations and the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime; it raises doubt about the popular legitimacy of those who seized power during the events; and it suggests that those who seized power lied about who was responsible for the terrorist violence and may ultimately have themselves been responsible for the bloodshed.

A robust exegesis of the “tourist” hypothesis was outlined on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the December 1989 events in the pages of the daily “Ziua” by Vladimir Alexe. Alexe has been a vigorous critic of Ion Iliescu and the former communists of the National Salvation Front (FSN) who took power in December 1989, maintaining that they overthrew Ceausescu in a Soviet-sponsored coup d’etat:

“The outbreak of the December events was preceded by an odd fact characteristic of the last 10 years. After 10 December 1989, an unprecedented number of Soviet ‘tourists’ entered the country. Whole convoys of Lada automobiles, with approximately four athletic men per car, were observed at the borders with the Moldovan Socialist Republic, Bulgaria, and Hungary. A detail worthy of mention: The Soviet ‘tourists’ entered Romania without passports, which suggests the complicity of higher-ups. According to the statistics, an estimated 67,000 Soviet ‘tourists’ entered Romania in December 1989” (“Ziua”, 24 December 1999).

It is worth noting that Alexe considers elsewhere in this series of articles from December 1999 that the Russian “tourists” were an omnipresent, critical, and catalytic factor in the collapse of communism throughout ALL of Eastern Europe in December 1989.

Nor has the “tourist” hypothesis been confined strictly to the realm of investigative journalism. Serban Sandulescu, a bitter critic of Ion Iliescu and the former communists who seized power in December 1989, led the third parliamentary commission to investigate the December 1989 events as a Senator for the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD). In 1996, he published the findings of his commission as a book titled “December ’89: The Coup d’Etat That Abducted The Romanian Revolution.” He commented on the “tourists” as follows:

“From the data we have obtained and tabulated it appears that we are talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000-6,000 ‘tourists’…. Soviet agents [who] came under the cover of being ‘tourists’ either in large organized groups that came by coach, or in smaller groups of 3-4 people that fanned out in Lada and Moskvich automobiles. They covered the whole country, being seen in all the important cities in the country. They contributed to the stoking of the internal revolutionary process, supervising its unfolding, and they fought [during the so-called ‘terrorist’ phase after 22 December]…” (Sandulescu, 1996, pp. 35, 45).

DECEMBER 1989: NICOLAE CEAUSESCU INITIATES THE ‘TOURIST’ MYTH
Not surprisingly, the “tourist” myth originated with none other than Nicolae Ceausescu. This myth inevitably implies illegitimate and cynical “foreign intervention,” and Ceausescu used it to make sense of what were — probably genuinely, for him — the unimaginable and surreal antiregime protests which began in Timisoara on 15 December 1989.

In an emergency meeting of the Romanian equivalent of the politburo (CPEX) on the afternoon of Sunday, 17 December 1989 — the afternoon on which regime forces were to open fire on the anti-Ceausescu demonstrators in Timisoara, killing scores and wounding hundreds — Ceausescu alleged that foreign interference and manipulation were behind the protests:

“Everything that has happened and is happening in Germany, in Czechoslovakia, and in Bulgaria now, and in the past in Poland and Hungary, are things organized by the Soviet Union with American and Western help” (cited in Bunea, 1994, p. 34).

That Ceausescu saw “tourists” specifically playing a nefarious role in stimulating the Timisoara protests is made clear by his order at the close of this emergency meeting:

“I have ordered that all tourist activity be interrupted at once. Not one more foreign tourist will be allowed in, because they have all turned into agents of espionage…. Not even those from the socialist countries will be allowed in, with the exception of [North] Korea, China, and Cuba. Because all the neighboring socialist countries are untrustworthy. Those sent from the neighboring socialist countries are sent as agents” (cited in Bunea, 1994, p. 34).

A CHRONOLOGY OF THE ‘TOURISTS’ ITINERARY AND ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO TOP SECURITATE AND PARTY OFFICIALS IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF DECEMBER 1989
Filip Teodorescu, who as head of the Securitate’s Counterespionage Directorate (Directorate III) had been dispatched to Timisoara and was later arrested for his role in the repression there, maintained in March 1990 at his trial that he detained “foreign agents” during the Timisoara events (“Romania libera,” 9 March 1990). In a book that appeared in 1992, Teodorescu described as follows the events in Timisoara on Monday, 18 December — that is, after the bloody regime repression of anti-Ceausescu demonstrators the night before:

“There were few foreigners in the hotels, the majority of them having fled the town after lunch [on 17 December] when the clashes began to break out. The interested parties remained. Our attention is drawn to the unjustifiably large number of Soviet tourists, be they by bus or car. Not all of them stayed in hotels. They either had left their buses or stayed in their cars overnight. Border records indicate their points of entry as being through northern Transylvania. They all claimed they were in transit to Yugoslavia. The explanation was plausible, the Soviets being well-known for their shopping trips. Unfortunately, we did not have enough forces and the conditions did not allow us to monitor the activities of at least some of these ‘tourists'” (Teodorescu, 1992, p. 92).

Teodorescu appears here to be attempting to account for the fact that on Monday, 18 December 1989 — presumably as a consequence of Ceausescu’s tirade the afternoon before about the malicious intent of virtually all “tourists” — Romania announced, in typically Orwellian fashion, that it would not accept any more tourists because of a “shortage of hotel rooms” and because “weather conditions are not suitable for tourism” (Belgrade Domestic Service, 20 December 1989). Ironically, the only ones exempted from this ban were “Soviet travelers coming home from shopping trips to Yugoslavia” (!) (AFP, 19 December 1989).

Radu Balan, former Timis County party boss, picks up the story from there. While serving a prison sentence for his complicity in the Timisoara repression, in 1991 Balan told one of Ceausescu’s most famous “court poets,” Adrian Paunescu, that on the night of 18-19 December — during which in reality some 40 cadavers were secretly transported from Timisoara’s main hospital to Bucharest for cremation (reputedly on Elena Ceausescu’s personal order) — he too witnessed the role of these “foreign agents”:

“We had been receiving information, in daily bulletins, from the Securitate, that far more people were returning from Yugoslavia and Hungary than were going there and about the presence of Lada automobiles filled with Soviets. I saw them at the border and the border posts, and the cars were full. I wanted to know where and what they were eating and how they were crossing the border and going through cities and everywhere. More telling, on the night of 18-19 December, when I was at a fire at the I.A.M. factory, in front of the county hospital, I spotted 11 white ‘Lada’ automobiles at 1 a.m. in the morning. They pretended to ask me the road to Buzias.The 11 white Ladas had Soviet plates, not Romanian ones, and were in front of the hospital” (“Totusi iubirea,” no. 43, 24-31 October 1991).

Nicu Ceausescu, Nicolae’s son and most likely heir and party secretary in Sibiu at the time of the Revolution, claimed that he also had to deal with enigmatic “tourists” during these historic days. From his prison cell in 1990, Nicu recounted how on the night of 20 December 1989, a top party official came to inform him that the State Tourist Agency was requesting that he — the party secretary for Sibiu! — “find lodgings for a group of tourists who did not have accommodation.” He kindly obliged and made the appropriate arrangements (interview with Nicu Ceausescu in “Zig-Zag,”, no. 20, 21-27 August 1990).

Nor was Gheorghe Roset, head of the Militia in the city of Caransebes at the time of the Revolution, able to elude a visit from the “tourists” during these days. Writing from his prison cell in January 1991, he recounted:

“Stationed on the night of 20-21 December 1989 at headquarters, I received the order to issue an authorization for repairs for a Lada automobile that had overturned in Soceni, in Caras-Severin county, an order that was approved by the chief of the county Militia with the clarification that the passengers of this car were military personnel from the USSR. I was more than a little surprised when this car arrived in Caransebes and I saw that it was part of a convoy of 20 cars, all of the same make and with 3-4 passengers per car. Lengthy discussions with the person who had requested the authorization confirmed for me the accident and the fact that this convoy of cars was coming from Timisoara, on its way to Bucharest, as well as the fact that these were colleagues of ours from the country in question. He presented a passport in order to receive the documents he had requested, although not even today can I say with certainty that he belonged to this or that country. A short time after the convoy left on its way, it was reported to me that five of the cars had headed in the direction of Hateg, while the more numerous group headed for Bucharest” (“Europa,” no. 20, March 1991).

A September 1990 open letter authored by “some officers of the former Securitate” — most likely from the Fifth Directorate charged with guarding Ceausescu and the rest of the Romanian communist leadership — and addressed to the xenophobic, neo-Ceausist weekly “Democratia” (which was edited by Eugen Florescu, one of Ceausescu’s chief propagandists and speechwriters), sought to summarize the entire record of the “tourists” wanderings and activities in December 1989 as follows:

“11-15 [December] — a massive penetration of so-called Hungarian tourists takes place in Timisoara and Soviet tourists in Cluj;

15-16 [December] — upon the initiative of these groups, protests of support for the sinister ‘Priest [Father Laszlo Tokes of Timisoara]’ break out;

16-17-18 [December] — in the midst of the general state of confusion building in the city, the army intervenes to reestablish order;

— this provides a long-awaited opportunity for the ‘tourists’ to start — in the midst of warning shots in the air — to shoot and stab in the back the demonstrators among whom they are located and whom they have incited;…

19-20-21 — a good part of the ‘tourists’ and their brethren among the locals begin to migrate — an old habit — from the main cities of Transylvania, according to plan, in order to destabilize: Cluj, Sibiu, Alba Iulia, Targu Mures, Satu Mare, Oradea, etc.” (“Democratia,” no. 36, 24-30 September 1990).

The authors of this chronology then maintain that this scene was replicated in Bucharest on 21 December, causing the famous disruption of Ceausescu’s speech and the death of civilians in University Square that evening.

Not to be out-done, Cluj Securitate chief Ion Serbanoiu claimed in a 1991 interview that, as of 21 December 1989, there were over 800 Russian and Hungarian tourists, mostly driving almost brand-new Lada automobiles (but also Dacia and Wartburg cars), in the city (interview with Angela Bacescu in “Europa,” no. 55, December 1991). In February 1991 during his trial, former Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad, not surprisingly, also spoke of “massive groups of Soviet tourists…the majority were men…deploy[ing] in a coordinated manner in a convoy of brand-new Lada automobiles” (see Bunea, 1994, pp. 460-461), while the infamous Pavel Corut has written of “the infiltration on Romanian territory of groups of Soviet commandos (“Spetsnaz”) under the cover of being tourists” (Corut, 1994).

REBUTTING THE ‘TOURIST’ MYTH
I vividly recall early on in my research of the December 1989 events being told emphatically, and not for the last time, by a journalist at the Cluj weekly “Nu” — a publication staunchly critical of the Iliescu regime — that the guest lists of Romanian hotels for December 1989 were nowhere to be found because they contained the secrets of the Revolution. Certainly, this rumor has intersected with the “tourist” myth and has been used as confirmation of the latter.

Significantly, Marius Mioc has sought to investigate the reality of this matter in Timisoara (Mioc, 2000). The numbers provided to the 17 December Timisoara Association (which Mioc heads) by all of Timisoara’s hotels and by the State Tourist Agency for Timisoara lay bare two of the key components upon which the “tourist” myth has relied: a) that the records of the December 1989 manifests do not exist, and b) that there was an unusually dramatic increase in the number of foreign tourists staying in Romanian hotels during this period. In fact, the opposite proves to be true, the number of foreign tourists — and specifically those from other “socialist” countries — declined in December 1989 both in comparison to the previous December and in comparison to November 1989!

Of course, as we have seen, proponents of the “tourist” myth have also suggested that many of the alleged foreign agents posing as tourists “avoided staying in hotels.” But this still raises the question of why the Securitate allowed them into the country in the first place and why they then seemed unable to follow their movements and prevent their activities. A 1991 open letter by “a group of [Romanian Army] officers from the Timisoara garrison” perhaps provides the best riposte to the dubious logic underlying the “tourist” hypothesis:

“If they [the tourists] appeared suspect to the special forces of the Securitate and military counterintelligence, why did they not attempt to keep them under surveillance? During this period, did the Securitate and the counterintelligence officers not know how to do their jobs? Did they somehow forget why they were paid such weighty sums from the state budget?” (“Romania libera,” 15 October 1991).

One must also ask: If it was precisely Soviet tourists who were most suspected at the time of being up to no good in the country, then why was it precisely they who were the sole group among “tourists” in the country at the time to be permitted to stay and go about their business unhindered?

HOW THE ‘TOURISTS’ ENTRY INTO THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF DECEMBER 1989 PARALLELS THE EXIT OF THE SECURITATE
In commenting in August 1990 upon how the details of the state’s case against him had changed since early in the year, Nicolae Ceausescu’s son, Nicu, ironically highlighted how Securitate forces had begun to fade away from the historiography of the December 1989 events. In the August 1990 interview from his prison cell with Ion Cristoiu’s “Zig-Zag” (mentioned above), Nicu discusses the “tourists” for which he was asked to find accommodations in the context of a group of mysterious passengers who had arrived by plane from Bucharest on the evening of 20 December 1989. We know that in the period immediately following these events, the then-military prosecutor, Anton Socaciu, had alleged that these passengers from Bucharest were members of the Securitate’s elite USLA unit (Special Unit for Antiterrorist Warfare) and were responsible for much of the bloodshed that occurred in Sibiu during the December events (for a discussion, see Hall, 1996). In August 1990, however, Nicu wryly observed:

“…[T]he Military Prosecutor gave me two variants. In the first part of the inquest, they [the flight’s passengers] were from the Interior Ministry. Later, however, in the second half of the investigation, when the USLA and those from the Interior Ministry began, so-to-speak, to pass ‘into the shadows,’ — after which one no longer heard anything of them — they [the passengers] turned out to be simple citizens…” (interview with Nicu Ceausescu in “Zig-Zag,” no. 20, 21-27 August 1990).

The impact of this “reconsideration” by the authorities could be seen in the comments of Socaciu’s successor as military prosecutor in charge of the Sibiu case, Marian Valer (see Hall 1997a, pp. 314-315). Valer commented in September 1990 that investigations yielded the fact that there were 37 unidentified passengers on board the 20 December flight from Bucharest and that many of the other passengers maintained that “on the right side of the plane there had been a group of tall, athletic men, dressed in sporting attire, many of them blond, who had raised their suspicions.” While investigations revealed that during this time there “were many Soviet tourists staying in Sibiu’s hotels,” they also established that “military units were fired upon from Securitate safehouses located around these units as of the afternoon of 22 December, after the overturning of the Ceausescu regime.” He thus carefully concludes:

“As far as the unidentified passengers are concerned, there are two possible variants: Either they were USLA fighters sent to defend Nicu Ceausescu, or they were Soviet agents sent to act with the intent of overthrowing the Ceausescu regime” (“Expres,” no. 33, September 1990).

Thus, as the “tourists” began to enter the historiography of the December 1989 events, so the Securitate — specifically the USLA — began to disappear.

HOW THE ‘TOURIST’ MYTH NEVERTHELESS GAINED MAINSTREAM CREDIBILITY AND ACCEPTANCE
How, then, did the “tourist” myth gain credibility and acceptance in the Romanian press, given its rather obvious pedigree in the remnants of the Ceausescu regime, especially among former high-ranking Securitate officers and others most in need of an alibi/diversion to save their careers and avoid the possibility of going to jail? Although the reference to “tourists” during the December events probably entered the lexicon of mainstream reporting on the Revolution as early as April 1990 — not insignificantly, first in the pages of Ion Cristoiu’s weekly “Zig-Zag,” it appears — it was in particular journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu who gave the theme legitimacy in the mainstream press.

Without specifying the term “tourists” — but clearly speaking in the same vein — Stanescu was probably the first to articulate the thesis most precisely and to tie the Soviet angle to it. In June 1990 in a piece entitled “Is The Conspiracy of Silence Breaking Down?” in the sharply anti-government daily “Romania libera,” Stanescu wrote:

“And still in connection with the breaking down of the conspiracy of silence, in the army there is more and more insistent talk about the over 4,000 Lada cars with two men per car that traveled many different roads in the days before the Revolution and then disappeared” (“Romania libera,” 14 June 1990).

Stanescu’s article was vigorously anti-FSN and anti-Iliescu and left little doubt that this thesis was part of the “unofficial” history of the December events, injurious to the new leaders, and something they did not wish to see published or wish to clarify.

But it was Stanescu’s April 1991 article in “Romania libera,” entitled “Is Iliescu Being Protected By The KGB?,” that truly gave impetus to the “tourist” thesis. Stanescu wrote:

“A KGB officer wanders in France. He is losing his patience and searching for a way to get to Latin America. Yesterday I met him in Paris. He talked to me after finding out that I was a Romanian journalist. He fears the French press. He knows Romanian and was in Timisoara in December 1989. As you will recall, persistent rumors have circulated about the existence on Romanian soil of over 2,000 Lada automobiles with Soviet tags and two men in each car. Similar massive infiltrations were witnessed in December 1990, too, with the outbreak of a wave of strikes and demonstrations. What were the KGB doing in Romania? Witness what the anonymous Soviet officer related to me in Paris:

‘There existed an intervention plan that for whatever reason was not activated. I received the order to enter Romania on 14 December and to head for Timisoara. Myself and my colleague were armed. During the events, we circulated in the military zone around Calea Girocului [Giriocul Road]. Those who headed toward Bucharest had the same mission. Several larger cities were targeted. We were to open fire in order to create a state of confusion. I never, however, received such an order. I left Romania on 26 December.’

I don’t have any reason to suspect the validity of these revelations. This short confession is naturally incomplete, but not inconclusive. What purpose would this elaborate, but aborted, KGB plan have had? The only plausible explanation is that it wasn’t necessary for KGB agents to intervene. The events were unfolding in the desired direction without need for the direct intervention of the Soviets. But this leads to other questions: What did the Ceausescu couple know, but were not allowed to say [prior to their hurried execution]? Why is Securitate General Vlad being held in limbo? To what degree has President Iliescu maintained ties to the Soviets? What are the secret clauses of the Friendship Treaty recently signed in Moscow? Is Iliescu being protected by the KGB or not? Perhaps the SRI [the Securitate’s institutional successor, the Romanian Information Service] would like to respond to these questions?”

Stanescu’s April 1991 article did not go unnoticed — despite its nondescript placement on page eight — and has since received recognition and praise from what might seem unexpected corners. For example, previously-discussed former Securitate Colonel Filip Teodorescu cited extensive excerpts from Stanescu’s article in his 1992 book on the December events, and he added cryptically:

“Moreover, I don’t have any reason to suspect that the journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu would have invented a story in order to come to the aid of those accused, by the courts or by public opinion, for the results of the tragic events of December 1989” (Teodorescu, 1992, pp. 92-94).

Radu Balan, former Timis County party secretary, imprisoned for his role in the December events, has also invoked Stanescu’s April 1991 article as proof of his revisionist view that “tourists” rather than “non-existent ‘terrorists'” were to blame for the December 1989 bloodshed:

“…[W]hile at Jilava [the jail where he was imprisoned at the time of the interview, in October 1991], I read ‘Romania libera’ from 18 April. And Rosca Stanescu writes from Paris that a KGB agent who deserted the KGB and is in transit to the U.S. stated that on 18 December [1989] he had the mission to create panic on Calea Girocului [a thoroughfare in Timisoara]. What is more, on the 18th, these 11 cars were at the top of Calea Girocului, where I saw them. I was dumbfounded, I tell you. I didn’t tell anybody. Please study ‘Romania libera,’ the last page, from 18 April 1991” (“Totusi iubirea,” no. 43, 24-31 October1991).

In this regard, it would be irresponsible to totally discount the relevance of Rosca Stanescu’s past. Since December 1989, Stanescu has undeniably been a vigorous critic of, and made damaging revelations about, the Securitate’s institutional heir, the SRI, and the Iliescu regime, and he has frequently written ill of the former Securitate and the Ceausescu regime. Nevertheless, in 1992 it was leaked to the press — and Rosca Stanescu himself confirmed — that from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s he was an informer for the Securitate (for a discussion, see Hall, 1997b, pp. 111-113). What was significant, however, was precisely for which branch of the Securitate Rosca Stanescu had been an informer: the USLA.

THE ‘TOURISTS’ MYTH TRAVELS WESTWARD
Almost inevitably, the “tourist” thesis has made its way into Western academic literature. For example, in a book lauded by experts (see for example, Professor Archie Brown’s review in “Slavic Review,” Winter 1998), Jacques Levesque invokes as “rare evidence” that the Soviets were responsible for igniting and fanning the flames of the Timisoara uprising the following:

“…testimony of an imprisoned Securitate colonel who was freed in 1991 [he is referring to the aforementioned Filip Teodorescu]. He writes that the Securitate had noted the arrival of ‘numerous false Soviet tourists’ in Timisoara in early December, coming from Soviet Moldova. He also reports that a convoy of several Lada cars, with Soviet license plates and containing three to four men each, had refused to stop at a police checkpoint in Craiova. After the Romanian police opened fire and killed several men, he claims that the Soviet authorities recovered the bodies without issuing an official protest. To the extent that this information is absolutely correct, it would tend to prove the presence of Soviet agents in Romania (which no one doubts), without, however, indicating to us their exact role in the events” (Levesque, 1997, p. 197).

Levesque seems generally unaware of or concerned with the problematic nature of the source of this “rare evidence” and thus never really considers the possibility that the Securitate colonel is engaging in disinformation. This is indicative of how upside-down the understanding of the December 1989 events has become in the post-Ceausescu era — and of the influence of the far-reaching and generally unchallenged revisionism of the events within Romania itself — that Western writers invoking the thesis seem to accept the claims at face value, never even enunciating any doubt about why the Securitate source in question might seek to make such an argument.

* A memorable phrase from Andrei Codrescu’s PBS special “Road Scholar” of the early 1990s.

(Richard Andrew Hall received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University in 1997. He currently works and lives in northern Virginia. Comments can be directed to him at hallria@msn.com.)

SOURCES

AFP, 19 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-242, 19 December 1989.

Belgrade Domestic Service, 1400 GMT 20 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-243, 20 December 1989.

Brown, A., 1998, “Review of Jacques Levesque, The Enigma of 1989: The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe,” in “Slavic Review,” Vol. 57, no. 4 (Winter), pp. 882-883.

Bunea, M., 1994, Praf in ochi: Procesul celor 24-1-2 [Mud in the Eyes: The Trial of the 24-1-2], (Bucharest: Editura Scripta).

Court, P., 1994, Cantecul Nemuririi [Song of Immortality], (Bucharest: Editura Miracol).

“Democratia” (Bucharest), 1990.

“Europa,” (Bucharest), 1991

“Expres,” (Bucharest), 1990.

Hall, R. A., 1996, “Ce demonstreaza probele balistice dupa 7 ani?” [Seven Years Later What Does the Ballistic Evidence Tell Us?] in “22” (Bucharest), 17-23 December.

Hall, R. A. 1997a, “Rewriting the Revolution: Authoritarian Regime-State Relations and the Triumph of Securitate Revisionism in Post-Ceausescu Romania,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University).

Hall, R. A., 1997b, “The Dynamics of Media Independence in Post-Ceausescu Romania,” in O’Neil, P. H. (ed.) Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe, (Portland, OR: Frank Cass), pp. 102-123.

Levesque, J., 1997, The Enigma of 1989: The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe, (Berkeley: University of California Press).

Mioc, Marius, 2000, “Turisti straini in timpul revolutiei,” [Foreign Tourists During the Revolution] timisoara.com/newmioc/54.htm.

“Romania libera” (Bucharest), 1990-91.

Sandulescu, S., 1996, Decembrie ’89: Lovitura de Stat a Confiscat Revolutia Romana [December ’89: The Coup d’tat Abducted the Romanian Revolution], (Bucharest: Editura Omega Press Investment).

Teodorescu, F., 1992, Un Risc Asumat: Timisoara, decembrie 1989, [An Assumed Risk: Timisoara, December 1989] (Bucharest: Editura Viitorul Romanesc).

“Totusi iubirea” (Bucharest), 1991.

“Ziua” (Bucharest), 1999.

“Zig-Zag” (Bucharest), 1990.

Compiled by Michael Shafir


RFE/RL Reports Print Version  E-mail this page to a friend

1 May 2002, Volume 4, Number 9

THE SECURITATE ROOTS OF A MODERN ROMANIAN FAIRY TALE: THE PRESS, THE FORMER SECURITATE, AND THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF DECEMBER 1989

By Richard Hall

Nothing is perhaps more indicative of the smug ignorance or delusional wishful thinking of rigidly partisan critics of Ion Iliescu and those who seized power in December 1989 than the coverage of the case of former Militia Sergeant Petre Olaru, which broke upon the Romanian press scene in April 1999. Tragically, the result of such blindly partisan analysis has been similar to that seen in the cases discussed in the first two episodes of this article — in their zeal to target and tar Iliescu and other members of the “nomenklatura” with the greatest share of blame for the December 1989 bloodshed, these critics have eagerly embraced and promoted the wildest and most ridiculous fabrications of the former Securitate and Militia, fabrications designed to exonerate these institutions and their employees for the repression and bloodshed of December 1989.

Those who are inclined to view the December 1989 events as a “dead story” that lost its importance in Romanian politics after the early 1990s, or who claim that the historiographical revisionism in the media has had little impact on public opinion, generally tuned out reporting on the revolution — out of fatigue and cynicism — rather early on, and thus tend to be unfamiliar with more recent developments on this front. For example, a poll by the Center for Rural and Urban Sociology (CURS) on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Ceausescu’s overthrow, revealed just how far media revisionism of the understanding of what happened in December 1989 has advanced. As the daily “Ziua” announced, a bare 11 percent of those questioned continued to believe — in what not even the author of the piece could struggle to present in neutral terms — in the “myth of the terrorists” — those accused of responsibility for the over 900 deaths that followed Ceausescu’s flight from power on 22 December 1989 and who were originally portrayed as Securitate members (most likely from the Special Unit for Anti-Terrorist Warfare — USLA — and the Fifth Directorate) fighting on behalf of Ceausescu (“Ziua,” 17 November 1999). That almost 90 percent of those polled could admit to having changed their mind on this issue — for during the events, nobody expressed doubt as to the either the existence, or the identity, of the “terrorists” — must say something about the impact of media coverage, since from the beginning of the post-Ceausescu era debunking the “myth of the terrorists” has been at the forefront of reporting on the December 1989 events.

Nor, as the so-called “Olaru case” demonstrates, is it true to say that December 1989 has lost its value as an instrument in fighting contemporary political battles. For at least a year and a half — from late 1997 through early 1999 — former Militia Sergeant Petre Olaru, and those who promoted his claims, attempted to influence the administration of President Emil Constantinescu and the leadership of institutions of the Romanian state, as the following discussion of the case elucidates.

‘ZIUA’ BREAKS THE ‘OLARU CASE’: ‘THE MOST SPECTACULAR INVESTIGATION OF DECEMBER ’89 TO DATE’

On 5 April 1999, the so-called “Olaru case” first came into the public eye at a specially convened news conference at the Hotel Bucuresti (“Ziua,” 6 April 1999). Presenting what they maintained was incontrovertible proof that the December 1989 events were from start to finish part of a KGB-engineered coup d’etat were: Sorin Rosca Stanescu, editor in chief of the daily “Ziua”; Serban Sandulescu, a senator representing the ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD), vice president of the Senate’s Defense Committee, and head of the third parliamentary commission to investigate the December 1989 events; and Stefan Radoi, a former “Ziua” advisor and assistant to Sandulescu in his capacity as head of the aforementioned parliamentary commission.

The three explained how former Militia Sergeant Petre Olaru had approached President Emil Constantinescu in late 1997 with evidence of the KGB’s role in the December 1989 events; how the state secretary for the Interior Ministry, General Teodor Zaharia, had conducted three hypnosis sessions with Olaru in order to “maximize Olaru’s ‘complete memory'”; and how in a meeting the previous night at the Presidential Palace, Constantinescu had allegedly asked Radoi to investigate the allegations of KGB involvement. As proof of Olaru’s revelations they apparently showed excerpts from a fourth hypnosis session conducted with Olaru (which was shown on the Prima TV station). The next morning’s edition of “Ziua” printed a copy of a letter the newspaper had sent to a whole series of Western embassies and well-known Western media outlets and watchdog organizations — including CNN and Reporteurs sans Frontiers — requesting “international protection for the witness Petre Olaru” (“Ziua,” 6 April 1999).

Olaru had an amazing story to tell. December 1989 had found Olaru as a simple policeman in the village of Crevedia in Dambovita county in the south of the country, not far from Bucharest. Actors, journalists, and intellectuals had reportedly made a habit of staying in summer houses on Lake Crevedia. On 14 December 1989 — therefore a day prior to the first demonstrations in Timisoara that were to spark Ceausescu’s downfall — Olaru claimed he made “a routine inspection” of film director George Vitanidis’ house ( Olaru in “Ziua,” 6 April 1999). Olaru said that Vitanidis had been suspected of engaging in illegal currency transactions and that this was the motivation for the inspection of his premises. To his astonishment, Olaru claimed, among Vitanidis’s undergarments he allegedly found an unopened letter, sealed with the insignia of the Soviet Union on the back.

When Olaru opened and read the letter, he discovered that it was a detailed description of plans for a Soviet-backed coup d’etat, including the names of those who were to act in conjunction with the plan. It spoke of a “group of 60 excursionists with cars who were in Buzau and would disperse to the specified place” — in other words, of “tourists.” It even specified how many people it was anticipated would die in the unfolding of the coup: “there will be 30,000-40,000 deaths,” the letter read, but hastened to add, “it will be worth it.” Vitanidis, the letter went on to say, had been selected to film the historic events, because the Soviets’ original choice, film director Sergiu Nicolaescu, had changed his mind.

According to Olaru, he informed his superiors and later that day Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad came to Crevedia, leafed through the letter, and took possession of it, instructing Olaru not to mention its contents to anyone. Then, a week later, on 21 December — thus in the midst of the upheaval and bloodshed in Timisoara — army Chief of Staff General Stefan Guse showed up in Crevedia to try to find out the contents of the letter, of which by now he had heard. Ceausescu was overthrown the next day…but this was only the beginning of Olaru’s ordeal.

PETRE OLARU: THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER MAN IN POST-CEAUSESCU ROMANIA

After Ion Iliescu, Petre Roman, and many of the others mentioned in the letter seized power in December 1989, Olaru claimed he became a focal point of attention among the country’s new leaders. Prior to writing to President Constantinescu in late 1997, Olaru maintains that he was approached by a series of political celebrities, all either wanting to know the contents of the letter Olaru had allegedly seen (and of which he was no longer in possession) or warning him of the trouble he would encounter if he ever disclosed its contents. Olaru alleged that he was repeatedly offered large sums of money and other inducements, but consistently rejected the offers.

A copy of the “Report to Emil Constantinescu” Petre Olaru submitted to the Romanian president in late 1997 detailed the alleged approaches and threats as the following synopsis shows:

January 1990: Prime Minister Petre Roman comes to Crevedia and tells Olaru, “Sir, you are the man who can destroy NUMBER ONE [i.e. Iliescu],” and offers him help.

May-June 1990: General Nicolae Militaru, also mentioned in the letter as a co-conspirator, tries on several occasions to get Olaru to come to Sinaia to “discuss some problems.” Olaru refuses to meet with him.

Early 1991: Director Sergiu Nicolaescu travels to Crevedia and tells Olaru, “…don’t talk about anything with anyone — even in the future.”

March 1993: General Adrian Nitoi tries to ply Olaru with whiskey, but Olaru keeps mum.

June 1993: General Gheorghe Ionescu Danescu, minister of the interior, demands to know what Olaru knows; Olaru tells him he does not know anything.

September 1994: General Iulian Vlad tells Olaru not to worry, he won’t talk.

August 1995: Colonel Stoica calls on Olaru to offer him a position in the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), but Olaru rejects it.

Summer 1995: Editor Ion Cristoiu offers Olaru 5 million lei to reveal what he knows, but in vain.

1995: Greater Romania Party (PRM) Chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor’s sister and Defense Minister Taracila contact Olaru trying to get him to talk, but to no avail.

February 1996: Corneliu Vadim Tudor offers Olaru 100 million lei to talk and then offers an additional 200 million lei when Olaru won’t accept. Olaru continues to refuse to talk.

May 1996: Former Foreign Minister Adrian Severin contacts Olaru.

June 1996: Former Minister of Finance Florin Georgescu comes calling.

May-October 1996: General Buzea from the SRI tries to arrange a meeting with SRI General Marcu; Olaru refuses.

June-July 1996: General Suceava wishes to get in touch with Olaru.

Summer 1996: General Tepelea tries the same, also unsuccessfully.

September 1996: General Dumitru Iliescu of the Presidential Guard and Protection Service offers Olaru a transfer, an embassy post, or early retirement. Olaru turns him down on all accounts.

1997: Journalist Petre Mihai Bacanu of “Romania libera” unsuccessfully attempts to get Olaru to talk.

March 1997: Petre Roman comes calling again.

April 1997: The so-called “Refrigerator King,” Novolan, an influential member of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) local branch, approaches Olaru.

May 1997: Two men sent on the orders of “Cotroceni” by Interior Minister Dejeu contact Olaru. (“Ziua,” 6 April 1999, emphasis in the original)

It would appear that Olaru had become — without a doubt — the most sought-after man in Romania!

SKEPTICISM AND CYNICISM GREET OLARU’S REVELATIONS FROM SOME CORNERS

On 7 April, “Ziua” published the response of Presidential Adviser for Defense and National Security Dorin Marian to the claims made by Olaru and promoted by the daily “Ziua,” (“Ziua,” 7 April 1999). Marian acknowledged that he had known of the “Olaru case” since late 1997. In November 1997, Sandulescu and Radoi had met with President Constantinescu to discuss the case. In December 1997, Olaru had sent his report to the Presidency. In his statement, Marian highlighted the reasons he had informed President Constantinescu in the fall of 1998 that he had concluded that Olaru’s claims were “baseless” and “an ingenious combination of speculation that circulated in the mass media, especially during 1990 and 1991.”

Marian pointed out that there was no extant copy of the document Olaru claimed to have come across in Vitanidis’s home. Moreover, he noted it would be highly unusual that a letter detailing such prized secrets should have displayed such amateurish “tradecraft,” without any effort at concealing names and operational instructions in “code words.” The dates on which certain events were said to have transpired strained credulity — for example, General Guse is known to have been in Timisoara from the 17 until the morning of 22 December and thus could not have been in Crevedia on 21 December as Olaru maintained.

Marian also commented that Olaru appeared to have displayed an amazingly insubordinate attitude for a Romanian noncommissioned officer faced with the repeated orders and threats of military and political superiors: “If these events had really happened, it is hard to believe that he would still be working for the Interior Ministry!” In four months of tapping Olaru’s phone, Marian stated that Olaru received no threats and that in the conversations Olaru did have with notable personages they appeared not to know or recall who Olaru was. Finally, Marian expressed skepticism as to why Olaru was subjected to hypnosis rather than a lie-detector machine, and was cynical about the fact that Olaru had requested of the Presidency that he be granted an ambassadorial post abroad as a “means of enforcing his protection.”

Cornel Nistorescu, editor in chief of the daily “Evenimentul Zilei,” a competitor of “Ziua,” and a sometimes protagonist in journalistic controversies with “Ziua” director Rosca Stanescu, was also having none of Olaru’s hypnotic or uninduced recollections. In editorials on 7 and 8 April, he wrote sarcastically of his own dream, how he and Nicolae Ceausescu had bathed together and Ceausescu had invited him to travel in the presidential helicopter (“Evenimentul Zilei,” 7 and 8 April 1999). Nistorescu suggested that claims as outlandish as Olaru’s were not even worthy of a bad spy novel.

Nistorescu also noted how this was not the first he had heard of Olaru. He too had been aware of Olaru’s existence and allegations for some time: for one and a half years Olaru’s tale had been persistently and skillfully floated his way. As early as the summer of 1997, he revealed, two individuals had attempted to put him in touch with Olaru. The question was why? Nistorescu observed. According to Nistorescu, “one gets the feeling that insistent efforts are made to march [us] in the direction of Olaru’s tale.”

‘ZIUA’ AND COMPANY STRIKE BACK: ‘OLARU’S ORDEAL CONTINUES’

In response to the dismissive remarks of Presidential Adviser Dorin Marian and presumably to the cynical commentary of the likes of Cornel Nistorescu, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, Senator Sandulescu, and Stefan Radoi sought to fight back. Rosca Stanescu penned an editorial entitled, “Who is being duplicitous? Dorin Marian or Costin Georgescu? Or Both?,” in which he insinuated that Marian and perhaps even SRI Director Georgescu — who had failed to comment on the validity of Olaru’s charges — were either too fearful, compromised, or complicit to admit the KGB’s role in the December 1989 events (“Ziua,” 9 April 1999). Sandulescu and Radoi maintained that “Sergeant Olaru isn’t crazy!” and “Ziua” published even more details of what they claimed was evidence that “Olaru’s ordeal continued even into 1998” (“Ziua,” 8 and 9 April 1999).

If 1990-97 had seen a parade of political celebrities making a pilgrimage to Crevedia trying to get Olaru to talk or remain silent, the year 1998, according to the details published by “Ziua,” was even busier. After writing to President Constantinescu, Olaru claimed, he had been contacted by the following personages in 1998, as insistent as ever about the information Olaru held and willing to offer even larger sums of money than in previous years:

— Novolan, the PDSR “Refrigerator King,” returns — this time offering 200 million lei.

— The director of Antena-1 TV in Targoviste offers Olaru $40,000-$50,000 to talk.

— General Victor Atanasie Stanculescu offers “unlimited amounts of money or gold.”

— General Paul Sarpe of the army’s Defense Intelligence unit threatens Olaru’s son.

— More representatives of the PRM seek out Olaru.

— Two more unidentified generals offer Olaru 400-500 million lei. (“Ziua,” 9 April 1999).

“Ziua” continued to defend the veracity of Olaru’s story in the days that followed. It published portions of Olaru’s three hypnosis sessions with General Teodor Zaharia on 7, 12, and 22 November 1998. Sorin Rosca Stanescu became more explicit in his accusations against those who had cast doubt on Olaru’s account. In an editorial entitled “Fear of the KGB,” he excoriated the “cowardly fear of the government,” and its wishful thinking that the KGB would “simply go away.” He claimed that by now the SRI had weighed in — although he did not say whether it had been SRI Director Costin Georgescu, whom he had criticized for his silence in an earlier editorial — and that the SRI had informed him that “they don’t believe Marian’s theory that Olaru is crazy” (“Ziua,” 14 April 1999). Rosca Stanescu even insinuated that Dorin Marian himself might possibly have KGB ties — thus explaining his reluctance to believe Olaru or take Olaru’s charges seriously.

Stefan Radoi also stepped out of the shadows, so to speak. When “Ziua” first broke the Olaru story on 6 April 1999, Rosca Stanescu had mentioned Radoi as a former “information officer” until 1982, who had in 1990 become a close confidant of Corneliu Coposu, the long-persecuted head of the outlawed National Peasant Party during the communist era. In an interview with “Ziua” on 18 April 1999, Radoi admitted more precisely that he had been a member of the information service of the Securitate’s USLA between 1979 and 1982. In the interview, Radoi alleged that “KGB and GRU agents were openly involved in the December 1989 coup d’etat,” that the “terrorists” in December 1989 had acted to “create enough panic in order for the ‘luminaries’ of the ‘revolution’ [i.e. Iliescu, et al.] to seize power,” and that the USLA troops accused of being the “terrorists” during the events had never fired on anyone, as they had never been trained in guerrilla warfare, contrary to what had been alleged (“Ziua,” 19 April 1999). According to Radoi, Zaharia had been frightened by what he heard during the hypnosis sessions with Olaru — thus causing him to abscond with the documents and tapes of the sessions — and that “many of those mentioned on the Olaru list want to kill him.”

Radoi’s admission that he had been an USLA officer was significant — especially in light of the fact that Rosca Stanescu himself happens to have been an informer for the USLA (between 1975 and 1985). Given that it was precisely the USLA that had been accused during the December events as being responsible for the lion’s share of the bloodshed, it is difficult to regard their past as wholly irrelevant to the fact that they were now promoting a story that exonerated the USLA — even if indirectly — of being the “terrorists” and thus of responsibility for the bloodshed. In light of Radoi’s position as an advisor to Senator Serban Sandulescu, Radoi’s account of the December 1989 events and his claims regarding role of the KGB and GRU provided some insight as to the possible influence Radoi may have had upon Sandulescu in the latter’s capacity as head of the parliamentary commission investigating the December 1989 events. Sandulescu had published his conclusions on those events in a 1996 book entitled “The Coup d’etat that Abducted the Revolution,” a work that alleged that the December 1989 events were essentially a Soviet-engineered coup (Sandulescu, 1996).

THE BENEFICIAL CONSEQUENCES OF PROFESSIONAL AND ECONOMIC COMPETITION IN THE PRESS SCORE A VICTORY FOR COMMON SENSE

If the “Olaru case” was evidence of the still-troubling cultural and institutional legacies of the communist era, it was also evidence of the intrinsic benefits of the journalistic and personal competition characteristic of the postcommunist era (for a good overview of trends in the Romanian media’s postcommunist development, see Gross, 1996). As we have seen, Cornel Nistorescu was having none of Rosca Stanescu’s latest, proclaimed journalistic coup. But more important and promising from the journalistic point of view was the investigative response of the journalists at the daily “Cotidianul.”

On 14 April 1999, “Cotidianul” published an interview with Dimitrie Vitanidis, the son of the man in whose house Olaru claimed he had found the “key to the secrets of the revolution” — the letter with Soviet insignia unearthed during a “routine inspection.” The interview was with George Vitanidis’s son precisely because the director was no longer in a position to defend himself — he had died in 1994. According to Dimitrie Vitanidis, no one — including the staff from “Ziua” and the “officer” Radoi who had promoted the allegations against his father — had bothered to contact his family. The younger Vitanidis dwelt on the fact that if the letter had existed, as Olaru suggested, the KGB would have had to have been complete idiots. But he also said that the Vitanidis’s chauffeur mentioned by Olaru did not in fact exist, and that there had been no such search of the house at Crevedia — mainly because the house was uninhabited in December 1989 because it was too cold to stay in during the winter.

Approximately a week later, on 20 April 1999, an extraordinary news conference took place in Crevedia. Present were the mayor of Crevedia, the next-door neighbor of the Vitanidis home in Crevedia, and a group of peasants from a neighboring village who had had run-ins with the police officer Olaru during the Ceausescu era. The Vitanidis family neighbor, Ionel Dumitru, stated that he did not recall either the house-search or the existence of the alleged Vitanidis chauffeur mentioned by Olaru. The peasants recounted Olaru’s less-than-stellar human rights record prior to December 1989. The town mayor opined that he believed Olaru had been “‘helped’ to invent this subject.” Irina Dumitrescu of “Cotidianul,” who rather cynically noted Radoi’s previous affiliation with the USLA, remarked that no one from “Ziua,” Prima TV, or Senator Sandulescu’s staff was in attendance at the news conference (“Cotidianul,” 21 April 1999; see also “Evenimentul Zilei,” 21 April 1999).

BUT ROMANIA’S MODERN FAIRY TALE HAS DEEP ROOTS…

It is practically surreal that well over a decade after the December 1989 events, a well-known and perceptive critical intellectual and journalist from Romania could unabashedly argue to a Western audience in the pages of the journal “East European Politics and Societies” that accounts of the December 1989 events fall into two categories: those advocated by the remnants of the communist party-state (including the Securitate) and those advocated by “critical intellectuals, journalists, and representatives of the re-founded ‘historical parties.'” According to Dan Pavel — himself apparently a believer of Olaru’s tall tale (see his article in “Ziua.” 20 April 1999) — “critical intellectuals, journalists, and representatives of the re-founded ‘historical parties'” differ in their assessment of December 1989 because they have “asserted that Iliescu and his group were the masterminds of those bloody events (more than 1,000 victims) involving ‘terrorists’ that nobody ever saw in trials” (Pavel, 2001, p. 184). Pavel’s clear-cut dichotomy of good versus evil and truth versus falsehood makes for a good morality play. Unfortunately, it bears little resemblance to reality and is, hence, deeply misleading. Perhaps most distressing of all, it is indicative of just how poorly many who have the capacity — wanted or unwanted — to shape public opinion in Romania know the story of what the former Securitate and its sympathizers have argued about December 1989, as this three-part article has demonstrated.

(Richard Andrew Hall received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University in 1997. He currently works and lives in northern Virginia. Comments can be directed to him at hallria@msn.com.)

SOURCES

“Cotidianul” (Bucharest), 1999, web edition, http://www.cotidianul.ro.

“Evenimentul zilei” (Bucharest), 1999, web edition, http://www.evenimentulzilei.ro.

Gross, P., 1996, Mass Media in Revolution and National Development: The Romanian Laboratory, (Ames: Iowa State Press).

Pavel, D., 2001, “The Textbooks Scandal and Rewriting History in Romania–Letter from Bucharest,” in “East European Politics and Societies,” Vol. 15, no. 1 (Winter) pp., 179-189.

Sandulescu, S., 1996, Decembrie ’89: Lovitura de Stat a Confiscat Revolutia Romana [December ’89: The Coup d’tat Abducted the Romanian Revolution], (Bucharest: Editura Omega Press Investment).

“Ziua” (Bucharest), 1999, web edition, http://www.ziua.net.

Compiled by Michael Shafir

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Rewriting the Revolution (1997): Chapter 6 18-22 December 1989

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on April 5, 2009

pentru o traducere  unui amplu fragment al capitolului acesta, va rog sa cititi la

http://mariusmioc.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/rich-andrew-hall-rescrierea-istoriei-revolutiei-triumful-revizionismului-securist-in-romania-8-concluzii/ ***

Chapter Six

18-22 December 1989: The Ceausescu Regime Falls

As during the period between 15 and 17 December, between 18 and 22 December 1989 the Securitate obediently and ruthlessly obeyed the orders of Nicolae Ceausescu to repress demonstrators. One difference during the latter period was the emerging effort of the Army to minimize its role in the repression, eventually culminating in its defection from the regime on 22 December. Given their lesser involvement in the activities of the Ceausescu regime and their long-standing humiliation at the hands of the Securitate, this is in accordance with our assumptions about the likelihood with which state institutions will attempt to save the authoritarian regime.

The historiography of the events between 18 and 22 December 1989 once again shows strong evidence of the tendency of opposition accounts to mirror the most critical elements of the Securitate’s institutional view. Like Securitate accounts, opposition accounts posit the “red herring” of foreign involvement, especially the role attributed to the Soviet Union, and avoid disclosing or deny the Securitate’s full involvement, especially the role of the USLA in the bloodshed. Available countervailing evidence to this consensual account indicates both that these understandings are false and that they are inherently revisionist, since some of the key countervailing evidence comes from immediately after the December events. The content of the historiography of this period thus erases (to differing degrees) the Securitate’s responsibility for the bloodshed and reflects the institution’s long-developed animosity towards the Soviet Union.

Ceausescu Departs for Iran

On Monday morning 18 December 1989, President Nicolae Ceausescu departed on a previously-scheduled state visit to Iran. He was the first head of state to pay an official visit to Tehran since the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini in June 1989.[1] By the time the presidential jet took off for Iran, Timisoara was under virtual military occupation by units of the Army, Securitate, and Militia. Ceausescu was apparently sufficiently satisfied by the news he was receiving on the status of the crackdown, that he judged it safe to leave the country. In his absence, the “Permanent Bureau of the Political Executive Committee (CPEx)” was left in charge. In effect, this meant that power resided with the First Deputy Prime Minister, his wife Elena–hardly a stranger to such power–and the Vice President of the country, Manea Manescu, who was married to Nicolae’s sister Maria.[2]

On the one hand, the fact that Ceausescu would leave the country in the midst of the most serious challenge ever to communist rule in Romania–fully aware of what had happened to his fellow communist leaders in the region earlier that fall–was a testament to how supremely overconfident and detached from reality he had become. On the other hand, Ceausescu’s absence from the country between 18 and 20 December for a period in excess of forty-eight hours provided regime elites with the perfect opportunity to oust him from power had they wanted to. Ceausescu would likely have been granted asylum by the Iranian regime. In theory it seems, had Ceausescu’s ouster been premeditated, this was the ideal moment to strike.

Most regime elites had a vivid memory of how Ceausescu’s absence from the country during the devastating earthquake of March 1977 had paralyzed the regime apparatus.[3] Moreover, having been threatened by Ceausescu at the emergency CPEx meeting of 17 December with removal from their posts and possible execution–and Ceausescu had been persuaded merely to defer, rather than to cancel this decision–Ceausescu’s commanders had a strong incentive to act fast. Instead, Ceausescu’s henchmen faithfully executed his orders and patiently awaited his return. This is a powerful argument against any suggestion that Ceausescu’s subordinates were scheming to replace him and had intentionally allowed the Timisoara unrest to elude their control.

Theories which maintain that Ceausescu was overthrown by a foreign-engineered coup d’etat also have trouble explaining why the plotters did not attempt to seize power during the period while Ceausescu was out of the country and then prevent him from returning to Romania. The Timisoara events had already assured that Ceausescu’s ouster would contain the popular dimension which was reputedly so central to this coup d’etat scenario. Furthermore, if the Timisoara protests had been instigated by foreign agents, why were these agents unable to “spread the revolution” to Bucharest (which remained surprisingly quiet) during these days?

In support of his contention that the December events were a Soviet-backed coup d’etat, Cornel Ivanciuc has cited the March 1994 comments of Igor Toporovski (director of the Moscow-based Institute for Russian and International Political Studies) which allege that the Soviet Politburo “…chose the moment when Ceausescu was in Teheran [to oust him] because otherwise the action would have been difficult to initiate.”[4] Yet the facts tell another story. Ceausescu was not driven from power at the most opportune moment–while he was in Iran–and the uprising in Timisoara did not spread outside of Timisoara until after Ceausescu’s return. These points cast doubt upon Toporovski’s claims.

18-19 December 1989: The Timisoara Crackdown in Ceausescu’s Absence

Considering the centrality of the “foreign tourist” scenario to Securitate-inspired accounts of the December events, it is interesting to note the actions taken by the Ceausescu regime on 18 December 1989. At the close of the emergency CPEx meeting on Sunday afternoon, Nicolae Ceausescu had announced:

I have ordered that all tourist activity be interrupted at once. Not one more foreign tourist will be allowed in, because they have all turned into agents of espionage….Not even those from the socialist countries will be allowed in, outside of [North] Korea, China, and Cuba. Because all the neighboring socialist countries are untrustworthy. Those sent from the neighboring socialist countries are sent as agents.[5]

On Monday, 18 December 1989, in typical Ceausist-style it was therefore announced that Romania would not accept any more tourists because of a “shortage of hotel rooms” and because “weather conditions” were “not suitable for tourism.”[6] Ironically, the only ones exempted from this ban were: “Soviet travellers coming home from shopping trips to Yugoslavia”(!)[7]

Thus, it is intriguing to see how former Securitate Colonel Filip Teodorescu tailors his characterization of Timisoara on 18 December to account for this change:

There were few foreigners in the hotels, the majority of them having fled the town after lunch [on 17 December] when the clashes began to break out. The interested parties remained. Our attention is drawn to the unjustifiably large number of Soviet tourists, be they by bus or car. Not all of them stayed in hotels. They either had left their buses, or stayed in their cars overnight. Border records indicate their points of entry as being through northern Transylvania. They all claimed they were in transit to Yugoslavia. The explanation was plausible, the Soviets being well-known for their shopping trips. Unfortunately, we did not have enough forces and the conditions did not allow us to monitor the activities of at least some of these “tourists.”[8]

This raises the question of why, if the Soviet tourists were the ones suspected from the first of being behind the unrest, it should have been exactly they who were given continued access into Romania? One of the most effective rejections of the “tourist” scenario came in 1991 from “a group of [Army] officers from the Timisoara garrison.” In an open letter, they proclaimed:

If they [the tourists] appeared suspect to the special forces of the Securitate and counter-military intelligence, why did they not attempt to keep them under surveillance? During this period, did the Securitate and the counter-intelligence officers not know how to do their jobs? Did they somehow forget why they were paid such weighty sums from the state budget?[9]

As we mentioned earlier, in an interesting psychological twist the former Securitate sometimes appear to attribute their own actions to others, especially the convenient phantom-like “foreign tourists.” Some of the Securitate’s arguments also appear to be based on the manipulation and perversion of real information which has been ripped from its context and placed in another one which suits the Securitate’s institutional interests better. For example, the comments of the Yugoslav News Agency (TANJUG) correspondent at the Vatin border post on 20 December 1989 may give us a hint as to where the idea of “foreign tourists travelling in convoys of cars” originated from:

People who spent a long time at this crossing point today say that the Romanian government is even accompanying private cars of tourists returning home via Romania. They usually wait until five or six of them assemble and then let them continue in convoys led by official Romanian cars.[10]

Finally, we will recall that the French journalists, Portocala and Weber, support their claims of “foreign intervention” by referencing the court statement of the Securitate’s “master spycatcher” (Colonel Filip Teodorescu) that during the events he arrested “foreign agents” in Timisoara. As it turns out, Teodorescu does indeed appear to have arrested “intelligence agents” at a major Timisoara factory. However, they were members of DIA, the Army’s intelligence unit, and not agents of foreign security services.[11]

Throughout Monday, house-to-house searches and arrests continued in Timisoara. Protesters attempted to gather again and began chanting the most tragic slogan of these days: “We want our dead!” Regime forces responded by opening fire again. At least seven people were killed and more than one hundred injured on 18 and 19 December alone. Securitate men are alleged to have shot some of the injured demonstrators in their hospital beds. This rumor seems to be confirmed by the observation of an Army soldier who witnessed the exhumation of twenty-seven bodies from the Timisoara “Paupers’ cemetery” in January 1990: some of the corpses bore clear signs of treated wounds.[12] Upon the orders of Elena Ceausescu, during the night of 18/19 December the Securitate and Militia removed the cadavers of forty dead protesters from the morgue of the county hospital and transported them to Bucharest where they were incinerated.[13] Just as on the night of 16/17 December when the regime had gone to absurd lengths to make it appear as if nothing unusual had happened the previous evening at the county party headquarters building–by repairing all the physical damage in the area–this incident reflected the belief that “where there are no identity papers and no bodies, there can be no dead.” The Orwellian reflexes of the regime never left it even in its greatest moment of crisis.

20 December 1989: The Protesters Conquer Timisoara

Nicolae Ceausescu returned from Iran on the afternoon of Wednesday, 20 December. Several hours later, he took to the airwaves to denounce the “terrorist actions” in Timisoara “organized and unleashed in close connection with reactionary, imperialist, irredentist, chauvinist circles, and foreign espionage services in various foreign countries.”[14] Yet at the very moment Ceausescu was announcing to a national television audience that a “state of emergency” had been declared in Timis county, control of Timisoara was rapidly slipping away from the regime. On the morning of 20 December, Army units had begun a withdrawal from Timisoara. As soldiers disappeared from the streets, reports suggest that the remaining Securitate and Militia men either followed their lead or were overwhelmed by the crowds.[15] By evening, as many as 100,000 people–almost a third of Timisoara’s population–had reportedly taken to the center of town in triumph. What had motivated such a sudden reversal of fortunes? Had Timisoara been abandoned to the protesters?

Prevented from taking to the streets on 18 December, resistance had moved to the factories. Ad hoc strike committees were formed at some of Timisoara’s most important plants on the Monday and Tuesday. Ironically, the regime’s totalitarian reflexes appear to have contributed to the development of these strikes. In a sense “unwilling to leave well enough alone,” on Monday morning party officials had been dispatched to various factories in order to clarify what had not happened in the town the night before. Adelina Elena of the Electrobanat factory (ELBA for short) suggests that prior to the arrival of the party official at her factory, many workers indeed did not fully realize the scope of the violence on the previous night.[16] According to Elena, the presentation of the party official was so absurd that it provoked a reaction entirely opposite to what the regime wished. The party official had argued that

…hooligans, fascists, and corrupt and retrograde elements had devastated Timisoara. We also learned about Laszlo Tokes, a religious fanatic who incited vagabonds to attack, steal, and set things on fire. They also attracted children into these actions. All were drunk, including the children and the women; they had gotten drunk with the liquor which had been stolen from the supermarkets which had been broken into. They attacked the county [party] building, but not to be worried: all of them had been captured. All of them.[17]

This was the reason, they were told, for why a “state of emergency” was now in effect (unofficially declared at this point) and all gatherings of more than three people had been banned. The workers were warned about “rumor-mongering.” Upon returning to their workplaces, Elena claims that workers were left with a lingering question: “Where had so many ‘fascists,’ ‘hooligans,’ and ‘drunks’ of all ages in Timisoara come from so suddenly?”

The following morning of Tuesday, 19 December, the mostly female workforce of the ELBA plant walked off the job. The regime’s response was to send 200 soldiers to the plant to “persuade” the women to return to work. Once again, the effect was the opposite of what was intended. The women began by chanting “We will not work under arms!” and ended up chanting “Down with Ceausescu!” A panicked mayor, Petre Mot, and county party secretary, Radu Balan, rushed to the scene. Unable to disperse the angry crowd, Balan began frantically scribbling in a notebook the requests of some of the women: “We want heat…We want chocolate for our children…socks, underwear, cocoa, and cotton.”[18] Army General Stefan Guse was summoned to rescue Mot and Balan and himself ended up being cornered by the women. Only when clashes ensued outside the plant–claiming several lives in what appears to have been an intentional diversion–were the officials able to take advantage of the chaos and escape.

Back at party headquarters, General Guse was reportedly chided and ridiculed for “having been frightened by a bunch of women,” but the ELBA episode apparently left a lasting impression upon the Army recruits and perhaps even some of their commanders. After the incident, regime forces evacuated the area around the ELBA plant and the employees took to the streets. As of the afternoon of 19 December, gunfire tapered off and later ceased completely. Army recruits had confronted not vandals or foreign terrorists in the dead of night, but a determined workforce of women who were expressing basic frustration at the absurd humiliations of everyday life in the late Ceausescu era–complaints which were hardly foreign to the army recruits themselves.

By the morning of Wednesday, 20 December, a general strike prevailed throughout Timisoara and only the bread factories were in operation.[19] A demonstration in solidarity with those who had lost relatives in the violence of the preceding days–and were now demanding the return of their dead–drew columns of workers to the city center. Army units allowed citizens to proceed unhindered. This was the first clear indication of support by the Army rank and file for the demonstrators’ cause. Soldiers reportedly refused to carry out their orders and some even joined in the demonstration.[20] The slogan “The Army is with us” resounded throughout the center of Timisoara. Soon after, the Army began to withdraw to barracks.

At the time, observers were tempted to interpret this decision as evidence that the military chain of command was disintegrating and mid-level officers were taking matters into their own hands. Moreover, the withdrawal was viewed as an unequivocal sign of support for the demonstrators’ cause. Army Major Viorel Oancea, who on 22 December was to become the first Army officer in Timisoara to declare publicly his allegiance to the Revolution, nevertheless denies the idea of a spontaneous retreat: “Evidently, it was an order, the army was not in a position to be taking independent decisions…Probably General Guse or Ion Coman [took this decision]…”[21] The Army’s high command was undoubtedly concerned about its ability to maintain its institutional coherence under these circumstances and the only way to prevent a further breakdown in control was to take the soldiers off the streets.[22] Regardless of how it was intended, however, the townspeople of Timisoara nevertheless interpreted the action of retiring troops to barracks as support for their cause.

Reports suggest that while the Army’s retreat was in progress, uniformed Securitate and Militia personnel also disappeared from the streets. Whether this was part of a coordinated retreat by regime forces or was precipitated by the Army’s withdrawal is unknown. During the afternoon of 20 December, negotiations began between the “Action Committee of the Romanian Democratic Front (FDR)” (which was an outgrowth of the various strike committees set up over the previous two days) and two representatives of the regime, Prime Minister Constantin Dascalescu and fellow CPEx member Emil Bobu. At the time, such actions by senior government representatives seemed to suggest that a rift was developing in the upper reaches of the regime’s hierarchy and that some politicians might be abandoning ship. Army General Victor Stanculescu, maintains, however, that Dascalescu and Bobu had been dispatched to Timisoara on Ceausescu’s direct orders.[23] Likewise, Rady argues that they were “acting on the president’s instructions and…only playing for time.”[24]

The talks dragged on for hours and Dascalescu and Bobu made only vague promises, claiming that the demonstrators’ major demands had to await Ceausescu’s return to the country. According to Rady, such stalling tactics had been employed during the Brasov events of November 1987: negotiations had been conducted with representatives of the protesters, but once the regime had reestablished control their recent negotiating partners were promptly arrested.[25] Ceausescu’s announcement of a “state of emergency” clearly indicated that he had not ceded control of Timisoara to the demonstrators.[26] It thus seems that the disappearance of uniformed Securitate and Militia men had been designed to defuse the tense climate and to lend credibility to the effort of the regime’s negotiating team. Once the demonstrators had left the streets for good, these officers were likely to reappear.

The suggestion that the regime was merely attempting to reestablish control by other means is strengthened by the case of Ioan (Dorel) Curutiu. Puspoki has argued that the Securitate infiltrated several officers (at least one man and one woman) into the leadership of the demonstrators with the aim of compromising and manipulating the other leaders.[27] Curutiu was one of the FDR representatives who negotiated with Dascalescu and Bobu.[28] Curutiu’s comments since the events have been highly questionable.[29] But it is where Curutiu landed after the events which truly raises suspicions: in 1990 he turned up in the Interior Ministry’s “department of service and armament” with the rank of major.[30]

Ceausescu’s Fatal Mistake: The Pro-Regime Rally of 21 December

By the morning of Thursday, 21 December 1989, the regime was no longer master of the situation in Timisoara. Moreover, it was rapidly losing control in several nearby cities: Lugoj and Cugir. Nevertheless, the regime might have withstood these challenges had it not been for Nicolae Ceausescu’s insistence on convoking a mass rally and addressing his “adoring” subjects in person. It was Nicolae Ceausescu’s delusion of his own invincibility which ensured that the regime would be unable to reestablish control. Ceausescu’s inflammatory, rambling tirade on national television on Wednesday evening had signalled panic to those who watched it. If Ceausescu was so worked up, they concluded, something serious must have occurred in Timisoara. Following his televised address, Ceausescu decided to hold an open-air, pro-regime rally the following day in the sprawling square in front of the Central Committee building in the center of Bucharest. The event was to be carried live over Romanian radio and television.

Precisely because this mass rally turned out to be the deathknell for the Ceausescu regime speculation has surrounded who “goaded” Ceausescu into making such a colossally-misguided decision. In January 1993, the opposition daily Romania Libera suggested that “the meeting was organized at the suggestion of [CPEx member] Gogu Radulescu.”[31] The same article maintained that Radulescu had been followed during these days and was “observed transmitting something abroad,” thereby once again insinuating the role of foreign powers in the Romanian events.[32]

Yet it is doubtful that Nicolae Ceausescu required Radulescu’s encouragement to convoke such a rally. It seems highly likely that the idea was Ceausescu’s own brainchild and that as usual the docile members of the CPEx did not dare contradict him. It was a typically instinctive, rash, and overconfident reaction to crisis on Ceausescu’s part. Moreover, as we have seen, for Nicolae Ceausescu the events confronting him in December 1989 were a replay of August 1968: not only was socialism at stake, but Romania’s national sovereignty and independence. Thus, in this crucial moment, he would appeal not primarily to the party’s political interests, but to what were the core institutional interests of the Securitate. And he would rely on a trusted totalitarian, mobilizational technique: the “spontaneous” mass rally of support for the regime.

The pro-regime rally began at midday on Thursday, 21 December 1989 as such events always had. Almost 100,000 workers, hand-picked from Bucharest’s major factories, had been herded into the center of Bucharest to await Ceausescu’s address from the balcony of the Central Committee building. There were the customary “spontaneous” chants in support of the dictator and his policies, and obsequious introductions by party underlings. Ceausescu had been speaking for only a few minutes when an unidentifiable disruption in the crowd forced him to pause in mid-sentence. It was now that the folly of his insistence that his address be broadcast live by television and radio was realized. Before the television and radio relays could be interrupted, a national audience was able to hear high-pitched screams and shouts of “Down with Ceausescu!” “Murderer!” and “Timisoara, Timisoara!” Even worse, television cameras had captured Ceausescu’s stunned and confused facial expression. About three minutes later, after some semblance of order had been restored in the square, the live broadcast resumed. Ceausescu announced that just that morning the CPEx had approved an increase in the minimum salary and pensions![33] Ceausescu was able to finish his speech, although shouting and commotion could still be heard sporadically in the background.

It is impossible to know how much the image of a frightened Ceausescu, futilely motioning to the crowd to quiet down, influenced those who saw it. However, the scope and boldness of protest against the regime clearly intensified after the broadcast of the dictator’s previously-unimaginable moment of weakness. Anti-regime demonstrations spread throughout the major cities of Transylvania–Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj, and Tirgu Mures–on the afternoon of 21 December. It did not matter that a sufficient degree of order had been reestablished such that Ceausescu was indeed able to finish his speech or that Romanian television would rebroadcast the same speech later that evening with pro-Ceausescu chants dubbed-in over the commotion. Irreparable damage had been done.

Observers have argued that those brief, but seemingly interminable seconds during which the television camera broadcast Nicolae Ceausescu’s disbelief and helplessness live to an entire nation, constituted a sort of “singular psychological moment,” something akin to a rock shattering a mirror. What had prompted Ceausescu’s reaction? Initially, most accounts stressed how several people in the crowd had begun shouting anti-Ceausescu slogans.[34] Fearing they would be caught, they then rushed through the crowd. The other members of the crowd were frightened by this unexpected act of courage and themselves attempted to flee. The great commotion which viewers had heard before the transmission had been cut, was the sound of these people trying to force their way out of the square. Many later explanations have maintained, however, that these events were merely a response to the initial act of defiance: the setting-off of firecrackers (”petarde” in Romanian) by someone in the crowd. Only then did demonstrators take advantage of the confusion and anonymity of the moment to shout down Ceausescu. In both cases, the spontaneity of the catalytic event has been drawn into question.

Nica Leon: The Strange Tale of the “Hero” of the 21 December Rally

Because the interruption of Ceausescu’s speech proved such a turning point in the December events, it was natural that in early 1990 the newly-liberated media should try to find the person or persons responsible for “unleashing the Bucharest revolution.” In a series of interviews during March and April 1990, Petre Mihai Bacanu, senior editor of Romania Libera, introduced the nation to a group of factory workers whom he presented as the “heroes” of the 21 December rally.[35] Bacanu was widely-viewed both at home and abroad as the “conscience” of the journalistic profession (a journalist for Romania Libera before the events, he had been imprisoned between January and December 1989 for his involvement with two other people in an attempt to print an illegal underground newspaper) and his newspaper was the hub of the growing political and social opposition to the National Salvation Front regime.

Thanks in large part to Bacanu, one of these workers in particular, Nica Leon, was to become identified as the man who had dared to shout down Ceausescu.[36] Leon was presented as having yelled out “Long live Timisoara, down with the butcher, down with Ceausescu!” and “Timisoara, Timisoara” at the crucial moment during Ceausescu’s speech. Highly-respectable foreign sources such as Ratesh credit Leon by name with having disrupted the 21 December rally.[37]

In the months immediately following December 1989, Nica Leon certainly appeared every bit the hero. It turned out that on 20 December 1989, the day before his historic shout, the Toronto daily The Globe and Mail had printed an open letter by Nica Leon criticizing Ceausescu’s rule.[38] This fact seemed confirmation of the courage of his action on 21 December. During 1990, Leon was the president of a small political party, a founding member of the Romanian branch of Amnesty International, and a prominent critic of the Iliescu regime.[39] During the chaotic and violent events of 13-15 June 1990 which brought an end to the two-month occupation of University Square by demonstrators, he was arrested and over the following month and a half was the object of an eventually-successful campaign spearheaded by Romania Libera to gain his release. The opposition embraced him with open arms and he regularly appeared in interviews with the opposition press.

Yet in the ensuing years, the opposition clearly soured on Nica Leon and he broke with them in as definitive a manner as imaginable. By 1992, one opposition publication was describing Nica Leon as “at war with the whole world” and it was clear from the questions and comments of opposition journalists that they no longer held him in the high esteem they once had.[40] Ilie Stoian’s 1993 description of Leon’s role at the 21 December rally reflects this changed perception of Leon: “Just then Nica Leon took advantage of the protection offered by the uproar and yelled ‘Timisoara’…after which he ran away out of fear.”[41] Leon’s heroism had apparently become contingent upon his relationship with the opposition.

On the surface, Leon himself appeared to have undergone a striking metamorphosis: from being a fixture of the opposition to granting interviews to the press of the Ceausescu nostalgics. In early 1994, the very same Nica Leon could be found in the pages of Europa praising the Securitate and virtually lamenting the overthrow of Ceausescu which his actions had hastened.[42] He strenuously defended the actions of the Securitate Director, General Iulian Vlad, in December 1989 as honest and patriotic. How had a person the opposition had presented as a dissident for a decade prior to the December events, an unrelenting foe of the Securitate, and the hero of the 21 December rally come to this?

What is interesting about Leon is that his views on certain key issues about the December 1989 have remained remarkably consistent in spite of his flip-flop from one end of the political spectrum to the other. Leon’s defense of–and sympathy for–General Vlad was not something which had suddenly appeared after he crossed over to the Ceausist camp. It appears in the interviews he gave the opposition press in 1990.[43] Moreover, Leon strenuously denied the existence of any “terrorists” during the December events. In April 1990, he told Expres that “the terrorists were invented.”[44] In September 1990, Leon told Liviu Valenas and Daniela Rainov at Baricada that “Everything [in December 1989] was a grand diversion! THERE WEREN’T ANY TERRORISTS!” and that Vlad had been arrested because he possessed damaging information against the Front.[45]

In his interviews with Petre Mihai Bacanu at Romania Libera in April 1990, Nica Leon also mentioned several episodes which placed the Securitate and Militia in a surprisingly positive light. He maintained that during the showdown between protesters and regime forces in University Square on the afternoon of 21 December, he had spoken with a Militia sergeant major who had “wished us [the protesters] success.”[46] He also claimed that he had helped an injured Militia man to safety on this evening.[47] Leon chatted with the USLA troops at University Square and characterized their actions as follows:

…the USLA were blocking the street leading to the American Embassy and the Israeli airline company El Al. The USLA did not attack the crowd, but rather stood chatting with the demonstrators and explaining to them that they could not join them because they had an order to stay between the French Bank and the Intercontinental Hotel.[48]

As we shall see, other eyewitness accounts of these events challenge Leon’s portrayal of the USLA.

But clearly the most damaging fact about Nica Leon was the one Petre Mihai Bacanu neglected to inform his audience of: the hero of the Bucharest Revolution had been arrested as a “terrorist” on 24 December 1989. Leon had been discovered in the basement of the Central Committee building, attempting to transmit something through a radio-transmitting device belonging to the Securitate’s Fifth Directorate.[49] One might be inclined to believe that Leon had been the victim of a tragic misunderstanding were it not for a series of articles written by a former officer of the Fifth Directorate in the Ceausist publication Timpul during early 1991.[50] The former Securitate officer presented the saga of a group of those arrested as “terrorists” during the December events: among them, other officers of the Fifth Directorate, USLA members, a Jordanian student, and Nica Leon. Leon is credited with having sustained the morale of the other prisoners. According to the Fifth Directorate officer: “Nica Leon encouraged us and frequently repeated that if he escaped, he would testify for us all the way to the UN.”[51] Moreover, Leon is praised for having contacted the wives of the Fifth Directorate officers–to tell them that their husbands were still alive–after he was released on 30 December 1989. Other Securitate officers confirm Nica Leon’s presence among the arrestees.[52]

Even prior to Bacanu’s interview with Leon, there were indications that Leon was a less than completely credible source. In February 1990, Leon had given an interview to Democratia, the publication of one of Ceausescu’s most notorious former speechwriters, Eugen Florescu.[53] Surprisingly, since this was one of Leon’s first interviews since the events, there was no mention of his famous shout at the 21 December rally. In its issue of 9 March 1990, the popular Expres had made a coy reference to Leon’s arrest (while using a radio-transmitting device) in the CC building.[54] Moreover, at a meeting of the ruling Provisional Council of National Unity in early 1990, Front official Dan Iosif is said to have referred to Leon’s arrest and called him either a “securist” or “terrorist.”[55]

Nica Leon remains an enigma. It is difficult to say exactly what he was really up to on 21 December 1989. People in the crowd did indeed shout “Timisoara, Timisoara,” for it could be heard on the television broadcast. If Leon did shout it, was he the first to do so? If not, what was his motivation for shouting it? Was his shout a genuine act of individual courage at the time? Was he perhaps acting as a Securitate provocateur–someone who wished to infiltrate the protesters’ ranks–on 21 December 1989? As with other aspects of the December events, the historiography of what happened is as important as–if not more important than–what actually happened. In the case of Nica Leon, the historiography at the very least suggests a highly-manipulative portrayal of his actions in December 1989.

Who Threw the “petarde”?

Many sources have suggested that it was the explosion of a “petarde” (or firecracker) and a simultaneous commotion in the square which startled Ceausescu and made it possible for the demonstrators to yell the anti-Ceausescu slogans. Once again the discrepancy between the reporting on this incident and the reality of what appears to have happened is informative. The report of the first Senatorial commission investigating the December events (published in 1992) maintains that “while [Ceausescu] was speaking, an explosion was heard and caused substantial commotion. Shortly after this, the meeting disbanded in disorder.”[56] Stoian describes the “petarde” incident as follows:

…[then] Ceausescu took the floor. At that moment the thing which appears to us the most important event of this period occurred. It is not true that the crowd began to boo spontaneously. While Ceausescu was stumbling through a phrase up on the balcony, somewhere in the center of the Square, where there were mostly women, someone exploded a Christmas ‘petarde’ [o petarda de genul celor de Craciun]. The first reaction of these frightened women was to begin to scream. Then, all those around them began to boo.[57]

Romanians have occasionally referred to this as “the petarde of our happiness.”[58]

Part of the problem with the “petarde” scenario stems from the fact that there is no agreement upon who exploded it and no one has come forward to claim responsibility for this historic action. Nevertheless, many names have been put forward in connection with it.[59] Securitate sources clearly wish to suggest that the setting-off of this “petarde” and the causes of the commotion which ensued were part of a premeditated plan to disrupt the rally. Once again, they attempt to negate the spontaneity of the anti-Ceausescu uprising. A journalist for the Ceausist journal Democratia wrote in December 1990:

…It must be stressed that during this rally long-studied methods for the psychological manipulation of compact crowds–acoustic sounds with subliminal messages transmitted through the loudspeaker system (imitating the rumble of an earthquake, the noise of troops and tanks and gunfire); the movement of some groups through the square with the intention of dislocating the crowd; petardes–were applied.[60]

According to “a group of former Securitate officers,” the “tourists” and their domestic collaborators made their way from Timisoara to Bucharest and infiltrated the meeting. The “tourists” attempted to scare those in the crowd into believing that “they were under fire” by jabbing them in the back with “reinforced steel prongs…against the background of the noise of fire-crackers and the short-circuiting of the public address loudspeakers.”[61] Interestingly, this is how a former USLA officer has portrayed the event:

On 21 December 1989 I was taking part in the antiterrorist measures for the “goodbye” meeting. In the crowd, I identified and observed eight strange men: all were dressed approximately the same (knee-length woolen coats, hats), all were smoking at the same time, standing in a group. Some looked slavic, others asiatic. At a given moment, they took out from their pockets globe-shaped objects, lit them with their cigarettes, and threw them into the crowd; in the globes there were firecrackers which put the crowd to flight.[62]

The SRI’s 1994 report on the events suggests that the “powerful thunder claps” which were heard could have come from the detonation of a “petarde” and that the “sonic boom”-like sound which occurred came not from the crowd, but from the loudspeakers.[63] The panic among the crowd was caused by the transmission of high-pitched soundwaves (outside the range of human hearing) and by the fact that unidentified demonstrators were prodding the others with steel poles while shouting “Run away, they will kill us!” and “The tanks are coming!”[64]

Opposition accounts incorporate familiar elements. The influential journalist Cornel Nistorescu places the “petarde” incident in the context of a coup d’etat supported by a faction within the Securitate:

Simultaneously, at the meeting of 21 December, according to incontrovertible information, a Securitate officer launched the two petardes which provoked panic and unleashed the redemption of Bucharest’s citizens. Meanwhile, through the loudspeaker system controlled by the Securitate, boos and whistles were disseminated.[65]

Ecaterina Radoi of Zig-Zag suggests that the unbelievable panic which ensued was the result of the emission of sounds resembling the rumble of tanks and machine gun fire.[66]

But the “petarde” incident and the simultaneous commotion may have a simpler explanation. It is informative to look back upon how the disruption of the rally was reported by foreign correspondents in Bucharest just after it had taken place. Shortly after the rally disbanded, a Bulgarian correspondent related that the cause of the commotion had been the use of “tear gas grenades” by regime forces attempting to prevent demonstrators from entering the square and the ensuing panic this had unleashed among those who were already in the square.[67] The correspondent suggested that the demonstrators had originally gathered near the Roman Square on Magheru boulevard and numbered in the thousands by the time they reached Palace Square where the speech was taking place.

Similar reports come from the Yugoslav TANJUG correspondent who transmitted that demonstrators had gathered in the northwest corner of Palace Square near the Athenee Palace Hotel and that when they “tried to approach the official meeting, tear gas was thrown at them.”[68] According to the same correspondent, young men had begun to shout anti-Ceausescu slogans, were chased away by the Militia, and then proceeded through the side streets in order to get around to the other side of the meeting.[69] The Militia then used tear gas to prevent these demonstrators from joining the official meeting and it was after the “tear-gas bombs exploded that the live relay of radio and television was disrupted for several minutes.”[70]

Significantly, eyewitness accounts of the confrontations between regime forces and demonstrators on the afternoon and evening of 21 December refer to regime forces firing “petardes” at the demonstrators.[71] One eyewitness to the events in University Square on the afternoon of 21 December recounts that “the Securitate ran after them [the demonstrators] in groups and used ‘petardes’ and clubs against them.”[72] Moreover, Rady has observed that on the night of 21/22 December, the Securitate “[i]n a few places…detonated bombs in the hope of spreading panic.”[73]

Which forces would have used the “petardes” and tear-gas against the demonstrators? During his trial in early 1990, the Interior Minister at the time of the events, Tudor Postelnicu, stated that “the USLA were in charge of tear-gas” at the rally.[74] Stoian has noted the difference between the 21 December rally and past rallies in his typically colorful tone:

In the first place, how striking it was that if in the past at the meetings to which Bucharest’s citizens were all too well-accustomed, people were indifferent–indeed, some were even happy since they would get three or four hours of work off–now nobody was smiling. Almost everybody entered [the square] in an ill-omened silence. A completely new element was the verification of identity papers of most people on the streets on this occasion; those who did not belong to the groups of workers [chosen to participate] were politely made to exit the columns…After the Palace Square was full, something unexpected happened. If in the past, the ring of civilians (Securitate men, party activists) and Militia men [around the crowd at such an event] would not permit those bored of listening to Ceausescu’s idiocies to leave, this time things were completely the other way around….Anyone who wanted to leave could, but no one from outside the ring could enter the protected zone.[75]

Eyewitnesses have specifically identified the forces preventing their entrance into the square as “USLA troops.”[76]

The partial transcripts of communications among USLA and Militia units on 21 and 22 December in Bucharest were published in late January-early February 1990 in the daily Libertatea.[77] These transcripts suggest that even before the rally had begun, large groups of demonstrators had gathered at a number of the intersections leading onto Palace Square, were shouting anti-regime slogans, and were taxing the capacity of the regime forces to prevent them from entering the square.[78] The demonstrators apparently realized well the tremendous opportunity offered them by the live national broadcast of this rally. Thus, the impression left by most accounts–that it was a few, isolated, brave men, within a crowd of tens of thousands of automatons, who had dared to challenge Ceausescu–is simply romanticized. The actions of those prevented from entering the meeting probably emboldened those in the crowd to shout down Ceausescu.

The transcripts also show that on the order of Securitate Director General Vlad, the USLA used “gela” (the Securitate reference for “petardes”) against the demonstrators.[79] Ilie Stoian alleges that General Grigore Ghita, the commander of the Securitate’s uniformed troops, “violated his brief” when he incorporated units of the USLA, including a “geniu-chimic” unit (which would have been in charge of tear-gas), among the regime forces assigned to work the rally.[80] Yet such an action does seem in accordance with Interior Ministry Order No. 2600. Moreover, even the Senatorial commission’s report illustrates that the security for the rally of 21 December was left almost entirely in the hands of the Securitate, and that General Vlad’s deputy, General Gianu Bucurescu, was given personal charge of the rally.[81]

It appears then that a key factor contributing to the disruption of Ceausescu’s speech was the attempt by regime forces to hold off anti-Ceausescu demonstrators from entering Palace Square. This commotion and confusion so changed the complexion of the rally that those among the crowd handpicked to attend took advantage of the opportunity and suddenly switched from chanting pro-Ceausescu slogans to jeering and booing the dictator. It is possible that the “petarde” at the rally was launched by the Securitate, but it is unlikely it did so as an act of defiance against the dictator. The “petarde” may have been used to prevent protesters from entering the square or to disorient the crowd and mask the sound of the anti-Ceausescu slogans. The disruption of the rally may therefore have been far less “organized” than has commonly been presumed.

The Role of the USLA in the Bucharest Repression of 21/22 December

Nicolae Ceausescu ended up shortening his speech and scurrying off the balcony of the CC building while regime forces attempted to clear Palace Square. Demonstrators merely took to other parts of the city center. Two major points of confrontation between demonstrators and regime forces developed along the wide Magheru boulevard: the Roman Square and the University Square (site of the hulking concrete monstrosity known as the Intercontinental Hotel). The latter would be the scene of major bloodshed on the night of 21/22 December. At least 50 demonstrators were killed, almost 500 were injured, and as many as 1,200 were jailed on this night in Bucharest alone.[82]

Petre Mihai Bacanu’s seminal month-long series (”Intercontinental 21/22″) exploring the events of University Square is as puzzling as it is enlightening. Bacanu began his series on 14 March 1990, shortly after the new Defense Minister, General Victor Stanculescu, had reversed the official version of the USLA’s actions during the December events.[83] On 15 March 1990, Bacanu began interviewing three employees of the Intercontinental Hotel. They described how, after the ill-fated rally broke up, “USLA troops dressed in civilian clothes” chased after the demonstrators, fired “petarde” at them, and beat them.[84] In the following day’s episode of the interview, the issue of the USLA was not raised except in an unusual postscript in which Bacanu added: “We must clarify that the USLA detachments did not fire a single shot, nor arrest a single person among the columns of demonstrators.”[85]

On 17 March 1990, Bacanu felt compelled to preface the third part of the interview with the following statement:

In the course of this episode, esteemed readers, there are again references to the USLA. We have incontrovertible proof that the USLA soldiers had only one mission, to defend the American embassy and the El Al Israeli airlines offices [both located next to the Intercontinental Hotel].[86]

The same three interviewees who had only two days earlier described the USLA in a repressive posture now came forth with highly incongruent descriptions of the rapport between the crowd and the USLA later on the afternoon of 21 December. According to one of the interviewees:

I saw the incident when a student climbed behind one of them [the USLA soldiers] and kissed him and then offered flowers to those from the USLA. I also witnessed the scene in which the USLA officers received the flowers and held them in their hands.[87]

By 24 March 1990, Bacanu was asking his interlocutors questions such as this: “I have heard that the USLA were served tea. It was something civilized: they were also cold. Are you convinced that they did nothing wrong against you?”[88] On 18 April 1990 a new interviewee recounted how one of the USLA men had begun crying at the sight of the aforementioned girl (who, according to the source, was from Timisoara) distributing flowers to the USLA.[89]

Such a portrayal of the USLA’s behavior and the crowd’s view of the USLA lies in stark contrast with Emilian David’s description (published on 12 January 1990) of events taking place simultaneously less than a mile away at the other end of Magheru boulevard at Roman Square:

3:45 p.m. We are attacked with brutality by the USLA troops. Women and young girls scream, men and boys try to put up whatever resistance they can. They beat us mercilessly…

5:30 p.m. We are attacked again with even greater fury by the USLA troops. The “paddywagons” are filled with people.[90]

Later, after being forced to flee from the Roman Square, David eventually made his to the other end of the boulevard at University Square. David describes the presence of a cordon of USLA troops equipped with shields and clubs at this location. When gunfire erupted towards midnight, David suggests that these USLA “beasts” were among the gunmen. “The dead and wounded littered the streets,” according to David. Paul Vinicius also recalls the arrival of these “special troops” just after midnight: “Who are these beasts who shoot? They are young, and judging by the way they talk amongst themselves, they appear drugged. They shoot in anything that moves.”[91]

The charges drawn up by the Military Prosecutor in the trial of the former CPEx members (dated 4 June 1990) reiterate such allegations. According to this document, between 9 and 10 p.m. on the evening of 21 December at University Square, “the forces of repression composed of USLA, Militia, and Securitate [i.e. uniformed] troops began to encircle the crowd of demonstrators, forcibly detaining some of them whom they beat brutally, many being killed.”[92] The same document cites a witness, Spiru Radet, according to whom, at midnight “USLA troops equipped with helmets, shields, and clubs” followed a tank through the barricade erected by the protesters.[93] The witness continues: “…one of the USLA soldiers, who had a machine gun in his hand, fired a volley of warning shots and then began to shoot into the demonstrators.”[94]

Additionally, the transcripts of communications among USLA and Militia units reveal that USLA “intervention units” were dispatched to a number of locations in the city center on this afternoon of 21 December.[95] USLA operatives refer to having “restored order” in Palace Square after the end of the rally, and to their mission to “block” access to the American Embassy and El Al Israel offices (rather than to “defend” them as Bacanu had suggested).[96] Their attitude towards the demonstrators attempting to force their way into the official meeting was hardly supportive: “These hooligans must be annihilated at once. They are not determined. They must be taken quickly. The rest are hesitating.”[97] The question is less whether the “flower” episodes happened at all, or happened as they have been described, but why it was these particular incidents, rather than the incidents revealing the USLA’s brutality actions, which garnered publicity in 1990.

Interestingly, almost four years later, in December 1993, Bacanu appeared to reconsider his earlier unquestioning claims about the role of the USLA on the basis of “new” information brought forth by Army soldiers who had been in University Square on the night of 21/22 December. According to Bacanu:

Very many officers talk about these “civilians” in long raincoats or sheepskin coats [cojoace], who arrested demonstrators from within the crowd and then beat them brutally….No one has been interested until now in these tens of “civilians” with hats who shot through the pockets of their clothes….For a time we gave credence to the claims of the USLA troops that they were not present in University Square. We have now entered into the possession of information which shows that 20 USLA officers, under the command of Colonel Florin Bejan, were located…among the demonstrators. [Emphasis added][98]

One of the Army officers told Bacanu that during the evening

…a Militia vehicle arrived from which tens of men–who appeared almost as if they were brothers, in that they were all solidly-built, dressed in leather jackets, with hats on their heads–disembarked….These individuals had “short barrel” weapons and were from the Interior Ministry….They positioned themselves behind the cordon of shieldbearers and then shot from the pockets of their clothes into the demonstrators and dragged demonstrators out of the crowd…[99]

But what Bacanu termed “new revelations” were hardly new. In mid-January 1990, several Army recruits and officers referred to the actions of these “civilians” in interviews with reporters of the Army daily.[100] According to soldier Rudolf Suster:

About fifteen to twenty (dressed in civilian clothes, but one could tell that they were well-trained) disembarked from a single truck and passed in front of the soldiers with shields and when the tanks broke through the barricade which was on fire, they fired. I saw the flashes in front of their raincoats.[101]

Soldier Tiberiu Florea described a similar scene:

I also saw them. They had long raincoats or overcoats and they had guns hidden under them and they opened fire. They were in front of us, they couldn’t hide themselves from us. They didn’t all fire at the same time…One fired, then the other would.[102]

Furthermore, at the trial of Nicolae’s brother, Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu (director of the Securitate’s Baneasa Academy) in April 1990, military witnesses testified that “after the salvo of warning shots were fired, in the uproar produced, from behind us we saw civilians who were firing–I observed the movement of their clothes–hidden weapons through the pockets of their clothes.”[103] Significantly, former USLA commander, Colonel Gheorghe Ardeleanu, confirmed in a court statement that on 21 December the USLA had “performed their duties in civilian dress.”[104]

As in Timisoara in the preceding days, it appears that the USLA were acting in Bucharest in accordance with Order 2600. In early 1990, opposition journalist Vasile Neagoe argued just this point in his discussion of the events of 21/22 December 1989. According to Neagoe, “because in the meetings convened by Ceausescu it had been established that terrorists were involved in the street [events],” the provisions regarding “anti-terrorist warfare” in Order 2600 had been put into operation.[105] Indeed, we will recall that during his televised address on the evening of 20 December, Ceausescu had specifically denounced what was going on in the country as “terrorist actions.” Order 2600–and not the whimsical decisions of various commanders, as Stoian suggests–explains the presence of the USLA at the rally on 21 December and in Roman and University Squares on the night of 21/22 December.

22 December 1989: What Forced the Ceausescus to Flee?

At midday on Friday, 22 December 1989, a large, overloaded helicopter lifted off from the roof of the Central Committee (CC) building and struggled to clear the grey Bucharest skyline. Moments later, demonstrators reached the roof of the CC building and began destroying the landing pad so as to ensure that no more helicopters could land. Below in Palace Square almost 100,000 people had gathered and were now singing deliriously to the tune of a widely-known English soccer hymn: “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ceausescu nu mai e!” (”Ole! Ole! Ole! Ceausescu is no more!”). The helicopter carried Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu on their final, convoluted journey out of Bucharest and brought to an abrupt and ignominious end Nicolae Ceausescu’s twenty-four year reign. After the violence of the previous night, the peaceful denouement to the confrontation between population and the Ceausescu regime came unexpectedly. Most observers figured that Ceausescu would rather have held out in the Central Committee building–”surrounded by mountains of cadavers,” as one person put it–than flee from power.[106] Thus, these observers have come to assume that the Securitate must have abandoned Ceausescu en masse.[107] Ilie Stoian summarizes the prevailing view when he states that “we are convinced that if the Securitate had not wished it so, no one would have penetrated the CC [building] and Ceausescu would not have fallen on this day.”[108]

Moreover, there has been widespread speculation that the leadership of the former Securitate must already by this time have come to some sort of understanding with the coup plotters who were to lead the National Salvation Front to power.[109] Such speculation is important for if the Securitate as institution abandoned Ceausescu and already had an agreement with the country’s new political leaders, then the “terrorists” who appeared after the evening of 22 December must either have been working on behalf of the National Salvation Front or have been an invention designed to legitimate the Front’s seizure of power.

Opposition sources have provided fodder for both conclusions. According to Liviu Valenas: “In Bucharest, it is certain that the Securitate had crossed over practically in corpore to the side of the plotters already from the night of 21/22 December 1989, probably around midnight.”[110] He speculates that General Vlad had already been engaging in dissident activity over the preceding days: “it appears that he [Securitate Director General Iulian Vlad] is the person who transmitted to Timisoara the orders…’that in Timisoara there will not be calm,’ ‘for the workers to go out into the street,’ and ‘for the Army to be withdrawn to barracks.’”[111] Ilie Stoian attempts to imply that during the evening of 21/22 December 1989, General Vlad was already attempting to distance himself from the other regime commanders. Stoian contrasts the actions of Defense Minister Milea–who remained among the group of party, Army, Securitate, and Militia officials who were coordinating the repression–and those of General Iulian Vlad who “stood alone on the sidewalk across from these [officials], a place from which he did not leave until the morning of 22 December and in which he remained quiet and did not attempt to make contact with anyone.”[112]

This allegation seems doubtful, however. 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.

The sudden death of Defense Minister Vasile Milea just before 9:30 a.m. on 22 December 1989 was a critical moment in the evolution of events. The announcement on national television a little more than an hour later (10:50 a.m.) that “the traitor Milea has committed suicide” only seemed to hasten the fraternization already underway between Army recruits and the protesters heading for the city center. The official explanation of General Milea’s sudden death raised incredulity then and has continued to ever since. The title of an interview with one of Milea’s deputies sums up the details of Milea’s death which make the official “suicide” explanation questionable: “A curiosity: you shoot yourself in the heart, place the gun on the table, and then lie down on the sofa.”[115]

In 1995, Liviu Valenas publicized the claims of a former officer of the Securitate’s foreign intelligence branch (DIE)–now sharply critical of the Iliescu regime and SRI–regarding Milea’s death. According to this Securitate source, the Securitate was already serving the interests of the National Salvation Front by the morning of 22 December. He alleged that Milea was shot by the Securitate “on the orders of Ion Iliescu” and that this “smoothed the way for the success of a coup d’etat of KGB inspiration.”[116]

This allegation is highly suspect. Questioned at his summary trial on 25 December 1989 just prior to his execution, Nicolae Ceausescu maintained that Milea was a traitor because “he did not urge his unit to do their patriotic duty.”[117] Ceausescu had expanded in greater detail at the emergency CPEx meeting immediately following Milea’s death:

General Milea left from my office and two minutes later I was informed that he had shot himself. Taking into account his behavior during this entire period, it is clearly evident that he sabotaged the application of measures and worked in close coordination with foreigners…In the Capital, they did not apply a measure, they did not assign the specified units to the Capital, but used them elsewhere….The traitor Milea left from here and committed suicide. I told him to go issue the order to call military units and he committed suicide….[118]

According to Rady, Milea’s alleged insubordination was not merely in Ceausescu’s imagination:

When daybreak came, the extent of Milea’s disobedience became clear. The Central Committee Building was only lightly guarded and the streets leading up to it were inadequately protected. At the same time, the earliest reports began to come in from local party secretaries and securitate offices that the army was no longer taking any action to put down demonstrations in the provinces. Thus whereas the previous day, the army had shot down six demonstrators in Tirgu Mures, it had now assumed a passive position, simply guarding the party headquarters and leaving the streets to the crowds.[119]

Rady proposes that for this is the reason, Milea was summoned to Ceausescu’s office and instructed “to order the army to recommence active operations immediately and to open fire on such units as proved recalcitrant.”

Army sources suggest that after exiting the first emergency CPEx meeting of the morning (at approximately 8:30 a.m.), Milea gave the order that the Army units on the streets of Bucharest should mass around their equipment, ignore “provocations,” and refrain from opening fire.[120] To some extent, Milea was merely responding to the realities in the field, for already after 7 a.m. huge columns of workers from the IMGB and other major factories were on the march towards the city center. Overwhelmed commanders in the field were constantly inquiring of their superiors as to how they should proceed in light of the rapidly-changing situation. In some cases, they apparently received the order from mid-level commanders to mass around their equipment; in others, they apparently followed their own conscience. According to Army sources, the effect of the soldiers grouping around their equipment was de facto to break up the cordons of regime forces designed to prevent the forward progress of the demonstrators.[121] Milea’s order solidified the unhindered passage of the demonstrators all the way into Palace Square.

It remains unclear whether Milea was assassinated by the Securitate for this insubordination or did indeed commit suicide.[122] For example, one Army officer has admitted that (apparently after his showdown with Ceausescu) a very emotional Milea ordered him to give him his gun and then Milea slammed the door to his office and shot himself.[123] What is clear is that immediately following news of Milea’s death, the CPEx met in emergency session again. The transcript of the emergency CPEx meeting sometime after 9:30 a.m. offers some surprises.[124] While most CPEx members obediently answered Ceausescu’s appeal for them to fight to the bitter end, several members appeared to equivocate in the face of the now massive numbers of protesters. Gogu Radulescu argued: “Based on the information we have, columns of workers have headed towards the center and it is necessary to take measures in order to avoid a bloodbath.” Even Prime Minister Constantin Dascalescu admitted: “I have been and will be by your side until the end, but I believe that it is necessary to consider what will happen if we shoot into honest workers.”

The views of the CPEx members seem also to have been influenced by news that some Army soldiers had been “disarmed” by protesters. Ion Radu stated that “Minister Vlad says that there are still isolated, small groups of disarmed soldiers.” Significantly, in the absence of a representative from the Army at the meeting, it was Securitate Director Vlad (officially not even a CPEx member) who assured those gathered that “the Army will not allow itself to be disarmed.” In the end, it was decided that only if the demonstrators were armed or attacked would regime forces open fire. While the post-Ceausescu media has occasionally recorded Vlad as having responded to Ceausescu’s appeal to “fight to the end” with the phrase “like hell we will,” the stenogram quotes him as replying obediently “we will proceed as you have instructed.”[125]

In the wake of Milea’s death, Nicolae Ceausescu personally appointed General Victor Stanculescu–freshly-arrived from Timisoara and a notorious favorite of Elena’s–as Defense Minister. From a bureaucratic standpoint, the Army Chief of Staff, General Stefan Guse, should have legally succeeded Milea. But Guse was still in transit from Timisoara and in such cases Ceausescu’s word was always the final arbiter. According to Stanculescu, Milea had phoned him the previous night and told him that “problems” had developed and that he should return to Bucharest immediately.[126] In one of the most famous pieces of folklore concerning the December events, upon returning to Bucharest in the early morning hours of 22 December, Stanculescu–according to his own account–was so determined to avoid being further implicated in a repression similar to what he had been involved in in Timisoara that he arranged for a doctor to put his left leg in a cast.[127] Nevertheless, this did not prevent him from being appointed Defense Minister.

Between 9:30 a.m. (when Milea was found dead) and 10:45 a.m. (when Stanculescu arrived at the CC building), the Army was essentially without a commander-in-chief and officers continued to transmit Milea’s last order prior to his death, calling on the troops not to open fire.[128] After Stanculescu arrived at the CC building, at 10:45 a.m. he expanded Milea’s “Rondoul” order to include the return of all Army units to barracks.[129] At the same time, however–according to Air Force Commander, General Gheorghe Rus, immediately after the events–Stanculescu instructed him to dispatch three hundred parachutists, with helicopters and airplanes, ready to descend and engage in battle in Palace Square.[130] While on trial in 1990, CPEx member Manea Manescu confirmed that the initial plan had been to evacuate the entire CPEx from the CC building.[131]

Sauca is probably correct that Stanculescu realized that if he did not quickly find a way to get rid of the Ceausescus, he too might suffer Milea’s fate.[132] The choice for Stanculescu was simple: “either him [Nicolae] or us!” Stanculescu maintains that because the hallways of the CC building were teeming with well-armed guards and “windows could already be heard shattering at the entrance to the CC,” he took the decision to evacuate the Ceausescus by helicopter in order to avoid a bloodbath or the lynching of the first couple.[133] According to Lieutenant Colonel Ion Pomojnicu, one of the few Army officers in the building at the time, the Securitate inside were indeed “armed to the teeth” with machine guns and piles of ammunition and “determined to face anything.”[134]

Although the former Securitate contest the popular and “revolutionary” dimension of the December events, they routinely take credit for the fact that they did not open fire on demonstrators on the morning of 22 December 1989. For example, “a group of former Securitate officers” ask “a final question of all those ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘dissidents’ who attack the personnel of the former Securitate“: why if the officers of the Fifth Directorate located inside the CC building had 200,000 cartridges at their disposal did they not open fire?[135] General Vlad has gone to great lengths to detail the orders he gave to his subordinates on the morning of 22 December, instructing them not to open fire and to allow the peaceful entrance of demonstrators into the CC building and television station.[136]

Vlad’s statements are drawn into question, however, by the fact that they accompany claims that as early as 17 December 1989 he was disobeying Ceausescu’s orders and instructing his men in Timisoara not to open fire and to stay off the streets, and that on 18 December he issued such an order for the whole country.[137] The transcript of communications among USLA and Militia units does reveal that after 9:40 a.m. frequent references were made to a decision from “central headquarters” that regime forces were to open fire only if demonstrators attempted to penetrate regime buildings, in which case only warning shots were to be fired.[138] Yet the timing of this decision suggests that it was a reaction to the action–or rather, lack of action–of the Army which had allowed demonstrators to overwhelm the city center, and that it was in accordance with the decision taken at the second emergency CPEx meeting.

According to Army Lieutenant Colonel Ion Pomojnicu, the Securitate were fully-prepared to repress, but they were caught off-guard by the rapid development of events precipitated by the defection of the Army from the regime:

Generally-speaking, you know the withdrawal of the Army created great surprise. The moment the Army withdrew, the other forces fragmented and those forces belonging to the Interior Ministry fled. If this momentary disorganization of theirs had not intervened between 11 and 12 a.m. when it happened, it is possible that these Interior Ministry forces would have intervened. This moment of panic and disorientation favored the future evolution of events.[139]

Moreover, the evacuation of the Ceausescus from the CC building left them flat-footed:

…[The Securitate] fled as soon as their mission was finished; their mission was to defend this person, Ceausescu. If he had remained, they would have [opened fire]. I believe that for these people the flight of Ceausescu from the CC building eliminated the object they were supposed to defend in the building and would have defended indefinitely had he stayed….Don’t forget that there were similar forces not only inside the CC building. There were also troops barricaded in the headquarters of the Fifth Directorate and in the [National] Library. They did not come down from the top of the building until the helicopter had taken off….I am convinced that neither at the television station would anybody have penetrated inside if it had not been known that Ceausescu had fled. The flight of Ceausescu was vital to the unfolding of the Romanian Revolution.[140]

Further evidence that the Securitate were left in disarray by Ceausescu’s flight comes from Dr. Sergiu Tanasescu, one of the first people to enter the CC building:

…I must tell you those there were taken completely by surprise. We found half-finished coffees, abandoned cigarettes in the ashtrays….They were ripping off their epaulets, they had on shirts of one color and pants of another, trying to confuse us….At Entrance A there were many Securitate….who took advantage of the fact that they were dressed in civilian clothes and attempted to mix into the crowds….five in civilian clothes opened fire without any warning, even if it is true that they shot over the heads of the crowd…[141]

The Ceausescus on the Run

The situation in Palace Square evolved so quickly that in the end only one helicopter was able to land. Air Force Commander General Rus was forced to cancel the order for the parachutists and called the other helicopters back to base. Here was indeed a case where a slight change in timing might have had huge consequences. Had the demonstrators not made it to the roof of the CC building and set about destroying the landing pad–thus making it inoperable–Stanculescu would probably have boarded one of the other helicopters en route. The Army would have been far less likely to threaten to shoot down any of the helicopters knowing that the acting Defense Minister was aboard one of them.[142] The helicopter carrying the Ceausescus might then have made it to the heavily-fortified Boteni air force base. Had the commanders there obeyed the orders issued in person by the Supreme Commander (Ceausescu) “the situation would have become enormously complex.”[143]

But as things turned out, the protesters reached the roof of the CC building just as the Ceausescus were boarding the first helicopter–indeed, Ceausescu’s bodyguards from the Fifth Directorate had to hold back the demonstrators at gunpoint. Moreover, there were a host of eyewitnesses who distinctly heard Elena shout back to Stanculescu: “Victoras [a diminutive], take care of the children!” According to Brucan, Stanculescu was highly-aware of this fact, and realizing that Ceausescu was clearly finished, “with his characteristic elegance [he] made a sharp U-turn: ‘La stinga imprejur [About-Face]!’.”[144] Brucan suggests that he had complete confidence that from this moment, Stanculescu broke definitively with the Ceausescus and allied with the revolution.[145] Sauca states things more colorfully: “It is clear that from the moment when the helicopter lifted off from the roof of the CC, Victor Stanculescu no longer gave a damn for the lives of the Ceausescus and their clan.”[146]

Initially, it was assumed that the Ceausescus were headed for “an Arab country, presumably Libya, where they could count on their dollar deposit at Swiss banks.”[147] But, as Silviu Brucan writes: “our assumptions were wrong. No, Ceausescu was not a man to accept defeat so readily.”[148] After a short stopover at their Snagov villa–where Nicolae phoned frantically to find a safe haven within the country and where Elena packed four more bags of jewels, bathrobes, and towels to put aboard the already over-laden helicopter–they took off again headed for Tirgoviste (from which Nicolae had received the most encouraging reports). When the pilot of the helicopter, Lieutenant Colonel Vasile Malutan, informed Nicolae and Elena that the helicopter had been spotted on radar and could be shot down at any moment, the Ceausescus decided it was better to land.[149] Ceausescu’s Fifth Directorate bodyguards then flagged down a passing car at gunpoint and the first couple attempted to “hitch” their way to Tirgoviste. Their first lucky driver, doctor Nicolae Deca, has maintained that the Ceausescus “never thought for a moment of fleeing the country.”[150]

After nightfall, the Ceausescus ended up at the Inspectorate of the Militia and Securitate in Tirgoviste. According to Army Major Ion Tecu, in the preceding hours Militia men had held the couple in a nearby forest, apparently trying to decide what to do with them.[151] When they turned up unexpectedly at the Inspectorate, the head of the local Securitate, Colonel Gheorghe Dinu, agreed to turn the couple over to the Army detachment which had arrived to take control of the building. Brucan describes Dinu’s actions in the following quotation:

As was typical of the situation that fateful afternoon, the local Securitate commander could not make up his mind how to proceed. In the meantime, radio and television were signaling to the whole nation that the balance was tilting in favor of the revolution. The security officers started leaving the building, and very soon everybody was gone.[152]

Shortly after 6 p.m., the couple was transported to the Army garrison. Major Tecu states: “From 22 December at 6:20 p.m. until 25 December at 2:45 p.m., when the execution took place, [the Ceausescus] did not leave the perimeter of the barracks.”[153] Meanwhile, speaking from the balcony of the CC building in Bucharest, Ion Iliescu announced to a huge crowd that “the armed forces have been ordered to arrest Ceausescu. We have news that he has been captured near Tirgoviste and when this news is confirmed we will make it public…he will be arrested, and submitted to public justice!”[154] Not long after, the sporadic gunfire which had broken out after nightfall would become more sustained and erupt not only in Bucharest, but throughout the country. Phase two of the Revolution–the “terrorist” phase–had begun.

Conclusion

In two of the Eastern European countries with the most hardline regimes in the fall of 1989–East Germany and Czechoslovakia–the outbreak of unprecedented anti-regime demonstrations instigated and enabled officials within the party hierarchy to remove the hardline party leader (Erich Honnecker and Milos Jakes respectively). Moreover, after poorly-planned attempts by the security services to crush these demonstrations backfired and in fact catalyzed anti-regime sentiment, these institutions largely withdrew to the sidelines. The withdrawal of the state institutions of law and order from the aggressive defense of the party leadership and the communist regime allowed first for the removal of the hardline leadership and then for the collapse of the communist regime.

Anti-regime protest in Romania highlighted the basic differences in the institutional character of the Romanian regime even when compared to two such hardline regimes. Anti-regime protest in Romania could not precipitate Ceausescu’s removal from the position of general secretary by other party officials because the Romanian communist party had long since lost its corporate character. Instead, as we have seen, CPEx members obediently supported Ceausescu’s decision to suppress the Timisoara demonstrations. Moreover, the state security apparatus and the military participated in the aggressive and bloody defense of the regime in Timisoara. Significantly, even when given the perfect opportunity provided by Ceausescu’s two-day absence during his trip to Iran, senior party officials did not act to remove him as general secretary and neither the Securitate nor the Army launched a coup d’etat to end his rule.

The Romanian case supplies confirmation for the arguments of Theda Skocpol and Charles Tilly that it is the action or inaction of the state which plays a critical, catalytic, and often unintended role in making revolution possible.[155] The heavy-handed, absurd speeches of party activists dispatched to the Timisoara factories, the tactical withdrawal of Army troops to barracks in Timisoara, Ceausescu’s rambling televised tirade on the evening of 20 December, and his tremendously misguided idea of convoking a pro-regime rally on 21 December and then assuring live transmission of this event to the entire nation, all emboldened the population and made fundamental contributions to the eventual collapse of the regime.

Finally, contrary to most accounts, the Ceausescu regime appears to have fallen on 22 December 1989 not as the result of some conspiracy or Securitate magnanimity, but as the result of a sudden expansion of protest and the reasonably spontaneous decisions of mid-level field commanders who took the initiative when confronted with events which were fast out-pacing them. This forced the Army high command to first allow the protesters to pass unhindered to the city center and then for the Army to retreat to barracks. The Army’s slippery-slope towards defection put the Securitate in an unenviable and somewhat unanticipated (if not wholly unprepared for) position. The evidence seems to suggest that the Securitate was simply overtaken by events, by the protesters and by the Army’s behavior. The Romanian events thus confirm the importance accorded by D.E.H. Russell to the centrality of the Army’s defection in making revolution possible.[156]


Endnotes


[1].. Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta, “Iran Embarrassed by Ceausescu Visit,” The Washington Post, 17 January 1990, E17.

[2].. Martyn Rady, Romania in Turmoil: A Contemporary History (New York: IB Tauris & Co Ltd., 1992), 94. For Manescu’s link to the Ceausescu family, see ibid., 52-53.

[3].. Indeed, the abortive military coup d’etat attempt planned for October 1984 while the Ceausescus were on a state visit to West Germany had been inspired by memories of the March 1977 experience. See Silviu Brucan, The Wasted Generation: Memories of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), 131-134.

[4].. Cornel Ivanciuc, “Raporturile dintre Frontul Salvarii Nationale si KGB,” 22, no. 21 (24-30 May 1995), 11.

[5].. See Mircea Bunea, Praf in Ochi. Procesul Celor 24-1-2. (Bucharest: Editura Scripta, 1994), 34.

[6].. Belgrade Domestic Service, 1400 GMT 20 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-243, 20 December 1989.

[7].. Agence France Presse, 19 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-242, 19 December 1989.

[8].. Filip Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat: Timisoara decembrie 1989 (Bucharest: Editura Viitorul Romanesc, 1992), 92.

[9].. Un grup de ofiteri din garnizoana Timisoara, “FRICA DE PROPRIUL POPOR… [Fear of your own people]” Romania Libera, 15 October 1991, 2a.

[10].. Belgrade TANJUG, 2137 GMT 20 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-244, 21 December 1989, 80. Disinformation is frequently thought of as synonymous with the “big lie,” but indeed the most effective disinformation always contains a kernel of truth. Frequently, real facts are merely presented out of context. It is also intriguing to note the almost Freudian mirror-imaging quality of this disinformation–a characteristic common to totalitarian regimes. This is especially the case when it comes to the accusations of foreign powers being engaged in “terrorist actions”–an eerily accurate description of the Ceausescu regime’s own actions.

[11].. On this bizarre and slightly comical incident see “FRICA DE PROPRIUL POPOR” and Ilie Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii. (Bucharest: Editura Colaj, 1993), 17-18. In spite of Teodorescu’s steadfast allegations regarding the role played by foreign agents, he admits that those he arrested were DIA officers (Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 96). The circumstances surrounding this incident remain unclear; however, it may be an indication of the inter-institutional rivalry which permeated much of the December events.

[12].. Liviu Stefanut, interview by Dan Preisz, “Teroristii Timisoarei,” Romania Libera, 21 April 1994, 6. Although Securitate Colonel Teodorescu vehemently denies this allegation, his description of what went on during these days at the county hospital only serves to heighten such suspicion (Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 87-89). Hospital staff maintain that the Securitate conducted brutal interrogations and that no medical staff were present, see the comments of Curpas Florica in Titus Suciu, Reportaj cu Sufletul la Gura [Reporting with Your Soul in Your Throat] (Timisoara: Editura Facla, 1990), 145.

[13].. The incident is detailed in the military prosecutor’s charges against the Securitate and Militia officers arrested for their involvement in the Timisoara repression, see Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 279-300.

[14].. Quoted in Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 97.

[15].. Budapest Domestic Service, 2115 GMT 20 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-244, 21 December 1989.

[16].. Adelina Elena, “Martor ocular. Fata in Fata,” Orizont, 6 January 1990, 5.

[17].. Ibid.

[18].. Ibid.

[19].. Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 96.

[20].. Ibid.; Nestor Rates, Romania: The Entangled Revolution (New York: Praeger, 1991), 33-34.

[21].. Major Viorel Oancea, interview by Tudorel Urian, “Frica, din nou pe strazi [Fear on the streets once again],” Cuvintul, no. 4 (14 February 1990), 5, 11.

[22].. Other factors have also been suggested as having hastened the withdrawal: such as the threat of the strike committee at the “Solvent” petrochemical works to blow up the plant if the Army did not withdraw immediately. See Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 96-97.

[23].. General Victor Atanasie Stanculescu, interview by Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, no. 8-9 (29 March 1990), 9.

[24].. Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 97.

[25].. Ibid.

[26].. Ibid., 97-98.

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

[28].. Radu Ciobotea, “Incredibil. La Timisoara–Militia inarma revolutionarii [Incredible. In Timisoara–the Militia was arming the revolutionaries],” Flacara, no. 33 (14 August 1991), 4-5.

[29].. He claims that on the afternoon of 20 December he was appointed “commander of the FDR’s revolutionary guards;” that the Militia sent a letter of recognition to the FDR; and that on 22 December the Militia supplied the revolutionaries with machine-guns and walkie-talkies.

[30].. Ibid.

[31].. R.M., “Dezvaluiri [Revelations],” Romania Libera, 19 January 1993, 1. Radulescu died in 1994.

[32].. Ibid. Presumably that foreign power would have been the Soviet Union.

[33].. Nicolae was probably improvising. A tape of the rally broadcast on a Bucharest FM radio station in December 1993 recorded Elena yelling at her husband: “Promise them something! Promise them anything!”

[34].. Rates, Romania: The Entangled Revolution, 39; Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 100.

[35].. See the series “Intercontinental 21/22″ in Romania Libera, especially for 31 March 1990, 1 April 1990, 2 April 1990, 5 April 1990, and 6 April 1990. There is no reason to believe that those Bacanu presented did not actually shout down Ceausescu at the rally. The issue is the context in which Bacanu chose to present their actions.

[36].. Leon’s notoriety also apparently stemmed from his exposure in a well-known documentary series entitled “Noaptea Generalilor” [The Night of the Generals] which appeared on Romanian television during 1990. This television series was also produced by Petre Mihai Bacanu.

[37].. Ratesh, Romania: The Entangled Revolution, 39.

[38].. Nicola Leon, “You took away our rights and gave us lice and fear,” The Globe and Mail, 20 December 1989, A7. In spite of the slight difference in name, Nica Leon has claimed that this is his letter and there seems little reason to doubt that this is the case. Nicola Leon is described as a “34-year old mechanical engineer living in Bucharest,” details which generally fit with Nica Leon’s background. It is unclear when this open letter arrived at the newspaper.

[39].. See, for example, his comments in Sorin Rosca Stanescu, “Mai putine flori, mai multi participanti,” Romania Libera, 24 April 1990, 3.

[40].. Nica Leon, interview by editorial board, “Nica Leon in razboi cu toata lumea,” Flacara, no. 34 (26 August 1992), 4-5.

[41].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89, 23.

[42].. Nica Leon, interview by Angela Bacescu, Europa, March-April 1994, 2, 3. Bacescu introduced Leon as president of the Liberal Democratic Party and member of Amnesty International (!). Among the many dubious claims in this interview is the allegation that Elena Ceausescu had been plotting a coup d’etat against her husband set for 30 December 1989.

[43].. See, for example, Nica Leon, interview by Liviu Valenas and Daniela Rainov, “Lovitura de palat din Romania [The Palace Coup in Romania],” Baricada, no. 36 (18 September 1990), 3.

[44].. Rasvan Popescu, “Moda lui Jos,” Expres, no. 13 (27 April-3 May 1990), 2. For the significance of his denial of the existence of the “terrorists” see chapters seven and eight.

[45].. Leon, interview, “Lovitura de Palat.”

[46].. Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 5 April 1990, 3.

[47].. Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 6 April 1990.

[48].. Ibid.

[49].. Leon proudly admits to this in Leon, interview, “Lovitura de palat.”

[50].. See the six-part series by Maiorul A.D. (apparently Major Aurel David, who was one of four Fifth Directorate officers tried and acquitted in March 1990) entitled “Scenariile si Realitatea. Marturie la dosarul ‘Teroristi’,” which appeared between January and March 1991 in Timpul. It is significant to note that when this series appeared Nica Leon was still a welcome member of the opposition.

[51].. Maiorul A.D., “Scenariile si Realitatea (VI),” Timpul, 1 March 1991, 11.

[52].. Bacescu, Din Nou in Calea, 161. USLA officer Romulus Garz refers to “officer David (one of four officers from Ceausescu’s guard)” and to the presence of Nica Leon among the prisoners he was held together with. Garz was arrested after the famous incident in front of the Defense Ministry on the night of 23/24 December–discussed in chapter seven.

[53].. See the interview with Nica Leon in Democratia, no. 4 (12 February 1990).

[54].. See Expres, 9 March 1990, 8.

[55].. Valenas and Rainov did raise this issue with Leon in Leon, “Lovitura de palat.” However, they refused to challenge his answers and almost appeared to embrace them. While Leon was still aligned with the opposition, the regime-supportive press alleged that he had been a Securitate informer code-name “Nelutu.” The allegation appeared in the Ceausist Romania Mare, and the daily Azi, closely-linked to then Prime Minister Petre Roman, see Expres Magazin, no. 32 (13-20 August 1991), 2. Nica Leon himself–almost proudly–lists all the allegations launched against him (including that he was related to the Ceausescus) in Leon, “Nica Leon in razboi cu toata lumea,” Flacara, no. 34 (26 August 1992), 4. He avoids commenting on their validity, however.

[56].. Raportul Comisei Senatoriale pentru cercetarea evenimentelor din decembrie 1989, “Cine a tras in noi, in 16-22?” Romania Libera, 27 May 1992, 5.

[57].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii, 23. It was only after this, Stoian maintains, that Nica Leon delivered his famous shout.

[58].. Tudorel Urian, “Cabala Teroristilor,” Cuvintul, no. 20 (13 June 1990), 4.

[59].. The suspects are legion: The dubious Nica Leon claims that a 60-year old man named Andrei Ilie, “who kissed Iliescu when he arrived at the CC [building on 22 December],” threw the petarde (Leon, interview, “Nica Leon in razboi.”). Opposition journalist A. Corneliu Giagim writes that the “author” of the petarde was Matei Ilie who had assembled it out of an aerosol can (A. Corneliu Giagim, “16-22, Cine-a tras in noi?!” Baricada, no. 49-50 (18 December 1990), 6.). In early 1990, Petre Mihai Bacanu confidentially stated that a young man named Adrian Constantin had thrown the petarde (Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 31 March 1990, 1.). Whereas Bacanu had been able to interview Nica Leon and the young aviation mechanics who had started the chants against Ceausescu, he had been unable to track down Constantin to speak with him. Dan Iosif, the Front official who accused Leon of being a “terrorist,” has also been proposed as the source of the petarde (Expres Magazin, no. 30 (20-26 February 1991), 8.). There are likely others who have been credited with this act.

[60].. C. Maltese Martine Ui (possibly a pseudonym), “De la ‘Jos Ceausescu!’ am ajuns la ‘Jos Romania!’ Dubla Lovitura impotriva Romaniei” Democratia, no. 48 (December 1990), 3.

[61].. A Group of Former Securitate Officers, “Asa va place revolutia! Asa a fost!” Democratia, no. 36 (24-30 September 1990), 4. Also, see a translation of this article in FBIS-EEU-90-207, 25 October 1990, 50-53.

[62].. “S.V., reserve USLA officer” (perhaps Strat Vintila, based on other accounts), in Pavel Corut, Floarea de Argint (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), 171. In fact, the description of these men as wearing knee-length woolen coats and hats makes them sound suspiciously like the Securitate and the USLA themselves, as we shall see later.

[63].. “Fapte care trimit la o actiune premeditata a unor ‘actori’ din afara (II),” Curierul National, 10 July 1994, 2.

[64].. Ibid. Former deputy prime minister and senator, Gelu Voican Voiculescu, makes similar allegations. He claims that the explosion was caused by a “handcrafted petarde” (”o petarda artizanala”) made from an aerosol can. He too suggests that the panic was intensified by the “perhaps purposeful” malfunction of the loudspeaker system and the emission of a terrifying sound which resembled the “rumbling of tanks.” Voiculescu adds that “it is also possible…that there was a type of ‘acoustic bomb.’” Gelu Voican Voiculescu, interview by Neti Luchian and Val. Voiculescu, “‘Haosul nostru i-a paralizat (I),” Libertatea, 16 July 1991.

[65].. Cornel Nistorescu, “Complot sau conspiratie cu pretentii la putere? [Plot or conspiracy with pretensions to power]” Cuvintul, no. 20 (13 June 1990), 5.

[66].. Ecaterin Radoi, “Remember 15 decembrie 1989 – 20 mai 1990,” Zig-Zag, no. 190 (23-31 December 1993), 4-7.

[67].. Sofia Domestic Service, 1400 GMT 21 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-244, 21 December 1989, 71.

[68].. Belgrade TANJUG Domestic Service, 1359 GMT 21 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-245, 22 December 1989, 77.

[69].. Belgrade Domestic Service, 1410 GMT 21 December 1989, in FBIS-EEU-89-244, 21 December 1989, 70-71.

[70].. Ibid.

[71].. See accounts in Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 15 March 1990; 5 April 1990; 19 April 1990.

[72].. See the comments of Marcel Constantinescu in Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 15 March 1990, 3.

[73].. Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 104.

[74].. Emil Munteanu, “Postelnicu a vorbit neintrebat [Postelnicu spoke without being asked to],” Romania Libera, 30 January 1990, 3.

[75].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii, 22. Stoian’s “spin” on this event, however, is that people were not allowed to enter the square because “something was being awaited,” thus insinuating that the disruption of the rally was organized in advance.

[76].. See the comments of Nistor Ruxandoiu in Gheorghe Ionita, “Culcati-i la pamint!” Adevarul de Duminica, 14 January 1990, 2.

[77].. Published in Libertatea between 27 January and 15 February 1990 under the heading “Dintre sute de…catarge! Revolutia ascultata prin statie [From…hundreds of “masts” (radio identification for USLA officers conducting surveillance) Scanning the Revolution].” Such recordings could have come from only one source: the former Securitate. Interestingly, with the exception of one episode (3 February 1990), all of these communications come from the afternoon of 21 December or morning of 22 December. There are no communications for the USLA from 3:30 p.m. 21 December until 8 a.m. 22 December–the period during which regime forces opened fire on the demonstrators.

[78].. “Dintre sute de catarge,” 27 January 1990; 29 January 1990.

[79].. “Dintre sute de catarge,” 30 January 1990, 2. An anonymous editor defines the meaning of “gela” as “petarde” at the close of this episode. Stefanescu confirms the use of “petardes” in his statement that the USLA commander, Colonel Gheorghe Ardeleanu, was seen at the Central Committee building shouting to a subordinate “Give me ‘Gela’…Give me ‘Gela’.” According to Stefanescu, ‘Gela’ was the name of a “petarde” used by the USLA in the repression of demonstrators. Paul Stefanescu, Istoria Serviciilor Secrete Romanesti (Bucharest: Editura Divers Press, 1994), 287.

[80].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii, 21.

[81].. Raportul Comisiei Senatoriale, “Cine a tras in noi, in 16-22?”

[82].. There were substantial numbers of dead and wounded in many other cities between the afternoon of 21 December and the morning of 22 December: especially in Cluj, Sibiu, Tirgu-Mures, and Cugir. For example, most of the 26 people killed and 105 injured in Cluj during the events were shot during this period.

[83].. It also followed on the heels of series by the editors of Tineretul Liber (Horia Alexandrescu) and Libertatea (Octavian Andronic) which had exonerated the USLA of wrongdoing in December.

[84].. Bacanu, “Intercontinental 21/22,” 15 March 1990, 1, 3.

[85].. Idem, 16 March 1990, 3.

[86].. Idem, 17 March 1990, 1.

[87].. Ibid., 2.

[88].. Idem, 24 March 1990, 1. Bacanu’s interviewees responded by describing the “flower” episode yet again.

[89].. Idem, 24 April 1990, 1, 3. For an equally dubious revision of the USLA’s role in the December events see Horia Alexandrescu, “Adevarul despre USLA [The truth about the USLA],” Tineretul Liber, 4-15 March 1990. In episode three (7 March 1990, “Flori pentru ‘uslasi’ [Flowers for the USLA troops”) demonstrators shout at the USLA troops “and you also are dying of hunger!” and place flowers in the epaulets and helmets of the USLA troops. The USLA unit merely attempted to prevent “elements who had escaped the control of the revolutionaries” from approaching the American embassy and had allowed demonstrators to paint anti-Ceausescu slogans on nearby walls. According to Alexandrescu, the USLA had been withdrawn in their entirety from the zone at 9:30 p.m., thus before gunfire was opened.

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[90].. Emilian David, “Dreptate si adevar pentru ziua intii [Justice and truth on the first day],” Libertatea, 12 January 1990, 1, 2. At least eight people were killed at Roman Square. As if to almost confirm Emilian David’s allegations, three days later, the USLA commander during the events, Colonel Gheorghe Ardeleanu, responded in Libertatea with a public denial of David’s description. See Colonel Gheorghe Ardeleanu, “Precizari,” Libertatea, 15 January 1990, 3.

[91].. Paul Vinicius, “Remember 21-23 decembrie ‘89: Revolutia minut cu minut,” Flacara, no. 51 (19 December 1990), 7.

[92].. See Bunea, Praf in Ochi, 87.

[93].. Ibid., 88.

[94].. Ibid. The witness himself was injured as a result of this gunfire and later transported to the hospital.

[95].. See “Dintre sute de catarge,” Libertatea, 27/29/30/31 January 1990.

[96].. “Dintre sute de catarge,” 31 January 1990, 2.

[97].. “Dintre sute de catarge,” 29 January 1990, 2.

[98].. Petre Mihai Bacanu, “Au evacuat ‘materialele.’ Stropite cu sange [The got rid of “the materials” Covered with blood],” Romania Libera, 28 December 1993, 10. The reference to these civilian gunmen dressed in “sheepskin coats” (cojoace) brings back into discussion one of the articles from Horia Alexandrescu’s March 1990 series (”Adevarul despre USLA” [The truth about the USLA]) in Tineretul Liber exonerating the USLA of any wrongdoing for their actions in December. The title of the 6 March 1990 article–”‘Ace’ pentru ‘cojoacele’ teroristilor,” [‘Pins’ for the ‘sheepskin coats’ of the terrorists]–appears to bear no connection whatsoever to the article, which has no mention of “sheepskin coats” and does not even refer to the role of the USLA in University Square (events discussed in a later episode). Yet this clue and a number of others–including Alexandrescu’s introduction of this article as a “calmant,” an apparent reference to the treatment given to the drugged USLA after the events–suggest that in spite of the fact that the text of the article clears the USLA, Alexandrescu is fully conscious of the USLA’s guilt.

[99].. “Seful represiunii: maiorul Amariucai” in Bacanu, “Au evacuat ‘materialele’.”

[100].. Colonel Gh. Vaduva et. al., “Nici o pata sa nu planeze pe onoarea Armatei! [Not a stain can be placed on the Army’s honor]” Armata Poporului, no. 3 (17 January 1990), 1-2.

[101].. Ibid.

[102].. Ibid.

[103].. Captain Mihai Margineanu, “Un ‘inger’ cu aripile murdare [An ‘angel’ with dirty wings],” Armata Poporului, no. 15 (11 April 1990), 5. The witness, Lieutenant Colonel Teodor Amariucai, appears to bear his own share of the guilt for the bloodshed on the night of 21/22 December.

[104].. Stefanescu, Istoria Serviciilor Secrete, 288. The former Securitate once again appear to transfer their actions onto others in their discussion of the events in University Square. According to “a group of former Securitate officers,” the “tourists” took advantage “of the sound of shots fired in the air and resorted as in Timisoara to shooting the demonstrators in the back to produce victims to ‘mobilize’ Bucharest’s citizens.” See A Group of Former Securitate Officers, “Asa va place revolutia!”

[105].. Vasile Neagoe, “Noaptea cea mai lunga [The longest night],” Expres, no. 14-15 (May 1990), 15.

[106].. Alexandru Sauca, K.G.B.-ul si Revolutia Romana (Bucharest: Editura Miracol, 1994), 80.

[107].. See, for example, Vladimir Tismaneanu, “The Quasi-Revolution and Its Discontents: Emerging Political Pluralism in Post-Ceausescu Romania,” East European Politics and Societies 7, no. 2 (Spring 1993): 328 (fn. 31 especially). According to Tismaneanu: “So far, however, the only certain elements are that the Securitate and the army switched allegiances and abandoned Ceausescu during the early hours of December 22, 1989…”

[108].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii, 28.

[109].. See, for example, Tismaneanu, “The Quasi-Revolution”: 328 (fn. 31): “…generals Stanculescu, Guse, and Vlad acted like traditional praetorian guard chieftains in that they abandoned the losing tyrant and played a crucial role in the selection of his successor (the palace coup).”

[110].. Liviu Valenas, “Lovitura de palat din Romania,” Baricada, no. 26 (10 July 1990), 3.

[111].. Ibid.

[112].. Stoian, Decembrie ‘89: Arta Diversiunii, 24. Indeed, according to Stoian, Defense Minister Milea was the supreme commander of the repressive forces on this night. In December 1993, on the fourth anniversary of these events, the opposition daily edited by Horia Alexandrescu, Cronica Romana, reiterated the claim that Vlad distanced himself from the team supervising the repression (Cronica Romana, 21 December 1993, 3.).

[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.

[115].. Captain Alexandru Barbu, interview by Horia Alexandrescu, “O curiozitate: te impusti in inima, asezi pistolul pe masa, apoi te intinzi pe canapea!” Tineretul Liber, 2 June 1990, 1-2.

[116].. Liviu Valenas, “Dosarele secrete ale neocomunismului din Romania [The secret files of Romanian neo-communism],” Romanul Liber XI, no. 8-9 (August-September 1995), 32. This appears to have originally been published in the opposition daily Evenimentul Zilei.

[117].. See FBIS-EEU-89-248, 28 December 1989, 63.

[118].. Bunea, Praf in Ochi, 53, 56.

[119].. Rady, Romania in Turmoil, 103. Indeed, information elsewhere suggests that before 10 a.m. demonstrators had taken control of local government in Alba Iulia, Arad, and other important towns in Transylvania.

[120].. See the comments of Lieutenant Colonel Rafaelescu Alexandru in Ion D. Goia, “Chiar daca fugea, Ceausescu nu scapa! [Even if he was fleeing, Ceausescu was not escaping!],” Flacara, no. 5 (6-12 February 1991), 8-9.

[121].. Lieutenant Colonel Ion Cotirlea and Lieutenant Colonel Rafaelescu Alexandru in ibid.

[122].. Even Brucan is unsure. See Brucan, The Wasted Generation, 2.

[123].. See the comments of Army Major Engineer Tufan as recounted by Lieutenant Colonel Alexandru Andrei in Goia, “Chiar daca fugea,” 9.

[124].. See Bunea, Praf in Ochi, 53-56.

[125].. Ibid.

[126].. Stanculescu, interview by Ioan Buduca, 9.

[127].. Ibid. Hence, his satirical nickname in the Romanian media: “Ghipsulescu,” from the Romanian word “ghips” which means “cast.”

[128].. See the comments of Lieutenant Colonel Alexandru Andrei in Goia, “Chiar daca fugea,” 9.

[129].. Ibid. See also Stanculescu, interview by Ioan Buduca, 9. According to the First Senatorial Commission report on the events, at 10:45 a.m. he instructed all units in Bucharest and on the road to Bucharest to return to barracks, and at 12:15 a.m. the order was transmitted for all units throughout the country to return to barracks (see “Cine a tras in noi, in 16-22?” Romania Libera, 27 May 1992, 5).

[130].. Brucan, The Wasted Generation, 2-3. Interestingly, Brucan comments: “[Rus’] statement was recorded in early January 1990 when his memory of events was still fresh and before political conditions began to engender the inhibitions that later would prevent generals from making such forthright statements….”

[131].. Ibid., 3.

[132].. Sauca, KGB-ul si Revolutia, 80-82.

[133].. Stanculescu, interview by Ioan Buduca, 9.

[134].. See Goia, “Chiar daca fugea,” 9.

[135].. A Group of Former Securitate Officers, “Asa va place revolutia?”

[136].. Iulian Vlad, “Ce mai aveti de spus?,” Adevarul, 19 January 1991, 5a.

[137].. Ibid.

[138].. “Dintre sute de catarge,” Libertatea, 3-14 February 1990.

[139].. Ion D. Goia, “Chiar daca fugea,” 9.

[140].. Ibid.

[141].. Dr. Sergiu Tanasescu, interview by Ion K. Ion, “Dinca si Postelnicu au fost prinsi de pantera roz! [Dinca and Postelnicu were caught red-handed!],” Cuvintul, no. 7 (14 March 1990), 15.

[142].. Sauca suggests this idea in Sauca, KGB-ul si Revolutia, 82.

[143].. Ibid.

[144].. Silviu Brucan, Generatia Irosita (Bucharest: Editura Univers & Calistrat Hogas, 1992), 16. This discussion does not appear in the English version of his memoirs, The Wasted Generation.

[145].. Ibid., 16, 220-221.

[146].. Sauca, KGB-ul si Revolutia, 82.

[147].. Silviu Brucan, The Wasted Generation, 2.

[148].. Ibid.

[149].. Ibid., 4.

[150].. Nicolae Deca, interview by Petre Mihai Bacanu, “Ceausescu nu s-a gindit sa fuga din tara,” Romania Libera, 23 December 1993, 15.

[151].. See Tecu’s comments in Ion D. Goia and Petre Barbu, “Ceausestii la Tirgoviste,” Flacara, no. 51 (19 December 1990), 9-10.

[152].. Brucan, The Wasted Generation, 5. Tecu confirms that between 2 and 5 p.m., the Securitate and Militia personnel began evacuating the Inspectorate building in Goia and Barbu, “Ceausestii la Tirgoviste,” 10.

[153].. Goia and Barbu, “Ceausestii la Tirgoviste,” 10.

[154].. Revolutia Romana in Direct (Bucharest, 1990), 85.

[155].. Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Charles Tilly, From Mobilization to Revolution (New York: Random House, 1978).

[156].. D.E.H. Russell, Rebellion, Revolution, and Armed Force (New York: Academic, 1974).

5 Responses to “Rewriting the Revolution (1997): Chapter 6 18-22 December 1989”

  1. mariusmioc said

    December 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm eAt the Revolution forum I’ve opened a discussion regarding this article: http://piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1062

  2. romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 said

    January 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm eIn legatura cu “Dintre sute de catarge! Revolutia ascultata prin statie,” Libertatea, 27 ianuarie 1990 – 15 februarie 1990, citeva extrase au fost publicate de catre Romulus Cristea in Romania Libera pe data de 28 martie 2006, deci o confirmare in plus.

    [77].. Published in Libertatea between 27 January and 15 February 1990 under the heading “Dintre sute de…catarge! Revolutia ascultata prin statie [From…hundreds of “masts” (radio identification for USLA officers conducting surveillance) Scanning the Revolution].” Such recordings could have come from only one source: the former Securitate. Interestingly, with the exception of one episode (3 February 1990), all of these communications come from the afternoon of 21 December or morning of 22 December. There are no communications for the USLA from 3:30 p.m. 21 December until 8 a.m. 22 December–the period during which regime forces opened fire on the demonstrators.

    http://www.romanialibera.ro/a71726/huliganii-astia-trebuie-anihilati.html

    Arhiva: Dovada crimelor din decembrie ‘89
    “Huliganii astia trebuie anihilati”
    Dezvaluiri – “Huliganii astia trebuie anihilati”
    Romulus Cristea
    Marti, 28 Martie 2006
    Toate convorbirile din perioada 21-22 decembrie 1989 purtate de sefii Securitatii, Militiei, Armatei si conducerii de partid prin intermediul statiilor de transmisiuni radio au fost inregistrate pe banda audio si transcrise pe foile de interceptare-goniometrare. Ziarul “Romania libera” a intrat in posesia acestor documente, fragmentele cele mai relevante urmand sa fie publicate incepand cu acest numar. De asemenea, suntem si in posesia unor liste de coduri folosite in cadrul acestor transmisiuni radio.

    Interceptarile si transcrierile
    pe foile de goniometrare au fost efectuate de radiotelegrafisti si alti angajati de la Centrul de Control al Radiocomunicatiilor din Strada Oltenitei nr. 103, Bucuresti. Inregistrarile au fost facute din propria initiativa a unor salariati, care si-au asumat riscurile de rigoare, in acea perioada fiind interzisa ascultarea frecventelor alocate organelor de Militie si Securitate.
    Comunicarea pe unde radio se realiza utilizand anumite coduri si indicative. Toate inregistrarile contin dovezi clare privind ordinele date de cei care conduceau Militia, Securitatea, Ministerul Apararii si PCR prin care se solicita reprimarea manifestatiei anticomuniste si anticeausiste. Inca din primele momente ale revoltei, cei care conduceau tara, serviciile de informatii si fortele de ordine au dat ordine de reprimare a manifestantilor. Cu toate ca periodic erau raportate catre sefi numeroase victime, morti, raniti, arestati ilegal, s-a considerat ca trebuie continuata represiunea pentru asigurarea ordinii, in spiritul cuvantarii lui Ceausescu, care ceruse “o riposta hotarata” impotriva celor care contestau “maretele realizari pentru faurirea societatii socialiste multilateral dezvoltate”.

    Militienii imbracati in civil faceau agitatie

    In ziua de 21 decembrie 1989, incepand cu ora 11, in piata din fata CC-PCR (actuala cladire a Ministerului Administratiei si Internelor din Piata Revolutiei) se desfasura un miting organizat de Comitetul Municipal de Partid, cu participarea cuplului Elena si Nicolae Ceausescu. Totul a luat o intorsatura neasteptata. Manifestatia de condamnare a “huliganilor” de la Timisoara s-a transformat intr-o revolta impotriva lui Ceausescu si a regimului comunist.
    Va prezentam in cele ce urmeaza fragmente din interceptarile realizate in acea zi, incepand cu ora 11.
    Intre orele 11-11.50 – Inspectoratul Militiei Bucuresti.
    – Tovarasul Brinzei, va rog luati dvs. masuri, ca sa fie asa, organizatorice, si tot efectivul care nu este bagat in misiune si se gaseste in Universitate sa fie imbracati civil si in frunte cu dvs. Va deplasati urgent in separatiune 1 (dispozitiv – n.n.), dar in 5 momente imi comunicati prin acest sistem cati sunt nominal. Tabel nominal cu dansii.
    – 2056 (Am inteles! – n.n.)
    – Indiferent de la ce formatiune este, circa, cercetari, penale, judiciar etc.
    – Multi sunt imbracati in uniforma. Se schimba in civil?
    – Pai, care au sa se schimbe in civil, care nu, intr-o jumatate de ora sa se schimbe si deplasarea urgent la separatiune 1 si raman acolo pana primiti ordin de la mine.
    – 2056.
    Ora 11.55 – Consiliul Popular al Municipiului Bucuresti
    – Bucur 9 sunt Bucur 1 (secretar al Comitetului Municipal de Partid – n.n.). Am primit ordin sa incepeti agitatia in piata.

    “O forta mai dura un pic” impotriva demonstrantilor

    Trebuie sa mentionam ca militienii imbracati in civil si care trebuiau “sa faca agitatie” erau trimisi pentru tinerea sub supraveghere a masei de oameni din fata CC-PCR, contribuind in acelasi timp la bunul mers al evenimentelor, prin aplauze sustinute si lozinci in favoarea lui Ceausescu. La mitingul lui Ceausescu erau adunati 105 mii de muncitori de la principalele uzine bucurestene. Insa in fata Hotelului Bucuresti, pe Calea Victoriei a aparut, chiar in timp ce vorbea Ceausescu, un grup de protestatari care scandau lozinci anticeausiste. In zona CC-ului s-a auzit apoi un vuiet peste care s-au suprapus alte zgomote, ca de explozii, venite dinspre Ateneu si – se pare – Biserica Kretzulescu. S-a produs panica, lumea a devenit agitata.
    La acel moment, au fost interceptate urmatoarele convorbiri:
    Ora 12.10
    – 146, 475. Introdu civilii Oprea, fa agitatie. Mai, terminati cu joaca la statie, ca va ia dracu’. (Se aude o voce care scandeaza “Ceausescu PCR”).
    – Mai, nu mai strigati in statie.
    Ora 12.30 – USLA
    – Tridentul, si pe Calea Victoriei, la Gioconda (un magazin de confectii – n.n.), iarasi este un grup care scandeaza lozinci.
    – Tridentul, Catargul, sunt Catargul 5, la “Muzica”, aici in fata a izbucnit scandal. Pe Victoriei, spre posta. Scandeaza lozinci, dar nu intervine nimeni. Militia se uita doar la ei.
    – Sunt Catargul 5. Au fost imprastiati pe Victoriei, spre Casa Centrala a Armatei.
    De la Inspectoratul Militiei Bucuresti intervine cineva care comunica:
    – Vezi ce poti. Pe care poti sa-i temporizezi, ca nu sunt multi. Trebuie o forta mai dura un pic.
    – Toate fortele sa intervina sa-i imprastie!
    Interesant este ca in zona Hotelului Bucuresti, chiar inainte de spargerea mitingului de la CC-PCR, persoane imbracate in costume de culoare kaki, cu cizme si fara insemne militare, au coborat dintr-un autocar si au luat la bataie, cu batele din dotare, persoanele aflate in zona, dupa care au aruncat cateva petarde si grenade lacrimogene. S-au facut primele retineri. Se banuieste ca exploziile auzite dinspre Ateneu si Biserica Kretzulescu ar fi fost ecoul acestor actiuni de la Hotelul Bucuresti.

    USLA, deranjata de “huligani”

    Orele 12.30-14; USLA:
    – In zona Catargului 2 este liniste.
    – La fel in zona Catargului 1 (dispozitiv USLA – n.n.)
    – Sunt Catargul 3. Au mai ramas la “Gioconda” in fata. Vad ca s-au potolit.
    Intervine un ofiter de la Inspectoratul Securitatii Municipiului Bucuresti:
    – Mai, transmite la mine. Doua unitati de la Popa sa mearga la Calea Victoriei si doua sa vina la Onesti (actuala str. Dem I. Dobrescu). Imediat!
    – Am trimis forte.
    – Aici s-au concentrat, la Sala Dalles, colt cu Batistei.
    – 2056.
    In acelasi interval de timp (12-14), discutie intre “Tridentul” si “Catargul” de la USLA:
    – Da, receptionez, sunt Catargul. Tridentul, confirma, te rog.
    – Te retragi? Sunt forte de ordine care trebuie sa actioneze.
    – Te retragi si supraveghezi.
    – Supraveghezi si ma tineti la curent.
    – Huliganii astia trebuie anihilati in primul rand. Nu sunt hotarati astia. Ar trebui sa-i ia repede. Restul sunt sovaitori.
    – La Catargul 3, in fata Hotelului Bucuresti se scandeaza.
    – Da, s-au luat masuri.
    Zona Hotelului Bucuresti, pe Calea Victoriei, a fost locul unde a existat un prim grup de demonstranti care au inceput sa strige impotriva regimului ceausisto-comunist chiar cand se desfasura mitingul din fata CC-PCR.
    Aici au fost primele persoane retinute si batute de fortele de ordine. Conform cercetarilor efectuate de procurorii militari, in zona respectiva a activat si un grup de persoane venite de la Timisoara. La un moment dat acestia, sustinuti de cativa bucuresteni, au reusit sa treaca prin barajul format de fortele de ordine si sa se indrepte apoi spre Piata Palatului. Incidentul a fost consemnat si in Raportul Comisiei Parlamentare de ancheta privind evenimentele din decembrie 1989.

  3. romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 said

    January 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm eLe-am gasit…

    “Dintre…sute de catarge! Revolutia ascultata prin statie,” Libertatea, 27 ianuarie 1990, p.2″

    INCEPIND DIN 21 DECEMBRIE 1989, ORA 11.00

    Intre 11,00-12,00 I.M.B.
    –Tovarasul BRINZEI, va rog luati dv. acolo masuri, ca sa zic asa, organizatorice si tot efectivul care nu este bagat in misiune se se gaseste in unitate sa fie imediat imbracat “civil” si in frunte cu dv. va deplasati ugrent la Separatiune 1, dar in 5 momente imi comunicati prin acest sistem citi sint, normal. Tabel nominal cu dinsii.
    –Am inteles !
    –Indiferent de la formatiune este, circa cercetari penale, judiciar s.a.m.d.
    –Multi sint imbracati in uniforma. Se schimba in civil?
    –Pai, care au sa se schimbe in civil, care au intr-o jumatate de ora sa se schimbe si deplasarea urgent la Separatiune 1 si sa ramineti acolo pina primiti ordin de la mine.
    –Am inteles !
    11,55 C.P.M.B.–Bucur 9 sint Bucur 1 am primit telefon sa incepeti agitatia in piata (! –N.R.)
    12,10–146475 Intr. civil.–Oprea fa agitatie. Mai, terminati cu joaca la statie ca va ia dracu!
    (Se aude o voce care scandeaza “Ceausescu P.C.R.”).
    –Mai, nu mai strigati in statie!
    12,30 U.S.L.A.
    –Ati receptionat Catargul, Tridentul?
    –Tridentul, se pe Calea Victoriei, la Giocanda, iarasi este un grup care scandeaza lozinci.
    –Tridentul, Catargul, sint Catargul 5, la Muzica, aici in fata, a izbucnit scandal. Pe Victoriei, spre Posta scandeaza lozinci dar nu intervine nimeni. Militia se uita doar la ei.
    –Sint Catargul 5. Au fost indepartati pe Victoriei, spre C.C.A. incolo.
    –Catargul, Catargul 2. Sus, aproape de Comitetul Central, se afla un cetatean. E de-al nostru sau nu este? Sus pe bloc,pe blocul de vizavi. Pe Boteanu, se afla sus de tot un cetatean.
    –Tridentul si Catargul, sint Catargul 5. Continua sa fie la intersectia 13 Decembrie cu Victoriei, la Continental acolo, un grup mare care scandeaza.
    –Catargul, sint Catargul 2. Deasupra magazinul Muzica, vizavi de C.I.D., se pare ca este o persoana acolo.
    –Da este. E de-al nostru.
    I.M.B.–Vezi ce poti. Pe care poti sa-i temperezi, ca nu sint multi. Trebuie o forta mai dura un pic.
    –Toate fortele sa intervina sa-i imprastie.
    12,00-14 U.S.L.A.–
    In zona Catargul 2 este liniste.
    –La fel in zona Catargului 1.
    –Tridentul, sint Catargul 5. S-au indepartat pe Victoriei. Nu mai sint in aproprierea mea.
    –Sint Catargul 3. Au ramas la Gioconda in fata. Vad ca s-au potolit.
    I.S.M.B.–Mai, transmite la mine. Doua unitati de-ale lui Popa sa mearga la Calea Victoriei la…si doua sa vina la Onesti imediat.
    –Am inteles!
    U.S.L.A.–Tridentul, sint Catargul. Ai receptionat mesajul de la Catargul 3?
    –Da, a fost receptionat.
    –Catargul, sint Catargul 4. Va rog, repetati.
    -D-ta ai probleme deosebite?
    –Nu, deocamdata.
    –Nici sa nu ai.
    12,00-14 U.S.L.A.–Manifestantii de la Gioconda incearca sa sparga zidul de la militie.
    –Sint Catargul 1.
    –Situatia.
    –Liniste aici la Catargul 1. Defluire in ordine.
    –Sint Catargul 5.
    –Situatia.
    –Liniste.
    –Da, bine, multumesc.
    –La intersectia 13 Dec., Calea Victoriei este blocata de ai nostri. Nu mai e nici o problema acolo.
    –Catargul 3, Tridentul.
    –La Catargul 3 situatia este inca incordata. Se scandeaza si militienii nu pot sa-i imprastie.
    –La Catargul 2, liniste. Defluire in liniste.
    –Catargul, sint Catargul 4.
    –Comunica.
    –Publicul se retrage in liniste.
    I.S.M.B.–Sala Dalles, (lociitor sef securitate municipului Bucuresti). In fata la Sala Dalles sa vina aici forte.
    –Da, s-au trimis, draga, s-au trimis.
    –Sa-i scoata de aici pe astia care instiga.
    12,00-14 I.S.M.B.–Am trimis, am trimis forte.
    (Continuare in numarul viitor)

  4. romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 said

    January 3, 2009 at 5:03 pm e“Dintre…sute de catarge! Revolutia ascultata prin statie,” Libertatea, 29 ianuarie 1990, p.2

    –Aici s-au concentrat, la Sala Dalles, colt cu Batistei.
    –Am inteles !
    12-14 U.S.L.A.–Ma receptionezi, sint Catargul. Tridentul confirma, te rog.
    –Te retragi si supraveghezi.
    –Supraveghezi si ma tineti la curent.
    —Huliganii astia trebuie anihilati in primul rind. Nu sint hotariti astia. Ar trebui sa-i ia repede. Restul sint sovaitori.
    –Tridentul, sint Catargul 5.
    –Situatia.
    –Liniste.
    –La Catargul 3, in fata hotelului Bucuresti, se scandeaza.
    –Da, s-au luat masuri.
    –Catargul ? Tridentul. (nu raspunde).
    –Catargul 1.
    –La Catargul 1, liniste.
    12,30-14 U.S.L.A.–Catargul 3. Tridentul. Situatia.
    –Aceeasi. Se scandeaza si se string foarte multi.
    –Circa 200. Daca impresureaza anexa si ii scoate din zona ii termina repede.
    –Nu sint fortele de ordine acolo, d-le?
    –Sint doar in fata, un aliniament si in spate nimic.
    –Las’ ca vin acolo…
    12,30-14 I.S.M.B.–(sefi servicii, birouri, securitatea municipului Bucuresti), (loctiitor seful Securitatii). Arunca cu niste portret. Probabil Doina Cornea. Invoca personalitati!
    –Da, da…
    –Sint vreo 5, care sint mai ai dracu’ si tipa.
    –Fara incidente, pentru ca ii provocam mai mult.
    –Am inteles. Imi pare rau ca de la hotel intercontinental ii filmeaza si de la noi nu vine nimeni sa-i filmeze.
    –Sa-i identificam pe huliganii astia.
    12,30-14 U.S.L.A.–Catargul 1, liniste, Atheneu.
    –Catargul 2, liniste.
    –La 3 s-a format o hora si cinta Hora Unirii.
    I.M.B.–Aici la Steaua este retinut unul care, sustin tovarasii, ca a incitat sa dea foc.
    –Catargul, au venit fortele speciale de interventie.
    –Striga acum ca armata e cu ei.
    –Hai ma, lasa-i in pace nu mai…
    –Ar trebui sa vina mai repede sa-i ia odata de aici.
    –Vine, stai linistit acolo.
    U.S.L.A.–Tridentul, sint Catargul.
    –Comunica, Catargul.
    –Parte din demonstranti au luat-o in stinga, spre Luterana, marea majoritate, ceilalti au luat-o spre Cosmonautilor. In fata hotelului Bucuresti nu sint probleme deosebite. S-au imprastiat. In schimb, in spate, in dreptul Giocondei au inceput sa se adune pina la nivelului C.S.P.-ului.
    –Cam citi sint?
    –Aproximativ 100. Cei mai multi sint pasnici.
    –Catargul, sint Catargul 4.
    –Comunica.
    –Se pare ca spre Cismigiu se aud scandari. Populatie multa.
    –Deci Tridentul, ait receptionat ca la Cismigiu se pare ca s-a format din nou o grupare.
    –La Catargul 2 e liniste.
    –Catargul 4, raportez ca nu se mai aude nimic dinspre Cismigiu acum.
    –La Catargul 3 e liniste.
    –La Catargul 1 nimic deosebit, 2 nimic deosebit, la 3 se formeaza un dispozitiv cu virf inainte, care se lanseaza catre Luterana si se formeaza acum al doilea dispozitiv, probabil ca in spate. Nu am posibilitati de vedere.
    I.S.M.B.–Pentru /2 sa vina la baza sau ce face?
    –Da, sa vina urgent.
    –Da, da, vine imediat.
    –Putem trece cu escorta a doua si cu intiia?
    –Nu se poate. Sint deplasati tocmai la Comonauti, restaurantul Gradinita.
    –Pai, si-i indepartam.
    –(Da, sau am inteles).
    –Sint forte acuma?
    –Da, sint.
    –Sa-i indeparteze spre Romana incolo, dar cu grija sa n-o ia pe Dorobanti.
    –Am inteles !
    –Tridentul, sint Catargul.
    –Comunicati.
    –La intersectia Luterana cu Stirbei Voda (intreruperi repetati).
    –Vad explozii la Union. Sint Catargul 2.
    –Tridentul, sint Catargul 5. S-au auzit 4-5 explozii puternice!
    –De la Union, de acolo s-au auzit. Le-am vazut si noi explozile, de aici la Catargul 2, de la Athenee Palace.
    –Catargul 5, ai sa-mi comunici ceva?
    –Catargul sint Catargul 5. Undeva spre Continental, nu am vizibilitate, se mai aude strigind asa, ca un ecou (…)
    (Continuare in numarul viitor)

  5. romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 said

    January 8, 2009 at 2:45 am eRegarding the following sentence from Chapter 6 (written in 1996), “This rumor seems to be confirmed by the observation of an Army soldier who witnessed the exhumation of twenty-seven bodies from the Timisoara “Paupers’ cemetery” in January 1990: some of the corpses bore clear signs of treated wounds.[12]

    [12].. Liviu Stefanut, interview by Dan Preisz, “Teroristii Timisoarei,” Romania Libera, 21 April 1994, 6. Although Securitate Colonel Teodorescu vehemently denies this allegation, his description of what went on during these days at the county hospital only serves to heighten such suspicion (Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 87-89). Hospital staff maintain that the Securitate conducted brutal interrogations and that no medical staff were present, see the comments of Curpas Florica in Titus Suciu, Reportaj cu Sufletul la Gura [Reporting with Your Soul in Your Throat] (Timisoara: Editura Facla, 1990), 145.

    Marius Mioc claims that I confused the Paupers’ cemetery (cimitirul saracilor) and the Heroes’ cemetery (cimitirul eroilor) in this passage and that there were 10 not 27 corpses (see http://mariusmioc.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/rich-andrew-hall-rescrierea-istoriei-revolutiei-triumful-revizionismului-securist-in-romania-2-18-19-decembrie-evenimentele-din-timisoara-in-absenta-lui-ceausescu/). My words, however, are based on those of the soldier (Liviu Stefanut) who was interviewed. Here is what Stefanut said:

    “In fata unitatii [UM 01864/I au fost 3 sau 4. Cei mai multi au fost impuscati la baricada, dupa ce s-a iesit din unitate. Nu s-a mai spus, pana acum, ca acesti 18 morti–intre care si o fetita de 10 ani–au fost ingropati, ca inca vreo cativa, cu excavatorul, in Cimitirul Saracilor, chiar pe Calea Lipovei, la o statie de troleibuze de unitate…Stiu ca au fost descoperiti pe 20 ianuarie, de noi, pentru ca s-a aflat ca au fost ingropati cu excavatorul. Si eu am asistat la dezgropare, la primii 17…Dupa aceea, nu am mai rezistat…Deja era o luna si patru zile de cand fusesera impuscati. 18 dintre ei au fost omorati la baricada din Calea Lipovei. Au fost mai multi ingropati, vreo 27, am impresia. Deci, au fost impuscati, dusi la doctor, operati, scoase gloantele, cusuti. S-ar putea ca unii dintre ei sa fi fost vii cand au fost scosi din spital, dusi acolo, ingropati, daca nu cumva ingropate de vii.”

    It is unclear here whether Stefanut is conflating the two cemeteries, mixing elements of the two different events toegether or basing his knowledge of the events on more hearsay than he is willing to admit. Nevertheless, what he describes here, based on the date, is as Marius Mioc points out NOT the Paupers cemetery (cimitirul saracilor), but the Heroes cemetery (cimitirul eroilor).

    Marius Mioc thus does us an important service in clarifying this confusion…because as is well-known the case of the Paupers’ cemetery with unearthed corpses that turned out to not have been from those who died as a result of the bloodshed became a cause celebre, particularly among those of a post-modernist bent. The terrible, tragic irony is that while publications such as Le Figaro and other French press were reporting in late January about the supposed “false massacre” in Timisoara–based on the Paupers’ cemetery incident–they were overlooking the real elements of the Timisoara massacre–the 15 January 1990 discovery of 10 bodies in the Heroes’ cemetery, including the tragic better-known cases of Luminita Botoc (age 14, shot on 17 December) and Sorin Leia (age 23, shot on 18 December).

    A look at some of the most influential, or at least sensationalist literature (for example, Michel Castex), on the December 1989 events in Romania, reveals much discussion of the alleged “staged massacre that never happened” of the Paupers cemetery–referred to as “The Timisoara Syndrome” by some–is coupled with NO mention of the 15 January 1990 discovery of real victims of the December bloodshed in the Heroes cemetery.
    Witness two classic cases:

    Jean Baudrillard (trans. Chris Turner), The Illusion of the End (Cambridge, Polity Press, 1994), pp. 54-61 “The Timisoara massacre.”

    p. 55 “It was not the dead that were the scandal, but the corpses being pressed into appearing before the television cameras, as in the past dead souls were pressed into appearance in the register of deaths.”

    p. 60 “And yet there will, nonetheless, have been a kind of verdict in this Romanian affair, and the artificial heaps of corpses will have been of some use, all the same one might ask whether the Romanians, by the very excessiveness of this staged event and the simulacrum of their revolution, have not served as demistifyers of news and its guiding principle…Who can say what responsibility attaches to the televisual production of a false massacre (Timisoara), as compared with the perpetrating of a true massacre?”

    Andrei Codrescu (well-known poet and National Public Radio commentator), The Hole in the Flag. A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution (New York, William Morrow and Company, 1991), pp. 203-204 (in February 2005 in Jurnalul National, Vladimir Tismaneanu described Codrescu’s account unreservedly and memorably as “impeccably accurate”):

    “The Romanian ‘Revolution’ was entirely televised, all those of us who believed for years with Gil Scott-Heron that ‘the revolution will not be televised’ were shaken by it. In truth, there were two revolutions: a real revolution that was not televised and that continues, particularly in Timisoara, and a studio revolution that fooled the entire world. Who could forget the piles of corpses stacked like cordwood in front of the Timisoara cathedral?…Or the image of the mother and child shot with a single bullet, lying in the arms of death? Watching these images in New Orleans via CNN, I was moved and enraged, along with millions of others in the world. We now know. The mass graves discovered in Timisoara and presented to the world as proof of the Hitlerite insanity of Securitate were in fact bodies dug out of a pauper’s cemetery with autopsy scars visible. Many of them were in an advanced state of decay…And the extraordinary picture of the mother and her baby killed with the same bullet, seen thousands of times on all the world’s TV screens, was a gross collage. A woman who had died of alcoholism had had an unrelated dead baby placed on her chest for video purposes. Someone made a neat bullet hole in both bodies.”

    Marius Mioc brings us back to reality, however, explaining how desperation to find loved ones, and not some grand “staged” event, led to the frantic digging up of the graves on 22 December 1989 in the Paupers cemetery…and how some of those being sought were only discovered in the common grave dug up in the Heroes cemetery on 15 January 1990…

    “Despre sute de cadavre filmate eu n-am auzit, am auzit de 2 filmări, una din 22 decembrie 1989 şi una din ianuarie 1990, fiecare cu vreo 10 cadavre. Că de la o filmare cu 10 cadavre unii ajung să-şi închipuie că au văzut sute sau mii de cadavre e problema lor şi a psihologilor.

    Filmarea din 22 decembrie a fost cu cadavre dezgropate din cimitirul săracilor. Aceia nu erau morţi din revoluţie ci sărăntoci fără familie îngropaţi pe cheltuiala Primăriei. Familiile celor morţi în revoluţie, care nu găseau cadavrele celor dragi (fuseseră incinerate, dar nu se ştia asta pe atunci), în disperare au căutat pe unde le-a trecut prin minte, şi au dezgropat şi morţii de la cimitirul săracilor. S-a crezut atunci sincer că aceia sînt morţi din revoluţie.

    În ianuarie 1990 s-a descoperit o altă groapă comună, la cimitirul eroilor, iar aceasta era într-adevăr cu morţi din revoluţie, îngropaţi cam prin 27 decembrie fiindcă nimeni nu-i revendica şi mirosea urît la morgă, nu mai puteau să-i ţină. Cazuri concrete sînt Sorin Leia http://timisoara.com/newmioc/11.htm sau Luminiţa Boţoc http://timisoara.com/newmioc/33.htm

    http://piatauniversitatii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=974

    Here is the case of Luminita Botoc and her father: his fruitless search first on 22 December 1989 at the Paupers cemetery, and then tragically finding his dead daughter on 15 January 1990 at the Heroes cemetery:

    Gasita in groapa comuna http://timisoara.com/newmioc/33.htm

    Botoc Luminita Florina

    nascuta in 16 aprilie 1976 la Timisoara, eleva, gasita in ianuarie 1990 in groapa comuna din cimitirul eroilor

    Botoc Virgil (tata):

    nascut in 1952 in comuna Focuri, sat Fintinele (jud. Iasi), cioplitor in marmura

    In 17 decembrie pe la ora 19-19,30 am auzit o coloana de manifestanti care treceau prin fata blocului (str. Pomiculturii – n.n.) strigind “Jos Ceausescu!”, “Romani veniti cu noi!”, “Si voi sinteti romani!”.

    Fetele Luminita, Cristina si Lacramioara au coborit. Luminita s-a dus cu manifestantii.

    Dupa un timp am iesit pe balcon si am vazut ca s-au tras trei rachete rosii. I-am zis nevestei: “Ceva nu-i in regula! O sa se deschida focul!”. Peste 5-10 minute am auzit focuri de arma.

    Am vazut ca Luminita nu se intoarce. M-am gindit ca a vazut ca se trage si a ramas la o prietena peste noapte.

    Dimineata m-am dus in Calea Lipovei si m-am intilnit cu colegul Avadanei Stefan care mi-a povestit ca au fost morti. I-am zis ca si fata mea a fost printre manifestanti iar el mi-a spus ca printre morti se afla si o fata cu fis rosu, asa cum era imbracata Luminita. Avadanei mi-a spus ca toti ranitii si mortii au fost dusi la Clinicile Noi. Am plecat la Clinicile Noi. Acolo, autopsierul mi-a spus ca fata mea a fost moarta si a trimis-o la morga, la spitalul judetean.

    A 2-a zi (19) am fost la spitalul judetean. Am mers la doctorul Dressler care s-a uitat in registre si a spus ca nu este nici un mort in morga. Am intrebat cum nu este nici un mort ca de la Clinicile Noi fata mea a fost adusa aicea. Un soldat in uniforma M.Ap.N., de vreo 18-19 ani, a venit cu arma asupra mea si a spus de ce fac galagie si sa plec imediat ca ma impusca.

    In 20 sotia s-a dus cu o vecina la spital s-o caute pe Luminita. A vorbit cu un militian, i-a spus de fata. Militianul a dus-o in spital. Acolo erau trei domni imbracati in halate albe si cu arme la ei. Nevasta le-a dat datele fetei si o fotografie, iar domnii aceia i-au spus sa mearga acasa linistita, ca o sa ne anunte ei daca Luminita e ranita sau moarta.

    In 22 dimineata la cimitirul saracilor s-au dezgropat niste morti. Am fost si eu acolo sa vad daca n-o gasesc pe Luminita. Aici era o groapa comuna, o alta groapa cu un singur mort si inca un mort in capela. Mortii fusesera ingropati dezbracati. Unii erau cusuti cu sirma, cel din capela avea si picioarele legate cu sirma. Am scos mortii, i-am pus pe niste cearsafuri.

    O masina a trecut pe Calea Lipovei si anunta de la o statie de amplificare ca Ceausescu a fost prins.

    La spitalul judetean n-am mai fost fiindca mi se spusese ca acolo nu mai sint morti si auzisem ca mortii de acolo au fost dusi la Bucuresti.

    In 24 decembrie am fost la procuratura, am dat declaratii si fotografia fetei. Procurorul Balan mi-a spus ca are 60 de teroristi arestati si va cerceta daca recunoaste vreunul fotografia.

    In 15 ianuarie iar am fost la tribunal si procurorul Balan mi-a spus ca pina acum nimeni n-a recunoscut-o pe fiica mea. Dupa ce am iesit de la tribunal, am aflat ca in cimitirul Eroilor s-a descoperit o noua groapa comuna. Am mers acolo. In groapa erau 11 morti, printre care si Luminita.

    18 martie 1995

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