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 ‘Timisoara syndrome’

Revisiting the Myths of the Romanian Revolution. Part I: The Hegemony of Conspiratorial and Postmodernist Explanations

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 21, 2013

Revisiting the Myths* of the Romanian Revolution.  Part I:  The Hegemony of Conspiratorial and Postmodernist Explanations

This is the theoretical introduction to a three part series (Parts II-IV) which will follow:

Myth 1:  The “Timisoara Syndrome” or the “False Timisoara Grave (the Paupers Cemetery)/Massacre”

Myth 2:  The water is posioned!  (Apa este otravita!)

Myth 3:  The Romanian Television building is in danger, danger of an explosion!   (TVR e in pericol–Pericol de explozie!)

Two scholars of comparative political science, Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan, essentially captured what has been the dominant trend in studies of the overthrow of the communist regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 when they opined:  “any primarily narrative account is necessarily unsatisfying, what we need, rather are studies of the dynamics of myth creation and the functions of disinformation–a deconstruction of the revolution itself” (Linz and Stepan, p. 346.).

In stating things in this manner, Linz and Stepan drew attention to the two primary trends in studies of December 1989, what I have chosen to call:  1) Conspiratorial (“studies of …the functions of disinformation”) and 2) Postmodernist (“studies of the dynamics of myth creation”).  Both of these research trends developed as early as 1990 and have arguably dominated the field of study ever since.**  I break them down here as follows:

1) Conspiratorial.  These explanations attribute intentional actions to interested parties, ranging from foreign security services to domestic political officials and military officers.  Disinformation, lies, and manipulation, rather than misunderstanding, dominate in these conspiratorial accounts.  Such accounts are rife with an almost unbounded or unconstrained voluntarism and agency.  The focus is heavily on the “supply-side” (producers) of myth.  Examples of this approach include:  Michel Castex, Radu Portocala (and Olivier Weber), and Andrei Codrescu.

2) Postmodernist.  Postmodernism is premised on the a priori existence of pluralities.  There isn’t a single Truth with a capital T, as conspiratorial accounts suggest; there are multiple “truths” with a little t and preferably quotation marks or italics.   These explanations question the notion of singular, objective “truth” as suggested by conspiratorial accounts, and thus emphasize subjectivity.  Individuals are less agents, than subjects, situationally-bounded and contextually-informed, in constructed realities, and hence likely to fall victim to and to produce misunderstandings.  Although postmodernist accounts address both the supply and demand sides of myth creation, what sets it apart is probably the energy and time devoted to the focusing on the demand side, in other words on audience.  Examples of this approach include:  Katherine Verdery and Gail Kligman, Peter Siani-Davies, and Ruxandra Cesereanu (whose book is appropriately titled, December 1989:  The Deconstruction of a Revolution, and who has associated articles posted to the site of the equally-appropriately named “Center for Imagination Studies,” for example, )

Linz and Stepan perhaps captured the essence of the postmodernist trend in analyzing Verdery and Kligman’s account of the events of 1989-1990: “...[Verdery and Kligman] have sifted through the supposed facts and evidence, and they know all the literature, but their concern is with the very terms by which the events in Romania were experienced, described, and understood:  the miners, the demonstrators, the front, the revolution, neo-communism.  This makes for a lot of italics, but is illuminating.” (Linz and Stepan, p. 346).  An emblematic passage from Verdery and Kligman’s approach comes on page 139 (in Banac, ed.) of their article:  “Indeed, we question the coherence and unity of all groups named in one or another interpretation–the “Army,” the “Securitate,” the “Front,” and so on.  Such unifying labels are unsuited to describing groups with fuzzy boundaries, internal conflicts and fissures, and constantly changing coalitions.”  Indeed, Verdery and Kligman make abundantly clear from the opening line of their November 1990 essay, that they are already jaded and frustrated by the question, “What ‘really happened’ in Romania in December 1989, when the twenty-five year rule of Nicolae Ceausescu was violently overthrown? (Banac, ed., p. 117).  That they put “really happened” in quotation marks in itself foreshadows and tells much about their approach.

The differences between these the conspiratorialist and postmodernist perspectives can be seen in how they treat the three myths that form parts II – IV of this series.  None of these three myths, I would argue, is central to the understanding of December 1989, but they are reasonably well-known among Romanians, Romanianists, and journalists and academics who study the region.  The conspiratorial account suggests journalists and agents from the security services/communist party in Romania and perhaps from other East European countries intentionally fabricated the myths of a Timisoara mass grave of those killed in an alleged Timisoara massacre, of poisoned drinking water in Sibiu and elsewhere, and of the main television station in Bucharest being under attack and at risk of being blown up.  The focus here is on perpetrators of the alleged fraud.   By contrast, the postmodernist accounts explain these same myths by appealing to a host of more banal explanations–as are laid out at times explicitly and at times implicitly in, for example, the concluding chapter of Peter Siani-Davies’ 2005 volume on December 1989:  including parachute and pack journalism, regime inculcated fear and hatred of the Ceausescus and the forces of repression, as well as Western anti-(national) communist othering/Balkan Orientalism (see, for example, the discussion of vampires, Dracula, and Ceausescu, pp. 282-284; for an analysis of these narrative frames with regard to Romania specifically see, for example, Images of Hungarians and Romanians).  The focus is thus almost less on those created the myths than on why the audience–especially the television one, in Romania, but also around the world–bought those myths.

It is intriguing to note that whereas conspiratorial explanations tend to be favored on the European Continent, among French and German journalists and academics, and particularly among Romanians themselves–as Verdery and Kligman memorably lay out in their 1990 account “‘the plot mentality’ characteristic of virtually every Romanian’s description of events before, during, and after December” (p. 119)–postmodernist explanations tend to be associated with US and UK academics, particularly from the social sciences, who are not Romanian emigres.  (The most notable exception to this generalization is undoubtedly Ruxandra Cesereanu, whose accounts are highly postmodernist, but perhaps this is not so surprising considering that she is primarily a novelist and literary critic.)  Indeed, one of the more interesting things to observe is how Romanian emigres in the US and UK academic systems will opt more for postmodernist explanations when in the “polite company” of fellow western social scientists, but will write and voice more conspiratorial accounts, although not always consciously, in Romania or with fellow Romanians.  (Romanian emigres don’t want to look like fools–which is what they are likely to be viewed as, should they argue more conspiratorial accounts among their Western academic peers; but they also realize how out-of-hand postmodernist explanations, with their failure to assign agency or blame, will be rejected by fellow Romanians.  Theirs is a difficult, but telling dilemma.) Suffice it to say, those who advocate conspiratorial accounts view postmodernist explanations as hopelessly naive and as the luxury of those removed from the events and their consequences, while those who advocate postmodernist accounts view conspiratorial explanations as a useful instinct gone awry, as deformed lenses, and not without a certain amount of intellectual condescension.

*The discussion of myth in the context of the Romanian transition of December 1989 is large.  Among those who have used it, and who are not discussed above, are:  Ciobanu, Deletant, Egry, Mungiu-Pippidi, Shafir, and Tismaneanu.

**My own 1999 EEPS article, 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), pp. 501-542 ( ) reflects both these dominant trends, conspiratorial and postmodernist–having been encouraged by dissertation advisors and fellow graduate students, and my own perception at the time of the “professionally correct” thing to do, to focus on “why it happened?,” rather than “what happened?,” the latter single case study approach being what Charles King once quipped as akin to ‘professional suicide,’ the former being seen at least in theory as enhancing the case’s comparative character, lending itself to comparative analysis, and helping it “travel” better.

Select Bibliography

Castex, Michel.  Un mensonge gros comme le siècle: Roumanie, histoire d’une manipulation (Paris: Albin Michel, 1990).

Cesereanu, Ruxandra.  Decembrie ’89:  Deconstructii unei revolutii (Iasi:  Polirom, 2004).

Ciobanu, Monica.  “The Myth Factory,” Transitions Online (19 December 2005).

Codrescu, Andrei.  The Hole in the Flag. A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution (New York:  William Morrow and Company, 1991).

Deletant, Dennis.  “Myth-Making and the Romanian Revolution,” Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 2, no. 3 (July 1994).

Egry, Gabor.  H-Net Review of Siani-Davies (November 2011),

Linz, Juan J. and Alfred Stepan, “The Effects of Totalitarianism-cum-Sultanism on Democratic Transition:  Romania,” in Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation:  Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe (Baltimore:  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 344-365.

Mungiu-Pippidi, Alina.  “Doubtful Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions Deconstructed,” Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, vol. 8, no. 1 (April 2006), pp. 109-112.

Portocala, Radu.  Autopsie du coup d’État roumain (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1990).

Portocala, Radu and Olivier Weber.  “Les cinq actes d’une manipulation,” Le Point, 922, 21 May 1990.

Shafir, Michael.  “Preparing for the Future by Revising the Past,” Radio Free Europe’s “Report on Eastern Europe,” Vol. 1, No. 41, (12 October 1990), pp. 29-42.

Siani-Davies, Peter.  The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 2005).

Tismaneanu, Vladimir.  Fantasies of Salvation:  Democracy, Nationalism, and Myth in Post-Communist Europe (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1998).

Verdery Katherine and Kligman Gail, “Romania after Ceausescu:  Post-Communist Communism?” in Ivo Banac (ed.)., Eastern Europe in Revolution (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 1992), pp. 117-147.

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18-19 decembrie 1989: Timisoara, Nicolae Ceausescu in Iran, and Scinteia Tineretului

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on December 18, 2009

An excerpt from

A chapter from my Ph.D. Dissertation at Indiana University: Richard Andrew Hall, Rewriting the Revolution: Authoritarian Regime-State Relations and the Triumph of Securitate Revisionism in Post-Ceausescu Romania (defended 16 December 1996). This is the original chapter as it appeared then and thus has not been revised in any form.

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.

[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.


Marius Mioc translated parts of this chapter on his blog, with at least one interesting result:

Ceausescu pleaca in Iran

18-19 decembrie 1989

traducerea de catre marius mioc


also in relation to a correction by Marius Mioc

romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 said

January 8, 2009 at 2:45 am e

Regarding 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 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 sau Luminiţa Boţoc

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

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


in relation to Ceausescu’s trip to Iran, from Orwellian…Positively Orwellian

In this regard, further claims related by former USLA Captain Marian Romanescu to Dan Badea, are to say the least intriguing:

Several days before the outbreak of the December events, the commander of the USLA forces—col. ARDELEANU GHEORGHE (his real name being BULA MOISE)—left for Iran, bringing with him a great many gifts; and a car’s load of maps, bags, pens, sacks, etc. What did Col. Ardeleanu need these for in Iran? What was the use of having the head of the USLA go? What did he negotiate with the Iranians before the arrival of Ceausescu [18-19 December]? Could he have contracted the bringing into the country of some shock troops, as they are called, to enforce the guard at the House of the Republic, the civic Center and the principal residences of the dictator? If not for that reason, why? Because it is known what followed…

On 22 December, col. Ardeleanu gave the order that 50 blank cover IDs, with the stamp of the Department of Civil Aviation, be released. The order is executed by Gradisteanu Aurel from the coordinating service of that department—a Securitate captain in reserve—and by lt. Col. SOMLEA ALEXANDRU, the latter receiving the IDs and putting them where they needed to be. It is known that the majority of USLA cadre work under the cover of being in the Militia. But who did these IDs cover in this situation? [emphases and capitalization in original]<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[85]<!–[endif]–>


Intrebari (Duminică, 23 decembrie 2007, 11:33)

Istoric [anonim]

Cu repectul cuvenit fatza de cei omoriti in decembrie 1989,civili si militari,in calitate de rezervist al armatei Romane,indraznesc sa intreb si eu :
1. De ce NIMENI,absolut NIMENI ,nu incearca sa explice articolul din “Scinteia Tineretului” din 17.12.1989 (presa controlata in TOTALITATE de cenzura ceausista ) ,articol intitulat “Sfaturi pentru turistii aflati ACUM LA MARE ” (!),publicat in pagina a VII -a a ziarului sub forma unei coloane ,articol din care mai tin minte si acum (nu voi uita niciodata)sfaturi de genul “Cei ce se vor avinta prea mult in larg,sa stie ca serviciile Salvamar nu ii vor cauta” sau “Cei ce prefera baile de soare sa stie ca cea mai mare concentratie de Ultraviolete este intre orele 4 si 6 dimineatza” sau “Cei ce prefera muntele marii sa stie ca nu vor fi iertati”;;;;;Cam ciudate sfaturi pentru turistii ce mergeau la mare sa se imbaieze in decembrie…

intr-adevar, forumistul are dreptate (daca citeva detalii sunt gresite)…nu e clar…dar eu nu cred ca a fost o gluma proasta de iarna…foarte important cum se dezvaluie in articolul de jos:  dupa 22 decembrie 1989, Generalul Militaru s-a interesat in acest articol fiindca el credea ca a fost un semnal…cred ca s-a interesat nu fiindca a fost vorba de un semn pentru revolutionari, dar mai probabil pentru mercenari (uslac) raspinditi prin tara…sa revenim…

“Acel articol a fost un cosmar pentru mine. In 22 decembrie au aparut fluturasi in Bucuresti cu “sfaturile ” din “Scinteia Tineretului “. Cine avea xeroxuri in acea vreme?”, se intreaba Sorin Preda. Am fost anchetat de Ministerul Apararii Nationale pentru ca generalul Militaru a considerat sau i s-a sugerat ca articolul meu era un semnal si pentru teroristi. Articolul il scrisesem cu patru zile inainte de aparitie si avea o introducere in care explicam caracterul lui umoristic. Nu stiu de ce acea introducere a disparut.

Semnalul Revolutiei
Cand in plina iarna publici sfaturi pentru cei aflati la mare, initiativa redactionala pare bizara. Cand articolul respectiv se bucura si de o trimitere la prima pagina, gestul atrage automat atentia. Iar atunci cand langa “sfaturi” este publicat un articol despre evenimentele fierbinti de la Timisoara, totul devine parte a unui scenariu bine articulat. Au fost cele cateva randuri semnate de Sorin Preda in “Scinteia tineretului” din 18 decembrie semnalul Revolutiei? Multi spun ca da, insa autorul neaga.
10/03/2004 (Actualizat 7:00)
37 vizite
“Scinteia Tineretului” era considerata in presa comunista nu doar o pepiniera de cadre pentru “Scinteia batrana”, ci si publicatia in care se puteau citi si articole care ieseau din tipare.
DAN CONSTANTINAutocenzura redactiei si supravegherea sectiei de presa a CC erau mai relaxate la ziarul care s-a aflat mult timp sub coordonarea lui Nicu Ceausescu. In 18 decembrie 1989, in “Scinteia tineretului ” a aparut un mic articol care a fost considerat in perioada imediat urmatoare si in contextul misterelor Revolutiei un veritabil semnal pentru declansarea evenimentelor. Este vorba de “cateva sfaturi pentru cei aflati in aceste zile la mare”, care apareau in rubrica “In vacanta, educatia nu ia vacanta”. Sfaturile respective, date in plina iarna, par cu totul ciudate. “Nu va avantati prea mult in larg. Oricum, in caz de pericol nu strigati. Este inutil, sansele ca prin apropiere sa se afle vreo persoana dispusa sa va asculte sunt minime”, scria autorul semnat cu initiale S.P.Prima pagina

Un alt sfat: “E de preferat sa incepeti mai prudent, cu reprize scurte de 10-15 minute”. Colectia ingalbenita de timp a ziarului arata si o alta surpriza. Acest articol este anuntat in prima pagina, desi nu are nici o justificare din punct de vedere editorial. Trimiterea la pagina intai este plasata langa un articol in care erau condamnate actiunile lui Laszlo T.kes de la Timisoara, articol aparut in toata presa romana in acea zi. Simple coincidente? Cei care faceau “Scinteia tineretului” isi amintesc cu destula exactitate faptele.

Humor in zile grele

Gabriel Nastase era seful sectiei care realiza pagina elevului, unde au fost plasate “sfaturile”.

  • Imi aduc aminte ca am fost chemat din concediu de redactorul-sef care m-a anuntat ca s-au sistat zilele libere. Nu stiam nimic despre ce se intampla la Timisoara sau in tara. Eu i-am spus lui Sorin Preda – numele autorului articolului care a starnit atata valva – sa-mi scrie ceva pentru rubrica. Sorin era mai poet, a scris articolul intr-o maniera umoristica. Eu nu mi-am dat seama ca ar fi ceva ciudat. Nici dupa ce a aparut nu au fost probleme.
  • Conducerea redactiei s-a sesizat? Sectia de presa a gasit ceva nefiresc in sfaturile date?Nu. Nici Strungariu, redactorul-sef, nici Lucian Avramescu, adjunctul lui, nu au gasit ceva nefiresc, spune Gabriel Nastase.

Alt ziarist de la “Scinteia Tineretului”, Stefan Mitroi, ulterior redactor-sef al “Tineretului Liber”, publicatia transformata dupa Revolutie, ne spune ca problemele au aparut abia dupa 22 decembrie. Asupra lui Sorin Preda plana banuiala ca “ar fi fost ceva cu articolul”.

Colonelul Dosan stia?

Eu cred ca “dracul le-a potrivit”. Un fost ziarist din acea vreme, care s-a dorit anonim, ne spune ca “articolul nu era chiar nevinovat”. Asa ceva nu putea sa apara si colonelul Dosan, de la Securitate, care raspundea de publicatia noastra, stie mai multe. Articolul era cred si un raspuns la o scrisoare samizdat a lui Buduca.

Pe colonelul Dosan nu l-am gasit in cursul documentarii pentru articol, dar Sorin Preda este foarte clar in afirmatia ca totul a fost scos din context si s-a cautat de institutii specializate in manipulare sa fie considerat un “trompet al Revolutiei”.


  • “Acel articol a fost un cosmar pentru mine. In 22 decembrie au aparut fluturasi in Bucuresti cu “sfaturile ” din “Scinteia Tineretului “. Cine avea xeroxuri in acea vreme?”, se intreaba Sorin Preda. Am fost anchetat de Ministerul Apararii Nationale pentru ca generalul Militaru a considerat sau i s-a sugerat ca articolul meu era un semnal si pentru teroristi. Articolul il scrisesem cu patru zile inainte de aparitie si avea o introducere in care explicam caracterul lui umoristic. Nu stiu de ce acea introducere a disparut.
  • Dar de ce s-a facut trimitere din prima pagina? Il intreb pe autorul sfaturilor.”Nu a avut trimitere la pagina intai”, sustine Sorin Preda.
  • Avem facsimilul ziarului din 18 decembrie…Nu-mi mai aduc bine aminte, raspunde mai putin sigur Sorin Preda. Ce pot sa spun este ca am vrut sa dau o dezmintire la Televiziunea Romana ca nu am nici o legatura cu preparativele pentru Revolutie, dar DragosMunteanu, care conducea institutia, nu mi-a permis. Oricum, acele sfaturi au fost un cosmar pentru mine, conchide Sorin Preda.

Exista insa dupa atatia ani parerea ca articolul respectiv a fost un semnal pentru declansarea acelor evenimente din decembrie 1989. Istoricul Radu Portocala este convins de asta. La fel si senatorul Gabrielescu, seful unei Comisii parlamentare care a anchetat dosarele Revolutiei. Si inca un fapt neelucidat, fisetul in care se pastrau spalturile si manuscrisele de la “Tineretul Liber” a fost spart si “probele ” au disparut.

Cateva sfaturi pentru cei aflati in aceste zile la mare

  • Evitati expunerea intempestiva si prelungita la soare. E de preferat sa incepeti mai prudent, cu reprize scurte de 10-15 minute, cand pe o parte, cand pe alta. Astfel, va veti asigura un bronzaj placut si uniform pe tot corpul.
  • Nu va avantati prea mult in larg. Oricum, in caz de pericol, nu strigati. Este inutil. Sansele ca prin apropiere sa se afle vreo persoana dispusa a va asculta sunt minime.
  • Profitati de binefacerile razelor ultraviolete. Dupa cum se stie, ele sunt mai active intre orele 5:30 si 7:30. Se recomanda cu precadere persoanelor mai debile.
  • Daca sunteti o fire sentimentala si agreati apusurile de soare, librariile de pe Litoral va ofera un larg sortiment de vederi cu acest subiect.
  • Si inca ceva – daca aceste “sfaturi” v-au pus pe ganduri si aveti deja anumite ezitari, gandindu-va sa renuntati in favoarea muntelui, inseamna ca nu iubiti in suficienta masura marea. (S.P.)

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