"I've never before
seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man"
(1918-1989) was a communist official who was leader of Romania from 1965
until he was overthrown and executed during the events of 1989.
A member of the Romanian communist youth movement during the 1930s,
Ceausescu was imprisoned in 1936 and in 1940 for his communist party
activities. In 1939 he married Elena Petrescu. While in prison Ceausescu
became a protégé of his mate, the future communist leader
Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej, who would become
the communist leader of Romania beginning in 1952. Ceausescu
subsequently served as secretary of the Union of Communist Youth
(1944-1945). After the communists' full accession to power in Romania in
1947, he headed the nation's ministry of agriculture, and then, from
1950 to 1954, he served as deputy minister of the armed forces. Under
Gheorghiu-Dej, Ceausescu eventually came to occupy the second highest
position in the party hierarchy, holding important posts in the
With the death of Gheorghiu-Dej in March 1965, Ceausescu succeeded to
the leadership of Romania's Communist Party as first, and then general
secretary; with his assumption of the presidency of the State Council
(December 1967), he became head of state as well. He soon won popular
support for his independent political course, which openly challenged
the dominance of the Soviet Union over Romania. In the 1960s Ceausescu
ended Romania's active participation in the Warsaw Pact military
alliance, and he condemned the
Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces (1968) and the invasion of
Afghanistan by the Soviet Union (1979). In 1974 Ceausescu became
president of Romania as well.
While following an independent policy in foreign relations, Ceausescu
resisted all pressures for liberal reforms, and he adhered closely to
the communist orthodoxy of centralized administration at home.
police (Securitate) maintained rigid controls over free
speech and the media, and tolerated no internal opposition.
In an effort to pay off the large foreign debt that his government had
accumulated in the 1970s, Ceausescu ordered the export of much of the
country's agricultural and industrial production. The resulting
of food, energy, medicines, and other basic necessities drove Romania
from a state of relative economic well-being to near starvation.
extensive personality cult and appointed his
wife, Elena, and some members of his family to high posts in the
Among his grandiose schemes was a plan to
bulldoze thousands of Romania's villages and
large areas of the city of Bucharest, and move their residents into new
apartment buildings. Over one fifth
of the built area of central Bucharest, including churches and historic
buildings, was demolished during Ceausescu's rule in the '80s.
Ceausescu's regime collapsed after
he ordered armed and security forces to fire on
antigovernment demonstrators in the city of
The demonstrations spread to
and on December 22 the army defected to the demonstrators. That same day
Ceausescu and his wife fled the capital in a helicopter, but were
captured by the armed forces. On December 25 the couple were hurriedly
tried and convicted by a military tribunal on charges of mass murder.
Ceausescu and his wife were then shot by a firing squad at Târgoviste.