Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 23: Ceaușescu, Romania’s Last Dictator

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Hans Lander, Nick Mason, Alex Nicholson, and Hank Oslo – joined by special guest Titus Flavius

Notes:

On December 25th, 1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Romania and his wife Elena were tried, convicted, and executed by firing squad. Prior to their arrest, Ceaușescu had overseen a disastrous series of economic missteps which led the country to experience high foreign debt, massive food shortages, and a decline in overall living standards. His unique blend of nationalist communism, setting it apart from the Soviet sphere and attempting to emulate the cult of personality and pageantry of the North Korean regime, created some initial fanfare abroad with his solidarity with the Prague Spring and criticism of the subsequent Warsaw Pact invasion. His rule in the 1970s, however, focused on solidifying a unified Romanian nationalism with an integrated education and conformity to ideology – backed up by a ruthless secret police that quelled any dissent. After a worldwide oil price collapse in the 1980s sent his investments in the refining business towards insolvency, Ceaușescu’s exports of the country’s food supply to pay off foreign debt sealed his fate.

Timeline:

1918- Nicolae Ceaușescu born to peasant family of ten children
1932- Ceaușescu becomes member of (illegal) Communist Party
1940-43- in jail during WWII, meets mentor Gheorghe Dej, who later becomes leader of Romania
1944- Russian invasion into Romania
1946- royal coup assassinates Romanian Prime Minister Antonescu, Dej assumes control
1965- Dej dies, Ceaușescu appointed General Secretary
1968- Ceaușescu criticizes Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, height of his popularity
1973- OPEC oil embargo
1977- Jiu valley miners strike
1984- failed military coup
1989- Ceaușescu and wife Elena tried and executed on live television

References:

– Darkness at Noon, Koestler (1940)
– Deception Was My Job, Bezmenov (1984)
– The Cold War’s Strangest Bedfellows How Romania Sold Its Jews to Israel, and What It Got in Return, Beckerman (2005) – http://forward.com/culture/2923/the-cold-war-e2-80-99s-strangest-bedfellows-how-romania/
– George Orwell,1984 & Totalitarianism, Bowden (2010)
– Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, Applebaum (2012)

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One Comment

  1. Vladimir Ceaușescu June 27, 2017 at 4:39 am

    4 days overdue…

    Also, can we donate so you can get new mics?

    Reply

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