The Communist

Prior to 1945 Romania's Communist Party had no more than 1000 members. Its post-war ascendancy, which saw membership soar to over one million, was a consequence of backing from Moscow. The Soviet-engineered return of Transylvania greatly enhanced the prestige of the left-wing parties, which won the parliamentary elections in November 1946. A year later Prime Minister Petru Groza forced King Michael to abdicate (allegedly by holding the queen mother at gunpoint), the monarchy was abolished, and a Romanian People's Republic proclaimed.

A period of terror ensued in which all the prewar leaders, prominent intellectuals and suspected dissidents were imprisoned or interned in hard-labour camps. The most notorious prisons were in Piteçti, Gherla, Sighetu Marmatiei and Aiud. Factories and businesses were nationalised, and in 1953 a new Slavicised orthography was introduced to obliterate all Latin roots of the Romanian language, while street and town names were changed to honour Soviet figures. Braçov was renamed Oraçul Stalin.

Romania's loyalty to Moscow continued only until the late 1950s. Soviet troops were withdrawn from Romania in 1958, and street and town names were changed once more to emphasise the country's Roman heritage. After 1960 Romania adopted an independent foreign policy under two 'national' communist leaders, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (leader from 1952 to 1965) and his protégé Nicolae Ceauçescu (from 1965 to 1989), both of whom had been imprisoned during WWII. Under these figures the concept of a great Romanian socialist state was flaunted.

Romania never broke completely with the USSR, but Ceauçescu refused to assist the Soviets in their 1968 'intervention' in Czechoslovakia. His public condemnation of it earned him praise and economic aid from the West. In 1975 Romania was granted 'most favoured nation' status by the USA, which yielded more than US$1 billion in US-backed credits in the decade that followed. And when Romania condemned the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and participated in the 1984 Los Angeles



Romanian Jews forbidden to practise law.

Following secret talks between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, Romania falls under the Soviet 'sphere of influence'.

()lympic Games despite a Soviet-bloc boycott, Ceau?escu was officially decorated by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

Meanwhile, Romanians suffered painfully during the 25-year dictatorship of Nicolae Ceau^escu and his family. Thousands were imprisoned or repressed by the much-feared secret police (Securitate), huge amounts of money were squandered on megalomaniacal, grandiose projects and the population lived in abject poverty.

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