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Смерть диктатора — минута в минуту | Как за 5 дней потерять власть и жизнь | (English subtitles)

In december 1989, an older man stepped out onto the balcony of this building in central bucharest. The building housed the central committee hq of the ruling communist party. It overlooked palace square. The man was romania’s dictator, nicolae ceauşescu. That day, he ordered the gathering of a thousands-strong crowd. A big event was scheduled for that day as the dear leader was about to address his loyal subjects. By that point, the guy had been in power for 24 years. His party won the previous election in a blowout, scoring 97.7% of the vote. The month before, he was yet again re-appointed as the leader, with the crowd giving him 62 rounds of a thundering ovation. He had a palace and a personal army of loyal law enforcement. He only named his friends and family to the key offices so that he thought no one would betray him. He imposed draconian censorship, upheld traditional values, and promoted higher childbirth rates. He either jailed or silenced the opposition. The guy was allegedly supported by the “absolute majority” of the public. But it took half an hour for the dictator to lose control even over his own life. The president who’d been blaming external enemies for internal problems ended up confronted by his own underlings.

Over the next four days, ceauşescu’s path would take him from this balcony to a bullet-ridden wall of the military base bathroom on the outskirts of romania as he was executed by firing squad. This episode focuses on the 1989 romanian revolution. It was inspired by minute by minute, a project that specializes in minute-by-minute reconstructions of historical events. These guys have already made two dozen such reconstructions on their telegram and x pages, from ww2 to the feb. 24 invasion of ukraine. Follow them to catch their latest reconstructions.

The link is in the description box. Let’s roll. Dec. 21, 1989. Morning these people were bussed to bucharest in the early morning hours. The day before, the army had suppressed the workers’ unrest in timişoara, and now the president wanted to show the world the extent of people’s support of his regime. The most politically reliable workers were sat on the buses, and then the demonstrators marched toward the central square. The streets along the route were blocked by tractors, trucks, and buses so that no one could leave the crowd. It is infiltrated by the informants of the securitate, the romanian secret police agency. They were making sure no one brought the “wrong” posters or chanted the “wrong” slogans. The marchers were waving state banners and holding up portraits of the president and his wife. Nothing seemed out of order. Everyone knew the role they were to play, and it wasn’t their first time doing it. So, what could go wrong, after all? Dec. 21, 1989. 12:25 pm. Ceauşescu opens his speech. He’s calm and self- confident. The address is being broadcast on live tv. Initially, the front-row attendees clapped their hands in unison. But suddenly the president’s speech is interrupted by heckles, whistles, and boos. Someone sets off a firecracker. Dec. 21, 1989. 12:30 pm people on the balcony begin fidgeting around, trying to figure out why someone would yell. Ceauşescu’s wife says, “someone’s shooting.”. One of the guards asks the president to step inside. In a bid to avoid the unwanted footage, the cameraman points his camera skyward. Ceauşescu is at a loss. The people just can’t suddenly start protesting. No way. The mic must be broken. The dictator taps against the mic and says, “hello!”. “it’s quiet,” his wife shouts.

Dec. 21, 1989. 12:34 pm. But it soon dawns on ceauşescu that the mic is working. He realizes a mutiny is brewing. The president tries to calm down the crowd, as do his wife and his bodyguards. The cameraman continues filming the december sky over bucharest. Dec. 21, 1989. 12:35 pm. The roar subsides. The cameraman gets back to filming ceauşescu. He tries to resume his address, but the crowd yet again begins to heckle him. The people on the balcony are doing their best to pretend everything goes to plan.

They are trying to lead the rally by clapping their hands. Dec. 21, 1989. 12:36 pm. Six minutes into the rally, it’s obvious that things have gone sideways. Ceauşescu wants to pick up his speech and tries to improvise by telling the crowd he has just ordered a raise in the minimum wage, child subsidies, pensions, etc. Then he proceeds to talk about what happened in timişoara. That’s what the crowd is interested in. The president calls the protests that he ordered to be brutally suppressed “an attempt to destroy romania and put it under foreign rule.”. Dec. 21, 1989. 12:5 pm. The rally abruptly winds down. The people are rushing away from the square, having dropped the portraits of the beloved president. A large group of students is walking along victory avenue toward university square, chanting, “to hell with the tyrant!”. And “to hell with communism!”.

They are being joined by other people. The police encircle the crowd, but don’t take action. Rags to riches nicolae ceauşescu rise to power was a tricky one. A general without a single tour of duty and a politician without a single win at a fair election, ceauşescu seemingly sprang up out of the blue. He started out as a loyal ally of gheorghe gheorghiu-dej, the general secretary of the romanian workers’ party, a sort of personal assistant and a wingman. Gheorghiu-dej coming into power following ww2 catapulted ceauşescu’s career. He was named the secretary of the communist party’s central committee in 1954 and a politburo member in 1955. The future dictator was in charge of the regime’s crucial forces: the army and the intel agencies. Mar. 19, 1965. Following gheorghiu-dej’s death from cancer in 1965, the general secretary’s role was up for grabs.

Several front-runners couldn’t reach a deal, and so, a humble administrator named ceauşescu turned out to be a suitable office-holder. Other communist leaders thought they could influence ceauşescu’s policies and demote him if need be. On mar. 2, 1965, the 47-year-old nicolae ceauşescu became the first secretary of the romanian workers’ party. He started liberalizing the regime by releasing a lot of political prisoners and easing press censorship. Romanians were now allowed to start small businesses. In 1968, nicolae openly condemned the soviet-led invasion of czechoslovakia. The educated class was glad the regime was relaxing its grip. Western democracies flirted with romania, prodding it to break with moscow and expecting to have it as their ally. While the country was celebrating the thaw, ceauşescu was one by one appointing his loyal followers to the key government posts, and fired the old-timers who had tapped him to lead the country, expecting to have him in their pocket. His brother ilie was promoted to deputy defense minister. His other brother, ion, served as a gosplan executive. The president’s son ran the komsomol youth organization, was a central committee member, led a key province, and was preparing to succeed his father.

A total of 40 family members of nicolae ceauşescu were employed in the government system. His wife elena, a high school dropout, led the national institute for chemical research on top of being the minister of culture, deputy prime minister, a member of the communist party executive bodies, and, lo and behold, the president of the academy of sciences. She was proclaimed a maverick chemist and showered with honorary titles and accolades. Romania saw a personality cult of the ceauşescus. Elena was nicknamed the mother of the nation, the party’s torch, and the guiding light of culture and science. Nicolae had even more epithets, including the genius of the carpathians, the deep danube of reason, the source of our light, and the creator of the unprecedented resurgence.

Ceauşescu loved it. He took an interest in history, compared himself to the great rulers of the past epochs, and even theorized that historically, romanians could claim the vast lands, including moldova, the odesa region, and ivano-frankivsk region. Ceauşescu was deeply insecure about his height, and the media was under strict orders to hide that fact. The president’s shoes bore special mads to make him seem taller. The ceauşescus were basking in luxury. They owned 21 palaces across the country, including the spring palace in bucharest, a swanky villa in an upscale neighborhood. Ad outside of the dictator’s residence, things were quite sour. By the mid-1970s, ceauşescu’s economic model had fallen apart. The budding liberalization and free entrepreneurship were all but quashed. Ceauşescu tried to use the high oil prices by building oil refineries, but they didn’t bring much profit to the country. The biggest issue were huge western loans he had taken out as the west was eyeing the falling-out between romania and the soviet bloc. But ceauşescu never broke with moscow, so he had to repay the money. He decided to do it at people’s expense. He was selling everything, above all, food products abroad. The stores were running out of stock. Sugar, flour, eggs, and other foodstuffs were strictly rationed through a food stamp program. Electricity was to be used extremely sparingly. People were allowed to have no more than one lightbulb per apartment. The tv airtime was limited to two to three hours daily. Vacuum cleaners and fridges could no longer be used.

At night, the romanian cities were engulfed in darkness. The room temperature wasn’t expected to be higher than 18c. in winter, it dropped to 4–5c. surrounded by sycophants, ceauşescu was losing touch with reality. No one dared to tell him the inconvenient truth. Any public dissent was brushed off as espionage activities. Ceauşescu developed paranoid mistrust and suspicion of others. He was scared of contracting a virus. Each handshake was followed by him using wet wipes. His bodyguards were to disinfect all the surfaces he was about to touch with alcohol.

On foreign trips, he was aided by an entire portable lab used by the chemists to inspect the food offered to ceauşescu. Later on, he would also be carrying a bag with his own bedding and tableware. April 1989. In april 1989, ceauşescu announced that the foreign debt had been paid off. It was supposed to be his triumph, the conclusion of the mega-project that had left the population starving. Little did anyone know that both the socialist romania and ceauşescu himself had several months left. Dec. 16, 1989 the palace square protest is sparked by the events in timişoara, western romania. It is home to the famous protestant pastor lászló tökés who has advocated the rights of the national minorities. The government decided to exile him to a remote village.

The parishioners stood up for him. Their protest was joined by other locals who had been driven to despair through abject poverty. Peaceful demonstrations quickly devolve into riots and clashes with the police. Ceauşescu sends in the troops. The military units are expected to triumphantly march through the city center and discourage the rioters from further action. But it has the opposite effect on them. The rioters set the commandant’s office on fire and stormed into the district party committee hq. Ceauşescu demands that the defense minister and others in charge restore order. Equipped with firearms, the soldiers open fire on the crowd in the evening hours, killing 58. They brief ceauşescu on the restoration of public order. He boards a flight to iran, expecting to get help from this country’s leadership. Dec. 18, 1989 several dozen people pile onto the square before the cathedral. They are waving a romanian flag with the communist coat-of-arms ripped out of it. The banner will go on to symbolize the revolution. The protesters keep coming. The troops open fire on the crowd yet again, killing three more. The rumor has spread nationwide in a flash. As the government-controlled media says nothing, the rumors are getting more incredible by the minute. The death toll is estimated to be several thousand, as cited by the free europe radio station. People believe this information, as the decades of propagandist coverage have taught them to trust foreign media. One thing is clear: what’s happening is extraordinary.

The country’s borders with hungary and yugoslavia have been closed. Incoming travel has been canceled. Dec. 20 1989 on dec. 20, large timişoara-based companies go on strike. The protest gathers around 100,000 people. There’s no point in firing at that large a crowd. Ceauşescu interrupts his trip to iran, gets back home, and convenes an emergency meeting with the party leaders. Predictably, he chalks up the disturbance to the subversive activities of foreign intelligence seeking to erode the national sovereignty of the country that refuses to submit to imperialist rule. In the evening, ceauşescu addresses the nation in a televised statement. He makes the first mention of the “serious events that have been happening in timişoara in recent days.”. According to the available intelligence, we can safely assume the masterminds of these rallies had close ties to the reactionary imperialist, separatist, and chauvinistic circles as well as to various foreign spy agencies.

By the looks of it, the dictator really believes it was orchestrated by a spy network while the romanians love him. That prompts him to organize a large workers’ rally on bucharest’s central square (now revolution square) and schedule it for tomorrow morning. 17:0. Dec. 21, 1989. 5:0 pm in the evening, the troops are scrambled to university square in the wake of the rally. The soldiers are unaware they’re going to fight the unarmed students. The high commands lie to them, saying romania has been attacked by hungary. A rock smashes a truck window. The commander gets his head out. He’s immediately hit with a loaf of bread.

Things are getting out of hand. It soon leads to the first fatalities. The protesters hurl a brick at the head of a military truck driver. He loses control of the truck, and the heavy vehicle barrels into the crowd. The indignant protesters take on the troops. The soldiers are firing over their heads, but several bullets hit the rioters. Dec. 21, 1989. 7:0 pm. The apcs and battle tanks are about to roll into the barricades. The soldiers are ordered to aim their machine guns at the crowd, including women and teens. The protesters set fire to the tires and threw molotov cocktails at the vehicles.

One protester gets stuck in the tank tread. Ceauşescu is still certain the unrest was caused by spies and provocateurs. He orders the activation of 5,000 workers to quash the disturbance. Only 300 agree to participate. Some of them join the protesters, while others are loitering around. Dec. 2, 1989. 12:0 am on day one of the revolution, 49 people get killed in central bucharest. Thousands have been wounded, beaten up, or detained by the police. In the night hours, the bodies are being removed and the blood mopped up. After the cleanup, the site looks like nothing has happened.

The propagandist media calls it a plot devised by scheming rioters who sought to stir a ruckus in bucharest. Dec. 2, 1989. 8:0 am it’s the final morning of romania’s socialist regime. Over the night, the news of the rally shooting have spread throughout bucharest. Workers from the largest factories are gathering to stage a protest in the city centers. High-rank officials arrive at the factories to try and talk them out of it. But they are denied entrance. The principals of some factories seek to have the gates welded so that the protesters are trapped inside.

The crowds of workers are headed to the city center. Helicopters are dropping the leaflets. The protesters, you have embarked on a dangerous path. The chaos and mayhem the people’s enemies are prodding you into will destroy the country. Spurn the provocations. Cut it out before it’s too late! Ceauşescu is exhausted after a sleepless night. He asks his chauffeur to drive him home. The bodyguards say no, claiming the road to the palace is unsafe. The once-almighty dictator is now stranded in the capital city. The protesters are headed here, to palace square, the central committee hq. The streets are cordoned off by 4,000 troops, battle tanks, and apcs. It seems like the shooting is about to resume. But the soldiers’ lives are even more miserable than the workers’. They live in poverty and have to work for free at construction sites instead of taking part in military drills.

There’s nothing to like about ceauşescu. The soldiers refuse to fire at the protesters. The latter breach the cordons and start mingling with the military. Dec. 2, 1989. 9:20 am someone tells ceauşescu that the soldiers are firing blanks. Ceauşescu summons the defense minister vasile milea and accuses him of cowardice and treason, with generals in attendance. A heartbroken milea gets back to his office and tells his subordinates, “it’s beyond me! I’m not an executioner who shoots at my fellow countrymen!”. The minister grabs and commits an act that may not be covered on youtube.

Ceauşescu finds out about milea’s death and orders his brother ilie, the deputy minister, to step up as the new defense minister. But ilie flees the hq. The nepotism strategy fails at a critical juncture. Dec. 2, 1989. 10:0 am the dictator turns to the other trusty deputy minister, victor stǎnculescu, the friend of his family who commanded the timişoara shooting. But stǎnculescu refuses to unleash a bloodbath. Early in the morning, he drives to a military infirmary. A surgeon he knows puts a cast over his healthy leg. Stǎnculescu is hoping this factor will render him unfit for the shooting. But ceauşescu orders that he take charge of the troops. Stǎnculescu realizes the only way to maintain the illusion of order is to pull the troops out of the city. He orders the military to retreat to their barracks. The army refuses to guard the government buildings. The police follows suit. There’s one left to protect ceauşescu. Dec. 2, 1989. 1:0 am the tv broadcasts the breaking news. The anchor quotes the government statement. It’s so unbelievable, it makes him clear his throat. The report claims that the minister of defense betrayed romania’s independence and sovereignty. Upon realizing he was exposed, he committed suicide. The late defense minister has been blamed for the timişoara rally shooting. People don’t buy into milea’s treason. A rumor is circulating throughout the troops that the minister has been murdered for refusing to shoot at his countrymen.

That’s the final straw. The cordons collapse letting the protesters get into the central committee hq. Ceauşescu issues an emergency, but his power is limited to the building he’s in. Dec. 2, 1989. 1:20 am stǎnculescu tells the president he can no longer guarantee his safety in the hq and suggests he should get airlifted. The mob is trying to punch its way in. Everyone can hear the shatter of the broken glass and the cracking doors that are being pushed in. Ceauşescu steps out onto the balcony with a bullhorn in his hand.

He tries to address the crowd, but it’s too late. Dec. 2, 1989. 12:0 pm ceauşescu, his wife, and two bodyguards access the rooftop. They are followed by their two remaining allies: former prime minister manea mǎnescu and the minister of labor emil bobu. They hop into the helicopter at 12:08 pm, it takes off. Dozens of thousands of people are ecstatic. Romania’s communist rule is over. It takes mere seconds for the winning protesters to occupy the central committee hq. People across the country follow suit as the activists are seizing the empty offices of the local authorities. The romanian communist party becomes history in a matter of hours. In the hq hallways, the revolutionaries have bumped into the prime minister and make him announce his resignation from the same balcony. Dec. 2, 1989. 12:51 pm.

The tv broadcasting resumes following the grim news of vasile milea’s suicide. Millions of viewers are addressed by anxious people dressed in sweaters, a stark contrast with the previous deadpan anchors in suits and ties a nervous mircea dinescu, a romanian poet, announces the overthrow of nicolae ceauşescu, saying, “god has finally faced the romanians! The dictator has fled! The dictatorship is over!”. Struggling to believe what they’re hearing, the bucharest residents are putting their tvs on the window sills of their first-floor apartments so that the passers-by could see the recent propaganda snakepit turning into a revolutionary mouthpiece. Dec. 2, 1989. 1:0 pm. Meanwhile, the helicopter carrying the president lands at the government summer house, less than an hour’s drive away from bucharest. Ceauşescu is trying to figure out his next steps, but stǎnculescu doesn’t respond. He then calls the commanders of all the military districts. Only the city of pitești confirms allegiance to him. The helicopters get airborne. The ceauşescus are dumped by mǎnescu and bobu. The couple is only accompanied by a pair of bodyguards. Minister stǎnculescu contacts the pilot and orders him to land. Otherwise, the helicopter will be shot down. It lands near the city of târgoviște. Dec. 2, 1989. 2:0 pm. The ceauşescus head roadside and flag down a car. At first, the driver, a local doctor, doesn’t recognize the president. Then, as he realizes the mess he’s been dragged into, he drops off the couple, citing a fake mechanical failure.

The bodyguards find a new driver, a bike repair guy. But the ceauşescu have nowhere to go. People at the târgoviște municipal party committee and at the local plant aren’t happy about his arrival and seek to finish him off. One bodyguard sets out to find a new ride and disappears. Ceauşescu is stunned by the contempt of the locals. He thought he was the beloved president. In the evening hours, the ceauşescus show up at the police department. An army major drives the president to the nearby military base. Ceauşescu is certain the newly appointed defense minister will provide him with cover. But unbeknownst to them, the couple is now under arrest.

Dec. 2, 1989. 3:0 pm. This kickstarts an interim period. The power is taken over by the man who’l go on to become the country’s first popularly elected president: ion iliescu. He held an unlikely job for the revolutionary leader. Iliescu was the director of the technical literature publishing house. Iliescu, 59, began his political career back in the 1950s. During the thaw, he was named minister of youth affairs. Ion had a reputation as a liberal among the communists. But as ceauşescu’s dictatorship and personality cult began to take shape, iliescu’s career hit the skids. Iliescu calls the defense minister. Following a brief exchange, he heads to the tv studio. During a live broadcast, he says the army is siding with the people in their common fight against ceauşescu. Then iliescu goes to meet with gen. stǎnculescu. In a surreal development, the defense minister reports to the publishing house director, marking the handover of power. At 3:30 pm, iliescu addresses the people from the hq balcony as the new leader. He announces the creation of the national salvation front that’s going to be in charge of the country’s policies until the free presidential election. The transfer of power has been completed. The tumult dec. 2, 1989. 4:0 pm things don’t stop at the capture of the government buildings. The romanians are flocking into this palace, ceauşescu’s residence. The folks who have spent years mired in hunger and poverty are amazed at the sight of the former dictator’s lavish interiors. Bathtubs with golden faucets, a swimming pool, a wine cellar, and even a garden populated by peacocks—that’s the lifestyle the ceauşescus were leading while the rest of the country was scraping by. People are waiting in line to get in and spectate the luxurious dwelling. Someone tries to pilfer a chess set, but he’s told to put the public property back.

Dec. 2, 1989. 7:30 pm. The tv reports the arrest of nicolae and elena ceauşescu in târgoviște. People are celebrating on the bucharest streets, chanting, “ceauşescu will see in the new year in his grave!”. But as the night sets in, the jubilant mood fades away. The police and the army engage in a fire exchange with an unidentified enemy. Bullets are being fired from rooftops, attics, and the top floors of the buildings. Gunshots can be heard near the tv center and the central committee hq. In an attempt to overpower the mysterious shooters, the military opens tank and large-caliber machine gun fire. They’re shooting at apartment blocks and architectural heritage sites. The tensions mark the start of the three tumultuous days of the romanian revolution.

Dec. 23, 1989. 3:0 am the media is stoking the flames, mentioning the terrorists roaming the country in droves. One such bleeding “terrorist” is shown on live tv. He turns out to be a securitate operative who was captured just because he had a service pistol on him. The troops are on high alert, waiting for the terrorists to strike. They are to shoot at literally anything. Dec. 23, 1989. 6:0 am air force commander gen. iosif rus decides to beef up airport security to prevent it from being hijacked. He sends in the cadets. Amid the spiraling chaos, no one tells the troops guarding the airport that the backup is headed their way. The servicemembers think they’ve been attacked by terrorists. The cadets think they’ve already seized the airport. A combat ensues, claiming 48 lives. Dec. 23, 1989. 4:30 pm. Foreign media adds fuel to the fire and further ramps up the spiraling hysteria. A french tv channel shows the bodies of those killed in urban warfare, calling them “ceauşescu’s arab militants.”. They allegedly had deputy prime minister ion dincǎ’s calling cards on them. No subsequent investigation will ever confirm it. Dec. 24, 1989. 8:0 am throughout the following night, fire exchanges are taking place nationwide. More often than not, the clashes result from the chaos and panic.

A group of soldiers kills a messenger who was supposed to relay the orders to their commander. A transylvania garrison is firing at the bushes for 15 minutes on end after hearing a rustle. In the morning, it turns out a stray dog was making the sound. Elsewhere, a helicopter carrying the two arrested generals accused of the timișoara shooting is shot down. Both generals are killed on the spot. In bucharest, the military kills the anti-terrorist special force fighters near the ministry of defense. Only one fighter survives the attack with a neck injury. Dec. 24, 1989. 7:0 pm. The fighting ends on the evening of dec. 24, on christmas eve. Gen. iulian vlad, the securitate chief, orders his special forces to “serve the country and its people,” recognize the revolution’s victory, and stop the resistance.

Following the three days of terror, the assailants vanish into thin air. The romanian revolution claimed a total of 1,104 lives. Most of them were killed after ceauşescu had fled bucharest. But the death toll was incomplete. In târgoviște, 75 km away from bucharest, the fate of the toppled president and his wide was about to be sealed. Trial & execution after days of rambling and hiding, the ceauşescus end up in the târgovişte military barracks. They spend two days in a cold cell furnished with two bunk beds, a table, and two chairs. When the couple is fed their first lunch from the canteen, they turn it down.

They think it’s all a bad joke. They’re told a slice of bland and crumbly rye bread and bland soup are part of a military ration. Ceauşescu dismisses it as a lie. The former president still doesn’t know he’s under arrest. He’s being told they want to protect him. Ceauşescu is waiting for the newly appointed defense minister victor stǎnculescu to take things into his hands and allow him to get back to his favorite palace with peacocks and golden bathtubs. But together with the national salvation front, stǎnculescu is busy planning something else. On the evening of dec. 24, a decision is made to hold an exceptional military tribunal supposed to try nicolae and elena ceauşescu. “no one said it out loud, but it was clear that they’l be sentenced to death.”. Dec. 25, 1989. 12:30 pm. The next day, a helicopter carrying the tribunal members lands in târgoviște. Victor stǎnculescu is recruiting a firing squad. Three paratroopers—platoon leader dorin cârlan, sergeant major octavian gheorghiu, and captain ionel boeru—volunteer to join in. Stǎnculescu talks to the captain to make sure he won’t balk. Dec. 25, 1989. 1:0 pm. At 1 pm, an apc takes the 71-year-old long-tenured president to the barracks that’s about to host the tribunal. “he was hard to recognize. Pale as a cloth, unkempt hair, unshaven. But he wore a nice-smelling aftershave.”. In 15 minutes, following a brief formal health checkup, the ceauşescus are escorted into the building.

Nicolae spots his friend stǎnculescu, lets out a sigh of relief, and goes, “victor! Finally…” stǎnculescu lack of reaction is a sobering sight for the dictator. Dec. 25, 1989. 1:20 pm. The tribunal gets underway. Right out of the gate, ceauşescu says he doesn’t recognize the court’s authority. Under the constitution, only the parliament may try the president. He used to have a lock on it. But the dictator himself set up a system where the law was used to prosecute the dissenters. For decades, opposition figures and journalists were tried without a shot at acquittal using the same law.

The president has access to the court-appointed attorneys, but that’s another technicality. He’s only given two minutes to hash it out with them. The defense attorneys are siding with the judge, while the judge is accusing ceauşescu of his crimes along with the prosecutor. Under ceauşescu, the political trials were a travesty of justice, and now he’s on the receiving end of it. Dec. 25, 1989. 1:26 pm. The prosecutor offers his statement. The ceauşescu are being charged with the undermining of the national economy, the armed fight against the people and the state, the undermining of government institutions, and genocide. The prosecutor requests that the court sentence the former president and his wife to death. Dec. 25, 1989. 1:40 pm ceauşescu declines to give a statement, citing the fact that he only reports to the national assembly. But the tribunal’s chair keeps interrogating him. Why are romanian peasants starving to death while the president is building lavish palaces? Why aren’t the national development programs being implemented? Nicolae either refuses to respond or quotes the propagandist tv shows talking about the unprecedented economic growth spurt, the construction of schools and hospitals, and flourishing agriculture.

He believes all that even in the face of death. The judge begins questioning elena ceauşescu. Who authored her research paper? Being a researcher, did she know about the ongoing genocide? Elena calls it a provocation and declines to answer the questions. Dec. 25, 1989. 2:18 pm. Ceauşescu’s attorneys support the prosecutor on all counts of charges. The former president refuses to give a closing statement. He insists he’l only be held accountable by the parliament. The court retires for deliberation.

Dec. 25, 1989. 2:40 pm. It takes less than 30 minutes for them to reach a verdict. As they refuse to recognize the court’s authority, they don’t have a right to appeal. The sentence can’t be overturned and will be carried out immediately. The entire tribunal lasted 1 h 20 min. dec. 25, 1989. 2:42 pm victor stǎnculescu whom nicolae ceauşescu considered a close friend and the rumors romantically linked to elena ceauşescu orders the officers to tie the convicts’ hands. “he looked me in the eye and realized that he wouldn’t die sometime later—he’d die right now. He cried. This episode still gives me night terrors.”. Dec. 25, 1989.

2:46 pm. The convicts are escorted to the outside wall of the bathroom. A weeping nicolae and his wife are placed against the wall. Nicolae screams, “death to the traitors! Long live the socialist republic of romania, free and independent!”, and croons the internationale. Elena is just cussing at the firing squad. Dec. 25, 1989. 2:50 pm. After captain boieru barks, “fire!”, he’s the only one to discharge the magazine. The two officers were so anxious, they forgot to switch their rifles to rapid-fire mode and only produce a few single shots.

The execution was so fast, the cameraman had trouble filming it. Dec. 25, 1989. 3:40 pm. In less than an hour, the ceauşescus’ bodies are airlifted to the fc steaua bucurești home field. The bodies of the former president and his wife stay on the field for a whole day, wrapped in poncho tents. The drunk guards officers take turns shining their flashlights to peer at the bodies of the former deep danube of reason and the mother of the natio people struggle to come to terms with the fact that it’s all over. A lesson to the dictators this man considered himself omnipotent. He was torturing those he didn’t like. He looted the treasury and only promoted those he liked. While on the balcony, he seemed invincible. But neither the palace fences nor the high walls nor his loyal aides helped nicolae ceaușescu. The dictator’s fate was sealed by regular people. All they had to do was get mad at him and take their lives into their own hands. The dictatorship in romania crumbled, just like it did in nearby countries. The romanian experience wasn’t as successful as that of, say, czechoslovakia and poland. The violent revolution didn’t result in a thriving romania. The reforms took longer to carry out compared to other countries. Over time, the romanians, now e.u. citizens, began to wax nostalgic about the past. Today, ceaușescu enjoys a higher rating than that of the current government. The countries that had transitioned to democracy peacefully were quicker and more successful in their reforms and development. However, the romanian story shows us that no one is omnipotent. The one who looks like an all-controlling and unchallengeable demigod today may lose not just his power but also his life tomorrow. We have a short video series titled tips for the dictators. Guys, don’t be self-assured. Otherwise, you’l end up being snubbed by a provincial doctor or car mechanic as you flag down their car. Neither you law enforcement buddies nor your endless sycophants will help you out.

👇 Give it a try