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Drama ATAR Ceausescu's Romania and events of the Romanian Revolution (1989): Home

A guide for background nformation into this era.

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The Romanian Revolution was the first to be broadcast live on Television. This link takes you to a page of broadcasts from that day. The clip below is that of dissident poet and writer Mircea Dinescu who helped storm the state run television station on the day of the revolution to announce live on TV "The dictator has fled".

Listen to Mircea Dinescu 20 years later being interviewed about the events of that day.

What was the revolution?


1989 was the year of remarkable popular uprisings throughout the world, most notably Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. December saw the fall of one of Eastern Europe’s most brutal dictators, Nicolae Ceaușescu and it did not come peacefully.

The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara on December 16, as one ethnic Hungarian pastor spoke out against regime policies. This led to massive protests and a crackdown by the military. Ceaușescu then made a speech at Palace (now Revolution) Square, on December 21, where people in the crowd, who had been bussed in to show support, began openly booing him and chanting “Timisoara!”

Rank-and-file members of the military switched, almost unanimously, from supporting the dictator to backing the protesting population. Rioting in several Romanian cities forced Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who was also Deputy Prime Minister, to flee the next day. They were quickly captured, tried, and then executed on Christmas Day 1989. The death penalty was then quickly abolished by the new government.

The National Salvation Front, led by Ion Ilescu, quickly took power and were elected in a landslide the following May; the new government implemented a series of economic and democratic reforms. Romania became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004 and 2007, respectively."  

Source: Association for Diplomatic studies and training

Revolutionary flag

The revolutionary flag was created by cutting the despised communist coat arms arms from the national flag. The media coverage of the event showed the revolution spreading across the country. Anti-Ceausescu groups were readily identified by the "empty flags". The act of cutting a hole in the former flag shows the popular power that can be gained through simple and readily identifiable symbolism. The removal of the communist part demonstrated the rejection of the government without losing the national identity in the tricolour.

Nicolae Ceausescu had created a repressive regime that fostered a cult of the personality. He had completely lost touch with the reality of every day life for the majority of the country and had come to believe his own propaganda.

The collapse of the dictatorship showed the fragility of the system, when oppressed peoples rise up against it
and the hubris that can exist when a leader is not accountable to the population.