Nicolae Ceaușescu (Part One)

This is a fun, travel, foodie, photography, and laziness oriented blog where I am working hard to avoid serious stuff. Usually…

As I have promised more in-depth material on Romania in a recent post, I am now running into a severe conflict of interests, as you can not post on Romania without touching Ceaușescu, so let me take you on a sarcastic, ironic personal perspective on the “Titan of Titans.”

Warning, this is my perspective influenced by my early childhood in Romania and lots of Romanian relatives, especially my parents.

  • The first lesson from Ceaușescu is: Education is far overrated if you aim to become Dictator. The right time, the right place, and a good network are by far more critical! Four classes in elementary school will do the job. That is: how it all started.
  • The second lesson is: a highly exposed position is also highly attracting to bullets. That is how it ended.
  • The third lesson is: take a view on the system. It is still alive and vivid and well prospering.

Until my visit to Romania, after my parents were able to escape in a James Bond-like spy story in the mid 70ties, I did not meet or know a single person who was not spitting on the floor, when hearing his name.

When I was talking to the guides of the Ceaușescu Mansion in Bucarest, I got new insights. It seems, as so often, that it is far more complicated. I would put it this way: he was a perfect system component as well as a system glitch at the same time. Other as Honecker, who was quite similar to him but remained a pure idiot, Ceaușescu has gone seriously mad at the end of his reign.

However, there was probably one smart move, or let us call it a high-risk all-in stunt, that is remarkable. For this, you must know that Romania is a blessed beautiful country. It has a highly fertile ground. It has its own resources. It has a lot of smart people. It is, even though far to the east, totally Europe oriented throughout the last two millennia. It also had oil, which made it to an ally to Germany in WW2 but was depleted by the big brother through the Soviet era afterward.

Therefore, in the 70ties Romania had a well developed large scale petrochemical industry without oil. The master plan was now to win Persia as a partner and to export its knowledge to the Shah. The plan miserably fizzled, and the debt towards the IMF started to drown the Rumanian economy to death. It may have turned out different…

In this time of growing madness, Ceaușescu left some remarkable ugly pieces of history behind I would like to share here.

His villa or the Ceaușescu Mansion

You have to visit it. It is the ugliest place to live (as a dictator) I could think of but shows the very core of his mindset. The fever dream of a poor shoemaker from the province of being rich.

His palace or the Palatul Parlamentului

You have to visit it. More on this in a later post…

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