Communism took control in a number of smaller countries in the Eastern Europe. The last European communist dictator was in power until December 1989. An unimaginable amount of people suffered the hardships that a communist ruler brings. I believe that in order to understand communism we have to go back to the beginning and take a closer look at the man that introduced communism to the world and that is Karl Marx. An overview of his ideas might make it easier to understand how communism was supposed to function and why did he believe there was a need for communism at all.
Then I want to take a very close look to Romania under Communism. I want to expand a little on the policies at home and abroad of the Romanian dictator, Ceausescu. My essay will also include a study of the situation of the minority groups in Romania during Ceausescus, with emphasis on the Hungarians. One of my aims is to try and determine why he was the last Stalinist dictator to be removed from power. I also want to examine, the Romanian secret police under Communism. I want to have a better understanding of what the secret polices responsibilities were and how frightened people were of them.
Because Communism in Romania is not translated in many English books, I will rely on the internet for a greater part of my research. People refer to Karl Marx as the father of communism. He was born on the 5th of May 1818, in the city of Trier in Germany. According to http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/marx/ Marx was not as much of a philosopher as he was a revolutionary. His writing and ideas have encouraged the establishment of many communist regimes. Apparently Marx predicted in his work the collapse of capitalism for economic reasons.
He speculated that capitalism will be replaced by communism. More information about Marxs early years and his activities but also an overview of his works is given byhttp://www. spartacus. schoolnet. co. uk/TUmarx. htm. In 1845 he was banished from Paris on the grounds that he was a dangerous revolutionary. While living in Paris he referred to himself as a communist. He settles in Belgium but continues his revolutionary conduct and in 1848 he was banished from Belgium too. After this he moves to London where he remains until his death in 1883. The Communist Manifesto is one of the most well-known works of Marx.
In this pamphlet Marx argues that human history must be understood by studying the social classes and their struggles with each other. He comments on the social classes of the 19th century and argues that the most important bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx states that the bourgeoisie which was the ruling class at the time for example the owners of big factories should be afraid of a communistic revolution but that the working class, the proletariat, has nothing to lose except their chains.
Basically, Marx believed that the difference between the social classes could be ameliorated by private ownership and that individual ownership should be abolished. This way he believed a form of equality between the rich and the poor could be achieved. These beliefs of Marx have been the inspiration of many communist regimes like I said before. Unfortunately, we have many examples of countries that were controlled by regimes such as these and that have produced nothing but terror and suffering for their people. (http://www. wilsoncenter. rg/index. cfm? topic_id=1409&fuseaction=topics. item&news_id=109979) Romania was under communism from 1947 to 1989. After the end of WW2 a pre-Soviet government was set up. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was a mild communist leader. He began the process of de-Stalinization in Romania, closed the labour-camps and stopped the food rationing. He also raised the workers wages. On the negative side he enforced harsh reform on the Hungarian ethic group in Romania and spread rumours that the Hungarians were going to attempt to take over Transylvania.
Nicolae Ceausescu came to power in 1965 following his predecessor Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej who when in power was responsible for the withdrawal of the Soviet Unions troops from Romania in 1958. Nicolae Ceausescu was born on the 26th of January 1918. He began working at the age of 11, as he was born in a poor family. In 1933 he became a member of the Union of Communist Youth and the Romanian Communist party. He was imprisoned many times for his revolutionary activities. It was while in prison that he met Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.
He was also active in the effort to free Romanian from Hitlers influence. After the end of the war, he was helped by Gheorghiu-Dej and was active in the government. In December 1967 he was elected president of the state. Because of his opposition to the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Soviets in general earns him significant support from the West. In 1969 United States president at the time, Richard M. Nixon visited Romania and in August Romania is granted the most-favoured-nation-trading status. Romania hoped for an improvement in its economy and a peaceful time.
Ceausescu continued at first the policy of independence from the Soviets but as time went on he became one of the cruellest communist leaders of Eastern Europe. www. ceausescu. org gives us an insight to some of Romanias dictator policies. An article of Karen Breslau talks about one of these policies in detail. One of Ceausescus rules was the increase of population. He wished to increase Romanias population from 23 million to 30 million. Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of his countries. When he proclaimed this Romanias birth rate nearly doubled.
But because of poor nutrition and because there was no milk available the babies sickened and the lack of medicine led to an increase in the infant mortality rate which at the time was 83/1000 births. Ceausescu took this policy to an extreme. He didnt allow any type of sex-education in schools and any books on these subjects only used as medical textbooks and were categorized as state secrets. He of course prohibited the use of any contraception which led to condoms and birth-control pills to be smuggled into the country and because not everybody could avail of these, abortion became one of the most used birth-control methods.
But abortion was illegal and women for so terrified of going to the hospital that they appealed to self-induced abortion which on many occasions led to the death of the child but of the mother as well. Because of this radical law many children were born with handicaps and many were abandoned in orphanages . After the revolution in 1989 over 100,000 children were found living in horrific conditions in orphanages. Breslau tells us that in 1986 Communist members were in charge of interviewing citizens about their sex lives. There was also a tax to be paid by single women who did not reproduce.
This tax amounted to 10% of their monthly salaries. Also young couples that had no children had to pay higher taxes. Not straying from the topic about children the BBC report about the Romanian canyons of horror. This refers to the child aids ward in the Municipal Hospital of Constanta. Bob Wylie a Scottish reporter from BBC described what she saw in that hospital ward: children who were gray, sunken skeletons many with hands outstretched and twitching as they approached death.
After the fall of communism in Romania, an atrocity was discovered, there were approximately 10. 00 institutionalized children in Romanian that were infected with HIV. As Wylie report explains that this resulted after the malnourished children were given blood-transfers to improve their health. The needles were not changed and this caused the outspread of the HIV. 5000 children died. Propaganda in newspapers and on TV praised the improvement Ceausescu had brought into the lives of the Romanians. In reality things were different. Unless you had connections with communist members life was like a living hell.
People queued for hours in attempt to buy basic products like milk or bread. Ceausescu also made sure that he had support in the communist party and ensured he will be in control of Romania for as long as possible and made up to 27 of his relatives, including his wife who became second in command, members of his government. It is rumoured that in the last years that Ceausescu was in power, his health was deteriorating and that it was his wife that pulled all the strings. The Romanian Government at the moment includes very few women. There is a fear against women in power because of Elena Ceausescu.
Unemployment was not high but as the communists controlled everything if you were on their black-list you were not able to find a job anywhere in Romania. The media was so controlled by the government that there was no mention of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One Romanian common joke during communism was : God decided to allow Napoleon to return to Earth. Napoleon visited three countries: the USA, the Soviet Union and Romania. After his visit in the USA he was asked: what did you like best in America? He answered: The Army. If I had had an Army like the American one, I wouldnt have lost the battle at Waterloo.
After his visit in the Soviet Union, he was asked the same question. He answered: I liked the KGB (the Soviet secret police) best. If I had had a secret police like KGB, I wouldnt have lost the battle at Waterloo. After the visit in Romania, his answer was: the best thing in Romania is the press. If I had had a press like the Romanian one, nobody would have noticed that I had lost the battle at Waterloo. I added this joke to my essay to emphasise the control of Communist Party on the media.
Minority groups that were present in Romania also had to suffer. In the Soviet Union Lenin allowed his national minorities to be proper minorities, permitting them to have their own education, customs and language. When Ceausescu came to power, continued as I said, his predecessors policy of de-Stalinisation. There was also an increased nationalism in the national policies. Ceausescu put an accent on Romanian language, customs and history in order to increase his popularity at home. In 1976 the Communist Party launched the Hymn of Romania, a campaign devoted to the veneration of the Romanian country.
All nationalities were expected to join in. With this campaign all evidence German and Hungarian territorial identification was eliminated. Monuments and artefacts relating to Saxon or Hungarian past were almost completely got rid of. Cities and streets were renamed again, in order to diminish any trace of connection to a different nationality other than Romanian. The Hungarians in Romania were forced to cut links with Hungary and they were accused of being an instrument of the Hungarian government. Hungarian TV, Radio and calls to Hungary were monitored by the Secret Police.
As conditions worsened in Romania many citizens, Hungarians and Romanians, tried to emirate to Hungary. The numbers of the people that sought refuge there are very high. In 1987 the numbers reach 40,000. Many Romanians were shot dead trying to cross the borders into Hungary. Education of the Hungarians also suffered during Ceausescu. From 1957 to 1974 the number Hungarian undergraduates decreased from 10% to 5%, approximately. This was a result of the new laws regarding education. Hungarian had in Romania, renowned schools and universities with emphasis on humanities.