Romania, Ceausescu, Eastern Europe discussed on Monocle 24: The Foreign Desk


Czechoslovakia's revolution was Bohemian by nature as well as by location. Romania's revolution occurred at the other end of the spectrum on December. Twenty first one thousand nine hundred nine Nikolai Ceaucescu. who had held a total power in Romania since nineteen sixty five gave a speech to a at large crowd in Bucharest? A section of the crowd began chanting to me Shapiro. The name of the Romanian city where an uprising had been brutally early suppressed in Preceding Days Justice Goo clearly bewildered cut short his speech and scuttled from his balcony. Within four days he was dead executed alongside his wife. Eleanor after a Christmas Day Court Martial in Bucharest. Hundreds of people were killed in confused. multisided fighting Andre Kadrescu is a Romanian American poet and author who fled with his family to the United States in nineteen sixty five and who returned to Romania as a journalist to cover the revolution in December nineteen. Eight thousand nine Andre. Let's start with a bit about your personal history than tell us about leaving remind you I left as part of a sick deal between the former dictator In continued on the couch at school Was the deal with Israel and West. Germany paid for Jewish German ethnics to leave Romania quietly. We had the two Surrender remain citizenship in. We could only take with suitcase with close no papers now. Books in the Iowa's nineteen years old so I wanted to come to America because this is one of the music's coming from even by that point at which Chechen skew comes to power our was the already assent to your nineteen year old self that any resistance to the regime was going to be so difficult as to be impossible. Well there there was definitely a sense of. That's bad so I started writing poetry In High School and that was one medium that You could use to speak about your disenchantment with the regime in approach things that otherwise are not possible any direct fashion so poets are highly prized in for that reason because there was no political opposition so he could say things metaphorically in and in other ways and so I started writing poetry that should have landed mean jail a couple of years later but I never had the chance to actually shortly be well noticed by the authorities. I've I did. I did get this but nothing anyway like my older contemporaries did because a a were censored that they are expected to report to the party. Secretariat in charge of Culture Fares explained the the metaphors answered up Sir questions like what so red cow doing in verse number four during nine thousand nine hundred seventy nine thousand nine hundred eighty S. While you're we're living in the United States were you aware of any kind of resistance to the CEAUCESCU's within Romania whether it was cultural people writing Metaphor Laden poetry or any kind of trade union resistance or any kind of organized political opposition. was anything at old. You knew of. At the time time I knew about performance artists in private apartments. Not sure there was any any resistance in the unions. But there's certainly were were problems in the communist party because Ceaucescu introduced a big dose of nationalism into his rhetoric. And it's played well for people so resistance. Some not sure there was much. I think the state is pretty much a police state. By the time I left the people stir at the informers and secret. Police is pretty great. Nobody moves very much. was there any kind of sense of organized resistance among the Romanian Diaspora of which you had by then become part was I was speaking occasionally on the Radio Free Europe and Non Voice of America. The Voice of America was estate to a radio so it doesn't very interesting to us but the Radio Free Europe was was great. They are smarter than they play music. And that was where my generation I heard the Beatles and the rolling stones and the have this feeling that there was another world in that our generation in people of my age were very different from all the people in the West list as well as in the Soviet law at think that idea three Europe extremely important in getting real news from abroad and also also critical and looks at books and art happening yet in Romania. Let's move ahead to those events of of light. Nine hundred eighty eighty nine for you personally. was there a particular point at which you can remember thinking. He's going to fall. This is going to come down. I thought of it to radically but for some reason the many seem to not move all of the Eastern European states that are things going on in Romania regime seem frozen. Was it in place and impossible to remove and I didn't think until a few days in December just before the revolt intimate Shara in that nothing was going on in the rain and then received the call from National Public Radio here in the asked me if I wanted to go to Romanian I jumped to the chance. This is a day before the Ceausescu's or executed by the wrong gang I am once they're reports for NPR for ABC News. So we was quite difficult getting into the country that point and with nobody knew what was going on. There are very conflicting reports wrong. Once in our media there there there was. Talk of a civil war was Exaggerated sense of violence in the country but but two I did get there too. In December December twenty seven to chose a day or so after the Ceausescu's were executed and the country was very still unsettled Shooting on the streets nobody knew exactly go through the home but television was leading us. It turns out to everything was being Ron Ron from state television station which had gigantic clouds house in front of it. And they were allowed in so to speak to tell their story but Outs they were very carefully. Chosen and and Some of the people on television or heads of the secret police in the army and they were giving the contradictory instructions options to the to the people in the field so there was fighting on the streets. Nobody knew whose draws on whose side in the sea turns out of course. Later their ordinal sides there was a single side and the Ceausescu's were alone. They had no loyal troops weeping talking in this episode about the different why ways that communism collapsed in in the different countries of Eastern Europe and of course Romania was the only one in which there was bloodshed on on the kind have scaled. You've been describing de think there was something about the particular nature of the Ceausescu regime. That made that kind of end. Inevitable edible what's there that they could have been turfed peacefully out of power. I think that a regime must so rigid than so installed it. Excellent People's minds in psychology that I don't think there was anything other great drama to carry off the revolution coup Robert more of a good in the revolution. Eventually I think that had there was already knowledge that Romania is going to be. The last is to to fall the press from tasks from the Soviets News Agency and throw the Yugoslav agency they had been told to go to TV Shara because something was going to happen so to some extent was this revolution that I keep putting Megyn. Quotation marks was already already known to the Russians and they are clearly involved in producing us. These events in Romania. It was just more difficult because the Romanians were more nationalistic. And so we couldn't have a village in because nobody not velvet was. That's it for this episode of the Foreign Desk. We'll be back next week with the final part of this series discussing housing how the decades behind the Iron Curtain still affect the countries of Eastern Europe. Today thanks to all our guests Andre Kadrescu Michael Standoff Ski and Christoph Pinski Lewinsky the series is produced by yawning fan page reynolds and Belutti. Bill also edits the program. Thanks this episode to Ben Stanley for me Andrew Miller. Thanks very much for listening..

Coming up next