December 20, 1989: the day when Timişoara became a free city! In the morning, the workers of Timişoara left their workplaces and, together with other tens of thousands of people, started to march through the city, till they reached its center. At noon, over one hundred thousand people stood in the Opera Plaza of Timişoara, facing the line of armed soldiers that were surrounding the Opera. At around 1,30 pm, the balance was broken by a man who stepped ahead, opened his jacket and asked the army officer to shoot or to step back: “Your weapons are paid by us“, he told the officer. “The bullets in your weapons are paid by us, and so are the army clothes you are wearing. Those people want Freedom, still you have shot them dead in the past days! Shoot us too, now, or step back and let us pass!” said Claudiu Iordache, taking steps ahead, followed by the people around him. And in that moment of tension, the soldiers hesitated, and then broke the line and started to retreat, and the people advanced towards the Opera. In the beginning, around twenty of them managed to enter the Opera, and reached for the Balcony, where an amplifying station had been installed for communist prime- minister Dascalescu, who had wanted to address the people in the attempt to explain again about the hooligans. There, in that Balcony, the people who had entered the Opera addressed the hundred thousand people in the plaza, revealing their names and professions, and asking for the freedom all of them wanted! Lorin Fortuna, Ioan Chiş, Claudiu Iordache, Nicolae Badilescu and the others took turns in speaking to the people. There, in that balcony, a Committee was formed: the first free antitotalitarian party named The Romanian Democratic Front.
The Romanian Democratic Front wrote the first document of the Romanian Revolution, the Proclamation entitled “A cazut tirania!“, in which all the demands of the people of Timişoara were put on paper: the fall of Ceauşescu, the returning of the dead to their families, the freeing of the arrested, the declaring of Timişoara as the first city free of communism, free elections. The enterprises and institutions of Timişoara were invited to send their representatives to the Balcony, so that they could become part of The Romanian Democratic Front.
The first speeches from the Opera Balcony, Timisoara, December 20, 1989
(transcription of the recording)
(the audio recording)
The Revolution in Timisoara in audio-video recordings – a series made by Marius Mioc
In the same time, at the communist council county’s building, a similar event was taking place: tens of thousands of people who had marched towards the communist party’s center in Timisoara stormed the place and found their way to the Balcony, just like it was happening in the Opera Plaza. Late in the evening, the two Balconies merged, the demonstrators from the Balcony of the county’s building came to the Opera Balcony. In the Opera Plaza fires were lit during the night, helping the demonstrators warm up as they looked towards the next day. A day in which no one could imagine what would happen, since on December 20, 1989, at noon dictator Ceausescu had aired a speech in which he praised the army for having done its duty, and promised a repression even more radical in the following days.