December 2008

Christmas Time – the time when we are all children again… the time for decorating the tree and the house, wrapping presents and singing carols, and most of all being together with your our loved ones, in a Merry Christmas!


The Coronation of Freedom

December 22, 1989. Starting early morning, hundreds of thousands of people start to march on the streets of Bucharest – the streets on which the Power has washed away the blood of the Bucharest martyrs all night – towards the centre, and gather in the Palace Plaza – now the Revolution Plaza – in front of the building where the Power is sheltered: the Central Committee of the romanian communist party.

Ceausescu appears in the balcony and tries to speak to the people, promising them he will add few more bucks to their salaries. A huge boo is the answer of the hundreds of thousands of people who do not want his money, but Justice for the crimes he had directly ordered. Justice for the innocent blood spilled in Timisoara, Cluj, Lugoj, Arad, Craiova, Brasov, Bucharest.

The wave of the rebellion grows to an unprecedented measure, and the people in the front lines storm the building: the official building that for all had been the symbol of the oppression and the shelter of the evil. And as they get inside, Ceausescu and his wife barely have the time to climb to the last floor, where they are taken to the helicopter awaiting there. Another huge boo accompanies the rise in the air of the helicopter, as people realize that the dictatorial couple is fleeing. The Plaza, the building and the whole city is now theirs, the people’s. They have come a painful way till they have reached their shore. But now, the precious word Freedom is being chanted in Liberty, in a choir of hundreds of voices, as the people march on the streets of Bucharest, sharing their joy with the others, singing and laughing in the streets, like they had never done before in their lives.

It is the Coronation Day for the Freedom they had learned to fight for, in seven extraordinary days, starting with Timisoara and continuing with the major cities of Romania until the wave of Revolution reached Bucharest. Other days of sorrow will follow, unfortunately – days in which, in the underground, the forces of power have struggled to take command, and in their battle other hundreds of people have lost their lives, and up to this day the guilty have remained unknown. The guilty for the crimes commited until December 22 have been identified, and almost all of them have not paid for what they’ve done. This is the dark side of the Romanian Revolution, the part which has stained the great sacrifice and courage of the Romanians who have fought for freedom. Justice has not been done to the ones who were killed by the repression forces, to the ones who were injured but survived, to the ones who have lost their loved ones. Romania has known seven days of miracle and light – and then, slowly, it has slipped back into a common life, and what is maybe the saddest thing of all, the vast majority of Romanians have forgotten the people to which they owe their freedom, the people who have given their lives so that the lives of all the others could change…

December 21, 1989. It is the turn of Cluj, Lugoj, Arad, Brasov, Bucharest to rise and claim their freedom! And, sadly, it is the turn of Cluj, Lugoj, Arad, Brasov, Bucharest to pay their tribute of blood and desperation for the cause of Liberty! In Cluj, around 3,30 pm, a group of friends faces the army soldiers, they are all young and brave, Lucian Matis, Calin Nemes, Gavrila Ladiu, Mircea Miclea, and one of them, Calin Nemes, steps ahead, opens his jacket and tells the soldiers to shoot. And they do. The soldiers shoot in young men who had done nothing but ask for Freedom! Calin Nemes, his friend Lucian Matis, and a few others fall under the killer bullets of the army soldiers who were supposed to defend their people, not shoot them! One terrible photograph, taken by an unknown person, shows the scene of the massacre: the bodies laying on the ground, and the victorious soldiers standing beside them, alive and well.

In the hours that will come, the people of Bucharest will learn to fight in their turn, just like their fellow Romanians had done in Timisoara, Cluj and the other cities, and they will pay the terrible price for their courage!  The story of the big popular meeting that Ceausescu had organized to speak about the hooligans in Timisoara, a meeting in which the spark of the rebellion was lit, the story of the Barricade, built by courageous people from Bucharest in front of the repression forces, the story of the young people shot in front of the Dalles Hall, for having dared to knee and pray for Timisoara, like Mihai Gatlan did… all those stories of bravery and glory, of tears and grief, all are known, and the post will be continued…

Liberation Day

December 20, 1989: the day in which 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! Claudiu Iordache said, taking steps ahead, followed by the people around him. And in that moment of tension, the soldiers hesitated, and then broke their 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 houligans. There, in that Balcony, the people who had entered the Opera addressed the hundred thousand people in the plaza, saying 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 RDF wrote the first document of the Romanian Revolution, the A cazut tirania Proclamation, in which all the demands of the people of Timişoara were written: the fall of Ceauşescu, the returning to their families of the dead, 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

The Revolution in Timisoara in audio-video recordings – a series made by Marius Mioc and presented by Altermedia

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. (to be continued)

The End of Servitude

December 19, 1989, Timisoara. As they get to their workplaces, the people of Timisoara hear each other’s stories. One’s parent had not returned home since December 17. Another one’s spouse had not returned since December 18. For two days, the people of Timisoara had been counting their missing ones. Their stories spread all over the city like flashes of light. In this day they are not talking about anything else but their missing ones. They know that their loved one had been spotted last in the battle of Calea Girocului, or the one on Decebal bridge. They hear that someone who looked like their loved one was arrested – or worse, that someone was killed near the Cathedral by shots fired from the repression forces’ guns. They hear all this, they speak their stories and their fears and, most of all, their fury, which keeps growing in the day.

It is the day in which the famous Army General Gusa, arriving in Elba Factory to tell the workers that the party is defending the socialism in front of the hooligans, is booed by the workers, in an unprecedented gesture!  The workers of Elba ask General Gusa, a representative of the dictatorship’s power in that moment, to give them back their arrested and their dead. They have stopped working since morning, and they tell the general that they are going into strike, until their demands are met.

December 19, 1989 is the day in which General Gusa, one of the responsibles for the massacres of Timisoara in the days of December 17 and 18, is opposed by the workers of Elba, and asked to leave. He leaves, and calls Ceausescu, telling him: “The situation is this: there are no hooligans in Timisoara, there are the Workers!” Unfortunately, not even in this moment does the dictator admit that it is the end for his reign of terror. He will go on with his paranoia of defending the socialism by firing into his own people, for three more days…

The Horror

December 18, 1989. In Timisoara more people lose their lives, shot by the repression forces. Thousands others are imprisoned, and in the arrest they are savagely beaten by the militia and securitate forces.

The romanian communist party sends its officials into the factories and workplaces of people, to justify the repression, explaining that Timisoara has been under the attack of hooligans and irredentists, enemies of the glorious socialism that the party is working hard to achieve for the good of the people. Tens of thousands of working people listen to the lies of the dictatorship’s representatives, but in their minds and hearts they all know The Truth. They know that there, in the street, it was their children, their parents, their wives, their husbands, who were beaten, shot, killed, for the only fault of having shouted Freedom! In the Design Office of Timisoara, one man stands up while the director speaks about the hooligans, and, in a gesture that petrifies his colleagues in the audience, he interrupts the director and speaks: “This is not true! It is all a lie!” The director, after a moment of shock, calls him a traitor. And as he says the words, gunfire is heard from outside, and Claudiu Iordache speaks again, pointing to the window: “This is the truth! There in the street there are no hooligans, but Romanians who are asking for freedom! And if the Power had wanted to communicate with them, a way of dialogue might have been found, but its despise for the people has made the Power shoot fire and kill! It is not in hooligans that the repression forces are shooting now, it is in the ordinary people of Timisoara!

In the day of December 18, 1989, Timisoara retreated in shelters to heal her wounds and count her missing and dead. Outside, gunfire was heard, in different areas of the city, all day long. But the worse was yet to come: something that will surpass in horror even the bloody actions of the two past days.

Following the direct order of Elena Ceausescu, at night, officers of the Securitate arrive at the County Hospital in Timisoara, and ask that the bodies of the dead are given to them. The doctors, paralyzed with fear, don’t dare to oppose their request. The Securitate men take 44 bodies, all of the people who had been killed in the past two days, put them in the frigorific truck they had brought, and leave…

44 bodies of the heroes of Timisoara are taken to Bucharest, to the Cenusa Crematory. There they are thrown into fire and burned. The night of December 18 to December 19 the crematory functions without pause. And in the morning of December 19, the ash of the Martyrs is taken to a deserted place near Bucharest, and thrown into a gutter.

It was the supreme proof of the baseness of the two dictators, Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu – their criminal order was horrifying, and announced what was to come, if history would follow their command: “Erase Timisoara from the surface of the earth!

The Shooting

December 17, 1989. In the morning, Timisoara takes to the streets again. Most of the leaders of the previous night’s battles had been badly beaten or arrested by the Militia and the Securitate in the raids that had swept the city all night. But by the end of the morning, hundreds of people gather around the head offices of the Communist Party in Timisoara County, on August 23 Boulevard. Chanting anti-governmental slogans, a group of the most adventurous storm the building, and under the eyes of the petrified Party functionaries, they tear down Ceausescu’s pictures from the walls, they grab Ceausescu’s books from the bookcases and, together with other communist totems, throw them out of the window into the street. Outside, the crowd meets every shattering of an icon with a huge cheer. They watch as books and portraits crash from the balcony and windows. But the cheer rapidly turns into grief, for it is here that the soldiers use their bayonets on the people for the first time. The stories of the eyewitnesses are terrible: people bayoneted in the stomach, in the back, bayonets cutting people’s faces or ears… a brutal counter-offensive from the army who was supposed to protect the people, not slaughter them for the only fault of having wanted to be free… Panic and fury. Cruelty and revenge. The communist icons of the criminal authorities crushed to the ground. Ceausescu, in effigy, being dragged into mud. His glorious books set on fire. And then the barricades appear. The first clashes. Natural leaders take the lead of the crowds, directing them towards the nerves of the Power. Nothing can control the rebelious city anymore. The workers’ areas are on fire. The harrassed dictatorship is giving in with each step. The stifled soul of freedom is taking its first breaths. The army tanks, sent on the street to crush the people, are blocked by the naked chest of the common people. For the first time in the past fifty years, somewhere in Romania, at Timisoara, God is taking side with the many. God, but not His clerks, who have locked up His churches on the inside!

Timisoara, December 17, 1989. In front of the City Hall, a line of military, armed to their teeth, defend an invisible line. Thousands of people chant uselessly: The Army is with us! The Army is not with them. The Army has used its weapons against the people – and the worse is yet to come…

In Bucharest, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is yelling at the Ministers of Defence and Interior, calling them traitors, for not having shot directly in the people, as he had ordered. “I ordered that the security forces be armed, that warning shots be fired first, and that afterwards the demonstrators be shot in the legs. Why was this not done?” His Ministries make excuses that they couldn’t possibly think of taking the army out in the street with arms and war cartridges. Ceausescu’s fury is growing: “I ordered you to fire warning shots, and then, if they don’t withdraw, shoot them in the legs. I didn’t think for a minute that you were using blank cartridges. This is eyewash! Those who broke into the Party County Committee headquarters should never have got out alive! They should have been shot dead!

And so they were… in Timisoara, only a few hours later… and then in Cluj, Arad, Lugoj, Brasov, Bucharest…

In his telephonic conference, at noon, Ceausescu told the officials he had sent in Timisoara: “Some very serious events have been occuring in Timisoara in the last two days… Mistakes have been made because the problem should have been settled within an hour or two… Units were sent out without proper armament before, but now they have been given war ammunition… This is a state of emergency… Everyone who does not submit to the soldiers, I’ve given the order to be shot. People should be challenged, and if they do not comply with the order, they should be shot… I have ordered the troops to fire… They made the mistake before of turning the other cheek… Humanism does not mean joining the enemy. Humanism means the defence of the socialism.”

The Bloody Sunday massacre in Timisoara started about 5,30 pm, as darkness fell on the city…

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