Revolution (Quick Recap)


Q2_5164[1]uick recap of a Revolution.

I’ve had strong reservations about discussing the 1989 Romanian Revolution, debating back and forth for some time.


I’m no activist. And tackling political movements is always dicey. Sure, deep down I feel strongly about many issues, but having lived on a continent where “emotions and politics mix like vodka and orange juice” uniting folks only to pull them apart, having had enough of that — frankly — I wanted to show the country, the history, without any conflict. 

But talking about a nation hidden behind the iron curtain for decades without mentioning the fall of communism would be like talking about beginnings without endings.

I can’t do that. So here I go.


 In 1989 a wave of revolutions against communist dictatorships swept Eastern European countries, including Romania. Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, used his secret police to open fire on the demonstrators. The army joined the protestors and after a few days of violence the regime was overthrown. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on Christmas day.

This, of course, is only a snapshot of the events.

What I remember most is the euphoria preceding those momentous days, followed by anticipation, then bickering between the parties involved, then a new president, then a wait-and-see attitude, then whispers — from the speculating crowd — that the Revolution had been all smoke and mirrors. A coup d’etat.

I’m pretty sure no one in the speculating crowd experienced life in Romania pre-1989 and as such fell prey to the media chatter. The iron curtain truly served to keep the people in and information out.

To them all I can say is: An oppressive government, ruling by fear and robbing the treasury for personal enrichment at the detriment of its people, ceases to be a legitimate government.

A detailed account of the Revolution is more complex than this, but I will attempt a short description here.

Yes, the Romanian Revolution was part of the Eastern European wave of uprisings, sweeping the continent. And it was more than that. After decades of oppression, the populations clamored for freedom, ready to pay any price. Anger had bubbled under the surface, causing the rare spark, but it remained buried there until December 1989.

The Revolution started in the city of Timisoara, and quickly spread throughout the country.

In an effort to control the wave of anger, the dictator gave a speech in Piata Romana, a public square in Bucharest, in front of 80,000 Romanians. People were brought in for a rally to support Ceausescu after the riots in Timisoara. The dictator appeared on the balcony of the Central Committee Building to address the crowd. However, for the first time, the incredible happened. Eight minutes into the speech, people began to chant Ti-mi-soa-ra, Ti-mi-soa-ra.

TV censors pulled the plug on the broadcast. But it didn’t matter anymore. We all knew our countrymen were massacred in the streets of Timisoara and other cities, and anger reached a critical point. The volcano erupted.   

The Revolution changed little in the years that followed. A former Ceausescu man, Ion Iliescu, took power. While we regained certain freedoms, the oppression — mostly economical in the form of widespread corruption — continued.

For years now, Romania has been taking steps in the right direction. And for me, hope springs eternal as I watch the small but significant progress from across two continents and an ocean. At least until my next visit.


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26 responses to “Revolution (Quick Recap)

  1. All I know is what I remember seeing on TV. Which wasn’t much. I appreciate personal stories, the stories behind the “history”.

  2. Thanks for giving us a brief re-cap of 1989 events Silvia. It’s only 25 years ago if my math is right. Strange how place and time may change but the dynamics remain the same.. ie dictators enriching themselves with tax payers money. ie they have NOT earned the money, they have been like parasites. O well, it is early here in South Africa .. don’t let me get started. Hope springs eternal – lovely way to end this, thank you!
    Garden of Eden Blog

    • I know what you mean about not getting started, Susan. Emotions run deep when we witness — first hand — the corruption and oppression. But … yeah .. hope springs eternal …Thanks so much for reading.

  3. A fascinating and important story, and one I don’t know enough about. Thanks for taking on this tough chapter of history, and getting me interested in it.

  4. Thank goodness for hope indeed…excellent post, I remember watching exciting that you were gaining freedom from the repression.
    Loving the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

  5. I understand if you have mixed feelings about talking about this, all my respect for that. Events take place over night, but real change takes years and years.

  6. Hi Silvia .. I missed it all – being in South Africa … but I worked with East Europeans in the 70s and went to Prague in 74 or thereabouts to the Brno Trade Fair – so I ‘felt’ life behind the Iron Curtain .. though obviously know little … very interesting – I’d love to know what is going on in Ukraine right now and why people feel so tied in to the Russias … that’s for another day ..

    So pleased you posted this – cheers Hilary

  7. Silvia this was a very enlightening post for me as I often wonder what is really taking place in the eastern countries. However, sadly, I see so many of the world’s politicians following in the same shoes as the Romans toward their end. Even here in this country our politicians benefit themselves but not the people they represent.

    I think you did an excellent job of recapping history. Thank you.

  8. Hello, Sylvia

    I live in South Africa and your post really resonated with me – corruption; police brutality; censorship; and crowds bused in to do the regime’s bidding.

    I see two other South African bloggers, Susan and Hilary, have also commented. We may not all know each other but I do believe we all know that we have a problem in our beautiful country.

    “Evil prevails where good men do nothing.” We may all yet be called to do our bit in this sadly big-government-overrun world of ours.

  9. Great post, Silvia. You handled it well. But I have to tell you the problem my tired little brain is having. Your new posts show up daily in my email, and when I first saw the word Revolution, I thought you skipped Q and went right to the letter R. Then I suffered a momentary heart-in-throat panic that maybe I was a day behind and didn’t realize it. Then I thought maybe you did it on purpose to see how many of us were awake enough to realize you had skipped a letter. Then, finally, I noticed the little word “quick” and recognized that familiar little q. I guess I need some sleep this weekend. :-) Leaving now for family gathering. Will be back Sunday night. Have a great weekend and eat lots of sinful goodies.

  10. You did a good job. The revolution here is similar to many ie Egypt just recently. I could discuss this further as well but as you said – this is not the place

  11. I think people in the U.S. need to know more about other countries. I know I do. So I’m enjoying your posts, this one in particular. As someone said above, this is modern history–only 25 years ago, and now that region is in the news with Ukraine. I read a week or so ago that Obama was considering stationing troupes in Romania because of the Ukraine conflict–I guess as a show of strength. I haven’t been paying attention the last several days and don’t know the latest. Anywho…thanks for this post!

  12. Sylvia, I think you hit the nail on the head with your summary of the Romanian Revolution – first with regard to the slow process of true democracy and second, with regard to the effect of information. The internet, for example, has many detrimental aspects, but it also allows for reporting of truth. Otherwise we are at the mercy of those who regulate the news.

  13. I am so glad the country is doing better now, albeit slowly. Thanks for educating your readers. I am so glad you chose Romania as your theme for this challenge. I dislike writing about about politics, give me art and literature, but as you know, the humanities are all entertained. Cheers, Denise

  14. Such turmoil. I don’t even know what to say. I’ve never had to live it, just watch the news and wonder at the strength of the human spirit.

  15. Interesting information. I am no activist either but I do believe in information and peaceful change. Seems nothing changes, just different situations.

  16. An important post. Many of us remember the events but not the sentiment.

  17. The uproar that it must have been. I remember the news. It seemed that all of the USSR satellite nations were tearing apart. Romania seems to have maintained and restored their country. Great post.

  18. Silvia,

    I have never lived in a country where there has been such oppression and lack of freedom as you describe in your post. We are very fortunate in Australia. Thank you for sharing your story of the Romanian Revolution. I have learnt a lot by reading your post.

  19. Fascinating. I appreciate hearing a recap from someone who has emotional attachment to the country and people. I can imagine going through times like that would be alternating exciting and frightening. I love the fact that you ended the post mentioning your hope for how things are progressing. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

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