Communism collapsed in 1989 and one after another, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia replaced the former communist regimes by democratically elected governments. In December 1989, protest erupted in the communist Romania and the events turned violent. People started protesting on the streets and Ceausescu ordered the police and the army to crush the protest. 1142 people were killed and more than 3000 were injured. Ceausescu and his wife were captured. They were found guilty by a people’s court and executed on the Christmas Day. At that time, my mother was living in Bucharest and she took part of those events.
A good reason for me to interview her regarding what happened. Luca: Mum, I need some information regarding the Romanian revolution. Do you have time to answer me some questions? MB: Yes. Let me take a coffee and we can seat on the living. 4 minutes later we were sitting on the comfortable grey sofa in the living. Luca: How old were you at the time of Revolution? MB: I was 21 years old. Luca: I know that before Romania, other countries changed the communist leaders. Was that the reason why the revolution started in Romania? MB: I’m not sure. The Romanians did not have a lot of information about what was happening outside the country.Order now
People listened to clandestine radio stations “Radio Free Europe” and “Voice of America” that broadcasted from other countries. But we could only listen late at night with the fear that the national security will ring at our door and arrest you. Luca: Then why do you think the protests started? MB: I think people had reached their limits of waiting. The people had everything they needed: they had homes, they had food, a job, but one thing was missing: freedom. The freedom to think, the freedom to say what you think, the freedom to visit other countries.
We were like birds kept in a cage. We dreamed about freedom. Luca: I heard that it started on the 16th of December in Timisoara. MB: Yes, first was Timisoara. Some people gathered near the pastor’s home of László T? kés who had been removed from his post by Ceausescu. Many passersby spontaneously joined in. People started to chant anti-government protests “Down with Ceausescu”, “We are the people”. And Ceausescu ordered to stop them. Do not forget that Timisoara is a small city in the west side of Romania; meaning it was simple to close the city and to send army to stop them.
Luca: But after Timisoara, people from other towns started to protest. MB: Yes, the revolt spread to the center of the country, yet every time the army was sent the people would return home. 5 days was this go-return but Bucharest seemed asleep. Increasingly was to be heard on the streets the current Romanian national anthem “Wake up Romanian” which contains a message of liberty and patriotism. On December 21st, Ceausescu addressed from the balcony of the Central Committee building to people in Bucharest to condemn the uprising in Timisoara.
He promised to raise the salaries and student scholarship. After a few minutes some people started chanting “Timisoara! Timisoara! ”. Ceausescu raised his right hand having a stunned face. The speech was live on Romanian television and probably more than 70% of the nation was watching. The live video was cut and replaced with communist song and pictures with Ceausescu. People realized that something was happening. It was the start of the end for Ceausescu. Luca: Where were you when the revolution began? MB: I was a student at this time and I was working 4 hours/day to get my pocket money.
I was at work when the Revolution started. We were obliged to look to the speech on television and we have seen when the video was cut off. The place where I was working is placed in an industrial platform of Bucharest. After 40-60 minutes we started to hear people shouting outside “Come with us! ”, “ Timisoara! ”, “ Have no fear, Ceausescu is falling”. Bucharest woke up. The people started to gather together and go towards the center of Bucharest. Luca: And? Did you left? MB: Yes, I left. We were waking towards the subway, but the police had stopped the subway, buses and trams.
We continued to walk towards the center of the city between TABs (armored personnel carriers), tanks, the army and police. Our trip lasted 2 hours. Luca: What was the moment that impressed you the most in those days? MB: The most? The moment when walking on Magheru boulevard, we arrived in front of the shopping center “Eva”. On the left side of the boulevard was one tank with soldiers around having shotguns directed toward the other side of the street. And on the other side of the boulevard, where the shotguns were directed, were simple people, like me, shouting: “ You cannot fire! You are our brothers!
The army is with us! ”. For some long minutes I was stuck between them, looking to one and other and crying. I could not understand how some people could have the courage to stand in front of the shotguns and how soldiers had the “soul” to stay with their guns pointed at us. The powers were not equal, ordinary people with bare hands against army’s weapons, tanks and shields. It was terrible. And after they started shooting, I ran like all others. Luca: Weren’t you afraid? MB: Of course I was. Everybody was afraid and maybe unconscious. But we felt that if we wanted a different life, it’s time to do something.
Our grandparents have hoped for a better life, our parents the same. We thought it’s better to do something than to sit and hope. Everywhere people waved the Romanian flag without the communist coat of arms, expecting they would be fired upon. Everywhere you could hear the song “Wake up, Romanian! ”. We were afraid, but it was our time to write the history. And our desire for freedom gave us the courage. Luca: If you could turn the clock back, knowing that a lot of people would be killed and injured, would you do the same? MB: Yes, I would do the same!
And if I were to be killed my only regrets would be that I would not be able to see the changes in the country and you wouldn’t be born. Luca: Do you remember something else important which you would like to add? MB: No, only the moment when in that day I returned home (my parents were desperate as they didn’t knew anything about me since lunch time – well, mobile phone were not at this time). I remember I entered in our flat and my father was coming to me saying, “we are free”. My mum came and we were all three hugged and cried. Luca: Ok, if you have nothing more to add, thank you very much.