Nicolae Ceaușescu

After the start of the Cold War, both the US and the USSR sought to expand and control their spheres of influence as a method of preventing the other side from gaining too much power. This meant that both sides ended up throwing in with some unpleasant dictators in the name of containment or expansion. On the US side, we had Somoza, Pinochet, Batista and Shah Pahlavi. The Communists got Tito, Castro, Assad, and probably the most evil and demented of the whole bunch, Nicolae Ceaușescu.

Ceausescu was chosen to lead Romania in 1965, and promptly purged his rivals and bestowed positions of power upon his family members. His wife Elena was made second in command of the country, and he granted her (a grade school drop-out) a Doctorate in Chemistry and made her head of the Council for Science and Technology.

Ceausescu had grandiose visions of leading Romania into a new age, and undertook massive, expensive, and somewhat pointless public works projects to achieve this end. Unfortunately, these projects ran up massive foreign debts as well, which he was unable to pay. The Romanian economy suffered, and soon collapsed for everyone except Ceausescu and his cronies.

Additionally, Nicolae had it in for the ethnic Hungarians in his country, and did his best to drive as many as he could out of Romania. Romanian citizenry was appalled at these policies, but were kept in check by the Securitate, his secret police, who kept almost 15%(!) of the population as paid informants.

Of course, all of what I've just said is just standard dictator stuff, and could have easily applied to any of the men I mentioned in the first paragraph. What really set Ceausescu apart was his total, abject lunacy. I shall, of course, elaborate:

Nicolae viewed the problems in his country as ones that stemmed from a shortage of labor. His solution was, of course, to embark on a program of population control, except that his idea was a little different from that of the Chinese. In 1966 Ceausescu banned abortion, birth control and divorce, and decreed that all Romanian women must bear 5 children apiece. Never mind that most Romanian families could barely support two. To enforce this decree, he had specially trained birth squads set up to visit women at home and at work once a month, and administer pregnancy tests. Those women who weren't pregnant were interrogated in regards to their sex lives. As a result of this decree, state-run orphanages were soon filled to overflowing with about 150,000 orphans in a country with a population of about 5 million. Oh, but that's not all. Ceausescu's excesses are legendary...

  1. In addition to tapping phones and opening mail, the Securitate also required all typewriters to be registered. The penalty for owning an unregistered typewriter was death.
  2. After receiving a death threat from an anonymous sender, Ceausescu ordered the Securitate to secure handwriting samples from the entire population.
  3. Nicolae was intensely paranoid, and was terrified that foreigners might try to poison his clothes or give him a fatal disease from shaking hands. So he only wore clothes that had been under surveillance in a special warehouse.
  4. Ceausescu's government was Communist, but it was also anti-Soviet. This won him favor in the West, and the Queen of England invited him to Buckingham Palace to receive an honorary knighthood. However, Nicolae's paranoia caused him to bring his own bedsheets to the palace, and after shaking the Queen's hand, he quickly washed his own with alcohol to get rid of any germs.
  5. Despite his paranoia and fear of illness, Ceausescu was steadfast in his denial that AIDS was a real disease. He believed that it was mainly a syndrome of the bourgeoise West, and that Romanians would not suffer. So, of course, Romanians suffered. Thousands of the abovementioned orphans died of AIDS contracted from blood transfusions and shared needles in vaccinations.
  6. Ceausescu was given a black Laborador Retriever puppy by a British Labour Party leader, and developed an unusually strong fondness for it. So strong, in fact, that he gave it its own house, telephone, and motorcade, and promoted it to the rank of Colonel in the Romanian army.
Unlike other dictators of his time, Ceausescu met a fitting end. In December of 1989, the Securitate arrested Lazlo Tokes, a Hungarian clergyman who had spoken out against the regime. Tokes' supporters rioted, and when the army refused to shoot the protesters, the Securitate executed the army officers and then opened fire on the crowd itself. When word broke out, the Romanian populace revolted. As the revolt spread, a disgusted Romanian army deserted the regime, leaving the Ceausescus powerless. The family attempted to flee the country by helicopter, but they were caught, put on trial, and sentenced to death.

Hundreds of men volunteered to be on the firing squad. When the three who were chosen showed up on December 25th, they didn't wait for an order; they just started firing as soon as they saw Nicolae and Elena. As a Christmas present to Romania, the former state-run Television Station aired footage of the Ceausescus' bullet-ridden corpses all night long.

Thanks to and the Big Book of Bad for most of the resources (except for the handwriting sample bit)

As someone who lived in Romania for 20 years, I would like to add a few comments and make a few corrections to bitter_engineer's great writeup above:

  • Some of the massive and expensive public works projects ended up being extremely useful. For example, Bucharest (the capital of Romania) has a very reasonable subway system, the construction of which could not be done during the current state of affairs in Romania.
  • I do not know about the early years, but during the past 10 years of the Ceausescu dictatorship, there was no requirement that women have at least five children. Most Romanian families had less than three children, the average being around two.
  • The punishments were not as strict as it is believed. No, owning an unregistered typewriter was not punished by death, but by having the Securitate (secret police) keep you under investigation. However, it is quite possible that death was a better alternative to seemingly endless arrests, searches and interrogations under torture.
  • The part about the "colonel dog" is an urban legend. Making and spreading rumors about the eccentricities of the Ceausescu family was a national pastime in Romania, and one that was encouraged by the Securitate.
  • Ceausescu did not attempt to leave the country by helicopter. The plans included taking a helicopter to a military base, and then leaving unconspicuously in an unmarked car.
  • The actual time and location of the execution (on Christmas day 1989) were kept secret; nobody could have volunteered for the proceedings. Although the tape (as shown on national TV during the days of the revolution) was edited to remove any fragments that could reveal the identities of the people present at the trial, the full version released one year later showed that the execution was conducted, upon order, by a military squad.

Another couple of much needed corrections to bitter_engineer's writeup:

First, Romania does not have a population of 5 millions!!! It had a populations of about 23 millions in 1989, and a little more then 22 millions today (2003)

Second, to say that Romanian economy collapsed because of the unpayable foreign debt is partially wrong and partially incomplete. In fact, the debt has been almost totally paid by 1989. But in order to achieve the much needed foreign currency, Ceausescu refocused the whole economy toward export, which, in turn, lead to utter deficit of consumer products, from food to toilet paper. This induced a high level of unhappiness in the Romanian population for years, until the situation finally exploded in 1989.

Ceausescu: Dictator. Murderer. Madman.


Let's examine the evidence:

Ceausescu hated the cross!
According to Dr. Nicholas Dima's book, "Journey to Freedom", Ceausescu hated Christian crosses, crucifixes, and blessings. While visiting Venezuela, he requested that a crucifix in his room be removed before he would stay there. And Edward Behr said, in "Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite: The Rise and Fall of the Ceausescus", that the dictator walked out of a dinner in New Orleans because a priest insisted on saying a prayer before the meal.
Ceausescu hated churches!
Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who ran Romania's spy bureau until he defected to the West in 1978, wrote a book called "Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu's Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption". In it, he claimed that Ceausescu had dozens of churches in Bucharest demolished, declaring himself "overjoyed at getting rid of musty old churches and synagogues." And Dima notes that, in addition to the destruction of churches, Ceausescu also ordered that numerous cemeteries be dug up and the corpses removed...
Ceausescu might've been possessed by demons!
Well, probably not. But Dima claimed that Ceausescu moved in a bizarre, jerking, uncoordinated way and spoke in an eerie, stammering, guttural manner. Indicating that he may have had a less-than-solid grasp of reality, Dima believed that Ceausescu had been possessed by a host of demons who constantly fought for control of his body. Maybe not specifically vampiric, unless some of the demons were blood-drinkers...
HIV rates skyrocketed under Ceausescu!
Romania had an unusually high number of HIV cases, especially among children. In 1997, the International Health Organization estimated that half of the world's juvenile cases of HIV were in Romania. The rate of adult infection was not believed to be as high, but was still considered much higher than normal. But that couldn't have been because of Ceausescu's stubborn belief that AIDS wouldn't threaten his communist utopia and thus never funded any education or resources to battle the epidemic, right? No, man, it was vampires! Vampires!
Nicolae Ceausescu and the Case of the Vanishing Corpse!
According to Behr, when the Ceausescus were executed in 1989, their bodies were transported to a sports stadium near Bucharest. Embarrassingly, the authorities then found themselves unable to locate the corpses. Behr writes: "Army search parties scoured the area all night before finding them the following morning, near a shed within the stadium grounds. Who shifted the bodies, and for what purpose, was never satisfactorily established."
Ceausescu idolized Dracula!
Sure, Vlad Tepes is still considered a Romanian national hero, but Ceausescu seemed to carry his fondness for the Son of the Dragon a bit farther than most. Though Bram Stoker's famous novel wasn't published in Romania until after Ceausescu's death (maybe he didn't want to give the locals any ideas about how to deal with the undead), the dictator ordered grand celebrations in 1976 to honor Tepes on the 500th anniversary of his death. Ceausescu ordained eulogies, novels, artwork, a film, and a commemorative stamp to memorialize Dracula. Ceausescu also tried to move the capital of Romania from Bucharest to Tirgoviste -- Tepes' 15th century capital! And according to Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu in "In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires", only a few days before he was overthrown, Ceausescu hid out in his palace at Snagov, not far from where Tepes was laid to rest. McNally and Florescu speculate that Ceausescu was "seeking solace and support in Dracula's former capital."
What? You want more evidence? Isn't it obvious by now? This type of proof just can't be refuted, man! You could present this evidence in any court in the -- Hey, what's all this damn mist coming under the door? I don't remember any fog in the weather forecast. Oh God! Oh God, no! Nosferatu! Strigoii! Vyrolakos! Das Vampyr! Back, you foul --

Research from and

Hssst! The sun!

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