Saturday, December 25, 2010
Emperor of Romania
The first, and so far only, Tsar of unified Romania started his life on January 17, 1918, in the village of Scornicesti in the Wallachian Balkan Socialist Republic. Unlike many future leaders in the Balkans, Nicolae Ceausescu was born a peasant on the eve of the U.B.S.R.’s founding. Little is known about his early years, save for the official biography commissioned during his reign as Tsar. At the age of fourteen, he left his hometown and was relocated to work in the factories during the industrialization process along the Danube. Working conditions were tough, though nowhere near as difficult in the labor camps or those that Ceausescu would later impose upon his enemies.
During World War II, the official biography runs accounts that has Ceausescu leading his own resistance band against Nazi occupation and their Fascist puppet state of Rhomania. There is little evidence ever fired a shot against the Nazis, or was in the resistance. Gestapo documentation recovered after the war reports that Ceausescu was arrest and interned for his membership in the Wallachian Worker’s Party. It is said that much of what he inflicted upon his countrymen later in life, he learned first hand from his German captors.
Following the war, the Balkan Union tore itself apart in civil war, as the German occupation brought back ancient ethnic rivalries and vendettas. Ceausescu did participate in these wars, rising quickly through the ranks of the Wallachian People’s Army, obtaining the equivalent of Colonel by 1960. It was around this time he began to become deeply involved in the Worker’s Party, rising in rank as quickly here as in the army. By 1965, he was within the Party’s inner circle, and by 1967, he had enough support from Party men and the army to launch his own coup.
His enemies were dealt with quickly; some 20,000 alone were executed in his first year as General Secretary. Most of the 1970s were spent in reforming Wallachia, and streamlining the previously inefficient councils. By 1978, Ceausescu had turned the country into a one-man dictatorship. His Romanian National Front soon eclipsed the decaying Worker’s Party as the new face of the state. During his first decade in power, he encouraged a cult of personality around him, elevating him to the Communist pantheon, along side Marx and Karadordevic. His influence expanded well beyond his own borders, into the third incarnation of the Balkan Union, as well as Moldova, Transylvania and Bulgaria.
On January 7, 1980, juntas organized by Ceausescu and his foreign supporters took control simultaneously in Moldova and Transylvania. One of the RNF’s long standing goals were the unification of the Romanian people under one ruler, that being Ceausescu himself. On May 8, the three Romanian states, one independent and the other two with puppet regimes, signed a treaty of unification, establishing Romania. A month later, Ceausescu crowned himself Tsar Nicolae of the Romanian Empire. His first act was to purge Transylvania of its Hungarian minority.
Bulgaria, not being Romanian, was reluctant to join this empire, though it had much support within the government in Sofia. It took the Valentine’s Day Invasion of 1981, with the Tsar in personal command, to make Sofia sign the treaty. Bulgaria was a short-term resident within the empire. The Bulgarian people proved most uncooperative to the Tsar’s plans, and the drain on the Romanian states continued until 1984, when Bulgaria was let go.
During the early 1980s, the Tsar worked thousands to death on constructing the Palace of the People in Bucharest. This palace still holds the record as the largest administrative building in the world, and is only outsized overall by a few aircraft assembly plants. The palace cost ten billion Dutch Guilders, three thousand lives and four years to complete. Several districts of Bucharest, including some dating back to Medieval time, were bulldozed to make room for the neo-classical monstrosity.
Life was not all good within the Palace. The heir designate, Nicu, took over reigns of the puppet parliament, and his sister Valentina was placed in charge of the Ministry of Industry and Technology. Both proved to be as ruthless as their father. In the case of Valentina, when the workers in a Sibiu Steel Mill went on strike, she ordered army units in the region to break the strike. Leaders of the union, as well as other Steel Unions, were put on trial as traitors to the Empire and executed between May and July of 1987. The only one of the Tsar’s children who was not cold-hearted and cruel, was Zoia, whose defection to the Italian Federation in 1988, hit the Tsar hard.
What brought down the Emperor was not the will of the people or outside invaders, but his own socialist planning– or at least his own concept of socialism. By 1989, the total debt collected during the Imperial Years nearly equaled the country’s annual income. Banks began to stop handing out loans, and a few demanded payment. Cuts were made across the board, with the Army being the only exception. During the summer of 1989, hard times hit the country as stores ran out of goods and queues wrapped around city blocks. Some citizens were forced to wait in line all day for their bread rations.
Popular uprisings spread like a wildfire across the country in the Fall of 1989. The Tsar became more and more erratic, and in October of that year, turned against his own army chiefs. He went as far as to accuse General Michael Romani of treason when he refused to fire upon crowds of hungry Romanians. When he attempted to have Romani arrested, the Army mutinied. Like Ceausescu before him, Romani had the support of the Army when he pulled off his own coupe.
The Tsar, his wife, and children still in Romania, were put on trial on October 8. The trial lasted for only two hours, and ended with the Imperial Family found guilty of crimes against the people. By the end of the day, the Tsar was taken out into the courtyard and shot. At the end, his iron will that he worked so hard to project broke down, as he offered the guards taking him to his execution two million guilders each if they helped him escape.