Nicolae Ceausescu

was the leader of Romania from 1965 until he was overthrown and killed in the revolution of 1989. Early in his life he played an active role in the Communist party, which resulted in imprisonment in 1936 and 1940. In 1939 he married another highly devoted Communist, Elena Petrescu. Once the Communists fully gained power in Romania in 1947, Ceausescu headed the nation's ministry of agriculture and served as deputy minister of the armed forces. Eventually he rose up to the second highest position in the party, holding important posts in the Politburo and Secretariat. After Gheorghiu-Dej's death in 1965, Ceausescu became the leader of the state and president of the State Council. In the 1960s he ended Romania's participation in the Warsaw Pact and condemned the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. After becoming President in 1974, Ceausescu began to run the country in a militant fashion. His secret police held tight control of free speech and the media. In 1982 he ordered most of Romania's products to be exported in order to pay off a ballooned foreign debt due to his mismanagement. The lack of agricultural and industrial resources crippled the country and the lack of medicine, food, energy, and other basic necessities drove the people to the brink of starvation, while the Ceausescu's outrageous consumption continued unabated. The population finally rebelled when Ceausescu ordered his forces to fire on antigovernment demonstrators in Timisoara. On December 22, 1989 he and his wife were captured and on Christmas Day they were both executed by a firing squad.  

Elena Ceausescu

was born on January 7, 1919.  Born into a poor family - her father was a plowman - her formal education ended after the fourth grade. In the 1930s she met her future husband Nicolae while being active in an underground Communist party. They were then married in 1939 and from that point on they were a team, never parting. Nicolae appointed her to the Nation Council of Scientific Research. Two years later Elena was awarded her Ph.D. in industrial chemistry despite having had other people do the work for it. All her supposed scholarly achievements and awards were entirely fraudulent. Indeed, she was seen many times dozing off, open mouth, when scientific papers were discussed. In 1980 she was appointed the first deputy Prime Minister in the Council of Ministers, the number two position behind her husband. By the time Elena started to gain power in her husband's government the country was starting its downfall. She lived her life with countless luxuries, including 40 homes, even as the Romanian people faced deprivation.  In the end, the much despised Elena was executed by her husband's side on December 25, 1989.

Ceausescu.org - Romanias Dark Age

Nicolae Ceausescu


1918, January 26

Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu born, Scornicesti village, Olt County, Oltenia (southwestern Romania).

1919, January 7

Elena Petrescu born, Petristi village, Ilfov County, Wallachia, (southern Romania).


Eleven year old Nicolae Ceausescu moves to Bucharest to work as shoemaker's apprentice.


Nicolae Ceausescu joins Romanian Workers Party.

1933, June

Nicolae Ceausescu represents the "democratic" youth of Bucharest at an anti-fascist conference and is elected to the national Anti-Fascist Committee, a front organization for the RWP.

1933, November 23

Ceausescu first arrested for inciting a strike and distributing pamphlets against state order.

1934, June

Ceausescu arrested again for collecting signatures protesting the Craiova trial of the Grivisa railroad workers.

1934, August

Ceausescu jailed for third and fourth time. In his police file he is now described as a "dangerous communist agitator" and an "active distributor of communist and anti-fascist propaganda."


Exiled from Bucharest, Ceausescu is confined to Scornicesti. Instead he goes underground and returns to Bucharest and political organizing.

1936, May

Ceausescu is tried in Brasov with a group of "anti-fascists." One of the accused, V. Tarnovski, protests so vehemently that the court excludes him from the trial. Ceausescu, declares his support of Tarnovski and incites other defendants to follow his example. He is given a six month sentence for his interruption and excluded from the rest of the trial.

1936, June 6

Ceausescu sentenced to two years in Doftana prison, plus six months for contempt of court, a fine of 2,000 lei, and a year of forced residence with his parents.

1939, August

Ceausescu spreads communist slogans at a meeting organized by Bucharest leather and footwear workers' guild. Secret police records of the meeting reportedly show that the "communist Elena (Lenusa) Petrescu, a worker of the 'Jacquard factory,' spoke to the workers demanding "bread and justice."

1940, July

Ceausescu sent to Jilava prison, near Bucharest, for political organizing.

1940, November 26-27

Iron Guard attack on Jilava prison kills 64 prisoners. Communists are saved as they are protected by prison guards, whom they had radicalized. Ceausescu is particularly seen as responsible for this.

1943, August

Ceausescu transferred to concentration camp at Tirgu Jiu where he is interred with Communist leaders, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Chivu Stoica, and Ion Gheorghe Maurer.

1944, August

Released from the concentration camp at Tirgu Jiu. Appointed head of Union of Communist Youth.

1944, September 22

First article "The United Front of Youth" appears.


Brigadier General, Romanian Army.


Elena and Nicolae married.


Regional secretary of Oltenia.

1948, March

Elected to Grand National assembly. Becomes candidate member of Party Central Committee. A son, Valentin, is adopted as part of a Romanian Workers Party campaign for Party cadres to adopt war orphans and others.

1949, March

Sent to the Ministry of Agriculture as a deputy minister.


Daughter Zoia is born.

1950, March

Becomes Deputy Minister in Ministry of Armed Forces.

1951, September 1

Son Nicu is born (died September 26, 1996)

1952, May

Promoted by Gheorghiu-Dej to full member of Central Committee of RWP.


Becomes secretary of Central Committee and candidate member of Politburo.


Becomes full member Politburo.

1955, December 23-28

Seventh Congress of RWP. Ceausescu presents report on changes in the Party's statutes presumably as the Central Committee Secretary for Organizations and Cadres.

1965, March 22

Ceausescu elected First Secretary of Romanian Communist Party, succeeding Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, three days after his death.

1965, August 21

Special session of Grand National Assembly which formally proclaims new constitution and changes name of country to Socialist Republic of Romania from People's Republic of Rumania to emphasize its passage to "socialist" status and its greater ties to West.

1966, April

Tito and Ceasescu meet in Bucharest in the first of a series of regular annual encounters for economic and technical co-operation.

1966, October

Series of laws passed making abortions illegal, divorce difficult to obtain, contraceptive use prohibited and increased the taxes on childless couples.

1969, August 1-2

U.S. President Richard M. Nixon visits Romania and Ceausescu in first foray abroad of his presidency.

1971, June

Ceausescu visits China and North Korea, meeting Mao Tse Tung and Kim Il Sung. Begins modeling his personality cult after theirs.

1972, April

Ceausescu, on visit to Cairo, meets with Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, and other members of Palestine Liberation Organization to begin mediation of Mid-East war. (May) Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, visits Romania for meeting with Ceausescu.

1974, March 28

Position of President of the Republic created especially for Ceausescu, who is then named President for life by Grand National Assembly.

1974, October

"Law for the territorial, urban, and rural systemization" of Romania is passed. This is first envisaged as "depopulation of some less developed villages and increased housing and population densities in other rural settlements, destined eventually to become future centres of urbanization".


Elena Ceausescu becomes Director of the Institute of Chemistry of the Romanian Academy.


Elena becomes ex officio member of President's cabinet through her chairmanship of the National Council of Science and Technology. Romania is approximately 10 billion dollars in debt to Western banks for large scale industrialization of the 1970s. Ceausescu announces goal to eliminate debt within a decade.


Elena becomes First Deputy Premier and second most powerful figure in Romania after Nicolae.


Bread rationing reintroduced after 27 years. Measures taken to limit the consumption and storage of basic foodstuffs such as edible oil, sugar, flour, rice, coffee, and corn. Drastic energy conservation measures also imposed.


Scornicesti becomes a model town for Ceausescu’s new Romania. Museum honoring the town's most famous native son inaugurated.


Demolition of 10,000 hectares begins in the Uranus Hill residential area of central Bucharest, for centuries one of the city's landmarks, to make way for a new palace. Victory of Socialism Boulevard designed to be at least as long as the Avenue des Champs Elysees ending in the massive House of the People (Casa Poporului) edifice, rumored to be the largest governmental structure in the world.

1984, Spring

Systemization advanced for rest of country. More than 11,000,000 people throughout country to be resettled from private one- family houses as apartment building tenants. 7,000 of 13,123 villages to disappear in ten years with remaining rural sites replaced by standard 4-5 story apartment buildings.

1984, Summer

Romania sends team to Los Angeles Olympic Games despite Soviet-led boycott.


Ceausescu's proclamation of a "scientific" diet for Romanians, is interpreted by them to limit consumption thus supporting exports.


Nicu Ceausescu, heir apparent, is named head of Sibiu County government.

Click here for a detailled chronology of Ceausescu's last 100 days

1989, December 16

Riots break out on in Timisoara in southwest Romania. Police open fire, killing scores of people.

1989, December 17

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu leave for state visit in Iran.

1989, December 21

100,000 people gather outside Central Committee Building. Ceausescu attempts to give speech. Eight minutes into speech, crowd begins chanting "Timisoara!" and "Down with the murderers!"

1989, December 22

With crowds besieging the Central Committee building and the army now on side of the revolutionaries, Nicolae and Elena flee in a helicopter piloted by Lt. Colonel Vasile Malusan. Later taken into custody by rebellious army elements.

1989, December 22-25

The Ceausescus are incarcerated in a constantly moving armored personnel carrier in the Tirgoviste army base.

1989, December 25

The Ceausescus are put on trial in an army base schoolroom which serves as a makeshift courtroom. Click here for the transscripts in english language or in limba Romana.

1989, December 25

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu executed by firing squad. Their corpses are removed to initially unmarked burial sites in Ghencea Cemetery, southwest Bucharest.


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