Post World War II History of Romania

After national liberation, the government of Dr. Petru Groza launched Romania's "social liberation". Parliamentary "elections" held in November 1946 were won by the progressive parties. A year later the monarchy was abolished and a Romanian Peoples Republic proclaimed. The Communist and Social Democratic parties united as the Romanian Workers' Party in 1948, the name being changed back to the Romanian Communist Party in 1965. In June 1948 the means of production (the raw materials and tools or machines u sed in the production process) were nationalised and a planned economy was instituted. Emphasis was placed on industrialisation, the formation of agricultural cooperatives, education and culture.

Throughout the Communist period, Romania was unique in Eastern Europe for its independent foreign policy which was based on disarmament, détente and peaceful coexistence with all the countries. While a member of the Warsaw Pact, Romania did not participate in the Warsaw Pact's military manoeuvres, and the last Soviet troops were withdrawn in 1958. Although Romania never broke with the Soviet Union, as did Tito's Yugoslavia and Mao's China, it refused to assist in the intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and President Ceausescu publicly condemned the invasion. It's said that after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, in which Romania participated despite a Soviet bloc boycott, Romania received a telegram from the USSR reading: "Congratulations for the following: gold - stop, silver - stop, bronze - stop, oil - stop, coal - stop, gas - stop."

Ceausescu's megalomania is illustrated by the various grandiose projects that he initiated: the functionless Danube Canal opened in 1984; the Transfagarasan Highway; the disruptive redevelopment of south Bucharest into a new political centre (1983-9); The building of Bucharest Metro (opened in 1985); the destruction of the Danube Delta through agricultural development; and the unrealised plans to 'systematise' Romanian agriculture by transferring the inhabitants of 7,000 of the country's 13,000 villages into thin, hastily constructed concrete apartment blocks, despite the cultural and social upheaval this would have caused. In March 1989 Ceausescu arranged lavish public celebrations to mark the paying off of Romania's US$10 billion foreign debt. His greatest blunder, however was to export Romania's food to help pay the debt, as this created food shortages within Romania.

By the late 1980's, with the Soviet block quickly disintegrating, the USA no longer required an independent Romania and withdrew the "most favoured nation" status that it had previously granted the country. The population continued to suffer from prolonged scarcities of almost everything. In November 1987, 10,000 workers rioted in Brasov in support of better conditions. In late 1989 as the world watched one Communist regime after another tumble, it seemed only a matter of time before Romania's turn will come. However, on 20 November 1989, during a six-hour address to the 14th Congress of the Romanian Communist Party, Ceausescu denounced the political changes in the other Eastern European countries and vowed to resist them. His speech was interupted by 60 standing ovations and the congress re-elected him as general secretary.

from "Eastern Europe on a Shoestring" by David Stanley, 2nd Edition, Lonely Planet Publications, ISBN 0 86442 116 8; © David Stanley 1991

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