Day-by-Day History
of the Romanian Revolution 1989

Dec. 15

Father Laszlo Tokes speaks out publicly against Ceausescu in the town of Timisoara. Backed by thousands, the riot police arrived to try and remove Tokes and disperse the crowd. A noisy, and at times bloody, battle ensued in the streets.

Dec. 16

Relative calm, as the Securitate and the army were called in to restore order. The United States State Department reacts with, "It looks like Romania's time may have finally come", although the majority of the world still believed that Ceausescu will successfully maintain control.

Dec. 17

A huge crowd amassed in Timisoara. The crowd became aggressive and marched on the Communist Headquarters at city hall. The demonstration was severely anti-government, as portraits of Ceausesecu were burned and thrown from the building. Besides tear gas and water cannons the army used tanks and amunition against the crowd. Many people (the exact number is not know) were killed by the army, their dead bodys brought to Bucharest to be cremated.

Dec. 18

The Executive Political Committee in Bucharest ordered the army to begin firing real bullets into the demonstrators. Civilian casualties ran high in Timisoara and the dead were collected by the army and either thrown in mass graves or burned.

Dec. 19

The resistance continued in western Romania, and the death count rose. The United States condemned the Romanian government for the use of "brutal force". It is believed that some of the army began to switch over to the side of the demonstrators on this day, although that is unconfirmed.

Dec. 20

Negotiators from Bucharest were sent to Timisoara, but really only to buy time so that new elite troops could arrive to "crush the rebellion". The Securitate continued firing on demonstrators in the street. Ceausescu arrived home from a visit to Iran and proclaimed martial law. He also blamed the uprising on Hungarian Fascists.

Dec. 21

Ceausescu addresses a crowd in Bucharest in a televised speech. Unexpectedly, the crowd became violent and tried to break police lines. A violent clash ensued in which at least 13 youths were killed. Protests began breaking out all over the capitol, and the police began arresting these demonstrators. The crowds refused to disperse and the police used gunfire and armored cars against the people.

Dec. 22

Even more demonstrators began to reassemble early in the morning. Huge crowds were locked in a standoff with the army in the main square of Bucharest. Reports of dissidence between Ceausescu and his army caused the crowd to start chanting: "The army is with us!" The crowd offered the soldiers cigarettes and flowers and the battle seemed to be shifting to one between the army and Ceausescu's security police. In a last ditch effort, Ceausescu tried to speak from a balcony, but was shouted down. He and his wife fled the capital and made plans to leave Romania.

Dec. 23

The fighting and brutality escalated in the streets, as confusion reigned. Some of the army had switched over to the side of the people and continued to battle security forces. Ceausesce and his wife were captured and returned to Bucharest. Ion Ilescu emerged as a leader of the National Front and made a list of demands on the government.

Dec. 24

The army continued to battle and gain on the Securitate in Bucharest. The National Front claimed control of the revolution and established a provisional government. Uncertainty and terror still prevailed in the streets, although it is known that the Ceausescus were tried and shot in a very speedy trial.

Dec. 25

The Ceausescu's bodies were exhibited on TV, marking "the end" of these initial stages of revolution. Ceausescu was described as unapologetic and refused to recognize the decision of the courts. Despite this, fighting continued both in the capitol and in Timisoara. It is unclear when complete order was restored and even more unclear when Romania was able to regroup after these 11 days of revolution.