First Free City

December 20, 2019

Today at noon in Timisoara the sirens blared throughout the city for 3 minutes to mark the moment Timisoara earned the status of a city free from Communism

December 20, 1989

The borders with Hungary, Yugoslavia and the USSR have been closed. Ceausescu has returned from Iran and called an emergency session of parliament in which he proclaims martial law. He demands a rally be organized for the next day in Bucharest to show worker support for his policies. The protests have spread to a second city, Cluj.

In Timisoara the secret police continue firing on demonstrators in the street. There is a general strike in all of the factories in the city. Negotiators from the government arrive and try to buy time before the elite troops can arrive and crush the rebellion.

The protesters created a group called The Romanian Democratic Front to organize the resistance movement. More army soldiers joined the protesters in Opera Square. By 2 pm the soldiers were back in their garrison and the central and local authorities had given up control of the city. The revolutionaries then went out on the balcony of the Opera House and declared Timisoara to be Romania’s first free city, released from the Communist regime. The terror would continue nevertheless.

Romanians were following events there from western radio stations like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe as well as from TV and radio transmissions from Hungary and Yugoslavia. Word of mouth spread quickly.

By the next day an ill-conceived rally by Ceausescu in Bucharest would result in full blown Revolution. Six more cities would soon rise up in resistance and bloodshed.

Published by Eric Sorlien

I am 51 and live in Philadelphia USA. I traveled to Romania about 30 years ago and I remember it still.

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