The Tyrants’ Escape and Capture

The Ceausescu’s Flee Bucharest. Tudor Hulubei Photography

December 22, 2019

Today, Sunday, Revolutionaries, authorities and citizens remember the dead with an honor guard at the memorial in Revolution Square, a march, religious services and a short speech by President Iohannis opening an exhibition on the Revolution. 1,142 balloons representing the dead were released.

December 22, 1989

By now the cities of Brasov, Arad, Braila, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Hunedoara, and Sibiu have joined Timisoara and Bucharest in the violence that would continue even after the deaths of the Ceausescu’s on Christmas Day. Today is the last day of existence for the Communist regime in Romania. The Ceausescu’s flee the Communist Party Headquarters in Bucharest, but are captured and imprisoned in a tank for several more days until their trial and execution. Control of the country prolongs the Revolution into January.

A soldier and students remove the sign from The Communist Party Headquarters. Tudor Hulubei Photography

On Friday the 22nd People continue to flood the capital. The squares are filled with people risking their lives. That morning Ceausescu called for a Committee meeting to say he had taken over the army, believing that things would soon be under control. But he got news that a mass of angry industrial workers were headed for Bucharest. He addressed a spontaneous, but angry crowd from the balcony of the Communist Party headquarters, but part way into the speech someone came to him and said, “They are coming in!” meaning the huge entrance doors had been breached. The Ceausescu’s headed for the roof where a helicopter had landed. As people from the crowd streamed across the roof the overweight helicopter took off. It was shortly after 11am when the dictator told the pilot to head for his palace in Snagov, roughly 24 miles north of Bucharest. Meanwhile the crowd threw books and document from the balcony. Across Bucharest people displayed the Romanian flag with the Communist emblem torn out, some on tanks.

The Ceausescu’s were unable to get reinforcements at Snagov, so they took off again. But the pilot so terrified Ceausescu by dipping up and down claiming he was avoiding possible anti-aircraft fire that Ceausescu ordered him to land. The driver of the first car they comandeered faked an engine problem. The driver of a second car they flagged down took them to an agriculture technical institute, The director ushered them into a room and locked them in,

When the army came and apprehended the Ceausescu’s they noticed he kept looking at his watch and realized he was signaling for help, so they put him in a tank and drove around, eventually holding them both in a military compound until the trial three days later.

On this Friday the 22nd, the commander in chief of the army gave his allegiance to the newly formed National Salvation Front, headed by the future President of Romania and former Communist official, Ion Iliescu.

The people and army gained possession of the TV and radio stations and announced the new alliances and the ouster of Ceausescu. Yet that night the Securitate secret police attacked the people now occupying government and institutional buildings. They were following a resistance plan that the Communists had devised for foreign invasion and similar situations to this, according to the book, “Snipers and Mistifyers” by Andrei Ursu and others, released last Thursday (Tragatori Si Mistificatori, http://www.polirom.ro) It claims the Securitate did not surrender its weapons until January 4, 1990.

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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