romanian literary monthly

~Ioan Bozac: „The first days“

 (fragments of the work “The six months”, which treats the period December 16, 1989 – June 15, 1990) 

I was full of admiration looking at the ones who had moral authority to be there, as representatives of the revolutionaries (I can at all times call them like that) from Bucharest: Romeo Raicu, Florin Filipoiu and others. I don’t remember exactly whether there were also Dumitru Dinca and Dan Iosif, who – as we know – have appeared subsequently more often, but not on the same side of the barricade, as they had been – in a proper mode. Anyway, I made up an idea about the confrontations from the Capital, too. I don’t insist, because I’m not in the situation to have something special to say.

The subsequent biographies of these men, seen by me in that exceptional day (December 22, 1989) are also proofs for Iliescu’s imposture, backed up – naturally – by great efforts to remove uncomfortable witnesses. (I have the conviction that legitimacy – for which he went so much and which he claimed in front of those who had no way of contradiction – won’t be granted to him by history, as he hasn’t got it from lucid minds, either.) Dumitru Dinca hasn’t yet fulfilled his dream to see communism brought down, but continues to fight for that dream also on forums where I can learn his ideas. Dan Iosif – the only who offered a revolutionary source to Iliescu’s party, under its diverse denominations – has left politics, as far as I know. (Unfortunately, in 2007 he has also left this world, because of a cancer.) As for the others, they appear only on anniversaries; otherwise, they continue to practice their profession. We ought to consider Doctor Filipoiu a pride of our “guild”.


With the conviction that my message is clear and hoping this new digression doesn’t affect the narration, I reach the most important – as I was to ascertain thereafter – apparition from the first hours of free expression: Ion Iliescu’s. (Another one who fought from the interior against Ceausescu – about like Patriarch Teoctist.) He was presented by Brates with much ado: “a son of revolutionary, he himself a revolutionary”. Reading his biography recently, I realized what this really means, but when I saw him for the first time I had not heard of. Conversely, my father knew a bit: that he is the one seen by Gorbachev as a reformer of the system here, in Romania. Sure is that I couldn’t assign him any kind of dissidence – and there had been more than a year since I listened to the foreign radio stations.

I realized quickly that many in the studio, with the coordinator Brates in front, were aware about the role destined to that man with a modest aspect, starting with clothing. I find the term “role” appropriate; soon it was easy for me to come to the conclusion that the representatives of the television have machinated in such a manner that they impose to the public this quasi-unknown man, smoothing his way.

It was also bizarre for me that he spoke untroubled, with the stir in that room. I was asking myself by what is the director of the Technical Publishing House – as he introduced himself – more worthy of attention than those who had suffered in the streets. He also affirmed that the revolutionaries with full sympathy had brought him from the publishing house, almost forcing him to leave his job earlier. I couldn’t dissipate my puzzlement urgently; I left it temporarily in obscurity, as I focused upon listening. I approved him at the beginning, as I also had the opinion that socialism had been tainted by Ceausescu.

Some specifications are here imposed: I have always believed that a decent life is possible for all, and I continue to wish a society to create its frame. The party documents defined communism as a world where these ideals would have been satisfied. The perfect equality between all individuals was listed, and another fundamental feature was expressed by a well-known – at that time – formula: “from everyone according to his/her capacities, to everyone according to his/her needs”. My horizon and life experience being limited, I wasn’t aware that such a society is for angels, not for humans. Now it’s clear that a long time will pass until (if ever) the engines of individual and communal progress and richness will no more be the competition and the concern for private property. As a matter of fact, one could see the outcomes of Gorbachev’s actions, based on his confidence in the positive side of the system.

Therefore, only this is left to say: fortunately, the construction of that communist society was not attained by those who installed socialism, in the sense used by Iliescu, too: the totalitarian regime pretending to belong to the left wing in politics and to which the denomination “communism” was applied after 1989. With this signification – which doesn’t correspond to mine, but I want to avoid confusions – I have used the term, and still will. (There appears an even greater confusion when some assimilate communism with the ideology of Marx, Engels and Lenin.)

It’s futile, maybe, to point out that the essence of this first intervention of Ion Iliescu was predictable; almost all of us were preparing for a kind of perestroika or a “communism with a human face” (it was only about the face, indeed). I saw, however, Corneliu Manescu as the new leader. Thus did the French announce, and I thought the reason is his international prestige still in remembrance. By the time I learned that in fact it was about a certain resemblance to Sergiu Nicolaescu (also present from the beginning of this unforgettable transmission), we – those in the interior – were already edified regarding the one who reached leadership.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have imagined that Iliescu reappear; in any case, not more than others. That’s why I was surprised – state which quickly left space for a sort of resignation, as the man was far from enchanting me – when he was the one to communicate that the National Salvation Front (NSF) was constituted. This already told that he would be counted among the new leaders, and of course I wasn’t understanding what gives him the right to be there. (That moment I had no way to know that in the building of the Central Committee governments had been done and undone. Even the former prime-ministers Dascalescu and Verdet had come to offer their services, but it was natural that they be chased by the representatives of the demonstrators. These, too, were removed – by those prepared to seize power and who attempted thereafter to impose what they missed: legitimitacy, stolen from the authentic fighters against Ceausescu, in the first place.)

When I could judge the events with detachment, it became clear to me – even without knowing what happened in the backstage – that the revolutionary phase ceased (and was even counteracted) when Iliescu made the leap into the front place. For the moment, however, it was not so obvious that he took hold of power. With the ability that he was going to prove repeatedly, he co-opted into the NSF Council all the known dissidents. I had no objects toward Laszlo Tokes, Doina Cornea or Mircea Dinescu, and neither toward the authors of the protest letters from communist positions. On the contrary, even today I think about Ana Blandiana that she didn’t intend anything subversive in the poem with the tom-cat Arpagic, but one couldn’t expect from her to shed light; obviously, she found this posture suitable. I was totally puzzled concerning Gelu Voican-Voiculescu, of whom quite none of us had heard. The activity he had shared to us (geologist incessantly researching through mountains) did in no way match with his military outfits. I didn’t like the name of the new formation, either; it took my thought to the National Rebirth Front of Carol (Charles) II (king of Romania who created this structure after he abolished all the political parties). Nevertheless, I was easily ignoring details. It was crucial that we had got rid of Ceausescu – and there were some who knew this much better than us, the common people.

As the one who had read this first act of the new power, “with your permission, the last on the list (Iliescu)” justly said, the priority was to assure vital necessities constantly. Instructions had been given probably, since rapidly were formed NSF organizations down to the level of villages. I still had the naiveté to believe that they had been created by ordinary citizens, and not by the metamorphose of the party apparatus, taught with a firm discipline. (I was only partially mistaken; just like at the central level, the authentic opponents were progressively reduced to silence.) Conversely, it became clear to me that the last on the list (as it was normal to put himself, since he was reading the communicate) was going to become the first in hierarchy. What I didn’t imagine was how much blood and grief was he going to provoke along with the maneuvers destined to impose his position.


The next event wich I consider outstanding in the entirely memorable afternoon of December 22 is the first meeting under the auspices of the new power. Because, as I underscored, only beautiful thoughts and sentiments had then a place inside me, what I saw didn’t seem otherwise to me than extremely peculiar and illogical

It’s probably easy to suppose what I mean: speeches were held from the balcony of the Central Commitee, so on the side of the Palace Square opposite to that where Ceausescu had spoken (which only know seems suggestive to me). The speakers were in the range of spotlights, as it had darkened outside. Simultaneously, in the background (where, evidently, the street enlightenment wasn’t working) fire exchanges took place. It was bizarre that the soldiers – who, as I told, had fraternized with the opponents of Ceausescu – were conducted by two actors: Ion Caramitru and Sergiu Nicolaescu. I have speculated, by the way, that the latter thinks he is in one of the films directed by him over the years.[1]

All in all, what was happening made no sense. Logically judging, the regular troops could shoot only on those still faithful to the one who had fled. The television had already presented them as elite military, specialized in diversion and terrorism. (They had been mentioned in connection with the poisoning of the water sources, if my memory serves me right.) Given their training, they should have aimed first of all the new leaders, especially if they exposed themselves like in those moments. On the other hand, one expected that fight against such military be coordinated by those in the domain (generals Guse and Vlad – at the head of the army and Security troops, respectively), especially as they had announced to have passed under the command of the new structures. The situation seemed too serious to assimilate it to a cinema sequence. And yet…

As I’ve pointed out before, I couldn’t imagine on the spot that all of us were double-crossed. Completely different, however, was the situation in the autumn of 1990, when I arrived in Bucharest for the first time after Ceausescu’s fall: I had been edified for some time regarding his follower (in more senses). Nonetheless, in the bottom of my soul I refused to accept that the latter had mocked our enthusiasm so badly, so I said to myself that I must see personally – the only criterion which, since Christmas1989, I consider absolute – how the shooting was in the Palace Square. Cruel truth was confirmed: all the buildings in the zone were riddled with bullets, apart from the residence of the Central Committee – become the one of the Senate; it hadn’t been touched, even by mistake. What can I say about the University Library? To strike with the cannon in a cultural site is typical for a Bolshevik of the most miserable breed. At the same time, however, it was the only part of that meeting which had something intelligible within: you could immediately make the connection with the period spent in Moscow (as a student) by the one who in the meantime had become democratically elected president.

I know it’s tiresome for the majority to follow a frequent change of planes, so I’ll strive to inhibit this tendency. On the other hand, I’m convinced to have conveyed the desire to transpose myself in those days, also in order to avoid doing the grand and seeming cynical. Having these in mind, I’ll say nothing about terrorists except that we had all reasons to believe they are active, since they still had whom to fight for. Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu had been seen in several cars, continuing their run. I was wondering that so many forces – military and volunteers – weren’t able to stop a Dacia (a Romanian type of car) for which the route and license number had been given, but I attributed that to the chaos in the country. I had too great emotions and too much credulity to figure out that in fact what was natural had happened: the two had been captured, but the interest was not to make public the indubitable final of the preceding regime. There wouldn’t have been any longer justifications for the armed confrontations and the maintenance of tension. The manipulation wasn’t perfect, however; even I felt something dubious when it was announced – later in the evening – that in Timisoara the shots were resumed. There was no one to do it; it was known that the army had passed on the people’s side even during Ceausescu’s rule (for two days at least), and special troops hadn’t been displaced there.


The best way of focusing on the essential next is to highlight the proclamation of the National Salvation Front, thus bringing it back again to the place where I have put it when it was read (by Ion Iliescu, of course). I do not wish to describe it in detail; I wouldn’t be able, either, only out of my memory. I feel, however, the urge to do some commentaries – especially because I see in it two distinct parts.

I wasn’t impressed by the promise to assure food, electricity, heat and fuel necessities; it only made me notice again what misery we had reached. In no country of the Soviet block was there any question about lacks of this kind, as I had seen right there. As for the liberation of the abortions, it was a come-back to what Ceausescu had forbidden. Therefore, I continued to feel that they prepare a more endurable communism and nothing more. As a matter of fact, I keep in mind that during all afternoon the term “comrade” had been used, first and foremost for Iliescu, Barladeanu and other veterans of the party.

Quickly came, however, the great surprise: the commitment to organize free elections, so a system with more parties. At the electoral chapter I had reserves; I didn’t quite imagine that, till spring, can set themselves afoot parties able to contend with the unique existent. I must add that I didn’t even think of the Liberal or Peasant’s party; I was convinced that they had disappeared in 1947 – with their members altogether, of course. In a word, it seemed remarkable to me that there is the intention to set grounds for an authentic democracy, but I had the reticence that we want too deeply to equalize at once countries like Czechoslovakia, which had broken with communism having completely another level – not only of life. Anyway, as the elections were announced, the term “comrade” disappeared[2].

What is truly important can be related in a few words, so I have no reason to speculate any more upon this document. It would be futile to add what I felt with the perspective of a normal life, which I had a short time to know directly (just for two weeks had I stayed in Federal Germany and in Austria). About the illusions I made I’ll speak farther some more; for the moment I want to highlight – also in some correspondence with the beginning of this paragraph – how unpleasantly was I impressed by the analysis done as for idiots of the text proclamation, with which Ioan Grigorescu wasted our time.

I omit (as I did when he appeared) the fact that he had been a privileged of the Ceausescu regime – impression which couldn’t be wiped out by the interruption of the episodes of “World spectacle” (a serial of documentary films). His books continued to be available, and one of them proved that he complies with the orientation from above. Short time after the emperor of Iran, and the leader had passed from exhibiting a great friendship to the condemnation of the “esploiter”, Grigorescu had rushed to underline that the handles at the toilets within the palace in Teheran were of massive gold. I remembered this as he twisted in all possible ways every word of the proclamation.

Until showing how loathing evolved to fury, there is one more sequence I can’t omit: around midnight, when the birth of the newspaper “Tineretul liber” (“Free youth”) was announced (out of the official paper of the Communist Youth Organization), those who had contributed to the first number (seemingly Caramitru was among them, too) spoke about “the German Jew writer Heinrich Heine. Immediately the thought transported me to the legionnaires (Romanian organization considered of extreme right before World War II), whom I considered extremists at that moment (and it had no way to be otherwise). It’s clear what sort of opinion I had of them, as I was fed up with the others – so-called left-winged. (I’ll stress “so-called” at all times, because I pretend to have an idea about the left and right orientations. That’s why I see the political spectrum as a circle: the extremes draw near.) Coming back to this kind of reference to Heine[3] (friend of Marx, by the way – as one knows), I realized subsequently that it was one of the first signs for Iliescu’s intention to compromise capitalism. Unconsciously or not, those from “Tineretul liber” played his game, by opening the path for connections of ideas centered on the flaws of democracy.

I am not sure whether also in those hours have appeared veterans who communicated the restoration of the National Peasants’ Party, at whose name they added the orientation (Christian and Democratic), thus adapting to contemporary times. Obviously, it was for me a huge surprise, which – naturally – has eclipsed the impact produced by the reappearance of the National Liberal Party. I also don’t remind whether these historical parties have immediately communicated their intention for “restitutio in integrum”[4], which was an immense political blunder. This claim was also totally unfounded; not for them had the youngsters sacrificed themselves. The sole result they obtained was to draw water to Iliescu’s mill (and give him electoral advantage): it was easy that the bugbear with the return of the landlords have success, mainly at those who had passed through the epoch before World War II – not idyllic, either.

I had too little time for reflection, because there intervened the most horrifying for me part of that week, which anyway was as it was. By 1.30 a.m. (I remind this as if it were today) Brates appeared with a desperate visage, making an appeal to the population to come in a large number in order to defend the residences of the national radio and television, attacked by the terrorists. Almost immediately the broadcast was interrupted, and I was horrified that the beautiful dream will come to an end. I still have the sensation that I stayed an eternity in front of the dark TV-set, with ideas one more sinister than another sprouting into my mind. I was seeing myself able to commit suicide if Ceausescu had come back, because anyhow there would have been out of question that I can take care of my family: there was no future for us any more.

I was staying together with my father (the two women had fallen asleep, and one couldn’t expect from my son – aged 3 – to be deeply impressed by the events), having no drive to utter any word. Conversely, in the darkness of the room the smoke of cigarettes could be seen better and better. When – finally – we had a transmission again, my gladness was affected by the resumption of Ioan Grigorescu’s commentaries. Whilst we were not knowing the fate of the audio-visual media (and of the country, implicitly), he was continuing with the undisturbed tone of before. I was foaming at the mouth seeing how calm he is, but in a few days I realized why: he knew that everything is a maneuver of Iliescu, destined to demonstrate that he had the people’s adherence for the definitive removal of the former government. He had not participated at the revolutionary phase, nor had he been a dissident, so he had no better way to obtain legitimacy (which was normal to obsess him, although only a small part of the population has raised this problem).


I think that also in that full night was launched for the first time the idea that (communist) party members stay aside and repent. In any case, I have read such a thing, in our county newspaper. Though it bothered me that I was supposed to encounter impediments in implicating into the process of birth of a entirely new Romania, I said to myself it’s natural that there are reserves – and even reluctance – toward all that belonged to the communist party, so I should have the decency to stay in my place. Nevertheless, this hostile reaction was not quite justified; the overwhelming majority of the almost 4 million members, including me, had borne the shortages imposed to common Romanians – as we were, in fact. It’s only that the enrolling into the party gave you the chance to obtain advances in profession not possible otherwise. I’d like to be logically deduced, by those for whom it’s impossible to have recollections from the period 20 years ago, that you needed a certain level to be accepted; the persons more advanced in age will admit that, even only inside themselves. Therefore, almost all of those who boast that they haven’t been Romanian Communist Party (RCP) members ought to be more prudent: they didn’t reach that status because they weren’t called on. You may count on your fingers the people who had the dignity and courage to refuse the admission offer or – even more – to give back their membership card (which meant the renunciation to this quality), as a sign of protest.

Subsequently (and too late) did I edify that the common members of the RCP should have stepped aside. Those accustomed to talk nineteen to the dozen, grounded on the lack of other convictions than their own ascent, came out in front again, without the slightest embarrassment. (As a female friend of mine once said: “Ceausescu has only put the pot of cream in front of them; he didn’t also seize them by the scruff of the neck to force their muzzle into that pot.) The phenomenon is admirably depicted by Ileana Vulpescu in “Arta compromisului” (“The art of compromise”), as is the passivity of those around toward such manifestations. This lack of reaction, added to the reserve of sensible intellectuals, did nothing but to draw water to the impostors’ mill. This was the entrance into a vicious circle, which we still witness and which represents one of the weighty causes of the disaster – moral, in the first place – out of which nobody knows when (and if) we’ll emerge .

(…)I learned about the massacre at Otopeni airport. For the moment already, I realized that something is not all right: how could one send military school pupils when an objective of such importance is in dispute? Subsequently, even with my weak knowledge in the military domain, I came to the conviction that it was another tragedy conducted by Iliescu. I hope that the victims’ parents didn’t give up the trial, which must add to others bound to the so-called revolution, as well as to the one of the actions of miners in June 1990. It’s possible, considering how justice works by us, that the one who inspired these bloody episodes be not condemned until I finish this work. It wouldn’t make a difference to me; one more testimony against Iliescu doesn’t count too much, because his guilt is more than evident. Considering what was in Otopeni, the situation is the same for Victor Atanasie Stanculescu, whom I consider associate to the collective assassinate.

I didn’t mention him by now, as I considered he is not relevant for the narration – besides the fact that the happening with his leg in gypsum is extremely well known. It didn’t matter who was the minister of the army those hours (that’s why I don’t know any more whether Nicolae Militaru had already been appointed), since all of the operations should have been commanded by Stefan Guse – the chief of the General Headquarters, maintained in this function after Ceausescu’s run. As far as I remember, he had no knowledge about the orders concerning the massacre from the airport – which were given in such a manner that the youngsters shoot one another. Those in the shadow knew when to provoke everything; to the scarce training of the soldiers was added the dim light of dawn. (I don’t wish to talk about the weak instruction of the officers, due to the predominance of politics in this domain, too; that would exceed the subject.)

I must admit not to have given at that time so much attention to this mass crime, for something that shocked me profoundly appeared. It’s an extremely important sequence in the run of the December events; the constantly mentioned Ion Iliescu had serious reasons to want us to forget it – and he managed, until recently. In essence, after an alarm for an air attack coming from above the Black Sea, George Marinescu has announced that the new leadership has appealed to the embassy of the Soviet Union, which has promised immediate military aid.

I think I wasn’t keeping in mind any more that, in the preceding evening, Iliescu had told that he had informed the Russian on the composition of the NSF and on its orientation. I had given attention to this fact only to the extent that I felt vexed: what had the great power of the East to do with the fact that – finally – we had freed ourselves from tyranny? Did we have by any means to ask their permission? (I edified later.) Therefore, when I heard about the Soviet intervention, seemingly a huge hammer struck my head; if the price for getting rid of Ceausescu had been the foreign invasion, I preferred not to pay it. Thus, the future heralded itself absolutely somber. With these sentiments, I gave up the idea to offer myself as a volunteer – in my profession (medicine) especially; I didn’t want to go into the service of some nation and country traitors. Disgusted of all, I went to bed and wasn’t aware of anything for some two hours.

I wouldn’t anyway have learned on the spot that General Guse – he, too, announced by the television about this appeal, made behind his back, exactly like the assault against Otopeni airport – had warned that he would shout in everything moves in the terrestrial or aerial space of Romania [5]. (There were also rumors about “aid” troops, which had just entered Moldavia.) This was too much for the men of KGB climbed on the shoulder and corpses of the wonderful youngsters. They could do nothing to him for the moment, but – as maybe it’s still known – he died of a bone cancer with a galloping evolution.


My contentment in relation to the new state of things, affected only temporarily by the appeal to the Soviets, couldn’t be complete until I knew Ceausescu under control. (Perhaps I should have thought that all of them speak too freely and too sure of them have launched the proclamation to fear any restoration, but – I repeat – trustfulness has always characterized me.) The great and salutary news came by 6 p.m., together with the assurance that exclusively the troops faithful to the Romanian people possess heavy armament. Only then was I convinced that tyranny is definitively buried. (I wanted to use the term “regime”, but this survives through its representatives. I hope that at least the entrance into the European Union bring the definitive disappearance of communism – more or less manifest – in this so mocked country.)

By postponing with a day the announcement of the arrest, with a purpose I have already highlighted, Ion Iliescu becomes guilty also of psychic aggression upon his own (theoretically) people, but especially of serial murders. Maintaining the myth of terrorists, he made possible the tragedies at the Military Academy and Otopeni, as well as the sullying of people who served their country with honour. (I remember the great handball player Dan Marin, awfully beaten because he seemed to be a terrorist in the eyes of a nobody.) Even admitting that the accusations above emerge from my own interpretations, therefore they are subjective, unassailable is the well-known figure argument: after Ceausescu’s run there have been 10 times more victims than from December16 to that event.


In the evening (Christmas, 1989), I was at my door-to-door neighbours when the judgment and the condemnation of the Ceausescus were announced – together with the promise that the cassette would be broadcasted the same night. It’s normal that I kept vigil; I was deadly curious how is going to fulfill one of my most beautiful – and most absurd, at the date of its birth – dreams. (It was, as a matter of fact, the only materialized by a hairbreadth – in all my existence.) As probably it’s still known, I waited in vain. It’s easy to understand what I felt at this first mockery of Iliescu’s regime. (…)

The sole effect of this sleepless night was that I missed the moment when Iliescu and Brucan acted resolutely. Doina Cornea was reduced to silence, and a young man’s appeal to continue the revolution hadn’t – evidently – any adherence. He hoped that the demonstrators of the preceding week would gather in the subway station of the University Square, to remove the neo-communists, but these already held control. I don’t even know whether anyone came to that meeting.

In some way it was good that I haven’t seen then the trial expected with so much enthusiasm; I would have been the more so disappointed. Out of this reason – together with the fact that it was debated and resumed excessively until recently (and will still be) – I shall refer to that masquerade only for pointing out the aspects which I considered worthy.

On the first place stays, for sure, the way it ran – hence the term “simulacrum”, used (justly) by almost everybody. It was not ridiculous (though Romanians notice that easier), but filthy, that the defense lawyer be the most vehement accuser. It was not clear to me then that the new leaders wanted to get rid of the old one as quickly as possible; I thought that the latter speaks within his paranoia about “foreign agincies”. Later, when I learned about the suicide of the chief of that court, I started to have puzzles. It wasn’t long until everything corroborated: they eliminated one way or another, the bothering ones – including General Guse, whose attitude I reviewed.

   All these actions (I refer also to those which made so many innocent victims) denote – maybe I repeat that –the “school” of KGB, with the lack of any scruple or human sentiment in attaining the goals. There was much chatter on the fact that such a source would also have determined the rapid and with no reticence killing of the couple that had terrorized us: it was stressed that a profoundly Christian people, like ours, wouldn’t dare do this at Christmas. It’s one of the circumstances when I have a distinct point of view, which I desire to highlight. Besides the fact that everyday life gives me serious grounds to doubt that the majority of the people here are deeply touched by Jesus’ teachings, to kill in a great religious holiday constitutes a sin if the victim is a fellow man; however, the Ceausescus were wild beasts.


I find important to evidence the aspects symptomatic for the treason of the ideals of those who intended a revolution, thus being produced our stagnancy on the way to civilization. It’s very sad that we’ll still endure the consequences of that deviation of the authentic capitalism toward something farcical, reflecting Stalinist vision upon consumer society and democratic organization within it; it’s seen clearly that even now (2005) we stumble at the door of the European Union, although the external support (and interest) is incomparable to that at the end of the 90s. This shortcoming is also linked to the fact that some bad habits from the first months of post(?)-communism perpetuate. It can’t be otherwise, since even today we haven’t the politicians we would have wished. A basic characteristic of theirs should have been the absence of any connection with the apparatus of the totalitarian regime.

I had for a short time, at the end of 1989, the illusion this desire accomplishes, hearing of the new prime-minister. The name Petre Roman told me nothing, and I considered him agreeable at the beginning, young as he was. (If I’m not mistaken, he is born in 1946, so he was 2 years younger than me in 2005, when this part was written.) My good sentiments toward him amplified when I noticed how many foreign languages he knows. (I have doubts regarding Italian, but – although I am reserved toward his ambition, given by an overstated self-pride, to show that he can speak that language – I like how he has hit it, based on French and Spanish.) It’s for sure that he attracted especially the women of my family (like those all over the country, as a matter of fact), who – except for my wife (luckily!) – saw him as very gifted, too. Without wanting to open way for speculation upon my envy for his renown and success at women, I feel the urge to affirm that this impression of outstandingly special intelligence was given mainly by the skill in expressing himself. I am far from the intention to deny his intellectual capacity – above the average, indisputably. Nevertheless (and also as an anecdotal detail), I must point out that he was not strong at all in geography; attentive to flaws as I am, I didn’t spare him for expressions like “the Far Extreme” or “the former Eastern Germany”.

It’s easy to understand what a blow I got when I learned that the young head of the government doesn’t quite come out of nothingness. I consider stupid that I also make the biography of Walter Roman[6], even if he is one of the individuals whose facts can’t be omitted, even after death. I prefer to come with a detail, bound also to his son: in 1990 I noticed that the manual from which my mother had learned scientific socialism (obligatory for teachers in order to obtain higher degrees) was written by Walter Roman and Petre Roman. (The name coincidence, in the case of the latter, was ruled out; it was specified that he was an assistant lecturer at the Engineering School.) I had to mention this, for it was an aspect kept dark – naturally – by “Pedro”, as I began to call him following the parade of Spanish he cared to do. Therefore, the bugbear concerning an engineer activity of such a nature that brought to him a scholarship in Toulouse didn’t work with me, as wouldn’t also work the one about his spontaneous participation to the revolution. A colleague of mine, who had been in Bucharest those days, knew from a trusted source that Roman constantly told his students something like that: “Let me pass ahead, as I must be seen!”. Maybe his words were not quite those, but the essence remains.

The descendants should not be judged after the deeds of their parents and it’s not right that the former pay for them. I applied this principle also to the personage I speak about. Yet, there were enough moments when one could see the environment he came from. Moreover, his activity during the period I evoke (as well as thereafter) contradicts his claims to have fought with all his force for a modern society. I set aside the stirring of the masses against the historical parties; I focus upon the economic field, where he often pretended to be a courageous promoter of capitalism, impeded by Iliescu and his miners to carry out his program. Only this is to comment: one of his first measures, presented in loud voice as a big step to privatization, was the establishment of enterprises with 20 employees at most. The newspapers have shown immediately that in the former German Democratic Republic, within a fully developed communist economy, there were private units with up to 100 people. I add that Petre Roman also created the big gas and electricity monopolies, and I think comments are not necessary. As an overall image (having also the value of a conclusion), I markedly remember that the previous regime had left a surplus of 4 billion dollars, and at the end of his government we had external debts again. Therefore, it seems comprehensible to me that he contradicted with vehemence (but with no substance) Tom Gallagher, the author of that just – ever since the title (“The stealth of a nation”) – analysis of the Romanian society [7].

I have some more to retain from the end of 1989. One of the remembrances binds to a guard afternoon in the gynecology clinic where I completed my studies. Although a week had passed since the announcement of Ceausescu’s arrest, the dark comedy about terrorists hadn’t ended yet. Even now I don’t realize what the sense of my presence there was; of course no weapon had been given to me. Naturally, I killed almost all of my time on the TV. In one of the sequences, the well-known caricaturist Mihai Stanescu was asked like this: “What will you do now, as there’ll be nothing left to criticize?”. He smiled rather enigmatically, and I didn’t understand why; like many others, I was convinced of the truth in that question. Soon, however, I realized (unfortunately) that he knew a thing or two.

I’d also point out the New Year’s Eve night, spent – after a considerable period – together with a group of close fellows, fact which has harmoniously fit into that nice period. However, my good mood was quickly left behind: on that occasion I learned from the colleague mentioned above how organized had everything been in Bucharest on December22[8].


1] Maybe he had reasons.

2] If we went to essence, this word denotes a most noble relationship, but was it altered by the communists.

3] I expressed them directly my disagreement, in a letter.

4] The phrase “restitutio ad integrum” is more acknowledged, but for them is fit the formula from the text (taken over from the mass-media). Unfortunately (I say so because the generations after the war are disregarded), it seems that their claims start to be honored, the path opener being King Mihai (Michael). It’s outrageous that he accepts to receive 30 million euros, when the people subsists as we know.

5] General Guse remains a controversial personage. Some call him a criminal, starting from the fact that he was the one sent by Ceausescu to repress the Timisoara revolt. Let’s not forget, however, that also Guse ceased fire, allowing the columns of workers to demonstrate, on December 19, 1989. I don’t think that, without the general’s permission, Viorel Oancea would have let – the next day – the first free meeting to take place.

6] His real name (Neulander) is also not relevant for the narration; that’s why I didn’t add it in the text.

7] I intend to refer to this book in a separate article. However, I must emphasize now its essential message – according to me, at least: until those having power will not want to understand what a true democratic society means, we won’t be able to integrate into modern Europe, even if we’ll be received – pro forma and in case their interests require this – into the Union. (In the meantime, the article has been presented to Romanians all over the world, on the Internet.)

8] I corroborate this recollection with what the actor Florin Calinescu recently affirmed. Driven by enthusiasm in the afternoon of December 22, 1989, he wanted to be one of those to tell some words on the Romanian Television. He was stopped at the gate, for the reason that he wasn’t on the list the guard troops had.


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