Klim's Great Escape from Communist Romania

Part-1: On the Political Situation in Romania in the Late Sixties

National Flag in Communist Romania

CeausescuIn 1965, Romania mourned the death of its leader and president, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. The youngest of the eight or nine members of the Committee of the Central Communist Party was Nicolae Ceausescu and he was elected to succeed the late president Gheorghiu-Dej because it was reasoned that the country should not have to go through a national morning every few years. Another reason that Nicolae Ceausescu was selected to succeed was because he was by far the least educated (a high school dropout) and thus it was reasoned that he could easily be manipulated by the rest of the Central Committee. CeausescuThus, the country had to adjust itself and get used to having and hearing a mumbling idiot as its president giving political speeches that were so bad and so grammatically incorrect that this at first produced great bewilderment. To hear him was one thing, but to see him in countless TV appearances giving those speeches was another thing. His off-mark gesticulation with his right hand, his apparent speech impairment with struggling and stuttering at almost every word was irresistibly funny. In fact his speeches produced so much laughter that they were competing with a popular Romanian TV series entitled Celebrated Comics of the Screen (in Romanian Comici Vestiti ai Ecranului) which featured the short movies of the legendary "Laurel and Hardy" duo. Soon however, the country was not laughing any more. Ceausescu's grip on power as the undisputed ruler had become evident and terribly frightening because of his uncontrollable power. His Economic Plan for Romania to pay back all its foreign debts within ten (10) years was extremely hard on the country since the plan did not involve policies that would stimulate the dormant, if not moribund, economy but instead involved programs of great austerity for the Romanian nation. Since the absolute bare necessities of life became scarcer and scarcer, bribery and corruption began to flourish like never before. In his demented way, President Ceausescu to "fuel" the economy passed, among many insane laws, the law that every woman in Romania must have four (4) children because, as he reasoned, there were too many retired people in Romania and thus to offset this undesirable situation, the birth rate in Romania needed to increase dramatically.

Ceausescu-CarterParallel to these ridiculous economic policies, brutal nationalistic policies targeting everything that was not "pure" Romanian were being implemented. Ethnic cleansing was one of Ceausescu's most horrendous legacies, destroying mercilessly entire ethnic villages through methods not too different from those found in the Hitler era. Nicolae CeausescuOutside the country, in foreign affairs, this Romanian nationalistic offensive was most visibly seen in Romania's sought after independence from the "influence" of the Soviet Union. This defiant attitude against the Soviet Union was, of course, extremely pleasing to the United States and to rest of the West, and Romania, politically, was indeed rewarded for its independence. Since Yugoslavia from 1948, under Marshal Tito, pursued national Communism with independence from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia was never accepted into the Eastern Block as a "true" Communist country. However, in his pursuit for political independence, President Ceausescu developed close ties with Yugoslavia at the expense of infuriating the Soviet Union even more.

Notwithstanding the close ties that Romania established with Yugoslavia, one colossal difference existed between the two neighboring countries: citizens from Yugoslavia could travel anywhere in the world with no restrictions; citizens from Romania, however, were prohibited to travel anywhere outside the country and when traveling within the country they were required to notify, in advance, the Romanian police of their whereabouts. Now, for the purpose of this story, this is sufficient for the political background of Romania, so let us move on to Part-2 describing some of my background. So, if you are ready, press on the appropriate Continue button below.