Klim's Great Escape from Communist Romania

Part-2: Klim in Romania in the Late Sixties

Since I was a child for as long as I can remember, Astronomy was the only subject that interested me. When I was 5 or 6, I remember asking my mother "Why the Sky is Blue And Not of Some Other Color?" or being obsessed with the question of "Why Objects are Falling Down and Do Not Stay Put?" or, "What Is It That Is Pulling Down All Objects?"

Bucharest University

To all these and many more questions of this nature, my mother would answer that when I go to school, I will find out the answers to all my questions. And since this curiosity never left me and Astronomy in Romania was studied at the prestigious Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics at the University of Bucharest (photo at left), there I was, enrolled as a student, from 1963 to 1968.


In 1965, when the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu came to power, I was in my third year as a student pondering how I would be able to defect after my graduation. Everyone at that time in Romania knew that the people from Yugoslavia could travel anywhere they wanted to and that many Romanians who went to visit Yugoslavia were somehow able to find their way to the West but no one knew how they did it since once they defected they vanished without a trace.

Central Bank

Because of this situation, Ceausescu made sure that no tourist visa was to be issued to anybody applying for Yugoslavia, notwithstanding the good relations that were being cultivated between these two countries.

In Romania the following process was in place for those "insane" Romanians seeking to travel outside the country. For an exorbitant fee, to discourage application, you had to buy an application for the purpose of obtaining a visa for the country you intended to visit. After completing the said application, stating with exactness the dates of departure and return for the visit together with the reason for the visit, you needed to submit the application to the local Police Station. There, you were advised that in two (2) months you would have an answer. Virtually there was no chance that anybody could be approved for a tourist visa to the West or to Yugoslavia and this existing process was known to all Romanians as being an absolute waste of money. (And speaking of money, I have included at right a beautiful photo of the Bucharest's Central Bank.)

This was the background and the reality that I had to face at the time of my graduation. And, as you will see in the next section, against all odds, I was able somehow to succeed, first by finding a "crack" and then, by being able to open a "window" which eventually was able to set me free.