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Revolution of 1989

The year 1989 caused the collapse of the totalitarian communist regime all over the Europe:  

At the end of the year, especially in the Western part of Romania, the population learned, from the foreign TV channels (respectively the Hungarian, Yugoslav channels) and the broadcasts in Romanian language of the radio channels Europa Liberă (Radio Free Europe) and Vocea Americii (Radio Voice of America), about the changes that occurred in Europe. This was the reason according to which, an apparently simple event (the arbitral eviction of the Pastor of the Reformat Church, Mr. László Tökés, set forth for December 15th 1989) to become the pretext for a popular riot in Timisoara, a riot that was then transformed into a national revolution;

On 15th December, more parishioners gathered in front of the priest's house, and they wanted to impede the evacuation of the priest. Being a very crowded area, and very close to the city centre, many inhabitants of the city stopped to find out what was going on; they thickened, first involuntarily, the number of the people gathered there.

On the 16th, the number of people gathered rose to almost 400 persons, the majority not being reformed parishioners, but citizens of Timisoara, of different ethnic origins and religions; through the blocking of the traffic in the area, the situation became more radical. In the afternoon people shouted for the first time "Down with Ceausescu!”; this spark was enough to start the revolt. While shouting “Down with Ceausescu!” and “Down with communism!”, the demonstrators moved to different points of Timisoara in order to call people to the revolt. Army, Militia and Security troupes were sent there to scatter the mass, the demonstrators were bitten and arrested the same night and the following morning. 930 persons were arrested, among whom 130 were minors.

In the morning of 17th December, the mass gathered again in the centre of the town. Informed of the fact that the revolt could not be stopped, Ceausescu gave the order to open fire against the demonstrators. This order was fulfilled, and the first martyrs of the Revolution in Timisoara fell.

On 18th December, in front of the Cathedral, many young people and children gathered there and started to sing carols and to shout anti-communism slogans. At a certain moment, there appeared armed vehicles which fired a storm of gunfire over these young people on the stairs, killing many of them.

During the night of 18th / 19th, together with the complicity of the management of the County Hospital, the authorities took a part of the heroes" bodies from the hospital morgue, and transported them to Bucharest where they were burnt in the Crematorium. Other bodies were buried secretly in a common grave. In order to erase all the tracks, the documentation which referred to these bodies, was destroyed.

The next days, the resistance did not cease; on 19th December, the workers of the ELBA Factory started a strike.

On the 20th December, the general strike started in all the factories of Timisoara, a mass of thousands of people was heading for the centre of Timisoara that morning. Facing this situation, the armed forces retreated to the barracks.

The leaders of the revolution of Timisoara presented a list of requests from the part of the population to the communist authorities, a list which would become the real revolution program. The same day of 20th December 1989, Timisoara was declared the first free city of Romania by the representatives of the Romanian Democrat Front, the first democratic political formation founded on the blooded streets of Timisoara. The majority of the arrested people were freed.

On 20th December, the town of Lugoj, close to Timosoara, revolted against the communist regime, heroes of the Revolution falling here too.

On the 21st December, Ceausescu, an incurable megalomaniac, organized a grand meeting in Bucharest with the purpose of supporting him and of condemning the so-called “Hungarian hooligans” from Timisoara. But the meeting turned into an anti-Ceausescu and an anti-communism revolt. The same day, revolutionary movements started in the largest cities of the country: Cluj, Sibiu, Arad, Targu-Jiu, Caransebes, Cugir etc.; although the authorities opened fire against the demonstrators, the Romanians could not be stopped.

It was a question of hours until the fall of the system, which happened on Friday, 22nd December 1989, around noon, along with the fleeing of the Ceausescu family from Bucharest.

During this confusing situation, there formed lots of groups that wanted to take over the power. Until the evening of 22nd December, the group lead by Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman stood out, and who organized themselves into the National Salvation Front which took up the responsibility of bringing Romania on the way to democracy.

The day of 22nd December was declared the Day of the Victory of the Romanian Revolution. Starting with the evening of the 22nd December, unidentified forces, but named by the new authorities as counter-revolution and loyal to the communist regime, opened fire over the civilians and over the military units from many cities, creating panic and confusion.

The fear of these so-called “terrorist” elements justified in the eyes of the public opinion the superficial trial of the Ceausescu family and their execution on Christmas day of the year 1989.

The change of the communist system became a fact at the end of December, but with great sacrifices and absurdity that we wonder nowadays

  •  1104 deaths, among which 162 before 22nd December, and 942 after December;
  • 3352 wounded, among which 1107 before 22nd December, and 2245 after 22nd December.

Material received from the Association “Revolution Memorial” Timisoara. 


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