10 lesser known / interesting facts about Ceausescu and his dictatorship

1. Nicolae studied at the village school until the age of 11, when he ran away from his abusive, alcoholic father to Bucharest, where he become an apprentice shoemaker. He worked in the workshop of Alexandru Săndulescu, a shoemaker who was an active member in the then-illegal Communist Party. Ceaușescu was soon involved in the Communist Party activities, but, as a teenager, he was given only small tasks. He was first arrested in 1933, at the age of 15 for street fighting during a strike and again, in 1934, first for collecting signatures on a petition protesting the trial of railway workers and twice more for other similar activities.


2. The profile file from the secret police, Siguranța Statului, named him "a dangerous Communist agitator" and "distributor of Communist and antifascist propaganda materials". For these charges he was convicted on 6 June 1936 by the Brașov Tribunal to 2 years in prison, an additional 6 months for contempt of court, and one year of forced residence in Scornicești. Soon after being freed, he was arrested again and sentenced for "conspiracy against social order", spending the time during the war in prisons and internment camps. In 1943, he was transferred to Târgu Jiu internment camp where he shared a cell with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, becoming his protégé.

3. In 1966, Ceaușescu, in an attempt to boost the country's population, made abortion illegal and divorce much more difficult. The mortality among pregnant women became the highest of Europe during the reign of Ceaușescu. While the childbed mortality rate kept declining over the years in neighboring countries, in Romania it increased to more than ten times of that of its neighbors. Many children born in this period became malnourished, were severely physically handicapped, or ended up in care under grievous conditions, which led to a rise in child mortality.


4. By the late 1960s, the population began to swell. In turn, a new problem was created by child abandonment. At the age of three years the children were medically examined. Disabled and orphaned children were in huge numbers brought into homes like Cighid. Cighid was discovered in spring 1990 by western reporters. The pictures of sick and malnourished children were published in many newspapers and were shown on many TV stations around the world. Observers described the sight of Cighid with terms like "Child Gulags" or "the Romanian Euthanasia Program". Transfusions of untested blood led to Romania accounting for many of Europe's pediatric HIV/AIDS cases at the turn of the 21st century despite having a population that only makes up around 3% of Europe's total population.

5. During the 1980s, there was a steady decrease in the Romanian population's standard of living, especially in the availability and quality of food and general goods in shops. During this time, Ceaușescu shut down all radio stations outside of the capital, and limited television to one channel broadcasting only two hours a day.
 
6. Gorbachev called Ceaușescu "the Romanian führer." At a meeting between the two, Gorbachev upbraided Ceaușescu for his inflexible attitude. "You are running a dictatorship here," the Soviet leader warned. In his final years, Nicolae Ceaușescu had begun to rehabilitate the image of pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu. Ceasusecu had engineered the publishing of several works that subverted the Russian and Soviet image, such as the final volumes of the official History of Romania, no longer glossing over traditional points of tension with Russia and the Soviet Union (even alluding to an unlawful Soviet presence in Bessarabia).

7. Ceaușescu created a pervasive personality cult, giving himself such titles as "Conducător" ("Leader") and "Geniul din Carpați" ("The Genius of the Carpathians"). After his election as President of Romania, he even had a king-like sceptre made for himself. Such excesses prompted the painter Salvador Dalí to send a congratulatory telegram to the "Conducător", in which he sarcastically congratulated Ceaușescu on his "introducing the presidential sceptre". The Communist Party daily Scînteia published the message, unaware that it was a work of satire.

8. Ceaușescu was greatly concerned about his public image. Nearly all official photographs of him showed him in his early 40s. Romanian state television was under strict orders to portray him in the best possible light. Additionally, producers had to take great care to make sure that Ceaușescu's height—he was 1.65m (5-foot 5 inches) tall—was never emphasized on screen. Consequences for breaking these rules were severe; one producer showed footage of Ceaușescu blinking and stuttering, and was banned for three months.


9. The Ceaușescus were the last people to be executed in Romania before the abolition of capital punishment on 7 January 1990

10. Praising the crimes of so-called totalitarian regimes and denigrating their victims is forbidden by law in Romania; this includes the Ceaușescu regime. Dinel Staicu was fined 25,000 lei (approx. 9,000 United States dollars) for praising Ceaușescu and displaying his pictures on his private television channel (3TV Oltenia)