ARTicles vol. 7 i.2a: The Rise and Fall of Nicolae Ceausescu

A timeline compiled by Marshall Botvinick

1918      Nicolae Ceausescu is born in Scornicesti, a small peasant village in southern Romania.
1929     Because of financial hardships, Ceausescu leaves school, moves to Bucharest, and apprentices with a shoemaker.
1934     Nicolae joins the Communist Party.
1939     Nicolae and Elena, his future wife, meet at a Communist rally.
1940     Romania’s pro-Nazi government imprisons Nicolae for Communist activity.  While in jail, Ceausescu becomes the protégé of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the future Secretary General of the Communist Party.
1945     After being reunited one year earlier, Nicolae and Elena marry.
1950     Ceausescu becomes Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
1952     Ceausescu is promoted to Deputy Minister of Defense.
1954     Dej rewards Ceausescu for his loyalty, placing him in charge of all Party promotions.  This job gives Ceausescu a base on which to build power.
1965     After Dej dies, Ceausescu is elected Secretary General of the Communist Party.
1966     Ceausescu bans abortion and limits the availability of contraceptives.  
1967     Richard Nixon becomes the first major American politician to visit Romania since it became a Communist country.
1967     Ceausescu begins staging pageants that link him with famous Romanian heroes of the past. 
1968     Soviet tanks invade Czechoslovakia.  By speaking out against the invasion, Ceausescu wins admiration from the West and his own people.
1971     Ceausescu visits China and North Korea.  The visit inspires him to create a personality cult similar to Mao’s and Kim Il Sung’s. 
1974     Ceausescu makes himself the first President of Romania, receiving a scepter at his inauguration.
1977     30,000 miners strike in Jiu Valley and take several government officials hostage.
1978     Queen Elizabeth II grants Ceausescu an honorary knighthood.
1982     Ceausescu rejects all foreign loans and inaugurates a plan to pay off the national debt by the end of the decade.
1984     Construction starts on the Palace of the People, a monument to Ceausescu that consumed 30% of the national income and resulted in the demolition of one-fifth of Bucharest.
March 1989     Six prominent Romanian politicians publish a letter calling for the end of Ceausescu’s rule.
December 15, 1989     Protests against the exile of Laszlo Tokes, a local priest known for speaking out against Ceausescu, begin in Timisoara.
December 17, 1989     Troops fire on the protestors in Timisoara, killing and wounding many.
December 21, 1989     Trying to calm the country, Ceausescu speaks to a massive crowd in Bucharest.  When chants of “Timisoara!” ripple through the square, an unnerved Ceausescu retreats into the building.
December 22, 1989     Ceausescu flees Bucharest in a helicopter when rioters storm the Central Committee Building.  Police arrest him and Elena in Targoviste where they are imprisoned in army barracks.    
December 24, 1989     Queen Elizabeth revokes Ceausescu’s knighthood.
December 25, 1989     In a schoolhouse in Targoviste, a court finds Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu guilty of genocide and undermining the national economy.  They are executed by firing squad.

Marshall Botvinick is a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training.

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