(…) Repression under Gheorghiu-Dej
The Securitate was the blunt tool of repression of the Communist Party. It was established according to a Soviet blueprint and under Soviet direction. In the building of apeople's democracy, the Securitate were called on to eradicate existing political institutions and social structures. Police coercion and intrusion became part of everyday life and a feature of existence that generated pervasive fear, a state of mind which revolutionized not just society's structures, but also personal behavior. In public places the furtive whisper became second nature. Fearinduces compliance and is therefore a tremendous labor-saving device. Records indicate that in 1950, two years after its creation, the number of officers and other personnel in the Securitate totaled almost 5,000. In 1989 this number had risen to 14,259, according to figures published after the revolution in December of that year. These numbers do not include the army of informers whom the Securitate,by exploiting fear, was able to recruit. By the same token, it was a mark of the Securitate's success in instilling fear that Romanians came to widely view so many of their fellow citizens as active collaborators with the Securitate, and but a small part of the larger network of officers and informers. The Securitate became as much a state of mind as the instrument of national terror. At the timeof the 1989 revolution there were alleged to be more than 400,000 informers (out of a population of 21 million) on the Securitate's books.
The Communist Party set the machinery of terror in motion to carry out the mass deportations of Serbs and Germans living in the area of the Banat adjacent to Yugoslavia. These groups were considered a security risk when tension between Yugoslavia and Romaniagrew following Marshal Tito's rift with Stalin in June 1948. The deportations began in the summer of 1951: 40,320 persons were targeted, more than half being former landowning peasants. They were moved by train and truck to the southeastern part of Romania. The deportees were only allowed to take what belongings they could carry, and on arrival they were allocated makeshift clay-walled huts withstraw roofs in special settlements. Others, even on the Securitate's own admission, were literally deposited in the middle of nowhere. The same reports talk of a lack of drinking water, but despite such deprivations, the deportees erected simple houses of clay and wood, and coaxed the soil into producing crops.
Romania's principal ethnic minority, the Hungarians of Transylvania (numberingapproximately 1.6 million in 2002), escaped the fate of the Serbians and Germans of the Banat. The contiguity of Hungary coupled with the size of the Hungarian minority made, and continues to make, the treatment of the Hungarian minority a sensitive issue for both states. During the communist period integration or, as Ceausescu often termed it, homogenization—an extension of the strategy of consolidation ofthe newly enlarged state pursued by Romanian governments in the interwar period—was accelerated by the drive for industrialization undertaken by the communist regime after 1948. It increased the urbanization of the population as a whole and led to the massive migrations of workers, usually from Romanian areas into those with a Hungarian population, thus diluting the proportion of Hungarians andchanging the cultural aspect of traditionally Hungarian-dominated towns.
The depths of terror under communism were plumbed in the prison at Pitesti, situated some 75 miles northwest of Bucharest. It became notorious for an experiment of a grotesque nature that originated there on December 6, 1949. Termed re-education, the experiment employed techinques of psychiatric abuse designed not only to...