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The Founding of a People’s Democracy in Romania

Having formed an anti-fascist popular front alliance during WW2, the Romanian communists engineered the coup d’etats that overthrew the fascist Antonescu regime, transitioning Romania into a constitutional monarchy. Arising from the Romanian railroads’ (critical infrastructure) trade unionist movement, the Romanian communists then used the newly obtained democratic rights to expand the popular front and led the proletariat in Soviet-backed revolutionary mass protests so to install communist-coopted agents at the helm of Romanian regime’s security apparatus. Hiding under ‘pro-King’ banners and the slogan ‘Long live the King!’, the communists mobilized to oust the henchman of the King, so to pave the way for the overthrow of the monarchy itself. Thus transitioned Romania into a People’s Democratic Republic.

 

The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 15, Section 1 (C15S1) 

 

Saed Teymuri

 

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In Romania, upon the initiative of the Romanian Communist Party, the popular front of the anti-fascist parties formed:

In June 1943 the National Peasants, National Liberals, Communists, and Social Democrats, responding to a Communist Party proposal, formed the Blocul National Democrat (National Democratic Bloc – BND), whose aim was to extricate Romania from the Nazi war effort. (Armistice Negotiations and Soviet Occupation, Country Studies, Federal Research Division, US Library of Congress; from: Ronald D. Bachman, ed. Romania: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.) (IMG)

As the Red Army was getting closer to Romania, King Mihai (or King Michael) could not but feel threatened. Thus, he set about to switch sides in the War. In the words of the Federal Research Division of the US government, on August 23, 1944,:

King Michael, a number of army officers, and armed Communist-led civilians supported by the BND locked Ion Antonescu into a safe and seized control of the government. (Armistice Negotiations and Soviet Occupation, Country Studies, Federal Research Division, Federal Research Division, US Library of Congress; from: Ronald D. Bachman, ed. Romania: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.) (IMG)

Emilian Ionescu, a military general of the Romanian monarcho-fascist era, provided some details on the circumstances of Antonescu’s downfall. According to a website that documents the biographies of all the commanders of World War II, Emilian Ionescu had the following positions in Romania during each time period:

1940-02-01 – 1941-01-10 Chief of Staff, Inspectorate-General of Motorized-Mechanized Units

1941-01-10 – 1944-03-16 Commanding Officer 1st Armoured Regiment

1944-03-16 – 1947-XX-XX Adjutant to the King

1948-01-01 – Retired

(Ionescu, V. Emilian. Generals.dk, The Generals of World War II) (IMG)

Inonescu’s political fortunes, as the above evidence shows, rose in 1941 with the rise in strength of the fascists in Romania. His political fortunes fell and he was forced to ‘retire’ in 1948 when the monarcho-fascist regime was overthrown. The correlation of his rise and fall with the rise and fall of the fascist forces, along with the fact that he was a trusted agent of the king, are reflective of his political loyalties. In the late 1960s, the Romanian military commander Emilian Ionescu wrote an article for the Romanian Party press. Robert R. King, the senior analyst for the CIA’s Radio Free Europe and former National Security Council (NSC) staff member under Brzezinski, quoted that article by Inoescu:

the party was described as “the initiator, organizer, and the leader of the action to overthrow the military-fascist dictatorship,”…. (A History of the Romanian Communist Party, Robert R. King, 1980, p. 42) (IMG)

Some may argue that the royalist military commander’s article was biased given its publication by the Romanian Party press in the 1960s. Perhaps that is true for other aspects of his article, but what is for certain is that his claim that the ousting of the Antonescu regime was by the Romanian Communist Party is neither biased nor incorrect. In contrast to the CIA-MI6 propaganda narrative that the Romanian Communist Party played a marginal role in the overthrow of Antonescu and that King Mihai’s group played the most important role, a 1974 US intelligence document acknowledged that Romania’s ‘pro-Nazi regime was ousted by the Communist[s]’:

The Romanian Iron Guard was a political movement founded after World War I for the purpose of strengthening the economic conditions, eliminating semitism and foreign influence, achieving educational reform, boycotting industrial and government interests and promoting interest in peasantry. The movement was pro-monarchy, pro-Germany, and anti-communist, and was active in the 1930’s and early 1940's when the pro-Nazi [Antonescu] regime was ousted by the Communist[s]. (Bishop Viorel Trifa The Romanian Orthodox Church In America, CONFIDENTIAL, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters, Best Available Copy, declassified by the CIA, August 14, 1974, p. 8) (IMG)

Hence, the Antonescu regime was overthrown, and Radescu was installed as the chief of the Romanian state alongside the Romanian King.

From late 1942 onwards, the Anglo-American intelligence began to side with the fascist Axis and the Radescu movement followed along with the Anglo-Americans. This fascist agent of the Anglo-American intelligence services was the head of the Romanian state and had the backing of the King. 

With the entry of the Soviet Red Army into Romania, the Romanian communist leader Gheorghiu-Dej was liberated:

When Frimu was shot in a strike of Rumanian railroad men in 1933, Dej became his successor as president of the trade union of railroad workers. When the Communist Party was banned in Rumania, Dej went underground and lived illegally in the country until 1938. He was then seized by the Rumanian police and remained under arrest until his liberation by the Soviets in 1944. (BACKGROUND OF TOP LEVEL COMMUNIST LEADERS IN RUMANIA, CIA, March 11, 1955, p. 2) (IMG)

From then on, even though he was not the General Secretary of the Party, he nonetheless was its main organizer:

Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej [was] the man with the “iron fist” who organized the Rumanian Communist Party in 1944. (INTERPRETATION OF PURGE OF ANA PAUKER, CIA, September 11, 1952, pp. 1-2) (IMG)

The Romanian Communist Party operated freely and was thus able to attract supporters and quickly grow in membership. This growth in membership had many obvious benefits since it allowed the Romanian Communist Party to pursue its popular front agenda, and mobilize a larger base in Romanian society:

In August 1944, the Party was composed of only a few hundred members, most of them in prison including Gheorghiu-Dej. Since 1924, the party had existed illegally. In this interlude of twenty years, the small organization was filled with minor agents and members of questionable character. In a few weeks after the country’s [liberation] by the Russian Army, the Party membership was inflated to several hundred thousand and in four years to nearly a million. There is no similar growth even in Eastern Europe after 1945. (INTERPRETATION OF PURGE OF ANA PAUKER, CIA, September 11, 1952, p. 2) (IMG)

Many questionable members were added to the Party but the increase in membership of questionable elements in the Party was controlled, such that the Party would not be hijacked by its new members. At the time, the increase in membership was a useful temporary political measure with which to increase numerical strength in a controlled manner and with which to compile a larger count of Party activists for the purpose of regime change in Romania. 

 

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The Anglo-American agent Radescu was in charge of Romania, and he was hardly democratic. Nonetheless, with the backing of the Soviets, the large Romanian Party was able to plant one of its top members in charge of the Romanian Ministry of Interior: Teohari Georgescu. Georgescu was an agent of Ana Pauker and therefore had connections of a treasonous and counter-revolutionary nature to imperialist secret services. Nonetheless at the time, even planting a disloyal, albeit communist-coopted, member of the Romanian Communist Party at the helm of the Ministry of Interior could serve as a channel for infiltrating the Party's loyal intelligence agents into the Ministry. Hence, the rise of Georgescu to the Interior Ministry was objectively beneficial for the Party, at the expense of the Anglo-American intelligence and the comprador Romanian regime which the communists sought to overthrow. As such, Radescu and his gang conspired to oust Georgescu from his position, thereby prompting large-scale communist-backed protests:

On December 8, 1944, Radescu presented his proposed list of the new cabinet members to the King who approved it. On the same day, the new cabinet took the oath of office. Radescu, besides being the Prime Minister, was also Minister of the Interior. A series of misunderstandings made Radescu oppose certain proposals made by the Undersecretary of State for the State Administration in the Ministry of Interior. Radescu requested Dr. Groza, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, to approve the dissolving of the Undersecretariate of State for State Administration. It was approved and Teohari Georgescu was attempted to be dismissed. This incident caused a misunderstanding between Radescu and the Leftist parties, which came to climax with the demonstration and shootings of  February 24, 1945. (Confidential Biographic Data, Name: RADESCU, Lt. General Nicolae, OSS Post: Bucharest, Rumania, OSS, May 7, 1946, p. 1) (IMG)

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS - the central US intelligence agency preceding the CIA) provided a detailed account of the protests organized by the communist-led popular front known as the ‘National Democratic Front’ (FND) for overthrowing the Radescu regime:

The following account of the FND demonstration in Bucharest on 24 February 1945 and the ensuing disorders in front of the National Palace represents the combined information obtained by several members of our stuff…. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 1. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

On February 24, 1945, an estimated 100,000 FND demonstrators marched in the streets calling for the overthrow of Radescu:

The demonstrators, organized in occupation groups with numerous banners, began arriving at the Piatza Natziunei shortly after 1300 hours [i.e. 1:00 PM]. The bulk of demonstrators marched from concentration points in the city area. Numbers however, were transported from outside the city limits by truck from points as far removed as Ploesti and as many as 2000 were reported as having arrived from other points in the country by train. The demonstration officially began with speeches at 1445 [i.e. 2:45 PM]. Preliminary estimate of the number of demonstrators in 75,000 to 100,000.

The following banners were most numerous:

“Down with Radescu!”

“We want an FND government!”

“Death to the Fascists!”

“Down with Maniu!”

“Down with the saboteurs in the government!”

“Long live the King, Chief of the army!”

“Long live the Rumanian Army!”

There were … also pictures of Stalin (largest and most numerous), the King, Churchill and Roosevelt. Practically each group carried Rumanian, American, British and Russian flags, also a few French flags.

(‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, pp. 1-2. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

Under the guise of ‘supporting’ the Romanian King, the communist-led FND was overthrowing the King's agent Radescu. Under the guise of supporting the Anglo-American imperialists, who by then had become allies with the Axis, the communist-led FND was seeking the overthrow of the regime of Radescu, the agent of the Anglo-Americans. Hence, the pro-monarchist slogan of the communist-led FND protesters was a cover with which to drive a wedge between Radescu's and the King's supporters, further isolate the King, and pave the way for a democratic republic. The US intelligence further reported:

The temper of the crowd was mixed and enthusiasm appeared to be concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the speakers’ platform. The demonstration as a whole was quiet and orderly. No Rumanian police were observed at the scene but a few Russian patrols, in groups of two or three, circulated through the fringes of the crowd. In general, the contents of the speeches contained repeated sentiments of the placards. Teohari Georgescu, deposed Under-Secretary of Interior, was the principal speaker. The crowd began disbanding at 1600 hours [i.e. 4:00 PM]. The demonstrators, following instructions, proceeded in orderly manner to the square in front of the Royal Palace and the Ministry of Interior. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 2. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

A massive crowd began demonstrating in front of the palace and the Ministry of Interior:

Demonstrators began arriving in quantity at the palace area square about 1545 hours [i.e. 3:45 PM]  and consisted largely of the organized demonstrators. It is estimated that 20-25,000 reached the palace area. About 1700 hours [5:00 PM] the demonstrators moved in large numbers toward the Ministry of Interior building. At 1710 hours [5:10 PM] several small calibre pistol shots were fired from the crowd, then shots of larger calibre were heard and the crowd panicked in front of the Ministry building. A few moments later there were several volleys of rifle and machine-gun fire over the heads of the crowd from guards on the upper floors of the Ministry of Interior. During the next hour, sporadic firing took place as the crowd dispersed and reformed intermittently. During this time, speeches and shouting were in progress. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 2. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

According to the OSS, elements from within the crowds tried to get into the Interior Ministry building. If true, then the demonstrators were probably making a mistake since this would have provoked clashes. And clashes did occur. The guards shot at least 150 bullets and in response a reported 30 bullets were shot from the crowd:

The size of the active groups in front of the Ministry was estimated at less than one thousand and their intention was to gain entrance to the Ministry building. Two attempts were made to storm the door unsuccessfully. By 1900 hours [7 PM] the guards in the Ministry building had fired approximately 150 shots and the demonstrators had fired a minimum of 30 in return. Ascertainable casualties were one demonstrator and one soldier wounded. The guard at the Ministry had orders to shoot into the air and fire only when fired upon. The crowd began dispersing at about 1900 hours. By 2000 hours [8 PM] there were small groups of demonstrators left at the square totalling probably 200. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 2. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

To prevent further clashes:

According to one report, Gheorghiu-Dej, communist Minister of Communications, spoke to the crowd and urged them to go home, promising that the Russians would investigate the situation fully. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 2. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

Thus,:

The Chief of Staff of the Soviet Military Command at Bucharest interviewed General Radescu at about 1800 hours [6 PM] in the Ministry of Interior building. General Radescu exhibited two bullet holes in the window of his private office which appeared to have originated from the crowd in the square. Radescu stated that he would not leave the building and would not turn over the country to mob rule. The Russian officer stated that General Moskvitan, military commander of Bucharest, had previously issued orders to the Russians not to interfere with the demonstration or with the Rumanian army. After the shooting started he informed General Teodorescu, Rumanian Commander of Bucharest, that firing against the crowd must cease immediately. General Moskviton also stated that he was telephoning Marshal Malinovski to report on the happenings. Twelve Soviet guards were promised to Radescu to guard the Ministry building, and permission was granted to keep all the Rumanian troops in the building for the Ministry’s protection. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, pp. 2-3. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

Regarding the corroboration of the above report, the OSS document stated:

Persons at the Palace window facing the square during the entire demonstration confirmed the above statements concerning the events in the Palace square. (‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 3. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

Also:

A report was given to the King at Sinaia that the FND had staged three other demonstrations simultaneously; at Craiova, crowds stormed the Prefecture and occupied it with no casualties since the guards had orders not to fire; at Caracal, the crowds stormed the Prefecture unsuccessfully because of army resistance and several persons were killed and wounded; at Brasov the National Peasants and FND rallies clashed.

At about 2045 hours [i.e. 8:45 PM], several hundred National Liberal and National Peasant supporters marched by the Palace in Bucharest singing the National Anthem and shouting “Long live the King”, and “Radescu and order”. Counter-demonstration lasted at least an hour and the crowd was last seen marching down the boulevard burning FND signs hanging from street-car wires.

(‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 3. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

At the time, three renegades in the communist labour movement, Patrascanu, Luca, and Pauker, had to pretend to be staunch ‘anti-fascists’, and thus, outwardly, played a positive role in the events. To promote the public image of these renegades and infiltrators in the communist movement, Radescu ferociously denounced them and presented them as his biggest enemies. In so doing, Radescu created a false polarity and wrongly depicted Pauker and Luca as ‘communist’ ‘heroes’ ‘genuinely’ ‘opposed’ to him. The OSS reported:

According to report from source close to the Palace, Patrascanu, communist leader, stated that the government was guilty of firing on the people and he requested the Marshal of the Palace to ask the King to come to Bucharest as soon as possible in order to solve the crisis.

At approximately 2200 hours [8 PM] General Radescu addressed the nation over the radio. He referred to events of the afternoon, both in Bucharest and in the provinces and attacked FND as the instigators of these disorders. He specifically blamed Ana Pauker, Moscow-trained [pseudo-]communist leader, and “Hungarian” Vasile Luca, secretary of the Communist party and stated that they were people without country and without God. He also stated at 2115 hours [9:15 PM] two persons were killed and eleven wounded in front of the Ministry of Interior by machine-pistol fired from a moving car. This followed the National Peasant demonstration mentioned in paragraph 4 above, but connection between the two incidents has not been established. He concluded by rallying the nation to support him and the army in maintaining order.

(‘SUBJECT: FND demonstration and demonstration at Palace’, Original Report Number: GR-269, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Source: Z, Sub-Source: as stated, date of information: February 25, 1945, date of report: February 25, 1945, p. 3. In: ‘RADESCU, NICOLAE VOL. 1_0050’, CIA archives) (IMG)

Following these large-scale protests, one major step towards regime change in Romania occurred, the fascist renegade Radescu was ousted, and the Romanian communists were able to plant their leaders in the top ranks of the government of Mr. Groza, the latter being a conservative pro-British politician that was more submissive to communists than Radescu was:

The result was that the cabinet and Radescu were dismissed, following pressure by Vishinski on the King and the Groza regime came to power. Following this Radescu was taken under British protection and lived in their building for nine weeks until an agreement between the British and Russian Governments was reached, assuring the former that Radescu would not be harmed on returning home. He was placed under domicile, and only completely free early in 1946. (Confidential Biographic Data, Name: RADESCU, Lt. General Nicolae, OSS Post: Bucharest, Rumania, OSS, May 7, 1946, p. 1) (IMG)

Petru Groza, the former Prime Minister and present President of the National Assembly, was and is a tool for covering the power play behind the Rumanian Communist scene. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 5) (IMG)

Over time, Petru Groza, another conservative element, was further demoted as well:

Now [Groza] is rewarded with a post of no political importance. Gheorghiu-Dej has become the Soviet head puppet in Rumania; but the real power in Rumania remains with the Central Committee of the PMR…. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 5) (IMG)

Petru Groza, who had only served until now to smother and conceal the struggle between Gheorghiu-Dej, was finally shoved aside and as payment for his submissiveness he received the unimportant post of president of the National Assembly. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 2) (IMG)

Hence, the political position of the Romanian communists in Romania’s bourgeois government increased and a project for industrializing that country went forward:

Shortly thereafter Gheorghiu-Dej became Minister of Public Works, and in december 1945, Minister of Economy in the new government of Petru Groza. Gheorghiu-Dej’s economic line from the beginning was that prescribed in advance by the Kremlin: advancement of the country through industrialization. This was shown in his newspaper article and his speeches, which were published in brochure form in 1951. Industrialization and subsequent proletarization of the country were the main goals of the five-year plan, according to his own words. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 4) (IMG)

In the first Rumanian government coalition, Dej was Minister for Industry and Trade. In 1946, he attended the peace conference in Paris as the Rumanian delegate. After the elections of 1946, Dej became Minister of Labor and, at the same time, deputy secretary general of the Rumanian Communist Party under Ana Pauker, who then was secretary general. Dej later replaced Ana Pauker as secretary general of the Communist Party and also became president of the Council of Ministers. (BACKGROUND OF TOP LEVEL COMMUNIST LEADERS IN RUMANIA, CIA, March 11, 1955, p. 2) (IMG)

Besides [Dej's] work in connection with the first five-year plan, [Dej] applied himself to the program for the electrification of the country, for the realization of which he worked vigorously. In his “Articles and Speeches” he emphasized the lack of criticism and self-criticism among officials. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 4) (IMG)

The communist faction of the Party headed by Dej enjoyed popular support especially among the proletarians. The CIA reported that Dej knew how to be popular among Romanians:

Gheorghiu-Dej has grown up in a hard school. He understands, in spite of his submissiveness to the Soviet power, how to remain a popular Rumanian Communist leader. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 5) (IMG)

As late as 1955, the CIA admitted:

Dej, a self-taught person of great will powers, enjoys a certain popularity among the Rumanian people…. (BACKGROUND OF TOP LEVEL COMMUNIST LEADERS IN RUMANIA, CIA, March 11, 1955, p. 2) (IMG)

In a 1952 report, the CIA admitted that Dej was always regarded as Romanian workers’ true representative, unlike Pauker:

In contrast to Ana Pauker, Gheorghiu-Dej was always regarded as a true representative of the Rumanian working class. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 4) (IMG)

Gheorghiu-Dej led the labor group and had for his chief lieutenants his fellow agitators who formed the core of leadership in the railroad strike of 1933. (RECENT PURGES IN RUMANIAN COMMUNIST PARTY, CIA, August 12, 1952, p. 1) (IMG)

(…). The CIA also admitted:

Ana Pauker was unpopular in Rumania, in fact she was hated by the working class. (BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF GHEORGHIU-DEJ, CIA, October 17, 1952, p. 1) (IMG)

 

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Flag of People’s Democratic Romania (1952-1965).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Republic_of_Romania#/media/File:Flag_of_Romania_(1952–1965).svg