Nicolae Ceausescu and Dictator's Wife Exhumed in Romania. Why?

Article excerpt

Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife - or the bodies of those purported to be the former communist leaders of Romania - were exhumed Wednesday. DNA tests will be done, at the urging of the surviving Ceausescu family, to verify their identities.

Scientists on Wednesday briefly exhumed the remains of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, from a military cemetery in west Bucharest to take DNA samples and verify their identities.

The couple were shot by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989 after a summary trial. They had been captured trying to flee the country by helicopter. The process, critics say, made the transition of power to the administration of Ion Iliescu a bloody coup rather than a revolution.

The uncertainty about the whereabouts of the bodies stems from the fact that the shooting itself was not filmed, only the mock trial and the bullet-riddled corpses afterwards. And, to add to the confusion, there was a delay in screening the footage of the burial on Romanian television. The burial location was kept secret.

"Like the Romanov family [in Russia], the Ceausescu's were condemned by an ad-hoc trial and summarily executed on Christmas day in a procedure that had all the sophistication of an African tribal court," writes the Adevarul (The Truth), a Bucharest newspaper.

Every year since the 1989 execution, several hundred people gather at what they believe to be the graveside of their departed leader to celebrate his birthday, January 26, by lighting candles and remembering his contribution to the nation. Most Romanians despised the Ceausescu regime, which ruled from 1965 until 1989. His government collapsed during the fall of communist governments throughout Eastern Europe, as Romanians marched through the streets of major cities.

Most of those carrying a flame for the Ceausescu era today are older, and yearn for the certainties and privileges of the regime, while managing to forget the poverty, hunger, and injustice suffered by many and the ostentatious luxury enjoyed by the leadership. …