Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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make sure that mistakes in the future were avoided. This declaration foreshadowed Nikita Khrushchev's coming denunciations of Joseph Stalin. In Romania, the admission did not result in the repudiation of the system of Stalinism. Although Gheorghiu- Dej also proclaimed that the party would henceforth be led by a collective, this did not mean the reduction of power of the secretary general of the party. The leader admitted, albeit carefully, that the party's emphasis on rapid industrialization, based on the development of heavy industry, was probably a mistake. In parallel with this, the neglect of the development of consumer industries was a blunder.

The following year, the camps of the Romanian Gulag, including the one that held prisoners building the Danube-Black sea canal, were dissolved. Georgy Malenkov and Nikita Khrushchev supported the Romanian reforms. They agreed that the joint Soviet-Romanian companies, one of the means by which the Soviet Union had exploited Romania, should be dissolved. On October 5, 1955, however, new decrees were issued that tightened party control over Romanian cultural life, and destalinization came to an abrupt halt. In December 1965, following the death of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the Romanian party's Central Committee elected a new leadership. Heading the party was the new secretary general, Nicolae Ceausescu (see Ceausescu, Nicolae and Elena). His elevation to the highest party post signaled a new wave of repressions, creating a system of personal rule and a personality cult that went beyond anything Stalin had ever enjoyed in the Soviet Union.


Berciu Dumitru, Romania ( New York, 1967). Cretzianu Alexandru, Captive Romania: A Decade of Soviet Rule ( New York, 1956); Gilberg Trond, Modernization in Romania Since World War II ( New York, 1975).

"Rebuilding" Bucharest . Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (see Ceausescu, Nicolae and Elena) was determined to leave behind for posterity some monument reminding future generations of the magnificence of his rule. This monument was to be the House of the People, sometimes also called the Palace of the People, now dominating the center of the capital city, Bucharest. This huge building is seven times the size of the Palace of Versailles, and Buckingham Palace could be fitted into the underground parking garage at its rear. Another huge complex built to the south of the House of the People, the House (or Palace) of Science, was to commemorate the achievements of Elena Ceausescu (nee Petrescu), the so-called world renowned scientist of Romania.

In the 1960s, Bucharest, was a city of mixed architectural styles, carrying the memories of several historical periods. This was not suitable for the Ceausescus. The opportunity to remodel the city came in 1977, when a terrible earthquake destroyed parts of the city. Ceausescu, deeply impressed by the gigantomania of Stalinist architecture in the Soviet Union, and even more so by the Palace of the People built by Kim Il Sung, the North Korean dictator, ordered the monumental palace to be built. The palace required 30 percent of national resources. In addition, further sums had to


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Dictionary of East European History since 1945
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