When viewed in retrospect and in the perspective of twentieth century dictatorships, Ceausescu's Romania shows the classic pattern of a man and woman slowly losing touch with reality. The cruelty that the Ceausescus imposed on their Romanian subjects, the humiliation of a public subjected to the stage-managed adulation of the "hero of heroes" and his wife, created resentments that the couple's execution on Christmas day in 1989 will not assuage. The terror that compelled neighbor to inform on neighbor, the requirement to be a stool pigeon to obtain promotions, a comfortable apartment, or a half-way decent job, led not only to general hatred but also to contempt for the Ceausescus and their brood. Yet, this was the same couple that was received with near-adulation in the West. Queen Elizabeth II made Nicolae a British knight. Elena was given membership in various Western academies and scientific societies. They received presents royal indeed, and they were hailed as modern-day heroes.
At home, however, all the twists and turns of the Ceausescu clan failed to create permanent conditions for "dynastic socialism." The country's economy followed those of other East European nations in the 1980s, and it plunged into a deep depression. The regime's prestige at home went down with the economy. There were riots and unrest throughout the country, especially in the urban centers. Although the disturbances were quelled with great brutality, the underlying tensions were not lessened. In December 1989, the discontent erupted into a revolution that overthrew the dictator. Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu fled their capital but were captured, tried by a hastily convened court, and executed. This marked the end of "socialism in one family" and the communist system in Romania.
Deletant Andrea, Romania ( Santa Barbara, CA, 1985); Fischer Mary Ellen, Nicolae Ceausescu: A Study in Political Leadership ( Boulder, CO, 1989); Funderburk David, Pinstripes and Reds: An American Ambassador Caught Between the State Department and Romanian Communists, 1981-1985 ( Washington, DC, 1987); -----, Nationalism and Communism in Romania: The Rise and Fall of Ceausescu's Personal Dictatorship ( Boulder, CO, 1990); Gilberg Trond, Modernization in Romania Since World War II ( New York, 1975); Pacepa Ion Mihai, Red Horizons ( New York, 1987); Shafir Michael, Romania: Politics, Economics and Society ( Boulder, CO, 1985).
Ceausescu, Nicu (1955- ). Nicu Ceausescu came into his teens while his father and mother (see Ceausescu, Nicolae and Elena) were already the rulers of communist Romania. An unstable young man, he was unable to relate to normal, everyday people. Early in his life, he became an alcoholic, and his escapades with women became the talk of the country. His mother, Elena, doted on him, and indulged his every whim. His father often protected him from criminal charges. Nicu's political activities were fostered by his parents. Since his older brother wanted to be left alone, Nicu was considered by his parents their natural successor. In the early 1980s, however, Nicu made some critical remarks about his father's economic policies, and he was sent to the Transylvanian city of Sibiu to head the local party organization.