In the precommunist era of the early twentieth century, an authoritarian monarch subverted the Romanian parliamentary system with the help of an ultraconservative middle class and aristocracy that controlled most of the country's wealth. By the 1930s, the country was a repressive dictatorship strongly influenced by Nazi German totalitarianism, for which Romania's upper classes had much sympathy. They were suspicious of democracy, fearful of Soviet communism, and deeply anti-Semitic. During World War II, Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany and cooperated with its invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. After the war and a punishing armistice imposed on Romania by the Kremlin, Romanian communists ousted the monarch, declared a republic, and turned the country into a Soviet-style socialist dictatorship and, eventually, into a satellite of the Kremlin.
Romania's first communist leader, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, ruled the country until 1964, when he was succeeded by his long-time confidante Nicolae Ceauṟescu. While Dej introduced a neo-Stalinism into Romania reminiscent of the Soviet political system in the 1930s, Ceauṟescu consolidated and intensified the dictatorship in ways that would have made Stalin proud. As one authority puts it, "Ceauṟescu's despotism united all the elements identified by Friedrich and Brzezinski as typical of totalitarian regimes: ideological uniformity, a single party under a single leader, the use of terror, and the state control of society, communications, and the economy."1
Romanian Stalinism was intended not only to promote discipline, obedience, and loyalty to the new communist, order but also to modernize Romania, trans-