Socialist Republic of Romania

The Socialist Republic of Romania (, RSR) was a single party socialist state that existed officially from 1947 to 1989. From 1947 to 1965, the state was known as the Romanian People’s Republic (Republica Populară Romînă, RPR). The country was a Soviet-aligned Eastern Bloc state with a dominant role for the Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its constitutions. As World War II ended, Romania, a former Axis member, was occupied by the Soviet Union, the sole representative of the Allied powers. On 6 March 1945, after mass demonstrations by communist sympathizers and political pressure from the Soviet representative of the Allied Control Commission, a new pro-Soviet government that included members of the previously outlawed Romanian Communist Party was installed. Gradually, more members of the Communist Party and communist-aligned parties gained control of the administration and pre-war political leaders were steadily eliminated from political life. In December 1947, King Michael was induced to abdicate and the People’s Republic of Romania was declared. At first, Romania’s scarce post-war resources were drained by the “SovRoms”, new tax-exempt Soviet-Romanian companies that allowed the Soviet Union to control Romania’s major sources of income. Another drain was the war reparations paid to the Soviet Union. In the 1950s, however, Romania’s communist government began to assert more independence, inducing, for example, the withdrawal of all Soviet troops from Romania by 1958. In the 1960s and 1970s, Nicolae Ceaușescu became head of the Communist Party (1965), head of state (1967) and assumed the newly established role of President in 1974. Ceaușescu’s denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and a brief relaxation in internal repression helped give him a positive image both at home and in the West. However, rapid economic growth fueled by foreign credits gradually gave way to an austerity and political repression that led to the fall of his totalitarian government in December 1989. A large number of people were executed or died in custody during communist Romania’s existence, most during the Stalinist era of the 1950s. While judicial executions between 1945 and 1964 numbered 137, deaths in custody are estimated in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Many more were imprisoned for political, economical or other reasons and suffered abuse, torture and/or death.

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