Friday, May 04, 2007
Nicolae's last stand
On the morning of December 21, Ceauşescu tried to address a mass assembly of a hundred thousand people to condemn the uprising of Timişoara. Speaking from this balcony of the Central Committee building in the usual "wooden language", Ceauşescu delivered a litany of the achievements of the "socialist revolution" and Romanian "multi-laterally developed socialist society". The people, however, remained apathetic, and only the front rows supported Ceauşescu with cheers and applause. His lack of understanding of the events and his incapacity to handle the situation were further demonstrated as he offered, as an act of desperation, to raise the salaries for workers by 100 Lei per month (about 4 US dollars at the time, yet a 5-10% raise for a modest salary) and kept praising the achievements of the Socialist Revolution, still unable to realize that a revolution was unfolding right in front of his eyes.
As he was addressing the crowd from the balcony of the Central Committee building, sudden movement came from the outskirts of the mass assembly below and the sound of what various sources have reported as fireworks, bombs, or guns broke the orderly manifestation into chaos. Scared at first, the crowds tried to disperse. Bullhorns were used to spread the news that the Securitate was firing on them and that a "revolution" was unfolding, and finally the people were persuaded to join in. The rally turned into a protest demonstration and in the end a revolution emerged