Nicolae Ceaușescu (Romanian pronunciation: [nikoˈla.e t͡ʃe̯a.uˈʃesku]; 26 January 1918– 25 December 1989) was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's last Communist leader. He was also the country's head of state from 1967 to 1989.
He was called the "Danube of Thought", "Genius of Carpatians" and "The enlightened One" by the Communist Party but best way to summarize the feelings of the general opinion of the Romanian people is by Eugene Ionesco "Ceausescu is a mad man. His wife...is also mad. And it is these people who are being allowed freely to torture 23 million people."
In 1968 Ceausescu pulled off a political masterstroke by memorably condemning the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, a move that secured him superstar status at home, in Washington, in Paris and in London. His reward was billions of dollars in foreign loans, which were spent on consumer goods and on industrialization. Yet these loans were taken at a time when country was already heavily in debt, and its capacity to repay its debts had been based on overly-optimistic export projections.
In 1971, Ceausescu traveled to East Asia and was heavily influenced by what he observed in the Communist countries of China and North Korea. Impressed with their social experiments and cultural conversions (Danta, 1993), he sought to transfer these ideals back to Romania, and thereby ensure his overt and overarching control.
After becoming President in 1974, Ceausescu began to run the country in a militant fashion. His secret police held tight control of free speech and the media. In 1982 he ordered most of Romania's products to be exported in order to pay off a ballooned foreign debt due to his mismanagement.
He also pushed the so-called Pro-birth program outlawing abortions and contraceptives in an effort to boost the population. However, his plan backfired as women were dying after undergoing illegal abortions and many babies were being born into homes that could not afford to keep them. The children were then abandoned or sent to overcrowded and poorly managed orphanages.
Nicolae Ceausescu considered agriculture to be his area of expertise. He enjoyed visiting agricultural products exhibitions and collective farms. The major issue which Ceausescu wanted to resolve in his early years in power was the rural overpopulation which was dogging Romania for centuries. Under his tenure as a Minister of Agriculture he initiated the so-called “rural exodus” programme which resulted in a most dramatic restructuring of Romania’s population.
One of the expressions of Ceausescu’s megalomania was his passion for huge forms – in all the spheres of life, all the more in architecture. In the course of his rule two grand projects were being built – one that was launched before him which he did finish and another which he began but did not see it to be completed. The two architectural projects are Danube-Black Sea Canal and the House of People in Bucharest.
Ceausescu was also a paranoiac, he feared that his enemies were constantly trying to kill him by poisoning his clothes so he used to wear a different suit each day. A year's worth of clothing was kept under constant lock and after each suit was worn it was burned.
His wife Elena had strange habits too. She had a passion for pornography; she used the secret police and the intelligence service to secretly film the love liaisons of foreign diplomats and used these tapes to blackmail them, according to the chief of intelligence, Ion Mihai Pecepa she even had tapes of her own daughter Zoia.
The population finally rebelled when Ceausescu ordered his forces to fire on antigovernment demonstrators in Timisoara. On December 22, 1989 he and his wife were captured and on Christmas Day they were both executed by a firing squad.