Vasile Rămneanţu

1965–1969: Banatul între liberalism şi tendinţe autoritariste / The Banat Between Liberalism and Authoritarian Tendencies

Jan. 1, 2011

state of mind
political life



Even in the early years of the Ceauşescu regime, although appreciated as liberal, the communist authorities and the Securitatea (Security Service) considered fighting those who criticized the Romanian Communist Party’s and Romanian state’s policy. They were to be warned and unmasked. The authorities followed the former legionnaires, the nationalists, former members of the bourgeois parties, former exploiters, released political prisoners, and representatives of certain religious cults. F e most dangerous were considered to be the former legionnaires and the nationalists, especially Hungarians, accused of revisionism, and the Swabians that supported emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany. They were to be publicly exposed, a method and a term frequently used in the Stalinist era. F e communist authorities from the Banat also feared foreign espionage actions. In the summer of 1967, high level party members analyzed the activities of the Security Service, a subject subsequently discussed by the leadership of the Banat Region. Documents reveal that this investigations was undertaken at the direction of the highest level of the party. Both Ceauşescu and the regional party leaders hailed the Security Service as a tool of the party and state, summoned to defend the revolutionary conquests of the laborers against the plots and mischief of the enemies opposing building of the socialism, and underlined their contribution to the defeat of the internal and external reactionary forces. This meant that the “Romanian communist reformist leader” approved the murders committed in the fifties against the anti-communist Romanian opposition. Ceauşescu also declared, and his affirmation was accepted again by the local communist authorities, that certain abuses were made, but we believe that he was more concerned with abuses against party activists, as the Security Service meddled in party life. In analyzing the activities of the Security forces from Banat, mention was made of some unlawful methods of investigation. As lately proved, they were the main procedure for obtaining evidences. For the Banat Region, the documents specifically call for strict respect of socialist legality by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and a closer control of Security’s activities by party organizations in the future. Accordingly, the analyses at all levels of the Romanian Communist Party in 1967 regarding the activities of the Security Service had been a cynical one, serving, as we believe, to the fight for power at the top of the party (between Nicolae Ceauşescu and Alexandru Drăghici respectively). As for the abuses committed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1967 and reported by the inhabitants to the party organizations, most of them were well-founded, but there also were many attempts by the leaders of the Police to cover them up. The leadership of the Banat Region, later Timiş County, was preoccupied with the German population, because of the growing requests by the Swabians to leave the country. The reason for this situation, as perceived by the authorities, was foreign propaganda through radio, press and western tourists. This propaganda supposedly praised conditions in the capitalistic states, especially the FRG. In order to analyze the situation, a delegation of the Central Committee of the RCP (including some high ranking members, such as Gheorghe Pană, Richard Winter and others) came to Banat. They reached the conclusion that emigration reached worrisome levels in some communities and that the local party organizations were to blame for not taking decisive measures to stop it. The authorities were also afraid that these circumstances could persuade other citizens (Romanians, Hungarians) to ask permission to permanently leave the country. All these requests diminished the prestige of socialist Romania. In order to improve the situation, plans were made to “upgrade” political, cultural, and educational activities targeting the German population. Those who wanted to leave the country permanently were to be discussed in the RCP, CYU (Communist Youth Union) and union organizations’ meetings. They were to be opposed and exposed, again Stalinist formulas and methods, used in the middle of the thaw. A sustained anti-capitalistic propaganda campaign was planned, aimed at “unmasking the GFR policies … concerned with international problems”. This happened in the same year that Romania restored diplomatic relations with Federal Germany. At the same time, the cultural activities of the Swabians were monitored. Measures were planned to deter Swabian children from participation in religious classes, and also specifying how the tendentious Catholic Church propaganda was to be fought. Efforts would be made to persuade those who applied for visas to withdraw their requests and also to oppose and unmask western tourists criticizing the communist regime and instigating the Swabians to leave for the GFR. In 1969, the head of the Timiş Police Inspectorate proposed countermeasures for stopping emigration, including more active reporting of requests for temporary travels abroad from the directors of factories and institutions, and also the limitation of travel to only one trip per year. A strike was recorded in the same period in a factory from Jimbolia, caused by social and economic discontent. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 had caused a tensioned atmosphere in the Timiş County also. Hand written manuscripts from the archives, very likely belonging to the First secretary of the Party County Committee Mihai Telescu, contain assignments, most certainly contrived by the Plenum of the Central Committee of RCP on August 21.They specified: maximum vigilance, measures to prevent the emergence of a chauvinistic, anti-soviet atmosphere, and surveillance of the population’s state of spirit. Every party member was to become a propagandist. As early as August 21, party activists had been mobilized in Timiş County. Updates were sent to the Central Committee at frequent intervals, concerning the situation from the county. Documents emphasize an undeniable truth: the population of the county had condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia and supported Romania’s policy at that moment. People appreciated the way the RCP informed them on the international events of those days. People enthusiastically enrolled in the patriotic guards and the youths in military training formations. Information notes mention a pro-Czechoslovakian leaw et and a poster on a car reading, Ceauşescu – Dubcek – Tito – freedom”. The authorities paid major attention to informing people of the decisions taken in those days by the party and state leadership (especially targeting the Hungarians and Germans). The cultural and artistic programs were supposed to comprise a highly patriotic content. Exceptional measures were taken to protect the County Party Committee, and the main economic objectives and institutions throughout the county.