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Malkasian shares about life in communist Romania

by Maria Malkasian

(as presented to the Clallam County Republican Party on May 8, 2017)

 

“A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”                                                         Thomas Jefferson

 

The history of the Romanian people that have lived under the heavy hand of the harshest regime in Eastern Europe is a story of resilience, strength, and above all faith that got stronger because only faith in God could get them through such harsh times.

After you will listen to this speech, it is my hope that you will have  a fresh feeling of gratitude for the freedom we enjoy in this country we call the United States of America, and also if you have never known about God, you will want to know more about how to get to know Him and the strength He gives to those that trust Him.

“While Democracy seeks equality in Liberty, Socialism seeks equality in restrain and servitude.”                           Alexis de Tocqueville

 

I was born in 1974, a time in which the Communist Party was fully in place and completly controlling everything in everyone’s life.

Political freedom was not allowed in Romania during this time. Neither was freedom for press or speech. The television program lasted only two hours every day and was full of political propaganda. The personality cult of president Ceausescu was omnipresent. The TV and radio programs and the newspapers were full of comments about how good president Ceausescu was, what a genius he was, how the entire world spun around him and how the entire Romanian people loved their president.  He was called ” the Most Beloved Son of the People” The Hero of Peace” , The Genius Helmsman”, ” Hero among Heroes”. This kind of propaganda was present even in schools, where children learnd songs that glorified president Ceausescu.

Ceausescu’s words were considered more important even than the communist dogma. For propaganda, what Ceausescu said was more important even than what Karl Marx had said.

The cultural life was strangled by the political regime.

The history was falsified in schools and newspapers. One direction of falsifying history was to increase the role of the communist party and president Ceausescu in some historical events. Old books were not available in libraries, exactly for the reason of hiding the past.

Even literature was censored. Writers whose works were not “politically correct” from the communist point of view were not allowed to print their books. Translations from other languages were very few, and of course, only “politically correct” works were translated.

 

Because of the strict control over everything that was printed there was a shortage of good books to read , even about themes not related with politics.

 

Even the classic Romanian writers were forbidden. For example, the communist authorities accepted Mihai Eminescu, a poet from the 19th century, as the main Romanian poet. His opera was taught in schools. However, parts of his writings were not available, because they did not comply with the politics of the government.

I remember one time, my father and I went to an old friend’s house and since his father just passed away the family was getting rid of all his books and I was so excited when they allowed me to pick through all the book and I was allowed to take some home. A love for books was born then, I guess!

 

Winston Churchill said :Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. It’s inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

 

The economic situation was getting worse and worse. A system of fake reporting was developed in the economy. Because of the fake reporting system even the government missed reliable data in order to take right decisions. The result was the worsening of Romania’s economy.

 

The propaganda spoke only about the great results of the Romanian economy. In the real life people were faced with a shortage of many products. In order to buy some milk, for example, you had to wait in long lines at the grocery at least 1-2 hours early in the morning.

As times got harder, food became scarcer: at first it was just meat, but later it became harder to find basics like bread, milk, sugar and oil.  People lined up now for 12 hours to buy food and many still remember living on bones and frozen fish. The shelves in the grocery stores were empty maybe with a few cans of canned grapes and tomatoes. To get some beef, I remember my mother and I stayed in line one day from early in the morning and I think it was late in the afternoon when the truck arrived and there such a frenzy people shoving and pushing and arguing.

Romanians forgot what life was like when they had enough to eat and were free to say what they wanted. People were threatened for simply whispering their unhappiness.

Gas, electricity and water were rationed, and soon there was no longer any central heating; in winter the average temperature inside a Bucharest apartment dropped to eight degrees.“We only had hot water for a couple of hours every weekend—no one would go out on Saturday night, because that was bath night.”

Electricity was cut off quite often, for saving reasons. 

I remember doing my homework by the lamp or candle, or as my father always liked ot invent and do something better for his family, he hated seeing me work in such poor conditions so he rigged up a car battery and a light boulb, and I had light this way.

 

the propaganda sustained that the Romanian people were very happy to have such a good ruler like Nicolae Ceausescu. The whole system was based on his personal power. The members of the Ceausescu family held high positions in the government.

When elections were organised, the official results were that the government received 99% of the votes.

As Romania had a state-owned economy, almost all jobs were under government control. In a free-market economy, a person in conflict with his boss has the chance to find a better job somewhere else. In communism, the government rules everything. A person who is on the “black list” of the authorities has no chance to find a good job, irrespective of his or her professional results. It was not necessary to criticise the government openly in order to see your name on the “black list”. It was enough to avoid participating in demonstrations in favour of the regime (sometimes the Communist Party organised mass rallies to prove to the outside world what a strong support it had among Romanian people).

I actually never participated in any of these rallies as I personally believed that I can only worship God and not bow before anyone else. When Ceausescu would pass by he requiered people to bow and I couldn’t see my self do that. As a young communist we were supposed to carry with us our communist ID., but the day they issued one for me I lost it on my way home and never found it.

 

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.”  Karl Marx

Ceausescu’s policy of “Systematisation” (rural relocation linked to urban planning) destroying at least half of Romania’s 13,000 villages, allocating the rural population the new fangled ‘agro-towns’.

In 1971, after visiting North Korea and China he became smitten with their socio-political systems, believing that Romanian society could seriously benefit from adopting similar ideologies of nationalistic belief combined with government control. As a result conservation projects in Bucharest were halted and a subway system developed.

The major Bucharest earthquake of 1977 aided his plans, with many historic buildings in the city being judged unsafe and razed to the ground. No thought was given to saving or rebuilding important monuments.

 impressed by Ceaușescu’s political distance from the Soviet Union and his protest against the invasion of Czechosolovakia in 1968, and believing he was the key to upsetting the Warsaw Pact, America granted Ceaușescu the right to borrow money at low interest rates. He quickly used the credit to finance his vision for a cosmopolitan capital: wide avenues modeled on Haussmann’s Paris and an extravagant, lavishly decorated palace that would serve as both his home and his headquarters.

My father once told me of a friend that he met while he was in the hospital and it happened that that man was a very important man, he was an advisor for Ceausescu. As Ceausescu was remodeling Bucharest, he wanted to move two appartment blocks to put a road through, and the advisor suggested that mybe by moving the road just a few degrees over towards a park would mean not relocating hundreds of people, to which Ceausescu quickly blew up at the advisor and asking if he thought he was an idiot? If he wants the road to go this way, that’s how it will go. Therefor he called his Securitate people whispered an order and the advisor knew he just made a deadly mistake. Ceausescu just turned over back to him and said, get your house in order you will die in three days. My father got the phone call from his friend and he related this story to him. My father went to his funeral a  couple of days later.

 

 The Securitate, Romania’s secret police, which encouraged citizens to inform on friends and neighbours whom they suspected of harbouring anti-government sentiment. Writers and journalists had it particularly bad; sometimes, they’d simply disappear, never to be heard of again. Others tried to flee across the border to Hungary. If they were caught, they were executed. Political prisoners were sent to a town in northern Romania called Sighet. According to the museum that now stands on the site of the old jail, most sent there were over 60 years old. “The greatest victory of communism”, reads a plaque at the entrance to the museum, “was to create people without a memory—a brainwashed new man unable to remember what he was, what he had, or what he did before communism.”

The Secret Police or the Securitate, made life as miserable as possible for all. They had a reputation for brutality and due to the effectiveness of their repression and brutality, Ceausescu’s Securitate were described as “the envy of other dictators”.

 

My brother tried to escape by defecting to Yugoslavia but he was caught. I am very proud of my brother George! I have always admired him and kept him as my hero, while growing up!  the guards there had a policy that for each person they caught they would send one back and let one go to the West. My brother was with a friend when he arrived there, his friend had a young family while my brother was single. since he got chosen to keep going to the west and his friend got chosen to go back. Knowing the fate it would expect his friend if he should be sent back, the possible harrasment if his family, my brother asked the guards if they could change places. So my brother got sent back to Romania and his friend went to the West. He had to go to prison but because he was not 18 quite yet he only got sentenced to 9 months in prison.

I have a friend that contacted me last night and she said: “please let the people know, what it is like to live under communism, I spent my honeymoon in prison in a foreign country trying to escape the terrible regime. ”

“Socialists cry: Power to the people”, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean–power over people, power to the state.”  Margaret Thatcher

 

Land reform was undertaken in Romania according to the Soviet model of collectivization, and since the church was a major land owner in the country they deviced a plan and arranged with priests first to give up the church land and ask the peasantry to follow suit, this way they would support the Communist transformation of Romania. What that really meant was that no one had land any longer.

My Grandfather used to own a lot of land, tractors and combines and all the necessary machinery to work the fields. and a lot of people were working for him, When the Communists came they took everything from him. To his dying day he was very bitter over that incident.

 

“The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.”  Karl Marx

 

The Ministry of Education ordered the removal of religious objects from schools and replaced them with pictures of communist leaders. In theory, religious denominations were permitted to organize and function, but in practice the regime found ways to suppress those who threatened ‘public security’. Legislation was passed that took control of all aspects of religious life.  Government inspectors were designated for the church and church publications were reduced as well as censured. The communists went even as far as to choose what the sermon content would be. Ofcourse if the pastor or priest were not complying they were thrown in prison to be tortured and brainwashed.

These changes in the church were presented to the public eye, not as an attempt by the state to control the church, but rather a popular decision among the nation’s Christians to embrace Communism.

To get an idea of what life for a pastor that refused to endorse the Communist ideology, the best example is pastor Richard Wurmbrand. A jewish pastor along with his jewish wife Sabina, spent many years in prison for simply standing on principles of their belief in God. They endured unthinkable horrors, some of the stories he tells in the  gripping writing “Tortured for Christ”. Here is a short excerpt from his book:

It was strictly forbiden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching, they were happy beating us, so everyone was happy. The following scene happened more times than I can remember. A brother was preaching to the other prisoners when the guards suddenly burst in, suprising him halfway through a phrase. They hauled him down the corridor to their ‘beating room’. After what seemed like an endless beating, they brought him back and threw him, bloody and bruised-on the prison floor. Slowly, he picked his battered body up, painfully streightened his clothing and said, “now, bretheren, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?” He continued his gospel message.  I have seen beautiful things!”

One time when he visited my church in Bucharest he related a story from the time when he was in solitary confinement. Under the beautiful buildings that line up in the main road that leads to Ceausescu’s pallace there were prison cells in which political prisoners were kept. For three years he was kept in that cell. The only way he could communicate was either through Morse Code, to the next door cell mate, prayer or preaching. He kept on praying that that cell would be used for God’s glory. He kept on praying for three years. After he was ransomed by a christian organization and moved to the United States. After the fall of communism in 1989, the building that once used to belong to the Communist party now became available to be purchased by different businesses. One such business man was a Christian man that had a great desire to start a Christian printing place and library. He purchased  a number of the cells in the hope that he would remodel them. At the inauguration since pastor Wurmbrand was in Bucharest at the time, he invited him to be present, not knowing anything about the history of the cell. As pastor Wurmbrand came and saw the place, he started crying , the business owner asked what the matter was and that’s when pastor Wurmbrand told him how for three years he kept on praying that GOd would use that cell for God’s use and His glory and how his business was the answer to his prayers. Now that printing press and book store is one of the largest Christian place in the region.

this is a nice ending to a horrible story, what Pastor Wurmbrand and others like him endured at the hands of the Communists, is what he described as ” all the descriptions of hell and the pains of Dante’s Inferno, are nothing in comparison with the tortures in Communist Prisons. The horrors and brutality, the extraordinary abuse, they are too terrible to speak of.

Why does this information matter today?

At a human level, it is very important to those who suffered the persecution. Many are still alive; they want their story to be told; they want the world to know what they endured.

They know that history, for history’s sake, needs to be set straight, not repeated.

At another level this new generation, has little knowledge and even less recognition of the crucial role of religion in this experience. Not only are they uninformed regarding the sources and degree of the persecution, they do not appreciate the institutionalized atheism helped fuel the godless Communism.

High school history texts are rich with accounts of the Crusades, but completely silent on the infinetely more repressive communist war on religion.

“The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’, they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”    Norman Thomas  (U.S Socialist Party presidential candidate 1940,1944,1948)

May it never happen!

God bless America!

 

 

 

 

 

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The County Convention delegates, who represented you, did an great job of passing an excellent county platform and Resolutions. Our thanks to those who spent the day in hard work to get it done!


Central Committee

passes Resolution opposing and urging Clallam County Commissioners to rescind their support of the Wild Olympics

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Central Committee

passes Resolution to demand that Clallam County withdraw from ICLEI – Local Govts for Sustainability –

which promotes UN Agenda 21.

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