"Ceauşescu and your wife, we don’t want you in Romania!"
  

Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu fled the capital on 22 December, on board a helicopter. They arrived at their Snagov residence at around 12 pm, and then took off for Târgoviște.

Close to Boteni (near the Bucharest-Târgoviște road), they abandoned the helicopter (1:30 pm) which the army had instructed to land. The Ceaușescus arrived close to Târgoviște in cars belonging to people pulled over on the road by officers of the Securitate [Secret Police].

They hid in a forest until nightfall, and then went to the headquarters of the County Militia, which had been taken over by revolutionaries. Here the Ceaușescus were arrested and searched by the revolutionaries.

At around 6 pm, they were transported to the Târgoviște Garrison (Military Unit UM 01378 and Military Unit UM 0147) with army and militia escorts.

Romanians celebrating their first day of freedom

The announcement of the arrest of the Ceaușescus was received with cheers from the revolutionaries in the Romanian national television studios.

The meeting of the Superior Military Council took place on the evening of 24 December, and Ion Iliescu, Petre Roman, Silviu Brucan and eight generals participated in it. At 8 pm, Ion Iliescu noted down the decision of the Council of the National Salvation Front, creating an Exceptional Military Tribunal for the emergency trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu.

At around 9 pm, Ion Iliescu appointed General Victor Stănculescu to take care of the organisation of the following day's trial within the headquarters of Military Unit UM 01417 Târgoviște, where Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu had been held since 22 December.

On 25 December, at 5:30 am, the Ceauşescus were brought by armoured personnel carrier to the garrison's command office, where their trial would take place. Sergeant Constantin Stoican revved up the engine to create a smokescreen and mask their disembarking.

After their medical visits, defendants Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu were brought into the improvised courtroom in the military unit.

End of the Revolution

The panel of judges was led by military judges Gică Popa and Ioan Nistor, and by justice major Dan Voinea, who received the order to draft the indictment. (Emil Constantinescu, Păcatul Originar, sacrificiul fondator [Original Sin, founding sacrifice], vol 1, p 353-354).

The solicitors for the defence were Nicolae Teodorescu and Lucescu Constantin – according to the trial record.

The first statement in the trial was made by judge Gică Popa, who informed the defendants of the exceptional nature of the trial.

The charges, according to the file drafted by prosecutor Major Dan Voinea:

1. Genocide – more than 60,000 victims

2. Undermining state power by organising armed action against the people and state powers

3. Destruction of public assets, including destruction and damage of buildings, explosions in cities, etc.

4. Undermining the national economy

Later there was also a fifth charge in the indictment for the Târgoviște trial, which was introduced by Ion Iliescu in Bucharest. (Grigore Cartianu, Sfârşitul Ceauşeştilor [The End of the Ceaușescus], p 478, annexes)

Prosecutor Voinea asked that they be sentenced to death for the penal crimes mentioned in the four charges.

Demonstrators against Ceaușescu

During the trial, Ceaușescu repeatedly said that he shall only answer to the Great National Assembly, that the trial was a sham and that he did not admit anything.

Judge Popa responded: "Sham is what you did for 25 years. That is the sham you have committed and you have brought the country to the brink of collapse".

As he was bombarded with accusations, Nicolae Ceaușescu often referred to the "coup" that was being conducted by "traitors" and "foreign agencies".

The last part of the trial focussed on the solicitors for the defence, Nicolae Teodorescu and Constantin Lucescu, but they were acting like prosecutors.

Nicolae Teodorescu found the Ceaușescus to be guilty of all charges brought by the prosecutor and asked that his clients be sentenced to death.

Constantin Lucescu says that allowing Ceaușescu have the floor again would be "an offence against the Romanian people".

On the morning of 25 December, 1989, eight paratroopers from Boteni were loaded up in two helicopters to receive a "grade zero mission".

Without their knowing, they were to form the firing squad made up of seven NCOs led by Captain Ionel Boeru – they were all armed. The eight were recruited as volunteers from 50 officers and then from 20 volunteers.

Chief of the paratrooper commando and chief of the firing squad, Ionel Boeru reports on Ceaușescu's condition before the trial: "He was unrecognisable. White as a sheet, hair all ruffled up and unshaven. Wearing aftershave though, he smelled nice. (...) (Grigore Cartianu, Sfârşitul Ceauşeştilor [The End of the Ceaușescus])

At 2:30 pm, the Tribunal withdrew to an adjoined room to deliberate. Ten minutes later, the panel of judges reentered the room and Gică Popa read the sentence:

"The Tribunal, on behalf of the law and of the people, having deliberated in secret, unanimously sentences defendants Nicolae Ceaușescu and Elena Ceaușescu to capital punishment and confiscation of their entire estate..."

Execution

Their hands were tied behind their back, despite Elena Ceaușescu's protests. The couple had two final wishes: that they die together and that their hands not be tied. Only their first wish is granted. They were then led by four paratroopers to the wall where they were to be executed. They are executed at 2:50 pm.

Dorin Cârlan, sergeant, one of the eight paratroopers and one of the four that led the dictators to the wall where they were executed said:

"I was three feet behind Ceaușescu. When he saw that we were walking towards the wall, he realised that he had no way out of this. (...) I was left with that image of... it was something like in 'The Death of a Deer'. Then he let a tear fall, actually several, and started saying: 'Death to the traitors!' My colleagues turned him to face forward. But he continued to shout: 'Death to the traitors! Long live the free and independent Socialist Republic of Romania! History will avenge me!' (...) He then started to sing a fragment of the Internationale: 'Damned of the Earth, stand up / Prisoners of starvation, stand...' He never got to say 'up', cause we had already sent him up". (Grigore Cartianu, Sfârşitul Ceauşeştilor [The End of the Ceaușescus], p 392-393, citing the Dorin Cârlan interview, Bucharest, 4 November 2009)

The official announcement of the execution of the dictator was made on Romanian television on the evening of the 25th.

The Ceaușescu regime was overthrown, but the price was huge: 1,142 dead, 3,138 wounded. No less than 748 orphan children of martyr heroes were recorded. (Source: Wikipedia, State Secretariat for Revolutionary Problems, an institution subordinated to the Government of Romania.)

After the street riots, there was a revolution of mentality and the rebuilding of fundamental democratic values in accordance with the demands and requirements of the new world. This sacrifice led to the regaining of the right to freedom of expression of thoughts, opinions, beliefs, as well as rights to property and free movement.

Demonstrators bring flowers to the square and gave them to soldiers
Credits: Story

Contributing editor  — Alina Conţeanu
Contributing editor  — Lina Vdovîi
Contributing editor  — Monica Paula Coman
Contributing editor  — George Gurescu
Archivist editor  — Mihai Ciobanu
16 mm film operator — Carmen Drăghici
Photo documentarist — Irina Bartolomeu
Photo and video editor — Silviu Panaite
Project coordinator — Dorian Stoica

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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