Since I’m not busy cashing checks from Romanian or American intelligence agencies it sometimes takes me a while to catch up on what’s been going on and be able to properly respond to accusations made here on the blog. Luckily, this week I’ve been able to carve out some time to address this nonsense.
The Berlin Bear
If you ever visit Berlin, the capital of Germany, you’re likely to see thousands of bears, ranging from cute little teddy bears to the official coat of arms for the city, which has featured a bear since the Middle Ages.
If you ask a local German they’ll probably tell you the name of their city stems from either the word “bear” (Bär in modern High German) or maybe the word for “little bears” (Bärlein in modern High German) or that maybe it was named after the first German ruler of the city, Albert the Bear.
Frederick the Great loved the city and made it his capital. Hitler too loved the city, extolling its heroic German character in 1936 when Berlin hosted the Summer Olympics. President Kennedy’s famous 1963 speech was held in West Berlin, starting a tradition that has continued to the present day (Obama spoke there in 2013). It is now the capital of a re-united Germany and hosts millions of tourists every year.
The only problem with these stories about Berlin as a great historical capital of German culture is that for the first 600 years of its existence, Berlin was a Slavic city, occupied by people related to modern day Poles (and the Polish border is just a few kilometers to the east even today). The city was named after a Slavic word for “swamps”, similar to the modern (Republic of) Moldovan city of Balti and its name has nothing to do with bears at all.
Which just goes to show you how the quest to buttress a modern ideology can severely distort history.
To Iulian Vlad, with love
Last week in my post The Grandmaster I mentioned a book by Larry Watts and called it “poorly researched”. The author (apparently) discovered my article and wrote a comment complaining about my characterization of his book.
Fair enough. I admit that I was wrong. The book in question, with the lengthy title of With Friends Like These: The Soviet Bloc’s Clandestine War Against Romania, Volume I (with a Romanian version as well), was exceedingly well-researched.
It has to be because that’s the only way you could draw the conclusion that a) the Soviet Union was ever considered much of a “friend” to Romania or b) that the Soviet Union ever waged a “war” (clandestine or not) against Romania.
A brief timeline of Moscow’s “nightmares” for people unable to conduct basic research
1940 – Soviet NKVD agents murder Leon Trotsky in Mexico
1944 – On August 23 Soviet troops are welcomed into Romania
1944 – Romanian Communist Party (PCR) combines with Socialist Party (PSD) to form “National Democratic Front” briefly before becoming Romanian Workers Party (PMR)
1945 – Soviet Union returns Northern Transylvania to Romanian control
1946 – PMR rigs elections in November to become undisputed rulers of the country under leadership of Petru Groza
1947 – Stalin becomes “honorary citizen” of Romania
1947 – Cominform is created in response to the Marshall Plan
1948 – Yugoslavia is expelled from Cominform
1948 – PMR writes a new Stalinist-style constitution for Romania
1949 – Comecon was created as a “common market” for Communist nations – Romania is a founding member
1952 – PMR writes a second completely new national constitution for Romania, emphasizing close ties with Soviet Union
1952 – Groza resigns and Gheorghiu-Dej becomes leader of Romania
1953 – KGB orchestrates kidnapping of Czech dissident Bohumil Lausman from Vienna, Austria
1953 – Stalin dies
1955 – Warsaw Pact is formed between Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, East Germany, Bulgaria Czechoslovakia, Romania and Albania – Yugoslavia is not invited
1956 – Soviet military represses wide-scale protests in Hungary
1957 – KGB agents murder Ukrainian dissident Lev Rebet in (West) Germany
1958 – All Soviet troops removed from Romanian soil
1959 – Romania stops sending its military officers to Soviet Union for training
1958 – Gheorghiu-Dej obtains first loans from western banks to invest in heavy industry
1960 – Gheorghiu-Dej defies Soviet Comecon directives and begins building enormous steel mill complex in Galati
1960 – Soviet Union formally severs diplomatic ties with Albania
1961 – Sino-Soviet split reaches apogee as Chinese Communist Party officially condemns Soviet Union Communism as a product of “revisionist traitors”
1961 – Romania declares itself “completely independent” of Comecon quotas or directives
1961 – Albania refuses to participate in any joint Warsaw Pact military maneuvers
1961 – Albania stops participating in Comecon
1961 – Non-Aligned Movement begins with first meeting held in Yugoslavia, one of the founding members
1963 – At Comecon meeting in February, Romania again announces it will follow independent policy with regards to industrialization and investment
1964 – Romania issues April Declaration, openly criticizing the Soviet Union’s relations with China and Romania declares itself free of Soviet hegemony
1965 – Gheorgiu-Dej dies of pneumonia and Ceausescu becomes leader of Romania
1965 – PMR switches titles to become PCR (Romanian Communist Party) and the country is renamed “Socialist Republic of Romania”
1965 – Ceausescu writes new constitution for Romania which removes all references to “brotherly alliance” with the Soviet Union
1965 – Ceausescu orders all Romanian military officers with Soviet wives to either divorce or resign their posts
1965 – TIME magazine states Romania has “withdrawn all but in name” from Warsaw Pact
1966 – Ceausescu featured on cover of TIME magazine – article reports 200,000 Western tourists visited Romania that year while lauding Ceausescu’s leadership as “Third” style of Communism (compared to Soviet and Chinese versions)
1967 – Romania opens formal diplomatic relations with West Germany, angering Soviets
1967 – Soviets and Communist bloc nations break diplomatic relations with Israel after Six-Day War – Romania never does
1967 – First Pepsi bottling plant opens in Romania (in Constanta)
1968 – Warsaw Pact (not including Romania) uses military force to quell uprising in Czechoslovakia
1968 – Ceausescu publicly condemns Warsaw Pact actions in Czechoslovakia
1968 – Albania formally withdraws from Warsaw Pact
1969 – U.S. President Nixon visits Romania, the first visit of an American president to a Communist country
1971 – Warsaw Pact holds enormous military joint maneuvers (called “South 71″) on Romania’s land borders and in the Black Sea – Romania refuses to participate or allow Bulgarian troops to transit Romanian soil to participate in the maneuvers
1971 – Ceausescu hosts state visit from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir
1972 – U.S. President Nixon visits China
1975 – Romania gets MFN (Most Favored Nation) trading status from United States
1975 – Romania gets first loans from IMF and World Bank
1977 – Soviet Union backs Ethiopia while China, United States and Romania back Somalia during Ogaden War
1978 – Ceausescu makes state visit to the United States and meets with American president
1978 – Ceausescu publicly criticizes Soviet Union’s plan for tighter military integration of Warsaw Pact
1978 – KGB murders Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London (UK)
1979 – Soviet Union invades Afghanistan – Ceausescu publicly condemns invasion
1979 – No Soviet officials invited to attend 12th Romanian Communist Party Congress
1980 – Ceausescu decrees official celebration of “2050 years since Burebista organized first Dacian state” and compares himself to Burebista fending off Imperial Rome as metaphor for his independence from Soviet hegemony
1981 – Contract to build Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania is awarded to Canadian company and all plans to use Soviet models (such as the one which later malfunctioned in Chernobyl) are rejected
1984 – Soviet Union and all other Communist countries boycott Olympic Games in Los Angeles (USA) – Romania is the sole Communist country to participate
1984 – Ceausescu publicly criticizes Soviet Union’s decision to deploy missiles in East Germany and Czechoslovakia
1989 – Ceausescu throws lavish ceremony to celebrate having paid off 10 billion dollars in loans to western banks
1989 – After outlasting three Soviet rulers (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko), Ceausescu is tried and executed by his own people in December
Interpretations of a Communist dream
It’s pretty obvious that if the Soviet Union had any “nightmares” in the Communist world, it first started with Yugoslavia (effectively independent from Soviet control starting in 1949) and then continued on through with the big split from China in the early 60s (which went on to support Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos becoming Communist).
Albania was effectively completely independent of Soviet control starting in the 1960s as its sole Communist ally (and economic investor) was China. Previous to that, Albania had close ties with the “excommunicated” nation of Yugoslavia and was never close to the Soviet Union.
These three countries (Yugoslavia, China and Albania) were far more of a “nightmare” to Moscow’s plans than anything Romania ever did. And, as you can see above, Romania was charting an independent path for itself ever since the death of Stalin in 1953 and yet never once suffered any major consequences.
Soviet troops left Romanian soil in 1958 and never returned whereas Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, were massed on Romania’s borders in 1971 (but never invaded), and continued to occupy other eastern bloc countries until the very end, not withdrawing from Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia until 1991.
There was never once a single credible attempt to assassinate Ceausescu nor were there any Soviet-backed insurrections or military groups on Romanian soil operating after the end of World War 2. Not a single pro-Soviet cabinet minister or high-ranking official lasted in Romania past the early 1950s.
Despite regularly criticizing the Soviet Union, failing to follow Comecon directives or initiatives, accepting loans from western banking institutions, hosting an American president and visiting the United States and refusing to participate in Warsaw Pact joint maneuvers, Romania was never expelled from any major Soviet-controlled organization or alliance.
If Romania truly was a “nightmare” for the Soviet Union then the only surprising fact is that the Soviet Union never did anything about it.
With Friends Like These at Your Book Launch…
Instead what we have here is yet another narrative of Romania as the “eternal victim” of the Soviet Union (and now Russia) despite virtually no evidence to support that theory.
Instead of recognizing this as the self-serving lie created to provide cover for Ceausescu’s cruel repression of his own people that it is, now it’s a way to make a few cheap bucks while stroking the egos of the same Communist-era monsters who escaped the 1989 Revolution unscathed, evil men and women who eagerly lapped up the lie of outside “interference” as justification for the need to run an Orwellian secret service that spent 30 years torturing, bugging, harassing, assaulting, imprisoning and smearing the reputations of anyone who dared to speak up.
And that’s why you’ll find a collection of Securitate agents and Communist generals at a book launch warmly praising this collection of propaganda written by their pet foreigner, heaping congratulations on a book that conveniently diverts blame away from them as the true enemies of Romania, their bloated overfed faces shining with delight as they continue their 25-year-long circle jerk of remaining in positions of power while their stupidity and greed drives millions of their fellow citizens ever further into misery and privation.
But then again, I’m just a blogger, so what do I know?