The heart of old Bucharest was ripped asunder to build Ceausescu's grandiose palace
IN Rumania the unacceptable face of traditional Communism is well displayed. The dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, who has packed the Communist leadership with thirty-eight of his relatives, has launched a megalomaniac plan to bulldoze thousands of the country's ancient villages and force the villagers into tower blocks, in the process eradicating the country's substantial Hungarian and German minorities culturally and, it is increasingly feared, physically. Ceaucescu has already razed the medieval centre of the capital, Bucharest, and is building himself a grandiose palace on the site.
His policy of 'systemization', inspired not only by his personal power-madness but also by Karl Marx's diatribes against "the idiocy of rural life", is intended to lead within ten years to the destruction of over eight thousand villages, including all settlements of under 500 people, and the herding of their inhabitants into 250-500 "advanced-type agro-industrial complexes", described as "resembling half-finished high-rise concrete rabbit hutches".
In these giant blocks, the peasants will be forbidden even to cook and eat alone, being forced to use communal kitchens, where the dreaded Securitate secret police will be able to spot any attempt to keep alive forbidden local culture or the native languages of the Germans and Hungarians. All the private plots remaining to the villages will be confiscated. Four million Rumanians and two million Hungarians will have their homes bulldozed as they are herded at gunpoint into the "agro-industrial complexes".
In July the bulldozers began to roll. That month ten Saxon (ethnic German), three Magyar (Hungarian) and three Rumanian villages, dating to between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, were flattened. In the Saxon village of Honigsberg, Securitate troops dragged villagers out of the architecturally unique 13th Century church in which they had taken refuge before blowing it up. Now one hundred and three villages in Cluj province are to be destroyed.
Whilst their homes are destroyed, the Rumanians starve. Even in the relatively prosperous capital, colour pictures of meat have replaced the real thing in all shops, butter has disappeared and the sugar ration is one kilo per family per month. In the countryside, peasants desperately gnaw stale bread. The economy is a mess even by Marxist standards. Power cuts are the norm in winter, as the starving Rumanians freeze as well.
Miners, desperately underpaid, are forced to dig coal literally at the point of a bayonet, after Securitate troops marched striking miners back to work at gunpoint, following them down the pit to stand behind them with machine-guns at the coalface – a demonstration of the reality behind his Marxist dream from which our own Arthur Scargill might leam.
Rumanian peasant farmers: waiting for the bulldozer
Environmental pollution plumbs appalling depths. No-one objected when the 'systemizers' went in to raze villages around the Danube town of Girugiu: the villages were already deserted, the villagers having fled clouds of deadly chlorine gas from a nearby giant chemical works.
Across the Danube, the Bulgarian Communist Government has complained that their town of Ruse had been reduced by the same plant to "a state of chemical warfare". Meanwhile Ceaucescu is openly founding a dynasty, grooming his son Nicu to inherit the dictatorship of the proletariat after the sickly old tyrant dies. And of course the whole Marxist mess is kept afloat by lavish international Capitalist funding: Red Rumania now owes $10 billion to the banks.
So appalling is Ceaucescu's tyranny that even his Eastern European neighbours are getting fed up. Hungary has seen massive, officially-tolerated demonstrations against Rumania, and top Hungarian minister Imre Pozsgay in mid-August described the 'systemization' scheme as "a crime against humanity". Such is Hungarian anger at the oppression of their co-nationals in Rumania that only the fact that ultimately the Soviets rule them has prevented war. Though Gorbachev, contemptuously spurned by Ceaucescu, may well let the tanks roll sooner or later.
The Hungarian and German minorities are lucky. They can flee. 12,000 ethnic Hungarians have already fled to their motherland, in some cases via Russia. Magyars are swimming rivers and dodging border guards to escape into the USSR in search of relative freedom.
The Germans don't have to run. Ceaucescu sells them at ￡2500 a head to West Germany. He is now putting the price up to ￡3140 per German delivered in good working order to the Fatherland. There are no discounts for age or sickness, seemingly. Second-hand Germans are a good little earner: 80% of the 230,000 German minority now want to get out, even though their people have lived in their now-doomed picturesque little villages for over 700 years.
The native Rumanians aren't so fortunate. They have only one way out of the Marxist nightmare: in recent weeks, as the 'systematizers' and the Securitate close in on their homes, more and more Rumanians have been committing suicide. After all, under marxism they have nothing left to lose, but their chains...