Jan '05 - Jan '07
16 years ago, on the 16th of December 1989, the first peaceful riots started in Timisoara. Several days later, after hundreds of casualties, they ended with the death of the dictatorial couple, the Ceausescu's, and the official abolition of communism in Romania. I say official ”˜cause a 50 years old system unfortunately can't be changed over night.
I won't get into the political aspect of the problem. Won't question why Ceausescu was considered by the whole world a good leader or why it was so easy for him to ruin a country (actually there's a simple answer to this: no external debts! - who cares what he sacrificed for that).
Some people still talk with a nostalgia about those times ( you had a secure job and enough money to survive - nothing to buy with them, but anyway), others believe in '89 happened a spontaneous revolution while the majority thinks it was a manipulating fight for power.
But true was only one thing in those days: the pain of the people and their will and hope for a better life.
these pic are from timisoara, the 'Victory Place', the cathedral at one end, the theatre at the opposite end.
Many have died but no one knows why or by whose gun. The bloods that run down the stairs of the Cathedral in Timisoara, though not visible anymore, are still there.
Ever since, the central square, ”˜Victory Place' remained a symbol and has an emotional load. That's when architecture is way above form or function.
Back then I was 6 years old, so things are not that dramatic in my memory. You feel the eventual ”˜inherited' burden rather in everyday life when you face problems generated by that period, problems that have no immediate solution (not that 16 years would be immediate, but still). Mentalities need several generations. Kids today are still not free from that point of view.
I have heard voices on the street and ran to the balcony: about 20-30 people where carrying a flag and placards and were screaming things. For me it was just curious but I felt the tension in the air when my grandma dragged me back in the house.
I heard people yelling ”˜Jos Ceausescu' (down with Ceausescu) and asked my mom what that meant. She explained it like that:' can you go and buy as much chocolate as you want to?' ”˜No, I can only buy as much as I am allowed to' ”˜see, if there wasn't Ceausescu anymore, you could buy chocolate for all the money you would have.' Jos Ceausescu!!!
My father came home the same day, visible irritated, telling me to get dressed as we were going in the cellar. As we usually went there just to bring something upstairs, I didn't understand the urgency of it, but obeyed.
We didn't leave the cellar for several hours, hiding with all the other neighbors from the four story building. My mom was still at work.
As we were living at the last floor of a flat situated on the street that was going to the only military point in town, we slept at our neighbors from the 2nd, in the hallway, on the floor, the only room with no wall to outside. It turned out to be a good idea as we found 3-4 bullets in our apartment later on (also one in the apartment we where sleeping in). Still it was not creepy for us as children.
On other nights, when going to the cellar or the 2nd floor we had to hide so that we wouldn't walk in front of the windows in the stair hall. For us it was adventurous. We would see light balls, our parents called them rackets.
I recall the sound of bullets.
I remember 2 more things: sitting with my mother on the couch, she told me we should shut the light and the TV as it was dark outside and it was safer not to be seen.
The second memory is from Christmas Eve, mom calls me to wash my hands but I manage to see my father carrying a big box in the living room. We argued later but he denied being Santa. I don't recall if there were other gifts but I got red boots and a green training costume. Later on we had to leave the apartment.
My friend told me he had seen my father hugging his father, both with tears in their eyes, saying ”˜it's finally all over'.
But trust me, these memories, from a little insignificant town, are the sweet memories.
Cities as Timisoara and Bucharest had it much harder.
Pctures from Bucharest
I'm sure the hard part was on our parents, it can't be easy to deal with your child in such a situation. The fear is there cause you try to take care of your kid, but you don't want him to feel your fear neither. I can only say I don't remember one moment of being scared or insecure.
My bf was living in Tm in the ”˜Victory Place', where everything happened. His stories and the ones of other people living here are more dramatic. The pictures will give an image but trust me, it's lighter then the reality.
here are other pictures, some more terrifying.