Remembering the Romanian Revolution with newly elected president Klaus Iohannis

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

25 years after, Romanians have commemorated the Revolution where it started, in Timișoara, a city on the west border with Serbia and Hungary. This was the only place in Europe where communism was overthrown after a revolution that took the lives of over one thousand people. The regime had been in place for 45 years, following the occupation of the country by the Soviet army at the end of the second world war. The communist rule was brutal, affecting about one out of ten people with tens of political prisons spread around the country. The last 25 years of this regime were an absolute dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who ordered the army to shoot the protesters in Timișoara.

The Revolution of December 1989 started with a very small protest around the Hungarian Reformist preacher Tokeș Laszlo. He had an eviction order from Securitate, the communist political police, for some of his sermons. The parishioners gathered around preacher’s house to prevent the eviction on the night of 15. Though the majority of the city consist of Orthodox Romanians, many people joined the protesters the next day, when the protest took a political turn. People started chanting “God exists!” as a sign of opposition to the atheistic communist regime, than chants for freedom and free elections followed.

Things escalated when troops from the military, police and Securitate were sent into the city and the first people were shot. Students and workers from major factories joined the protest and on 20th of December the city was declared the first free city, with the military forces being incapable to resist the large crowds.
On 21, the Revolution broke in the capital Bucharest, during a rally that the communists organized to show support for Ceaușescu. The dictator fled the city the next day with virtually the whole population in the streets. He was captured and hastily trialed by second rank members of the Communist Party who had joined the popular revolt, being shot on Christmas day.

The commemoration of the Revolution in Timișoara in 2014 brought about thousands of locals who remember those heroic days when they chanted „Freedom, we love you, we will either win or die!”.
Present at the ceremony was president Klaus Iohannis, that had been just elected last month and was to be sworn in days after. The former mayor of Sibiu, Iohannis has been for a short while leader of the National Liberal Party and has surprisingly defeated the prime-minister Victor Ponta, the leader of the social-democratic party. He is also the first German to be president of Romania, a country that also had a successful German monarchy that was ended by the communist regime.

The ceremonies took place in front of the Orthodox Cathedral in Timișoara, the place where people were shot, where they prayed and sang songs during the nights of the Revolution. A group of priests carried out a memorial liturgy. Than the procession moved to the Opera House, across the main city square, decorated with Christmas lights. The speeches of president Iohannis and mayor Gheorghe Robu could be viewed also on video walls in the square.

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