President Basescu publicly condemns communism

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

The report of the Presidential Commission for Communism Study was published in the form of a book after its short form was read by President Basescu in front of the Parliament. There, Basescu had to front a loud opposition from the extremist leader Vadim Tudor and several leaders of PSD (Social Democratic, former Communist Party) who found the report was not telling the truth about Romania’s past. But at the book launch, few months later, Basescu was overwhelmed by a sea of supporters.

The Report published by Humanitas Printing House is the work of several historians and intellectuals coordinated by political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu, professor at Maryland University.

The book was presented by Vladimir Tismaneanu and Gabriel Liiceanu, General Manager of Humanitas Printing House. Tismaneanu, who studied communism and post-communism for decades said this Report is the highest point of his career. Tismaneanu also reminded the work of his collaborators, especially that of the late dissident Virgil Ierunca.

This report is the first official condemnation of communism coming from the Romanian state, and speaks about the regime that ruled Romania from 1944 to 1989 as a “murderer and illegitimate” one. Basescu considers this event as a turning point in Romanian history, but it is worth mentioning that during the final debate between him and his challenger, Adrian Nastase, he rhetorically wondered why Romania still has to chose between “two communists like us”. In the late ’80, the Communist Party, which was the only one in the country, counted over 4 million members, about a quarter of the adult population.

Structured on three major parts, the Report is a precise picture of the Romanian society under communism. The first part is dedicated to the Communist Party, underlining the role of the Soviet “advisers” which enforced the regime under the Russian occupation following the 2nd World War, as well as the methods used to alter the structure of a liberal society.

The second part of the Report refers to the genocide and the repression brought by the most brutal regimes in the Eastern Europe. There are reproduced documents about the arrest conditions in communist prisons, psychological torture, manipulation and other methods used by Securitate (a kind of red Gestapo) to inflict terror.

The third part talks about Society, Economics and Culture during communism, in other words the impact this ideology had over these areas. The passages in which are reproduced poems, articles or public statements that endorsed communism those days, signed by today’s politicians produced vivid debates and protests. Among those quoted for their pro-communist positions were Vadim Tudor (now a nationalist leader) Ion Iliescu (former president, now social-democrat) and his party colleague, the poet Adrian Paunescu.

Political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu wanted to underline that this Report on Communism is not an example of “official history” or “official truth of the State”, but rather “the way we see things now”, 18 years after the Revolution.

Philosopher Gabriel Liiceanu, who now runs Humanitas Printing House said that the volume is printed entirely out of private funds but that any profits gathered by selling this book will be donated to the Sighet Memorial, a project housed by a former political prison, similar to the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem) in Tel Aviv.

President Basescu said that this book will also be useful to his daughters who were to young to remember the reality of communism.

Among the members of the Presidential Commission were: Sorin Alexandrescu, Mihnea Berindei, Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, Radu Filipescu, Virgil Ierunca, Sorin Iliesiu, Gail Kligman, Monica Lovinescu, Nicolae Manolescu, Marius Oprea, Horia Roman Patapievici, Dragos Petrescu, Andrei Pippidi, Romulus Rusan, Levente Salat, Stelian Tanase, Cristian Vasile, Alexandru Zub.

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