Video of Ceausescu’s Last Speech, December 1989
One of the most decisive moments in the Romanian Revolution of 1989 was Ceausescu’s December 21st speech (or lack thereof). This speech was an annual event and carefully scripted by the regime to insure both success and the appearance of popular support. Workers, military units and other popular organizations were bused to the capitol and given orders on where to stand, when to applaud and what to sing. Ceausescu begins his address to the people as he had in years past but this year the tide turned.
This year, the crowd begins to chant unscripted comments back at the dictator. The video- shown live on Romanian television-- shows his confusion and consternation and the barely audible comments. As the crowd becomes more unruly, Ceausescu becomes more confused and he begins arguing with the unseen hecklers. His security guard appears, disappears and, finally, hustles Ceausescu off the balcony. It is as if, in that moment, everyday Romanian's saw the possibility, saw the reality of the weakness of Ceausescu’s regime. Those moments of Ceausescu’s weakness and the power of popular pressure explain why, a mere 48 hours later, Ceausescu was attempting to flee Romania, all power lost. As the other primary sources reveal, the Ceausescu’s were tried a few days later and executed as enemies of the new Romanian state.
This source is a part of the The Romanian Revolution of 1989 teaching module.