Amazing video of the last public speech of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator. For those who don’t remember that amazing stretch in 1989 when all the eastern European governments fell, Ceausescu was probably the nastiest of his cohort, and he was the only one to fall violently.
On the morning of December 21, Ceauşescu addressed a mass assembly of a hundred thousand people to condemn the uprising of Timişoara. Speaking from the balcony of the Central Committee building in the usual “wooden language”, Ceauşescu delivered a litany of the achievements of the “socialist revolution” and Romanian “multi-laterally developed socialist society”. The people, however, remained apathetic, and only the front rows supported Ceauşescu with cheers and applause…
As he was addressing the crowd from the balcony of the Central Committee building, sudden movement coming from the outskirts of the mass assembly and the sound of what various sources have reported as fireworks, bombs, or guns broke the orderly manifestation into chaos. Scared at first, the crowds tried to disperse. Bullhorns were used to spread the news that the Securitate was firing on them and that a “revolution” was unfolding, and finally the people were persuaded to join in. The rally turned into a protest demonstration and in the end a revolution emerged.
Ceauşescu, his wife, as well as other officials and CPEx members panicked, and finally Ceauşescu went into hiding inside the building. The live transmission of the meeting was interrupted, but the people who were watching had seen enough to realise that something unusual was going on.
The reaction of Ceauşescu couple is memorable, as they were staging futile attempts to regain control over the convulsing crowd using phone conversation formulas such as “Alo, Alo” (“Hello, Hello”) or Ceauşescu’s wife “advising” him how to contain the situation: “Vorbeşte-le, vorbeşte-le” (“Talk to them, talk to them”) and to the crowd “Stati liniştiti la locurile voastre” (“Sit quiet in your places”); finally Ceauşescu allowed himself to be directed inside the Central Committee building by his underlings.
Here’s the video of that last speech. The gunfire starts shortly after the 1:00 mark. The look on Ceausescu’s face is priceless. The video seems to show the government taking control again after a few minutes; it’s unclear whether the move indoors cited above takes place in the middle of this video or after its end. I don’t know Romanian well enough to tell what the crowd is chanting later on, but it seems largely supportive and not particularly revolutionary. Not that it mattered: He was shot dead four days later.
Then check out this cell-phone ad that parodies the speech:
Finally, some good photos of the revolution and its aftermath.