Tag Archives: Romanian Communist Party

A Romanian Journal I Found Yesterday

The library at UChicago occasionally gets rid of some books by offering them up to the students. Along with some volumes on Astophysics and Electron Microscopy, I saw a few interesting looking issues of a journal called, Anale de Istorie.

After some looking around on wikipedia, it seems that it was printed by the Romanian Communist Party’s institute, Institul de Studii Istorice și Social-Politice de pe Lînga C.C. al P.C.R.

In the issue from 1988, there was a kind of advertisement for a man named Ceausescu.

Google translate seemed to think “Scritti scelti” is Italian for “selected writings,” so I’m guessing these are all the different volumes of a man named Ceausescu. An additional search help me discover that this is Nicolae Ceaușescu, who ruled over Romania for years until his government was overthrow in a revolution in 1989, in which he was executed for his apparently brutal reign. It’s odd to think that this issue was printed the year before his death. The wikipedia page mentions a cult of personality that surrounded him, which emphasized showing only the best images of the man. This would explain the full page portrait on the first page of the issue, a black-and-white photo that has been colored:

It’s so odd to have this juxtaposition of this portrait and the knowledge of how awful he was.

As a side note, I’ve now found that Chris Marker criticized French television through using footage of Ceaușescu’s trial and execution in his work Détour. Ceaușescu (1990). In her book Memories of the Future, Catherine Lupton writes:

Within this desire to reshape broadcasting according to his own whims and enthusiasms, Marker uses Zapping Zone to propose a critical interrogation of television as it currently exists, and invites the viewer to share in imagining the possibilities of what television might be instead. Nowhere is this vein of criticism more pointed than in this eight-minute video piece Détour. Ceaușescu, which re-edits taped television footage into a sardonic commentary on French television coverage of the trial and execution in December 1989 of the Romanian dictator Nicholae Ceaușescu and his wife. The TF1 newsreader makes much of the moral imperative to broadcast the videotape of the swift trial and execution of the Ceaușescus in its entirety, without commercial breaks. Marker chips in with arch indignation via an inter title, ‘What, no adverts?’, and proceeds to intersperse the grim reportage with snippets of breezy television commercials, through darkly apposite montage proposing new uses for kitchen paper and laundry detergent in dealing with the bloody aftermath of the execution. French television’s hypocrisy in attempting to deny its own complicity with advertising is undermined to devastating effect (184).