During his 25 years in power in Romania, between 1965 and 1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu exercised a brutal, fickle and intolerant management style. In the economic field, his thinking was a disaster, as proven by the living standards of Romanians in the 1980s, in particular. Unfortunately, not many had the courage to stand up to him, and those who did were either removed, or had to step down.
Born in 1911 in the south of the Republic of Moldova, then a part of Tsarist Russia, Bârlădeanu joined the communist party in 1943. Since 1944 he held senior positions in the party hierarchy. He was one of the aides of "Romania's Stalin," Gheorghiu Dej, he was a cabinet minister and held offices in the legislative assembly. After Dej died in 1965, he became a reformist and got in conflict with the new leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu. In the summer of 1989, he was one of the 6 authors of a letter asking Ceaușescu to initiate reforms. In 1990 he became a member of parliament, until 1992, and he passed away at 86, in 1997.
In an interview to Radio Romania's Oral History Centre in 1995, Bârlădeanu reminisced about his divergencies with Ceaușescu, which started as early as the 9th Communist Party Congress in 1965, when Ceaușescu was elected party president. They disagreed with respect to the investments/consumption ratio.
Alexandru Bârlădeanu: "There was this dispute with Ceauşescu concerning the break-down of national revenues for consumption and accumulation. I discussed that in my speech, I said that increasing the investment quota means sacrificing living standards, and that reducing investments means delaying development. I also said, and we disagreed in this respect too, that this ratio depended on a leader's political art or sense of politics. He insisted that this was a matter of science. It was not a matter of science; it was a matter of politics."
Over the years, the gap between them grew deeper. Another bone of contention came up in 1966, when abortion was banned in Romania.
Alexandru Bârlădeanu: "Along the way, we had several misunderstandings or opposing views in relation to some concrete issues. One of them was the issue of abortions. Just in the summer when he was elected, he convened a meeting of the Executive Committee while I was on holiday at the seaside. I went from Costinesti to that meeting, and he unexpectedly tabled the issue of abortions. I stood up against it. I said that the problem had not been studied, that we had to analyze it and not make an immediate decision. My stand was also backed by Maurer who said that, indeed, we had to study the matter. But Ceausescu had a nervous outburst. He said, "Comrade Bârlădeanu, with this proposal, seeks to support prostitution in Romania."
Another reason for disagreement was related to the size of the courtyards of the peasant households. Then followed the moment when Bârlădeanu decided to retire invoking an illness.
Alexandru Bârlădeanu: "He wanted to reduce those courtyards to 500 square meters. I do not remember the data, but there were always divergent views that deepened, at least on my part, a feeling of rejection of Ceausescu. Until one point when, in 1968, we argued on an issue and I said I could no longer accept it. By then, I had already attempted to leave a couple of times. As I had had a blood disease in the incipient phase, a professor in Paris, a famous hematologist who examined me, agreed to give me a certificate saying that if I was not released from work, if I continued to do that work, there would be 7 out of 10 possibilities that I could die. And I presented him with that certificate." Said Alexandru Barladeanu.
Therefore, Bârlădeanu's self-marginalization occurred in 1968, because that continuous conflict could not bring anything good.
Alexandru Bârlădeanu: "I was leading the Science Council, and, in that position, I also had disagreements with him. At one point, I presented him with a paper on how I saw the reorganization of the Council and the field of science. I waited a few days before he gave me an answer. And I asked him if he had read my material. His response was eloquent: "Are you teaching me what science is?" That's what he understood from my material, that I was teaching him what science was, when I had actually proposed several measures! In 1968 I decided to part with the policy he was promoting. It was clear to me that, on the economic line, it would lead to disaster. In fact, I had told others about it as well, I didn't hide."
Ceaușescu's victory against his opponents meant a regime of extreme austerity for Romania. Which ended in 1989, alongside the other regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. (AMP, LS)