Since its creation in 1928, Radio Romania has not missed any of the important events in Romanian history
Kings, politicians, cultural figures, artists and ordinary people were on the microphone to speak to their fellow citizens about the events they were taking part in. Radio Romania naturally also covered the anti-communist revolution of December 1989. The public radio and, later, the public television station were considered key state institutions in transmitting messages to the population.
Unfortunately, Radio Romania had also been used as an instrument of propaganda by the communist regime after the occupation of the country by the Soviet army and the installation through force of the communist regime. In the 1980s, both on public radio and television, the regime aggressively promoted the cult of personality of the Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu dictatorial couple.
Faced with everyday shortages, the majority of Romanians found it hard to stomach this crass propaganda. On the 16th of December 1989, the people of Timisoara took to the streets to fight for freedom and the removal of the oppressive communist regime that had brought economic disaster and human tragedy.
After the bloody reprisal of the demonstrations, on December 21st, the people of Bucharest who had been summoned to support Nicolae Ceausescu turned against him. This was the beginning of the most grandiose moment in the history of the second half of the 20th century. Radio Romania’s archives contain lots of sound material from that period.
The people whose voices were recorded, whether ordinary people or journalists, reveal the excitement and hope experienced on those emotional days. Between the 22nd and the 25th of December, Romanians were overjoyed at the prospect of regaining their freedom, a joy Radio Romania recorded for posterity.
Eugen Dichiseanu, a photographer for the Scanteia newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Romanian Communist Party, was among the first to speak on Radio Romania during the revolution: “Long live Romania! Long live free Romania! My dear fellow men, my dear fellow Romanians! Words fail me as I try to capture in words what I see. I couldn’t believe my eyes, up until a few moments ago I couldn’t believe I would experience, hear and mostly see and capture in words what I see today, right now, and what shines in the eyes of all my colleagues around me, my colleagues who right now are seated around the microphone.”
The poet Ana Blandiana was one of the first intellectual women who spoke on the radio, during the frenzy of December 22nd: ”My dear friends, I have arrived at the Radio coming from the Palace Square where I joined the tens of thousand of people who could not believe they got to live that day. It is hard for me to believe that after all these years of humiliation, we, all by ourselves, and not through any political scheming, not with the support of others, bigger and stronger than us, but we, all by ourselves, with the sheer force of our souls, a force we no longer believed in, found the strength to do that. The dead in Timisoara and the dead in Bucharest, all of a sudden, restored the confidence in ourselves, as well as the strength to be who we really are. “
The revolutionaries’ barricade on the night of December 221st to December 22nd, 1989, made in front of the Dalles Hall at the heart of Bucharest, was crucial for the fall of the regime the following day, December 22nd.
A revolutionary woman who remained anonymous reminded Romanians of the death of their fellow nationals, only a couple of dozens of hours earlier: ”Let us not forget those who died in front of the Dalles hall. They were the first to die, they were young, they were 20-year old youngsters who got run over by cars and armoured vehicles. We hid underneath the cars, as we were afraid of bullets, we did not believe they were firing live rounds. And yet, many of us stayed there, waiting for a miracle that today has come true. Let us all go there today and lay flowers in front of the Dalles Hall in memory of those children who died for us.”
There were many people who felt bad about the way they had behaved during the regime. Some of them begged for forgiveness for having placed themselves in the service of dictatorship and for lying to the audience, just as speaker Viorel Popescu said: “For years on end I tried to tell you the truth but they wouldn’t let me. I am ashamed of all that I’ve said all these years about an age that has now come to an end. I am ashamed of not being able to bring the truth in your homes. I tried to bring you love, fine music, but I was prevented form making those simple gestures, whereby I could bring tenderness and peace into your homes.”
The Romanian Revolution continued on Radio Romania also over the days that followed. Enthusiasm faded away, life got back to normal and afterwards, some people even felt awkward for being so elated those days. Yet the normality of enthusiasm only points to the humanness in each of us, and no posthumous judgment can annihilate the intensity of those moments.