Nicolae Ceauşescu ( 26 January 1918 – 25 December 1989) was the Secretary General of the Romanian Workers' Party, later the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 until 1989, President of the Council of State from 1967 and President of Romania from 1974 until 1989. His rule was marked in the first decade by an open policy towards Western Europe and the United States of America, which deviated from that of the other Warsaw Pact states during the Cold War. He continued a trend first established by his predecessor, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who had tactfully coaxed the Khrushchev regime to withdraw troops from Romania in 1958. Ceauşescu's second decade was characterized by an increasingly erratic personality cult, extreme nationalism and a deterioration in foreign relations with Western powers and also with the Soviet Union. Ceauşescu's government was overthrown in a military coup December 1989, and he was shot following a televised two-hour session by a kangaroo court.
Early life and career
Born in the village of Scorniceşti, Olt County, Ceauşescu moved to Bucharest at the age of 11 to work in the factories. He was the son of a peasant (see Ceauşescu family for descriptions of his parents and siblings.) He joined the then-illegal Communist Party of Romania in early 1932 and was first arrested, in 1933, for agitating during a strike. He was arrested again, in 1934, first for collecting signatures on a petition protesting the trial of railway workers and twice more for other similar activities. These arrests earned him the description "dangerous communist agitator" and "active distributor of communist and anti-fascist propaganda" on his police record. He then went underground, but was captured and imprisoned in 1936 for two years at Doftana Prison for anti-fascist activities.
While out of jail in 1939, he met Elena Petrescu (they married in 1946) —she would play an increasing role in his political life over the decades. He was arrested and imprisoned again in 1940. In 1943, he was transferred to Târgu Jiu internment camp where he shared a cell with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, becoming his protégé. After World War II, when Romania was beginning to fall under Soviet influence, he served as secretary of the Union of Communist Youth (1944–1945).
After the Communists seized power in Romania in 1947, he headed the Ministry of Agriculture, then served as Deputy Minister of the Armed Forces under Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. In 1952, Gheorghiu-Dej brought him onto the Central Committee months after the party's "Muscovite faction" led by Ana Pauker had been purged. In 1954, he became a full member of the [Politburo]] and eventually rose to occupy the second-highest position in the party hierarchy.
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