- Vladimir Tismaneanu: Is there a moment that stands out most about 1989?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: What forces led to change in Eastern Europe?
- Padraic Kenney: Is there one moment that stands out for you personally?
- Padraic Kenney: One crucial moment of 1989?
- Maria Bucur: Is there one moment that stands out in your experience?
- Maria Bucur: What are the crucial moments of 1989?
- Maria Bucur: How did Romanians respond in the days that followed?
- Padraic Kenney: What led to the Round Table Talks?
- Gale Stokes: What do you think led to the unrest in East Germany?
- Gale Stokes: What moment stands out for you in the events of 1989?
- Gale Stokes: Why didn’t authoritarian states succeed?
- Gale Stokes: How did East Europeans react to the arrival of pluralism?
- Gale Stokes: What images of 1989 stick in your mind?
- Gale Stokes: Why did things go so badly in Yugoslavia?
Maria Bucur: How did Romanians respond in the days that followed?
People were still unsure of what happened and because there was still violence going on, they were very afraid. I mean, it was this moment of courage, I think it was very honest. It was very spontaneous, but it was also, passing. People became afraid very quickly. So when I arrived there, there was a mix of euphoria that Ceausescu was gone. I mean, after this clip, he is gone, but nobody was sure of who was taking his place? Where were the Securitate? Could you speak of them, you know, when you were walking down the street to anybody?
There was a sense that the military was in fact with the people, as we said, but because a lot of the people in Bucharest who were in the street kind of keeping order were young kids. 18, 19 year-old boys serving their military service, so they looked really young. They were not professional army personnel, and so the population, seemed to look at the army as being honest Romanians in a way. Whether that was the case or not, of course, on the basis of Ceausescu’s trial and what happens afterwards is a different question. But the feeling was rather of trust there, but by and large, people were still very afraid. It was both heartening and disheartening.
I mean, there were some people that in the night of the 21st, so right after this happened, in the next about eight hours, that population that had been in the center of Bucharest did not disperse. The Securitate actually tried to disperse people and they were there and they’re not going anywhere, so people starting marching through Bucharest. Then there were student demonstrations in the evening and so there was a lot of milling around of people down on the street. The Securitate and the army didn’t know exactly how to deal with them at that point.
In the middle of the night of the 21st, some of these demonstrations resulted in clashes. And it was really on Christmas Day that people eased up. I think this was not a coincidence that they showed the tape of Ceausescu’s shooting on Christmas morning and that’s what I woke up with. That’s when really after that it was unbelievable. I mean, between the 25th and about the 7th of January, it was two weeks of people behaving like I had never seen them behave. Just being absolutely open and wonderful and euphoric and not being afraid to speak about, you know, anything and also being extremely generous with each other.