Maria Bucur: Were there challenges to researching 1989?
I think the case of Romania is a little bit different than maybe, say, Poland in this case because in Poland you had, you know, from the beginning a kind of very open process of negotiation between Solidarity and the communist regime.
In the Romanian case, it’s very strange, because, of course, you know, Gorbachev keeps talking and Ceausescu does nothing and so you want to understand, you know, what was happening there. It was just a blindness or was it a kind of crazy decision to stand up to the Soviets yet again? So I think going to both the Romanian secret archives of the Party but also the Communist Party archives in Moscow is very important and some of the documents that have come to the fore about Ion Iliescu, the guy who becomes the first president of free Romania after the revolution.
He came out of nowhere. I mean, he just appeared on TV and he conveniently happened to be there when Ceausescu fled and somehow immediately emerges as an outsider and an opponent, and with a name for his group, the Front for National Salvation. But, of course, within a few months, people realize that, you know, okay, this doesn’t add up and as the behavior of the new group starts to look more and more like the behavior of the old communists, of course, people were very interested in trying to figure out the behind-the-scenes moves, and to what extent he was, in fact, independent of the Securitate. These were all questions that could not be answered for a few years and, of course, to this day, Iliescu does not have a Secret Police file. It doesn’t exist.