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A poem by the former Romanian dissident writer - Ana Blandiana
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Communism in Romania - Ceausecu's Era of Light
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Communism in Romania


Birthplace of the Revolution
- Piata Victoriei
- Reformed Church
- Stay in Ceausescu's Villa
1989 Revoltion Museum
Monuments of the Martyrs

- Palace of Parliament
- Piata Revolutiei
- National Library
- former Central Committee building
Ghencea Cemetery


Memorial Sighet
(former Prison of the Ministers)


Red Horizons (Ion Pacepa)
The Lost Footsteps (Silviu Craciunas)
Looking for George (Helena Drysdale)
Land of Green Plums (Herta Muller)
The Passport (Herta Muller)
Kiss the Hand you cannot Bite
(John Sweeney)
The Life & Evil Times of
Nicolae Ceausescu (Edward Behr)
Stealing from a Deep Place (Brian Hall)
Unce upon Another Time
(Jessica Douglas-Home)
In Another Europe (Georgina Harding)
The Long Shadows (Alan Brownjohn)
Theft of a Nation (Tom Gallagher)

Several titles are also available in
the Romanian Language


"Totul' was less subtle than
Ana Blandiana's earlier verses but it
was still published in 'Amfiteatru',
the literary magazine, in 1984,
together with three other poems.
The issue was withdrawn from circulation
within hours and the editors
sacked, Blandiana's weekly
newspaper column was suspended
and she received threatening phone
calls. Meanwhile, the offending verses
began to receive attention.
They were broadcast on Radio Free
Europe and translated
into Newsweek and subsequently
other Western media, and copies
were circulating in Romania on the
Black Market.


22 December 1989

'Totul' (Everything) is a list of things which either existed or didn't exist in Romania at the time and was therefore immediately familar to Romanians - the poor conditions, meagre food, and the symbols of the personality cult of Ceausescu.


Ana Blandiana, 1984

... Frunze, cuvinte, lacrimi
Cutii de conserve, pisici
Tramvaie câteodata, cozi la Faina
Gargarite, sticle goale, discursuri
Imagini lungite la televizor
Gîndaci de Colorado, benzina
Stegulete, Cupa Campionilor Europeni
Masini cu butelii, portrete cunoscute
Mere refuzate la export
Ziare, franzele
Ulei în amestec, garoafe
Întîmpinari la aeroport
Cico, baloane
Salam Bucuresti, iaurt dietetic
Tiganci cu Kenturi, oua de Crevedia
Serialul de Sîmbata, cafea cu înlocuitori
Lupta popoarelor pentru pace, coruri
Productie la hectar
Gerovitalul, baietii de pe Calea Victoriei
Cîntarea României, adidasi
Compot bulgaresc, bancuri, peste oceanic
... Leaves, words, tears
Tinned Food, Cats
Trams from time to time, queues for flour
Weevils, empty bottles, speeches
Elongated images on the television
Colorado beetles, petrol
Pennants, the European Cup
Trucks with gas cylinders, familiar portraits
Export-reject apples
Newspapers, loaves of bread
Blended oil, carnations
Receptions at the airport
Cico-cola, balloons
Bucharest salami, diet yoghurt
Gypsy women with Kents, Crevedia Eggs
The Saturday serial, coffee substitutes
The struggle of nations for peace, choirs
Production by the hectare
Gerovital, the Victoriei Avenue Mob
The Hymn of Romania, Adidas shoes
Bulgarian stewed fruit, jokes, sea fish

"Totul" has been published here with the kind permission of Ana Blandiana
Ana Blandiana was one of the founding members of Memorial Sighet

A few comments on the 'list:

'Totul' = 'Everything', a word used constantly by Ceausescu in his speeches, stressing that everything has been done by the party, that the people owe him everything.
There was no shortage of words, leaves or tears
The shelves of the supermarkets were bare, all that was left were tins of food
Cats - there was a rumour that an alley cat attacked and injured Ceausescu's beloved dogs when he went to survey the site for his Centru Civic -
he ordered it to be caught and destroyed but it was impossible; "only a cat may look at a king"
Trams ... only from time to time and then they were always full!
Queues for flour ... and for everything else: bread, oil. meat, petrol, eggs, sugar ... etc
Weevils - in the flour, the pasta, etc
Empty bottles - stock-piled for deposits, to bottle your own fruit etc, or when going out for oil etc
Speeches: no shortage of hot air from the conducator, he was known for his endless, monotonous speeches
Elongated images - TV reception was very poor and the pictures distorted
Colorado beetles: the scourge of potato crops, but there was nothing to combat them with
Petrol: produced from Romanian oil-fields but mainly for export; strictly rationed and very expensive for the home market
Pennants: hanging everywhere for local footballl clubs, gymnastic teams, and of course waved for the Conducator
European Cup: the nation was obsessed with football - sport was not political
Gas cylinders: refers to the trucks loaded with cylinders of butane gas for domestic cooking use since mains gas was not readily available, even in Bucharest;
these were also in short supply so excited crowds awaited the arrival of the truck
Familiar portraits: everywhere you looked there were portraits of Ceausescu - Big Brother was watching!
Export-reject apples: despite having been the bread basket of Eastern Europe, all food of decent quality was exported for hard currency
Newspapers: the skimpy party daily - 'Scinteia' had few used other than as toilet or wrapping paper
Bread: rationed, a delivery would always create a queue
Blended oil: a euphemism for adulterated cooking oil; and that wasn't all - even flour was reputedly bulked up with sawdust
Carnations: no shortage
Receptions at the Airport: Ceausescu liked to make a fuss of guests with an entourage from the airport through streets lined with cheering people
and flag waving schoolchildren
Cico: a sweet beverage of indescribable flavour, a poor substitute for Coca-Cola!
Bucharest Salami: a very pale, disgusting substance made to a recipe given the seal of approval of the Conducator; said to contain the offal, fat
and bonemeal of various animals. The high quality Sibiu salami was strictly for export only.
Diet Yoghurt: healthy food was completely unobtainable
Gypsy women with Kents: Kent cigarettes were the second currency in Romania in the 1980s, especially on the Black Market;
the gypsies were thought to be behind the smuggling rackets. Kents were an incredible status symbol and even empty packets would often decorate the sideboard!
Crevedia eggs: considered the best and always likely to attract the longest queues
Rumours: in a world of dis-information and brain-washing rumours were rife
Saturday serial: the most populat TV programme - often important serials such as Dallas or Kojak; not to be missed when the remainder
of the very limited programme was dedicatEd to Ceausescu speeches and patriotic folk music.
Coffee substitute: blends of chicory or acorns; real coffee was rare outside restaurants for western visitors or hard currency shops;
a couple of bags of coffee beans were equivalent to a months salary on the Black Market
Peace: Ceausescu's constant call for peace and nuclear disarmament were used to woo the West: in particlular the US
who granted Romania 'Most favoured Nation' status for its apparent anti-soviet stance
Choirs: also folk ensembles, the other main interest on the limited TV programme
Production figures: everywhere you went there were tables and graphs of grossly exaggerated production figures
Gerovital: the famous anti-ageing treatment, exported for hard-currency
The Victoriei Avenue Mob: Ceausescu's elite Securitate entrusted with guarding the route along the Calea Victoriei to the Central Committee Buildings;
assumed to have been hand-picked orphans who were totally loyal - these were responsible for the continued resistance following the 1989 Revolution
Hymn of Romania: a much-publicised music festival to praise the leader and provide a focus for patriotic nationalism!
Adidas: a status symbol from the designer-label conscious West demanding high prices on the Black Market
Bulgarian Stewed Fruit: something else that appeared in all the shops during 1984, having been dumped on the market
Jokes: despite the hardships the Romanian were (and still are) very humourous; jokes about the system were commonplace
Sea Fish: usually sardines from China or Vietnam, promoted as nutritious but usually delivered as a semi frozen, semi rotten grey mess to town food stores
Everything ...

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