Συνέντευξη στους προπτυχιακούς φοιτητές του τμήματος Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας του ΑΠΘ, Χαράλαμπο Γάππα και Αλεξάνδρα Περχανίδου
Your area of studies centers on the Contemporary History of Rumania. Could you please explain to us how the studies on Rumania have progressed on the field of Contemporary History? Especially on the period of Communism?
Yes, on your questions, I have already 25 years as a researcher in the Academy and as a teacher at the University. My main field of the research was the History of Communism in Rumania; it was in a way something very important because I started working in the Rumanian Academy in the first years following the fall of Communism. It is a major research theme and it was very difficult at the beginning to finish my PhD because it was a struggle to see the documents from that period.
The former structures, where the secret services were hosted, were still active so it was difficult to work in the archives. In 2000, after some good steps we made, we managed to have one Organization, the National Council for the Study of Securitate (former secret services) for the Rumanian Archives, then I became the first President of this Institution for 6 years. I was able to open one million files of the former secret services in Rumania.
So, right now the students, the scholars who are interested, have a major field to research and in the last decade we’ve had many good books and PhDs’ from American, Rumanian and European, even from Greece scholars. Right now there is a good program happening in Thessaloniki with my friend Apostolos Pantelakis, in which with the help of the Securitate files, we have gathered information about the Greek Diaspora on Rumania which was very strong after 1960. The period of Rumanian Communism was very complex because we had bipolarity and Rumania was the first step into the Soviet Union as an ally after 1945.
The relationships were difficult after 1958, when the Red Army and KGB retreated from Rumania. In 1964, the Declaration of Independence pointed that all the Communist parties are equal between them; there is no difference. Also, that period Rumania had very good relationships with Mao’s China as also his support. After that, in 1968, the troops invaded Czechoslovakia, and Rumania did not agree with the attack and so Ceaușescu together with Tito stepped back.
After the fall of Communism, the Archives opened for us to see all the ‘faces’ of this period. Adding to that in 1998, the French published the so-called Communist ‘Black Book’ and I was one of the team who worked for Rumania and wrote about the merchandise in the country during the period of Communism.
We know that the relationships between Rumania and the Soviet Union in the Communist period are described by specificity. They are not so good like the relationships the Soviet Union has with other countries. How would you describe the Rumanian/Soviet Union relationships?
At the beginning the Communists in Rumania were very weak. We have something common between Rumania and Greece; in 1945 there was an agreement between Churchill and Stalin in Moscow where they split the world in spheres of interest so Rumania went to the Soviet side while Greece followed the British. In the events of December 1944 in Athens, Stalin did nothing to protect the Greek Communists. In the Soviet Press there was not a single word about the events in Athens. In Rumania after two months in March of 1945 there was a change in the government; the pro-communist government changed after the wish of Andrei Vichinsky who was second after Molotof, the foreign Minister of Soviet Union. The King of Rumania and the Democratic party waited support from USA and Great Britain; there was no support because that’s what had been decided on. In a letter of Churchill towards Roosevelt he mentions that he was embarrassed he couldn’t express his opinion about the situation in Rumania because ‘Stalin was a gentleman in Greece’.
After the death of Stalin in 1953, in Rumania started the “National Communist” period; the feelings the Rumanian had for Soviet Union were used by the Communist in order to have popularity to the people. In the first ten years Rumania was a good ally for Russia but after the retreat of the Red Army, slowly the politics in Rumania started to gain their independence. The first clash of interest between Russia and Rumania was in the 60’s when Russia proposed the “Valef Plan”. It was a plan to integrate all the Balkan economies towards Russia. Rumania was the first one to say ‘no’. When Ceaușescu rose to the power he used the “National Communism” plan and 15 years in the power he became even more popular. In 1968,when the Rumanian were afraid that the Red Army will be back, Ceaușescu made a famous meeting in Bucharest and sources say that more than a million people came to support him. Among them even former political prisoners were. He had very good relationships with Tito, China and he was even the first Communist leader who shared the chariot with Queen Elisabeth. He won the interest of the United States and visited 3 times. He made agreements with France and brought money. But finally the political changes caused his death in the end.
How easy it is to speak in Rumania about the tough period of Communism and how much is known to the people?
Right now we have no problems because the Archives are open and the files are many so we have a lot of books about that period, the struggle of power, the interior of the party and also we have the Institute. We have a database too. But the only problem is that the man who took Ceaușescu’s place is still alive and some forces are interested about saying that there was a “Revolution” in Rumania. Right now we can write and have books and conferences about this period.
Do you believe that today’s Rumanians miss the period of Communism? Not many things are known to the people about the Archives. You saw the Archives and at the same time you know how the people feel. Do you believe that there is a difference?
That’s an interesting question. In fact there are two things here. In 2001, when the first files were revealed and the people had access in them, they saw many things, like for instance there were hidden microphones under their beds. For five years it was a struggle to transfer all the files from the Rumanian Intelligence Service to our own Archives but now we have more than one million files. On the other hand, the economical situation during the last year it was valid that the oldest regretted that period, because there was always a job and the security of an apartment. Right now it’s the capitalism and there are a lot of people who believe that Ceaușescu’s period was the best. This fact is also visible in the votes of the people. The strongest party is the Social-Democratic.
So apart from the researchers do you believe that the youngest people around 18-25 re interested in the Communistic period?
Yes, they are very interested. We have organized programs so they can get to know about Communism. One of them started in 1992 and it had the financial support of EU and it was a prison the Western Rumania where many known prisoners of the political elite were held there. We made a museum from that prison, and an international research. We have also made a summer school and soon it spread all over the country and the youngest are trying to understand how life was back then through books and tours.
How can you describe us now the relations of Rumania with the EU?
Rumania became a member in 2007 and at the beginning there were many enthusiastic about that. But we have also some doubts since Rumania is not yet a member of Siegen. They said that they would discuss it but nothing happened. But being a part of Europe it was good for the young people who could study aboard without visas. We have also over 3 million people working outside Rumania in Spain and Greece.
Ο Gheorghe Onisoru είναι Ρουμάνος ιστορικός, ο οποίος υπηρέτησε ως πρόεδρος του Εθνικού Συμβουλίου για τη μελέτη των Αρχείων της Σεκιουριτάτε (CNSAS) κατά την περίοδο 2000-2006, όπου και υπήρξε ο πρώτος πρόεδρος του ιδρύματος αυτού.