Nicolae Ceau?escu (, Romanian: [niko'la.e t?e?a.u'?esku] (listen); 26 January 1918 – 25 December 1989) was a Romanian communist politician and leader.
He was the General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989 and hence the second and last Communist leader of Romania.
He was also the country's head of state from 1967, serving as President of the State Council and from 1974 concurrently as President of the Republic until his overthrow and execution in the Romanian Revolution in December 1989, part of a series of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet Union uprisings in Eastern Europe that year.
Born in 1918 in Scornice?ti, Olt County, Ceau?escu was a member of the Romanian Communist youth movement.
Ceau?escu rose up through the ranks of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej's Socialist government and, upon Gheorghiu-Dej's death in 1965, he succeeded to the leadership of the Romanian Communist Party as General Secretary.Upon his rise to power, he eased press censorship and openly condemned the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in his speech on 21 August 1968, which resulted in a surge in popularity.
However, the resulting period of stability was very brief as his government very soon became severely totalitarian and was considered the most repressive in the Eastern Bloc at the time.
His secret police, the Securitate, was responsible for mass surveillance as well as severe repression and human rights abuses within the country and he suppressed and controlled the media and press, implementing methods that were among the harshest, most restrictive and brutal in the world.
Economic mismanagement due to failed oil ventures during the 1970s led to skyrocketing foreign debts for Romania.
In 1982, he exported much of the country's agricultural and industrial production in an effort to repay them.
The shortages that followed drastically lowered living standards, leading to heavy rationing of food, water, oil, heat, electricity, medicine and other necessities.
His cult of personality experienced unprecedented elevation, followed by extensive nepotism and the intense deterioration of foreign relations, even with the Soviet Union.
As anti-government protesters demonstrated in Timi?oara in December 1989, he perceived the demonstrations as a political threat and ordered military forces to open fire on 17 December, causing many deaths and injuries.
The revelation that Ceau?escu was responsible resulted in a massive spread of rioting and civil unrest across the country.
The demonstrations, which reached Bucharest, became known as the Romanian Revolution—the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the turn of the Revolutions of 1989.
Ceau?escu and his wife Elena fled the capital in a helicopter, but they were captured by the military after the armed forces changed sides.
After being tried and convicted of economic sabotage and genocide, they were immediately executed by firing squad on 25 December and Ceau?escu was succeeded as President by Ion Iliescu, who had played a major part in the revolution.
Capital punishment was abolished shortly thereafter.