Lies in Romanian history textbooks: how the communists tried and succeeded in indoctrinating children “from the ground up”

Although some Romanians still have the impression that what they learned in school, in history classes under communism, is the absolute truth, in reality, things are no different and we’ll explain why in a moment.

Before discussing some of the greatest myths of Romanian history, we should mention, however, that the practice of “adjusting” events presented as true is not a strictly Romanian technique.

Throughout the ages, scholars of various nations have tried to “flourish” certain events. They did this either out of boundless love for the ruler they were under, or even out of fear. The second reason is unfortunately the most common.

Which brings us to the present subject, the one about our “everyday” history and how the Communists have adapted it so as to use it as party propaganda. In other words, the almost indestructible method of brainwashing the little people.

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Nicolae Ceaușescu – archive image

Nicolae Ceaușescu, “man among men”

The Communists came to power following the coup d’état of 30 December 1947. Thus was born the Romanian People’s Republic, with all the abuses committed against the “bourgeois”, but also against those who, for one reason or another, “smelled” the socialists and refused to “sing along”.

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And if the Communists “trained” the older ones in the prisons, the younger ones got special treatment, being taken from the start and indoctrinated with the only information they had access to: what they received on television, radio and at school.

Obviously, all of this was drastically controlled by the party bigwigs, with every little piece of information being put through a rigorous filter to serve the creation of a titanic image of communism and, in general, the rulers.

Perhaps the most zealous of the Communist leaders was Nicolae Ceaușescu himself, who was to make a passion of his own image, forcing the Romanians to glorify him to the letter.

A good example of this is the bust presented in history textbooks in which Ceaușescu was displayed between Mircea the Elder, Decebal, Mihail Kigălniceanu or even Alexandru Ioan Cuza, under the title of “man among men”.

The former dictator was determined to remain in the history books forever. If he stayed, he stayed, but not necessarily as he had hoped.

Those who studied history in the period before the 1989 Revolution may also remember the so-called “royal dictatorship” or “Comrade Nicolae Ceaușescu, a man of seething energy, far-sightedness and daring”.

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King Michael I and Ion Antonescu – archive image

The myth of 23 August

Another resounding lie refers to the role of the rulers in Moldavia and Wallachia, who were said to have defended western Europe from the Ottoman Empire.

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“They wanted to highlight a great strength of the Romanian nation. In reality, when the Turks wanted to get somewhere, they got there, even with the Romanians at their side. For the rest, we did not win any war with them, maybe only some local battles that did not influence the course of history,” said writer Mircea Pora, according to observatornews.ro.

In reality, Romania was not Romania for long, but to maintain the patriotic spirit, the Communists had to cultivate grandeur. Sadly, such habits exist even today, among certain political parties that strive to climb on patriotism taken to the level of hatred.

Last but not least, August 23, the most important Communist holiday, was also falsified to appear to be something other than it really was.

“Above all, the victory of August 1944 ushered in a new era in the history of Romania, in which the broad masses of the people, led by the Communist Party, went on to bring about profound revolutionary transformations, putting an end to the regime of exploitation and oppression, winning real national independence and ensuring a progressive course for the development of our entire society,” reads a lesson taught in 10th grade history textbooks from 1980.

Since, the removal of Ion Antonescu, to which this fragment refers, is related to King Mihai I.

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