Ceausescu Cousin Says Toppled Dictator Dreamed of Power as a Child With AM-Ceausescu's End,
Jan. 06, 1990
Ceausescu Cousin Says Toppled Dictator Dreamed of Power as a Child With AM-Ceausescu's End, Bjt
SCORNICESTI, Romania (AP) _ Nicolae Ceausescu was a morose boy who dreamed of power while fellow children in his hometown pursued more innocent ideals, the former dictator's cousin recalled Saturday.
Florea Ceausescu, who has spent his life a stone's throw from his infamous cousin's modest childhood home, depicted him as a cruel and selfish man with no time for anyone outside his immediate clique, and other long-time Scornicesti residents concurred.
''Even as a youngster he had the feeling that he would lead the people,'' the 71-year-old said of his cousin, nodding toward Ceausescu's first home. ''He was a cruel man, who worked only for his own people and had no feelings for outsiders.''
Florea Ceausescu lives across the street from the three-room hut where Ceausescu spent his first 12 years. He said Ceausescu showed no interest in neighbors on his rare visits, ''and we had no chance to talk to him because he was always surrounded by bodyguards.''
Municipal officials painted a picture of an inward, unapproachable man, whose dreaded Securitate secret police took over the town of 13,000 whenever the dictator visited.
''They would never announce his coming,'' Mayor Ilie Manea said. ''Around 500 Securitate would converge in town, and in the surrounding hills and forests, and the mayor's and local police's only job was to find enough people to get together a cheering crowd.''
The town, about 120 miles northwest of Bucharest, showed little sign Saturday of the violent upheaval that toppled Ceausescu and led to his and his wife's execution Dec. 25.
But there was evidence of the depth of feeling against the dictator and his clique.
The dirt floors of Ceausescu's childhood home were covered with shards of glass from broken portraits of the iron-fisted leader and his parents. The inside of a luxurious adjoining villa belonging to Ceausescu's sister, Elena Bobulescu, was in disarray, its cupboards ripped open and their contents strewn about.
Florea Ceausescu, his face bearing uncanny resemblance to his cousin except for several day's growth of beard and deep lines etched by a hard life, smiled when asked if his name would cause him trouble.
''I will change my name,'' he declared. ''Everyone will now say that we are all bad because of the name.''
Ceausescu said he had little contact with his cousin after the future leader moved to Bucharest at age 12 and became an apprentice cobbler.
But he recalled a moody, strange youth with a sense of mission.
''He would play for awhile, and then he would suddenly stop for no reason and say, 'I've had enough,''' he said. ''He was a little strange. He never laughed, he was serious all the time.''
Nicolae Ceausescu's thirst for power was at least initally intertwined with idealistic strivings to improve the lot of a backward people, his cousin suggested.
Shortly after his move to Bucharest, the young Ceausescu was arrested for illegal activities tied to his activism in the Communist Party, and he reappeared briefly in Scornicesti at age 14 after two years in prison.
Before World War II, the Communists were a tiny group viewed as anarchist troublemakers by Romanian authorities.
''My father asked him 'Why did you go to jail?'' Florea Ceausescu said. ''He answered, 'I went to jail so we can work the land with heavy machinery and we can raise production.'''
But all idealism appeared to be extinguished in the last years of Ceausescu's 24-year tenure at the helm of the country.
The 1980s were marked by growing privation across the nation. The meager amount of national income left by Ceausescu's drive to pay off a massive foreign debt was consumed by extravagant construction projects of questionable value.
''The only thing important to Nicolae was not people but building monuments,'' his cousin alleged, saying his own small house nearly fell victim to the dictator's grandiose scheme to raze traditional village homes and move their owners into impersonal apartment blocks.