Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej


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(b. 8 Nov. 1901, d. 19 Mar. 1965).

General Secretary of the Communist Party of Romania 1945–55, First Secretary 1955–65 Born in Bîrlad (Moldavia), the electrician took employment with the railways, where he became engaged in trade-union and political activity. He joined the Communist Party in 1930. For his alleged part in a railway strike in 1932 he was sent to prison, where he created a close-knit group of Communist leaders, which included the young Ceausescu. After the Soviet takeover he was released and accepted as leader. With Soviet help, he worked until 1948 to establish Romania as a Communist state. Thereafter, in a second phase of his leadership he consolidated his own position and authority within the party. Carrying out Stalinist purges with gusto, he gradually dismantled all internal opposition within the party. This led to the creation of an unusually personalized regime, in which important posts were filled by loyal protégés. In a final phase of his leadership, he successfully created greater distance from the Communist leadership in Moscow. This was done through skilful exploitations of the internal divisions that had opened up between Yugoslavia, Albania, and China, on the one hand, and the other Comecon states, on the other. He died in office.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Politics.

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