Bucharest student movement of 1956
The events in Poland
Polish October
Polish October, also known as October 1956, Polish thaw, or Gomułka's thaw, marked a change in the Polish internal political scene in the second half of 1956...

 which led to the elimination of that country's Stalinist
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 leadership and the rise to power of Władysław Gomułka on 19 October 1956 provoked unrest among university students in Eastern bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 countries. The state of unrest in Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 began to spread into Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

. As early as 16 October 1956, students from Szeged
' is the third largest city of Hungary, the largest city and regional centre of the Southern Great Plain and the county town of Csongrád county. The University of Szeged is one of the most distinguished universities in Hungary....

 left the Communist
Hungarian Workers' Party
The Hungarian Working People's Party was the ruling communist party of Hungary from 1948 to 1956. It was formed by a merger of the Hungarian Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Its leader was Mátyás Rákosi until 1956, then Ernő Gerő in the same year for three months, and eventually...

-created students' union (DISZ), re-establishing the MEFESZ (Union of Hungarian University and Academy Students), a democratic organisation that the regime of Mátyás Rákosi
Mátyás Rákosi
Mátyás Rákosi was a Hungarian communist politician. He was born as Mátyás Rosenfeld, in present-day Serbia...

 had suppressed. Within a few days, students from Pécs
Pécs is the fifth largest city of Hungary, located on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains in the south-west of the country, close to its border with Croatia. It is the administrative and economical centre of Baranya county...

, Miskolc
Miskolc is a city in northeastern Hungary, mainly with heavy industrial background. With a population close to 170,000 Miskolc is the fourth largest city of Hungary It is also the county capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and the regional centre of Northern Hungary.- Geography :Miskolc is located...

 and Sopron
In 1910 Sopron had 33,932 inhabitants . Religions: 64.1% Roman Catholic, 27.8% Lutheran, 6.6% Jewish, 1.2% Calvinist, 0.3% other. In 2001 the city had 56,125 inhabitants...

 had done likewise. On 22 October 1956, students from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics
Budapest University of Technology and Economics
The Budapest University of Technology and Economics , in hungarian abbreviated as BME, English official abbreviation BUTE, is the most significant University of Technology in Hungary and is also one of the oldest Institutes of Technology in the world, having been founded in 1782.-History:BME is...

 compiled a list
Demands of Hungarian Revolutionaries of 1956
On October 23, 1956, a group of Hungarian students compiled a list of sixteen points containing key national policy demands. Following an anti-Soviet protest march through the Hungarian capital of Budapest, the students attempted to enter the city's main broadcasting station to read their demands...

 of sixteen points containing key national policy demands. When they found out about the intention of the Hungarian Writers' Union to express its solidarity with Poland by placing a crown near the statue of Polish general Józef Bem
Józef Bem
Józef Zachariasz Bem was a Polish general, an Ottoman Pasha and a national hero of Poland and Hungary, and a figure intertwined with other European nationalisms...

, a hero of the Hungarian revolution of 1848-49
Hungarian Revolution of 1848
The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was one of many of the European Revolutions of 1848 and closely linked to other revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas...

, the students decided to organise a parallel demonstration in support of the Poles. At the protest on the afternoon of 23 October 1956, the students read their proclamation, an act that marked the beginning of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Although no student protests in support of Gomułka took place in Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, the majority of Romanian students were informed about the situation in Hungary, partly through Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed"...

 and other Western radio stations. Their interpretation of the events in Hungary was that, under communism, students were the group that had to initiate such protests, and that, once begun, the revolt would be joined by the masses at large.

Student protests are organised

Romanian students closely followed the unfolding events in Hungary, not only in Bucharest, but also Timişoara, Cluj, Târgu Mureş, and Iaşi. At first, different students would exchange information they had heard on the radio or from other sources and discussed their prospects for undertaking similar actions. The students did not form committees, which the authorities might have considered to be clandestine organisations and attract a repression by the state security apparatus. Instead, action groups appeared in the city's different faculties.

Students in each faculty reacted differently. The most active groups were formed in the Faculties of Law, Letters, Theatre, Medicine, Architecture, Journalism, and Philosophy, as well as at the Medical-Military Institute and at the Politehnica. Students' reactions were far more cautious in other technical learning institutes (Petroleum and Gas, Agronomy), in the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

's Faculties of Mathematics, Geography and History, and in the Institute of Economic Sciences
Academy of Economic Studies
The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies is the oldest university of economics and business studies in Romania. It was founded in April 6, 1913 in Bucharest, by the royal decree of Carol I of Romania, under the name Academy of High Commercial and Industrial Studies...


A precise list of students involved in organising protests is difficult to reconstruct. The only sources are transcripts of the trials that followed the movement's crushing, data presented in sessions to unmask rebel students and data regarding the expulsions which followed. From these sources, there emerge the following names of student organisers:
  • Faculty of Law: Eugenia Florescu, Dan Mugur Rusiecki, Radu Surdulescu, Florin Caba, Mircea Tatos, Aurel Moldovan, Ligia Filotti, Rodica Ojog, Magda Dumitrescu, Rodica Baroi, Călin Chiser, Ligia Teodorescu, Mihai Cezar Busuioc, Alexandru Dincă
    Alexandru Dincă (journalist)
    Alexandru Dincă was a Romanian journalist, opponent of the communist regime.- Biography :Alexandru Dincă was born in Bucharest on November 14, 1936. After finishing high-school he became a student of the Faculty of Law of the University of Bucharest...

    , Rodica Bujoreanu, Vladimir Trifu, Marin Stănescu;
  • Faculty of Medicine: Alexandru Ivasiuc
    Alexandru Ivasiuc
    Alexandru Ivasiuc was a Romanian novelist. He died in the 1977 Vrancea earthquake.-Life:He was born in Sighet, the son of a science professor. After the Second Vienna Award of 30 August 1940, the family was forced to flee to Bucharest, only returning to Sighet in 1951...

    , Mihail Victor Serdaru, Constantin Iliescu, Dan Constantin Stavarache, Mirel Trifu, Şerban-Horia Popescu, Radu Cernăianu, Remus Petcu, Alexandru Tătaru, Vasile Brânzan, Paul Iliescu, Octavian Lupăşteanu, Mircea Selten;
  • Faculty of Letters: Teodor Lupaş, Ştefan Negrea, Mihai Rădulescu
    Mihai Radulescu
    Mihai Rădulescu is a Romanian novelist, poet, historian and art critic.-External links:**...

    , Christa Depner, Steliana Pogorilovschi (Stela Covaci), Aurel Covaci, Paul Goma
    Paul Goma
    Paul Goma is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person...

    , Horia Florian Popescu, Gloria Barna, Grigore Vereş;
  • Institute of Theatre: Alexandru Mălinescu, Petre Gheorghe, Adrian Ianuli, Gabriela Cocora;
  • Faculty of Arhitecture: Alexandru Tătaru, Dan Stoica;
  • Faculty of Journalism: Dumitru Panaitescu-Perpessicius;
  • Faculty of Philosophy: Mihai Stere Derdena, Dan Onaca, Costel Dumitrescu, Dumitru Arvat, Alexandru Bulai, Ioan Zane, Aurel Lupu, Romulus Resiga, Constantin Dumitru;
  • Polytechnic Institute: Marin Petrişor, Horia Şerban Popescu, Marian Rozenzweig, Tiberiu Ionescu, Adrian Cristea
    Adrian Cristea
    Adrian Cristea is a Romanian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Universitatea Cluj. He is a technical skilled player, capable of playing as a wing on either side or central midfielder....

    , Nicolae Cernăianu;
  • Construction Institute: Radu Gabrea;
  • Medical-Military Institute: Bebe Brânzan, Paul Iliescu, Remus Petcu.

Many other students were active during those days.

The first actions

Although students admired the Hungarian revolutionaries, they were somewhat reserved as concerns their leader, Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy was a Hungarian communist politician who was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary on two occasions...

. Nagy had lived in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 from 1929 to 1944, and, by their own experience, Romanians saw communist leaders brought in and installed by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 to be far worse than home-grown communists.

The students who were watching the situation in Hungary were also attentive to the international situation. Although Western radio stations assured the revolutionaries of the West's support, Romanian students were quite sceptical as they saw the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' and the Western European powers' passive attitude and abstention from armed intervention.

Despite these doubts, the first protest actions began within days after the Hungarian Revolution started. Similar ferment existed not only in Bucharest, but in other university cities too, particularly in Timişoara
Timișoara is the capital city of Timiș County, in western Romania. One of the largest Romanian cities, with an estimated population of 311,586 inhabitants , and considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat, Timișoara is the main social, economic and cultural center in the...

, Cluj
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

 and Iaşi
Iași is the second most populous city and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life...

. Although information on what was happening did travel between these cities, coordinating actions would have been impossible in the highly repressive state that Romania was at the time, and students in each city acted independently of one another.

The state leadership is invited to a dialogue

A first protest began when students from the Faculty of Letters called on Iosif Chişinevschi
Iosif Chisinevschi
Iosif Chişinevschi , born Iosif Roitman, was a Romanian communist politician. The leading ideologue of the Romanian Communist Party from 1944 to 1957, he served as head of its Agitprop Department from 1948 to 1952 and was in charge of propaganda and culture from 1952 to 1955...

, then vice president of the Council of Ministers, to reply to a list of questions composed by the students. They chose Chişinevschi as an interlocutor not only due to his government position. Unlike in most communist countries in Eastern Europe, there had been no changes in the leadership of the Romanian Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

 after Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's death. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the Communist leader of Romania from 1948 until his death in 1965.-Early life:Gheorghe was the son of a poor worker, Tănase Gheorghiu, and his wife Ana. Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930...

 continued to lead the country using the same authoritarian methods and he was not influenced by Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

's 23 February Secret Speech
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

 at the 20th Congress of the CPSU
20th Congress of the CPSU
The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held during 14– 25 February 1956. It is known especially for Nikita Khrushchev's "Secret Speech", which denounced the personality cult and dictatorship of Joseph Stalin....

, in which Stalin's abuses were denounced and the negative impact of the personality cult was exposed, nor by the reactions of the other communist countries, which purged their Stalinist leadership at least partially. Still, it was known that at the March 1956 Plenum of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers' Party, Miron Constantinescu
Miron Constantinescu
Miron Constantinescu was a Romanian communist politician, a leading member of the Romanian Communist Party , as well as a Marxist sociologist, historian, academic, and journalist...

 and Chişinevschi had opposed Gheorghiu-Dej, arguing for the need of a liberalisation according to Khrushchev's orientation, a proposal categorically rejected by Gheorghiu-Dej. Students interpreted the lack of an armed Soviet intervention in the Hungarian Revolution's first days as Khrushchev's acceptance of the demands of the Hungarian reform movement. Hence, some students considered Iosif Chişinevschi, who had backed the notion of liberalisation, however mild, to be a more preferable interlocutor as compared with other hardline leaders.

The questions they asked were provocative but did not raise ideological issues. Some of these questions were:
  1. If the regimes in the two countries [Romania and the USSR] are identical and communist internationalism exists, why is Bessarabia
    Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

     not being given back [to Romania], since that province is Romanian, from an historical point of view?
  2. Why must the peasants make children's coffins from fence-posts when Romania has a substantial production of wood?
  3. Why must bread be bought with ration cards in an agricultural country?
  4. Why is artificial wine being bought from Bulgaria
    Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

  5. Why is there no fish on the market?
  6. Why are electricity metre
    Electricity meter
    An electricity meter or energy meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, business, or an electrically powered device....

    s being sold to Vietnam
    North Vietnam
    The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

     at a price that does not even cover the packaging?
  7. Why is methane
    Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

     gas being provided to Hungary only for some factories planned for natural gas processing
    Natural gas processing
    Natural-gas processing is a complex industrial process designed to clean raw natural gas by separating impurities and various non-methane hydrocarbons and fluids to produce what is known as pipeline quality dry natural gas.-Background:...


The goal of this action was to gauge whether at least some members of the communist leadership were prepared to begin a dialogue. For this reason, the questions put forward generally had an economic character and did not raise political issues. However, neither artificial Bulgarian wine nor electricity meters for Vietnam represented a major concern for Romanian students. The questions served as a signal to the party leadership that the students wished for a dialogue, not an ideological confrontation.

Neither Chişinevschi nor any other party leader replied to the invitation. But the invitation demonstrated to those who hesitated to join the movement that more energetic actions were needed as a consequence of the authorities' negative attitude.

Preliminary protest actions

In many institutes of higher learning, as well as in some high schools, protests began during courses on politics and Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

. Faced with hostile students, a number of professors had to leave their classrooms. The faculty received orders to try to calm down the students. For the party leadership, the disturbances that took place during Russian classes were an especially serious matter, as all this occurred in October, a month that had been dedicated to the Romanian-Soviet friendship in honour of the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...


Students in a number of faculties asked that delegations from the Central Committee be sent to discuss the situation in Hungary with them. The escalation from the first such demand was clear, as the subject had changed from an economic one to a political one. UTM (Uniunea Tineretului Muncitoresc / Union of Working Youth) sessions were boycotted, but students used several sessions convened for the purpose of resolving administrative problems, to discuss openly the Hungarian Revolution and their need to react to it. UTM leaders and students who were party members and objected to these discussions were thrown out of the conference halls. UTM leaders tried to ally themselves with the mainstream student opinion, showing support for the student movement and hostility toward the intransigent positions taken by the party committees within the faculties.

The 5 November 1956 protest is organised

The first organisational action was prepared by a clandestine group which created links between all the faculties with a view to organise a protest.

On 28 October 1956 a radio station calling itself "Romania of the future. The voice of resistance" began broadcasting on different wavelengths. It is not known where this secret station was broadcasting from; according to one assumption it was located in Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

. The station, considered a nationalist one, presented the students' demands, including:
  • "the return of the stolen provinces, Bessarabia and Bukovina
    Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

  • "the expulsion from Romania of Stalinists, who compromised communism and brought fear and hunger to the country."

On 29 October 1956 the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 reached dramatic proportions with Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's invasion of Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

; this disoriented those students who wanted action. For some more perceptive students, this was a clear signal that the West did not intend to intervene and that the Hungarian revolutionaries, as well as those in Romania, should not count on external assistance. Those more prudent among them considered that without such assistance, their chances of success were minimal. Others expressed contrary views, pointing out that Soviet troops had not intervened and that the Hungarian Revolution was a success, since the communist regime there had practically been overthrown.

As a result of an attempt to organise a student revolt in Timişoara, over 3,000 students had been arrested on 30–31 October. The Bucharest student leaders did not have precise information about what had happened in Timişoara, but through various indirect channels they had learned that the situation was very serious.

Support for a student protest had begun to diminish. Aware that if a protest were to take place, it could no longer be delayed, on 2 November 1956 the action committee, led by Alexandru Ivasiuc and Mihai Victor Serdaru, decided to organise a public student gathering. Since the day of 3 November was too soon to ensure sufficient mobilisation, the gathering was scheduled for 5 November in University Square
University Square, Bucharest
University Square is located in downtown Bucharest, near the University of Bucharest.Four statues are located in the University Square, in front of the University; they depict Ion Heliade Rădulescu , Michael the Brave , Gheorghe Lazăr and Spiru Haret .The square was the site of the 1990 Golaniad,...

. The organising committee decided that violence had to be avoided during the protest, and so did any response to provocations. Students from the Faculties of Letters and Law wrote a series of manifestoes in which they presented their demands and urged the rest of the population to side with them. What they asked for was that firm opposition be shown toward the Communist Party's abuses, that a precedent be created for the exercising of democratic rights, including the right to assemble, and that the authorities begin negotiations. The manifestoes also contained slogans such as "No more Russian and Marxism courses", "We demand science, not politics, in universities" or "Follow the example of the Hungarian, Czech and Polish students". The distribution of these manifestoes was stopped when the first arrests took place.

On 4 November, the Soviet Army unexpectedly occupied Budapest and other vital centres of Hungary. Although the brutal intervention in Hungary was proof that the student protests in Romania had few chances of success, the organisers believed that the movement had to continue and that the protest had to take place. At the same time, some students were arrested in Bucharest, including a few of the initiators of the protest.

On the night of 4/5 November, troops from the Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania
The Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania is one of the fifteen ministries of the Government of Romania.From 23 August 1944 to 18 March 1975 the minister held the title of Minister of Internal Affairs, between 2004 and 2007, held the title of Minister of Administration and Interior,...

 occupied University Square. Traffic was completely stopped, and the entire area normally used by vehicles in front of the university was filled with lorries in which soldiers, armed with automatic weapons, were sitting on benches, ready to intervene. The protest had become absolutely impossible to carry out. Additional armed troops were massed inside the university building and in other nearby buildings. All those who had intended to protest saw what was happening as soon as they entered the square and kept moving. Yet, they were unaware that at the entrances to the square there were party members from the various faculties who were taking down the names of all who walked in that area.


Given the repression of the Hungarian Revolution by the Red Army, organising another protest in Bucharest was out of the question. In the universities, acts of dissent ceased. Students from the Faculty of Philosophy did try to organise a new protest on 15 November, but the organisers were arrested before they could go further with their plan.

On 27 October 1956, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers' Party, meeting in a crisis session, had set up a crisis command under the leadership of Emil Bodnăraş
Emil Bodnaras
Emil Bodnăraş was an influential Romanian Communist politician, an army officer, and a Soviet agent...

, whose subordinates were Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

, Alexandru Drăghici and Leontin Sălăjan. The command had extensive powers, including the right to order troops to open fire and to declare a state of emergency in any part of the country. The command had the explicit right to suspend classes in institutes of higher learning.

The party organs immediately began repressive actions. A whole series of arrests followed, with arrest warrants issued by another special party committee, headed by Gheorghe Apostol
Gheorghe Apostol
Gheorghe Apostol was a Romanian politician, deputy Prime Minister of Romania and a former leader of the Communist Party, noted for his rivalry with Nicolae Ceauşescu.-Early life:...

. Investigations were intense; the chief interrogator was Captain Gheorghe Enoiu of the Direction of Penal Investigations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was aided by, among others, Lieutenant Major Vasile Dumitrescu, Lieutenant Gheorghe Blidaru, Lieutenant Horia Brestoiu, Lieutenant Nicolae Domniţa, Lieutenant Major Florea Gheorghiu, Lieutenant Major Gheorghe Mihăilescu, Lieutenant Major Iosif Moldovan, and Lieutenant Major Dumitru Preda.

The majority of arrests took place in November–December 1956, but arrests continued throughout 1957. Some students were sentenced to 1–4 years in prison; some died in prison. For instance, Ştefan Negrea, a student at the Faculty of Letters, died in Gherla prison on 3 November 1958.

At the same time, the universities and other places associated with students were placed under strict surveillance. At the order of the Ministry of Education
Ministry of Education and Research of Romania
The Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport is one of the nineteen ministries of the Government of Romania.Over the years the Ministry changed its title...

, actions against students were taken by university administrators: students who were suspected of having approved the movement were expelled and a strict system of surveillance was put in place to monitor the behaviour of students. Additionally, student organisations (UTM as well as the Union of Student Associations / Uniunea Asociaţiilor Studenţeşti) organised sessions to unmask "enemy elements". At these sessions, not only were students removed from these organisations, but it was asked that they be expelled – a request immediately granted by the university administration. Those expelled had no right to re-enroll in any institution of higher learning. Sessions were organised at which students were obliged to express their indignation against those who "splatter with mud" Romania's studious youth. Furthermore, the principal protest organisers were unmasked in public sessions during which their expulsion was requested in view of their status as people enemy to the regime. These actions were coordinated by university party organisations as well as by Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 departments. (One especially zealous persecutor during this period was Constantin Bulai, who taught Marxism.) Students convinced professors and artists to sign petitions asking that those arrested be freed; as a result, repressive actions intensified and more were condemned and expelled.

Aside from the immediate measures taken against those students who headed the protest movement, a series of other organisational repressive measures took place in the political realm. On 13 November, in a session of the Political Bureau, it was decided that the Ministry of Education should draw up "a concrete programme of measures to lead to an improvement in the social composition of students". The first to be targeted were former political detainees who had been allowed to return to the universities in 1955-56. Although the great majority of them had not been involved in the protest movement, Nicolae Ceauşescu explicitly asked for this step to be taken in a speech held in Bucharest on 15 November 1956. Around the same time, Virgil Trofin
Virgil Trofin
Virgil Trofin was a Romanian communist activist and politician, who served as minister under the Communist regime.-Biography:Born in Vaslui, Trofin had an early career as a mechanical fitter and boilermaker...

, secretary of the Central Committee of UTM, declared, "We have to know how many enemies there are in our country and are trying to fight against our party".

Concurrently, the student organisations were reorganised. Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu served as President of Romania from 1990 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004. From 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 until his retirement in 2008, Iliescu was a Senator for the Social Democratic Party , whose honorary president he remains....

, who had recently become a member of the UTM Central Committee, was also named president of the Union of Student Associations of the Romanian People's Republic in order to ensure more stringent control by the party over students.

In an address to the Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

The Communist Union of Youth , usually known as Komsomol , was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Komsomol in its earliest form was established in urban centers in 1918. During the early years, it was a Russian organization, known as the Russian Communist Union of...

 on 8 November 1956, Nikita Khrushchev alluded to the student protests, saying that there were some unhealthy moods among students in one of the educational establishments in Romania. He also congratulated the Romanian Communist Party on having dealt with those protests quickly and effectively.,


Little has been written about the Bucharest student movement of 1956. The students' actions and the repression that followed have not been seriously analysed. UDMR
Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania
The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, is the main political organisation representing the ethnic Hungarians of Romania....

 deputy Dezső-Kálmán Becsek-Garda did make a statement about the subject in the Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies of Romania
The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house in Romania's bicameral parliament. It has 315 seats, to which deputies are elected by direct popular vote on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms...

 on 19 October 1999; a few newspaper reports and a short television programme followed. The movement was generally forgotten, at least until the December 2006 publication of the Final Report of the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania
Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania
The Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania , also known as the Tismăneanu Commission , is a commission instituted in Romania by President Traian Băsescu to investigate the Communist regime and provide a comprehensive report allowing for the condemnation of...

, which devotes a chapter to the events of 1956.

Few of the participants at the centre of the 1956 movement have published memoirs of the events, though Mihai Stere Derdena did write an article in 2002. In 2006, Stela Covaci published a book documenting the communist repression of 1956-58 and the methods used to crush a protest movement run by students and anti-communist writers.

The Presidential Commission report states that the autumn 1956 student movement was unique in its ability to organise a protest movement with a well-defined programme, with demands covering the entirety of Romanian society. The report concludes that the protest failed due to the lack of a single coordination centre, the lack of support from other societal groups, and the authorities' actions to stop any protest movement.

These findings have drawn criticism. There was in fact a coordination centre in Bucharest, though it was not structured so as to make it less vulnerable to the machinations of repressive state organs.
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