Iosif Chisinevschi
Iosif Chişinevschi born Iosif Roitman, was a 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...

n communist
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 politician. The leading ideologue
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 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...

 (PCR) from 1944 to 1957, he served as head of its Agitprop
Agitprop is derived from agitation and propaganda, and describes stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures and other art forms with an explicitly political message....

 Department from 1948 to 1952 and was in charge of propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 and culture from 1952 to 1955. He has been described as "Moscow
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....

's right-hand man in Romania".

Early life

Chişinevschi was born to a poor
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

 family in 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....

, then part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Largely self-taught and a high-school dropout
Dropping out
Dropping out means leaving a group for either practical reasons, necessities or disillusionment with the system from which the individual in question leaves....

, he joined the PCR in 1928. Arrested that year (since the PCR had been banned in 1924), he went to 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....

 upon his release in 1930. He attended the Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

's International Lenin School
International Lenin School
Situated in Moscow and shrouded in secrecy, the International Lenin School was founded in 1926 as an instrument for the "Bolshevisation" of the Communist International and its national sections, following the resolutions of the fifth Congress of the Comintern. Between 1926 and 1938 the school...

 (his only ideological training) and was a participant at the Vth PCR Congress, held in Gorikovo near 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...

 in December 1931. The Comintern delegates to the congress, Béla Kun
Béla Kun
Béla Kun , born Béla Kohn, was a Hungarian Communist politician and a Bolshevik Revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.- Early life :...

 and Dmitry Manuilsky
Dmitry Manuilsky
Dmitriy Manuilsky, or Dmytro Zakharovych Manuilsky was an important Bolshevik. He was the son of an Orthodox priest from a Ukrainian village. After secondary school he enrolled in the University of St...

, sponsored his election to the PCR central committee. He had personal connections within the Soviet secret police, of which he was an agent (which he remained through the 1950s), infiltrating the PCR hierarchy’s upper ranks.

Chişinevschi came back to Romania with instructions from Moscow, helping to reorganize the Agitprop Department, the PCR’s propaganda nucleus. During the party's years of underground
Underground resistance
Underground resistance may refer to*Underground Resistance , a musical collective from Detroit, Michigan*Underground resistance during World War II, the inhabitants of various locales resisting the rule of the Nazis, the Empire of Japan, and Mussolini...

 activity, he helped orient it toward Bolshevism (specifically Stalinism
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...

). He shunned real intellectual problems and the debates of the Marxist
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 left, instead idolizing Joseph 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...

. He was most influenced by the latter’s The Problems of Leninism, a sort of thumbnail sketch of revolutionary theory; once he had read the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 (Bolsheviks) Short Course
, with its blatant falsifications, he looked no further than Stalin for ideological guidance. A devoted Comintern man, he was unconcerned with Romania’s cultural and political history and context.

Arrested again in 1933, he was freed in 1936 and integrated into the secretariat of the Central Committee, becoming head of the Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

 party organization.

In power

Reconfirmed as a member of the PCR Central Committee in 1940, he was arrested that year, spending World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in the Caransebeş
Caransebeş is a city in Caraş-Severin County, part of the Banat region in southwestern Romania. It is located at the confluence of the river Timiş with the river Sebeş, the latter coming from the Ţarcu Mountains. To the west, it is in direct contact with the Banat hills...

 penitentiary and the Târgu Jiu
Târgu Jiu
Târgu Jiu is the capital of Gorj County, Oltenia, Romania. It is situated on the Southern Sub-Carpathians, on the banks of the river Jiu. Eight villages are administered by the city: Bârseşti, Drăgoeni, Iezureni, Polata, Preajba Mare, Româneşti, Slobozia and Ursaţi.-History:The city takes its name...

 camp, where he was among the closest associates of 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...

, especially after 1942. Having navigated for several years between the party’s Gheorghiu-Dej and Ştefan Foriş
Stefan Foris
Ştefan Foriş was a Romanian communist activist and journalist who served as general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party between 1940 and 1944....

, he participated in the staging of a plot that resulted in the latter’s elimination and assassination, accusing him of being a collaborator of the Kingdom of Romania
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

's secret police, Siguranţa Statului. Joining the Politburo after August 23, 1944, he participated in the anti-intelligentsia campaign, also publishing several articles and brochures under the pen name of Stănciulescu the following year. Between 1952 and 1954, he was intimately involved in the shadowy machinations that led to the downfall of Ana Pauker
Ana Pauker
Ana Pauker was a Romanian communist leader and served as the country's foreign minister in the late 1940s and early 1950s...

, the execution of Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu
Lucretiu Patrascanu
Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu was a Romanian communist politician and leading member of the Communist Party of Romania , also noted for his activities as a lawyer, sociologist and economist. For a while, he was a professor at Bucharest University...

, and the trial of Vasile Luca
Vasile Luca
Vasile Luca was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian and Soviet communist politician, a leading member of the Romanian Communist Party from 1945 and until his imprisonment in the 1950s...


Despite his Jewish ethnicity, Chişinevschi frantically distanced himself from his origins and helped persecute Jews. For instance, on January 14, 1953, he wrote: "The Jewish communities have always been a nest of thieves, of spies. The communities have always had Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman was a leader of the Romanian-Jewish community between the two wars and a representative of the Jews in the Romanian parliament....

 and from the exploitation and robbing of poor people, to acts of criminal espionage, these have been part of their agenda. This is why I think we have to proceed firmly. The devil take them—they will eventually be quiet; otherwise they will damage us, and not only us, but the entire camp of peace".

Chişinevschi, known among party members as Ioşka, was a consummate intriguer and opportunist, sycophantically subservient to his superiors, vindictive, and despotic toward his subordinates. He was the patron of an entire group of crude, narrow-minded and aggressive apparatchiks who dominated Romania's spiritual life during the years of unrestrained Stalinism. As a committed Stalinist, he was unconditionally devoted to the USSR and identified his own destiny with that of the "homeland of socialism". He participated in all the important meetings with Soviet representatives and delegates from other Eastern European countries, also coordinating the party’s international relations and supervising cadre policy.


For Chişinevschi, one’s attitude toward the USSR was his most important criterion of Leninist orthodoxy. Thus, when the Soviets changed course at the 20th Party Congress (which Chişinevschi attended), he zealously changed course and immediately began spreading insidious critical allusions about his old friend Gheorghiu-Dej, hoping to cover up his own past crimes and abuses. At the March 1956 plenary, he and 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...

 called for a liberalisation, something that Gheorghiu-Dej categorically rejected. He did not make his proposal out of genuinely reformist sentiments, but rather because "his enduring opportunism, his unsurpassed chameleon-type of political conduct materialized in his will to associate himself with the group that was most probable to win the battle". As "a true follower of Moscow’s line, whatever its twist or turn, he grasped an opportunity to undermine Gheorghiu-Dej and re-compose for himself the image of a fighter for intra-party democracy". Thinking that "a critical re-assessment of the Stalinist purges in Romania was inevitable", he aligned himself in opposition to Gheorghiu-Dej.

Probably encouraged by 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...

, Chişinevschi and Constantinescu sought allies on the Politburo to topple Gheorghiu-Dej by majority vote; they drew Constantin Pîrvulescu
Constantin Pîrvulescu
Constantin Pîrvulescu was a Romanian communist politician, one of the founders of the Romanian Communist Party , and, eventually, an active opponent of Communist Romania's leader Nicolae Ceauşescu...

, president of the party control commission to their side, but failed to capture Alexandru Moghioroş, who informed Gheorghiu-Dej of the conspiracy.

After this, despite renewed professions of faith in Gheorghiu-Dej, Chişinevschi had no chance of political survival, as the former surpassed him in ability and duplicity. During the June 28–29 and July 1–3, 1957 plenum of the Central Committee, the Chişinevschi-Constantinescu "factionalist group" (invented by Gheorghiu-Dej for propaganda purposes) was purged from the Politburo. In June 1960, the Third Congress of the Romanian Workers' Party (as the PCR was then called) did not re-elect him to the Central Committee.

In late 1956, knowing about his dissent from Gheorghiu-Dej's line that March, the leaders of the Bucharest student movement of 1956
Bucharest student movement of 1956
The events in Poland which led to the elimination of that country's Stalinist leadership and the rise to power of Władysław Gomułka on 19 October 1956 provoked unrest among university students in Eastern bloc countries. The state of unrest in Poland began to spread into Hungary...

 saw Chişinevschi, then vice president of the Council of Ministers, as a potential interlocutor, but he rebuffed their calls for dialogue.

At the November 30–December 5, 1961 central committee plenum, his former comrades cruelly humiliated him: Gheorghiu-Dej, 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...

, Ion Gheorghe Maurer
Ion Gheorghe Maurer
Ion Gheorghe Iosif Maurer was a Romanian communist politician and lawyer.-Biography:Born in Bucharest to a Saxon father and a Romanian mother of French origin, he completed studies in Law and became an attorney, defending in court members of the illegal leftist and Anti-fascist movements...

, Leonte Răutu, Petre Borilă
Petre Borila
Petre Borilă was a Romanian communist politician who briefly served as Vice-Premier under the Communist regime...

, Moghioroş, Alexandru Sencovici, Valter Roman
Valter Roman
Valter or Walter Roman , born Ernst or Ernő Neuländer, was a Romanian communist activist and soldier. During his lifetime, Roman was active inside the Romanian, Czechoslovakian, French, and Spanish Communist parties as well as being a Comintern cadre...

 did not hesitate to accuse the man formerly celebrated as the "brain of the party", now the director of the Casa Scînteii
Casa Presei Libere
Casa Presei Libere is a building in northern Bucharest, Romania, the tallest in the city between 1956 and 2007.A horse race track was built in 1905 on the future site of Casa Presei Libere...

printing works. It was here that Gheorghiu-Dej, absolving himself of responsibility, denounced the alleged Pauker-Luca-Georgescu and Chişinevschi-Constantinescu factions as being responsible for Romania’s worst Stalinist excesses. When Chişinevschi died in 1963, no obituary appeared in Romania. In April 1968, Ceauşescu relished the opportunity to denounce him (along with Gheorghiu-Dej and Alexandru Drăghici) for Pătrăşcanu’s execution.


Chişinevschi's wife (whose last name he took) was Liuba Chişinevschi (b. 1911), a party member from 1930 and an activist during its underground years. In 1946, she helped her husband secure the job of food-procurement officer for the Soviet army of occupation
Soviet occupation of Romania
The Soviet occupation of Romania refers to the period from 1944 to August 1958, during which the Soviet Union maintained a significant military presence in Romania...

 in Romania. In the 1950s, she was on the Central Committee. In addition, she served as vice president of the Trade Union Confederation and of the Great National Assembly
Great National Assembly
The Great National Assembly was the legislature of the Romanian People's Republic and the Socialist Republic Romania. When Communism was overthrown in Romania in December 1989, the National Assembly was replaced by a bicameral parliament, made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.The Great...

, and as deputy chair of the party's control commission. His eldest son, Milea, emigrated to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, while two other sons, Andrei and Gheorghe, left for Israel
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

, where the latter died in the late 1980s. A fourth son, Iuri (b. 1945), still lived in Romania as of 2006. Dora Chişinevschi, an Israeli journalist, is his granddaughter.
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