There are a lot of journalists, media pundits, and intellectuals in the West that think that communism is the only choice and that communism greatly improved our lives. Much of these opinions are due to total ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding communist regimes and life in a communist country. I’m not trying to convince them of otherwise. I’m merely showing them and everyone interested in communism the reality of life in a communist dictatorship.
I was born 35 years go in Romania, a country in the Balkans, a country though full of resources, corrupted and oppressed by its own ruling class. Those who were in power in my country were not aristocrats, did not inherit any titles. Some of them were part of the communist party (agitators, criminals, terrorists) before the war, others climbed the social ladder by being informants and reporting on others.
It is obvious since I was quite small at the time of the Revolution (the revolution through which Romania ousted its dictator) I did not know much of the politics. I of course, remember Marx’s, Lenin’s and Ceausescu’s (our dictator) portraits on the walls of my kindergarten and later my school.
One of the earliest memories I had at kindergarten is when, one day I went to the kindergarten dressed a little bit different from my colleagues. My uncle had sent some clothes from USA (where he defected), normal clothing, trousers and shirt. Osh Kosh Bigosh was the brand of the clothing as I remember. That day I was punished for a few hours, locked in a room and sent home. My teacher was scandalized that I was not dressed in my uniform, blue trousers, red shirt and red tie. In kindergarten kids were organized into a sort of boy scouts, named “Motherland’s Hawks”. We all had to wear that specific uniform in the colors of our flag. I didn’t understand the outrage my teacher had shown towards my mother’s choice of clothing regarding me but I told my parents and from that day I never dared to put on those “imperialist, capitalist, fascist american clothing”
Another memory from kindergarten years was when, one daym I invented a silly nursery rhyme with our dictators name in it. I remember my father’s face as it went pale and him telling me to never say that thing again as he feared the Militia. Any kind of negative speech against our dearest leader was of course banned.
These were just a few of my memories that I remember, very clearly.
Survival and food
My father was a dentist working in conditions, of which no western doctor could ever work and survive in. My mother was working at a light bulb factory, in better conditions but all under the vigilant eyes of Communist Party informants. To have a better image of what went on in an office, imagine now you could not even crack a joke about your president. Those who told jokes, or cursed the dictator were interrogated, demoted and eventually arrested.
As food was scarce because of rationing, my father often went at night to buy food from the black market. Yes try to imagine going into a supermarket and finding no food, except maybe,maybe, a few canned sardines, expired and long overdue. Yes getting food was like getting drugs nowadays.
I remember one night as my father came home with oranges (which where impossible to find at any supermarket) and some meat, but scared to death. The local dealer, he said, had been murdered.
Getting food for your family of course was a risk that you had to assume, as you had no other choices.
As I said before food was scarce, but not because we didn’t have any, we had plenty of resources. Our dictator choose to lend Saddam Hussein and others, such as Muammar Qaddafi with large sums of money and he also started repaying every debt we had to the west or to USSR. The latter in itself was not a bad idea. The bad idea that led to our starvation and eventually to his demise, was the fact that he started rationing the food, thus creating the infamous “bread line” or “bread queues”.
Bread queues were also a risk that you had to assume. As I already said, getting food was a risky business in the Socialist Republic of Romania, and as a matter of fact in any eastern european and soviet countries. Others, in countries as Cambodia, or Mao’s China were not as fortunate and died of starvation.
In order to get in line and buy food( meaning only one quarter of bread and a quarter of milk) ordinary people (as opposed to the ruling class) had to wake up at around 4:00 am and get in the line. If you woke up too late, there was no more food, those shops were closed and the supermarket such as the one above in the picture closed. And even if you woke up early and got in the line, sometimes the supermarket would ran out of food.
You could easily bribe someone in charge of that “supermarket” (of course owned by the state). A pack of Kent cigarettes or good coffee from Germany would go a long way. A bottle of Ballantines Johnie Walker would get you a passport, and a pack of Kent cigarettes would get even get you some meat. But that happened only if you had relatives in the West, as there was no way you could buy Western cigarettes, coffee or whiskey in any supermarket from any corner in Romania. Money of course had no value, as you could not buy much with it. For a car you had to wait years, and for an apartment in of these buildings.