Elena Ceausescu

19.04.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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Elena Ceausescu, (maiden name Elena Petrescu) was born into a peasant family in Petresti on 17 January 1919 ( in reality, most likely in 1916, since it is alleged that she had her date of birth changed).

Elena Ceasescu ended her studies at the end of fourth grade and went to Bucharest where she worked firstly as an assistant in a laboratory then as an employee in a textile factory. She joined the Romanian Communist Party in 1937.

In 1939, Elena met Nicolae Ceausescu whom she married in 1946. They had three children.

Elena Ceausescu subsequently held positions of little importance up until her husband became Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party.

In 1965, she was appointed Director of the National Institute for Chemical Research in Bucharest.

Starting in July 1972, Elena Ceausescu was given a number of positions of responsibility within the communist party. In particular, she was elected to be a full member of the Central Committee of the party.

In July 1973, she became a member of the Politburo and given responsibility for the Commission administering high ranking state and party personnel. This made her the second most powerful person in the country after her husband.

In November 1974, Elena Ceausescu became a member of the Political Executive Committee, which incorporated the Permanent Bureau, the highest organ of the party, in January 1977.

In March 1980, Elena Ceasescu was named First Deputy Prime Minister of Romania.

Elena Ceausescu is considered to have been responsible for the elimination of birth control measures, which led to a serious demographic crisis in the country during the 70’s and 80’s. She is also alleged to have been behind the policies attributed to her husband, which led to the destruction of churches and to food rationing in the 80’s. She was also a member of the State Health Commission, which denied the existence of the AIDS virus in Romania.

On 22 December 1989, she was arrested together with her husband following their fall from power, which was sparked by the riots in Timisora a few days earlier.

legal procedure

Elena Ceausescu was arrested on 22 December 1989. Together with her husband, she was put on trial before a special Military Tribunal gathered together in a classroom in the military base of Tirgoviste on 25 December 1989.

She and her husband were accused of genocide, armed attacks against the population and the powers of the State, destruction of State buildings and institutions and undermining the national economy, by virtue of articles 356, 163, 165 and 145 of the Rumanian Criminal Code. The charges covered the whole period of the Ceausescu regime whereas the prosecutor, Gica Popa’s questions were concentrated mainly on the Timisora riots.

In particular, Elena Ceausescu was also accused of not being the author of scientific publications attributed to her, and for living in luxurious style when the Rumanian people were living in extreme poverty.

Throughout the short trial, Elena and her husband refused to recognise the competence of the Court and to reply to any of its questions, asking only to be heard by the National Assembly.

At the conclusion of the procedure, which lasted only 55 minutes, Elena Ceausescu was sentenced to death for committing the crime of genocide.

She was executed together with her husband a few hours later.


The trial of the Ceausescu couple, if nothing else, was expeditious and lasted only 55 minutes. It did not meet with international standards with respect to the rights of the defendants. The death sentence was carried out on the very same day the verdict was handed down, being scarcely three days after their arrest.

The definition of genocide as contained in Article 356 of the Rumanian Criminal Code of 1976, in defining the groups to be protected, refers to a “community or to a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”
No further precision is given as to the definition of the concept of “community”.

This concept of “community” allows for a wider application in the interpretation of the crime of genocide.

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