State violence as a complex system of ideological prescriptions, normative values, and everyday practices has been emerging as a major topic in the study of Soviet-type regimes. Overcoming the Cold War preoccupation with the totalitarian character of these societies, new historiographical approaches put at the center the changing degree of physical and psychological violence. This article sketches the evolution of state violence concepts and practices in Communist-era Romania, focusing on the treatment of the large Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Although Nicolae Ceaușescu's Romania has been largely acknowledged as a special case, incompatible with the overall development of the Soviet bloc, it is possible to apply the model of “civilized violence” and “reliability of expectations” to the specific conditions of the late phase of Romanian national Communism. The most primitive forms of physical violence such as shooting or the savage beating of inmates never disappeared from the power instruments available to the different repressive bodies, but these techniques were supplemented by more refined attempts to encourage social collaboration based on patriotic conviction.

The analysis of state violence in Communist societies as a complex system of ideological prescriptions, normative values, and everyday practices has been emerging as a major topic in the study of Soviet-type regimes.1 New historiographical approaches regard the Soviet-type state as a heterogeneous organism of agencies and individual actors, with mixed and at times contradictory interests. Scholars have increasingly put at the center the changing patterns of physical and psychological violence from the 1940s onward. In Hungary, seminal work by political scientist Ervin Csizmadia showing how the post-1956 regime under János Kádár transformed itself into a “discursive dictatorship” in the 1960s has stimulated further research about “soft violence” and accommodation mechanisms between the party-state and society.2 Michal Kopeček and Michal Pullmann have put forward concepts like “civilized violence” and the “routinization of the ideological” in their analyses of the shift that occurred from physical violence to more sophisticated population control in post-1968 Czechoslovakia. Comparing the social penetration of the Communist regime under Stalin and Brezhnev, Jörg Baberowski has pointed out how much the growing “reliability of expectations” helped the internal consolidation of the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era, and Jens Gieseke, for his part, has produced a fine analysis of “white torture” and the “secretized stages of violence” performed by the East German State Security police within the framework of “socialist legality.”3 In a discussion of the Bulgarian case that applies more widely to the whole region, Ulf Brunnbauer has highlighted the gradual evolution from revolutionary legality (the “jurisprudence of terror”) and extralegal executions to a complex array of procedural norms, which the targets of violence (ordinary citizens, opponents, victims) increasingly understood.4

This article focuses on the case of state violence in Communist Romania by departing from Michael Mann's classic partition between despotic and infrastructural power.5 I seek to analyze how the generalized state violence of the early Communist period (despotic power) gradually evolved in Nicolae Ceaușescu's Romania into a quasi-cooperative relationship between citizens and Communist authorities (infrastructural power). The article first lays out a comparative historical framework of state violence in Communist Romania, followed by a brief presentation of the historiographical debate over the multiple and changing functions of the secret police in a totalitarian environment. The article then traces the ideological shift in the Romanian Communist regime's stance toward minorities that evolved from the ethnic promotion policy of the early Communist period to active discrimination against non-Romanian minorities during Ceaușescu's rule. The focus here is on the largest minority group in Romania, the 1.7 million Hungarians settled mainly in the northwestern region of Transylvania who accounted for 8 percent of Romania's population according to the 1977 census.6 Scrutinizing the way the secret police handled interethnic relations in Transylvania gives us a better understanding of the actual policies implemented by the Romanian authorities and the organizational and ideological changes affecting the Securitate behind the scenes in the last 25 years of its existence.7 The fundamental shift in the ideological mindset of the Romanian secret police from strict internationalism and class repression to becoming a key agent of ethnic repression constitutes one of the most interesting features of the more general changes that the Romanian Communist regime underwent from the late 1950s onward and opens the way for a comparative approach to the entanglement between state security services and non-dominant ethnic and religious groups in the multinational states of the Soviet bloc.8

From State Terrorism to Selective Violence: Policing the Civil Population

Ceaușescu's Romania has been largely acknowledged as a maverick ally of the Soviet Union and his national Communism a deviation from the post-Stalinist developmental path of East European countries. However, Vladimir Tismăneanu and Cristian Bogdan Iacob convincingly argue that the ambivalence of Ceaușescu's national Stalinist system stemmed from the contrast between patriotic claims and its refusal to overhaul the Soviet-imposed model of socialism.9 A similar dichotomy applies to the practice of state violence throughout the Communist era. Some scholars, mostly linked to the former security services, have depicted a discontinuity of ideological drivers and working methods between the “first,” Soviet-type (1948–1964) and the “second,” patriotic-minded and professionally advanced Securitate.10 Independent scholars have debunked this opposition as artificial and biased. They point out that operational changes in the 1960s and 1970s unmasked a fundamental continuity of intentions and brought about the ethnic targeting of groups (e.g., the Transylvanian Hungarians) whose activity was seen by the state security organs as a national security threat regardless of its content.11

From the time the Securitate was formed in 1948 until the early 1960s, the organization's collective mentality, social composition, and working methods aptly reflected the Soviet “Chekist” model. Higher officers and rank-and-file staff shared the paranoid Weltanschauung of a society infiltrated at every level by class enemies who must be liquidated. This led to the extensive use of physical violence and preventive repression by the authorities from 1948 to 1964, resulting in up to 200,000 politically motivated arrests, deportations, and temporary dislocations, directly affecting 1.5 percent of the adult population.12 What Marius Oprea calls “state terrorism” targeted not only specific, albeit sometimes fictitious “crimes” (ideological subversion, political resistance, personal misconduct), but also specific social groups.13 The foremost targets of the large waves of repression in 1949–1953 and 1958–1961 were the rural population, believers of all faiths, former capitalists, and aristocrats. Official Romanian statistics put the death toll among political prisoners during the years under Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej at more than 3,000, but someresearchers estimate as many as 15,000.14 Many thousands of inmates remained permanently disabled as a consequence of the inhuman living conditions in the prisons and camps, and hundreds of thousands of families were direct or indirect victims of repression.15

The amount of political repression exerted during the Gheorghiu-Dej era is largely documented by the archival evidence of the prisons administration (Direcția Generală a Penitenciarelor), which stores the records of approximately 76,000 former political convicts.16 The analysis of personal files shows that an overwhelming majority of sentences to prison time or forced labor took place before the general amnesty of 1964. After Ceaușescu came to power, the use of widespread physical violence by the secret police became unnecessary insofar as the mass repression of the earlier period had already smashed the armed resistance and weakened all “hostile” social groups. Preventive repression gave way to tight controls and surveillance, and the state security organs became less violent, applying secretive but smooth measures such as “positive influencing,” warnings, undermining of opposition groups, and the public unmasking of “socially dangerous” elements. Preventive actions could also be taken, such as informing the target's superiors at work or school or “preparing” someone about to travel abroad in order to persuade him to collaborate or to discourage him from defecting.17 Gail Kligman gives a cogent definition of the mechanism that led a significant portion of Romanian society to accept Communist rule as inevitable:

Domination of the public sphere and penetration of the private were crucial to the successful wielding of symbolic violence and served as effective mechanisms for integrating individuals into the functioning of a socialist society. When symbolic violence proved insufficient, physical violence was meted out to coerce compliance. It was not, however, the preferred method of disciplining the body politic. Nor was it necessary; a generalized internalisation of the “socialist habitus”—to build upon Bourdieu's term—of the taken-for-granted ways of seeing and being meant that most citizens acted appropriately to fit the context. Self-censorship became a natural reflex; dissimulation, a natural corollary.18

During the Ceaușescu regime, the secret police largely contributed to supporting and expanding the structural power of the party-state by combining structural, tactical, and psychological power. The social penetration achieved by the Romanian security organs was impressive compared to other East European countries. The percentage of informants under Ceaușescu was proportionally larger than in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland—not to speak of the USSR—and almost reached the peculiarly high East German levels, where in the 1970s as many as 180,000 unofficial collaborators were registered.19 The increase of the security apparatus provides a clear picture of how relevant the Securitate became in everyday life. In 1948, it had around 4,000 operatives and 15,000 informants. Forty-one years later it could rely on 15,000 officers and subofficers, 143,000 active informants, and a further 350,000 citizens registered as former collaborators with state security, along with 23,000 staff members who were enrolled in the rapid reaction forces (Trupele de Securitate).20 Compared to the overall population of 23 million in 1989, the proportion of officers and informants within the adult population exceeded 3 percent.

Thus, the softening of state coercion did not bring about a loosening of control over ordinary Romanian citizens. Relying on declassified statistical data, Nicoleta Ionescu-Gură has established that the number of citizens put under some form of police control rose from 272,809 in 1956 to 419,937 in 1960 and reached a peak of 566,411 in 1965, before sharply falling to 215,317 in December 1968, at the height of Ceaușescu's short-lived liberalization. From 1969 onward, the number of ordinary people placed under surveillance started to grow again, although it never reached the extremely high numbers of the 1960s.21 The most voluminous file belongs to the Roman Catholic bishop of Alba Iulia, Áron Márton. Secret records on him alone amount to 236 volumes and almost 80,000 pages.22 Deep changes affected the social constituency of the secret police as well. Starting from the 1960s, the first generation of almost illiterate officers was gradually replaced by well-trained staff. Unlike their predecessors, young Securitate officers were taught at police academies and selected from among top students of law or economics, enjoying a comfortable life and significant material privileges compared to their fellow citizens. Their political mindset was influenced by their institution's claim for “professionalism,” which entailed the implementation of rational, mostly non-violent techniques of population control and the national Communist ideology that permeated Romanian elites under Ceaușescu's rule. The self-image of state security officers reflected a deep internalization of the “Chekist personality” and a proud consciousness of belonging to the Romanian ruling elite.23

The secret service internal bulletin Securitatea, with almost 100 issues printed from 1968 to 1989, represents a valuable source for understanding the self-representation of Securitate officers.24Securitatea regularly published materials on the latest research in operative psychology, analyzed successfully concluded investigations (“best practices”), suggested secondary literature, and gave a rich, surprisingly objective account of the activity of major Western secret services. Internal cohesion within the Securitate was enforced by iron discipline and a leadership cult, which in the long run resulted in an absolute lack of internal debate and reform movements, as masterfully described by Pavel Câmpeanu and Stelian Tănase in their analyses of the political culture of the Romanian Communist Party.25

During the last two decades of the Communist regime, the state security apparatus acted as an agent of social control more than an instrument of repression. Moreover, after economic and social condition sharply worsened in the early 1980s, the Securitate assumed the task of informing (though the Ministry of Internal Affairs) party leaders about the state of mind of the population. The restricted access to information and the impossibility to channel criticism into intraparty discussion made state security the only state organ that could alert Ceaușescu about the growing popular dissatisfaction with the regime. These warnings were often written in a nonpartisan language, and they contained high-quality information on concrete economic, social, ethnic, and political grievances.26 The fate of these reports, which were ignored by the political leaders until the last days, reflects the ability of the Securitate to understand the weakening grip of the regime on Romanian society as well as the astonishing gap between reality and party propaganda.

Brutal physical violence was no longer part of the everyday business of Securitate officers trained at the state security academy in Băneasa, near Bucharest, in the spirit of “professionalism” and “socialist legality.” However, because of a probably calculated diversification of tasks and functions among the branches of internal security, violence remained a common tool among other military corps, such as the border police subordinated to the Ministry of Defense (Grăniceri) and the criminal police (Miliția), whose political role and organizational history remains largely unexplored until now.27 The second part of this section analyzes the role of those state agencies that, unlike the Securitate, did not go through an evolution process and kept imposing social discipline through the use of physical violence.

By whom, why, and against whom was physical violence performed in late-Communist Romania? In their pioneering study on the Romanian prison system from 1967 to 1989, Dumitru Lăcătușu and Mircea Burcea make an excellent case for a substantial continuity of ideological drivers and repressive practices between the different phases of the Romanian Communist regime, from mimicry of Soviet practices to national Communism.28 A similar claim can be made about the growing role assigned during the Ceaușescu regime to the criminal police. After 1965, political trials almost disappeared from the judiciary, as part of the regime's attempt to demonstrate its stability both at home and in the West. The Miliția emerged as a politically repressive organ not only in the countryside, where it always performed this role as a substitute for the Securitate, but also in the urban areas.

This phenomenon is exemplified by cases of collective physical violence against certain groups, such as minority communities or those labeled as “dissident” youth, as a means to impose social discipline and prevent open expressions of criticism. A typical practice was the so called razie (raid): For the sole apparent purpose of intimidating locals, armed squads of Miliția would storm public places from time to time, particularly in Hungarian Transylvanian or Roma-inhabited villages. Although official statistics generally fail to mention acts of violence performed by state officials against the population, a wide range of alternative sources converges in describing a pattern of widespread physical violence: private diaries, reports issued in the 1980s by the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF), Radio Free Europe (RFE) and the Helsinki Committee, complaints presented by Romanian citizens to the Hungarian embassy in Bucharest, and reports from refugees in Hungary and Austria.29 The extensive amount of physical violence carried out by (mostly ethnic Romanian) police officers in the Hungarian-inhabited Szeklerland might explain why some police officials during and immediately after the 1989 revolution became victims of physical attacks by local citizens who took advantage of the political upheaval to settle accounts with the former representatives of the Communist regime.30 The practice of inflicting physical violence as a tool to increase social discipline was continued by the rebranded security forces during the post-Communist transition period as well, targeting mainly the Roma population and provoking scandal among human rights associations. The post-1989 state violence against Roma and other deprived groups was thought to be one of the fruits of post-Communist ethnic hatred.31 But in fact it represented a simple continuation of the old practice of inflicting physical violence as a tool to achieve discipline. The only qualitative difference between the two phenomena was that in a multiparty society independent media and human rights organizations could not be prevented from collecting and spreading information about these harassments.

Another strand of state violence was ideologically framed as the fight against “hooliganism,” “parasitism,” and petty criminality, resulting in raids against young urban intellectuals and students, mostly rockers with long hair, beards, and blue jeans.32 Further campaigns were boosted by the new penal code adopted in 1968, which introduced “repressive legalism” to regulate non-political violence, the most typical form of which after 1973 was to order “correctional work.” During raids, the Miliția was actively helped by “groups of support” formed among the civil population à la the Soviet model.33 A typical example of this practice is represented by the large-scale raid carried out on 3 December 1976 in various locations in Bucharest. The one-day raid resulted in 10,400 persons being questioned, 90 persons being charged with “criminal offenses,” and a further 32 people being detained for breaking Decree 32/1970 on respect of social coexistence and public order. In addition, 52 minors without parental supervision were sent back to their families, 93 unemployed persons were directed to work agencies, and 58 other people were deported to their permanent places of residence.34 Some newly released statistics show, however, the growing difficulty of imposing social discipline. Although the wide-scale amnesty of 1977 gave back freedom to 70 percent of all convicts, the number of inmates soared in the following years (89,296 in 1978, 135,400 in 1980, and almost 180,000 in 1981), leading to the reopening of several closed-down prisons.35

Another group heavily affected by state violence in the Ceaușescu regime, in this case perpetrated by the border police, comprised refugees returned from the state border. Since 1949, illegal border crossing had been listed as a political crime in the penal code, and under the provisions of Decree 367/1971 shooting at a fugitive was not considered a criminal offense. Still, from the late 1970s, thousands of young people attempted to escape from Romania by crossing the Western border toward Yugoslavia. In the 1980s, this grew to include crossings toward Hungary. Official figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees put the total number of successful escapes from 1985 to 1989 at 75,000, two-thirds of which occurred during the last year of the regime.36 No reliable figures are available for the number of unsuccessful attempts. A still-unquantifiable number of people were simply shot by the Romanian border guards while trying to cross the Danube. On the basis of surveys carried out in several Serbian border villages, legal experts estimate that these “legalized” crimes could have claimed more than 300 victims alone in the Romanian-Yugoslav border section of the Danube.37 More research is needed to determine the fate of those who were returned by the Yugoslav and Hungarian authorities to Romania based on bilateral agreements. A large percentage of political inmates serving sentences in Romanian prisons were made up of people who had tried to flee and been sentenced to several years in jail after suffering beatings and violent interrogation.

Another example of state violence, in this case against a political upheaval that could have challenged the legitimacy of the regime, was the blunt repression of the Brașov revolt of 15 November 1987. The spontaneous strike of thousands of workers living in one of the largest industrial centers of the country stirred deep alarm among political leaders, as the events in Brașov could have easily spread to the rest of the country. The strike was announced on the day of the local elections. Unlike the 1977 miners’ strike in Jiu Valley and the 1981 revolt in Motru, the rioters in Brașov formulated slogans connecting social and economic issues with political ones. After a few hours of hesitation, a massive and effective military intervention—in which no Securitate officers took part; the action was carried out solely by the Miliția and “civilian” bodies such as the Patriotic Guards and firefighters—dispersed the large crowd gathered in the city center. The judicial repression afterward targeted the “instigators”; that is, those at the front of the picket line and the technical staff, who were identified after the revolt through the efficient network of agents the security forces had in place and the use of modern video recording systems. The most accurate account of the revolt and its aftermath describes at length the brutal beatings, psychological torture, and interrogations that lasted up to sixteen hours.38 The violence, excessive even by Romanian standards, might have been intensified by the Securitate's handing over of the investigation to the Miliția, whose working methods at the time were much more brutal. The leaders of the revolt were charged with disturbing the public order and looting, thus confirming Ceaușescu's expectation that such a “negative event”—as party propaganda called the revolt—could not have been provoked by honest citizens belonging to the working class.

Securitate documents and the letters sent by Romanian citizens to RFE in the 1980s both indicate that “murmuring” and an anti-regime attitude were adopted by a growing number of citizens.39 However, attempts to break the Communist political monopoly remained isolated and mostly unknown to fellow citizens, as the aftermath of the 1987 Brașov riots demonstrates. Like kramola, the Soviet form of grassroots dissent, the informally expressed Romanian opposition to the system failed to articulate a clear set of cultural values and political options.40 Those who took part in spontaneous collective actions or described their poor living conditions to RFE focused more on social inequality and everyday abuses committed by the authorities than on their political and civil rights.41

Cooptation, Control, and Violence: The Securitate and the Hungarian Issue

Ethnic minorities were a key object of state control in socialist Romania. In the second part of this article, I attempt to grasp the evolution of the security management of the “Hungarian question” from the class-related, selective monitoring of certain subgroups in the 1950s to the generalized distrust that permeated and surrounded the Hungarian minority from the 1970s onward and reached counterproductive levels in the late 1980s.

In the first decade after the Second World War, with the exception of ethnic Germans, the Romanian Communist state encouraged and implemented the political and cultural integration of minority groups into Romanian society. Gaining the support of non-Romanians in a country that remained a multinational entity after World War II became one of the main goals of the left-wing government led by Petru Groza and supported by the Soviet Union. The Romanian-Hungarian compromise was made possible by both internal and external factors. The Soviet Union wanted to achieve ethnic peace and cooperation in Romania, and Iosif Stalin looked at Transylvania as part of a broader region that also included Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. As compensation for the definitive loss of these two regions, which were ceded to the USSR, Romania was granted the whole of Transylvania on the condition that a “truly democratic,” pro-Soviet government would be set up in Bucharest.42 The ethnic power balance consciously created by the Romanian Communist Party with Soviet assistance in multiethnic Transylvania, as well as the spirit of internationalism that took hold, helped the party strengthen its political legitimacy among ethnic and social groups. Unlike the historical Romanian parties and the Hungarian nationalists, the PCR and the Groza-led coalition government behaved as a transnational body and pursued integrative policies. In the troubled context of postwar reconstruction, this call for cooperation and peaceful ethnic coexistence significantly contributed to making early Communist rule more acceptable to large masses of Romanians and non-Romanians alike.43

The 1956 Hungarian revolution had a far-reaching impact on the internal political dynamics of neighboring Romania and marked a negative turning point for policy toward the Hungarian minority. Until then, Hungarian nationalism and irredentism had not constituted a priority for the Romanian state security organs.44 The unforeseen and dramatic collapse of all main Hungarian power agencies alarmed the Romanian party leaders. Gheorghiu-Dej put the army, the intelligence service, and the diplomatic corps on highest alert. Although isolated gestures of sympathy for the events in Hungary could be observed among the population, no large-scale actions or armed disturbances took place in Romania during the Hungarian revolt, not even in the most densely Hungarian-inhabited regions. Nevertheless, the selective and distorted use of available intelligence caused Gheorghiu-Dej and his affiliates in November 1956 to conclude that, despite the earlier co-optation politics, concessions, and ostensible privileges given to the ethnic Hungarins, they still saw Hungary as their mother country and showed no desire to integrate into the Romanian state.45 As a result, to prevent the spreading of so-called Hungarian nationalism and irredentism, the party ordered closer monitoring of Hungarian communities, including a much larger number of informants to penetrate key areas.46 From 1957 onward, the secret police ran a mass campaign to recruit ethnic Hungarians who could collect information on other members of the Hungarian community.47 The targeted groups were mainly intellectual elites (i.e., ethnic Hungarians working in the arts, higher education, and the media), but the campaign also extended to the staff of state institutions and factory workers.

From the 1960s, Romania's minority policy was guided by the so-called nation-building stage of transforming into a Communist society. The shift from a class dictatorship toward a socially more inclusive but strongly ethnicized regime began in the late Gheorghiu-Dej era and, as such, was spurred on in conjunction with more traditional state-building ideologies to overcome long-standing ideological impurities of Communism.48 A landmark party declaration in 1964 marked the start of the Romanian Communists’ strategy of autonomy from Moscow and the emergence of a national-Communist variant of Soviet-type socialism. Four years later, the Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR and its allies proved to be the decisive crisis in the Romanian state security's worsening perception of the Hungarian minority. After the Czechoslovak crisis, the Romanian authorities took further steps toward a new security doctrine focusing on national independence and protection of the territory, setting up a special “anti-KGB” military unit codenamed “UM 110.”49 The main targets of this unit were the USSR and neighboring Hungary, whose leadership was suspected of fueling popular nationalism over the sensitive issue of Transylvania. The Romanian security forces came to regard Hungary and the Hungarian community in Transylvania as potential security threats, even if contradictions and unpredictability remained a constant feature in the working procedures of the Securitate.

A striking example of this is cited in a recent book by the anthropologist Katherine Verdery, who describes how, in response to her field research during the Ceaușescu era on ethnic and social relations in rural Transylvania and her contacts with Romanian and Hungarian intellectuals, the Securitate came to view her (inaccurately) as a U.S. spy working against socialist Romania and assigned numerous officers to undertake immense research and knowledge-generating activity focused on this single target.50 Beyond an accurate description of the Securitate's mindset (encompassing social paranoia, extreme compartmentalization of tasks, anxiety about fulfilling—indeed, overcoming—the economic plan, and so forth), Verdery offers penetrating insights into how the various regional branches of the Securitate differed in their perceptions of Romanian-Hungarian ethnic relations. A particularly worrisome attitude emerges in the Securitate reports from the city of Cluj, where Romanian-Hungarian relations have almost always been sensitive and grew increasingly tense in the 1980s as the economic situation worsened. In Bucharest and Iaşi, where ethnic relations were not an issue, Verdery observes that Securitate officers seemed to care less about her “spying” activities.51

In the 1970s, however, the ideological reorientation paralleled a gradual change in the ethnic composition of the security system. As part of a general effort to get rid of allegedly “unreliable” cadres, whose only merit was prewar illegal Communist activity, hundreds of first-generation Securitate officers were pensioned or downgraded through administrative means. Hungarian-born security cadres did not disappear from the scene, however. Only the new recruits belonged to a new generation of professionals raised on Romanian Communist patriotism. To name just a few: Colonel Elemér Erdélyi was head of the Securitate branch of the newly established Harghita County in the Szeklerland from 1968 until his replacement by an ethnic Romanian officer in 1980.52 Lieutenant Colonel Alexandru Csomós was appointed in the 1970s as deputy chief of the Mureș County Securitate Branch.53 The ethnic Hungarian officer József Ungváry, known for his loyalty to the regime, was allowed to continue his career, becoming the recognized specialist of Hungarian religious cults in Cluj, a major cultural center where Romanians achieved a demographic majority only in the 1960s.54

What did Ceaușescu want to achieve with the never admitted implementation of accelerated social promotion of “true” Romanians? Did he envisage a “Bulgarian solution,” the establishment of an ethnically “pure” nation-state through forced assimilation or expulsion of unreliable minorities, as Todor Zhivkov attempted to do with the Turkish minority in Bulgaria in 1984-1985 and 1989? Or was Ceaușescu pursuing (at least until the summer of 1988, when the conflict with Hungary became intense and pushed thousands of Hungarians to flee Romania) a stop-go policy while keeping an eye on the international reaction? How did the Hungarian population in Romania react to the official state policy? Earlier works on Romania's minority policy under Ceaușescu focus almost exclusively on human rights’ violations committed by the Communist regime and largely overlook the interplay between the authorities and the minority communities. New scholarship recently published in Romania and Germany demonstrates how fascinating and intricate the nationality issue actually was in late Communist Romania.55 Making use of previously inaccessible sources from the former secret police archives, these authors explore the activity of the security forces among and against ethnic minorities, as well as the numerous cases of collaboration among the non-Romanian elites. This growing body of literature challenges the view that former collaborators should be seen purely as victims of an infernal mechanism orchestrated by the “hostile” ethnic majority, a defensive strategy produced by the self-victimizing, traumatic collective memory of minority groups in the 1980s against unpleasant findings about the complex relational network between the Romanian state security and minority groups.

My analysis of the entangled relationship between state security forces and Transylvanian Hungarian cultural elites is based on several bulky state security files that were created during the Ceaușescu regime in response to charges of “nationalism,” “irredentism,” and “anti-Romanian activities” brought against well-known Hungarian intellectuals. I focus on personalities from different social, political, and generational backgrounds: the lawyer and former conservative politician Imre Mikó; the philosopher Gusztáv Molnár, who launched the oppositional intellectual movement known as the Limes circle; the historian and social-democratic activist Lajos Jordáky; the poet Géza Szőcs; a high-school teacher, Ernő Fábián; the ethnographer Ádám Könczei; the writer Géza Páskándi; the Calvinist priest László Tőkés; the literary historian Éva Cs. Gyimesi; and the painter Lajos Páll.56 The parallel scrutiny of these files offers the possibility of a horizontal reading of the syntax of the Ceaușescu regime and paves the way for a more nuanced analysis of ethnicized state violence in late Romanian Communism.

From the 1960s on, the Securitate tended to avoid the use of brutal physical violence against outspoken intellectuals, including intellectuals who were of Hungarian descent. The Securitate instead sought to convince the targets, through a complex system of manipulative techniques, to moderate their public complaints or to “cooperate.” When the targets refused, covert actions were launched to discredit them or to fragment opposition groups by stimulating internal conflicts. The Securitate relied on psychological coercion to make the opposition reevaluate their attitudes by warning that a target's career prospects might otherwise be curtailed. Securitate officers often provoked verbal incidents through political conversations started by members of the agentura or stimulated misunderstandings among members of “hostile groups” by sending them forged letters that appeared to be from their acquaintances.

Moreover, the Securitate made extensive use of well-educated “agents of influence” and sponsored their extended business trips or scholarships in Western countries, whose real purpose was to present to their foreign partners the official and “correct” point of view on controversial questions relating to Romanian internal affairs, such as the plight of national minorities. In the 1970s, when the first concerns arose among Hungarian émigrés about the worsening living conditions of their co-ethnics in Transylvania, individuals such as Silviu Brucan and Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen were allowed to travel extensively in the West to convey to émigré communities the official point of view on the political situation in Romania.57

This state security strategy of luring in emerging critics of the regime from ethnic Hungarian circles to help spread propaganda was successful throughout the 1970s both in the homeland and abroad. A variety of personal reasons, rather than a single, all-encompassing explanation, led a significant part of the intellectual elite to cooperate. A partial justification for this collective compromise may be traced to the overall improving living standards, the temporary ideological relaxation of the 1970s, and the well-balanced international position of Romania between East and West, which conferred a certain legitimacy to the regime. However, an analysis of the interpersonal relations between the Securitate officers working on the “Hungarian issue” and their operative contacts (targets as well as agents and occasional sources) suggests that the true keys to the success of state security organs in involving large segments of the minority elite were the continuity in Securitate personnel at the local level and the daily, highly informal relationships officers developed with their contacts. Securitate officers could live and work in the same small or middle-size Transylvanian town for extremely long periods, up to a quarter-century.58 This remarkable continuity was attributable to the institutional stability provided by the unchallenged power of the Communist Party. Unlike in other East European countries (Hungary in 1956 and 1962; Yugoslavia in 1966; Poland in 1968 and 1980-1981; East Germany in the early 1960s; Czechoslovakia in 1968), Romanian state security did not suffer major legitimacy crises on the ground in spite of the reforms of 1967 and 1973 and reshuffling at the top level after intelligence chief Ion Mihai Pacepa's defection in 1978. Hence, the same officers likely handled the same informants or monitored the same targets for decades. The geographic proximity of officers, informants, and monitored persons living in a small urban space almost inevitably induced those on opposite sides to establish normal or even good personal relationships with one another, which broke the imaginary wall dividing the allegedly “secret” police and the rest of society.

In deciding whether to resist or to collaborate with the state security forces, members of the Transylvanian Hungarian elite faced an even deeper moral dilemma than the rest of Romanian society. According to a widespread justification, cooperation was the only way to preserve the community and avoid harsher repression, cultural assimilation, or expulsion from Romania. Although Imre Mikó, an international lawyer and former conservative politician, never came to adhere ideologically to the Communist system of values, heagreed to collaborate with the Securitate in the 1970s on this premise. He was aware of the kinds of tasks and compromises such cooperation implied, but he justified this to himself by asserting that he would be helping his community in reestablishing relationships with the Hungarian diaspora in the West. Thus, in accordance with the general goal of the Securitate to dismiss claims of persecution and ethnic genocide against Transylvanian Hungarians, Mikó took advantage of his trips abroad to convince his interlocutors that the Hungarian community was not about to disappear.59

Many chose to cooperate out of some level of ideological conviction. István Szőcs, a respected ethnic Hungarian poet from Cluj, joined the informant network after the 1956 revolution and remained loyal to the Securitate until late December 1989. Coincidentally, his liaison officer, Colonel Florian Oprea—the most hated “Hungarian specialist” in the Cluj county branch of the Securitate and the handler of a dozen Hungarian intellectuals—was also his neighbor. The two families, by all indications, were good neighbors, celebrating birthdays and name days together.60 Oprea used to visit his operatives in their homes and engaged in long discussions in Hungarian—a language he spoke perfectly—about family matters, sports, and even politics. Another member of Oprea's informant network, Béla Kelemen, a professor of linguistics at Babeș-Bolyai University, became the supervisor of his Ph.D. thesis in 1974; and a third recruit, the distinguished poet Aladár Lászlóffy, translated into Hungarian one of the detective novels Oprea had published under a pseudonym.61 Thus, contacts between people performing roles that were fundamentally confrontational—say, a Romanian state security officer and his informants among a closely monitored minority elite—could become, under certain conditions and as physical coercion was eliminated from the equation, relationships of mutual advantage. For example, Oprea had access to first-hand information and gossip on the leading figures in Hungarian literary life. At the same time, his informants collaborated with a rather pleasant intelligence officer, thus easing their task and giving them access to privileges such as the possibility to travel abroad, career advancement opportunities, or a better apartment.

Although cases of cordial relations or even friendship between handlers and informants may not have been the rule, they were also not isolated exceptions to a presumed pattern of vertical terror. Even more frequent was the quiet intrusion by Securitate officers into the private lives of their targets, with the clear purpose being to study their reactions. In the early 1970s, a Securitate officer rang the door of the talented poet and writer Géza Páskándi.62 Finding that Páskándi was not at home, the officer decided to wait and sat for hours in the family's living room watching a tennis match on television while Páskándi's wife prepared lunch in the kitchen.63 Sometimes, especially in smaller communities, Securitate officers played a part in the circle of reciprocal favors characterizing an economy of shortages. Thus, according to one report, in the small Szekler town of Miercurea Ciuc, despite the tenser relationship between the authorities and the Hungarian minority that characterized the second half of the 1980s, ethnic Romanian Securitate officers regularly visited a local Hungarian family who possessed a video recorder, a rare privilege even for well-paid servicemen, to watch films smuggled in from Hungary.64

The End of Ambivalence: Hungarians as Collective Enemy

The Securitate was long successful in handling Romania's most numerous and restive ethnic minority by blending the moderate use of violence on marginal, voiceless groups with an urge for cooperation with influential members of the same community. According to the operative plans devised by the Securitate in the late 1970s, the “nationalist-irredentist” problem affected several thousand Hungarians throughout the country, but case officers still believed in their capacity to have a positive influence on the minority's elite groups.65 The ideological shift from a selective promotion of cadres and intellectuals to a social and ethnic homogenization policy implemented with growing intensity from the early 1970s did not envisage the physical annihilation of the Hungarian minority. Unlike in the case of Bulgaria, where the Turkish Muslim minority was forced in 1984 and 1985 to assimilate through compulsory renaming or repatriate to Turkey, the homogenization measures taken by the Romanian authorities were not accompanied by large-scale raids and physical violence.66 Moreover, to maintain diplomatic prestige vis-à-vis the West, neither Romania nor Hungary could encourage emigration, insofar as both were part of the socialist bloc. Nor could such a solution be supported by Moscow, which was unwilling to deal with bilateral tensions rooted in ethnic conflicts within its sphere of influence. Despite the unfavorable conditions for emigration from Romania, the regime's increasing clampdown on minorities and the country's growing economic crisis spurred an estimated 50,000 ethnic Hungarians to leave Romania in the 1980s and settle in Hungary or Western countries.67

However, in the early 1980s, first-hand reports smuggled from Romania to neighboring Hungary and the West certified not only the economic collapse of the Ceaușescu regime but also a far-reaching loss of flexibility by the Securitate in the handling of the Hungarian issue. Although research on the Securitate's everyday practices in the 1980s is still at a very early stage, available archival evidence appears to show a continual increase in the number of operative files against suspects of “Hungarian nationalism” and “irredentism.”68 By this time, these terms had lost their descriptive force to become part of a staged collective stigmatization. Every ethnic Hungarian having any type of contact with Hungary or with Hungarian citizens and other foreigners visiting Romania could fall under suspicion for “hostile activity,” regardless of his or her social status or affiliation with the Communist Party. Unexplained phenomena (premature disappearances, suicides, and frequently occurring strange car accidents) instilled in the community what Thomas Lindenberger has described as a “system of threat.”69 In this context the sudden death in early 1984 of the charismatic Catholic priest Géza Pálfi, a disciple of Bishop Áron Márton, provoked a collective shock and was immediately attributed to the beatings he suffered during his interrogations, although his recently declassified security files reveal that the principal cause of his premature death was a fast-growing tumor.70

In the last years of Ceaușescu's rule, seemingly administrative measures such as cuts to the Hungarian-language education network and the implementation of numerus clausus policies in the most qualified workplaces reduced the Hungarian minority's chances for social mobility. On the cultural plan, state-sponsored literary oeuvres that depicted the Hungarians as collective enemies of the Romanian nation were allowed to circulate in the country and among Romanian émigré circles.71 The perception of being second-class citizens dramatically changed the emotional relationship of ethnic Hungarians toward the Romanian state. In the 1970s, mostly young and outsider Hungarian opponents of the national-Communist regime were reproached by their own elites, who still tried to stick to the idea of compromise with the Romanian authorities.

However, several years later the same members of the previously privileged and integrated left-wing elites, such as philosopher Ernő Gáll, bitterly realized that their hope in the capacity of the system to moderate itself had been misplaced.72 The main cause of this collective change of mind was a fear of—and distrust toward—the Romanian state, encouraging the previously divided Hungarian community to rally under the flag of ethnic self-defense. After years of cooperation with or at least submission to Ceaușescu, the Hungarians became the most assertive factor for political change in Romania. In December 1989, the collective support given by Hungarian community to the one-man protest action of Hungarian Calvinist pastor László Tőkés made possible the outbreak of popular revolt in Timișoara and the subsequent collapse of the regime.


This research was made possible by the support of the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, project K-104408). An earlier version of this article was discussed in 2012 at the Kraków seminar on the international “Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism” project, coordinated by the Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam. I thank the journal's anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.



For an overview, see Jan C. Behrends, “Gewalt und Staatlichkeit im 20. Jahrhundert: Einige Tendenzen zeithistorischer Forschung,” Neue Politische Literatur, Vol. 58, No. 1 (2013), pp. 39–58. On the internal logic of Soviet-type state violence, see Peter Holquist, “State Violence as Technique: A Logic of Violence in Soviet Totalitarianism,” in Amir Weiner, ed., Landscaping the Human Garden: Twentieth-Century Population Management in a Comparative Framework (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), pp. 19–45. On the need to focus more on ordinary perpetrators in the discussion of state violence in the Soviet context, see Lynne Viola, “The Question of the Perpetrator in Soviet History,” Slavic Review, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Spring 2013), p. 22.


See Ervin Csizmadia, Diskurzus és diktatúra: A magyar értelmiség vitái Nyugat-Európáról a késő Kádár-rendszerben (Budapest: Századvég, 2001), p. 78; and the research projects “Hatvanas évek Magyarországon,” “Kádárizmus,” and “ Búvópatakok: A két világháború közötti magyar jobboldali-konzervatív és szélsőjobboldali gondolkodás és képviselőinek sorsa 1945–1989 között,” 1956 Institute, http://www.rev.hu/en/node/34. For a fresh attempt at turning the study of state security files and everyday collaboration with the system into social history, see Sándor Horváth, ed., Az ügynök arcai: Mindennapi kollaboráció és ügynökkérdés (Budapest: Libri, 2014), which was included in a thematic issue: Sándor Horváth, ed., “Everyday Collaboration with the Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe,” Hungarian Historical Review Vol. 4, No. 1 (2015), pp. 1–196; János M. Rainer, ed., “Hatvanasévek” Magyarországon: Tanulmányok (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 2004); and János M. Rainer, Bevezetés a kádárizmusba (Budapest: L'Harmattan Kiadó, 2011).


Jörg Baberowski, “Criticism as Crisis, or Why the Soviet Union Still Collapsed,” Journal of Modern European History, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2011), pp. 148–166. See also the criticism of Baberowski's conception in Mark Kramer, “The Unintended Revolution: Commentary on ‘Criticism as Crisis, or Why the Soviet Union Still Collapsed?’” Journal of Modern European History, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2012), pp. 5–18.


See Jeff Hardy, “De-Stalinizing the Gulag: Physical Violence in Soviet Correctional Facilities, 1953–1973,” paper presented at the “Practices of Physical Violence in State Socialism” workshop, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 21–22 June 2013; and Tom Junes, “From Batons and Bullets to Bricks and Bombs: State Violence in Socialist Poland as a Generational Experience,” paper presented at the “Practices of Physical Violence in State Socialism” workshop, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 21–22 June 2013. See also the report issued on the “Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism” conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, 27 February–1 March 2014. http://www.physicalviolence.eu/sites/default/files/Conference%20Report_Physical%20Violence%20and%20State%20Legitimacy%20in%20Late%20Socialism_Final%20Conference.pdf. The state sec-urity approach toward the large Turkish minority in Bulgaria offers interesting elements of comparison with the Romanian case. See a collection of recently disclosed archival material, See the two massive volumes, Bulgarian Committee for Disclosing Documents and Announcing the Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian National Armed Forces, Durzhavna Sigurnost – Smyanata na imenata – Vuzroditelniyat protses (1945-1985 g.), and Durzhavna Sigurnost – Smyanata na imenata – Vuzroditelniyat protses (1986-1990 g.), Sofia, 2013, along with the accompanying DVD of scanned documents.


Michael Mann, “The Autonomous Power of the State: Its Origins, Mechanisms and Results,” European Journal of Sociology, Vol. 25, No. 2 (1984), pp. 185–213.


Árpád E. Varga, Hungarians in Transylvania between 1870 and 1995 (Budapest: Teleki László Foundation Occasional Papers, 1999).


Johachim von Puttkamer, Stefan Sienerth, and Ulrich A. Wien, eds., Die Securitate in Siebenbürgen (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag Köln, 2014); and Gerhardt Csejka and Stefan Sienerth, eds., Vexierspiegel Securitate: Rumäniendeutsche Autoren im Visier des kommunistischen Geheimdienstes (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet 2015).


On institutionalized state violence in Kosovo in the 1960s, see Isabel Ströhle, “Conflicting Visions of Loyalty, Legitimacy and Legality: The Story of a State Security Agent on Trial in Socialist Kosovo (1968),” paper presented at the “Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism” conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, 27 February–1 March 2014. On the operative functioning of the Ministry of Interior in multiethnic areas of former Yugoslavia, see Christian A. Nielsen, The Bosnian Serb Ministry of Internal Affairs: Genesis, Performance and Command and Control, 1990–1992 (The Hague: United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 2011).


Vladimir Tismaneanu, “What Was National Stalinism?” in Dan Stone, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 462–469; and Bogdan C. Iacob, “Defining the Nation: History, Identity, and Communism in Romania (1964–1966),” Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai—Historia, Vol. 56, No. 2 (December 2011).


Cristian Troncotă, Torționarii: Istoria instituției Securității regimului comunist din România (1948–1964) (Bucharest: Editura Elion, 2006).


Among the many contributions, see Marius Oprea, Bastionul cruzimii: O istorie a Securității (Iași: Polirom, 2008).


Octavian Roske ed., Mecanisme represive în România 1945–1989 (Bucharest: Institutul Național pentru Studiul Totalitarismului, 2001), pp. 11–14.


Marius Oprea, ed., Banalitatea răului: O istorie Securității în documente 1949–1989 (Iaşi: Polirom, 2002), pp. 12–13.


Ioan Ciupea and Stăncuța Todea, “Represiune, sistem și regim penitenciar din România: 1945–1964,” in Ruxandra Cesereanu, ed., Comunism și represiune în România: Istoria tematică a unui fratricid național (Iași: Polirom, 2006), pp. 65–81.


For the most complete overview, see Vladimir Tismaneanu et al., eds., Comisia Prezidențială pentru Analiză Dictaturii Comuniste din România: Raport final (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2007), pp. 521–650.


For scans of the individual files, see, http://www.iiccr.ro/resurse/fisele-matricole-penale.


Mihai Albu, Informatorul: Studiul asupra colaborării cu Securitatea (Iași: Polirom, 2008), pp. 43–101.


Gail Kligman, The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceaușescu's Romania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), p. 14.


Jens Gieseke, The History of the Stasi: East German Secret Police 1945–1990 (New York: Berghahn, 2014), p. 81.


Marius Oprea, Moștenitorii securității (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2004), p. 48.


Nicoleta Ionescu-Gură, Dimensiunea represiunii din România în regimul comunist: Dislocări de persoane și fixări de domiciliu obligatoriu (Bucharest: Corint, 2010), p. 236.


Denisa Bodeanu, “Márton Áron dossziéi a Szekuritáté Irattárát Vizsgáló Országos Tanács archívumában,” in Márta Bodó, Csilla Lázár, and János Lövétei Lázár eds., Az idők mérlegén: Tanulmányok Márton Áron püspökről (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2013), p. 120.


On the organizational changes that affected the Securitate during the short-lived reformist period of 1967–1968, see Florian Banu, “Continuitatea represiunii: Arestăriile și anchetele politice în intervalul 1965–1967,” in Silviu B. Moldovan, ed., Arhivele Securității, Vol. II (Bucharest: Nemira, 2006), pp. 362–374; and Elis Neagoe-Pleșa, “Transformării instituționale ale Securității în primii ani ai regimului Ceaușescu: Crearea Inspectoratelor Județene de Securitate,” in Silviu B. Moldovan, ed., Arhivele Securității, Vol. IV (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 2008), pp. 610–648.


The material has been digitalized by the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (Consiliul Național Pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității—CNSAS) and can be downloaded from the institution's webpage. See http://www.cnsas.ro/periodicul_securitatea.html.


Pavel Câmpeanu, Ceaușescu, anii numărătorii inverse (Iași: Polirom, 2002); and Stelian Tănase, Elite și societate: Guvernarea Gheorghiu-Dej, 1948–1965 (Bucharest, Humanitas, 1998).


Documents released in recent years show that in the 1980s the secret police emerged as an involuntary voice of the growing social disaffection against a party apparatus reduced to being a sounding board of the regime. See Florian Banu and Luminița Banu, eds., Partidul și Securitatea: Istoria unei idile eșuate (Iași: Demiurg, 2013), pp. 59–71. For daily reports of grievances, see Florian Banu, ed., “Amorsarea” revoluției: România anilor ’80 văzuta prin ochii Securității (Târgoviște: Editura Cetatea de Scaun, 2012). Also, for the intercepted correspondence, see Liviu Țăranu, ed. “Pe luna decembrie nu mi-am făcut planul …” Românii în “Epoca de Aur”: Corespondența din anii ‘80 (Târgoviște: Editura Cetatea de Scaun, 2012).


Ionescu-Gură, Dimensiunea represiunii, p. 287. For a new approach focused on the discursive practices of the Romanian Miliția, see the doctoral research of Ciprian Cirnială at Potsdam University, which analyzes the public safety strategy of the late Communist period as grounded in restricting the mobility of the population. The first results are published in Ciprian Cirnială, “Power and Mobilities in Socialist Romania 1964–89,” in Kathy Burrell and Kathrin Hörschelmann, ed., Mobilities in Socialist and Post-Socialist States: Societies on the Move (London: Palgrave, 2014), pp. 45–61.


Dumitru Lăcătușu and Mircea Burcea, “Sistemul concentraționar în România (1967–1989),” in Ruxandra Ivan, ed., “Transformarea socialistă”: Politici ale regimului comunist între ideologie și administrație (Bucharest: Institutul de Investigare a Crimelor Comunismului în România—Polirom, 2009), p. 67.


For private diary sources, see Ernő Fábián, Naplójegyzetek 1980–1990 (Miercurea Ciuc: Pro-Print, 2010); and György Virág, Napló, 1988–2004 (Miercurea Ciuc: Pro-Print, 2011). The New York–based HHRF is a private foundation that since 1976 has monitored the human rights conditions of ethnic Hungarians who live as national minorities in the countries bordering Hungary, especially Romania. The foundation's documentary archive, which is currently being digitized, will soon be available online and will represent a first-rate source. On RFE and the Helsinki Committee, see the reports in the samizdat journal Határ-Idő-Napló, published in Hungary on the basis of information collected in the field from 1987 to 1989 and the bulletins regularly published since 1983 in Hungarian and English by the Hungarian press of Transylvania, led by political refugee Attila Ara-Kovács, who collected and published information smuggled from Romania, mostly concerning human rights violations against the Hungarian population or other ethnic and religious minorities. See also Béla Nóvé and György Szűcs, eds., Határ/idő/napló: Erdélyi Figyelő 1987–89 (Budapest: Teleki László Alapítvány, 2001). On complaints to the Hungarian embassy, see Gábor Vincze, “Tovább a lejtőn—a gödör aljáig (Magyar–román kapcsolatok 1989 második felében, a magyar diplomáciai iratok tükrében),” Székelyföld, Vol. 13, No. 12 (2009), pp. 69–103. On refugee complaints, see Veronika Kaszás, Erdélyi menekültek Magyarországon 1988–1989—Út a menekültkérdés tagadásától az 1951. évi genfi menekültügyi egyezményhez való csatlakozásig (Budapest: Gondolat, 2015). For Hungarian police reports based on interrogation of refugees, see Rolf Müller and Tibor Takács eds., Szigorúan titkos ’89: A magyar állambiztonsági szervek munkabeszámolói (Budapest, L'Harmattan Kiadó, 2010).


Nándor Bárdi, Attila Gidó, and Csaba Zoltán Novák, eds., Primele forme de autoorganizare a maghiarilor din România: 1989–1990 (Cluj-Napoca: Institutul pentru Studierea Prolemelor Minorităților Naționale, 2014), pp. 394–396. On the context of ethnic revenge in the Szeklerland after the 1989 revolution, see Csaba Zahorán, “Rendszerváltás a Székelyföldön: A romániai rendszerváltás etnikai vetülete,” in Tamás Krausz, Miklós Mitrovits, and Csaba Zahorán, eds., Rendszerváltás és történelem: Tanulmányok a kelet-európai átalakulásról (Budapest: L'Harmattan Kiadó—ELTE BTK Kelet-Európa Története Tanszék, 2010), pp. 141–173.


European Roma Rights Center, Sudden Rage at Dawn: Violence against Roma in Romania, Country Reports Series, No. 2 (September 1996).


On the Soviet Union's repression of deviance, see Brian LaPierre, Hooligans in Khrushchev's Russia: Defining, Policing and Producing Deviance during the Thaw (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012). For studies of the Hungarian and Polish cases that could serve as a model for a comparative analysis with Romanian developments, see Sándor Horváth, “Hooligans, Spivs and Gangs: Youth Subcultures in the 1960s,” Trondheim Studies on East European Cultures and Societies, No. 16 (2005), pp. 199–223; and Tom Junes, Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations of Consent and Dissent (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015).


Ionescu-Gură, Dimensiunea represiunii, p. 287.


Arhiva Consiliului Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității, Bucharest (ACNSAS), Fond Documentar, Dosar 011737, Vol. 85, folio (f.) 227.


Ibid., p. 69.


Brîndușa Armancă, Frontieriștii: Istoria recentă în mass-media (Bucharest: Curtea Veche, 2011), pp. 17–19. The Securitate archives hold a still-unexplored collection of materials concerning illegal border-crossing during late Communism. ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 14872, Vols. 1–5; and ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 10780, Vols. 1–45.


Armancă, Frontieriștii, pp. 20–77.


Marius Oprea and Stejărel Olaru, Ziua care nu se uită: 15 noiembrie 1987, Brașov (Iași: Polirom, 2002), pp. 113–114.


Gabriel Andreescu and Mihnea Berindei, eds., Scrisori către Radio Europa Liberă (volumul I)—1979–1985 (Iași: Polirom, 2010); and Gabriel Andreescu and Mihnea Berindei, eds., Scrisori către Radio Europa Liberă (volumul II)—1986–1989 (Iași: Polirom, 2014).


On kramola, see Sheila Fitzpatrick, Vladimir A. Kozlov, and Sergei V. Mironenko, eds., Sedition: Everyday Resistance in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and Brezhnev (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).


Stephen Kotkin, Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (New York: Modern Library, 2009), pp. 11–16. The most systematic critical analysis of Romanian dissidence is in Cristina Petrescu, From Robin Hood to Don Quixote: Resistance and Dissent in Communist Romania (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 2013).


For an up-to-date account of the Romanian-Hungarian diplomatic struggle over Transylvania, see Martin Mevius, “Kicking under the Table: Minority Conflict between Hungary and Romania,” in Robert Knight, ed., Ethnicity, Nationalism and the European Cold War (London: Continuum, 2012), pp. 87–120.


Stefano Bottoni, “Institutional Continuity, and Ethnic Conflict Management. Reassessing the Communist Takeover in Romania: Violence, Institutional Continuity, and Ethnic Conflict Management,” East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Winter 2010), pp. 59–89.


Stefano Bottoni, “Integration, Collaboration, Resistance: The Hungarian Minority in Transylvania and the Romanian State Security,” in Joachim von Puttkamer and Stefan Sienerthand Ulrich A. Wien, eds., Die Securitate in Siebenbürgen (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2014), pp. 189–201.


For an overview of the post-1956 repression in Transylvania and the enduring impact of the Hungarian revolt on Romania's minority policy, see Zoltán Szász, “Romania and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution,” in Lee Congdon, Béla. K. Király, and Károly Nagy, eds., 1956: The Hungarian Revolution and War for Independence (Boulder, CO: Atlantic Research and Publications, 2006), pp. 128–148; Dragoş Petrescu, “Fifty-Six as an Identity Shaping Experience: The Case of the Romanian Communists,” in János Rainer and Katalin Somlai, eds., The 1956 Revolution and the Soviet Bloc Countries: Reaction and Repercussions (Budapest: Institute for the History of the 1956 Revolution, 2007), pp. 48–68; and Johanna Granville, “Forewarned Is Forearmed: How the Hungarian Crisis of 1956 Helped the Romanian Leadership,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 62, No. 4 (2010), pp. 615–645.


Records of the state security operative meeting, 2–3 December 1957, in ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 114; and Record of the state security operative meeting, 16–18 September 1958, in ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 105.


Stefano Bottoni, Transilvania roșie: Comunismul român și problema națională, 1944–1965 (Cluj-Napoca: ISPMN-Kriterion, 2010), pp. 236–248. See also Stefano Bottoni, “Nation-Building through Judiciary Repression: The Impact of the 1956 Revolution on Romanian Minority Policy,” in Attila Hunyadi, ed., State and Minority in Transylvania, 1918–1989: Studies on the History of the Hungarian Community (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), pp. 403–427.


For an introduction, see Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceauşescu's Romania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). On the nexus between the ideological transformation of the Romanian Communist system and the ethnic issue, see Vladimir Tismăneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).


Lavinia Betea, 21 august 1968—Apoteoza lui Ceaușescu (Iași: Polirom, 2009). For a more nuanced account based on Romanian and East German state security sources, see Stejărel Olaru and Georg Herbstritt, Stasi și Securitatea (Bucharest: Humanitas 2005), esp. pp. 109–118.


Katherine Verdery, Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2014), p. 64.


Ibid., pp. 54–59.


Florica Dobre, Elis Neagoe-Pleşa, and Liviu Pleşa, eds., Securitatea: Structuri/Cadre, Obiective și metode 1967–1989 (Bucharest: Ed. Enciclopedică, 2006), Vol. 2, pp. 124–126.


For the personnel file of Colonel Alexandru, dated 9 April 1974, see ibid., pp. 189–191.


For an insightful portrait of József Ungváry, see Csongor Jánosi, “Cariera unui ofițer de securitate: Ungváry József în documentele de arhivă și în memoria colectivă,” in Cosmin Budeancă and Florentin Olteanu, eds., Sfârșitul regimurilor comuniste: Cauze, desfășurare și consecințe (Iaşi: Polirom, 2010), pp. 280–316.


For the Romanian scholarship, see Anca Ciuciu, Acțiunea “credinciosul”: Șef rabinul Moses Rosen și comunitatea evreiască în arhivele C.N.S.A.S. (Bucharest: Hasefer, 2008); and Florica Dobre et al., eds., Acțiunea “Recuperarea”: Securitatea și emigrarea germanilor din România 1962–1989 (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 2011). Among the most relevant works on Romanian state security actions against the Hungarian community, see Márton László, Máthé János: Magyarhermány kronológiája 1944–1964 (Miercurea Ciuc: Pro Print, 2008); Csaba Zoltán Novák, Aranykorszak? A Ceauşescu-rendszer magyarságpolitikája 1965–1974 (Miercurea Ciuc: Pro-Print, 2010); and Dezső Buzogány and Csongor Jánosi, A református egyház Romániában a kommunista rendszer első felében: Tanulmányok és dokumentumok (Budapest: L'Harmattan, 2011). For the German scholarship, see William Totok, “Minderheiten und Securitate,” Halbjahresschrift für südosteuropäische Geschichte, Literatur und Politik, Vol. 23, No. 1–2 (2011), pp. 77–110. See also the studies by Silviu B. Moldovan, Hannelore Baier, and Virgiliu Țârău, Die Securitate in Siebenbürgen, ed. by Joachim v. Puttkamer (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2014).


For Mikó, see the personal state security file in the Romanian secret police archives: ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 235727, Vols. 1–6; and ACNSAS, Fond Rețea, Dosar 182274, Vols. 1–4. For Molnár, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 236674, Vols. 1–4. For Jordáky, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 210536, Vols. 1–12. For Szőcs, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 160234, Vols. 1–16. For Fábián, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 210560, Vols. 1–7; and Fond 110, F. 959. For a blog started in 2007 by Könczei's daughter, containing archival evidence and analysis of the information flux, see “Securitate blog,” http://konczeicsilla.egologo.transindex.ro/. For Páskándi, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 2354, Vols. 1–3. See Tőkés's partially published file in János Molnár, Szigorúan ellenőrzött evangélium, I. kötet (Oradea: PartiumKiadó, 2009); and János Molnár, Szigorúan ellenőrzött evangélium, II. kötet (Oradea, PartiumKiadó, 2010). For Gyimesi, see Gyimesi Éva, Szem a láncban: Bevezetés a szekusdossziék hermeneutikájába (Cluj-Napoca: Komp-Press, 2009). For Páll, see ACNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar 3008, Vols. 1–2.


On Brucan, see Radu Ioanid, Dosarul Brucan: Documente ale Direcției a III/a Contraspionaj a Departamentului Securității Statului 1987/1989 (Iași: Polirom, 2008), pp. 147–151.


For one of the first systematic prosopographical studies on the chiefs of the Securitate regional branches during the 1960s, see Nicolae Ioniță, “Fișe biografice ale șefilor direcțiilor regionale de Securitate din anii ’60 (II),” Caietele CNSAS, Anul VI, No. 1–2 (11–12), 2013, pp. 83–141.


Stefano Bottoni, “Talking to the System: Imre Mikó, A Lifelong Story of Collaboration and Service, 1911–1977,” East-Central-Europe, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2017), pp. 47–75.


Gáspár Miklós Tamás, personal communication, Budapest, 22 February 2014. A native of Cluj, Gáspár lived at that time in the same neighborhood and witnessed for many years this symbiotic relationship.


On the Lászlóffy-Oprea connection, see ACNSAS, Fond Cadre, Dosar O-102 (Florian Oprea), F. 222.


Páskándi, a former political prisoner, was considered to be one of the most dangerous ideological enemies of the national-Communist course and was forced to emigrate to Hungary in 1974 to avoid further harassment.


Anna P. Sebők, Rozsdásszemű: Emlékezőregény, dokumentumokkal (Budapest: Méry Ratio, 2015), pp. 212–213.


Gizella Burján, personal communication, Budapest, 4 September 2013. Burján is a former resident of Miercurea Ciuc.


“Studiul privind concluziile rezultate din urmârirea elementelor care desfâșoară activitate naționalist-iredentistă,” Cluj-Napoca, 13 October 1976, in ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 11737, Vol. 82, F. 29–35.


The Human Rights of Muslims in Bulgaria in Law and Politics since 1878 (Sofia: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, 2003).


Béla Révész, “Out of Romania! Reasons and Methods as Reflected in State Security Documents 1987–1989,” Regio (Budapest), Vol. 11 (2008), pp. 29–46.


“Nota privind unele măsuri în problema ‘Naționaliști-iredentiști,’” Bucharest, 12 August 1983, in ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, Dosar 11491, Vol. 154. The plan was approved by Tudor Postelnicu, the head of the Securitate holding ministerial rank as a secretary of state.


Many examples can be found in the memoranda of a former high-ranking Communist leader and ethnic Hungarian, Károly Király, Nyílt kártyákkal I.: Önéletírás és naplójegyzetek (Pécs: Sétatér Alapítvány, 2013), esp. pp. 42, 162–165, 355, 400.


Csaba Zoltán Novák and Denisa Bodeanu, eds., Az elnémult harang: Egy megfigyelés története, Pálfi Géza élete a Securitate irataiban (Miercurea Ciuc: Pro-Print, 2011).


On the Ceaușescu regime's policy toward ethnic Hungarians in the 1980s, see Vladimir Tismăneanu, Dobrin Dobrincu, and Cristian Vasile, eds., Comisia Prezidențială pentru analiza dictaturii comuniste din România: Raport Final (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2007), pp. 332–354.


Ernő Gáll, Napló 1: 1977–1990 (Cluj-Napoca: Polis Könyvkiadó, 2003).