Gheorghe Apostol

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Gheorghe Apostol
Gheorghe Apostol.jpg
General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party
In office
Preceded by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Succeeded by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Personal details
Born (1913-05-16)May 16, 1913
Tudor Vladimirescu, Romania
Died August 21, 2010(2010-08-21) (aged 97)
Bucharest, Romania[1]
Nationality Romanian
Political party Communist Party of Romania

Gheorghe Apostol (May 16, 1913 – August 21, 2010) was a Romanian politician, deputy Prime Minister of Romania and a former leader of the Communist Party, noted for his rivalry with Nicolae Ceaușescu.

Early life[edit]

Apostol was born near Tudor Vladimirescu, Galați County.

After training at the Căile Ferate Române (CFR) school, he worked in a CFR foundry in Galați. In 1932, Apostol met Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, and became involved in the communist underground. He joined the Party in 1934 and became its link with the railway trade unions and minor left-leaning groups in Galați.

Arrested several times, Apostol was sentenced in 1937 to three years in prison, which he served in Galați and Doftana. His activities upon his release from jail got him interned in camps for political prisoners, at Târgu Jiu, Caracal, and Miercurea Ciuc. In August 1944, as the Red Army was approaching the Romanian border, Apostol and several communist figures who were being detained at Târgu Jiu escaped and made their way to the underground. This version of the story follows Apostol's official biography of the 1950s; photos taken upon the liberation of the camp (published in Dosarele Istoriei, for instance), allegedly showing him in the middle of the crowd of former prisoners, made some doubt this account.[who?]

With Gheorghiu-Dej[edit]

He was among the most prominent collaborators of Gheorghiu-Dej. As members of the so-called prison faction, opposed to the large group of Party members who had taken refuge in the Soviet Union prior to 1944, Gheorghe Apostol and Gheorghiu-Dej walked the fine line between Stalinism and reformism. Thus, Communist Romania did not steer away from Soviet policies until 1953, and Gheorghiu-Dej even got Joseph Stalin's approval for the removal of rival Ana Pauker (still regarded as a leftwing extremist by Apostol—see the interview linked below), as well as for the elimination of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu (a Romanian communist who was not completely loyal to the Soviets[need quotation to verify]). After Stalin's death in 1953, the regime in Romania, headed by the same inner circle, was largely opposed to Nikita Khrushchev and de-Stalinization, while carrying out its own reforms and attempting to cut off most economic ties to the Soviet Union.

Apostol continued to be the favoured link between the Party (then named Partidul Muncitoresc Român, PMR – "Romanian Workers' Party") and the trade unions. At the same time, he climbed steadily in the Party hierarchy. He joined the Central Committee in 1945 and the Politburo in 1948. He was Minister of Agriculture in 1953–54, a member of the Great National Assembly legislative body, whose President he also was from April 1948 to June 1948, September 1950 to April 1951 and March 1952 to June 1952, and recipient of several national honours. In 1954, Gheorghiu-Dej briefly gave up the first secretaryship of the party to Apostol, while remaining as prime minister. However, it was understood that Gheorghiu-Dej still held the real power, and he formally took back the party leadership in 1955.

According to Apostol himself, an ailing Gheorghiu-Dej would have decided to appoint him as his successor in 1964: as confirmation, Apostol was sent to represent the Romanian government at Jawaharlal Nehru's funeral. Ion Gheorghe Maurer rallied the Party leadership around the neutral option represented by Ceaușescu, making sure that Apostol did not represent a threat upon Gheorghiu-Dej's death.

Hostility to Ceaușescu[edit]

As a result, Apostol became deeply hostile to Ceaușescu's policies, stating that they went against the legacy of Gheorghiu-Dej (in 2003, he described the latter as democratic socialism). He refused to pay the allegiance demanded by the new leader. Protected by Emil Bodnăraș, he was advised to take refuge in a diplomatic career, becoming ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and then Brazil.

In 1988, at the peak of Nicolae Ceaușescu's leadership, Apostol returned to Romania and contacted other communist figures of his generation (such as Alexandru Bârlădeanu, Silviu Brucan, Corneliu Mănescu, Constantin Pîrvulescu, and Grigore Răceanu) drafting an open letter of protest (dubbed Scrisoarea celor șase – "Letter of the Six"), directed at the government and made public (March 11, 1989) through the means of both Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. According to Apostol, several Letter contributors expressed their concern at having to use imperialist means of propaganda.

As a result, Apostol was placed under house arrest, being constantly interrogated, in the hope that he would reveal himself as a "Soviet spy". The Romanian Revolution, which the Letter had helped along, liberated him in December.

Apostol expressed his dislike for many aspects of post-revolutionary Romania. Apostol died on August 21, 2010.


Apostol was married to (?) between 1935-1947. From 1944 he lived with, and later married, Melita Schaerf (d. 1991), a Romanian journalist. They separated in 1956 and subsequently divorced. He lived with his third wife, Adriana Codreanu (m. 1965), until his death in 2010. He had three children - Geta (b. 1935, living in Romania), Gheorghe (b. 1945, living in Canada), and Sanda (b. 1952, living in Israel) - and four granddaughters who live in Romania, the United States and the United Kingdom.


  1. ^ The Associated Press. "Gheorghe Apostol, 97, Critic Of Romanian Strongman." New York Times 27 Aug. 2010: B9(L). Gale Biography In Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
First secretary

of the Romanian Communist Party

Succeeded by
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej