Securitate

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Department of State Security
Departamentul Securității Statului
Coat of arms of Romania (1965–1989).svg
Agency overview
Formed30 August 1948 (as the DGSP)
Preceding agency
Dissolved30 December 1989[1]
Superseding agency
TypeSecret police
JurisdictionRomania
HeadquartersBucharest
Employees11,000 (1985)[2][3]
Agency executives
Parent agencyMinistry of Interior (1948–51, 1955–89)
Ministry of State Security (1951–55)
Child agency

The Securitate (pronounced [sekuriˈtate], Romanian for security) was the popular term for the Departamentul Securității Statului (Department of State Security), the secret police agency of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Previously, before the communist regime, Romanian secret police was called Siguranța Statului. It was founded on 30 August 1948, with help and direction from the Soviet MGB. Following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1989, the new authorities assigned the various intelligence tasks of the DSS to new institutions.

The Securitate was, in proportion to Romania's population, one of the largest secret police forces in the Eastern bloc.[2] The first budget of the Securitate in 1948 stipulated a number of 4,641 positions, of which 3,549 were filled by February 1949: 64% were workers, 4% peasants, 28% clerks, 2% persons of unspecified origin, and 2% intellectuals.[4] By 1951, the Securitate's staff had increased fivefold, while in January 1956, the Securitate had 25,468 employees.[5] At its height, the Securitate employed some 11,000 agents and had half a million informers[2] for a country with a population of 22 million by 1985.[3] Under Ceaușescu, the Securitate was one of the most brutal secret police forces in the world, responsible for the arrests, torture, and deaths of thousands of people.[2]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Gheorghe Pintilie, the first Director General of the Securitate

The General Directorate for the Security of the People (Romanian initials: DGSP, but more commonly just called the Securitate) was officially founded on 30 August 1948, by Decree 221/30 of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly.[5] However, it had precursors going back to August 1944, following the coup d'état of 23 August.[5] Its stated purpose was to "defend democratic conquests and guarantee the safety of the Romanian People's Republic against both internal and external enemies."[6]: 579 

The Securitate was created with the help of SMERSH, the NKVD counter-intelligence unit. The SMERSH operation in Romania, called Brigada Mobilă ("The Mobile Brigade"), was led until 1948 by NKVD colonel Alexandru Nicolschi.[6]: 579  The first Director of the Securitate was NKVD general Gheorghe Pintilie (born Panteleymon Bondarenko, nicknamed "Pantiușa"). Alexandru Nicolschi (by then a general) and another Soviet officer, Major General Vladimir Mazuru, held the deputy directorships. Wilhelm Einhorn was the first Securitate secretary.

As Vladimir Tismăneanu says, "If one does not grasp the role of political thugs such as the Soviet spies Pintilie Bondarenko (Pantiușa) and Alexandru Nikolski in the exercise of terror in Romania during the most horrible Stalinist period, and their personal connections with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and members of his entourage, it is difficult to understand the origins and the role of the Securitate".[7]

Initially, many of the agents of the Securitate were former Royal Security Police (named General Directorate of Safety PoliceDirecția Generală a Poliției de Siguranță in Romanian) members. However, before long, Pantiușa ordered anyone who had served the monarchy's police in any capacity arrested, and in the places of the Royal Security Policemen, he hired ardent members of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR), to ensure total loyalty within the organization.

Several Securitate operatives were killed in action, especially in the early 1950s. As listed by the internal news bulletin on the occasion of Securitate's twentieth anniversary, in 1968, these included major Constantin Vieru, senior lieutenant Ștefan Vămanu, lieutenant Iosif Sipoș, sub-lieutenant Vasile Costan, platoon leader Constantin Apăvăloaie and corporal Alexandru Belate. Furthermore, lieutenant Ionel Jora was killed by the son of a suspect he had apprehended.[8]

Method[edit]

The Securitate surveillance took place in different ways: general intelligence surveillance (supraveghere informativă generală, abbreviated "S.I.G."); priority intelligence surveillance (supraveghere informativă prioritară, abbreviated "S.I.P."); clearance file (mapă de verificare, abbreviated "M.V."); individual surveillance dossier (dosar de urmărire individuală, abbreviated "D.U.I."); target dossier (dosar de obiectiv), the target being, for example, an institute, a hospital, a school, or a company; case dossier (dosar de problemă), the targets being former political prisoners, former Iron Guard members, religious organizations, etc.; and element dossier (dosar de mediu), targeting writers, priests, etc.[9]

In the 1980s, the Securitate launched a massive campaign to stamp out dissent in Romania, manipulating the country's population with vicious rumors (such as supposed contacts with Western intelligence agencies), machinations, frameups, public denunciations, encouraging conflict between segments of the population, public humiliation of dissidents, toughened censorship and the repression of even the smallest gestures of independence by intellectuals. Often the term "intellectual" was used by the Securitate to describe dissidents with higher education, such as college and university students, writers, directors, and scientists who opposed the philosophy of the Romanian Communist Party. Assassinations were also used to silence dissent, such as the attempt to kill high-ranking defector Ion Mihai Pacepa, who received two death sentences from Romania in 1978, and on whose head Ceaușescu decreed a bounty of two million US dollars. Yasser Arafat and Muammar al-Gaddafi each added one more million dollars to the reward.[10] In the 1980s, Securitate officials allegedly hired Carlos the Jackal to assassinate Pacepa.[11]

Forced entry into homes and offices and the planting of microphones was another tactic the Securitate used to extract information from the general population. Telephone conversations were routinely monitored, and all internal and international fax and telex communications were intercepted. In August 1977, when the Jiu Valley coal miners' unions went on strike, several leaders died prematurely, and it was later discovered that Securitate doctors had subjected them to five-minute chest X-rays in an attempt to have them develop cancer.[12] After birth rates fell, Securitate agents were placed in gynecological wards while regular pregnancy tests were made mandatory for women of child-bearing age, with severe penalties for anyone who was found to have terminated a pregnancy.[12]

The Securitate's presence was so ubiquitous that it was believed one out of four Romanians was an informer. In truth, the Securitate deployed one agent or informer for every 43 Romanians, which was still large enough to make it practically impossible for dissidents to organize. The regime deliberately fostered this sense of ubiquity, believing that the fear of being watched was sufficient to bend the people to Ceaușescu's will. For example, one shadow group of dissidents limited itself to only three families; any more than that would have attracted Securitate attention.[13] In truth, the East German Stasi was even more ubiquitous than the Securitate; counting informers, the Stasi had one spy for every 6.5 East Germans.[14]

Downfall[edit]

After Ceaușescu was ousted, the new authorities replaced the Securitate with a few special and secret services like the SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) (with internal tasks such as counterespionage), the SIE (Foreign Intelligence Service), the SPP (Protection and Guard Service) (the former Directorate V), the STS (Special Telecommunications Service) (the former General Directorate for Technical Operations), etc.

Today, the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (abbreviated CNSAS, for Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității) "is the authority that administrates the archives of the former communist secret services in Romania and develops educational programs and exhibitions with the aim of preserving the memories of victims of the communist regime."[15]

Subdivisions[edit]

General Directorate for Technical Operations[edit]

The General Directorate for Technical Operations (Direcția Generală de Tehnică Operativă — DGTO) was an integral part of the Securitate' s activities.[16] Established with the assistance of the KGB in the mid-1950s, the DGTO monitored all voice and electronic communications in the country.[16] The DGTO intercepted all telephone, telegraph, and telex communications coming into and going out of the country.[16] It secretly implanted microphones in public buildings and private residences to record ordinary conversations among citizens.[16]

Directorate for Counterespionage[edit]

The Directorate for Counterespionage conducted surveillance against foreigners—Soviet nationals in particular—to monitor or impede their contacts with Romanians.[16] It enforced a variety of restrictions preventing foreigners from residing with ordinary citizens, keeping them from gaining access to foreign embassy compounds and requesting asylum, and requiring them to report any contact with foreigners to the Securitate within twenty-four hours.[16] Directorate IV was responsible for similar counterespionage functions within the armed forces, and its primary mission was identifying and neutralizing Soviet penetrations.[16]

Directorate for Foreign Intelligence[edit]

The Directorate for Foreign Intelligence conducted Romania's espionage operations in other countries, such as those of Western Europe. Among those operations sanctioned by the Communist government were industrial espionage to obtain nuclear technology, and plots to assassinate dissidents, such as Matei Pavel Haiducu was tasked with, though he informed French authorities, faking the assassinations before defecting to France.

Directorate for Penitentiaries[edit]

Repressive system in Romania and Moldova, 1946–1989
Map of forced labor camps along the Danube–Black Sea Canal

The Directorate for Penitentiaries operated Romania's prisons, which were notorious for their horrendous conditions. Prisoners were routinely beaten, denied medical attention, had their mail taken away from them, and sometimes even administered lethal doses of poison. Some of the harshest prisons were those at Aiud, Gherla, Pitești, Râmnicu Sarat, and Sighet, as well as the forced labor camps along the Danube–Black Sea Canal and at Periprava.

Directorate for Internal Security[edit]

The Directorate for Internal Security was originally given the task of monitoring the activities going on in the PCR. But after Ion Mihai Pacepa's defection in 1978 and his exposing details of the Ceaușescu regime, such as the collaboration with Arab radical groups, massive espionage on American industry targets and elaborate efforts to rally Western political support, international infiltration and espionage in the Securitate only increased, much to Ceaușescu's anger. In order to solve this problem the entire Division was reorganized and was charged with rooting out dissent in the PCR. A top secret division of this Directorate was formed from forces loyal personally to Ceaușescu and charged with monitoring the Securitate itself.[citation needed] It acted almost as a Securitate for the Securitate, and was responsible for bugging the phones of other Securitate officers and PCR officials to ensure total loyalty.

National Commission for Visas and Passports[edit]

The National Commission for Visas and Passports controlled all travel and immigration in and out of Romania. In effect, traveling abroad was all but impossible for anyone but highly placed Party officials, and any ordinary Romanian who applied for a passport was immediately placed under surveillance. Many Jews and ethnic Germans were given passports and exit visas through tacit agreements with the Israeli and West German governments.[17]

Directorate for Security Troops[edit]

The Directorate for Security Troops acted as a 20,000-strong paramilitary force for the government, equipped with artillery and armoured personnel carriers. The security troops selected new recruits from the same annual pool of conscripts that the armed services used. The police performed routine law enforcement functions including traffic control and issuance of internal identification cards to citizens. Organized in the late 1940s to defend the new regime, in 1989 the security troops had 20,000 soldiers. They were an elite, specially trained paramilitary force organized like motorized rifle (infantry) units equipped with small arms, artillery, and armored personnel carriers, but their mission was considerably different.[18]

The security troops were directly responsible through the Minister of the Interior to Ceaușescu. They guarded important installations including PCR county and central office buildings and radio and television stations. The Ceaușescu regime presumably could call the security troops into action as a private army to defend itself against a military coup d'état or other domestic challenges and to suppress antiregime riots, demonstrations, or strikes.[18]

To ensure total loyalty amongst these crack troops, there were five times as many political officers in the Directorate for Security Troops than there were in the regular army.[18] They adhered to stricter discipline than in the regular military, but they were rewarded with special treatment and enjoyed far superior living conditions compared to their countrymen.[18] They guarded television and radio stations, as well as PCR buildings. In the event of a coup, they would have been called in to protect the regime.

After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Directorate for Security Troops was disbanded and replaced first by the Guard and Order Troops (Trupele de Pază și Ordine), and in July 1990 by the Gendarmerie.

Directorate for Militia[edit]

The Directorate for Militia controlled Romania's Miliția, the standard police force, which carried out regular policing tasks such as traffic control, public order, etc. In 1990 it was replaced by the Romanian Police.

Directorate V[edit]

Directorate V were bodyguards for important governmental officials.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. Country Studies. Federal Research Division.

  1. ^ "DECRET nr.33 din 30 decembrie 1989 privind desfiintarea Departamentului securitatii statului". www.cdep.ro.
  2. ^ a b c d Smith, Craig S. (December 12, 2006). "Eastern Europe Struggles to Purge Security Services". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b Turnock 1997, p. 15
  4. ^ "Sighet Museum: Room 14 – The Security Police (Securitate) between 1948 and 1989". www.memorialsighet.ro. Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance. 11 October 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Cristian Troncota, "Securitatea: Începuturile" Archived 2007-12-12 at the Wayback Machine, Magazin Istoric, 1998
  6. ^ a b Dumitru, Irena (2014). "Building an intelligence culture from within: The SRI and Romanian society". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 27 (3): 569–589. doi:10.1080/08850607.2014.900298. S2CID 153967028.
  7. ^ Tismăneanu, Vladimir (2003). Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-520-23747-1.
  8. ^ "Două decenii de muncă și luptă în slujba Partidului și a Statului" (PDF). Buletin Intern pentru Apărarea Securității Statului. Consiliul Securității Statului (3): 9. 1968. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  9. ^ Mares, Clara (June 2005). "Prevenirea ca metodă de represiune a Securității". No. 273 (in Romanian). Observator Cultural. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "Book Inspired Counter-Revolution" by Alfred S. Regnery, published in Human Events, October 22, 2002
  11. ^ "The Securitate Arsenal for Carlos," Ziua, Bucharest, 2004
  12. ^ a b Crampton 1997, p. 355
  13. ^ Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-375-42532-5.
  14. ^ John O. Koehler. "Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Learning History Through Past Experiences: Ordinary Citizens under the Surveillance of Securitate During the 1970s–1980s" (PDF). www.cnsas.ro. The National Council for the Study of the Securitate. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Bachman, Ronald D., ed. (1991). Romania: a country study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 300–304. OCLC 44354029. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  17. ^ June 29th 1973 Agreement between the Socialist Romania and German Federation Archived 2013-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b c d "Romania: Ministry of Interior and Security Forces". loc.gov. Archived from the original on 2004-10-30.

References[edit]

  • Crampton, R. J. (1997), Eastern Europe in the twentieth century and after, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-16422-2
  • Turnock, David (1997), The East European economy in context: communism and transition, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-08626-4
  • Lavinia Stan, ed., Transitional Justice in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Reckoning with the Communist Past, London: Routledge, 2009.
  • Lavinia Stan and Rodica Milena Zaharia, "Romania's Intelligence Services. Bridge between the East and the West?", Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 54, no. 1 (January 2007), pp. 3–18.
  • Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu, "The Devil's Confessors: Priests, Communists, Spies and Informers", East European Politics and Societies, vol. 19, no. 4 (November 2005), pp. 655–685.
  • Lavinia Stan, "Spies, Files and Lies: Explaining the Failure of Access to Securitate Files", Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 37, no. 3 (September 2004), pp. 341–359.
  • Lavinia Stan, "Moral Cleansing Romanian Style", Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 49, no. 4 (2002), pp. 52–62.
  • Lavinia Stan, "Access to Securitate Files: The Trials and Tribulations of a Romanian Law", East European Politics and Societies, vol. 16, no. 1 (December 2002), pp. 55–90.

External links[edit]