Andreea Raducan’s 6-year-old view of the Romanian revolution

This is an English translation of some of what she spoke about in later years

PLUS: How Dobre’s knockers could possibly have saved Nicolae Ceausescu’s life

The streets of Bucharesti during the riots.

The streets of Bucharesti during the riots.

Deluxe sent by way of comment a translation of Andreea Raducan’s memories of the Romanian revolution of 1989 – a violent battle, much of which, thankfully, 6-year-old Andreea was shielded from.

Beginning in the city of Timisoara and spreading all over the country, it was the only revolution among those held in several Warsaw Pact countries that would end up overthrowing a Communist government by force and executing its dictator (Nicolae Ceausescu, Christmas Day, 1989).

More than 1,100 people died during the revolution and after the National Salvation Front seized power from the Ceausescu regime.  Another 3,352 people were injured during the same time period.

Here are some of Andreea’s memories.

I was 6 years old. We were in the camp of Soveja. At that time I experienced the first camps and contests. I had no idea what was happening. We used to do training sessions, we used to play, we had to prepare a show for Christmas.

I got worried when I saw our coachs in panic. I heard things like: ‘attention to the little girls, be careful with them’, ‘they must stay in their rooms!’ or ‘lock them up in the rooms’. There were already some militians at the hotel doors. We could hear the noise of some helicopters overflying the zone. Something was happening. We felt the agitation around us.

There was a TV in the dining room and we could see some images with people ‘fixing’ the country in the streets; and at the same time, we were making ornaments for Christmas and repeating the poems of our sketchs.

During a period of time we couldn’t leave that place. At home my mother reproached my father that because of him something bad could happen to me in Soveja: “You and your gymnastics!” Some days later things calmed down and we could finally return to our home. The coachs got us together and told us: “You must know that our country is not called Socialist Republic of Romania anymore, but simply Romania.”

This was the first thing I told my dad when he took me from the bus; he replied: “Shut up!  Don’t say these things, who knows how many securists [note: security forces of Ceausescu and the secret police] are still over here.”  My dad had gotten some problems with them in the past; the poor was beaten up because he didn’t want to join the Party.

You can read a thorough Wikipedia piece on the revolution here.

Watch Ceausescu’s last speech here.

Here’s a story I wrote in March of 2011 that includes a video of Ceausescu’s trial just prior to his execution and a photo of Aurelia Dobre’s knockers.  The knockers weren’t part of the trial, just part of the story.  Had they been part of the trial, Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, might have been able to escape amid all the pandemonium those knockers would have created among Ceausescu’s captors.

 

If these knockers are able to make time come to a grinding halt, surely they could have saved Ceausescu.

If these knockers were able to make time come to a grinding halt, surely they could have saved Ceausescu.

SOLDIER #1: I will be the first to handle them.  She is so beautiful standing there – I can’t dare to live without it!

SOLDIER #2: No, it is me who will get first feel!  More precious than silver and gold, those knockers!

NICOLAE: Excuse, please . . .

SOLDIER #3: (To Nicolae.)  Shut up!  Can you see we’re busy?

SOLDIER #2: I will be . . . ba nu!  She takes off bra!  Will I explode standing right here?

NICOLAE: Gentlemen, we must reconsider . . .

SOLDIER #1: (To Nicolae.) Don’t you hear Colonel Bogdan telling you shut up?  (To Soldier #2.)  You will not have first feel because I outrank you!

SOLDIER #4: I outrank the lot of you, so you all get in line and be orderly about it!

(Tables and chairs are turned over as the men rush to get in line.  Nicolae and Elena shrug and walk out of the building into daylight.)

ELENA: What will we do now, Nicolae?

NICOLAE: (Looking around in several directions.)  Guess we go to Hungary, like Comaneci.

The photos of young Andreea here were sent by Deluxe.

Sarah!

PS: Somebody please write in and let me know if you can click to enalrge the photos.  I want to see if it’s just my system that’s preventing it.  Thank you.

 

Posted on December 27, 2012, in Andreea Raducan, ROM. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I cannot enlarge the photos. Clicking seems to do nothing here at my end.

  2. I honestly don’t mind some of the American gymnasts-I thought Amy Chow and Shannon Miller just had class (actually, all of those girls, save Moceanu) beyond the extreme. They never said how much they ‘struggled’ or ‘fought against odds’

    But this group of girls thinks the hardest thing that ever happened to them (I think it’s from the 2004 crop onwards) was being forced to train really hard every single day. That not going to prom or missing high school drama shattered their lives.

    And then you imagine what 6 year old Andreea had to see in her childhood, how Nadia had to escape Romania, how, literally, the only way for a better life for these girls was to excel at sports, and not just be ‘good’, but be The Best.

    And let’s ask Kim Gwang Suk how

    One famous ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya, danced in the USSR in the 1950s and was a vocal opponent of the Stalinist regime-her father was killed in a gulag camp and her mother nearly died as a result of the purges. She had no food and was under surveillance for most of her life.

    I don’t hate how Americans and the British have easier times in life, no one should go through the stuff that happened in E. Europe, but, to act as though you struggled as much as the Romanians, Hungarians, North Koreans, Chinese and Russians is just insulting.

    • Amy Chow did have class but was mostly a one-routine gymnast. She was never a threat in a major competition. Actually I admit I like all of the Mag 7, but only as the Mag 7 in Atlanta. I wouldn’t walk across the street to see a routine by Kerri from a different competition, for example.

      Shannon was simply the best we ever produced, in my opinion. Best gymnast and most classy and modest young lady. Thank her parents for a lot of that.

      I agree totally with your main point about spoiled American gymnasts. They have it soooooooo made, compared to Romanians, Russians and Chinese. Just look at what Nasty and The Flying Monkey have done after winning their big medals and you can see they’re living in fairy tale land.

      I remember reading a story somewhere about Michael Jordan, surely the best player to ever pick up a basketball. Right after the Bulls won one of their championships, like the next day after they got back, Michael was in their practice gym shooting free throws. The rest of the team was in the Bahamas or whatever, celebrating.

      Somebody – can’t remember who, maybe a reporter – asked Michael why the heck he was practicing right after winning another huge championship, and Michael said, “So I can get better.” And that’s why Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan. Very inspiring.

      And that’s the mindset of the training programs of Romania and the others. If you’re going to be a gymnast, strive to be the best you can be every day. No book tours and dancing with stars. If you want to do that shit, retire and go do it.

      I could go on FOREVER about the sad differences between our gymnastics programs here vs. in the key other gymnastics countries. The girls here are spoiled, conceited, selfish and not team players. The Mag 7 was the only “team” the U.S. ever put together. The girls in Sydney were a joke, and from then on it was every man for himself.

      Your story about Maya the ballerina is important, because it is a good contrast between those who have little and know they must work hard, and those who have everything and don’t develop a work ethic. Of course you don’t hate the Americans for having “better” lives, but your point is good, that to hear American gymnasts (or any athletes) complain is sickening. They don’t know what trouble is.

      Often I’ll write a story with the only goal of talking to modern U.S. gym fans and reminding them that, yes, our girls are talented – they wouldn’t be on the national team if they weren’t – but don’t forget the TRULY great ones like Nadia, Silivas, Gina, Dobre, Milo and Simona and many great Russians and select others, too. I don’t mention more recent gymnasts because I think there has to be some time after retirement before a gymnast can come to be called truly great.

      Sorry for rambling. We think very much alike.

      Sarah!

  3. okie, half of my comment got butchered.

    ‘And let’s ask Kim Gwang Suk about how she’s been treated. I want to know how her childhood must have been-and what happened when she didn’t get the gold on the bars in Barcelona. They live under the shadow of being sent to labor camps there, so i think missing prom might be the least of their worries’

    • Kim Gwang Suk’s childhood was spent as an elite-level international gymnast, which was good for us, because she was awesome, but probably not good for her. I’ve heard stories, too. Shit goes on in North Korea that nobody outside North Korea ever hears about.

      Here’s a story about her with a fairly recent picture on a now-defunct website.

      http://gymthump.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/shes-alive/

      So at least they didn’t kill her.

      Sarah!

  4. I didn’t know much about the Romanian revolution, and it’s interesting reading this through the eyes of an innocent 6-year-old child like Andreea was at that time. It must have been really a painful event for the country.

    I read on Wikipedia also about Nadia: “In November 1989, a few weeks before the revolution, defected with a group of other young Romanians. Her overland journey took her through Hungary, Austria, and finally, to the United States” and, before the revolution, she was forbidden to leave the country for any reason, aside a few selected trips.
    She could return in Romania for the first time since that in 1996, when she and Bart Conner got married in Bucharest.

    • Nadia wrote a book where she talked about her escape. Very daring and dangerous. You would probably like the book. It’s an example of a book by a gymnast that has a point, unlike Gabby’s or Moceanu’s.

      Did you ever see that picture (it’s on this site in a few places) of Bart kissing Nadia in Montreal? It’s on the Funny Photos page linked below, a little more than half way down the page:

      http://girlfrommalibu.wordpress.com/captions/

      Sarah!

      • I couldn’t see the picture. Is that on this page?
        http://neoneocon.com/2012/07/25/time-and-the-olympics-marches-on-comaneci-is-50/

        I had heard that Nadia and Bart first met in 1976 and he gave Nadia her first kiss. Read this: “In 1976, Nadia traveled to New York city for the inaugural American Cup competition. Not only did she win the event, but she scored two perfect 10s in the process, foreshadowing things to come…. The men’s winner was an 18-year-old named Bart Conner, who gave Nadia a kiss as they stood side-by-side on the podium”
        I also found this

        http://olympics.time.com/2012/07/12/athletes-in-love-9-olympic-love-stories/slide/youngcomaneci/
        It was not a spontaneous kiss, but I like it.
        Their story is really sweet, and I find they are lovely together, both in 1976 and today.

        I agree with you and queldolcevita. The Romanians, Russians and Chinese had and have also today hard lives and stories, not the Americans.
        The Americans are not a real team, and I think they will never be a family like the Romanians and the others. They don’t do gymnastics for their countries and families, they don’t need this to have a better life. Who on the earth could think the Fierce/Fucked up Five are a team or a family? They are nowhere close to the Magnificent Seven, and less to the Russians and Romanians. They also nearly completely stopped training (http://it.paperblog.com/cosa-sta-succedendo-alle-fierce-five-americane-1534897/) except for Kyla Ross, who is the youngest, is the only of them who hasn’t gone pro and goes also to school regularly. Maybe she is the most intelligent between them, other that the less famous.

      • When you say you couldn’t see the picture, do you mean on my site on the page I sent the link to? Do you mean you couldn’t find it, or it wasn’t there? Could you see any pictures? There are a bunch on that page. Let me know, so I’ll know if WordPress is screwing up again.

        The page you linked here has the photo I was talking about. Bart and Nadia make a good couple. I’m really glad they were able to get together. They’re very successful today as speakers. I always joke about how Nadia can kick Bart’s ass and how she’s in charge of the marriage, but you can tell when you see them together talking or whatever, Bart is in control, not Nadia.

        I’ve been saying for years that the Americans aren’t a team. You can’t be a true gymnastics team when you live in different places and train with different coaches and get thrown together every once in awhile to go to a competition.

        There was a band in the 1970s (and later years) called Boston. They made records and did tours and were very famous. I really like them – you can find their music on YouTube. But they weren’t a band. There was no “Boston.”

        What there was was a guy named Tom Scholz and a singer named Brad Delp (who has since committed suicide, sadly). Tom masterminded the whole thing. On the first album, which was awesome, they recorded it in Tom’s home studio. He played all the instruments, and Brad sang. When it was time to tour, they rounded up some guys to play the other instruments while Tom played guitar, and they were “Boston.”

        Off the road, everybody went their separate ways. When it was time for another tour, Tom rounded up more guys – not necessarily the first ones – and off they went again as “Boston.”

        That’s how they always did it. There never was a “Boston.”

        And that’s how the U.S. “teams” are. The Romanians, I know for a fact, and surely the Russians and Chinese, they are sisters, a family, a team. You can tell it by how they cheer for each other and hug each other when they come off the floor. And the ultimate that I’ve seen is when a young Aurelia screwed up on floor and was consoled by teammate Diana Bostan (no relation to Tom Scholz, haha):

        That is what you call a team.

        I like Kyla Ross more and more. She seems like the only one who is grounded and whose head isn’t up her ass, as they say.

        Sarah!

    • Yeah nobody could leave the country, without the permission of the authorities (which was very hard to get). In fact, the athletes were privileged during communism because at least they could go abroad to attend competitions and stuff (always under strict surveillance by the Securitate). In one of those trips, Bela Karolyi and his wife defected to USA after cheating the Securitate officials. People that did this were officially considered traitors and couldn’t return to the country (well they could, but they had to face harsh penal consequences), and it was very possible that their relatives in Romania suffered ‘counter-measures’ because of them. So it wasn’t an easy decision. Most of the athletes didn’t even try to escape even if at some moment they had a chance.

      More about the good old Securitate, so hated as the Soviet KGB or the East-German Stasi
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Securitate

      • It’s impossible for me to imagine this kind of life. But I respect the people who lived it. We are soft in America.

        Sarah!

      • Did you send me this video a long time ago? Tell me, is this a good idea of Romania? I love it and I wish America was more like this.

        I wrote one of the Three Musketeers stories the summer before last while listening to this song over and over. I think it was “Girls Gone Wild,” or maybe the cooking story.

        Tell me if this depicts the true Romania, because I LOVE this video.

        If you want to know about a good depiction of white trash America, I will send you some Honey Boo Boo videos.

        Your devoted friend and match-maker,

        Sarah!

  5. About this family-team thing, this is what Andreea Raducan says in the same interview:

    “In the national team, the coachs used techniques to make us more united. For example, before the big contests, we had to do a ‘circuit’: vault, bars, beam and floor. The circuit wasn’t over until every girl did the four elements without mistakes. If one of us failed, all the girls had to do it again. Sometimes we had to do 15 circuits and stayed until 10 PM in the gym. That’s what team spirit means.”

    About the Revolution, it affected gymnastics as it affected everything in the country. The training centre in Deva closed during Revolution and forced the Silivas retirement.
    As Giulia said, Nadia defected some weeks before the events. If she knew that just a few weeks later the regime would fall, I don’t think she would have escaped, and surely her life would be very different now. Generally she avoids to talk about this issue by the way.

    • That’s a great quote from Andreea about the circuit. So true – that’s how you build team spirit. The U.S. Marine Corps has a similar approach in boot camp. When one recruit screws up, they often punish the whole group. Everything is done as a unit, as a team. Every member learns to feel responsible for every other member.

      The revolution sounds horrible. I can’t really imagine it, because the biggest thing we ever face over here is when the Internet goes down for two hours. We are spoiled, and I mean that in a negative way.

      Nadia wrote about her defection in a book she wrote – and deserved to write, unlike Gabby. You’re so right – if she had waited just a few weeks, she wouldn’t be the Nadia we know today. She may have ended up in America eventually – like Silivas and Dobre and others – but would she have married Bart? Probably not. I’m glad things happened for her as they did. It proves she is a very strong and tough woman and a great role model for all of us as we grow up and age. And she will always be the best gymnast ever, in my opinion. It’s disgraceful to compare her to anybody else.

      Sarah!

  6. Sarah, I meant I could find the page on this site at your link, but I couldn’t see any of the pictures. I could read only the words written under the images that were supposed to be there.

    I think there should be a great national training center in America, like Deva and Izvorani in Romania and Round Lake in Russia, where the girls train and live together. If you meet your teammates only during competitions, how can you be a real team?

    Aurelia and Diana look very young and cute there, and it was really sweet from Diana consoling her friend in this way. This is what a real friend and teammate does.
    In the past a lot of gymnasts were great friends and acted like sisters. Do you remember Shushunova and Omelianchik? Remember Boginskaya consoling Gutsu where she fell from the beam in 1992, giving her a big hug? And what about the Romanians? “When a family experiences disappointment, the pain is shared by everyone”. The Russians? “For Zamo, gymnastics is not only for her. It is for Russia, a country badly in need of heroes” and “Their family gets shaken up again” (I remembered these words from the various fluffs).

    They did everything for their countries, coaches and families, then for themselves.

    • Okay, well it was probably WordPress screwing up again. Hopefully that problem has been resolved. It also may have been your Internet connection. Sometimes something happens so that it won’t load photos. I have no idea why this happens. I don’t like technology and don’t want to learn anything I don’t need to know.

      The U.S. does need a centralized training system. We will never have a team the way it is now. It’s just a bunch of girls thrown together every time a big competition comes along.

      Aurelia and Diana were so cute in that video. They show the true meaning of “team” and “sister.”

      I remember Shush and Oksana, and Bogi and Tatiana. And I vaguely remember the fluffs about Zamo and the Russians. Elena was such a credit to this sport. All of them were. It’s something you can’t say about any American I know of except Shannon.

      Like you said, it was all for country first, team (coaches/families) second, self third.

      Sarah!

  7. No, I didn’t send you that video. The video is not kind with Romania, in fact it’s done with bad intentions, showing only gypsies and poor zones. I was about to send you a video with more positive and beautiful things from Romania, but no. Whoever wants to know Romania must go there and then give an opinion.

    The music is cool.

    • It seems like I remember reading that that song was made to promote Romanian tourism. It’s a really nice songj.

      I knew the video was not intended to show Romania at its best, but I still liked it. There are plenty of videos about the U.S. that show us at our very worst. One is a TV show about a little kid named Honey Boo Boo child. Have you seen it? It shows the worst that exists in America, but it’s funny as hell.

      I wish you would send me a positive video of Romania – I know it’s best to visit there, but that might not happen any time soon.

      Happy New Year! I can’t remember our time difference, but it may be Jan. 1 in Spain by now. It’s Jan. 1 for Felicia.

      Sarah!

      • No, I’ve never seen Honey Boo Boo, do you mean this?

        Are they what you guys call rednecks? They look very rustic, haha.

      • Yes, that is Honey Boo Boo. And yes, these are rednecks. The term “redneck” was originally applied to (white) people in the southern U.S. who worked outside all day, like driving a tractor or planting corn. They had short hair, and their necks got sunburned. Today, redneck can aptly be applied to virtually any Southerner, although it is usually reserved to mean “white trash” and “racist.” Many people in the south today are still pissed off that the North won the Civil War and vow to take the country over and instill redneck ways into it. (That’s not a joke.)

        Honey Boo Boo’s family is the epitome of “white trash rednecks.” And if you travel through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and other southern states, you’ll see it everywhere, especially in the small towns.

        So there is this month’s American education on rednecks and white trash.

        Ha ha.

        Sarah!

  8. Thanks for linking the video to Ceacescu’s last speech. It’s a fascinating document. The massive rally in the city square below, pro-government banners flying, the spectacles we’re accustomed to seeing from the most despotic governments. But it’s quickly apparent that there’s something wrong…

    After a couple of minutes of shouts, cries and screams from the audience in the square, Nicolai carries on with his speech. It’s almost touching to hear him proclaim that the government’s central committee has met and decided, very generously, to provide paltry increases in minimum wages and pensions for the very poorest people in Romania, to take effect in ten days, on January 1st. Imagine his arrogant thoughts, how he probably believed that these decrees would help him secure his power.

    Four days later, on Christmas Day, the show trial and execution of he and his wife were broadcast on television for all to see.

    • I’m glad you liked the speech – or my posting it here, I should say. I don’t know that much about the details of Ceausescu and all the shit he did, but I know it was atrocious.

      Have you told me where you’re from? If not, please tell me.

      Sarah!

  9. Even worse than Ceausescu (and his wife) was his son Nicu, a stupid alcoholic playboy. It’s said that this scumbag even forced Nadia to be his lover. Of course he died of cirrhosis in the 90′s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicu_Ceau%C8%99escu

    Their daughter was Zoia. She was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer some years ago. Unlike her parents and younger brother she was intelligent and a mathematician. But she seemed to enjoy wildly the privileges of her position
    http://articles.latimes.com/1990-01-10/news/mn-364_1_zoia-ceausescu

    The older son was Valentin, the only one still alive and the most respected member of the family by the people. His behaviour during the regime was correct.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentin_Ceau%C8%99escu

    • I watched and read all that you sent here. It’s interesting, but we from the West will never really understand what it’s like to live under communism and what communist leaders are like until our country is taken over by them, which, at the pace we’re going, won’t be too long from now.

      Thanks for sending this.

      Sarah!

  10. I’m in Cali as well, on top of you. So to speak.

    Been getting slayed by gymnasts all the way back to Olga. Did you know Tourischeva was not only considered the superior gymnast back then, but also was the one the Soviet boys chased after? That’s a weird scrap of memory I recall being mentioned by one of the ABC reporters in ’72.

    I’d forgotten that she married Valeriy Borzov, who was quite the badass in his prime. He won golds in the 100 and 200 meters in the same Olympics, just like Usain Bolt.

    Another one from way back: Nellie Kim.

    http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/nanila/240961/980815/980815_original.jpg

  11. Thanks for all the info about the rednecks, I find it very interesting. Especially the origin of the word.

    I’ll read more about the American Civil War soon.

    • I’m glad I could impart some American history to you like you do to me with Romanian history. Rednecks are a part of our culture. Thank God they live in the south and I live in the west. I only deal with them on vacations to Texas. But they’re the only TRUE Americans. (i.e., Honey Boo Boo and family. They’re white trash, but don’t fuck with them about America. You’ll get shot down south if you start badmouthing this country.)

      I’ll save you time on the Civil War: The South stood for goodness and country; the North stood for killing the South. The North won. That’s the Civil War. And there are droves of southeners who believe the South will rise again and all will be changed. It will be another Civil War.

      Songs:

      If The South Would’ve Won, Hank Jr.

      And the South’s anthem, “Coontown,” which you may have heard here before:

      Sarah!

  12. Andreea is in vegas this weekend promoting her book. I wish I could go ;-(

    • It would be cool just to be able to see her. If it’s an actual book signing, depending on the turnout, you probably wouldn’t get to do much more than shake her hand and say how much you liked her.

      Sarah!

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