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She was born Elena Petrescu into a poor peasant family in Petreşti, Ilfov, in the Wallachia region. Her family was supported by her father's job as a ploughman. Elena's education ended at the fourth grade and moved with her brother to Bucharest where she worked as a laboratory assistant before getting a job at a textile factory. She joined the Communist Party of Romania in the mid 1930s and met Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1939 and went on to marry him in 1946. After the Communists took power she worked as a secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was an unimportant figure until her husband became general secretary of the party in 1965.
Under her husband's regime, she became a major Romanian political figure. Publicly Ceauşescu said that it was an honor to be referred to as "comrade"; Romanian expatriates in the United States frequently referred to her as "Madame Ceauşescu" with great disdain. It is quite possible that Madame Ceauşescu was the most hated person in Romania during the reign of her husband.
Elena Ceauşescu was of limited actual educational achievements (she was once thrown out of adult education chemistry exam for cheating), despite being given many awards for scientific achievement in the field of polymer chemistry during the period when her husband ruled Romania. From July 1971 she was given various offices at senior levels in the Romanian Communist Party. She was deeply involved in party administration alongside her husband. The Ceauşescus issued strict Public Relation rules for all elements of their persona, which were strictly followed.
Romanians hold Madame Ceauşescu responsible for the elimination of birth control that created crisis conditions during the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in a flood of unwanted infants, babies and children that were housed in substandard state operated orphanages throughout the country. She also headed the State health commission, which denied the existence of the AIDS virus in Romania, leading to one the largest outbreaks (including pediatric cases) in the western world.
Ceauşescu fled with her husband after the events in Timişoara led to the Romanian revolution, she and her husband were captured. At the trial, Madame Ceauşescu refused to answer the questions asked and defied her interrogator's legitimacy, boldly proclaiming that they did not know who they were speaking to, and that they were using an insulting tone of voice. Ceauşescu and her husband were executed, on December 25, 1989, in Tārgovişte.
- John Sweeney. The Life and Evil Times of Nicolae Ceausescu. 1991
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