Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For the city in Romania formerly known as Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, see Onesti
Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930. A railway worker by trade, he was arrested after a 1933 strike and sentenced to prison from 1933 he escaped from the Tîrgu-Jiu concentration camp in August 1944 . In 1936 he was elected to the party's Central Committee and became leader of the "prison faction" of the party (ie those party members who were incarcerated by the fascist regime as opposed to those living in exile in the Soviet Union). He became general secretary in 1945 but did not consolidate his power until 1952 when he purged Ana Pauker and the "Muscovite faction" from the party. Pauker had been the unofficial leader of the party since the end of World War II but was removed by Gheorghiu-Dej during Stalin's campaign against "Zionists" and "Comopolites" (synonyms for Jews).
Gheorghiu-Dej was a firm Stalinist who was unsettled by Khrushchev's reforms and was the architect of Romania's semi-autonomous foreign and economic policy within the Warsaw Pact in the late 1950s also stopping any internal party reforms during Moscow's period of destalinisation. Instead, he organized a new wave of arrests and purges. He also initiated the construction of Romania's own version of Stalin's gulags and relied heavily on the Securitate for his power. Nicolae Ceauşescu was a protégé of his, who would eventually take over the Presidency of Romania after his death.
He died in uncertain circumstances, and it's often thought he was taken to Moscow for medical treatment.
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