The Red Army marched westward and entered Romania in August 1944. The Romanian
Communist Party quickly began to increase its influence in the country. As in every Central
European country, the USSR planned to establish a communist government subordinate to it.
After a successful coup, Gheorghiu-Deja was released from prison and took leadership of the
Romanian Communist Party. Quite a few communists began to demand more influence on the
country politics. The new government formed in November already comprised one-third of
the Communists. Elections were planned for 1946, in which Deja's party avoided radical
On 19 November 1946, the Romanian Communist Party won the elections (probably
fraudulent). The opposition protested against the election results and asked the king not to
recognise them. The king, however, recognized these results, fearing the loss of the throne.
This did not save his position for a long time. On 30 December 1947, the king was forced to
abdicate and Romania became the People's Republic.
The seizure of power by the communists started mass trials of people accused of collaborating
with the Germans. It was also used to fight against political opponents: in May 1948, the
leaders and the First Secretary of the Independent Socialist Party were arrested. Between 1950
and 1958, more than 75,000 people were arrested.
As in other communist countries, in Romania the Church was fought against, too. On 1
December 1948, the activity of the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed, earlier arresting 600
Uniate priests. It was the second largest religious group in Romania (1.5 million believers).
They also struck the Catholic Church by breaking the concordat, arresting priests and bishops,
or prohibiting priestly ordination. The repression did not bypass the Orthodox Church, the
dominant religion in the state. The election of bishops was under the supervision of the state,
and because the priests were remunerated from the state budget, it allowed them to control the
activity of the church.
Changes were introduced in the economy in line with Stalinist policies. In 1946, a ban was
introduced on the sale of land, the area of farms was limited to 15 ha, which led to the
liquidation of greater land ownership. A year later, money was exchanged, and every citizen
under penalty had to deposit currency and gold with a bank. In 1948, industry, mines, banks
and transport were nationalised.
Agriculture was also collectivized, although this process was initially relatively slow and
accelerated only in the late 1950s. In 1960, only 18.1% of households in Romania were
individual (in 1950 it was 76.4%). Agricultural production alone increased by only 6%
between 1955 and 1960.
In 1949, the construction of the Danube-Black Sea Canal, which was to be built with the
hands of forced laborers, began. During its construction, many of them died due to fatal
working and living conditions. The number of victims is estimated at around 10,000 and the
project was not finally completed until 1987 (after 1953 the project was interrupted for 20
A part of the society rebelled against the communist authorities. For example, there was a unit
of Haiducija Muscelului, an anti-communist partisan group which was only broken up in
1961. The famous partisan was Iona Gavril Ogorenau, a member of the fascist Iron Guard
who fought until 1976 when he was arrested.