comrade corbu

Nicolai Ceausescu was the leader of the Communist Party in Romania for over twenty years. In 1978 he caused a civil engineer to doubt his own sanity when he turned up for work one morning…..

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A new underground station was being constructed in Bucharest and a vast hole — at least 12,000 cubic metres in extent — had been excavated as an entrance to the station. When the civil engineer in charge of the project arrived at work he found that his hole had disappeared. It had been there the night before, but now in its place were trees and park benches on open park land. The perplexed engineer asked one of the dictator’s aides what had happened. Apparently, Ceausescu had been planning to make a welcoming speech to new students at Bucharest’s polytechnic and wanted to use the park. So he ordered the hole to be removed until after his speech. All night hundreds of laborers worked at fever pitch. Trees were uprooted from other parts of the city and grass taken from the rest of the park to cover the hole. The job was finished by 6am, thirty minutes before the engineer arrived.

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In 1966, the Ceaușescu regime, in an attempt to boost the country’s population, made abortion illegal, and introduced other policies to reverse the very low birth and fertility rates. Abortion was permitted only in cases where the woman in question was over forty-two, or already the mother of four (later five) children. Mothers of at least five children would be entitled to significant benefits, while mothers of at least ten children were declared heroines by the Romanian state. However, few women ever sought this status.

66 year old Romanian mother found here

Nicolai was also extremely paranoid that foreigners would poison his clothes or that he would catch a fatal disease from shaking hands. He started wearing only clothes that had been under surveillance in a specially constructed warehouse and even washed his hands with alcohol after shaking Queen Elizabeth’s hand. He took his own bed sheets to Buckingham palace.

Elizabeth’s hand found here

Ceausescu was popular in the West for being staunchly anti-Soviet, and was given many gifts by visiting dignitaries. Perhaps most embarrassing was an honorary knighthood bestowed by the Queen of England, revoked only hours before his execution when the appalling nature of his regime became apparent. Ceaușescu also received the Danish Order of the Elephant, but this award too was later revoked.

Order of the Elephant found here

Among other gifts was a black Labrador puppy from British Liberal Party leader David Steel. Ceausescu named him Corbu and became so enamored with the dog that Romanian citizens called it ‘Comrade Corbu’.

Corbu became part of the dictator’s fantasy world and soon the dog was seen being driven through Bucharest in a limousine, with its own motorcade. Corbu always slept with Ceausescu at night. During the day he slept in Villa 12A, complete with bed, luxury furnishings, television and telephone. The Romanian ambassador in London was under official orders to go to Sainsbury’s every week to buy British dog biscuits which were then sent back in the diplomatic bag. Corbu was also given the rank of colonel in the Romanian Army.

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Ceaușescu created a pervasive personality cult, giving himself the titles of “Conducător” (“Leader”) and “Geniul din Carpați” (“The Genius of the Carpathians“), and even had a king-like sceptre made for himself. Such excesses prompted the painter Salvador Dalí to send a telegram to the “Conducător,” in which he sarcastically congratulated Ceaușescu on his “introducing the presidential scepter.” The Communist Party Daily published the message, unaware that it was a work of satire.

Dali and Harpo found here

One unresolved mystery that followed the deaths of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu pertains to Romania’s Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon rock which was in Nicolae Ceaușescu’s possession at the time of his death, but has since disappeared. The rock was presented by the Nixon Administration to Romania and is said to be worth 5 million dollars on the black market.