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A common sight: Ceausescu micromanaging construction projects

The photo below shows a very common sight throughout Romanian Communist media: dictator Nicolae Ceausescu micro-managing a construction project. He was often depicted by the Communist propaganda as a very energetic and knowledgeable leader, who would advise various experts and engineers on anything from architecture, production processes, and research, to agriculture, chemistry or measures for increasing output. Indeed, he enjoyed being in the middle of things and dictating last-minute changes to the normal course of action recommended by the experts.

The photo was taken in 1977, during the construction of Drumul Taberei district in Bucharest, Romania. The construction of real estate for the working class was an important topic on the official agenda of the 70’s and 80’s, often justifying the demolition of historic, bourgeois neighborhoods, in order to make room for the new socialist buildings. Drumul Taberei was one of these emerging neighborhoods in Western Bucharest (in retrospect, Drumul Taberei provided more decent living standards in comparison with other socialist real estate projects: more green areas and more space in each apartment or studio).

Ceausescu’s working visits to the construction sites or various factories throughout the country became almost the sole topic on primetime TV and radio news and in the official Communist newspaper “Scanteia” (literally, “The Spark”). For the common people working on these megalomaniac and unrealistic projects, it was really a stressful event: they usually had to go through several dry-runs, and prepare long hours, so that everything looked perfectly to the demanding leader. This often involved beautifying the reports and numbers, in order to avoid a neurotic fit of the dictator. Such was the case with many projects, including the underground transportation system, the Danube-Black Sea Canal, the People’s House or the many endless districts of Communist apartment buildings.


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