By David Schwartz
The present text is not a historical research, nor does it aim for an exhaustive approach, but rather attempts to draw some basic directions – primarily on the basis of personal histories of progressive militants – in what concerns the way in which the political regime in interwar and wartime Romania treated leftist movements: from marginalization to outlawing, from surveillance to random arrests, beatings, torture, the gunning down of union members during the strikes and the physical extermination of Jewish communists during World War 2.
The text is not in any way attempting to draw an equivalence between political persecution and ethnic/racial persecution. The latter is fundamentally different in that the respective persons, unlike those persecuted for political beliefs, did not choose to be a part of that respective ethnicity/ “race”, but were categorized as such by the oppressor without their consent. But in the case of interwar and especially wartime Romania, ethnic and political persecutions intertwined and overlapped.
After 1924, the year the Romanian Communist Party was outlawed, persecutions against Communist militants intensified. They were usually arrested at random and beaten for activities such as spreading Communist or anti-fascist manifestoes, organizing public gatherings or writing anti-fascist slogans on the city walls. Most of the time, simply being a supporter of the Communist movement could trigger a repressive response from the state. The State Security (Siguranta) often used tip-offs and informants from within the movement.
“What’s interesting is that these files tell us that the State Security tracked, arrested and interrogated minors just like the future Communist political police would. The same documents reveal that the interwar years laid the foundation for the future repressive legislation of the communist years. Administrative internment for a certain period of time on the basis of suspicion of conducting anti-state activity was a common practice during the interwar years as well. Another repressive provision of the 1936 penal code, which was valid until 1968, was article 209, “conspiracy against the social order.” Nicolae Causescu himself was sentenced to 3 years in prison in August 1939 on the basis of that provision.”
A harrowing personal history is that of Communist militant Haia Lifșiț from Kishinev. Immediately after Bessarabia came under Romanian administration, Haia Lifșiț, a school teacher, was arrested for Communist activity and was stripped of her teaching rights. She got a job as an unskilled laborer in a factory Throughout the 1920s, she was arrested several times for distributing Communist manifestoes. In 1928, she was arrested for the last time, together with a group of Communist activists. In her testimony, Haia Lifșiț claimed that she had been beaten and tortured during the investigation, reaffirmed her faith in the Communist ideals and requested that the Romanian Communist Party be allowed to become a legal entity. She was sentenced to 8 years in prison, and in 1929 went on hunger strike while in detention. For 43 days, she only accepted water and refused all solids brought to her. Her condition began to deteriorate and she passed away in prison, on August 17 1929. […]
 Mihai Bumbeș, Mihai Burcea, Pe urmele tânărului comunist Ceaușescu Nicolae, irir.ro, http://irir.ro/wp/pe-urmele-tinarului-comunist-ceausescu-nicolae/lang/ro/