On this day in 1989, the communist government of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania was toppled. Ceausescu, born in 1918, became a prominent figure in Romania’s worker movement, and increasingly aligned with the communists. However, as the Communist party was banned during the 1930s, Ceausescu was arrested and sent to the brutal Doftana Prison. While in prison, he met the communist revolutionary Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, a relationship with proved formative in the radicalisation of his politics. In 1944, when the Soviet Union invaded Romania, Ceausescu seized the opportunity to escape from prison. Upon Romania’s fall to communism, Ceausescu, aided by the new leader Gheorghiu-Dej, steadily rose through the party ranks. Gheorghiu-Dej died in 1965, and Ceausescu emerged as his successor as first secretary of the Communist Party. The two decades of Ceausescu’s rule were marked by attempts to develop closer ties with the West, rising debt levels, a split from the Soviet leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, and repression of dissidents. Certain aspects of his leadership, most notably his assertion of Romanian independence from the Soviet Union, initially won popular favour. However, the rule of Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who served as deputy prime minister, became increasingly unpopular with the Romanian people, whose standard of living dropped precipitously during the years of communist leadership. In November 1987, protesting workers stormed the Communist Party headquarters in Brasov, destroying a portrait of Ceausescu. In December 1989, a mass revolt toppled the communist regime, aided by the military, and prompted by his ordering his security forces to fire on anti-government protestors. The revolution was followed by a show trial, and the execution of Ceausescu and his wife on December 25th.