Communist Censorship Institution in Romania



In 1944, with the advance of the Soviet troops to the west,  Soviet officers began to implement the Soviet system of censorship in all „liberated” countries. As a rule, this process has been made taking into account specific peculiarities of each country or the Soviet interest and this did not involved, as binding, the establishment everywhere of  the Glavlit institutions. While existence of such state structure was possible only in the Communist regime (Nazis and democratic regimes have not known institutions like Glavlit), Communist system in some countries of the Soviet bloc has dispensed by services of this institutions, operating generally without cracks. Hungary, Yugoslavia and the German Democratic Republic, for example, did not have such institutions. But everything that is being published in these countries was supervised by special departments of the Central Committee and „all cultural institutions throughout the country, from the editorial offices of political journals to the publishing houses of children’s books, theatre managements, scientific as well as artistic institutions have the prime duty of exercising censorship. And those in leading posts at all levels know this and comply”[1]. The abolition of censorship institution inBulgaria (1956) andRomania (1977)  not coincided with the liberalization of their communist (censorship) system.

Romanian censorship began its existence repeating or imitating the stages of Soviet censorship formation: banning and blocking the press (non-communist, opposition, ie nearly all media), purge of books, closure of the private bookstores or their nationalization, punitive measures against public figures etc. As in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the books and media purge started in Romania before the official establishment of the institution of censorship, DGPT – General Department for Press and Publications (Romanian equivalent of the Soviet’s Glavlit). In 1949, when this institution was founded, it was already reaching the third wave of purges. What the USSR developed over decades (eg books purge), was made in only a few years in Romania. Soviet indications were very accurate because of their vast experience. The period of 1944-1949 is little known and it is almost inaccessible due to the total or partial lack of documents (there is not in Romania any archival background about the Allied Control Commission, par example). Therefore, we paid particular attention to this time period.[2]

The first major action of censorship was the purge of books and effective controls of all publications. But these tasks were performed either in the early years or have been  passed into the responsibility of other institutions (the advance control of publications will be conducted by the publishers and editors, for example). In the Soviet Union, censorship, as an independent organization,  was formed on 6 June 1922, having been called „General Department of Literature and Publications” (Glavlit), a subordinate institution of the People’s Committee of Education (Narkompros). In 1933, when the Glavlit evolved, it was subordinate directly to the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union and changed their name  „Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secret in the Press”.

The complex system of laws on protection of state secrets that was adopted inRomaniasince 1945-1949 can be attributed to two reasons:

1. Romanian Communist Party, with an old tradition of conspiracy, illegal activity, maintained and developed a real „mania for secrecy”[3]. This is explained by communist ideology itself which put in the center of human existence the class struggle, confrontation between the proletariat and its multiple class enemies. The appeal for „revolutionary vigilance” against „inside and outside” enemies was ubiquitous in the speeches of communist party leaders.

            2. Soviet Union’s influence is not at all negligible: „Soviet officials were the main factors that have established data constituting state secrets for all Eastern bloc”[4]. The main state structures, formed after the Soviet model and with the help of the Soviet specialists, have inherited also the Soviet  system for safeguarding the secrecy. Since its establishment in 1948,  the mission of „Securitatea” (romanian security organs)  was: „the defense of democratic gains and assurance of security in Romanian People’s Republic against the conspiracy of internal and external enemies.”[5] In Bulgaria, for example, „The List of state secrets has been elaborated by a commission consisting of El. Gavrilova[6], V. Katishev, officials of the State Security, and of the Ministry of National Defense”, Viktor Katishev being the deputy director of Soviet Glavlit [7].

Initially, protection of State Secrets does not enter into censorship duties inRomania. According to Decree no. 218 (Given in Bucharest on the 20th of May, 1949), for organizing D.G.P.T., subordinated to the Council of Ministers Council of Ministers of the Romanian People’s Republic, the institution has the following obligations:

„a) to edit Official Buletin of Romanian People’s Republic;

             b) to authorize the occurrence of any publications: newspapers, magazines, programs, posters, etc.., taking measures to meet legal requirements for printing;

             c) to authorize the printing of  all kinds of books, in Capital and Province;

             d) to authorize the distribution and  promotion of books, newspapers, and any other publications, as well the import or export of newspapers, books or art objects;

             e) to regulate the work conditions for bookstores, secondhand bookshops, public libraries, newspapers depositories, books depositories etc.;

            f) to prepare and distribute for press official communications of the Council of Ministers and to coordinate the work of press services of ministries, public departments and institutions. „[8]

The situation changed very quickly. Already since November 1951, „this problem has become very important”[9], as stated in a report „about tasks execution for safeguarding state secrets by censorship and media”. Based on documents from the archives, we can see how Romanian officials DGPT  regularly completed the statistics and tables about state secrets entered in the press. In “Statistics of censorship during the month February 1952”, it states that the total number of performed censorships was 642, of which 328 are „censorships of state secrets”[10]. After the Council of Ministers Decision No. 267 (February 23, 1954) about establishing and organizing tasks of censorship institution, he main task of DGPT consists in exercising state control in order to protect state secrets and in terms of political content, of all material with nature of propaganda, agitation and of any publications, prints, to be disseminated in public.[11] From this period, in censorship documents we will find, quite often, statements such as: „General task of the delegates D.G.P.T., and of instructors and lecturers is to defend state security on the ideological plan, strict preservation of the state and party secrets, defence of the party line purity.” [12]

In the communist regime, the censorship was not exercised only by DGPT- the censorship institution. There were “editorial censorship”, effectuated by employees of magazines, publishing houses, radios and televisions, etc.; the “repressive censorship” executed by the political department (political control) of the security organizations; ideological censorship, effectuated by party leadership, which had the first and last word in  why and how it should appear or be banned (The party gave indications to the DGPT); the „inside” censorship which caused authors to guess the ideological,  aesthetic, political regulations of his work over numerous stages of the control. But the main institution of censorship exercised the most important and the largest operations of censorship and control. An army of censors was actually in charge of the whole process of banning, discovering the authors, information, „anti-Soviet” and harmful works. In Soviet Union, Glavlit disappeared with the collapse of the communist regime. The abolition of that institution decided by Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1977 is an essential moment in the evolution of the censorship inRomania and we found documents regarding the last years of this institution.

I tried to reconstruct the activity of censorship institution, step by step, looking for documents in the fund “Committee for Press and Publications”, of the Central Historical National Archives. A timeline of the documents was irrelevant because there are years in which the important documents about the funding of censorship are poor. Therefore, I propose a thematic classification of the fund.

Like pieces in a comprehensive puzzle, the 106 documents from volume I are arranged, chronologically, into two thematic chapters: 1. Structure, attributions; 2. The activity of censorship departments. Volume II contains three parts: 1. Relations DGPT (CPT) with other institutions; 2. Direction Control-Training. Centre-Province relation; 3. The censor. Main character (191 documents). Some important issues are discussed in the foreword „Censorship mechanisms in the communist regime in Romania” (vol. I) and afterword „State secret and censorship institution” (vol. II).


[1] Pierre Kende, Censorship in Hungary, Dušan Havliček, Public information in the soviet political systems, Research project, Crises in Soviet-type systems, Study No. 9, Koeln, 1985, p. 44.

[2] We’ve put together a volume of documents refering the activity of censorship during the first period: Epurarea cărţilor în România. Documente (1944-1964), (The Purge of books in Romania), edition, preface and notes by Liliana Corobca, Bucureşti, Ed. Tritonic, Bucureşti, 2010.

[3] Florian Banu, „Secretul de stat în România populară sau despre societatea ermetică” (The state secret in popular Romania or about the hermetic society), in Dosarele Istoriei, no. 10(86)/2003, („Buletin C.N.S.A.S.”, no. 4), p. 52.

[4]  Vesela Chichovska, „Glavlit (1952-1956). Izgrazhdane na edinna cenzurna sistema v Bulgarija” (Establishment of unique system of censorship in Bulgaria) in Istoricheski pregled, 1991, knizhka 10, p. 52.

[5] Florian Banu, op. cit., p. 52.

[6] The leader of Bulgarian Glavlit.

[7] Vesela Chichovska, op. cit. p. 52.

[8] Romanian Central Historical National Archives (ANIC), Fund „Press and Publications Committee” (CPT), file 13.1950, tab 57.

[9] ANIC, CPT, file 22.1952, tabs 38-40.

[10] Ibidem, tabs 61-62.

[11] ANIC, CPT, f. 10.1949, t. 18.

[12] Ibidem, f.  4.1955, t. 45.


●  Instituţia cenzurii comuniste în România, 1949-1977. Documente. Vol. I-II (Communist Censorship Institution in Romania), forthcoming.       

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2 răspunsuri to “Communist Censorship Institution in Romania”

  1. Carla Says:

    Buna ziua,
    Sunt studenta in anul 3 la o facultate in Anglia si momentan imi scriu lucrarea de licenta care contine un capitol despre cenzura presei in cazul criminalului in serie Ion Ramaru. Am gasit niste detalii interesante in articolul dvs si as dori sa il citez in lucrarea mea, daca sunteti de acord. Ati putea sa imi oferiti, va rog, datele publicatiei (anul, editura, orasul in care a fost publicat etc)?. Mi-ar fi de mare folos!

    • corobca Says:

      „Instituţia cenzurii comuniste în România”, ediţie, note, postfaţă de Liliana Corobca, vol. 2, pp. 393-397. Ar trebui sa apara la Editura Saeculum, Bucuresti. Pana una alta volumele sunt blocate.

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