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General Stefan Gusa » Memories/Testimonials » Interviu Spiroiu Niculae

Interview with Niculae Spiroiu, the Director of “General Stefan Gusa " Foundation,
exclusively for the weekly newspaper "MILITARY OBSERVER" no. 52, December 2008.
Recorded by the journalist Benone NEAGOE


Benone Neagoe: You are the Director of “General Stefan Gusa” Foundation, a foundation with many and beautiful projects. We received this information from an open letter addressed to the Director of Defence Ministry Press Trust, Colonel Ion Petrescu. I am now inviting you, General, to begin our dialog with some of these things.
N.S.: Indeed, I have been the Director of the Foundation for some time, it has the name of my former friend and colleague from the Tanks Military School in Pitesti. In fact, it’s a  revival of the foundation’s activity that has been established in 1997 by Mrs. Daniela Veronica Gusa de Dragan, daughter of General Gusa, in order to keep the personality of General Stefan Gusa, Chief of Staff during the events that took place in 1989, in the memory of the present and, of course,  the future generations. This idea includes those suggestions and proposals made to various structures of the Army, including the Defence Ministry Press Trust to organize activities that are not necessarily glorifying the personality of General Gusa, but support and sponsor some activities that represent the values he once served for the country, during his prestigious military career.
- Is this an opportunity to find out unknown things about the MAN Stefan Gusa?
- Yes. I have known him since we were teenagers, when we met at the Military School. He graduated B.P. Hasdeu,  a prestigious high school in Buzau. I was impressed by him because he had many qualities which are usually contradictory. First of all, there were his educational excellence, his native intelligence, his culture, all these qualities normally being associated with a crammer, a slender who wears glasses. The contradiction was that he had all the qualities and they were doubled by his look; he had a solid constitution, he was doing gymnastics, impressing us all. He was very generous with his colleagues, he was actually helping them and everybody loved and respected him for that. He kept all these qualities during his career. He was using the same language both for a General and a tank mechanic. This kept him close to the people’s heart no matter what rank they had. He clearly understood the events from December ’89 and he acted in accordance with his exceptional military ground.
- What was your rank in1989?
- I was an engineer colonel. I was the Deputy of the Head of Technical tank-auto Unit from the Infantry and Tanks Command.
- It means that you had the occasion to meet the Chief of Staff.
- Of course, even very often. I was constantly in touch with Minister Milea and General Gusa. We had professional and personal discussions like colleagues and friends: Stefan and Nicu.
- In November ‘89, at the Communist Party Congress, the people thought there would be a change. They thought about a replacement between Nicolae Ceausescu and his son, Nicu. Could you imagine this change without bloodshed, as it happened in the socialist countries, in the light of discussions you had with your colleagues from the Ministry?
-  Yes, we expected a change. There were some expectations. But we couldn’t imagine what December ’89 would bring us. We were deprived of any information about what was happening in the countries around us, belonging to the Eastern bloc. The Chief of Staff, General Stefan Gusa, was the one who discerned this danger. One day, by the end of November, all the Army officers in high positions were summoned to the Chamber of the General Staff. General Stefan Gusa and Stefan Dinu, the Chief of the Army Intelligence Directorate, appeared on the stage. Gusa told us sharp that there were several political and social events in the countries around Romania, and that he considered necessary to directly inform us about the authentic and unprocessed details because it was good and strictly necessary for us to know what was happening, to be properly informed. Then he left  Dinu to continue. In the next two hours he analyzed each country: Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, with all the things that had changed there. Then, Ilie Ceausescu appeared on stage. He sat down a couple of seats away from Gusa and this way expressing his disagreement with what was happening. He was fussing, rubbing his hands, looking at us. The room was in a deep silence. We were all listening to Dinu. Gusa stood up when Dinu finished and asked no one else to continue even if we had a thousand of questions to ask, maybe he wanted to avoid the commentaries. He only said: “Considering your ranks and skills, I ask each of you to analyze the elements and the information you were given.” and promised us that we would be informed about the events to come. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen anymore. I had a detailed explanation of this meeting in the late evening of December the 5th,  when I returned with a correspondence from Oravita dockyard to the General Staff. General Gusa was just walking someone out. He saw me, I saluted him. He shook my hand and pulled me into his office, where we could act like colleagues and friends. He told me: “Nicu, come here to tell you some interesting stuff.” He let the TV louder, and told me about that meeting. “Well, I am very worried that you guys from the Army corps commander have no information to put  you on guard in case of unexpected events. That is why I reported to the Minister. Ilie Ceausescu didn’t agree, but finally Milea supported me.“
- General, what is the fundamental truth about the revolution?
- The fundamental truth about the revolution is that Romania was the subject of some destabilization plans prepared in advance by the Western Bloc. In the early 80s they switched to a different strategy for dismantling the communist regimes and democratic restoration of those societies. Romania was in a very special situation. The “step by step” plan and the velvet revolutions didn’t work for Romania. That is the reason why the intention was to prepare a military situation, and the “bonus” might have been the dismemberment of the country. The merit belongs to the Romanian Army and General Gusa, who said: “the Romanian Army is able to control the situation in the country. We do not need any help.” This was a signal for both Gorbachev and the West. Obviously, the fall of Ceausescu's regime is the work of the Romanian people who went out in the streets, it is not the work of those who "primed"  the change.  He wouldn’t have left the power and the CC if it wasn’t for the hundreds of thousands of people who have booed  the "helmsman" for the first.