Last updated
Department of State Security
Departamentul Securității Statului
Coat of arms of Romania (1965-1989).svg
Agency overview
Formed30 August 1948 (as the DGSP)
Preceding agency
Dissolved30 December 1989 [1]
Superseding agency
Type Secret police
Jurisdiction Romania
Headquarters Bucharest
Employees11.000 (1985) [2] [3]
Agency executives
Parent agency Ministry of Interior (1948–51, 1955–89)
Ministry of State Security (1951–55)
Child agency

The Securitate (pronounced  [sekuriˈtate] , Romanian for Security) was the popular term for the Departamentul Securității Statului (Department of State Security), the secret police agency of the Socialist Republic of Romania. Previously, before the communist regime, Romanian secret police was called Siguranța Statului. It was founded on 30 August 1948, with help from the Soviet NKVD, while Romania was practically under the Red Army's occupation. Following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1989, the new authorities assigned the various intelligence tasks of the DSS to new institutions.


The Securitate was, in proportion to Romania's population, one of the largest secret police forces in the Eastern bloc. [2] The first budget of the Securitate in 1948 stipulated a number of 4,641 positions, of which 3,549 were filled by February 1949: 64% were workers, 4% peasants, 28% clerks, 2% persons of unspecified origin, and 2% intellectuals.[ citation needed ] By 1951, the Securitate's staff had increased fivefold, while in January 1956, the Securitate had 25,468 employees. [4] At its height, the Securitate employed some 11,000 agents and had half a million informers [2] for a country with a population of 22 million by 1985. [3] Under Ceaușescu, the Securitate was one of the most brutal secret police forces in the world, responsible for the arrests, torture and deaths of thousands of people. [2]



The General Directorate for the Security of the People (Romanian initials: DGSP, but more commonly just called the Securitate) was officially founded on 30 August 1948, by Decree 221/30 of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly. [4] However, it had precursors going back to August 1944, following King Michael's Coup. [4] Its stated purpose was to "defend democratic conquests and guarantee the safety of the Romanian People's Republic against both internal and external enemies." [5] :579

The Securitate was created with the help of SMERSH, the NKVD counter-intelligence unit. The SMERSH operation in Romania, called Brigada Mobilă ("The Mobile Brigade"), was led until 1948 by NKVD colonel Alexandru Nicolschi. [5] :579 The first Director of the Securitate was NKVD general Gheorghe Pintilie (born Panteleymon Bondarenko, nicknamed "Pantiușa"). Alexandru Nicolschi (by then a general) and another Soviet officer, Major General Vladimir Mazuru, held the deputy directorships. Wilhelm Einhorn was the first Securitate secretary.

As Vladimir Tismăneanu says, "If one does not grasp the role of political thugs such as the Soviet spies Pintilie Bondarenko (Pantiușa) and Alexandru Nikolski in the exercise of terror in Romania during the most horrible Stalinist period, and their personal connections with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and members of his entourage, it is difficult to understand the origins and the role of the Securitate". [6]

Initially, many of the agents of the Securitate were former Royal Security Police (named General Directorate of Safety PoliceDirecția Generală a Poliției de Siguranță in Romanian) members. However, before long, Pantiușa ordered anyone who had served the monarchy's police in any capacity arrested, and in the places of the Royal Security Policemen, he hired ardent members of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR), to ensure total loyalty within the organization.


The Securitate surveillance took place in different ways: general intelligence surveillance (supraveghere informativă generală, abbreviated "S.I.G."); priority intelligence surveillance (supraveghere informativă prioritară, abbreviated "S.I.P."); clearance file (mapă de verificare, abbreviated "M.V."); individual surveillance dossier (dosar de urmărire individuală, abbreviated "D.U.I."); target dossier (dosar de obiectiv), the target being, for example, an institute, a hospital, a school, or a company; case dossier (dosar de problemă), the targets being former political prisoners, former Iron Guard members, religious organizations, etc.; and element dossier (dosar de mediu), targeting writers, priests, etc. [7]

In the 1980s, the Securitate launched a massive campaign to stamp out dissent in Romania, manipulating the country's population with vicious rumors (such as supposed contacts with Western intelligence agencies), machinations, frameups, public denunciations, encouraging conflict between segments of the population, public humiliation of dissidents, toughened censorship and the repression of even the smallest gestures of independence by intellectuals. Often the term "intellectual" was used by the Securitate to describe dissidents with higher education, such as college and university students, writers, directors and scientists who opposed the philosophy of the Romanian Communist Party. Assassinations were also used to silence dissent, such as the attempt to kill high-ranking defector Ion Mihai Pacepa, who received two death sentences from Romania in 1978, and on whose head Ceaușescu decreed a bounty of two million US dollars. Yasser Arafat and Muammar al-Gaddafi each added one more million dollars to the reward. [8] In the 1980s, Securitate officials allegedly hired Carlos the Jackal to assassinate Pacepa. [9]

Forced entry into homes and offices and the planting of microphones was another tactic the Securitate used to extract information from the general population. Telephone conversations were routinely monitored, and all internal and international fax and telex communications were intercepted. In August 1977, when the Jiu Valley coal miners' unions went on strike, several leaders died prematurely, and it was later discovered that Securitate doctors had subjected them to five-minute chest X-rays in an attempt to have them develop cancer. [10] After birth rates fell, Securitate agents were placed in gynecological wards while regular pregnancy tests were made mandatory for women of child-bearing age, with severe penalties for anyone who was found to have terminated a pregnancy. [10]

The Securitate's presence was so ubiquitous that it was believed one out of four Romanians was an informer. In truth, the Securitate deployed one agent or informer for every 43 Romanians, which was still large enough to make it practically impossible for dissidents to organize. The regime deliberately fostered this sense of ubiquity, believing that the fear of being watched was sufficient to bend the people to Ceaușescu's will. For example, one shadow group of dissidents limited itself to only three families; any more than that would have attracted Securitate attention. [11] In truth, the East German Stasi was even more ubiquitous than the Securitate; counting informers, the Stasi had one spy for every 6.5 East Germans. [12]


After Ceaușescu was ousted, the new authorities replaced the Securitate with a few special and secret services like the SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) (with internal tasks such as counterespionage), the SIE (Foreign Intelligence Service), the SPP (Protection and Guard Service) (the former Directorate V), the STS (Special Telecommunications Service) (the former General Directorate for Technical Operations), etc.

Today, the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (abbreviated CNSAS, for Consiliul Naţional pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securităţii) "is the authority that administrates the archives of the former communist secret services in Romania and develops educational programs and exhibitions with the aim of preserving the memories of victims of the communist regime." [13]


General Directorate for Technical Operations

The General Directorate for Technical Operations (Direcjia Generala de Tehnica Operativa — DGTO) was an integral part of the Securitate' s activities. [14] Established with the assistance of the KGB in the mid-1950s, the DGTO monitored all voice and electronic communications in the country. [14] The DGTO intercepted all telephone, telegraph, and telex communications coming into and going out of the country. [14] It secretly implanted microphones in public buildings and private residences to record ordinary conversations among citizens. [14]

Directorate for Counterespionage

The Directorate for Counterespionage conducted surveillance against foreigners—Soviet nationals in particular—to monitor or impede their contacts with Romanians. [14] It enforced a variety of restrictions preventing foreigners from residing with ordinary citizens, keeping them from gaining access to foreign embassy compounds and requesting asylum, and requiring them to report any contact with foreigners to the Securitate within twenty-four hours. [14] Directorate IV was responsible for similar counterespionage functions within the armed forces, and its primary mission was identifying and neutralizing Soviet penetrations. [14]

Directorate for Foreign Intelligence

The Directorate for Foreign Intelligence conducted Romania's espionage operations in other countries, such as those of Western Europe. Among those operations sanctioned by the Communist government were industrial espionage to obtain nuclear technology, and plots to assassinate dissidents, such as Matei Pavel Haiducu was tasked with, though he informed French authorities, faking the assassinations before defecting to France.

Directorate for Penitentiaries

The Directorate for Penitentiaries operated Romania's prisons, which were notorious for their horrendous conditions. Prisoners were routinely beaten, denied medical attention, had their mail taken away from them, and sometimes even administered lethal doses of poison.

Directorate for Internal Security

The Directorate for Internal Security was originally given the task of monitoring the activities going on in the PCR. But after Ion Mihai Pacepa's defection in 1978 and his exposing details of the Ceaușescu regime, such as the collaboration with Arab radical groups, massive espionage on American industry targets and elaborate efforts to rally Western political support, international infiltration and espionage in the Securitate only increased, much to Ceaușescu's anger. In order to solve this problem the entire Division was reorganized and was charged with rooting out dissent in the PCR. A top secret division of this Directorate was formed from forces loyal personally to Ceaușescu and charged with monitoring the Securitate itself.[ citation needed ] It acted almost as a Securitate for the Securitate, and was responsible for bugging the phones of other Securitate officers and PCR officials to ensure total loyalty.

National Commission for Visas and Passports

The National Commission for Visas and Passports controlled all travel and immigration in and out of Romania. In effect, traveling abroad was all but impossible for anyone but highly placed Party officials, and any ordinary Romanian who applied for a passport was immediately placed under surveillance. Many Jews and ethnic Germans were given passports and exit visas through tacit agreements with the Israeli and West German governments. [15]

Directorate for Security Troops

The Directorate for Security Troops acted as a 20,000-strong paramilitary force for the government, equipped with artillery and armoured personnel carriers. The security troops selected new recruits from the same annual pool of conscripts that the armed services used. The police performed routine law enforcement functions including traffic control and issuance of internal identification cards to citizens. Organized in the late 1940s to defend the new regime, in 1989 the security troops had 20,000 soldiers. They were an elite, specially trained paramilitary force organized like motorized rifle (infantry) units equipped with small arms, artillery, and armored personnel carriers, but their mission was considerably different. [16]

The security troops were directly responsible through the Minister of the Interior to Ceaușescu. They guarded important installations including PCR county and central office buildings and radio and television stations. The Ceaușescu regime presumably could call the security troops into action as a private army to defend itself against a military coup d'état or other domestic challenges and to suppress antiregime riots, demonstrations, or strikes. [16]

To ensure total loyalty amongst these crack troops, there were five times as many political officers in the Directorate for Security Troops than there were in the regular army. [16] They adhered to stricter discipline than in the regular military, but they were rewarded with special treatment and enjoyed far superior living conditions compared to their countrymen. [16] They guarded television and radio stations, and PCR buildings and in the event of a coup, would have been called in to protect the regime.

After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the Directorate for Security Troops was disbanded and replaced first by the Guard and Order Troops (Trupele de Pază și Ordine), and in July 1990 by the Gendarmerie.

Directorate for Militia

The Directorate for Militia controlled Romania's Miliția, the standard police force, which carried out regular policing tasks such as traffic control, public order, etc. In 1990 it was replaced by the Romanian Police.

Directorate V

Directorate V were bodyguards for important governmental officials.

See also


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website

  1. "DECRET nr.33 din 30 decembrie 1989 privind desfiintarea Departamentului securitatii statului".
  2. 1 2 3 4 Craig S. Smith, "Eastern Europe Struggles to Purge Security Services", The New York Times , December 12, 2006
  3. 1 2 Turnock 1997 , p. 15
  4. 1 2 3 Cristian Troncota, "Securitatea: Începuturile" Archived 2007-12-12 at the Wayback Machine , Magazin Istoric, 1998
  5. 1 2 Dumitru, Irena (2014). "Building an intelligence culture from within: The SRI and Romanian society". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence . 27 (3): 569–589. doi:10.1080/08850607.2014.900298.
  6. Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2003). ISBN   0-520-23747-1 p. 20
  7. Mares, Clara (June 2005). "Prevenirea ca metoda de represiune a Securitatii". No. 273 (in Romanian). Observator cultural. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  8. "Book Inspired Counter-Revolution" by Alfred S. Regnery, published in Human Events, October 22, 2002
  9. "The Securitate Arsenal for Carlos," Ziua , Bucharest, 2004
  10. 1 2 Crampton 1997 , p. 355
  11. Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire . New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN   0-375-42532-2.
  12. John O. Koehler. "Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police". The New York Times.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Bachman, Ronald D., ed. (1991). Romania: a country study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 300–304. OCLC   44354029. PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain .CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  15. June 29th 1973 Agreement between the Socialist Romania and German Federation Archived 2013-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  16. 1 2 3 4 "Romania: Ministry of Interior and Security Forces". Archived from the original on 2004-10-30.

Related Research Articles

Socialist Republic of Romania 1947–1989 republic in Southeastern Europe

The Socialist Republic of Romania was a Marxist–Leninist one-party communist state that existed officially in Romania from 1947 to 1989. From 1947 to 1965, the state was known as the Romanian People's Republic. The country was an Eastern Bloc state and a member of the Warsaw Pact with a dominant role for the Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its constitutions. Geographically, Romania bordered the Black Sea to the east, the Soviet Union to the north and east, Hungary and Yugoslavia to the west, and Bulgaria to the south.

Romanian Intelligence Service

The Romanian Intelligence Service is Romania's main domestic intelligence service. Its role is to gather information relevant to national security and hand it over to relevant institutions, such as Romanian Government, presidency and law enforcement departments and agencies. The service is gathering intelligence by ways such as signals intelligence (SIGINT), open-source intelligence (OSINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT).

Ion Mihai Pacepa Romanian general

Ion Mihai Pacepa was a two-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of the Socialist Republic of Romania, who defected to the United States in July 1978 following President Jimmy Carter's approval of his request for political asylum. He was the highest-ranking defector from the former Eastern Bloc, and wrote books and articles on the inner workings of communist intelligence services. His best known work is the book Disinformation.

Romanian Revolution Period of violent civil unrest in Romania in December 1989

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in Romania during December 1989 as a part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries around the world. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Romanian Communist Party (PCR) General Secretary Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Marxist–Leninist government in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country's leadership and executed its leader.

Dumitru Burlan is a Romanian former Securitate officer.

Constantin Pîrvulescu

Constantin Pîrvulescu was a Romanian communist politician, one of the founders of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR), who, as time went on, became an active opponent of leader Nicolae Ceaușescu. Briefly expelled from the Party in 1960, he was re-admitted and elected to the Party Revision Committee in 1974.

Matei Pavel Haiducu was a Romanian secret agent who defected to France in 1981. He belonged to the "Direcţia Informaţii Externe" of the Securitate.

Alexandru Nicolschi was a Romanian communist activist, Soviet agent and officer, and Securitate chief under the Communist regime. Active until 1961, he was one of the most recognizable leaders of violent political repression.

Gheorghe Pintilie

Gheorghe Pintilie was a Soviet intelligence agent, Soviet citizen and naturalised Romanian communist activist of Ukrainian origin, and the first Director of the Securitate. As such, he was one of the main organizers of the repression in Socialist Republic of Romania, responsible for the arrest, deportation, and internment of around 400,000 people.

Telephone tapping in the countries of the Eastern Bloc was a widespread method of the mass surveillance of the population by the secret police.

Petre Borilă

Petre Borilă was a Romanian communist politician who briefly served as Vice-Premier under the Communist regime. A member of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) since his late teens, he was a political commissar in the Spanish Civil War and a Comintern cadre afterwards, spending World War II in exile in the Soviet Union. Borilă returned to Romania during the late 1940s, and rose to prominence under Communist rule, when he was a member of the PCR's Central Committee and Politburo.

Eastern Bloc politics

Eastern Bloc politics followed the Red Army's occupation of much of Central and Eastern Europe at the end of World War II and the Soviet Union's installation of Soviet-controlled Marxist–Leninist governments in the region that would be later called the Eastern Bloc through a process of bloc politics and repression. These governments contained apparent elements of representative democracy to initially conceal the process.

Tudor Postelnicu was a Romanian Communist politician, who served as Director of the Securitate from March 1978 to October 1987, and then as Interior Minister until the 1989 Revolution.

Nicolae Pleșiță

Nicolae Pleșiță was a Romanian intelligence official and secret police investigator. From 1980 to 1984, he led the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Securitate, the secret service of Communist Romania. He was described by the New York Times and Associated Press at the time of his death as "a die-hard Communist and ruthless chief of the Securitate secret police."

Clerical collaboration with communist secret services occurred in some Eastern European countries during the Cold War. There were multiple reasons why certain clergy members chose to take this course of action. Some hoped to provide services to the government in exchange for a reversal of policies persecuting Christians. Others wished to buy favors from the authorities in order to advance their own careers, since the authorities could influence promotions within the Church hierarchies. Finally, there are claims that some clergy members were secret service agents from the beginning, working undercover.

1985 Romanian legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in the Socialist Republic of Romania on 17 March 1985. The Front of Socialist Unity and Democracy (FDUS), dominated by the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) and including other mass organisations, was the only group to contest the elections, and no prospective candidate could run for office without the Front's approval. Consequently, FDUS candidates won all 369 seats in the Great National Assembly, also ensuring the rubber-stamp confirmation of Nicolae Ceaușescu as President of Romania. The Assembly which elected him included several members of the Ceaușescu family, namely his wife Elena, son Nicu, and brother Ilie. Continuity was also ensured by other incumbents, including Nicolae Giosan as Assembly chairman and Constantin Dăscălescu as Prime Minister.

Alexandru Drăghici

Alexandru Drăghici was a Romanian communist activist and politician. He was Interior Minister in 1952 and from 1957 to 1965, and State Security Minister from 1952 to 1957. In these capacities, he exercised control over the Securitate secret police during a period of active repression against other Communist Party members, anti-communist resistance members and ordinary citizens.

Orthodox Church in Communist Romania Church organization existed from 1947 - 1989

The Orthodox Church in Communist Romania was the period in the history of the Romanian Orthodox Church that spanned between 1947 and 1989, the era in which Romania was a socialist state. The regime's relationship with the Orthodox Church was ambiguous: while it declared itself "atheist", it actively collaborated with the Church, and, during the Ceaușescu era, the government used the Orthodox Church as part of his promotion of national identity.

Serghei Nicolau was a Romanian communist espionage chief and a Securitate general.

Vasile Patilineț

Vasile Patilineț was a Romanian communist activist, politician and diplomat. A worker and native of the industrial Jiu Valley, he joined the Romanian Communist Party in 1945 and steadily rose through its ranks, entering the central committee a decade later. Subsequently, he became a close ally of Nicolae Ceaușescu, whose rise to power in 1965 he helped facilitate. A significant player in the early years of the latter's rule, he became steadily alarmed by the dictator's excesses and began plotting against him by the late 1970s. He was sent as ambassador to Turkey in 1980, and six years later, upon finishing his service at Ankara, was killed in a suspicious car accident.