Wed, 12 May 2021

A family photo archive reveals life behind the public facade of Romania's notorious communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.

Nicolae Ceausescu, sporting a bandaged trigger finger, watches his wife, Elena, take aim with a shotgun during a New Year's Eve hunting trip in 1976. A Romanian diplomat is whipped on the backside by Ceausescu while crouching over the carcass of a hare. The photo was taken during a hunting trip with the heads of Romania's diplomatic missions in 1969. Ceausescu looks over a lineup of recently killed bears in Bistrita, northern Romania in 1972.

These images are some of nearly 6,000 photos released online in a photo archive created by Romania's National Archives and the country's Institute for the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism.

Ceausescu sprinkles snow on his wife's head during yet another hunting trip in 1976.

The archive focuses largely on the period from 1965, when Romania was ruled over by the Ceausescus, until their overthrow and execution in 1989.

Elena cuddles with her son, Nicu, the heir apparent to Nicolae Ceausescu.

Hundreds of photos in the archive were sourced from the Ceausescus' personal photo collection and feature the notorious couple and their inner circle in candid moments.

The Ceausescus during a New Year's Eve party in 1976. Nicu Ceausescu (center) with unidentified women during the 1976 party. The younger Ceausescu was sentenced to prison after his parents' killings and died from liver disease in Vienna in 1996 aged 45.

The archive also features thousands of official photos from Ceausescu's reign.

Crowds gather upon Nicolae Ceausescu's arrival in Pitesti, near Bucharest, in 1966. The photo was taken a year after the former shoemaking apprentice rose to power in Romania.

Ceausescu's rule began hopefully after he lifted restrictions on freedom of speech, and staunchly opposed the Soviet Union's 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, a stance that won him widespread support at home and from the West.

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