Ceausescu had cut workers' salaries and demanded higher production. He leveled villages and had their residents shipped to city ghettos. And he quieted dissent with one of the world's most feared secret police.
A protest that began in the western city Timisoara quickly spread across the country, and just days before Christmas, the city of Bucharest became a battleground. Ceausescu and his wife tried to flee, but they were captured, tried and convicted by a military court, and executed.
Romania was free. But it would take years to overcome the damage.