“When Loyalty Was All There Was”: International Civil Servants in the Ceausescu Era 

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 2:30 PM
Salon 7 (Palmer House Hilton)
Cristina Stanca-Mustea, independent researcher
Communism was defined, in Romania, like in most of the former Eastern Bloc, through loyalty. The complicated and interrelating schemes of belonging charted the lines of everyday life and more often than not exacted a huge price. Perceived slights, signs of imagined disloyalty or outright disobedience were severely punished – some directly and some through intricate systems of pressure and intimidation. The purpose was the “erasing” of the offence through destroying the offender. The memory of the transgression had to be excised, in an almost ceremonial manner. In this context, international organizations had to walk a fine line, especially when it came to dealing with their employees from those regions. In places such as UNESCO, people had always been expected to join the big UN family, leaving any national loyalty behind. However, this has never been a simple approach – from neither side. The story of Sorin Dumitrescu, a high-ranking UNESCO official withheld against his will in Romania in the 1970s demonstrates that competing loyalties can turn dangerous.
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