Gheorghiu-Dej, Gheorghe (Romania)
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej led Romania, under various titles, from 1952–65. With Soviet backing, he was instrumental in removing the monarchy and establishing the communist People’s Republic of Romania. Initially an ardent Stalinist, his relationship with the USSR deteriorated after Nikita Khrushchev came to power. Gheorghiu-Dej then pursued a more independent line and sought warmer relations with the West.
Gheorghiu-Dej was born Gheorghe Gheorghiu on 8 Nov. 1901 in Bârlad, Romania. He became politically active after World War I, joining the outlawed Romanian Communist Party in 1930 while working on the tramways. He was involved in the 1933 Grivita rail strike and as a result was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He took the name Dej as this was the location of his jail. In 1936, though still in prison, he was elected to the party’s Central Committee. He escaped in Aug. 1944, participated in the uprising that saw Romania join the Allies against Germany and became...