Saturday, 9 January 2016


What did he do to deserve this?

Although I have no specific knowledge on the matter, I am prepared to believe that post-War Romania was not a pleasant society and that for many it remained actively unpleasant right through till the violent deaths of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu in 1989.

I can believe that the institutional care of children in Romania could be awful. I read some terrible accounts by Western visitors once the Curtain fell.

What I write below is not to deny or excuse the inhumanity that contributed to this waste and suffering. It is a plea that acknowledging and understanding what went on there should not be clouded with angry and uninformed anti-Communism (anti-Sovietism?) that still lingers, not just in the West, long after the ideological clash of the Cold War has passed.

Makarenko demonised

This posting has been prompted by a chance reading of a long and subjective newspaper article by Ana Maria Ciobanu, originally published in Romanian and now available in English translation. Judge it for yourself in its entirety, if you wish:

At one point readers are invited to think of themselves as inmates of the Rumanian orphanage system underCeauşescu. One sentence (highlighted) particularly got my goat–
You were one of more than 100,000 children of Ceauşescu, or the way caretakers named you. They showed him to you in the paintings hanging on the walls and they told you that he was your father, the one you needed to thank for being alive. The caretakers learned all of this nonsense from the propaganda offered by Anton Makarenko, Lenin’s educational councilor('Children found in institutions are the children of the state. Their father is the state and their mother is the entire society of peasants and workers').

As I cannot relate this to Makarenkoist reality, then I have no reason to grant unreserved credulity to anything else in this extensive article. I cannot know what is true and what is not, and I no longer trust the journalism.

Just to locate myself, I googled “Makarenko” and “Romania” coming up immediately with an entry in Wikipedia on the undeniably grim Pitești Prison. Again a sentence stuck in my craw –
It has been argued that techniques used by the ODCC were ultimately derived from Anton Makarenko's controversial pedagogy and penology principles in respect to rehabilitation.


Poor old Anton Semenovich, he's been transformed into a bogey man to frighten those who have no better sense that to be frightened by such things.

It really is time for reexamination and rehabilitation of one of the great figures of twentieth-century education.

Two recent postings on this theme


Ciobanu, A. M. (2014) Copiii lui Ceaușescu, DOR, 12 December

Ciobanu, A. M. (2015) Ceausescu’s children, Romania-Insider, 19 November

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