By Darnelle Mason
Editor’s note: As publishers of the much-talked-about new book “Disinformation” and the film documentary of the same name, WND has described how Ion Mihai Pacepa, the book’s co-author and focus of the movie, was the highest-ranking spy chief ever to defect from the Soviet bloc. WND has also described his huge role in liberating communist Romania from the unspeakably evil dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, whom he once served as top adviser. WND has even attempted to describe how abominable conditions were at that time. But now, Darnelle Mason, founder of a Christian ministry in Romania and eyewitness to life in that nation under Ceausescu – and to its liberation thanks to Pacepa – provides a vivid, accurate and chilling picture of life in that nation before Pacepa lit the fuse that ended the tyranny …
“Does America know what is happening to us?” When will America come to help us?”
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Romanians asked these words of me countless times during Nicolae Ceausescu's accelerated campaign of misery and terror upon his own people during the 1980s.
Why would a cultured European country that has contributed to the world its own unique achievements in science, literature, music, architecture, art and education be reduced to asking for help?
It is very difficult to explain to the Western world the oppression of Romania during this decade. I liken being there to being in “The Twilight Zone,” but for Romanians, the horrors of their deprivation and terror was an everyday reality.
Romania functioned like a besieged country during wartime occupied by a foreign enemy. Food and electricity were rationed. In the cities, Romanians waited in long lines for bread and gasoline, and meat was a rare commodity. The only “meat” I witnessed in stores was chicken feet. All news from the West was banned – this meant books, newspapers, magazines and radio broadcasts. Forget about a variety of television programming; there were only two or three channels, which most of the time broadcast the “wooden” speech and applause of Ceausescu and his minions.
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It was illegal for Romanians to host Westerners in their home, and it was expected that all meetings and conversations with Westerners would be reported to their local Security Police. Phones were tapped, mail was censored and anything that had to do with Western international contact was heavily monitored and scrutinized. Romanians were not allowed to stray from their own city without prior permission from local authorities, and mobile militia roadblocks made sure of that!
The Romanian government made surreal maps for its citizens – curiously absent were the names of border towns and the international countries that surrounded them. This was, of course, to discourage Romanians from discovering where they might escape.
The ever-present and enormously pervasive Security police – the Securitate – swiftly punished any mode of dissent. Just like the German Gestapo, they utilized a gross proportion of the citizenry to inform on each other in order to obtain an extra ration of food or a prized trip to see a doctor and actually get medicine. Or if you became a valuable informant, you just may be able to travel to another Soviet bloc country, or even overseas.
In contrast, if you were a brave Romanian priest, pastor, poet, writer, teacher, scientist, farmer, student, etc., and had the courageous conviction to stand up and resist your government’s putrid assault on the Romanian mind, body and soul, you were promptly dealt with. Initially, you would be placed under surveillance, then moved to the illustrious prison system and be tortured and beaten, or just mysteriously disappear, or worst of all, be found dead – by natural causes, of course.
It is hard for Westerners to imagine what this type of atmosphere does to your humanity.
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It creates great anguish and desperation. Romanians were hungry for freedom, and rightly so, being systematically suffocated by their own government.
But it also creates courage and determination. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Romanians found life too deplorable and risked everything to cross over their border to find freedom for themselves and their families. Guards with machine guns, dogs, barbed wire and trip wire with underground explosives manned the Romanian borders. Many Romanians lost limbs and were caught and imprisoned, tortured or killed as they were labeled with the ultimate evil label that existed in socialist Romania – “a traitor.”
If a Romanian decided to escape by swimming the Danube River, there were boats waiting to harpoon them. Imagine the idea of killing human beings like sea urchins! As people living in the relative ease of a free society, we have to ask ourselves: “How bad is it when people are willing to crawl on their belly in a field crisscrossed with explosives, or swim against the currents to find a better life?”
Yes, life in Romania was that bad. It was that dark.
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It was in this seemingly hopeless Romanian landscape that a bright light appeared in the form of an exposé called “Red Horizons: The True Story of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu’s Crimes, Lifestyle, and Corruption,” written by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa. In 1988, through “Red Horizons,” Pacepa opened the lid on the Ceausescu regime and revealed all the filth of its deception and the misery it created.
The socialist Romanian regime was hit with a purge that would not end until the government was destroyed. Those of us from the West working unceasingly on behalf of Romanians instinctively knew that Ion Mihai Pacepa had dealt a deathblow to the Ceausescu regime. For us, it made perfect sense that one of Romania’s former governmental architects' that helped build and support the system could be the only one to destroy the system.
I personally heard about “Red Horizons” from Romanians themselves. I was home in California when I began receiving calls from Romanian exiles here in the United States. I will never forget their excitement, stumbling over their words, in telling me, “Finally, Darnelle, finally. Someone like Mr. Pacepa has appealed on our behalf. Finally, Darnelle.” I could not believe it. I immediately bought the book and read it in one night. When I finished, I wept as I said to myself, “Finally, I can answer the question posed to me all those countless times by suffering Romanians and tell them that America is coming, not in the power of the American military, but in the power of the truth, brought by a Romanian-American.”
In my exuberant state, I immediately wrote Gen. Pacepa a letter, thanking him for his sacrifice in leaving behind his country and his daughter, and to thank him for his extreme bravery in exposing the Ceausescu regime. I knew that I was penning a letter that would never get to him – but he had to know, and I had to tell him. I knew that “Red Horizons” would usher in a historical moment on the world stage, but I had no idea how historical “Red Horizons” would become in the near future.
Watch Darnelle Mason in the new WND Films release, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West”:
Several months later, to my utter surprise, I received a letter from Ion Mihai Pacepa. His words need to be repeated to the world, and I will share with you an excerpt here:
By describing the life and privileges of Nicolae Ceausescu, “Red Horizons” tries to open a window for the American reader looking out on the incredible life at the court of any Soviet bloc leader. A window looking behind the scenes at the Communist world, where the leaders – and only the leaders – count. A window looking out on a world where people are nothing but numbers in desperate need of help from the West to become human beings again. But, by dedicating “Red Horizons” to my daughter and her husband, I have dedicated it to all political prisoners kept hostage against their will, who are crying for help from the Free World.
I did go back to Romania and tell Romanians that hope had arrived and America was coming in the power of Gen. Pacepa’s words of truth. Ion Mihai Pacepa’s name was not spoken in public, but I watched Romanians listen to the excerpts of “Red Horizons” that were broadcast on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty into Romania. This was a very risky and dangerous action, and Romanians took the precautions of being alone in darkened rooms making sure their children were not home, as children were either willing or unwilling informants on their parents.
“Red Horizons” had a duel effect on Romania. It not only accelerated the oppression and repression by the regime, but it also empowered a battered people, who until then had no hope of any country coming to their rescue. Through the power of his truthful testimony and by the witness of his sacrifice for Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa began the process of building a powerful, popular army in the consciousness of the Romanian people. I saw it. I believed it. Eventually, the Romanian people would rise up and fight their oppressive government and finally be unshackled from their dreadful existence.
Victory is sweet, but inevitably all victories come with a price. To my heartache, many in Romania view Ion Mihai Pacepa as a traitor. (That ultimate evil socialist Romanian label.) In my mind, the act of a traitor is when someone hands over something of value for personal gain. Ion Mihai Pacepa handed over the despicable and evil regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, not for personal gain, but for the hope of destroying that evil system and allowing Romania to build a new, democratic one.
This is evident by what Ion Mihai Pacepa lost – his identity, years of separation from his daughter, living under the threat of assassination, and never being able to truly live as a free man in a land of freedom. Despite all this, Ion Mihai Pacepa continues to fight for Romania’s freedom, and America’s freedom. By publishing “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism,” he is exposing the deception perpetrated on the United States. And he shows the world that his hidden life will not be wasted on indulging himself, but by using his knowledge to fight evil and further the cause of liberty.
After all, isn’t the greatest traitor the one who knows truth and does not fully speak it? “Thank you” is not enough to say to Ion Mihai Pacepa, but to say thank you we must.
Thank you, Gen. Pacepa. I will never forget your sacrifice.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Order Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak's brand new book, "Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion and Promoting Terrorism" or the companion film, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy To Destroy The West.” Better yet, get both the book and DVD together – and save!
Darnelle Mason directed a Christian ministry, Oasis International, from 1984-1992 that brought humanitarian aid to Romanians, the Romanian church, as well as assisted Romanian exiles and emigrants. At present, she continues to assist Romanian families through a nonprofit organization, The Guardian Foundation. She is featured in the WND Films movie documentary, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West.”