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The bloody week Ceausescu's Romania fell

In December 1989, protesters took over state television and talked a nation through a revolution.

Elena Maria Ionescu, a news writer and Victor's wife, helped out in the studio, partly because her office was a gaping hole in the eighth floor.

Section chiefs and janitors alike beamed with pride at the unflickering image they broadcast across the fearful nation. In the face of rumors and threats, the reassuring voices on television maintained momentum.

Unlikely heroes emerged. Marin Constantin, who edited youth programs, took it upon himself to make sure the eighth-floor occupants made it through the night.

When the shooting started, he herded everyone into a hallway protected from ricochet. Finding no way to douse the ceiling lights, he deftly smashed them with a chair.

When heavy fighting began, his grin broadened. To buck up spirits, he sang an old national hymn that was almost forgotten during Ceausescu's reign:

"Wake up, Romania, from the mortal sleep into which you have been lulled by the evil tyrant."

By Christmas morning, Bucharest bristled with Ceausescu reports. He and his wife were captured on the way to the Soviet border. But were they? Would he fight back?

Then Free Romanian Television delivered the coup de grace, a last look at Ceausescu, pierced with executioners’ bullets in an upcountry courtyard.

Of the old Evil Empire, only the Soviet Union remained.