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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 5, 2014

Narratives of Legitimation in Totalitarian Regimes – Heroes, Villains, Intrigues and Outcomes

Radu Stancu
Pages 106-130

The Political Use of Capital Punishment as a Legitimation Strategy of the Communist Regime in Romania, 1944-1958

In this article, I will describe the evolution of capital punishment and the influence that ideology had during the founding years of Romania’s communist regime, until 1958, when the legislation and application of capital punishment reached its highest peak. Starting with the punishment of war criminals and fascists, I will then describe how the death penalty was used for political motives in a period when the regime had to consolidate, legitimate and fight different enemies. With ups and downs like The Death Penalty Law of 1949 and the abolitionist attempt in 1956, it reached its climax in 1958-1959 after the enactment of Decree no. 318/1958.

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