Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was Romania’s first Communist leader, overseeing purges of dissidents and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people who had fallen afoul of the newly installed Communist regime.
Many Romanians have a dim memory of the period, although his name is widely recognized.
This week, a hotel which was once a palace belonging to Romanian Prince Barbu Stirbey, named a bar after the late Communist leader, claiming he used to play skittles there.
Stirbey was a close confidant of Romania’s Queen Marie and also served as prime minister in 1927.
The palace, north of the Romanian capital, along with thousands of other private properties was seized by the communists who came to power in 1947. It is now under private ownership.
The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania on Friday urged the owners to change the name, calling it a marketing gimmick in poor taste.
„The name of the former dictator is connected with the banning of political parties, witch-hunts, thousands of political trials where numerous innocent citizens ended up in prison and camps, and the forced collectivization of agriculture,” it said in a statement.
„Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej had a decisive role in installing communism in Romania and the dramatic changes which affected the country from a political, economic, social and cultural perspective.”
Gheorghiu-Dej led Romania from the onset of communism in 1947, the year that King Michael was forced to abdicate, until 1965 when he died of lung cancer. He was succeeded by Nicolae Ceausescu who ran the country with an iron fist in later years until the 1989 revolution when he was deposed and executed.
„To ignore the crimes and abuses committed in Communist Romania is a slur on the memory of those who suffered.”
„The institute considers it totally inappropriate to use the former Communist leader’s name for marketing purposes and asks for it to be urgently changed.”