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In April 1977 the Securitate boasted a total of 20,297 agents at the rank of army officers, of whom 13,397 were engaged in permanent missions and 6,900 could be drafted for occasional special missions, while six years later it included 1,389 officers, 968 sub-officers, 574 civilians and 20,459 young recruits—young men who just finished high-school or university and were neither Securitate civilians, nor officers—to a grand total of 23,381 individuals. Some 90 percent of Securitate agents were Communist Party members. According to documents Constantin ("Ticu") Dumitrescu obtained in 1993, the political police had 507,003 informers, but archival evidence confirmed the involvement of only 486,000.
Of these 29,613 were Nazi sympathizers, 10,367 members of the inter-war Peasant and Liberal Parties, and 2,753 former political prisoners.
Based on primary Romanian language sources, personal interviews with members of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archive, the Romanian Information Service and the Romanian Association of Former Political Prisoners, and my own direct observations collected during a summer 2004 visit to the communist political police archives in Bucharest, this article offers a picture of the Securitate archive in terms of the number and types of the full-time agents and part-time informers that compiled it, the reasons for starting and ending collaboration, and the most notable material that was seemingly lost, destroyed or never produced, providing concrete examples of the different types of archival documents that can be found in various collections.
Some of the reports, notes and analyses described below refer to real victims and spies, and were the subject of much public scrutiny in Romania, often exposing informers to public condemnation and occasionally putting an untimely end to their political careers.
While analyzing the activity of the Ministry of Interior, the Central Committee of the Communist Party decided during its June 1967 and April 1968 meetings that the Securitate would no longer create personal files for party members supporting the political police and the militia, and would no longer be allowed to use nomenclatura members and individuals elected to party and state leadership positions.
Fifteen years after the collapse of President Nicolae Ceausescu's sultanism-cum-totalitarianism, there are only a handful of English-language books and articles detailing the activity of the notorious Securitate, the Romanian communist secret political police, the panoply of repressive methods it employed, and the archive of documents it diligently produced. In two pioneering volumes, historian Dennis Deletant (19) detailed the Securitate's structure, methods and relationship with the Communist Party under Ceausescu and his predecessor, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.The most important cleavage dividing the informer network related to party membership, with party members working for the political police being known as "collaborators" and non-party members being labeled as "informers," a difference not necessarily translated in the kind of information the two groups provided.As communism matured, the Communist Party took greater care to hide both the identity and the collaboration of party members turned Securitate informers.It is also true that transparency and accountability were never among the goals of the political police, which occasionally even the Communist Party had difficulty to control, although the secret police was created as the party's repressive tool.
Readers familiar with the East German Stasi should note that the Romanian and East German communist secret police conducted similar recruitment, surveillance and data gathering activities, but the archives they left behind have met with different destinies.
Whereas the Stasi archive was taken over by the so-called Gauck Agency (the Agency of the Federal Commissioner for Documents of the State Security Police of the former German Democratic Republic, often referred to by the name of its first head, former East German pastor Joachim Gauck) soon after the collapse of the communist regime of Erich Honecker and was made available to the public almost in its entirety (with many of the shredded files painstakingly reconstituted), the Securitate archive remains scattered across several state agencies, a large part of it is unavailable to the public, and many Romanians believe that since 1989 the archive in its entirety has been altered beyond recognition by unnamed individuals close to the country's successive governments.