Nicolae Ceausescu created a unique personality cult in the 1970s and 1980s, transforming communist Romania into one of the strangest regimes Europe has ever seen. Newspapers had to mention his name 40 times on every page, factory workers spent months rehearsing dance routines dressed as soldiers and gymnasts for huge shows at which thousands of citizens were lined up to form the words Nicolae Ceausescu with their bodies.
When the Romanian economy and living standards plummeted in the 1980s, the line between theatre and life blurred completely. Ceausescu went on working visits to the countryside where he inspected displays of meat and fruit made out of polystyrene, and closer to home began work on what would have been the largest palace in the world. At the final parade in 1989, workers walked past their leader to the sound of taped chants and applause.
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