Nicolae Ceaușescu (Romanian pronunciation: [nikoˈla.e t͡ʃe̯a.uˈʃesku]; 26 January 1918 -- 25 December 1989) was a Romanian Communist politician. He was Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader. He was also the country's head of state from 1967 to 1989. His rule was marked in the first decade by an open policy towards Western Europe and the United States, which deviated from that of the other Warsaw Pact states during the Cold War. He continued a trend first established by his predecessor, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who had tactfully coaxed the Soviet Union into withdrawing its troops from Romania in 1958. Ceaușescu's second decade was characterized by an increasingly brutal and repressive regime—by some accounts, the most rigidly Stalinist regime in the Soviet bloc. It was also marked by an ubiquitous personality cult, nationalism and a deterioration in foreign relations with the Western powers as well as the Soviet Union. Ceaușescu's government was overthrown in the December 1989 revolution, and he and his wife were executed following a televised and hastily organised two-hour court session.