Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈɡe̯orɡe ɡe̯orˈɡi.u deʒ]; November 8, 1901 – March 19, 1965) was the communist leader of Romania from 1947 until his death in 1965.
On 30 December 1947, Gheorghiu-Dej and Prime Minister Petru Groza forced King Michael of Romania to abdicate. Years later, the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, Enver Hoxha alleged that Gheorghiu-Dej personally pulled a gun on Michael and threatened to kill him unless he gave up the throne.
Soviet influence in Romania under Joseph Stalin favored Gheorghiu-Dej, largely seen as a local leader with strong Marxist-Leninist principles. The economic influence of the Soviet Union was highlighted by the creation of the SovRom companies, which directed Romania's commercial exchanges towards unprofitable markets.
Up until Stalin's death and even afterwards, Gheorghiu-Dej did not amend repression policies (such as the works employing penal labor on the Danube-Black Sea Canal - a Stalinist Gulag-type decision which he had countersigned). At the same time, he was the main instigator of the assassination of Ștefan Foriș in 1946 and the arrest of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu in 1948 - both of whom had been his rivals inside the Party's leadership.
Gheorghiu-Dej briefly gave up the first secretaryship of the Communist Party in 1954 to Gheorghe Apostol, retaining the premiership he had held since 1952. However, he was still the actual leader of Romania, and he regained the party leadership in 1955. In 1961, he became president of the newly created State Council, making him de jure head of state. He was already de facto head of state by virtue of his party post.
Gheorghiu-Dej was at first unsettled by Nikita Khrushchev's reforms and the process of De-Stalinization. He then became the architect of Romania's semi-autonomous foreign and economic policy within the Warsaw Pact and the Comecon in the late 1950s, notably by initiating the creation of a heavy industry which went against Soviet directions for the Eastern Bloc as a whole (e.g. the new large-scale steel plant in Galați, which relied on iron resources imported from India and Australia). Romania under Gheorghiu-Dej was considered one of the loyal among the Soviet satellites