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Constantin Argetoianu

Constantin Argetoianu

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Constantin Argetoianu was a Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n politician, one of the best-known personalities of interwar
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 Greater Romania
Greater Romania
The Greater Romania generally refers to the territory of Romania in the years between the First World War and the Second World War, the largest geographical extent of Romania up to that time and its largest peacetime extent ever ; more precisely, it refers to the territory of the Kingdom of...

, who served as the Prime Minister between September 28 and November 23, 1939. His memoirs, Memorii. Pentru cei de mâine. Amintiri din vremea celor de ieri ("Memoirs. For those of tomorrow. Recollections of yesterday's world")—a cross section of Romanian society, were made known for the sharp critique of several major figures in Romanian politics (using a sarcastic tone which had made his previous political speeches notorious).

Early life


Born in Craiova
Craiova
Craiova , Romania's 6th largest city and capital of Dolj County, is situated near the east bank of the river Jiu in central Oltenia. It is a longstanding political center, and is located at approximately equal distances from the Southern Carpathians and the River Danube . Craiova is the chief...

 as the son of Army general Ioan Argetoianu, he trained in Law, Medicine, and Letters at the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, and later entered the diplomatic service (1897).

He was an exceptionally prosperous man (a noted Stock Exchange
Bucharest Stock Exchange
The Bucharest Stock Exchange is a stock exchange in Bucharest, capital of Romania. On December 1, 2005, Bucharest's electronic over-the-counter stock market, Rasdaq, was merged with the Bucharest Stock Exchange....

 player and landowner in Breasta, Dolj County
Dolj County
Dolj -Jiu, "lower Jiu", toward Gorj ) is a county of Romania, in Oltenia, with the capital city at Craiova .- Demographics :In 2002, it had a population of 734,231 and a population density of 99/km²....

), and his frequent change in political allegiances was attributed by some of his contemporaries to his financial independence.

World War I


A Freemason
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, Argetoianu was first elected to the Senate
Senate of Romania
The Senate of Romania is the upper house in the bicameral Parliament of Romania. It has 137 seats , to which members are elected by direct popular vote, using Mixed member proportional representation in 42 electoral districts , to serve four-year terms.-Former location:After the Romanian...

 in 1914 as a Conservative Party
Conservative Party (Romania, 1880-1918)
The Conservative Party was between 1880 and 1918 one of Romania's two most important parties, the other one being the Liberal Party...

 representative, where he oscillated between the dissident the mainstream Conservatives of Petre P. Carp
Petre P. Carp
Petre P. Carp , commonly rendered as P. P. Carp, was a Romanian conservative politician and literary critic who served as a Prime Minister of Romania for two terms...

 and the dissident group around Take Ionescu
Take Ionescu
Take or Tache Ionescu was a Romanian centrist politician, journalist, lawyer and diplomat, who also enjoyed reputation as a short story author. Starting his political career as a radical member of the National Liberal Party , he joined the Conservative Party in 1891, and became noted as a social...

 (the latter was welcoming Romania's entry into World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 on the side of the Entente Powers
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

, which Argetoianu also proposed).

Throughout 1918, during the final stages of the Romanian Campaign
Romanian Campaign (World War I)
The Romanian Campaign was part of the Balkan theatre of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied against the armies of the Central Powers. Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917, across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian...

, Argetoianu was Justice Minister, sitting on the first Alexandru Averescu
Alexandru Averescu
Alexandru Averescu was a Romanian marshal and populist politician. A Romanian Armed Forces Commander during World War I, he served as Prime Minister of three separate cabinets . He first rose to prominence during the peasant's revolt of 1907, which he helped repress in violence...

 cabinet (at the time when authorities had retreated to Iaşi
Iasi
Iași is the second most populous city and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life...

, leaving the southern half of the country to be occupied by Imperial German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, Austro-Hungarian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 and Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n troops). He was also head of the Romanian delegation at the Peace preliminaries of Buftea
Buftea
Buftea is a town in Ilfov county, Romania, located 20 km north-west of Bucharest. Its population is growing due to its proximity to Bucharest. One village, Buciumeni, is administered by the town....

, in 1918. The talks resulted in the Treaty of Bucharest
Treaty of Bucharest, 1918
The Treaty of Bucharest was a peace treaty which the German Empire forced Romania to sign on 7 May 1918 following the Romanian campaign of 1916-1917.-Main terms of the treaty:...

 of May, which consecrated Romania's defeat by the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

. His actions at the time were later the subject of an epigram
Epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

 by Cincinat Pavelescu (Pavelescu expressed his belief that the treaty and Argetoianu's views on fiscal policies were to be the subject of scorn for future generations).

People's Party


Argetoianu followed Averescu into opposition to the Ion I. C. Brătianu
Ion I. C. Bratianu
Ion I. C. Brătianu was a Romanian politician, leader of the National Liberal Party , the Prime Minister of Romania for five terms, and Foreign Minister on several occasions; he was the eldest son of statesman and PNL leader Ion Brătianu, the brother of Vintilă and Dinu Brătianu, and the father of...

 National Liberal Party
National Liberal Party (Romania)
The National Liberal Party , abbreviated to PNL, is a centre-right liberal party in Romania. It is the third-largest party in the Romanian Parliament, with 53 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 22 in the Senate: behind the centre-right Democratic Liberal Party and the centre-left Social...

 (PNL) cabinet, and joined the People's Party (PP) created by the latter. He later documented the populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 message of the movement, and left testimonies of Averescu's spontaneous adulation by the crowds of peasants.

Argetoianu was Finance Minister and later Interior Minister in the second Averescu government of 1920. In March 1921, it was uncovered that an associate of his named Aron Schuller had attempted to contract a 20 million lire
Italian lira
The lira was the currency of Italy between 1861 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro...

 loan with a bank in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, using as collateral
Collateral (finance)
In lending agreements, collateral is a borrower's pledge of specific property to a lender, to secure repayment of a loan.The collateral serves as protection for a lender against a borrower's default - that is, any borrower failing to pay the principal and interest under the terms of a loan obligation...

 Romanian war bond
War bond
War bonds are debt securities issued by a government for the purpose of financing military operations during times of war. War bonds generate capital for the government and make civilians feel involved in their national militaries...

s that he had illegally obtained from the Finance Ministry reserve. Argetoianu, who was still in charge at the time, became the target of attacks from the opposition group formed by the Romanian National Party
Romanian National Party
The Romanian National Party , initially known as the Romanian National Party in Transylvania and Banat , was a political party which was initially designed to offer ethnic representation to Romanians in the Kingdom of Hungary, the Transleithanian half of Austria-Hungary, and especially to those in...

 and the Peasants' Party
Peasants' Party (Romania)
The Peasants' Party was a political party in post-World War I Romania that espoused a left-wing ideology partly connected with Agrarianism and Populism, and aimed to represent the interests of the Romanian peasantry. Through many of its leaders, the party was connected with Romanian populism , a...

, being pressed by Virgil Madgearu
Virgil Madgearu
Virgil Traian N. Madgearu was a Romanian economist, sociologist, and left-wing politician, prominent member and main theorist of the Peasants' Party and of its successor, the National Peasants' Party...

 and Grigore Iunian
Grigore Iunian
Grigore Iunian was a Romanian left-wing politician and lawyer. A member of the National Liberal Party during the 1910s, he rallied with the Peasants' Party after World War I, and followed it into the National Peasants' Party , before leaving in 1933 to create the Radical Peasants' Party-Grigore...

 to explain himself (Iunian proposed a motion of no confidence
Motion of no confidence
A motion of no confidence is a parliamentary motion whose passing would demonstrate to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government.-Overview:Typically, when a parliament passes a vote of no...

, but the PNL continued to show its support for the PP).

Clash with Communism and split with Averescu


Argetoianu soon became noted for his anti-communist
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 stance: he carried out arrests of those Socialist Party
Socialist Party of Romania
The Socialist Party of Romania was a Romanian socialist political party, created on December 11, 1918 by members of the Romanian Social Democratic Party , after the latter emerged from clandestinity...

 members who, during their party's congress in May 1921, supported a maximalist platform
Maximum programme
In Marxist theory, a maximum programme consists of a series of demands which will achieve socialism.The concept of a maximum programme comes from the Erfurt Programme of the SPD, later mirrored by much of the Socialist International. The maximum is contrasted with a minimum programme of immediate...

 and voted in favor of aligning their Socialist-Communist faction (future Communist Party of Romania
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

) with the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

, citing the latter's condemnation of Greater Romania
Greater Romania
The Greater Romania generally refers to the territory of Romania in the years between the First World War and the Second World War, the largest geographical extent of Romania up to that time and its largest peacetime extent ever ; more precisely, it refers to the territory of the Kingdom of...

 (all those arrested were prosecuted in the Dealul Spirii Trial). Argetoianu later stated that the arrest lacked legal grounds, and indicated that he purposely gave the Socialist Gheorghe Cristescu
Gheorghe Cristescu
Gheorghe Cristescu was a Romanian socialist and, for a part of his life, communist militant. Nicknamed "Plăpumarul" , he is also occasionally referred to as "Omul cu lavaliera roşie" , after the most notable of his accessories.-Early activism:Born in Copaciu Gheorghe Cristescu (October 10, 1882...

 approval to hold the congress as a means to incriminate the faction. Faced with mixed reactions inside the cabinet (Averescu hesitated, while the Minister of Justice Grigore Trancu-Iaşi refused to give him support), he ordered the move without his fellow ministers' prior knowledge, and thus faced them with a fait accompli
Fait Accompli
Fait accompli is a French phrase which means literally "an accomplished deed". It is commonly used to describe an action which is completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it...

.

The standoff between Averescu and the parliamentary opposition eventually witnessed a decisive incident: during a prolonged debate over Averescu's proposal to nationalize
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 enterprises in Reşiţa
Resita
' is a city in western Romania and the capital of Caraş-Severin County, in the Banat region. Its 2004 population was 83,985.- Etymology :The name of Reşiţa, might comes from the Latin recitia, meaning "cold spring", as the great historian Nicolae Iorga once suggested, presuming that the Romans...

, Argetoianu addressed a mumbled insult to Madgearu; the PNL, seeing an opportunity for a return to power, expressed sympathy, and all opposition groups appealed to Ferdinand, asking for Averescu's recall (July 14, 1921).

Despite Averescu's eventual defeat in December 1921, Argetoianu was kept in office by the Take Ionescu
Take Ionescu
Take or Tache Ionescu was a Romanian centrist politician, journalist, lawyer and diplomat, who also enjoyed reputation as a short story author. Starting his political career as a radical member of the National Liberal Party , he joined the Conservative Party in 1891, and became noted as a social...

 and Brătianu cabinets. During the spring of 1922, he ordered the killing of several Communist activists who were held in prison custody, including Leonte Filipescu
Leonte Filipescu
Leonte Filipescu was one of the leaders of the early Romanian communist movement, shot in custody by the Romanian authorities....

, staging their attempts to flee from under escort as a pretext. Nevertheless, pressures on the revolutionary grouping were relaxed in summer, when King
King of Romania
King of the Romanians , rather than King of Romania , was the official title of the ruler of the Kingdom of Romania from 1881 until 1947, when Romania was proclaimed a republic....

 Ferdinand I
Ferdinand I of Romania
Ferdinand was the King of Romania from 10 October 1914 until his death.-Early life:Born in Sigmaringen in southwestern Germany, the Roman Catholic Prince Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, later simply of Hohenzollern, was a son of Leopold, Prince of...

 approved an amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 and Argetoianu officially declared that "communism is over in Romania".

PND and PNL


In 1923, after Brătianu again assumed power, he clashed with Averescu and proclaimed himself leader of the PP, being eventually expelled. Having joined Nicolae Iorga
Nicolae Iorga
Nicolae Iorga was a Romanian historian, politician, literary critic, memoirist, poet and playwright. Co-founder of the Democratic Nationalist Party , he served as a member of Parliament, President of the Deputies' Assembly and Senate, cabinet minister and briefly as Prime Minister...

's Democratic Nationalist Party (PND), he soon vehemently protested against the latter's alliance with the Romanian National Party, and moved to the PNL.

Following the sudden death of Ion I. C. Brătianu in 1930, and choosing, in contrast to the policies of Dinu Brătianu
Dinu Bratianu
Dinu Brătianu , born Constantin I. C. Brătianu, was a Romanian politician, who led the National Liberal Party starting with 1934.-Early career:...

, to support the new King Carol II
Carol II of Romania
Carol II reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until 6 September 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria...

, Argetoianu left the party and subsequently defined himself as an independent. In effect, he moved into the camp of politicians approving of an authoritarian
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 regime around Carol. As the monarch's relations with the traditional political class were souring, Argetoianu allegedly engaged in a campaign to draw new allegiances from other environments, aiding to establish a Romanian camarilla
Camarilla (history)
A camarilla is a group of courtiers or favourites who surround a king or ruler. Usually, they do not hold any office or have any official authority but influence their ruler behind the scenes. Consequently, they also escape having to bear responsibility for the effects of their advice...

— it was even reported that, using the official commitment to neutral technocracy
Technocracy (bureaucratic)
Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Economists, engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body...

 as a means to appoint his choice of people to positions of influence, he had recruited his fellow Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

 Jockey Club members. Among his most vocal supporters at the time was the far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 philosopher Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

.

Iorga cabinet and Agrarian Party


He was again in charge of Internal Affairs and Finance from 1931 to 1932, during the Iorga government, when he took a harsh stance against the fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

, outlawing it and arresting some of its members (which led to a string of violent confrontations). Argetoianu was hotly contested as Finance Minister: faced with the widespread insolvency
Insolvency
Insolvency means the inability to pay one's debts as they fall due. Usually used to refer to a business, insolvency refers to the inability of a company to pay off its debts.Business insolvency is defined in two different ways:...

 of small agricultural holdings in front of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, he proposed a form of liquidation
Liquidation
In law, liquidation is the process by which a company is brought to an end, and the assets and property of the company redistributed. Liquidation is also sometimes referred to as winding-up or dissolution, although dissolution technically refers to the last stage of liquidation...

 that was considered in breach of the 1923 Constitution
1923 Constitution of Romania
The 1923 Constitution of Romania, also called the Constitution of Union, was intended to align the organisation of the state on the basis of universal male suffrage and the new realities that arose after the Great Union of 1918. Four draft constitutions existed: one belonging to the National...

. Various other issues forced Argetoianu to cease payments of salaries for civil servants
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 at certain intervals, causing far-reaching problems.

The government was voted out of office in the elections of 1932, when Iorga was replaced by Alexandru Vaida-Voevod
Alexandru Vaida-Voevod
Alexandru Vaida-Voevod or Vaida-Voievod was a Romanian politician who was a supporter and promoter of the union of Transylvania with the Romanian Old Kingdom; he later served three terms as a Prime Minister of Greater Romania.-Transylvanian politics:He was born to a Greek-Catholic family in the...

, a member of the National Peasants' Party
National Peasants' Party
The National Peasants' Party was a Romanian political party, formed in 1926 through the fusion of the Romanian National Party from Transylvania and the Peasants' Party . It was in power between 1928 and 1933, with brief interruptions...

 (PNŢ) who was himself challenged with solving the agrarian issue; Argetoianu subsequently founded the minor Agrarian Party, which, after the National Liberals returned to power with Ion G. Duca
Ion G. Duca
Ion Gheorghe Duca was prime minister of Romania from November 14 to December 30, 1933, when he was assassinated for his efforts to suppress the fascist Iron Guard movement.-Life and political career:...

, remained a close associate of the king in his competition with traditional forces; when Duca was assassinated by the Iron Guard in the final days of 1933, Argetoianu, together with the his former adversary, PNŢ dissident Grigore Iunian
Grigore Iunian
Grigore Iunian was a Romanian left-wing politician and lawyer. A member of the National Liberal Party during the 1910s, he rallied with the Peasants' Party after World War I, and followed it into the National Peasants' Party , before leaving in 1933 to create the Radical Peasants' Party-Grigore...

, and the National Agrarian Party
National Agrarian Party (Romania)
The National Agrarian Party was a right-wing agrarian political party active in Romania during the early 1930s....

's Octavian Goga
Octavian Goga
Octavian Goga was a Romanian politician, poet, playwright, journalist, and translator.-Life:Born in Răşinari, nearby Sibiu, he was an active member in the Romanian nationalistic movement in Transylvania and of its leading group, the Romanian National Party in Austria-Hungary. Before World War I,...

, was probably one of the king's main options in his attempt to create an altogether new political establishment around the camarilla, relying on a compromise with Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was a Romanian politician of the far right, the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard or The Legion of the Archangel Michael , an ultra-nationalist and violently antisemitic organization active throughout most of the interwar period...

 (leader of the Iron Guard). Codreanu refused to accept negotiation, but Carol successfully approached the PNL's "young liberals" faction, which came to power with Gheorghe Tătărescu
Gheorghe Tatarescu
Gheorghe I. Tătărescu was a Romanian politician who served twice as Prime Minister of Romania , three times as Minister of Foreign Affairs , and once as Minister of War...

 (January 1934).

Royal dictatorship and World War II


The frequent target of attacks in the Iron Guard press, Argetoianu led his grouping until 1938, when, faced with the unstoppable rise of the Iron Guard, Carol banned all parties and established his National Renaissance Front
National Renaissance Front
The National Renaissance Front was a fascist Romanian political party created by King Carol II in 1938 as the single monopoly party of government following his decision to ban all other political parties and suspend the 1923 Constitution, and the passing of the 1938 Constitution of Romania...

 (FRN).

His own short-lived FRN cabinet, established after that date, was, after Gheorghe Argeşanu
Gheorghe Argesanu
Gheorghe Argeşanu was a Romanian cavalry general and politician who served as a Prime Minister of Romania for about a week in 1939 .-Biography:...

's the second in quick succession to the violent clash between the Guard and monarch (after the murder of Armand Călinescu
Armand Calinescu
Armand Călinescu was a Romanian economist and politician, who served as Prime Minister between March 1939 and the time of his death.-Early life:...

 by the former). The Argetoianu government was replaced by that of Tătărescu, who had to deal with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's occupation of Bessarabia and was in turn replaced with Ion Gigurtu
Ion Gigurtu
Ion Gigurtu was a Romanian politician, Land Forces officer, engineer and industrialist who served a brief term as Prime Minister from July 4 to September 4, 1940, under the personal regime of King Carol II. A specialist in mining and veteran of both the Second Balkan War and World War I, he made a...

 (Argetoianu, who remained influential throughout the period, began calling for a rapprochement between Romania and the Soviets).

Carol's regime crumbled after the Second Vienna Award
Second Vienna Award
The Second Vienna Award was the second of two Vienna Awards arbitrated by the Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Rendered on August 30, 1940, it re-assigned the territory of Northern Transylvania from Romania to Hungary.-Prelude and historical background :After the World War I, the multi-ethnic...

, when Romania had to cede Northern Transylvania
Northern Transylvania
Northern Transylvania is a region of Transylvania, situated within the territory of Romania. The population is largely composed of both ethnic Romanians and Hungarians, and the region has been part of Romania since 1918 . During World War II, as a consequence of the territorial agreement known as...

 to Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

; it was replaced by th Iron Guard's National Legionary State
National Legionary State
The National Legionary State was the Romanian government from September 6, 1940 to January 23, 1941. It was a single-party regime dictatorship dominated by the overtly fascist Iron Guard in uneasy conjunction with the head of government and Conducător Ion Antonescu, the leader of the Romanian...

, which, itself repressed during the previous years, began a campaign of retaliation — like Tătărescu and several others, Argetoianu was kidnapped on November 27, 1940 in the wake of the Jilava Massacre
Jilava Massacre
The Jilava Massacre took place during the night beginning on November 26, 1940, at Jilava penitentiary, near Bucharest, Romania. 64 political detainees were killed by the Iron Guard , with further high-profile assassinations in the immediate aftermath...

, and faced assassination until being rescued by the intervention of Romanian Army officials.

Retreating from public life during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and the Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 dictatorship (see Romania during World War II
Romania during World War II
Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron...

), Argetoianu left the country in the spring of 1944, settling in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. Romania's withdrawal from the Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 and the start of Soviet occupation
Soviet occupation of Romania
The Soviet occupation of Romania refers to the period from 1944 to August 1958, during which the Soviet Union maintained a significant military presence in Romania...

 caused him to return in November, seeing an opportunity in the apparent decrease in the appeal of traditional parties and expanding on his vision of Romanian-Soviet cooperation. He was the subject of derision in the National Peasants' Party
National Peasants' Party
The National Peasants' Party was a Romanian political party, formed in 1926 through the fusion of the Romanian National Party from Transylvania and the Peasants' Party . It was in power between 1928 and 1933, with brief interruptions...

 press (Dreptatea
Dreptatea
Dreptatea was a Romanian newspaper that appeared between 17 October 1927 and 17 July 1947, as a newspaper of the National Peasants' Party. It was re-founded on February 5, 1990 as a publication of the Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party ....

wrote of him: "leading the intrigue in favor of a private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

–based communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, a capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

-based socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, a mass
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

-free democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

... The country is trustingly placing itself at your disposal. Here are your strings: pull them! Here are your back rooms: maneuver them! Here is your «people»: take it away!").

UNMR, arrest, and death


Attempting in vain to mediate between the Communists and the PNŢ, Argetoianu was rejected by both sides, and, in January 1947, formed his own grouping — the National Union for Work and Reconstruction (Uniunea Naţională Muncă şi Refacere, UNMR) —, alongside Nicolae Ottescu, Nicolae D. Cornăţeanu, Zamfir Brătescu and others. It was kept under surveillance by the Communist-controlled Petru Groza
Petru Groza
Petru Groza was a Romanian politician, best known as the Prime Minister of the first Communist Party-dominated governments under Soviet occupation during the early stages of the Communist regime in Romania....

 government, and was infiltrated by the pro-Communist National-Agrarian Action (Acţiunea Naţional-Agrară, ANA). The UNMR disbanded over worries that Argetoianu was losing credibility with Soviet authorities—the group around Cornăţeanu joined Premier Groza's Ploughmen's Front
Ploughmen's Front
The Ploughmen's Front was a Romanian left-wing agrarian-inspired political organisation of ploughmen, founded at Deva in 1933 and led by Petru Groza. At its peak in 1946, the Front had over 1 million members.-History:...

, while others entered the Union of Patriots.

Argetoianu, who was ill at the time and had just undergone surgery on his prostate
Prostate
The prostate is a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system in most mammals....

, withdrew from public life for a second time. Two years after a Communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

 was imposed on Romania, on the morning of May 6, 1950, he was arrested by the Securitate
Securitate
The Securitate was the secret police agency of Communist Romania. Previously, the Romanian secret police was called Siguranţa Statului. Founded on August 30, 1948, with help from the Soviet NKVD, the Securitate was abolished in December 1989, shortly after President Nicolae Ceaușescu was...

; while being taken away, he was heard saying: "Man, you sure are tough, you communists, if you are afraid of a farting old man such as myself". He died in the infamous Sighet prison
Sighet prison
The Sighet prison, located in the town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Maramureş county, Romania, was used by the communist regime to hold political prisoners...

two years later, never having been put on trial.