Ion Antonescu

Ion Antonescu

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Ion Victor Antonescu 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 soldier, authoritarian
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 politician and convicted war criminal
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

. The Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Romania
The Prime Minister of Romania is the head of the Government of Romania. Initially, the office was styled President of the Council of Ministers , when the term "Government" included more than the Cabinet, and the Cabinet was called The Council of Ministers...

 and Conducător
Conducator
Conducător was the title used officially in two instances by Romanian politicians, and earlier by Carol II.-History:...

during most of 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...

, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships
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...

. A Romanian Army career officer who made his name during the 1907 peasants' revolt
1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt
The 1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt took place in March 1907 in Moldavia and it quickly spread, reaching Wallachia. The main cause was the discontent of the peasants about the inequity of land ownership, which was in the hands of just a few large landowners....

 and the 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...

 Romanian Campaign, the antisemitic Antonescu sympathized with 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...

 and 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...

 National Christian
National Christian Party
The National Christian Party was a Romanian political party, the product of a union between Octavian Goga's National Agrarian Party and A. C. Cuza's National-Christian Defense League; a prominent member of the party was the philosopher Nichifor Crainic...

 and 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...

 groups for much of the interwar period
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....

. He was a military attaché
Military attaché
A military attaché is a military expert who is attached to a diplomatic mission . This post is normally filled by a high-ranking military officer who retains the commission while serving in an embassy...

 to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and later Chief of the General Staff, briefly serving as Defense Minister in the National Christian cabinet of 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,...

. During the late 1930s, his political stance brought him into conflict with 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....

 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...

 and led to his detainment. Antonescu nevertheless rose to political prominence during the political crisis of 1940, and established the 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...

, an uneasy partnership with the Iron Guard's leader Horia Sima
Horia Sima
Horia Sima was a Romanian fascist politician. After 1938, he was the second and last leader of the fascist and antisemitic para-military movement known as the Iron Guard.-In Romania:...

. After entering Romania into an alliance with Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and 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 ensuring Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's confidence, he eliminated the Guard during the Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

 of 1941. In addition to leadership of the executive, he assumed the offices of Foreign Affairs and Defense Minister. Soon after Romania joined the Axis in Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, recovering Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 and Northern Bukovina, Antonescu also became Marshal of Romania.

An atypical figure among Holocaust perpetrators, Antonescu enforced policies independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 people, most of them Bessarabian
Bessarabian Jews
-Early history:Jews are mentioned from very early in the Principality of Moldavia, but they did not represent a significant number. Their main activity in Moldavia was commerce, but they could not compete with Greeks and Armenians, who had the knowledge of the Levantine commerce and relationships...

, Ukrainian
History of the Jews in Ukraine
Jewish communities have existed in the territory of Ukraine from the time of Kievan Rus' and developed many of the most distinctive modern Jewish theological and cultural traditions. While at times they flourished, at other times they faced periods of persecution and antisemitic discriminatory...

 and Romanian Jews
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

, as well as Romani Romanians
Roma minority in Romania
The Roma constitute one of the major minorities in Romania. According to the 2002 census, they number 535,140 people or 2.5% of the total population, being the second-largest ethnic minority in Romania after Hungarians...

. The regime's complicity in the Holocaust combined pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s and mass murder
Mass murder
Mass murder is the act of murdering a large number of people , typically at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. According to the FBI, mass murder is defined as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders...

s such as the Odessa massacre with ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

, systematic deportations to occupied Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

 and widespread criminal negligence
Criminal negligence
In the criminal law, criminal negligence is one of the three general classes of mens rea element required to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability offense. It is defined as an act that is:-Concept:...

. The system in place was nevertheless characterized by singular inconsistencies, prioritizing plunder over killing, showing leniency toward most Jews in the Old Kingdom
Romanian Old Kingdom
The Romanian Old Kingdom is a colloquial term referring to the territory covered by the first independent Romanian nation state, which was composed of the Danubian Principalities—Wallachia and Moldavia...

, and ultimately refusing to adopt the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 as applied throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

Confronted with heavy losses on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, Antonescu embarked on inconclusive negotiations with the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, just before a political coalition, formed around the young monarch Michael I
Michael I of Romania
Michael was the last King of Romania. He reigned from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930, and again from 6 September 1940 until 30 December 1947 when he was forced, by the Communist Party of Romania , to abdicate to the Soviet armies of occupation...

, toppled him during the August 23, 1944 Coup
King Michael's Coup
King Michael's Coup refers to the coup d'etat led by King Michael of Romania in 1944 against the pro-Nazi Romanian faction of Ion Antonescu, after the Axis front in Northeastern Romania collapsed under the Soviet offensive.-The coup:...

. After a brief detention in 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....

, the deposed Conducător was handed back to Romania, where he was tried by a special People's Tribunal
Romanian People's Tribunals
The two Romanian People's Tribunals , the Bucharest People's Tribunal and the Northern Transylvania People's Tribunal were set up by the post-World War II government of Romania, overseen by the Allied Control Commission to try suspected war criminals, in line with Article 14 of the Armistice...

 and executed. This was part of a series of trials that also passed sentences on his various associates, as well as his wife Maria
Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu was a Romanian socialite and philanthropist, the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu...

. The judicial procedures earned much criticism for responding to the Romanian Communist Party
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...

's ideological priorities, a matter that fueled nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and far right attempts to have Antonescu posthumously exonerated. While these groups elevated Antonescu to the status of hero, his involvement in the Holocaust was officially reasserted and condemned following the 2003 Wiesel Commission
Wiesel Commission
The Wiesel Commission is the common name given to the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, which was established by former President Ion Iliescu in October 2003 to research and create a report on the actual history of the Holocaust in Romania and make specific recommendations for...

 report.

Early life and career


Born in the town of Piteşti
Pitesti
Pitești is a city in Romania, located on the Argeș River. The capital and largest city of Argeș County, it is an important commercial and industrial center, as well as the home of two universities. Pitești is situated on the A1 freeway connecting it directly to the national capital Bucharest,...

, north-west of the capital 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....

, Antonescu was the scion of an upper-middle class Romanian Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 family with some military tradition. He was especially close to his mother, Liţa Baranga, who survived his death. His father, an army officer, wanted Ion to follow in his footsteps, and as such, he sent him to attend the Infantry and Cavalry School 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...

. According to one account, Ion Antonescu was briefly a classmate of Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman was a leader of the Romanian-Jewish community between the two wars and a representative of the Jews in the Romanian parliament....

, the future Romanian Jewish community
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

 activist whose interventions with Conducător Antonescu helped save a number of his coreligionists. After graduation, in 1904, Antonescu joined the Romanian Army with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He spent the following two years attending courses at the Special Cavalry Section in Târgovişte
Târgoviste
Târgoviște is a city in the Dâmbovița county of Romania. It is situated on the right bank of the Ialomiţa River. , it had an estimated population of 89,000. One village, Priseaca, is administered by the city.-Name:...

. Reportedly, he was a zealous and goal-setting student, upset by the slow pace of promotions, and compensating for his diminutive stature through toughness. In time, the reputation of being a tough and ruthless commander, together with his reddish hair earned him the nickname Câinele Roşu ("The Red Dog"). Antonescu also developed a reputation for questioning his commanders, and for appealing over their heads whenever he felt they were wrong.

During the repression of the 1907 peasants' revolt
1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt
The 1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt took place in March 1907 in Moldavia and it quickly spread, reaching Wallachia. The main cause was the discontent of the peasants about the inequity of land ownership, which was in the hands of just a few large landowners....

, he was the head of a cavalry unit in Covurlui County. Opinions on his role in the events diverge: while some historians believe Antonescu was a particularly violent participant in quelling the revolt, others equate his participation with that of regular officers or view it as outstandingly tactful. In addition to restricting peasant protests, Antonescu's unit subdued socialist
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,...

 activities in Galaţi
Galati
Galați is a city and municipality in Romania, the capital of Galați County. Located in the historical region of Moldavia, in the close vicinity of Brăila, Galați is the largest port and sea port on the Danube River and the second largest Romanian port....

 port. His handling of the situation earned him praise from 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....

 Carol I
Carol I of Romania
Carol I , born Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was reigning prince and then King of Romania from 1866 to 1914. He was elected prince of Romania on 20 April 1866 following the overthrow of Alexandru Ioan Cuza by a palace coup...

, who sent Crown Prince (future monarch) Ferdinand
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...

 to congratulate him in front of the whole garrison. The following year, Antonescu was promoted to Lieutenant, and, between 1911 and 1913, he attended the Advanced War School, receiving the rank of Captain upon graduation. In 1913, during the Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

 against 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...

, Antonescu served as a staff officer in the First Cavalry Division in Dobruja
Dobruja
Dobruja is a historical region shared by Bulgaria and Romania, located between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast...

.

World War I


After 1916, when the Kingdom of Romania
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

 entered 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 Entente side
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...

, Ion Antonescu acted as chief of staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

 for General Constantin Prezan
Constantin Prezan
Constantin Prezan was a Romanian general during World War I and after the war a Marshal of Romania....

. In August 1916, upon the start of the Romanian campaign, Romanian troops crossed the Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

, marching into the 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...

-ruled region of Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, but their effort was halted when 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...

 opened new fronts. Bulgarian and 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...

 armies decisively defeated their ill-equipped and poorly defended Romanian adversaries in the Battle of Turtucaia
Battle of Turtucaia
The Battle of Turtucaia in Bulgaria, was the opening battle of the first Central Powers offensive during the Romanian Campaign of World War I...

 (August 24), and advanced into Dobruja. When enemy troops crossed the mountains from Transylvania into Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

, Antonescu was ordered to design a defense plan for Bucharest.

The Romanian royal court, army and administration were subsequently forced to retreat into Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

, the last portion of territory still under Romanian control. Henceforth, Antonescu took part in any important decision involving defensive efforts, an unusual promotion which probably stoked his ambitions. In December, as Prezan became the Chief of the General Staff, Antonescu, who was by now a major, was named the head of operations, being involved in the defense of Moldavia. He contributed to the tactics used during the Battle of Mărăşeşti
Battle of Marasesti
The Battle of Mărăşeşti, Vrancea County, eastern Romania was a major battle fought during World War I between Germany and Romania.-Premise:...

 (July–August 1917), when Romanians under General 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...

 managed to stop the advance of German forces under the command of Field Marshal August von Mackensen
August von Mackensen
Anton Ludwig August von Mackensen , born August Mackensen, was a German soldier and field marshal. He commanded with success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire's most prominent military leaders. After the Armistice, Mackensen was interned for a year...

. Antonescu lived in Prezan's proximity for the remainder of the war, and influenced his decisions.

That autumn, the October Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 in Russia removed Romania's main ally, the Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

, from the conflict. Its successor, Bolshevik Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

, made peace with the Central Powers under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

, leaving Romania the only enemy of the Central Powers on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

. In these conditions, the Romanian government signed, and the Parliament
Parliament of Romania
The Parliament of Romania is made up of two chambers:*The Chamber of Deputies*The SenatePrior to the modifications of the Constitution in 2003, the two houses had identical attributes. A text of a law had to be approved by both houses...

 ratified, Romania's own peace treaty with the Central Powers
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:...

. Romania broke the treaty later in the year, on the grounds that King Ferdinand I had not signed it. During the interval, Antonescu, who viewed the separate peace
Separate peace
The phrase "separate peace" refers to a nation's agreement to cease military hostilities with another, even though the former country had previously entered into a military alliance with other states that remain at war with the latter country...

 as "the most rational solution", was assigned command over a cavalry regiment. The renewed offensive played a part in ensuring the union of Transylvania with Romania
Union of Transylvania with Romania
Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared on by the assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians held in Alba Iulia.The national holiday of Romania, the Great Union Day occurring on December 1, commemorates this event...

. After the war, Antonescu's merits as an operations officer were noticed by, among others, politician 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:...

, who wrote that "his intelligence, skill and activity, brought credit on himself and invaluable service to the country". Another event occurring late in the war is also credited with having played a major part in Antonescu's life: in 1918, Crown Prince Carol
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...

 (the future King Carol II) eloped and technically deserted
Desertion
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning...

 his army posting, to marry the commoner Zizi Lambrino
Zizi Lambrino
Joanna Marie Valentina "Zizi" Lambrino was the first wife of King Carol II of Romania...

. This outraged Antonescu, who developed enduring contempt for the future king.

Diplomatic assignments and General Staff positions



Lieutenant Colonel Ion Antonescu retained his visibility in the public eye during the interwar period
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....

. He participated in the political campaign to earn recognition at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 of 1919 for Romania's gains in Transylvania. His nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 argument about a future state of the Romanians
Romanians
The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

 was published as the essay Românii. Origina, trecutul, sacrificiile şi drepturile lor ("The Romanians. Their Origin, Their Past, Their Sacrifices and Their Rights"). The booklet advocated extension of Romanian rule beyond the confines 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...

, and recommended, at the risk of war with the emerging Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

, the annexation of all Banat
Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

 areas and the Timok Valley
Timočka Krajina
Timočka Krajina is a geographical region located in Serbia. It is situated in eastern Serbia around the Timok River. The population of Timočka Krajina is 284,112 .-Name:...

. In March 1920, Antonescu was one of three people nominated by the new Averescu executive to be a military attaché
Military attaché
A military attaché is a military expert who is attached to a diplomatic mission . This post is normally filled by a high-ranking military officer who retains the commission while serving in an embassy...

 of Romania in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, but a report issued by the French military observer in Romania, General Victor Pétin, was negative enough to make the French side choose a certain Colonel Şuţu instead (the text referred to Antonescu as "extremely vain", "chauvinistic
Chauvinism
Chauvinism, in its original and primary meaning, is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. It is an eponym of a possibly fictional French soldier Nicolas Chauvin who was credited with many superhuman feats in the Napoleonic wars.By extension it has come...

" and "xenophobic
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

", while acknowledging his "great military worth").

Nevertheless, Şuţu had to leave Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in 1922, and when the Romanian government nominated Antonescu again, the French government felt obliged to accept his nomination, despite renewed criticism from Pétin's part. At the moment of his reassignment, Antonescu was handling military instruction in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu
Sibiu
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of 154,548. Located some 282 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt...

, where his rebellious attitude was causing irritation among his commanders. From 1923, Antonescu was also the Romanian attaché in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. After embarking on his mission, he negotiated a credit worth 100 million French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s to for Romania to purchase French weaponry, and worked together with Romanian League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 diplomat Nicolae Titulescu
Nicolae Titulescu
Nicolae Titulescu was a well-known Romanian diplomat, at various times government minister, finance and foreign minister, and for two terms President of the General Assembly of the League of Nations . He was a member of the Freemasonry.-Early years:...

; the two became personal friends. According to one account, he was also in contact with the Romanian-born conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 aristocrat and writer Marthe Bibesco
Marthe Bibesco
Marthe, Princess Bibesco was a Romanian-French writer of the Belle Époque...

, who is reported to have introduced Antonescu to the ideas of Gustave Le Bon
Gustave Le Bon
Gustave Le Bon was a French social psychologist, sociologist, and amateur physicist...

, a researcher of crowd psychology
Crowd psychology
Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology. Ordinary people can typically gain direct power by acting collectively. Historically, because large groups of people have been able to bring about dramatic and sudden social change in a manner that bypasses established due process, they have also...

 who had an influence on 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...

 leaders. The same story has it that Bibesco saw the Romanian officer as a new version of 19th century nationalist rebel Georges Boulanger
Georges Boulanger
Georges Ernest Jean-Marie Boulanger was a French general and reactionary politician. At the apogee of his popularity in January 1889 many republicans including Georges Clemenceau feared the threat of a coup d'état by Boulanger and the establishment of a dictatorship.- Early life and career :Born...

, introducing him as such to Le Bon. In 1923, he made the acquaintance of lawyer Mihai Antonescu
Mihai Antonescu
Mihai Antonescu was a Romanian politician who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during World War II.-Early career:...

, who was to become his close friend, legal representative and political associate.

After returning to Romania in 1926, Antonescu returned to his teaching position in Sibiu, and, in autumn 1928, was Secretary-General of the Defense Ministry in the Vintilă Brătianu
Vintila Bratianu
Vintilă Brătianu was a Romanian politician who served as Prime Minister of Romania between 24 November 1927 and 2 November 1928.Vintilă and his brothers Ion and Dinu were the leaders of the National Liberal Party of Romania...

 cabinet. He married Maria Niculescu
Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu was a Romanian socialite and philanthropist, the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu...

, for long a resident of France, who had been married twice before: to a Romanian Police
Romanian Police
The Romanian Police is the national police force and main civil law enforcement agency in Romania. It is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.-Duties:The Romanian Police are responsible for:...

 officer, with whom she had a son, Gheorghe (died 1944), and to Frenchman of Jewish origin. After a period as Deputy Chief of the General Staff, he was appointed its Chief (1933–1934). These assignments coincided with the rule of Carol's underage son Michael I
Michael I of Romania
Michael was the last King of Romania. He reigned from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930, and again from 6 September 1940 until 30 December 1947 when he was forced, by the Communist Party of Romania , to abdicate to the Soviet armies of occupation...

 and his regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

s, and with Carol's seizure of power in 1930. During this period Antonescu first grew interested in the 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...

, an antisemitic and fascist-related movement headed by 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...

. In his capacity as Deputy Chief of Staff, he ordered the Army's intelligence unit to compile a report on the faction, and made a series of critical notes on Codreanu's various statements.

As Chief of Staff, Antonescu reportedly had his first confrontation with the political class and the monarch. His projects for weapon modernization were questioned by Defense Minister Paul Angelescu, leading Antonescu to present his resignation. According to another account, he completed an official report on the embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 of Army funds, which indirectly implicated Carol and his camarilla
Camarilla
Camarilla may refer to:*Camarilla, an unofficial group of courtiers or favorites surrounding and influencing a king or ruler, specifically the two such groups prominent in German history....

(see Škoda Affair). The king consequently ordered him out of office, provoking indignation among sections of the political mainstream. On Carol's orders, Antonescu was placed under surveillance by the Siguranţa Statului intelligence service, and closely monitored by the Interior Ministry Undersecretary 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:...

. The officer's political credentials were on the rise, and he had contacts with all sides of the political spectrum, while support for Carol plummeted. Antonescu maintained contacts with the two main democratic groups, the National Liberal
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...

 and the National Peasants'
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...

 parties (known respectively as PNL and PNŢ). He was also engaged in discussions with the rising 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...

, antisemitic and fascist movements: although in competition with each other, both the National Christian Party
National Christian Party
The National Christian Party was a Romanian political party, the product of a union between Octavian Goga's National Agrarian Party and A. C. Cuza's National-Christian Defense League; a prominent member of the party was the philosopher Nichifor Crainic...

 (PNC) of 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,...

 and the Iron Guard sought to attract Antonescu to their side. In 1936, to the authorities' alarm, Army General and Iron Guard member Gheorghe Cantacuzino-Grănicerul arranged a meeting between Ion Antonescu and the movement's leader: Antonescu is reported to have found Codreanu arrogant, but to have welcomed his revolutionizing approach to politics.

Defense portfolio and the Codreanu trials


In late 1937, after the December general election
Romanian general election, 1937
General elections were held in Romania on 20 and 22 December 1937. It was Romania's last election before King Carol II dissolved Parliament and instituted a royal dictatorship the following February. By the next elections under the 1923 Constitution, Romania had passed through two dictatorships and...

 came to an inconclusive result, Carol appointed Goga Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Romania
The Prime Minister of Romania is the head of the Government of Romania. Initially, the office was styled President of the Council of Ministers , when the term "Government" included more than the Cabinet, and the Cabinet was called The Council of Ministers...

 over a far right cabinet that was the first executive to impose racial discrimination in its treatment of the Jewish community
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

. Goga's appointment was meant to curb the rise of the more popular and even more radical Codreanu. Initially given the Communications portfolio by his former rival, Interior Minister Armand Călinescu, Antonescu repeatedly demanded the office of Defense Minister, which he was eventually granted. His mandate coincided with a troubled period, and saw Romania having to chose between its traditional alliance with France, Britain, the crumbling Little Entente
Little Entente
The Little Entente was an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia with the purpose of common defense against Hungarian revision and the prevention of a Habsburg restoration...

 and the League of Nations or moving closer to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and its Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

. Antonescu's own contribution is disputed by historians, who variously see him as either a supporter of the Anglo-French alliance or, like the PNC itself, more favorable to cooperation with Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's Germany. At the time, Antonescu viewed Romania's alliance with the Entente as insurance against Hungarian and Soviet
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....

 revanchism
Revanchism
Revanchism is a term used since the 1870s to describe a political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. Revanchism draws its strength from patriotic and retributionist thought and is often motivated by economic or...

, but, as an 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:...

, he was suspicious of the Franco-Soviet rapprochement
Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance
The Franco–Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was a bilateral pact between the two countries with the aim of containing Nazi Germany's aggression in 1935. It was pursued by Louis Barthou, who was the French Foreign Minister but he was assassinated before negotiations were finished...

. Particularly concerned about Hungarian demands in Transylvania, he ordered the General Staff to prepare for a western attack. However, his major contribution in office was in relation to an internal crisis: as a response to violent clashes between the Iron Guard and the PNC's own fascist militia, the Lăncieri
Lancieri
The Lăncieri or 'Lance-bearers' were a Romanian fascist paramilitary movement who adopted a blue shirted uniform and contributed to the country's political street battles in the 1920s and 1930s....

, Antonescu extended the already imposed martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

.

The Goga cabinet ended when the tentative rapprochement between Goga and Codreanu prompted Carol to overthrow the democratic system and proclaim his own authoritarian regime (see 1938 Constitution of Romania
1938 Constitution of Romania
The 1938 Constitution of Romania was the fundamental law that established the authoritarian monarchic regime of King Carol II. It was drafted by a university professor, Istrate Micescu, based on suggestions given by the king, and made public on February 20, 1938. Four days later, voters were...

, 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...

). The deposed Premier died in 1938, and Antonescu remained close friend of his widow, Veturia Goga. By that time, revising his earlier stance, Antonescu had also built a close relationship with Codreanu, and was even said to have become his confidant. On Carol's request, he had earlier asked the Guard's leader to consider an alliance with the king, which Codreanu promptly refused in favor of negotiations with Goga, coupled with claims that he was not interested in political battles (an attitude supposedly induced by Antonescu himself).

Soon afterward, Călinescu, acting on indications from the monarch, arrested Codreanu and prosecuted him in two successive trials. Antonescu, whose mandate of Defense Minister had been prolonged under the premiership of Miron Cristea
Miron Cristea
Miron Cristea, was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian cleric and politician....

, resigned in protest to Codreanu's arrest. He was a celebrity defense witness at the latter's first and second trials. During the latter, which saw Codreanu's conviction for treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, Antonescu vouched for his friend's honesty while shaking his hand in front of the jury. Upon the end of procedures, the king ordered his former minister interned
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

 at Predeal
Predeal
Predeal is a town in Braşov County, Romania. It is the highest town and one of the most important mountain resorts in Romania, being located on the Prahova Valley at over...

, before assigning him to command the Third Army in the remote eastern region of Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 (and later removing him after Antonescu expressed sympathy for Guardists imprisoned in Chişinău
Chisinau
Chișinău is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc...

). Attempting to discredit his rival, Carol also ordered Antonescu's wife to be tried for bigamy
Bigamy
In cultures that practice marital monogamy, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. Bigamy is a crime in most western countries, and when it occurs in this context often neither the first nor second spouse is aware of the other...

, based on a false claim that her divorce had not been finalized. Defended by Mihai Antonescu, the officer was able to prove his detractors wrong. Codreanu himself was taken into custody and discreetly killed by the Gendarmes
Jandarmeria Româna
Jandarmeria Română is the military branch of the two Romanian police forces .The gendarmerie is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform and does not have responsibility for policing the Romanian Armed Forces...

 acting on Carol's orders (November 1938).

Carol's regime slowly dissolved into crisis, the process being enhanced after the start of 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...

, when the military success of the core Axis Powers
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 non-aggression pact signed by Germany and 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....

 saw Romania isolated and threatened (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...

). In 1940, two of Romania's regions, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, were lost to a Soviet occupation consented to by the king. This came as Romania, exposed by the Fall of France, was seeking to align its policies with those of Germany. Ion Antonescu himself had come to value a pro-Axis alternative after the 1938 Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

, when Germany imposed demands on Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938)
The First Czechoslovak Republic , refers to the first Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938. The state was commonly called Czechoslovakia . It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia...

 with the acquiescence of France and the United Kingdom, leaving locals to fear that, unless reoriented, Romania would follow. Angered by the territorial losses of 1940, General Antonescu sent Carol a general note of protest, and, as a result, was arrested and interned at Bistriţa Monastery
Bistrita Monastery
The Bistriţa Monastery is a Romanian Orthodox monastery located 8 km west of Piatra Neamţ. It was dedicated in 1402 by Romanian Voivode Alexandru cel Bun whose remains are buried here....

. While there, he commissioned Mihai Antonescu to establish contacts with Nazi German officials, promising to advance German economic interest, particularly in respect to the local oil industry, in exchange for endorsement. Commenting on Ion Antonescu's ambivalent stance, Hitler's Ambassador to Romania, Wilhelm Fabricius, wrote to his superiors: "I am not convinced that he is a safe man."

Rise to power



His internment ended in August, during which interval, under Axis pressure, Romania had ceded Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria (see Treaty of Craiova
Treaty of Craiova
The Treaty of Craiova was signed on 7 September 1940 between the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Romania. Under the terms of this treaty, Romania returned the southern part of Dobruja to Bulgaria and agreed to participate in organizing a population exchange...

) and 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...

 (see 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...

). The latter grant caused consternation among large sections of Romania's population, causing Carol's popularity to fall to a record low and provoking large-scale protests in Bucharest, the capital. These movements were organized competitively by the pro-Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 PNŢ, headed by Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian politician. A leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, he served as Prime Minister of Romania for three terms during 1928–1933, and, with Ion Mihalache, co-founded the National Peasants'...

, and the pro-Nazi Iron Guard. The latter group had been revived under the leadership of Horia Sima
Horia Sima
Horia Sima was a Romanian fascist politician. After 1938, he was the second and last leader of the fascist and antisemitic para-military movement known as the Iron Guard.-In Romania:...

, and was organizing a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

. In this troubled context, Antonescu simply left his assigned residence. He may have been secretly helped in this by German intercession, but was more directly aided to escape by socialite Alice Sturdza, who was acting on Maniu's request. Antonescu subsequently met with Maniu in Ploieşti
Ploiesti
Ploiești is the county seat of Prahova County and lies in the historical region of Wallachia in Romania. The city is located north of Bucharest....

, where they discussed how best to manage the political situation. While these negotiations were carried out, the monarch himself was being advised by his entourage to recover legitimacy by governing in tandem with the increasingly popular Antonescu, while creating a new political majority from the existing forces. Carol and Antonescu accepted the proposal, Antonescu being mandated to approach political party leaders Maniu of the PNŢ and 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:...

 of the PNL. They all called for Carol's abdication
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 as a preliminary measure, while Sima, another leader sought after for negotiations, could not be found in time to express his opinion. Antonescu partly complied with the request but also asked Carol to bestow upon him the reserve power
Reserve power
In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. Unlike a presidential system of government, the head of state is generally constrained by the cabinet or the...

s for Romanian heads of state. Carol yielded and, on September 5, 1940, the general became Prime Minister with full powers as head of state. The latter's first measure was to curtail potential resistance within the Army by relieving Bucharest Garrison
Bucharest Garrison
The Bucharest Garrison is a military garrison located in Bucharest and subordinated to the Romanian Land Forces. The Garrison was initially formed in 1939 by a royal decree and in 1940 it became an independent army corps...

 chief 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:...

 of his position and replacing him with Dumitru Coroamă
Dumitru Coroama
Dumitru Coroamă was a Romanian soldier and fascist political activist, who held the rank of Major-General of the Romanian Army during World War II, and was especially known for his contribution to the 1940 establishment of the National Legionary State by the extremist Iron Guard.-Career:In 1939,...

. Shortly afterward, Antonescu heard rumors that two of Carol's loyalist generals, Gheorghe Mihail and Paul Teodorescu, were planning to have him killed. In reaction, he imposed formal abdication on the monarch, while General Coroamă was refusing to carry out the royal order of shooting down Iron Guardist protesters.

The king eventually left the throne and Michael I inaugurated his second rule, while Antonescu's effective powers as dictatorial Premier were confirmed and extended. He was formally declared Conducător
Conducator
Conducător was the title used officially in two instances by Romanian politicians, and earlier by Carol II.-History:...

of the state on September 6, by a royal decree which consecrated a ceremonial role for the monarch. Among his subsequent measures was ensuring the safe departure into self-exile of Carol and his mistress Elena Lupescu, granting protection to the royal train when it was attacked by armed members of the Iron Guard. Horia Sima's subsequent cooperation with Antonescu was endorsed by high-ranking Nazi German officials, many of whom feared the Iron Guard was too weak to rule on its own. Antonescu therefore received the approval of Ambassador Fabricius. Despite early promises, Antonescu abandoned projects for the creation of a national government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

, and opted instead for a coalition
Coalition government
A coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several political parties cooperate. The usual reason given for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament...

 between a military dictatorship
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 lobby and the Iron Guard. He later justified his choice by stating that the Iron Guard "represented the political base of the country at the time."

Antonescu-Sima partnership


The resulting regime, deemed the 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...

and officially proclaimed on September 14, had Antonescu as Premier and Conducător, with Sima as Deputy Premier and leader of the Iron Guard, the latter being remodeled into a single official party
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

. Antonescu subsequently ordered Carol's Iron Guardist prisoners to be set free. On October 6, he presided over the Iron Guard's mass rally in Bucharest, one in a series of major celebratory and commemorative events organized by the movement during the late months of 1940. However, he tolerated the PNŢ and PNL's informal existence, allowing them to preserve much of their political support.

There followed a short-lived and always uneasy partnership between Antonescu and Sima. In late September, the new regime denounced all pacts, accords and diplomatic agreements signed under Carol, bringing the country into Germany's orbit while subverting its relationship with a former Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 ally, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

. Germans troops entered the country in stages, in order to defend the local oil industry and help instruct their Romanian counterparts on Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

tactics. On November 23, Antonescu was in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where his signature sealed Romania's commitment to the main Axis instrument, the Tripartite Pact
Tripartite Pact
The Tripartite Pact, also the Three-Power Pact, Axis Pact, Three-way Pact or Tripartite Treaty was a pact signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II...

. Two days later, the country also adhered to the Nazi-led Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

. Other than these generic commitments, Romania had no treaty binding it to Germany, and the Romanian-German alliance functioned informally. Speaking in 1946, Antonescu claimed to have followed the pro-German path in continuation of earlier policies, and for fear of a Nazi protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 in Romania.

During the National Legionary State period, earlier antisemitic legislation was upheld and strengthened, while the "Romanianization
Romanianization
Romanianization or Rumanization is the term used to describe a number of ethnic assimilation policies implemented by the Romanian authorities during the 20th century...

" of Jewish-owned enterprises became standard official practice. Immediately after coming into office, Antonescu himself expanded the anti-Jewish and Nuremberg law
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

-inspired legislation passed by his predecessors Goga and 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...

, while tens of new anti-Jewish regulations were passed in 1941–1942. This was done despite his formal pledge to Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman was a leader of the Romanian-Jewish community between the two wars and a representative of the Jews in the Romanian parliament....

 and the Jewish Communities Federation that, unless engaged in "sabotage", "the Jewish population will not suffer." Antonescu did not reject the application of Legionary policies, but was offended by Sima's advocacy of paramilitarism
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 and the Guard's frequent recourse to street violence. He drew much hostility from his partners by extending some protection to former dignitaries whom the Iron Guard had arrested. One early incident opposed Antonescu to the Guard's magazine Buna Vestire, which accused him of leniency and was subsequently forced to change its editorial board. By then, the Legionary press was routinely claiming that he was obstructing revolution and aiming to take control of the Iron Guard, and that he had been transformed into a tool of the Freemasonry
Freemasonry in Romania
The beginnings of Freemasonry in the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia date to the 18th century and the activities of the humanist scholar Anton Maria del Chiaro, secretary to voivodes Constantin Brâncoveanu and Constantine Mavrocordatos...

 (see Anti-Masonry
Anti-Masonry
Anti-Masonry is defined as "avowed opposition to Freemasonry". However, there is no homogeneous anti-Masonic movement...

). The political conflict coincided with major social challenges, including the influx of refugees from areas lost earlier in the year and a large-scale earthquake affecting Bucharest.

Disorder peaked in the last days of November 1940, when, after uncovering the circumstances of Codreanu's death, the fascist movement ordered retaliations against political figures previously associated with Carol, carrying out 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...

, the assassinations of 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...

 and 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 several other acts of violence. As retaliation for this insubordination, Antonescu ordered the Army to resume control of the streets, unsuccessfully pressured Sima to have the assassins detained, ousted the Iron Guardist prefect of Bucharest Police
Romanian Police
The Romanian Police is the national police force and main civil law enforcement agency in Romania. It is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.-Duties:The Romanian Police are responsible for:...

 Ştefan Zăvoianu, and ordered Legionary ministers to swear an oath to the Conducător. His condemnation of the killings was nevertheless limited and discreet, and, the same month, he joined Sima at a burial ceremony for Codreanu's newly discovered remains. The widening gap between the dictator and Sima's party resonated in Berlin. When, in December, Legionary Foreign Minister Mihail R. Sturdza
Mihail R. Sturdza
Prince Mihail R. Sturdza . Romanian nobleman and diplomat. Was a descendant of the wealthy and influential Sturdza family of Romanian landowners, politicians and boyars. Played a brief role in Romanian interwar politics....

 obtained the replacement of Fabricius with Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
Manfred Freiherr von Killinger was a German naval officer, Freikorps leader, military writer and Nazi politician. A veteran of World War I and member of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt during the German Revolution, he took part in the violent intervention against the Bavarian Soviet Republic...

, perceived as more sympathetic to the Iron Guard, Antonescu promptly took over leadership of the ministry, with the compliant diplomat Constantin Greceanu as his right hand. In Germany, such leaders of the Nazi Party as Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, Baldur von Schirach
Baldur von Schirach
Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of being a war criminal. Schirach was the head of the Hitler-Jugend and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of Vienna....

 and Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 threw their support behind the Legionaries, whereas Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

 and the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 stood by Antonescu. The latter group was concerned that any internal conflict would threaten Romania's oil industry, vital to the German war effort. The German leadership was by then secretly organizing Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, the attack on the Soviet Union.

Legionary Rebellion and Operation Barbarossa



Antonescu's plan to act against his coalition partners in the event of further disorder hinged on Hitler's approval, a vague signal of which had been given during ceremonies confirming Romania's adherence to the Tripartite Pact. A decisive turn occurred when Hitler invited Antonescu and Sima both over for discussions: whereas Antonescu agreed, Sima stayed behind in Romania, probably plotting a coup d'état. While Hitler did not produce a clear endorsement for clamping down on Sima's party, he made remarks interpreted by their recipient as oblique blessings.

The Antonescu-Sima dispute erupted into violence in January 1941, when the Iron Guard instigated a series of attacks on public institutions and a pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

, incidents collectively known as the "Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

". This came after the mysterious assassination of Major Döring, a German agent in Bucharest, which was used by the Iron Guard as a pretext to accuse the Conducător of having a secret anti-German agenda, and made Antonescu oust the Legionary Interior Minister, Constantin Petrovicescu
Constantin Petrovicescu
Constantin Petrovicescu was a Romanian soldier and politician, who served as Interior Minister from September 14, 1940 to January 21, 1941 during the National Legionary State. A sympathizer and secret member of the fascist Iron Guard movement, he was also the royal commissioner involved in the...

, while closing down all of the Legionary-controlled "Romanianization" offices. Various other clashes prompted him to demand the resignation of all Police commanders who sympathized with the movement. After two days of widespread violence, during which Guardists killed some 120 Bucharest Jews, Antonescu sent in the Army, under the command of General Constantin Sănătescu
Constantin Sanatescu
Constantin Sănătescu was a Romanian statesman who served as the first Prime Minister of Romania after the August 23, 1944 coup, through which Romania left the Axis Powers and joined the Allies....

. German officials acting on Hitler's orders, including the new Ambassador Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
Manfred Freiherr von Killinger
Manfred Freiherr von Killinger was a German naval officer, Freikorps leader, military writer and Nazi politician. A veteran of World War I and member of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt during the German Revolution, he took part in the violent intervention against the Bavarian Soviet Republic...

, helped Antonescu eliminate the Iron Guardists, but several of their lower-level colleagues actively aided Sima's subordinates. Goebbels was especially upset by the decision to support Antonescu, believing it to have been advantageous to "the Freemasons".

After the events, Hitler kept his options open by granting political asylum to Sima—whom Antonescu's courts sentenced to death
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

—and to other Legionaries in similar situations. The Guardists were detained in special conditions at Buchenwald
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

 and Dachau concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

. In parallel, Antonescu publicly obtained the cooperation of Codrenists, members of an Iron Guardist wing which had virulently opposed Sima, and whose leader was Codreanu's father Ion Zelea Codreanu. Antonescu again sought backing from the PNŢ and PNL to form a national cabinet, but his rejection of parliamentarism
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 made the two groups refuse him.
Antonescu traveled to Germany and met Hitler on eight more occasions between June 1941 and August 1944. Such close contacts helped cement an enduring relationship between the two dictators, and Hitler reportedly came to see Antonescu as the only trustworthy person in Romania, and the only foreigner to consult on military matters. In later statements, he offered praise to Antonescu's "breadth of vision" and "real personality." The German military presence increased significantly in early 1941, when, using Romania as a base, Hitler invaded the rebellious Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Greece
Kingdom of Greece
The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...

 (see Balkans Campaign). In parallel, Romania's relationship with the United Kingdom (at the time the only major adversary of Nazi Germany) aggravated into conflict: on February 10, 1941, British Premier
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 recalled His Majesty's Ambassador Reginald Hoare
Reginald Hoare
Sir Reginald Hervey Hoare KCMG was a British diplomat and bank-Career:Born the son of Charles Hoare , Senior Partner of C. Hoare & Co, Reginald Hoare was educated at Eton College and joined the diplomatic service in 1905...

, and approved the blockade
Blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

 of Romanian ships in British-controlled ports.

In June of that year, Romania joined the attack on the Soviet Union, led by Germany in coalition with Hungary, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, the State of Slovakia, the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 and the Independent State of Croatia
Independent State of Croatia
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

. Antonescu had been made aware of the plan by German envoys, and supported it enthusiastically even before Hitler extended Romania an offer to participate. The Romanian force engaged formed a General Antonescu Army Group under the effective command of German general Eugen Ritter von Schobert
Eugen Ritter von Schobert
Eugen Siegfried Erich Ritter von Schobert was a German general who served in World War I and World War II. He died in the Soviet Union when his observation plane crashed in a Soviet minefield.-Early life:...

. Romania's campaign on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 began without a formal declaration of war, and was consecrated by Antonescu's statement: "Soldiers, I order you, cross the Prut River" (in reference to the Bessarabian border between Romania and post-1940 Soviet territory). A few days after this, a large-scale pogrom was carried out in 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...

 with Antonescu's agreement; thousands of Jews were killed (see Iaşi pogrom
Iasi pogrom
The Iaşi pogrom or Jassy pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.-Background:]During...

).

After becoming the first Romanian to be granted the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

, which he received from Hitler at their August 6 meeting in the Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 city of Berdychiv
Berdychiv
Berdychiv is a historic city in the Zhytomyr Oblast of northern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Berdychiv Raion , the city itself is of direct oblast subordinance, and is located south of the oblast capital, Zhytomyr, at around .The current estimated population is around...

, Ion Antonescu was promoted to Marshal of Romania by royal decree on August 22, in recognition for his role in restoring the eastern frontiers 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...

. He took one of his most debated decisions when, with Bessarabia's conquest almost complete, he committed Romania to Hitler's war effort beyond the Dniester
Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

—that is, beyond territory that had been part of Romania between the wars—and thrust deeper into Soviet territory, thus waging a war of aggression
War of aggression
A war of aggression, sometimes also war of conquest, is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The phrase is distinctly modern and diametrically opposed to the prior legal international standard of "might makes right", under...

. On August 30, Romania occupied a territory it deemed "Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

", formerly a part of the Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

 (including the entire Moldavian ASSR
Moldavian ASSR
The Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic , shortened to Moldavian ASSR or, less frequently, Moldovan ASSR, was an autonomous republic of the Ukrainian SSR between 12 October 1924 and 2 August 1940, encompassing modern Transnistria The Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic...

 and further territories). Like the decision to continue the war beyond Bessarabia, this earned Antonescu much criticism from the semi-clandestine PNL and PNŢ. Soon after the takeover, the area was assigned to a civil administration apparatus headed by Gheorghe Alexianu and became the site for the main component of the Holocaust in Romania: a mass deportation of the Bessarabian
Bessarabian Jews
-Early history:Jews are mentioned from very early in the Principality of Moldavia, but they did not represent a significant number. Their main activity in Moldavia was commerce, but they could not compete with Greeks and Armenians, who had the knowledge of the Levantine commerce and relationships...

 and Ukrainian Jews
History of the Jews in Ukraine
Jewish communities have existed in the territory of Ukraine from the time of Kievan Rus' and developed many of the most distinctive modern Jewish theological and cultural traditions. While at times they flourished, at other times they faced periods of persecution and antisemitic discriminatory...

, followed later by transports of Romani Romanians
Roma minority in Romania
The Roma constitute one of the major minorities in Romania. According to the 2002 census, they number 535,140 people or 2.5% of the total population, being the second-largest ethnic minority in Romania after Hungarians...

 and Jews from Moldavia proper (that is, the portions of Moldavia west of the Prut). The accord over Transnistria's administration, signed in Tighina
Tighina
Bender or Bendery, also known as Tighina is a city within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova under de facto control of the unrecognized Transnistria Republic since 1992...

, also placed areas between the Dniester and the Dnieper under Romanian military occupation, while granting control over all resources to Germany.

Reversal of fortunes



The Romanian Army's inferior arms, insufficient armor and lack of training had been major concerns for the German commanders since before the start of the operation. One of the earliest major obstacles Antonescu encountered on the Eastern Front was the resistance of Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, a Soviet port on the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. Refusing any German assistance, he ordered the Romanian Army to maintain a two-month siege on heavily fortified and well-defended positions. The ill-equipped 4th Army suffered losses of some 100,000 men. Antonescu's popularity again rose in October, when the fall of Odessa was celebrated triumphantly with a parade through Bucharest's Arcul de Triumf
Arcul de Triumf
Arcul de Triumf is a triumphal arch located in the northern part of Bucharest, on the Kiseleff Road.The first, wooden, triumphal arch was built hurriedly, after Romania gained its independence , so that the victorious troops could march under it...

, and when many Romanians reportedly believed the war was as good as won. In Odessa itself, the aftermath included a large-scale massacre of the Jewish population, ordered by the Marshal as retaliation for a bombing which killed a number of Romanian officers and soldiers (General Ioan Glogojeanu among them). The city subsequently became the administrative capital of Transnistria. According to one account, the Romanian administration planned to change Odessa's name to Antonescu.

As the Soviet Union recovered from the initial shock and slowed down the Axis offensive at the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

 (October 1941 – January 1942), Romania was asked by its allies to contribute a larger number of troops. A decisive factor in Antonescu's compliance with the request appears to have been a special visit to Bucharest by Wehrmacht commander Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

, who introduced the Conducător to Hitler's plan for attacking the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 (see Battle of the Caucasus
Battle of the Caucasus
The Battle of Caucasus is a name given to a series of German and Soviet operations in the Caucasus area during the Soviet-German War.-1941 operations:...

). The Romanian force engaged in the war reportedly exceeded German demands. It came to around 500,000 troops and thirty actively involved divisions. As a sign of his satisfaction, Hitler presented his Romanian counterpart with a luxury car. On December 7, 1941, after reflecting on the possibility for Romania, Hungary and Finland to change their stance, the British government responded to repeated Soviet requests and declared war on all three countries. Following Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

's attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 and in compliance with its Axis commitment, Romania declared war on the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 within five days. These developments contrasted with Antonescu's own statement of December 7: "I am an ally of the [German] Reich against [the Soviet Union], I am neutral in the conflict between Great Britain and Germany. I am for America against the Japanese."

A crucial change in the war came with the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 in June 1942 – February 1943, a major defeat for the Axis. Romania's armies
Romanian Armies in the Battle of Stalingrad
Two Romanian armies, the Third and the Fourth, were involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, helping to protect the northern and southern flanks respectively of the German 6th Army as it tried to conquer the city of Stalingrad, defended by the Soviet Red Army in mid to late 1942...

 alone lost some 150,000 men (either dead, wounded or captured) and more than half of the country's divisions were wiped out. For part of that interval, the Marshal had withdrawn from public life, owing to an unknown affliction, which is variously rumored to have been a mental breakdown
Mental breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

, a foodborne illness
Foodborne illness
Foodborne illness is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms.-Causes:Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or...

 or a symptom of the syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

 he had allegedly contracted earlier in life. He is known to have been suffering from digestive problems, treating himself with food prepared by Marlene von Exner, an Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n-born dietitian
Dietitian
Dietitians supervise the preparation and service of food, develop modified diets, participate in research, and educate individuals and groups on good nutritional habits. The goals of dietitians are to provide medical nutritional intervention, and to obtain, safely prepare, serve and advise on...

 who moved into Hitler's service after 1943.

Upon his return, Antonescu blamed the Romanian losses on German overseer Arthur Hauffe
Arthur Hauffe
Arthur Hauffe was a German career soldier. He became General der Infanterie in the Wehrmacht during World War II and commanded the XIII. Armeekorps. He was recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

, whom Hitler agreed to replace. In parallel with the military losses, Romania was confronted with large-scale economic problems. While Germany monopolized
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 Romania's exports, it defaulted on most of its payments. Like all countries whose exports to Germany, particularly in oil, exceeded imports from that country, Romania's economy
Economy of Romania
Romania has a developing, upper-middle income market economy, the 11th largest in the European Union by total nominal GDP and the 8th largest based on purchasing power parity...

 suffered from Nazi control of the exchange rate
Exchange rate
In finance, an exchange rate between two currencies is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another. It is also regarded as the value of one country’s currency in terms of another currency...

 (see Economy of Nazi Germany
Economy of Nazi Germany
World War I and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles with its severe reparations imposed on Germany led to a decade of economic woes, including hyperinflation in the mid 1920s...

). On the German side, those directly involved in harnessing Romania's economic output for German goals were economic planners Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 and Walther Funk
Walther Funk
Walther Funk was a prominent Nazi official. He served as Reich Minister for Economic Affairs in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1945, tried as a major war criminal by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.-Early life:...

, together with Hermann Neubacher
Hermann Neubacher
Hermann Neubacher was an Austrian Nazi politician who held a number of diplomatic posts in the Third Reich. During the Second World War, he was appointed as the leading German official for the Balkans.-Austrian activism:...

, the Special Representative for Economic Problems. The situation was further aggravated in 1942, as USAAF and RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 were able to bomb the oil fields in Prahova County
Prahova County
Prahova is a county of Romania, in the historical region Muntenia, with the capital city at Ploieşti.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 829,945 and the population density was 176/km². It is Romania's most populated county, having a population density double than the country's mean...

 (see Bombing of Romania in World War II
Bombing of Romania in World War II
The bombing of Romania in World War II comprised two series of events: until August 1944, Allied operations, and, following the overthrow of Ion Antonescu's Fascist dictatorship, operations by Nazi Germany....

, Operation Tidal Wave
). Official sources from the following period amalgamate military and civilian losses of all kinds, which produces a total of 554,000 victims of the war.

In this context, the Romanian leader acknowledged that Germany was losing the war, and he therefore authorized his Deputy Premier and new Foreign Minister Mihai Antonescu to set up contacts with the Allies. In parallel, he allowed the PNŢ and the PNL to engage in parallel talks with the Allies at various locations in neutral countries. The discussions were strained by the Western Allies
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

' call for an unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

, over which the Romanian envoys bargained with Allied diplomats in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 (among them the Soviet representatives Nikolai Vasilevich Novikov and Alexandra Kollontai
Alexandra Kollontai
Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai was a Russian Communist revolutionary, first as a member of the Mensheviks, then from 1914 on as a Bolshevik. In 1919 she became the first female government minister in Europe...

). Antonescu was also alarmed by the possibility of war being carried on Romanian territory, as had happened in Italy after Operation Avalanche
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group during the Second World War. The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the Italian Campaign...

. The events also prompted hostile negotiations aimed at toppling Antonescu, and involving the two political parties, the young monarch, diplomats and soldiers. A major clash between Michael and Antonescu took place during the first days of 1943, when the 21-year old monarch used his New Year's address on national radio
Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company
The Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company , informally referred to as Radio Romania , is the public radio broadcaster in Romania. It operates four national radio channels, and, under the Radio România Regional umbrella, eleven regional radio stations. The four national radio channels are: Radio...

 to part with the Axis war effort.

Ouster and arrest



In March 1944, the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 broke the Southern Bug
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

 and Dniester fronts, advancing on Bessarabia. This came just as Henry Maitland Wilson
Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron Wilson
Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron Wilson, GCB, GBE, DSO , also known as "Jumbo" Wilson, saw active service in the Second Boer War and First World War, and became a senior British general in the Middle East and Mediterranean during the Second World War...

, Allied commander of the Mediterranean theater, presented Antonescu with an ultimatum
Ultimatum
An ultimatum is a demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case of noncompliance. An ultimatum is generally the final demand in a series of requests...

. After a new visit to Germany and a meeting with Hitler, Antonescu opted to continue fighting alongside the remaining Axis states, a decision which he later claimed was motivated by Hitler's promise to allow Romania possession of 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...

 in the event of an Axis victory. Upon his return, the Conducător oversaw a counteroffensive which stabilized the front on a line between Iaşi and Chişinău
Chisinau
Chișinău is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc...

 to the north and the lower Dniester to the east. This normalized his relations with Nazi German officials, whose alarm over the possible loss of an ally had resulted in the Margarethe II plan, an adapted version of the Nazi takeover in Hungary
Operation Margarethe
During World War II, the Germans planned two discrete operations using the codename Margarethe.Operation Margarethe I was the occupation of Hungary by German forces on 19 March 1944. The Hungarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, but had been discussing an armistice with the Allies...

.

However, Antonescu's non-compliance with the terms of Wilson's ultimatum also had drastic effects on Romania's ability to exit the war. By then, Antonescu was conceiving of a separate peace
Separate peace
The phrase "separate peace" refers to a nation's agreement to cease military hostilities with another, even though the former country had previously entered into a military alliance with other states that remain at war with the latter country...

 with the Western Allies, while maintaining contacts with the Soviets. In parallel, the mainstream opposition movement came to establish contacts with the Romanian Communist Party
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...

 (PCR), which, although minor numerically, gained importance for being the only political group to be favored by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. On the PCR side, the discussions involved Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu
Lucretiu Patrascanu
Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu was a Romanian communist politician and leading member of the Communist Party of Romania , also noted for his activities as a lawyer, sociologist and economist. For a while, he was a professor at Bucharest University...

 and later Emil Bodnăraş
Emil Bodnaras
Emil Bodnăraş was an influential Romanian Communist politician, an army officer, and a Soviet agent...

. Another participating group at this stage was the old Romanian Social Democratic Party
Romanian Social Democratic Party (defunct)
The Romanian Social Democratic Party was a social-democratic political party in Romania. It published the magazine România Muncitoare, and later Socialismul, Lumea Nouă, and Libertatea.-Early party:...

.

Large-scale Allied bombings of Bucharest
Bombing of Bucharest in World War II
The Bucharest World War II bombings were primarily Allied bombings of railroad targets and those of the Oil Campaign of World War II, but included a bombing by Nazi Germany after the royal coup. Bucharest stored and distributed much of Ploiești's refined oil products....

 took place in spring 1944, while the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 approached Romanian borders. The Battle for Romania began in late summer: while German commanders Johannes Frießner and Otto Wöhler
Otto Wöhler
Otto Wöhler was a German general of infantry, serving during World War I and World War II and recipient of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves...

 of the Army Group South Ukraine
Army Group South Ukraine
Army Group South Ukraine was a German army group on the Eastern Front during World War II.Army Group South Ukraine was created on 31 March 1944...

 attempted to hold Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

, Soviet Steppe Front
Steppe Front
The Steppe Front and later the 2nd Ukrainian Front was a Front , effectively an Army group sized formation, of the Soviet Army during the Second World War...

 leader Rodion Malinovsky
Rodion Malinovsky
Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky was a Soviet military commander in World War II and Defense Minister of the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and 1960s. He contributed to the major defeat of Nazi Germany at the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Budapest...

 stormed into the areas of Moldavia defended by Petre Dumitrescu
Petre Dumitrescu
Petre Dumitrescu was a Romanian general during World War II, who led the Romanian Third Army on its campaign against the Red Army in the eastern front.-Early life and military career:...

's troops. In reaction, Antonescu attempted to stabilize the front on a line between Focşani
Focsani
Focşani is the capital city of Vrancea County in Romania on the shores the Milcov river, in the historical region of Moldavia. It has a population of 101,854.-Geography:...

, Nămoloasa
Namoloasa, Galati
Nămoloasa is a commune in Galați County, in the Moldavia region of Romania. It is composed of three villages: Crângeni, Nămoloasa and Nămoloasa-Sat....

 and Brăila
Braila
Brăila is a city in Muntenia, eastern Romania, a port on the Danube and the capital of Brăila County, in the close vicinity of Galaţi.According to the 2002 Romanian census there were 216,292 people living within the city of Brăila, making it the 10th most populous city in Romania.-History:A...

, deep inside Romanian territory. On August 5, he visited Hitler one final time in Kętrzyn
Ketrzyn
Kętrzyn , is a town in northeastern Poland with 28,351 inhabitants . Situated in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship , Kętrzyn was previously in Olsztyn Voivodeship . It is the capital of Kętrzyn County...

. On this occasion, the German leader reportedly explained that his people had betrayed the Nazi cause, and asked him if Romania would go on fighting (to which Antonescu reportedly answered in vague terms). After Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 more than once stated that the Soviet Union was not going to require Romanian subservience, the factions opposing Antonescu agreed that the moment had come to overthrow him, by carrying out the Royal Coup of August 23
King Michael's Coup
King Michael's Coup refers to the coup d'etat led by King Michael of Romania in 1944 against the pro-Nazi Romanian faction of Ion Antonescu, after the Axis front in Northeastern Romania collapsed under the Soviet offensive.-The coup:...

. On that day, the sovereign asked Antonescu to meet him in the royal palace building
National Museum of Art of Romania
The National Museum of Art of Romania is located in the former royal palace in Revolution Square, central Bucharest, Romania, completed in 1937...

, where he presented him with a request to take Romania out of its Axis alliance. The Conducător refused, and was promptly arrested by soldiers of the guard, being replaced as Premier with General Constantin Sănătescu
Constantin Sanatescu
Constantin Sănătescu was a Romanian statesman who served as the first Prime Minister of Romania after the August 23, 1944 coup, through which Romania left the Axis Powers and joined the Allies....

, who presided over a national government
National unity government
A national unity government, government of national unity, or national union government is a broad coalition government consisting of all parties in the legislature, usually formed during a time of war or other national emergency.- Canada :During World War I the Conservative government of Sir...

.

The new Romanian authorities declared peace with the Allies and advised the population to greet Soviet troops. On August 25, as Bucharest was successfully defending itself against German retaliations, Romania declared war on Nazi Germany. The events disrupted German domination in the Balkans, putting a stop to the Maibaum offensive against Yugoslav Partisans. The coup was nevertheless a unilateral move, and, until the signature of an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 on September 12, the country was still perceived as an enemy by the Soviets, who continued to take Romanian soldiers as prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

. In parallel, Hitler reactivated the Iron Guardist exile, creating a Sima-led government in exile
Government in exile
A government in exile is a political group that claims to be a country's legitimate government, but for various reasons is unable to exercise its legal power, and instead resides in a foreign country. Governments in exile usually operate under the assumption that they will one day return to their...

 that did not survive the war's end in Europe
End of World War II in Europe
The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union took place in late April and early May 1945.-Timeline of surrenders and deaths:...

.

Placed in the custody of PCR militants, Ion Antonescu spent the interval at a house in Bucharest's Vatra Luminoasă quarter. He was afterward handed to the Soviet occupation forces
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...

, who transported him to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, together with his deputy Mihai Antonescu, Governor of Transnistria Gheorghe Alexianu, Defense Minister Constantin Pantazi, Gendarmerie
Jandarmeria Româna
Jandarmeria Română is the military branch of the two Romanian police forces .The gendarmerie is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform and does not have responsibility for policing the Romanian Armed Forces...

 commander Constantin Vasiliu and Bucharest Police
Romanian Police
The Romanian Police is the national police force and main civil law enforcement agency in Romania. It is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.-Duties:The Romanian Police are responsible for:...

 chief Mircea Elefterescu. They were subsequently kept in luxurious detention at a mansion nearby the city, and guarded by SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

, a special counter-intelligence
Counter-intelligence
Counterintelligence or counter-intelligence refers to efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering and collecting intelligence against them. National intelligence programs, and, by extension, the overall defenses of...

 body answering directly to Stalin. Shortly after Germany surrendered in May 1945, the group was moved to Lubyanka prison
Lubyanka (KGB)
The Lubyanka is the popular name for the headquarters of the KGB and affiliated prison on Lubyanka Square in Moscow. It is a large building with a facade of yellow brick, designed by Alexander V...

. There, Antonescu was interrogated and reputedly pressured by SMERSH operatives, among them Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov, but transcripts of their conversations were never sent back to Romania by the Soviet authorities. Later research noted that the main issues discussed were the German-Romanian alliance, the war on the Soviet Union, the economic toll on both countries, and Romania's participation in the Holocaust (defined specifically as crimes against "peaceful Soviet citizens"). At some point during this period, Antonescu attempted suicide in his quarters. He was returned to Bucharest in spring 1946 and held in Jilava prison. He was subsequently interrogated by prosecutor Avram Bunaciu
Avram Bunaciu
Avram Bunaciu was a Romanian communist politician who served as the Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs and was the acting President of the State Council of Romania.-Early life:...

, to whom he complained about the conditions of his detainment, contrasting them with those in Moscow, while explaining that he was a vegetarian and demanding a special diet.

Trial and execution


In May 1946, Ion Antonescu was prosecuted at the first in a series of People's Tribunals
Romanian People's Tribunals
The two Romanian People's Tribunals , the Bucharest People's Tribunal and the Northern Transylvania People's Tribunal were set up by the post-World War II government of Romania, overseen by the Allied Control Commission to try suspected war criminals, in line with Article 14 of the Armistice...

, on charges of war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s, crimes against the peace and treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. The tribunals had first been proposed by the PNŢ, and was compatible with the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 in Allied-occupied Germany
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

. The Romanian legislative framework was drafted by coup participant Pătrăşcanu, a PCR member who had been granted leadership of the Justice Ministry. Despite the idea having earned support from several sides of the political spectrum, the procedures were politicized in a sense favorable to the PCR and the Soviet Union, and posed a legal problem for being based on ex post facto
Ex post facto law
An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...

decisions. The first such local trial took place in 1945, resulting in the sentencing of Iosif Iacobici, Nicolae Macici, Constantin Trestioreanu and other military commanders directly involved in planning or carrying out the Odessa massacre.

Antonescu was represented by Constantin Paraschivescu-Bălăceanu and Titus Stoica, two public defender
Public defender
The term public defender is primarily used to refer to a criminal defense lawyer appointed to represent people charged with a crime but who cannot afford to hire an attorney in the United States and Brazil. The term is also applied to some ombudsman offices, for example in Jamaica, and is one way...

s whom he had first consulted with a day before the procedures were initiated. The prosecution team, led by Vasile Stoican, and the panel of judges, presided over by Alexandru Voitinovici, were infiltrated by PCR supporters. Both consistently failed to admit that Antonescu's foreign policies were overall dictated by Romania's positioning between Germany and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, and although references to the mass murders formed just 23% of the indictment and corpus of evidence (ranking below charges of anti-Soviet aggression), the procedures also included Antonescu's admission of and self-exculpating take on war crimes, including the deportations to Transnistria. They also evidence his awareness of the Odessa massacre, accompanied by his claim that few of the deaths were his direct responsibility. One notable event at the trial was a testimony by PNŢ leader Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian politician. A leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, he served as Prime Minister of Romania for three terms during 1928–1933, and, with Ion Mihalache, co-founded the National Peasants'...

. Reacting against the aggressive tone of other accusers, Maniu went on record saying: "We [Maniu and Antonescu] were political adversaries, not cannibals
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

." Upon leaving the bench, Maniu walked toward Antonescu and shook his hand.

Ion Antonescu was found guilty of the charges. This verdict was followed by two sets of appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

s, which claimed that the restored and amended 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...

 did not offer a framework for the People's Tribunals and prevented capital punishment
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

 during peacetime, while noting that, contrary to the armistice agreement, only one power represented within the Allied Commission
Allied Commission
Following the termination of hostilities in World War II, the Allied Powers were in control of the defeated Axis countries. Anticipating the defeat of Germany and Japan, they had already set up the European Advisory Commission and a proposed Far Eastern Advisory Commission to make recommendations...

 had supervised the tribunal. They were both rejected within six days, in compliance with a legal deadline on the completion of trials by the People's Tribunals. King Michael subsequently received pleas for clemency
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

 from Antonescu's lawyer and his mother, and reputedly considered asking the Allies to reassess the case as part of the actual Nuremberg Trials, taking Romanian war criminals into foreign custody. Subjected to pressures by the new Soviet-backed 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....

 executive, he issued a decree in favor of execution. Together with his co-defendants Mihai Antonescu, Alexianu and Vasiliu, the former Conducător was executed by a military firing squad on June 1, 1946. Ion Antonescu's supporters circulated false rumors that regular soldiers had refused to fire at their commander, and that the squad was mostly composed of Jewish policemen. Another apologetic claim insists that he himself ordered the squad to shoot, but footage of the event has proven it false. It is however attested that he refused a blindfold and raised his hat in salute once the order was given. The execution site, some distance away from the locality of Jilava
Jilava
Jilava is a commune in Ilfov county, Romania, near Bucharest. It is composed of a single village, Jilava.The name derives from a Romanian word of Slavic origin meaning "humid place". Jilava was the location of a fort built by King Carol I of Romania, as part of the capital's defense system...

 and the prison fort, was known as Valea Piersicilor ("Valley of the Peach Trees"). His final written statement was a letter to his wife, urging her to withdraw into a convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

, while stating the belief that posterity would reconsider his deeds and accusing Romanians of being "ungrateful".

Ethnic nationalism and expansionism



Antonescu's policies were motivated, in large part, by ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

. A firm believer in the restoration 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...

 as the union of lands inhabited by Romanian ethnics
Romanians
The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

, he never reconciled himself to Hungary's incorporation of 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...

. Although Hungary and Romania were technically allied through the Axis system, their relationship was always tense, and marked by serious diplomatic incidents. The Romanian leader kept contacts with representatives of ethnic Romanian communities directly affected by 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...

, including Transylvanian Greek-Catholic
Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic
The Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic is an Eastern Catholic Church which is in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. It is ranked as a Major Archiepiscopal Church and uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in the Romanian language....

 clergy. Another aspect of Antonescu's nationalist policies was evidenced after the Balkans Campaign. Antonescu's Romania did not partake in the military action, but laid a claim to the territories in eastern Vojvodina
Vojvodina
Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

 (western Banat
Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

) and the Timok Valley
Timočka Krajina
Timočka Krajina is a geographical region located in Serbia. It is situated in eastern Serbia around the Timok River. The population of Timočka Krajina is 284,112 .-Name:...

, home to a sizable Romanian community
Romanians of Serbia
Romanians are a recognised national minority in Serbia. The total number of declared Romanians in the 2002 Serbian census was 34,576, while 40,054 people declared themselves Vlachs; there are differing views among some of the Vlachs over they should be regarded as Romanians or as members of a...

. Reportedly, Germany's initial designs of granting Vojvodina to Hungary enhanced the tensions between Antonescu and Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

 to the point where war between the two countries became a possibility. Such incidents made Germany indefinitely prolong its occupation of the region. The Romanian authorities issued projects for an independent Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 with autonomy for its Aromanian
Aromanians
Aromanians are a Latin people native throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Serbia and Romania . An older term is Macedo-Romanians...

 communities, while an official memorandum on the Timok region, approved by Antonescu, made mention of "Romanian" areas "from Timok [...] to Salonika
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

". The Conducător also maintained contacts with Aromanian fascists in Axis-occupied Greece, awarding refuge to Principality of Pindus leaders Alchiviad Diamandi di Samarina and Nicola Matushi
Nicola Matushi
Nicola Matushi was an Aromanian lawyer, politician and Regent of Pindus....

, whose pro-Romanian policies had brought them into conflict with other Macedonian factions.

Conducător Antonescu thought Hitler willing to revise his stance on Northern Transylvania, and claimed to have obtained the German leader's agreement, using it to justify participation on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 after the recovery of Bessarabia. However, transcripts of the Hitler-Antonescu conversations do not validate his interpretation. Another version has it that Hitler sent Antonescu a letter informing him that Bessarabia's political status still ultimately depended on German decisions. In one of his letters to Hitler, Antonescu himself stated 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:...

 ideological motivation: "I confirm that I will pursue operations in the east to the end against that great enemy of civilization, of Europe, and of my country: Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n Bolshevism
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 [...] I will not be swayed by anyone not to extend this military cooperation into new territory." Antonescu's ideological perspective blended national sentiment with generically Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and particularly Romanian Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 traits. British historian Arnold D. Harvey writes that while this ideology seems a poor match with Nazi doctrine
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, especially its anti-religious elements, "It seems that Hitler was not even perturbed by the militant Christian orientation of the Antonescu regime".

It is also possible that, contrary to Antonescu's own will, Hitler viewed the transfer of Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

 as compensation for the Transylvanian areas, and that he therefore considered the matter closed. According to the Romanian representative in Berlin, Raoul Bossy
Raoul Bossy
Raoul V. Bossy was a Romanian diplomat.Born in 1894 he pursued his university studies at the Sorbonne, in Paris, where he graduated as Licentiate in Law...

, various German and Hungarian officials recommended the extension of permanent Romanian rule into Transnistria, as well as into Podolia
Podolia
The region of Podolia is an historical region in the west-central and south-west portions of present-day Ukraine, corresponding to Khmelnytskyi Oblast and Vinnytsia Oblast. Northern Transnistria, in Moldova, is also a part of Podolia...

, Galicia and Pokuttya
Pokuttya
Pokuttya or Pokuttia is a historical area of East-Central Europe, between upper Prut and Cheremosh rivers, in modern Ukraine. Historically it was a culturally distinct area inhabitated by Ukrainians and Romanians on the previously unpopulated borderlands between the lands of Lviv and Halych...

, in exchange for delivering the whole of Transylvania to Hungary (and relocating its ethnic Romanian majority to the new provinces). American political scientist Charles King
Charles King (author)
Charles King is Professor of International Affairs and Government at Georgetown University, where he previously served as Chairman of the Faculty of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service....

 writes: "There was never any attempt to annex the occupied territory [of Transnistria], for it was generally considered by the Romanian government to be a temporary buffer zone
Buffer zone
A buffer zone is generally a zonal area that lies between two or more other areas , but depending on the type of buffer zone, the reason for it may be to segregate regions or to conjoin them....

 between Greater Romania and the Soviet front line." At his 1946 trial, Antonescu claimed that Transnistria had been occupied to prevent Romania being caught in a "pincer" between Germany's Drang nach Osten
Drang nach Osten
Drang nach Osten was a term coined in the 19th century to designate German expansion into Slavic lands. The term became a motto of the German nationalist movement in the late nineteenth century...

and the Volksdeutsch
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

communities to the east, while denying charges of having exploited the region for Romania's benefit.

Romanian historian Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia is a Romanian historian, known especially for his works debunking Romanian nationalism and Communism.-Bibliography:* Eugen Brote: Litera, 1974...

 believes that Ion Antonescu may have nevertheless had expansionist
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

 goals to the east, and that he implicitly understood Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 as a tool for containing Slavic peoples
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

. Similar verdicts are provided by other researchers. Another Romanian historian, Ottmar Traşcă, argues that Antonescu did not wish to annex the region "at least until the end of the war", but notes that Antonescu's own statements make reference to its incorporation in the event of a victory. In addition to early annexation plans to the Southern Bug
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

 (reportedly confessed to Bossy in June 1941), the Conducător is known to have presented his ministers with designs for the region's colonization. The motivation he cited was alleged malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 among Romanian peasants, to which he added: "I'll take this population, I'll lead it into Transnistria, where I shall give it all the land it requires". Several nationalists sympathetic to Antonescu acclaimed the extension of Romanian rule into Transnistria, which they understood as permanent.

Antisemitism and antiziganism


A recurring element in Antonescu's doctrines is racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, and in particular antisemitism. This was linked to his sympathy for ethnocratic
Ethnocracy
Ethnocracy is a form of government where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts disproportionately large to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group represents and use them to advance the position of their particular ethnic...

 ideals, and complemented by his statements in favor of "integral nationalism
Integral Nationalism
Integral nationalism is one of five types of nationalism defined by Carlton Hayes in his 1928 book The Historical Evolution of Modern Nationalism....

" and "Romanianism". Like other 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...

 Romanians, he saw a Jewish presence behind liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

, and believed in the existence of Judeo-Masonry. His earliest thoughts on Codreanu's ideology criticize the Legionary leader for advocating "brutal measures" in dealing with the "invasion of Jews", and instead propose "the organization of Romanian classes" as a method for reaching the same objective. Politician Aureliu Weiss, who met General Antonescu during that interval, recalled that, although antisemitic "to the core", he was capable of restraint in public. According to historian Mihail Ionescu, the Conducător was not averse to the Iron Guard's "Legionary principles", but wanted antisemitism to be "applied in an orderly fashion", as opposed to Horia Sima
Horia Sima
Horia Sima was a Romanian fascist politician. After 1938, he was the second and last leader of the fascist and antisemitic para-military movement known as the Iron Guard.-In Romania:...

's revolutionary ways. Historian Ioan Scurtu believes that, during the Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

, Antonescu deliberately waited before stepping in, in order for the Guard to be "profoundly discredited" and for himself to be perceived as a "savior". In April 1941, he let his ministers know that he was considering letting "the mob" deal with the Jews, "and after the slaughter, I will restore order." Lucian Boia notes that the Romanian leader was indeed motivated by antisemitic beliefs, but that these need to be contextualized in order to understand what separates Antonescu from Hitler in terms of radicalism. However, various other researchers assess that, by aligning himself with Hitler before and during Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, Antonescu implicitly agreed with his thoughts on the "Jewish Question
Jewish Question
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historically unequal civil, legal and national statuses between minority Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western and...

", choosing racial over religious antisemitism. According to Harvey, the Iaşi pogrom
Iasi pogrom
The Iaşi pogrom or Jassy pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.-Background:]During...

 made the Germans "evidently willing to accept that organized Christianity in Romania was very different from what it was in Germany".

Antonescu was a firm believer in the conspiracy theory
Conspiracy theory
A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

 of "Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

", according to which all Jews were supporters of 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...

 and the Soviet Union. His arguments on the matter involved a spurious claim that, during the 1940 retreat from Bessarabia, the Jews had organized themselves and attacked Romanian soldiers. In part, this notion exaggerated unilateral reports of enthusiasm among the marginalized Jews upon the arrival of Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 troops. In a summer 1941 address to his ministers, Antonescu stated: "The Satan is the Jew. [Ours] is a battle of life and death. Either we win and the world will be purified, either they win and we will become their slaves." At around the same time, he envisaged the ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 ("cleaning out") of Jews from the eastern Romanian-held territories. However, as early as February 1941, Antonescu was also contemplating the ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

ization of all Jewish Romanians, as an early step toward their expulsion. In this context, Antonescu frequently depicted Jews as a disease or a poison. After the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

, he encouraged the army commanders to resist the counteroffensive, as otherwise the Soviets "will bring Bolshevism to the country, wipe out the entire leadership stratum, impose the Jews on us, and deport masses of our people."

Ion Antonescu's antiziganism
Antiziganism
Antiziganism or Anti-Romanyism is hostility, prejudice or racism directed at the Romani people, also known as Gypsies.As an endogamous culture with a tendency to practise self-segregation, the Romanis have generally resisted assimilation with the indigenous communities of whichever countries they...

 manifested itself as the claim that some or all Romani people, specifically nomadic
Nomadic peoples of Europe
In Europe the settled lifestyle has long been the norm, but some small nomadic communities exist or have existed recently.- Romani :By far the most important and best known of these communities are the Romani people, traditionally known in English as Gypsies...

 ones, were given to criminal behavior. The regime did not act consistently on this belief: in various cases, those deported had close relatives drafted into the Romanian Army. Although racist slogans targeting Romani people had been popularized by the Iron Guard, it was only under Antonescu's unchallenged rule that solving the "Gypsy problem" became official policy and antiziganist measures were enforced. After a February 1941 inspection, Antonescu singled out Bucharest's Romani community for alleged offenses committed during the blackout
Blackout (wartime)
A blackout during war, or apprehended war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, for example during the London...

, and called on his ministers to present him with solutions. Initially, he contemplated sending all Romani people he considered undesirable to the inhospitable Bărăgan Plain
Baragan Plain
The Bărăgan Plain is a steppe plain in south-eastern Romania. It makes up much of the eastern part of the Wallachian Plain. The region is known for its black soil and a rich humus, and is mostly a cereal-growing area....

, to join the ranks of a local community of manual laborers. In 1942, he commissioned the Romanian Central Institute for Statistics to compile a report on Romani demography
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

, which, in its edited form, provided scientifically racist
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

 conclusions, warning the Conducător about alleged Romani-Romanian miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

 in rural Romania. In doing so, Antonescu offered some credit to a marginal and pseudoscientific
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 trend in Romanian sociology, which, basing itself on eugenic
Eugenics
Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to human populations. The origins of the concept of eugenics began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance,...

 theories, recommended the marginalization, deportation or compulsory sterilization
Compulsory sterilization
Compulsory sterilization also known as forced sterilization programs are government policies which attempt to force people to undergo surgical sterilization...

 of the Romani people, whose numeric presence it usually exaggerated. Among those who signed the report was demographer Sabin Manuilă, who saw the Romani presence as a major racial problem. The exact effect of the report's claims on Antonescu is uncertain.

Fascism and conservatism


There is a historiographic dispute about whether Ion Antonescu's regime was 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...

 or more generically right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 authoritarian
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

, itself integrated within a larger debate about the aspects and limits of fascism. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i historian of fascism Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli historian and one of the world's leading experts on Fascism. Sternhell headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes for Haaretz newspaper.-Biography:...

 describes Antonescu, alongside his European counterparts Pierre-Étienne Flandin, Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

, François de La Rocque
François de la Rocque
François de La Rocque was leader of the French right-wing league named the Croix de Feu from 1930–1936, before forming the more moderate Parti Social Français , seen as a precursor of Gaullism.- Early life :François de La Rocque was born on 6 October 1885 in Lorient, Brittany, the third son to a...

, Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

 and Italian King
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

 Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...

, as a "conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

", noting that all of them "were not deceived by a [fascist] propaganda trying to place them in the same category [as the fascist movements]." A similar verdict is provided by German historian of Europe Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze is a German historian currently working at the Free University of Berlin. He specializes in early modern and modern German and European history, particularly in comparative European nationalisms.-Life:...

, who views Horthy, Franco and the Romanian leader alongside Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

's Estado Novo theorist António de Oliveira Salazar
António de Oliveira Salazar
António de Oliveira Salazar, GColIH, GCTE, GCSE served as the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. He also served as acting President of the Republic briefly in 1951. He founded and led the Estado Novo , the authoritarian, right-wing government that presided over and controlled Portugal...

 and Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 founder Józef Piłsudski, as rulers of "either purely military dictatorships, or else authoritarian governments run by civilian politicians", and thus a category apart from the leaders of "Fascist states." For Schulze, the defining elements of such governments is the presence of a "conservative establishment
The Establishment
The Establishment is a term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation. The term suggests a closed social group which selects its own members...

" which ensured "social stability" by extending the control of a "traditional state" (thus effectively blocking "revolutionary suggestions" from the far left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 and 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...

 alike). The term "conservative autocrat
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

" is used in relation to the Conducător by British political theorist Roger Griffin
Roger Griffin
Roger D. Griffin is a British academic political theorist at Oxford Brookes University, England. His recent efforts have focused on a definition and examination of fascism...

, who attributes to the Iron Guard the position of a subservient fascist movement, while others identify Antonescu's post-1941 rule as a military rather than a fascist dictatorship. Several other scholars prefer "conservative" as a defining term for Antonescu's policies. Antonescu described himself as "by fate a dictator", and explained that his policies were "militaristic
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

" or, on one occasion, "national-totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

".

Nevertheless, other historians theorize a synthesis of fascist and conservative elements, performed by Antonescu and other European leaders of his day. Routledge
Routledge
Routledge is a British publishing house which has operated under a succession of company names and latterly as an academic imprint. Its origins may be traced back to the 19th-century London bookseller George Routledge...

's 2002 Companion to Fascism and the Far Right uses the terms "para-fascist" to define Antonescu, adding: "generally regarded as an authoritarian conservative [Antonescu] incorporated fascism into his regime, in the shape of the Iron Guard, rather than embodying fascism himself." "Para-fascist" is also used by Griffin, to denote both Antonescu and 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...

. American historian of fascism Robert Paxton
Robert Paxton
Robert O. Paxton is an American political scientist and historian specializing in Vichy France, fascism and Europe during the World War II era...

 notes that, like Salazar, Romania's dictator crushed a competing fascist movement, "after copying some of [its] techniques of popular mobilization." Political scientists John Gledhill and Charles King discuss the Iron Guard as Romania's "indigenous fascist movement", remark that Antonescu "adopted much of the ideology of the Guardists", and conclude that the regime he led was "openly fascist". References to the fascist traits of Antonescu's dictatorship are also made by other researchers.

The synthetic aspect of Antonescu's rule is discussed in detail by various authors. British historian Dennis Deletant, who notes that the fascist label relies on both Antonescu's adoption of some fascist "trappings" and the "dichotomy of wartime and postwar evaluation" of his regime, also notes that post-1960 interpretations "do more to explain his behaviour than the preceding orthodoxy." Deletant contrasts the lack of "mass political party or ideology" with the type of rule associated with Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 or Italian fascism
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

. British-born sociologist and political analyst Michael Mann
Michael Mann (sociologist)
Michael Mann is a British-born professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and Visiting Research Professor at Queen's University Belfast. Mann holds dual British and US citizenships. He received his B.A. in Modern History from the University of Oxford in 1963 and his...

 writes: "The authoritarian regimes of Antonescu [...] and Franco [...] purported to be 'traditional', but actually their fascist-derived corporatism was a new immanent ideology of the right." Another distinct view is held by Romanian-born historian of ideas Juliana Geran Pilon
Juliana Geran Pilon
Juliana Geran Pilon is a Romanian-born American political scientist and writer. She is a Professor of Politics and Culture and Director of the Center for Culture and Security at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C.-Biography:...

, who describes Romania's "military fascist regime" as a successor to Iron Guardist "mystical nationalism", while mentioning that Antonescu's "national ideology was rather more traditionally militaristic and conservative."

Power base, administration and propaganda



In theory, Antonescu's policies had at least one revolutionary aspect. The leader himself claimed: "I want to introduce a patriotic
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

, heroic, military-typed education, because economic education and all the others follow from it." According to Boia, his arrival in power was explicitly meant to "regenerate" Romania, and his popularity hinged on his being perceived as a "totalitarian model" and a "savior" figure, like 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...

 and Carol II before him. The "providential" and "savior" themes are also emphasized by historian Adrian Majuru, who notes that Antonescu both adopted such ideals and criticized Carol for failing to live up to them. Seeing his rule as legitimized by the national interest
National interest
The national interest, often referred to by the French expression raison d'État , is a country's goals and ambitions whether economic, military, or cultural. The concept is an important one in international relations where pursuit of the national interest is the foundation of the realist...

, the general is also known to have referred to political pluralism as poltronerie ("poltroonishness"). Accordingly, Antonescu formally outlawed all political forces in February 1941, codifying penal labor as punishment for most public forms of political expression. In Deletant's assessment, his regenerative program was more declarative than factual, and contradicted by Antonescu's own decision to allow the informal existence of some opposition forces. At the same time, some historians believe his monopolizing of power in the name of a German alliance turned Romania into either a "puppet state
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

" of Hitler or one of Germany's "satellite" governments. However, Deletant notes: "Romania retained her sovereignty throughout the period of the alliance [with Nazi Germany]. [...] Antonescu had, of course, his own country's interests uppermost in his mind, but in following Hitler, he served the Nazi cause." He describes Romania's contribution to the war as that of "a principal ally of Germany", as opposed to a "minor Axis satellite."

Although he assigned an unimportant role to King Michael, Antonescu took steps to increase the monarchy's prestige, personally inviting Carol's estranged wife, Queen Mother Helen, to return home. However, his preferred military structures functioned in cooperation with a bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 inherited from the 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...

. According to historian of fascism Philip Morgan: "Antonescu probably wanted to create, or perpetuate, something like Carol's front organization." Much of his permanent support base comprised former National Christian Party
National Christian Party
The National Christian Party was a Romanian political party, the product of a union between Octavian Goga's National Agrarian Party and A. C. Cuza's National-Christian Defense League; a prominent member of the party was the philosopher Nichifor Crainic...

 members, to the point where he was seen as successor to 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,...

. While maintaining a decorative replacement for Parliament
Parliament of Romania
The Parliament of Romania is made up of two chambers:*The Chamber of Deputies*The SenatePrior to the modifications of the Constitution in 2003, the two houses had identical attributes. A text of a law had to be approved by both houses...

—known as Adunarea Obştească Plebiscitară a Naţiunii Române ("The General Plebiscitary Assembly of the Romanian Nation") and convoked only twice— he took charge of hierarchical appointments, and personally drafted new administrative projects. In 1941, he disestablished participative government in localities and counties
Counties of Romania
The 41 judeţe and the municipality of Bucharest comprise the official administrative divisions of Romania. They also represent the European Union' s NUTS-3 geocode statistical subdivision scheme of Romania.-Overview:...

, replacing it with a corporatist
Corporatism
Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that involves association of the people of society into corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labor, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of common...

 structure appointed by prefects whom he named. In stages between August and October 1941, he instituted civilian administration of Transnistria under Governor Gheorghe Alexianu, whose status he made equivalent to that of a cabinet minister. Similar measures were taken in Bukovina and Bessarabia (under Governors Corneliu Calotescu
Corneliu Calotescu
Corneliu Calotescu was a Romanian Major-General during World War II. He served as Secretary-General to Under-Secretary of State of Land Forces in 1940. In 1941, he was Deputy Governor-General of Bucovina and Governor-General of Bucovina. He became General Officer Commanding 3rd Division in 1943...

 and Gheorghe Voiculescu, respectively). Antonescu strictly relied on the chain of command
Chain of Command
Chain of Command may refer to:* Chain of command, in a military context, the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed* "Chain of Command" , the fifth episode of the first season of Beast Wars...

, and his direct orders to the Army overrode civilian hierarchies. This system allowed room for endemic political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and administrative confusion. The Romanian leader also tolerated a gradual loss of authority over the German communities in Romania
Germans of Romania
The Germans of Romania or Rumäniendeutsche were 760,000 strong in 1930. They are not a single group; thus, to understand their language, culture, and history, one must view them as independent groups:...

, in particular the Transylvanian Saxon
Transylvanian Saxons
The Transylvanian Saxons are a people of German ethnicity who settled in Transylvania from the 12th century onwards.The colonization of Transylvania by Germans was begun by King Géza II of Hungary . For decades, the main task of the German settlers was to defend the southeastern border of the...

 and Banat Swabian
Banat Swabians
The Banat Swabians are an ethnic German population in Southeast Europe, part of the Danube Swabians. They emigrated in the 18th century to what was then the Austrian Banat province, which had been left sparsely populated by the wars with Turkey. This once strong and important ethnic Banat Swabian...

 groups, in agreement with Hitler's views on the Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

. This trend was initiated by Saxon Nazi activist Andreas Schmidt in cooperation with the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, resulting in de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

self-governance
Self-governance
Self-governance is an abstract concept that refers to several scales of organization.It may refer to personal conduct or family units but more commonly refers to larger scale activities, i.e., professions, industry bodies, religions and political units , up to and including autonomous regions and...

 under a Nazi system which was also replicated among the 130,000 Black Sea Germans
Black Sea Germans
The Black Sea Germans are ethnic Germans who left their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries, and settled in territories off the north coast of the Black Sea, mostly in southern Ukraine...

 of Transnistria. Many young German Romanian men opted to join the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

as early as 1940 and, in 1943, an accord between Antonescu and Hitler automatically sent ethnic Germans of recruitable age into the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

.

The regime was characterized by the leader's attempts to regulate even remote aspects of public life, including relations between the sexes. He imposed drastic penalties for misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

s, and the legal use of capital punishment
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

 was extended to an unprecedented level. He personally set standards for nightclub programs, for the length of skirts and for women's use of bicycles, while forcing all men to wear coats in public. His wife Maria
Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu was a Romanian socialite and philanthropist, the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu...

 was a patron of state-approved charitable organization
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

s, initially designed to compete with successful Iron Guardist ventures such as Ajutorul Legionar. According to Romanian-born gender studies
Gender studies
Gender studies is a field of interdisciplinary study which analyses race, ethnicity, sexuality and location.Gender study has many different forms. One view exposed by the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one"...

 academic Maria Bucur, although the regime allowed women "to participate in the war effort on the front in a more regularized, if still marginal, fashion", the general tone was sexist
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

.

The administrative apparatus included official press and propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 sectors, which moved rapidly from constructing Carol's personality cult to doing the same for the new military leader: journals Universul
Universul
Universul was a mass-circulation newspaper in Romania. It existed from 1884 to 1953, and was run by Stelian Popescu from 1914 to 1943 ....

and Timpul
Timpul
Timpul is a newspaper published in Romania, originally published as the official platform of the defunct Conservative Party....

, as well as Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu was a Romanian playwright, novelist, philosopher and poet. He marked the end of the traditional novel era and laid the foundation of the modern novel era.- Life :...

's România magazine, were particularly active in this process. Some other such venues were Porunca Vremii, Nichifor Crainic
Nichifor Crainic
Nichifor Crainic was a Romanian writer, editor, philosopher, poet and theologian famed for his traditionalist and antisemitic activities...

's Sfarmă-Piatră
Sfarma-Piatra
Sfarmă-Piatră was an antisemitic daily, monthly and later weekly newspaper, published in Romania during the late 1930s and early 1940s...

, as well as all the seemingly independent newspapers and some ten new periodicals the government founded for this purpose. Among the individual journalists involved in propaganda were Crainic, Petrescu, Stelian Popescu
Stelian Popescu
Stelian Popescu was a nationalist Romanian journalist.From 1914 to 1943, Popescu was director of Universul....

, and Curentul editor Pamfil Şeicaru (the Conducător purposefully ignored support from Carol's former adviser, corporatist economist and newspaperman Mihail Manoilescu
Mihail Manoilescu
Mihail Manoilescu was a Romanian journalist, engineer, economist, politician and memoirist, who served as Foreign Minister of Romania during the summer of 1940...

, whom he reportedly despised). Much of the propaganda produced during the Antonescu era supported the antisemitic theses put forth by the Conducător. Antisemitism was notable and virulent at the level of Romanian Army units addressing former Soviet citizens in occupied lands, and reflected the regime's preference for the ethnic slur jidani ("kike
Kike
Kike is a derogatory slur used to refer to a Jew.-Etymology:The source of the term is uncertain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may be an alteration of the endings –ki or –ky common in the personal names of Jews in eastern Europe who immigrated to the United States in the early...

s"). The religious aspect of anti-communism surfaced in such venues, which frequently equated Operation Barbarossa with a holy war
Religious war
A religious war; Latin: bellum sacrum; is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences. It can involve one state with an established religion against another state with a different religion or a different sect within the same religion, or a religiously motivated group attempting to...

 or a crusade. Romania's other enemies were generally treated differently: Antonescu himself issued objections to the anti-British propaganda of explicitly pro-Nazi papers such as Porunca Vremii. A special segment of Antonescu's post-1941 propaganda was Codrenist: it revisited the Iron Guard's history to minimize Sima's contributions and to depict him as radically different from Codreanu.

Iaşi pogrom


Three weeks after gaining power and inaugurating the National Legionary regime, Ion Antonescu declared to Italian interviewers at La Stampa
La Stampa
La Stampa is one of the best-known, most influential and most widely sold Italian daily newspapers. Published in Turin, it is distributed in Italy and other European nations. The current owner is the Fiat Group.-History:...

that solving the "Jewish Question
Jewish Question
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historically unequal civil, legal and national statuses between minority Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western and...

" was his pressing concern, and that he considered himself "haunted" by the large Jewish presence in Moldavian towns. Antonescu's crimes against the Jewish population were inaugurated by new racial discrimination laws: urban Jewish property was expropriated, Jews were banned from performing a wide range of occupations and forced to provide community work
Civil conscription
Civil conscription is conscription used for forcing people to work in non-military projects.Civil conscription is used by various governments around the world, among them Greece., where it has been used numerous times and it is called πολιτική επιστράτευση. Temporary conscription for payment,...

 for the state (muncă de interes obştesc) instead of the inaccessible military service, mixed Romanian-Jewish marriages were forbidden and many Jews, primarily those from strategic areas such as Ploieşti
Ploiesti
Ploiești is the county seat of Prahova County and lies in the historical region of Wallachia in Romania. The city is located north of Bucharest....

, were confined to internment camps
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

. The expulsion of Jewish professionals from all walks of life was also carried out in the National Legionary period, and enforced after the Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

. After a post-Legionary hiatus, "Romanianization
Romanianization
Romanianization or Rumanization is the term used to describe a number of ethnic assimilation policies implemented by the Romanian authorities during the 20th century...

" commissions resumed their work under the supervision of a National Center, and their scope was extended.

Often discussed as a prelude to the Holocaust in Romania and in connection with Antonescu's views on "Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

", the Iaşi pogrom
Iasi pogrom
The Iaşi pogrom or Jassy pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.-Background:]During...

 occurred just days after the start of Operation Barbarossa, and was partly instigated, partly tolerated by the authorities in Bucharest. For a while before the massacre, these issued propaganda claiming that the Jews in 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...

, whose numbers had been increased by forced evictions from smaller localities, were actively helping Soviet bombers find their targets through the blackout
Blackout (wartime)
A blackout during war, or apprehended war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, for example during the London...

 and plotting against the authorities, with Antonescu himself ordering that the entire community be expelled from the city on such grounds. The discourse appealed to local antisemites, whose murderous rampage, carried out with the officials' complicity, resulted in several thousand deaths among Jewish men, women and children.

In the aftermath of the pogrom, thousands of survivors were loaded into the so-called "death trains". These overcrowded and sealed Romanian Railways
Caile Ferate Române
Căile Ferate Române is the official designation of the state railway carrier of Romania. Romania has a railway network of of which are electrified and the total track length is . The network is significantly interconnected with other European railway networks, providing pan-European passenger...

 stock cars
Stock car (rail)
In railroad terminology, a stock car or cattle wagon is a type of rolling stock used for carrying livestock to market...

 circled the countryside in the extreme heat of the summer, and periodically stopped to unload the dead. At least 4,000 people died during the initial massacre and the subsequent transports. Varied estimates of the Iaşi massacre and related killings place the total number of Jews killed at 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 or 14,000. Some assistance in their murder was provided by units of the German XXXth Army Corps, a matter which later allowed the authorities to shift blame from themselves and from Antonescu—who was nonetheless implicated by the special orders he had released. The complicity of the Special Intelligence Service and its director Eugen Cristescu
Eugen Cristescu
Eugen Cristescu was the second head of the Kingdom of Romania's domestic espionage agency, the Secret Intelligence Service , forerunner of today's SRI. He previously served as head of Siguranţa Statului, the secret police.-Early life:Cristescu was born in Oituz, Bacău County into a large, poor...

 was also advanced as a possibility. The subsequent attempts at a cover-up included omissive explanations given by the central authorities to foreign diplomats and rewriting official records.

Transnistria




Right upon setting up camp in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, Romanian troops joined the Wehrmacht and the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

-organized Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

in mass shootings of Bessarabian
Bessarabian Jews
-Early history:Jews are mentioned from very early in the Principality of Moldavia, but they did not represent a significant number. Their main activity in Moldavia was commerce, but they could not compete with Greeks and Armenians, who had the knowledge of the Levantine commerce and relationships...

 and Ukrainian Jews
History of the Jews in Ukraine
Jewish communities have existed in the territory of Ukraine from the time of Kievan Rus' and developed many of the most distinctive modern Jewish theological and cultural traditions. While at times they flourished, at other times they faced periods of persecution and antisemitic discriminatory...

, resulting in the deaths of 10,000 to 20,000 people. Scholar Christopher R. Browning compares these killings with similar atrocities perpetrated by locals in Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine , literally "Reich Commissariat of Ukraine", was the civilian occupation regime of much of German-occupied Ukraine during World War II. Between September 1941 and March 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Reichskommissar Erich Koch as a colony...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 (see Holocaust in Latvia
Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Latvia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany.- German occupation :The German army crossed the Soviet frontier early in the morning on Sunday, June 22, 1941, on a broad front from the Baltic Sea to Hungary. The German army advanced quickly...

, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust in Ukraine
Holocaust in Ukraine
The Holocaust in Ukraine refers to the Nazi crimes during the Occupation of Ukraine by Nazi Germany. Between 1941 and 1945 the Holocaust in Ukraine killed approximately 3,000,000 Ukrainian victims as part of Nazi extermination policies, along with between 850,000 - 900,000 Jews who lived in the...

). From then on, as the fighting troops progressed over the Dniester
Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

, the local administration deported large numbers of Jews into the fighting zone, in hopes that they would be exterminated by the Germans. Antonescu himself stated: "I am in favor of expelling the Jews from Bessarabia and [Northern] Bukovina to the other side of the border [...]. There is nothing for them to do here and I don't mind if we appear in history as barbarians [...]. There has never been a time more suitable in our history to get rid of the Jews, and if necessary, you are to make use of machine guns against them." He also explained that his aim was: "the policy of purification of the Romanian race, and I will not give way before any obstacle in achieving this historical goal of our nation. If we do not take advantage of the situation which presents itself today [...] we shall miss the last chance that history offers to us. And I do not wish to miss it, because if I do so further generations will blame me." He made a contradictory statement about the murder of Jews in Chişinău
Chisinau
Chișinău is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc...

, claiming that their perpetrators were "bastards" who "stained" his regime's reputation.

Many deaths followed, as the direct results of starvation and exhaustion, while the local German troops carried out selective shootings. The survivors were sent back over the river, and the German commanders expressed irritation over the methods applied by their counterparts. Romanian authorities subsequently introduced ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s or transit camps. After the annexation of Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

, there ensued a systematic deportation of Jews from Bessarabia, with additional transports of Jews from the Old Kingdom
Romanian Old Kingdom
The Romanian Old Kingdom is a colloquial term referring to the territory covered by the first independent Romanian nation state, which was composed of the Danubian Principalities—Wallachia and Moldavia...

 (especially Moldavia-proper). Based on an assignment Antonescu handed down to General Ioan Topor, the decision involved specific quotas, and the transports, most of which were carried out by foot, involved random murders. In conjunction with Antonescu's expansionist
Expansionism
In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

 ambitions, it is possible that the ultimate destination for the survivors, once circumstances permitted it, was further east than the Southern Bug
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

. The deportees' remaining property was nationalized
Nationalization in Romania
The nationalization of the means of production was a measure taken by Romania’s new Communist authorities in order to lay the foundation of socialism. The act that allowed this measure to take place was Law 119, adopted by the Great National Assembly on June 11, 1948...

, confiscated or left available for plunder. With its own Jewish population confined and subjected to extermination, Transnistria became infamous in short time, especially so for its three main concentration camps: Peciora, Akhmechetka, Bogdanovka
Bogdanovka
Bogdanovka was a concentration camp for Jews that was established by the Romanian authorities during World War II as part of the Holocaust.- Location :...

, Domanovka and Obodovka. Manned by Romanian Gendarmes
Jandarmeria Româna
Jandarmeria Română is the military branch of the two Romanian police forces .The gendarmerie is subordinated to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform and does not have responsibility for policing the Romanian Armed Forces...

 and local Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 auxiliaries
Auxiliary police
Auxiliary police or special constables in England) are usually the part-time reserves of a regular police force. They may be armed or unarmed. They may be unpaid volunteers or paid members of the police service with which they are affiliated...

 who acted with the consent of central authorities, Transnistrian localities became the sites of mass executions, particularly after the administrators became worried about the spread of typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 from the camps and into the surrounding region. The last wave of Jewish deportations, occurring in June 1942, came mainly from the Cernăuţi
Chernivtsi
Chernivtsi is the administrative center of Chernivtsi Oblast in southwestern Ukraine. The city is situated on the upper course of the River Prut, a tributary of the Danube, in the northern part of the historic region of Bukovina, which is currently divided between Romania and Ukraine...

 area in Northern Bukovina.

Also in summer 1942, Ion Antonescu became a perpetrator of the Porajmos
Porajmos
The Porajmos was the attempt made by Nazi Germany, the Independent State of Croatia, Horthy's Hungary and their allies to exterminate the Romani people of Europe during World War II...

, or Holocaust-related crimes against the Romani people, when he ordered the Transnistrian deportation of Romani Romanians
Roma minority in Romania
The Roma constitute one of the major minorities in Romania. According to the 2002 census, they number 535,140 people or 2.5% of the total population, being the second-largest ethnic minority in Romania after Hungarians...

 from the Old Kingdom, transited through camps and resettled in inhumane conditions near the Southern Bug
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

. They were joined there by 2,000 conscientious objector
Conscientious objector
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

s of the Inochentist church
Inochentism
Inochentism is a millennialist and Charismatic Christian sect, split from mainstream Eastern Orthodoxy in the early 20th century. The church was first set up in the Russian Empire, and was later active in both the Soviet Union and Romania...

, a millennialist
Millenarianism
Millenarianism is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed, based on a one-thousand-year cycle. The term is more generically used to refer to any belief centered around 1000 year intervals...

 denomination. As Antonescu admitted during his trial, he personally supervised these operations, giving special orders to the Gendarmerie commanders. In theory, the measures taken against Romani people were supposed to affect only nomads and those with a criminal record created or updated recently, but arbitrary exceptions were immediately made to this rule, in particular by using the vague notion of "undesirable" to define some members of sedentary communities. The central authorities noted differences in the criteria applied locally, and intervened to prevent or sanction under-deportation and, in some cases, over-deportation. Antonescu and Constantin Vasiliu had been made aware of the problems Transnistria faced in feeding its own population, but ignored them when deciding in favor of expulsion. With most of their property confiscated, the Romani men, women and children were only allowed to carry hand luggage, on which they were supposed to survive winter. Famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and disease ensued from criminal negligence
Criminal negligence
In the criminal law, criminal negligence is one of the three general classes of mens rea element required to constitute a conventional as opposed to strict liability offense. It is defined as an act that is:-Concept:...

, Romani survival being largely dependent on occasional government handouts, the locals' charity, stealing and an underground economy
Underground economy
A black market or underground economy is a market in goods or services which operates outside the formal one supported by established state power. Typically the totality of such activity is referred to with the definite article as a complement to the official economies, by market for such goods and...

. Once caught, escapees who made their way back into Romania were returned by the central authorities, even as local authorities were objecting.

Odessa massacre



The Odessa massacre, an act of collective punishment
Collective punishment
Collective punishment is the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behavior of one or more other individuals or groups. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions...

 carried out by the Romanian Army and Gendarmes, took the lives of a minimum of between 15,000 and 25,000 to as many as 40,000 or even more than 50,000 Jewish people of all ages. The measure came as the enforcement of Antonescu's own orders, as retaliation for an explosion that killed 67 people at Romanian headquarters on that city. Antonescu believed that the original explosion was a terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 act, rejecting the possibility of the building in question having been fitted with land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

s by the retreating Soviets. In addition, Antonescu blamed the Jews, specifically "Jewish commissar
Commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...

s" in the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, for the losses suffered by his 4th Army
4th Infantry Division (Romania)
The 4th Infantry Division Gemina is one of three major units of the Romanian Land Forces, with its headquarters in Cluj-Napoca. Until June 15, 2008 it was designated as the 4th Territorial Army Corps "Mareşal Constantin Prezan" .-Structure in April 2007 :This structure was in force when the...

 throughout the siege, although both an inquiry he had ordered and German assessments pointed to the ill-preparedness of Romanian soldiers. While the local command took the initiative for the first executions, Antonescu's personal intervention amplified the number of victims required, and included specific quotas (200 civilians for every dead officer, 100 for every dead soldier). By the time of the explosion, the Jewish population was already rounded up into makeshift ghettos, being made subject to violence and selective murders.

Purportedly the largest single massacre of Jews in the war's history, it involved mass shootings, hangings, acts of immolation and a mass detonation. Antonescu is quoted saying that the Romanian Army's criminal acts were "reprisals, not massacres". Survivors were deported to the nearby settlement of Slobidka, and kept in inhumane conditions. Alexianu himself intervened with Antonescu for a solution to their problems, but the Romanian leader decided he wanted them out of the Odessa area, citing the nearby resistance of Soviet troops in the Siege of Sevastopol as a ferment for similar Jewish activities. His order to Alexianu specified: "Pack them into the catacombs
Odessa Catacombs
The Odessa Catacombs are an estimated 2,500 kilometres of labyrinths stretching out under the city and surrounding region of Odessa, Ukraine. The majority of the catacombs are the result of stone mining....

, throw them into the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, but get them out of Odessa. I don't want to know. A hundred can die, a thousand can die, all of them can die, but I don't want a single Romanian official or officer to die." Defining the presence of Jews in occupied Odessa as "a crime", Antonescu added: "I don't want to stain my activity with such lack of foresight." As a result of this, around 35,000–40,000 Jewish people were deported out of Odessa area and into other sectors of Transnistria. Several thousands were purposefully driven into Berezivka
Berezivka
Berezívka is a town in Odessa Oblast, Ukraine. Population is 9,481 ....

 and other areas inhabited by the Black Sea Germans
Black Sea Germans
The Black Sea Germans are ethnic Germans who left their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries, and settled in territories off the north coast of the Black Sea, mostly in southern Ukraine...

, where Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz
Selbstschutz stands for two organisations:# A name used by a number of paramilitary organisations created by ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe# A name for self-defence measures and units in ethnic German, Austrian, and Swiss civil defence....

organizations massacred them.

Overall death toll and particularities



A common assessment ranks Antonescu's Romania as second only to Nazi Germany in its antisemitic extermination policies. According to separate works by historians Dennis Deletant and Adrian Cioroianu
Adrian Cioroianu
Adrian Mihai Cioroianu is a Romanian historian, politician, journalist, and essayist. A lecturer for the History Department at the University of Bucharest, he is the author of several books dealing with Romanian history...

, the flaws of Antonescu's 1946 trial notwithstanding, his responsibility for war crimes signifies was such that he would have been equally likely to be found guilty and executed in a Western Allied jurisdiction. The often singular brutality of Romanian-organized massacres was a special topic of reflection for Jewish Holocaust escapee and American political theorist Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt was a German American political theorist. She has often been described as a philosopher, although she refused that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular." She described herself instead as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact...

, as discussed in her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem
Eichmann in Jerusalem
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is a book written by political theorist Hannah Arendt, originally published in 1963...

. Official Romanian estimates made in 2003 by the Wiesel Commission
Wiesel Commission
The Wiesel Commission is the common name given to the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, which was established by former President Ion Iliescu in October 2003 to research and create a report on the actual history of the Holocaust in Romania and make specific recommendations for...

 mention that between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were killed by Romanian authorities under Antonescu's rule. The Transnistria deportations account for 150,000 to 170,000 individual expulsions of Jews from Romania proper, of whom some 90,000–120,000 never returned. According to Romanian-born Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i historian Jean Ancel, the Transnistria deportations from other areas account for around 145,000 deaths, while the number of local Transnistrian Jews killed could be as high as 280,000. More conservative estimates for the latter number mention some 130,000–180,000 victims. Other overall estimates speak of 200,000 to over 300,000 Jews purposefully killed as a result of Romania's action. According to historians Antony Polonsky and Joanna B. Michlic
Joanna B. Michlic
Joanna B. Michlic was a professor of Polish-Jewish history at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.-Selected works:*Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present, 2006, ISBN 0803232403...

: "none of these massacres was carried out by the Germans, although [the latter] certainly encouraged such actions and, in some cases, may have coordinated them." The Romani deportations affected some 25,000 people, at least 11,000 of whom died in Transnistria.

The Jewish population in the Old Kingdom, numbering between 300,000 and 400,000 people, survived the Holocaust almost intact. Reflecting on this fact, Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia is a Romanian historian, known especially for his works debunking Romanian nationalism and Communism.-Bibliography:* Eugen Brote: Litera, 1974...

 noted that Antonescu could not "decently" be viewed as a rescuer of Jews, but that there still is a fundamental difference between the effects of his rule and those of Hitler's, concluding that the overall picture is not "completely dark." For Dennis Deletant, this situation is a "major paradox" of Antonescu's time in power: "more Jews survived under [Antonescu's] rule than in any other country within Axis Europe." American historian of Romania William O. Oldson views Antonescu's policies as characterized by "violence, inconsistency and inanity", but places them in the wider context of local antisemitism, noting some ideological exceptions from their respective European counterparts. These traits, he argues, became "providential" for the more assimilated Jewish communities of the Old Romanian Kingdom, while exposing Jews perceived as foreign. Discussing Antonescu's policy of ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

, Polonksy and Mihlic note: "[it] raises important questions about the thin line between the desire to expel an unwanted minority and a small-scale genocidal
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 project under sanctioned conditions." American military historian Gerhard L. Weinberg made reference to the Antonescu regime's "slaughter of large number of Jews in the areas ceded to the Soviet Union in 1940 when those areas were retaken in 1941 as well as in [...] Transnistria", but commented: "the government of Marshal Ion Antonescu preferred to rob and persecute Jews [from Romania]; the government would not turn them over to the Germans for killing."

Alongside the noticeable change in fortunes on the Eastern Front, a main motivator for all post-1943 changes, noted by various historians, was the manifold financial opportunity of Jewish survival. Wealthier Jews were financially extorted
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

 in order to avoid community work and deportation, and the work of some professionals was harnessed by the public sector
Public sector
The public sector, sometimes referred to as the state sector, is a part of the state that deals with either the production, delivery and allocation of goods and services by and for the government or its citizens, whether national, regional or local/municipal.Examples of public sector activity range...

, and even by the Army. From the beginning, the regime had excepted from deportations some Jews who were experts in fields such as forestry
Forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

 and chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, and some others were even allowed to return despite antisemitic protests in their home provinces. Economic exploitation was institutionalized in late 1941-early 1942, with the creation of a Central Jewish Office. Supervised by Commissioner Radu Lecca
Radu Lecca
Radu Lecca was a Romanian spy, journalist, civil servant and convicted war criminal. A World War I veteran who served a prison term for espionage in France during the early 1930s, he was a noted supporter of antisemitic concepts and, after 1933, an agent of influence for Nazi Germany...

 and formally led by the Jewish intellectuals Nandor Gingold and Henric Streitman, it collected funds which were in part redirected toward Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu was a Romanian socialite and philanthropist, the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu...

's charities. Small numbers of Romanian Jews left independently for the Palestine as early as 1941, but British opposition to Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 plans made their transfer perilous (one notorious example of this being the ship Struma). On a personal level, Antonescu's encouragement of crimes alternated with periods when he gave in to the pleas of Jewish community leader Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman was a leader of the Romanian-Jewish community between the two wars and a representative of the Jews in the Romanian parliament....

. In one such instance, he reversed his own 1942 decision to impose the wearing of yellow badge
Yellow badge
The yellow badge , also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism...

s, which nevertheless remained in use everywhere outside the Old Kingdom and, in theory, to any Romanian Jews elsewhere in Axis-controlled Europe. Assessing these contradictions, commentators also mention the effect of Allied promises to prosecute those responsible for genocide throughout Europe. In the late stages of the war, Antonescu was attempting to shift all blame for crimes from his regime while accusing Jews of "bring[ing] destruction upon themselves".

The regime permitted non-deported Romanian Jews and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 charities to send humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid
Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disaster and man-made disaster. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity...

 into Transnistrian camps, a measure it took an interest in enforcing in late 1942. Deportations of Jews ceased altogether in October of the same year. A common explanation historians propose for this reassessment of policies is the change in Germany's fortunes on the Eastern Front, with mention that Antonescu was considering using the Jewish population as an asset in his dealings with the Western Allies
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

. It nevertheless took the regime more than a year to allow more selective Jewish returns from Transnistria, including some 2,000 orphans. After Transnistria's 1944 evacuation, Antonescu himself advocated the creation of new camps in Bessarabia. In conversations with his cabinet, the Conducător angrily maintained that surviving Jews were better off than Romanian soldiers.

The policies applied in respect to the Romani population were ambivalent: while ordering the deportation of those he considered criminals, Ion Antonescu was taking some interest in improving the lives of Romani laborers of the Bărăgan Plain
Baragan Plain
The Bărăgan Plain is a steppe plain in south-eastern Romania. It makes up much of the eastern part of the Wallachian Plain. The region is known for its black soil and a rich humus, and is mostly a cereal-growing area....

. According to Romanian historian Viorel Achim, although it had claimed the existence of a "Gypsy problem", the Antonescu regime "did not count it among its priorities." By 1943, Antonescu was gradually allowing those deported to return home. Initially, Constantin Vasiliu allowed the families of soldiers to appeal their deportation on a selective basis. Romanian authorities also appear to have been influenced by the objections of Nazi administrators in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine , literally "Reich Commissariat of Ukraine", was the civilian occupation regime of much of German-occupied Ukraine during World War II. Between September 1941 and March 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Reichskommissar Erich Koch as a colony...

, who feared that the newly arrived population would outnumber local Germans
Black Sea Germans
The Black Sea Germans are ethnic Germans who left their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries, and settled in territories off the north coast of the Black Sea, mostly in southern Ukraine...

. By January 1944, the central authorities ordered local ones not to send back apprehended fugitives, instructed them to provide these with some food and clothing, and suggested corporal punishment
Corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

 for Romani people who did not adhere to a behavioral code. As the Romanian administrators abandoned Transnistria, most survivors from the group returned on their own in summer 1944.

Antonescu and the Final Solution projects


Ion Antonescu and his subordinates were for long divided on the issue of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

, as applied in territories under direct Nazi control from 1941. At an early stage, German attempts to impose the RSHA
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

's direct control over Old Kingdom Jews drew some objections from Mihai Antonescu, but the two sides agreed to a common policy with reference to Soviet Jews. In various of his early 1940s statements, Ion Antonescu favorably mentions the Axis goal of eliminating the Jewish presence in the event of victory. The unrestrained character of some Romanian actions toward Jews alarmed Nazi officials, who demanded a methodical form of extermination. When confronted with German decisions to push back Jews he had expelled before the occupation of Transnistria, Antonescu protested, arguing that he had conformed with Hitler's decisions regarding "eastern Jews". In August 1941, in preparation for the Final Solution's universal application, Hitler remarked: "As for the Jewish question, today in any case one could say that a man like Antonescu, for example, proceeds much more radically in this manner than we have done until now. But I will not rest or be idle until we too have gone all the way with the Jews."

By summer 1942, German representatives in Romania obtained Antonescu's approval to deport the remaining Jewish population to extermination camps in occupied Poland. Among those involved on the German side were mass murderer Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 and his aide Gustav Richter
Gustav Richter
Gustav Richter was an aide to Nazi Adolf Eichmann during World War II.Richter was born in 1913 and he received a law degree .Richter was a devoted Nazi...

, while the Romanian side was represented by Jewish Affairs Commissioner Lecca (reporting to Antonescu himself). Richter directed Lecca in setting up the Central Jewish Office, which he assumed would function as a Judenrat
Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

to streamline extermination policies. According to such plans, only some 17,000 Jews, labeled useful to Romania's economy, were to be exempt. The transports had already been announced to the Romanian Railways
Caile Ferate Române
Căile Ferate Române is the official designation of the state railway carrier of Romania. Romania has a railway network of of which are electrified and the total track length is . The network is significantly interconnected with other European railway networks, providing pan-European passenger...

 by autumn 1942, but the government eventually decided to postpone these measures indefinitely as was done with most other deportations to Transnistria. Antonescu's new orders on the matter were brought up in his conversations with Hitler at Schloss Klessheim
Schloss Klessheim
Schloss Klessheim is a Baroque palace situated west of Salzburg in the Austrian commune of Wals-Siezenheim. A former summer residence of the Archbishops of Salzburg, it is now used by Salzburg Casino.-History:...

, where both leaders show themselves aware of the fate awaiting Jewish deportees to Poland. By then, German authorities charged with applying the Final Solution in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 completely abandoned their plans with respect to Romania.

According to Oldson, by the final stage of the war Romania rejected "all extreme measures against Jews who could not be proven to be communists." The planned transports to Palestine, the prospect of which irritated Nazi German observers, implied a hope that the Allies' focus would shift away from the regime's previous guilt and, at the same time, looked forward to payments to be made in exchange for each person saved. The contrary implications of Romanian nationalism, manifested as reluctance to obey German commands and discomfort with drastic change in general, are occasionally offered as further explanations of the phenomenon. While reflecting upon the issue of emigration to Palestine, Antonescu also yielded to pleas of Jewish community leaders, and allowed safe passage through Romania for various Northern Transylvanian Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Hungary. He was doing the same for certain Northern Transylvanian Romani communities who had escaped southwards. In that context, Nazi German ideologues began objecting to Antonescu's supposed leniency. Antonescu nevertheless alternated tolerance of illegal immigration with drastic measures. In early 1944, he issued an order to shoot illegal immigrants, which was probably never enforced by the Border Police
Romanian Border Police
The Romanian Border Police is the structure of the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior responsible for the border security and passport control at border crossing points, airports and ports.-Ranks:...

 (who occasionally turned in Jewish refugees to the German authorities). The Antonescu regime allowed the extermination of the Romanian Jewish diaspora in other parts of Europe, formally opposing their deportation in some cases where it appeared Germany was impinging upon Romania's sovereignty.

Political mainstream



The circumstances of wartime accounted for cautious and ambivalent approaches to Antonescu's rule from among the Romanian political mainstream, which grouped advocates of liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 and anti-fascism
Anti-fascism
Anti-fascism is the opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals, such as that of the resistance movements during World War II. The related term antifa derives from Antifaschismus, which is German for anti-fascism; it refers to individuals and groups on the left of the political...

. According to Gledhill and King: "Romanian liberals had been critical of their government's warm relationship with Hitler, which had been developing throughout the 1930s, but the [1940] Soviet attack on Romanian territory left them with little chance but to support Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union." Other authors also cite the 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...

n agenda of the Antonescu executive as a reason behind the widespread acquiescence. The tendency was illustrated by 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:...

, who, in late January 1941, told his National Liberal
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...

 colleagues that the new "government of generals" was "the best solution possible to the current crisis", urging the group to provide Antonescu with "all the support we can give him." An early point of contention between Antonescu and 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...

 came in spring 1941, when Antonescu's support for the Balkans Campaign and Romania's claim to parts of Vojvodina
Vojvodina
Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

 were met with a letter of protest from Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian politician. A leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, he served as Prime Minister of Romania for three terms during 1928–1933, and, with Ion Mihalache, co-founded the National Peasants'...

, which Antonescu dismissed. Maniu and Brătianu also issued several condemnations of Antonescu's decision to continue the war beyond the Dniester
Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

. One such letter, signed by both, claimed that, while earlier steps had been "legitimized by the entire soul of the nation, the Romanian people will never consent to the continuation of the struggle beyond our national borders." Maniu specifically mentioned the possibility of Allied victory, accused Antonescu of diverting attention from the goal 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...

 (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...

 included), and stressed that Romania's ongoing participation in the Axis was "troubling enough".

Antonescu is known to have publicly admonished opposition leaders for their disobedience, which he equated with obstruction, and to have monitored their activities through the Special Intelligence Service. However, some early communiques he addressed to Brătianu also feature offers of resignation, which their recipient reluctantly rejected. The Germans objected to such ambiguities, and Hitler once advised Antonescu to have Maniu killed, an option which the Conducător rejected because of the PNŢ leader's popularity with the peasants. While tolerating contacts between Maniu and the Allies, Antonescu arrested the clandestine British envoys to Romania, thus putting a stop to the 1943 Operation Autonomous
Operation Autonomous
Operation Autonomous was a clandestine operation carried out on the territory of Romania by the Special Operations Executive set up by Churchill for the duration of the war to assist local Resistance movements.-Participants:...

. In parallel, his relationship with Queen Mother Helen and Michael rapidly deteriorated after he began advising the royal family on how to conduct its affairs. Dissent from Antonescu's policies sometimes came from inside his own camp. Both the officer corps and the General Staff were divided on the issue of war beyond the Dniester
Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

, although it is possible that the majority agreed it would bring Northern Transylvania back to Romania. A prominent case was that of Iosif Iacobici, the Chief of the Romanian General Staff, whose objection to the massive transfer of Romanian troops to the Eastern Front resulted in his demotion and replacement with Ilie Şteflea (January 1942). Şteflea issued similar calls, and Antonescu's eventually agreed to preserve a home army just before the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

. Various other military men extended their protection to persecuted Jews. Overall, Antonescu met significant challenges in exercising control over the politicized sectors in the armed forces.

Antonescu's racial discrimination laws and Romania's participation in the Holocaust earned significant objections from various individuals and groups in Romanian society. One noted opponent was Queen Mother Helen, who actively intervened to save Jews from being deported. The Mayor of Cernăuţi
Chernivtsi
Chernivtsi is the administrative center of Chernivtsi Oblast in southwestern Ukraine. The city is situated on the upper course of the River Prut, a tributary of the Danube, in the northern part of the historic region of Bukovina, which is currently divided between Romania and Ukraine...

, Traian Popovici
Traian Popovici
Traian Popovici was a Romanian lawyer and mayor of Cernăuţi during World War II, known for saving 20,000 Jews of Bukovina from deportation.Popovici was born in Ruşii Mănăstioarei village of Suceava county...

, publicly objected to the deportation of Jews, as did Gherman Pântea
Gherman Pântea
Gherman V. Pântea was a Bessarabian-born soldier, civil servant and political figure, active in the Russian Empire and Romania. As an officer of the Imperial Russian Army during most of World War I, he helped organize the committees of Bessarabian soldiers, oscillating between loyalty to the...

, his counterpart in Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

. The appeals of Queen Helen, King Michael, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Transylvania Nicolae Bălan, Apostolic Nuncio Andrea Cassulo
Andrea Cassulo
Andrea Cassulo was an archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and a representative of the Holy See in Egypt, Canada, Romania and Turkey from 1921 to 1952.-Early life and ordination:...

 and Swiss
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....

 Ambassador René de Weck are credited with having helped avert the full application of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 in Antonescu's Romania. Cassulo and Bălan together pleaded for the fate of certain Jews, including all who had converted to Christianity, and the former publicly protested against deportations. While Romania and the United States were still at peace, American Minister Plenipotentiary
United States Ambassador to Romania
A United States diplomatic representative to Romania has existed since 1880. The United States formally recognized Romania in 1878, following the Treaty of Berlin; diplomatic relations were opened in 1880, and American diplomats were sent to the country. Until the early 20th century, most...

 Franklin Mott Gunther repeatedly attempted to make his superiors aware of Romanian actions against the Jews, and Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 diplomats unsuccessfully sought American approval for transferring Romanian Jews to safe passage through Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and into Palestine. Dinu Brătianu also condemned antisemitic measures, prompting Antonescu to accuse him of being an ally of "the Yid
Yid
The word Yid is a slang Jewish ethnonym. Its usage may be controversial in modern English language. It is not usually considered offensive when pronounced , the way Yiddish speakers say it, though some may deem the word offensive nonetheless...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

". Together with Maniu and Ion Mihalache
Ion Mihalache
Ion Mihalache was a Romanian agrarian politician, the founder and leader of the Peasants' Party and a main figure of its successor, the National Peasants' Party .-Early life:...

, Brătianu signed statements condemning the isolation, persecution and expulsion of Jews, which prompted Antonescu to threaten to clamp down on them. However, both parties were occasionally ambiguous on racial issues, and themselves produced antisemitic messages. Brătianu is also known for publicly defending the cause of Romani people, opposing their deportation on grounds that it would "turn back the clock on several centuries of history", a stance which drew support from his civilian peers. In parallel, some regular Romanians such as nurse Viorica Agarici
Viorica Agarici
Viorica Agarici was a Romanian nurse, the chairwoman of the local Red Cross in the city of Roman during World War II and the Ion Antonescu regime...

 intervened to save Jewish lives, while, from inside the Jewish community, Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi is a title given in several countries to the recognized religious leader of that country's Jewish community, or to a rabbinic leader appointed by the local secular authorities...

 Alexandru Şafran
Alexandru Safran
Alexandru Şafran was a Romanian and, after 1948, Swiss rabbi. As chief rabbi of Romania , he intervened with authorities in the fascist government of Ion Antonescu in an unusually successful attempt to save Jews during the Holocaust.-Biography:Şafran was born in Bacău, and received his doctorate...

 and activist Mişu Benvenisti rallied with Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman
Wilhelm Filderman was a leader of the Romanian-Jewish community between the two wars and a representative of the Jews in the Romanian parliament....

 in public protests against Antonescu's decisions, being occasionally joined by A. I. Zissu. In 1943, Filderman himself was deported to Mohyliv-Podilskyi
Mohyliv-Podilskyi
Mohyliv-Podilskyi is a city in the Mohyliv-Podilskyi Raion of the Vinnytsia Oblast , Ukraine. It is located at , on the border with Bessarabia, Moldova.-History:The first mention of the town dates from 1595...

, but eventually allowed to return.

Political underground



Organized resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

s in Antonescu's Romania were comparatively small-scale and marginal. In addition to a Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 underground which aided Jews to pass through or flee the country, the regime was confronted with local political movements of contrasting shades. One of them comprised far left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 and left-wing elements, which Antonescu's rise to power had caught in an unusual position. The minor Romanian Communist Party
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...

, outlawed since the rule of 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...

 for its 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...

ist national policies, had been rendered virtually inactive by the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. Once reanimated by Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, the PCR was unable to create an actual armed resistance movement
Resistance during World War II
Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation, disinformation and propaganda to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns...

, although it was able to coordinate the policies of several other small leftist groups. Speaking shortly before the invasion of the Soviet Union, and adopting the "Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

" position, Antonescu ordered authorities to compile lists comprising "the names of all Jewish and communist agents", who were to be kept under close surveillance. Among people arrested on suspicion of communism, Jews were sent to Transnistrian sites such as Vapniarka
Vapniarka
Vapniarka , also known as Vapniarca, Vapnyarka, Wapnjarka or Wapniarka, is a town in Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine, known since 1870 as a railroad station. Its name from the Ukrainian language translates as a lime settlement...

 and Rîbniţa
Rîbnita
Rîbnița, also spelled Râbnița is a city in Moldova. The city is under the administration of the breakaway government of the Transnistria. According to the 2004 Census in Transnistria, it has a population of 53,648. Rîbniţa is situated in the northern half of Transnistria, on the left bank of the...

, while others were interned in regular facilities such as those in Caransebeş
Caransebes
Caransebeş is a city in Caraş-Severin County, part of the Banat region in southwestern Romania. It is located at the confluence of the river Timiş with the river Sebeş, the latter coming from the Ţarcu Mountains. To the west, it is in direct contact with the Banat hills...

 and Târgu Jiu
Târgu Jiu
Târgu Jiu is the capital of Gorj County, Oltenia, Romania. It is situated on the Southern Sub-Carpathians, on the banks of the river Jiu. Eight villages are administered by the city: Bârseşti, Drăgoeni, Iezureni, Polata, Preajba Mare, Româneşti, Slobozia and Ursaţi.-History:The city takes its name...

. In all, some 2,000 Jewish Romanian deportees to the region had been accused of political crime
Political crime
In criminology, a political crime is an offence involving overt acts or omissions , which prejudice the interests of the state, its government or the political system...

s (the category also included those who had tried to escape forced labor). According to one estimate, people held on charges of being communists accounted for just under 2,000 people, of whom some 1,200 were jailed in Romania proper. Capital punishment
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

 was used against various partisan
Partisan (military)
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity...

-like activists, while the vast majority of communist prisoners in Rîbniţa were massacred in March 1944. At the other end of the political spectrum, after the Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

 and the 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...

's decapitation, many Legionaries who opposed the regime, and whom Antonescu himself believed were "communists in [Legionary] green shirts", were killed or imprisoned. An Iron Guardist underground was nevertheless formed locally, and probably numbered in thousands. Some of Antonescu's political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s from both camps were given a chance to redeem themselves by joining units on the Eastern Front.

Although repressed, divided and weak, the PCR capitalized on the Soviet victories, being integrated into the mainstream opposition. At the same time, a "prison faction" emerged around Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the Communist leader of Romania from 1948 until his death in 1965.-Early life:Gheorghe was the son of a poor worker, Tănase Gheorghiu, and his wife Ana. Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930...

, opposing both the formal leadership and the so-called "Muscovite" communists who had taken refuge in the Soviet Union before the war. While maneuvering for control within the PCR during and after 1944, "prison" communists destroyed a third group, formed around the PCR's nominal leader Ştefan Foriş
Stefan Foris
Ştefan Foriş was a Romanian communist activist and journalist who served as general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party between 1940 and 1944....

 (whom they kidnapped and eventually killed). The PCR leadership was still suffering from a crisis of legitimacy after beginning talks with the larger parties. The Soviets and "Muscovite" communists campaigned among Romanian prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 in order to have them switch sides in the war, and eventually managed to set up the Tudor Vladimirescu Division
Tudor Vladimirescu Division
The Tudor Vladimirescu Division was a Soviet-organized division of Romanians that fought against Germany and Hungary during the final year of World War II.-Creation:...

.

Cultural circles


Measures enforced by the Ion Antonescu regime had contradictory effects on the Romanian cultural scene
Culture of Romania
Romania has a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and of its distinct historical evolution. Like Romanians themselves, it is defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them...

. According to Romanian literary historians Letiţia Guran and Alexandru Ştefan, "the Antonescu regime [...] did not affect negatively cultural modernity
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

. The Romanian cultural elite regarded Antonescu's policies for the most part with sympathy." Nevertheless, other researchers record the dissent of several cultural environments: the classic liberalism and cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality. This is contrasted with communitarian and particularistic theories, especially the ideas of patriotism and nationalism...

 of aging literary theorist Eugen Lovinescu
Eugen Lovinescu
Eugen Lovinescu was a Romanian modernist literary historian, literary critic, academic, and novelist, who in 1919 established the Sburătorul literary club. He was the father of Monica Lovinescu, and the uncle of Horia Lovinescu, Vasile Lovinescu, and Anton Holban...

, the "Lovinescian" Sibiu Literary Circle
Sibiu Literary Circle
The Sibiu Literary Circle was a literary group created during World War II in Sibiu to promote the modernist liberal ideas of Eugen Lovinescu....

, and the rebellious counterculture
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 of young avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 writers (Ion Caraion, Geo Dumitrescu, Dimitrie Stelaru, Constant Tonegaru
Constant Tonegaru
Constant Tonegaru was a Romanian avant-garde and Decadent poet, who ended his career as a political prisoner and victim of the communist regime...

). Prominent left-wing writers Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi was a Romanian writer, best known for his contribution to poetry and children's literature. Born Ion N. Theodorescu in Bucharest , he explained that his pen name was related to Argesis, the Latin name for the Argeş River.-Early life:Along with Mihai Eminescu, Mateiu Caragiale, and...

, Victor Eftimiu
Victor Eftimiu
Victor Eftimiu was an Albanian-Romanian poet, playwright, and a contributor to Sburătorul, a Romanian literary magazine. His works have been performed in the State Jewish Theater of Romania....

 and Zaharia Stancu
Zaharia Stancu
Zaharia Stancu was a Romanian prose writer, novelist, poet, and philosopher.Stancu was born in 1902 in Salcia, a village in Teleorman County, Romania. After leaving school at the age of thirteen he worked at various jobs. In 1921, with the help of Gala Galaction, he became a journalist...

 were political prisoners during the Antonescu years. Author George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

 also stood out against the official guidelines, and, in 1941, took a risk by publishing a synthesis of Romanian literature
Literature of Romania
Romanian literature is literature written by Romanian authors, although the term may also be used to refer to all literature written in the Romanian language.Eugène Ionesco is one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd....

 which emphasized Jewish contributions, while composer George Enescu
George Enescu
George Enescu was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher.-Biography:Enescu was born in the village of Liveni , Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical...

 pleaded with Antonescu personally for the fate of Romani musicians. Similar acts of solidarity were performed by various prominent intellectuals and artists. In August 1942, King Michael received a manifesto endorsed by intellectuals from various fields, deploring the murders in Transnistria, and calling for a realignment of policies. Another such document of April 1944 called for an immediate peace with the Soviet Union. On a more intimate level, a diary kept by philosopher and art critic Alice Voinescu expresses her indignation over the antisemitic measures and massacres.

A special aspect of political repression and cultural hegemony was Antonescu's persecution of Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 or Restorationist Christian denominations, first outlawed under the National Legionary regime. Several thousand adherents of the Pentecostal Union
Pentecostal Union of Romania
The Pentecostal Union of Romania is Romania's fourth-largest religious body and one of its eighteen officially recognised religious denominations. At the 2002 census, 330,486 Romanians declared themselves to be Pentecostals; ethnically, they were 85.2% Romanians, 10.6% Roma, 1.9% Ukrainians, 1.8%...

 and the Baptist Union
Baptist Union of Romania
The Baptist Union of Romania is an alliance of Baptist churches for cooperative ministry in Romania. Since independent churches have no legal standing in Romania, the Baptist Union also provides a mediatorial relationship between churches and government.The first modern-era Baptists in Romania...

 were reportedly jailed in compliance with his orders. Persecution targeted groups of religiously motivated conscientious objector
Conscientious objector
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

s. In addition to the Inochentist
Inochentism
Inochentism is a millennialist and Charismatic Christian sect, split from mainstream Eastern Orthodoxy in the early 20th century. The church was first set up in the Russian Empire, and was later active in both the Soviet Union and Romania...

 movement, these groups included the Pentecostal Union, the Seventh-day Adventist Conference
Romanian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The Romanian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is Romania's eighth-largest religious body. At the 2002 census, 97,041 Romanians declared themselves to be Seventh-Day Adventists; they have over 500 church buildings...

 and the Jehovah's Witnesses Association
Jehovah's Witnesses Association of Romania
Jehovah's Witnesses Association of Romania is the formal name used by Jehovah's Witnesses for their operations in Romania, with a branch office located in Bucharest. It is one of eighteen officially recognised religious denominations in the country. According to the organisation, it has 38,000...

. Antonescu himself recounted having contemplated using the death penalty against "sects" who would not allow military service, and ultimately deciding in favor of deporting "recalcitrant" ones.

Consequences of the Antonescu trial


The period following Antonescu's fall returned Romania to a democratic regime and 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...

, as well as its participation in the war alongside the Allies. However, it also saw the early stages of a communist takeover—which culminated with King Michael's forced abdication on December 30, 1947 and the subsequent establishment of Communist Romania
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...

. The Antonescu trial thus fit into a long series of similar procedures and political purges on charges of collaborationism, instrumented by the Romanian People's Tribunals
Romanian People's Tribunals
The two Romanian People's Tribunals , the Bucharest People's Tribunal and the Northern Transylvania People's Tribunal were set up by the post-World War II government of Romania, overseen by the Allied Control Commission to try suspected war criminals, in line with Article 14 of the Armistice...

 and various other institutions. During the rigged general election of 1946
Romanian general election, 1946
The Romanian general election of 1946 was a general election held on November 19, 1946, in Romania. Officially, it was carried with 79.86% of the vote by the Romanian Communist Party , its allies inside the Bloc of Democratic Parties , and its associates — the Hungarian People's Union , the...

 and for years after Ion Antonescu's execution, the Romanian Communist Party
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...

 and its allies began using the implications of his trial as an abusive means of compromising some of their political opponents. One such early example was Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu
Iuliu Maniu was an Austro-Hungarian-born Romanian politician. A leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, he served as Prime Minister of Romania for three terms during 1928–1933, and, with Ion Mihalache, co-founded the National Peasants'...

, by then one of the country's prominent anti-communists
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:...

, who was accused of being a fascist and an Antonescu sympathizer, mainly for having shaken his hand during the trial. The enlistment of ethnic Germans
Germans of Romania
The Germans of Romania or Rumäniendeutsche were 760,000 strong in 1930. They are not a single group; thus, to understand their language, culture, and history, one must view them as independent groups:...

 into Nazi German units, as approved by Antonescu, was used as a pretext for a Soviet-led expulsion of Germans from Romania. On similar grounds, the Soviet occupation forces
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...

 organized the capture of certain Romanian citizens, as well as the return of war refugees from Romania proper into Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. Both the arrestees and the returnees were often deported deeper into the Soviet Union. As part of its deteriorating relationship with Romanian Roman Catholics
Roman Catholicism in Romania
The Roman Catholic Church in Romania is a Latin Rite Christian church, part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and Curia in Rome. Its administration is centered in Bucharest, and comprises two archdioceses and four other dioceses...

, and urged on by the Soviets, the communist cabinet of 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....

 also deemed Apostolic Nuncio Andrea Cassulo
Andrea Cassulo
Andrea Cassulo was an archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and a representative of the Holy See in Egypt, Canada, Romania and Turkey from 1921 to 1952.-Early life and ordination:...

 a collaborator of Antonescu and a persona non grata
Persona non grata
Persona non grata , literally meaning "an unwelcome person", is a legal term used in diplomacy that indicates a proscription against a person entering the country...

, based on transcripts of the Cassulo-Antonescu conversations. It also used such allegations to pressure several Greek-Catholic
Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic
The Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic is an Eastern Catholic Church which is in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. It is ranked as a Major Archiepiscopal Church and uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in the Romanian language....

 clergymen into accepting union with the Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

.

Nevertheless, Romanian-born Holocaust historian Radu Ioanid notes, few Romanians involved in organizing the Holocaust were prosecuted, and, of those, none were executed after the Antonescu trial. He attributes this to nationalist resistance within the administrative and judicial apparatus, to communist fears of alienating a too large number of people, to the emigration of Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 survivors, and to the open hostility of some communists toward liberal Jewish community leaders. Jews also faced conflict with the new authorities and with the majority population, as described by other researchers. There were, nonetheless, sporadic trials for Holocaust-related crimes, including one of Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu
Maria Antonescu was a Romanian socialite and philanthropist, the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu...

. Arrested in September 1944 and held 1945–1946 in Soviet custody, she was re-arrested at home in 1950, tried and ultimately found guilty of economic crimes for her collaboration with the Central Jewish Office. Five years later, she was sent into internal exile, and died of heart problems in 1964. After 1950, a large number of convicted war criminals, even some sentenced to life imprisonment, were deemed fit for "social cohabitation" (that is, fit to live amongst the general population) and released, while some suspects were never prosecuted.

In communist historiography


Although the Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 analytical works of the increasingly marginalized communist figure Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu
Lucretiu Patrascanu
Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu was a Romanian communist politician and leading member of the Communist Party of Romania , also noted for his activities as a lawyer, sociologist and economist. For a while, he was a professor at Bucharest University...

 make isolated mentions of the Holocaust, the heavily politicized official discourse inspired by Soviet historiography
Soviet historiography
Soviet historiography is the methodology of history studies by historians in the Soviet Union . In the USSR, the study of history was marked by alternating periods of freedom allowed and restrictions imposed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , and also by the struggle of historians to...

 interpreted Romania's wartime evolution exclusively based on the Marxist-Leninist
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 idea of class conflict
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

. In this context, the main effort to document and expose the Antonescu-era massacres came from Jewish Romanians. This began in 1945, when Jewish journalists Marius Mircu and Maier Rudrich contributed first-hand testimonies. In 1946–1948, the Jewish community leader Matatias Carp published Cartea neagră ("The Black Book"), a voluminous and detailed account of all stages of the Holocaust. After forming a secondary element in Antonescu's indictment, the deportation of Romani people was largely ignored in official discourse.

The communist regime overemphasized the part played by the PCR in King Michael's Coup
King Michael's Coup
King Michael's Coup refers to the coup d'etat led by King Michael of Romania in 1944 against the pro-Nazi Romanian faction of Ion Antonescu, after the Axis front in Northeastern Romania collapsed under the Soviet offensive.-The coup:...

, while commemorating its August 23 date as a national holiday. The Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the Communist leader of Romania from 1948 until his death in 1965.-Early life:Gheorghe was the son of a poor worker, Tănase Gheorghiu, and his wife Ana. Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930...

 faction emerged as the winner of the interior PCR struggles and incorporated nationalist discourse. That faction claimed a decisive role in toppling Antonescu, even though a majority of its members had been jailed for most of the period. In accordance with Stalinist
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 principles, censorship
Censorship in Communist Romania
Censorship in Communist Romania was widespread and virtually every published document, be it a newspaper article or a book, had to pass the censor's approval...

 produced historical revisionism
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 that excluded focus on such negative aspects of Romanian behavior during the war as antisemitism and the Holocaust, and obscured Romania's participation on the Eastern Front. Beginning in the mid-1960s, when Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 took power and embarked on a national communist
National communism
The term National Communism describes the ethnic minority communist currents that arose in the former Russian Empire after Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Party seized power in October 1917....

 course, the celebration of August 23 as the inception of the communist regime was accompanied by a contradictory tendency, which implied a gradual rehabilitation
Political rehabilitation
Political rehabilitation is the process by which a member of a political organization or government who has fallen into disgrace, is restored to public life. It is usually applied to leaders or other prominent individuals who regain their prominence after a period in which they have no influence or...

 of Antonescu and his regime. Historians who focused on this period believe that the revival of nationalist tenets and the relative distance taken from Soviet policies contributed to the rehabilitation process. After a period of liberalization
Liberalization
In general, liberalization refers to a relaxation of previous government restrictions, usually in areas of social or economic policy. In some contexts this process or concept is often, but not always, referred to as deregulation...

, the increasingly authoritarian Ceauşescu regime revived the established patterns of personalized rule, and even made informal use of the title Conducător
Conducator
Conducător was the title used officially in two instances by Romanian politicians, and earlier by Carol II.-History:...

. Beginning in the early 1970s, when the new policies were consecrated by the July Theses
July Theses
The July Theses is a name commonly given to a speech delivered by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu on July 6, 1971, before the Executive Committee of the Romanian Communist Party...

, Ceauşescu tolerated a nationalist, antisemitic and Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

ist intellectual faction, illustrated foremost by Săptămîna and Luceafărul magazines of Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu was a Romanian modern novelist, short story writer, journalist, and correspondent member of the Romanian Academy. The latter position was vehemently criticized by those who contended that he plagiarized in his novel Incognito and for the anti-Semitic campaigns he initiated in the...

 and Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Corneliu Vadim Tudor is leader of the Greater Romania Party , writer, journalist and a Member of the European Parliament...

, by poet Adrian Păunescu
Adrian Paunescu
Adrian Păunescu was a Romanian poet, journalist, and politician. Though criticised for praising dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Păunescu was called "Romania's most famous poet" in a Associated Press story, quoted by the New York Times.-Life:Born in Copăceni, Bălţi County, in what is now the Republic...

 and his Flacăra
Flacăra
Flacăra is a weekly magazine published in Bucharest, Romania, originally as a literary periodical....

journal, and by novelist Ion Lăncrănjan. The regime also came to cultivate a relationship with exiled tycoon Iosif Constantin Drăgan
Iosif Constantin Dragan
Iosif Constantin Drăgan was a Romanian and Italian businessman, writer and historian. In 2005, he was the second wealthiest Romanian, according to the Romanian financial magazine Capital, having a wealth estimated at $850 million...

, a former Iron Guard member who had come to endorse both Antonescu's rehabilitation and the national communist version of Protochronism
Protochronism
Protochronism is a Romanian term describing the tendency to ascribe, largely relying on questionable data and subjective interpretations, an idealised past to the country as a whole...

. In contrast, much of dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 culture and the Romanian diaspora
Romanian diaspora
The Romanian diaspora is the ethnically Romanian population outside Romania and Moldova. The concept does not usually include the ethnic Romanians who live as natives in the states surrounding Romania, chiefly those Romanians who live in Ukraine and Serbia. The diaspora does include the people of...

 embraced the image of Michael I as its counterpart to the increasingly official Antonescu myth. Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia
Lucian Boia is a Romanian historian, known especially for his works debunking Romanian nationalism and Communism.-Bibliography:* Eugen Brote: Litera, 1974...

 described this as "the spectacular confrontation between the two contradictory myths [transposing] into historical and mythological terms a fundamental fissure which divides the Romanian society of today."

Topics relating to the Holocaust in Romania were distorted during the national communist stage. Ceauşescu himself mentioned the number of survivors of the deportations (some 50,000 people) as a total number of victims, failed to mention the victims' ethnic background, and presented most of them as "communists and antifascists." The regime also placed emphasis on the Holocaust in Northern Transylvania (where the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 had been applied by the Germans and the local Arrow Cross Party
Arrow Cross Party
The Arrow Cross Party was a national socialist party led by Ferenc Szálasi, which led in Hungary a government known as the Government of National Unity from October 15, 1944 to 28 March 1945...

). Earlier accounts of the massacres, which had already been placed under restricted use, were completely removed from public libraries. While a special politicized literature dealt with the Holocaust in Hungary, the entire Ceauşescu period produced only one work entirely dedicated to Romania's participation. Centered on the Iaşi pogrom
Iasi pogrom
The Iaşi pogrom or Jassy pogrom of June 27, 1941 was one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi against its Jewish population, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews, according to Romanian authorities.-Background:]During...

, it shifted the blame from Romanian authorities and advanced a drastically reduced death toll. In its preface, official historian Nicolae Minei claimed that Romania was not responsible for any deaths among Jews. Other official texts made more radical claims, openly denying that Antonescu's regime was antisemitic, and that all those killed were victims of Germany or of circumstance.

Debates of the 1990s


Romanians' image of Antonescu shifted several times after the 1989 Revolution
Romanian Revolution of 1989
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a series of riots and clashes in December 1989. These were part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several Warsaw Pact countries...

 toppled communism. Polls carried out in the 1990s show the Conducător was well liked by portions of the general public. This tendency, Lucian Boia argues, was similar to a parallel trend favoring Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

's 15th century Prince Vlad III the Impaler
Vlad III the Impaler
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia , also known by his patronymic Dracula , and posthumously dubbed Vlad the Impaler , was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia, ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, the period of the incipient Ottoman conquest of the Balkans...

, indicating a preference for "authoritarian solutions" and reflecting "a pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 that was largely set in place in the 'Ceauşescu era' ". It was also popular at the time to see the 1944 Coup exclusively as the onset of communization in Romania, while certain sections of the public opinion revived the notion of "Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

", accusing Jews of having brought communism to Romania. British historian Tony Judt
Tony Judt
Tony Robert Judt FBA was a British historian, essayist, and university professor who specialized in European history. Judt moved to New York and served as the Erich Maria Remarque Professor in European Studies at New York University, and Director of NYU's Erich Maria Remarque Institute...

 connected such reflexes to growing anti-Russian sentiment and Holocaust denial in various countries of the former Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, and termed them collectively "mis-memory of anti-communism". Vladimir Tismăneanu
Vladimir Tismaneanu
Vladimir Tismăneanu is a Romanian and American political scientist, political analyst, sociologist, and professor at the University of Maryland, College Park...

, a prominent Romanian-born political scientist, referred to Antonescu's "pseudo-sacred" image with the post-1989 public, and to the phenomenon as "fantasies of persecution." The wartime dictator's image appealed to many politicians of the post-1989 period
History of Romania since 1989
- 1989 revolution :1989 marked the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. A mid-December protest in Timişoara against the eviction of a Hungarian minister grew into a country-wide protest against the Ceauşescu régime, sweeping the dictator from power....

, and sporadic calls for his rehabilitation were issued at the highest levels of authority. 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...

 groups issued calls for his canonization
Canonization
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

 by the Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 (together with a similar request to canonize 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...

). Certain neofascist groups claim to represent a legacy of Codrenism from which Sima was a deviationist
Deviationism
A deviationist is a person who expresses a deviation: an abnormality or departure. In Stalinist Communism deviationism is an expressed belief which is not in accordance with official party doctrine for the time and area. Accusations of deviationism often led to purges...

, and these have also become Antonescu apologists.

A particular case in this process was that of forces gathered around the Greater Romania Party
Greater Romania Party
The Greater Romania Party is a Romanian radical right-wing, ultra-nationalist political party, led by Corneliu Vadim Tudor. The party is sometimes referred to in English as the Great Romania Party....

, a group often characterized as merging xenophobic
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

 or neofascist messages and the legacy of Ceauşescu's national communism. Founded by party leader and former Săptămîna contributor Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Corneliu Vadim Tudor is leader of the Greater Romania Party , writer, journalist and a Member of the European Parliament...

, România Mare magazine is known to have equated Antonescu and Ceauşescu, presenting them both as "apostles of the Romanian people". In his bid for the office of President
President of Romania
The President of Romania is the head of state of Romania. The President is directly elected by a two-round system for a five-year term . An individual may serve two terms...

 during the 1996 election
Romanian presidential election, 1996
These are the results of the Romanian presidential elections of November 3, run-off held on November 17, 1996:-First round:-Run-off:...

, Vadim Tudor vowed to be a new Antonescu. Boia remarks that this meeting of extremes offers an "extraordinary paradox". Drăgan also openly resumed his activities in Romania, often in collaboration with Vadim Tudor's group, founding three organizations tasked with campaigning for Antonescu's rehabilitation: the media outlet Europa Nova, the Ion Antonescu Foundation and the Ion Antonescu League. His colleague Radu Theodoru endorsed such projects while accusing Jews of being "a long-term noxious factor" and claiming that it was actually ethnic Romanians who were victims of a communist Holocaust. Ion Coja and Paul Goma
Paul Goma
Paul Goma is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person...

 notably produced radical claims relying on fabricated evidence and deflecting blame for the crimes onto the Jews themselves. Several journals edited by Ion Cristoiu
Ion Cristoiu
Ion Cristoiu is a Romanian journalist. He was editor-in-chief of the daily Evenimentul Zilei during its heyday in the 1990s, when the average daily circulation topped 600,000, making it the most read newspaper in Romania, and one of the most read in Eastern Europe as well...

 repeatedly argued in favor of Antonescu's rehabilitation, also making xenophobic claims; similar views were sporadically present in national dailies of various hues, such as Ziua
Ziua
Ziua was a major Romanian daily newspaper published in Bucharest. It was published in Romanian with a fairly sizeable and often informative English section. Ziua was founded in 1994 by Sorin Roşca Stănescu, eventually becoming foreign-owned...

, România Liberă
România Libera
România Liberă is one of the leading newspapers in Romania. Based in Bucharest, the Romanian-language daily has a paid daily circulation of 40,000....

and Adevărul
Adevarul
Adevărul is a Romanian daily newspaper, based in Bucharest. Founded in 1871 and reestablished in 1888, it was the main left-wing press venue to be published during the Romanian Kingdom's existence, adopting an independent pro-democratic position, advocating land reform and universal suffrage...

.

Various researchers argue that the overall tendency to exculpate Antonescu was endorsed by the ruling National Salvation Front and its successor group, later known as Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party (Romania)
The Social Democratic Party is the major social-democratic political party in Romania. It was formed in 1992, after the post-communist National Salvation Front broke apart. It adopted its present name after a merger with a minor social-democratic party in 2001. Since its formation, it has always...

, who complemented an emerging pro-authoritarian lobby while depicting their common opponent King Michael and his supporters as traitors. Sections of both governing and opposition groups contemplated the idea of rehabilitating the wartime leader, and, in May 1991, Parliament
Parliament of Romania
The Parliament of Romania is made up of two chambers:*The Chamber of Deputies*The SenatePrior to the modifications of the Constitution in 2003, the two houses had identical attributes. A text of a law had to be approved by both houses...

 observed a moment of silence in his memory. The perceived governmental tolerance of Antonescu's rehabilitation raised international concern and protests. In 1997, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu
Emil Constantinescu
Emil Constantinescu was President of Romania from 1996 to 2000.He graduated from the law school of the University of Bucharest, and subsequently started a career as a geologist...

, a representative of the Democratic Convention
Romanian Democratic Convention
The Romanian Democratic Convention was an electoral alliance of several political parties of Romania, active from early 1992 until 2000....

, became the first Romanian officeholder to recognize Antonescu's complicity. Nevertheless, during the same period, Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 Sorin Moisescu followed a since-deprecated special appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

 procedure to overturn sentences passed against Antonescu and other 1946 defendants, which he eventually withdrew.

To a certain degree, such pro-Antonescu sentiments were also present in post-1989 historiography. Reflecting back on this phenomenon in 2004, Maria Bucur wrote: "the perverse image of Antonescu is not the product of a propaganda campaign led by right-wing extremists, but a pervasive myth fed by historical debates and political contests, and which the public seems indifferent to or accepts unproblematically." After the Revolution, archival sources concerning Antonescu, including those in the National Archives of Romania
National Archives of Romania
The National Archives of Romania , until 1996 the State Archives , are the national archives of Romania, headquartered in Bucharest and headed by Dorin Dobrincu since 2007. It is subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform...

, were made more available to researchers, but documents confiscated or compiled by Soviet officials, kept in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, remained largely inaccessible. Although confronted with more evidence from the newly opened archives, several historians, including some employed by official institutions, continued to deny the Holocaust in Romania, and attributed the death toll exclusively to German units. In parallel, some continued an exclusive focus on Northern Transylvanian massacres. Local authors who have actively promoted Antonescu's image as a hero and wrote apologetic accounts of his politics include historians Gheorghe Buzatu and Mihai Pelin, and researcher Alex Mihai Stoenescu
Alex Mihai Stoenescu
Alex Mihai Stoenescu is a Romanian historian, writer, journalist and politician.-Biography:According to his own admission, Stoenescu collaborated with the Securitate in 1984, while he worked as an engineer at a factory in Băneasa...

. Larry L. Watts published a similarly controversial monograph
Monograph
A monograph is a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author.It is often a scholarly essay or learned treatise, and may be released in the manner of a book or journal article. It is by definition a single document that forms a complete text in itself...

 in the United States. Although criticized for denying the uniqueness of the Holocaust and downplaying Antonescu's complicity, Dinu C. Giurescu was recognized as the first post-communist
Post-Communism
Post-communism is a name sometimes given to the period of political and economic transformation or "transition" in former Communist states located in parts of Europe and Asia, in which new governments aimed to create free market-oriented capitalist economies with some form of parliamentary...

 Romanian historian to openly acknowledge his country's participation, while his colleagues Şerban Papacostea and Andrei Pippidi were noted as early critics of attempts to exculpate Antonescu. The matter of crimes in Transnistria and elsewhere was first included within the Romanian curriculum
Education in Romania
According to the Law on Education adopted in 1995, the Romanian Educational System is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Research . Each level has its own form of organization and is subject to different legislation. Kindergarten is optional between 3 and 6 years old...

 with a 1999 state-approved alternative textbook edited by Sorin Mitu.

Wiesel Commission and aftermath



In 2003, after a period in which his own equivocal stance on the matter had drawn controversy, Constantinescu's successor Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu served as President of Romania from 1990 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004. From 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 until his retirement in 2008, Iliescu was a Senator for the Social Democratic Party , whose honorary president he remains....

 established the Wiesel Commission
Wiesel Commission
The Wiesel Commission is the common name given to the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, which was established by former President Ion Iliescu in October 2003 to research and create a report on the actual history of the Holocaust in Romania and make specific recommendations for...

, an international group of expert historians whose mission was the study of the Holocaust in Romania, later succeeded by the Elie Wiesel National Institute
Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania
The Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania is a public institution established by the Romanian government on August 7, 2005, and officially opened on October 9 of the same year, which is Romania's National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust.The institute is named...

. The Final Report compiled by the Commission brought the official recognition of Ion Antonescu's participation in the Holocaust. After that moment, public displays of support for Antonescu became illegal. Antonescu's SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

 interrogations were recovered from the Russian archives and published in 2006. Despite the renewed condemnation and exposure, Antonescu remained a popular figure: as a result of the 2006 Mari Români series of polls conducted by the national station TVR 1
TVR 1
TVR1 is the main channel of the Romanian public broadcaster TVR.The most important show of the channel is Jurnalul TVR, whose motto is Jurnalul aşa cum ar trebui sǎ fie! , but on 28 March 2009 was replaced by Telejurnal...

, viewers nominated Antonescu as the 6th greatest Romanian ever. The vote's knockout phase included televised profiles of the ten most popular figures, and saw historian Adrian Cioroianu
Adrian Cioroianu
Adrian Mihai Cioroianu is a Romanian historian, politician, journalist, and essayist. A lecturer for the History Department at the University of Bucharest, he is the author of several books dealing with Romanian history...

 using the portion dedicated to Antonescu to expose and condemn him, giving voters reasons not to see the dictator as a great Romanian. The approach resulted in notable controversy after Ziua
Ziua
Ziua was a major Romanian daily newspaper published in Bucharest. It was published in Romanian with a fairly sizeable and often informative English section. Ziua was founded in 1994 by Sorin Roşca Stănescu, eventually becoming foreign-owned...

newspaper criticized Cioroianu, who defended himself by stating he had an obligation to tell the truth.

The same year, on December 5, the Bucharest Court of Appeals overturned Antonescu's conviction for certain crimes against peace, on the grounds that the objective conditions of 1940 justified a preventive war
Preventive war
A preventive war or preventative war is a war initiated to prevent another party from attacking, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned. Preventive war aims to forestall a shift in the balance of power by strategically attacking before the balance of power has a chance...

 against the Soviet Union, which would make Article 3 of the 1933 Convention for the Definition of Aggression inapplicable in his case (as well as in those of Alexianu, Constantin Pantazi, Constantin Vasiliu, Sima and various Iron Guard politicians). This act raised official protests in Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

, the independent state formed in Bessarabia upon the breakup of the Soviet Union, and in Russia, the Soviet successor state
Succession of states
Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding the recognition and acceptance of a newly created sovereign state by other states, based on a perceived historical relationship the new state has with a prior state...

, as well as criticism by historians of the Holocaust. The Court of Appeals decision was overturned by the Romanian Supreme Court
High Court of Cassation and Justice
The High Court of Cassation and Justice is Romania's supreme court, and the court of last resort. It is the equivalent of France's Cour de cassation and serves a similar function to other courts of cassation around the world...

 in May 2008. The same year, Maria Antonescu's collateral inheritors advanced a claim on a Predeal
Predeal
Predeal is a town in Braşov County, Romania. It is the highest town and one of the most important mountain resorts in Romania, being located on the Prahova Valley at over...

 villa belonging to the couple, but a Braşov
Brasov
Brașov is a city in Romania and the capital of Brașov County.According to the last Romanian census, from 2002, there were 284,596 people living within the city of Brașov, making it the 8th most populated city in Romania....

 tribunal rejected their request, citing laws which confiscated the property of war criminals.

Cultural legacy, portrayals and landmarks


Beyond their propaganda and censorship efforts, Antonescu and his regime had a sizable impact on Romanian culture
Culture of Romania
Romania has a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and of its distinct historical evolution. Like Romanians themselves, it is defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them...

, art
Art of Romania
Art of Romania encompasses the artists and artistic movements in Romania.-Romanian contemporary and modern artists:* Almaşan Virgil* Adela Andea* George Apostu* Corneliu Baba* Calin Baban* Sabin Bălaşa* Horia Bernea* Traian Brădean...

 and literature
Literature of Romania
Romanian literature is literature written by Romanian authors, although the term may also be used to refer to all literature written in the Romanian language.Eugène Ionesco is one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd....

. Owing to austere guidelines on culture and to the circumstances of wartime, this period's direct imprint is less than that of other periods in the country's history. Few large large heroes' memorials were built during the war years. Memorials produced at the time were mainly roadside triptych
Triptych
A triptych , from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold") is a work of art which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works...

s (troiţe). The Heroes' Cult organization received expropriation rights to Bucharest's Jewish cemetery in 1942, and proposed to replace it with a major monument of this category, but that plan was eventually abandoned. Antonescu and his wife preferred donating to Orthodox churches, and were ktitor
Ktitor
A ktetor or ktitor is someone who provides the funds for construction or reconstruction of an Orthodox church or monastery, for the addition of icons, frescos, and other works of art. A Catholic equivalent of the term is a donator. The female form is ktetorissa or ktitorissa ....

s
of churches in three separate Bucharest areas: Mărgeanului Church in Rahova
Rahova
Rahova is a neighbourhood of southwest Bucharest, Romania, situated in Sector 5, west of Dâmboviţa River. It is named after the Bulgarian town Rahovo , site of a battle in the Romanian War of Independence....

, one in Dămăroaia, and the Saints Constantine and Helena Church in Muncii, where both the Marshal and his wife are depicted in a mural. After floods took a toll on his native Argeş County
Arges County
Argeș is a county of Romania, in Wallachia, with the capital city at Pitești.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 652,625 and the population density was 95/km².*Romanians – 96%*Roma , and other.-Geography:...

, the Marshal himself established Antoneşti, a model village
Model village
A model village is a type of mostly self-contained community, in most cases built from the late eighteenth century onwards by industrialists to house their workers...

 in Corbeni
Corbeni
Corbeni is a commune in Argeş County, south central Romania. It is composed of eight villages: Berindeşti, Bucşeneşti, Corbeni, Oeştii Pământeni, Oeştii Ungureni, Poienari, Rotunda and Tulburea....

 (partly built by Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

, and later passed into state property), while ordering hydroelectric
Hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy...

 exploitation of the Argeş River
Arges River
Argeș is a river of Southern Romania. It starts at the junction of headwaters Buda and Capra in the Făgăraș Mountains, in the Southern Carpathians and flows into the Danube at Oltenița.The main city on the Argeş is Piteşti...

. He also had sporadic contacts with the artistic and literary environment, including an interview he awarded to his supporter, writer Ioan Alexandru Brătescu-Voineşti. His 1946 trial was notably attended and documented by George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

 in a series of articles for Naţiunea journal. Political humor of the 1940s preserved distinct images of the Romanian leader. Romanian jokes circulated under Antonescu's rule ridiculed his adoption of the title Marshal of Romania, viewing it as a self-promotion and dubbing him the "Auto-Marshal". During the war, Soviet agitprop
Agitprop
Agitprop is derived from agitation and propaganda, and describes stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures and other art forms with an explicitly political message....

 portrayed Antonescu and the other secondary Axis leaders as villains and servile dog-like creatures, representations notably present in musical theater and puppetry
Puppetry
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance which involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 30,000 years BC. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects...

 shows, as well as in press cartoons.

Marin Preda
Marin Preda
Marin Preda was a Romanian novelist, one of the best-known post-WWII Romanian writers.Preda was born in Teleorman county, in a village called Siliştea-Gumeşti, into a family of peasants. He first studied at school in his home village, then schools in Abrud and Cristur-Odorhei...

's 1975 novel Delirul displays the Ceauşescu regime's ambiguous relationship with Antonescu. Critics John Neubauer and Marcel Cornis-Pope remark that the novel is "admittedly not [Preda's] best work", and discuss his "complex representation" of Antonescu as "an essentially flawed but active leader who tried to negotiate some maneuvering room between the demands of Germany and the threats of the Soviet Union [and whose failure] led to the dismantling of Romania's fragile democratic system." The book sought Antonescu's rehabilitation for his attitudes on the Bessarabia-Northern Bukovina issue, but did not include any mention of his antisemitic policies, of which Preda himself may have been ignorant. An international scandal followed, once negative comments on the book were published by the Soviet magazine Literaturnaya Gazeta
Literaturnaya Gazeta
Literaturnaya Gazeta is a weekly cultural and political newspaper published in Russia and Soviet Union.- Overview :...

. Although an outspoken nationalist, Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu was a Romanian modern novelist, short story writer, journalist, and correspondent member of the Romanian Academy. The latter position was vehemently criticized by those who contended that he plagiarized in his novel Incognito and for the anti-Semitic campaigns he initiated in the...

 produced a satirical image of Antonescu in his own 1975 novel, Incognito, which was described by Deletant as "character assassination".

During the 1990s, monuments to Antonescu were raised and streets were named after him in Bucharest and several other cities. Among those directly involved in this process were Iosif Constantin Drăgan
Iosif Constantin Dragan
Iosif Constantin Drăgan was a Romanian and Italian businessman, writer and historian. In 2005, he was the second wealthiest Romanian, according to the Romanian financial magazine Capital, having a wealth estimated at $850 million...

, the nationalist Mayor of Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

, Gheorghe Funar
Gheorghe Funar
Gheorghe Funar is a nationalist Romanian politician, who rose to fame as mayor of Cluj-Napoca between 1992 and 2004-Biography:...

, and General Mircea Chelaru
Mircea Chelaru
Mircea Chelaru was a Romanian general and the last leader of the Romanian National Unity Party after Gheorghe Funar resigned as leader.After the PUNR was absorbed by the PC , Chelaru stepped down from his position.-External links:...

, whose resignation from the Army was subsequently requested and obtained. Also during that interval, in 1993, filmmaker and Social Democratic
Social Democratic Party (Romania)
The Social Democratic Party is the major social-democratic political party in Romania. It was formed in 1992, after the post-communist National Salvation Front broke apart. It adopted its present name after a merger with a minor social-democratic party in 2001. Since its formation, it has always...

 politician Sergiu Nicolaescu
Sergiu Nicolaescu
Sergiu Florin Nicolaescu is a Romanian film director, actor and politician. He is best known for his historical films, such as Mihai Viteazul , Dacii , Razboiul Independenţei , as well as for his series of...

 produced Oglinda
Oglinda
Oglinda , also known as Începutul adevărului , is a controversial 1993 film by Romanian director Sergiu Nicolaescu...

, which depicts Antonescu (played by Ion Siminie) apologetically. The rehabilitation trend was also represented at an October 1994 commemorative exhibit at the National Military Museum
National Military Museum (Romania)
The National Military Museum , located at 125-127 Mircea Vulcănescu St., Bucharest, Romania, was established in 1923 by King Ferdinand. It has been at its present site since 1988, in a building finished in 1898.- External links :...

. The same year, a denialist documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

, Destinul mareşalului ("The Marshal's Destiny"), was distributed by state-owned companies, a matter which raised concern. After the Wiesel Commission presented its findings and such public endorsement was outlawed, statues in Antonescu's likeness were torn down or otherwise made unavailable for public viewing. An unusual case is that of his Saints Constantine and Helena Church, where, after lengthy debates, his bust was sealed inside a metal box. Outside of this context, the publicized display of Antonescu's portraits and racist slogans by football hooligans
Football hooliganism
Football hooliganism, sometimes referred to by the British media as the English Disease, is unruly and destructive behaviour—such as brawls, vandalism and intimidation—by association football club fans...

 during Liga I
Liga I
Liga I, or in full, due to sponsorship reasons, Liga I Bergenbier, is the top division of the Romanian football league system. Before the 2006/2007 season, it was called Divizia A, but the name had to be changed following the discovery that someone else had registered the trademark "Divizia A"...

's 2005–2006 season prompted UEFA
UEFA
The Union of European Football Associations , almost always referred to by its acronym UEFA is the administrative and controlling body for European association football, futsal and beach soccer....

 intervention (see Racism Breaks the Game
Racism Breaks the Game
Racism Breaks the Game was a three-day campaign in Romania designed to combat racism in association football, particularly against the Romani minority, as well as to "stimulate social dialogue and promote tolerance and fair-play through football"...

).

Awards and decorations


Antonescu received a number of awards and decorations throughout his military career, most notable being the Order of Michael the Brave
Order of Michael the Brave
The Order of Michael the Brave is Romania's highest military decoration, instituted by King Ferdinand I during the early stages of the Romanian Campaign of World War I, and was again awarded in World War II...

, which was personally awarded to him by King Ferdinand I during the Hungarian–Romanian War of 1919
Hungarian–Romanian War of 1919
The seeds of the Hungarian–Romanian war of 1919 were planted when the union of Transylvania with Romania was proclaimed, on December 1, 1918. In late March 1919, the Bolsheviks came to power in Hungary, at which point its army attempted to retake Transylvania, commencing the war. By its final...

. He also received several decorations from foreign countries. He was the first Romanian to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

, being awarded it by Hitler himself.
Award or decoration Country Date Place Note Ref
Medal of Military Virtue
Military Virtue Medal
The Military Virtue Medal is a Romanian military decoration, instituted on April 8, 1872, by King Carol I. A previous version, called Pro Virtute Militari, was established by Alexandru Ioan Cuza in 1860 for the veterans of the Dealul Spirii battle between the revolutionaries and the Ottomans, but...

 (1st Class in Gold)
 Kingdom of Romania 1913 Southern Dobruja
Southern Dobruja
Southern Dobruja is an area of north-eastern Bulgaria comprising the administrative districts named for its two principal cities of Dobrich and Silistra...

Romania's highest military decoration at the time. Only received by one other officer in the army during the Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

.
Order of Michael the Brave
Order of Michael the Brave
The Order of Michael the Brave is Romania's highest military decoration, instituted by King Ferdinand I during the early stages of the Romanian Campaign of World War I, and was again awarded in World War II...

 (3rd, 2nd, and 1st Class received)
 Kingdom of Romania 1919 Tisza River, 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...

Romania's highest military decoration. Upon crossing the River Tisza, King Ferdinand took the Order of Michael the Brave from his own uniform and presented it to Antonescu, saying "Antonescu, no one in this country knows better than the King how much they owe you."
Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in Gold with Diamonds
Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
Combined Pilots-Observation Badge was a German military award instituted on 26 March 1936 by the Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring to commemorate soldiers or servicemen who had already been awarded the Pilot's badge or Observer badge...

June 1941 Bestowed to honor exceptional success, presented to Antonescu by Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall literally in ; was the highest rank in the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander held by Adolf Hitler....

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

.
Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 (2nd, and 1st Class received)
August 6, 1941 Berdychiv
Berdychiv
Berdychiv is a historic city in the Zhytomyr Oblast of northern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Berdychiv Raion , the city itself is of direct oblast subordinance, and is located south of the oblast capital, Zhytomyr, at around .The current estimated population is around...

Awarded for bravery in battle as well as other military contributions in a battlefield environment.
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

August 6, 1941 Berdychiv
Berdychiv
Berdychiv is a historic city in the Zhytomyr Oblast of northern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Berdychiv Raion , the city itself is of direct oblast subordinance, and is located south of the oblast capital, Zhytomyr, at around .The current estimated population is around...

Principally was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II. First Romanian to receive the award.
Grand Cross of the White Rose of Finland with Swords  Finland January 1942 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....

One of three highest state orders of Finland, established in 1919 by Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War, Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces during World War II, Marshal of Finland, and a Finnish statesman. He was Regent of Finland and the sixth President of Finland...

.