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Legionary Destiny and Codreanu’s Rationale for Romanian Fascism


Nicholas Nagy-Talavera was a Hungarian-American of Jewish descent, a historian and dissident. The historian recounts the day he met Codreanu, describing him as a charismatic man, childlike and radiant, in whom he could see nothing evil in:

“There was suddenly a hush in the crowd. A tall, darkly handsome man dressed in the white costume of a Rumanian peasant rode into the yard on a white horse. He halted close to me, and I could see nothing monstrous or evil in him. On the contrary. His childlike, sincere smile radiated over the miserable crowd, and he seemed to be with it yet mysteriously apart from it. Charisma is an inadequate word to define the strange force that emanated from this man. He was more aptly simply part of the forests, of the mountains, of the storms on the snow-covered peaks of the Carpathians, and of the lakes and rivers. And so he stood amid the crowd, silently. He had no need to speak. His silence was eloquent; it seemed to be stronger than we, stronger than the order of the prefect who denied him speech. An old, whitehaired peasant woman made the sign of the cross on her breast and whispered to us, “The emissary of the Archangel Michael!” Then the sad little church bell began to toll, and the service which invariably preceded Legionary meetings began. Deep impressions created in the soul of a child die hard. In more than a quarter of a century I have never forgotten my meeting with Corneliu Zelea Codreanu.”—Hungarian Jewish historian, Nicholas Nagy-Talavera

Iron Guard leader, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu played leadership roles in a number of political organizations in his early career, from “The Guard of the National Conscience,” the “League of National Christian Defence,” the “Legion of the Archangel Michael,” and finally, the Iron Guard.

Codreanu mirrors Giovanni Gentile when he wrote in For My Legionaries, that:

“Legionary life is beautiful, not because of riches, partying or the acquisition of luxury, but because of the noble comradeship which binds all Legionaries in a sacred brotherhood of struggle.” (Codreanu, For My Legionaries)

Giovanni Gentile explains in his lecture (March 8, 1925) on What is Fascism, that Fascism is a political doctrine, that takes into account the totality of life:

“Gentlemen: Fascism is a party, a political doctrine. But Fascism, while being a party, a political doctrine is above all a total conception of life. So the fascist, whether his is writing in newspapers or reading them, going about his private life or talking to others, looking to the future or remembering the past and the past of his people, must always remember he is a Fascist. Thus he fulfills what can really be said to be the main characteristic of Fascism, to take life seriously. Life is toil, is effort, is sacrifice, is hard work.” (Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche, “What is Fascism?”, Florence: Vallecchi, 1925, pp. 38-39)

Codreanu with Fellow Romanians in show of Brotherhood


Codreanu’s goal within these movements, as he believed, was to defend the newly established Greater Romania against those he considered the enemies, namely, the Soviet Union and the Jewish people. Romania’s Fascist movement has been described as unusually morbid, and a “death cult,” blending nationalistic violence and fanatical Christian martyrdom. Codreanu was assassinated by the state’s police during his imprisonment.

In Notes on Post-Risorgimento Idealism I explain, that the historical context of Giovanni Gentile’s writings provide a great deal of clarification as to the development of Fascism, that is hardly taught. Jordan Meale’s paper, “The Romanian Iron Guard: Fascist Sacralized Politics or Fascist Politicized Religion (Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 36: Issue. 5, Article 6) gives us historical context before the Romanian Iron Guard in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century.

An article, The Legionary Movement in Romania by Alexander E. Ronnett, M.D. & Faust Bradescu, Ph.D. analyzes the attitudes taken by others regarding attempts to thoroughly engage in this research.

“It is the authors’ observation that most people make the mistake of not considering socio-political phenomena in their natural context in order to discover the legitimate causes, the true sense of their development, and especially their importance in the environment which fostered them. Carried away by the passion of political convictions or by the hope of immediate benefits, they reduce every phenomenon to a linear problem: good or bad, to be accepted or rejected.

Moreover, governments, the authorities, “reason” in the same manner. This maintains an atmosphere of suspicion and misunderstanding and is detrimental to the awakening of consciousness to what we believe are certain essential truths.

This disposition of the public to a puerile partisanship is manipulated by those who are interested in compromising, or even in annihilating, a historical, political, or social truth. They know that the mass man reduces everything to his personal conception, considering as false and dangerous anything which does not conform to his thoughts; (…) is incapable of placing himself in the socio-historical context of the phenomenon in order to judge it according to reality, nor does he manage to make abstraction from his own reality, and comparisons are reduced to what seems just and perfect in relationship to himself; (…) and is influenced by what the press disseminates without ever being able to perceive the lies, exaggerations and perfidious insinuations which infest most of these communications.

Therefore, playing upon these attitudes of the mass man, it is easy for dishonest people to direct even the most liberal and intelligent opinion and to lead the most honest and just people into error.”

Like the article argues, Codreanu has a particular critique about modernity, liberalism and democracy.

“Anyone wishing to conquer a people could do it by using this system: Breaking its ties with heaven and land, introducing fratricidal quarrels and fights, promoting immorality and licentiousness, by material ruin, physical poisoning, drunkenness. All these destroy a nation more than being blasted by thousands of cannon or bombed by thousands of airplanes.”

Yes, surely, nations are capable of destroying themselves from within, but the real underlying context to his thoughts is who in particular Codreanu believes is behind this system he argues is destroying Romania, severing its people from their roots, and from advancing as a people and nation.

Regarding Codreanu and Jewish treatment in Romania, the rationale of Codreanu’s thought and direct statements against Democracy is almost entirely based on a belief in a struggle between the Romanian state and the Jews. This rationale on the issue justified discrimination, and the taking of private ownership, land and rights from Jews in Romania, even physically attacking Jewish communities.

These facts are important to understand, given the modern enthusiasts, as spoken of in White Supremacists Put Romanian Fascist Codreanu Back in Spotlight.

Although, Giovanni Gentile’s writings did not contain antisemitism, he pushes against the belief, that Fascism is a barbarous ideology. He put the question to his audience in his 1925 lecture in Florence (mentioned above): “How many times has Fascism been accused with obtuse malevolence of barbarity?” Codreanu’s Romanian Fascism however follows the very logic of Gentile’s thoughts in its aim to restore the health of Romania, but by eliminating the scapegoat, the Jew. Gentile continues, “Well yes: once you understand the true significance of this barbarity we will boast of it, as the expression of the healthy energies which shatter false and baleful idols, and restore the health of the nation within the power of a State conscious of its sovereign rights which are its duties.”

The Hymn of the Legionary Youth and Mota-Marin tell us of battle between political forces and the brotherhood of the Romanian Iron Guard cult.

These lyrics and songs give us insight into the manner in which Fascism in general and the Romanian Iron Guard was able to influence and galvanize men, and relate to their deepest aspirations.

Sfânta tinerețe legionară translated as Holy Legionary Youth is the Romanian Iron Guard Hymn of the Youth, which is very reminiscent of Giovinezza.

About the Hymn of Mota-Marin, in 1936, the Romanian Legionnaire Ion Moța led a team of seven Legionnaires to assist general Francisco Franco in fighting the Spanish Civil War against the Spanish Republican faction of Anarchists and Marxists. In the battle at Majadahonda in Spain on January 13th, Moța and Marin both died after being hit by gunfire. General Franco made Moța and Marin martyrs, erecting a monument on the spot of their death.

Sfânta tinerete legionara,Holy young Legionary,
Cu piept calit de fier si sufletul de crinWith a chest like iron and a soul like a lily
Iures ne-nfrânat de primavera,Unbridled he rushes in spring,
Cu fruntea ca un iezer carpatin,With a forehead like a Carpathian waterfall,
Cu bratele suim în soareWith arms going up in the sun
Catapetesme pentru veac;[An] eternal Iconostasis;
Le zidim din stânci, din foc, din mareWe built it from rocks, from fire, from the sea
Si dârz le tencuim cu sânge dac…And stoutly we daubed it with Dacian blood…
Garda, CapitanulThe Guard, the Captain
Ne preschimba-n soimi de fierWe transformed into iron hawks
Tara, CapitanulThe Country, the Captain
Si Arhanghelul din cer.And the Archangel from heaven.
Moartea, numai moartea legionaraDeath, only death Legionary
Ne este cea mai scumpa nunta dintre nunti,It is the most costly wedding of weddings,
Pentru sfânta cruce, pentru taraFor the holy cross, for the country
Înfrângem codrii si supunem munti;We will defeat the forests and make the mountains obey.
Nu-i temnita sa ne-nspaimânte,There is no prison that can scare us
Nici chin, nici viforul dusman;No pain, no enemy storm;
De cadem cu toti, izbiti în frunte,If we all fall, struck in the forehead,
Ni-i draga moartea pentru Capitan!Death is dear to us for the Captain!
Garda, CapitanulThe Guard, the Captain
Ne preschimba-n soimi de fierWe transformed into iron hawks
Tara, CapitanulThe Country, the Captain
Si Arhanghelul din cer.And the Archangel from heaven.
Sfânta tinerete legionara,Holy young Legionary,
Suim biserici, stam viteji în închisori…We build up churches and stay brave in prison…
În prigoana orisicât de-amaraIn persecutions all who are bitter
Cântam si ne gândim la Nicadori,Sing and think of the Nicadori,
Purtam în crivat si în soareWe carry in blizzard and in sun
Lumini pentru biruitori,Lights for victors,
Pentru cei viteji zidim altareFor the brave we build altars
Si-avem doar gloante pentru tradatori!And for traitors we have only bullets!
Garda, CapitanulThe Guard, the Captain
Ne preschimba-n soimi de fierWe transformed into iron hawks
Tara, CapitanulThe Country, the Captain
Si Arhanghelul din cer.And the Archangel from heaven.


Imnul Mota-MarinThe Hymn of Mota-Marin
Sunt ruguri de flacari. E Spania-n scrum.There are pyres and flames, Spain is in ashes…
Gloantele cad în altar.Bullets fall on the alter.
În negrele santuri cu sânge si fum,In black ditches with blood and smoke
Ploua cu schije si jar.There rains shrapnel and fire.
Dar sub obuze,But under the bombs,
Gloante si spuze,Bullets and heaps,
Par legionarii niste munti…Appear the Legionaries like mountains…
Ranita-n zare,Injured on the horizon
Crucea le-apareThe Cross appears
Si ceru-i mângâie pe frunti.And asked it for comfort on the forehead.
Noaptea-n transee legionarii,At night in trenches Legionaries
În ploaie îsi fac rugaciunea…In the rain make their prayer…
Mintea lor trece fruntariiTheir dreams move across frontiers
Si-n gând li s-aprinde Legiunea,And in their thought the Legion flashes
Si vad Capitanul si taraAnd they see the Captain and country
Cu sfântu-i destin legionar.With the saintliness of Legionary destiny.
Obuzele tuna, împroasca otel…The shells thunder, steel splashes…
Tancuri pornesc ca din iad.Tanks start as if from hell.
Si Mota e-n frunte, Marin lânga elAnd Mota in front, Marin next to him,
Rosii, grenadele cad…Red garnets fall…
Printre retele,Among networks,
Mine, srapnele,Mines, shrapnel,
Schijele ploua fier de sus.Splinters raining from above….
Loviti în frunte,Struck in the forehead,
Cu bratele frânte,With their arms broken,
Cad legionarii lui Iisus.Legionaries fall by Jesus.
Mota în sant plin de sânge,Mota, in the ditch, full of blood,
Sopteste murind rugaciunea:Whispered, while dying, a prayer:
“Moartea la pieptu-i ne strânge“Death we tighten to our chests
Sa creasca mai mândra Legiunea.So that the Legion will grow more proudly;
Sa faci, Capitane, o taraSo that the Captain may make the Country
Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!”Like the holy sun in the Sky!”
Dar jertfele sfinte ard pururi în noi.But holy sacrifices burn forever in us;
Jertfele ne-au mântuit,Sacrifices have saved us.
Si cresc din morminte martirii eroi,And martyred heroes rise from the grave
Neamul se-nalta sfintit.The Nation rises sanctified.
Legiunea-ntreaga,The Legion as a whole
Jurând se leaga,Swearing and bound
Ca sa urmeze jertfa lor.To follow their sacrifice.
Din legaminteFrom covenant
Si din morminteAnd holy sacrifice
Va creste-un neam biruitor.Will grow a victorious people.
Scumpii eroi ne vegheazaWe watch our beloved heroes
Si duc spre lumina Legiunea.And lead to the light of the Legion.
Toti vrem o moarte viteaza,We all want a brave death,
Ca ei ne soptim rugaciunea:Like they we whisper our prayer:
“Sa faci, Capitane, o tara“So that the Captain may make the Country
Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!”Like the Holy Sun in the sky!”
Azi sfintele oase le-am pus temeliiToday, we put the holy bones in the ground
Vajnice neamului dac,Eternal, with the Nation,
Si ele înfrunta de-acum vesnicii,And from now they face eternity,
Stânci tencuite cu veac…Rocks plastered with age.
Dar de-or sa vieBut they will live when there will come
Vremi de urgieTimes of scourge
Pentru destinul legionar,For Legionary destiny
Din oseminteFrom the bones
Si din morminteAnd holy sacrifice
Cei doi eroi vor creste iar!The two heroes will rise again.
Mota, Arhanghel si munte,Mota, Archangel and mountains
Marin ca o flacara mare.Marin like a great flame,
Cu Capitanul în frunteWith the Captain in front
Ne-or duce în viscol de soare:We will go through storm or sun;
“Sa faci, Capitane, o tara“So that the Captain may make the Country
Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!”Like the Holy Sun in the sky!”

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