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Corneliu Zelea Codreanu

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Corneliu Zelea Codreanu

Corneliu Zelea Codreanu (born as Cornelius Zelinski, 13 September 1899 - 30 November 1938) was the main figure of the Romanian fascist movement in the interwar period, known as The Legion of Saint Michael the Archangel or The Iron Guard.

Born in Huşi on September 13 1899, Codreanu studied Law in Iaşi. That is also where he began his political career. His mentor, the university professor Alexandru C. Cuza, was a nationalist politician, the founder of a Christian nationalist organization called "The League of National and Christian Defense".

Codreanu built his political ideology on anti-communism, mysticism and nationalism. He often claimed to have drawn inspiration from Mussolini's fascist movement, but on the other hand, he also stated that he was opposed to Nazism. In the early 1920's, Codreanu founded his own organization: The Legion of Saint Michael The Archangel.

What made Codreanu's movement unique in character was its strong attachement to Orthodox Christianity, or at least to their interpretation of it. The Legionnaires (as they came to be called) drew their support mainly from wealthy peasants and conservative college students.

The Legionnaires traditionally called Codreanu "The Captain", and he held absolute authority over the organization until his death on November 30, 1938 (assassinated at the order of King Carol II during an alleged escape attempt).

He was later considered a mentor of the Iron Guard and nowadays, Mişcarea Legionară, a small political party which claims to be successor of the pre-war Iron Guard, depicts him as an Orthodox Christian "saint". Also, Gigi Becali, a Romanian politician and leader of a small nationalist party, said that he is an adept of Codreanu.

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1940 stamp showing Codreanu

See also

References

  • For My Legionaries by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
  • The Green Shirts and the Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Rumania by Nicholas M. Nagy-Talavera, 1970

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