Carol II of Romania
Carol II, born Carol Caraiman (15 October 1893 – 4 April 1953) was a king of Romania from June 8, 1930 until September 6, 1940. He is notorious for his ambition for more power, his establishment of himself as dictator from 1938-1940, and his ruthless persecution of Corneliu Codreanu's Legionary Movement. Carol II belonged to the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in Romania, distantly related to the Prussian royal family.
Carol II was born at Sinaia in 1893 and was the eldest son of King Ferdinand I of Romania. King Carol I (the first Carol) educated him and prepared him for his duties as heir to the throne. After Ferdinand took the throne, Carol II became the heir and also joined the Romanian Senate. During World War I, Carol II was in the military and the Royal family at refuge in Iasi. In this time Carol (II) deserted the army, running off with his mistress Ioana (Zizi) Lambrino, and the two secretly married in Odessa. However, the marriage was declared null by the Ilfov Tribunal in 1919. Despite this, he continued to see his lover and had an illegitamate son, Mircea, and in 1920 was sent on a long trip to end the relationship.
In 1921, Carol married the Greek princess Helen and they had a son, Mihai. But this marriage was ruined after Helen discovered that Carol began having an affair with Elena Lupescu (commonly known as Magda Lupescu). After Helen divorced him, Carol traveled to Paris with Lupescu so they could live together there. A fact that is often pointed out about Lupescu is that while she was Catholic by religion, she was the daughter of a Jew who married a Catholic woman, thus making Elena Lupescu half-Jewish. This often led some Romanians to speculate that when Carol later became king of Romania, Lupescu, who had a lot of influence on Carol, was responsible for urging him to suppress the anti-Jewish Legionary Movement.
After Carol left Romania, King Ferdinand withdrew Carol's privileges and named Mihai the heir to the throne. In 1927, when Ferdinand died, Mihai became the king but the Regency (made up of three older royal family members) was formed to rule until he would become 21. However, Carol returned in 1930 and the Parliament allowed him to become King of Romania. While the nation had a constitutional monarchy and normally the king had very limited influence over how politics developed, Carol was determined to manipulate the various political parties to gain more power for himself. In the early 1930s, he supported the Legionaries, but he soon turned against them.
In 1938, King Carol II forcefully changed the constitution of Romania and established himself as a dictator with Armand Călinescu as his minister. Carol attempted to strengthen his authority by establishing his National Renaissance Front as the only legal party in Romania. This group was corporatist, nationalist, and moderately anti-Semitic (although no extensive anti-Semitic policies were enacted). Viewing the Legionary Movement as a threat to his rule - although this was based on premature assumptions and unfounded suspicions - he decided to brutally suppress it. Horia Sima described the general situation under Carol II in his book 1977 book Sfarşitul unei domnii sângeroase or "The End of a Bloody Reign" (the title refers to Carol's reign) as: "In the population the executions ordered by Carol were met with unanimous disapproval... When Legionaries' bodies were displayed in the streets and in public squares, with school children forced to watch, all the people turned terrified against him. On the Romanian throne stood not a King, but an executioner of the youth and the nation."
Carol also was responsible for imprisoning Corneliu Zelea Codreanu in 1938 at very unfair trials and by unproven charges. With his approval, Calinescu also killed Codreanu later that same year (this event led to Legionaries assassinating Calinescu). Some people, notably Michel Sturdza, have speculated that the murder of Codreanu was specifically encouraged by Magda Lupescu (comparing her to Esther of the Book of Esther in the Old Testament) and that his death was part of a Jewish ritual. This is largely because Codreanu and his comrades were first strangled and then their bodies shot multiple times with bullets. However, that this is particularly done as part of a Jewish strangling ritual is still just speculation and cannot be verified.
On September 4, 1940, Carol gave General Ion Antonescu power to lead the government. However, in two days Antonescu, siding with the Legionaries, forced Carol to resign from his position. On September 6 of 1940, Antonescu and Horia Sima established the National Legionary State and drove out Carol and Magda Lupescu from Romania. The two fled to Mexico and married in Brazil in 1947. Eventually Carol died in Estoril, Portugal in 1953.
Controversy over King Carol II's Legitimacy within "Fascism"
There seems to be a misconception, both among mainstream history sources and some recent Fascist sources, that King Carol II was a legitimate Fascist leader. For example, the Fascist website known as "Xtreme Right Corporate" has produced two articles on the history of King Carol II and Codreanu attempting to portray both of them as equally favorable: "The Feuding Fascists of Romania" and "Romania's Royal Dictator". The manner in which the history is portrayed is biased and certain important facts about Carol's reign are purposely overlooked or glazed over. The author of the articles clearly does not wish to admit that Carol II, while being an authoritarian nationalist, was essentially a power-hungry, vain, and selfish king who imprisoned and massacred thousands upon thousands of innocent people. It is also likely that Carol's "Fascism," nationalism, anti-Semitism, and corporatism were probably all the result of opportunism to increase his own power, not any sincere belief in these ideas. The bloody reign of King Carol II is perhaps the most illegitimate regime in European history that could be considered Fascist (Note: it is not implied here that other Fascist governments were illegitimate or oppressive. One one hand, Mussolini's government had good foundations, on the other the governments of Carol II and Dollfuss were oppressive and without popular support).
- Craciun, Boris. Regii si Reginele Romaniei. O istorie ilustrata a Casei Regale ("Romanian Kings and Queens: An Illustrated History of the Royal House"). Iasi: Ed. "Portile Orientului", 1996.
- Nagy-Talavera, Nicholas. The Green Shirts & The Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Rumania. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press/Stanford University Press, 1970.
- Paul, Prince of Hohenzollern-Roumania. King Carol II: A Life of my Grandfather London: Methuen, 1988.
- Ronnett, Alexander E. and Bradescu, Faust. "The Legionary Movement in Romania." The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 193-228.
- Ronnett, Alexander E. Romanian Nationalism: The Legionary Movement. Chicago: Romanian-American National Congress, 1995.
- Sima, Horia. Era Libertaţii - Statul naţional-Legionar vol. 1 ("It was Freedom - National Legionary State vol. 1"). Editura "Miscarii Legionare", Madrid, 1982.
- Sima, Horia. Era Libertaţii - Statul naţional-Legionar vol. 2 ("It was Freedom - National Legionary State vol. 2"). Madrid: Editura Miscãrii Legionare, 1990.
- Sima, Horia. Sfarşitul unei domnii sângeroase ("The End of a Bloody Reign"). Madrid: Editura "Miscarii Legionare", 1977.
- Sturdza, Michel. The Suicide of Europe: Memoirs of Prince Michel Sturdza, Former Foreign Minister of Rumania. Boston & Los Angeles: Western Islands Publishers, 1968.
- Tudor, Lucian. "The Romanian Iron Guard: Its Origins, History and Legacy." The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Spring 2014).
- "The Legionary Movement in Romania" by Alexander E. Ronnett & Faust Bradescu
- The Murder of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu - Testimony of the officer who killed Codreanu.
- The Suicide of Europe - Memoirs of Prince Michel Sturdza (Former Foreign Minister of Romania)
- "The Feuding Fascists of Romania"
- "Romania's Royal Dictator"