He is a man of over 50 years, with a receding hairline, slightly raised eyebrows, thin nose, clean-cut ears and chin, wearing a military uniform.
His broad forehead is outlined by a thin stripe, patterned with small, dense ‘x’ letters, representing the hair combed side-ways.
The shirt is illustrated by a pattern of circles, and a Nazi cross hangs from its simple collar.
He is wearing a General’s uniform, represented with full, accentuated and crammed rhombuses.
On the right side of his chest, there is a Nazi medal, with an eagle with his wings spread wide, in a fully colored circle.
Ion Antonescu, Marshal of the Romanian Army, Prime-Minister and “State Ruler” during the Second World War – between 1940 and 1944 – was born on 2/14 June 1881, in Pitesti, in the family of a military. After he graduated primary school (1890-1894) and the first four high school years, he went to the Military School in Craiova (1898-1902) and the Infantry and Cavalry Military School in Bucharest (1902-1904). He stood out during the 1907 Romanian Peasant’s revolt and, during 1911 and 1913, he went to the Superior War School in Bucharest. He took part in the First World War as chief of operational office for the Army I, as a Lieutenant-Colonel.
Because he was manifesting nationalistic and chauvinistic tendencies, Ion Antonescu was not involved in politics between the wars. He was promoted to division General in 1937, and in 1937-1938 he was part of the Octavian Goga Government. On 4th of September 1940, in the context of the general political crisis in Bucharest, the territorial loss and the collapse of the country’s frontiers, King Carol II named him Prime-minister, and the next day he granted him, through a royal decree, “full control over state affairs” [Bibliography 1].
After he forced the King to abdicate on 6th of September, in favor of his son Mihai, on 14th of September, Ion Antonescu instituted the national-legionary state, together with Horia Sima, Commander of the Legionary Movement. King Mihai I, appointed ruler of the country at only 18, could not wield real authority, because he was deprived of prerogatives in favor of Ion Antonescu, according to the royal decree of 6th of September that gave the latter full power.
The Iron Guard, a political, paramilitary, anti-Semite and filo German force of the far-right wing, became the only officially recognized Party in the country. On 23rd of November 1940, Ion Antonescu signed the act through which Romania adhered to the Triparty Pact (or the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis). In January 1941, he removed the Legionaries from the government; he forbade any political action and instituted a military dictatorship. On 22nd of June 1941, he decided to involve Romania in the Second World War, on the Axis’ side, being convinced of the German military’s superiority [Bibliography 2], and then military supported the Nazi Germany in invading the Soviet Union with two armies of 12 infantry divisions, one tank division, 672 planes, three destroyers and two submarines. The declared purpose of this military anti-Soviet action was to recover Romanian territories (most importantly Bessarabia) that were lost in the summer of 1940 [Bibliography 3]. Nonetheless, Ion Antonescu had much bigger plans. According to historian Andrei Pippidi, he “felt no less than Hitler and Mussolini, and imagined a Dacian Empire beginning from the Balkans and up to the Dniester” [Bibliography 4]. Although Bessarabia was reconquered after just 33 days, Ion Antonescu decided to push forward the offence alongside the German troops and beyond Dniester, remaining faithful to Hitler even after the Stalingrad disaster, in 1941-1943.
Antonescu promoted a harsh anti-Semite policy, characterized by massacres, pogroms, robberies and other atrocities whose victims were Romanian Jewish people, because he considered them to be an ‘open wound for Romania’ [Bibliography 5]. The Iași Pogrom, the Bessarabia and Bucovina deports, the Transnistria camp or the massacre in Odessa are thoroughly documented. The constant deterioration of the military situation on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1944, the breaking of the Romanian-Germanic front in the morning of 20 August [Bibliography 6] and Antonescu’s refusal to pull Romania out of the alliance with Germany had made King Mihai to organize, together with the main leaders of the opposition, the Marshal’s arrest, the formation of a military government under the rule of General Constantin Sănătescu and pulling Romania out of the war led against the United Nations [Bibliography 7].
In May 1946, Ion Antonescu was judged by a Romanian People’s Tribunal, which found him guilty of the ‘country’s disaster’ and ‘war crimes’ [Bibliography 8], and was sentenced to death. King Mihai did not absolve him, so Ion Antonescu was executed in Jilava, on the 1st of June 1946.
- Florin Constantiniu, O istorie sinceră a poporului român, București, Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, 2002, p. 359.
- Adrian Cioroianu, „A fost Ion Antonescu un erou?”, in Historia, article available online: https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/a-fost-ion-antonescu-un-erou-i, retrieved on 21.11.2018.
- Irina Andreea Cristea, Participarea României la cel de-Al Doilea Război Mondial, article available online: https://www.agerpres.ro/flux-documentare/2015/05/09/documentar-participarea-romaniei-la-cel-de-al-doilea-razboi-mondial-10-14-42, retrieved on 21.11.2018.
- Andrei Pippidi, Despre statui și morminte, Iași, Ed. Polirom, 2000, p. 240.
- Comisia Internațională pentru Studierea Holocaustului în România, Final Report, Iași, Ed. Polirom, 2004, p. 248.
- Florin Constantiniu, op. cit., p. 408.
- Dennis Deletant, Aliatul uitat al lui Hitler. Ion Antonescu și regimul său, 1940-1944, București, Ed. Humanitas, 2010, pp. 257-261.
- Ibid., p. 267.