Thousands of volumes could be written of the Legionnaire Movement;however, we do not claim to exhaust everything about it in 10 phrases, but to accentuate the most important facts with which every debate about it should start.
The Legion of the Archangel Michael or the Legionnaire Movement was an organization of a mystical and religious character, also violently anti-Semitic and anti-Freemasonry. It was created in 1927 in Romania and was inspired by the SA and SS organisations. The Legion perpetrated violent actions against the Romanian state and some of its leaders.
Here are 10 facts about the Legion:
- On June 24th, 1927, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Ion Moţa, Radu Mironovici, Corneliu Georgescu and Ilie Gârneaţă established the Legion of the Archangel Michael.
- In 1930, the political party of the Legion – the Iron Guard – was established, in order to fight against the expansion of the Soviet Communism in Romania.
- The Legionnaires wore green coloured uniforms as the symbol of renewal and were known as the Green Shirts. They used the Fascist formal salute. The main symbol of the Movement was a triple cross known as the cross of Archangel Michael. It also stood for prison bars which were the symbol of martyrdom.
- Unlike its SA and SS counterparts which acted only on violent principles, the Legion awarded a very important place to the Orthodox faith.
- The Legion became known thanks to its successful propaganda:marches, religious processions, miracles, patriotic hymns, voluntary work and campaign in rural areas. Their main adherents were students and peasants.
- On December 29th, 1933, the members of the Legion assassinated the Liberal prime-minister Ion G Duca, because he outlawed the Iron Guard only a few days earlier. Thus, the assassination was the Legionnaires’ revenge.
- In 1938, when Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was assassinated, the leadership passed on to Horia Sima.
- While in power, the Legion passed several harsh anti-Semitic laws and perpetrated the organised theft of the Jewish minority. The Legion’s assassinations affected 2/3 of the Romanians and 1/3 of the Jews. The members of the Iron Guard organized the greatest pogrom in Romania where they murdered over 100 Jews, mutilated and hanged some of them on abattoir hooks.
- The Legionnaire Police assassinated 64 Romanian politicians in the Jilava prison. Nicolae Iorga and Virgil Madgearu were tortured and assassinated without an initial imprisonment.
- In 1941, Horia Sima and the Legion attempted a coup d’etat against Ion Antonescu and the Romanian Army, yet, Antonescu managed to defeat and oust them from power. Sima and other Legionnaires fled to Germany where they were interned in the Buchenwald, Dachau and Rostock concentration camps.