The Iron Guard



The following interview with Jianu Danieleau, an officer of the pre-war Iron Guard, was recently conducted for the interests of our readership. We hope that it will stimulate greater interest in Codreanu’s work.

NN. – Can you give us some sort of idea of the conditions in Rumania that gave rise to the foundation of the Iron Guard?

JD. – These conditions predated the 1, which was but a development stage, by about 11 years. We are talking here about a current, a movement whose origins go back to the 1919-20 years. A chaotic situation had been created by the psychosis of a Bolshevik revolution next door. Red infiltrators under the leadership of the Jews and the Jewish press incited our working masses and sowed the seeds of anarchy amongst them. The peasantry, opposed by instinct to this trend for revolution, was disorganised and leaderless, unable to respond. The educated citizenry was vacillating, the State apparatus spineless. Communist invasion was felt to be imminent. But a handful of high school students, headed by Codreanu, acted. Codreanu thus started on his Golgatha in the Spring of 1919. This small but determined move was to lead later, through many trials, tribulations, and imprisonments for him and his band, to the founding of The Legion of Michael the Archangel, and later, the Iron Guard. The appellation ‘Iron Guard’ came into being in 1930 to designate the political arm of the Legion.

NN. – Could you tell us why you joined the Legionary Movement and what has kept you active on its behalf ever since?

JD. – The innermost folds of my soul drew me irresistibly to it. I sensed intuitively that the Legionary Movement was, at long last, the organisation really meaning to clean the stables of the political pestilence fouling up the country; to do away with the corruption and moral decadence of the body politic; to end the exploitation of the long suffering peasantry and improve the lot of the worker. And I have stuck to the same faith in these endeavours for I have believed the Legionary Movement to be one of a spiritual regeneration gifted by God to a people perhaps once in a millennium through its predestined leader, Comeliu Z. Codreanu, the “Captain.”

NN. – What were the principle ideals of the Iron Guard?

JD. – Perfection through virtue; respecting life’s original harmony; subordination of matter to spirit; instilling “a forceful Christian faith, an unlimited love of country, correctitude of soul as the expression of honour, and unity as the premise for success.” These are the pillars of Codreanu’s school which were based on the foundation of ‘the rule of the spirit and moral value.’ The Legion endeavoured to create a national elite of character leading to an aristocracy of virtue sustained by love of country and permanent sacrifice for the Fatherland, on justice for the peasantry and the workingman, on order, discipline, work, honest dealing, and honour.

NN. – What was the Captain’s attitude to Communism?

JD. – He intuitively knew and saw Communism for what it was: a bloody materialist revolution which threatened the economic, political, and spiritual structure of a free society; a revolution against the Church, against the Monarchy, against the Army, and against the right to property.

NN. – How strong was the Legionary emphasis on ruralism – upon the notion that agriculture was vital to an orderly, healthy society?

JD. – The Legionary Movement considered peasantry the foundation class of our country, because it represents the best in our people and the most beautiful in its national and spiritual authenticity. The contemplated plans regarding the peasantry were grand and varied, tending to elevate the peasant’s standard of living in all respects, through vocational and agricultural schools, low interest state credit, and the guarantee of a fair market for his harvests. Under Rumanian conditions, medium sized agricultural ownership was seen as the best solution.

NN. – How did the Iron Guard view the Jews generally, and what view did it take of the then fairly new creed of Zionism? Why was this attitude adopted?

JD. – The unassimilable minority were obviously associated with the subversive forces that sought the dissolution of Rumania through Communism, the dismemberment of Greater Rumania’s frontiers, and the exploitation of the country. Indirectly, one might say that Codreanu ‘supported’ Zionism in the sense that he planned that in a Rumanian State the Jews would be materially compensated and their fare paid to Palestine. He took this position in order to safe-guard Rumania from the Jewish admixture and nefarious influence.

NN. – The enemies of Nationalism in Europe generally argue that all the ‘fascist’ movements of the 1930s were purely a product and reflection of middle class discontent. How far, if at all, was the Iron Guard a manifestation of the bourgeoise class?

JD. – The greatest influence exercised upon the Legionary Movement came from the peasantry and the workers’ classes whence most of its members were recruited. A bourgeoise class as understood in the West did not exist in Rumania.

NN. – It has been said that the Captain saw a spiritual revolution as the principal objective. Why did he hold this belief?

JD. – Because he considered it as the imperative need of our society, he meant, therefore, to educate us in a new spirit, to mould a new man of character and strong will – and he did just that! Only a new man, a regenerated one, permeated by Christian virtues, a hero in all senses of the word could, in Rumania as elsewhere in the world, eliminate the nefarious element spiritually, politically, culturally, and economically, from the life of a country’s people. Codreanu’s spiritual revolution was exactly this, that he was creating such a new man. By virtue of this direction, the Legionary Movement is not considered by us a political party at all, but a spiritual revolution which began to affect Rumanian life in its very essence.

NN. – How important was the Christian view of life to the ideological perspective of the Legion?

JD. – It was all important because one’s Christian faith constituted the all pervasive element of the Legion: “the Legionary believes in God and prays for the Legion’s victory.” (Codreanu, The Nest Leader’s Manual, Point 54.) “The Legion not only moulded a new type of Rumanian believer: The Legionary, but the very essence of it is religion.” (Victor Garcineanu, Din Lumea Legionara), which prompted such comments from non-Rumanians as follows:

“There can be no doubt but that, from a strictly religious point of view, Codreanu’s Movement represents the greatest and most intense revival of the Christian faith in any nation during the Twentieth Century. Its influence on the spiritual and intellectual life of the elite among young Rumanians was enormous and transcendent. That is what makes the Legion unique among the nationalist movements of our age.” (Warren B. Heath, in his Introduction to The Anti-Humans, by D. Bacu.)..

NN. – What practical steps or methods did the Captain take to bring about a spiritual orientation in each legionary?

JD. – He taught us to shun the craziness of modernism. He insisted on those basics tending to form the characters Rumania was in need of. “It is new characters we need,” he said, “not political programmes.” And in order to reach that goal, he aimed to educate Rumanian youth of high school age in Brotherhoods of the Cross; the rest of the membership in Nests, as delineated in his aforementioned The Nest Leader’s Manual, soon to appear in English. Atheists were out, since the imprint of the education was Christian in nature, which constituted a permanent beacon for the Legionary throughout his progress, accomplishments, his whole life.

NN. – What kind of effect did the Legion have on the Rumanian nation at large during its heyday?

JD. – The return of Mota and Marin to Rumania from Spain in February 1937 for burial certainly constituted the pinnacle of the Legion’s popularity. The nation was electrified by the sacrifice of the best the Legion had to offer on the altar of the Fatherland. The reception honouring them by the whole nation along the entire route of the train bearing their bodies, the homage paid their remains, the perfect discipline and order reigning throughout the processions produced in the same year unexpected election results. And it was this perfect order that worried the enemy: the palace camarilla started plotting Codreanu’s murder.

NN. – Why did the Legionary Movement send a group to Spain during the Civil War to aid the Nationalists? Why did Comrade Mota, Codreanu’s deputy, go when the need of Rumania was so great?

JD. – Only a team of seven legionaries – an élite group – was permitted by the Captain to go to Spain and fight on General Franco’s side. And two of them were to fall: Mota and Marin. As Mota was second in command in the Legionary Movement, one can easily understand Codreanu’s reluctance to allow him to go. Yet, in the end he consented. For Mota went there determined to fight and, if necessary, to die! “They were machine-gunning into Christ’s face! The world’s Christian civilization was shaking! Could we remain indifferent?” “Is it not a great spiritual blessing for the next life to have fallen while defending Christ?” he wrote, in a letter to his parents and left in Bucharest to be delivered in case of his death. And Marin went to face and fight the enemy, the enemy of mankind, the modern Luciferians. Their going to Spain was a symbolic gesture of solidarity with a kindred movement of a sister country being ripped apart by the forces of darkness.

NN. – Why did the Iron Guard, which was clearly a radical movement, go into alliance during WWII with the reactionary military government of General Antonescu?

JD. – To begin with, I must say that there was no alliance between the Legionary Movement and General Antonescu after Rumania had become embroiled in WWII. Their co-öperation lasted only from September 1940 to January 21st 1941, on which day the General launched his Hitler-backed coup d’etat; the so-called ‘Legionary Rebellion’ which shortly followed was the Movement’s protest at being removed from the government. Several of the Legionary leaders, however, clandestinely reached Germany (through the help of sympathetic German officers) and were interned in Buchenwald and Dachau. But the rank and file Legionaries filled Rumanian prisons until the survivors were freed in 1946. The short lived ‘alliance’ with Antonescu can be explained as follows: Our Captain esteemed the General for his military posture vis-a-vis King Carol II. On the basis of the prestige his attitude thus attained when part of Rumania’s frontiers crumbled as a consequence of the Berlin-Moscow Pact – by which Russia got Bessarabia and Bucovina, Bulgaria got Southern Dobrogea, and Hungary a good chunk of Transylvania – King Carol was so pressured that he was forced to abdicate, and General Antonescu took over as a measure of national emergency. The country was experiencing such extreme difficulties that the Legionary Movement offered what contribution it might make toward resolving them but was rejected out of hand. The General, far from being friendly now, became our adversary. It seemed that, not content at being the Head of State, he had an obsession to become Head of the Legion as well. At the same time, Germany’s attitude changed towards the Iron Guard. Realizing that the Iron Guard had a nationalistic and spiritual foundation, which could not be manoeuvred to their liking, Germany agreed with Antonescu that the Legionary Movement must go. Thus we arrive at January 21, 1941.

NN. – Was there a process similar to denazification in Rumania after the war?

JD. – Yes, and no. The first crisis experienced by the Communist régime imposed by Soviet tanks was that of winning over the most prominent among their ideological adversaries. Those whom they succeeded in enrolling were made use of to a maximum on political, military, cultural, and propagandistic levels. Against those not responsive to their inducements, reprisals of the utmost magnitude were unleashed. The brunt of this drive was directed, as expected, against the staunchest resistance to the occupation – the remnants of the Legionary Movement. The Reds were seeking its total annihilation. How they went about it is dramatically related in D. Bacu’s spine chilling book of experiences under this régime, The Anti-Humans.

NN. – Looking at the state of the contemporary world, do you regard the Legionary Movement as a failure or do you regard it as a symbol for the future?

JD. – A failure? Most certainly not! I think that as the Legionary Movement constituted a symbol in Rumania in the 1930s, it could similarly constitute a symbol nowadays, and certainly in the future, anywhere. Nothing has changed in Rumania and world society to diminish the validity of its concepts. On the contrary, the spiritual crisis of today’s society is even more critical than formerly. And, considering that the Legionary Movement, in contrast to political parties, has been in its essence a movement for spiritual accomplishment, all that was called for earlier is today even more valid and will remain so in the future.

The fundamentals and the Christian culture of the Western world must be restored; it is imperative! The Russo-Soviet imperialism and barbarism must be put down before it is too late. The anxieties brought on by social parasites, in most cases manoeuvred by Communism, must be put an end to and the inauguration of a socio-politico-economic life anchored in the primacy of the Christian spirit must come about. I refer to the desiderata of our day as to those of tomorrow which identify with the principles for which the Legionary Movement has fought through such great sacrifices. Summing up, if on a political plane the Legionary Movement has known failures, and, due to great and unforeseen adversities, it could not fulfill itself as envisioned, it has, on a spiritual plane, made an imprint, and has remained very much alive to this day.

NN. – What do you think the Revolutionary National movements of Europe today can learn from the structure, doctrine and spirit, and example of the Iron Guard?

JD. – In order for other kindred groups in the West to learn something from us, they must look at Codreanu and the Legionary Movement with more than just a curious eye, i.e., they will have to study seriously the Legionary phenomenon in depth, with a discerning approach. There is, we feel, much in the legionary way of life that could be adapted to local conditions elsewhere, but that is for those groups to decide. Our history shows that progress can be made towards an eventual victory. But this road is peculiar to each nation, each locale. Lastly, but of some importance, similar groups should avoid repeating our mistakes.

NN. – Is there any statement or event which for you uniquely and succinctly encapsulates the real vision of the Legion?

JD. – In a nutshell, yes! That of pursuing Codreanu’s precepts, in order to achieve the wish expressed by Mota in his last letter before falling on the Spanish front in Defence of Christ and Christian civilization on January 13th, 1937 at Majadahonda near Madrid: “and, Comeliu, make out of your country a country as beautiful as the sun, powerful and obedient to God!

NN. – Thank you, Jianu, for your time and for your thoughts. We feel sure that they will be greatly appreciated by our members.

Reprinted with permission from New Nation, No. 7, Summer 1985,
the quarterly Journal of the National Front,
50, Pawsons Road, Croydon, Surrey CRO 2QF, England.

SOURCE: Liberty Bell, December 1985

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