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European Fascists and Local Activists: Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael

Clark, Roland (2012) European Fascists and Local Activists: Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In interwar Europe, “fascism” referred to a diffuse collection of independent movements and regimes that used similar symbols, gestures, and activities to pioneer a distinctive style of politics. The Legion of the Archangel Michael, also known as the Iron Guard, was one of the largest fascist social movements in interwar Europe. This dissertation examines how rank and file Legionaries experienced and articulated their political affiliations as members of the Legion, and more broadly as part of a global fascist network. Official repression, fascist aesthetics, and the demands of Legionary activism meant that becoming a Legionary involved far more than giving intellectual assent to a clearly articulated set of ideas. It changed activists’ everyday activities and life trajectories in profound ways.
From the late nineteenth century onwards, Romanian ultra-nationalists organized to eliminate Jews, Freemasons, Communists, and political corruption from their society. Anti-Semitic violence increased in the universities in 1922, and extremist students engaged in mob violence, vandalism, and assassination. Ultra-nationalist activists built connections with racists abroad, but they based their movement on ways of thinking about Jews and Romanians that derived from nineteenth century nationalism. In 1927 Corneliu Zelea Codreanu and a small group followers split with other ultra-nationalists to form the Legion of the Archangel Michael. Legionaries gradually took over the anti-Semitic student movement by using a combination of violence, terrorism, and pious rhetoric. Elections were usually violent affairs for Legionaries, who flouted the law but also ran work camps, restaurants, and businesses.
Legionaries described the Legion as a school for creating “new men” who would bring about national rebirth. Creating “new men” meant belonging to a hierarchical organization that expected total obedience from its members. Legionaries committed time, money and energy to expanding their movement and risked imprisonment and even death in return. They spoke about continuing the national struggle of their ancestors, but used uniforms, gestures, and symbols that identified them as part of a Europe-wide fascist current.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLivezeanu, Irinairinal@pitt.eduIRINAL
Committee MemberChase, Williamwchase@pitt.eduWCHASE
Committee MemberKlimo, Arpad vonklimo@pitt.eduKLIMO
Committee MemberMarkoff, Johnjm2@pitt.eduJM2
Committee MemberPutnam, Laralep12@pitt.eduLEP12
Date: 13 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 February 2012
Approval Date: 13 June 2012
Submission Date: 16 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 515
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fascism; Legion of the Archangel Michael; Codreanu; Romania; Iron Guard; Alltagsgeschichte
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2012 19:15
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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