Both Form and Substance: Romanians and Political Antisemitism in a European Context

Clark, Roland ORCID: 0000-0003-3292-282X
(2022) Both Form and Substance: Romanians and Political Antisemitism in a European Context. Holocaust — Studii şi cercetări, 8 (1(14)). pp. 41-68.

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Nineteenth and twentieth century Romanian public discourse was obsessed with the question of Romania’s place in Europe. Whereas some elements of Romanian culture might have reflected European forms without their substance (forme fără fond), between roughly 1880 and 1944 political antisemitism had both form and substance. Romanian antisemites were at the forefront of developments within European antisemitism and saw it as a way of demonstrating their Europeanness. Anti-Jewish rhetoric, laws, and violence during this period should thus be discussed as part of a broad transnational story of political antisemitism and not in terms of Romanian exceptionalism. This article situates the origins of antisemitic political organising in Romania alongside similar developments in Austria, Germany, and France, showing that Romanian antisemites were well connected with prominent antisemites abroad. Just as antisemitism entered urban politics during this period, it also shaped rural violence, which was provoked by the sort of propaganda and rumour-mongering seen in the Russian pogroms of 1881 and the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. In 1922 Romanian students protested to limit the number of Jews enrolled at universities, as did nationalist students in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and elsewhere. Romanians corresponded with antisemitic students abroad and employed the same language, repertoires, and frames that were popular elsewhere in Europe. Antisemitism shaped the way that Romanian fascists, from the Romanian National Fascists to A. C. Cuza, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Ion Moţa, and Nichifor Crainic, related to fascist movements abroad during the interwar period. Publicists such as Georg de Pottere and Ulrich Fleischhauser drew Romanians into pan-European antisemitic networks, and antisemitism sabotaged Eugenio Coselschi’s attempts to convince the Legion of the Archangel Michael to ally itself with Fascist Italy. Legionaries did find common ground with young antisemites in Poland, and their struggle against ‘Masonic-Marxism’ helped unite them with other fascists fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Ultimately, the aspirations of Romanians to become equals with European antisemites were dashed during the Second World War as Nazi advisors dictated the shape, if not the scale, of the Holocaust in Romania.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2022 09:14
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:15
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