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The Blood Brotherhoods
Fascism and communism are the two forms of totalitarianism that manifested, fully-fledged, in the 20th century. This was the century when liberal democracy had been going through the most serious of crises. Totalitarianism succeeded in persuading a great many people that it was a better solution to the flaws of democracy.
In Romania, totalitarianism vigorously took hold of people's minds. Fascism manipulated ideas and especially feelings, churlishly simplifying them and turning them into killing tools. The Legionnaire Movement and its party, The Iron Guard, were the most radical fascist means of expression for the far-right totalitarian thought. But before we got them the way they were known, their foundation was laid by the Blood Brotherhoods, the organization that initiated those who shared the fascist ideas. Coming into being in 1923, as organizations of the nationalist youth, at the initiative of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the future leader of the Iron Guard, the Blood Brotherhoods draw and trained new staunch members.
Radio Romania's Oral History Center in the past decades has recorded interviews with former members of the Blood Brotherhoods. In 1997, Alexandru Bancescu of Câmpulung Moldovenesc recalled how a session unfolded, of the Blood Brotherhoods, in his native town.
"The shared legionnaire orientation made us all brothers. There were moments of prayer, there was, in the parlance of the Blood Brotherhoods, a "moment of friendship", by means of which we provided our education. We were honest in speaking about our shortcomings, every one of us took their own correction measures, we tried to correct each other and we punished ourselves at a time when that was needed to correct our imperfections and turn a human being into a personality. We did physical exercises to strengthen our bodies, we set up camp nights with the Blood Brotherhoods, towards Rarau at the Devil's Mill or somewhere else, where very many people had come, from all over Moldavia. We used to meet there, we used to sing, telling stories about our people, our country, our history. "
In 1999, Mircea Dumitrescu of Bucharest span the yarn of how he joined the Blood Brotherhoods when he was 13.
"I approached them through reading and discussions with my classmates. What had I read? For the Legionnaires, a book written by Corneliu Codreanu, I had read The Blood Brotherhood, written by Gheorghe Istrate, the organizer of the Blood Brotherhoods, A Generation's Creed, by Ion Mota, From the Legionnaire World, other legionnaire books. Where would I find them? There was a group in Buftea who did that. One of them was shot in 39' by Carol II's police. I knew him, I knew his father. The others were doctors in economy, the Stan brothers. I would talk to them through my father and my father's friends."
What was expected from the young members? The behavior of a new type of man, a man of the future, as Dumitrescu said:
"What were we supposed to become? First of all, we were told we were not Christian enough. Every day, the 40th share of our time, that is 36 minutes, had to be devoted to our relationship with Christ. That meant reading from the New Testament, mentally checking everything we had done during the day, to see if we'd committed any sin. After that, we would be told that there could be no relationship with God without a relationship with the person next to us. Also, the 40th share of our spending had to be set aside, to help those in need. That means that if, for instance, I ate an ice-cream costing 40 lei, 1 leu had to be saved for those who may have needed that money. We were also checked. We had a little notebook, titled "my notebook", where we were supposed to record everything, about spending our time and our money."
The strongly Christian education attracted not only those interested in acquiring a new ethic identity, but it also translated into a selection that would give birth to an elite. In 1994, priest Ilie Tinta described the selection of the members of the Blood Brotherhoods.
"Usually, we would select students that had good grades and an exemplary behavior. We never took students who couldn't pass their exams. The persecutions of 1938-1939 left us a bit short of members, as the Security were chasing us, but we managed to get through. In 1940, when the Movement was rendered legal for a while, during the ministry of Antonescu, I was the head of the Blood Brotherhoods at the Nifon Seminary in Bucharest ".
But time does not carve ideas in stone, it changes everything. After the end of the fascist period, in 1945, the other face of totalitarianism, communism, emerged in central and eastern Europe. And some of the members of the Blood Brotherhoods, those who managed to stay out of prison, would give birth to part of the anti-Communist resistance movement. (EN, MI)
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