Constantin Kiritescu wrote one of the most comprehensive history books in Romania's historiography
The First World War also known as the
Great War was a period in time when the world decided to get rid of
frustrations in the most violent way. According to historians, roughly 10
million people were killed in action during the four years of armed conflict. A
lot was written about those years to depict the gruesome realities of war and a
many inspired authors produced genuine literary gems, such as Camil Petrescu's
'The last night of Love, the First of War' or the orthopedic doctor Ion
Ghilamila's research 'The Work of Providing Assistance and Re-education to
Romania's Disabled Veterans'. The most successful history book though was 'A History
of the War for Greater Romania 1916-1919', which was largely employed by all those
who wrote about the Great War.
surprising detail about Kiritescu and his history book is the fact that the
author wasn't actually a historian. He was born on September 3rd
1876 in Bucharest, where he also died on august 12th 1965 at the age
of 88. During his life, Kiritescu witnessed two major changes in people's
outlook over the world, in 1918 and 1945. He was born and educated in a Romania
built by its first monarch, Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in the second
half of the 19th century. He witnessed the birth of Greater Romania
under its second king, Ferdinand I in 1918. And also saw the collapse of
democracy under the communist regime backed by the Soviet Union after 1945.
Kirițescu was a zoologist with a PhD in natural science and teacher at the
famous high-school in Bucharest Sfântu Sava.
was the man who paved the way for the study of serpents and reptiles in Romania.
He wrote a volume on 'Research over Romania's Herpethological Fauna" and discovered
an unknown species by that time, a serpent called Eryx jaculus or the javelin
sand boa, which lives around the city of Cernavoda on the banks of the Danube
river. He also discovered the Danube newt (Triturus
dobrogicus), which lives in Dobruja, south-eastern Romania. With a great
passion for history as a publicist, he wrote the portrait of several people and
places. He got involved with the country's education system and represented
Romania at the Nations League, the ancestor of the present-day UNO.
History of the War for Greater Romania 1916-1919" the book that made Constantin
Kiritescu famous was published three times. The first edition was published in
1922 and 1923 shortly after the war, and the second between 1925-1927. The
latest edition was printed in the year when communism collapsed in Romania, 1989.
The teacher and economist Costin
Kirițescu was interviewed by Radio Romania in 1994 and he recollected the
success his father's book enjoyed.
Costin Kiritescu:" The book first
appeared in two volumes, but they needed a third edition and the book got
revised, enlarged, updated and that time had three volumes. That proved the
perseverance of the author, who didn't even go to war as he was disabled and
exempted from conscription. But with the connections he had and the huge amount
of reading that he had done, he managed to write this book, which is seemingly
a reference one."
third edition appeared in 1989, the last year of the communist regime in
Romania, when censorship was very tough. Here is Costin Kirițescu at the
Costin Kiritescu:" I was working with
the Finance Ministry and a person from the Central Committee of the Romanian
Communist Party who wanted to know if it was possible to have a third edition
of the aforementioned book contacted me. Of course I said yes, and that was the
beginning of a real tragicomedy. Because after the dictator's wife, Elena
Ceausescu had learnt about this project of reediting the book, she called in the
secretary in charge of the project and hit him in the head with the ink bottle.
After a series of delays and postponements, for one reason or another, the
third edition of this book appeared in the autumn of 1989. The third edition was
completed and commented upon by my father. I was asked to remove a couple of
words, which I wrote and somehow offended the communist party. That was all. "
Constantin Kirițescu was a
teacher of zoology with a great passion for history who gave us one of the most
successful history books in Romania's historiography.