Antonescu, Ion Victor, born 14-06-1882 in Pitesti, was the scion of an upper-middle class Romanian Orthodox family with some military tradition. He was especially close to his mother, Liţa Baranga, who survived his death. His father, an army officer, wanted Ion to follow in his footsteps, and as such, he sent him to attend the Infantry and Cavalry School in Craiova. During his childhood, his father divorced his mother to marry a woman who was a Jewish convert to Orthodoxy. The breakup of his parents’ marriage was a traumatic event for the young Antonescu, and he made no secret of his dislike of his stepmother, whom he always depicted as a femme fatale who destroyed what he saw as his parents’ happy marriage.
According to one account, Ion Antonescu was briefly a classmate of Wilhelm Filderman, the future Romanian Jewish community activist whose interventions with Conducător Antonescu helped save a number of his coreligionists. After graduation, in 1904, Antonescu joined the Romanian Army with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He spent the following two years attending courses at the Special Cavalry Section in Târgoviște. Reportedly, Antonescu was a zealous and goal-setting student, upset by the slow pace of promotions, and compensated for his diminutive stature through toughness. In time, the reputation of being a tough and ruthless commander, together with his reddish hair, earned him the nickname Câinele Roșu (“The Red Dog”). Antonescu also developed a reputation for questioning his commanders and for appealing over their heads whenever he felt they were wrong. During the repression of the 1907 peasants’ revolt, he headed a cavalry unit in Covurlui County. Opinions on his role in the events diverge: while some historians believe Antonescu was a particularly violent participant in quelling the revolt, others equate his participation with that of regular officers or view it as outstandingly tactful. In addition to restricting peasant protests, Antonescu’s unit subdued socialist activities in Galați port. His handling of the situation earned him praise from King Carol I, who sent Crown Prince (future monarch) Ferdinand to congratulate him in front of the whole garrison
Antonescu became a professional soldier and served as a colonel in World War I. After the war he continued to advance in rank. In 1933 he became army Chief of Staff. He was Minister of Defence, 1937–1938. In 1940, Carol II appointed him Prime Minister with dictatorial powers. Hoping initially to rule with the Iron Guards to enlist some popular support, he here with the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard (also known as the Legionnaire movement), an ultranationalist, antisemitic, antimagyar, and antigypsy organization active throughout most of the interwar period, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu destroyed the latter when they got out of hand, and created a full-blown military dictatorship. Corneliu Zelea Codreanu Codreanu registered his main electoral success during the 1937 suffrage, but was blocked out of power by King Carol II, who came to favor rival fascist alternatives around the National Christian Party and the National Renaissance Front. The rivalry between Codreanu and, on the other side, Carol and moderate politicians like Nicolae Iorga ended with Codreanu’s imprisonment at Jilava and eventual assassination at the hands of the Gendarmerie on 30-11-1938, aged 39, in Tâncăbeşti, Ilfov County, Romania.
In June 1941 Antonescu, here with Marschall Ferdinand “Bloody Ferdinand” Schörner
His troops were victorious at first, recapturing Bessarabia and the Bukovina. They captured Odessa, which without undue modesty he renamed Antonescu. However, his position changed after 150,000 of his troops were lost in the decisive battle of Stalingrad. Thereafter, he concentrated in vain on preventing eventual Soviet domination, pinning his hopes on a speedy Anglo-American advance in the West. Shortly after the Red Army crossed into Romania, he was deposed on orders of King Michael I,
whereupon Romania changed sides. Placed in the custody of PCR militants, Ion Antonescu spent the interval at a house in Bucharest’s Vatra Luminoasă quarter.
Death and burial ground of Antonescu, Ion Victor.
He was afterward handed to the Soviet occupation forces, who transported him to Moscow. He was subsequently interrogated by prosecutor Avram Bunaciu, Bunaciu died age 73 in December 1983, to whom he complained about the conditions of his detainment, contrasting them with those in Moscow, while explaining that he was a vegetarian and demanding a special diet. He was tried and shot as a war criminal he refused a blindfold and raised his hat in salute once the order was given. The execution site, some distance away from the locality of Jilava and the prison fort, was known as Valea Piersicilor, “Valley of the Peach Trees”
His final written statement was a letter to his wife, urging her to withdraw into a convent, while stating the belief that posterity would reconsider his deeds and accusing Romanians of being “ungrateful”.
His ashes were scattered behind the Jiliava prison, close to the execution spot.
Born in Calafat in the Kingdom of Romania, Maria Niculescu Antonescu became the wife of World War II authoritarian Prime Minister and Conducator Ion Antonescu. She was President of the Social Works Patronage Council which profited from antisemitic policies and deportation of Jews. Arrested after the 1944 coup which overthrew her husband, she became a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, tried and sentenced for economic crimes. She was imprisoned for five years and lived out her life under exile in Bordusani, Romania. She died 18-10-1964, age 71, in Bucharest, Bucuresti Municipality, Romania
After the revolution of 1989, in which Nicolae Ceaușescu fell, Antonescu, here with General Erich von Manstein, gained a kind of hero status because he had fought against the Russians, and therefore also against communism. Statues were erected for him in several cities. In 2002 these were taken down as “symbols of fascism and racism”.A committee headed by Elie Wiesel found in 2005 that Antonescu had led the persecution and deportation of Romanian Jews.