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Gabriel Andreescu

The Orthodox Church and the Holocaust in Romania
1. The research: the state of the art
There are several studies today that are dedicated specifically to the issue of the relationship
between anti-Semitism and the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC).1 To this we can add several
articles from a “secondary bibliography”, published in journals which do not reach the academic
standards.2 Other published works, although discussing a different topic, include observations
relevant to the relationship between anti-Semitism and the Romanian Orthodox Church, or the
ROC doctrine that connects the church to chauvinistic nationalism.3
Information on the subject may also be found in a series of studies on the situation of the Jewish
minority between the World Wars and the Holocaust.4 Another category of texts are those that
promote and theorize anti-Semitism while invoking ROC as a source of legitimization.5 Finally,
the manner in which works by authors affiliated to the Orthodox Church, or writing in ROC

See: Paul Shapiro, "Faith, Murder, Resurrection. The Iron Guard and the Romanian Orthodox Church”, in antiSemitism, Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust, Kevin Spicer (ed), Indiana University Press 2007; Oana Pană,
“Ortodoxia românească şi atitudinea sa faţă de evrei” ("Romanian Orthodoxy and its attitude toward Jews"),
Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, Vol. II, Nr. 1 (3) /2010, pp. 113-133; Gina Pană, „Biserica Ortodoxa Română şi
mişcarea legionară: clarificări şi ambiguităţi" ("The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Legionary Movement:
clarifications and ambiguities"), Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, Vol. III, Nr. 4 /2011, 142-167.
2
See: “Alexandru Voicu, „Relația controversată a Bisericii Ortodoxe Române cu Mișcarea Legionară”, ("The
questionable relationship of the Romanian Orthodox Church with the Legionary Movement") Historia http://www.historia.ro/exclusiv_web/general/articol/rela-ia-controversata-bisericii-ortodoxe-romane-mi-carealegionara).
3
Among the long list with this type of books I notice: Leon Volovici, ldeologia naţionalistă şi problema evreiască,
(Nationalistic ideology and the Jewish problem) Humanitas, Bucureşti,1995; Armin Heinen, Legiunea
Arhanghelului – o contribuţie la problema fascismului mondial, (The Legion of the Archangel - a contribution to
the issue of world fascism) Humanitas, 1999; Florin Muller, Metamorfoze ale politicului românesc, 1938-1944,
(Metamorphoses of Romanian politics, 1938-1944) Ed. Universității din București, București, 2005; Lavinia Stan,
Lucian Turcescu, Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania, Oxford University Press, New York, 2007;
Cristian Romocea, Church and State: Religious Nationalism and State Identification in Post-Communist Romania,
Continuum Religious Studies, New York, 2011; Roland Clark, Holy Gelionaru Youth. Fascist Activism in Interwar
Romania, Polirom, 2015.
4
From Matatias Carp's pioneering work "Cartea neagră. Fapte şi documente. Suferinţele evreilor din România:
1940-1944" ("Black Book. Facts and documents. The suffering of the Jews in Romania: 1940-1944), vol. I şi II
(SAR, Bucureşti, 1946 şi “Dacia Traiana”, Bucureşti, 1947, 1948), to the Final Report of the International
Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, Polirom, Iaşi, 2005.
5
Among them: Ilie Imbrescu, Biserica şi Mişcarea Legionară, (The Church and the Legionary Movement) Ed.
Cartea Româneasca. Bucureşti, 1940; Flor Strejnicu, Creştinismul Mişcării Legionare (The Christianity of the
Legionary Movement) Ed. Imago, Sibiu, 2000 (second edition); Gheorghe Racoveanu, Mișcarea legionară și
biserica (The Legionary Movement and the church), Ed. Samizdat, București, 2002 (second edition). Other volumes
are relevant because of the status of their authors: Ion Antonescu, Pe marginea prăpastiei (On the edge of the
chasm) 21-23 ianuarie 1941, Scripta, Bucureşti, 1992; Preot Stefan Palaghiţă, Garda de Fier. Spre Reînvierea
României (The Iron Guard. Toward a Rebirth of Romania) Buenos Aires, Ed. Autorului, 1951 ş.a.
1

sponsored journals, treat and generally conceal the anti-Semitism of the ROC is itself of interest.6

2. Orthodoxy as both a passive resource and an actant resource
The conclusions of this research are confusing: some diluted ROC role in anti-Semitism between
the World Wars, others consider that the ROC have had a major role. The evaluations can be
explained by the ideological affiliation of the authors. But they also reflect the complex
background: orthodoxy involved a broad category of stakeholders: its professed believers,
clergy, Orthodox organizations, pro-Orthodox intellectuals, the Romanian Orthodox Church as
an institution. The heterogeneity of their behavior and the multiplicity of events can be easily
interpreted in various ways. Our solution to tackle with this complexity was to treat orthodoxy as
both a passive resource and an actant resource throughout the different stages of anti-Semitism
until the Holocaust.
The passive resources of anti-Semitism consist of the language, attitudes and ideas that feed antiSemitism, a potential at the level of orthodox thought. It is “passive” because a transformation of
language, attitudes and ideas into active anti-Semitism depends on opportunities and context.
The orthodoxy as an actant resource for anti-Semitism encompasses the set of orthodox actants,
social actors that engaged in anti-Semitic acts because they saw them as arising from their
Orthodox faith, or that placed their anti-Semitic acts under an Orthodox banner. This set includes
the church as an institution, orthodox foundations and associations, the clergy and the
heterogeneous community of the faithful. The orthodox actants were an important segment of
Romanian society between the World Wars. Their behavior was often in conflict with the place
reserved at the time by the state for religious actors.
Much of the previous research underestimates the place of the ROC in the anti-Semitic
movement between the World Wars because researchers have concentrated on institutional
positions and on the highest levels of the hierarchy. But most often the passive resources fueled
processes at the grassroots level. The best proofs for the role of Orthodoxist dogma and attitudes
in “creating” anti-Semites are the testimonies of clergy that became legionnaires and were
involved in anti-Semitic violence.
I will highlight one case study. Priest Ilie Imbrescu joined the legionary movement because he
was interested in nationalism, „in a doctrinal and academic sense”, because it was „deep and
strengthened in his soul, since childhood, under the influence of the education in his family” 7.
His father had been „a nationalist fighter against the oppressive Hungarian domination”. 8
See Brînduşa Costache, Mircea Costache, Doru Costache „Problema evreiască în România modernă: Atitudinea
Bisericii Ortodoxe Române” ("The Jewish problem in modern Romania: the attitude of the Romanian Orthodox
Church"), TABOR, Revista lunară de cultură şi spiritualitate românească editată de Mitropolia Clujului, Albei,
Crişanei şi Maramureşului. (Cultural and Spiritual Monthly edited by the Metropolitan of Cluj, Alba, Crişana and
Maramureş) - http://www.tabor-revista.ro/in_ro.php?module=content_full&id=10676.
7
The legionary priest wrote his testimony in the detention camp near Miercurea-Ciuc. He sent his book of
testimonies from there, on December 7th, 1938, to Metropolitan Nicodim Munteanu, at the time ad-interim
President of the ROC Synod.
8
The Imbrescu family was from Banat (p. 20).
6

Imbrescu studied Theology in Cernăuţi, where he joined the Student Center of Cernăuţi, and
became at one point the president of the student movement. In his mind, nationalism and
Ortodoxism, through history and education, were two sides of the same coin. Initially, he looked
up to Professor A.C. Cuza, at the time president of the National Christian Defense League and
thought to be the father of Romanian Christian nationalism. During a discussion on February 4 th,
1930, Ilie Imbrescu asked the latter a question regarding the Old Testament. A.C. Cuza rejected
the Old Testament and stated that „Jesus was not from the body of a Jew” 9. Faced with such
major dogmatic errors, the theologian-to-be looked toward other sources.
In this context of personal searches, he met Zelea Codreanu and read „The Nest Leader's
Manual”10, and in 1933 became a legionnaire because „the meetings of these nests convinced me
that the legionary movement walks on the path of the old Orthodox-nationalist « law »”11.
Reading Ilie Imbrescu’s book of testimonies, we can find out how a priest searches for and finds
in the Holy Book arguments for murder: „Therefore,…, do I support murder? This is a question
whose answer requires the Priest to have the courage to not be hypocritical! Because God stops
murder, but punishes folly dreadfully! “Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin
are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him
to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these
little ones to sin”. (Luca 17, 1-2)”12.
The case of Ilie Imbrescu highlights perfectly the connection between nationalism, Orthodoxism
and dogma, and the manner in which their components, as passive resources, were transformed
by circumstances and contexts into violent anti-Semitic actions. His case is similar to those of
thousands of priests who supported anti-Semitism and to those of many Orthodox faithful taught
that Jews are „Jesus’ mortal enemies”, that the Jewish people is an intruder on the "orthodox
land" and that „to be Romanian is to be Orthodox”, and who turned those ideas into political
practice.
3. The Orthodox Publications between 1920 and 1944 as an actant resource
The case of Ilie Imbrescu is both extreme, and relevant. It suggests how ample a study of
Orthodoxy as a passive resource must be in order to obtain conclusions with claims of generality.
We face the same situation when we tackle with actant resources. As a proof of the complexity
of such investigations, but of their utility, too, I treat the Orthodox Publications between 1920
and 1944.
The creation of Greater Romania after the First World War, in 1918, and the status of
Patriarchate, in 1925, resulted in a new dynamism within Romanian Orthodox Church structures
and the Orthodox clergy, and in an increased interest in publishing.
The characterization of the religious press made by Al. T. Bogoane in 1928 is true of Orthodox
publications throughout the entire interwar period: „Looking at it from this perspective, we
cannot expect from our church press an eminently scientific character, nor a purely religious one,
9

Ibidem, p. 21..
“The Nest Leader's Manual” collects Corneliu Zelea Codreanu's ideological teachings.
11
Ibidem, p. 55.
12
Ibidem, p. 60.
10

instead it has, rather, a very pronounced character of social Christian press, within the bounds of
the program sketched and still being sketched by the ethnic life of our people, of course”. This
„social character” is concentrated, to a surprising extent, on expressing hostility towards all that
is perceived as an opponent of Orthodoxy. Almost all publications not entirely dedicated to
printing official decisions and internal ROC issues call for combating Protestants, freemasons
and atheists, Greek-Catholics and Roman-Catholics, etc. One can also notice a slow evolution of
the attitude towards Jews, which becomes more and more hostile with the passage of time.
One issue that deserves special attention is the fact that the publications printed under the aegis
of the ROC are just one segment of the press interested in religious topics. One example can
suggest the scale of the phenomenon. On the topic of „faith” and under this name, between 1920
and 1944, the following periodicals were published: Credința [The Faith] in Arad (1940-1943), a
„weekly student publication” in Brăila (1923), one publication in Bucharest (1927-1928) and
another publication from București with the same title but published between 1933-1938, the
publication of the National Party of Nicolae Iorga (1927), one publication in Huși (1932-1935), a
„national, cultural, economic and social news sheet” in Reghin (1933), a news sheet belonging to
the National Party organization in Râmnicu Sărat, a news sheet belonging to the NationalistDemocratic Party in Târgu-Jiu (1921-1923). Titles mentioning „faith” also include: Credință și
fapte [Faith and Facts], din Iași (1932), Credința Gorjului [The Faith of Gorj], an independent
publication for cultural action and citizen militancy (1935), Credință și muncă [Faith and Labor],
a magazine of the Romanian Youth, a magazine of the (Girls-only) School for Teachers in Buzău
(1940) and another with the same title for the School for Teachers in Cluj (1939), Credința
Națională [The National Faith], news sheet of the National Party in County Tutova, Bârlad
(1925) and another with an identical name belonging to the National Party in Covurlui, Galați
(1931), Credința Naționalistă [The Nationalist Faith], a news sheet of the Nationalist Democratic Party in County Covurlui, Galați (1922-1923) and the one in Târgu-Jiu (1921),
Credința Noastră [Our Faith], an independent gazette for spiritual and national militancy from
Bălți (1936-1937), another in Bucharest (1933), a publication for nationalist militancy of the
same name in Râmnicu-Vâlcea (1925-1937), a publication for the support of cultural and
national issues in Râmnicu-Vâlcea (1943-1944), Credința Ortodoxă [The Orthodox Faith], from
București (1942-1943) and „a news sheet for spiritual development” with the same name from
Roman, Cernăuți and Bălți (1931-1932, 1940), Credința strămoșească [The Ancestral Faith], a
religious news sheet for the people, Galați (1937) and one in Huși (1934-1944).
Leading the pro-Orthodoxist secular press are the well-known magazines Gândirea [The
Thought],13 Cuvântul [The Word],14 Sfarmă Piatră ["Stone-Crusher"],15 and others, published
under the aegis of well-known Orthodoxist cultural personalities, like Nichifor Crainic and Radu
Gyr, or as propaganda arms of the Legionary Movement. Inevitably, the publications appearing
under the aegis of the ROC discuss and find inspiration in their secular „sisters”. The latter are
constantly quoted and mentioned in the religious press. Some ROC periodicals, chief among
them the official magazine of the Synod, Biserica Ortodoxă Română [The Romanian Orthodox
Church], have sections dedicated to reviewing the content of pro-Orthodox secular publications.
13

From 1926 on, the editor-in-chief position at the magazine Gândirea was occupied by Nichifor Crainic, who
instilled an Orthodox-traditionalist orientation.
14
The magazine Cuvântul had as editor-in-chief the pro-legionary philosopher Nae Ionescu. Some Orthodoxist
authors like Mircea Vulcănescu and Nichifor Crainic also published in this magazine.
15
Sfarmă-Piatră ("Stone-Crusher"), was an anti-Semitic magazine published during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

The types of secular messages that are most interesting to ROC magazines are exemplified by
the article signed by Nichifor Crainic in the magazine Sfarmă Piatră [Stone-Crusher] and then
republished by the magazine of the Romanian Orthodox diocese in Oradea, Legea românească
[The Romanian Order]: „We are anti-democratic. Today any Romanian who loves his country
has to be anti-democratic. Our aversion towards this cursed regime doesn’t stem from a
theoretical reason. Because in theory democracy is a sublime regime, if you want. In practice, it
is the safest method: to destroy slowly and stealthily a state, a country, a people.”16
The religious press also references non-religious publications, when the latter discuss relevant
topics. For example, the monthly Tomis republished an article from the newspaper Universul
[The Universe] when the title and content supported its policies: „The fight against the sects in
Transylvania.”17
The articles of Orthodox theologians also find their way into magazines like Gândirea [The
Thought] and Cuvântul [The Word]. It can be assumed that the ROC press had some influence,
in this manner, over the secular Orthodoxist press and that, correspondingly, the content of the
ROC press reflected in a significant way the debates and assumptions of the entire Orthodoxist
press.

The theological and practical exclusivism of the ROC
The attitude of the ROC press towards religious and ethnic diversity in Romania mirrors its
nationalistic theology, embraced and expressed most often in mythological terms: „No other
people in this world enjoys this greatest of spiritual advantages, to be Christian right from the
moment it was created, as the Romanian people does. If the colonists brought by Traian to
inhabit the Dacian territory were largely Christian, undoubtedly there was also within the borders
of Decebal’s former homeland some Christian seed, sown by the St. Apostle Andrew and the
descendants of the Apostles.”18 The conclusion puts the ROC at the center of national life: „As in
the past, so today and forever the Church shall have an overwhelming role in preserving
unblemished the national conscience and in assuring a shining future for our Romanian Nation.
For this great reason, we all have the sacred duty not only to recognize its essential contribution,
but to help it to also be able from now on to fulfill its divine mission, of loving Mother of Our
Nation.”19
Following this „great imperative”, representative Orthodox publications, or those with mostly
local influence, show a virulent hostility towards the few „enemies of the ancestral faith” or of
the „Christian religion”. In an issue of the magazine of the Holy Synod from 1928, the “flagship”
publication of the ROC, the author lists those, „from outside the Church, and some from within
in”, are aiming at its core doctrine, its tradition and its worship, strike „at the representatives of

16

Ibidem.
„Lupta împotriva sectelor din Ardeal”, Tomis, no. 12, December 1928, pp. 9-11.
18
Diacon Laurențiu Gh. Popovici, „Rolul național al Bisericii în trecutul neamului” [The national role of the Church
in the history of the Romanian people], Mitropolia Moldovei, no. 6-7, June-July 1942, p. 305.
19
Idem, p. 316.
17

the Church, the clergy of all levels, undermine religion”20. The oldest enemies of Christianity
were the pagans, the second line of enemies are atheist who „hurl at the Church of Christ all
kinds of forced misconstructions of the Christian doctrine, misrepresent the teachings of the Lord
through various convolutions entirely alien in fact to the essence of divine truth”21. Enemies also
are some „artists who have greatly offended religious sentiment and belief in general” and their
work: „Fine arts through their generous shapes and the nakedness of human bodies, drama,
through some of its plays frivolous to the point of immorality, choreography, through its
scandalous games of today, decorative arts, through the images of naked bodies, film, through its
nerve-wreaking, passions-inciting, cruelty- and crime-inducing movies, graphic arts, through the
pornographic and humorous literature depicting some weaknesses of the clergy, inseparable from
human nature …”22.
The behavior towards the freemasonry, seen as a dangerous adversary by the ROC, deserves a
separate discussion, given the stereotypes regarding the relationship between the freemasonry
and the Jewish people.
The internal enemies are seen as extremely dangerous: the schismatics, the heretics and the
members of sects (or even unworthy priests): „The strikes against our religion come not only
from those, previously sons of the ancestral Church, who have strayed, but also from wicked
priests, snipped off the body of the militant Church by embracing Protestant views and beliefs,
welcomed and encouraged by sectants and heretics, happy with the diversion and the laceration
right into the Orthodox priestly corps. Their emergence on the frontlines of the fight against the
mother Church, just like that of traitors of country against their brothers, can be judged and
classified by any unbiased and sane man”23.
The official publication of the ROC states itself that the other great denominations are also very
dangerous:
With the Roman-Catholics of the Pope in Rome and later the Protestants however, the Romanian
Orthodox Church had life and death, heavy battles. And not only did it have such battles in the past,
but it is threatened even today, in its dogmatic and missionary canonic organization, within the
unified state of the Romanian nation, by Roman-Catholics, through the existence of their subversive
Church in our midst and especially through the apple of discord thrown between us Romanians and
the United Church in Transylvania; and by Protestants through the numerous sects with the same
tendencies toward dissolving and destroying both church and nation24.

The Church that was closest dogmatically to the ROC – the Romanian Church United with
Rome, Greek-Catholic (RCUR) – was also the one which bore the brunt of the ROC attacks. The
November 1937 General Report of the "Agru" Central Committee referred to the campaign
launched by the ROC against Greek-Catholics in these terms:
Editorial, „Dușmanii religiei creștine” [The enemies of the Christian religion], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 5
(566), May 1928, p. 414.
21
Idem, p. 415.
22
Idem, p. 416.
23
Idem, p. 420.
24
Arhiereu Grigore L. Botoșăneanu, „Biserica Ortodoxă Română și celelalte confesiuni” [The Romanian Orthodox
Church and other confessions], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 5 (566), May 1928, p. 387.
20

An intense and tireless propaganda on behalf of Orthodoxy has monopolized Romanian nationalism.
Moreover, an equally continuous, and often heated, campaign has depicted the United Church as a
national danger, a foreign object in the body of the nation. Nothing was spared in spreading this idea.
Facts are reversed, evidence is distorted. Our leaders are attacked in unworthy ways. History is
falsified with amazing boldness. The city of Blaj and its schools, the great teachers who awakened
the Romanian soul and made of the people of serfs of yore a nation aware, no longer exist; Clain,
Şincai and Maior were « alienated from the core of the nation » (...) Orthodox publications put
forward this message of hatred and enmity in all its forms. Large organizations, created for
other goals, like the For, the Romanian Anti-revisionist League, the Association of Romanian
Clergy, put themselves in the service of this false ideal of pure negationism.25

There is almost no year without the publication of articles that accuse non-Orthodox religious
groups, and the hostile references to „sects” often appear in series of successive issues of the
magazine. The word „combat” is one of the most frequently used words by Orthodox
theologians. Tolerance is castigated. Transylvanian publications are also anti-Hungarian and
hostile to Transylvanian Saxons. Within important publications, throughout the interwar period,
positions against religious minorities number in the hundreds, while anti-Semitic articles number
in the tens.
One significant aspect is the almost general support for the intervention of the police forces of
the state. The expulsion from the country of sects is supported even by the more „balanced”
publications, like Foaia diecezană from Caransebeș: „The ultimate interest of the Romanian
state prevails over any kind of compassion for some of its citizens that want to secure their
frontline places among the chosen on the back of the state. Within the state, which is accountable
to no one when it defends itself against dangers, the slow and gentle evangelism of priests may
be discussed from all sides.”26
Thinking of social life in exclusionary terms was an integral part of the ROC life, to the point
where the Synod decreed that believers should be stopped from reading the so-called “antiChristian” press, and Orthodox publications supported such an idea.27
It is interesting that anti-Muslim articles were rare. One reason for this peaceful attitude is that
the ROC didn’t perceive Islam as a competing religion. Another is the century-old tradition of
cooperation between the Ottoman Empire and Christian states on protecting Muslims and
Christians, respectively.
Anti-Semitism as part of the ROC exclusivist attitude
It should be noted that the position of Orthodox publications towards Jews and anti-Semitic
manifestations throughout the period 1920-1944 does not emerge primarily from theological
The November 1937 General Congress in Satu Mare (Buletinul AGRU Bucureşti, nr. 8-9, July-August 2002.)
Dr. Ștefan Cioroianu, „Statul și sectele” [The State and the sects], Foaia diecezană, no. 8, 25 February 1940, pp.
1-2.
27
See ”Război împotriva presei anticreștine” [War against the anti-Christian press], Foaia diecezană, no. 49, 5
November 1937, p. 2: „Against this press us the defenders of the Church have the duty to assume a defensive stance,
to denounce the danger and to prevent it in the world of believers”.
25

26

studies but more often from various short texts that discuss Jews as an aside. The totality of short
texts on Jewish issues outlines a global image of the atmosphere created by the publication
around Jews. For this reason it is necessary that sources that appear marginal are also included in
a review, because they outline the generally anti-Semitic climate in the Orthodox press.
Anti-Semitism in the official publication of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Given the authority relationships within the ROC, the position of the official publication of the
Holy Synod – the monthly Romanian Orthodox Church - on Jewish topics deserves special
attention. The evolution of the publication in terms of its attitude toward Jews is apparent. In the
beginning it disavowed attacks against them (1922),28 and differentiated between freemasonry
and Jews (the latter not always treated aggressively, as proven by an article from 1923),29 then its
attitude towards Jews became distant and ironic,30 up to the point where it started to highlight
their „guilt”.31 Some events involving Jews were presented in a neutral manner. In 1928 Bishop
Grigore L. Botoșăneanu explains the hostility against Jews in national, not religious, terms:
In regards to the Jews, who infiltrated the Romanian states much later and inconspicuously, there
was never a question of a religious fight. It is only in our times that a national fight emerged, with a
moral and religious background, because the invasion of Jews from all sides over our borders and
their tendency to dissolve and discredit have started to be a serious threat to us.32

Two articles by theologian I. Mihălcescu, published a few years apart, made an analytical but
also empathetic effort regarding Jews. One of his texts from 1923 is a rather positive account of
the presence of Jews throughout Romanian history.33 But the theologian stays within the
Orthodox dogmatic view. Writing about the relationship between Christianity and Judaism,
Mihălcescu concludes: “The superiority of Christianity and the areas of disagreement are easily
seen.”34
The most important work published in the official publication of the Synod (Biserica Ortodoxă
din România) is an article from 1937 about freemasonry, which is described as a group of
organizations dominated by Jews.35 It deserves a separate discussion.
Other Orthodox publications
“O revistă « creștină »” [A « Christian » magazine], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 12, September 1922.
Mihălcescu, „Iudeii în Statul Român” [Jews within the Romanian State], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 8, May
1923, pp. 545-554.
30
„Ceva mai practic pentru dezlegarea chestiunii evreiești” [Something more practical for addressing the Jewish
Problem], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 10, July 1923, p. 735.
31
““Antisemitism „creștin”? sau cea mai cumplită erezie a veacului” [Christian” anti-Semitism? Or the worst
heresy of the century], no. 10, 1926, pp. 619-620; „Zbârleală evreiască în apărarea unui haham” [”Jewish tantrum in
defense of a Jewish innkeeper”], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 5, May 1931, p. 471.
32
Arhiereu Grigore L. Botoșăneanu, „Biserica Ortodoxă Română și celelalte confesiuni” [The Romanian Orthodox
Church and the other denominations], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 5, May 1928, p. 387.
33
I. Mihălcescu, „Iudeii în Statul Român” [Jews within the Romanian State], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 8,
May 1923, pp. 545-554.
34
Pr. I. I. Mihălcescu, „Raportul dintre creștinism și iudaism” [The relationship between Christianity and Judaism],
Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 3, March 1925, pp. 137-143.
35
„Ce este Francmasoneria” [What is the Freemasonry], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 1-2, 1937, pp. 1-22.
28
29

In Muntenia, several publications covered Jewish topics. Păstorul ortodox [The Orthodox
Shepard] published a single article, in 1942, that discussed the issue of the baptisms of Jews and
the census.36 The basic idea is that the ROC cannot forbid the baptism of Jews, but this cannot
confer rights outside the sphere of the competence of the Church. The arguments express the fear
of competition in this matter from Catholics.
The four articles in Renaşterea [The Rebirth] are hard to interpret as a clear attitude on the
Jewish topic. The text by priest Gr. Cristescu from 1924 saw in “the Jewish view” a form that
kills the spirit, and destroys inner life thereby bringing the greatest misfortune. 37 In an article
from 1930, Ioan V. Popescu talked about „The Crisis this people is experiencing”, while
appearing concerned with the great persecution “this people” will fall victim to.38 Another of his
articles, from 1937, is a theological analysis of the Mosaic religion which “does not allow for a
human intermediate between the Creator and his creation”.39
The monthly Îngerul [The Angel] of the Diocese of Buzău is, we think, mistrustfully neutral. It
mentioned discussions on „numerus clausus” in universities which concerned Jewish people,
who were highly overrepresented in these institutions,40 it described without commenting the
Bern trial on ”The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, based on two anti-Semitic sources41 , and
stated a paradox of Israel: “the opposition between the divine promises made to the „Chosen
people" and the latter’s inclination to idolatry and spiritual collapse.”42
In Dobrogea, the magazine Tomis [Tomis] practically ignored Jews, the only reference to them
being a simple theological commentary in 1932 on the theology of Israelites regarding restitutio
in integrum.43 In Caransebeş, Foaia diecezană [The Diocese Bulletin] has the richest material,
but is ambivalent. Neutral articles are published,44 as well as positive45 and anti-Semitic ones: a

Iconom Marin D. Preoțescu, „Înăsprirea chestiunii semite, în timpul din urmă. Probleme delicate” [The worsening
of the Jewish Problem, these later days. Delicate issues], Păstorul ortodox, no. 2-3, February-March 1942, pp. 5356.
37
Pr. Gr. Cristescu, „Două concepții: iudaică și creștină” [Two views: Jewish and Christian], no. 5, May 1924, pp.
67-71.
38
Pr. Ioan V. Popescu, „Problema evreească în prezent” [The Jewish Problem at the present], Renașterea, no. 12,
December, 1930, pp. 443-445.
39
Pr. Ioan F. Popescu, „Isus predicat în sinagogi” [Jesus preached in synagogues], Renașterea, no. 3, March 1937,
pp. 81-89.
40
Pr. I.N.V., „Numerus Valachicus” [Numerus Valachicus], Îngerul, no. 1-2, January-February, 1935, pp. 47-53
41
„Protocoalele Înțelepților Sionului” [The Protocols of the Elders of Zion], Îngerul, no. 12, December 1937, pp.
747-751.
42
Pr. Ioan Frăsineanu, „Paradoxul Israelului” [The Paradox of Israel], Îngerul, no. 11, November 1936, pp. 1-10.
43
Pr. Ion Mănucu, „Legea conversiunii din punct de vedere biblic” [The Law on conversion from a biblical point of
view], no. 6-7, June-July 1932, pp. 183-186.
44
„Elevii evrei scutiți” [Jewish students exempt], Foaia diecezană, no. 4, 22 January 1933, p. 7; „Evreii nu mai pot
fi botezați” [Jews cannot be baptized], Foaia diecezană, no. 31, 4 August 1940, p. 7; „Reglementarea situatiei
evreilor in România” [Regulating the Jewish situation in Romania], Foaia diecezană, no. 32, 11 August 1940, p. 7.
45
„Reclădirea Palestinei” [“The rebuilding of Palestine], Foaia diecezană, no. 30, 25 July/7 August 1921, p.5.; „Not
only can Jews enter the empire of grace of the Savior, but they must do so.” (Pr. Marcu Bănescu, „Mesianismul
Israelului convertit” [The Messianism of converted Israel“], Foaia diecezană, no. 4, 23 January 1938, pp. 2-3).
36

critical text regarding a complaint filed by Romanian Jews with the League of Nations, 46 one
about “the danger represented for [Christians] by Judaism with its billions tentacles.”47
Luminătorul [The Luminary] from Bessarabia is almost entirely hostile to Jews: “The fight
between Jews and Christianity is not just economic and even less just political,”48 Jews “regard
all old religions with contempt, considering true only the one given by God to its chosen people
…”,49 the Talmud, “proves the hate and the malice that Jews feel towards the goimi [nonJews],”50 Judaism “creates animosity between Christians and all other religions,”51 the Jews
have an “atavistic inclination to pervert the truth, to present everything to the world in a manner
required solely by their predatory interests, and in particular in their well-known tendency to call
all Romanian leaders `anti-Semitic`.”52
Priest Codrat Rață expressed his enthusiasm that the splitting Palestine into three parts, out of
which only one of the smaller parts, the size of one of our counties, became the Jewish state,
signifies “the death of the Jewish national state…”.53 There was also one positive article
however. In his long article from 1928, spread over three issues of the magazine, I. Tocan
described the role played by Jews in the religious evolution of the world in these terms: „The
Jewish people was chosen by God for a certain providential purpose. Among others the main
purpose was for this people, uniquely defended and protected by God, to be the light for all
peoples, that is to receive for keeping the true monotheistic religion.”54
At the pinnacle of Orthodox anti-Semitism we find the publications from Transylvania. Revista
Teologică [The Theological Journal] took over in the ‘30s with three texts. In an article from
1931, Prof. Nicolae Neaga concluded that “Israil fulfills its religious role and stops existing as a
„chosen people.”55 In an article in which he made the point that the entire freemason
nomenklatura, being Jewish, proves yet again the great influence of Jews within the
freemasonry”, Grigorie T. Marcu concluded: ” ”Freemasonry is put in the pillory.” 56 And this

„Plângerea evreilor la Liga Națiunilor” [The complaint filed by Jews at the League of Nations], Foaia diecezană,
no. 6, 6 February 1938, p. 8.
47
„Creștinism și iudaism” [Christianity and Judaism], Foaia diecezană, no. 51, 22 December 1935, pp. 7-17.
48
Demidețchi Grigorie, „Rolul evreilor în adventism” [The Role of Jews in Adventism], Luminătorul, no. 19-22,
July-August, 1924, pp. 76-84.
49
C. Popovici, „Biserica lui Hristos și dușmanii ei (I)” [The Church of Christ and its enemies (I)], Luminătorul, no.
22, 15 November 1929, pp. 31-37.
50 Bishop Alexei of Saratov (translated by Pr. Codrat Rață), „Morala Talmudului” [The morality of the Talmud],
Luminătorul, no. 12, 15 June 1931, pp. 648-656.
51
St. I Bejan, „Creștinismul și mosaismul ca factori sociali” [Christianity and Mosaism as social factors],
Luminătorul, no. 24, 15 December 1931, pp. 1216-1223.
52
C.T., „Problema palestiniană” [The Palestinian Issue], Luminătorul, no. 9, September 1937, pp. 522-528.
53
Preot Codrat Rață., „Prăbușirea sionismului” [The collapse of Zionism], Luminătorul, no. 10, October 1937, pp.
611-612
54
. Păr. I. Tocan, „Influența religioasă a mozaismului asupra lumii păgâne (I)” [The religious influence of Mosaism
over the pagan world (I)], Luminătorul, no. 13, 1 July, 1928, pp. 47-55.
55
Prof. Nicolae Neaga, „Mai există popor ales?” [Is there still a Chosen people?], Revista Teologică, no. 3, March
1931, p. 82.
56
Grigorie T. Marcu, „Fracmasoneria pusă la stâlp” [Freemasonry put in the pillory], Revista Teologică, no. 7-10,
July-October 1936, pp. 349-353.
46

was a commentary by prof. Nicolae Neaga: „As anti-Semites fighting Jews, I think we should
not stop with the Jews, but also fight the Old Testament, in order to save our traditions.”57
The most aggressively anti-Semitic publication, from the country and from Transylvania, was
Telegraful roman [The Romanian Telegraph]. The importance of this publication within the
Orthodox press and within the anti-Semitic movement was so significant that it deserves a
separate analysis.
Regional differences
The impact of regional differences on the attitudes promoted by Orthodox publications is easily
discernable. One sensitive issue was the situation of Bessarabia, seen as a backward region or, at
best, one in need of guidance from the Center.
In Banat and in Dobrogea the impact of a multicultural tradition is discernable. Foaia diaceneză
[The Diocese Bulletin] of the Diocese of Caransebeş mentioned communities other than the
Orthodox one. It promoted the weekly Glasul minorităților [The Voice of Minorities], from
Lugoj, which discussed minority issues in the Romanian language. Tomis [Tomis], the
publication of the Diocese of Constanţa, published empathetic articles on the Armenian,
Bulgarian and Greek community. Their Orthodox religion was certainly a factor.
The regional differences can also be noticed in the choice of groups and attitudes that these
publications combat. Mitropolia Moldovei [The Metropolitan of Moldavia] of the Archdiocese of
Iași was particularly concerned with the sect of “stylists”. The magazine Îngerul [The Angel] of
the clergy in the Diocese of Buzău concentrated its anti-sectarian propaganda on the Adventists.
All the publications in Transylvania included numerous articles hostile to Catholicism, the
Vatican Concordat, Greek-Catholics, Hungarians.
Given the small number of instances, it is difficult to quantify the regional variation in the antiSemitism of publications. The Transylvanian press is an exception, because it published antiSemitic texts with a much higher frequency than the rest of the country. This variation suggests
that the anti-Semitism of publications was not so much a motivation itself, as a result of the
exclusivist nationalism that dominated the Romanian Orthodox Church.
All Orthodox publications are exclusivist, but some don’t publish anti-Semitic articles
Many Orthodox publications, like the Calendar of the Archdiocese of Bucharest, 58 only made
place for religious decisions, statistics, announcements regarding internal issues of the dioceses.
The publications relevant to us however also included articles, studies or information on the
larger society. The annual Directory of the Romanian Orthodox Theological Academy in
Caransebeș, an essentially theological magazine, didn’t include any anti-Semitic articles between
1920 and 1941, the last year of publication. Its articles concentrated on the contemporary moral

Prof. Dr. Nicolae Neaga, „Antisemitism şi Vechiul Testament” [Anti-Semitism and the Old Testament], Revista
Teologică, no. 4, April 1937, p. 147.
58
Published by the Romanian Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Ungrovlahia, throughout the period 1920-1944.
57

crisis59, sometimes embracing extreme position on the danger of parties, of Theater and of
Cinema, and „The biggest danger is represented by the so-called modern dance”. But the
publication is sympathetic towards legionarism.
Noua Revistă Bisericească [The New Ecclesiastical Review] published constant attacks against
the Adventists and other „sects”. It advocated for an Orthodox evangelization of the nation, for
supporting the dominant position of the ROC within the state. But it was uninterested in Jewish
issues.
Păstorul orthodox [The Orthodox Shepherd], which militated all through the interwar period
against sects in almost all its issues and embraced radical positions on the topic,60 doesn’t give
space to Jewish issues either – with an exception, in 1942. The only article on Jewish issues in
the magazine Tomis [Tomis] of the Diocese of Constanța in the entire interwar period is an
article that comments on the theology of Israelites. On the other hand, the magazine is virulent
against Adventists, Baptists and other „sectarians”, as well as against Catholics, Greek-Catholics
and Hungarian revisionists at the other end of the country.
Evolution in time and the role of responsible editors
In general, within Orthodox publications the frequency of anti-Semitic texts increased during the
4th decade. In the monthly Îngerul [The Angel] of the clergy in the Diocese of Buzău, texts
accusing Jews or that promoted legionarism were only published between 1935 and 1940. In
Revista Teologică [The Theological Journal], from Transylvania, anti-Semitic texts and positive
views about Hitler were only published in the ’30s. Out of 17 texts on Jewish issues published
between 1924 and 1944 in the bi-monthly Luminătorul [The Luminary] of the Diocese of
Chișinău and Hotin, 16 appeared between 1928 and 1944.
The anti-Semitic attitudes of the Orthodox press had institutional roots. But the public
personalities leading the publications also had a role. A notable case is that of the bi-weekly
Telegraful roman [The Romanian Telegraph]. Between 1920 and 1934, when the publication
was led by George Proca, few articles about Jews were published, some positive and some
negative. Once Dumitru Stăniloae took the helm in 1934, and until the outlook of the war
changed (1943), the number of Jewish-related texts increased dramatically, and they all became
quite hostile. With the direct support of the theologian, Telegraful român came to suggest,
support and welcome the final solution.
The monthly Legea Românească, led between 1921 and 1942 by Bishop Roma Ciorogariu,
underwent a mirror-image evolution over time. In 1922 two accusing texts were published:
„Jewish materialism and the « essence of Pharisees »”61 and „Jews in Palestine are atheist.”62,
See Priest Octavian Tursa, „Chemarea și lupta păstorului de suflete împotriva imoralității timpului nostru” [The
call and the fight of the pastor of souls against the lack of morality of our time], Anuarul Academiei Teologice
Ortodoxe Române, pp. 270-324.
60
The magazine supports a measure to force students belonging to different religious sects to attend Orthodox
religious education or that of another religious denomination: „Încă o măsură salutară, cu care statul vine în ajutorul
Bisericii în lupta cu sectele” [Another salutary measure, by which the state helps the Church in the fight against
sects], Păstorul ortodox, no. 3-4, March-April 1944, p. 194).
61
D. Ioanoviciu, „Materialismul jidovesc și « aluatul fariseilor »” [“Jewish materialism and the “essence of
Pharisees”], Legea Românească, no. 20, 15/22 May 1922, p. 4.
59

but one with a positive message also appeared: „…a Jewish problem will exist as long as we will
live along each other. The solution of the problem is not to convert Jews to Christianity but to
find the conditions for a peaceful coexistence with them. Our attitude towards them can be none
other than the one shown by Christ: peace.”63 The magazine published in 1923 four anti-Semitic
texts, in 1924 three hostile texts, in 1925 one anti-Semitic short text. Later Prof. Dr. V. Lăzărescu
became editor-in-chief. Under his leadership no anti-Semitic texts were published in Legea
Românească. From 1933 to 1944, three diocesan councilors took the helm of the publication.
There was only one offensive text published all those years.

The Dumitru Stăniloae case and Telegraful român [The Romanian Telegraph]. The
anti-Semitism of a theological personality embraced as representative by the ROC
The person and the work of Dumitru Stăniloae are seen as „a pinnacle of Romanian theology”.
Stăniloae is described as one of „the greatest Orthodox, if not Christian, theologians of our
century”, one who “was also a loadstone for other areas of today’s Romanian culture.” 64 This is
also the view, to this day, of some social sciences academics: in their view Dumitru Stăniloaie is
"the most important Romanian Orthodox theologian of the twentieth century."65
An exclusivist nationalism
Between 1934 and 1944 Dumitru Stăniloae was solely in charge of the flagship periodical
Telegraful roman [The Romanian Telegraph]. In this biweekly magazine that became „a mustread of Transylvanian priests,”66 the theologian promoted the ideas of an assimilationist
nationalism: „Nationalism is the Romanian soul permeated by the consciousness of its rights and
its mission on this Earth.”67 Dumitru Stăniloae advocated for a nationalism centered on
Orthodoxy and the ROC, in which the political power was called upon to assure „nationalist and
Christian discipline.”68 He was an ardent anti-Semite, but fought equally against any religious
community that endangered the absolute domination of the Romanian Orthodox Church. He
called for outlawing freemasons with an extraordinary harshness: "...freemasonry [was] like
worms consuming the body of our State, bringing apathy into souls and decay of our national
unity, pouring the winning corrosive over the love of nation. Between all of them there is a

„Evreii din Palestina sunt ateiști” [“The Jews in Palestine are atheist”],, Legea Românească, no. 42, 1922, 16/29
October, p. 7
63
Dr. A. Magier, „Antisemitism?” [Antisemitism?], Legea Românească, no. 48, 27 Nov/10 December 1922, p. 1.
64
Pr. Dr. Gheorghe I. Drăgulin, „Teologi români de seamă din prima jumătate a veacului al XX-lea” [Famous
Romanian theologians in the first half of the twentieth century], Studii teologice, 2nd edition, no. 4, July-August
1991, p. 64-83.
65
Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania, Oxford University Press, New
York, 2007, p. 45.
66
Cătălin Bogdan, „Omorul serafic (II) Cazul Stăniloae” [The seraphic murder (II) The case of Stăniloae], Revista
22, 2 February 1996.
67
Dr.D.S., “Biserica şi naţionalismul” [The Church and nationalism], Telegraful român, no. 28, 5 July 1936, p. 2.
68
Editorial, „Disciplina naţionalismului” [The discipline of nationalism], Telegraful român, no. 2, 9 January 1938.
62

connection, all of them were united by the malicious conspiracy to lead this nation to the
grave."69
The opposition towards religious minorities is a widespread attitude among the ROC clergy, but
the Telegraful român magazine expressed an ethnic hostility towards everything non-Romanian.
Sending the Roma into work camps was considered a welcomed act. News like „we are told that
in Orăștie 74 local gypsies, old and young, that became a material and moral burden upon the
city, were transported to work camps “ are conveyed with undisguised satisfaction.70 The
Germans and the Hungarian ethnics were attacked constantly in the magazine.
Dumitru Stăniloae, called by his apologists „the theologian of love”,71 viewed sectarians with
anger: „Sects are all that is most dangerous for the unity of the people and its future. They grind
slowly the massive rock of Romanianism, turning it into dust that will be easily swept from
existence by the first wave from the outside, or scattered in all directions by the first brisk
wind”.72 He asked for the repression of Baptists, Adventists, Pentecostals and the other religious
groups treated as sects: „…when the government will come with an ordinance to disband the
sects that split our nation and create anarchy within our state, we will be able to greet a new act
of great national importance.”73
The theologian called Catholicism „the mask and the instrument” of Hungarian irredentism and
asked that the Vatican concordat should be denounced. Beyond the thesis itself, the language
shows the intensity of the hate towards Catholics, whom he condemns for „... the shameless
audacity, the wickedness and the scorn with which we have been treated as a state by the leaders
of the Catholic State.”74
Dumitru Stăniloae is a totalitarian thinker that has fought for making the Orthodox religion a
state religion, and for education to follow Orthodox principles75. According to the theologian,
attending an orthodox church should become a national obligation.76 He asked that education be
“Christianized” by “Christianizing” the pedagogy professors in universities.77
Towards the end of the war, when the soviet troops had entered the country, Dumitru Stăniloae
adapted the policy of the magazine to the new situation. He exhibited an unexpected
opportunism, given the haughty posture of this militant theologian: „…it is no wonder that the
Dumitru Stăniloaie , “Restaurarea românismului în destinul său istoric” [Restoring Romanism and its historic
destiny], Telegraful român, no. 39, 22 septembrie 1940.
70
„Scăpați de o povară” [Get rid of a burden], Telegraful roman, 27 September 1942.
71
Cătălin Bogdan, [The seraphic murder (II) The case of Stăniloae], Revista 22, 2 February 1996.
72
Editorial, „Pericolul sectelor” [The danger of sects], Telegraful român, no. 10, 6 March 1938, p.1.
73
Editorial, „Disciplina naţionalismului” [The discipline of nationalism], Telegraful român no. 2, 9 January 1938, p.
1.
74
D. Stăniloaie, „Catolicismul: masca și unealta iridentei maghiare” [Catholicism: the mask and the gear of the
Hungarian irredentism], Telegraful român, no. 9-10, 30 January 1932 pp. 1-2,.
75
In this sense, the contention that Stăniloae disliked „especially the Jews” is irrelevant (see on this Cătălin Bogdan,
„Omorul serafic (II) Cazul Stăniloae” [The seraphic murder (II) The case of Stăniloae], Revista 22, 2 February
1996).
76
Editorial, „Mersul la biserică – obligaţiune naţională” [Going to church - national bond], Telegraful român no. 11,
13 March 1938, p.1.
77
Editorial, „Încreştinarea învăţământului” [Christianization of education], Telegraful român no. 21, 18 May 1938,
p.1.
69

meeting at that time [the passing of the Russian armies through Transylvania’s towns and
villages in 1848] between our people and the Russian army was engraved into the hearts of our
elders as a most powerful memory. Ever since, our people have been convinced the Russian
people have a good and kind heart.”78 All of a sudden, the nationalistic magazine began to
discover „the qualities of the working man’s soul.”79 At the same time, the texts about Hitler,
previously complimentary, became contemptuous.
At the end of the 1940s, Dumitru Stăniloae actively participated in the activities aimed at
destroying the Romanian Church United with Rome (Greek-Catholic), a goal of the ROC that he
also supported during the interwar period. Outlawing the RCUR was only possible once the
communist totalitarian regime came into power in 1948.
Blatant Anti-Semitism
From 1920 to 1934, under the editorship of George Proca, Telegraful român had a complicated
policy towards the Semitic theme. In 1922, Tr. Scorobeţ published an extensive article, over
three issues of the magazine, discussing in a positive way the historical importance of Jews.
According to the writer, the Jewish people had the merit of becoming „famous in human history
for the valuable services it had provided to human life and progress.”80
After around a year and a half, a short text amalgamates Bolshevics and Jews and states that
„The Russian colossus will at some point wake up from the state in which it was brought by Jews
and then it will shake itself and crush all the Semitic parasites that have climbed onto its head.” 81
In 1924, a short text decries that fact that after a brawl in a Jewish tavern the Police found the
fault was on the part of the Romanian.82 In 1927, N. Neaga praised the old Jewish way of
educating children and more generally the attitude of the Jewish community: „Looking at the
ancient and troubled history of this people, we can notice an extraordinary phenomenon: because
it values its ancestral faith and fights to preserve its national customs.” 83 But a year later, another
short text accuses freemason lodges of being „the concealed political weapon of Jewish
international finance”.84
From 1934 on, once Dumitru Stăniloae became chief-editor of the magazine, no new positive
texts on Jews were published. Only anti-Semitic texts were now available in the pages of the
Telegraful român, as the theologian „scrutinized not only ideological leanings, but also every
single line published there.”85

D. Stăniloaie, „Rusia și Ardealul” [Russia and Transylvania], Telegraful român, no. 37, 13 September 1944, p. 1.
D. Stăniloaie, „Sufletul muncitorului” [The soul of the worker], Telegraful român no. 76, 24 October 1944, p. 1.
80
Tr. Scorobeţ, “Însemnătatea istorică a Evreilor” [The historical significance of the Jews], Telegraful român no.
31-32, 22 April (5 May) 1922, p. 3-5 and no. 33, 26 April (9 May) pp. 2-3, no. 34, 29 April/ (12 May) pp. 1-2, 1922.
81
„Liga pentru lupta in contra antisemitismului” [The League for the fight against anti-Semitism], Telegraful
român no. 83, 10-23 October 1923, p. 3.
82
„Îndrăzneala unor evrei” [”The audacity of some Jews”], Telegraful român no. 40-41, 23 May 1924.
83
N. Neaga, „Educația copiilor la vechii evrei” [”The education of children for ancient Jews”],, Telegraful român
no. 66-67, 16 September 1927, pp. 2-3.
84
„Despre Fracmasonerie” [On Freemasonry], Telegraful român no. 70, 3 October 1928, p. 1.
85
Cătălin Bogdan, „Omorul serafic (II) Cazul Stăniloae” [[The seraphic murder (II) The case of Stăniloae], Revista
22, 2 February 1996.
78
79

The anti-Semitic propaganda took many forms, direct and indirect. The pages of the Telegrafului
român defended the most representative anti-Semites of the interwar period: writers shed tears in
remembrance of Ioan Moţa and Vasile Marin86, and celebrated professor A.C. Cuza.87 Ion
Antonescu, often eulogized, is usually called „the Leader.”88 Adolf Hitler was himself mentioned
and praised as a „great statesman.”89. Under his leadership, „the German people traverses a new
and characteristic era […] It could be said that the main point of the Hitler revolution resides in
the words of its undisputed leader: « You are nothing. Your people are everything ».”90 In
particular, Hitler was also praised for „ending the political power of the Catholic Church in
Germany.”91
As for the anti-Semitic discourse of the magazine and its editor-in-chief, it contains extremely
violent phrases. In 1938, Dumitru Stăniloae made statements that would soon later gain a tragic
connotation: „ All countries should see that it is in their interest and that of world peace that they
not become tools of International Jewry, but to all start by mutual agreement to clean the air of a
microbe that fosters continued discord among peoples.”92
Dumitru Stăniloae welcomes signs of this “cleansing” every time they can be seen in the
country: „The measures taken or announced during its first days in power [of the Octavian Goga
government] validate this belief. Through one of these measures he purified Romanian
intellectual life of the poisonous miasma of Judaism. The cancellation of over hundred thousand
licenses from rural Jewish tavern owners will banish poverty and disease from the villages of
Moldova and Maramureş. By decongesting our cities and our commercial and industrial
enterprises of the colonies of parasites that came to our country after the war we will provide
health and breath to the entire Romanian life.”93
At the end of the 1930s, „the Jewish issue” had become an obsession of the magazine. One
mention appears in this paragraph: “The Jewish issue is the order of the day all over the world. It
would be natural and good if it, this issue, with all its seriousness, would not delay too much here
either, because we are, in terms of the proportion of Jews, the second country on Earth.”94

„Lacrimi în amintirea lui Ioan Moţa” [Tears in memory of Ion Mota], Telegraful român, no. 5, 31 January 1937,
p. 1.
87
„Sărbătorirea dlui profesor A.C.” [Celebrating Professor A.C. "], Telegraful român, no. 16, 18 April 1937, p. 2.
88
D. Stăniloae, „Cuvântul Conducătorului [The word of the Leader]”, Telegraful român, no. 15, 6 April 1941, p. 1.
89
„Ce a spus marele bărbat de stat Adolf Hitler” [What said the great statesman Adolf Hitler], Telegraful român, no.
12, 22 March 1942, p. 1; „Darul făcut de Fûhrerul Adolf Hitler” [Fuhrer Adolf Hitler`s gift], Telegraful român, no.
38, 20 September 1942, p. 4.
90
D. Călugăr, „Ideea socială şi tineretul din Germania” [The social idea and the youth in Germany], Telegraful
român, no. 1, 2 January 1938, p. 1.
91
Dr. N.T., “Biserica Romei în Germania lui Hitler” [The Church of Rome in Hitler's Germany], Telegraful român,
no. 52, 15 December 1935, p. 4.
92
Editorial,„Necesitatea soluționării problemei evreești” [The need to solve the Jewish Problem], Telegraful român,
no. 3, 10 January 1938, pp. 1-2.
93
Editorial, „Disciplina naţionalismului” [The Discipline of Nationalism],, Telegraful român, no. 2, 9 January
1938.
94
„Problema jidovească” [The Jewish Problem], Telegraful român, no. 22, 28 May 1939, p. 3.
86

The preparations for war are blamed on the „Jewish finance”. It „fuels the war propaganda. For
years this finance has worked to make national states capitulate before its money, so powerful in
the past. Its efforts are supported by the stock exchange, the press and many news agencies.”95
Dumitru Stăniloae welcomed the seizure of Jewish property, describing it as an expression of the
will of the people: “General Ion Antonescu put his finger on the problem through these words, he
gave voice to the feeling that dominates the breadth of the Romanian soul.” 96 „The theologian of
love” went as far as to welcome the „final solution” in its Transnistrian version: „The
newspaper Raza from Bessarabia prints the joyful news that the last Jewish convoy from
Chișinău is heading towards the Russian steppe, and thus the city got rid of the Jewish cancer.
According to the aforementioned newspaper, the departure of the Jews took place with the same
swiftness in the other cities of Bessarabia. So it should be – in Bessarabia and all the other
provinces of the country.“97 The Romanian public opinion was informed with satisfaction
that: „The Jewish population, eliminated from the villages, is guided towards concentration
camps, so it would no longer exploit the work and the products of Christians.“98
In fact, Dumitru Stăniloae and his magazine went further concerning the „Jewish problem” than
the domestic nationalist leanings in whose name they pretended to speak. They supported all
actions against Jews outside the country: „The removal of all Jews from the occupations that are
important to the life of the people, said the [Slovak] minister, is the commandment of this
moment. The Jews excluded from mainstream activities will be used, to the last one, in other
fields of work, where they will only do manual labor.”99. They supported a final solution
throughout Europe: „the fate of the Jews in Europe is already decided. The fact that one can still
see, here and there in Europe, Jews with or without the Star of David is a temporary situation
created by the war. After the end of the current great battle and after the complete realization of
the new order, these last Jews will also disappear from the European firmament.“100
Dumitru Stăniloae and Telegraful român, published under the authority of the Metropolitan of
Transylvania, Nicolae Bălan, were central sources of chauvinism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism
during the interwar period. Paradoxically, the theologian and the magazine are embraced to this
day as historical models of honorability in the tradition of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Anti-Semitism and freemasonry in the Orthodox imagery
An issue relevant to ROC anti-Semitism is the connection between Jews and freemasons. Before
the ROC’s official condemnation of freemasonry, and its request to outlaw it, this issue had been
treated in the Orthodox press with a certain nuance. One important theologian, I. Mihălcescu
doesn’t make the connection between Jews and freemasons: ”Equally baseless is the myth that

„Finanța jidovească” [The Jewish financiers], Telegraful român, no. 8, 19 February 1939, p. 3.
„Proprietăți ce trec în patrimoniul public” [Nationalized Properties], Telegraful român, no. 15, 6 April 1941, p. 1.
97
„Au plecat!” [They left!], Telegraful român, no. 47, 16 November 1941, p. 4.
98
“Cernăuți și Chișinău“ [Cernăuți and Chișinău], Telegraful român, no. 32, 3 August 1941, p. 3.
99
„Chestiunea jidovească” [Jewish Issue], Telegraful român, nr. 14, 5 April 1942, p. 4.
100
„Au să dispară din Europa” [They will disappear from Europe], Telegraful român, nr. 40, 4 October 1942, p. 4 .
95
96

freemasonry has Jewish roots and originated with Hiram, the architect of the temple of
Solomon”101.
Other Orthodoxist articles discuss the freemasonry-Jews connection questioningly. In a text from
Pastorul ortodox [The Orthodox Pastor] (1935), priest Șt. M. Udrescu criticizes three books on
the subject and comments „… I think it is not happenstance that the authors of these two books,
as well as the translator of the first, are Jews.”102
Other Orthodox publications stated that an important connection existed between freemasonry
and Jews. According to Revista Teologică [The Theological Journal], „it is known that Jews are
present within all lodges in great numbers and are the most decisive factors in freemasonry. […].
The entire nomenclature of the freemason rite, by being Jewish, proves again the great influence
of Jews within freemasonry.”103
The flagship Orthodox publication, Biserica Ortodoxă Română [The Romanian Orthodox
Church], returns in 1937 to the freemasonry theme, with a material that establishes a doctrine,
written by Metropolitan Dr. Nicolae of Transylvania, and which received the approval of the
Holy Synod. The article includes a full chapter on „Freemasonry and the Jews.” 104 It is stated
that Jews have an important, and even dominant, role within the Freemasonry, and all the high
ranks were created by them. […] The entire Freemasonry is run by Jews through the purely
Jewish freemason order, Benai Berith. The members of the latter lodge are also part of the lodges
that include Christians, states the article.
With the conclusion that „Freemasonry fights against the natural law, wanted by God, according
to which humankind is made up of nations,” the article decides which are the duties of the ROC:
to lead a persevering oral and journalistic activity „of unmasking the purpose and the nefarious
activities of this organization” and to urge Romanian intellectuals who are part of the lodges to
leave them, otherwise the Church will refuse to perform their burial ceremonies; priests will
advise the people to avoid freemasons and not to vote for them; the Holy Synod and the
organizations of the Church will try to convince the government to outlaw Freemasonry, and if
the government doesn’t, it will take care to get a Parliamentary initiative in this respect.105
However, even after this official statement of the ROC Synod, the connection between
Freemasonry and Jews is not mentioned as a rule. In an article from the magazine Îngerul [The
Angel] from the Fall of 1937, priest C. Neguț firmly condemns the organization without
belittling it as a manipulation initiated by Jews: „The freemason lodges gather together Jews and
Christians and freemasonry states that only those gathered in its lodges know the truth and rise
above other people. This would imply that Christianity provides no advantage in knowing the
I. Mihălcescu, „Din trecutul francmasoneriei” [The past of Freemasonry], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 12,
September 1923, p. 791.
102
Priest Șt. M. Udrescu, „Din acțiunile francmasoneriei” [Actions of Freemasonry], Pastorul ortodox, no. 5, May
1935, p. 173.
103
Grigorie T. Marcu, „Francmasoneria pusă la stâlp” []Freemasonry put in the pillory], Revista Teologică, no. 710, July-October 1936, p. 351.
104
„Ce este Francmasoneria” [What is the Freemasonry], Biserica Ortodoxă Română, no. 1-2, January-February,
1937, pp. 1-22.
105
Idem, p. 22.
101

truth and achieving salvation to its members. The Church cannot watch quietly as no other than
the mortal enemies of Christ are considered superior to Christians, from the point of view of
knowing the greatest truths of salvation.”106
4. The investigation of the Orthodox Press, years 1920-1944: results

All the periodicals published under the aegis of the ROC include texts whose purpose is to
combat certain social and political attitudes, some religious minorities and their organizations.
An “aggressive” and “militant” position was characteristic for the ROC press. Accusing articles
and texts targeted Protestants, freemasons, atheists, Greek-Catholics, sectarians. The topic of
Bolshevik crimes, especially when the victims were priests, appeared only sporadically in some
magazines, while being a constant subject in others, not only in the Orthodox press from
Bessarabia (e.g. the official magazine of the Diocese of Chișinău and Hotin, Luminătorul [The
Luminary]), but also in the rest of the country (e.g. the publication of the Diocese of Oradea,
Legea românească [The Romanian Order], etc.) The importance given to different minority
groups as threats to Orthodoxy depended on the geographic region. In Transylvania, the most
numerous and most radical militant texts targeted Baptists, Greek-Catholics, Catholics and the
Hungarian irredentism. In Moldavia the sect of stylists received great attention. In the Diocese of
Buzău, priests were mainly concerned with the activism of Adventists.
Our research has shown that Jewish people occuped a peripheral role in the militant policy of the
Orthodox press. The main “adversaries” of the ROC: the “sects”, The Romanian Church United
with Rome, the Roman-Catholic Church107 were discussed in periodicals in almost every issue,
while Semite topics appeared at intervals of sometimes years. With rare exceptions, Jews were
treated with hostility. Globally we can notice a slow evolution in attitude, towards an antiSemitic propaganda that becomes more severe as years pass. But there are also magazine which,
due to staff changes, discussed the Semite topic less or not at all during the ”hot” decade, 19331943, of all times. The best example is Legea Românească [„The Romanian Order”], which
included mean-spirited anti-Semitic short texts in the 1920s, but once the editor involved was
replaced, in the 1930s, stopped printing such texts. This phenomenon is a further argument for
the decisive role of the leaders of editorial boards and of editors in general in shaping the
ideology of the ROC press.
The official publication of the ROC Synod, Biserica Ortodoxă Română [The Romanian
Orthodox Church] had a rather hostile attitude towards Jews. This can be seen in some short
texts or comments – like ”Jewish tantrum in defense of a Jewish innkeeper”. However, many
texts were neutral, and some theological articles had positive references to Jews, like ”Jews, the
people of the Book!”. The main „ anti-Semitic contribution” of the official publication of the
ROC Synod was to turn the idea that freemasonry is dominated by Jews and should be outlawed
into dogma.

Priest C. Neguț, „Condamnarea Francmasoneriei” [Condemning Freemasonry]], Îngerul, no. 3, March 1937, p.
137.
107
These are the religious groups and organizations that compete with the ROC or otherwise limit its confessional
dominance.
106

The other publications in Bessarabia, Transylvania, Banat, Moldavia, Dobrogea and Muntenia
rarely included references to the Jewish topic and then in general the tone was negative. Even in
magazines that didn’t show hostility towards Jews the most “tolerant” judgment seems to have
been: „The superiority of Christianity and the areas of disagreement are easily seen.”108
One of the leading promoters of anti-Semitism among Orthodox publications was Telegraful
român [The Romanian Telegraph], from the moment that theologian Dumitru Stăniloaie became
its editor-in-chief. In this periodical the anti-Semitic policy reached new heights: Telegraful
român [The Romanian Telegraph] welcomed the seizure of Jewish properties, announced the
“joyful news” that Jewish convoys were sent to Transnistria, cheered the internment of Jews in
concentration camps, expressed happiness at the removal of Jews from all important professions
in Slovakia, and hoped that in the future “these last Jews will also disappear from the European
firmament.“109
The systematic and intense incitement to anti-Semitism that characterized Telegraful român [The
Romanian Telegraph] is however an exception. In general, the Orthodox press showed marginal
interest in Semite topics, and when references to Jews appeared they expressed „a background
hostility”. The most important result of this overview of the Orthodox press is the observation
that its anti-Semitism is just a peripheral part of its outpouring of ethnic and religious
chauvinism; and respectively, a peripheral component of the anti-Semitism of the period 19201944. The interwar Orthodox nationalism strengthened its aggressiveness by exercising it on
everything that was alien to Orthodoxy: Protestants, Roman-Catholics, Greek-Catholics,
freemasons, atheists. The fate of Romanian Jews was the result of a political manipulation of
anti-Semitism in the context of an exacerbated exclusivist nationalism that intersected tragic
international trends.

More general results
The inner tensions, segregations and inconsistencies of the ROC led some researchers to believe
that the role of the ROC in interwar anti-Semitism manifestations, through dogma and activism,
was secondary. This could be true for the ROC hierarchy: but in its double role as a passive
resource and multiple actant resource, Orthodoxy played a central role in the development and
support of interwar anti-Semitism.
At the same time, there is a difference between the ROC and the main political forces that fought
the democratic state and won with the creation of the National-Legionary State and the rise of the
Ion Antonescu regime. In the case of the Legionary Movement and other extremist
organizations, anti-Semitism was the central theme of their programs. In the case of the ROC,
anti-Semitism was just a secondary component, because the purpose of the ROC was to create a
homogenous Orthodox state that banished any other types of religious identity. The energy

Pr. I. Mihălcescu, „Raportul dintre creștinism și iudaism” [”The relationship between Christianity and Judaism”],
no. 3 (358), March 1925, p. 139.
109
„Au să dispară din Europa” [They will disappear from Europe], Telegraful român, no. 40, 4 October 1942, p. 4.
108

expended against Roman-Catholics, Greek-Catholics, other religious denominations and ”sects”
appears to exceed that expended on anti-Semitic goals.110

110

Particularly, the contribution of the ROC to interwar anti-Semitism was determined by the relationship of
dependence between state authorities and the Church. The State was able to control the ROC through its
prerogatives in religious matters, the resources it provided to the Church, and the institutions with relevant
responsibilities, like the courts. This created tension within the ROC, and eventually led to chaotic behavior
uncharacteristic of religious communities. The hierarchy of the church most often abetted the authorities of the state,
which pushed many dissenting priests, and Orthodoxist organizations and foundations, into a conflict with the ROC
hierarchy. One phenomenon that the ROC lost control of was the involvement of priests in politics.