Corneliu Zelea Codreanu’s ‘For My Legionaries’

It is appropriate that I publish this review now, as today is the birthday of the man affectionately known by all who knew him as Căpitanul. Born in 1899 in Huși, Romania, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu is by no means a household name outside of his home country despite a tremendous heroic and tragic legacy. The book itself is an autobiography rather than a dense political tract. It was written haphazardly as the events contained therein happened to Codreanu, and this comes through in the writing and gives the whole book a refreshing originality as compared to hindsight-laden, overproduced life-stories which it could be compared to. Undoubtedly the most interesting figure of the Eastern European far right, Codreanu details both his political experiences and his personal struggles too numerous to list in their entirety. He also details some of his own metapolitics towards the end of the book, however the bulk of this is apparently contained in his other two books, ‘The Nest Leader’s Manual’ and ‘Circulars & Manifestos’ which I have yet to read more than excerpts from.

“through a group of Legionaries who part comes towards us a young, tall, slender man, with an uncommon expression of nobleness, frankness and energy imprinted on his face : azure gray eyes, open forehead, genuine Roman-Aryan type

– Julius Evola following his meeting with Codreanu 

Involved early on in his life in battles with Communist students and professors who had infected the Romanian university system, Codreanu had a knack for turning small numbers into momentous victories through a spellbinding presence and a resolute bravery in the face of adversity. With the Soviet Union’s tentacles beginning to spread and foment revolutionary sentiment among a peasantry just recently released from a quasi-serfdom, many actually credit the failure of communism to gather adherents in the country to the efforts of these early defenders of Romanianism. Dr. Dmitrie Gazdaru notes, “When the Kremlin’s Bolshevism, thrust by the Red hordes from the Russian steppes towards the civilized West, invaded Romania by force of arms following August 23, 1944, it found among the twenty million inhabitants fewer than a thousand Communists to be entrusted with the Satanization of our country.”

With the nation facing pressing concerns, Codreanu partnered with Professor A.C. Cuza of the law faculty at Iaşi University where he was studying. Together they formed the National-Christian Defense League to counter the exploitative Modernization of the country and the destruction of its culture. Because of conflicts with other faculty at the university, Codreanu was expelled and completed his law degree overseas, alternatively in Germany then France. During his time in Romania which was usually to aid the League in its relatively successful electoral campaigns, Codreanu was repeatedly arrested on spurious charges which were never once validated by juries, and had his movements curtailed by illegal police actions. This would become a common feature of his life.

In 1924, he and a large grouping of young Christians who had come together to build a cultural home were randomly beaten by police officers and tortured at the police headquarters. Dejected at this humiliation, Codreanu retreated into the wilderness of the Carpathians and survived for a month as an ascetic, living only off of food given kindly by local shepherds while he contemplated the future of his country. Upon returning, he would be forced to shoot the police prefect who had beaten him, in self defense at a courthouse. Again, he was cleared by a jury of any wrongdoing.

the Rarau Mountain where Codreanu lived as a hermit

In 1926, the League split in two, and disenchanted with Cuza’s poor leadership, Codreanu founded his own movement, the Legion of the Archangel Michael. From abject poverty and irrelevance, this group would rise to become the most powerful political force in Romania, though constantly harried and attacked by both Jewish press outlets and the other political parties who held power in a carousel, each dedicating themselves to destroying the Legion through extra-judicial murder and imprisonment.

The Jews of Romania are mentioned numerous times in the book, but unlike many tracts of the time, all of Codreanu’s anti-semitism is based on detailed anecdotal experience rather than theories about eugenics. He repeatedly quotes various Jewish papers which slander his organization, Christianity, and ethnic Romanians. He also presents the association of Jews with Communism, particularly as was witnessed in neighboring Hungary under the short-lived but devastating Bela Kun regime. The anti-semitism expressed consistently comes as a response to realities within the Romanian nation, especially startling demographic ratios concerning education, where Codreanu correctly deduces that after failing to deny the Jews political rights in Romania, unless they were deported to Palestine they would make up Romania’s elite within a generation, and this would be the death of the Romanian nation. Because of this, no matter what one’s opinions of Jews are, the author commands a justified understanding of why he felt as he did within the socio-historical context.

In 1938, an almost assured perseverance and victory of the Legion was brought to a halt by the imposition of a royal dictatorship by King Carol II who had usurped the throne with the help of treacherous politicians after his own self-exile with his mistress. With unlimited power, and seeing the Legion as an uncontrollable threat, he finally organized a special trial in which he managed to convict the immensely popular Codreanu. On November 30th, along with several of his fellow Legionaries, Codreanu was callously executed during a prison transfer. This came to be known by Romanians as the ‘Night of the Vampires’.

The Legion’s weaponized division, the ‘Iron Guard’ went into hiding, but later emerged when Carol’s grip on power was weakened by his relinquishing of Romanian territory to neighboring countries. Together with Marshal Ion Antonescu, they removed Carol from power, and the new leader of the Guard, Horia Sima became the prime minister. This ‘Legionary State’ was short-lived and with Hitler’s blessing, staunch axis ally Antonescu removed all of the Legionaries from government in a violent event falsely characterized as the ‘Legionary Rebellion’. Supposedly this is where the Legion perpetrated gruesome crimes against minorities, but the evidence for this is probably one of the least convincing examples of the era. Nuremberg convicted almost every other rightist movement in Europe except the Iron Guard who were cleared of all charges against them. This is of course never mentioned by historians eager to smear the most Reactionary force of the last century. 

what makes the Legion unique among rightist movements of the period
was its profound traditionalism, religiosity, and commitment to monarchy

The chapters dealing with Legionary ideology fare very well under scrutiny though there are some points I have disagreements on, and others that I would entertain with caution as they are presented in the book. Codreanu based his entire movement around not only a commitment to nationalist principles which were obviously experiencing a boom in popularity at this time, but also a sincere Orthodox mysticism which sets the Legion apart from dull gangs like Mussolini’s Blackshirts. It would really be false to characterize the movement as either National Socialist or Fascist, it was instead profoundly Reactionary! This is likely why Evola saw its dissolution as a tragedy. Despite its own leader being executed by the monarch, the Legion was pro-monarchy. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book is the following line:

“I reject republicanism. At the head of races, above the elite, there is Monarchy. Not all monarchs have been good. Monarchy, however, has always been good. The individual monarch must not be confused with the institution of Monarchy, the conclusions drawn from this would be false. There can be bad priests, but this does not mean that we can draw the conclusion that the Church must be ended and God stoned to death.”

A few glaring spelling errors are an annoyance, especially in what is supposed to be a ‘fully revised’ edition, and the the introduction by Kerry Bolton and historical overview by Lucian Tudor, while very welcome additions to the book, tend to amp up the repetition factor which can become annoyingly drawn out. This said, the content is remarkable. While mainly autobiographical, there are several sections clipped directly from the articles of prominent thinkers at the time, and a humorous section where Codreanu sarcastically parrots the contradictory and contrived accusations that were hurled at the Legion towards the end of its life. Also contained are a few photographs which look wonderful, a couple of speeches, and an account of Codreanu’s personality by his successor, Horia Sima. One improvement I would have wanted to see was a greater footnoting within the body of the text itself, since several things in the Romanian cultural context were confusing to me and could have done with some explanation.

In November, I am going to present and offer analysis of Codreanu’s ideological ideas in depth, so watch out for that post.

As a final word then, I can recommend to Reactionary readers no other text concerning heroism more than this one. As is expected, most of our coveted books are ascetic in nature and present the more contemplative side of our ideology, but this is a no holds barred account of what the heroic aspect looks like in practice. I have never sympathized with a struggle like that of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. It is my hope that all of us can emulate his boldness and determination.

(For more profile of Codreanu, head over to this article at the Mad Monarchist)


7 thoughts on “Corneliu Zelea Codreanu’s ‘For My Legionaries’

  1. The Orthosphere is a good example of the pickle that your normal white man is really in… On one side are a set of “war nerds” ready to command the “beasts of burden” in some kind of efficiently manufactured society and on the antithetical side the intellectual Christians without a fighting bone in their bodies. And of course, there is the third party which is just the general enemy of white man (Christian or liberal) which contextually overlaps the entire drama.


  2. Thank you for this – it is always inspiring to read of the lives of such heroes, as we try to gather men to our cause and ready our selves to fight the same battles, over and over again – it seems. This has raised my interest in learning more about the man Codreanu and his Legion.


  3. As we face essentially an invasion from the south both in Europe and the United States, Codreanu's relevance could not be higher. We are about to attend the funerals of many nations unless something is done.


  4. There are plenty of useless 'Christians'. The point of this article was to demonstrate a man who is an inspiration for the observant. I want Christians like Codreanu, in fact, a small army of them, to rule white nations in the years to come.


  5. A true man of faith and a hero to all reactionaries. A great many more legions and men like Codreanu will be needed if the West is to withstand and survive the combined threat of invasion, liberals and traitors.


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