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Churchman Heads Rumanian Government with Dictatorial Powers; Little Change in Jewish Policy

February 13, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A “national concentration cabinet” under anti-Semitic Patriarch Miron Christea, its powers bolstered by King Carol’s suspension of democratic functions and extension of the “state of siege,” today took up the reins of government dropped yesterday by Octavian Goga.

Premier Christea, 68-year-old head of the Orthodox Church in Rumania, named an “all-star cabinet” including seven ex-premiers which, King Carol announced in a proclamation, “will carry out constitutional changes which correspond to the new needs and aspirations of the nation.”

Military officers, empowered to act as prefects and district officials, were expected to end acts of terrorism against Jews which occurred throughout the country, especially in Moldavia and Bukowina, during the last days of Goga’s six-week regime. Jews lived in terror as Goga’s “Lancers” held up trains at railway stations, beating and throwing out Jews, while followers of Prof. Alexander Cuza, outgoing Minister Without Portfolio, demolished Jews’ houses and attacked individual Jews.

Carol’s military dictatorship was not expected to bring any fundamental change in Jewish policy, but it was thought possible anti-Jewish measures would be less spectacular and drastic. (The Associated Press reported that Jewish leaders declared they had received assurances that they could continue normal business under the new regime.) Bank stocks rose thirty points, reflecting returning confidence. Quiet prevailed in Bucharest.


However, the Goga government’s decree for revision of Jews’ post-war naturalizations stands, although the regulations were expected to be modified to a certain extent. The term for submission of citizenship proofs to courts will be extended from Feb. 12 to March 10, it was learned. The revision continued during the day.

(The New York Times stated that the Juridical Committee on Wednesday ruled the royal decree for citizenship revision unconstitutional because it singles out the Jews for exceptional treatment, and asserted that this was the most serious blow dealt to the Goga government. It meant, the Times said, that a whole series of anti-Jewish decrees was also invalid, and “this seems to have been a fatal blow” to the Goga administration.)

The democratic newspapers suppressed by the Goga cabinet will not be allowed to re-appear under the Christea regime, it was understood.

Christea is known for his anti-Semitic declarations — he has demanded expulsion of the Jews from Rumania as “a plague” and has charged they were “sucking the marrow from the bone of the nation.” Several members of his coalition cabinet are also anti-Semites, including Ministers Without Portfolio Nicolae Jorga and Alexander Vaida-Voevod, Labor Minister Voicu Nitescu and Gen. Constantine Angelescu, Under secretary of State for the Army.

Conspicuously excluded from the cabinet were the National Peasant Party, whose head, Dr. Juliu Maniu, criticized the new government as a “dictatorship both anti-constitutional and anti-democratic,” the National Christians, (whose co-leader, Goga, called the new government a victory for Israel, according to the United Press), and the Iron Guard.


King Carol, after postponing indefinitely the Parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, issued a proclamation justifying the new government as a move “to safeguard the permanent interests of the Fatherland.”

“Propaganda spread in connection with various elections,” said the King, according to Havas, “caused trouble and uneasiness in the life and the soul of our people. From this has resulted a deeply harmful state of mind which has undermined the very existence of the nation. It is necessary to safeguard the permanent interests of the Fatherland.

“That is why I have formed a government of responsible men who, animated by the most perfect patriotism and freed of all party activities, will have a respite which will permit them to work exclusively for the good of the country. This government will remove the administration of the State from political influences and will carry out constitutional changes which correspond to the new needs and aspirations of the nation. I have decided to enter this new path with energy and the conviction which is salvation.”

National Peasant leader Maniu told newspapermen, according to Havas: “The New government is a government of dictatorship, both anti-constitutional and anti-democratic. It is a challenge to public opinion. It is particularly painful that the Patriarch placed his person and his dignity at the service of such a cause.”

The Iron Guard adopted a friendly policy of watchful waiting, Havas declared, while the Liberal Party, led by Vice-Premier Tatarescu, emphatically pledged its support to King Carol “in view of the dangers threatening the country.”

Christea, who become Patriarch in 1925, was one of three regents for three years after the death of King Ferdinand in 1927. He has attracted attention of late by a series of violent anti-Semitic statements. In one of these he said:

“The Jews have caused an epidemic of corruption and social unrest. They monopolize the press, which, with the aid of foreign help, continually flays all the spiritual treasures of the Rumanians. One feels like crying with pity for the good Rumanian nation, whose very marrow has been sucked from its bones by the Jews. To defend ourselves is a national and patriotic duty, not anti-Semitism. Lack of measures to get rid of this plague would indicate that we were lazy cowards who let ourselves be carried to our graves. Why should the Jews enjoy the privilege of living like parasites upon our backs? Why should we not get rid of these parasites who suck our Rumanian Christian blood? It is logical and holy to react against them.”

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