Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Codreanu Profile

Full Name Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Titles Conducător of Romania
Born 13 September 1899

Huşi, Romania

Allegiance Flag-ROM national populist Romania
Political Party Legion of the Archangel Michael

(Iron Guard)

Corneliu Codreanu (born Corneliu Zelinski on 13 September 1899) is a Romania politician and the current Conducător (Leader) of Romania and Căpitanul (Captain) of the Legion of the Archangel Michael, commonly known as the Iron Guard.


Early Life

Corneliu Codreanu was born to Elizabeth (née Brunner) and Ion Zelea Codreanu. Ion would later become a political figure within his son's movement. A native of Bucovina in Austria-Hungary, Ion originally used the family name of Zelinski and his wife was an ethnic German. Speculation was rampant that Ion was originally a Rusyn is in contrast with the Romanian chauvinism he embraced for the rest of his life.

When Romania entered the Weltkrieg in 1916, Corneliu was too young for conscription, though he nonetheless tried his best to enlist. He was educated at the military school in Bacău where he was a colleague of Petre Pandrea, the future left-wing activist. In 1919 he moved to Iaşi.

Time in the GCN

Codreanu studied law in Iaşi. In late 1919, he joined the short-lived Garda Conştiinţei Naţionale (GCN) (National Awareness Guard), a group formed by the electrician Constantin Pancu. The GCN attempted to revive loyalism within the proletariat while offering an alternative to Communism by promising to advocate increased labour rights.

As with other reactionary groups, the GCN won the tacit support of General Alexandru Averescu and his increasingly popular People's Party. Averescu's ascension to power in 1920 engendered a new period of social troubles in the larger urban areas. The GCN, in which Codreanu thought he could see the nucleus of nationalist trade unions, became active in crushing strike actions.

Rise to Power

In 1923, Codreanu founded the National-Christian Defense League together with A.C. Cuza, which was renamed in 1925 to the Legion of the Archangel Michael, popularly known as the Iron Guard. After the death of King Ferdinand in 1927, the military seized power and installed his grandson, Michael, as king. Over the years, they collaborated with various right-wing groups, including the Iron Guard. Codreanu would eventually manage to acquire more and more power, and in 1935 he ousted the part of the military government that still opposed him. Codreanu became head of state of the newly renamed Romanian National-Legionary State, as the new Conducător.

Codreanu wrote an autobiography in 1933 describing his views and how he formed the party that would, later on, become the only one in Romania. It has been translated into 7 languages, including English.