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Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu

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Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu

Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu
Ministry of Justice of Romania
In office
23 August 1944 – 23 February 1948
Preceded by Ion C. Marinescu
Succeeded by Avram Bunaciu
Personal details
Born (1900-11-04)4 November 1900
Bacau, Romania
Died 17 April 1954(1954-04-17) (aged 53)
Jilava Prison
Political party Communist Party
Spouse(s) Elena Pătrășcanu
Profession Lawyer
Religion Romanian Orthodoxy

Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu (Romanian pronunciation: ; November 4, 1900 – April 17, 1954) was a Romanian communist politician and leading member of the Communist Party of Romania (PCR), also noted for his activities as a lawyer, sociologist and economist. For a while, he was a professor at Bucharest University. The author of ample studies of social history, which expressed Marxist views, he was at the center of several controversies concerning his attitudes towards nationalism.

Pătrășcanu rose to a government position before the end of political prisoner and was ultimately executed; fourteen years after Pătrășcanu's death, Romania's new communist leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, endorsed his rehabilitation as part of a change in policy.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • 1930s 1.2
    • World War II imprisonment 1.3
    • 1944 negotiations and the fall of Foriș 1.4
    • August 23 and government position 1.5
    • Early conflicts with the party 1.6
    • 1946 elections 1.7
    • Marginalization 1.8
    • Securitate imprisonment and interrogations 1.9
    • Trial and execution 1.10
  • Rehabilitation 2
  • Sociology 3
    • Overlook 3.1
    • On feudalism and serfdom 3.2
    • On radicalism and reformism 3.3
    • On the 20th century 3.4
  • Personal life 4
  • In art 5
  • Published volumes 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Early life

Pătrășcanu was born in Bacău to a leading political family, as the son of Poporanist figure Dimitrie D. Pătrășcanu (Lucrețiu's mother was a scion of the Stoika family of Transylvanian petty nobility).[1] He became a Poporanist and later a socialist in his youth,[2] joining the Socialist Party of Romania in 1919,[3] and working as editor of its newspaper, Socialismul (1921).[4] Professionally, he was educated at the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Law (graduated 1922) and at the University of Leipzig (earning his Ph.D. in 1925).[5]

Increasingly radical after the success of the October Revolution,[6] he was one of the original members of the PCR (known as PCdR at the time) in 1921,[7] Pătrășcanu and Elek Köblös were the only two representatives of the group to the 4th Comintern Congress in Moscow (November–December 1922) who had been members of the Socialist Party.[8] Alongside the former socialists and the wing of members in exile were Ana and Marcel Pauker, both of whom opposed the former socialist group; Ana Pauker was to lead the so-called Muscovite wing of the party after she decided to remain inside the Soviet Union.[9] Back in Romania, Pătrășcanu was arrested and imprisoned at Jilava in 1924 (the year when the party was outlawed); he went on hunger strike until being relocated to a prison hospital.[5]

At the Kharkiv Congress of 1928, where he was present under the name Mironov,[10] Pătrășcanu clashed with the Comintern overseer Bohumír Šmeral, as well as with many of his fellow party members, over the issue of Bessarabia and Moldovenism, which was to be passed into a resolution stating that Greater Romania was an imperialist entity. Pătrășcanu argued:

"Moldovans are not a nation apart and — from a historical and geographical point of view — Moldovans are the same Romanians as the Romanians in Moldavia [on the right bank of the Prut River]. Thus, I believe that the introduction of such a false point renders the resolution itself false."[11]


With Imre Aladar, Eugen Rozvan, and two others, Pătrășcanu was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in May 1931 as a candidate for the Workers and Peasants' Bloc, an umbrella group masking the outlawed party.[12] Later in the same year, the 5th Party Congress (held in Soviet exile, at Gorikovo), chose him among the new Central Committee members — at the moment when Alexander Stefanski rose to the position of general secretary.[13]

In 1932, he was involved in polemics at the Criterion group, where he and his collaborator Belu Zilber defended a Stalinist view of Vladimir Lenin in front of criticism from the right-wing Mircea Vulcănescu and Mihail Polihroniade,[14] as well as from the Austromarxist perspective of Henri H. Stahl.[15]

Pătrășcanu again served as the PCdR's representative to the Comintern in 1933, and 1934 (remaining in Moscow until 1935),[16] during which time he is thought to have developed doubts about Stalinism itself.[17] He put these questions aside in order to prioritize opposition to

  • Anneli Maier, (1973), at the Open Society ArchivesThe Power And The Truth — A Political Play by Titus Popovici

External links

  • Dosarele Istoriei
    • 2/I, 1996:
      • Dragoș Drăgoescu, "Arma politică a reabilitărilor. Caruselul crimelor și liderii comuniști români" ("The Political Weapon of Rehabilitations. The Murder Carousel and Romanian Communist Leaders"), p. 20-34
      • Florin Müller, "Cu cărțile pe masă. Politică și istoriografie: Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu" ("Cards on the Table. Politics and Historiography: Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu"), p. 61-63
    • 10/III, 1998:
      • Ghorghe I. Ioniță, "Tezele Moscovei, ordin și pentru marionetele de la București. Cominternul, PCdR și problema națională" ("Moscow's Theses, Orders for the Bucharest Puppets. The Comintern, PCdR and the National Issue"), p. 42-47
  • (Romanian) Gabriela Antoniu, Claudiu Târziu, "Pătrășcanu a primit un glonț în ceafă" ("Pătrășcanu Received a Bullet in the Back of the Neck"), in Jurnalul Național, March 8, 2004
  • Daniel Barbu,
    • "Destinul colectiv, servitutea involuntară, nefericirea totalitară: trei mituri ale comunismului românesc" interbelică la communism" ("Collective Destiny, Involuntary Servitude, Totalitarian Misery: Three Myths of Romanian Communism"), in Lucian Boia, ed., Miturile comunismului românesc ("The Myths of Romanian Communism"), Editura Nemira, Bucharest, 1998, p. 175-197
    • Political Science in Romania, Country Report 1, at the Knowledge Base Social Sciences in Eastern Europe
  • Lucian Boia, History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness, Central European University Press, 2001
  • Lavinia Betea,
    • (Romanian) "Ambiția de a intra în istorie" ("The Ambition of Entering History"), in Magazin Istoric
    • (Romanian) "Antisovietismul lui Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu" ("Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu's Anti-Sovietism"), in Jurnalul Național, November 1, 2005
    • "Portret în gri. Pătrăşcanu - deputat de Arad" ("Portrait in Grey. Pătrăşcanu - a Deputy for Arad"), in Magazin Istoric, June 1998
    • (Romanian) "«Recunoștința» Partidului față de cei care l-au subvenționat" ("The Party's «Recognition» towards Those Who Had Financed It"), in Magazin Istoric
  • Tudor Caranfil, "Despre destin și istorie, cu Ionel Mocsony Stârcea, baron de Foen" ("On Destiny and History, with Ionel Mocsony Stârcea, baron de Foen", interview with Mocsony Stârcea), in Magazin Istoric, November 1995
  • (Romanian) Emil Cernea, ("The Crisis of Law in Romania"). Cap. II: "Revendicarea unei noi repartiții a proprietății funciare" ("The Call for a New Repartition of Land Ownership")Criza dreptului în România
  • (Romanian) Ionuț Chiva, Adrian Șchiop, "Boierii comuniști" ("The Communist Boyars", interview with Dimitrie Calimachi, the son of Scarlat Callimachi), in Prezent, November 21, 2006
  • (Romanian) Adrian Cioroianu, Pe umerii lui Marx. O introducere în istoria comunismului românesc ("On the Shoulders of Marx. An Incursion into the History of Romanian Communism"), Editura Curtea Veche, Bucharest, 2005
  • Tony Cliff, , II: "Were There Victorious Proletarian Revolutions in Eastern Europe?"On the Class Nature of the "People’s Democracies", at the Marxists Internet Archive
  • (Romanian) Victor Frunză, Istoria stalinismului în România ("The History of Stalinism in Romania"), Humanitas, Bucharest, 1990
  • (Romanian) Sanda Golopenția, (The Inquisitors)")Ultima carte de Anton Golopenția (Anchetatorii)" ("Introduction to Anton Golopenția's Ultima carte"Introducere la , at
  • (Romanian) Cicerone Ionițoiu, ("Unmarked Graves. Contributions to the Chronicle of Romanian Resistance against Dictatorship"), Vol. IIMorminte fără cruce. Contribuții la cronica rezistenței românești împotriva dictaturii"Procesul Pătrășcanu" ("The Pătrășcanu Trial"), in
  • Z. Ornea, Anii treizeci. Extrema dreaptă românească ("The Thirties: the Far Right in Romania"), Ed. Fundației Culturale Române, Bucharest, 1995
  • (Romanian) Marta Petreu, "Generația '27 între Holocaust și Gulag" ("The '27 Generation between the Holocaust and the Gulag"), Part I, in Revista 22, Nr.676, February 2003
  • T. A. Pokilvailova, "Metode de desfășurare a alegerilor din România" ("Methods through Which the Romanian Elections Were Carried Out"), in Magazin Istoric, November 1995
  • (Romanian) Mihai Rădulescu, ("Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu's Tragedy")Tragedia lui Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, interview with Corneliu Coposu
  • (Romanian) Henri H. Stahl, ("Thinkers and Trends in Romanian Social History"), Cap.X: "Doctrina comunistă a lui Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu (1901-1954)" ("The Communist Doctrine of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu (1901-1954)")Gânditori și curente de istorie socială românească
  • Stelian Tănase, "Belu Zilber" (fragments of O istorie a comunismului românesc interbelic, "A History of Romanian Interwar Communism"), in Revista 22, August 2003: Part I (Nr.700), Part II (Nr.701), Part III (Nr.702)
  • Vladimir Tismăneanu, Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2003, ISBN 0-520-23747-1


  1. ^ Mocsony Stârcea, in Caranfil, p.30. The Pătrășcanu branch of the family was also described as "of low-ranking Moldavian boyars" by historian Stelian Tănase, who also argued that Pătrășcanu had been confronted with criticism that he was "a salon communist" (Tănase, "Belu Zilber".I)
  2. ^ Cioroianu, p.236-238
  3. ^ Cioroianu, p.238-239
  4. ^ Cioroianu, p.239
  5. ^ a b Cioroianu, p.240
  6. ^ Cioroianu, p.238
  7. ^ Cioroianu, p.34; Tismăneanu, p.48
  8. ^ Cioroianu, p.34; Frunză, p.39
  9. ^ Cioroianu, p.239-240; Frunză, p.38-39
  10. ^ Cioroianu, p.37; Ioniță, p.45
  11. ^ Pătrășcanu, in Ioniță, p.45
  12. ^ Frunză, p.148-149; Tismăneanu, p.72
  13. ^ Cioroianu, p.39; Tismăneanu, p.72
  14. ^ Ornea, p.150
  15. ^ Petreu, "O generație apolitică, paricidă, autohtonistă, experiențialistă, antipașoptistă"; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  16. ^ Editor's note in Caranfil, p.30; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  17. ^ Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  18. ^ Cioroianu, p.234
  19. ^ Chiva & Şchiop
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Betea, "Ambiţia..."
  21. ^ Editor's note in Caranfil, p.29
  22. ^ a b Mocsony Stârcea, in Caranfil, p.30
  23. ^ Frunză, p.131; Rădulescu
  24. ^ a b Rădulescu
  25. ^ Cioroianu, p.49-50, 62; Frunză, p.400-402; Rădulescu
  26. ^ Barbu, "Destinul colectiv...", p.188; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  27. ^ a b Betea, "Antisovietismul..."
  28. ^ Barbu, "Destinul colectiv...", p.188-190
  29. ^ Cioroianu, p.232
  30. ^ Frunză, p.214-215; Rădulescu
  31. ^ Cioroianu, p.226, 232-233; Frunză, p.227, 471
  32. ^ a b Cliff
  33. ^ The New York Times, in Cliff
  34. ^ Cioroianu, p.226-227
  35. ^ Cioroianu, p.92-93, 175, 177, 195, 222, 234-235, 262; Tismăneanu, p.114
  36. ^ Apostol, in Antoniu et al.
  37. ^ Cioroianu, p.177, 184-195
  38. ^ Cioroianu, p.179
  39. ^ Declaration of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, November 18, 1949, ASRI, Fond P, Dosar 40002, Vol. 1, p. 113; cited in Robert Levy, Ana Pauker: The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Communist, Berkeley and Los Angeles: 2001,, p. 139, 315, n. 46
  40. ^ Cioroianu, p.241-244, 255-256, 261-262
  41. ^ Cioroianu, p.241, 248-251, 254-255
  42. ^ Cioroianu, p.252
  43. ^ a b Pătrășcanu, in Betea, "Ambiția..."
  44. ^ a b Pokivailova, p.13
  45. ^ Cioroianu, p.225-226
  46. ^ Pătrășcanu, June 1946, in Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37
  47. ^ Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.38-39
  48. ^ Gheorghiu-Dej during a PCR Central Committee plenum, November 1946, in Frunză, p.362, in Tismăneanu, p.114
  49. ^ Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37
  50. ^ Betea, "Antisovietismul..."; Cioroianu, p.224, 246-247, 261
  51. ^ Cioroianu, p.247, 253-254
  52. ^ Boia, p.275; Cioroianu, p.261-262
  53. ^ Zilber, rendered in Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III; in Tismăneanu, p.75, 114
  54. ^ Frunză, p.359-360; Tismăneanu, p.114
  55. ^ Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  56. ^ Frunză, p.362
  57. ^ Frunză, p.360-361
  58. ^ Drăgoescu, p.23; Frunză, p.363
  59. ^ a b Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III
  60. ^ Cioroianu, p.201; Drăgoescu, p.23
  61. ^ a b Drăgoescu, p.23
  62. ^ Drăgoescu, p.24
  63. ^ Tismăneanu, p.106
  64. ^ Frunză, p.402
  65. ^ Pătrășcanu and his SSI handlers revealed this in subsequent interrogations or statements; cited in Levy, p. 145, 318, note 99.
  66. ^ Levy, Ana Pauker, p. 146.
  67. ^ Levy, Ana Pauker, p. 147-148.
  68. ^ Pătrășcanu, in Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37
  69. ^ Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.36, 37; Drăgoescu, p.24
  70. ^ Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.39
  71. ^ a b c Betea, "Recunoștința..."
  72. ^ "Report on the Party Commission Established to Clarify the Situation of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, submitted to the Party Leadership on June 29, 1968," Executive Archive of the Central Committee of the R.C.P., pp. 43-44; cited in Levy, Ana Pauker, p. 149, note 133.
  73. ^ Levy, Ana Pauker, p. 149, 321, note 137.
  74. ^ Betea, "Recunoștința..."; Drăgoescu, p.24, 25; Golopenția
  75. ^ Levy, Ana Pauker, p. 150-151.
  76. ^ Drăgoescu, p.24-25; Ionițoiu; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III
  77. ^ Cioroianu, p.398; Drăgoescu, p.25-26; Ioniţoiu
  78. ^ Drăgoescu, p.25; Frunză, p.408-409
  79. ^ Pătrășcanu, in Drăgoescu, p.26
  80. ^ Frunză, p.401, 409; Golopenția; Ionițoiu; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  81. ^ Cioroianu, p.228; Ionițoiu
  82. ^ Tănase, "Belu Zilber".I
  83. ^ Boia, p.256; Cioroianu, p.233, 397-399
  84. ^ Analele Institutului de Studii Istorice și Social-Politice de pe lângă CC al PCR, in Müller, p.62
  85. ^ Betea, "Recunoștința..."; Drăgoescu, p.25; Golopenția
  86. ^ Drăgoescu, p.25
  87. ^ Drăgoescu, p.26
  88. ^ a b Cioroianu, p.398-399
  89. ^ Rendered in Cioroianu, p.399
  90. ^ Boia, p.256; Cioroianu, p.233; Müller, p.61
  91. ^ Betea, "Antisovietismul..."; Cioroianu, p.223-224, 230-231; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II
  92. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Stahl
  93. ^ Barbu, Political Science in Romania
  94. ^ a b Pătrășcanu, in Stahl
  95. ^ Cernea; Stahl
  96. ^ Pătrăşcanu, in Cernea
  97. ^ Cioroianu, p.250-251; Stahl
  98. ^ Cioroianu, p.251-253; Stahl
  99. ^ Cioroianu, p.249
  100. ^ a b Cioroianu, p.255
  101. ^ Cioroianu, p.255-256
  102. ^ Cioroianu, p.256
  103. ^ Cioroianu, p.256-259, 260
  104. ^ Pătrășcanu, in Cioroianu, p.262
  105. ^ Antoniu et al.
  106. ^ Ionițoiu
  107. ^ Cioroianu, p.229-230
  108. ^ Cioroianu, p.229


  • Un veac de frământări sociale, 1821-1907 (A Century of Social Unrest, 1821-1907)
  • Probleme de bază ale României (Fundamental Problems of Romania)
  • Sub trei dictaturi (Under Three Dictatorships)
  • Curente și tendințe în filozofia românească (Schools of Thought and Tendencies in Romanian Philosophy)

Published volumes

In his 1993 film The Mirror (Începutul adevărului, also known as Oglinda), Sergiu Nicolaescu cast Șerban Ionescu as Pătrășcanu.

[108] in cultural contacts with the outside world.propaganda was translated into several languages and used as official Puterea și adevărul For a while after its publication, [107]

In art

The Pătrășcanus had no children.

Elena Pătrășcanu was also a party activist, and was instrumental in maintaining links between her husband and other Communist leaders during the early stages of World War II.[20] Implicated in the trial and forced to testify against Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, she was given eight years in prison.[106]

Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu was married to Elena, born Herta Schwamen, who had a career as a stage designer (employed, with Lena Constante, by the Țăndărică Theater in Bucharest). Elena, who was Jewish, avoided the first wave of official anti-Semitic persecutions at the end of the 1930s (under the Octavian Goga government) by converting to the Romanian Orthodox Church (she was baptized by the socialist sympathiser Gala Galaction).[105]

Personal life

The arguably most influential of Pătrășcanu's writings remains his analysis of the Romanian intelligentsia, part of Probleme de bază ale României.[102] Transcending Leninist rhetoric, the work postulates a characteristic inability of Romanian intellectuals in sacrificing petty politics for the common good, and argues that Romanian elites, while in subservience to the State, have traditionally been attracted to extremism.[103] On one instance in 1945, when theorizing about intellectual déclassés, he proposed their neutralization and systematic supervision".[104]

Arguing in favor of a Romanian communist society during the late 1940s, Pătrășcanu indicated a series of essential steps to this goal: after discarding all legislation passed by the Ion Antonescu regime and purging the administrative apparatus, a political amnesty was to be declared, all properties upwards of 50 hectares were to be confiscated, the National Bank passed into state property while trade unions came under government supervision and a new labour code was enforced, and civil liberties were enhanced.[100] Ultimately, a new people's democratic government was to be imposed, removing all forms of antisemitism and chauvinism from public discourse and preserving good relations with the Soviet Union.[100] Polemically, Pătrășcanu theorized that all these steps were "democratic-bourgeois", and not socialist in their essence.[101]

While endorsing some aspects of Dobrogeanu-Gherea's theories regarding the ways in which serfdom was allegedly prolonged, in a discreet form, even after the 20th century, Pătrășcanu challenged his refusal to investigate the effects of capitalism in rural areas.[92] According to Pătrășcanu, the establishment of estate leaseholders, which he viewed as the cause for the 1907 revolt and other, more minor, peasant rebellions, was not a sign of prolonged feudalism, but one of capitalist penetration into agriculture.[98] Contradicting the Social Democratic ideologists Lothar Rădăceanu and Șerban Voinea (whom he accused of having lost contact with the working class), Pătrășcanu theorized that the Romanian petite bourgeoisie was shrinking under pressure from successful capitalists, while rejecting the notion that civil servants belonged to the middle class.[99]

As part of his reflection on post-1900 realities, Pătrășcanu contended that, relatively delayed in comparison to economies of the Western world, Romania had become subject to "primitive accumulation of capital", where the role of colonialism was taken by exploitation of the peasantry.[92] Like Madgearu, he appealed to the works of Rudolf Hilferding, but used them as a basis to argue that foreign capital was being accumulated inside Romania, and only transferred further through a limited number of industries.[92] The Marxist historian Henri H. Stahl has challenged this particular thesis, calling it "highly questionable".[92]

On the 20th century

These views placed Pătrășcanu in opposition to other left-wing authors in Romania — namely, the influential Poporanists, most of whom had emphasized various contradictions between the Marxian model and local realities, using Junimea's theory as a fundament (aside from Pătrășcanu's own father, these included his contemporary Virgil Madgearu and, to a certain degree, the Marxist Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea).[92] In parallel, Pătrășcanu's theories were in sharp contrast with those held by advocates of economic liberalism, and especially with Ștefan Zeletin's.[97]

In analyzing the history of liberalism and radicalism in Romania, he concluded that many of the most extreme social reformists had rallied in opposition to land reform (he saw this phenomenon as having made possible the toppling of Romania's Domnitor Alexandru Ioan Cuza, whom he saw as a supporter of industrialization).[92] He extended this criticism to socialist groups other than his own, arguing that the prevalent reformism was "the cult of legalism".[96]

The Wallachian Revolution of 1848, the most successful of similar revolts at the time, was, according to Pătrășcanu, a mature reaction of bourgeois circles against boyar supremacy[92] ("it only sought [...] to replace a [privileged] minority with another"),[94] but was generally not opposed to preserving an estate-based economy.[92] He similarly rejected Junimea's traditional criticism of post-1848 realities, indicating that, in its theory of "forms without substance", the group had failed to note that, as a means to preserve several conservative tenets, Westernization in Romania had willingly, and not accidentally, adopted an incomplete form.[95]

On radicalism and reformism

Pătrășcanu contended that the first relevant social conflict had occurred in 1821, at the time of Tudor Vladimirescu's Wallachian uprising. He rejected the notion that, despite Vladimirescu's statements to the contrary, the rebellion had a peasant character, and argued instead that it was evidence of low-ranking boyars and merchants ("the embryo of a Social class, that was to become the bourgeoisie")[94] attempting to emancipate themselves from Ottoman pressures.[92] In his view, its nationalist character (see Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire) had been manipulated by high-ranking boyars as a measure to dissuade adverse reactions to privileges.[92]

[92].Marxian economics (which he also noted), the local economy had not contrasted with the stages postulated by underdevelopment rules. Thus, despite characteristic Phanariote force inside Romanian economy during the time of reactionary had manifested itself mainly as a capitalism In his view, [92] According to Pătrășcanu,

On feudalism and serfdom

Aside from its support for communist tenets, his work shared many characteristics with the prominent currents of the Romanian sociological school (notably, the attention paid to prevailing social contrasts in a peasant-dominated environment),[93] and made occasional use of material provided by Dimitrie Gusti's comprehensive surveys.[92]

In his most important volumes (most of which attracted public attention only after 1944),[92] Pătrășcanu combined his commitment to Marxism-Leninism with his sociological training, producing an original outlook on social evolution (focusing on major trends in Romanian society from the time of the Danubian Principalities to his day).[92]



Ceaușescu profited on the enduring perception of Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu's activities as patriotic and verging on dissidence, while shadowing his fundamental role in the creation of the new penal system in Romania. In fact, although he was frequently quoted and displayed by the regime, Pătrășcanu's life was usually described in brief and vague sentences.[90] In popular discourse, Pătrășcanu was also largely identified with positive causes, and remained among the most popular Communist figures after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 toppled the regime.[91]

At the Party Plenum in late April 1968, Ceaușescu used Pătrășcanu's case and other ones to single out the negative influence of Drăghici and Iosif Chișinevschi, while also placing suspicion on Emil Bodnăraș and [89]

A party committee which included Ion Popescu-Puțuri[61] investigated the matter of his arrest and interrogation, concluding that evidence against Pătrășcanu was fabricated, that he had been systematically beaten and otherwise ill-treated, and that a confession had been prepared for him to sign.[85] This was coupled with various irregularities in procedures (such as the court having been given only 24 hours to assess evidence from years of investigation, and the death penalty having been decided by the party leadership before being imposed on the panel of judges).[86] Evidence was also presented that some of the false confessions were designed as political weapons in internal party struggles (implicating names of politicians who were not facing trial at the time).[87]

"[...] the party leadership has uncovered the anti-party line which Alexandru Drăghici, encouraged by servile, uncultured, and decaying elements, has introduced to the [Securitate] bodies' activities, attempting to remove them from party control and to erect them into supreme bodies standing above party and state leadership, thus causing serious harm to activity in various domains, including that of scientific research."[84]

He was posthumously rehabilitated in April 1968 by Nicolae Ceaușescu, in the latter's attempt to discredit his predecessors and establish his own legitimacy.[83] The main target of this campaign, as indicated by a Central Committee resolution, was Drăghici:


Belu Zilber, the first of the group to give in to Securitate pressures and confessed to the charges, was verbally attacked by Pătrășcanu inside the courthouse — Pătrășcanu notably accused him of having invented the entire conspiracy account.[82] Records of their various interrogations show that both he and Calmanovici identified Emil Bodnăraș as the main instigator of their downfall.[71]

[81] The actions taken against Pătrășcanu and others signaled the start of a wave of arrests and prison sentences, including that of his wife, as well as those of

"I have nothing to say, except [that I] spit on the charges brought against me."[79]

Pătrășcanu refused to be represented by a lawyer, and even to organize his own defense. Aside from some outbursts against the prosecutors, he stated:

In preparation for the procedures, the Securitate took direct inspiration from the Slánský trials in Communist Czechoslovakia (where a team of Romanian officers had been sent to take notes) and, possibly, from the Soviet Trial of the Twenty One (which was allegedly used as template for Calmanovici's fabricated confession).[71]

Pătrășcanu was kept in detention until 1954, when he was executed, with Koffler, in Jilava, near Bucharest, after a show trial overseen by Iosif Chișinevschi.[77] It is possible that he was tortured throughout the questioning conducted on direct orders from the Securitate's Alexandru Drăghici, and he had one leg amputated for unknown reasons before his trial.[78]

Trial and execution

Serious questions remain on the positions of the various Romanian Communist leaders on the Pătrășcanu case. The matter has not been satisfactorily resolved in the Romanian archives, for the simple reason that all records and transcripts of Politburo and Secretariat discussions on Pătrășcanu were summarily destroyed on Gheorghiu-Dej's orders.[72] In any case, no piece of evidence or confession was obtained by the inquiry until after May 1952—that is, after the purge of [73] The Central Committee plenum that purged them assigned the Pătrășcanu investigation to a team of Securitate officials and their Soviet advisors, directly supervised by Alexandru Drăghici, Alexandru Nicolschi, and Vladimir Mazuru.[74] Under this new team, torture and beating began to be employed in interrogations in the Pătrășcanu case for the first time in the fall of 1952.[75] In time, authorities also alleged that, before 1944, Pătrășcanu, like Zilber, had acted as an agent of Siguranța Statului.[76]

He was accused of having been financed by "bourgeois" figures during the electoral campaign, and even of having been bought by agents of the United States[69] or of planning, together with Ioan Mocsony Stârcea and Titoist agents, an "imperialist" insurrection in Săvârșin.[70] The latter allegation also surfaced in the parallel investigations of Koffler and Emil Calmanovici.[71]

It was in 1951 that Pătrășcanu responded to the charges voiced by Gheorghiu-Dej after the Cluj incident, indicating that he had attempted to "answer to the Hungarian revisionist campaign", as well as to aid his party in competing with the appeal of the National Peasants' Party among Romanians in Transylvania (to "take the weapon that was Transylvania away from Maniu supporters' hands").[68] He also criticized his own advocacy of a PCR alliance with the National Liberal Party.[20]

Immediately after his second suicide attempt, the Pătrășcanu inquiry was transferred to the Interior Ministry, where it was suspended for a six-month period to enable officers to determine a factual basis in the case.[66] When the inquiry resumed in February 1951, Interior Minister Mișu Dulgheru, reached the conclusion that there was no basis to continue Pătrășcanu's prosecution—and did so while the Soviet advisers were away on their summer vacation. When the advisers returned, they angrily vetoed any closing of the Pătrășcanu inquiry.[67]

The day after the SSI began its inquiry, Pătrășcanu attempted suicide by slitting his veins with a smuggled razor blade; upon his recovery, he tried to take his life a second time by swallowing an overdose of sleeping pills.[65]

In the fall of 1949, Ștefan Foriș.[64]

[61]) had been keeping him under surveillance from as early as the summer of 1946.Securitate (which was soon to become the secret police His file indicates that the [60] On April 28, 1948, Pătrășcanu was arrested and came under the investigation of a party committee, comprising the high-ranking Communists

Securitate imprisonment and interrogations

Belu Zilber claimed that, having himself been subject to suspicion and marginalization, he had attempted to warn Pătrășcanu of the change in climate, and had asked him to consider fleeing the Eastern Bloc, only to be stiffly rebuffed.[59] Zilber was eventually arrested in February 1948, on suspicion that he had been a Siguranța Statului agent infiltrating the party.[59]

[58] The VIth Party Congress in February 1948 did not confirm his Central Committee membership, and in the months following the event, he was removed from government office.[57] He was progressively marginalized inside the Party: his texts became subject to

[55] In 1946-1947, Pătrășcanu was nevertheless a member of the Tătărescu-headed Romanian delegation to the


Pătrășcanu soon received harsh criticism from Gheorghiu-Dej, who branded the views expressed as "chauvinism" and "revisionism".[48] In parallel, the National Peasants' Party, as the main force opposing the PCR, published praises of Pătrășcanu in its paper Dreptatea, until Pătrășcanu met with the editor, Nicolae Carandino, and explained that such articles were harming his image inside the Communist Party.[49] Nevertheless, Pătrășcanu's writings of the time show that, in contrast with his 1928 point of view, he had largely accommodated Leninist principles regarding the national issue and Bessarabian topics,[50] although he used more neutral terms than the ones present in official propaganda,[51] and was known to have deplored the unwillingness of the PCR to reduce and refine its internationalist policies.[52]

He ran for the position of deputy in Arad County, and won through various electoral frauds (in Arad's case, forty inspectors nominated by the government had sole control over counting and recording the results).[47]

"In the name of the government and of the PCR, I raise my voice against border changes [in connection with the disputed status of newly-recovered Northern Transylvania]. Democratic Romania ensures equal rights to coinhabiting nationalities, but the Magyar population needs to understand that its belonging to the Romanian state is definitive. Nobody has the right to debate our borders."[46]

Responding to Hungarian-Romanian clashes, Pătrășcanu gave a speech in the city of Cluj, one in which he attempted to identify communism and patriotism.[45] It stated:

During the campaign preceding the rigged elections of 1946, he was actively involved in the PCR's electoral campaign in Transylvania, and, after drought and famine surfaced in several other areas of Romania, he attempted to persuade the peasants of Arad County to sell their wheat harvest to the government, to be used as aid.[44] Received with suspicion, he later reported that he had eventually been able to carry out the task.[44]

1946 elections

A serious break with the party line occurred in early 1946, when Pătrășcanu decided to take initiative and intervened in the standoff between King Michael I and the Petru Groza executive (an episode colloquially known as greva regală, "the royal strike"); with the help of Lena Constante, he approached the anti-communist figures Victor Rădulescu-Pogoneanu and Grigore Niculescu-Buzești, calling on them to convince the monarch to resume communications with his government.[20]

Although, overall, Pătrășcanu was argued to have been much less revolutionary-minded than various other PCR ideologues,[40] his original perspective on National Liberal Party-Tătărescu, which he called "a gang of con artists, blackmailers, and well-known bribers").[43]

[39] Historiography is divided over the possibility of Pătrășcanu having initially allied himself with the PCR's second in command,

Around February 1945, he began to fear the possibility that Ștefan Foriș).[20] Consequently, he attempted to block Bodnăraș's rise to power, and denounced his reputedly corrupt activities as Secretary in the Interior Ministry to the other members of the leadership.[20]

[36] [35] During the late 1940s, he is thought to have begun expressing his opposition to strict Stalinist guidelines; at the same time, Pătrășcanu had become suspect to the rest of the party leadership for his intellectual approach to socialism.

Early conflicts with the party

Pătrășcanu put pressure on King Michael to sign legislation that went against the letter of the 1923 Constitution, which contributed to the latter's decision to initiate the "royal strike" (a refusal to countersign documents issued by the Groza executive).[34]

Citing a statement by Pătrășcanu rendered by The New York Times, British Trotskyist commentator Tony Cliff extended his critique of the people's democracies of the Eastern Bloc to the realm of justice systems and retribution for war crimes.[32] According to the American newspaper, Pătrășcanu had reassured media that "industrialists, businessmen and bankers will escape punishment as war criminals";[33] Cliff also argued that the new course in justice had failed to alter what he saw as Romania's "bureaucratic and militarist character".[32]

After the ascension of the Petru Groza government, Pătrășcanu was also one of the initiators of purges and persecutions, being responsible for dismissing and arresting members of the civil service who were considered suspect, for the creation of the Romanian People's Tribunals, as well as the appointment of prosecutors (promoting Avram Bunaciu, Constanța Crăciun, and Alexandra Sidorovici).[31]

was considered leader of the party's "Secretariat Communists" (perceived as less willing to follow Stalin's directions). [30] During

The collaboration led to the arrest of Ion Antonescu and Mihai Antonescu at the Royal Palace in Bucharest, during the August 23 Coup (1944). Pătrășcanu authored the proclamation to the country which the king read on National Radio immediately after the coup,[26] and, confronting the new Premier Constantin Sănătescu, imposed himself as a PCR representative on the delegation that signed Romania's armistice with the Soviets, on September 12, 1944.[27] Present in Moscow, he contacted Ana Pauker and Vasile Luca through their overseer Andrey Vyshinsky, reestablishing communication between the two major sections of the PCR.[27] Pătrășcanu joined the Central Committee in 1945—after having returned to Romania with the Red Army late in 1944—and was largely responsible for the success his party had in controlling Romania's legal framework for the following years.[28]

August 23 and government position

According to Mocsony Stârcea, Pătrășcanu was responsible for a compromise between the Communist Party and institutions of the Romanian monarchy (allegedly assuring the king that it was not his party's intent to proclaim a republic without a previous referendum on the matter).[22] Coposu also stated that, through Pătrășcanu, the Communist Party had entered negotiations with the other opposition groups with the pledge of having abandoned its previous theses regarding the Romanian state.[24]

[20] Pătrășcanu (together with

In April, Pătrășcanu was contacted by Ioan Mocsony Stârcea, baron de Foen, marshal of King Michael I's court between 1942 and 1944, who mediated an agreement between the monarch and the Communists regarding a pro-Allied move to overthrow Antonescu and withdraw Romania, which was fighting the Soviets on the Eastern Front, from the Axis.[22]

1944 negotiations and the fall of Foriș

In 1941, following the Legionary Rebellion, he was again arrested by the regime of Conducător Ion Antonescu. After a release from camp for health reasons in 1943, he was under house arrest in Poiana Țapului; allowed to settle in Bucharest later in that year, he remained under supervision in May 1944.[21]

Like his fellow activist Amicii URSS ("Friends of the USSR").[20]

Pătrășcanu was imprisoned during

World War II imprisonment


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