Scores of armed resistance groups formed in the wake of General Ion Antonescu’s resignation as the ruler of Romania on 23 August 1944 and the gradual establishment of Communist rule. Although the most famous of these groups were tightly coordinated bands firmly ensconced in the mountains under the leadership of charismatic individuals such as Ion Gavrilă-Ogoranu and Toma Arnăuțoiu, the majority were small, loosely-organized networks of people who took up arms for a variety of reasons, including out of fear that they would be targeted by the communists because of their fascist pasts. National Liberals and Peasantists were reluctant to join forces with former legionaries even though they were happy to cooperate with antisemites who had been affiliated with other extremist right-wing parties such as the National Christian Party. For others, being a legionary was the epitome of what it meant to be anti-communist. This chapter examines how the myth of the Legion shaped armed resistance to the Romanian Communist Party during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It argues that reframing memories of the Legion for a Cold War audience shaped armed resistance in significant ways, from alienating potential collaborators to forcing people into resistance out of fear of reprisals for their past affiliations and motiving young people who needed an ideology they could appropriate.
The end of the Second World war did not mean the end of violence for many regions in Eastern Europe. The establishment of Communist-led governments often met not only civil but also armed resistance. These actions were taken by partisan groups and paramilitary forces which in some cases had been formed already during the war to support axis forces. In other cases – like Poland’s Armia Krajowa – they fought Nazi and Soviet occupiers with the same fervour. The aims of the ﬁghters were the end of Communist rule and – like in the Baltic region – independence from the Soviet Union. Diﬃculties in accessing sources and research taboos as well as a focus on other aspects of the Cold War are reasons why violent resistance in Europe after the Second World War is a topic yet rather underestimated and comparably little investigated by historiography. This book gives a comprehensive ﬁrst overview of the ultimately futile attempts to end the rule of Moscow and her proxies.