Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu

Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu

Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (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.

Pătrăşcanu rose to a government position before the end of World War II and, after having disagreed with Stalinist tenets on several occasions, eventually came into conflict with the Romanian Communist government of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. He became a political prisoner and was ultimately executed; fourteen years after Pătrăşcanu's death, Romania's new communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu, endorsed his rehabilitation as part of a change in policy.


Early life

Pătrăşcanu was born in Bacău to a leading political family, as the son of Poporanist figure Dumitru D. Pătrăşcanu (Lucreţiu's mother was a scion of the Stoika family of Transylvanian small nobility). [Mocsony Stârcea, in Caranfil, p.30. The Pătrăşcanu branch of the family was also described as "of low-ranking Moldavian boyars" by historian Stelian Tănase, who also argued that Pătrăşcanu had been confronted with criticism that he was "a salon communist" (Tănase, "Belu Zilber".I)] He became a Poporanist and later a socialist in his youth, [Cioroianu, p.236-238] joining the Socialist Party of Romania in 1919, [Cioroianu, p.238-239] and working as editor of its newspaper, "Socialismul" (1921). [Cioroianu, p.239] Professionally, he was educated at the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Law (graduated 1922) and at the University of Leipzig (earning his PhD in 1925). [Cioroianu, p.240]

Increasingly radical after the success of the October Revolution, [Cioroianu, p.238] he was one of the original members of the PCR (known as PCdR at the time) in 1921, [Cioroianu, p.34; Tismăneanu, p.48] Pătrăşcanu 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. [Cioroianu, p.34; Frunză, p.39] 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. [Cioroianu, p.239-240; Frunză, p.38-39] Back in Romania, Pătrăşcanu 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. [Cioroianu, p.240]

At the Kharkiv Congress of 1928, where he was present under the name "Mironov", [Cioroianu, p.37; Ioniţă, p.45] Pătrăşcanu clashed with the Comintern overseer Bohumír Šmeral, as well as with many his fellow party members, over the issue of Bessarabia and Moldovenism, which was to be passed into a resolution proposing that Greater Romania was an imperialist entity. Pătrăşcanu 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." [Pătrăşcanu, in Ioniţă, p.45]


With Imre Aladar, Eugen Rozvan, and two others, Pătrăşcanu 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. [Frunză, p.148-149; Tismăneanu, p.72] Later in the same year, the Vth 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. [Cioroianu, p.39; Tismăneanu, p.72]

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, [Ornea, p.150] as well as from the Austromarxist perspective of Henri H. Stahl. [Petreu, "O generaţie apolitică, paricidă, autohtonistă, experienţialistă, antipaşoptistă"; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II]

Pătrăşcanu again served as the PCdR's representative to the Comintern in 1933, and 1934 (remaining in Moscow until 1935), [Editor's note in Caranfil, p.30; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II] during which time he is thought to have developed doubts about Stalinism itself. [Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II] He put these questions aside in order to prioritize opposition to fascism, and remained active in the PCR. In 1936, he was heading the defense team of PCR members who were facing a much-publicized trial in Craiova, but was himself denounced as a communist and consequently handed the position to Ion Gheorghe Maurer. [Cioroianu, p.234]

World War II imprisonment

Pătrăşcanu was imprisoned during World War II and, after August 1940, spent time at the Târgu Jiu internment camp with Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and the "prison faction" of the Party (the communists inside Romania, virtually all imprisoned at various stages of the war, as opposed to those who had taken refuge inside the Soviet Union).

Like his fellow activist Scarlat Callimachi, he was set free by the National Legionary Government — at a time when the fascist Iron Guard, who allied Romania with Nazi Germany, was trying to preserve good relations with the Soviet Union. [Chiva & Şchiop] He subsequently followed orders from Teohari Georgescu to re-create a defunct outlet of the party, the cultural society "Amicii URSS" ("Friends of the USSR"). [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

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 Ţapului; allowed to settle in Bucharest later in that year, he remained under supervision in May 1944. [Editor's note in Caranfil, p.29]

1944 negotiations and the fall of Foriş

In April, Pătrăşcanu was contacted by Ionel 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. [Mocsony Stârcea, in Caranfil, p.30]

Pătrăşcanu (together with Emil Bodnăraş, who maintained links with the Soviets) [Frunză, p.131; Rădulescu] represented the Communist Party during the clandestine talks with the National Liberal and National Peasants' parties, aimed at overthrowing the Antonescu dictatorship. Corneliu Coposu, who had friendly contacts with Pătrăşcanu at the time, attested that the latter had been selected by the Soviets as representative of the Communists (during negotiations in Cairo, Nikolai Novikov, the Soviet ambassador to Egypt, had reportedly first mentioned Pătrăşcanu's name to Barbu Ştirbey for further contacts). [Rădulescu] It was also at this time that Gheorghiu-Dej and Bodnăraş, together with Constantin Pîrvulescu and Iosif Rangheţ, toppled the general secretary Ştefan Foriş, and assumed leadership of the party [Cioroianu, p.49-50, 62; Frunză, p.400-402; Rădulescu] (Gheorghiu-Dej had probably attracted Pătrăşcanu's support for the planned move as early as 1943). [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

According to Mocsony Stârcea, Pătrăşcanu 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). [Mocsony Stârcea, in Caranfil, p.30] Coposu also stated that, through Pătrăşcanu, the Communist Party had entered negotiations with the other opposition groups with the pledge of having abandoned its previous theses regarding the Romanian state. [Rădulescu]

August 23 and government position

The collaboration led to the arrest of Ion Antonescu and Mihai Antonescu at the Royal Palace in Bucharest, during the August 23 Coup (1944). Pătrăşcanu authored the proclamation to the country which the King read on National Radio immediately after the coup, [Barbu, "Destinul colectiv...", p.188; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II] 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.Betea, "Antisovietismul..."] 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. Pătrăşcanu 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. [Barbu, "Destinul colectiv...", p.188-190]

During Soviet occupation, he served on the Politburo from 1946 to 1947 and held power in the new governments, as Minister without Portfolio (1944) and Minister of Justice (1944-1948). [Cioroianu, p.232] Pătrăşcanu, who probably attempted to become general secretary early in 1944 (before Gheorghiu-Dej secured the position for himself), [Frunză, p.214-215; Rădulescu] was considered leader of the party's "Secretariat Communists" (perceived as less willing to follow Stalin's directions).

After the ascension of the Petru Groza government, Pătrăşcanu 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, Constanţa Crăciun, and Alexandra Sidorovici). [Cioroianu, p.226, 232-233; Frunză, p.227, 471]

Citing a statement by Pătrăşcanu 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.Cliff] According to the American newspaper, Pătrăşcanu had reassured media that "industrialists, businessmen and hankers will escape punishment as war criminals"; ["The New York Times", in Cliff] Cliff also argued that the new course in justice had failed to alter what he saw as Romania's "bureaucratic and militarist character".

Pătrăşcanu 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). [Cioroianu, p.226-227]

Early conflicts with the party

During the late 1940s, he is thought to have begun expressing his opposition to strict Stalinist guidelines; at the same time, Pătrăşcanu had become suspect to the rest of the party leadership for his intellectual approach to socialism. [Cioroianu, p.92-93, 175, 177, 195, 222, 234-235, 262; Tismăneanu, p.114] Gheorghe Apostol, a collaborator of Gheorghiu-Dej's, later expressed a particular view on the matter of Pătrăşcanu's relations with the rest of the party:

"He was a reliable party intellectual. But he was also a very arrogant man, self-important, intolerant, and unwilling to communicate with his party comrades. And yet, [Gheorghiu-] Dej treasured him. Between '46-'48, Pătrăşcanu changed quite a lot." [Apostol, in Antoniu et al.]

Around February 1945, he began to fear the possibility that Emil Bodnăraş was planning his assassination and that he intended to blame it on political opponents of the Communist Party (as a means to direct sympathy towards the latter group). [Betea, "Ambiţia..."] He suspected that Bodnăraş had chosen to back Gheorghiu-Dej (allegedly fearing that Pătrăşcanu was betraying the fragile alliance established before the fall of Ştefan Foriş). [Betea, "Ambiţia..."] Consequently, he attempted to block Bodnăraş' rise to power, and denounced his reputedly corrupt activities as Secretary in the Interior Ministry to the to other members of the leadership. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

Historiography is divided over the possibility of Pătrăşcanu having initially allied himself with the PCR's second in command, Ana Pauker, in her post-war confrontation with Gheorghiu-Dej. [Cioroianu, p.177, 184-195] It is apparent that Pătrăşcanu was alarmed by Pauker's close cooperation with Soviet overseers, and especially by her tight connection with Dmitry Manuilsky; [Cioroianu, p.179] it was also contended that Pauker was intrigued by Pătrăşcanu's self-promotion in front of Soviet overseers during late 1944. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

Although, overall, Pătrăşcanu was argued to have been much less revolutionary-minded than various other PCR ideologues, [Cioroianu, p.241-244, 255-256, 261-262] his original perspective on Marxism remained strongly connected with party doctrine in its most essential points [Cioroianu, p.241, 248-251, 254-255] (including his intense advocacy of collectivization, using statistics to point out the existence of a class of "chiaburi" - the Romanian equivalent of the Soviet "kulaks"). [Cioroianu, p.252] He showed himself surprised when informed that the Soviet Union had planned a rapid communization of the country, and dismissed Vasile Luca and Pauker's vocal support for the latter policy. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."] Instead, he argued in favor of "making a distinction inside the bourgeoisie", [Pătrăşcanu, in Betea, "Ambiţia..."] and opening the Communist Party to collaboration with the National Liberal Party. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."] Based on this, he denounced Pauker's agreement with Gheorghe Tătărescu's National Liberal dissidence (the National Liberal Party-Tătărescu, which he called "a gang of con artists, blackmailers, and well-known bribers"). [Pătrăşcanu, in Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

A serious break with the party line occurred in early 1946, when Pătrăşcanu 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-Buzeşti, calling on them to convince the monarch to resume communications with his government. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

1946 elections

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. [Pokivailova, p.13] Received with suspicion, he later reported that he had eventually been able to carry out the task. [Pokivailova, p.13]

Responding to Hungarian-Romanian clashes, Pătrăşcanu gave a speech in the city of Cluj, one in which he attempted to identify communism and patriotism. [Cioroianu, p.225-226] It stated:

"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." [Pătrăşcanu, June 1946, in Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37]

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). [Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.38-39]

Pătrăşcanu soon received harsh criticism from Gheorghiu-Dej, who branded the views expressed as "chauvinism" and "revisionism". [Gheorghiu-Dej during a PCR Central Committee plenum, November 1946, in Frunză, p.362, in Tismăneanu, p.114] In parallel, the National Peasants' Party, as the main force opposing the PCR, published praises of Pătrăşcanu in its paper "Dreptatea", until Pătrăşcanu met with the editor, Nicolae Carandino, and explained that such articles were harming his image inside the Communist Party. [Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37] Nevertheless, Pătrăşcanu'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, [Betea, "Antisovietismul..."; Cioroianu, p.224, 246-247, 261] although he used more neutral terms than the ones present in official propaganda, [Cioroianu, p.247, 253-254] and was known to have deplored the unwillingness of the PCR to reduce and refine its internationalist policies. [Boia, p.275; Cioroianu, p.261-262]


In 1946-1947, he was nevertheless a member of the Tătărescu-headed Romanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, and, in fact, one of the signatories of the Peace Treaty with Romania. According to Belu Zilber, during this time, he read Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" [Zilber, rendered in Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III; in Tismăneanu, p.75, 114] (a glimpse into forced confessions alluding to the 1936-1937 Moscow Trials, the book was banned throughout the Eastern Bloc). The attitudes he expressed in Paris were considered nationalist by his Soviet overseers, [Frunză, p.359-360; Tismăneanu, p.114] and he himself complained to Gheorghiu-Dej about the party's suspicion surrounding his diplomatic activities. [Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II]

He was progressively marginalized inside the Party: his texts became subject to censorship and, on public occasions, his name was mentioned after those of less significant politicians. [Frunză, p.362] The Communist press virtually ceased referring to Pătrăşcanu as "comrade", and used instead the more distant formula "Professor Pătrăşcanu", at the same time as Gheorghiu-Dej's speeches on combating internal currents of the Party. [Frunză, p.360-361] 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. [Drăgoescu, p.23; Frunză, p.363]

Belu Zilber claimed that, having himself been subject to suspicion and marginalization, he had attempted to warn Pătrăşcanu of the change in climate, and had asked him to consider fleeing the Eastern Bloc — only to be stiffly refused. [Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III] Zilber was eventually arrested during early 1947, on suspicion that he had been a Siguranţa Statului agent infiltrating the party. [Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III]

ecuritate imprisonment and interrogations

On April 28, 1948, Pătrăşcanu was arrested and came under the investigation of a party committee, comprising the high-ranking Communists Teohari Georgescu, Alexandru Drăghici, and Iosif Rangheţ; interrogations were occasionally attended by Gheorghiu-Dej. [Cioroianu, p.201; Drăgoescu, p.23] His file indicates that the secret police (which was soon to become the Securitate) had been keeping him under surveillance from as early as the summer of 1946. [Drăgoescu, p.23]

On Gheorghiu-Dej's initiative (and apparently contrary to the committee's conclusions), he was transferred into Securitate custody in autumn 1949, under the provisional charge that he had not reported various political crimes. [Drăgoescu, p.24] A report on "Titoism" and collaboration with the maverick Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was presented to the Cominform: it placed Pătrăşcanu, the Hungarian Republic's László Rajk, and Bulgaria's Traicho Kostov in the same camp, as "imperialist agents" ("see Tito-Stalin split, Informbiro"). [Tismăneanu, p.106] The investigation also implicated Remus Koffler, who had been imprisoned in 1944, during the confrontation between Gheorghiu-Dej and Ştefan Foriş. [Frunză, p.402]

It was in 1951 that Pătrăşcanu 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"). [Pătrăşcanu, in Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.37] He also criticized his own advocacy of a PCR alliance with the National Liberal Party. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."]

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 [Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.36, 37; Drăgoescu, p.24] or of planning, together with Ionel Mocsony Stârcea and Titoist agents, an "imperialist" insurrection in Săvârşin. [Betea, "Portret în gri...", p.39] The latter allegation also surfaced in the parallel investigations of Koffler and Emil Calmanovici. [Betea, "Recunoştinţa..."]

No piece of evidence or confession was provided until after May 1952, when the Plenum Meeting of the Central Committee assigned the investigation to a team of Securitate officials and their Soviet advisors, directly supervised by Alexandru Drăghici, Alexandru Nicolschi, and Vladimir Mazuru. [Betea, "Recunoştinţa..."; Drăgoescu, p.24, 25; Golpenţia] In time, authorities also alleged that, before 1944, Pătrăşcanu, like Zilber, had acted as an agent of Siguranţa Statului. [Drăgoescu, p.24-25; Ioniţoiu; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".III]

Trial and execution

Pătrăşcanu was kept in detention until 1954, when he was executed, with Koffler, in Jilava, near Bucharest, after a show trial overseen by Iosif Chişinevschi. [Cioroianu, p.398; Drăgoescu, p.25-26; Ioniţoiu] 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. [Drăgoescu, p.25; Frunză, p.408-409]

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). [Betea, "Recunoştinţa..."]

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

"I have nothing to say, except [that I] spit on the charges brought against me." [Pătrăşcanu, in Drăgoescu, p.26]

The actions taken against Pătrăşcanu and others signaled the start of a wave of arrests and prison sentences, including that of his wife, as well as those of Harry Brauner, Lena Constante, Petre Pandrea (who was Pătrăşcanu's brother-in-law), Herant Torosian, Mocsony Stârcea, Calmanovici, Victoria Sârbu (who had been Ştefan Foriş' lover), and Alexandru Ştefănescu. [Frunză, p.401, 409; Golpenţia; Ioniţoiu; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II] In preparation for the trial, the Securitate organized violent interrogations of political detainees (among others, the National Peasant Party's Corneliu Coposu and the Liberal politician Bebe Brătianu) or suspects (Gheorghe Tătărescu, who testified against Pătrăşcanu and was the target of a sharp rebuke from the latter). [Cioroianu, p.228; Ioniţoiu]

Belu Zilber, the first of the group to give in to Securitate pressures and confessed to the charges, was verbally attacked by Pătrăşcanu inside the courthouse — Pătrăşcanu notably accused him of having invented the entire conspiracy account. [Tănase, "Belu Zilber".I] Records of their various interrogations show that both him and Calmanovici identified Emil Bodnăraş as the main instigator of their downfall. [Betea, "Recunoştinţa..."]


He was posthumously rehabilitated in April 1968 by Nicolae Ceauşescu, in the latter's attempt to discredit his predecessors and establish his own legitimacy. [Boia, p.256; Cioroianu, p.233, 397-399] The main target of this campaign, as indicated by a Central Committee resolution, was Drăghici:

" [...] 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." ["Analele Institutului de Studii Istorice şi Social-Politice de pe lângă CC al PCR", in Müller, p.62]

A party committee which included Ion Popescu-Puţuri [Drăgoescu, p.23] investigated the matter of his arrest and interrogation, concluding that evidence against Pătrăşcanu was fabricated, that he had been systematically beaten and otherwise ill-treated, and that a confession had been prepared for him to sign. [Betea, "Recunoştinţa..."; Drăgoescu, p.25; Golpenţia] 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). [Drăgoescu, p.25] 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). [Drăgoescu, p.26]

At the Party Plenum in late April 1968, Ceauşescu used Pătrăşcanu's case and other ones to single out the negative influence of Drăghici and Iosif Chişinevschi, while also placing suspicion on Emil Bodnăraş and Gheorghe Apostol, who had approved of Pătrăşcanu's purge. [Cioroianu, p.398-399] All of them were required to express "self-criticism", [Cioroianu, p.398-399] while Gheorghiu-Dej was condemned for having "initiated and overseen" the measures. [Rendered in Cioroianu, p.399]

Ceauşescu profited on the enduring perception of Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu'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, Pătrăşcanu's life was usually described in brief and vague sentences. [Boia, p.256; Cioroianu, p.233; Müller, p.61] In popular discourse, Pătrăşcanu was also largely identified with positive causes, and remained among the most popular Communist figures after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 toppled the regime. [Betea, "Antisovietismul..."; Cioroianu, p.223-224, 230-231; Tănase, "Belu Zilber".II]



In his most important volumes (most of which attracted public attention only after 1944),Stahl] Pătrăşcanu 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).

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), [Barbu, "Political Science in Romania"] and made occasional use of material provided by Dimitrie Gusti's comprehensive surveys.

On feudalism and serfdom

According to Pătrăşcanu, Moldavia and Wallachia had forsaken feudalism by the mid 1700s, maintaining instead a form of serfdom which had not been affected by the reforms of "Hospodar" Constantine Mavrocordatos. He argued that, whereas feudalism was supported by "metayage", legislation passed by Mavrocordatos had endorsed and prolonged "corvées", a system consecrated in the 1830s by the new "Organic Statute". In his view, capitalism had manifested itself mainly as a reactionary force inside Romanian economy during the time of Phanariote rules — thus, despite characteristic underdevelopment (which he also noted), the local economy had not contrasted with the stages postulated by Marxian economics.

Pătrăşcanu 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 class, that was to become the bourgeoisie") [Pătrăşcanu, in Stahl] attempting to emancipate themselves from Ottoman pressures. 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.

On radicalism and reformism

The Wallachian revolution of 1848, the most successful of similar revolts at the time, was, according to Pătrăşcanu, a mature reaction of bourgeois circles against boyar supremacy ("it only sought [...] to replace a [privileged] minority with another"), [Pătrăşcanu, in Stahl] but was generally not opposed to preserving an estate-based economy. 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. [Cernea; Stahl]

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" Alexander John Cuza, whom he saw as a supporter of industrialization). He extended this criticism to socialist groups other than his own, arguing that the prevalent reformism was "the cult of legalism". [Pătrăşcanu, in Cernea]

These views placed Pătrăşcanu 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 Pătrăşcanu's own father, these included his contemporary Virgil Madgearu and, to a certain degree, the Marxist Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea). In parallel, Pătrăşcanu's theories were in sharp contrast with those held by advocates of economic liberalism, and especially with Ştefan Zeletin's. [Cioroianu, p.250-251; Stahl]

On the 20th century

As part of his reflection on post-1900 realities, Pătrăşcanu 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. 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. The Marxist historian Henri H. Stahl has challenged this particular thesis, calling it "highly questionable".

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 1900s, Pătrăşcanu challenged his refusal to investigate the effects of capitalism in rural areas. According to Pătrăşcanu, 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. [Cioroianu, p.251-253; Stahl] Contradicting the Social Democratic ideologists Lothar Rădăceanu and Şerban Voinea (whom he accused of having lost contact with the working class), Pătrăşcanu 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. [Cioroianu, p.249]

Arguing in favor of a Romanian communist society during the late 1940s, Pătrăşcanu 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 labor code was enforced, and civil liberties were enhanced. [Cioroianu, p.255] 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. [Cioroianu, p.255] Polemically, Pătrăşcanu theorized that all these steps were "democratic-bourgeois", and not socialist in their essence. [Cioroianu, p.255-256]

The arguably most influential of Pătrăşcanu's writings remains his analysis of the Romanian intelligentsia, part of "Probleme de bază ale României". [Cioroianu, p.256] 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. [Cioroianu, p.256-259, 260] On one instance in 1945, when theorizing about "intellectual déclassés", he proposed their "neutralization and systematic supervision". [Pătrăşcanu, in Cioroianu, p.262]

Personal life

Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu was married to Elena, born "Herta Schwamen", who had a career as a stage designer (employed, with Lena Constante, by the Ţăndărică 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). [Antoniu et al.]

Elena Pătrăşcanu 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. [Betea, "Ambiţia..."] Implicated in the trial and forced to testify against Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, she was given eight years in prison. [Ioniţoiu]

The Pătrăşcanus had no children.

In art

Titus Popovici's play "Puterea şi adevărul" ("The Power and the Truth"), published in the early 1970s (staged by Liviu Ciulei and filmed, in 1971, by Manole Mărcuş), centers on the character Petrescu, largely based on Pătrăşcanu, who is persecuted by the party secretary Pavel Stoian (a disguised reference to Gheorghiu-Dej), while living to see his hopes for a better future fulfilled by Mihai Duma (standing for Ceauşescu). [Cioroianu, p.229-230] For a while after its publication, "Puterea şi adevărul" was translated into several languages and used as official propaganda in cultural contacts with the outside world. [Cioroianu, p.229]

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

Published volumes

* "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 şi tendinţe în filozofia românească" ("Schools of Thought and Tendencies in Romanian Philosophy")



*"Dosarele Istoriei"
**2/I, 1996:
***Dragoş Drăgoescu, "Arma politică a reabilitărilor. Caruselul crimelor şi liderii comunişti români" ("The Political Weapon of Rehabilitations. The Murder Carousel and Romanian Communist Leaders"), p. 20-34
***Florin Müller, "Cu cărţile pe masă. Politică şi istoriografie: Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu" ("Cards on th Table. Politics and Historiography: Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu"), p. 61-63
**10/III, 1998:
***Ghorghe I. Ioniţă, "Tezele Moscovei, ordin şi pentru marionetele de la Bucureşti. Cominternul, PCdR şi problema naţională" ("Moscow's Theses, Orders for the Bucharest Puppets. The Comintern, PCdR and the National Issue"), p.42-47
*ro icon Gabriela Antoniu, Claudiu Târziu, [ "Pătrăşcanu a primit un glonţ în ceafă" ("Pătrăşcanu Received a Bullet in the Back of the Neck")] , in "Jurnalul Naţional", 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,
**ro icon [ "Ambiţia de a intra în istorie" ("The Ambition of Entering History")] , in "Magazin Istoric"
**ro icon [ "Antisovietismul lui Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu" ("Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu's Anti-Sovietism")] , in "Jurnalul Naţional", November 1, 2005
**"Portret în gri. Pătrăşcanu - deputat de Arad" ("Portrait in Grey. Pătrăşcanu - a Deputy for Arad"), in "Magazin Istoric", June 1998
**ro icon [ "«Recunoştinţa» Partidului faţă de cei care l-au subvenţionat" ("The Party's «Recognition» towards Those Who Had Financed It")] , in "Magazin Istoric"
*Tudor Caranfil, "Despre destin şi 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
*ro icon Emil Cernea, [ "Criza dreptului în România" ("The Crisis of Law in Romania"). Cap. II: "Revendicarea unei noi repartiţii a proprietăţii funciare" ("The Call for a New Repartition of Land Ownership")]
*ro icon Ionuţ Chiva, Adrian Şchiop, [ "Boierii comunişti" ("The Communist Boyars", interview with Dimitrie Calimachi, the son of Scarlat Callimachi)] , in "Prezent", November 21, 2006
*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, [ "On the Class Nature of the "People’s Democracies", II: "Were There Victorious Proletarian Revolutions in Eastern Europe?"] , at the Marxists Internet Archive
*Victor Frunză, "Istoria stalinismului în România" ("The History of Stalinism in Romania"), Humanitas, Bucharest, 1990
*ro icon Sanda Golpenţia, [ "Introducere la "Ultima carte" de Anton Golpenţia (Anchetatorii)" ("Introduction to Anton Golpenţia's "Ultima carte" (The Inquisitors)")] , at ""
*ro icon Cicerone Ioniţoiu, [ "Procesul Pătrăşcanu" ("The Pătrăşcanu Trial"), in "Morminte fără cruce. Contribuţii la cronica rezistenţei româneşti împotriva dictaturii" ("Unmarked Graves. Contributions to the Chronicle of Romanian Resistance against Dictatorship"), Vol. II]
*Z. Ornea, "Anii treizeci. Extrema dreaptă românească" ("The Thirties: the Far Right in Romania"), Ed. Fundaţiei Culturale Române, Bucharest, 1995
*ro icon Marta Petreu, [ "Generaţia '27 între Holocaust şi Gulag" ("The '27 Generation between the Holocaust and the Gulag"), Part I] , in "Revista 22", Nr.676, February 2003
*T. A. Pokilvailova, "Metode de desfăşurare a alegerilor din România" ("Methods through Which the Romanian Elections Were Carried Out"), in "Magazin Istoric", November 1995
*ro icon Mihai Rădulescu, [ "Tragedia lui Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu" ("Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu's Tragedy")] , interview with Corneliu Coposu
*ro icon Henri H. Stahl, [ "Gânditori şi curente de istorie socială românească" ("Thinkers and Trends in Romanian Social History"), Cap.X: "Doctrina comunistă a lui Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (1901-1954)" ("The Communist Doctrine of Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (1901-1954)")]
*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 0-52-023747-1

External links

*Anneli Maier, [ "The Power And The Truth — A Political Play by Titus Popovici" (1973), at the Open Society Archives]

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