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Open Access Building a Fascist Romania: Voluntary Work Camps as Mobilisation Strategies of the Legionary Movement in Interwar Romania

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Building a Fascist Romania: Voluntary Work Camps as Mobilisation Strategies of the Legionary Movement in Interwar Romania

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This paper addresses the importance of work camps as mobilisation strategies employed by the ‘Legion of the Archangel Michael’, Romania’s interwar fascist movement. It argues that the success of the legionary constructive work projects, practically taking the form of voluntary work camps and smaller ‘construction sites’ (şantiere) – the latter developed according to similar principles, yet more limited in size – contributed significantly to the increase in popularity of the movement, in spite of (and perhaps even aided by) sustained opposition from the state authorities. As such, the case study of the legionary work camps is employed in an attempt to show how grassroots mobilisation strategies, emphasising activism and voluntarism, as well as cross-class solidarity among members of the movement, added considerable credibility to a populist palingenetic project, circumventing a shortage of material resources that prevented the use of more elaborate propaganda methods. Such strategies rendered the legionary movement distinct from all the other political parties in interwar Romania, and their positive reception, especially among the rural population, gave credence to the legionary criticism of the democratic parties and, implicitly, to the movement’s challenge to parliamentary democracy.

Affiliations: 1: Europa University Flensburg, raul.carstocea@uni-flensburg.de

10.1163/22116257-00602002
/content/journals/10.1163/22116257-00602002
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This paper addresses the importance of work camps as mobilisation strategies employed by the ‘Legion of the Archangel Michael’, Romania’s interwar fascist movement. It argues that the success of the legionary constructive work projects, practically taking the form of voluntary work camps and smaller ‘construction sites’ (şantiere) – the latter developed according to similar principles, yet more limited in size – contributed significantly to the increase in popularity of the movement, in spite of (and perhaps even aided by) sustained opposition from the state authorities. As such, the case study of the legionary work camps is employed in an attempt to show how grassroots mobilisation strategies, emphasising activism and voluntarism, as well as cross-class solidarity among members of the movement, added considerable credibility to a populist palingenetic project, circumventing a shortage of material resources that prevented the use of more elaborate propaganda methods. Such strategies rendered the legionary movement distinct from all the other political parties in interwar Romania, and their positive reception, especially among the rural population, gave credence to the legionary criticism of the democratic parties and, implicitly, to the movement’s challenge to parliamentary democracy.

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2017-12-08
2018-09-19

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