Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Balkan Trilogy -Volme 2 - The Spoilt City (2)

Must remember not to try book review as I read. The blurb on the back of my copy says:

'She is revealed as one of the the most considerable of our women novelists: The Balkan Trilogy itself is, besides being one of the most massive, one of the finest fictional productions that Britain has seen since the war...Her gallery of personages is huge, her scene painting superb, her pathos controlled, her humour quiete and civilised...'

Anthony Burgess

'So glittering is the overall parade...and so entertaining the surface that the trilogy remains excitingly vivid; it amuses, it diverts and it informs, and to do all these things so elegantly is no small achievement'

Frederick Raphael

which covers pretty much what I would say, so far, if I could have found the words. What I can say, without fear of contradiction: the historical facts will drive you on if the novel itself won't.

Mentioning the Iron Guard leader, Cordeanu, as a result of a web search in the previous Trilogy post, and linking to his speech, I then find he comes into the story thirty pages on!

One of the major themes is the treatment of the Jews. It briefly mentions something I am pretty sure many people of 'genral education' will not have known: that Jewish students were thrown out of windows in Bucharest in a pogrom in 1937. This is something which is going to hold me up finishing the book, as I do some study.

It is suggested in the book Romania was always anti-Semitic.

Reminds me of that wonderful book 'Last Waltz in Vienna' by George Clare. If you haven't got time to read the book, at least read the epilogue.

Further research, as much as for me as anything: but you are welcome.

It could do no harm, if you were thinking of reading this book, to bone up on the history beforehand. Though it has proved quite good fun to read the story and the facts together, piecemeal, as names and events came up.

History of the Iron Guard
  • Deals with Codreanu's background and deals with follows the story through
  • Pictures of Condreanu and Ion Antonescu
  • Interestingly:
'Corneliu Codreanu’s end had come because King Carol, who had a Jewish mistress and several close Jewish friends and advisors, believed that the Iron Guard was a threat.'
chronology of Jews in Romania
since Roman times

Names of the remaining 60 Jews in Romania

A Chronology for Iron Guard
1910-1942. Shows early roots of anti-semitism

Short excerpt from The Long Balkan Night [1944]
Author Leigh White:
' with White being the first reporter to break the story of the hideous Iron Guard pogrom in Bucharest in January 1941. King Carol II had fled the country several months before, and Marshal Antonescu was ruling the country. The Iron Guard (who he also calls Legionaires and Greenshirts) were Romania's homegrown fascists, and were then under the leadership of Horia Sima. Guardists attempted a coup to overthrow Antonescu, but failed.'

Side links to excerpts from The War against the Jews 1933- 1945 done by country category, including Romania.

And finally, an article on recent [2004] Romanian acceptance of responsibility for fate of Romanian Jews in war, and some of the background, including fact that in May 1991:

legislators observed a minute of silence on the anniversary of the 1946 execution of Romania's wartime, Nazi-allied leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, for war crimes. Such a shameful performance was repeated in June 1999.

Romania's Responsibility by Michael Shafir

I can't remember when the revolution which overthrew Ceaucescu happened (was it pre-or post 1989) but watched it on TV thinking it was a set-up job, which it proved to be, with Ceauscescu's communist underlings taking over. Do they still rule?


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