Claudiu-Lucian Topor, Repudiated Biographies and Controversial « Stories »: Romanian “Collaborationists” and “Traitors” at the End of the War (1918)

Claudiu-Lucian Topor - “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași
TOME LX 2022
pp. 207-218
Online publication date: 
war; victims, collaborationism; biographies; traitors; historical perspective

The Grear War left behind it numerous broken destinies. Historians have recorded the loss of human lives, the destruction of goods, the physical suffering and even the psychological trauma. However, the statistics of this war only provide a limited perspective on what became of the survivors. Their reintegration into the new post-war society, the uncertainty of the present and the threats coming from their immediate past left their mark on the fate of many people who were the target of accusations and blame. The name “collaborationist” was applied during the war and in the subsequent years to a group of personalities whose reputation had meanwhile become doubtful. This group was never a homogenous one. Even though most of those affected were labelled as „Germanophile”, their group never included just the sympathisers of German politics or culture. Similarly, it was not only politicians who were included here. During the war there were many accusations (sometimes supported by „compromising” documents, other times not) directed at individuals from the elites who allegedly „cohabited” with the enemy. The limits and the excesses of this cohabitation were also interpreted in a disproportionate manner, oftentimes according to the direction of the political disputes. It is down to the historians to recover (albeit partially) these broken destinies and to interpret without the contemporaries’ bias such „compromising” moments. Apart from the collaborationists, another, special category is targeted: the traitors. The existence of this group „apparently” clarifies part of the social fracture at the end of the war, by making the separation between the heroes and those who allegedly sold off the nation’s interests. Unlike the collaborationists, who could not be considered all traitors, the latter (some proven as such, others receiving this label as a matter of speculation) are mentioned frequently in the everyday (oftentimes offensive) discourse and in the rhetoric of the end of the war. Here, again, a historical analysis could clarify the fate of controversial individuals and, in some cases, even slow their fall into disgrace within the collective memory. This paper propose aims to deconstruct historical verdicts. It does not intend to rehabilitate historical characters, but rather to rediscover the mechanisms through which the memory of war has assimilated their vulnerabilities and stigmatised their culpabilities.

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