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Ion I. Moţa [or Motza] (5 July 1902, Orăştie, Austria-Hungary—13 January 1937, Majadahonda, Spain) was the Romanian fascist deputy leader of the Iron Guard killed in battle during the Spanish Civil War.
Son of the nationalist Orthodox priest Ioan Moţa, who edited a journal called Liberty, Ion I. Moţa studied law at University of Paris (1920-1921), the University of Cluj, University of Iaşi and University of Grenoble. His thesis, finished in 1932 at the University of Grenoble, was entitled "Juridical Security in the Community of Nations."
At Cluj, he founded Acţiunea Românească ("Romanian Action"), a nationalist group inspired by Charles Maurras' Action Française. This organization fused with A. C. Cuza's National-Christian Defense League in 1925. Moţa met Corneliu Zelea Codreanu at a meeting of antisemitic students in August 1923. The two formed a plan to assassinate Romanian politicians and leaders of Romanian Jewry seen as traitors and corruptors of Romanian national life. They were arrested in Bucharest on 8 October 1923 and sent to Văcăreşti prison. Acquitted in March 1924, Moţa shot Vernichescu, the member of their conspiracy who betrayed it to the authorities, seven times (but not fatally). He spent two months in Galata prison before being acquitted and released on 29 September 1924.
Codreanu made Moţa leader of Frăţia de Cruce, a group of peasants and students who would fight for nationalistic renewal (founded on 6 May 1924). Moţa attended the World Anti-Semitic Congress in September 1925; upon the founding of the Iron Guard (the Legion of the Archangel Michael), on 24 June 1927, he became deputy Captain to Codreanu.
Ion Moţa represented the Legion at the 1934 Fascist International meeting in Montreux. He was vice-president of the Iron Guard political creation, the Everything for the Country Party. From 1934 through 1936, he served as a correspondent for Welt-Dienst / World-Service, an anti-Jewish publication founded by Ulrich Fleischhauer in Erfurt, Germany. Fleischhauer was a staunch believer in the veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and appeared as an "expert witness" for the pro-Nazis at the famous Berne Trial.
In late 1936, Moţa formed a Legionary unit to fight against the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. He and Vasile Marin (another prominent Legionary) were killed on the Madrid Front on the same day of fighting (13 January 1937). Their funerals in Bucharest (13 February 1937) were an immense and orderly procession (see Funerals of Ion Moţa and Vasile Marin), attended by the Ministers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Francisco Franco's Spain, representatives of Portugal, the Japan of the early Shōwa period, and delegates of the Polish Patriotic Youth.
On the commemoration of the deaths of Moţa and Marin, 13 January 1938, Codreanu created a special order in the ranks of the Legionary units: the Moţa-Marin Corps under the direction of Alexandru Cantacuzino. The members of this elite corps had Ready to Die as their slogan.
Funeral march for Ion Mota and Vasile Marin
- The Green Shirts and the Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Rumania by Nicholas M. Nagy-Talavera (Hoover Institution Press, 1970).
- "Romania" by Eugen Weber, in The European Right: A Historical Profile edited by Hans Rogger and Eugen Weber (University of California Press, 1965)
- "The Romanian Legionary's Mission in Spain" (Part III, A., xi Romania, 116.) in Fascism (Oxford Readers) edited by Roger Griffin (Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-289249-5).
- Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890 by Philip Rees (Simon & Schuster, 1991, ISBN 0-13-089301-3).