Ecaterina Teodoroiu

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Ecaterina Teodoroiu
Second Lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu
Born(1894-01-14)January 14, 1894
Flag of Romania.svg Vădeni, Kingdom of Romania
DiedSeptember 3, 1917(1917-09-03) (aged 23)
Flag of Romania.svg Muncelu, Kingdom of Romania
AllegianceRomanian Army
Years of service1916–1917
Battles/warsWorld War I-Romanian Campaign
AwardsMilitary Virtue Medal, 1st Class and 2nd Class[1]

Ecaterina Teodoroiu (Romanian pronunciation: [ekateˈrina te.odoˈroju]; born Cătălina Toderoiu;[1] January 15, 1894 – September 3, 1917) was a Romanian woman who fought and died in World War I, and is regarded as a heroine of Romania.

A Scouts' member, she had initially worked as a nurse but she subsequently decided to become a front-line soldier, being deeply impressed by the patriotism of the wounded and the death of her brother Nicolae, a sergeant in the Romanian Army. It was an unusual decision for a woman of that era, so she was sent to the front rather reluctantly. However, with the support of the Romanian royal family, soon she proved her worthiness as a symbol and as a soldier.

Early life[edit]

Teodoroiu was born in the village of Vădeni (nowadays part of Târgu Jiu), in the historical region of Oltenia, in the family of Elena and Vasile Toderoiu, both farmers.[1] Cătălina had five brothers (Nicolae, Eftimie, Andrei, Ion, Vasile) and two sisters (Elisabeta and Sabina). After studying for 4 years in Vădeni and Târgu Jiu at the Romanian-German Primary School,[1] and graduating from the Girls' School in Bucharest, she was to become a teacher when the Kingdom of Romania entered World War I in August 1916, on the side of the Allies.[2]

Military career[edit]

Working as a nurse, on 27 October [O.S. 14 October] 1916 Ecaterina joined the civilians and the reserve soldiers fighting to repulse the attack of a Bavarian company of the 9th German Army at the bridge over the Jiu River, in front of Târgu-Jiu. Impressed by her bravery, the Royal Family invited Ecaterina to Bucharest on 6 November [O.S. 23 October].[3]

On 13 November [O.S. 30 October], she went to the frontline to see her brother Nicolae, a sergeant in the 18 Infantry Regiment (Gorj) [ro]. Shortly afterwards, on 14 November [O.S. 1 November], her brother was killed by an artillery shell during fighting near Porceni (today Gornăcel, Schela, Gorj).[1][3]

Wishing to avenge her brother's death, Ecaterina requested Colonel Obogeanu to be allowed to join the 18th Infantry Regiment as a volunteer. She would soon prove her military skills by using a ruse in order to avoid that her company, surrounded by the enemy, be taken prisoner: after announcing in German the decision of the regiment to surrender, Teodoroiu started shooting, killing several Germans and allowing most of the company to escape.[1]

Nevertheless, she was later captured during fighting on the Rășina-Tunși-Peșteana heights on the night of 16/17 November [O.S. 3/4 November] 1916, but managed to escape with light wounds by killing with a concealed revolver the German soldier who was guarding her.[1][3] The Germans shot the escaping Romanians through the darkness and wounded Teodoroiu in her right leg. However, she brushed this aside and returned to the company that same evening.[4] Teodoroiu killed at least two Germans during her escape.[5]

On 19 November [O.S. 6 November], Ecaterina was involved in the skirmishes close to Bărbătești and Țânțăreni.[3] Soon later, the Germans reached the town of Filiași on 19 November [O.S. 6 November].[6] Fighting near Filiași on that same day, she was wounded in both legs by a mortar shell,[7] evacuated to Craiova, then to Bucharest and later hospitalized at the "King Ferdinand" Military Hospital in Iași.[1]

Teodoroiu recovered from her wounds within months, being discharged from hospital on 5 February [O.S. 23 January] 1917. On 23 March [O.S. 10 March] that year, she was decorated with the Military Virtue Medal (2nd Class) for her courage, as well as the Military Virtue Medal (1st Class) one week later. Previously having met Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu (the brother of a former school colleague) in hospital, she requested to be allowed to join his 43/59 Infantry Regiment [ro] as a voluntary nurse.[1]

For her bravery, she was awarded the "Scout Virtue" Medal and the Military Virtue Medal, 2nd Class, on March 10, 1917. On March 17, 1917, she was awarded the Military Virtue Medal, 1st Class, made honorary Second Lieutenant (Sublocotenent) by King Ferdinand and given the command of a 25-man platoon in the 7th Company (43/59 Infantry Regiment, 11th Division), commanded by Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu.[1][8][9][10] Thus, she became the first female Romanian Army officer.[11]

Starting with 8 May [O.S. 25 April] 1917, the regiment was quartered in Codăești, Vaslui County. On 17 August [O.S. 4 August], the 43/59 Regiment, part of the reserve of the 1st Army led by General Eremia Grigorescu, prepared to join the upcoming offensive. On 18 August [O.S. 5 August] the regiment left Vaslui for Tecuci, crossed the Siret and camped in the Malta Seacă forest, close to the frontline.[3]

On 30 August [O.S. 17 August], the commander of the 11th Division, General Ernest Broșteanu, kindly asked her to stay at the mobile hospital behind the front, but Second Lieutenant Teodoroiu strongly refused him, requesting to be allowed to join her platoon in the upcoming battle.[1]

On 2 September [O.S. 20 August], the 43/59 Regiment dug in on the Secului Hill, in the Muncelu-Varnița area.

On 3 September [O.S. 21 August] 1917, the Romanian lines were attacked in force by the German 40th Reserve Regiment of the 115th Infantry Division. While leading her platoon in a counterattack, she was hit by machine gun fire in the chest (according to some accounts), or in the head (according to other accounts).[1] According to the General Order No. 1 issued the next day by Colonel Constantin Pomponiu, the commanding officer of the 43/59 Regiment, her last words before dying were: "Forward, men, don't give up, I'm still with you!" [12][1]


Monument in Slatina

After the war, Ecaterina Teodoroiu was elevated to the status of a heroine of the Romanian people.[1] Henri Berthelot even named her the "Joan of Arc of Romania" for her outstanding bravery, patriotism and self-sacrifice.

Initially buried close to the front, in Fitioneşti,[1] her remains were interred in June 1921 in a crypt in the city center of Târgu Jiu. Her grave is honored by a monument erected in 1936 by Milița Petrașcu.

In 1921, the Regiment 43/59 Infantry became the honorary name "Ecaterina Teodoroiu".[1] In 1937, by Royal Decree, the Girls' High School in Târgu-Jiu was given her name (currently the National College "Ecaterina Teodoroiu").[13][14] In 1938, her native home became a memorial house.[3]

Several monuments were erected in her honor:

  • "Ecaterina Teodoroiu" Monument in Slatina, inaugurated in 1925 in the presence of Queen Marie[15][14]
  • "Ecaterina Teodoroiu" Monument in Brăila (1928)[16][14]
  • "Ecaterina Teodoroiu" Mausoleum in Târgu-Jiu (1936)[14]
  • "Heroes' Monument" in Azuga (1937)[17][14]
  • "Monument of the Second Lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu" in Muncelu (1972)[14]
  • "Ecaterina Teodoroiu" Statue in Târgu-Jiu (1979)[14]

The following films were made about her:

Her wartime record was also a subject of Sergiu Nicolaescu's 1999 film Triunghiul morții [ro], starring Ilinca Goia [ro] as Ecaterina Teodoroiu.[21]

Kathryn J. Atwood dedicated a chapter to Ecaterina Teodoriu in her work "Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics".[22]

On 31 July 2019, the National Bank of Romania announced that in 2020 it would issue the 20 lei banknote, which will feature Ecaterina Teodoroiu.[23]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Legenda Ecaterinei Teodoroiu: Ce spun Arhivele Militare" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  2. ^ Ecaterina Teodoroiu's biography Archived 2006-10-05 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Casa memorială Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (in Romanian). Gorj Museum. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  4. ^ Rachel Basinger, Atlantic Publishing Company, May 28, 2019, Hidden in History: The Untold Stories of Women During World War I and World War II. p. 70
  5. ^ Ray Hamilton, Summersdale Publishers LTD - ROW, Nov 7, 2012, Military Quotations: Stirring Words of War and Peace, p. 218
  6. ^ John Buchan, T. Nelson, 1922, A History of the Great War: From the battle of Verdun to the third battle of Ypres, p. 249
  7. ^ Bernard A. Cook, ABC-CLIO, 2006, Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present, Volume 1, p. 582
  8. ^ Ion Mocioi, Ecaterina Teodoroiu: eroina poporului român, Scrisul Românesc, 1981.
  9. ^ Rachel Basinger, Atlantic Publishing Company, May 28, 2019, Hidden in History: The Untold Stories of Women During World War I and World War II. pp. 70-71
  10. ^ Ray Hamilton, Summersdale Publishers LTD - ROW, Nov 7, 2012, Military Quotations: Stirring Words of War and Peace, p. 218
  11. ^ Rachel Basinger, Atlantic Publishing Company, May 28, 2019, Hidden in History: The Untold Stories of Women During World War I and World War II. p. 68
  12. ^ Arina Avram, Femei celebre din România, Editura ALLFA, 2014.
  13. ^ "Colegiul Național "Ecaterina Teodoroiu" - Istoric" (in Romanian). Colegiul Național „Ecaterina Teodoroiu”. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Monumente, filme, cărţi în onoarea Ecaterinei" (in Romanian). Historia. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  15. ^ ""Monumentele Marelui Război": Statuia din Slatina a Ecaterinei Teodoroiu" (in Romanian). Historia. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  16. ^ Cristiana Lipan (2015-09-10). "Monumentul Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (in Romanian). Brăila Portal. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  17. ^ "Monumentul eroilor din Azuga - Primul Razboi Mondial" (in Romanian). Info Turism Azuga. 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  18. ^ ""Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (1921)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  19. ^ ""Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (1930)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  20. ^ ""Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (1978)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  21. ^ "The Death Triangle (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  22. ^ Atwood, Kathryn (2016). Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics. Chicago Review Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-1613735954.
  23. ^ "BNR va lansa în circulaţie bancnota de 20 de lei, pe care va apărea Ecaterina Teodoroiu". Digi24 (in Romanian). 31 July 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.


  • Bucur, Maria "Between the Mother of the Wounded and the Virgin of Jiu: Romanian Women and the Gender of Heroism during the Great War" Journal of Women's History - 12, 2, (2000), pp. 30–56, The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Constantin Kiriţescu, "Istoria războiului pentru întregirea României: 1916-1919", 1922
  • Kathryn J. Atwood, Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics, Chicago Review Press, 2014.

External links[edit]