National Legionary State

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Ion Antonescu (left) and Horia Sima, leaders of the National Legionary State.
Sephardic Temple in Bucharest after it was robbed and set on fire in 1941.

The National Legionary State (Romanian: Statul Național Legionar) was the Romanian government from September 6, 1940 to January 23, 1941. It was a one-party dictatorship dominated by the overtly fascist Iron Guard in uneasy conjunction with Prime Minister Ion Antonescu, the commander of the Romanian Army.

Antonescu became Prime Minister on September 5, and King Carol II transferred most of his dictatorial powers under the 1938 Constitution to him the next day. He abdicated on September 6, and Antonescu quickly reached a deal with the Iron Guard. Under the terms of the deal, the Iron Guard became the only legal party in Romania. Antonescu, who had been named Conducător (leader) of Romania a day earlier, became the Iron Guard's honorary leader. Horia Sima, successor to Iron Guard founder Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, became deputy prime minister.

King abdicates

The National Legionary State took power upon the abdication of King Carol II. Carol was forced to step down largely as the result of a series of humiliating losses of territory. The first was on June 28, 1940 when Romania had to withdraw its military and administration from Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to avoid open war with the Soviet Union that issued two ultimata on the 26th and 27th. Romania lost over 50,000 km². The Second Vienna Award, August 30, 1940, passed 43,492 km² in Northern Transylvania to Hungary. Also, the Treaty of Craiova, looming at the time of Carol's abdication, was signed September 7, 1940 and returned Southern Dobrudja (the Cadrilater) to Bulgaria.


The first Romanian government to be overtly aligned with Nazi Germany and the Axis, the National Legionary State was marked by uneasy relations between Sima and Antonescu. The regime lasted 131 days and ended with the widespread violence of the unsuccessful Legionary Rebellion (January 21–January 23, 1941), in which the Iron Guard attempted to seize full power but was, instead, defeated. Romania was proclaimed a "National and Social State," with Antonescu as sole dictator.

See also