Nichifor Crainic (pseudonym of Ion Dobre; 22 December 1889, Bulbucata, Giurgiu County – 20 August 1972, Mogoșoaia) was a Romanian writer, editor, philosopher, poet and theologian famed for his traditionalist activities. Crainic was also a professor of theology at the Bucharest Theological Seminary and the Chișinău Faculty of Theology. He was an important racist ideologue, and a far-right politician. He was one of the main Romanian fascist and anti-Semite ideologues.
Crainic was a contributor of poetry to the modernist magazine Gândirea. After become disenfranchised with the publication progressive views, rather than disassociate with the magazine he became increasingly intertwined in leadership positions in order to de-modernize it. At the end of a series of intellectual sparing within the publication itself, Crainic managed to wrest control of the magazine and institute a sea-change in editorial character supporting mystical Orthodoxy.
He developed an ideology given the name Gândirism (from gând – "thought"), a nationalist and neo-Orthodox Christian social and cultural trend. He edited Gândirea magazine, and collaborated with numerous other publications such as Ramuri, România Nouă, Cuvântul, and Sfarmă-Piatră. He was also the editor in chief of the newspaper Calendarul.
Nichifor Crainic became a leading pro-Fascist figure in the political turmoil of the late 1930s, openly praising Mussolini and Hitler. He was an ideologue of Anti-Semitism, although his prejudice was a defense of the Gospels rather than a vision of racial hierarchies. His beliefs were a major influence on the Iron Guard legionary movement, although Crainic viewed himself as a supporter of the legionnaires' rival King Carol II. In a 1938 essay, he theoretised the "ethnocratic state" as applied to Romania:
- "Our state has been a monarchy throughout its history. Monarchy is what gives this state its continuity. The crown of Romanian kings symbolises the greatness of the people and the permanence of Romanian awareness. (...)
- The ethnocratic state differs profoundly from the democratic state. The democratic state relies on population figures, without distinction of race or religion. The basis of the ethnocratic state is the Romanian soil and the Romanian kin. (...)
- Today, people of other races and creeds live on Romanian soil. These have arrived here through the means of invading (as the Hungarians have), through colonisation (as the Germans have), or through skillful infiltrations (as Jews have). (...)
- The Jews are a permanent danger for any nation-state."
A fulfilment of ethnocracy was to be achieved through the means of a monarch-led corporatist system:
- "Once popularised and accepted by the entire nation, carried out by government teams hand-picked from professional elites and controlled by Parliament, [a plan to redress Romania] will be overseen by His Majesty the King.(...)
- The corporatist regime culminates in the kingly authority."
Crainic advocated creation of a Romanian spirit that was “antisemitic in theory and antisemitic in practice.” He applied his theological and rhetorical skills to breaking the Judeo-Christian relationship by arguing that the Old Testament was not Jewish, that Jesus had not been Jewish, and that the Talmud, which he saw as the incarnation of modern Jewry, was, first and foremost, a weapon to combat the Christian Gospel and to destroy Christians.— Friling, Ioanid and Ionescu, 2005, BACKGROUND AND PRECURSORS TO THE HOLOCAUST Roots of Romanian Antisemitism The League of National Christian Defense and Iron Guard Antisemitism The Antisemitic Policies of the Goga Government and of the Royal Dictatorship
He was appointed Minister of Propaganda for the Ion Antonescu regime.
After the Soviet army defeated the Germans and occupied Romania, Crainic went into hiding. A trial was conducted in his absence and he was found guilty of crimes against the people. He was eventually caught and imprisoned by the authorities of Communist Romania in 1947, and spent 15 years in Văcăreşti and Aiud prisons. He was expelled from the Academy by the Communist regime.
Between 1962 and 1968 he was the editor of the Communist propaganda magazine Glasul Patriei ("The Voice of the Motherland") - a magazine published in Romania by the Romanian Communist regime but sold only abroad, which they used as a tool to try to influence the Romanian intellectual émigrés to be patriotic and not work against the Communist Romania.
Described by the historian Zigu Ornea as “always adaptable” (249), Nichifor Crainic (1889–1972) joined and left a number of these groups while repeatedly attempting to establish himself as an ideologue who could draw the various ultra-nationalist parties together into a united front. ... Crainic occupied senior positions within right-wing regimes between 1940 and 1944, and after he was released from prison in the 1960s the Romanian Communist Party used his talents and reputation as an informer and a “reformed” ultra-nationalist to add credibility to its regime.— Clark (2012: 108)
- (Romanian) Cicerone Ionițoiu, "Victimele terorii comuniste. Arestaţi, torturaţi, întemniţaţi, ucişi. Dicţionar C", p.245
- Roland Clark, "Nationalism and orthodoxy: Nichifor Crainic and the political culture of the extreme right in 1930s Romania." Nationalities Papers. Jan 2012, Vol. 40 Issue 1, pp. 107-126. 20p. Quote: „The institute only lasted one year, but allowed Crainic to advance ideas such as anti-Masonry, anti-Semitism, and biological racism within an LANC-approved forum (Crainic, Ortodoxie 147).”
- Ovidiu Caraiani, "Identities and Rights in Romanian Political Discourse" Polish Sociological Review, No. 142 (2003), pp. 161-169. Quote: „Nae Ionescu considered ethnicity as "the formula of today's Romanian nationalism," while for Nichifor Crainic the "biological homogeneousness," the "historical identity" and the "blood and the soil" were the defining elements of the "ethnocratic state."”
- Michael Wedekind, "The mathematization of the human being: anthropology and ethno-politics in Romania during the late 1930s and early 1940s" New Zealand Slavonic Journal, Vol. 44 (2010), pp. 27-67. Quote: „A prominent proponent of the concept of 'ethnic homogeneity' was the chauvinistic, xenophobic and pro-Nazi writer, politician, poet and professor of Theology Nichifor Crainic (1889-1972), author of "Orthodoxy and Ethnocracy" (Ortodoxie și etnocrație), published in 1938.”
- Irina Livezeanu, (review) Maria Bucur. Eugenics and Mordernization in Interwar Romania. (Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies.) Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 2002. Pp. 298. $24.95. The American Historical Review, Vol. 108, No. 4 (October 2003), pp. 1245-1247. Quote: „Clearly there were affinities between the eugenicists and thinkers, writers, and politicians on the extreme Right such as Nichifor Crainic, Nae Ionescu, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Octavian Goga, and A.C. Cuza.”
- Radu Ioanid, "Nicolae Iorga and Fascism" Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul., 1992), pp. 467-492. Quote: „Amongst those arrested for Duca's assassination were Nae Ionescu and Nichifor Crainic (a fascist ideologue, mediator between the NCP and the Iron Guards).”
- "Antisemitic Propaganda and Official Rhetoric concerning the Judeo-Bolshevik Danger: Romanian Jews and Communism between 1938–1944" in Tuvia Friling, Radu Ioanid and Mihail Ionescu (eds.), 2005, The International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania Final Report, Polirom Publications, pp. 93, 116 (English).
- "Background and Precursors to the Holocaust. Roots of Romanian Antisemitism. The League of National Christian Defense and Iron Guard Antisemitism. The Antisemitic Policies of the Goga Government and the Royal Dictatorship" in Tuvia Friling, Radu Ioanid and Mihail Ionescu (eds.), 2005, The International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania Final Report, Polirom Publications, pp. 35-37 (English).
- Cornelius R. Zach and Krista Zach, (review) Dietmar Müller Staatsbürger auf Widerruf. Juden und Muslime als Alteritätspartnimer rumänischen und serbischen Nationscode. Ethnonationale Staatsbürgerschaftskonzepte 1871-1941. Harrassowitz Verlag Wiesbaden 2005. 537 S. = Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen, 41. ISBN 3-447-05248-1. Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Neue Folge, Bd. 58, H. 4 (2010), pp. 609-611. Quote: „Die ideologischen Mentoren der "jungen Generation", Nae Ionescu und Nichifor Crainic, lieferten den Antisemiten (besonders der legionären Bewegung) ein theoretisches Gerüst für ihre Argumentation.”
- Dennis Deletant, (review) Oldson, William O. A Providential Anti-Semitism. Nationalism and Polity in Nineteenth-Century Romania. The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1991. ix + 177 pp. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $20.00. Volovici, Leon. The Case of Romanian Intellectuals in the 1930s. Studies in Antisemitism. Pergamon Press, Oxford, New York, Seoul and Tokyo, 1991. ix + 213 pp. Bibliography. Index. £25.00. The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 546-548. Quote: „Volovici's study is a complementary one; it examines competently the role of the Romanian intelligentsia in the inter-war years in legitimizing anti-Semitic ideas and thus facilitating public acceptance of them. Octavian Goga and Nichifor Crainic were extreme examples and Volovici rightly highlights their deeds and writings.”
- Crainic, Programul statului etnocratic
- Roland Clark (2012): Nationalism and orthodoxy: Nichifor Crainic and the political culture of the extreme right in 1930s Romania, Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 40:1, 107-126
- Peter F. Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, University Press of America, 1995 (includes transcript of Crainic's essay)
- The Report of the International Committee for the Study of Holocaust in Romania (on the Romanian Presidency site) - a review of the several Anti-Semitic doctrines, including Crainic's, that contributed to genocide of the Holocaust.