PAGE TO BE UPDATED (List in no particular order)
Born on July 16, 1914 in Balti, Bessarabia (eastern Moldavia), he witnessed the 1940 Soviet invasion and occupation of his native land. In 1941 he helped establish the first Romanian commando units. After the post-war communist take-over of entire Romania, he became member of the National resistance Movement (anti-communist movements which found refuge in the Carpathian mountains).
He was subsequently captured and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After a spectacular escape from prison, he fled to France where he joined the Romanian Military Intelligence Service in Exile (which was assisted by the French government). He returned to Romania for espionage and to try to support the anti-communist movements, but was captured again and received an even longer sentence.
He was released in 1964 due to a special amnesty decree. He died in 1979 from sickness caused by the years in prison.
Ecaterina Teodoroiu – Romanian teacher/ nurse turned soldier. She fought and died in World War 1.
Born on January 15, 1894 in the historical region of Oltenia, Southern Romania. She became a teacher, and during World War I she assisted the Romanian troops as a nurse.
Motivated by the loss of her father and brothers during the war, she joined the Romanian Army in 1916. In late 1916, she falls prisoner but escapes. She’s wounded in Filiasi battle; after recovery, she returns on the front. She’s decorated with the “Military virtue” medal for her commitment and honorable conduct.
In September 3, 1917 the decisive Marasesti battle took place, in which the Romanian army defeated the German army, bringing an end to the temporary German occupation. Ecaterina was killed while leading her platoon as a second lieutenant.
She was buried with military honors in her native town.
Born in Bucharest in 1869, he studied in Bucharest and Paris. In 1897 he graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree. He worked as a professor of medicine in Bucharest for most of his life.
In 1916, he succeeded in developing an aqueous pancreatic extract (pancreine) which, when injected into a diabetic dog, proved to have a normalizing effect on blood sugar levels. He is called up for military service in World War I.
He resumed his research in 1921 and published several papers at the Romanian Section of the Society of Biology in Paris. He published an additional study paper in International Archives of Physiology in Belgium. In 1922, Paulescu secured the patent rights for his method.
In 1923, Frederick Banting and John Macleod of Canada receive the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin. In 1931, Paulescu died without seeing any public recognition for his studies. (read more on the subject Denied the prize)
Born on May 15, 1838 in Pitaru village, Vallachia. In 1943, he moved to Bucharest with family after the passing of his father. From the age of 10, under the guidance of painter Anton Chladek, Nicolae started doing paintings and compositions for historical churches and monasteries. From 1861 he studied at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he became influenced by the Barbizon school of painters (open-air painting). He moved to the French countryside in order to deepen this new artistic concept.
In 1877, he accompanied the Romanian Army as a frontline painter in the War of Independence. He worked in his personal workshop in Paris until 1890, when he settled back in Romania and started depicting everyday life in the countryside.
Grigorescu became honorary member of the Romanian Academy in 1899. He passed away in 1907 in Campina, Romania, leaving his last work, Întoarcerea de la bâlci, unfinished.
He remained ingrained in Romanian culture as a painter and depicter of the Romanian spirit.
Born on 25 September 1913 in Bucharest. In 1934 she joined Cărăbuş Theatre as am actress. In 1937 she made her debut in musical hall theatres, Alhambra and Gioconda. She represented Romania in various international cultural events, while her musical career expanded.
During World War II, she went on stage tours singing in front of soldiers injured on the battlefield. After the war, she continued her career as an actress in classical plays such as “The Living Corpse” by Leo Tolstoy, and in musical comedies. In 1952, she started her teaching profession at the Music School in Bucharest.
In 1963, she died of cancer. She received numerous posthumous awards and is regarded as a cultural icon.
In 1922, he wins a scholarship at the Faculty of medicine and becomes scholar of the Military Medical Institute. During his studies, he makes research in neurology, psychology and methodology of knowledge and logics. In 1928 he gets a PhD in medicine and surgery.
On 1 May 1929, he publishes “Method of thoracic transonance” study in which he formulates the reversibility law. In 1935, he publishes the volume “La Phonoscopie, nouvelle methode d’exploration clinique”. Republished in Paris, it was awarded with “General Physician Dr. Papiu Alexandru” prize, granted to military physicians.In 1936 Odobleja publishes the work entitled “Phonoscopy and the clinical semiotics”. In 1937 he participates in the IXth International Congress of Military Medicine with the paper “Demonstration de phonoscopie”, where he disseminates his future work “The Consonantist Psychology”.
In 1938, his work Psychologie consonantiste (french for The Consonantist Psychology) made up of 2 volumes of 900 pages, is published in Paris. In this work, Odobleja lays the theoretical foundations of the generalized cybernetics. His starting point was psychology – an original idea unlike the attempts of that time to substantiate the sciences and which were relying upon mathematical logics and linguistics.
Due to the invasion of France and beginning of WW2, his work goes unnoticed. Stefan Odobleja’s revolutionary ideas on cybernetics came 10 years before Norbert Wiener’s similar theories, who ended up being considered the father of cybernetics.
During the war, Odobleja was chief physician in the army. In 1946, he expressed intention of working in research but, with the installment of the new communist regime, he was forced to retire from the army and live on a modest military pension.
The newly installed communist government declared cybernetics a science of capitalist nature and Odobleja was put under surveillance and home arrest.
Poverty-stricken and politically oppressed, Stefan Odobleja died of cancer on September 4 1978, without seeing recognition for his revolutionary studies.
Extracts from “La Phonoscopie” published in 1935, show a man aware of his avan-garde works, well ahead of his time
“Unfortunately, for now,our possibilities are limited. The foundation of our scientific knowledge is the first step. The last stepto be achieved is the introduction of the instruments of acoustic precision- which are still awaiting their inventors. “
“It’s harder to convince people of a truth than it is to find it, because the truth was most often found by intuition, if not by hazard. For the man who found the truth, it seems simple and easy… while for others, you must explain in numerous syllogisms; you must also erase all previous opinions – a process which is always disagreeable and which arouses opposition by a very natural reaction, whose roots go beyond the psychology and even biology, as physical phenomena is always dominated by the conflict between action and inertia. “
Instructed by Petre Ivanovici, Irina Burnaia obtained her pilot license in 1933, becoming the this female pilot (after Elena Stoenescu–Caragiani and Ioana Cantacuzino). She made a flight over the Prahova Valley, becoming the first woman who flew over the Carpathians.
On January 3 1935, she started, together with Peter Ivanovici, a large-scale flight from Bucharest (Romania) to Cape Town (South Africa). After a race full of adventures, often caused by malfunction of the aircraft, the two had to interrupt their trip in East Africa.
She went on to achieve more flight raids: Bucharest – Rome (1937), Bucharest – Ankara – Baghdad – Bucharest (1938) and Bucharest – Warsaw – Berlin – Amsterdam – London (1939) and attended the International Aviation Meeting in Rimini, Italy (1939).
After the installation of the communist regime in 1945, she was persecuted and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor. She managed to flee the country, settling in Geneva in 1948.
Irina wrote a autobiographical book “Aripile mele” (My wings), dedicated to her coach Petre Ivanovici, who died in an accident in 1936.
Born on February 19 1876, in Hobitza, Romania in a family of peasants. He inherited his family’s natural gift of wood carving (a tradition in Romania). He studied sculpture at the School of Arts and Crafts in Craiova and the National School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. In 1903 he left for France (by foot), stopping by in each major city, eager to discover the world and explore the arts.
He studied at École des Beaux-Arts, where he became acquainted with the avant-garde. He cultivated his own style with various influences, all developed around Romanian-style wood carving, stone, bronze and marble.
A few of his major works include: Endless Column, Mademoiselle Pogany, the Sleeping Muse, the Kiss, Bird in Space, Gate of the Kiss.
Though considered an abstract artist, Brancusi claimed that “that which they call abstract is the most realistic”, and that he “sought to portray the essence of things” with his sculptures. His works were provocative in their time, the merit of his work becoming acknowledged especially after his death.
In 1957, Brancusi died in Paris.
After the installment of communism in his native Romania, the art of Brancusi was censored and the new government refused to receive his works, which Brancusi intended to send to Romania. After his death, his works (over 200 sculptures and 1000 photographs) ended up in the custody of the French authorities.
Brancusi was elected posthumously in the Romanian Academy in 1990 following the fall of the communist regime. The Romanian authorities are hoping to succeed to return his remains, to be buried next to his family.
Born on November 10, 1887 in Galati. After high school, Elisa tried to enroll in the School of Bridges and Roads Bucharest but was rejected because of prejudices. She studied in Berlin and in 1909 she enrolled in the Royal Academy of Technicians.
In 1912, Elisa graduated with honors, becoming the first woman engineer in the world. She was head of the Geological Institute of Romania and, in parallel, she worked as a teacher of physics and chemistry.
As Chairman of the Committee for peace from the Geological Institute, she took a strong attitude against atomic weapons, addressing a legitimate protest of disarmament in front of the Lancaster House in London, focusing on the threat of nuclear weapons. Her intervention was communicated to the UN.
Born on May 23, 1883 in Fălticeni. Dimitrie became an electrical engineer and a professor in Timisoara and Bucharest. In 1908 he founded the first school for electricians and mechanics in Romania, and a year later he founded the first Technical Museum.
Leonida participated in Romania’s electrification plan and developed major projects such as the construction of Izvorul Muntelui lake-dam. He designed and led the construction works of power plants, mountain tunnels and electricity distribution networks.
Born in Bucharest on November 14, 1869, the daughter of scientist and writer Bogdan Hasdeu. When she was 6 years old, she wrote a novel about the life and work of Michael the Brave. At the age of 8 she graduated from primary school, and was fluent in French, English and German. At age 11, she graduated from “St. Sava” National College, while also studying at the Conservatory of Music from Bucharest.
In 1881, accompanied by her mother, Iulia goes to Paris, where she enters “Sévigné” College and passes the Baccalaureate exam. In 1886, Iulia enrolls at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at Sorbonne University and attends courses at the École des Hautes Études in Paris.
Iulia gave two lectures at the university on the logic of hypothesis and on the second book of Herodotus. She started writing a doctoral thesis with the theme centered around Romanian folk philosophy: logic, psychology, metaphysics, ethics and theodicy.
While preparing her thesis, a fragile Iulia contracted tuberculosis in Paris, a disease which at the time was spreading like fire in the big cities of Europe, killing scores of people.
After treatments in France, Italy and Switzerland, Iulia returns to Bucharest, aware that her end is near. She dies on september 29 1888 and is buried at Bellu Cemetery where Haşdeu, torn by grief, builds her a temple in the family vault.
In her memory, her father lifted the Iulia Hasdeu castle in Campina, with the “spiritual guidance of his daughter” with whom he communicated until the last moment of life (according to his own statements). He dedicated the rest of his life to publishing her works and memories such as Bourgeons d’Avril, Fantésies et Rêves, Chevalerie, Confidences et Canevas şi Théâtre, Légendes et Contes (all published in French and Romanian).
An inconsolable father, he claimed to have heard his daughter’s words from beyond the grave, telling him:
“I am happy. I love you; we will meet again.”
Grigore Antipa – Romanian Darwinist biologist, founder the Romanian school of Hydrobiology, ichthyology and Oceanology; pioneer in the field of museology; author of modern concepts in ecology, biosociologiei and bioeconomy of biosphere.
Born in Botosani in 1867, son of a lawyer. He lost both his parents at young age and was raised by aunts. With the help of his older brother, he obtains a scholarship in Germany where he studies with Ernst Haeckel, the inventor of ecology; later, studied in France and Italy. He became certified in biology, zoology, ichthyology, ecology and oceanography.
In Italy, Antipa discovered a new medusa species “Capria sturdzii“. This triggers his interest in sea fauna, and so he begins an expedition of 9 months in the Black Sea and Danube Delta. In 1932, he established the Biooceanografic Institute in Constanta, with 2 natural reservations. In collaboration with the authorities, Antipa created a plan of rational exploitation of fisheries in the floodplain and delta of the Danube, and the sea coast. The plan doubled in 10 years the production of fish and caviar, without destroying the environment.
Antipa is the first person to modernize the diorama by emphasizing the three-dimensional aspect and the first to use dioramas in a museum setting (1907 in Bucharest). His dioramas showed life on the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, hills of Bărăgan, floodplain of the Danube Delta, wildlife in tundra regions, prairie, savannah, the Sahara desert. Antipa’s principles and innovations regarding the exposure and layout of Bucharest Natural Museum aroused the interest of foreign museums, who requested a paper on his vision regarding the organization of museums of natural history. The paper was published in 1934 – “Principes et moyens pour des Musées d’histoire at réorganisation naturelle“.
He was elected as member of the Romanian Academy in 1910 and was also a member of several foreign academies. He founded the school of hydrobiology and ichthyology in Romania. He ran Bucharest Natural museum for over 50 years (1892-1944).
He died during the war in 1944. Bucharest Natural museum now bears his name – Grigore Antipa museum.
Born on May 13, 1887, in Tecuci. Fascinated by aviation after witnessing the historic flight made by Aurel Vlaicu, she enrolled in the aviation school. Her first flight occurred in 1912, and she received her pilot license in 1914 (first female flight occurred in 1908). At the time, Elena was one of the 14 female pilots in the world.
Arsenie was born on 29 September 1910 in Vața de Sus, Hunedoara county.
He entered the Theology seminary in Sibiu. He proved to be a great artistic talent and received a scholarship at the Bucharest Institute of Arts.
Boca was entrusted to paint the scene that represents Michael the Brave from the Romanian Athenaeum. He traveled to Mount Athos for documentation and spiritual experience.
Ordained as a celibate Dean in 1935, he spends three months at the Romanian Prodromu Skete in Mount Athos, and is then established at the Sâmbăta de Sus Monastery. He helped translate into Romanian the first volumes of the Philokalia, a collection of 4th to 15th centuries early texts of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition.
After the installation of the communist regime in Romania, Boca was persecuted by the Securitate, the regime’s secret police. He was arrested several times for helping the anti-communist resistance hiding in the Carpathian mountains. He was displaced from various monasteries. He was banned from monasticism and Church activity and constantly under surveillance and harassment.
He died in November 1989, one month before the fall of communism in Romania. he was buried at Prislop Monastery. After his death, his personal writings were published, which still bring inspiration to many.
Quote extracted from declarations given during interrogation by the communist authorities:
“The wolves will be torn apart by the sheep that they attacked.“
The Minovici brothers – pioneers in Romanian medicine
“By caring for of the sick, the doctor undertakes a social and moral act, he is involved in a highly ethical performance that means virtue and truth, not vice and lies.” – Nicolae Minovici
Born on April 30, 1858 in Braila, in a modest family of aromanians. He studied at High School of Pharmacy (founded by Dr. Carol Davila in 1855). In 1878, he obtained certificate as a pharmacy assistant and starts work as laboratory assistant. He continues his studies at the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest; he specializes for 3 years in toxicology and forensic medicine in Paris. The period of study in France, though successful, is marked by conditions of extreme poverty, which he confessed in a letter to I.C Istrati. Eventually, he managed to get financial help from the Romanian authorities and in 1888, he sustained a doctoral thesis about personal studies in forensic medicine. Afterwards, Minovici is elected as member of the Society of Forensic Medicine in France.
In 1892, Minovici returns to Romania and opens a well-equipped forensic institute, the first of its kind in Europe – Forensic Institute “Professor Mina Minovici“. It had autopsy room, library, amphitheater, practice rooms and laboratories of anatomy, pathology and forensic photography. He teaches forensic medicine at the Faculty of Law in Bucharest. In 1890, Minovici became a founding member of the Society of Physical Sciences, and since 1912 he served as General Director of Health Services.
During World War I (when Romania suffered heavy losses), he helped the Red Cross and lead the Forensic Institute. He continued his scientific research, developing formulas in conservation of the human body. Mina Minovici died one year after retirement, on April 25, 1933.
After WWII, the Forensic Institute was emptied and abandoned by the communist authorities. Later it was demolished, despite its architectural and historic significance. The new forensic institute was moved to a new location in Bucharest, which still bears his name to this day.
Born on July 18 1867 in a numerous family, younger brother of Mina. In 1882 he follows his brother to Bucharest and studies at the St. Sava High school. He continues studies at the Science Faculty, in the Physics and Chemistry department.
In 1889, he is appointed assistant in physics and chemistry classes at St Sava High school. He majors in physics and chemistry in 1893 and becomes a student of “Friedrich Wilhelm” University in Berlin.
In 1894, he is appointed Professors’ assistant at “Kaiser Wilhelm” Institute in Berlin. After graduation, in 1897 he returns to Romania where he becomes teacher at the Bucharest Superior School of Pharmacy.
Stefan organizes the research laboratory of the analytical chemistry desk. he is also the founder of the Romanian Pharmacy Council General Association (1899) and The Romanian Chemistry Society in 1919. The Society will become the Romanian Official Representative in the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) headquartered in Paris, of whom he is vice-president.
In 1926 he becomes a correspondent member of the Romanian Academy.
Stefan Minovici dies unexpectedly on December 29 1935. In a final letter to the future generations, he says: “Raise yourselves through a spiritual life that elevates, through sacrifice that will noble you.”
Born on October 23 1868, the youngest brother in Minovici family. he studies at St. Sava High school and he dedicates his time to studying natural science.
In 1898 he gets a PhD in forensics. He studies pathological anatomy in Berlin, and then goes to Paris to study at the French school of psychiatry.
When he returns to Romania, Nicolae Minovici is appointed coroner for the Ilfov Law Court.
He leads a comprehensive study on hanging asphyxiation. Published in 1905 in Romanian and in French, his volume “Study on hanging” becomes a reference point for all major forensic works.
In 1906 he creates the Romanian Emergency Services, which he leads for 35 years. The local authorities did not recognize it as a public service, leaving donations as the only financial support.
Nicolae Minovici spent 5 years examining, treating and offering shelter to more than 13.000 beggars. He organized a social services office, offering social work to beggars. He opened the first shelters for unmarried single mothers. He initiated underground water systems, public fountains and night shelters.
In 1915, he receives PhD in Forensics and becomes a university professor. In 1916, during WW1 he leads the Wounded Transportation Service and is head physician of Iasi Hospital of Typhus.
In 1932 he is appointed director of the Forensics Institute. In 1934 his diligence pays off, and he convinces the authorities to create an emergency hospital, which leads to the long-awaited public funding of the Emergency Services.
In 1936 he coordinates the first number of Forensics Magazine, and in 1937 he organized the XVII the International Congress of Anthropology, held in Bucharest .
Between 1931 and 1936 he donated his entire fortune to the Romanian Athenaeum, to poor students and to the City of Bucharest. He dies in 1941 following a severe condition to his vocal cords.
George Enescu – Romanian violinist, pianist, conductor and one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.
Born on August 9 1881 in Botosani, Moldavia, he was the only surviving child out of 8 children. Due to the family tragedy, his parents devoted all their efforts to his upbringing; he began playing the violin at the age of 4. From the age of 5-6 years old, he tries his first test composition. Enescu is sent to study at the Vienna Conservatory; he makes his debut as a violinist at the age of 12, a fact much publicized by Viennese press. He continues his studies at Conservatoire de Paris.
His debut as a composer occurs in 1898 at the age of 17, at the Concerts Colonne in Paris with his Romanian Poem, Op. 1.
In the same year, he starts giving violin lessons and recitals in Bucharest. Admired by Queen Elisabeta of Romania (promoter of arts), he is often invited to perform at Peles Castle in Sinaia.
He creates his most pouplar compositions, such as the two Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11 suite no. 1 for orchestra, op. 9 his first Symphony in E flat, op. 13 Seven songs on poems by Clément Marot, op. 15.
He goes on tours in several European countries.
During the First World War, he remained in Bucharest despite the German occupation. He conducted the XIXth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz compositions, Claude Debussy, Richard Wagner. He also created Symphony no. 2, Suite for Orchestra no. 2 op. 20 . In 1913, the first National Composition Contest – founded by himself – takes place in order to stimulate local musical creation. The prizes were represented by scholarships in Paris.
After the war, Enescu continues the series of tournaments in Europe and the USA. While in the US, he conducted orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Orchestra, Chicago Symphony.
Among his students are violinists such as Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux and Yehudi Menuhin, who developed a life-long attachment to his teacher.
During the Second World War, Enescu stayed again in Bucharest and continued his work intensely, while encouraging creations of Romanian musicians.
In 1946 he went on tour in Russia, where in came in contact with first-hand figures of Russian music. After receiving Yehudi Menuhin visit to Bucharest, he goes on tour in the United States. Upon returning to Europe, he settled in Paris, in protest against the newly-installed Communist regime in Romania.
Some of his last works include the String Quartet op. 22, no. 2 symphonic poem Vox Maris op. 31, Chamber Symphony op. 33.
George Enescu died on May 4 1955 in Paris, in relative poverty and obscurity. Cantacuzino palace, where he lived during his stay in Bucharest (before being taken over by communists) became the George Enescu memorial museum.
Check out Ballad for Violin – composed by Enescu at the age of 14
The Mozart we missed – 2002 Guardian article
Smaranda Braescu – the first female Romanian parachutist and the third in European history, 1931 European skydiving champion of 1931, 1932 world champion and a world record achiever crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Born on May 21 1897 in Hânţeşti, Galati county. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest, she became a teacher in her native village. In 1928, she was invited by German engineer Heinecken went to Berlin to attend skydiving; here, she made his first jump.
Back in Romania, she suffered a serious diving accident in 1929 but recovered after 6 months. She returned to General Inspectorate of Aeronautics and continues her preparation. On October 2nd 1931, she executed a 6000 meter jump without oxygen mask, which became world record (for women).
In 1934, she received a civil pilot license from Curtis Weight pilot training school in New York. On April 27, 1936, she crossed the mountains of Yugoslavia. In May 1936, she flew over 1100 km in a straight line over the Mediterranean Sea from Rome to Tripoli, to Sorman, Athens, Bulgaria and then Bucharest.
During World War Two, she was part of the White Squadron (Escadrila Alba), a medical unit made up of planes by Romanian female pilots.
After the communists took over, she was condemned to 2 years in prison for opposing the regime. She hid from authorities and died in 1948.
Nicolae Steinhardt – Romanian Writer and Orthodox monk of Jewish origin. He converted to Christianity while being locked up in a communist prison, and went on to write about his amazing experiences in an autobiographical book “The Diary of Happiness”.
Steinhardt was born in 1912 in Bucharest, in a privileged Jewish family. His father, an engineer-architect, had been decorated for his military contribution during the Marasesti battle of WW1.
Nicolae was licensed in Law and Literature at the University of Bucharest, and in 1936 he took a PhD in Constitutional Law.
He worked for a literary magazine until 1940, when he lost his job after Jews were eliminated from high ranking jobs by the Iron Guard. Despite this, Steinhardt praised Romanian general Antonescu for refusing to deport Romanian-Jews at Hitler’s pressures.
In 1944, he regained his job but lost it when communists came to power, who persecuted all non-communist intellectuals(regardless of ethnicity). In 1959, he refused to testify against a fellow Romanian writer and was sentenced to 13 years of hard labor.
In prison, he converted to Orthodox Christianity (baptized in a prison corner, whispering, as practice of religion was forbidden). His godfather was Vidraşcu Emanuel, Chief Cabinet Secretary in Antonescu’s government. In 1964, he was released together with numerous political detainees following an international amnesty agreement. He went on to become a writer and a monastic figure, however his writings were censored by communists. A few months before the fall of communism, he died and was buried at Rohia monastery. After 1989, his censored books were published. “Jurnalul Fericirii” (“Diary of Happiness”) is a comprehensive, autobiographical book where he talks about his life, about prison torture, about views on the war and others.
Father Mina, who baptized Steinhardt into Christianity, recalled the moment he met him in prison: “We were about 60 in the cell, 3 rows of bunk beds. One night, the door is pushed open and a man is thrown in, frightened and confused. All the beds were occupied, there were even 2 men in bed. I saw him and I told him to climb next to me. The next day he told me that his name is Nicolae Steinhardt and that he’s a Jew.” The moment of baptism: “I had no sacred vessels, no proper clothes, I had nothing. I saved some bread from dinner and I made some wine from 2 pounds of grapes that we received in a package in the labor colony.”
Ana Pauker – pro-Bolshevik militant before Word War II and Romanian communist leader after the installation of the regime. Though a negative figure, her biography is necessary to understand Romania’s history.
Born on December 13, 1893 as Hannah Rabinsohn into a Jewish family in Vaslui (Moldavia). She got involved early on in politics as a Socialist, while her brother was a Zionist. In 1921 the pro-Bolshevik faction lead by Pauker took control of the Socialist party and joined it with Comiterm (Communist International). This was to become the future Communist party. Ana and her brother were arrested for suspicious political activities. They ran into exile in differnet European countries and ended up in Moscow where she entered Comintern’s International Lenin School, which trained top functionaries of the Communist movements in Europe.
She continued to be involved in various pro-communist activities in Europe, and when returning to Romania she was arrested again. She escaped and returned to Romania when the Red Army occupied it in 1944. A national “purge” occurred, where every non-communist politician, intellectual, writer, journalist etc was arrested, executed or sentenced to years of hard labor. Non-communists were ousted and Ana Pauker became leading political figure, making her also the first woman to hold a major position in politics.
Pauker served as the country’s foreign minister in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was the unofficial leader of the Romanian Communist Party right after World War II. Time magazine described her in 1948 as “the most powerful woman alive.” She opposed prosecuting the leaders of the Romanian Zionist movement, who were arrested in July 1950.
Her brother, emigrated to Israel, returned to Romania to support the Zionist movement and to garner information for the Israeli embassy. They were both arrested and were awaiting trial. After Stalin’s death in 1953, she was placed under house arrest in Bucharest and lived so until her death from cancer in 1960.
Vlad Tepes (Dracula) – ruling prince of Vallachia and military leader who fiercly opposed the conqueror of Constantinople – Mehmed II. Defamatory pamphlets from his enemies made him known as a demonic prince.
*Two decades earlier, the Ottoman’s first invaded Vallachia and were pushed away until eventually the ruling prince agreed to pay tribute in exchange for freedom. During Vlad’s rule, Ottomans conquered Constantinople, acquiring even more power. Vlad maintained a strong anti-Ottoman stance, as did future descendants to the throne.
Vlad Tepes was born in 1431 in Sighisoara, Transylvania. He was Mircea the Elder‘s nephew and first cousin with Stephen the Great, ruler of Moldavia.
His father was Vlad Dracula, a knight of the Order of the Dragon (from where “Dracula” resulted), a military-religious group whose aim was the expulsion of Turks from Europe. His father was betrayed and murdered by the boyars in collaboration with his eldest son, Mircea. At age 13, Vlad and his brother Radu the Handsome were held as political hostages by the Ottoman Turks for years. Radu became close to the Sultan while Vlad remained rebellious.
In 1436, Vlad ascended the throne of Vallachia. He was ousted in 1442 by rival factions in league with Hungary, but secured Ottoman support for his return by agreeing to pay the Tribute to the Sultan.
Upon his return, Vlad encountered an impoverished and neglected country. He applied vigorous economic reforms, cities and monasteries were rebuilt and reinforced, corruption was diminished and economic prosperity of the country grew higher than even during the reign of his illustrious grandfather, Mircea the Elder. He imposed taxes, which dissatisfied the privileged Saxons merchants and boyars (landowners who considered themselves rulers over the land and peasants). Vlad also applied reforms in the military, building a well-structured army. (source)
In 1453, Constantinople is conquered by Mehmet II, which brings an end the Byzantine Empire. The threat of Ottoman invasion into Europe becomes real and Pope Pius II calls for a European crusade against the Ottomans which is centered around Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary. He receives enough financial support to build a big army. Vlad allies himself with Corvinus against the Ottomans in his desire to keep Vallachia free.
When asked to pay the yearly tribute by the Sultan, Vlad Tepes refused and the Turkish envoys sent for the tribute are killed. The Ottoman army which is sent to punish him is totally slaughtered by Vlad’s army.
In 1462, Sultan Mehmed built a large army. Another series of clashes takes place, which caused great damage to the Turks. A plot was built to remove Vlad, finding an ally in Radu the Handsome (brother of Vlad Tepes) and in the boyars who were desperate to regain their privileges.
Well-equipped battalions lead by Radu the Handsome, together with the betrayal of the boyars, managed to push Vlad out from Vallachia.
Tepes waited for the promised army from his military ally Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, but the army was never sent. In a surprise betrayal, he was captured by Matthias’ own men and imprisoned for a few years.
Historians revealed that Matthias Corvinus presented false letters to the Pope, claiming Vlad had shifted to the Ottoman side and was unworthy of military support.
In 1476, with the support of Hungary’s new king and Moldavian troops sent by his cousin Stephen, Vlad Tepes regained the throne. Left to on his own son after without enough time to build a new army, he was overwhelmed by renewed Turkish attacks.
Vlad Tepes fell victim to an act of treason by hostile boyars who assisted the Turks; he was killed in 1477.
A short mention by Byzantine writer Laonikos Chalkokondyles (1423-1490) in “Historiarum Demonstrationes”:
“This winter while staying in his palaces, the king (sultan Mohamed) sent after Vlad, son of Dracula and lord of Dacia; he had with himself his younger brother Radu the Handsome, who was his favorite and who was living at his residence. And so it happened that during his reign, before the Karaman battle, wanting to have relations with this boy, he nearly died at the hands of Radu himself. He called him at parties and while giving a passionate toast to him, he called him in his bedroom. The boy, without suspecting anything, saw the sultan rushing toward him but he resisted and did not give in to the king’s desire. He kissed the boy against his will, who pulled a dagger and stroke him in the thigh and ran away. The doctors healed the king’s wound. And the boy climbed up a tree and stayed hidden. But after the king left the palace, the boy came down from the tree, and not long afterward he came to the palace gate and became the king’s favorite.”
Unhappy with Vlad’ economic reforms which slashed their privileges, the Saxon merchants of Transylvania wrote popular pamphlets and reprinted them in various languages, which were spread throughout Europe. They described Vlad’s acts of cruelty in a fictional, demonic manner (such as drinking blood and roasting children), which fed the imagination of people already living in the cruel times of the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church, Witch hunting and such.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula was inspired by Vlad Tepes. Bram never traveled to Transylvania and was inspired by the fictional portrayals from German pamphlets, which described impalement as Vlad’s favorite method of execution..
The exclusivity of execution by impalement does not belong to the Vallachian prince. Historical data attest to the use of the impalement by Assyrians, Turks, Russians, Poles, Swedes and Germans, who had been impaling people for 400 years, from 1200 until 1643.
Stephen the Great – first cousin of Vlad Dracula, Moldavia’s ruling prince for 47 years. Won 46 battles and lost 2 battles. Defended Moldavia against neighboring empires and won European fame for resistance against Ottomans.
Stephen was born in 1433 in Borzesti, Bacau County.
In 1457, Stephen was crowned after he removes Petru Aron, the man guilty of murdering his father for the throne. Helped by his cousin Vlad Tepes (Vlad Dracula), Vallachia’s Prince, Stephen the Great defeated Aron during the battles at Doljesti and Orbic, being named crown prince of Moldavia’s throne.
In 1467, Stephen repels an invasion attempt by Hungarian troops lead by King Matthias Corvinus, the same man who betrayed Vlad Tepes in his fight against the Ottoman threat. Corvinus gave up and later assisted Stephen by sending troops.
January 10, 1475 – decisive battle against a large Ottoman army of over 100.000 Turks sent by Mohammed II. The Turks wanted to punish Stephen because he had helped Vlad Dracula regain his Vallachian throne but are defeated by Stephen’s smaller army due to his military genius.
Stephen received a sword as a gift from Pope Sixtus in recognition of the ruler’s role in defending Christianity. (see more here)
The following year in 1476, the Turks try to weaken the Moldavians by sending in the Tatars to attack on multiple fronts. A large Ottoman army follows, and the battle causes major losses on both sides. Turks try to conquer Moldavian fortresses but fail, and so they retreat.
In a common effort to prevent growing Ottoman threat, Stephen and the Polish king John Albert made a joint plan at the conference of Levoca (1494). Initiating the campaign, John Albert also hoped to capture the towns of Chilia and Belgorod at the mouths of the Danube and Dniester rivers. But Stephen suspected that he intended to depose him and put his own brother, Sigismund, on the Moldavian throne. When the Polish forces entered Moldavia in 1497, they met fierce resistance from Stephen’s army and suffered a heavy defeat at Suceava in 1497. When Stephen’s army got close to Krakow, a peace plan was drafted in 1499. (source)
In 1503, Stephen concluded a treaty with Sultan Baiazid II, which ensured Moldavia’s independence in exchange for a tribute payment to the Sultan.
Previously shot in leg during a battle, Stephen was again wounded in 1486 Scheia battle. His leg wound aggravated and lead to complications which brought him untimely agonizing death. He was buried at Putna monastery, built by himself in 1470.
Stephen denoted himself through the strong connection to his orthodox Christian faith, attributing his numerous victories to God and building a monastery after each decisive battle, which today are part of the Unesco World Heritage. After each victory, he was known to feast and pray, instead of celebrating.
In 1992, Stephen the Great was canonized by Romanian Orthodox Church.
Stephen’s sword ended up in Turkish hands when they invaded Moldavia in 1538, lead by Stephen’s son at the time. It can be seen today at Topkapi Palace. Read more: http://sword-site.com/thread/769/sword-stephen-great-iii-moldavia#ixzz3JcMBOlqD
Mihai Eminescu – journalist, poet, novelist. Considered the most influential Romanian poet, he was one of the last great Romantics.
Born on January 15 1859, in Botosani, Moldavia. Mihai spends his childhood in Ipotesti, a village where his parents had a small estate.
He made his literary debut at 16. He went on tours with theatrical companies. Eminescu studied philosophy in Vienna and Berlin. Back in Romania, he worked in education and joined literary circle Junimea (“Youth”).
Eminescu’s journalistic career starts at Timpul (Time) newspaper in Bucharest. He published the most illustrative poems of his early years: “The Dissolute Youth,” “The Epigones,” “Mortua Est,” “Angel and Demon,” and “Emperor and Proletarian.” His poetical universe shifted to the spheres of magic offered by folklore and possible grounds for a love that was both a dream and a transfiguration. This is how Luceafarul (Evening Star) poem was born, considered a masterpiece.
Mihai was also a journalist, where he denounced the defective internal affairs and external politics.
In a time when the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian empires were secretly dividing among themselves the territories that were rebelling against Ottoman rule, Eminescu denounced the secret pact with germans and russians to cease control over Transylvania and parts of Moldavia (source). He criticized the corruption of the political class against national interests. He denounced the second-hand status of ethnicities (Romanians incl.) compared to Hungarians and Germans in the Austro-Hungarian empire. He promoted the idea of public workers being appointed according to experience and integrity, instead of political elections which were easily fraudable.
In 1883, Eminescu fell ill from unknown causes and was hospitalized in a clinic. He spent the following years in and out of various hospitals, while his health deteriorated. He died suddenly on 1889. Although diagnosed with syphilis, his autopsy was conducted in suspicious conditions and remained inconclusive.
In 1883, Eminescu denounced a secret pact with Austro-Hungary, which eliminated possibility for Romanians (ethnic majority) in Transylvania to advocate for their rights. On June 28 1883, Otto von Bismark threatens Romania with war for not signing the pact, after which journalists and political activists are arrested, and newspapers suspended. Official statement tells of how Eminescu “fell into sudden madness”; he is forbidden to publish articles. In october of same year, the pact with Austro-Hungary is signed. (source)
In 1888, with the help of life-long lover Veronica, he published a few more articles, after which he is forcefully hospitalized. He died a few years later, and his true cause of death was revealed 165 later – intoxication with mercury while in hospital, which brought about his untimely death.
His legend lived on as a great poet, however his journalistic work was censored and remained unknown to the public. After World War II, it was forbidden by the communist regime.
Veronica Micle was born in Năsăud, Transylvania. Her father Ilie died in 1849, fighting under Avram Iancu for the rights of Romanians of Transylvania. Her mother moved to Moldavia.
Veronica graduated from Iaşi Central School for Girls, where she denoted herself for her high-intelligence. Her graduation exam proctor was the Rector of the University of Iaşi, Professor Ştefan Micle. Impressed by his student, Micle, 30 years her senior, asked for her hand in marriage from her mother, who accepted due to dire financial situation. They had two daughters: Virginia and Valeria.
In 1872, Veronica met Eminescu in Vienna, where they began a friendship. Their friendship had become love in 1875, which remained a secret. Eminescu left for Bucharest in 1877 to work for Timpul magazine. Her husband died in 1879, leaving her with no means to support herself. She comes to Bucharest to seek a pension and her and Eminescu become a public couple. A stillborn child in May 1880. In 1883, Eminescu is forcefully hospitalized.
After his sudden death in June 1889, she retired to Varatec monastery where she put together a volume called Dragoste şi Poezie (Love and Poetry), with poems of her own and those of Eminescu dedicated to her.
In august 1889, only 3 months after Eminescu’s death, an inconsolable Veronica commits suicide. She is buried at the monastery.
Born in 1882 in a village of Tecuci. He studied n Bucharest and Germany and took a major in ancient history. Parvan became professor at the University of Bucharest and member of the Romanian Academy. He opened and supervised numerous archeological sites on the territory of Romania, the biggest being in Histria of Constanta county (where an ancient Greek citadel was discovered).
Parvan wrote important works such as “Nationality merchants of the Roman Empire”, considered one of the best studies on the evolution of trade in classical ancient times. Also “Dacia: An Outline of the Early Civilization of the Carpatho-Danubian Countries”, and “Getica” where he described the political and cultural role of Getae-Dacians. Other works: “Marc Aurelius versus Caesar and L. Aurelius Commodus”, “Epigraphic Contributions to the History of Daco-Roman Christianism”, “The Trophaeum Citadel”, “Dawns of Roman Life at the Danube Mouths”, “Dacia”, “Ancient Civilisations of the Carpathian-Danube Areas”
He played vital role in the creation of the school of archeology and launched history magazines “Ephemeris Dacoromana”, “Diplomatarium Italicum” and the “Dacia” Journal.
On June 26, 1927 he died suddenly from a neglected appendicitis leaving his work unfinished.
Born on November 19, 1882 into a peasant family in a small village near Orastie city.
In 1902, he finishes high school in Orastie and takes the Baccalaureate at Sibiu. In 1907, he earns an engineer diploma after studying in Budapest and Munchen.
He works as an engineer at Opel Engine Factory in Russelheim, Germany. In 1910 he returns to Orastie and begins the construction of his first airplane, named “Vlaicu I”. The airplane is extremely well built, stable and very maneuverable, and wins him several prizes at international contest abroad. His aircraft’s originality resided in innovative plane construction, engineered by Vlaicu himself.
His flight tests with the model so impressed government officials that he was able to secure permission to build a full-scale airplane at the Army Arsenal Factory.
Having successfully flown the first Romanian-built airplane, Vlaicu began working on “Vlaicu II” in 1911. During a flight tour across several Romanian towns, Vlaicu achieved an altitude of 3,281 feet and a range speed of 56 miles per hour. At the 1912 International Contest in Aspern, Austria, he won first prize for hitting a designated target from an altitude of 984 feet with a projectile and second prize for the most accurate landing.
In 1913, he finishes “Vlaicu III”, the first all-metal aeroplane in the world, with which he intended to become the first person to fly an airplane over the Carpathian Mountains. Upon learning that another man was also planning to make the attempt, Vlaicu decided not to wait and took off from Bucharest in “Vlaicu II.”
Vlaicu’s friends completed the built of “Vlaicu III”. In 1918, his high school in Orastie was named in his honor.
Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) – ruling prince of Vallachia, he united the principalities of Transylvania, Vallachia and Moldavia.
Mihai’s reign over the principality of Vallachia began in 1593.
In 1595, Clement VIII initiated an alliance of Christian European powers to take part in the war with the Ottoman Empire, which Vallachia (lead by Mihai), Moldavia and Transylvania became part of. A series of anti-ottoman revolts begin in Vallachia
In 1595, Mihai’s troops faced the Ottomans in the Battle of Călugăreni and obtained victory. Counter-offensive makes him retreats in the mountains with his troops while awaiting additional troops from his allies. With the help of transylvanian and moldavian troops, further major cities and military fortresses are liberated. After loss of Hungarian troops in Keresztes, Mihai signs a peace treaty with Ottomans in 1597 in exchange for tribute payment. He also signs a pact with Transylvanian’s Rudolph who recognizes his rule as legitimate.
Moldavia’s prince was replaced in the meantime by a pro-polish ruler, whose interests were against the Christian alliance, signed by the previous Moldavian ruler. Transylvania’s Sigismund was also replaced with a pro-polish ruler Andrei Bathory.
In 1599, with written approval from Rudolph II in Prague, he invades Transylvania and removes Andrei Bathory, making Mihai defacto ruler. In 1600, Mihai removes Ieremia Movila from Modavia’s throne. he declares the union of the 3 principalities in May 1600.
The sudden shift of power made the neighboring empires and local boyars unhappy. Assaulted by both Hungarian nobility and Polish troops, Mihai is driven out of Moldavia and Transylvania. The Polish army also established a pro-polish ruler in Vallachia.
Actor Amza Pellea (who carried striking resemblance) as Michael the Brave
During a last visit to Prague, Mihai is granted assistance by Emperor Rudolph. Mihai reorganized his troops and regained control of Vallachia and Moldavia, preparing for an assault on Transylvania together with general Basta.
Eager to keep control of Transylvania against a new Romanian reunion, Emperor Rudolph betrays Mihai by ordering his assassination. Mihai is killed by his ally, general Basta on august 1601 in Campia Turzii.
Mihai’s wife lady Stanca was prisoner at Fagaras fortress until her death. Her memorial statue says “Here is where the tortured and eternally inconsolable wife of Michael the Brave, lady Stanca, suffered all the humiliations and threats for demanding justice for her people”
Constantin Brancoveanu (1688-1714) – Vallachian prince who contributed to the cultural, spiritual and religious legacy of Romania. Despite a generally peaceful reign, he and his family were famously imprisoned and murdered by the Sultan in an overzealous display of power.
During his reign he brought stability, economic prosperity and cultural development. Hugely wealthy, he built schools and erected numerous churches and monasteries, which also served as learning centers for students. He founded the Royal Academy in Bucharest. The architectural Renaissance “Brâncovenesc style” from innovative combination of Neo-Byzantine style and Italian Renaissance, which in early XXth century developed into neo-Romanian style.
In 1714, Constantin Brancoveanu was captured by an Ottoman envoy and brought under arrest to Constantinople together with his four sons and his brother-in-law the counsellor Ianache Vacarescu. He was deposed of his fortunes and, after 4 months of torture in prison, they were all beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the sea, but Christians recovered and buried them on the island of Halki.
In 1720, his widow Lady Maria recovered the remains and buried them in Saint George’s New Church in Bucharest.
Born in in 1870 in Vladimir, region of Oltenia in a family of landed peasants. At the age of 12, he was sent to Craiova, in service to boyar Ioan Glogoveanu, where he would later learn rhetoric, grammar and the Greek language. He became administrator of the boyar’s estate and was named leader of the local militias at Cloşani.
Tudor enrolled in the Russian army and took part in the Russo-Turkish War. He was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 3rd degree and given Russian protection and immunity from prosecution under both Wallachian and Ottoman legislation.
Taking advantage of the revolutionary anti-ottoman movements developing all across Balkans and Greece, Vladimirescu started to build a follower base in Vallachia from 1812 to 1821. He cam into contact with the Greek revolutionary society Eteria, with whom he produced a plan for insurrection. After the death of Vallachian ruling prince Sutu in 1821, the anti-ottoman protests started to develop. Tudor made agreements with Ottoman authorities to buy himself time, and he was named in charge as lieutenant.
Tudor issued proclamations which contained significant changes to the laws: suppression of taxes, formation of Vallachian army and banishment of some Phanariotes and boyars for holding leading positions, leaving it to meritocratic promotion. His demands were met with refusal.
The Greek Etaireía had emerged in Moldavia, demanding similar changes to its laws. However, the Russian army (which had declared itself a supporter of anti-ottoman cause) suppressed the revolt. Russia threatened to invade Vallachia, Ottoman troops invaded and occupied they occupied Bucharest. Etaireía members, active in revolutionary movements taking place in Vallachia and Moldavia, developed a plot to remove Tudor, who had been distancing himself from them and desired his own rule. Following treason, Tudor was accused of collaboration with Ottomans, for which he tortured, killed and his body thrown into a well. Eteria tried to take command of his troops but it disbanded on the spot.
The revolutionary movements continued, with the 1848 revolution, culminating in the 1859 Declaration of independence, when Alexandru Ioan Cuza became ruler of a united Vallachia and Moldavia.
Born in 1820 in Bârlad, Moldavia in a family of landowners. After completing his education, Cuza became an officer, then a colonel in the Moldavian Army.
During the European revolutions of 1848, the principalities Vallachia and Moldavia sought independence and revolted, but they were suppressed. Cuza, as revolutionary, was arrested and sent to Vienna but was liberated.
In 1858, he became minister in Moldavia. He continued to rally for union between Vallachia and Moldavia. In 1859, he was named Prince of Vallachia and Prince of Moldavia, which signified a defacto union of the two principalities. France showed full support for the union, while the Austrian ministry was against it.
On 5 February 1862, the union was officially declared and the state was named Romania., with Bucharest as capital city.
From this point on, Cuza initiated major reforms:
– secularization of the estate and properties of the monasteries, which were mostly dedicated to Greek religious foundations, to mount Athos, to the Patriarch of Constatinopole, to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusualem, thus their income bringing no benefit to the country.
– the agrarian reform, which gave to the exploited peasantry the necessary land to live. Strongly opposed by landlords, Cuza enforced this reform by a coup d’etat and dissolving the national assembly;
– creation and adoption of a Criminal and Civil code based on the Napoleonic Code;
– educational laws: new schools and universities, free education, primary education compulsory;
– modernization and development of the military structures.
Under the pressures of the nobility discontented with his agrarian law, the “Monstrous coalition” was formed. On february 22 1866, a group of conspirators broke into Cuza’s palace and, under the threat of gun, forced him to sign his abdication.
A foreign prince was chosen as ruler of Romania – Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, of German descent. A new constitution was adopted, which gave the new prince a limited role. In 1881, the constitution was modified and the prince became King with full rights. The constitution also forbade royal family to marry an ethnic Romanian. In 1883, a secret pact is signed with Austro-Hungary, which among other things, suspends the rights of ethnic Romanians of Transylvania within the principality.
Cuza is forbidden by prince Carol to return to Romania “for reasons of state”. Cuza died in exile in 1873. He was buried in his Ruginoasa palace in Romania, according to his wishes.
“With his pleasant face, youthful appearance, calm and determined expression – the new ruler delights the crowd that watches him celebrating and is crowded behind him. Colonel Cuza has one of the rarest qualities and, consequently, the most precious sincerity. I also found him to be man of common sense and modesty. He is the man that the new situation demands… an honest man, full of love for his country, determined to put into practice his ideas of union, reform and progress. “
– Louis Beclard, French consul in Bucharest, 1859
Born in Bucharest on June 18 1882. In 1910, she graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry, and professed at the Central School in Bucharest. In 1922, she started research work with Marie Curie at the Radium Institute in Paris. In 1924, she sustained her doctoral thesis Recherches sur la constant penetration du polonium et des Substances radioactives sur la dans les métaux , rated with “Très Honorable”. She continued her series of experiments and studies in Paris.
Back in Bucharest in 1930, she created the first Radioactivity Laboratory in Romania. Together with professors Bungenţianu and Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen, she helped create the first artificial rain, triggered by dispersing radioactive salts in the clouds. The first artificial rain was caused in Bărăgan, Romania during the summer drought of 1931, when prince Bazu Cantacuzino launched from his plane radioactive salts.
In 1935, Marie Curie was awarded post-mortem the Chemistry Prize for the discovery of artificial radioactivity; Stefania’s contribution is not mentioned. In 1934, Marie Curie’s daughter had swiftly mentioned to News Wiener Journal: “Miss Mărăcineanu announced the discovery of artificial radioactivity in 1924”.
In 1944, Stefania Maracineanu died from cancer, a result of her radioactive exposure.
Ciprian Porumbescu – romanian composer who wrote some of Romania’s most memorable operas. His ideals of independence and melancholic tunes, followed by an untimely death – turned him into an everlasting romantic hero.
Born on 14 october 1853 in Bucovina (then occupied by Austro-Hungary), as son of an Orthodox priest.
He studied music at Suceava and Vienna. Between 1873 and 1877 he studied Orthodox theology.
In 1881, he made his musical debut with “Crai Nou” operetta. He composed “Ballad for Violin and Orchestra”, the patriotic song “On our flag is written Unification“(today Albania’s national anthem “Himni i Flamurit”), the former anthem of Romania, Three colors (referring to the national flag). He openly displayed his ideal of independence (in 1859, independent state of Romania was created after the unification of Moldavia and Vallachia, leaving Transylvania and Bukovina isolated under Austro-Hungarian rule).
His political views brought him under the attention of the Austrian authorities and he was arrested along with others. During detention, he contracted tuberculosis. He was released after being found not guilty, but his health continued to deteriorate throughout the years.
Despite the shortcomings, his creativity was not affected and during this period he wrote some of his best musical pieces: “Romanian Rhapsody for Orchestra“, “Serenade“, “On the banks of the Prut“, “Putna Monastery Altar“, “Heart of Romanian“, “Ode Romanian soldiers” and others.
Porumbescu developed a love relationship with a local girl named Berta Gorgon, daughter of a Protestant pastor. Opposing their relationship, her father sends her to Vienna.
On June 6 1883, Ciprian succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 29. Check out his immortal “Ballad”, accompanied by images of his birth place.
Born in Focsani (Moldavia) in 1854 to a French immigrant father and a Romanian mother.
He pursued engineering studies in Germany and contributed to construction of railroads in Saxony. He founded the Bucharest Polytechnic Society, which became today’s Polytechnical University of Bucharest. He became member and president of the Romanian Academy. He was appointed Ministry of Public Works.
His numerous works the most notable – in 1880, Saligny designed and built the bridge over Danube, a challenging project which he finished in only 5 years. It was the longest bridge in Europe at its time (over 4 km long). Between 1884 and 1889, Saligny planned and built the first silos in the world made of reinforced concrete.
Born on April 27 1867 in Bucharest as the daughter of a government finance minister. In 1884, she was admitted to the Faculty of Law at the University of Paris, where she was received with hesitation. In 1887, she received a license to practice.
In 1890, Sarmiza received a PhD in Law – the first woman to do so in Europe. In the following year, she was admitted with full honors in the Ilfov professional body of lawyers. She was a feminist activist as member of the Society of Romanian Young Ladies, which promoted higher education for women.___________________________________________________________________________________
Dimitrie Cantemir – Prince of Moldavia, humanist scholar, major contributor to Romanian culture and linguistics. Member of Berlin Academy of Sciences, student in Constantinople and expat in Russia – he was a specialist in Western, Eastern and Oriental history and culture. His works include philosophy, history, music, linguistics, ethnography, geography.
Born in 1673 into a noble family from Falciu, Moldavia. After his brother is named ruler of Moldavia, he moves to Constantinople with his father. He becomes ruler of Moldavia after his father’s death, but he’s not confirmed and continues his studies at the Orthodox Patriarchate Academy.
He’s appointed ruling prince of Moldavia in 1710 by the Turks, who consider him loyal. He secretly signs a pact with Russia in attempt to liberate Moldavia from Ottomans, but without making it vulnerable to Russia. He joins Peter the Great in the Russian-Turkish war, but after lost battle, he retreats to Russia.
A few of Cantemir’s major works include:
1698 – “Divanul sau Gâlceava Înţeleptului cu lumea sau Giudeţul sufletului cu trupul” written in Romanian and printed in Iasi. This is the first Romanian philosophical work.
1700 – “The Image of the Sacred, Undepictable Science“ philosophical work which tries to integrate science and religion. he show a keen interest in astrology and the occult.
1703-1705 – “Hieroglyphic History“, written in Constantinople, in Romanian. It is considered the first socio-political novel. He satirizes the struggle for the throne between the Romanian boyars. This struggle is reflected by a philosophical dispute between two principles, symbolized by the Unicorn and Raven. The paper includes thoughts, proverbs and poetry that reflects the influence of folk poetry.
1714 – 1716 – “History of the Growth and Decay of the Ottoman Empire”, written in Latin. Recounts the history of the Ottoman Empire and analyzes the causes that could lead to its collapse. He insists on the opportunities of oppressed peoples to regain their freedom. The work was translated and published in English, French and German.
1719-1722 – “Chronicle of the Age of Romanian-Moldavian-Vlachs”, first written in Latin and translated in Romanian. It includes Romanian history from its beginnings. Supports the idea of common Latin origin and divides it into 4 Romanian dialects. To write this, Cantemir consulted over 150 Romanian and foreign sources in Latin, Greek, Polish and Russian.
1714-1716 – “Moldaviae Descriptio” (Description of Moldova) written in Latin, at the request of the Berlin Academy. It contains: 1. geographical description of Moldova, mountains, lakes and plains. He develops the first map of Moldova. Presents flora, fauna, towns. Toponyms are written in Latin. 2. The political and administrative organization of the country. He also includes ethnography and folklore in his research, the first Romanian scholar to do so. 3. Information about the language spoken by Moldavians and its alphabet, which was originally Latin.
– “Physica Monarchiarum examinatio” (Natural Research of monarchies)
– “System of the Mohammedan religion” (in Russian language)
– “Science book of music” (Kitab-i-Musik)written in Turkish, its the first system of musical notation of Ottoman music. He notices the importance of Orthodox religious music and its influence from Byzantine church music. It’s the first work dedicated to music, written in a scientific manner.
Dimitrie Cantemir dies in 1723 while in exile in Russia. In 1935, his remains are brought to Iasi, Romania.
Carol Davila – physician and pharmacist of Italian descent who arrived in Bucharest to help organize the medical education system; he established himself permanently in Romania and continued his valuable contributions until the end of his life.
Born on April 8, 1828 in Italy, he was abandoned by his birth mother and grew up in an adoptive family. He studied at the University of Paris and he actively participated in containing the cholera epidemic in France.
In 1853, at the invitation of ruling prince Barbu Știrbei, he arrived in Bucharest for a 3-year period to help organize the education system in the field of medicine. Davila also helped set up the medical districts throughout the country. In 1857, he founded the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy. He became a professor at the University of Bucharest and married Ana Racoviţă, a member of the Romanian nobility. Davila and his wife became set up orphanages and Ana dedicated herself to the orphans. During the Independence War (1877-1878) he was the head of the Army’s sanitary
service. Davila was also involved in the creation of several scientific associations and the printing of medical journals.
His wife Ana suffered an accidental poisoning in 1874 when, during a medical error, she received strychnine instead of quinine from Davila’s colleague. Davila continued his tireless work and contributions until his death on 24 august 1884. His work was completed shortly after by Minovici brothers, the pioneers of Romanian medicine (see below).
Henri Coandă – romanian engineer and aviation pioneer, he discovered the Coanda effect, he contributed to the creation of the jet engine and he constructed the first twin-engine aircraft in the history of aeronautics.
Born in 1866 in Bucharest as son of a former government minister and mathematics teacher. He developed a military career as artillery officer but became more interested in technical work.
He studied engineering sciences in Germany. In 1905, he built a missile-aeroplane for the Romanian Army. He continued his studies in Belgium. After giving up his military career, he enrolled at a Paris school of aeronautics where he graduated as aeronautical engineer.
In 1910 he designed and built Coanda-1910, a revolutionary jet-plane which he exhibited in Paris. In 1911, Coanda built the first twin-engine aircraft in the history of aeronautics. He also discovered the Coandă effect, which is the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface. He was the first to recognize the practical application of the phenomenon in aircraft development.
He continued to work in France and UK, where he designed various aeroplanes.
In 1969, he returned to Romania where he served as director of the Institute for Scientific and Technical Creation. He died in 1972 and was buried in Bellu cemetery, Bucharest.
“Many individuals in modern society are like boatmen: they pull the oars, but sit down with their back to the future.” Henri Coanda
Born on 11 May 1911 in Oituz, Bacau. In 1933 she signed up for the Faculty of Forestry, at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, as the only female among 130 male students. She practiced the profession from 1938 until 1973. She was involved in the first national forestation plan of over 100,000 ha and made innovations in pest management, publishing articles to this effect in “Forests Magazine“.
After the communists came to power in 1945, like numerous other intellectuals – she was classified as “enemy of the people”, despite having no political affiliations. She was expropriated, her activity and contributions being subsequently diminished.
In 1997, she was nominated for the “Personality of the year” award by the American Biographical Institute. She died in 2005 in Bucharest, and today she remains known as “Lady of the forests”.
Born on March 13, 1907 in Bucharest. During high school, he became interested in natural sciences, chemistry and the occult. He starts studying various foreign languages: english, italian, hebrew, persian. He denoted himself through strong imagination and inclination towards fiction writings; testified to how World War One and the dramatic German occupation of Bucharest had a strong emotional impact on him, which further stimulated his need for escapism.
In 1921, Eliade published his first volume”The Silkworm’s Enemy” and “How I found the philosopher’s stone“. He ended the series with the autobiographical book “Novel of the myop Adolescent”. His first novel Gaudeamus was published in 1928.
He studied philosophy at the University of Bucharest, finishing his studies in 1928 with a thesis on Italian philosopher Tommaso Campanella. Campanella’s various publications on the history of religions triggered Eliade’s interest in the subject and his next passion became the study of Indian religion and philosophy.
This took him to Calcutta University, where he studied Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy. During his studies, he was welcomed by his professor Dasgupta to live at his family home. The 23 year-old Eliade fell in love with his 16 year-old daughter Maitreyi. When the relationship was uncovered by his professor, Eliade’s scholarship was cancelled after a year of study.
Back in Bucharest in 1931, he gets a PHD in Yoga practices. Eliade writes the novel “Bengal nights” (romanian title “Maitreyi”), published in 1933, where he describes the frowned-upon relationship with his Indian lover. The novel becomes an unexpected best-seller in Romania.
Maitreyi (full name Maitreyi Devi) was later to become a poet and novelist. In 1976, Maitreyi published the romance novel “It does not die”, where she describes her love with Eliade. In a 1995 interview, her sister describes how the relationship was uncovered: “I was laying down and when I got up suddenly, I saw this hand beneath Maitreyi’s sari (indian blouse); a very white, untanned hand..”
After sudden loss of his scholarship and Maitreyi, Eliade retreated in Himalaya in order to meditate, experiences resumed in his book “In a Himalayan Monastery”. Between 1933 and 1940, back in Romania he lectured philosophy and history of religions at the University of Bucharest. Eliade was invited to contribute to Cuvantul newspaper. From 1933 to 1939 he was active with the Criterion group who gave public seminars on wide-ranging topics in philosophy. During the war, he was cultural attaché at the Embassy of Romania in London, then at the Romanian delegation in Lisbon, Portugal.
Unable to return to the newly communist Romania, he remained in Paris in 1945, where he taught history of religion until 1948. He was invited to the US, where after a year, he received the position of professor and coordinator of the Department of Religions at the University of Chicago. The department was renamed after him in 1945.
He died on April 2 1986 in Chicago, leaving behind a legacy of more than 80 volumes of scientific studies, literary work and philosophical essays. He was elected a posthumous member of the Romanian Academy. Check out Eliade’s full bibliography here.
A nationalist and a lover of his country, he was forced to leave all behind when communism took power, like so many others. In a rare interview, he talked about what he left behind and the Romania he knew: “I belonged to one of the luckiest generation so far in Romanian history. Neither before, nor after our generation did Romania ever experience the freedom and richness we enjoyed. We had a freedom conquered with a lot of blood, and we were always aware of the immense sacrifices made by our ancestors.”
Escadrila Alba (White Squadron) – team of medical planes lead by Romanian women pilots. Established for generic missions before the war by princess Marina Stirbei (herself a pilot), it became functional during World War II.
Flying low to avoid radars, between artillery and bombs, without escorts or weaponry, the female pilots saved the wounded from the front line. The Squadron was made up of women volunteers with pilots license, of whom Romania had no shortage of.
When the war was lost and communism was installed, the White Squadron pilots were arrested, imprisoned, harassed and deposed of all their belongings.
Their testimonies about their heroic duties are few and in between, as the ladies vanished into obscurity and most passed away before their stories could be heard.
“There are only two people on the plane with me who have entrusted their lives. […] With effort, I smile. The wounded man on stretchers who sees my face and looks at me from corner of his eye, he cannot learn know the wind is about to overthrow the plane, that blast is strengthening and the plane is groaning under its power. […] And when I look down, I see a car overturned or the body of a man or a horse burnt, ruined houses, round holes of bombs, but my lips still hold a smile for him“.
“The longest street in Vienna, Mariahilfer Strasse, which goes to the heart of Vienna, was bombarded. When I entered the city, I found a starving population, they were waiting for the British, the Americans, the French. When we got our food out to eat, the people of Vienna surrounded us, and with their arms spread they began to beg. They were all crowding for a corner of bread.. These were very well-dressed people. I took pieces of bread and chicken and started handing them over to everyone.”
“In our tents, there were big steppe fleas, rats, and flies, millions of flies. When they brought us soup to eat, it was impossible to eat it. When you’d take the spoon to your mouth, millions of flies were coming, drowning in our soup, getting in our mouths. I ate little and swallowed so many flies.”
“When I first saw the realities of war, I had a shock. There were the wounded, and the dead too. Near the unit there was an improvised cemetery full of fresh graves. I saw a field full of our dead soldiers, all executed.”
“We entered Moravia and flew above Austeritz monument, I was impressed by it. When we entered Austria, the first thing I saw were carriages full of furniture gathered by the Russian soldiers. The carriages were being pulled by German prisoners of war, as if they were animals. There was a man with a wip nearby. I instantly had a flashback to the First World War, when I saw pictures in a magazine with general Petain after Verdon victory. He was saluting the passing German prisoners saying “They are soldiers like us, they did their duty”. Not humiliated like that…”
“Never in my life had I seen such a downpour, it was as if it was raining with mud. I couldnt see anything, everything was dark around me. I couldnt cross the mountains. I pulled the handle and nothing happened. The flaps were bursting, we had reached the limit of speed and height. The trees were at the bottom of the wheels, I was scared! The officers and doctors were desperately yelling at me “Go back miss, we’re going to die!”. Ahead I see a small crack in the mountain, maybe I can sneak through it, I thought. I had read somewhere about a pilot who flew below the Arc of Triumph in Paris. I pulled the handle, the plane tilted to one side and we came out, we were saved. I saw death in the eye back then. “
Born on February 13 1852 in Dambovita, southern Romania, in a family of actors and playwrights. He grew up in Ploiesti and developed interest in poetry and an acting from an early age. At age 16, he moves to Bucharest where he studies acting at his uncle’s theater. When he loses his father at age 18, Caragiale starts working in order to support his mother and sister. While holding various jobs, he continues his development as journalist, contributing with sketches and poetry for humurous magazines. During this period, he meets Mihai Eminescu. He becomes literary critic, writing drama reviews that show his interest for the development of the Romanian theater.
In mid 1970’s, he writes his most important plays: A Stormy Night, Mr. Leonida, Carnival Stories, A Lost Letter. The plays are centered in satirical way around the urban life and people of his time; he highlights social conflicts and political corruptions. In 1888, Caragiale becomes director of the Bucharest National Theatre.
In 1907, he published the brochure “1907 din primăvară până’n toamnă” (1907 From spring to autumn). Separating itself from the general light tone of his works, this paper analyzes the causes of the 1907 Romanian Peasants’ Revolt. He sent the first chapter to the Austrian newspaper Die Zeit, which he signed as “a romanian patriot”.
After receiving a considerable fortune, Caragiale, disappointed with the political situation in his country, moves to Berlin. He dies in 1912 and his remains are brought to Romania in Bellu cemetery, Bucharest.
Extract from a letter addressed by Caragiale to his son Mateiu:
“The circumstances forced upon our country, which sadden me deeply in my old age, I hope will nurture your love for the homeland. May God give you better times in old age! We started our lives with joy and end it with grief. May you, the young generation, never see any more harm done to our poor country. “
Deacon Coresi – Orthodox deacon, master printer and translator who printed the first books in Romanian language.
Born in Dambovita, Coresi started his printing work in Targoviste (back then capital city of Vallachia); his work consisted of printing liturgical books in Slavonic, the language used by all orthodox converts at the time. After moving to Brasov, in 1556 he started translating his books into old Romanian language.
Book printing consisted of woodcut printing and required special efforts. Each page was carefully carved in wood, and for this Coresi had the help of 10 to 20 disciples, whom he always remembered in the preface of his books.
A part of his books, together with the modern replica of the Coresi printing press, are exposed today at the “First Romanian School” Museum in Brasov next to 4.000 old books and 30.000 old documents, which testify to the development of Romanian as a literary language. Brasov, located in Transylvania, at border with Moldavia and Vallachia, was an important trade center and also a site of cultural development.