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Petru Groza

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Petru Groza

Petru Groza
Prime Minister of Romania
In office
6 March 1945 – 2 June 1952
Monarch Michael
President Constantin Ion Parhon
Preceded by Nicolae Rădescu
Succeeded by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
President of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly
In office
12 June 1952 – 7 January 1958
Preceded by Constantin Ion Parhon
Succeeded by Ion Gheorghe Maurer
Personal details
Born (1884-12-07)7 December 1884
Băcia, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died 7 January 1958(1958-01-07) (aged 73)
Bucharest, Romania
Nationality Romanian
Political party Ploughmen's Front (1933–1953)
Independent (1953–1958)
Profession lawyer
Religion Romanian Orthodox

Petru Groza (7 December 1884 – 7 January 1958) was a Romanian politician, best known as the Prime Minister of the first Communist Party-dominated governments under Soviet occupation during the early stages of the Communist regime in Romania.

Groza emerged as a public figure at the end of Ploughmen's Front (Frontul Plugarilor). The left-wing ideas he supported earned him the nickname The Red Bourgeois.

Groza became Premier in 1945 when

Party political offices
Preceded by
Constantin Ion Parhon
President of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly of Romania
12 June 1952 – 7 January 1958
Succeeded by
Ion Gheorghe Maurer
Preceded by
Nicolae Rădescu
Prime Minister of Romania
6 March 1945– 2 June 1952
Succeeded by
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
  • Adrian Cioroianu (2005) Pe umerii lui Marx. O introducere în istoria comunismului românesc ("On the Shoulders of Marx. An Incursion into the History of Romanian Communism"), Editura Curtea Veche, Bucharest, ISBN 978-973-669-390-8


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Petru Groza of Rumania Dies; Chief of State of Red Regime, 72", in The New York Times, 8 January 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers – The New York Times (1851–2002), p.47
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cioroianu, 6.1.1 (pp. 149-150)
  3. ^ a b Cioroianu, 6.1.2 (pp. 150-152)
  4. ^ Liliana Saiu (1992) The Great Powers and Rumania, 1944–1946, Columbia University Press, New York City, ISBN 0880332328, p.39
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cioroianu, 6.1.3 (pp. 152-159)
  6. ^ a b c d R. J. Crampton (1997) Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century – And After, Routledge, New York City, ISBN 0415164230, pp. 229, 231
  7. ^ Charles Sudetic. "Postwar Romania, 1944–85".  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Paul Winkler (22 March 1945) "Interim Government", in The Washington Post; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The Washington Post (1877–1989), p. 6
  9. ^ a b Stephen Fischer-Galaţi (1967) The New Rumania: From People's Democracy to Socialist Republic, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, Cambridge, pp. 29-30, 35
  10. ^ Charles Sudetic. Petru Groza's Premiership. Romania: Country Studies.: "The government included no legitimate members of the National Peasants' Party or National Liberal Party; rather, the Communists drafted opportunistic dissidents from these parties, heralded them as the parties' legitimate representatives, and ignored or harassed genuine party leaders."
  11. ^ "Groza Pledges Order", in The New York Times, 8 March 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851–2002), p. 4
  12. ^ "Transylvanian Area Restored to Romanians", in The Chicago Daily Tribune, 11 March 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Chicago Tribune (1849–1985), p. 8
  13. ^ "Sweeping Reform Begins in Rumania", in The New York Times, 12 March 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851–2002), p. 5
  14. ^ C. L. Sulzberger, "2 Moves by Groza Spurring Reforms", in The New York Times, 25 March 1945; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851–2002), p. 16
  15. ^ W. H. Lawrence, "Chamber Ratifies Rumanian Treaty", in The New York Times, 24 August 1947; ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851–2002), p.43
  16. ^ a b "Compression", Time, 12 January 1948
  17. ^ "The Rescue of the Bulgarian Jews", as retrieved on 21 January 2008
  18. ^ (Romanian)"The Republic was installed with a pistol" at the Wayback Machine (archived 27 October 2009), Ziua, May 1996
  19. ^ (Romanian) Timeline, semi-official site dedicated to HM King Michael I, as retrieved on 21 January 2008
  20. ^ (Romanian)"Princess Margareta, designated dynastic successor", Antena 3, 30 December 2007
  21. ^ "A king and his coup", The Daily Telegraph, 12 June 2005
  22. ^ Craig S. Smith, "Romania’s King Without a Throne Outlives Foes and Setbacks", The New York Times, 27 January 2007



The mining town of Ștei was named Dr. Petru Groza after him, a name it kept until after the Romanian Revolution of 1989.

Groza stepped down as premier in 1952, succeeded by Gheorghiu-Dej. He occupied the position of president of the Presidium of the


Early on the morning of 30 December, Groza summoned Michael back to Bucharest, ostensibly "to discuss important matters"; the king had been preparing for a New Year's party at his palace in Sinaia. When Michael arrived, Groza presented the king with a pretyped instrument of abdication and demanded that Michael sign it. When Michael refused, Groza threatened to launch a bloodbath and arrest thousands of people.[16] According to Michael, Groza then pulled a gun on him and threatened to have 1,000 imprisoned students shot unless he gave up the throne.[17][18][19][20][21][22] Michael eventually signed the document, and a few hours later parliament abolished the monarchy and declared Romania a republic—marking the onset of undisguised Communist rule in the country.[16]

[15] During his term as premier, Groza also clashed with the nation's remaining

Despite giving the appearance of liberal democracy by granting Tămădău Affair, he arrested key members of the National Peasants' Party and sentenced Maniu to life in prison "for political crimes against the Romanian people".[9] By August of that year, both the National Peasants' Party and the National Liberal Party had been dissolved and in 1948, the government coalition incorporated the Romanian Workers' Party (the forced union of communists and Romanian Social Democrats) and the Hungarian People's Union, effectively minimizing all political opposition within the state.[6]

Groza continued to improve the image of his own government while strengthening the position of the Communist Party with a series of political reforms. He proceeded to eliminate any antagonistic elements in the government bureaucracy and, in the newly acquired Transylvanian territory, removed three city prefects, including that of the region's capital, Cluj. The prefects removed were immediately replaced by government officials directly appointed by Groza, so as to strengthen loyalist elements in local government in the region. Groza also promised a series of land reform programs to benefit military personnel which would confiscate and subsequently redistribute all properties in excess of one hundred and twenty five acres in addition to all the property of traitors, absentees, and all who collaborated with the wartime Romanian government, the Hungarian occupiers during Miklós Horthy and Ferenc Szálasi's régimes, and Nazi Germany.[13]

Within days of becoming premier, Groza delivered his first major success. On 10 March 1945, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over Northern Transylvania, over 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) of territory which had been handed to Hungary through the 1940 Second Vienna Arbitration. Groza promised that the rights of each ethnic group within the newly acquired territory would be protected (mainly, as a reference to the Hungarian minority in Romania), while Joseph Stalin declared that the previous government under Rădescu had permitted such a large degree of sabotage and terrorism in the region that it would have been impossible to deliver the territory to the Romanians. As a result, only after Groza's guarantee of ethnic minority rights did the Soviet government decide to satisfy the petition of the Romanian government. The acquisition of this territory, nearly fifty-eight percent Romanian in 1945, was hailed as a major accomplishment within the formative stages of the Groza regime.[12]

Fallen statue of Petru Groza next to the Mogoșoaia Palace (Romania, 2010)

As Premier

Despite the annoyance of the two powers, the Communists constituted only a minority in Groza's cabinet. The leading figures in the Romanian Communist Party, land reform policies, and focus on a "swift cleanup" of the state bureaucracy and immediate prosecution of war criminals, i.e. officials of the Fascist wartime regime of Ion Antonescu (see Romania during World War II and Romanian People's Tribunals).[11]

To confirm Groza in office, elections were held on November 19, 1946. The Bloc of Democratic Parties, the Communist-dominated front to which the Ploughmen's Front belonged, allegedly failed to win a majority in the Grand National Assembly. However, the count was rigged in order to give the Bloc an overwhelming majority, thereby confirming Groza as premier. This came despite protests by the United States and the United Kingdom who held that, pursuant to the agreements reached at the Yalta Conference in 1945, only "interim governmental authorities broadly representative of the population", should be supported by the major powers.[8] As a result, Groza's government was permanently estranged from the United States and Great Britain, who nominally supported the waning influence of the monarchist forces under King Michael I.

The Groza cabinets

Groza's prominent position within the National Democratic Front afforded him the opportunity to succeed Gen. Nicolae Rădescu as premier when, in January 1945, top Romanian communists, namely fascist sympathizers".[5] With the help of Soviet authorities,[5] the Communists soon mobilized workers to hold a series of demonstrations against Rădescu, and by February many had died because the demonstrations often led to violence. While the communists claimed on tenuous grounds that the Romanian Army was responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians,[5] Rădescu weakened his own popular support by stating that the communists were "godless foreigners with no homeland".[6] In response, Andrei Y. Vishinsky, the Soviet vice commissar of foreign affairs, traveled to Bucharest and gave Michael an ultimatum—unless he sacked Rădescu and replaced him with Groza, Romania's independence would be at risk. With no other choice, Michael complied, and Groza became prime minister 6 March 1945.[5][6][7]

[5] for the post of Premier in October 1944.Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, and other minor groups). He was first considered by the Communist Social Democrats, being briefly joined by the Hungarian People's Union and the Socialist Peasants' Party's Mihai Ralea (it also included [6][5] This coalition was composed of four major front organizations: the

The Communist Party wished to seize power but was too weak to seize it alone—in 1944 it had only about a thousand members. Accordingly, the Romanian communist leaders had no choice but to have the party join a broad coalition of political organizations. [4][2] Although the movement originally began in order to oppose the increasing burden of debt carried by Romania's peasants during the

Despite having briefly retired from public life in 1928 after holding a series of political posts, Groza reemerged on the political scene in 1933, founding a peasant-based political organization, the Ploughmen's Front.[2]

Rise to power

During this period in his life, Groza was able to amass a personal fortune as a wealthy landowner[3] and establish a notable reputation as a prominent layman within the Romanian Orthodox Church, a position which would later make him invaluable to a Romanian Communist Party (PCR) that was campaigning to attract the support of Eastern Orthodox Christians who constituted the nation's most numerous religious group in 1945.[1][3]

Throughout this period of his life, Groza established a variety of political connections, working in various Transylvanian political and religious organizations. From 1919 to 1927, for example, Groza obtained a position as a deputy in Synod and Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In the early 1920s, Groza, who had left the PNR after a conflict with Iuliu Maniu and had joined the People's Party,[2] began to serve as the Minister for Transylvania and Minister of Public Works and Communications in the Alexandru Averescu cabinet.[1][2]

By the eve of World War I, Groza had completed his studies and returned to Deva to work as a lawyer. In 1918, he emerged on the political scene as a member of the Romanian National Party (PNR) and obtained a position on the Directory Council of Transylvania, convened by ethnic Romanian politicians who had voted in favour of union with Romania; he maintained his office over the course of the following two years.[2]

Born as one of the three sons of a wealthy couple in Băcia (then called Bácsi), a village near Deva in Transylvania (part of Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time), Groza was afforded a variety of opportunities in his youth and early career to establish connections and a degree of notoriety, which would later prove essential in his political career.[2] After graduating from the Calvinist high school in Orăștie (now "Liceul Aurel Vlaicu"), he began his law training in Hungary, studying at the University of Budapest before attending both the University of Leipzig and the University of Berlin.[1][2]

Early life and career


  • Early life and career 1
  • Rise to power 2
  • The Groza cabinets 3
  • As Premier 4
  • Legacy 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Literature 6.2


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