Radio Romania through the course of history.
On September 21, 1939, in Bucharest, close to Eroilor Bridge, group of eight legionnaires ambushed the car of Prime Minister Armand Calinescu and killed his bodyguard and his driver. Then, the attackers shot Armand Calinescu with 21 bullets, three of them in the head. The murder was claimed by the Iron Guard who wanted to avenge the killing of their leader, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, in November 1938, a murder which Armand Calinescu was considered responsible for. After shooting Armand Calinescu, the group of assassins stormed the offices of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting corporation and forced the staff to announce that they had killed the Prime Minister.
Radio Romania's archive includes a very important recording with Vasile Ionescu, one of the presidents of the Romanian Radio between 1935-1945, who eye witnessed the episode. The interview was recorded in 1974. Vasile Ionescu : ”In September 21, 1939, at 2.30 p.m., I was in my office, located at the 1st floor, in front of the right gate of the radio building. I was a deputy director general at the time. I was doing some routine work and, as usual, I had the radio on to listen to the programmes. The news programme had just ended and classical music was being broadcast, performed live by the radio orchestra conducted by violinist Constantin Bobescu. ”
The legionnaires stormed into the building, with the purpose to intimidate. Vasile Ionescu: ”Suddenly, I heard two gunshots coming from the radio gate. I rushed to the opened window and asked some people there what was going on. They replied that the legionnaires were attacking. The orchestra was still playing when I was heading to the door, but music was doubled by a suspect noise. Then, the music suddenly stopped and a strange voice shouted: Prime Minister Armand Calinescu is… The end of the sentence could not be heard because I had managed to push the safety button and generate a short circuit, which disconnected the microphone and set off the alarm. This was the protocol in place for such situations.”
The Second World War had just started and the Romanian society was getting ready for it. Public institutions were being militarised and the president of the public radio also became a military commander. Vasile Ionescu: ”Shocked by what had just happened and in order to to prevent other unwanted events, I rushed down the stairs to the hallway and I ordered the security guard to listen to my command and take the defence position. Then I started to climb the stairs towards the studio that broadcast the music, where the legionnaires were. I still had my glasses in my hand. I was accompanied by a soldier from the security guard, by driver Cosciug Theodor who had taken a gun and by Crasmaru Vasile, another member of the security guard, who was also armed.”
Thus, Vasile Ionesu and his colleagues were the first to intervene. Vasile Ionescu: ”I hadn't even reached the top of the stairs, when the studio doors opened wide and the assassins, completely disoriented, showed up in front of us. I kept calm and ordered them to put their hands up! The armed people behind me pointed their guns at them. I did not have time to repeat the order, that the legionnaire Miti Dumitrescu, who was in front and seemed to be in command, dropped his pistol. All other seven did the same and put their hands up.”
Once the intruders caught, Ionescu and the security guards secured the perimeter. Vasile Ionescu: ”After the radio's security disarmed them, I called the Police and informed them on what had happened. I then went to the studio that broadcast the live concert. The orchestra was terrified and conductor Constantin Bobescu was still standing, the baton in his hand, unable to say a word. The pianist, Mrs. Voicu, told me that the killers had placed something in a niche behind one of the studio doors, where instructions and announcements for the orchestra members were kept. Looking behind the window I was shocked to see a bomb of about one kilo, loaded with ecrasite and provided with a Bickfort safety fuse of 30-40 cm, which was burning. My first concern was to diffuse the bomb, which I did by pulling out the safety fuse.”
The legionnaires had to bear the consequences of their deeds. They were immediately executed, thus marking another bloody episode in Romania's history. (EE)