Ion mota and vasile marin: legionary martyrs

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By Christopher Thorpe

Ion Mota and Vasile Marin were two prominent members of the Romanian Christian and ethnic nationalist movement known as the Legion of Michael the Archangel, also commonly referred to as the Iron Guard. Ion Mota was a friend of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the founder and leader of the Legion, since the early 1920s (before the founding of the Legion) and was one of its founding members in 1927. Vasile Marin was another nationalist activist who joined the Legion later in 1932 and became a significant spokesman in it.

The Legion of the Archangel Michael was created with foundations in a revolutionary doctrine based on spirituality, national affection, sacrifice, hierarchy, and personal responsibility in order to eradicate political corruption and purify the nation. The Legionary doctrine emphatically rejected both Communism and Capitalism and was also devoted to deporting the Jewish population from Romania, who they recognized as having a nefarious influence on politics, economy, and culture.
The Legionary Movement quickly attracted many young nationalists, especially university students, who made up most of its initial recruits. Ion Mota expressed the feeling of the Romanian youth in Cranii de Lemn (“Skulls of Wood”) in the following way:
“Our soul, still tied to another world, wanders today in a life which is not ours. When we face the world of today, we feel alien, we find no sense in it other than the possibility of harnessing it to revive the days of old and to increase their beauty - their beauty and the right Romanian order.”
In the year 1936, the leaders of the Legionary Movement decided to send a team of seven top Legionaries to Spain in order to assist General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This team and its mission, which included Mota and Marin, was essentially symbolic in nature; it was a demonstration of their belief in sacrifice as well as their solidarity with other European nationalists. Ion Mota had already expressed a strong belief in self-sacrifice:
“The spirit of sacrifice is necessary! We, all of us, have the most formidable dynamite, the most advanced weapon of war, more powerful than tanks and machine guns: it is our own ashes! Every power in the world is destined to collapse, whilst it remains with the ashes of brave fighters, fallen for Justice and for God.”
The Legionaries also viewed Franco’s enemies, the so-called “Republicans,” as anti-European forces because the Republican faction was largely made up of Marxists and Anarchists. For Codreanu's Legionaries, Europeans were Christian brothers and European nationalism was to be supported everywhere against the threat of what they believed were its chief enemies: Jews, Capitalists, and Communists. Mota described the Spanish “republican” Marxists in the following way: “They were machine-gunning into Christ's face! The world's Christian civilization was shaking! Could we remain indifferent?”
In the battle at Majadahonda in Spain on January 13th, Mota and Marin both died after being hit by a shell and decades later by 1970, Franco's government erected a monument on that spot in tribute to the two heroes. It is also notable that Spanish nationalists were so inspired by the martyrdom of Mota and Marin that they took up the phrase “Long Live Death!” (Viva La Muerta) in order to represent their own dedication and willingness to receive death for the sake of their nation as the Legionaries had done.
The bodies of Mota and Marin were then transported on a funerary train across Spain, France, Germany, Poland, finally back to Romania, where a funeral was prepared by 1937. In Berlin, the SS and SA along with a crowd of others commemorated them as heroes. In Bucharest, before the bodies of the two martyrs, Codreanu and other top Legionaries took an “Oath of Ranking Legionaries” in which they declared that Mota and Marin set the ideal of the Legionary elite, which must always be ready to die and always engage in self-sacrifice, poverty, and struggle.
The following text is an English translation of the "Oath of Ranking Legionaries" (Jurământul Cadrelor Legionare) which Codreanu and other top Legionaries took before the bodies of Mota and Marin in Bucharest on February 12, 1937:
Dear Comrades,
Whenever I was in front of a Legionary sacrifice, I have said: how terrible it would be if the supreme holy sacrifice of our comrades should institute a victorious caste which would open the doors to the business life of fantastic hits, to theft, to carousing, to the exploitation of others.
So some have died, for the desires to gain enrichment, for the comfortable life and the debauchery of others!
Behold, now God has brought us here, before our faces the greatest of sacrifices which the Legionary Movement could give.
Let us put the heart, mind, and body of Mota and his comrade Marin as the foundation of the Romanian Nation. As the basis for future Romanian advancements over the ages.
Let us put Mota and Marin as that on which future Romanian elite will be based, that which, will be required to make of this people what our minds hardly dare.
You, who represent the very beginning of this elite, shall be bound by oath, that you will behave in such a way to truly be the healthy beginning, of the greatness of future Romanian elite, which will protect the entire Legion, so that it does not slip towards the ways of business, wealthy living, to immorality, to the satisfaction of personal ambitions or the lusts of mankind.
You swear that you understand, that there is no doubt in your mind that Ion Mota and Vasile Marin did not make their enormous sacrifice for a few of us today or tomorrow, so that we stuff ourselves with treats and feast on their graves. They have not died to overcome by their sacrifice a caste of exploiters in order to put ourselves in the palaces of this caste, continuing the exploitation of the country and the work of others, continuing the life of business, of luxury, and of debauchery.
In that case, the poor lot of Romanians through our victory, would only change the company of exploiters, while the country would be squeezed and would strain its exhausted energy to bear a new category of vampires that suck blood, which would be us.
Oh Mota, you have not died for this! Your sacrifice you made for the people.
This is why you swear that you understand that being the Legionary elite means, in our language, not just to fight and win, but it means: Permanent sacrifice in the service of the people, because the idea of elite is linked to the idea of sacrifice, of poverty, of harsh and severe life, that where self-sacrifice ends, there also ends the Legionary elite.
We swear thus, so that we leave by a covenant successors to come to swear on the tomb of Mota and Marin on the following essential conditions of the elite, which we ourselves swear:
1. To live in poverty, killing in ourselves the lusts of material enrichment.
2. To live a hard life and to severely banish luxury and indulgence.
3. To remove any attempt at the exploitation of man by man.
4. To permanently sacrifice for the country.
5. To defend the Legionary Movement with all our strength against anything that could lead it towards compromises or disrepute; or against anything that could lower even its highest moral standard.
After the Oath was taken, extremely large funeral processions ensued across Bucharest and later in other cities, gathering thousands of supporters and foreign emissaries from Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Poland. The poet Radu Gyr composed a song which was sung in honor of Mota and Marin, Imnul Mota-Marin or “Mota-Marin Hymn.” The song is also notable for repeating a key line, implied as being Mota’s last words, which is derived from Mota’s last letter to Codreanu before dying, where he said, “And, Corneliu [Codreanu], make out of our country a country as beautiful as the sun, powerful and obedient to God!”
The whole Romanian nation was fascinated by these two martyrs of Christian nationalism, and the enemies of the Legionaries were disturbed. Ion Mota had even predicted his own death before going to Spain: “I have understood the duty of my life. I loved Christ and went happily to death for him!” The bodies of Mota and Marin were placed in a specially built mausoleum near the “Green House,” the founding nest headquarters of the Legion. The next year a new elite unit within the Legion was created called the “Mota-Marin Corps,” and its motto was “ready to die.”
The following is an English translation of the “Mota-Marin Hymn,” which was sung especially by members of the “Mota-Marin Corps”:
The Mota-Marin Hymn

Imnul Mota-Marin

The Hymn of Mota-Marin

Sunt ruguri de flacari. E Spania-n scrum.

There are pyres and flames, Spain is in ashes...

Gloantele cad în altar.

Bullets fall on the alter.

În negrele santuri cu sânge si fum,

In black ditches with blood and smoke

Ploua cu schije si jar.

There rains shrapnel and fire.

Dar sub obuze,

But under the bombs,

Gloante si spuze,

Bullets and heaps,

Par legionarii niste munti...

Appear the Legionaries like mountains...

Ranita-n zare,

Injured on the horizon

Crucea le-apare

The Cross appears

Si ceru-i mângâie pe frunti.

And asked it for comfort on the forehead.

Noaptea-n transee legionarii,

At night in trenches Legionaries

În ploaie îsi fac rugaciunea...

In the rain make their prayer...

Mintea lor trece fruntarii

Their dreams move across frontiers

Si-n gând li s-aprinde Legiunea,

And in their thought the Legion flashes

Si vad Capitanul si tara

And they see the Captain and country

Cu sfântu-i destin legionar.

With the saintliness of Legionary destiny.

Obuzele tuna, împroasca otel...

The shells thunder, steel splashes...

Tancuri pornesc ca din iad.

Tanks start as if from hell.

Si Mota e-n frunte, Marin lânga el

And Mota in front, Marin next to him,

Rosii, grenadele cad...

Red garnets fall...

Printre retele,

Among networks,

Mine, srapnele,

Mines, shrapnel,

Schijele ploua fier de sus.

Splinters raining from above....

Loviti în frunte,

Struck in the forehead,

Cu bratele frânte,

With their arms broken,

Cad legionarii lui Iisus.

Legionaries fall by Jesus.

Mota în sant plin de sânge,

Mota, in the ditch, full of blood,

Sopteste murind rugaciunea:

Whispered, while dying, a prayer:

"Moartea la pieptu-i ne strânge

"Death we tighten to our chests

Sa creasca mai mândra Legiunea.

So that the Legion will grow more proudly;

Sa faci, Capitane, o tara

So that the Captain may make the Country

Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!"

Like the holy sun in the Sky!"

Dar jertfele sfinte ard pururi în noi.

But holy sacrifices burn forever in us;

Jertfele ne-au mântuit,

Sacrifices have saved us.

Si cresc din morminte martirii eroi,

And martyred heroes rise from the grave

Neamul se-nalta sfintit.

The Nation rises sanctified.


The Legion as a whole

Jurând se leaga,

Swearing and bound

Ca sa urmeze jertfa lor.

To follow their sacrifice.

Din legaminte

From covenant

Si din morminte

And holy sacrifice

Va creste-un neam biruitor.

Will grow a victorious people.

Scumpii eroi ne vegheaza

We watch our beloved heroes

Si duc spre lumina Legiunea.

And lead to the light of the Legion.

Toti vrem o moarte viteaza,

We all want a brave death,

Ca ei ne soptim rugaciunea:

Like they we whisper our prayer:

"Sa faci, Capitane, o tara

"So that the Captain may make the Country

Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!"

Like the Holy Sun in the sky!"

Azi sfintele oase le-am pus temelii

Today, we put the holy bones in the ground

Vajnice neamului dac,

Eternal, with the Nation,

Si ele înfrunta de-acum vesnicii,

And from now they face eternity,

Stânci tencuite cu veac...

Rocks plastered with age.

Dar de-or sa vie

But they will live when there will come

Vremi de urgie

Times of scourge

Pentru destinul legionar,

For Legionary destiny

Din oseminte

From the bones

Si din morminte

And holy sacrifice

Cei doi eroi vor creste iar!

The two heroes will rise again.

Mota, Arhanghel si munte,

Mota, Archangel and mountains

Marin ca o flacara mare.

Marin like a great flame,

Cu Capitanul în frunte

With the Captain in front

Ne-or duce în viscol de soare:

We will go through storm or sun;

"Sa faci, Capitane, o tara

"So that the Captain may make the Country

Ca soarele sfânt de pe cer!"

Like the Holy Sun in the sky!"

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