Antonescu, Ion (yôn äntônĕsˈkō) [key], 1882–1946, Romanian marshal and dictator. He served in World War I and later became chief of staff, but he fell into disfavor with King Carol II because of his pro-Nazi attitude and his suspected intrigues with the Iron Guard. In World War II, on Sept. 4–5, 1940, Carol, threatened with revolution and German intervention, appointed Antonescu premier with dictatorial powers. On Sept. 6, Antonescu forced the king to abdicate in favor of Carol's son, Michael. In Nov., 1940, Romania joined the Axis Powers, and Antonescu gave Adolf Hitler virtual control over Romanian economy and foreign policy, tolerated violent pogroms against the Jews, and declared (June 22, 1941) a "holy war" on the Soviet Union. With two Soviet armies deep in Romania, King Michael in Aug., 1944, had Antonescu and his cabinet arrested in a dramatic coup. Antonescu was tried (1946) for war crimes and executed.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.