Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part One: Nicolae Ceaușescu: The Dracula of Being A Dick

Part One: Nicolae Ceaușescu: The Dracula of Being A Dick

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:00

Robert is joined by Jeff May to discuss Nicolae Ceaușescu.

(Four Part Series)

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In 1967, Joseph Stalin's only daughter, flees Russia for her new home, America. Hello, everybody. I am very happy to be here. That story alone is worthy of a podcast, but Spedlana's Spedlana is about what comes next, and it's the craziest story I've ever heard. It has KGB agents, a Frank Lloyd Wright commune, weird sex stuff, three Olga's two Spedlana's, and one neurotic gay playwright. That's me. Listen to Spedlana's Spedlana on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, I'm Natalie Emanuel. From Ramsey in Fast and Furious to the Sunday Game of Thrones, I've loved playing roles of women whose resourcefulness, intelligence, and inner strengths are pushed to the limit. Now, for the first time, we listen to a new podcast that brings you the stories of the fearless, powerful women leaders, war queens. Join the Dutafar the History team of Emily and John Jordan every week. Listen to War Queens on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. In 2004, 22-year-old Rebecca Gould was brutally murdered in a small town in the Ozarks. I'm Katherine Townsend. In season one of my podcast, Helen Gone, we followed up on old leads and chased new ones. And now, 18 years after Rebecca's death, there has finally been a conviction. That the killer has no clear motive. Is this the end of the story? Listen to Helen Gone with four new episodes on Rebecca Gould's investigation on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to Behind the Bastards, a podcast about the worst people in all of history. And also, at the same time, a podcast where I explore my Boston accent and see how much better I can make it. And to help me today, we have professional Boston coach, Jeff May. Jeff, welcome to the program. Hey there, kid, what's going on? Wow, incredible. You see that? Yeah, yeah, I prefer to do my accent a little bit more authentic. Let me run this one by you, Jeff. Oh, hey, Kruike, aim for Boston. That's more of a North Shore accent. That's what a lot of people say. Yeah, yeah, no, that's very much if you were to go up to like, you know, like, Maldon or something like really get up there. That's where you have it. So the regional dialect is wild out there. Critical question, Brockton, part of Boston and not. Yeah, of course. I mean, okay, all right, all right. So that you're on Jamie, you're on Jamie's side of this. How much is she paying you? But let me. That tackle was so many. That tackle was in honor of Jamie, but. Well, thank you, Jeff. Is that I live 3000 miles away from my hometown, right? So if where I am now, when people ask where I'm from, I tell them Boston. In reality, I'm from a small farming hamlet in central Massachusetts called Charlton, regionally related to Worcester, Massachusetts. So it's hard for me when people are like, Jeff's from Boston and I'm like, yeah, and then when someone presses me a little bit, I'm like, okay, not really though. But I've always counted, I mean, because Brockton, Brockton's like the sort of heart of fighting in Boston, which is something that I did for a while. That makes sense. That makes sense. So I relate that as being like, and once and I did want to fight somebody. Everyone would have fought you there. Jeff's Boston accent was so much better than yours, Robert. I'm sorry. His was really strong. It was strong. It wasn't regionalized well, but it was strong. Yours was very marquee mark. The fricking Walberg, you should do an episode on him. That was so good. The Walbergs. The only people that like the Walbergs, the people that are related to the Walbergs. Have you ever eaten at a Walbergers? I would rather fucking die. Is that a real place? I don't want to be mean, but it is the worst burger I've ever had in my whole life. Well, so, you know, I think a Mark Walberg getting a burger chain is evidence of one of the many crimes of capitalism. And you know who hated capitalism. Oh. Donnie Walberg. That might be true, but also the subject of today's episode. Nikolai Chowchescu, dictator of Romania. We just start doing an entire thing about the Walberg family and never get to the actual topic. I wouldn't put that back. I could do it. I could do it. I could do an hour. I know you're good. The related bastards. I mean, we are talking about one corrupt family and another corrupt family. So the Chowchescu's and the Walbergs, who has caused more death and destruction? So Robert, I need you to say, welcome to, and you're ready for a go, behind the bastards. Welcome to behind the bastards. No, that's not it. That was, you nailed it. Thank you. I don't encourage him. Thank you, Jeff. I gotta be honest. Like, I thought that you had just replayed what I said back to me. Yeah, yeah. I've been practicing my mimicry, like whatever kind of bird mimics things. You're like a mockery. I'm a parent. Yeah. Yeah. Something like that. Jeff, what do you know about Nicolai Chowchescu? I try to not know as much as I can about Romanian people. I know that he was a lot of nylon sweatsuits. He had a lot of cologne on. Yeah. I mean, look, if you want, I mean, because Romania is kind of like edge of the Balkans, right? Sometimes it's considered part of the Balkans. Some people will be like, nah, Eastern Europe is not really in the Balkans. Whatever. This is not the place to litigate that. But what you can say, what I can say about Romanians, which I can also say about Serbian's and Bosnians and a number of other people in that area, is that their tracksuit game is incredibly strong. Unbelievable. They're like extras in the sopranos. It's amazing. You've got a good adidas track suit in that part of the world. You're basically a king. Just squatting and smoking cigarettes at rules. Romania is an interesting country. And Nicolai Chowchescu is interesting because we've got all these communist dictators, like Stalin, who there are a lot of folks today, particularly on the internet, who will defend these guys. A lot of weird authoritarian communists who have never met a dictator. They don't like. And one of the things that's interesting about our subject today, Chowchescu, is that he is the one that no one will defend. I mean, I'm sure you can find a couple of Chowchescu stands out there, but they're almost nobody will back this guy up because he sucked so comprehensively. It's funny when you look at the old Soviet block, and you look at some of the dictators they had, and you look at the older people that lived through it, and they're like, well, you know, sometimes you have to make hard decisions. And it's like hard to kill like 100,000 people. And they're like, well, you know, it's really difficult. It is very interesting to see the apologists of like the really terrible people in Russia. They're just like, sometimes you settle for a despot. It happens. I like what I do like is that his fate was sealed on. I believe, if I recall correctly, Christmas. Yeah, he was, him being murdered was a Christmas present for the whole Romanian nation. Right. And really the world, but we're getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. So we're going to talk about Nicolai Chowchescu, but we're also going to have to talk about Romania and give some history because I don't think most Americans know a lot about Romania. It's a part of the world that, you know, it's interesting because like, there was a period of time where Chowchescu was kind of like the good communist. He was very close friends with Richard Nixon. He was spoken of positively by Ronald Reagan. It's amazing. He's like a scolunist who Nixon loved and Reagan was like, he's a good guy. It's wild stuff. Those are two people whose endorsements I could go without. Yeah. Yeah. So, but before we get into how he came to power and what he did, we're going to have to talk a little bit of history because there's some context that is important if you're going to understand how a guy like what? Do you know that he was when he was younger, he was extremely hot? That we can discuss, Sophie. I definitely don't see that because he looks like a muppet as he gets older. He just like a muppet. Yeah, that's Romania. A hot muppet. Yeah. It's the land of the muppets. Well, it was known as Dacia, D-A-C-I-A, back in the day and like the classical period. If you've ever seen like read a book about the Roman Empire and it talks about them fighting the Dations and conquering the Dations, that's Romania prior to Roman contact. Dacia is like one of the last provinces that gets conquered by the Roman Empire. And it's one of the first day abandoned. So, they're only hang around there for a little bit less than 300 years and then they leave in 275 BC. I do like the fuck this energy that they bring to living in Romania. It's too dark, too many mountains. Yeah. There's like vampires are going to be a thing here. They're like, we conquered a lemon. We're going to get the hell out of here. Yeah. Well, they kind of get out of here. Obviously, like we talk about, oh, the Roman Empire conquers this place who leaves this place. 275 BC when the Roman Empire leaves. Most people living in the region probably would not have noticed much of a change because for one thing, they're still trading with the Romans. There's still a lot of Roman soldiers in the region. And in fact, the reason that we call it Romania now is because the Roman soldiers who were stationed there, like, bred with the local population. And this is something they're pretty proud of. Like the name Romania is kind of harkening back to the fact that there is a lot of Roman ancestry in the area now. This ties back to, yeah. For everyone that took like seventh and eighth grade languages, remember when you would take like an introduction to like Spanish or French or Latin or whatever. And they would say, you know, whatever language you're learning, Spanish or French, they're like, they're one of the five Roman's languages. That's where I'm from in Massachusetts, that's the answer. Yeah. And it's like you hear Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. And when they say Romanian, you're like, what? Like why? Like why, why them that doesn't make sense on a map? That would be the language. Yeah. Yeah, it is weird, especially since, again, if you're in that region and further into the Balkans, the language they're speaking is very different, right? But in Romania, it is this kind of like Latinized tongue. So that's cool. Roman, Romance, there's nothing as sexy as a man making a pizza and doing violent hand gestures. So I mean, you're not wrong about that. Yeah. The center of Roman daisia is a place that is known today as Transylvania. That's actually like the province that the Romans conquer. So again, when I say they left because of Dracula, that is historically true. Although Dracula. Not a good dude didn't exist yet. Yeah, we're going to talk about him for just a little bit here. Did you do it? Have you done Vlad yet? Flat tepis? No, no, no. We are kind of doing a little bit of Vlad tepis right now. Let me tell you real quick. I know you're about to do that. But as somebody who taught about the Middle Ages, and I used to do from my literacy classes, I would have them write a research paper and I'm like, you can pick anybody. I'm so, I got so burnt out reading term papers from eighth graders about Vlad tepis. And it's not that he's not interesting. It's just that it's boring when you read the same paper 30 times a year. Well, Jeff, I'm going to try to give you a little bit different of a paper because we're going to be focusing on a slightly an aspect of Vlad's time running Romania that people don't tend to talk about as much. Obviously, the thing everyone knows about Vlad tepis, Vlad the impaler, is that he impaled a bunch of people, specifically a bunch of Ottoman soldiers. And if you like, hang out and read sort of the weird right wing kind of retellings of medieval history, a lot of them will focus on him as like the shield of the West. And this is something that like within the Romanian right wing, it gets talked about a lot that like, Romania was what protected, you know, Christendom from the Ottoman Empire. And Vlad tepis, you know, was this heroic figure who was hard enough to like keep the Muslims out. This is not actually... This is not accurate to the actual history. Pieces of it are accurate, but the broad picture is wrong. So first off, his name was legitimately Vlad Dracula because his dad was Dracula, which was a name he got when he got given an award by the Holy Roman Emperor. I think it was Sigismund. And Dracula means son of the dragon, because Dracula means the dragon. But it also at the same time means son of the devil, which is why the guy who wrote the Dracula book thought he was a good pick for a horrible monster character name. I like that you were like the guy, like his name isn't... Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that dude, what's his name? The Dracula guy, but not Dracula. Sharon Lewis and Bram Stoker, yeah. The guy who... Yeah, yeah, yeah. From Bram Stoker, Shitty Vampire book. The first Twilight we could say, the prelude to Twilight, before we really figured out what we wanted from our vampires. Sparfuls and Shizzled abs. That's right, that's right. No com gutters on the original Dracula, probably because he was riddled with various things. So I want to say Gary Oldman have like a huge six pack in that movie, with that stupid little hairdo, but he's just like, Check out my rippling abs. This is the thing we should be using that AI shit to do, is go back and go back to like movies that were made decades ago, and give the male leads back then, who didn't have access to modern fitness technology, just unbelievably shredded com gutters. Like go back to a... what, gone with the wind and throw some com gutters in red, and throw some com... Throw some com gutters on that guy you dies too, you know, the Confederate boy soldier. I would like to see... I would like to see... The rock into Kill a Mockingbird. Like the rock is... Yeah, to Kill a Rockingbird. Yeah. Where he actually just kills everybody in town in order to stop that guy from getting... Gives him the rock bottom as they're trying to take out. Mm-hmm. I think that's a good idea. Also, put Stone Cold Steve Austin in that... Oh shit. Now I've... You've gone off the rails. Citizen Kane? We could do that. No, no, no. What is the... The movie where that guy goes to Washington D... Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Yeah, throw Stone Cold Steve Austin in Mr. Smith goes to Washington, and have him do a Stone Cold stunner and all those old Congressmen. Well, Stone Cold Smith goes to... Yeah. What does this have to do with our script? Very, very, very little. So, the actual historical Dracula who is kind of your first... He's often seen as like one of kind of the founding figures of Romania... In like Romanian nationalist discourse because he's kind of this... His first figure on the scene, and this is back when Romania is called Wollachia, who becomes super famous. And he becomes famous, yeah, for the impaling people. Vlad Tepez is the ruler of Wollachia on three non-consecutifications, which happens a lot, actually, in their history at this point. They've got this weird system that by which they pick who their ruler is going to be, where you have these... Basically, this group of nobles who gets to vote on who's going to run things, and it leads to a shitload of turnover. From 1418 to 1476, Wollachia has 11 princes who are in power for about five years each. So, he gets into power, gets thrown out of power, comes back into power several times. Common in Europe? Yeah, common in Europe. But in Romania, it is a particularly like violent system. And this makes sense when you look at just kind of where Romania is located, right? Not only are they right next to the Ottoman Empire, but they're right next to Hungary, and the Holy Roman Empire, and they are just constantly dealing with different groups coming in and trying to basically run things. So, it's not only the Ottomans that they're fighting, and repeatedly Romanian leaders will side with the Ottomans in order to protect themselves against the Hungarians or whatever. Like, this is a common thing. Dracula, like actual Vlad Dracula, spends a decent chunk of his career fighting alongside the Ottomans. He also, for a point of it when he's technically a vassal to the Ottomans, is leading like in a legal underground war against them. All this stuff is going on. But I think what's more to the point is that rather than kind of being a shield against like the Muslim world who is defending Christendom, Vlad is more concerned with maintaining his relative independence from an ocean of surrounding threats who covet Transylvania and the rest of Romania. Transylvania is specifically the area that the Romanians fight with the Hungarians over a lot, and it changes hands all the fucking time. And he is a pretty brutal Vlad Dracula, is a pretty brutal ruler to his own people. And this is the thing that gets discussed less. We talk about the impaling of all of these Ottoman soldiers, as he's trying to like throw back this invasion from the Sultan. And I want to quote now from the wonderful book Children of the Night by Paul Kinion, because this was a little piece of Dracula history that I hadn't heard. It was around this time, during the first couple of years of Dracula's rule that he organized a notorious feast for all the beggars of Tahrgovice's day. The event appeared to be a great humanitarian gesture. The hall was hired and tables were filled with food and wine. Invitations were put out around the city to the cripples, the blind that has eased in the destitute. They all congregated in a large wooden hall, toasting Dracula's generosity. But towards the end of the meal, someone noticed smoke coming from the walls. They ran to the door, only to find Dracula's troops had locked it from the outside and set the place ablaze. Many hundreds were trapped and a bonfire of souls was left burning into the dark Wallachian sky. The bonfire of the beggars, as it became known, was a warning. Begging would not be tolerated. It was a drain on the finances of the most decent and generous in society, said Dracula, a crime as evil as theft. Wallachians were uneasy. It was one thing killing the rich, but to massacre the poor in such violent circumstances, on the other hand, Dracula's tactics did seem to be working and crime fell. It was said that Dracula's guards would test the town's folk by leaving a purse full of gold coins in a busy marketplace. When the guards came to collect it in the evening, the purse was always left untouched. The admiration for authoritarian solutions would also resonate down the centuries. So that is, this is kind of like, yeah. That's going to be effective because, you know, of the murder. Yeah, yeah. When you murder enough people, you can decrease the crime rate. That is, and this is a lesson that no Romanian leader is ever going to forget. And it kind of like, he flat is sort of setting the tone here for an awful lot of their history. Right down to the fact that you've got this kind of peasant population that is getting mistreated by its leaves enough that many people are starving in the streets. And so the solution of the ruler is, well, what if we just light those people on fire? This would be, this is like a Facebook comments section gone to life. Like this is, this is what a lot of people from my hometown would like to do. Oh, Matt Walsh is totally down for this. Yeah. Oh, 100%. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The daily wire is already writing a think piece on how Vlad Dracula had the right, how literal Dracula had the right idea on improving our civic spaces. Yeah. Yeah, the New York Times is going to post an editorial that says, are there too many poor people? Yeah. What if we just light them on fire? And I think, this is one of those areas where my moral sort of compass is at odds with the intellectual side of me. Because on a moral level, I think it's always okay to set fires. But clearly, sometimes fires can be bad. And this is something I'm still grappling with, Jeff. Yeah. Well, fires can have disastrous results, but fire itself is awesome. Like I keep, I keep fire with me when I'm recording it all times. I have to have an old flame near me. Or else what's the point? What if wolves came in while I was recording? Right. You're not going to take the wolves away if you don't have a fire. Like I'm in San Francisco right now is re-record this. And I have a fire on me at all times because famously San Francisco is a city with a wonderful history of fires that I want to celebrate. Yeah. You know, all of the good fires San Francisco. It's called knowing your history. That's right. That's right. So Romania in the years after Dracula, who gets murdered before he's very old. Again, none of these Romanian princes last all that long. So Romania spends a lot of most of the medieval period as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. And this actually, this state of affairs lasts until pretty recently. The country does not get its independence until the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 to 1878. It becomes an independent kingdom with a Holenzallar in Regent. So you know, whenever they have these, because this happens a lot where you're having these chunks of Europe become independent from either their former masters or from the Ottomans or whatever. And they all need kings, right? Because it's still the attitude in the 1800s that every new country ought to have some sort of kings. So there's this kind of like constate. It causes a lot of conflict. This is a lot of what sets up World War I. But Romania, because of how close it is to Germany, winds up with a Holenzallar in Regent. Which, theoretically, should mean that they're going to side with the Germans on everything. That's actually not what happens in practice. But that's certainly what the Germans think when they make sure Romania gets this guy who's related to the Kaiser. Now, because... You're totally off, friends, yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, it's also the mess that by the time World War I rules around, like the country has this Holenzallar in King. But it also has a queen who's one of Queen Victoria's grandchildren, which is also super common, right? Everybody's got one of Victoria's kids or grandkids somewhere in their fucking royal family. Yeah, they're collecting them. They're Pokemon. Yeah, exactly. And the Holenzallarans have caught at least one. And she's actually kind of rad. They have this horrible war in like 1912, 1913, where Romania tries. Because when Romania becomes independent, they don't have Transylvania, right? Transylvania is still property of the Hungarians. So at one point, they invade Hungary right before World War I. And it goes just absolutely terribly. But a Queen Mary, who's this Victoria's grandkids, winds up like working as a combat nurse in this frontline position. And it really... She becomes very beloved by the Romanian people. And she seems to be legitimately the only royal in Europe during this period of time who doesn't completely suck. Because while the rest of them are starting a series of wars that will kill 10 civilians, she's just sort of like working as a trauma nurse the entire time. She's like trying to do good. She seems dope actually. The Hungarians, I don't know if you've ever covered this on the thing, but what do you know about like their nomenclature, right? Like the history of that name that they were just the mag... So they're the Magyars. Yeah, so they're the Magyars. And then when people saw them, they were like, ah, they fight like the Huns. It's sort of like how we called Native Americans Indians. We were just like, ah, I earned it. It's just a whole like, ah, you guys are Hungarians. Like the Huns and like, no, we are our own people. That reminds me of like where the word barbarian came from, which is that the Greeks just thought everyone who wasn't Greek sounded like they were going, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar all the time. Yeah, it's very like, ah, there, there, there, there, there, there. Yeah. Yeah, racism before racism. It's that deep racism. It's true pure racism. Yeah, it's absolutely uncut by the later, you know, the corruption that would enter racism later. Yeah, before racism got so commercial, you know. Yeah, just a bunch of guys looking at people who live over the hill near them and saying, sounds they, they all talk weird. Yeah, yeah, they did it for the love of the game. Yeah. Yeah, it's the, the Honest Wagner of racism. That's the Europeans in this. Well, at least in, in ancient history. Yeah. So, um, yeah, so you got Romania, they have this disastrous war where they, they try to take, and the reason why they lose the war, because it goes well for like a day, and then everybody gets sick from mosquitoes and starts dying, which is not an untalented story. Yeah, it's still the time really. Yeah. But outside of that, when kind of World War One starts to break out, Romania is kind of in a decent position because they've got this king, their first king, Carol, the first, who's in charge right up until 1914, and he drops kind of right before the war drums start sounding. And the king who follows Ferdinand is, as a pretty smart guy and is like, I don't think World War One's going to go well for anybody. I don't want to get involved in this shit. I just would like to, I can sell food and fuel, because Romania's got a hell of a lot of oil. I'll just sell that shit to the Germans, and we won't send all of our guys off to die, which is a good strategy, and would have been a winner if they had stuck with it. But they are not going to stick with it. Now, part of the reason why the new king is kind of hesitant to get involved in World War One and doesn't want to like is because he doesn't want to risk upsetting the peasants. Romania and political history in this period up to pretty much the modern day, a huge amount of it is kind of based around the struggle between these urbanized populations, which are still a very small chunk of the country in the late 1800s, and the majority of the country, which is the peasantry. The peasants, especially in the late, in the early 1900s, late 1800s, are, they're not quite serfs, but they also are basically renting land from whatever noble owns it and paying them kind of ruinous taxes in order to get to farm it. So it's kind of a worse situation than being a surf, because they're technically free, but they have to pay their boss, being whatever noble is in charge of the area, for the privilege of getting to work the land enough to produce enough food to not starve to death, which is a bad, one of the most common foods that Romanian peasants live on in this period of time is cheese that's infested with maggots. That and like pickled vegetables is a lot of their diet. The cheese is still illegal, but it's like a super delicacy from there, right? They still do that. I don't know if it's from Rome. I know there's a cheese in Sicily that's all maggoty. Like I think there's probably a few different versions of it, but back in the day, it is not a nice food, right? It's I think maybe now it's become a delicacy, but then it's like, well, we're not going to not eat this cheese just because it's filled with maggots because otherwise we'll die. So I just get a little bit of the products and services that support this podcast will add maggots to any order you make. Hit us up. It's 1967, the Cold War and Joseph Stalin's daughter, Stetlana, the princess of the Kremlin has just fled Mother Russia. Her new home, a place where the roads are paved with gold and people bake apple pies out of baseballs and freedom, a place called America. Hello, everybody. I am very happy to be here. That story alone would be worthy of a podcast, but this one, Stetlana, Stetlana is about what comes next and it's the craziest story I've ever heard. It has KGB agents, mystics and a Frank Lloyd Wright commune, destiny, immortality and unbreakable cycles, weird sex stuff, weird money stuff, weird dances, three Olga's, two Stetlana's and one neurotic gay playwright who won't shut up about it all. Guess which one I am. Listen to Stetlana, Stetlana on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, my name is Emily Jordan and I want to tell you about a new podcast I'm hosting with my dad. It's called War Queens and it's a weekly podcast all about powerful women leaders from throughout history and all around the world. Dad, you remember how this started, right? We were sitting at the dinner table that night and you were telling me about your latest book. Was that the one about Eisenhower? Actually, it was Roosevelt, but yeah, I remember that. We got to talking and I just loved your idea to write a book about all these amazing female battlefield leaders. We wrote the book and now we've turned that into a podcast. After a week, we bring you the story of a different war queen from well-known figures like Cleopatra and Buduka to lesser known but equally consequential leaders like Queen Jenga of Angola. My dad and I discuss how our different generations have treated these women and how their reputations have evolved over time. We hope you'll join us along with our good friend Natalie Emanuel from Game of Thrones as we present War Queens available on the iHeartRadio app and wherever you get your podcasts. Okay, go ahead and admit it. You have a dark obsession, an obsession that you just can't quit. You love true crime. And if you're all about unsolved murders and a furious deeds and gruesome occurrences, iHeartTrueCrimePlus is the podcast feed for you. iHeartPodcast has gathered the best of true crime all in one podcast channel. From your favorite shows to new podcasts you've yet to discover, iHeartTrueCrimePlus is packed with murder cases missing persons, serial killers, conspiracies, and everything in between. Always something new and disturbingly good to binge and share. Get the latest episodes and new seasons of your favorite podcasts like The Piked in Massacre, Atlanta Monster, what happened to Sandy Beale and more. iHeartTrueCrimePlus subscribers also enjoy an ad-free listening experience early access to select episodes and exclusive never before heard bonus content. Feed your true crime obsession. Subscribe to iHeartTrueCrimePlus today exclusively on Apple podcasts. Mmm, we're back and I just had a hogey made entirely out of maggots. Delicious. Yeah, I had a maggot protein shake. It was nice. Oh yeah, yeah, maggot proteins. The cleanest burning protein out there. You can't do better than maggots. That's that's that's the motto of this podcast. Behind the bastards. You can't do better than maggots. No, no, that's it's the true super feud. If you just all you actually need in your diet, just a 50-50 mix of maggots and a cyberies and you'll never die. Yeah, I looked up casu marzu just to see that's the cheese and boy that's the Romanian one. Yeah, it's like a pecorino from sheep's milk. Yeah, it is it is not a delicacy at the time. Yeah. So one of the big like reasons that a that King Fred Fredrick doesn't want to go to war because when they get involved in World War One is because he doesn't feel like he has a good handle on the peasantry. Kind of as they go into this period and a big part of why is that there's an uprising in like 1907 right, which is you know pretty recent still in 1914 and this uprising this peasant's uprising starts because this guy named I think I think it's basically pronounced john dohescu traveled to a protest outside of the mayor's house in a town called flamazi and dohescu in his fellow pecents again they're basically starving. And so this feudal system that governs their lives is super corrupt and the way that it works is you've got these these royals who own the land and these royals basically higher group of middlemen to manage it for them. And so the middlemen get their money off of skimming what they can off the top and anything they're skimming is extra shit that the peasants are paying for right in addition to the pretty ruinously high taxes that the royals are imposing. And his book notes that the peasantry in Romania is quote so comprehensively exploited that they were effectively paying their landlords for the privilege of working. So there's this protest outside of the mayor's house and these peasants including john dohescu wind up outside yelling at this estate manager who's again kind of like this middle manager type guy and he throws a rocket one of them and it hits dohescu in the eye. This for whatever reason starts shit you know sometimes like yeah that's going to start shit you ever been hitting the eye with the rock yeah yeah you're not going to throw a punch after that no sure sure but this also start shit on a bigger scale like everyone gets outraged on the behalf of this guy which shit like this it I know it happens here too like you'll have the same kind of horrible violence being done by the same people every day and then one day suddenly thousands of people take to the streets right. And and this is this is that version of that thing happening in Romania so the peasants around dohescu former mob and they start going through town attacking all of the middlemen that these local aristocrats have been using to manage their land and for a variety of reasons most of these middlemen are Jewish right that's just to the aristocracy is like yeah we'll have these guys it's actually kind of a conscious decision by the aristocracy because like if you have if like you have this group of people who are going to the city of the city of the city. You have this group of people managing your stuff and they're all Jewish when the peasants get angry you can just use racism to deflect from the fact that you're really the one responsible for their suffering. So that that works very well in this case and so the peasants revolt that follows is both an act of protest against economic exploitation that is very justified and a vicious rate a vicious racist pogrom that is not justified. No, it's funny is every time I do the show that phrase vicious racist pogrom shows up. And I'm just like oh yeah let's bring it on let's see let's see who's doing terrible things to decent people. To be fair we keep bringing you on for episodes that are about Europe from like 1800 to 1950. So you're going to have to talk about pogroms. It's going to have to wear that doesn't have them will playfully violent anti-Semitism to get us through the day every time. Yeah, yeah, good stuff good stuff. So the peasants revolt starts with these peasant mobs marching through towns dragging Jews out of their homes and then lighting the homes on fire. But as the revolt wears on because it's 1907 1905 Russia's just had an unsuccessful socialist revolution and a lot of these revolutionaries who are kind of like on the on the run from the czar wind up heading over to Romania and they start preaching to the masses that like hey guys. The Jews is a group are not responsible for your suffering. It's the property holding class who's exploiting you. And this actually has a positive impact. There's there's less programs kind of later in the peasant uprising and they were just attacking rich people. So that's good. Yeah, they relaxed a little bit. Yeah. The whole thing comes to a head in April of 1907 when 6000 peasants gather with axes to protest for redistribution of land. Right. And what they're protesting for is like we want to own the land that we live on and work our entire lives rather than it being owned by some guy who can just like jack up the rent and starve us effectively. So the government of Romania is like absolutely not because the people who have control of the artillery are the people who own the land. So those people just have the military fire artillery directly into the crowd killing 600 people in a matter of minutes. Yeah, I know it's pretty swell actually by the end. I mean the whole revolt they kill about 11,000 people. So they do they kill that's a good number of people killed. That's pretty good. Pretty good repressive solid for a few minutes. If I'm 100% honest like it takes man hot and project level shit to get numbers like that. Yeah, so quickly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know, this goes on for a few months, but like 11,000 people it's pretty bloody. So King Ferdinand who takes over seven years after this is like we just tested the peasantry a little bit and we got closer to losing control than we want to admit. So I really don't want to like have to conscript a bunch of people and deal with the problems that that might cause. Yeah, we get the toes in a little bit and found out that we get butchered. So yeah. And staying out of world war one absolutely would have been the right call for Romania, but here's the problem Jeff. British people exist and British people keep whispering in the Romanian King's ear. Oi, govna, you want that Transylvania do you? What was that? What are you doing? That's New England English oxen. What the fuck are you doing? I'm doing I'm doing an English accent, Sophie. It was like, bro, bro, mhm, mhm, mhm, mhm, mhm, mhm. We got a war coming in. So, so that's what the British Empire is whispering into the ears of King Frederick. And you know, basically the promise they're making him is again, like, hey, you you guys are like Transylvania is majority Romanian population. It's controlled by Hungary. We agree that's unjust. If you come into the war on our side and like help us throw us a wrench in the fucking German war effort, we'll make sure that you wind up with this greater Romania thing that all the nationalists in Romania are super gung ho about when the war finally ends. And eventually this this kind of thought of getting Transylvania back and all of these others, couple of other provinces too, is too enticing for the king and sort of the nationalists in the Romanian government to not try to do. So in 1916, Romania enters World War I on the side of the the untant and they attack the central powers. This briefly goes well for about six weeks. Romania takes back like a bunch of Transylvania. They take a couple other areas from from Hungary. They're like, they're having a real good time for for like six weeks. But then then then the Germans show up. Now, the Imperial German army is an army so competent that it took the entire world to beat them in this war like literally everyone else. It's reminded it's a good reminder that the German military and obviously, you know, when you trace back to Otto von Bismarck and basically his description of creating a country based on the world's greatest army. Like that was his whole thing. Yeah. And like so like, yeah, like that's going to be that's going to be a big deal because they're so they're just so good at war. That's been like their whole thing. They've been training for this. And they are the Germans at this point are obviously they are tied up the two years into the war on the Western front, which has killed more men more quickly than probably any other war in history prior to this point. They're also fighting all of Russia, which is a fifth of the planet's land mass, not that far from Romania. And then Romania enters. And so the Germans take like a tiny little chunk of their forces and they send it towards Romania and they just curb stomping. It's like how about you like yeah within days it becomes clear that like, oh, they are going to occupy the entire country. Romania will no longer be in it like they are coming for the capital. The royals start fleeing right at they are fucking getting the hell out of town. And so the British decide. Well, first off, this didn't work clearly. Romania did not have what it took to take the Germans out of the fight. Yeah, they're like, so we fucked around. It turns out we found out they found out. Yeah, which you know as the British Empire is always our preference, someone other than us find out. But now we have this problem. Romania has like basically the largest oil reserves in Europe is certainly at this point. And Germany does not have any oil right on its own pretty much. So the Germans are about to gain access to these oil fields that would effectively allow them to gain an enormous material advantage in this war that is kind of a squeaker. So the Germans send over or the British send over a guy this lieutenant colonel named John Norton Griffiths, who sounds like a war crimes guy and is about to do him a war crime because he lights every oil field in Romania on fire. It's just like set it all on fire. Fuck this shit. He does like a sedum. Yeah, I was gonna say that's like Iraq. Yeah, yeah, it like blots out the sun. It's obviously it's an ecological disaster. But it's a military success. He does stop the Germans from gaining access to Romania's fuel reserves, which you know is the smart play on a millet. It's just awful. But yeah, that's war. It's insulting the earth of natural resources. Yeah, yeah. So Romania does not do well in in World War One. They get occupied by the Germans. But a couple of years later, the Germans eventually do lose the war. And when they lose the war, Romania actually kind of winds up in a really good position. We're not going to get into like all of the wheeling and dealing that occurs. But you know, a lot of folks feel like they kind of a lot of folks who side with the central powers kind of feel like they get fucked over. This is particularly an issue with the Italians, right? We're in the least like we did all this fucking dying fighting Austria. And we got basically nothing at the end of the war like what the fuck is wrong with you people. Romania does really well. They get Transylvania. Like the British to their credit actually do give them what they had promised here. So after World War One, Romania is like 30 or 40% larger. And as a substantially larger population, a whole lot of resources and really productive land. That's called buying low and selling high. That's right. They're like, we're not going to do much to help you win this war. But we will reap the benefits. They bought the dip. Right. European civilization. Transylvania to the moon. Yeah. So after World War One, Romania is in this really interesting position. They are subject to a lot of the same forces that are, you know, going wild in Russia. This is the height height of the Russian Civil War. So the left has this huge surge in popularity. But Romania also has a pretty stable constitutional monarchy with this like parliamentary system, right? And so because, and you know, it's interesting that it works this way. But rather than kind of all of the energy on the left that is obviously like plays a huge role in what happens in Russia rather than that leading to the establishment of a super radical political part left wing political party in Romania that wants to get rid of the monarchy, change the nature of the state entirely institute a socialist state. They get a left wing political party called the national peasants party, which is is very large. I think it wins like 78% of the vote and it's it's most successful. Jesus. And is advocating for like a lot. Well, it's because they're saying like we want land reform, right? This thing that they had just had an uprising about. But they don't ever get like an organized, large communist movement. And in fact, for most of the 20s and 30s, there's maybe a thousand like organized communists in all of Romania, which is not a ton like there's several million people in the country. So it's it's a very small population. Now the organized far right is a lot larger than the communist left. Obviously it's still a smaller chunk of the country because Romania, Romanian people tend to vote sort of progressive left in this period. But the organized far right in Romania is very aggressive and very organized. And they start carrying out a lot of violent fascist marches and particularly attacks against the Jewish population of towns and cities. And this becomes more and more common in the 20s and 30s. So yeah, this is the country and the political situation that our hero for this week, Nikolai Chowchezcu is born into on January 23rd, 1918. So he like comes into being right as this, you know, post World War One Romania starts to be a thing. His father, whose name is Andrew to owned a small farm in a village called Scornicesty and I'm going to try on the names here. I listen to pronunciations. I'm not going to get all of these right guys. I'm sorry. There's a lot of Romanian names and I look. Scornicesty is probably close enough. His dad raised sheep and worked part time as a tailor. The family was about as poor as it is possible to be in any money that did come into them went swiftly to Andrew does drinking habits. So he is a religious extremist and an alcoholic. And for mysterious reasons, Nikolai Chowchezcu is going to decide he does not want to live around this guy for much longer. Very shocking. So there's this journalist or Romanian journalist, Catalan Gruja, who interviewed people in Chowchezcu's hometown after his demise. Here's what he writes about Andrew to. He didn't take care of his kids. He stole. He drank. He was quick to fight and he swore said the old priest from Scornicesty. His mother was a submissive, hardworking woman. The family slept on benches along the walls of a two room house. Corn mush was their staple food. Nikolai went to the village school for years. The teacher taught simultaneous classes for different years in a one room schoolhouse. The young Chowchezcu did not have books and he often went to school barefoot and outsider from early on. He did not have friends. He was anxious and unpredictable. You brought a lot of Boston energy to the beginning there. Oh, thank you. Thank you. His father was a drinker. He was a drug addict to fight all the time. Always down at the shout of house. That's right. Yeah, that's right. Very good. Getting into fights at the Duncan. Yeah. And Chowchezcu, he doesn't ever fit in. He certainly doesn't fit in in this small rural village. He's an anxious kid. He's got a stutter. He seems to be pretty smart. Surviving records indicate he did well in primary school. He had the third highest grade in his class. But education was never going to be like a focus on his early life. And in 1929 at age 11, he leaves home. He just is like fuck, fuck living with an abusive religious fundamentalist. I'm going to go to Bucharest and live with my sister. And I was a lover and he yeah, at 11. I didn't do life was hard back then. Yeah. 11 is like a hard 28. Yeah. Yeah. 11 is like 11 is like 28 from like the grizzledest guy that you knew in your 20s. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He is. The top is nails. This guy's like I lift for ultimate fighting. Yeah. He has as many stories of whoa was like a 75 year old Irish farmer by this point. Like when you see those like pictures of like 25 year olds coming back from war. You just like, oh, no. Yeah. So he gets to Bucharest. He moves in with his sister. He's he's working as a shoemaker. And this is what first brings him into contact with Romania's fairly small communist movement. Because the guy he apprenticed for was a member of the Romanian Communist Party. And he takes Nikolai under his wing. This is an act of pure happenstance. Again, the National Peasant's Party is pretty left wing and a lot more popular. So there's just not a whole lot of people who do fallen with the communists in this period. And the fact that Nikolai wound up under the influence of one of the fairly few active communists in Bucharest is a wild stroke of fate that would prove pretty bad for everyone involved, including the communists. At first though, Chesku just did odd jobs for his boss. The Romanian Communist Party had been made illegal by the king because royals don't tend to like communists. And vice versa. So even basic things like sending letters and distributing newspapers had to be done underground. It was illegal to advocate for the Communist Party. So Nikolai is kind of a low level errand boy helping them do this, helping them keep up communication between different cells, helping them distribute newsletters and all that stuff. And this communist underground that's kind of growing up in Bucharest. He did not occupy a privileged position. And to his credit, he seems to be the kind of kid who had no problem throwing down in the street for his beliefs. He is not like, he's not like taking a, taking the easy jobs, right? His first arrest. He's not a Twitter pundit here. No, he is not a Twitter pundit. One thing you have to give the kid is that he is putting his skin in the game. His first arrest is at age 15 when he gets picked up in this massive street fight outside of a strike. Basically, he's like, citing with a bunch of striking workers and the police show up and he winds up brawling in the street with the fucking cops and such. Hell yeah. If you're if somebody's ever like, they were caught brawling in the street with the cops, you're like, all right, like, aren't point. Yeah. At this point, he's a 15 year old boy who's been arrested for throwing hands in order to have been striking workers. That's the cops. Yeah. The next year, he gets busted for circulating a petition protesting the treatment of rail workers who had unionized illegally, right? So the state is punishing these workers because they're not allowed to unionize and they try to. And he circulates a petition being like, that's fucked up. And he goes to jail again. So it some historians, there's a debate here between at least the people that I have encountered as to whether or not is Chatezcu a committed ideologically committed communist or is this kind of just something he falls into and winds up committing to because of other reasons. Kitalin Grea puts it this way, the switch from a world in which he couldn't find his place, his own village to another in which he still couldn't find his place, the intimidating city, marked him. His initiation into the marginalized movement of the communist was his alternative solution for integrating into social life says sociologist, Pevel Campanue, author of the book Chatezcu, the countdown. One angle that Campanue and it certainly seems gruea are pushing, which is that like he doesn't really fit in anywhere and the communist movement, even though it is a very fringe and dangerous to be involved with, it offers him like this sense of belonging that he hasn't found anywhere else. So this is kind of his way of having a social life. There's a different argument and Paul Kinion makes it in his book that is also kind of adjacent to that one, it's interesting quote contemporary said he had little genuine interest in politics and might easily have chosen the green shirts or the green shirts of kadriano's iron guard, which is like the fascist movement. But Nicolai Chatezcu wanted to meet girls and some of his friends had told him the prettiest were in the communist party. So I don't know maybe both of those things are true that he falls in with the communist because it's the kind of the only place he fits in socially and also part of why he thinks he'll fit in socially there is someone tells him the prettiest girls are communist. It seems like he might be just going with the flow that his ideologies are not iron clad that he's just like, yeah, you're pushing more of them. All right, I'm going to go to there. I think that seems realistic that like he's looking for friends and he's looking to hit on chicks and the communist offer him that opportunity and also over time as he like fights with them in the street and does time. And then he just kind of gets more committed because when you when you do prison time for a cause, maybe you wind up reading about it. Yeah, I think it's kind of the way his his story goes also you don't want to double you want to double down if you've done damn if like you've damaged yourself because of your commitment to a belief. It's so much harder to reject that belief than it is to be like, let me tell you why I was right. I still defend my choice to get a Sega Genesis over a super Nintendo. I know I was wrong. Well, and as I always say being a Sega Genesis kid in the 90s is the being a communist underground activist of of 1920s Romania. You know, same essentially identical experiences right down to the fact that Jeff you in the 1970s wound up in charge of a small Eastern European nation that you then led into tremendous calamity. How did I do it? You know, things just happen. You should at least you didn't get a dreamcast then then we'd be dealing with the death toll in the millions. Oh, let me tell you. Yeah, I had a friend you could just bootleg games on dreamcast. What a time that was you could just burn games these days you jins ears don't know with your with your steams and your whatever Nintendo's you got now we used to have real variety in gaming. There was that game with the dolphin there was go the dolphin. Yeah, taxi game that was kind of like Grand Theft Auto. Crease that Simpsons game that was a rip off of that taxi game. Oh, it was a glorious age. Yeah. Uh-huh. What a time to be alive. So I worked in a video game. I worked at the Toys R Us video game section that and so I'm like, oh, I can name all of these things. So Nick a light chow Chescoo is a you know, he's the he's the he's the second dreamcast owner of the of the Romanian political spectrum, I guess. By which I mean, he was very, very vocal about his beliefs and very committed at a certain point at least to them. He was also not the most competent activist and a number of his fellow communists would later argue that like the fact that he kept getting arrested for the cause was not evidence that he was like a very good at what he was doing more just that like he was he had like a short fuse and would get into fights and he kept getting arrested and he was bad at hiding from the cops and not getting scooped up. Everyone's like, let's put him in charge of everything. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's just fighting everybody in the streets. One of the fun things about Chow Chescoo is no one ever says that and he winds up in charge anyway. He's you know, it's very Andrew Jackson energy. Yeah. Um, yes, he is he he'll have one or two things in common with Jackson. Um, although I guess his big wheel of cheese would have been filled with maggots. Although I think Jackson's big wheel of cheese was probably filled with maggots too. Um, so regardless, the fact that he keeps doing time and he keeps getting the fuck beaten out of him by the cops and tortured and all that stuff. Obviously, this earns him respect even from the people who are like, Jesus dude, like try running, you know, like try not getting arrested every time you go into the street. So that's a New England thing too where it's like, I know I'm going to die, but I'm going to fight you in this public restroom. Yeah. What are you doing? Yeah. The entire world is his waffle house in South Carolina. Um, and yeah, he, he gets busted repeatedly. Um, his biggest prison sentence so far comes when he gets sentenced to two years in 1938. Um, and by that time he is a pretty notable figure in the Romanian Communist Party, even though he's not universally respected. Now, 1938 is an important year in Romanian politics. After the death of King Ferdinand, his young son, Michael, was technically regent, but a council of guys governed in his stead. They were sympathetic to the main conservative party in Romania. And when the National Peasant's Party wins a resounding victory in the 28 elections, the head of the National Peasant's Party decides to try and reduce his enemy's power by bringing in a new king. Right. So you've got this child king who has like this guy basically governing for him as a, as regent. And that guy is sympathetic to the conservatives. So when this kind of liberal left party takes power, they decide, well, bring in a new king who wants to work with us. Then we can sideline this guy. And that'll be good for the peasants party. Unfortunately, the new king they pick is Prince Carol II. Now, Carol II up to this point has been like a playboy royal. He spent actually a lot of his life outside Romania because he falls in love with this chick, but he's not allowed to marry her because she's not royal enough. So he's like fucking. Anyin move, man. Yeah. Yeah. I'm going to go live somewhere else with this broad. And he had been as far as I can tell, kind of a political most of his life. Again, he's mostly interested in like fucking and partying and was probably most famous in when at the outbreak of World War One, he's in a military unit like a lot of royals are and he immediately desserts. He's just like absolutely not. I am not doing a World War One. So again, unproblematic so far. But once he gets brought in as king, he, well, I mean, he immediately proves to be problematic actually. So Carol II effectively derails the progressive land justice oriented policies of the National Peasant's party while playing the conservative and the growing far right parties off of each other. And this is a pretty impressive balancing act at the time that he's able to kind of like weaponize all these groups against each other to solidify his own power throughout this period, the Great Depression hits and Romania is obviously suffering as much as at least as much as everywhere else is and the fact that Carol II is kind of derailing the peasant's party's ability to push for real reform leads leads a lot of voters to abandon them and abandoned kind of the progressive left and start citing with these weird domestic fascists that have started to become very popular in Romania called the iron group. That could never happen here. No, no, no, it's only happens in Romania this one time. So the iron guard are also called the legionaries or the legionary movement again like Romania. There's a big heart on especially in kind of like the nationalist side of things for Roman history. So they are kind of consciously like talking back to their Roman heritage and calling these guys the legionary movement. The iron guard are founded by a fascist death squad member and a medieval mischistic named Cornelio, Codriano. And Codriano will do an episode on him at some point. He's a fascinating fascist and one that we don't talk about enough. He's fascinating. He is fascinating. He is kind of a mix between like there's an element of him that's like the Gavin McGuinness Proudboy type where he forms this street fighting organization. But he also like he becomes famous because he assassinate to do like he one of the things he's he tells his young followers is you need to be forming death squads and murdering people and it's okay if we get executed like that's actually dope if we get killed for assassinating leftists like that's a thing that we should seek to do. So he definitely sucks another one of his beliefs is that he needs to father thousands of children with women at all levels of Romanian society because the saint that he liked he believes did that too. That's a good way to find a saint man. Yeah, which is all about straight fucking this horny fascist. Fucking mystic who yeah dresses like a medieval like basically dresses in Rhinfair gear marching from town to town and inciting pogroms right that's Codriano's like primary method of of the door. Yeah, anti-smack tour. Yeah, now obviously Hitler loves this guy Hitler is a big Codriano fan. And as his movement gains power the Nazi start shipping guns over to the iron guard right kind of like underground here have some guns will be over there pretty soon guys so get ready. King Carol the second he finds the iron guard useful in some ways and he's you know perfectly willing to overlook a few pogroms even though his mistress is Jewish because he's like hey you know whatever helps me whatever helps me stop these peasant people from using the power of the royals. We political anti-Semites were selective in their choice of enforcement that's on another another thing that only occurred once in Romania. So King Carol the second generally considers the fascists useful whereas the socialist and the peasants party people they want to reduce his power so he finds with them a lot throughout the 20s and early 30s but then in like 1937 the iron guard starts to win larger and larger shares of the vote I think they top out at like 22% of the vote in the 37 election. And he's like oh shit well I can't really control these guys necessarily right like there they were it was a good bet to back them earlier but now he's like getting within spitting distance of real power and he doesn't owe me anything right like he's not I can't actually trust this guy he could fuck me up even worse than these peasants party people would so Carol the second starts to panic so hard for me not to hear you go party people whenever you say party people by the way yeah I mean most of these parties would have would have sucked ass I mean I send the national peasants party parties would would have been a lot of there it is happening yeah apparently hey although all the hot people are the communist party so that sounds that sounds like it could be good although you might wind up fucking Nikolai Chow Chescu which is a mixed bag although Sophie says he's hot so you know so he is down only one photo I take it back only one photo Oh he's just one of those guys they got caught at a good angle once so he's hot forever in history books it looked almost like a mug shot I don't know if it actually is or not but there was like one photo and then you like look at the rest you're like oh no it's like everyone sharing the hot Stalin photo yeah yeah which is not not accurate shockingly you can't rely on on pictures of Joseph Stalin to know how he actually looked but you know what you can rely on Robert us and no one else the and the products and services that support the show well sure I just don't separate between us and the products services that support our show you know we're one beautiful amalgam that you should just dive into and let it let it let it subsume you swim in us I mean it swim in us stop just never orbit in here you know what I love goods and services that are provided by the sponsors of this matter of fact I it should be known that I am a subscriber slash purchaser slash user of all of these things yeah Jeff's buying gold he's joined the Washington State Highway Patrol he's he's doing all of the things our sponsors are just to do he's engaging in sports betting yep yep I'm doing all those things just really doing them it's 1967 the Cold War and Joseph Stalin's daughter Stetlana the princess of the Kremlin has just fled mother Russia her new home a place where the roads are paved with gold and people bake apple pies out of baseballs and freedom a place called America that story alone would be worthy of a podcast but this one Spetlana Spetlana is about what comes next and it's the craziest story I've ever heard it has KGB agents mystics and a Frank Lloyd Wright Commune destiny immortality and breakable cycles weird sex stuff weird money stuff weird dances three Olga's two Spetlana's and one neurotic gay playwright who won't shut up about it all guess which one I am listen to Spetlana Spetlana on the iHeart Radio app Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts hi my name is Emily Jordan and I want to tell you about a new podcast I'm hosting with my dad it's called War Queens and it's a weekly podcast all about powerful women leaders from throughout history and all around the world dad you remember how this started right we were sitting at the dinner table that night and you were telling me about your latest book was that the one about Eisenhower actually it was Roosevelt but yeah I remember that we got to talking and I just loved your idea to write a book about all these amazing female battlefield leaders we broke the book and now we turned that into a podcast every week we bring you the story of a different war queen from well known figures like Cleopatra and Boudica to lesser known but equally consequential leaders like Queen Jenga of Angola my dad and I discuss how our different generations have treated these women and how their reputations have evolved over time we hope you'll join us along with our good friend Natalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones as we present War Queens available on the iHeart radio app and 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podcasts and we're back so in the 1937 elections the iron guard win like 20% of the vote and the peasants party has like a collapse of their power you know they they've gotten something north of like 70% a few years ago and they get 32% of the vote in that election which is short of the I mean that means that they have they do technically the best but they need 40% of the vote to form a government right so since they don't meet that threshold the king's going to get to help form the government and that's that's that's not going to end well and i'm going to quote from the book children of the night here and now it was for the king to decide who would become prime minister he knew the public wanted to change and began looking down the table of results in fourth place behind kodrianos legionaries was the moderately fascist national Christian party led by octavian goga the anti-Semitic poet was a great friend and supporter of the king and kodrianos most bitter rival he had scored just 9% of the vote as far as Carol was concerned he was perfect for the job anti-Semitic poet is the most fascinating combination of two words in history yeah just just just a racist but a moderate fascist that's like Nazi ballerina like there's just there's certain words that you don't necessarily conflate the two things together yeah and you don't also you don't hear a lot of moderate fascists these days but I guess it is I mean it is actually a thing in this period like it's a it's reasonable to draw a line between the two of them because the iron guard and the national Christian party are pretty pretty bitter rivals and spend a lot of time fighting each other I would add this I would add that we have that here with the the quote lawn order yeah that really they're like well you know I don't believe in all of these things but you know we should make sure that anybody that commits a crime is shot in the face yeah yeah it's the it's those weirdos who are like I think we should execute people for spraying graffiti during protests but also fuck the January 6th folks where it's like yeah you're a moderate fascist yeah yeah just a diet fascist a little yeah yeah so that's who that's who this moderate fascist poet anti-Semit goga gets made prime minister by the king and within two days of his appointment he has shut down both of the large Jewish owned newspapers in Romania he has the Bucharest bar suspend the licenses of every Jewish lawyer that they can find he rescinds the right to sell liquor in tobacco by Jewish shopkeepers and he withdraws citizenship from all 225,000 naturalized Romanian Jews now I'm going to go out on a limb here not cool not cool not cool not cool not cool sorry if I'm sorry if I'm courting controversy here but that is an uncool move kind of a dick move some would say and this podcast is brought to you by the letter P for programs because that's what that's what comes next is there's a bunch of programs are they a sponsor because I don't support that that specific one I do not do I do not do not consume that yeah that I mean we never know who's going to sponsor the show in the programmatic ads so it's not impossible but we we do we do we do have a hard no-pagrom line in our in our ad sheet and now back to our regularly scheduled program yeah so there's a bunch of programs there's also fighting in the streets between the young is green shirts and between these moderate fascists right because they're the green shirts are angry that they don't get the full fascism they get some programs but not all of the programs that they wanted the idea of a moderate anything getting into a fist fight is just very young yeah I want racism I want slightly less racism and then there's a little less racism in the street some racism so this is all a basically a a con by King Carol like he knows that well if I put you know this fucking goga guy in power he's going to do a bunch of horrible shit and also the legionaries are going to try to do them an uprising and it's going to be this big gnarly mess and it is this big gnarly mess and he uses that to be like hey guys parliamentary democracy just can't work for some reason so you know what we're putting it into that I'm suspending the constitution and now the dictator king so he does that in the 10th of February 1938 he becomes the dictator king of Romania so that's cool good good for him and he's not going to be good at this right Carol the second is kind of shitty at everything the good thing that he does I will give him credit for one thing which is that he has quadri anum murdered they arrest him in a bunch of his murders and just execute them at a black site basically and that's okay I'm not against that but he mainly executes quadri anub because he's creating his own fascist movement that is very deliberately ripping off the legionaries he basically like does the does the fucking Kirkland brand iron guard movement and in fact like Hitler and the Nazis will like make fun of him for being a fake fascist they're like look at this guy he's not even like a real fascist being the stewarding murdered it's like when transformers came out and sci-fi had trans morphers yeah yeah he is the trans morphers of Romanian fascism he also steals a huge percentage of the national budget to sci-fi and into his private bank account for when he and after a week it's forced out of the country and has to abdicate we just have this happening soon yeah we would not have this happening anytime soon in America no no of course not of course not because we don't call them kings so it's fine yeah so the you know he's not a very successful royal dictator he is not going to last long and while he is kind of trying to solidify his hold on power the USSR and Nazi Germany are deciding that you know why can't we be friends which is what that song is about actually it's about the Molotov ribbon drop pack so the USSR and the Nazis have them a packed and they're like what if we what if we met in Poland and and kissed at the line we draw and and enforce with unbelievable quantity of human blood to be fair by the way that song is by the band war so really it really does fit it does it's actually kind of perfect so yeah the USSR and Nazi Germany are like briefly BFFs in taking Poland and the Molotov ribbon drop pack a lot of people don't know this but it contains some secret provisions and one of those secret provisions is the Nazi saying Stalin you can take Besserebia from Romania which is Besserebia is like one of the wealthiest parts of Romania it's like literally a third of like the population and the economy of Romania is in Besserebia so when the Soviets move in and take it Romania is like Hitler come on guy we're kind of fascist what you want to have our back and Hitler's like no man you killed my boy Kodriano fuck you guys so this doesn't work great for anybody it does certainly does not increase Carol the second's popularity back home so that's going to be one of the reasons why he doesn't last very long and well all this is going on right in the late 30s you've got this fascist movement becoming ascendant you've got increasing crackdowns on the communist there's maybe 700 of them many of whom are not free in the country at this point in time but Chowczescu you know manages to stay alive in part because the fascists are not obviously like the Romanian fascists like all fascists have a lot of anti-communist rhetoric but the communists are not the iron guards focus because there's just not that many of them right it's not like they're actually have bigger threats from the state and so that's who they focus on and so you know while Chowczescu is continuing his his string of getting arrested for a bunch of bullshit he doesn't you know get murdered by the Nazis and he doesn't I don't think spends a particularly large amount of time fighting with them in the street what he does do is spend a lot of time hitting on the women of the Romanian Communist Party this is how in 1939 he meets his future wife Elena Patrescu she had grown up in a tiny rural village like Nicolai and become a communist after moving to the city Elena did not do well in school unlike Nicolai she does not appear to be a good book learner she failed basically every class but in the 1930s she gets a job at a black market pill mill and decides that this means that she's a chemist so her long ambition is going to be to become a chemist because she works at a pill mill that's basically reverse engineering diet pills and and then pressing them I mean look just kind of see if you work in a place that's going to war a lot having what is essentially speed on demand best great give me some of that bootleg not a fed you're in or whatever idea so in the summer of 1939 the Romanian Communist Party holds a picnic and a small fair that like includes a fundraising competition and the way they do this competition is that like all of the girls get together and they give each them a number and the girl who is able to basically sell the most tickets to raise funds at this party is named Queen of the ball now Elena is not a charismatic person she is not good at talking to people she does not like crowds she is not social she is not someone who is going to be very good at selling tickets on her own but Nicolai seems to pretty much falls in love with her at first sight he has just gotten out of prison for distributing the communist propaganda at this point and he is like she obviously likes him too because he's this like hard son of a bitch she's just gotten out of prison he's like a fighter for the party and so they make eyes and kind of as his first gesture to win her favor he threatens to beat up all of his friends if they don't buy tickets from Elena in order to so that she can win Queen of the ball which is both will show because in the future he is going to do like the nationwide version of this like sending out squads to beat the shit out of people who don't vote for the communist party. She also she looks like the kid from Dick Tracy yeah like she looks like she certainly does like the nerd from can't hardly wait if you remember like she looks exactly like that dude. Yeah she is that that's a good way of looking at her and and I hand some woman Nicolai Chow Chescu looks like a muppet version of a communist like he's got that big head that you could if you look at a picture of adult Chescu you can't imagine him talking normally you can only imagine the entire megal of his head flapping backwards yeah looks like Sam Eagle yeah he does he has strong Sam Eagle characteristics so this is I don't know it's kind of sweet it's it there's a darker tone to it because he's going to like violently fake an election later in his life but it's kind of sweet now that he's doing that to you know make this girl he likes feel pretty so that's that's kind of nice in the future yeah if she yeah the thing is this like look not for nothing but seeing her win a beauty contest I'd be like all right well this is clearly a fix right well yeah all these to her family no no I mean her family is terrible anyway so yeah that that goes great for him and the two of them hook up and they get married and he's going to spend a lot more time in prison but they seem to have legitimately been a love match now normally that's sweeter than it turns out to be because they are both some of the worst people who have ever lived but I'll give him one thing they they seem to have been legitimately in love so that's that's yeah monsters can be in love that's a thing yeah yeah there you go in 1940 Carol the second dictatorship collapses with some help from the Nazis and the new cat in town is a military man named Marshall Antonescu who basically runs a military dictatorship with fascist trappings he uses the iron guard he like puts them adjacent to power but Antonescu he's a monster but he's not ideologically a fascist like you can like again this is where we get into the terms because he like is a major player in the Holocaust he's a terrible terrible person not saying that to be like he's not as bad as these fascists he just he is a military dictator he is not a fascist dictator and he doesn't really like the iron guard all that much he's willing to use them because he has he's a strong nationalist but he considers them way too radical to actually run things and while all this is going on all of Romania's communists are either in prison or hiding out in the USSR and again there's maybe six or seven hundred of them in the country still the leaders of the movement in Romania are Anna Pocker a Jewish woman and a veteran revolutionary Stalinist and Georgie Georgie day he's an electrician who became an illegal train union organizer and spends some of Chow Chescu's first serrests are like supporting his Georgie days illegal train strikes and he's also a Stalinist everybody's a Stalinist right so Georgie was a poor peasant with what Marxist considered unimpeachable proletarian pedagrees he's basically like the the archetype of the kind of guy Stalin pushed as the ideal new Soviet man he's this like born poor working his entire life organizing unions and fighting in the streets to support the rights of workers to organize Pocker meanwhile she's also does a lot of time for the cause she is a tough lady in fact she gets the nickname the iron woman of the iron lady of Romania but she's also an intellectual right she's one of these people who comes to communism like through reading about it and and is is a is a like as a post to like Georgie day does not read books right does not does not talk a lot about reading he's not citing a whole lot of like passages from Marxist tracks which Pocker is she is fiercely devoted to the cause which but the fact that she's also on kind of this creative ideological side of things means that she's going to run into conflict during the messy early years of the USSR and for a little while Pocker is in Stalin's good books she she flees to the USSR for a period she goes to this Soviet school for revolutionaries where she studies tactics to help her build the covert communist movement in Romania but she also encounters a lot of difficulties because number one she's Jewish and number two she's a woman and so those things are not good at the time not not great at the time now it's perfect for all of those people especially in America yeah yeah everything's everything's fine now but but back at the time back at the day difficult and she also runs into problems because she she runs a foul of Stalin and she gets executed for or in her husband gets executed for being a Romanian spy right I don't believe he is I've never seen any evidence that Pocker's husband was spying for anyone he seems to have been a really committed communist but he gets executed over in the USSR and Anna finds out about it while she's four years into a 10-year prison sentence in Romania she had formed a group of prisoners called the women's collective of anti-fascist prisoners and when the news reaches them that Anna's husband has been executed she doesn't even get time to mourn him before the other women demand that she explained why she'd marry to traitor a criticism session is held in prison in which Anna is blamed for not warning the party that her husband was an agent provocateur and eventually Anna tells them I am now racking my brain to find something a sign of any kind that would have led me to believe he was an enemy of the people I'm not placing any doubt on the party's decision the party knows better than I but I did not see anything and as much as I searched my soul my recollections my memory I don't find anything that could prove such a thing which is like almost certainly true and kind of a devastating thing to imagine this woman who's stuck in prison who just found out the love of her life has been killed by the state and is now like well I the party must have been right in killing him but I just didn't see a sign of it it's super fucked up and the rest of the best way to handle that is to just be like well look I'm sure the people that are still alive with the guns they had great reason to do that I'm just saying I personally didn't see but they they probably nailed that shit I just maybe he was tricking me it doesn't go well for her because she doesn't she she does not like repudiate him fully and so these these ladies that she's formed into a group in prison like sin backward to Stalin saying Anna won't denounce her dead husband and this winds up being one of the justification Stalin would later use for backing Georgie over Anna because she she winds up yeah it would be funny if it was like a real lie scenario where he was like this huge jacked like Austrian sounding that's like I'm so computers yeah no it doesn't it doesn't work out that way unfortunately but yeah any okay in any case Georgie Georgie day also spends his war years locked away in a fascist prison because the Antonesky regime is not quite as Nazi as the straight up Nazis wanted it to be communist in concentration camps there did have a higher rate of survival than they did in like Germany so what actually happens is once all these people get thrown into these prisons they kind of settle out what the communist government of the future omane is going to be in these prison cells which is a thing that happens every time you throw a bunch of radical revolutionaries into prison cells together is they wind up sorting out the future regime that they're going to bring into power at a certain time yeah exactly they've got time to like read books about communism and figure out who's going to do what when they eventually wind up in power who when our number comes up we're going to have to go ahead and make a perfect communist government yep and that's exactly what's going to happen um so Georgie day is obviously I think everyone kind of is aware just because he's such a powerful person that he's going to wind up being like the top man if they ever do wind up in power and chau chescu sees this and he is again he's he's he's got gets thrown into prison again during the World War two years for conspiring against the social order and he kind of turns himself into a gopher for Georgie day he makes himself available for like whatever sort of side jobs they need done he does everything that'll keep it like he doesn't care what he has to do no matter how like banal or low the task is as long as it's going to keep him on the lips of his better right I just want to stay around Georgie day you know as long as he keeps seeing me and knows me as like this guy who can handle anything he wants like that's that's what I'm going to do uh he's just jazzed to be on the show man yeah just happy to be here man just happy to be here um and this strategy works works splendidly as Paul Kenyon writes they had a lackey in prison a young hooligan who brought them food packages and ran messages his name was nickelized chau chescu a twenty year two year old trainee cobbler who is regularly in trouble for fighting and delivering communist leaflets some of his fellow inmates thought him weird and said that they have waited him because he was such a bore with absolutely no sense of humor in the presence of big men like Georgie day chau chescu remained largely silent and deferential he avoided speaking whenever possible because of the stutter so severe it made his leg shake but he also possessed a powerful memory and an instinctive intelligence and sat among the future leaders listening to everything they said and slowly learning and this actually works out well for him because since he's too kind of scared and nervous to speak up or say anything he never winds up running a foul of Georgie day right he doesn't he's never he puts himself in positions to help with stuff but he's never running anything that can like go badly and reflect poorly on him and he pays attention to the social relationships and kind of worms his way closer and closer to Georgie day over time which which is though I mean this the Stalin does a version of this that's how he rises to power to this this is a pretty effective tactic so if you are ever in a revolutionary underground movement that's seeking to overthrow the state and institute a new form of government keep an eye out for like the weird quiet kid who just hangs around doing chores shoot that guy pretty quick okay that's my advice to have in my in my need to have that written down yeah just make a note drop that kid before he gets too far in my room start yeah could get on my moves ready you know legally and Robert does not mean that literally I do mean that literally yeah he does he does before you overthrow the government kill the quiet kid in your movement just drop him all what did what is the play Jenna track take a page out of Dracula's book Burnham in a thing put him all in a building and lighted on fire only let the loud assholes inherit power because that will never go badly no we've as we just mostly just get podcasts yeah exactly and I think that's going to do it for our part one of Chow Chescu and boy howdy have you had a good time here Jeffrey it's all I could ask for Jeff tober fest that's me that's that's who I am I'm glad that you got my name per correct that's right that's right that's that's you and the festival dedicated to celebrating your many accomplishments every October I gotta say I love being here love spending time with you guys it's a real blast I love relearning sometimes I'm like that degree I got wasn't worth anything and I do this show every once in a while and I'm like that's good enough Jeff you got a plug anything here before we roll out are people still listening at this point in time when we do plugs let's do it man I so depending on when this goes up I run a stand-up show a live stand-up show at a toy store in Burbank California called mint on card at a store called blast from the past on Magnolia in Burbank California you can check that out the second Friday of every month I have a great podcast called Jeff has cool friends where I interview my friends that I think have really cool jobs and I think you should pay attention to them you can get that for free or you can get early access to uncensored episodes with bonus content at slash Jeff Meg it's just my name I also have shows like hug fine with king is in that easy it's so easy hug fine my monthly show with Kim crawl and I also have a great show called nerd with dry alvarez that we do we do on the patreon and for free and that is we just do deep dives on nerdy shit I also do tom and Jeff watch Batman on the gameplay and employee network which we keep needing to bring you on to I know you like the you want to do Batman stuff I do want to do Batman stuff by which I mean I want to I want to beat up poor people in the street while wearing $10,000 in in body armor in armor yeah yeah of course as an Olympic level athlete yeah as a yeah a master martial artist beating the shit out of a heroin addict in an alley perfect yeah just breaking someone's back for stealing a magnovox yeah and you can also hear me on unpopular opinion and you don't even like sports both on the unpop's network um nothing that uh you know thank you this is fun we have fun yes I I had fun here we like this good time yeah I wish I knew better health insurance after this that's what I'm saying so be look or a lot of things said at the end there buddy I'm I'm not going to give our followers bad advice about how to form their underground anti government terrorists sell the question is why aren't you giving that advice Sophie because it really like having health insurance well I like making sure that some weird quiet kid doesn't wind up Robert in charge after the revolution and murders bit you've been I've been I thought I really really there's a lot of really you could be really not like that I've encouraged violence against so many letters I hear what you're saying and I know that you're like well I know I know worse and like you have but I particularly hate Sophie Sophie's tanky art is the guantanette this is good this is unfortunately this was Sophie's choice to hate the oh yes Sophie's choice joke we did it get it we did it that's the whole thing and she has a Boston accent in that movie no yep so do I anyway that's going to be the episode come back tomorrow while not tomorrow but soon Thursday and and there will be more more chau chau chau let's remain in history more more getting into the weeds of chau chau chau so stick around for that folks it ends in tens of thousands of starving orphans as it always does behind the bastards is a production of cool zone media from more from cool zone media visit our website or check us out on the iHeart radio app apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts in 1967 Joseph Stalin's only daughter flees russia for her new home america that story alone is worthy of a podcast but spedlana spedlana is about what comes next and it's the craziest story I've ever heard it has kgb agents a frankloid right commune weird sex stuff three olgas two spedlana's and one neurotic gay playwright that's me listen to spedlana spedlana on the iHeart radio app apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts hi i'm natalia manuile from ramsey in foster furious to msandei game of thrones i've loved playing roles of women whose resourcefulness intelligence and inner strengths are pushed to the limit now for the first time we listen to a new podcast that brings you the stories of the fearless powerful women leaders war queens join the daughter father history team of amy and john jordan every week listen to war queens on the iHeart radio app apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts in 2004 22 year old her beca gold was brutally murdered in a small town in the osarbs i'm catherine townson in season one of my podcast hell and gone we followed up on old leads and chase new ones and now 18 years after rebec is death there has finally been a conviction but the killer has no clear motive is this the end of the story listen to hell and gone with four new episodes on rebec as well as investigation on iHeart radio app apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts