Historia Universitatis Iassiensis 8, 67–80

Andrei CUȘCO | De părți opuse ale baricadei: Constantin Stere, Nicolae Iorga și Marele Război

Abstract. Nicolae Iorga and Constantin Stere articulated radically different visions regarding Romania’s attitude during World War I. Iorga enthusiastically defended the cause of the Entente, while Stere was one of the most incisive public figures associated with the pro-German camp. However, the deep ideological differences between the two thinkers were well-known and dated from at least a decade before the outbreak of the war, giving rise to heated polemical debates on several occasions after 1905. In this paper, I argue that Iorga’s and Stere’s different visions represented, in fact, two antagonistic concepts and ideological currents concerning the national movement and, ultimately, two opposite interpretations of Romanian nationalism. In Iorga’s opinion, the danger epitomized by Stere stemmed from the regrettable combination of the “revolutionary spirit” and the purported “ideological sterility” in the national field specific for most intellectuals of Bessarabian origin. By contrast, Stere viewed the version of Romanian nationalism propagated and promoted by Iorga as hollow, ineffective and harmful. The context of World War I radicalized this debate. The university milieu reacted swiftly and occasionally with outbursts of violence. During his collaboration with the German occupation authorities in late 1917 and early 1918, Stere published a series of extremely polemical and ideologically charged articles in the Lumina journal. These articles were later republished as a separate volume, Marele Răsboiu și politica României. They represent, arguably, the most consistent and coherent response of the pro-German faction to the dominant pro-Entente discourse, in the context of the events unfolding during the winter of 1917-1918. Stere’s articles, however, were also a direct reaction against Iorga’s vision about the essence and development of the Romanian nation. My analysis will mainly focus on these articles. It will emphasize, in particular, the notion of the “integral national ideal.” Stere suggested this concept as a viable alternative to the hegemonic pro-Entente discourse of that era.