Eugen Filotti

Eugen Filotti

Infobox Person
name = Eugen Filotti

image_size = 175px
caption = Eugen Filotti in 1973
birth_date = birth date|1896|7|28|mf=y
birth_place = Bucharest, Romania
death_date = death date and age|1975|6|1|1896|28|7|mf=y
death_place = Bucharest, Romania
spouse = Elisabeta Tasca
children = Andrei Filotti (b. 1930)
Domnica Ghimuş (b. 1932),
Ion Filotti (b. 1941),
Alexandra Shafir (b. 1947)
parents = Nicolae Filotti
Aurelia Filotti (née Felix)
occupation = Journalist, Diplomat, Writer

Eugen Filotti (b. July 28 (July 17 O.S.) 1896, Bucharest - d. June 1, 1975, Bucharest) was a Romanian diplomat, journalist and writer. As a diplomat a worked at the League of Nations in Geneva and then as minister plenipotentiary in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary. As minister plenipotentiary to Budapest he issued transit visas for Jews during the Holocaust. [Solidarity and Rescue [] ] He was secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1944-1945. As writer he published several translations of literary works.


Eugen Filotti was born on July 28 (July 17 O.S.) 1896 in Bucharest, Romania. His father, Nicolae Filotti was a military pharmacist, having the rank of lieutenant and his mother, Aurelia Filotti (née Felix) was the daughter of doctor Iacob Felix. He was the second child of the family, having a brother Mircea Filotti, his elder by four years. Nicolae Filotti died of tuberculosis when Eugen Filotti was only 2 years old and his mother had to struggle to raise her two sons with the small resources provided by her husband's pension.

În 1902 - 1906 Eugen Filotti attended the "Cuibul cu barză school", on Ştirbei Vodă Street, in Bucharest and thereafter, from 1906 to 1914 Gheorghe Lazăr High School in Bucharest. In 1913, while still in high school, he started working for various newspapers, writing articles about foreign affairs. [ "Monografia Liceului Gheorghe Lazăr" - Bucureşti, 1941 ]

In 1914 he started studying pharmacy at the Bucharest University of Medicine, attending courses for two years. When Romania entered World War 1 in 1916, he was forced to interrupt his studies, being conscripted as lieutenant and assigned as pharmacist to the army medical staff of the front line. After the retreat of the Romanian troops to Moldavia, he was transfered to the medical units of the Trotuş valley front. After the war, he gives up his pharmacy studies and attends the Law School of Bucharest University, obtaining his degree in 1922. While in university, he continues his journalistic activity, writing articles for several newspapers and magazines. [Mihai Sorin Rădulescu - "Genealogia românească. Istoric şi bibliografie" - Editura Istros, Brăila 2000 ] Alexandru Gabriel Filotti - "Frontierele românilor" - Editura Istros, Brăila 2007 ]

Activity as journalist

After graduating from Law school, Eugen Filotti joined the editorial staff of the Adevărul newspaper, concentrating on foreign relations and writing editorials concerning international events. Besides, from 1924 to 1926 he also publishes, as director, the second series of the Cuvântul Liber (1924). ["Cuvîntul liber (1919-1936)" - Manuscriptum, 1971, Nr.3 ] Writers such as Ion Barbu, Victor Eftimiu and Tudor Arghezi or musicians, such as George Enescu were among the main contributors. Eugen's brother, film producer and screenwriter Mircea Filotti was in charge of the film chronicle. The magazine was political and cultural weekly, advocating the integration of Romania into the post-war Europe and opposing the populist ideas promoted by the Viaţa Românească. In his introductory article, used the term of europeanism, however in a different meaning than this concept had after 1945. The magazine also strongly supported the avant-garde in art and literature, which were viewed as a participation of Romanian artist and writers to the cultural unrest of the 1920s.

The magazine was a focal point of a group of young writers, journalists, artists and other intellectuals, who were carried away by the euphoria following World War 1, and, after Romania had fulfilled its national aspirations, were attempting to define the ways of perfecting their new homeland. This group strongly opposed the leftist radicals, who were looking with interest at the soviet experiment, and was looking towards the west. However, they thought that new Romania, considered to be a big and strong country, had to play an important role a renewed Europe, which was also trying to find its own new stability. The link to Western Europe was conceived mainly as an integration of the Romanian cultural and artistic movements into the European ones. [ Ovidiu Caraiani - "National identity and political legitimacy in modern Romania" [] ]

Such ideas were disseminated not only by "Cuvântul Liber", but also by other magazines, such as Contimporanul, Punct, Mişcarea Literară and, later, by Unu. However, besides publishing their ideas, the group of young enthusiasts to which Eugen Filotti belonged, attempted to organize important cultural events which would help them promote their ideas. The most representative of these event, both due to its importance and to its international attendance was the "First exhibition of modern art" in Bucharest.

The exhibition was organized in the building of the "Romanian Fine Arts Union" on Strada Corabiei Nr. 6, from November 30 to Debember 30, 1924. The main Romanian artists participating were M.H. Maxy, Marcel Iancu, Victor Brauner, Constantin Brâncuşi, Miliţa Petraşcu and Mattis Teutsch. Important artists from other European coutries presented some of their works, among which Teresa Żarnowerówna, Mieczysław Szczuka (Poland), Lajos Kassák (Hungary), Marc Darimont, Marcel Lempereur-Haut, Jozef Peeters (Belgium), Karel Teige (Czechoslovakia), Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Arthur Segal, Paul Klee, Hans Richter, Erich Buchholz, Ernst Rudolf Vogenauer (Germany) and Viking Eggeling (Suedia). Mariana Vida, Gheorghe Vida - "Mattis Teutsch and the Romanian Avant-garde" [] ] .

The exhibition opened on a Sunday, at noon, in a pitch-dark room:

"There were just two candles burning on a table covered by a black canvas. Suddenly, Eugen Filotti made his appearance next to the table, relaxed and inspired, reciting a text presenting to the public both the new form of art and the exposed paintings"

Tudor Vianu at that time a young professor of aesthetics, who also attended the opening, recalls in his memoirs:

"The dark room, swarming wiht visitors, where Eugen Filotti was finishing his introductory speach, suddenly vibrated at the loud roll of drums. The lights went on, focusing on a jazz orchestra located behind the speaker. The orchestra, which also included a black musician started playing, and the visitors started roaming around at the sound of string instruments, trombones and drums."

In his memoirs, Saşa Pană quotes parts of Eugen Filotti's speach, which emphasized the internal cohesion and the unity of modern art and called for an intensification of this art through spiritual and intellectual activities. Eugen Filotti predicted that this type of art would be understood only when the contemporary civilization would learn to look at painting in absolute purity. His speach quoted works of Wassily Kandinsky, Maurice Vlaminck, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, as well as those of Constantin Brâncuşi and other Romanian artists. [ Saşa Pană - "Născut în 02" - Editura Minerva, Bucureşti, 1973 ]

In his own articles on the exhibition, Eugen Filotti presented the event in a positive light, and highlighted the vaule of the work exposed by Romanian artists, stressing that they were in no way inferior to the foreign participants. He noted "Constructivism dominates on each wall al the exhibition hall, however without completely obliterating expressionist visions, cubist decomposures or coloristic experiments." [Eugen Filotti – "Expoziţia Contimporanului" - Cuvântul Liber, 13 Decembrie 1924 Nr. 47 p.20 ] [ Scarlat Callimachi -"Expozitia "Contimporanului" (insemnări)" - Punct, 1924, 6 dec. ]

The exhibition also turned into a clash between "modernists" and "traditionalists". The group who had organized the exhibition, including Eugen Filotti supported a modernist, rationalist, democratic trend and wanted to promote a spiritual interaction with the rest of the world. On the opposite side, the adherents of diferent traditionalist movements, which had also emerged after World War 1, did not refrain to exacerbate nationalistic and mystical expressions in art and culture. While the nationalistic movements had not evolved into the extremism of the 1930s, and the antagonism was still kept at an intellectual level, modernists perceived them already as a potential danger. The issue was not to opose the presence of religion in culture, but to fight against the attempts of transforming it into an instrument of nationalism and antidemocracy. While antisemitism was not yet an issue, as many of the artists and writers supporting the modernist trends were jewish, this could have contributed to the opposition of the traditionalists. These attitudes outlined the future movements in Romanian politics and culture, and the modernists were already laying the basis of their resistance against totalitarism, regardless whether it came from the political right or left. [ Camil Mureşan – "Laicism şi religiozitate în cultura română interbelică" - [] ]

Tudor Vianu expressed the view that "if the program of ethnic culturalism was adopted, Romanian culture would regress to an undignified provincial level". [Tudor Vianu - "Prima expozitie internationala Contimporanul" - Miscarea literară, 1924 No. 4. ] Expanding the same idea, Eugen Filotti wrote: "traditionalism means nothing else than the megalomania of distress" [ Eugen Filotti - "Gândul nostru" - Cuvântul liber, seria a II-a, nr. 1, p. 2-4 ] . A short time later, he continued on the same wavelength:

"Under the banner of orthodoxy and tradition some intellectuals promote a static ideal, petrified in the hieratic byzantine-muscovite forms of a primitive culture, having no evolution whatsoever and nu future. Our ideal is a dynamic culture, having the desire of growth, renewal and fecundity. The scope of our generation's endeavours should not be clinging to a sterile and, in some respects, imaginary tradition, nor cultivating exclusively the autochtonous character... The type of culture we want to promote is European. Our light comes from the West."

"The salvation lies in the Westernization of this country... If we are talking about national assertion, we see this as being active and productive: the expression of our cultural and spiritual character in specific European forms... As far as we are concerned, there is no antagonism and no incompatibility between europeanism şi "romanianism". We have only the sacrilegious wish to harmonise romanianism with the heartbeat of contemporary life... We want this life to be liberated from balcanism, from asiatism, from archaism and from the rustic simplicity which limits existence to the path from the village church to the village tavern..."

"We have a better opinion about our own people than all the traditionalists and that is why want Romania to start making its entrance into Europe. Many nations, located between the Atlantic and our borders, have succeded in being European without losing the specificity of their ethnic spirit. Why would we be the only ones who need a senseless and useless isolation?" [Eugen Filotti - "Europeism sau românism" - Cuvântul liber, seria a II-a, nr. 1, p. 2-4 şi nr. 2, p. 18-19.]

Eugen Filotti continued his journalistic activity till 1927. However, as time went by, he became increasingly disillusioned by the cultural life in Romania. The integration of Romanian culture into a more comprehensive European culture, which many of the young intellectuals of his generation had been attempting to promote, did not occur. Instead, currents of various nationalistic tendencies had proliferated and were increasingly active in opposing European integration. Some writers and artist had left for various western countries and many more were seriously considering this alternative. Gradually detaching himself from the Romanian internal cultural life, Eugen Filotti increasingly oriented his journalistic activity towards foreign policy, which had been his main concern in the early years of his career. At the Adevărul newspaper, he was given the responsibility of writing the editorials on foreign affairs and of coordinating the related activities.

Diplomatic activity

Press attaché

In 1927, Eugen Filotti decided to give up journalism and to pursue a diplomatic career. After being appointed press attaché in Prague where he worked for over a year, in 1928 Eugen Filotti was transferred to the Romanian Mission to the League of Nations in Geneva. From 1928 to 1930 he works, next to other diplomats, among which Savel Rădulescu, as aid to Nicolae Titulescu, permanent representative of Romania to the League of Nations.

In 1929 Eugen Filotti married Elisabeta Taşcă, daughter of professor Gheorghe Taşcă, at that time rector of the Academy for High Commercial and Industrial Studies in Bucharest.

Director of the Press

In 1930, Eugen Filotti is promoted Director of the Press and of Informations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the early 1930s Romania’s foreign policy, under the leadership of Nicolae Titulescu was pursuing a system of aliances, which would enable the smaller countries of the Balkan region to oppose any aggression. At that time, the National Socialist Party had not gained power in Germania, but, in Titulescu’s political vision, such alliances had to be created in advance, so as to have time to consolidate. Titulescu hoped to create a union of all Balkanic countries. As, due to its territorial claims, Bulgaria din not adhere to such a proposal, there was still the possibility of developing an alliance of the other Balkan states: Romania, Yougoslavia, Greece and Turkey. Romania was the diplomatic force pressing for an alliance. In his capacity of Director of the Press and Informations, Eugen Filotti was in charge of informing the mass media and to develop a favorable public opinion in all concerned countries. Finally, after several years of negotiations and various bilateral agreements, the Balkan Pact was signed on 9 February 1934 in the great aula of the Academy of Athens by Demetrios Maximos for Greece, Nicolae Titulescu for Romania, Tevfik Rüştü Aras for Turkey and Bogoljub Jevtić for Yougoslavia [ Oana Panait - "Carol al II-lea, presa si propaganda" - Historia, Nr. 65, 2007 ]

În his capacity of director of the press, Eugen Filotti had the responsibility of verifying the activity of foreign press correspondents working in Romania. Besides many journalists, adhering to high professional standards, there were some less honest persons who tried to squeeze in. The case of Julius Köver exemplifies the problems raised by incorrrect reporting. Köver claimed to be an economic correspondent of the Austrian daily Neue Freie Presse, presenting the required credentials. In 1933 he also registered at the Direction of the Press in Bucharest as correspondent of the American United Press International. Köver also contributed to the newspapers “Pester Lloyd” şi “Budapesti Hírlap” published in Hungary and the [German language newspapers “Prager Tagblatt” şi “Die Wirtschaft” published in Czechoslovakia. Julius Köver’s activities started raising suspicions in February 1935, when United Press released the information that Prince Nicholas of Romania was expected to return to Romania, where the Iron Guard was preparing a revolt intending to depose King Carol II and to replace him with Nicholas. Another false news sent by Julius Köver to America claimed that Nicolae Titulescu, the minister of Foreign Affairs, had signed an ageement in Moscow, which granted the Soviet army the right of transit through Romania. Such information had not only the result of casting a negative image of the country but of also weekening Romania’s position within the Balkan Pakt. Called by Eugen Filotti to the Direction of the Press for explanations, Julius Köver claimed that the news releases of the United Press Agency had been generated in Vienna and that he had nothing to do with them. Actually Köver had designed an ingenious system to transmit his fallacies to various branch offices of the agency, from where they were retransmitted to the United States. He hoped that this stratagem would help him hide his identity from the Romanian authorities and, at the same time, would anable him claim that he used it to elude the censorship existing in Romania. Eugen Filotti was able to point these malversations and, at last, Julius Köver was expelled from Romania. [ ] Iancu Moţu - "Demnitate ardeleana si tradare dîmboviteana" - Foaia transilvană, 12 aprilie 2007 ]

Minister plenipotentiary to Ankara

Titulescu’s dismissal coincided with the departure of two key personalities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Mihail Arion and Savel Rădulescu. The former, who held the position of secretary general of the ministry resigned, in circumstances that are not clear, his resignation bein formally accepted on August 29, 1936. The latter, who had served as undersecretary of the ministry, was not included in the new team, replaced by Victor Bădulescu.

The new foreign minister, Victor Antonescu proceeded to a massive change in the staff of the Romanian foreign missions, recalling many of the plenipotentiary ministers. These changes, if not initiated, were at least approved by prime minister Gheorghe Tătărescu. Most of the heads of mission recalled were suspected of supporting the former minister of foreign affairs. The list of recalled ministers included: Nicolae Lahovary (Albania), Caius Brediceanu (Austria), Dimitrie I. Ghika (Belgium), Vasile Stoica (Bulgaria), Theodor Emandi (Czechoslovakia), Raoul V. Bossy (Finland), Constantin Langa-Răşcanu (Greece), Vasile Grigorcea (Hungary), Grigore Constantinescu (Iran), Ion Aurel Vassiliu (Japan), Constantin Antoniade (League of Nations), Dimitrie Drăghicescu (Mexico), Constantin Vişoianu (Poland), Mihail Boerescu (Switzerland), Eugen Filotti (Turkey) and Alexandru Gurănescu (Yougoslavia). In order to emphasize the punitive character of the measure, their diplomatic passports were withdrawn and all their diplomatic privileges withdrawn the moment the orders for their return to Romania were issued. The reshuffling of the staff coincided with the return to political or diplomatic activities of known opponents of Titulescu, such as Anton Bibescu and Victor Cădere. The magnitude of these changes indicated the intention of the new minister to replace most of the senior staff of the ministry. However, the implementation to the desired extent proved impossible to implement and part of the recalled ministers were appointed to other legations or received other positions at the headquarters of the Ministry. [ Potra, George G. - "Reacţii necunoscute la demiterea lui Titulescu 29 august 1936: O "mazilire perfidă" - Magazin Istoric, 1998, Nr. 6 ]


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