The Hajduks of Cotovschi

The Hajduks of Cotovschi

A short history of The Hajduks of Cotovschi, an anarchist communist partisan organization from Romania, that pursued its activity in Bucharest, between 1939 to 1941.
Working Class History note: we have been unable to verify the information in this post, but reproduce it for reference (see more information in the comments)

The name of the organization was chosen to honor the name of Grigory Cotovschi (alternate spelling: Kotovski) and was created by Ion Vetrila in 1939, being active in the period when the legionaries from the "Legion of Archangel Michael" were collaborating with Antonescu government. The Hajduks of Cotovschi were organized according to a classical scheme: basically 5 people in a group. The purpose of the organization was the promotion in Romania, in both cities and villages, of the partisan revolutionary war. In September 1940, the organization had a central group, 2 groups of 5 members and other 3 groups, incomplete, of 3 members. Altogether 25 people. The ages of the members ranged from 14 and 18 years old.

During the crisis of September, which ended with the resignation of the King Carol II government, the hajduks start a partisan war. Until November 1940, the Hajduks of Cotovschi undertake between 18 and 22 armed actions and in December 1940 - 20 armed actions. Their primary purpose was the liquidation of the legionaries, government army soldiers, the gendarmes and destruction of the Legionnaire propaganda machine. Thus, the hajduks burned a warehouse belonging to the Legionnaires that housed propaganda material. This action in itself was planned by Ion Vetrila who was 16 years old at that time. The hajduks used conspiratorial methods, disguising themselves in Legionnaires, the gendarmes and remaining unknown to police. On 10 november an earthquake occurs in which 8 hajduks lose their lives while 2 get disabled. However, in January 1941, the Hajduks of Cotovschi include 69 members: 9 complete groups of 5 people and 8 incomplete groups of 3-4 people.

On January 21, the legionary rebellion starts, directed against the Antonescu government. On 22 January, the Hajduks of Cotovschi successfully attacked one of the district police stations in Bucharest, where they lose four comrades. The organization is arming. Receiving the news that the legionnaires are attacking Jewish neighborhoods, Ion Vetrila decides to divide the organization into 2 groups. A large group took over the task of defending the Jewish neighborhoods and the second group, smaller and under the leadership of Vetrila took over the mission to attack a weapons depot of the Legionnaires. In the night of of January 23 both groups were destroyed. Attacking the armory, Vetrila's group was surrounded by 350 legionaries and after a hard fight they were destroyed. The other group (consisting of 40 people) was destroyed at night in a Jewish pogrom. After the fight, Vetrila wounded in both legs, along with a friend wounded in the chest and head are transported to the slaughterhouse, where legionaries gathered the Jews to be skinned. There the partisans were raised on hooks thrusted into the ribs, the Legionnaires writing with hot iron on their backs the names "Marx" and "Bakunin". After having been subjected to torture, the Legionnaires shot Vetrila in the head .
Hajduk (or haydut, haiduk, haiduc, hayduck, hayduk) is a term most commonly referring to outlaws, highwaymen or freedom fighters in the Balkans, Central- and Eastern Europe.

The Legion of Archangel Michael , also called the "Iron Guard" is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith.

The Hajduks of Cotovschi.pdf86.48 KB

Posted By

Sep 28 2012 21:25


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bateau ivre de Zomia
Feb 12 2015 11:25

This forgotten piece of history is fascinating. Where did you get the information from?

Apr 17 2015 14:41

It was firstly translated for us from Romanian, into Russian, by our anarchist comrades from Moldova, than we translated it into English, and put it up here.

Apr 18 2015 10:51
Dennis3434 wrote:
It was firstly translated for us from Romanian, into Russian, by our anarchist comrades from Moldova, than we translated it into English, and put it up here.

thanks, do you know who the author is so we can credit them?

Apr 25 2015 15:49

Ugh, I mean it was translated from Russian into Romanian, and then we put it up here, translated into English. We got it from the now defunct (I think) Federation of Anarchists in Moldova, we also did an interview with them and put it up here in English. I don't remember the source of the Russian original.

Apr 25 2015 17:45

Great well thanks for trying!

jef costello
Jun 26 2018 16:44

Thank you for posting this.
Found the version in Romanian.

Working Class H...
Feb 25 2021 22:08

Just added a short critical intro to this, as the information is rather suspect unfortunately. We spent a while looking into this, and the original source for this article, as well as everything written online about this subject appears to be this article:
Alexander Tarasov, "Ветрилэ — SI, Кодряну — NO!", May 3, 1996, Accessed February 11, 2020,
Now it was written as a letter to a National Bolshevik publication, which is clearly dodgy. But looking up Tarasov, the author, he seemed to be legitimate.
Although the article includes no reference to other sources.
We asked friends in Romania and Russia to look into this to see if any information was available about the group, these events, or Ion Vetrila, and none of them were able to find anything, other than general information about a pogrom happening on this date.
So then we asked our Russian friend to email Tarasov through his website. They eventually got a reply from a different person as part of the website group which was extremely aggressive and threatening, and refused to provide any information on sources. So unfortunately we would advise anyone reading this to take it with a large pinch of salt. At the same time it would be great if anyone was able to verify any of it, but this does seem unlikely.