Ion Antonescu (1882-1946) was the Conducător (leader) and prime minister of Romania for most of World War II, after leading the overthrow of Carol II in 1940. He nominally was co-head of state with King Michael, but most of the actual power rested with Antonescu. A firm anti-Semite, Antonescu independently implemented policies, based on the Nazi model, that were responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 Jews. Under Antonescu, Romania entered the War on the side of the Axis. He survived one coup attempt by the Iron Guard party, a like-minded politicial rival whom Antonescu smashed with the aid of Germany. Antonescu allocated troops for the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
When the tide turned against the Axis, Antonescu attempted to reach a peace with the Allies in 1944, but was instead successfully toppled by a coalition led by King Michael. He was tried in 1946 for war crimes, convicted, and executed.
In 1939, Ion Antonescu was a power to be reckoned with in Romania, although Romania itself remained neutral at the outset of the Europeanwar. When AmericanPeggy Druce considered travelling to Hungary and then Romania to get back to the United States, American diplomat Constantine Jenkins warned her that Marshal Antonescu and his followers might not allow her to cross from Hungary into their country, though this had more to do with frosty relations between the two countries than with anything related to Druce herself.