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Elite of month – Rauca-Răuceanu brothers: a mayor and a prefect in the Trei Scaune County in the 1920s


The Rauca-Răuceanu brothers: a mayor and a prefect in the Trei Scaune County in the 1920s

                 01_Vicentiu Rauca Rauceanu_Figuri politice 1924           Vicentiu Rauca Rauceanu - Figuri politice 1924   

                 02_Isidor Rauca Rauceanu primar_Figuri Politice_1924

Isidor Rauca Rauceanu primar - Figuri Politice 1924

The surname Rauca/Róka-Răuceanu was easily recognized during the interwar period among the population of the Trei-Scaune (in Hungarian: Háromszék) County, in the so-called Székely Land, thanks to the brothers Vi(n)cențiu and Isidor (sometimes also spelled Izidor). They were members of the local Romanian-speaking political elite in a county with a majority Hungarian population. Their parents were Elie Răuceanu (?–1924), of Orthodox confession, and Rafira, born Iacob. Besides the two brothers, they had at least one daughter, Ana, who married Cucu.

For an extended period, Elie Răuceanu served as a teacher in Hăghig/Hídvég (Trei Scaune County), a village about approximately equidistant (24 km) from the county seat, Sfântu Gheorghe/Sepsiszentgyörgy, and the major city of Brașov/Kronstadt. In the early 20th century, he held a teaching position at a state school in Tömörkény (Csongrád County) in Hungary. During this tenure, he filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Education because his name was changed from Răuceanu to Róka (meaning fox in Hungarian) without his consent. This legal action brought him public attention as he went unpaid for several months. Later, his sons Romanianized the Hungarian family name to Rauca, resulting in their surname becoming Rauca-Răuceanu.

Vicențiu was born in December 1889 in Hăghig, while Isidor in May 1891 in Măieruș/Nussbach (Brașov County), a village near Hăghig. Both brothers followed a similar educational trajectory. Vicențiu graduated from the Law Faculty in Budapest (1908–1912) and took his doctorate in January 1914. The younger brother commenced his law studies in Budapest (1911/1912) and continued them in Cluj/Kolozsvár, completing them in 1919. A decade later, Isidor defended his doctorate in Juridical Science at the University of Cluj.

The outbreak of World War I was challenging for the Răuceanu family. While the father was known as a Romanian nationalist, his sons appeared to integrate into Hungarian society. Elie Rauca was considered a Romanian sympathizer in 1916 and interned in a camp. Both brothers were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army. Though the circumstances remain unclear, in a 1972 letter to a local newspaper, Isidor mentioned his status as a war invalid. From this and other sources, it is known that he was appointed as an assessor to the Odorhei/Udvarhely Court of Law in 1915 and briefly served as a County Commissioner (alispán) of Odorhei County in 1916. Vicențiu’s military service details are not fully documented either. He was enlisted in 1914 or 1915, completing his training in Brasov, and was deployed to the front in autumn 1915, attaining the rank of lieutenant by the war’s end.

After the integration of Transylvania into Romania, new opportunities arose for the Răuceanu family. In early 1919, Vicențiu led the Romanian guards in Trei Scaune County. Shortly after that, he was appointed high sheriff (in Hungarian: főszolgabíró; in Romanian: prim-pretor) of the Sfântu Gheorghe District. In 1920, he assumed the role of jurisconsult of Trei Scaune County, only to return to his previous position as high sheriff in the following year (April–July 1921). Isidor also held significant public responsibilities at the local level, serving as a member of various county commissions related to land reform, among other matters. At least during 1919–1920, they aligned themselves with the Romanian National Party and advocated for provincial autonomy. By 1921, however, the brothers shifted their allegiance to the National Liberal Party, originally from the Old Kingdom, and took leadership roles in local party organizations.

03_Lajos Kossuth street_sfantu_gheorghe_piata_

Kossuth Lajos Street in Sfântu Gheorghe / Sepsiszentgyörgy, postcard

The rise of the Răuceanu family in popularity and local influence coincided with the formation of a Liberal government in January 1922 under the leadership of Ion I.C. Brătianu (1864–1927). Alexandru Iteanu (1869–1928), also from Hăghig, who had pursued studies in Pharmacy in Bucharest and established himself in the Old Kingdom, owning pharmacies and a highly esteemed laboratory named “Flora,” significantly contributed to their growing influence within the National Liberal Party. Despite residing mainly in Bucharest, Iteanu was tasked with establishing a robust liberal organization in Trei Scaune County. For this endeavour, he found reliable allies in the Răuceanu brothers, who possessed deeper connections within local networks. Iteanu assumed the position of prefect of Trei Scaune County in January 1922 but resigned after just two months to become a deputy.

05_The Prefecture of Trei Scaune COunty

Trei Scaune County Prefecture building (currently Covasna County Library), Sfântu Gheorghe / Sepsiszentgyörgy, postcard

Isidor was appointed mayor of Sfântu Gheorghe, the county seat, an office he held from April 1922 to April 1926 and again from June 1927 to June 1928.  Two months later, on 22 June 1922, Vicențiu became prefect of Trei Scaune County. Today, local discussions often revolve around the accomplishments of Mayor “Isidor Rauca,” such as the installation of sewerage systems and asphalting of the streets, the modernization of the central park, where he erected a pavilion that stands to this day, and the restoration of several buildings. During his tenure, the prefect Răuceanu boasted various achievements, including constructing 40 schools and renovating dozens of others.

04_The Park_sfantu_gheorghe_

Elisabeth Park (“Central Park”) of Sfântu Gheorghe / Sepsiszentgyörgy, whose development began in 1880, but to which Mayor Isidor Răuceanu also contributed, postcard

The opposition press, in particular, levied numerous accusations of corruption and abuse of power against the two brothers. Vicențiu faced allegations of misappropriating funds from the illegal sale of 150 wagons of corn intended for distribution to the population, abuse of office for personal gain, and intimidation of magistrates. By the end of 1925, he had become the subject of several interpellations in the Romanian Assembly of Deputies, consistently defended by his political patron, Alexandru Iteanu. In April 1926, shortly after the Ion I.C. Brătianu government resigned, Isidor was suspended by a decision of the Sfântu Gheorghe municipal council. He faced accusations of forgery of public documents, embezzlement of public funds, and abuse of office, with this decision being confirmed by the Ministry of the Interior. Isidor Răuceanu received the right to be reinstated in June 1927, only to be suspended again a year later. Meanwhile, Vicențiu stood trial in 1927 for the sale of corn but was acquitted. In 1928, facing the threat of losing his parliamentary immunity, Vicențiu defended himself by accusing the People's Party government (March 1927 – June 1928) of framing him in nearly 20 criminal trials.

The brothers suffered a significant setback when their friendship with Alexandru Iteanu soured. “Curentul,” a Bucharest newspaper, attributed the rift to Mayor Răuceanu's refusal to marry Iteanu’s sister-in-law. In June 1928, despite Vicențiu being an MP, both brothers were expelled from the county organization of the National Liberal Party. Although Alexandru Iteanu passed away in October 1928, the brothers joined a small liberal party ruled by Gheorghe Brătianu (1898–1953), the son of Ion I.C. Brătianu. Since June 1931, with the exception of the 1932 elections, Vicențiu, who also served as the head of the county organization, continuously ran for Parliament on the list of the National Liberal Party – Gheorghe Brătianu, in Trei Scaune County but failed to secure election. On the other hand, Isidor was a parliamentary candidate only in the 1932 elections, representing this party and replacing his brother.

Vicențiu (from 1926) and Isidor (after 1929) pursued careers in law. During the 1920s, Vicențiu was the director of the Sfântu Gheorghe branch of the General Bank of Romania and sat on the member of the Board of Directors of the Credit Bank – Sfântu Gheorghe. Later, from 1936 onward, he assumed the directorship of this institution. He also headed the county's ASTRA branch and was actively involved in the Orthodox Church activities. Both brothers made donations to the church in Hăghig, their hometown. They jointly established the first local political periodical in Trei Scaune County, titled “La Noi,” which was published weekly between 1932 and 1934.

Despite presenting themselves to higher authorities in Bucharest as nationalists, the Răuceanu brothers maintained cordial relations with the Hungarian elites. Furthermore, though it might have been perceived as a flaw for a member of the leadership of a Romanian party, Vicențiu was married to Erzsébet/Elisabeta Sütő, an ethnic Hungarian woman. However, after 1948, despite no evidence to support it, a Securitate (Romanian Secret Police under the communist regime) report labelled Vicențiu, still married to Erzsébet, as a chauvinist. Almost all their real estate was nationalized by the communist regime.

Vicențiu died on 2 April 1954 in Sfântu Gheorghe, and Isidor died in Săcele (Brașov County) on 27 October 1975. Neither of the brothers had children.

At the beginning of 1972, the newspaper “Cuvântul Nou,” published by the county organization of the Romanian Communist Party, featured an article discussing the city of Sfântu Gheorghe in the 1920s, focusing particularly on the alleged wrongdoings of Mayor “Isidor Rauca.” With nothing left to lose and considering the less severe repression against former enemies of  the Communist Romania, Isidor Rauca-Rauceanu sent a letter to the newspaper. This text, published in the newspaper, contains subtle irony and a desire to convey to both the public and future generations the administrative achievements of the Răuceanu brothers, along with other benevolent actions such as providing financial support for four pupils (two Romanians and two Hungarians) to pursue high school education, and the establishment of the newspaper “La Noi”:

“...I chose to respond directly to the newspaper without considering it as a polemic with your young reporter regarding the morality of the years 1924–1926, a time that your reporter so of people, today, in an age that your young reporter did not experience, nor did they know those involved. As evidence, in the article «The Trial that Never Happened», I was portrayed as a fair-haired person, although I have always had brown hair. Building upon this, I wish to emphasize that my letter is not a rebuttal to information gathered by the reporter from various citizens, possibly influenced by ill will but instead aims to present the unadulterated truth of the circumstances in 1924.

...

However, in this letter, I will refrain from delving into the moral or immoral actions of individuals who lived 40–50 years ago. Instead, I will endeavour to demonstrate the clear conscience of these honourable individuals, the Răuceni, who, during their tenure as officials and leaders of Trei Scaune County, conducted themselves with honesty and integrity without accepting illicit funds or bribes. Furthermore, these men, the Răuceanu brothers, not only abstained from receiving such funds but, on the contrary, rejected sums that the law prohibited them from accepting...”

 

 

Bibliography:

The Archives of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (ANCSSA), I 0845259 (Vicențiu Rauca-Răuceanu information file), vol. 1 and 2.

  1. Dan, “Procesul care n-a mai avut loc”, first article of the section: “Memoria arhivei” / “The Memory of the Archive”. Isidor Răuceanu’s response was published in the article: “Pe urmele materialelor publicate : « Procesul care n-a mai avut loc ». See: Cuvântul Nou, Sfântu Gheorghe, V, no. 550, 30 January 1972, p. 2 și no. 580, 5 March 1972, p. 2. https://adt.arcanum.com/ro/view/CuvantulNou_1972_03.

“Douăzeci și nouă de procese pentru numai o cumnată”, Curentul, I, no. 153, 18 June 1928, p. 4, https://adt.arcanum.com/ro/view/Curentul_1928_06.

Ioan Lăcătușu, “Isidor Rauca‐Răuceanu, un vrednic primar al orașului Sfântu Gheorghe din perioada interbelică”, https://mesageruldecovasna.ro/isidor-rauca-rauceanu-un-vrednic-primar-al-orasului-sfantu-gheorghe-din-perioada-interbelica/.

Ioan Lăcătușu, “Dr. Vicenţiu Rauca-Răuceanu, prefectul judeţului Trei Scaune (1922–1927), in Cuvântul Nou, new series, Sfântu Gheorghe, IV, no. 976, 29 October 1993, p. 5. https://adt.arcanum.com/ro/view/CuvantulNou_1993_10.

Petcan, “Scandal politic la Sft. Gheorghe”, in Adevărul, XLI, p. 3, 7 June 1928, no. 13637,  https://adt.arcanum.com/ro/view/Adeverul_1928_06.

Andrei Florin Sora, Servir l’État roumain. Le corps préfectoral, 1866–1940, Bucharest, Bucharest University Press, 2011.

 

Images:

Vicențiu Rauca-Răuceanu, Figuri politice şi administrative din epoca consolidării, Bucharest, 1924, p. 115.

Isidor Rauca-Răuceanu, Figuri politice şi administrative din epoca consolidării, Bucharest, 1924, p. 145.