Pokud se vám stránky nezobrazují správně, zkuste použít jiný internetový prohlížeč.

Elite of month – Meteș, Petru (1883–1946), prefect, Member of Parliament

Though well-known in Transylvania during his time, Petru Meteș is almost unknown today, unlike his cousin, the historian Ștefan Meteș (1887–1977), or one of his sons, Mircea. Petru’s parents, Simion and Maria Meteș, were peasants from Geomal / Diomal in Alba de Jos / Alsó-Fehér County. They had at least six children who survived childhood: Petru (born in 1883, according to other sources: 1884 or 1886), Nistor (1893–1954), Octavian (?1943), Iuliana (born ca. 1898), Cornelia (born ca. 1899), and Ioan (born ca. 1901). Simion and Maria were wealthy enough to send Petru and Nistor to study at the Hungarian-language Bethlen College of Aiud/ Nagyenyed. 

Petru_MetesPetru Meteș, prefect of Cojocna (Cluj) county, Cosînzeana, VI, no. 1, 1922, p. 22 (https://dspace.bcucluj.ro/handle/123456789/1506)

Stefan Metes_1931

Ștefan Meteș, historian, MP, and member of the Iorga Cabinet as undersecretary (1931–1932), Anuarul parlamentar, 1931, Bucharest, 1932.

A studious pupil, Petru graduated from secondary school at Bethlen College. He continued his studies at the Franz Joseph University of Cluj / Kolozsvár, where he obtained a degree in Law and a PhD in Legal Science (1908). He did his law internship in Aiud, in the law office of the Hungarian lawyer Pál Szász, the son of József Szász, the főispan (prefect) of Alsó-Fehér County from 1910 to 1917. In 1910, Petru helped Pál Szász to be elected as a deputy in the constituency of Ighiu / Magyarigen – of which Geomal was a part – and whose population was predominantly Romanian. His close relationship with the Szász family helped him to be appointed honorary sheriff in 1910 (tiszteletbeli szolgabiró) and elected as a member of Alsó-Fehér County Congregation “on the Hungarian list” (i.e., on the governing party’s list). Furthermore, in June 1911, P. Meteș was admitted to the Cluj Bar as a lawyer in Aiud.

ClujMěsto Kluž/ Kolozsvár, pohlednice

Alongside his connections with the Hungarian milieu, Petru Meteș also integrated into the Romanian society of the time. This seems to have been due to a large degree to his first wife, Iustina Maria Filipan (born ca. 1891–1892, in Bistrița / Beszterce), the daughter of a physician in the district of Năsăud / Naszód. In addition, he joined the local branch of the most important Romanian Association (ASTRA), and was also involved in helping the Orthodox Church.

Everything changed in 1914. Petru was sent to the front line and taken captive by the Russians. In the summer of 1917, he was already a member of the Transylvanian and Bukovinian Volunteer Corps, created within the Romanian Army and made up of Romanian refugees from the Habsburg Monarchy and prisoners of war from the Russian camps. Captain Petru Meteș fought in Moldavia in the summer of 1917 and was later dispatched to Odessa, probably to ensure the security of Romanian refugees and dignitaries. The Bolsheviks under Christian Rakovsky (1873– 1941) imprisoned him there for a short period. Following his liberation, he was hired as one of the three secretaries of the Technical Advisory Board of the Justice Ministry in Chişinău, in Bessarabia, recently integrated into Romania. Following the dissolution of Austria-Hungary and after the Romanians took over local and regional power, he returned to Transylvania where he was appointed as First President of the Dumbrăveni / Erzsébetváros Court of Law and soon transferred to a similar position to the more important Court of Law in Brașov / Kronstadt. 

On 15 April 1920, judge Meteș was dispatched by the Ruling Council to fill in the office of prefect for Alba de Jos County. Six months later, Petru Meteș was transferred by the Averescu government and appointed Cojocna (Cluj) County prefect. On 1 January 1921, he was appointed full prefect, which implicitly meant his political involvement within the governing party (the People’s Party), which lacked leaders and members in Transylvania. Through this position, which gave him greater public visibility and enabled him to create a support network, Petru Meteș seems to have tried to find an entryway into politics. He succeeded in keeping the rank of prefect under the brief government of Take Ionescu (December 1921–January 1922) and in the first year of Ion I.C. Brătianu Cabinet. In February 1923, he chose to run for the Chamber of Deputies in the constituency of Ighiu in Alba County as the governmental (National Liberal Party) candidate. The opposition press fiercely attacked his candidacy, mentioning his “anti-Romanian” deeds before 1914. With the help of the local authorities, Petru Meteș won the elections. He served as deputy between 1923 and 1926. 

Regarding his personal life, the marriage with Iustina broke up in the mid-1920s. Petru Meteș’s second wife was Victoria Octavia Crișan (born in 1903), the sister of Eugenia, the wife of his brother Nistor. Petru had two children from his first marriage, Mircea Virgil (born in 1912) and Ofelia, nicknamed Lili (born in 1915), and two from his second one, Petre (born in 1927) and Doina (1929)

Although he did not hold any political offices at the national level after 1926, Petru Meteș remained a prominent figure of the Transylvanian Romanian elite due not only to his intense career as a lawyer, but also to his involvement in a Veterans movement and his work in the management committees of various forums of the Transylvanian Orthodox Church. He died in Cluj in January 1946.

Mircea Meteș followed his father’s example: holding a bachelor’s degree and a PhD in Law, he became a lawyer. In 1938, he married Olivia (1913–2001), the daughter of Adam Lula, an Orthodox priest, and the niece of Petru Groza (1884–1958), the Communist choice, in March 1945 for the role of Prime Minister. His relationship with Groza was the leading cause of his career after 1945. Mircea Meteș was hired as head of the Prime Minister’s Secretary Office in 1946. Furthermore, he was admitted to the Foreign Service and soon appointed member of the Romanian mission to Washington. Recalled to Bucharest in 1948, he chose not to return to his homeland and became an opponent of the Romanian government. As a result, his brother and sisters came to be in the cross hairs of the State Security and were under surveillance for a long time.


The Archives of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives: files regarding Petru Meteș and his children (Mircea Meteș, Ofelia Zehan, Petru Meteș and Doina Păstrav), folders no.: FI 94683, FI 139103, I 558274, I 574868, SIE 0007226.

Ioan Ciupea, Virgiliu Țârău, Liberali clujeni. Destine în marea istorie, vol. 2. Medalioane, Mega, Cluj-Napoca, 2007, pp. 241-242.

Zoltán Györke, “Prefecții județului Cluj: analiză prosopografică”, in Anuarul Institutului de Istorie „George Barițiu” din Cluj-Napoca. Series Historica, LI, 2012, pp. 305–308. (https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=23237)

Paul Nistor, “Comrade Mircea Meteș: the first communist of the Romanian Legation in Washington (1946-1948)”, in Adrian Vițălaru, Ionuț Nistor, Adrian-Bogdan Ceobanu (eds.), Romanian Diplomacy in the 20th Century. Biographies, Institutional Pathways, International Challenges, Peter Lang, Berlin, 2021, pp. 330-341.