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Sima was born in 1907 near Făgăraș, in Transylvania, at the time a part of Austria-Hungary. Between 1926 and 1932 he studied at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy of the University of Bucharest, after which he worked as a local high-school teacher of logic and philosophy.
In October 1927, when a student, he joined the newly formed Iron Guard and became responsible for the Banat area. Sima became commander of the Iron Guard in late 1938 after its founder and leader, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, was imprisoned and later murdered. Tension built following a series of assassinations of Iron Guard members, including Codreanu (who was killed in prison). In early 1939, Sima fled to Nazi Germany through Yugoslavia. In the summer of the same year, he was sent back to prepare and conduct the assassination of the Romanian Prime Minister, Armand Călinescu, on 21 September 1939. On 4 July 1940, he joined the cabinet of Ion Gigurtu as Minister of Religion and Arts, alongside two other Iron Guard members, but he resigned four days later.
In September 1940, King Carol II abdicated and the Iron Guard entered a tense alliance with General Ion Antonescu (the National Legionary State). At that point, Sima was able to return from exile as vice-premier in the government and commander of the Legionary National Socialist para-military movement. Romanian territorial cessions in the summer of 1940, secretly implemented by his Nazi protectors, offered him the pretext for sparking a wave of xenophobic and antisemitic attacks. As a member of the government, Sima initiated a series of brutal pogroms, assassinations and de-possessions among Jews and competing politicians.
In January 1941, during the Legionnaires' Rebellion, Antonescu made Adolf Hitler choose between the military wing of the Romanian government and the Iron Guard. When Hitler decided to back him over the Guard, Antonescu proceeded with the suppression of the Legion.
Unlike many Legionnaires, who were imprisoned by Antonescu following the suppression of the coup attempt, with the tacit agreement of Antonescu, and due to Hitler's influence, Sima was able to leave Romania for Germany, where he was imprisoned in a special, humane, section of the Buchenwald concentration camp, one meant for Iron Guard members. Meanwhile, Romanian authorities sentenced him (on 16 June 1941) to 12 years hard labour in absentia, to ensure his permanent exile. In 1942, he escaped and fled to Italy, but was soon extradited back to Germany on the orders of Galeazzo Ciano.
While interned, Sima was faced with the dissent of several groups of Legionnaires, who distanced themselves from Sima's policies, stating that they did not approve of the way in which he had run the country and the movement, and were starting to appeal to the German supervisors for distinctions to be made in their case. It was to be the beginning of a split which is still present in the political legacy of the Iron Guard.
When Romania changed sides in World War II, joining the Allies in August 1944, Sima was released and instructed to create a pro-Nazi puppet government in exile, in Vienna. As the Soviet offensive proved unstoppable, he fled to Altaussee under the alias Josef Weber. Living in Paris, in Italy, and finally in Spain, he was sentenced to death in Romania in 1946. At the same time, his activities in Germany and Romania brought him to the attention of the Kriminalpolizei.
During his time in exile, Sima attempted to form connections with mainstream ideologies of anti-Communism, insisting on the Guard's allegiance to the Free World. The party oriented itself towards denunciations of the realities inside Communist Romania.
- Europe at the crossroads: war or capitulation? Munich Verlag "Vestitori" 1955 (view here)
- The Rumanian situation after 19 years of Communist slavery and policies of the western powers, 1944-1963; a declaration by the Rumanian Legionary Movement Rio de Janeiro? 1963?
- Hunger In Romania 1964
- Articole politice, 1950-1963 1967.
- XLth anniversary of the foundation of the Rumanian legionary movement, 1927-1967; declarations of the legionary movement concerning the fate of the free world and the tragedy of the Rumanian people 1968
- Ce este comunismul? Madrid, Editura Dacia, 1972.
- Histoire du Mouvement Légionnaire, Rio de Janeiro, 1972 (The History of the Legionary Movement, Legionary Press, 1995)
- An interview with Horia Sima, Commander-in-chief, Legion of the Archangel Michael "Thule of Palermo", 1977
- The Truth About The Legionary Movement
- The Natural World Order
- Romanian Nationalism: The Legionary Movement by Alexander E. Ronnett ISBN 0-8294-0232-2 Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1995.
- The Green Shirts and the Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Rumania by Nicholas M. Nagy-Talavera, 1970 ISBN 973-9432-11-5 & ISBN 0-8179-1851-5
- Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890 edited by Philip Rees, 1991, ISBN 0-13-089301-3
- Zamfirescu, Dragoș: Legiunea Arhanghelul Mihail, Editura Enciclopedică, București, 1997.
- The Romanian Iron Guard: Its Origins, History and Legacy, The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 1, Spring 2014 p.99
- The Romanian Iron Guard: Its Origins, History and Legacy, The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 1, Spring 2014 p.100