Ion Ratiu arrived in London in April 1940, expecting to spend one or two years working at the Romanian Embassy under his uncle the Ambassador, Viorel Tilea.
World War II and 50 years later he finally returned to Romania following the fall of Ceausescu, having spent those 50 years in exile determinedly challenging and criticising the communist regime imposed forcibly on Romania by the Soviet Union and perpetuated by the Romanian Communist party led in turn by Petru Groza, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and terminally, Nicolae Ceausescu.
On his return to Romania in 1990 Ion Ratiu stood unsuccessfully for President as candidate of the National Peasant Party, the party of his ancestors, but was elected member of parliament for Turda, his home town. The last decade of his life was spent in his homeland - his dream come true....
This photographic exhibition has been assembled from the archives of the Ratiu Foundation, from other private and public sources and tells the life story of Ion Ratiu and is presented in this his centenary year. Initiated by Razvan Orasanu the exhibition in its original form has been shown in Bucharest at the MTR (Romanian Peasant Museum), subsequently at the Turda History Museum and recently, to mark his anniversary in June, in Cluj at the Art Museum, newly curated by Diana Racu. It was subsequently showcased in the main square in Rasnov during the Film Festival, and in Piata Unirii, Brasov.
From these images of his life you will get to know a youth, a man, a family man, a gentleman, a businessman, a politician, indeed a statesman, a genre of which there have been disappointingly few in recent Romanian times. Shining out from this collection of photographs is his determination, sense of humour, enthusiasm, and indeed delight at his own good luck simply to be alive, regardless of all circumstances.
Some of you will have known Ion Ratiu here in London, others from the 1990 election in Romania or from his 10 years of political activity thereafter. Some will know him only by name and reputation. I knew him as a most extraordinary and dynamic character - and as a father.
Others remember him as the best President Romania never had.
Ion Ratiu - A destiny for Romania - 14 September - Free Event Book Now
It is our pleasure to present this exhibition to you now here at the Ratiu Foundation and Romanian Cultural Centre in London opening at 6.30 pm