In early March, the words "LE VED" were daubed on the equestrian statue of Avram lancu in the centre of Tirgu Mures. If - as we must assume - the culprit was trying to say "Take it down" in Hungarian, he would have written "VEDD LE", [Or in English, as best as it can be compared, instead of "Take it down", the culprit wrote "DOUN IT". Iancu, by the way, was a Romanian Transylvanian peasant leader remembered for massacres of Hungarians in the 1848-49 revolution and one celebrated by Romanians as a fighter for their freedom from Hungarian oppression.]
Cuvintul Liber devoted a vehement and provocative article to the issue. And I knew that this incident should not be left to pass without comment.
I had to go to Bucharest to attend a conference of the 13 minority nationality organisations of Romania who were to meet in the hall under the dome of the Romanian Parliament. But before I left, in a TV interview, I explained that the person who daubed the statue with "LE VED" [instead of "VEDD LE"] was ignorant of the niceties of Hungarian grammar. I also proposed that the paint should be analysed to see where it came from, since a lot of red inscriptions had appeared in town and it might be possible to find out who did it.
I further mentioned in an aside that it would be good if in the forthcoming elections, borrowing from the example of the Romanians of Caransebes who at the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy elected the Hungarian Lajos Mocsáry to be their representative, we should do the same now in our town with Smaranda Enache. Although the arguments in my interview complete with Romanian dubbing were impossible to contest, the Adevarul, as if nothing had happened, published G. Giurgiu's article, He asserted that the Hungarians had soiled the statue of the "king of the snowy mountains".
Needless to say, my reply was not published by the Adevarul.
At the minorities' forum in Bucharest I was startled to hear from the other minority leaders how much they had also suffered from the oppression of nationalities - what losses of blood they had endured in the course of time, and that they did not have any schools either! My consternation also sprang from the realisation of how ignorant we each were of the fate of the other, so effectively had the dictatorship been able to insulate people and ethnic groups from each other.
The programme of the German Democratic Forum in Romania was described at the conference. We noted and supported it. This programme discussed the immediate need to establish factories employing mainly Germans, plus German-owned institu-
tions and schools. The implementation of such a programme should have been able to prevent the mass exodus of Romania's centuries-old German community that began following the revolution. But the government did not even find these demands worthy of reply, and the flight of the Germans has since accelerated.
It is possible that in that spring - through adequate political steps the Germans might have been persuaded of the desirability of their staying in their established homeland. But the political will was missing for these steps to be taken and it appears that after 750 years the role of the Saxons and Swabians in Transylvania and in the Banat region has come to a tragic end. In my opinion, there are only losers here: the Germans have lost their adored Siebenbürgen and Banat, and Romania has lost the German expertise, energy and capital. I am convinced that if the approximately half-million Germans had stayed, they would have exercised a tremendous attraction within the new Europe for German capital investments. But then chauvinism has never been a good economic or political advisor.
Returning home from this minorities conference, I read in the Cuvintul Liber of March 10 that two electronic word processors had been received from Hungary as gifts. One was received by the Romanian Vatra literary periodical (repeat no relation to Vatra Romaneasca) and the other by the Hungarian Erdélyi Figyelö [Transylvanian Observer] literary periodical.
Then I read in another article on the same page that the Hungarians were being blamed for knocking down the statue of Nicolae Balcescu in Sovata, a spa town in Mures County.
It should be known that the statue of Nicolae Balcescu (another Romanian freedom fighter from 1848-49) has been standing for years in the gardens of the Sovata baths. Thousands of visitors come to Sovata for recreation, and they usually come from Romanian-inhabited regions.
In the dark nobody can see whom a statuete presents (the destruction occurred at night). Why should such an event, where the perpetrator is unknown, be dished up as an Hungarian provocation? In addition, from an Hungarian point of view, Nicolae Balcescu is perhaps the most positive figure of Romanian history. It was he who concluded the 1849 Projet de Pacification with the Hungarian leader Lajos Kossuth, and he did everything for the two peoples to make friends. Would the Hungarians desecrate his memory?
The perpetrator is still unknown, the Sovata people at once protested, and stressed that they had nothing to do with the knocking down of the statue. They ordered a new Balcescu statue (the old one suffered such damage that it could not be restored). But the extremist press continued to repeat ever after that the Hungarians had desecrated Avram Iancu's statue and had knocked down Nicolae Balcescu's.
So much for that.
Károly Király continuously reacted to these manifestations with actions of his
own at the govermental level. He bombarded Bucharest officials with weekly petitions, beginning January 25 with a description of the events surrounding an attack on the RMDSZ headquarters in the Transylvanian town of Reghin. In an ominous preview of events to come, this was carried out by Romanian peasants of the Gurghiu valley who had been made drunk and who were then transported to Reghin.
On this occasion, Király demanded that the culprits named by him should be called to account, and that the military officers who had incited such an action be sent to other garrisons.
As ethnic relations worsened, he also demanded that a Nationalities Ministry be established, and that a decree be swiftly passed with which it would be possible to fight nationalistic-chauvinistic incitements in the press. Király repeatedly tried to achieve the transfer of the two most dangerous local Vatra officers, but Major Vasile Tira - who during Ceausescu's rule had been a political officer - and Colonel loan Judea remained in place.
After Judea publicly recounted an alleged Hungarian plan to get hold of Transylvania in three steps, Király - feigning stupidity - asked the Defence Minister, General Stanculescu: "Have you heard what military secret Judea has blurted out?" "'What was that? "Well, that the Hungarians want to sieze Transylvania, and that he has got hold of the military plans." Stanculescu's brief answer: "Prostul" [the idiot].
But - Stanculescu's mockery aside - Király's memoranda and warnings were addressed to deaf cars; the agreed scenario could not be interrupted.
Indeed, Károly Király himself began to suffer more and more attacks in the media. Just as at a Vatra Romaneasca meeting on February 1, the signal for the campaign against Laszló Tõkés had also been given. At their meeting in Alba Iulia, the Vatra men had decided they wanted to see him hanging too.
The attentions of the army
Officers of the army started to take a stand against me in the press. Vatra Major Vasile Tira called on me to withdraw from politics temporarily, that I may return at a suitable subsequent moment.
Major Olimpiu Solovastru ended his own attacks by inviting me to go and meet the officers' corps.
I accepted the invitation over the phone, but they kept postponing the meeting, while giving the impression that it was I who had something to hide. Finally I set the date for March 7, but my communique was not published by the Romanian-language newspapers, thereby making it look as though I corresponded in Hungarian even with the Romanian army.
The meeting did not take place, because General Cojocaru intervened to advise that the army did not intend to meet the representatives of any political party
On another occasion during this time, the military men among the Vatra leaders became incensed after I managed to torpedo through legal argument the exchange of leadership which they had carried through at Band. At Band, a large village 30 kilometres from Tirgu Mures, the Hungarians and some of the Romanians insisted that the National Salvation Front presidency and mayoralty should be given to one Romanian, Victor Onea. The opposing camp wanted to remove him at all costs. The army assisted in this: Major Tira and his friends went to Band and had elected a Temporary Council of National Unity from which Onea was omitted, and which saw the restoration of the old guard.
The Band people invited me to the protest meeting which they held next day. Many people warned me, while "full of good intentions", to go there only under the protection of the army.
I felt that if the Band people invited me, I could not go with the army, and so went in my service car, availing myself of the company of my friend Cimbi who had also accompanied me to Timisoara for the Tõkés's hearing.
Onea had spoken up for making peace between Romanians and Hungarians, and for equal rights. At the meeting he was cheered.
When I asked to speak, old Hungarian women claimed in a loud voice that I had been paid off, etc. Ignoring this distraction, I said that the election of the previous day which had been carried out with the "cooperation" of the military was invalid. This was because parliament was due to enact in only two days' time a new law on the establishment of the Provisional Council of National Unity.
I said that State power organs which were not regulated by law could simply not be established. I ended my legal argument by asserting that this meant that the old leadership, i.e. Onea's, remained the valid one.
Also in early March, Mihai Suciu, one the editors of Vatra's Cuvintul Liber, rang me to ask for an interview. Of course I agreed, for it was consistently my view that we had to do everything in our power to make Romanian public opinion aware of our genuine views and demands.
My condition was that the full text should be published and that before it was printed, I should be able to check the interview. He agreed. .
To my surprise. an entire team came for the interview, not only Mihai Suciu. He was accompanied by the editor-in-chief, Lazár Ladariu, the journalist V.- Barbulescu, and Major Vasile Tira!
I first thought that we could do without the representative of the army, but then I told myself "If I do not consider this debasing, then it does not trouble me."
The interview was published in three parts beginning March 15, under an. imposing headline. "We Do Not Need Leaders Who Are Blemished..." But they departed from our agreement in four essential matters:
1) They did not print the Romanian translation for the term "LE VED"; thus for a person who does not speak Hungarian it was not clear how gramatically incorrect the text painted on Avram lancu's statue was.
2) I stressed that my opinion about Smaranda Enache differed from theirs. They published that I did not express an opinion.
3) They omitted their questions and my answers concerning the Securitate, according to which I said that an honest Romanian patriot could not have undertaken Securitate work in recent years since he had to see that the power which he thus served had ruined his country. I added that the terror of the Securitate had extended Ceausescu's rule by at least five years.
4) About the army, I said that I disapproved of its accepting a political role: this passage was "forgotten".
As we reached the critical days of mid-March, I began to be threatened over the phone more and more frequently. I always picked up the receiver at night not knowing if it was my friends from abroad who were inquiring after me or not. This was the sweepstakes of those days: the caller either feared for my life, or threatened my life,