|Elemér Illyés : National Minorities in Romania|
Population of Romania in 1966 Classified According to National Origin
|Serbian, Croatian, Slovene||44,236||0.2|
Source: note 27.
The number of ethnic Germans in all Romania decreased when categorized by ethnic origin by 2,113 between 1956 and 1966, which can be explained either by assimilation, a low birthrate, or emigration; yet, in the same period, their numbers in Transylvania increased slightly despite a low birthrate noted as early as the 1930s, mainly because of the inheritance problems resulting from the custom of having only one child. While the yearly growth rate of the Transylvanian Saxon population was only 6.8 per thousand from 1956 to 1966, it stagnated among the Swabians of the Banat to a mere 1.3 per thousand.
1966 Population of Transylvania Classified
According to National Origin and Language
Source: note 27.
The great drop in the Jewish population from 0.8 percent in 1956 to 0.2 percent in 1966 was the result of two factors: the large number who emigrated, and the number of the remaining Jews who assimilated.
Turkish ethnic groups registered a small increase in population from 1956 to 1966. The Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Russian, Slovak, and Tatar minorities, on the other hand, showed neither significant increases nor declines in population. Even more difficult to explain is the fact that the number of Hungarians in Romania increased by 2 percent from 1956 to 1966 when classified according to national origin but remained stagnant when counted according to mother tongue. Just as surprising is the small number of Hungarians listed as living in the Old Kingdom during the same period.
In the figures for Romania as a whole between 1956 and 1966, it is difficult to find an explanation for the scarcely 2 percent increase in the Hungarian nationality, or for the low figures28 for the Hungarian population in the Regat. One must look for the answer in an underestimation of the number of national minorities in the official statistics and the tendency of exaggerating the numbers of the Romanian population at the expense of the national minorities,29 because assimilation, infrequent mixed marriages, emigration, and a low birthrate cannot account for the insignificant increase in the Hungarian population. In fact, according to some authoritative demographers, at the time of the 1966 census the Hungarian nationality in Romania as whole was closer to a minimum of 2 million and a maximum of 2.5 million than to the 1.6 million disclosed in the official statistics.30
Before a separate analysis can be made to check the correctness of the official statistics, one must remember that it is exceptionally difficult or even impossible to gain access to statistics in Romania, especially if they have not been made public.31 Furthermore, the general party ideological considerations are not the only factors that play a part in the policy of weakening the national minorities in Romania; there is also the nationalist policy of the present regime, a factor that brings into doubt the reliability of the demographic data.32 Therefore, realistic estimates of the nationality population can be made only by indirect calculations from the data for Romania as a whole.
The official statistics show that if the population is classified according to ethnic origin, between 1948 and 1956 the Romanian nationality increased by 1,398,000 (a 10.3 percent increase) and the Hungarians by 88,000 (a 5.9 percent increase). Thus, the Romanian rate of increase in the same period based on nationality, is almost double that of the Hungarian, which cannot be attributed exclusively to the readiness of the group with so-called "uncertain nationality" to assimilate. It is difficult to find an explanation for the fact that while only 0.56 percent of those whose vernacular was Romanian claimed to belong to a nationality other than Romanian, 4 percent of those with Hungarian as their mother tongue were registered as Romanians by nationality. Investigations exclude the possibility of a greater rate of assimilation for the Hungarians; and it can also be questioned whether, as the official data claim, more than l0 percent of those with Ruthenian, Russian, or Polish as their mother tongue and more than 20 percent of those who claim Bulgarian had assimilated in the period in question. One must also question the 1956 figures that show the number of Hungarians living in the Regat as 4,044 according to nationality and 37,501 according to language; both these figures are far below a realistic level.
It has already been mentioned that the category in which any individual is placed is determined by a number of factors: the individual, in naming his nationality, is affected by personal interests, career considerations, fear, and other motivations--all subjective factors; but categorization according to language is determined by genuine objective facts, primarily the mother tongue. For this reason classification based on mother tongue is more acceptable: it has become more justified in multinational states and is more frequently used in international practice.
Statistics based on language have therefore been found to be more reliable, and these calculations use the 1956 census as the point of departure. The 1956 figure for Romania as a whole showed 1,653,700 people claiming Hungarian as their mother tongue and 1,588,000 claiming Hungarian nationality. The 1966 census listed some 1,652,000 Hungarians according to language and 1,620,000 according to nationality. This would indicate that in the course of 10 years the Hungarian population decreased by 2,000 according to language but increased by 32,000 when classified by nationality. This contradictory phenomenon--which is practised in other ways in the statistics of the Soviet Union--in and of itself brings into question the reliability of the data, and the suspicion becomes even more justified if one compares the data for the increase of the total population with that for the Romanians. While the total population increased by 1,614,000 or 9.2 percent between 1956 and 1966, all the national minorities with the exception of the Hungarians and the Turkish-Tatars showed a numerical decrease. By contrast, the Romanians increased by 1,690,000 when classified according to language and by 1,751,000 or 11.7 percent when based on ethnic origin. The numerical increase of the Romanians, according to official statistics, exceeded the increase of the total population by 137,000; and this figure, taking into account the rate of natural increase of both the Romanians and the national minorities, is precisely equal to the numerical losses suffered by the national minorities. In other words, according to official data, the Romanian population increased in the same proportion as that of the nationalities decreased.
The assumption that the official census data on the Hungarian population are open to question is strengthened by the official figures on mobility, which show that between 1956 and 1966 the natural increase in the Regat was 11.4 percent and in Transylvania 7.7 percent. Yet the Hungarian natural increase over this ten-year period could not have been less than the Transylvanian average, because the natural increase in the population of the most compact Hungarian-inhabited counties (the Szekler region) was much higher: Harghita County had the highest rate of natural increase among Transylvania's counties with 99.3 per thousand in 1969; Covasna was third with 97.0 per thousand.33 The birthrate of the Hungarian rural population was therefore at least as high as, if not higher than, that of the Romanians.34 The increase in the number of Hungarians during the period in question should therefore have been at least 127,000.
From another point of view, if the birthrate in Transylvania has always been lower than that of the Regat,35 the changes in the actual rates of increase of the population can have only one explanation: namely, the influx of the excess population from the Regat, with its higher birthrate, a process that has been accelerating ever since the end of the Second World War.36 And as a result of the policy of Romanianization pursued between 1948 and 1966, the population of Transylvania increased by as much as it had between 1869 and 1910, but in the more recent instance as a result of planned settlement rather than natural increase.
The state-controlled resettlement of Romanians from the Regat into Transylvania, known as "labor force regrouping" in the official terminology--can be observed mainly in those counties where the birthrate was low but where there is nonetheless a large-scale increase in the population far beyond the average rate of 28.4 per 1,000.37 The counties where this has occurred are those where industrial centers have recently developed. One result of this industrialization has been that young women emigrated in large numbers from the Regat to Transylvania, especially women of childbearing age, in contrast to a retrogressive tendency in the Regat.38 In this context it is interesting to note that about half the people who moved to the industrial centers of Transylvania (e.g. Brasov and Hunedoara Counties) came from the Old Kingdom (Regat).39
Later Population Changes (1966-1977)
The increase of the Hungarian population in the 1966-1977 period should be examined with the same considerations as were necessary above. On the basis of the mobility data gathered in the counties, a picture emerges, as shown in Table II-14. These figures indicate that the rate of increase of the Transylvanian population was almost 2 percent lower than that of the population of the Regat. If we assume that it was an exclusively natural increase, the growth rate of the Hungarian population once again had to reach an average of 11.6 percent for Transylvania. On this basis the natural increase of the Hungarian nationality during this ten-year period must be estimated at least 207,000--in other words, 120,000 more than the increase of 87,000 shown in the official statistics. Table II-15 compares the official data for the years 1956 and 1977, showing the changes in Romania's population.
A Comparison of Romania's Population in 1966 and 1977
Increases in the Romanian population accounted for 98.5 percent of the country's total population increase between 1956 and 1977, even though in 1956 their proportion was only 85.7 percent; and by 1977 the Hungarians were shown as a mere 2.9 percent, even though they had represented 9.1 percent in 1956. (In 1979 the Romanians accounted for 88.117 percent and the Hungarians 7.9 percent).
Knowing the proportion of the natural increase of the Hungarian population in the given period, which was considerable even on a national scale, it is beyond doubt that the Hungarian population living in Romania considerably exceeded the two million level in 1977. Consequently, it appears that almost half a million Hungarians were statistically lost between the 1956 and the 1977 Romanian censuses.
The population development of the other nationalities in Romania shows different characteristics; the general decrease can be explained by assimilation and by emigration. The Germans and Jews showed a decrease during the 1956-1977 period. As already mentioned, from 1945 to 1980 some 115,000 people of German origin (more than 90 percent of them from Transylvania alone) emigrated to the German Federal Republic. The number of Jewish emigrants, about half of whom were from Transylvania, amounted to some 260,000 from 1948 to 1978. To these may be added the emigrants to the USA, Canada, Austria, Hungary, East Germany, and other countries, reaching a total of approximately 400,000 people of non-Romanian origin to leave the country since 1948: of these about 300,000 came from Transylvania. This loss of population through emigration was compensated for mostly by an influx of people from the Regat. The 1956 census shows approximately 385,000 Germans and 146,000 Jews in Romania; by 1977 there were 26,000 fewer Germans and 121,000 fewer Jews.
Changes in Romania's Population Between 1956 and 1977
|Population||Change in Population|
|Total Population of Romania||17,489,450||21,559,416||4,069,000||23.3|
The population of the smaller Slav ethnic groups also dropped. Among these were the Slovak village groups that had settled in Transylvania in the course of the nineteenth century, as well as the Czech and Bulgarian-Krassovan settlements of the Banat and the Serbo-Croatian villages. The populations of these Slav islands increased while they were under Hungarian rule, but the more recent data of the Romanian censuses indicate that these Slavic settlements are gradually disappearing. The situation is similar for Romania's Russian ethnic group: the 1966 census showed 39,483 Russians, including the Lipovans, compared with the 1977 census which showed a mere 32,147.
It is also difficult to explain the very small increase or virtual stagnation in the Ukrainian-Ruthenian ethnic group since their high birth rate is well known and no significant emigration is reported. The 1956 census recorded more than 60,000 Ruthenian-Ukrainians in Romania, but the 1977 census recorded a decrease of 5,000.
A further analysis of the period between the censuses of 1966 and 1977 gives additional information about the ethnic composition of Romania. According to the official census of January 1977,40 the total population of Romania was 21,559,416, and was distributed by nationality as shown in Table II-16.
Although in 1930 data the proportion of Romanians in the country was only 71.9 percent, by 1977 it had increased to 88.1 percent. Correspondingly, the proportion of the national minorities decreased from 28.1 percent to 11.9 percent. As already mentioned, the losses suffered by the Jews were the most extensive. The German national minority also lost nearly half of its population. The decrease in the Hungarian nationality--at a rate less than half that of the average birthrate, or a mere 20 percent in almost half a century--cannot be explained by losses suffered in the war.
According to the 1977 census, the population of Romania had increased by almost 2.5 million, from 19.1 million to 21.5 million, since the previous census in 1966. This means that in just under 11 years the population growth rate was 12.9 percent, or a yearly average of 1.1 percent, attributed officially to natural increases derived from a yearly average birthrate of 20.8 per thousand and a decrease in the mortality rate. Recent demographic developments in Romania have indeed been determined by two main factors: a fairly high rate of natural increase despite a decrease in the total number of births; and a tendency toward a longer life span. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of marriages and a lower rate of divorce.
The rapid fall in the birthrate reached its nadir in 1966, with 14.3 per thousand. Toward the end of 1960, the Romanian government began to take steps to stop the falling birthrate. The 1967 law regulating abortion,41 the so-called family supplement paid to families with many children, and the 1967 law regarding the introduction of the child-care grant, for example, were aimed at raising the birthrate. The sudden rise in 1967 (27.4 per thousand) was the result of such legal, economic, and demographic measures. Although the birthrate has shown a diminishing tendency since 1967-1968, the 20.8 per thousand ratio since the 1966 census appears to be valid; and the mortality rate, on the basis of the data for the years 1966 to 1975, can be determined as 9.1 per thousand, which, in combination with the index of births, produces the average 11.5 per thousand natural increase in that ten-year period.
According to the statistical yearbooks, the natural increase in the population of Romania during the decade between 1966 and 1975 was 2,338,000--a yearly average of approximately 234,000. If we assume that the natural increase in 1976 was close to the ten-year average, then in eleven years the natural increase exceeded the actual increase by approximately 118,000, which in turn indicates a loss of over 100,000 through emigration. This assumption is strengthened by the fact that in the 1948-1966 period the balance of the actual and natural increase had already shown a loss through emigration of 245,000, that is, 1.6 percent.
1977 Nationality Distribution in Romania
Source: note 40.
In the 1977 census--in accordance with the Soviet census-model--a new model was used for determining nationality. For the first time, the Romanian census placed ethnic communities belonging to the same nationality into different categories. For example, besides the 1,707,000 individuals recorded as Hungarian, another 1,064 Szeklers are recorded as a separate nationality. Despite the insignificant percentage involved (a mere 0.05 percent), this procedure is surprising. The 1930 census, for example, recorded not only the Szeklers but also the CsángóHungarians of Moldavia as belonging to the Hungarian nationality, since both ethnic groups are indeed Hungarian by language and culture. The ethnic Germans also fell victim to the new method of classification; the 1977 Romanian census divided them into three groups: 5,930 Saxons, 4,358 Swabians, and another 348,444 listed merely as of German nationality. Since all three groups are in fact German by nationality, the divisions would seem absurd.
The l977 census' separation of the Lipovans from the Russian nationality is yet another example. The Lipovans, most of whom live in Northern Dobrugea, are Russian both by ethnic origin and language; they differ from those actually called Russian only by religion. Even the 1912 and 1930 censuses, which recorded the nationality of the population only in Dobrugea, categorized them as Russian, counting them separately only in the denominational statistics, as belonging to a separate religious community. They were categorized in the same way in all subsequent censuses prior to 1977, which was the first to qualify a religious community as a separate ethnic group. The consequence was that the number of ethnic Russians in Romania was diminished by more than a quarter.
This new method of Romanian census-taking reflected Romania's current nationality policy, which appears to aim at eroding the ethnic blocks of the nationalities and reducing their proportion in the population.42
If the increase in the population is examined according to nationality, it is seen that between 1966 and 1977 the total increase was 2,456,000; of this actual increase, approximately 2,257,000 or almost 92 percent was attributed to Romanians. Thus, while the total population increased at a rate of 12.9 percent, the Romanian population increased by 13.5 percent; and as a consequence the proportion of Romanians in the total population increased from 87.7 percent to 88.1 percent.
The non-Romanian nationalities numbered 2,356,000 or 12.3 percent in 1966; in 1977 they were approximately 2,555,000 or 11.9 percent of the total, which amounts to an increase of 199,000 or 8.4 percent. If the Gypsies are omitted, the actual increase in the other nationalities drops to 33,000 or 1.4 percent. If this figure is then reduced by the 87,000 by which the Hungarian nationality increased, the numbers belonging to the German, Jewish, and Slav ethnic groups decreased by 54,000 (or 8.0 percent).
The Hungarian nationality in Romania is therefore the only one to show any significant increase; but the 5.4 percent rate of this increase is not even half the 12.9 percent increase in the population as a whole or the 13.5 percent in the Romanian population.
Looking at a 21 year period, the ratio of Romanians to Hungarians, based on ethnic origin decreased from 100:10.6 in 1956 to only 100:8.9 by 1977. If, however, the 1956 statistics concerning language (100:11) are used as the basis for the calculations, it is found that while the Romanians increased by 3,922,000 or 26 percent between 1956 and 1977, the increase in the Hungarian population during the same 21year period was only 53,000 or 3.2 percent; and consequently the ratio between the increase in the Romanian and the Hungarian populations was only 100: 1.35.
Therefore, those official statistics that indicate that during the last 21 years the increase in the Hungarian population amounted to only 7.5 percent, as compared with 23.3 percent in the total population and 26.7 percent in the Romanian population, would seem to show the existence of an inexplicable disproportion. Their validity must therefore be called into question.
Table II-17 provides a general picture in both total numbers and percentages of the increases and decreases in the population of presentday Transylvania in the periods between the censuses from 1880 to 1966, according to official data.
With the exception of a part of the German population, the national minorities in Romania generally live in larger or smaller dispersed communities, and their population are consequently more exposed to the danger of assimilation. The ranks of Germans and Jews are also being thinned by emigration, quite apart from their low birthrates. As has already been pointed out, the Hungarians are the only nationality in Romania to inhabit significant areas of Transylvania, in several places forming a majority of the population. It therefore becomes obvious that the demographic question of the Hungarian population must be evaluated on a different basis than the other nationality populations.
First of all, the Hungarian population in Romania as a whole has not decreased during almost sixty years of Romanian rule. The decennial censuses have shown a constantly rising population, but the war, the collectivization of agriculture (that is, the abolition of private farming), industrialization and urbanization, the general socioeconomic handicaps, the exclusion, or at least the severe restriction in numbers, of the population from the Transylvanian urban areas, the frequent territorial-administrative reorganizations, and the psychological factors have all inevitably exerted a negative influence on demographic development.
The Effects of Urbanization and Romanianization on the Population of the Cities and Towns
Transylvanian towns had reached a very high level of development by the fourteenth century, when there was not a sign of medieval urbanization anywhere to the southeast as far as Byzantium. And as late as the eighteenth century in the two Romanian Danubian Principalities, one cannot refer to towns in a strict sense, but only of market places.43 In the market towns of the principalities agriculture was the source of livelihood, even in the nineteenth century.44 As late as 1930, the share of the population that was agrarian in several Regat towns exceeded 50 percent, and some towns had 80-85 percent of their population living off the land.45 What is more, as late as 1948 these towns were overwhelmingly of an agrarian character, with most of them lacking even the most basic public utilities.46
The Distribution of the Population of Historical Transylvania, of Crisana/Körösvidék, of Maramures/Máramaros, and of the Banat According to Nationality Between 1880 and 1966
(In Figures and Percentages)
|Other Nationalities||Of the Other Nationalities|
The culture of Transylvania has differed from the culture found in the Regat from the very beginning.47 The difference in the cultural level between the two areas is best illustrated by the extent of illiteracy: in the Regat towns approximately half the population was illiterate as compared with one-quarter of the population in the Transylvanian towns.
From 1899 to 1900 the illiteracy rate in the Old Kingdom among those over seven years of age amounted to about 78 percent; the number sank, however, to 38.2 percent in 1930 and 23.1 percent in 1948. Despite all the efforts of the regime from the annexation of Transylvania to the present, parity in the cultural levels of Transylvania and the Regat has not taken place.
In the following pages those manifestations of ethnic mobility and history that have led to the large degree of Romanianization in Transylvanian towns that had once been Saxon or Hungarian will be analyzed. Wherever necessary, the old Hungarian and/or German names of the towns will be given as well as their present-day official Romanian names, some of which have been changed from time to time.
At the time of the annexation of Transylvania by Romania, the population and character of the Transylvanian towns were overwhelmingly Hungarian or German;48 apart from a few smaller towns the Romanians were still a minor element. Of the 49 Transylvanian towns and cities, 32 had a Hungarian and 9 a German majority; only 8 insignificant towns had a Romanian majority.49 The Germans and Hungarians were clearly the urbanizing elements in Transylvania. According to the 1910 Hungarian census, Transylvania's urban population totaled 678,423, of which 438,859 were Hungarians, 119,121 Romanians, 97,274 Germans, and 23,169 other nationalities (11,026 Slavs and 7,237 Jews by "nationality" with 76,423 belonging to the Jewish faith).
|Elemér Illyés : National Minorities in Romania|