|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|
Pascu, p. 256:
THE BIRTH OF UNIFIED ROMANIA (pp. 255 - 288)
However, Romania did not yet enter the war on either side. The Crown Council, meeting in Sinaia on 3 August 1914, decided that Romania should follow a "policy of national instinct" - a period of neutrality and subsequent cooperation with whichever powers recognized Romania's right to rule the provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire inhabited by Romanians.
This was the policy to bide one's time. Scarcely a normal postponement, this tactical reaction was the expression of a typical Rumanian political strategy. They simply waited to choose sides until it became obvious which part would win the war.
Thus an agreement was reached on Romania's territorial demands, and on 17 August a treaty of alliance was signed by Romania, Russia, France, England, and Italy. [...] The signatories also agreed not to conclude any separate peace... (emphasis added).
It must be pointed out that in the summer of 1916, as also mentioned by Pascu (p. 259), it was to be expected that the Allies would win the war. The clause not to conclude a separate peace was soon violated: the German army drove out the invading Rumanian army from Transylvania and entered Bucharest on December 6, 1916. Rumania concluded at first an armistice, later (in May 1918), a separate peace with the Central Powers. Pascu p. 266:
The peace of Bucharest, by which the country's riches and a good part of its territory was taken over by the Central Powers, was signed on 7 May.
...the great victories over the German army commanded by the storied Marshal Mackensen in Marasti, Marasesti, and Oituz.[...] The battles of summer 1917 and the historic victories of the Romanian troops can be compared to the great encounters of Verdun, Marne, Isère, and Isonzo...
The army of Mackensen was demoralized and retreating. It was attacked from the back by a Rumanian army of peasants, who used axes and scythes. They cruelly killed even the wounded. In Rumanian history writing, in the future, it always was described as "the symbol of national bravery and heroism" (simbolul vitejiei si eroismului national). This was the only confrontation between the German army and the Rumanians; it had the same function in later Rumanian history writing as the battle at Posada with the Hungarian army of Carol Robert in 1330.
Union with Bessarabia
This question does not belong to the history of Transylvania, but to that of Great Rumania. Pascu is, however, consistent, since this book, in spite of its title, to a considerable extent treats the history of the creation of Great Rumania 247 .
Legions of Romanian-American volunteers began to organize to participate in the fight against the Central Powers. Through such activities and editorials in their newspapers [...] the Romanians in America succeeded in winning over American public opinion and such large and prestigious newspapers as the Washington Post and the New York Times. Many congresmen, too, joined their forces, including the former president Theodore Roosevelt...
The propaganda spread in the Western countries by Rumanian nationalists was really vigorous. It was also, as all political propaganda, onesided and lacked objectivity. In the absence of any counter-propaganda from Hungary, many Western journalists and politicians believed even the most obviously incorrect assertions.
In spite of these circumstances, the attitude of the Western Powers as regards Rumania and its territorial claims was by far as unanimous as asserted by Pascu. Thus, Charles Danielou, the referee of the Trianon peace treaty, stated in his report to the French Parliament: "There was also another option: to preserve the Habsburg empire. Many people are of the opinion that a divided Germany and a preserved Austro-Hungarian monarchy is in the interest of France, in which case, of course, the monarchy should have granted some autonomy for the nationalities as well as give to the Czech and the Croatian territories the same political status as that of Hungary. To this aim, it had been sufficient to transform the ancient provincial diets in Prague and in Zagreb into Parliaments. This solution, by preserving a centuries-old framework, would have reduced the causes of hostilities in Central Europe. It is certain that in France, this option would have received the majority of votes" (emphasis added). 248
Also Woodrow Wilson, the president of the United States, wanted, until the spring of the year 1918, to preserve the economic and political unity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, changing it to a confederation of autonomous nations. 249Even at the Paris peace conference, the American delegation (after Wilson had left Paris), tried to oppose the exaggerated territorial demands of the Rumanians, Serbs and Czechs, supported by Clémenceau. Wilson's standpoint was based upon the democratic principles which prevailed in his country; he tried to introduce these to eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Wilson possessed no sufficient knowledge about the many different peoples living in Central and Eastern Europe, and about their history. Most of them were for centuries living under the reign of great powers: the Turkish Empire, Russia, and the Habsburg Empire. It was only after the first World War that they had an opportunity to acquire independent statehood. Soon after the United Sates joined the war, Wilson created an Inquiry Committee, in which experts would make proposals and ideas for a just order after the war. The president of the Committee was House, who had the same opinion about Austria-Hungary as Wilson. Also the 14 points of Wilson about the independence of all nations were formulated with the collaboration of this Committee. A member of the Committee, Charles Seymour, later member of the American peace delegation in Paris, submitted a plan about the federalization of Austria-Hungary. As shown on map 11, the proposed confederation would contain six countries: Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland-Ruthenia, Transylvania, Croatia and Bosnia ("Yugoslavia").The explanations to the map were dated May 25, 1918.
The Rumanian government, with Bratianu as prime minister, had to persuade to support the union not only the Americans but also a major part of the Rumanians living in the USA, who did not want the union.
President Wilson was forced to change his opinion about the preservation of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in May 1918. This was because further
Map 11. - An American proposal (Charles Seymour) for the federalization of Austria-Hungary, May 1918. (From Magda Ádám, "Egy amerikai terv Közép-Európáról, 1918" [An American Plan concerning Central Europe, 1918], in História [History], 9, 4, 1987, p. 19.)
discussions about a separate peace with the Monarchy were made impossible since Clémenceau published Emperor Karl's willingness to conclude a separate peace with the Allies.
Regarding the resolution of the assembly of the Transylvanian Rumanians in Alba Iulia, December 1, 1918, Lansing, the American foreign minister stated in a letter to president Wilson that the delegates represented only a certain stratum of the population, and the juridical value of the resolution was therefore questionable. Lansing considered that Rumania could not decide the problem, this was a task for the peace conference.
In her research in the Wilson Center, Magda Ádám found also that Andrew, the American chargé d'affaires, reported in a confidential memorandum that the demands of the Rumanian government to annex Transylvania are groundless, since
...in Transylvania, the proportion of the Rumanians is 60 to 65%, but only a quarter or half of them wants a union with Rumania. The Rumanian invasion in Transylvania was welcomed only by a small part of the population. 250
It should be added that the assembly at Alba Iulia did not consider the opinion of the other nationalities living in Transylvania, not even the two largest: the Hungarians (about 32%) and the Saxons (about 8%). Such an arbitrary decision could only be taken at the end of a long war, with the Hungarian part exhausted. The Alba Iulia decision was in fact only an attempt at the late legitimization of a decision already made earlier on the basis of power.
Wilson's idealistic notions could not be realized, since the victorious powers accepted the Rumanian demands. The result was that large areas with purely or overwhelmingly Hungarian population were annexed by Rumania, - a flagrant violation of Wilson's principles.
In Paris, the National Council for Romanian Union firmly demanded the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary into independent national territories, on the principle of self- determination of peoples.
[The Rumanians in Transyvlania sent an ultimatum to the Hungarians, demanding that the Central Rumanian National Council should rule over all institutions in regions with Rumanian majorities; the rejection of this ultimatum would imply that] ...the Romanian people had been prevented from exercising its right to determine its own destiny...
It is obvious that the principle of self-determination of peoples should have been applied also to the other nationalities, who made up almost half of the population (the proportion of the Rumanians in the entire territory to be annexed by Rumania was 53%). If the Rumanians demanded self-determination for the territories in which they were in the majority, the same should have been accorded to the Hungarians where they were in the majority: in the Szekler counties, in Kalotaszeg, and in several counties with a Hungarian majority in the western part of the territory; as well as to the Saxons (mainly in southern Transylvania).
In any case, the fact that only one of the three folk groups living in Transylvania were represented on the assembly in Alba Iulia, makes its decisions, according to international law, null and void.
Not only were there delegates from all institutions and social classes, but the selection of Alba Iulia was extremely appropriate.
Not even the Rumanians were represented equally from the viewpoint of social status: In an earlier version of Pascu's history of Transylvania, 251 published in Rumanian and Hungarian, Pascu also gives the number of delegates: 1228. This text mentions in the first place the Orthodox Rumanian Churches' heads: "the bishops, the vicars, deans, the episcopal consistoria"... Most of the delegates belonged to this category. They made out the influential stratum also in the Cultural League and in the Rumanian Central National Council; it is reasonable to assume that they also played the major role in chosing the other delegates. The main principle in this selection was that the delegates must be "good Rumanians", i.e., they should accept the union of Transylvania with Rumania. The largest social group among the Rumanians - the peasants - had no representatives on this meeting. In no other country of contemporary Europe were such kind of meetings organized.
Full national liberty and equal rights were granted to all coinhabiting nationalities, including the right to education, administration, and justice in their own language; to belong to legislative bodies and to participate in the government of the country in proportion to their numbers; to full religious liberty for all faiths; to a strictly democratic regime in all spheres of public life;...
These principles were also laid down in the peace treaty of Trianon in June, 1920. - Reality was, however, very much different. The first major violation of these promises was revealed in the 1923 Constitution, which lacked all these items. In 1923, the power of Rumania over the newly acquired territories was consolidated and secured. In these conditions, the Rumanian government did not consider itself obliged to adhere to promises given a few years earlier.
5. Unified Romania
pp. 285-286: Taking a realistic view of the situation, the national minorities - the Germans in Bessarabia, the Poles and the Germans in Bukovina, and the Saxons, Swabians, Slovaks, Szeklers, and some of the Hungarians and Ruthenians in Transylvania - saw that they would have to come to terms with the new social and political situation.
All ethnic groups in the new Great Rumania were at the mercy of the Rumanian army and state apparatus. These exerted in different ways a very strong pressure upon all non-Rumanians to give a declaration of faith. Thus, there can be no question of any voluntary declaration. There were, however, differences between the situation of the different nationalities. The Transyvlanian Saxons were during their 800 years history always a separate group, with their own autonomy given to them by the early Hungarian kings; they stuck to their privileges (granted to them by the Universitas Saxonum and the Diploma Andreanum). In these conditions, the union with Rumania implied for them a change from Hungarian to Rumanian rule.
The situation of the Hungarians was different. The Hungarian community did not accept the union. This appears also from the formulation given by Pascu: p. 286: ..."some of the Hungarians and Ruthenians in Transylvania - saw that they would have to come to terms with the new social and political situation" (emphasis added). Also Istoria României. Compendiu, 1974 (p. 354) writes about "some circles of the Hungarian public opinion" and gives the names of two persons, who have "understood the fight of the Rumanians for unification and its historical necessity." This does not mean that they welcomed the union.
This assembly wanted to show the world that "it is a question first of all of the categorical desire of the unanimous assembly that the Swabian people be united with the Romanian people, whose civilization is superior, whom the Swabians love and respect, and to whom the Swabians feel bound by the origin of many of their sons of common Latin origin."
The source of these statements is not given. In the Hungarian version of his History of Transylvania, p. 235, Pascu refers in this connection to Revista Institutului Social Banat - Crisana, 1943, p. 420, where the following is found:
Coinhabiting during the centuries has taught the Swabians to appreciate the Rumanians "according to their real value", [...] the experience of recent times only strengthened the Swabians in their conviction that "only the union with Rumania may provide the necessary guarantees for their existence and progress."
The reference to a "common origin" is nonsense - the Swabians are a German population and their origin is entirely different from that of the Rumanians. Pascu quotes a source from 1943 on the declaration of the Swabians given in 1920; - the original source remains obscure.
When it was supposed that every nationality in Transylvania should express their loyalty to the Rumanian state, the situation of the Jewish community was
Map 12. - The Hungarian population in Transylvania, according to Anuarul Statistic al RPR, Bucharest, 1959, 1961, 1969 (modified from: Transylvania. The Roots of Ethnic Conflict, ed. Cadzow, Ludanyi, & Elteto, Kent State University Press, 1983, p. 224.)
perhaps the most difficult. Their refined sense of danger and instinct of self-conservation helped them also to get over this historical moment: On 31st of March, 1919, the representatives of the Transyvlanian Jews in Bucharest subscribed the declaration of loyalty to the Rumanian state. This declaration was perhaps the mostly desired declaration of loyalty by the Rumanian leaders. It must be added, that the delegation stressed the necessity of granting the freedom of their cultural and religious traditions. As in the case of the other national minorities, the Rumanian leaders promised also the Jews all these rights. However, while the former have been granted Rumanian citizenship automatically, the Jews had to ask for it individually and not all of them were given citizenship. But the real value of these promises were shown two decades later, in 1941, when Marshal Antonescu ordered "ethnic and political purification." 252
Thus, by late 1919, more than 80 percent of the Transylvanian population had agreed to the unconditional union of Transylvania with Romania. The resolutions of union and support, freely made in popular assemblies, invested the act of union with a plebiscitary character.
This is not correct. The proportion of the population which agreed to the union was much less. As mentioned above, Andrew, the American chargé d'affaires, estimated that only at most half of the Transylvanian Rumanians wanted the union with Rumania. This means at most 30 - 33% of the total population even if one would accept the proportion of the Rumanians given by Andrew (60 - 65%). Out of the other nationalities, the Hungarians rejected the union; their proportion of the population was about 32%. Thus, even if all of the Saxons and the Swabians would have agreed to the union, those who rejected it were in the majority (62 - 65%). However, it is obvious that also the resolutions of the German-speaking populations were made under pressure. It may therefore be stated that the great majority (much more than two thirds) of the population of Transylvania rejected the union with Rumania.
A note may be necessary here about the Rumanian population of Transylvania. It would be erroneous to imply that all Rumanians living there automatically wanted the union with Rumania. That many of them did not want it has been stated also by Aldo Dami in 1932:
The frontier decided in Trianon has left outside Hungary a Hungarian area, and in addition, territories inhabited by other peoples whose interests are to such a high degree common with those of Hungary that their choice cannot be doubted if they had been consulted. The frontier is thus not based on the ethnic situation, nor on the sentiments of the population, nor on their own interestes - which only they can know. 253
Also the Slovaks and the Croatians were more or less forced into the new states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia: when a Slovakian delegation led by R. P. Hlinka and Jehlicka arrived in Paris in order to demand of the Peace Conference a referendum for Slovakia, Benes got the French police to expel it from France by force. - As for Yugoslavia, Yves de Daruvar states: "The Croatian Parliament (sabor) decided in October 1918 on separation from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but not its fusion with Serbia. This fusion was the result of a veritable act of coercion (fusion qui fut le résultat d'une véritable action de force). 254
Faced with this undeniable reality, the rest of the Hungarian population gradually modified its stance concerning the Alba Iulia resolutions, especially as the principles of equal rights for national minorities approved in Alba Iulia were put into effect.
The first part of this statement is correct: also the Hungarians had no other alternative than to accept the changes brought about by forces that were stronger than they.
Pascu does not mention that also the Hungarians held a meeting in December 1918. About 50.000 participants gathered in the center of Kolozsvár (Cluj), the delegates of 28 counties uttered their opinion, which was formulated by the president, professor Imre Apáthy, as follows: "We must acknowledge that we have been defeated by the numerical superiority of our enemies. But this does not mean that any other nation would have the right to rule over us." 255
The resolutions made in Alba Iulia regarding the rights of the non-Rumanian nationalities were subsequently forgotten. As mentioned above, this was also the case with the international peace treaty concluded two years later in Versailles (Trianon), which contained 14 paragraphs of minority protection. These were not included in the 1923 Constitution of Rumania, and the national minorities were in the new Great Rumania exposed to oppression.
(The union was achieved) ..."on the basis of contemporary legal principles."
One may ask: which law was in force in that territory in 1919 - 1920? Pascu's text seems to imply that this was the Rumanian law. This is, however, very questionable, since the territory was not yet juridically a part of Rumania.
247This is also pointed out by Pál Bodor, in A hisztéria szükségállapota. Kellemetlen kézikönyv Romániáról The Emergency State of Hysteria. An Unpleasant Textbook about Rumania , Szabad Tér Kiadó, Budapest, 1990, p. 206. - P. Bodor, author and publicist, who belongs to the Hungarian folk group in Transylvania, was the chief of the Hungarian-language television-programs in Bucharest. At the end of the 1970's, he emigrated to Budapest. In this volume, he discusses the situation of the Hungarians in Rumania, giving much attention to the role of the writing of history in present day politics.
248Charles Danielou: "Le traité de Trianon", report for the French Parliament, quoted by G. Gratz, A forradalmak kora - 1918-1920 The Period of the Revolutions - 1918-1920 , Budapest, 1935, ed. 1992 pp. 288, 343.
249 Magda Ádám: "Egy amerikai terv Középeurópáról, 1918." An American plan about Central Europe, 1918 ; História (History), Budapest, 1987, Nr. 4, p. 16.
250 Magda Ádám, op. cit., in História, 1987, p. 17.
251 Mit jelent Erdély? What means Transylvania? , Bucharest, 1984, p. 229; a translation of Stefan Pascu, Ce este Transilvania? What is Transylvania? , Cluj-Napoca, 1983.
252Already in July 1940, a pogrom was organized in Dorohoi; a massacre among Jews in Iasi took place on the order of Marshal Antonescu in June; and in the "hell named Transnistria", more than 300.000 jews were killed, starting in 1941. Cf. Martiriul evreilor din România 1940 - 1944 The Martyrdom of the Jews in Rumania 1940 - 1944 , red. S. Stanciu, Bucharest, 1991. - On July 3, 1941, Antonescu sent instructions to the civil servants sent earlier to Bessarabia and Bucovina, from which we quote: "ETHNIC AND POLITICAL PURIFICATION. - We are in the great and most favourable historical moment for a total ethnic unfettering, for a national revision and for the purification of our People of all those elements, foreign to its soul, who have grown as mistletoe, to darken its future. So that we do not loose this unique moment, we must be inexorable" The Martyrdom..., p. 139 . - In this context, it may also be mentioned that in February 1944, Antonescu proposed to Hitler the occupation of Hungary, even offering Rumanian troops for such an action. When Hitler, after the occupation of Hungary in March, 1944, called Antonescu to Klessheim, he told the Rumanian dictator that Germany was no longer the guarantee of the Vienna decision from 1940, which gave back northern Transylvania to Hungary.
253Aldo Dami, La Hongrie de demain, Paris, 1932, p. 133.
254These data are taken from Yves de Daruvar, Le destin dramatique de la Hongrie, Paris, 1970, p. 96 and 159, respectively.
255 Imre Mikó, Huszonkét év. Az erdélyi magyarság politikai története 1918. dec. 1-tol 1940. aug. 30-ig Twentytwo years. The political history of the Transylvanian Hungarians from December 1, 1918 to August 30, 1940 , Budapest, 1941, p. 12.
|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|