|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|
Pascu, p. 289:
GREAT ROMANIA (pp. 289 - 298)
The Paris Peace Conference
The so-called World Parliament that met in Paris for the peace conference of January 1919 struggled to find equitable solutions for a war-torn world, new, fairer arrangements to protect it from a new catastrophe.
This World Parliament aimed, similarly to the Congress of the Holy League a century earlier, at securing the peace of Europe for all time, by the solution of the most difficult problems.
Today, after more than seven decades, it is obvious that this aim was not reached. To the contrary, the peace treaties in Paris of 1920 lay the foundation for new catastrophes, such as the second World War, because the noble principles of peoples' self-determination were not realized. Another sinister consequence of the Paris peace treaties (specifically, the creation of multi-national Yugoslavia) was the war waged on the Balkan peninsula in the first half of the 1990-s, which was not less than a catastrophe.
It may be added that the League of Nations was unable to resolve any litigious problems and to enforce and to put into effect its own principles, recommendations and resolutions. Its total fiasco was obvious for the whole world already after a decade of its existence. It must be stated, with sorrow, that its spiritual successor, the UNO, is not more successful.
Romania, for example, which had suffered material losses of 31 million gold lei in addition to an enormous human toll, was to receive 1 percent [of the war damage paid by the Germans].
This low amount suggests that in spite of their declarations and the treaty of August 1916, the allied powers did not recognize Rumania as an equal part neither in the war effort, nor in the peace talks.
Map 13. - Proposals of the Western Powers for the Hungarian-Rumanian frontier (1919). It appears that there was considerable difference between the four countries: the Italians and the USA wanted to preserve purely or predominantly Hungarian areas in Hungary, which, at the final decision in Paris (1920) were given to Rumania. (After V.V. Tilea, Actiunea diplomatica a României Nov. 1919 - Mart. 1920 [The Diplomatic Activity of Rumania November 1919 - March 1920], Sibiu, 1925, map 1).
Proposals of experts from
Italy USA France England
frontier according the treaty of 1916:
frontier determined in Paris, 1920:
frontier of Transylvania in the 19th century:Pascu, p. 291:
...certain clauses which would mean outside interference in Romania's internal affairs. Among these were measures set by the Great Powers to protect the national minorities [...] The Romanian delegation protested and refused to accept such terms, promising to grant the national minorities equal rights with the Romanian people...
One may ask, if the Rumanian government was so sure to grant equal rights to all its citizens, why were measures to control its policy unacceptable? The control of promises is always indispensable. In any case - at present, the problem of national minorities is not considered an internal affair of the country in question but one of the most important problems to be solved in Europe.
.. the authors had made a profoundly serious effort to understand the Central European situation, to weigh impartially the demands of the nationalities and Hungary's rights. [...] ...the decisions incorporated into the treaty were made "after examining documents of all kind that might be cited in support of the Hungarian position."
However (p. 293): The nature of the peace treaties of 1919 and 1920 is sometimes disputed.
Pascu also quotes Ch. Seymour's statements about the Trianon Treaty being in favour of Hungary, and in conformity with the ethnic distribution of the population.
The Paris Peace Treaty caused more problems than it solved
Discussing the decisions made at Versailles, it is impossible to evade a sharp critique of them. Consider only the principle declared before the peace treaty: each people shall live in freedom in its own country - and the results. These were neither just, nor impartial. The frontiers were not drawn in conformity with the ethnic distribution of the population, and with insignificant exceptions, no plebiscites were held.
On the peace treaties after the First World War, the Western Powers created two new states: Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, and approximately doubled the territory of Rumania. The population of these states was then as follows: 256
Total population: 14.085.000
of which Czechs: 7.200.000 - 51.1%
Slovaks: 2.000.000 - 14.2%
others: 4.885.000 - 34.7%
Total population: 12.012.000
of which Serbs: 5.000.000 - 41.6%
Croatians: 3.500.000 - 29.1%
Slovens: 1.025.000 - 8.5%
others: 2.487.000 - 20.7%
Total population: 18.000.000
of which Rumanian: 12.815.000 - 71.2%
others: 5.185.000 - 28.8%
These figures show that (1) in all these countries, the proportion of ethnic minorities was high, in two of them around one third of the entire population, and (2) in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, the "majority" was constituted by two, respectively three different nations. One of these had the power in each of these new countries, with only 51.1% and 41.6% of the population in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, respectively.
Two historical currents were the basis for this unfortunate arrangement: the strong nationalistic movements among the intellectuals of the different peoples living in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and the Western Powers' need for allies in South-East Europe. 257
This may explain why monstrous lies were accepted as truth. One of these was the assertion by Benes, that the Slovaks feel themselves to be Czechs and want to belong to Czechoslovakia. (Masaryk, along with Benes the founder of the Czechoslovak state, stated in a book published before the war that the Slovakian nationality is different from the Czech. 258) The Czech leaders also affirmed that the Hungarians living south-east of Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg), in the Csallóköz, were earlier Slovaks who have been magyarized. (There is no evidence whatsoever for this assertion.) Several lies were put forward about the number of Hungarians to be incorporated into the new state of Czechoslovakia: against 650.000 Hungarians, 450.000 Slovaks would remain in Hungary; later, the French expert Laroche declared that "according to Benes", this number would be 638.000. (The real numbers were: more than one million Hungarians, most of them along the new frontier, were forced to live in Czechoslovakia while only 140.000 Slovakians remained in Hungary.) 259
A circumstance in the following years aggravated the situation: although the Peace Conference ruled that provisions regarding the rights of the national minorities should be incorporated in each country's Constitution, this was not done in any country. Instead, chauvinistic politicians oppressed those who did not belong to their (the majoritary) nationality. The development of severe internal tension was inevitable in these artificial states. 260
Naturally, when this was made possible by the international political situation, the major subdued nations revolted. During the 2nd World War, Croatia and Slovakia became independent, and, similarly, after the fall of Communism in 1989, the oppressed populations put down the domination of the Serbs and of the Czechs, respectively. The creation of Yugoslavia and of Czechoslovakia after the First World War was a political absurdity.
Of all people, the Hungarians suffered - in relation to their number - most of the unjust and inhuman Paris Peace Treaties: out of about 10.000.000 Hungarians in 1910, almost a third, 3.100.000 were forced by these treatises to live under foreign rule .
Along the new Hungarian-Rumanian frontier, large areas with a purely or predominantly Hungarian population: the region of Szatmár (Satu Mare), part of the Körös-region (Crisana), and the surroundings of the town Arad were given to Rumania. 261 Also north of the new Hungarian-Czechoslovak frontier, an almost purely Hungarian strip of land was given to Czechoslovakia and the situation was similar in the south, in the Vojvodina.
The largest Hungarian area, the Szekler country, in southeastern Transylvania, without a direct contact with the rest of the Hungarian territory, also became a part of Rumania. In this compact Hungarian area, the different Rumanian governments have always made efforts to change the demographic situation. Thus, during the Communist rule, they industrialized the Szekler counties, which meant that factories were built in which the workers were imported from the trans-Carpathian territories of the country.
All in all, the Paris peace treaty forced at least 1.6 millions of Hungarians and 800.000 of Germans to live in Great Rumania. Compared to this, the number of Rumanians left in Hungary was negligible (their number today is 28.000, but only 15.000 really consider themselves Rumanians). At most five villages (in the Körös valley and in the county of Békés) had a Rumanian majority. The only purely Rumanian village was Méhkerék (Micherechi).
In this context, also the conference at Rapallo in 1922 must be mentioned, which was convoked with the aim of revising some of the most conspicuous injustices of the Paris peace treaties, in the first place between Germany and Soviet Russia. For Hungary, its result was that this conference ordered a plebiscite for the town Sopron and its surroundings.
More than a million people died...[...] The economic losses, however, were recouped within the surprisingly short period of three years.
Almost half of these, about 400.000 people, were non-Rumanians. As for the short period of recuperation, it is by no means surprising, because with the material riches found in Transylvania, it was not difficult to repair the damages caused by the war and to eliminate the deficit in the balance of payments and the state budget, bring inflation under control etc. (Also Pascu recognizes that Transylvania alone contributed about 48% of Great Rumania's total output in mining and metallurgy.)
Private estates and state lands - about 6 million hectares - were distributed among the peasants without regard to nationality...
This is wrong. In reality, not only the estates of those Hungarian landowners who moved to Hungary were expropriated, but also many poor Hungarian peasants were, under different pretexts, deprived of their small plots. They were thus forced to seek other means of existence. The land-reform of the Rumanian kingdom was in general designed to damage the nationalities, especially the Hungarians.
Before the first World War, the proportion of small estates in Europe was, after Bulgaria and Belgium, the highest in Transylvania: 70%. The proportion of medium estates was 11.6% and that of the large estates, 18.5%. 262 Moreover, only a third of the large estates belonged to private persons, the rest was the property of the state, the villages, the Churches, schools and of the compossessorates. The land reform in Transylvania was different from that in Muntenia and Moldavia. In Transylvania, the land to be confiscated was determined first. A smaller part of this land was then divided between those who asked for it; the larger part was retained as a state reserve (rezerva). The state organs and also private persons then speculated on a large scale in these estates. 263 Many members of the local committees created to carry out the land reform lacked the necessary knowledge and bribery was usual. Because of this, they were very often changed. Only after having bribed these committees were many Hungarians able to retain their land plot granted by the law.
The land reform was a catastrophe for the Churches, the schools and the foundations. These were deprived of a large part of their economic basis when their lands were expropriated. The Hungarian Churches in Rumania owned, before the land reform, 211.820 acres of land, of which 179.100 acres, i.e., 84.5%, were expropriated.
The ancient lands, forests, and pastures, owned by the Szekler communities, were over several centuries essential for the economy of a large number, particularly of poor, Szeklers, who were
dependent upon their animals. As mentioned above, p. 124-125 , these were also confiscated and part of them was then distributed among rich Rumanians. Thus, for example, out of the land of the common ownership in Borszék (Borsec) made state-owned ("for national aims"), 150 building plots for villas were given to Rumanian dignitaries (including three ministers, one prefect and five deputies of the Parliament). 264 Map 14. - The provinces of Rumania.
[the unification of the national state] could nevertheless not have been fully completed without international support, specially on the part of the European peoples and the Americans.
The propaganda of the Rumanian diplomacy, supported by Rumanian emigrants and solidarity movements, was designed to make possible the creation of Great Rumania.
257Cf. Zsuzsa L. Nagy, "Peacemaking after World War I: The Western Democracies and the Hungarian Question", in The Hungarians. A Divided Nation, red. Stephen Borsody; Yale Center of International and Area Studies, New Haven, 1988, p. 47.
258Zur russischen Geschichte und Religionsphilosophie, I, pp. 259 and 263, quoted by Gratz, A forradalmak kora, 1935 , ed. 1992 pp. 290 and 343.
259Some delegates at the conference asked whether it would be possible to draw the frontier in a way which would force a lesser number of Hungarians to live in Czechoslovakia? The Czech delegation answered that the plains were necessary for the Slovaks, because many of them, living in the industrialized mountainous territory, went in the summer to the plains to work in agriculture, where they could earn an important part of their yearly income. This was a distorted argument. It was true that many Slovaks did travel, in the summer, towards the south, but not to the strip of territory in question but to Budapest and to the Great Hungarian plain. This was, however, left unsaid, since it demonstrates the economic unity of the Slovak area with the Hungarian territory south of it. - Cf. Gratz, A forradalmak kora, 1934, ed. 1992, p. 290-292.
260..."the transformation of the Danube region within the framework of the Versailles peace system could lead only to further tensions and conflicts. The new order not only worsened interstate relations, but spoiled the political and intellectual climate of the entire region, thus engendering all kinds of vicious forms of nationalism. Ultimately, it paved the way to a situation in which Hitler's Germany was able to set the successor states of the defunct Habsburg Empire against one another and subdue them all" (Zsuzsa L. Nagy, in Borsody (red.), The Hungarians. A Divided Nation, 1988, p. 48.)
261 In order to change this demographic situation, a large-scale policy of settlement of Rumanians into these territories was started and continues in our days; thus, around Nagyszalonta (Salonta), Rumanians were still in the early 1990-s settled from northern Moldavia (Moldova).
262Mikó, 1941, p. 28. - Mikó also mentions that in Muntenia and Moldova (Moldavia) the proportion of the small estates was 48%.
263Ibid., p. 29.
264Ibid., p. 34.
|Stefan Pascu: A History of Transylvania|