|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|
Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
I have the honour to transmit herewith for kindly furthering to Your
Excellency's Government and to the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Paris
respectively an Aide-Mémoire of the Hungarian Government concerning the
territorial and minority questions arising between Hungary and Roumania.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the assurance
of my high consideration.
Budapest, 27th April 1946.
G. M. Puskin
Envoy Extraordinary, Minister Plenipotentiary
Union of Socialist Soviet Republics,
H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
Envoy Extraordinary, Minister Plenipotentiary
U. S. Minister for Hungary,
A. D. F. Gascoigne, C. M. G.
Political Representative of His Britannic
Majesty's Government and Minister Designate,
Considering that the Conference of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the victorious Allied Powers is dealing with the establishment of the provisions of the peace treaty with Roumania, the Hungarian Government feels bound to summarize hereunder its point of view and proposals with regard to the territorial questions and the problem of the nationalities in Hungaro-Roumanian relations.
The establishment of the preliminary conditions of friendly relations and sincere cooperation with the neighbouring countries is one of the basic endeavours of democratic Hungary's foreign policy. But to attain this it seems to be necessary to secure the future of the Hungarian population of those countries. As is generally known, more than one fourth (i. e. more than 3 million souls) of the Hungarian people were placed by the Treaty of Trianon under foreign rule and therefore the reassuring settlement of this question is of great importance to the democratic Hungarian Government.
The unfavourable condition of the Hungarian minorities living in the neighbouring countries, the socially and economically difficult situation of those hundreds of thousands who were driven away to Hungary, and the drawing of frontiers also economically unfortunate was greatly instrumental to the reactionary Hungarian regime in using irredentist slogans to veil the existing social evils and to stabilise its own rule, as well as in attempting to introduce in its foreign policy the revisionist idea.
The treatment extended to the Hungarian minority of Roumania and especially actions intentionally concentrated on its economic impoverishment, as well as the policy of the Roumanian Government directed towards the expulsion of the Hungarians from Transylvania, all necessarily led to the conclusion, that "life in freedom from fear and want" cannot be ensured to the Hungarians in Roumania. No doubt the Groza Government undertook laudable endeavours to ameliorate the fate of the Hungarians but unluckily these endeavours were, in practice, to a great extent frustrated by the conduct of the Roumanian administrative apparatus, inimical to the Hungarians. It is further to fear that after the definitive settlement of the frontier the persecution of the Hungarians will continue in Roumania without any restraint. It is memorable that only the energetic measures taken by the liberating Soviet Russian army saved the Hungarians from the murders and atrocities initiated by the so-called Maniu Guards in autumn 1944.
After the experiences of the past the only definitive reassuring settlement seems to be the transfer to Hungary of the major part of the more than one and a half million Hungarians of Roumania, together with their respective territories.
Article 19 of the Armistice Agreement concluded between the Allied Powers and Roumania offers means to submit territorial claims, when stipulating that --- conditioned by the subsequent sanction of the Peace Treaty to be concluded --- Transylvania, or her major part, shall be retransferred to Roumania. The question of the Hungarian-Roumanian frontier is, in fact, left open by this provision, the more so because, as known, the Treaty of Trianon attached to Roumania --- apart from the
57,000 km2 of Transylvania --- another 47,000 km2 of territory not forming part of historical Transylvania.
The solution of the Hungaro-Roumanian territorial controversy is rendered more difficult by the fact that a larger number of Hungarians live in Upper Transylvania than in districts situated nearer to Hungary, and that a quite homogeneous block of Hungarians --- the 600,000 Székelys --- are living in the centre of present day Roumania. The reattachment of the Székelys to Hungary would involve the division proven unlucky of Transylvania, and would, in fact mean the transfer of several millions of Roumanians to Hungary.
In view of this position, the existing difficulties could best be solved by drawing the frontier line in an economically most suitable way, and in such a manner as transferring to Hungary a number of Roumanians approximately equal to that of Hungarians remaining on Roumanian territory. This seems the best way of securing an acceptable treatment for the respective national minorities in both countries.
The Hungarian Government, in order to carry into effect its above proposition, formulates its claims most modestly, requesting the transfer to Hungary of but 22,000 km2 out of the total of 47,000 km2 of non-Transylvanian soil. The new frontier line would mostly run along watershed mountains, including several towns with a Hungarian majority. The area in question represents but 20% of the total area of 104,000 km2 transferred to Roumania by the Treaty of Trianon, though the proportional number of the Hungarians in these districts is one third of the total population.
This solution would create a satisfactory equilibrium also with regard to the national minority problem, because 865,000 Roumanians would be transferred to Hungary, while 1,060,000 Hungarians would continue to remain under Roumanian rule. Considering that these calculations are based on the Roumanian census of 1930, the methods of which were most unfavourable to the Hungarians, the above proposition is in reality even less to the advantage of the Hungarians. This method of proceeding would, if the worst comes to the worst, also offer the possibility of certain subsequent exchanges of population.
This new frontier would also serve the economic interest of both countries, but especially of the population of the "Partium," the districts in question, lying outside of historical Transylvania. It is well known that the frontier line drawn in Trianon between Hungary and Roumania cut in two an area which undoubtedly forms one economic unit, the mutual attraction of which was always evident and perceivable even at the time of severe economic seclusion and artificial customs-walls.
It is also an important circumstance, that from the point of view
of communications the "partium" entirely belongs to the Hungarian Alföld (Great Plain), fourteen railway-lines link it --- across the Trianon Frontier --- to Hungary, while only four lines are running to Transylvania, i. e. to Roumania. Four other railway-lines lead to the Bánság, but these are of but local importance. The situation is just as favourable to Hungary from the point of view of highways.
No doubt, the execution of these proposals would represent, on both sides, the greatest difficulties as to the realisation of the national ideals. The giving up of the Székely-land and of other Hungarian districts and towns would represent an enormous sacrifice to the Hungarians. There would be without doubt similar difficulties on the Roumanian side too.
For this reason, together with the above solution, a wide basis should be created for the Hungaro-Roumanian reconciliation and cooperation. This aim could best be served by securing the rights of the minorities on the basis of the Atlantic Charter and the principles of Lenin and Stalin, following the Soviet model. This could lead to wide cantonal, or other territorial autonomies wherever the minorities are living in compact masses.
Besides guaranteeing mutually the autonomous rights of the nationalities, it would be desirable to extend to the widest possible degree the economic and cultural cooperation of both nations; this would lead to the spiritualisation of frontiers. Thus in fact, the frontiers would practically lose their significance, and Transylvania would no more be a separating wall, but a connecting link between the two countries.
In addition to the above propositions the Hungarian Government expresses its readiness to accept a solution by which a plebiscite under international control would be held within the whole area transferred to Roumania in 1919. The area to be retransferred to Hungary would be fixed in proportion to the votes of the population.
In order to secure an objective settlement of all questions connected with the problems of the new frontier, it would certainly be most desirable, if the powers charged with the preparation of the Treaty of Peace with Hungary would send their experts to the districts in question and would make their proposals after having considered the views of those experts.
Budapest, 25th April 1946.
Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Annex Nr10.
160/Bé. res. Budapest, May 20th, 1946.
I have the honour to send herewith an Aide-Mémoire of the Hungarian Government concerning the grievances of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, and beg Your Excellency to kindly transmit the same to Your Excellency's Government, respectively to the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Paris.
I cannot fail to take this opportunity to point out the fact that the redress of these grievances and the securing of adequate conditions of existence for the Hungarian minorities is not only the sine qua non of a sincere reconciliation between Hungary and her neighbours but is also an essential factor of the consolidation and peaceful development of Hungarian democracy.
Sir, I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the assurance of my high consideration.
G. M. Puskin
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,
Union of Socialist Soviet Republics
H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,
United States Minister in Hungary.
A. D. F. Gascoigne, C. M. G.
Political Representative of His Britannic Majesty's
Government and Minister Designate.
In the following pages, the Hungarian Government desires to inform the Governments of the Allied Powers of the grievances of the Hungarians in Transylvania.
The first laws and decrees which appeared in the democratic Roumania are characteristic of the anti-Hungarian intentions of Roumanian official circles, in contradiction to the principles proclaimed by M. Groza. In these measures, if not expressis verbis at least in covert
form, one can everywhere discern a tendency to oppress and to impoverish the Hungarians.
The Government first of all turned its attention to those who suffered most in the war, the 350,000 to 400,000 Magyars who were driven from their homes by the German army, by the Hungarian fascist authorities or in Southern Transylvania by the fascists of the chauvinistic Antonescu regime. They had hardly been expelled when the troops who drove them out began to plunder their homes. For months they were forced to wander about the country in the greatest distress, finding their way home with difficulty and deprived of everything. These people really suffered more than anyone from the war and its effects. Yet these were the people whom the so-called democratic Roumanian regime characterised as having "voluntarily collaborated with the enemy" and as will be seen later deprived of their citizenship for this reason, sequestrated their goods, confiscated their land and dismissed them from their employment. The so far unheard-of category of "presumed enemies" was invented, and of course it was the Magyars who were meant. The places of those who were dismissed for absence from their posts were given to Roumanians who had taken refuge from the consequences of their crimes against the Russian and Jewish population of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. Notaries, teachers and priests who were of Hungarian nationality were declared to be fascists, while the Roumanian officials who took their place, although imbued with the spirit of the Iron Guard, were considered as good democrats. The "purge" was only taken seriously as far as the Magyars were concerned while from the top to the bottom of the Roumanian administration almost all the same people remain at their posts as have been there for the last 27 years, persecuting the Magyars and hindering any democratic development on their part in the spirit of racial prejudice which the Roumanians were most likely the first to proclaim.
Soldiers who deserted from the Roumanian or Hungarian armies, if they are Magyars, are condemned by thousands by the Roumanian military courts, although it was because of their determination not to fight the Russians that they deserted.
With the object of being able to show as many Roumanians as possible in Transylvania at the time of the peace-conference, people
are being forcibly removed, and Roumanian officials from the Old Kingdom and from Southern Transylvania, employees and even pensioners, are being compelled to settle in Transylvania under threat of disciplinary action or loss of employment. In order to make room for them, the Hungarian towns, such as Kolozsvár, Brassó, Temesvár and so on, are being partially cleared of their Hungarian population, with confiscation of their homes. An act has been passed for the protection of the minorities, but nothing whatever has been done to put it into effect. In many official places the Hungarian language is only permitted through an interpreter.
It is especially in the places where there is a mixed population that the defenseless Hungarians are freely insulted, beaten and even murdered, plundered and threatened, usually with the connivance of the Roumanian officials and police.
Characteristic of the anti-Hungarian feelings of the Roumanian authorities is the discrimination against the Magyars in the people's courts. At the Kolozsvár court Roumanians are often released, and many of the instigators of the atrocities against the Jews are now free. At the same time there has just recently been a large number of accusations against Magyars, and the extreme penalty has been inflicted in many cases. The Kolozsvár court, whose jurisdiction covers the whole of Transylvania, has instituted proceedings for anti-popular acts against 177 persons; of these, 153 are Magyars and 24 Roumanians. The death-penalty was inflicted in 27 cases, all of them Magyars. Penal servitude for life or long terms of imprisonment were given to 69 people, all of whom again were Magyars.
National minorities are always exposed to the dangers of economic oppression, of which the Roumanians have shown themselves masters in the last 22 or 23 years.
One of the most serious grievances of the Magyars of Transylvania now under Roumanian rule is the method in which the act and decree for the establishment and working of the CASBI is applied. The avowed object of this institution is the sequestration and administration of the property of enemy citizens. In practice, it is applied so that most of the Magyars are deprived of everything they possess and reduced to penury. In order to make clear the difference between the spirit and
the execution of the decree, some account must be given of the origin of the CASBI and the abuses and arbitrary actions of the authorities in carrying it out, which conflict with its expressed intention.
CASBI is an abbreviation of the Roumanian name for the office for the Administration and Supervision of Enemy Property. It was established and organised by a royal decree which appeared in the Roumanian official gazette on February 10th, 1945.
It was set up in connection with Clause 8 of the Armistice Agreement signed in Moscow on September 13th, 1944 between the United Nations and Roumania, under which the Roumanian Government undertook not to permit the removal or expropriation of property of any description belonging to Germany and Hungary or their nationals in Roumania, and to arrange for it to be secured upon conditions to be laid down by the Soviet High Command.
Clause 19 of the Armistice Agreement stated that the Allied Governments regarded the Vienna Award applying to Transylvania as null and void. It follows from this that all those persons who on August 20th, 1940 were residents of Transylvania, that is, were Roumanian citizens, retained that status. The decision also renders void the act of the Hungarian Government by which all persons who were domiciled and permanently resident in Northern Transylvania became Hungarian citizens. To this must be added the fact that all the provisions and decisions of the Roumanian Government which refer to Transylvania are on the basis of the restitutio in integrum principle. According to this, Clause 8 of the Armistice Agreement can only affect two categories:
1. the property of persons with a Hungarian passport who were on territory under Roumanian sovereignty on the day when the Armistice Agreement was signed;
2. property of the Hungarian State or Hungarian capital interests found upon the said territory.
In the event, what happened? The Roumanian authorities considered the great mass of the Hungarians of Transylvania as Hungarian, that is, enemy nationals, sequestrated their property, confiscated their goods, and placed them under the supervision of the CASBI, thus literally reducing enormous numbers of Magyars to complete poverty.
The CASBI decree refers in the first place to Act No. 90 of February 10th, 1945, and instructions for it to be put into effect appeared on April 5th of that year. The Armistice Agreement between the United Nations and the Provisional Government of Hungary, on the other hand, was signed on January 20th, 1945. As from that date therefore Hungary ceased to be an enemy country, both as regards the United Nations and those who had allied themselves with them. It undertook
to declare war on Germany and to pay reparations. By doing the latter, Hungary therefore meets her material obligations and thus cannot be obliged to pay double material reparations. It follows from this that the Roumanian Government too cannot issue such decrees as qualify Hungary as an enemy country after the signature of the Hungarian Armistice Agreement.
According to paragraph c. of Clause A. of the second section of the decree, citizens who before or after September 12th, 1944 took refuge in Germany, Hungary, or territory occupied by them are to be presumed to be enemies. The clause does not clear up the question of since when a state of war is supposed to have existed between Roumania and Hungary, because those persons who left before such a state of war occurred cannot in any case be considered as presumed enemies, just as going from Northern Transylvania, which had until then been Hungarian territory, to another part of Hungary cannot be a political crime open to reprisals or punishment.
According to Clause c. and paragraph c. of Clause a. of the CASBI decree, all persons who left Roumania before or after September 12th, 1944 are to be presumed to be enemies. Their property and assets are to be confiscated. This is the trickiest point in the whole decree. There is no legal basis for it whatever. Clause 8 of the Roumanian Armistice does not mention this at all. Nor do the various acts which give the CASBI decree its legal basis, apart from Clause 8 of the Armistice Agreement. Act 498 which appeared in the Monitorul Oficial, the Roumanian Official Gazette No. 152 on June 3rd, 1942, Act 443 of September 2nd, 1944, Act 453 which appeared in No. 209 for September 11th, 1944, Act 465 in No. 219 for September 22nd, 1944, or even the CASBI decree No. 4501 which appeared in No. 294 for December 19th, 1944. This provision, the category of the presumed enemy, is nothing more than an attempt planned in malice to ruin and pauperise the great majority of the Magyars of Transylvania.
The fact that a person left an area which became the scene of military operations during the war can offer no legal basis for considering or presuming such a person to be an enemy.
In this connection, what happened in Northern Transylvania at the end of August 1944 should also be known. The following facts may be quoted:
1. The German military authorities did everything in their power to get the greater part of the population to leave their homes. This was
mainly so that the evacuated houses could be looted. In many cases these defenseless people were only given a few hours to leave.
2. Posters were put up to the effect that the population was not allowed to remain. People who refused to obey were collected and driven off, or considered as partisans. Cases are also known where people who refused to leave their homes were shot.
3. Before the front got as far as Transylvania, officers of the German and Hungarian armies spread the news that a place would be a bridge-head with hand-to-hand fighting, and was likely to be completely destroyed. This induced the people of many villages to escape.
Of the population who left their homes, 90 per cent did not leave of their own free will, but were partly intimidated or ordered to go, and partly believed that Hungary would surrender the moment the front reached the river Tisza. The population, therefore, left in the belief that they were going to an area which would be occupied by the Red Army without a fight and that they would therefore escape the actual fighting with all its attendant suffering for the civil population.
In such circumstances, the question may be raised of whether the civil population who left their homes in these times and as a result underwent appalling sufferings can be considered as enemies. Did the Roumanian Government consider the thousands of refugees from Bukovina and Bessarabia as enemies? The answer is of course that they did not. It is therefore entirely illegal and also most unreasonable and unjust that these unfortunate Magyars should be called enemies and then be deprived of their remaining possessions and rendered homeless.
There is here a serious conflict between the declarations in principle of Roumanian nationality policy and its practical working.
There are a very large number of complaints about the way in which the CASBI decree is put into effect. It is an interesting point that, by sequestrating the property of those who left Southern for Northern Transylvania, the Roumanian Government recognises Hungarian sovereignty over the latter.
The Union of Magyars in Transylvania has already brought the complaints to the notice of the Roumanian Government, and received promises that they will be attended to. At the same time, however, the Roumanian Minister of Justice published Decree No. 104,005 on October 10th, 1945, which prohibited the Roumanian courts from restoring the rights of refugees.
The Allied Control Commission in Roumania consented to Hungarian citizens wishing to be repatriated to Hungary taking certain of their belongings with them. Since however this can only be done if the Roumanian authorities give a written permit --- which they refuse to
do --- this favour from the Allied Control Commission has only a theoretical value. On May 10th, 1946 the chief Government Commissioner, Oeriu, informed the organs of the CASBI that the sequestrated property of Roumanian citizens was to be held at the disposal of the Government, and it would be decided on the basis of the opinion of local administrative bodies and committees composed of delegates of the political parties whether goods in certain categories should be returned to their owners' possession. Due to the generally known chauvinistic and anti-Hungarian attitude of the Roumanian administrative bodies, it seems certain that the Hungarian minority in Roumania will again have to suffer serious material losses.
It may be stated on the basis of the foregoing that the Roumanian CASBI decree is one of the principal grievances of the Magyars of Transylvania, that it deprives a very large number of completely innocent Hungarians of their material existence, and that when complaints are made the Roumanian Government makes promises which it does not keep.
|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|