|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|
concerning the citizenship of Hungarians living in Roumania.
In a memorandum attached to its note-verbale No. 99/res. Be. of October 31st, 1945 regarding certain questions of citizenship which have arisen in Southeastern Europe, the Hungarian Government referred among other things to the fact that there are serious difficulties as regards citizenship in this region, and expressed its opinion that the situation might deteriorate further.
The Hungarian Government emphasized that the position was especially serious in those territories which came temporarily under Hungarian sovereignty under the Vienna Awards and where in consequence
the majority of the population acquired Hungarian citizenship for the period that it lasted.
In the said memorandum the Hungarian Government pointed out that from the legal point of view the previous citizenship of the inhabitants of such territories is automatically restored without reserve. At the same time the Government made proposals for a radical solution of the question based upon principles in harmony with the objectives set forth in the Charter of the United Nations.
When the Hungarian Government presented this memorandum, it was already in possession of detailed information concerning the situation as it had developed since 1919 and as it is at present and also offered to make it available.
Since then, the situation of the population of Hungarian nationality in Roumania has further deteriorated, and the speech of M. Lucretiu Patrascanu*, the Roumanian Minister of Justice, on June 11th of this year at Kolozsvár (Cluj), and the anti-Hungarian agitation which began after that in the Roumanian press has again given the Hungarian Government cause for serious alarm concerning the several hundred thousand Hungarians in Roumania to whom the Roumanian Government continues to deny Roumanian citizenship, and whom it desires in fact to render homeless or to compel them to emigrate.
In connection with the statements of the Roumanian Minister of Justice, the Hungarian Government considers it necessary to point out the following facts:
Roumanian laws passed in the course of the last 25 years and Roumanian governmental and administrative measures have contained the most serious disabilities affecting the question of the citizenship of the large number of Hungarians who live under Roumanian rule in Transylvania. These disabilities have deprived a very large number of these Hungarians of the possibility of making a living, since the question of citizenship is of basic importance in every aspect of public and private affairs.
* In his speech on June 11th, M. Patrascanu said in part: "The three or four hundred thousand Hungarians who are still living in Roumania today, illegally and outside our laws, are not only staying here to earn a living. Their presence here, and the continuation of their presence, gives cause for anxiety, because it is these Hungarians who cultivate and spread revisionist tendencies and work to undermine our country. In this matter there is a limit to our patience.
We are not going to give Roumanian citizenship to those Hungarian citizens who, although born in Transylvania, left the country and refused to do their duty to the Roumanian State, but returned with the occupying troops in 1940. It is not right that they should receive Roumanian citizenship."
As to the antecedents of the present situation, the Hungarian Government would mention first of all that by Articles 3--7 of the Minority Treaty signed on December 9th, 1919 between the Allied and Associated Powers and Roumania, the latter undertook to recognise as Roumanian citizens, legally and without reserve, all persons permanently resident in the territory concerned (Article 3, paragraph 1) or who were born there (Article 4 paragraph 1).
Under Article 1 of the Minority Treaty, Roumania also undertook to recognise as basic laws the provisions contained in Articles 2 to 8, that no law, decree or official measure would be passed in contradiction of their provisions and that no law, decree or official measure should be effective against them (Article 1). Following the enactment however of the Minority Treaty as a law of the country on September 26th, 1920, Roumania did pass laws contravening these provisions and took measures affecting citizenship. Among these are the following:
1. Clause 56 of the Nationality Act of February 24th, 1924 only recognises the Roumanian citizenship of persons who were resident (pertinenza) in Roumanian territory on December 1st, 1918. In addition it prescribed forms which even people who had automatically obtained Roumanian citizenship under the Minority Treaty were unable to comply with. The administrative authorities were pronounced competent to make up the lists of persons who obtained citizenship. When this was done, however, the names of some 200,000 Hungarians of Transylvania were omitted, partly as a result of defects in the law and partly owing to arbitrary methods being employed.*
The enormous numbers of Hungarians thus omitted were compulsorily deprived of their most elementary human rights, among them the right to work. It was for this reason that a considerable number of them were forced to leave Transylvania for Hungary as a result of losing their employment, official pressure and often open persecution. Between 1920 and 1940 some 260,000 Hungarians were compelled to leave Transylvania.
2. Article 5 of the Roumanian Constitution of February 28th, 1938
* The correctness of this very modest estimate of the number of Hungarians whose names were omitted from the lists is supported by the preamble to the Roumanian Nationality decree of July 27th, 1939. This decree, which was published in the Official Gazette No. 171 for July 27th, 1939, provides for persons who acquired Roumanian citizenship under the Act of February 24th, 1924 requesting confirmation within three months. According to the preamble of the Ministry, the decree became necessary because it had been proved that the number of heads of families omitted from the lists amounted to nearly a hundred thousand. As an example it may be mentioned that of the 88,000 inhabitants of Nagyvárad 32,000 were not entered in the lists.
states that all Roumanian citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their religion or racial origin. According however to official explanations contained in subsequent legal measures, this provision only applies to the duties of citizens and only secures the equality of all citizens before the law in this respect. (Preamble to Decree No. 2560 published in No. 183 of the Roumanian Official Gazette for August 9th, 1940). The principle of the Roumanian Constitution giving precedence to the Roumanian element is also evident in legislation regarding citizenship. The Nationality Law of January 20th, 1939 ensures the acquisition of citizenship to racial Roumanians (român de origine) as against those who are not of Roumanian racial origin.
3. According to the decree of July 27th, 1939, Roumanian origin is sufficiently proved if one of the parents is of Roumanian race (de origine etnica românesca). Such persons are granted Roumanian citizenship by the Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Minister of Justice.
These few examples are sufficient documentation of the fact that Roumanian legislation has not complied with the obligations undertaken in the international agreement as regards citizenship.
Mention must further be made of another provision of the Roumanian legislation affecting citizenship, namely the decree of October 20th, 1939, which instead of pertinenza makes the person's place of residence the legal basis for the acquisition of citizenship for those who lived in territory annexed to Roumania either on December 1st, 1918 (the date of the meeting of the Roumanian National Assembly at Gyulafehérvár)* or July 26th, 1921, the date of the ratification of the Treaty of Trianon.
The Vienna Award of August 30th, 1940 and the subsequent provisions of the Hungarian Government stated that in principle everyone in the Northern Transylvanian territory which came under Hungarian rule automatically became a Hungarian citizen if they had lived in the territory for five years without a break.
Article 19 of the Armistice Agreement between the United Nations and Roumania returned Transylvania (or the greater part of it) to Roumania, assuming that this would be allowed to stand by the peace-treaty, and declared the Vienna Award null and void inasfar as it applied to Transylvania. Following this, the Roumanian Government began the introduction of legal rules which represent the most serious grievances of the Hungarians of Transylvania. In regard to citizenship
* The so-called National Assembly which met on December 1st, 1918 and consisted exclusively of Roumanians, declared the adherence of Transylvania to Roumania.
too the Roumanian Government issued provisions having the effect of depriving the Hungarians of their rights, though it might well have declared simply that the inhabitants of this territory automatically became Roumanian citizens.
The Groza Government has produced three important laws which regulate the citizenship of the inhabitants of Northern Transylvania:
1. Decree No. 261 of April 2nd, 1945 (a translation of which is annexed to this memorandum), clause 2 of which deprives a considerable section of the Hungarians in Transylvania of their citizenship, and thus of their opportunity to work, and forces them to leave their homes, or prevents them from returning. According to paragraph a. of this clause this applies to inhabitants of Northern Transylvania who opted for foreign citizenship from August 30th, 1940 to the entry into force of the decree, and under paragraph b. to those who voluntarily took military service with a country with which Roumania was at war or joined any foreign military or para-military formation.
This citizenship decree affects the Hungarians of Transylvania because it continues to exclude from citizenship the approximately 200,000 Hungarians who had not yet obtained Roumanian citizenship on August 30th, 1940. Especially disadvantageous however are the provisions of Clause 2 of the decree, which affect further large numbers of Hungarians in that after the Vienna Award several hundred thousand people in Northern Transylvania asked for Hungarian citizenship. Proof of citizenship was a condition of practically every form of employment or economic activity, such as the carrying on of industry or trade and the purchase of property. Roumanian legal practice considers the establishment of Hungarian citizenship or the taking out of a certificate to that effect as "opting for foreign citizenship". A further enormous mass of people is represented by the number of Hungarian men who served in Hungarian military or para-military formations because they were liable to military service. Finally, the fact must also be borne in mind that apart from the Hungarians of Northern Transylvania directly affected there are a further 100,000 Hungarians in Southern Transylvania who were driven out or expelled from that region by the Roumanian authorities under the fascist Antonescu regime.
2. Executive decree No. 12, published as a Royal Decree on August 11th, 1945 concerning the regulation of citizenship for inhabitants of Northern Transylvania increased the grievances of the Hungarians still further. Specially detrimental to them were paragraphs a. and c. of clause 4 of the decree. Under previous regulations, all those who came under the operation of the conditions of clause 40 of Law 33 of
January 19th, 1939 lost their Roumanian citizenship.* According to paragraph e. of clause 4 of the same, persons who "voluntarily" left the territory of Northern Transylvania with the enemy forces and "showed solidarity with them" lose their Roumanian citizenship.
In practice, the above provision means that about 300,000 Hungarians are unable to prove that their departure was forced on them, because the Roumanian authorities do not regard the posters ordering the population to leave as force, and it is hardly possible to prove that force was actually employed to make them leave. There is no doubt that the Roumanian authorities have considerable liberty of action in deciding that as large a number as possible of the Hungarians lose their Roumanian citizenship.
On October 10th, 1945 the Roumanian Minister of Justice took a further step towards depriving them of their rights with Decree No 104.005/1945. K. 10. This decree of the Minister of Justice was sent to every court of justice in Northern Transylvania. The text is as follows:
"Those inhabitants of Northern Transylvania who made common cause with the enemy German and Hungarian troops and withdrew to Hungary lose their Roumanian citizenship under the law of April 4th, 1945; consequently, if these people return to Roumania, they are to be considered as enemy subjects and if their property comes under the provisions of Clause 8 of the Armistice Agreement (the CASBI**) the Roumanian authorities are not permitted to fulfil any request of these people regarding their property, the judicial authorities therefore may do nothing to enable them to recover their movable or immovable property or move into their dwellings."
This provision even deprived hundreds of thousands of refugee Hungarians of the possibility of such legal assistance as would have enabled them to defend themselves against arbitrary action on the part of the authorities.
3. On December 15th, 1945, the Roumanian Minister for Internal Affairs issued instructions under the number 46.886. A. as to the application of the executive decree referring to the regulation of the citizenship
* Clause 40: Any person loses all rights to Roumanian citizenship who 1. entered the service of a foreign state without the previous consent of the Roumanian Government; 2. entered any foreign military service or adhered to any foreign military formation without the previous consent of the Roumanian Government; 3. placed himself under foreign sovereignty for any period and as a result of whatever action. The establishment of cases under the above clause will be effected by a decision of the Council of Ministers.
** The Roumanian Government, under Clause 8 of the Armistice Agreement, set up a special organisation for the administration of enemy property, and CASBI is the abbreviation of its Roumanian title.
of the inhabitants of Northern Transylvania.* This provision denotes a certain alleviation in the execution of the citizenship law. It puts an end to the grievance frequently brought up by the Hungarians of Transylvania that opting for Hungary by inhabitants of Southern Transylvania after the Vienna Award, and the acquisition of a certificate of Hungarian citizenship by those of Northern Transylvania does not denote the loss of Roumanian citizenship.
It is a serious error in this decree of the Minister for Internal Affairs that it leaves too much to the discretion of the authorities. The complicated procedure for entering a name on the list of citizens leaves ample room for arbitrary action on the part of minor administrative authorities. It is here that the Hungarians have had the most regrettable experiences in the past, and not so very long ago.
In view of the foregoing, the Hungarian Government requests and proposes that the question of citizenship for persons of Hungarian nationality under Roumanian rule should be settled on the basis of the principles outlined in the memorandum attached to the Note-verbale No. 99/res/Be. of October 31st, 1945. In settling the question of citizenship, the Hungarian Government requests that attention should be given to the principle that all the Hungarians living in Roumania, including their direct descendants, should be granted Roumanian citizenship, if they had a permanent place of residence in that territory on December 1st, 1918 (the day of the National Assembly at Gyulafehérvár), on July 26th, 1921 (the ratification of the Treaty of Trianon) or on August 30th, 1940 (the date of the Vienna Award).
The Hungarian Government further considers it necessary that the expulsion of Transylvanian Hungarians deprived of their Roumanian citizenship by the Nationality Act of April 2nd, 1945 or its executive instructions and thus rendered homeless should be suspended by the
* Persons who on August 30th, 1940 had a place of residence in another part of the country but subsequently opted for Hungarian citizenship or escaped across the frontier and settled in Hungary may request the declaration of their Roumanian citizenship from their local prefecture.
Persons who figure on the citizenship-register of any locality in Northern Transylvania or requested to be entered thereon within the time limit fixed by Law 62, but who live in another part of the country, may request the declaration of their citizenship in accordance with the decree from the prefecture of their present place of residence.
The "para-military" formations mentioned in paragraph d. of clause 4 refer to such associations as had as their object the giving of pre-military instruction, or armed formations. The phrase "solidarity with the enemy" in paragraph a. of the same clause is to be understood in the sense that this category covers persons who left Northern Transylvania of their own free will with the retreating enemy troops, where they cooperated with enemy troops and carried on operations against the allied and Roumanian troops.
Roumanian Government until the question of citizenship is settled by the peace-treaty.
In conclusion, the Hungarian Government wishes to emphasize that according to its views the peace-treaty alone is competent to order the question of the citizenship of the Hungarians in Transylvania, and not the unilateral proceedings of the Roumanian Government.
Budapest, July 15th, 1946.
concerning the regulation of the citizenship of the inhabitants of Northern Transylvania.
1. The following are Roumanian citizens and remain so:
a) Those inhabitants of Northern Transylvania who were Roumanian citizens according to the law in force on August 30th, 1940;
b) Children living in Northern Transylvania on August 30th, 1940 or born after that date if their fathers, or in the case of illegitimate children their mothers, remain citizens in accordance with the provisions of paragraph a).
c) Children born of an unknown father or mother on or after August 30th, 1940 in Northern Transylvania. Foundlings in this territory are to be considered as having been born there.
2. The following are not to be considered as Roumanian citizens:
a) Inhabitants of Northern Transylvania who between August 30th, 1940 and the entry into force of the present law opted for a foreign citizenship;
b) Inhabitants of Northern Transylvania who voluntarily joined the military service of a country which was at war with Roumania, or adhered to foreign military or para-military formations.
3. Whether persons coming under the provisions of this law reacquire or lose their Roumanian citizenship is to be established by the authorities, by those which undertake the compiling of the lists of such citizens by communities.
The lists are to be displayed for ten days at the prefecture of the locality. One copy of the list is to be sent to the local justices of the peace with a declaration that it has been displayed.
Appeals against the lists may be lodged with the justices of the peace within ten days of the expiry of the time prescribed for their display.
Appeals may be lodged against the decision of the court within ten
days from the date of promulgation with the competent court of justice.
All procedure prescribed in this law is to be effected by the authorities.
Petitions and documents of actions are free of stamps and fees.
4. Any provisions or decisions which conflict with this law are to be considered as null and void.
|Transylvania - The Roots of Ethnic Conflict|