|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
LAJOS TAKACS is a professor of international law and former rector of the Babes-Bolyai University in Kolozsvar. He is also a candidate member of the Rumanian Communist Party Central Committee and currently serves as vice-president of the Hungarian Nationality Workers Council. The high-ranking positions which Takacs has occupied thus lend special credibility to the information he furnishes - and special significance to his words of protest. Perhaps nowhere else are the absence of political rights, the decline in Hungarian-language educational opportunities and the institution of other measures to destroy the self-identity of Hungarians in Rumania as accurately or knowledgeably documented as in this memorandum. The existence of the memorandum was first reported in a series of articles published on April 25, 1978 in the major London newspapers (THE TIMES, THE GUARDIAN, FINANCIAL TIMES). Though undated, judging from the document itself, it was probably written sometime during the month of November 1977 (the Central Committee Plenum and the National Party Conference cited in the first sentence were held on October 26-27 and December 7-19 respectively). To date, Takacs has not been publicly denounced for raising his voice in protest, but neither has the Rumanian government implemented any of the recommendations included in his memorandum. The Central Committee Plenum of the Rumanian Communist Party has decied to convene the National Party Conference in December of this year. This event of great importance to our people will debate the numerous and complex issues concerning the activities of our Party. It will investigate the manner in which the decisions of the 11th Party Congress have been executed and will adopt a series of important new resolutions in the interest of progressing on the road of building a comprehensibly developed socialist society.
Among the major problems to be examined by the Conference in connection with the society and economy of our country will be the continuous strengthening of the moral and political unity of our people. An especially important question within this context is the intensification of fraternal cooperation between the Rumanian people and coinhabiting nationalities, the unity and fraternity of the working people without regard to their nationality. As decided by the 11th Congress, this is a question which "continues to possess great importance during the period in which the comprehensibly developed socialist society is being built and the transformation to Communism is being gradually accomplished".
With regard to these matters, we the undersigned have devoted the large part of our efforts and our lives to increasing friendship and cooperation between the Hungarian nationality in Rumania and the Rumanian people. We view this factor as especially important to the prosperity of the two peoples and the triumph of socialism in this part of Europe. In the following, we will try to analyze those major results which have been achieved in our country under the direction of the Rumanian Communist Party, and to work out recommendations for the future. Our purpose is to assist in laying the foundations of fraternity between the Rumanian people and the Hungarian nationality, to intensify that fraternity in our common fatherland and to consolidate the results which have been achieved thus far. Our further aim is to serve the noble concept of drawing the Rumanian and Hungarian peoples closer together, which is an important factor to strengthening the unity of those countries and peoples which have embarked on the path of socialism in this part of Europe. . .
CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE QUESTIONS
-To fully implement the constitutional provisions (regarding minority rights) in real life, it is necessary to follow them up with legally binding decrees and with detailed regulations which specify the duties of the various state administrative bodies in this regard. In the administrative districts where these nationalities live, such problems as use of their native tongue in public administration, the judicial system, official bulletins, signs and so on; organization of instruction in the native tongue; creation of an organizational framework and operational mechanism for the local cultural and community apparatus; support of local cultural institutions and their various organs which provide the mass dissemination of political and ideological knowledge in the native language of the population - these require detailed regulations, criteria laid down in law and binding standards with regard to these organs - Despite the fact that the "Nationalities' Statute" adopted on February 7, 1945 is already exceedingly outdated, to this day we lack a new charter which is appropriate to the actual stage of our society's development. This, of course, has played a role in the deficiencies which have appeared in the concrete application of constitutional provisions. In certain socialist and non-socialist countries, attempts have been made with regard to the creation of a legal statute for national minorities. The formulation of a statute for the coinhabiting nationalities in Rumania would prove once again that our Party attends to these problems; it would have a beneficial impact on the internal situation and, at the same time, it would enhance our country's prestige abroad.
ACTIVITIES OF THE HUNGARIAN NATIONALITY
Following the liberation (of Rumania), continuing in the
revolutionary tradition of MADOSZ (Hungarian National Democratic Union), the Party-contro]led mass organization Hungarian People's Union organized the Hungarian nationality masses. The basic political and cultural activity of the nationality population occured within this organizational framework until 1953. - Looking back at the 50's, we belive that the dissolution of this organizational framework had a negative effect on the activities of the nationality population. - The creation of the Hungarian Nationality Workers Council in 1969 could have afforded the Party leadership en oportunity to become better informed about those issues which occupy the attention of the country's Hungarian population.
Unfortunately, the activity of the Council did not fulfill the objectives for which it was created. On the one hand, its organizational format did not allow the possibility of direct contact with the masses of Hungarian nationality workers, and it was unable to become an effective factor in the political and ideological education of the nationality population.
On the other hand, because its component bodies were comvened only after lenghty intervals with no concrete plan regarding their activity, this organization lacked the characteristics of a working body and, in this way, could not become useful to the Party and state leadership in researching and solving the questions of great importance to the well-being of the country's Hungarian population.
Thus the Council has been unsuccessful in generating any respect whatsoever among the populace and, due to the Party members, who participate in its organs, it is slowly but surely losing confidence of the masses. The reorganization of the Council and its transformation into a mass organization - similar to other organizations which operate within the framework of the Socialist Unity Front - would garantee the far more successful completion of its duties to effectively disseminate Party policy. In this way, it could also become an expert consultant in developing measures to improve the Party's nationality policies.
QUESTIONS CONCERNING EDUCATION
IN THE NATIVE TONGUE
In applying the Leninist principles (to create "unified schools" by merging minority and majority nationality schools), the organizational measures taken have led to a gradual restriction of the network of schools providing instruction in the native tongue. In this way, fewer opportunities are available for Hungarian youth to continue their education in the native tongue. In the 1976-77 academic year, of the 34,738 Hungarian secondary school students in secondary schools, 15,591 attended technical high schools in which the technical subjects were taught exclusively in the Rumanian language - The explanation for this phenomenon is not to be found in the "steering" of Hungarian youth toward Rumanian language schools but in the lack of enough teachers for the large number of pupils who wish to study in their native tongue.
This situation is a result of certain erroneous concepts employed during the past years with regard to education of the co-inhabiting nationalities in their native tongue. It was maintained that the orientation of these youth toward Rumanian language schools would promote a more thorough mastery of the Rumanian language, thereby making these youth suitable for assignment to any area of entire country. We have always emphasized, and will continue to do so in the future, that not only the young people attending schools, but the entire Hungarian population of the country, must learn the Rumanian lanugage thoroughly, the language of the country, the primary means of communication between people. And experience has shown that during the past three decades extraordinary results have been achieved in this regard. The active, employed members of the coinhabiting nationalities today speak Rumanian so well that it causes no problem in the conversion and use of their professional expertise, whatever the branch of work.
Furthermore, the Rumanian language is not only studied in schools, but it is diffused without the use of any forcible means, by radio, television and the press, culture and the arts, and military service. The entire environment which surrounds them in full measure assists the Hungarian population to properly master the Rumanian language. At the same time, however, the process of mastering the Rumanian language must be separated from the process of teaching and instruction. Because the latter is determinative trom the point of view of the development of personal identity. This latter process provides the individual with the fundamental elements to prepare for life, and those elements contribute significantly to his later activity in society. For the overwhelming majority of the population, education in the native tongue is the condition which can result in mastering the professional expertise mentioned above.
The statistic cited above reveals a negative phenomenon which can only result in a negative outcome: those young people with a limited general education and little technical training remain ill-prepared in contrast to the great responsibilities of building socialism in our country. In large part, these youth fall behind the ever rising educational level in our country and, with few exceptions, are unable to enter institutions of higher education. This explains why the number of Hungarian students in higher education is so low when compared to the proportion of that nationality in the entire population.
Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu stated a powerful truth, verified in human experience, when he uttered these words on education: "Where the language problem arises by necessity, it must be solved in a manner which fulfills the conditions for students to learn in that language which they know best."
The population census has furnished precise data to the respon- sible organs about the age and nationality characteristics of our youth. The Ministry of Education, therefore, has sufficient information at its disposal to organize the school system in such a way that nationality students are provided a network of schools in which they have the opportunity to choose the language "which they know best" and which assists them in penetrating more deeply into the secrets of culture and science and in gaining a solid footing.
In this regard, we would refer to Decree No. 703 (1973) which enacted into law as No. 26 (1974). Section 3, paragraph 2 of this law provides for the creation of Rumanian language sections or classes, regardless of the number of students, in those communities where schools function in the language of the coinhabiting nationalities. This provision guarantees Rumanian children to study in their native tongue in communities where their number does not reach the quota which the law prescribes : in order for a new class or section to be established. The extension of this measure to those communities where the nationality students do not reach these quotas would fully serve these students' needs for education in their native tongue and would eliminate the discriminatory character of this legal requirement.
USE OF THE NATIVE TONGUE IN HIGHER EDUCATION
-The methods used to merge Hungarian with Rumanian institutions of higher education caused a heavy burden to fall on education in the native tongue. Thus, even though originally the basis for merging the (Rumanian) Babes and (Hungarian) Bolyai Universities was that the educational program would be organized into two sections with students registering separately for each, the system actually instituted was that only certain courses were designated to be taught in two languages, while the majority of subjects were taught only in Rumanian. The admission of Hungarian students to the University was left to chance, while education proved difficult for those students who were unable to rectify the earlier deficiencies in their learning.
This organizational set-up had a completely negative effect on the nationality composition of the University faculty and almost totally barred the admission of young Hungarian cadres to the University.
* In 1958-59, the year of the merger, there were 45 Rumanian and 36 Hungarian instructors on the faculty of Chemistry. In the 1976-77 academic year, we find 63 Rumanian and only 14 Hungarian instructors. During the intervening 20 years, 37 young Rumanian instructors vere hired, in contrast to only one Hangarian.
* In 1958-59, there were 18 Rumanian and 15 Hungarian instructors on the faculty of Law. In 1977-78, 23 Rumanians and four Hungarians remained. In the interim, eight Rumanian instructors and one Hungarian were hired.
* In contrast to the 23 Rumanian and 15 Hungarian instructors on the faculty of Economics at the time of the merger, today we find that the number of instructors has grown to the unusually large number of 95, of whom only 19 are Hungarian.
* Today there are 111 instructors on the faculty of Physics, of whom 19 are Hungarian.
* Of the 136 instructors on the faculty of Biology, 24 are Hungarian.
* In 1959, the entire staff of the Mathematics department numbered 50, of whom 19 were from the Bolyai University. In this department today we find 65 instructors, of whom 14 are Hungarian. Of the 33 instructors hired since the merger, only three have been Hungarian.
* In the History department (at the faculty of History and Philosophy), of the 43 instructors at the time of the merger, 14 were from the Bolyai University. Currently, 27 instructors are left from the time of the merger, of whom seven are Hungarian. Since the merger, not one Hungarian teacher has been hired. The youngest Hungarian instructor is 49 years old. Of the seven Hungarians, not one has been named full professor and not one has been given a full pension.
* The situation is similar in other departments of the University.
In the case of the "Petru Groza" Agricultural College, the situation is even worse. Here, after the merger, Hungarian-language instruction was completely e]iminated - Of the 205 instructors currently teaching here, only -16 are Hungarian, all of them cadres from the former institute. During the past 20 years, not one teacher of Hungarian nationality has been hired. Thus, as a result of these mergers, the Hungarian-language institutions of higher education in Kolozsvar have been placed in a catastrophic situation.
The negative impact of the mergers executed 20 years ago is also reflected in the relatively low number of Hungarian students who enter higher education. In the 1957-58 academic year, there were 4,082 students attending the Hungarian language institutions of higher education alone. Approximately 1000 to 1500 must be added to this figure, representing the Hungarian students who attended technical and other Rumanian language institutes. Twenty years ago, therefore, the number of Hungarian students was approximately 5,500, out of a total daytime student population of 51,094. During the 1974-75 academic year, however, the number of daytime Hungarian students attending all institutions of higher education was 6,188 in contrast to a total daytime student population of 108,750. What this shows is that during the past 20 years, while the total student population has doubled, the number of Hungarian students rose by only about 600, or lO% .
It follows from the data above that a reexamination of the measures used to merge the institutions of higher education in Kolozsvar is necessary. It is our opinion that a return to the original concept of the mergers, namely the establishment of two sections with students registering separately in each, would be the proper solution. As to dividing the number of registered students between the Rumanian and Hungarian sections, we would support a 2:1 ratio, taking into account the already large number of Rumanian language institutions of higher education.
Another part of this general subject is the question of Hungarian language instruction in the Technical College of Kolozsvar. The importance of technical training in higher edueation is steadily rising, and the number of Hungarian students in these institutes is relatively high. These factors would fully justify a two-section organizational format which would contribute to the solid training of future Hungarian engineers.
In concluding these recommendations to reorganize Hungarian language education at all levels, we note that the effectiveness of such a system is also proven in data which has been ascertained by organs of the Ministry of Education. According to this data, the overwhelming majority of Hungarian university students who pass their entrance examination and completed their secondary schooling in their own native tongue, were more successful in mastering the course work in their major subjects. It follows that not only the needs of the country's Hungarian population, but the common interest - to increase the number of better-trained cadres - calls for a school system in which native-tongue educational opportunities are available to nationality students so that those students may extend the very best professional expertise to the society in which they live. Only in this way will Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu's completely justified and scientific directive be fulfilled, that "the
appropriate material circumstances must be created - in order that students may learn in that language which they know best."
GENERAL CULTURAL PROBLEMS
In certain counties, the size of circulation of local Hungarian language newspapers does not meet the actual needs of the given population. There is no high-quality scientific journal which, aside from providing the country's Hungarian scientific community with up-to-date information on developments in the various scientific fields throughout the world, might also publish the results of original research. A journal such as this would represent the continuation of a long Transylvanian tradition .
In the community houses of culture, greater freedom of activity is needed for the Hungarian language cultural groups The combination of the activities of different nationalities - out of fear of "national isolation" - has had an unfavorable impact on the cultivation of certain unique traditions, especially in those counties where the Hungarian population lives in less enclosed groups.
There is an ever increasing need for a Transylvanian radio and television station which would broadcast daily in the language of the coinhabiting nationalities. As far as we know, a concept of this sort existed several years ago.
In the field of Hungarian language publishing activities, numerous problems have accumulated which would require a broad-ranging analysis. Here we would mention simply that between 1970 and 1977, of those 19 publishing houses which also publish Hungarian language books, in 12 cases their list of published titles contained fewer than ten works. During the period indicated, the Akademia House published one essay, the Medicala House four, the Minerva House one, and Tourism and Sports House one.
Related to this subject is the question of accessibility by our country's Hungarian population to literature published in the Hungarian People's Republic. The restraints imposed on subscriptions, especially in the case of technical journals, and the deficiencies in booktrade have generated popular discontent. Elimination of these difficulties would ease the burden on our own publishers, especially in the area of producing Hungarian language technical and scientific books.
With regard to the preservation and protection of historical and cultural traditions, an important question is the manner in which archives and collectiorls of books are cared for. These materials reflect the history of this region, including that of the Hungarian nationality. In particular. the archives of the Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations, the libraries of certain Hungarian settlements and the collections left by families which played a leading role in past cultures contain priceless materials of historic value. The majority of these materials has not been processed as yet. Past neglect and those deficiencies which survive to this day, (lack of librarians and archivists, as well as absence of necessary funds) have caused heavy damage to the preservation and protection of the country's archive materials. A distressing example is the fate of the immense archive of the Roman Catholic Episcopate of Nagyvarad which was removed from a building, constructed in the 18th century and equipped expressly for this purpose, and placed in a warehouse in a castle of Nagyvarad. The new location is unfit for the preservation and research of this invaluable material which chronicles the past and is of interest to the entire scientific community. Due to the - not entirely condemnable - lack of concern by local authorities, the archive of the Roman Catholic Episcopate of Szatmarnemeti has been almost completely annihilated. The book and document collections of the Roman Catholic Lyceum of Nagyvarad, and of the Reformed Church Colleges of Szaszvaros, Maramarossziget and Szat- marnemeti have also undergone severe deterioration.
Aside from the deficient preservation and protection of these materials, we must also note the unfitness (incompetence) of the personnel entrusted to care for them. The training of professionally qualified cadres in this field is a national interest. In contrast, university-level training of librarians and archivists in our country ended 20 years ago. In all countries great importance is attached to the training of such experts. And this is natural. Due to the accumulation of immense amounts of material, only well-prepared experts can assist researchers and maintain, catalogue and keep records of the colossal number of books, journals, microfilms, xeroxes, etc. Our document repositories, lacking in personnel familiar with foreign and ancient languages, as well as given specialized fields, with few exceptions experience growing difficulties in struggling with the demands of modern science. The situation is even more serious with respect to documents which reflect the history of the Hungarian nationality. These materials are entrusted in large part to the care of those who are not familiar with the language and still less with the knowledge to recognize the historical significance of the matrials. The Battyaneum Library of Gyulafehervar wthich is the richest Hungarian collection, does not employ a single Hungarlan expert. Similarly, the archive of the former Museum of Transylvania does not employ qualified cadres to handle the materials which can be found there. All of these deficiencies cause grave injury to the cultural treasury of our country; they lead to a situation in which an integral part of that treasury is slowly but surely shut out of the intellectual bloodstream of the country and the archives sink to the level of quaint tourist curiosities.
PROBLEMS OF A POLITICAL AND
Although the coinhabiting nationalities represent only 12% of the population of the entire country, in Transylvania, the Banat, the areas surrounding the Koros Rivers and the counties in the Maramaros region, their proportion is one-third and in certain counties it varies from 40-88%. With few exceptions, the nationalities live their lives in these counties; the deep roots of their many centuries-old past tied them to this region; they labored here alongside the Rumanian population in developing the economy, culture and society of the country and in building socialism, and now they live here under Communism as well. Bound to their homeland and possessing an exceptionally well-developed national consciousness, the two large nationalities in these regions of the country - the Hungarian and the German - are highly sensitive that their existence gain recognition on the true basis of their past and present efforts in the revitalization of the country, that their existence be expressed in the written history of the fatherland and that it be manifest in daily socio-cultural activity. Unfortunately, in the past years, there has been a declining interest by Party and state organs and the cutural and educational fori when faced with this natural desire on the part of the coinhabiting nationalities. The critical turning points in the history of Transylvania are only faintly reflected in published historical works. Hungarian and German youth gain only weak and superficial impressions about the historic past of their own nationality, the actions of their ancestsors, the territory in which they live and the history of the peoples from which they descended.
The outward appearance of the communities in which Hungarians live - with the exception of a few Szekely villages - does not reflect the presence of that nationality. Signs posted in their language have completely disappeared, even though they were a persuasive expression of fraternal coexistence and a long-standing tradition in Transylvania, which even the bourgeois landowner system respected to some degree.
Use of the native tongue of the coinhabiting nationalities in public administration is a basic necessity. It is also a constitutional right and a fundamental principle of Marxist-Leninist nationality policy. "Introduction of the use of the native tongue in all public and local state institutions" was a directive issued by Lenin in his Party program (Material for the Revision of the Party Program, Volume 24).
As the promising first years after the liberation passed, we experienced a sharp decline in this area as well. With regard to use of the native tongue in contacts between the population and the state apparatus, it is applied only in rare isolated instances. Few cadres are appointed who are of nationality origin or who know the language and way of life of the local inhabitants. Although the proportional representation of the coinhabiting nationalities in the state organs corresponds to the ethnic composition of the population, this is a formality, because in the decision-making bodies this representation leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of both its numerical strength and its composition. Use of the native tongue of the inhabitants in official bulletins, inscriptions, notices. posters, etc. - with few exceptions - is ignored, while their right to address the authorities in their own language and to actually receive an answer in the same language is not practiced at all. Great discontent was generated by the constraints imposed on calling Transylvanian localities by the names used in the nationality languages. These names are part of the nationalities' vocabularies and their use is expressly authorized in regulations which are currently in effect (Nationality Statute, section 13). This was one of the rights consistently demanded by the Rumanian population which lived under Austro-Hungarian oppression.
Similarly between the two World Wars, it was a request of the minorities, which was actually granted by the bourgeois landowner system in section 18 of the August 1, 1938 Council of Ministers' Bulletin which stated that "directives are issued which constrain the Ministries to take actions in fulfilling the wishes of the minorities". (Official Bulletin No. 178, August 4, 1938. )
It is necessary that the Party leadership reanalyze current aspects of the nationality question and take measures to reestablish the natural order of things.
To this end, we recommend the following measures with respect to the Hungarian population:
THE EIGHTEEN DEMANDS FOR
IMPROVED MINORITY RIGHTS
With respect to the Hungarian population, we recommend the following:
1. Restructuring of the Hungarian Nationality Workers Council into a mass organization with chapters in all localities where the number of Hungarian inhabitants warrants this. The organization should have the right to nominate candidates to represent the Hungarian population in every central and local organ. It should designate candidates to fill certain key positions which deal with the development of the cultural life of the inhabitants .
2. Within the framework of the Grand National Assembly, a permanent committee should be established to deal with problems of the coinhabiting nationalities. The country's nationality representatives, as well as a Rumanian representative from counties with mixed populations, should participate in this committee, (A committee such as this exists in the Slovak Nationdl Assembly }
3 A new Statute for nationatities should be created which concretely spells out the responsibilities ot the authorities in implementing the Party's nationality policies.
4. Those state agencies which operate under the Ministry of Education and the Council for Socialist Instruction should be granted decision-making powers in all those questions which bear directly on the actions of these central organs as they affect the coinhabiting nationalities.
5. A network of native-language kindergartens and general and secondary schools of all levels and specialties, which is capable of handling all Hungarian students who wish to pursue their studies in the native tongue, should be guaranteed.
6. The Babes-Bolyai University, the Dr. Petru Groza Argricultural Institute, the Ion Andreescu Art Institute, the Gh. Dina Conservatory, the Istvan Szentgyorgyi School for the Dramatic Arts, the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacology at Marosvasarhely and the Technical School of Kolozsvar should be reorganized into the sections with independent curricula.
7. Ideological instruction should be provided in the language of the nationalities as well, in all areas where this is warranted by the number of workers, peasants or intellectuals.
8. The size of circulation of local newspapers should be determined on the basis of actual demand.
9. The possibility of publishing a high quality, Hungarian scientific journal should be investigated.
10. Cultural ensembles of the coinhabiting nationalities should be guaranteed greater freedom of movement.
11. We should re-examine the possibility of creating a radio station broadcasting in the languages of the coinhabiting nationalities, and a television channel with continuous programming.
12. More publications - especialls technical-scientific and children's literature - should be allowed to appear in the languages of the coinhabiting nationalities.
13. Access by Hungarians in Rumania to publications which appear in the Hungarian People's Republic, and to Hungarian-language publications which appear in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, should be improved.
14. The employment of Hungarian experts should be guaranteed in those libraries and archives which contain documents relating to the past history of the Hungarian nationality.
15. In those counties and localities where the percentage of inhabitants of nationality origin achieves 15%, in addition to Rumanian, use of the language of the given nationality should be instituted in the administrative apparatus of the state, in publications, and on signs and billboards.
16. Textbooks, literature pertaining to the country's history, propaganda materials, etc. should be revised to accurately reflect the past and present of the coinhabiting nationalities, and their contribution to the development of the area in which they live.
17. The composition of the apparatus of party, state and mass organizations should be revised to insure that coinhabiting nationalities are proportionally represented in the decisionmaking bodies.
18. The policy of scattering cadres of nationality origin to diverse areas of the country should be terminated. Those cadres should be placed primarily in regions inhabited by nationalities, where they can speak their native tongue with those people from which they themselves derive.
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|