|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
The list would be a long one if we listed all the crimes, costing human lives, committed against us. We ask you, Is there any sense in recalling all these barbarian acts? In our opinion there is not because this will arouse hatred on both sides and what this much tried land needs is peace and brotherly love among those living here, even at the price of having to forget.
Unfortunately no one is permitted to forget. Everyday you can read articles in the daily and weekly papers and journals which incite hysterical hatred against the Hungarians. We will not quote them because you read them just as we do. But we would like to call attention to one of them simply because it is not likely that it has come into your hands. We are talking about the 5 May 1978 issue of ELORE. The title is "The Long Night of Saint Bertalan" and the author is Ion Spalatelu. This article is elegant proof of the immoderate prejudice and unbridled hatred with which Spalatelu ultimately equates fascism with the Hungarian people. "As is well known," we read, "the Horthy regime which came to power in 1920 was practically the founder of fascism in Europe and it represented the most dangerous version of fascism." Obviously this must mean that Horthyism was more dangerous even than Nazism. This is the record about the collective guilt of the Hungarians which was played after the liberation by those who would have liked to eliminate us from the map of Europe, just like the Rumanian nationalists today hiding behind the bastions of socialism, with whom we do not at all identify the Romanian people. The author of the article mentions how many Rumanians the Hungarian authorities expelled beyond the new state borders, how many they deported. The trespasses and illegalities are not excused by the fact that the same thing was being done to Hungarians in South Transylvania but it is a fact that this happened.
But we must stop for a moment at this charge, the deportation of the Rumanians. We are not happy to do it but we must state that there were deportations from the territories rejoined to Hungary in 1940, especially from the Partium. There was an historical reason for this. The resettlement affected those Rumanian villages (we quote ELORE - Felegyhaza, Szalard, Horia, Dioszeg, Scariseara, Szalonta, Licaceni, Gencs, Ianculesti, Terem, Lazar, Pelesul Mare, Vadaspuszta, Baba and Novac) which had been settled there in the early 1920's from Oltenia for the purpose of changing the ethnic composition of the Rumanian-Hungarian border areas, in violation of the Trianon Peace Treaty. As is wel1 known, the peace treaty strictly forbade any change in the composition of the population but the Rumanian government ignored this. The regime at that time had no right to establish Rumanian settlements. You must understand this. You know just as well as we that no government has right to break up ethnic units. This prohibition is contained in the UN Charter also. We must call attention here to the fact that the provisions of the 1940 Vienna decision clearly provided for the resettlement of the population of the villages, citing the violation of the pertinent provisions of the Trianon Peace Treaty on the part of the Rumanian government.
We do not believe in moving people around for any reason but at the same time we consider it desirable to weigh things calmly, clearly disclosing the reasons and keeping things in sequence. Emphasizing our perfect respect for the Rumanian people we consider it desirable to note that we attribute the illegalities committed against Hungarians to the governments in power at the time and not to the Rumanian people, it is the governments that are responsible. We do this despite the fact that the author of the article in ELORE claims that the Rumanian governments, unlike those elsewhere, were very democratic. "We should mention here," we can read in the article cited, "that Rumania was one of the few countries from which the Hitlerists could not kidnap the Jewish population and intern them in crematorium camps. The Horthyists sent almost 150,000 Jews from the northern part of Transylvania to Ausch- witz, Dachau and other Hitlerist execution camps in Germany and more than 100,000 of them were murdered."
We do not know how many North Transylvania Jews were killed in the annihilation camps but we do know that about half a million Jews died in the camps from among the people dragged away from Hungary. So it can be imagined that 100,000 of them could have been from North Transylvania. Those responsible for this genocide received worthy punishment, at least generally. After the liberation the people's courts in Hungary sentenced several hundred to death for war crimes and several thousand received serious prison sentences. One can only approve of this and we ourselves approve of bringing people to account. But we ask you; Should the history of World War II be interpreted as if one people was spotlessly democratic and another fascist? Is this not a categorization reminiscent of racial theory? We must say again that some contemporary Rumanian historians are falsifying history most crudely only and exclusively to create a feeling of superiority in the Rumanian masses.
We must say this because the events do not make possible any alternative. We can only ask you, Would it not be more proper for the historians to admit that there was fascism in Rumania just as there was in other states? Must we regard the Iron Guard as a democratic mass party? ! Would it not be more proper to say: It is true that the Germans did not deport anyone in Rumania but according to domestic and international statistics and various studies no fewer than 465,000 Jews were killed in the streets, squares and parks in the first days of the war and even earlier?! Would it not be more proper to mention the unhuman things done in the Iasi, Ploiesti and Galati of Bucharest and in the occupied areas beyond the Dnestr? Even the work of Marin Preda titled DELIRIU does not seek to escape responsibility and he, who rehabilitated Antonescu, writes that there were mountains of dead in Bucharest. And would it not be more honest to frankly admit that the Rumanian Jews who remained alive in 1942 were gathered together in various villages and forced residences and that the Jews in Hungary were deported only in June 1944, after the occupation of the country, only after Hungary ceased to be a sovereign state.
Would this not be the honorable thing to do?
We only ask you in the name of reason, and without seeking to be excused for the crimes of either the Hungarian or Rumanian fascists. Can one really say in good conscience that the Hungarian people were fascist and the Rumanian democratic?
If we are to talk about naivete should we not mention that campaign of slander which has as its purpose the running down of all Hungarians before the public opinion of the world. We are not talking about human fate but about the future of an ethnic group, not its livelihood but its existence, so it is an obligation, our obligation, to protest. If we remained silent, as we have in the past, we would be committing a crime against our entire people. Those who come after us would not excuse our silence. We sincerely hope that you understand that we do not want to defend anything else but only to contribute to the defense of the honor and respect of our people: we do not want anything else but to open your eyes so that you will understand our situation and accept it with regard to the circumstances. No one outside can defend us and accept it with regard to the circumstances. No one outside can defend us; we have been left to ourselves between two millstones where we will be slowly but surely ground away if you do not stand beside us. This is why we cry out to you, in hope. We must raise our voices against the distortion of the facts, the contrived lies, listening to our conscience, in the hope that we can at least make you think, those of you who read these lines. We ask you to think and to examine your conscience, in the name of fairness. We ask you to listen to us, listen to the other side, our side, before passing final judgment. Do not pass judgment in haste. Do not be prejudiced, weigh things calmly, and do not do what thousands and thousands will do after reading the article by Ion Spalatelu. He knows only how to make charges; he is incapable of weighing things. He says - and he says onesidedly - that "the Rumanian schools were abolished almost everywhere, the majority of the primary and secondary school teachers were driven out or arrested." Spalatelu judges onesidedly, with prejudice. He is looking only at the situation in South Transylvania. We also condemn this sort of thing, we condemn all discrimination, every action yesterday or today which violates anywhere in the world the most elementary human rights. But returning to conditions in Transylvania we would like to add two things to clarify the situation. One is that it was not possible to teach in Hungarian in a single state elementary school in South Transylvania (this is proven by school certificates and class journals alike), but what was more tragic was that the Hungarian children could not speak in their mother tongue even during recess, in class or in the sehool courtyard, just as the populace could not speak in Hungarian in official buildings.
Every Sunday those of school age were obliged to participate as a group in the Orthodox or Greek Catholic mass in the nearest Rumanian village.
What, in contrast to this, was the situation in Hungary?
Rumanian language instruction was obligatory in the lower four grades of state secondary schools throughout North Transylvania. The classes everywhere were divided up into beginner and advanced groups depending on how well the students knew the Rumanian language. We repeat, Rumanian language instruction was obligatory in the secondary schools in Hungary. This again can be proven by class journals and school reports. We also condemn Horthyism, but not primarily for its school policy although here also, naturally, there was much to be condemned. But if we compare the two anti-people regimes - the Rumanian and the Hungarian - then it can be established unambiguously that Rumanian fascism carried out Rumanization in every respect while the Horthy regime was palpably "more democratic," whatever the thinking for it.
Ion Spalatelu asks in the article cited: "Can we forget that painful and hard lesson of the past? Can fascism be forgiven by the court of the peoples anywhere in the world: whatever name fascism bore, can it be relieved of responsibility for murder?" We say with good conscience, and you may agree with us, that the only answer to this question is that no one can forgive fascism for these terrible crimes, whether the name it bore was Hungarian fascism or Rumanian. We condemn the crimes com mitted in the past against other peoples or ethnic groups but neither can we forgive those who today try, with methods similar to those of the past, to curtail or wipe out nationality rights. We would like to hope that you will weigh this letter calmly with the wisdom required by historical circumstances. We would like to hope that you will not only distinguish your selves in science DUt also give proof of your humanity, of the fact that you feel responsible here and now, not only for the fate of your own people but also, as citizens of Europe, the larger homeland, for the everyday and the tomorrow of those living with you. To the extent that you stand beside us you will be serving the cause of progress and you will be defending the generally valid human values against oppression. Socialism was and is our hope and he who stabs our hope in the back destroys the most beautiful dream of mankind. Is that what you want? We know that it is not, because we are convinced that at least with your passivity you will give a sign of your displeasure with the persecution of us and the destruction of our rights. But if you can, then voice your protest or at least your displeasure in talks or conversation with friends. If you do this you will be worthy of recognition by the peoples of Europe, of the recognition of all those who serve the cause of progress.
There is much greater need of a determined stand by you today than ever before. Your behavior is the pledge of peace between the two peoples. You cannot desire that we should be simply eradicated from the map of Europe. You cannot support a policy, a nationalities policy, which is profoundly opposed to the spirit of the Marxist-Leninist nationalities policy and even opposed to the letter and spirit of the constitution of the country. Those of the party of Maniu and Bratilanu decided in 1919 to "purge" Transylvania of the Hungarians. The regimes between the two world wars conducted this policy, a policy of forced, intolerant Rumanization, and increased it to a maximum in the years 1938-1940, and it became the practice again after a break of about a decade following the war. The only difference is that between the two world wars it was possible for us to protest; the Hungarian papers in Transylvania and outside of Transylvania kept the violations of the law on the agenda and until the parliament and senate were disbanded the Hungarian representatives there had their voices heard. The crimes committed against us figured at the League of Nations and in other international forums. We must also note that more than one Rumanian paper also stood beside us and condemned the forced Rumanization. What, in contrast to this. is the situation today? The papers are silent despite the fact that they profoundly condemn the present nationalities policy; indeed, they are forced to publish articles which simply do not reflect the view or position of the writers and journalists. There is no one to defend us. So we must suffer these humiliations, most recently that five and six year old children are taught to hate in the "political organizations" formed for the smallest children at the meetings of the Soimi Patrisi called Falcons of the Homeland. It appears that incitement cannot begin early enough just as, according to some, the extermination of the barbarous Hungarians cannot be completed early enough. Those responsible for nationality questions are very impatient that we still exist so they are discovering new ways to silence us, to cripple the Hungarian spirit, to prevent the teaching of our children in the mother tongue. What they have achieved can be seen clearly enough from the work of the mini-plenum of the Council of Hungarian Nationality Workers. The report of Istvan Peterffy, who was chairman of this organization until his death, is, despite his intentions, an elegant document of how far the regime has gone in breaking up the ethnic groups. We quote from Peterffy's report: "Representatives of Hungarian na- tionality in the municipal people's councils represent 86.49 per- cent in Hargita Megye, 47.06 percent in Szatmar Megye, and 40.49 percent in Bihar Megye. The ratio of representatives of Hugarian nationality in the urban people's councils is 73.16 percent in Hargita Megye, 56.67 percent in Kovaszna Megye and 27.40 percent in Kolozs [Cluj] Megye." These figures should generally reflect the ratio of the nationalities population in the respective administrative units.
One can easily establish from these figures where we stand at this moment. Bihar Megye has one municipal council, Nagyvarad [Oradea], where, according to Peterffy's data, the ratio of Hungarians has sunk to 40.49 percent, it has sunk to 47.06 percent in Szatmar. Both cities were purely Hungarian cities; Rumanian policy between the two world wars was hardly able to change this. There were not too many Rumanians in these two cities at the time of the liberation; they were in habited by Hungarians and Jews who called themselves Hungarians. It took only 30 years, under the protection of socialism and regarding the nationalities question as a strictly internal political question, to change the ethnic composition fundamentally. In the past 20 years large numbers of Rumanians have moved from Moldavia and Oltenia and even Doruja to parts of Transylvania, primarily to the border areas where they received free housing while nowhere could Hungarians get more than ten percent of the new housing being built. This is how the ethnic groups could be broken up, the ratio of Hungarians constantly decreasing, while the Rumanians became more numerous in the Partium just as in the Szekely lands. At the same time, with the system of out-placement for university graduates, most of the Hungarian intellectuals were scattered in areas from which the Rumanian laborers were flooding into Transylvania. It was hardly mentioned that ultimately this deprived the Hungarian masses of their leading strata. The Transylvanian Hungarians have all the more need of the presence of an intelligentsia, so the present nationalities policy deliberately planned to disperse them.
We ask you, what is this if not a deliberate nationalist policy, if not a breaking up of the ethnic cohesion of the Hungarian nationality?
In Kolozs Megye, as Peterffy's data indicate, the nationalities question is already "solved" and one can hardly hear Hungarian spoken in the city. And we ask you, how was it possible to reduce the Hungarians to 73.16 percent in the Hungarian cities of pure Hargita Megye and to reduce the number of Hungarians so drastically to 66.67 percent in Kovaszna? The answer is very simple. Day after day Rumanians move into the newly built housing and so the ethnic composition changes with the handing over of every building.
As the Rumanization of Transylvania took place in this way the brain washing continued, the forced leaching of nationalities awareness. There is no [line apparently left out of text] Peterffy established the same thing at the plenum of that organization which no Transylvanian Hungarian can regard as his own since its members, appointed and not elected, do not defend the interests of the Hungarians but, on the contrary, represent in the most servile way the nationalistic Rumanian nationalities policy which is devoid of all democratism.
Peterffy himself said in his report, naturally "with satisfaction," that 52,580 children of kindergarten age go to Hungarian kindergartens. We have no way of checking the exact figure but we ask you, to read through the conference organized by DOLGOZO NO some years ago in order to learn therefrom the truth. They wrote in the journal, and if you study the entire material of the conference you will obviously learn more about this question, that in many places the kindergarten teachers cannot speak in Hungarian and the children - we are talking about Hungarian children - cannot learn a single Hungarian song. This is especially true of the strip along the Rumanian Hungarian border but it is also true of the internal megyes. We also know of cases where the kindergarten teachers were disciplined for speaking Hungarian in kindergarten where more than half of the children were Hungarian. We also know very well, and you can check it, that the law prescribes that when children are enrolled in kindergarten the parents must fill out a questionnaire in which they must say if they want their children to participate in Hungarian instruction. But the questionnaires are always in short supply, the parents do not get them, and the result is that it is reported upward that the parents did not ask for Hungarian language instruction in kindergarten. The method is very well known and its effectiveness is shown by the fact that year after year fewer and fewer children study in Hungarian in the kindergartens. No one can take Peterffy's data seriously; they show the number of kindergarten students who have Hungarian as a mother tongue and not the number of those studying in Hungarian.
But let us go further for you do not study the data with the same anguish as we do. Peterffy said at the plenum that 29,028 students study in the day classes of the Hungarian liceums in Rumania which means, taking all the Hungarians in Rumania e as a base, that one out of 70 Hungarian citizens has the opportunity to go to secondary school. Of these 20,526 go to industrial liceums where - as you know very well yourselves - only a few subjects, and not all of them, are taught in the mother tongue of the students. The most outstanding of the above, 10,000 children, have no way [possible transcription error] to attend the theoretical Hungarian liceums, the type of school which prepares one for university studies; 10,000 out of two million. Think about this ratio. Where are the others? Who can say? Some of them, the greater part of them, fall by the wayside in the uneven competition or they are forced to attend Rumanian liceums. The number of these is 26,614.
The policy of withering away the Hungarian schools has achieved its goal already. At this moment there are hardly any Hungarian liceum classes in such historical school centers as Kolozsvar, one of the cradles of Hungarian science, or Nagyvarad, Szatmar or Zilah. In these cities, and in how many in the country, Hungarian students finish the second year of second class liceums in a total of three or four classes: 100-120 graduate - these figures are shocking. We hope you find them so as well. Take the effort to compare the present situation of the Hungarian liceums with that of, let us say, 30 years ago at the time when the schools were nationalized. Take out the statistical data, look into the yearbooks, and you will be able to convince yourselves that in just the four cities mentioned more than 15,000 students studied in their native language. Today not one tenth this number can study in Hungarian liceums or in liceums with Hungarian classes. Today it is a special favor to be able to send one's children to a Hungarian school and we know that the parents suffer disadvantages in various ways if they send their children to Hungarian schools. It is also well known that every summer agitation is conducted house to house to get Hungarian parents to enroll their children in Rumanian schools. Where are those times now when, after the nationalization of the schools, special Hungarian school authorities took care of the fate of Hungarian institutions of learning. First they abolished the school authorities, then Bolyai Science University, then they began to combine, reorganize and "profile" the schools and to curtail in various ways the establishing of nationality classes. For example by setting a lower limit. This is a vicious circle. An attack is being waged against our existence as a nationality from behind the protective bastions of socialism without our being able to protect ourselves effectively because if we open our mouths we are immediately charged with being irredentists or chauvinists, indeed we are the nationalists even though we are doing nothing but defending ourselves, against measures which threaten our lives, our future and our existence. Thus we are ground between the conspiracy hatched to destroy us and the impotence of international public opinion. This is why we consider it urgent to turn to you, to tell you of our anxieties, to call your attention to your historic responsibility, the responsibility which goes with intellectual rank. Take cognizance of the facts and stand beside us. We know that your opportunities are limited also but we ask you to give proof of your humanity and responsibility. Do not let yourselves be stampeded into a feverish dream of nationalism with socialist slogans. Be rational; and thus you will be the most use to us and to others too.
All our hope is in you, our Rumanian friends. Faith is our only remaining weapon and if we are deceived in this too then, to the shame of Europe and mankind, we will disappear from the arc of the Carpathians and it will be no comfort or excuse for anyone that we were destroyed not by weapons but "only" by politics .
With hope we write this letter to you, to the best of the Rumanian intellectuals, to scientists and writers who are well known internationally as well to personalities whom we Hungarians in Rumania completely respect, not least of all because you were never inclined to take a stand against us, did not support the anti-Hungarian persecution. And lest you have any doubts, because the letter is to you, we sent the original (without our signatures) to the Political Executive Committee ot the Rumanian Communist Party. They received their copy first and only then did you receive yours.
We thought it proper to give the supreme leadership an opportunity to study the letter first. Having done this we feel that we have satisfied our obligation as citizens. We hope that at least Ilie Verdet will take the effort to read it and perhaps have the courage to report on its contents at a session of the body. This is a vain hope, we know that well enough, but nevertheless let us hope. Either the authorities will pass over this letter in silence, as has happened more than once already, or if they react in some way they will brand the signers as fascists, irredentists and nationalists. We became accustomed to this long ago, we are forced to suffer humiliation since we live in minori- ty status. Despite this we always showed our patience and even in our most bitter moments no defamatory word passed our mouths. We always spoke of the Rumanian people with respect and we always felt them to be our companions in fate by reason of our common past and our common suffering.
This respect entitles us to turn to you now when anti-Hungarian hatred is reaching such an incredible pitch. We ask your understanding and support so that we can put a stop to our humiliation, the ruination of our nationality, the destruction of the Hungarians in Rumania. We call to you in hope with the strong faith that you will understand our agony and fear and stand beside us as friend beside friend and do everything which circumstances permit, which you can do without endangering your personal freedom. We know that could do much.
Our Rumanian friends! We have placed a copy of this letter, with 62 signatures, with a precise indication of our addresses and occupations, on deposit with a Swiss notary public with the understanding that the information could be communicated to no one. At the same time, we asked him to certify, at the request of the government, that 62 persons of Rumanian domicile, including internationally recognized personalities, really did sign the letter written to you.
We attached to the copy sent to the Central Committee a letter in which we gave the address of the Swiss attorney-notary public who is authorized to certify the authenticity of the letter. We sent one copy of the letter to our Swiss proxy, in the Rumanian language and with our signatures, together with a French translation. We authorized our Swiss proxy to provide a photocopy or microfilm of our letter at the request of the government or empassy so the authorities could compare the original and the copy.
You will perhaps find it natural that we forbade the microfilming or other publication of our names and addresses, to protect our personal freedom.
Our Esteemed Friends!
We meditated for a long time as to whether it was proper for us to turn to you. We finally decided that in the present situation we could not do anything wiser than this. We believe that you will not refute by your behavior the unlimited trust we are showing. This faith remains our weak weapon and hope. We hope that a time is coming when you will be able to proudly say that you stood beside us in our misery and then we will be able to look into each other's eyes without feeling guilty because we will know and confess that we fought for each other, and not against each other, on this land in the most difficult times.
If you have read this letter hand it on and do not forget: We have faith in you, we have faith in the best sons of the Rumanian people, in the most outstanding of the Rumanian intellectuals .
25 May 1978
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|