[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] THE NATIONALITIES PROBLEM IN TRANSYLVANIA 1867-1940

Part II

The Hungarian Minority Under
Romanian Rule, 1918-1940

Chapter I

The Economic Situation and Livelihood of
Hungarians in Greater Romania

The economic situation of the Hungarian and Romanian populations changed drastically in the formerly Hungarian areas that came under Romanian rule as a result of the occupation of 1919 and of the Peace Treaty of Trianon in 1920. As we have seen, after the Compromise of 1867, the standard of living and status of all strata of the Romanian population improved steadily under the Hungarian regime. This fortunate progress of the Romanian population derived primarily from the economic liberalism of the Hungarian regime. Those in charge of Hungarian economic policies did not intervene in economic activities, thus all enterprises could develop free of government restrictions. Although after 1910 economic liberalism was replaced by state intervention in some areas, apart from the years of the World War, Romanian economic life could develop in a spirit of free competition during the entire period.

In contrast, the economic life of the Hungarian population which came under Romanian rule, was determined from the start by the tendency of the Romanian government to intervene. Indeed, the economic policies of the Romanian state departed from the path of economic liberalism and the enterprises in the country were increasingly subjected to state intervention. The measures adopted b y the state soon cut through the principles of free competition, and economic life came under government direction.

The direction of Romania's economic life was in the hands of the National Liberal Party even before the formation of Greater Romania. This party had vested interests in maintaining its economic advantages. The Romanian National Bank, innumerable enterprises, and various industrial plants, all served the financial interests of the Party. After the formation of Greater Romania it was this party that laid the



foundations of the state's economic policies, and its first term in office determined economic trends in Greater Romania.

The Liberal Party's most prestigious economic expert was the famous member of the Bratianu family, Vintila Bratianu. He laid the foundations of Greater Romania's economic policies. 1 According to his closest collaborators, he was an advocate of state intervention from the very beginning. He "demanded" that the state control all enterprises, and that these conform to the general goals of the state. Vintila Bratianu formulated the Liberal Party's famous economic slogan "Prin noi insine" (On Our Own), which meant that Romanian economic policies were to be adapted to national principles. In his opinion, "to realize this program, Romanian work and initiative had to be extended to all her territories in every shape and form... and all economic opportunities had to be reserved for Romanians." 2 As the Finance Minister of Greater Romania, from 1922 to 1926, he implemented the above principles consciously and consistently. In his view the Romanian state was the expression of an "integral nationalism, the role of which was to defend and guide the economic, financial, cultural, and social activities of the Romanian people." Thus he strove, by his economic policies, to his people "thanks to certain advantages granted to the Romanian elements in the exploitation of the country's resources." 3

Vintila Bratianu's policies determined the economic opportunities of the Hungarian population that had passed under Romanian rule. Consequently, the first attempt at land reform, devised by the Governing Council of Transylvania, was not carried out, because those who guided economic policies from Bucharest did not find it sufficiently radical. The above outlined viewpoint determined the execution of the Romanian land reform, the measures to enable the Romanians to acquire land and turn the Hungarian population into paupers, the policies on credit, the system of taxation and forfeiture, and in general all those measures that led to the prosperity of the Romanians and the impoverishment of the Hungarians in former Hungarian areas.

The leaders of the Romanians of Transylvania objected from time to time against Bratianu's economic policies. Responding to one of these objections, Bratianu made prophetic statements: "We undertake a policy," he said among other things, "which you and all those who will come to lead the state after us will be compelled to continue, provided you have Romanian souls: the policy of placing economic and financial matters on a national footing." 4

This declaration of Bratianu was in fact realized through the economic policies of subsequent regimes. As we shall see, each regime


strove to render the Romanian element financially stronger at the expense of the non-Romanian populations.

Bratianu's economic ideas were carried out by measures in conformity with these principles. This explains why the economic life of certain regions and ethnic groups differed throughout the period of Greater Romania. In certain regions there was great misery at a given moment, whereas there were considerable opportunities at the same time in other regions. In the Szekely and Hungarian regions the extent of taxation and the strictness with which the taxes were collected usually differed from what obtained in the Romanian regions at the same time. In the matter of the extraction of minerals, in credit policies, in measures complementing the land reform, and in various ecclesiastic and cultural matters Bratianu's concepts prevailed to the end. After his death, one of his admirers noted, true to fact, "that his concepts and his example, his teachings and his actions, constitute the firm foundations of the organization of the Romanian state and of the Romanian people, as long as Romania stands." 5

The financial situation of the close to two million Hungarians who came under Romanian rule was altered first of all by the Romanian land reform. In the first part of my work I described the process which resulted in the economic prosperity and continuous financial strengthening of the Romanians under Hungarian rule. We have noted the opportunities available to the Romanians as a result of the liberal Hungarian economic policies. In a matter of a few decades, by dint of hard work, with the help of their nationally-based banks, and with the help of unlimited credits provided by the Austro-Hungarian Bank and the Hungarian banks of Budapest, the Romanians were able to purchase several hundred thousand cadastral holds. Thus, under Hungarian rule, power began to slip out of the hands of the Hungarian landowners as a result of free competition, even before the World War. This process led to the rise of a class of mid-size Romanian landowners, while the smallholders had almost unlimited opportunities to acquire land as well.

The transfer of Hungarian estates into Romanian hands began in the first months of Romanian rule. The basic principles of the land reform were formulated at the Romanian national assembly of Alba Iulia [Gyulafehervar] in 1918. According to this assembly's resolution:

all estates, particularly the large ones, were to be listed in a

census.... On the basis of this census... the peasant should be able to acquire an estate (meadows, fields, and forests) large enough for him to work along with members of his family. The guiding principle of this land reform was, on the one hand, the


redistribution of wealth and, on the other hand, the enhancement

of production. 6

The resolutions of Alba Iulia, defined the objectives of the land reform as the formation of peasant holdings and social equality. In order to understand what follows we must look at the data pertaining to land distribution in Greater Romania.

In the Kingdom of Romania prior to 1918, before the land reform, the small estates comprised 46.7%, the mid-size estates 10.9%, and the large estates 42.5% of agricultural land. Thus the middle and large estates combined amounted to 53.3% of the lands. 7 According to 1905 data, 1953 large landowners owned 3,002,100 hectares of land, whereas 2,608 mid-size owners owned 786,000 hectares. In other words, the large and mid-size estates totaled 3,788,100 hectares, divided into 4,171 estates, whereas 1,015,302 smallholders owned altogether 3,320,000 hectares. 8 The area controlled by large and middle landowners greatly exceeded the area under the control of smallholders.

In contrast, in Transylvania under Hungarian rule, in 1910, the area of land controlled by small estates exceeded the area of the large and mid-size estates. According to the breakdown, the small and mini holdings totaled 5,509,778 cadastral holds, whereas the large and mid size estates amounted to 4,438,082 holds, corresponding to 44.6% of the total. 9 The Romanian expert Alexandru Nasta recorded the division of land in Transylvania as even more favorable to the smallholdings, since according to him the proportion of estates exceeding 100 hectares was 37% in Transylvania, as opposed to 47.7% in Romania. In other words, the ratio of mid-size and large estates to smallholdings was greater in Romania than in Transylvania.

Consequently, in the old Romanian kingdom misery and land hunger were far more widespread than in Transylvania under Hungarian rule. According to Constantin Garofild, former Minister of Agriculture, Romania had seven million agricultural proletarians, 10 whereas in Transylvania there were only 473,974 landless peasants. 11

If we look at land ownership in Transylvania we get the following picture: in 1916 the area of the mini and smallholdings totaled 4,037,496 cadastral holds. 24.8% or 1,001,300 cadastral holds were in Hungarian hands, whereas 66.2% or 2,672,822 cadastral holds were owned by persons of Romanian background. Furthermore, 81.2% of the 578,469 cadastral holds of mid-size estates were Hungarian-owned, while 93.7% of the 884,764 cadastral holds of large estates were in Hungarian hands.12 Thus mid-size and large estates were seldom in Romanian hands, while the Romanians were more favored as regards381

the ownership of the socially so important small estates. In 1910, in the Hungarian areas other than Transylvania that were later attached to Romania, 76.5% of the holdings under 5 holds, 73.9% of the holdings between 5 and 10 holds, 63% of the estates between 10 and 50 holds, and 44.196 of the estates between 50 and 100 holds were in Romanian hands. In the same categories the Hungarians were incomparably worse off that is, relatively speaking, the Hungarian masses did not own as much land as the Romanian masses. In other words, the Hungarian population was relatively more at the mercy of the large estates than the Romanian was.

This becomes clear from a closer examination of the data. In the category of those with a precarious living the percentage of Hungarians far exceeded the percentage of Romanians. For every 100 Hungarians with decent income there were 11.3 individuals living under the poverty level, whereas there were only 5 such individuals among every 100 Romanians. Thus there were far fewer proletarians than average among the Romanians in Transylvania. 13 According to the 1910 census, 53.896 of household servants in Transylvania were of Hungarian background but only 40% were of Romanian background. This makes it obvious that economically and socially the Romanians were better off than the Hungarians. The significance of this factor becomes even more obvious if we look at the various categories of estates from the point of view of agriculturally productive land. Since the major portions of the middle size and large estates consisted of forests and other areas that were agriculturally not productive, whereas all the area of the smallholdings was productive, it is clear that economically speaking the Romanians who owned most of the smallholdings were better off than the Hungarians. From 56.3% to 57.7q6, or about 2.7 million cadastral holds of the agriculturally productive land in Transylvania and of the pastures, were in Romanian hands, whereas the Hungarians owned only 34.1% to 35.950 of the productive lands. In other words, the Romanians had a 0.9 to 2.3% advantage in relation to the ratio of the ethnic groups, whereas the Hungarians were at a disadvantage by 0.5 to 2.3%. 14

As we have seen in the first part of this work, this situation derived from the unhampered economic evolution of the Romanian population. Relying on the banks and cooperatives of the Romanians, as well as on help from the Austro-Hungarian Bank and other banks, this largest and most valuable stratum of Romanian society was able to acquire the land it yearned for, while Hungarian peasants had no institutions operating on an ethnic basis to assist them. Since the state did not intervene in economic matters, the Hungarian peasants became poorer and were forced to emigrate in larger numbers than the Romanians. 382

It is obvious from the above that a fair land reform, applied without discrimination, would have benefited the Hungarian peasants in Transylvania. The number of Hungarian paupers was relatively larger than that of Romanians because the Romanian population lived under much more fortunate circumstances during the period of Hungarian rule.

Yet the Romanian law regarding land included clear-cut measures favoring the Romanians of Transylvania, to the economic disadvantage of the Hungarians. The true purpose of these measures is revealed by comparing the land reform law in Transylvania with the one carried out in the old Kingdom of Romania, as well as from the application of the law. In any case, this objective was formulated by some Romanians already during the senatorial debates of 1921. Senator Elena Hossu- Longhin asserted that "if we want these areas to acquire a truly Romanian character, if we want to convert them into thoroughly Romanian districts, then we must give the Romanians possession of the land." His fellow-senator, N. Bataria, added that "by the Transylvanian land reform not only are we rectifying a social injustice but we are establishing the foundations for the rise of the oppressed Romanian element. The land reform in Transylvania has to be viewed primarily in its national context.'' 15

The preparatory work for the land reform, its provisions and application did conform to these objectives. The various strata of the Hungarian population that came under Romanian rule suffered enormous financial losses as a consequence of them. Their great material losses and impoverishment were in contrast to the prosperity of the Romanian strata.

The Situation of the Hungarian Peasants

As we have seen, under Hungarian rule the Hungarian peasant lived under relatively less fortunate circumstances in areas with a mixed population. This becomes clear from the statistics compiled in 1910. According to these, 46.6% of the owners of plots of less than 5 holds were Romanian, 29.2% were Hungarian. In contrast 70.8% of the Hungarians were landless peasants, but only 53.4% of the Romanians. There were almost three times as many landless peasants as smallholders among the Hungarians, while the Romanian landless stratum exceeded the smallholders only by a few percentage points. It is clear, therefore that a far larger proportion of the Hungarians were impoverished than of the Romanians.16383

The Romanian leaders were presented with an excellent opportunity to gain the support and loyalty of the landless Hungarians upon the introduction of Romanian rule. Had the Romanian government demonstrated its good intentions by giving the landless access to land, then it most assuredly could have secured the support of these masses and their loyalty to the Romanian state forever: However, the preparatory measures for the land reform, the forced rentals, and eventually the way the reform itself was carried out all indicated that the Romanian leaders were guided by the old adage: "whoever owns the land owns the country and has the power." Consequently, the land reform served only to strengthen the influence of the Romanians and to deprive the Hungarians of their land.

The land reform in Transylvania differed from the land reform carried out in the old Kingdom of Romania both in its basic principles and in its application. In the old kingdom the upper limit of the amount of land to be expropriated was set at 2 million hectares. In contrast, no limit was set upon expropriation in Transylvania. Here confiscations were carried out until the various strata of Hungarian society had been deprived of their lands to a sufficient degree, from the Romanian point of view. The one-sided data published after the reform is inadequate to determine the true intentions of the land reform. For a long time the Romanian authorities refrained from publishing certain data altogether. For instance, to this day they have not published data regarding the ethnic background of those who acquired land as a result of the expropriations. This silence was suspicious already then. As a contemporary Romanian newspaper noted:

In Romania... they do not know what the results of the land reform really are. This is mainly the fault of the authorities, since they do not feel it is their obligation to inform the public in the country. Only with the greatest effort can we gain access to information regarding land reform in Romania. 17

The Enciclopedia Romaniei published at great expense in 1938 contains certain data not found elsewhere; but the ethnic background of those given land is still not indicated. As regards the northern part of Transylvania, data were compiled by the Hungarian authorities after the Second Vienna Arbitration Treaty of 1940, on the basis of an official census enabling us to obtain a thorough survey of hitherto unknown aspects of the land reform in Transylvania. On the basis of these data we may state that the Romanian land reform was intended to validate Romanian national interests, while social considerations were given 384

second or third priority at best. Of the aforementioned landless Hungarian peasants only 46,069 were given land, according to the Romanian data, whereas 242,540 of the Romanian landless acquired land. 14.8% of those who gained land were Hungarians, 78.1% of them were Romanian. 18

Thus the land hunger of the Hungarian peasantry was given only token satisfaction. It became clear from the details of the expropriation process that the Hungarian smallholders and masses who expected to benefit from the dissolution of Hungarian-held estates actually suffered serious material losses.

The law bankrupted first of all those Hungarian families who had been resettled on Hungarian state-owned estates after 1885. Even the small-holders among these settlers were expropriated; once the division had been completed their acreage, averaging 20 cadastral holds, was reduced to only 5 holds, here and there. The expropriated lands were then given to Romanian peasants brought in as settlers from other regions. As a consequence of this land policy 1,802 Hungarian peasants were forced to emigrate. The Hungarian peasants were further weakened by measures expropriating the public domain of the Szekely region and the estates of the Private Properties of Csik.

The Szekely population, the largest group of Hungarians which came under Romanian rule, had always lived under precarious material conditions. There were no large estates in the Szekely areas. The population acquired a certain income and livelihood from the so-called commons, consisting mainly of forests. These forests were exploited in common, and even the poorest strata received part of the income. Hence the Szekely commons served social ends par excellence, and benefited practically the whole Szekely community.

Among the commons, the Private Properties of Ciuc [Csik] played a special role. The origins of these Private Properties were identical with those of the borderland communities of the Romanian border guards. The enormous common estates of the Romanians of Nasaud [Naszod] and Caransebes [Karansebes], as we have seen, had been left by the Hungarian governments of the times in Romanian possession. The estates forming these two commons serving Romanian interests amounted to over half a million cadastral holds. The regularization of the commons of the Szekely descendants of the Csik border guard regiment took place at the same time.

Their common estates were confiscated by Emperor Francis-Joseph in 1851 to punish them for having sided with Lajos Kossuth. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, and at the suggestion of the Hungarian government, the ruler returned these commons, called the Csik385

The Economic Livelihood of Hungarians in Greater Romania

Properties, to the Szekely nation for keeps, with restricted rights of ownership.

The Romanian law regarding estates expropriated even these properties serving the common good. According to the prescriptions of section 13 of the law the community properties were to be confiscated, and according to other measures contained in the law the Csik Properties could be confiscated as well.

These measures led to the expropriation of a large portion of the pastures and forests of the Szekely communities without regard to need or size. Many communities where the residents owned less than a hold of private land now lost their possessions entirely. Such was the fate not only of the forests, but of community pastures as well. For instance, the community of Menasag [Menasag] with its 502 heads of families, would have been entitled to 5,020 holds of pastures according to the law, yet of its 161 holds of pastures it was allowed to retain only 35. The community of Birzava [Borzsova] would have been entitled to 2,020 holds for its 202 heads of families, but it was allowed to retain merely 83 of its 827 holds of pastures. Similarly in Toplita-Ciuc [Tapolca], where, instead of 4,000 holds of community pastures for its 400 heads of families, the community was allowed to retain merely 492 holds. The 250 heads of families at Sumuleu [Vardotfalva] kept only 371 holds, the 1,820 heads of families at Cioboteni [Csobotfalva] retained 269 holds, and the 213 heads of families of Lutoasa [Csomortan] retained 598 holds. 19 If we add up the losses suffered by the residents of Szekely villages we must conclude that, under the guise of Romanian land reform, over ten thousand Szekely peasants were deprived of their already meager livelihood.

The affair of the Csik Properties constitutes the saddest chapter of the economic deprivation of the Hungarian peasantry under Romanian rule. As mentioned, this common estate came about at the same time as the Romanian commons of Nasud and Caransebes. Their fate was also identical, except that the Szekely commons had been confiscated between 1851 and 1869. From that moment on the Hungarian administration dealt evenhandedly with the property rights of the descendants of the border guards at Csik, Naszod and Karansebes.

The Hungarian peasantry expected a similarly evenhanded treatment from the Romanian regime. The Transylvanian land reform law, dated September 10,1919, had indeed exempted the "estates of the commons of former border guards" from expropriation, regardless of nationality. But the new law, dated July 23, 1921, exempted only the commons of the Romanians of Nasaud, without mentioning other similar commons. According to Articles 24 and 32 of the law:


The pastures of the communities of the former second Romanian border guard regiment of Nasaud, regularized by Act 17 of 1890, will remain exempt from expropriation. These pastures are used by every resident of the former border guard communities, even by those who cannot trace their ancestry to a border guard family.... The forests of the former second Romanian border guard regiment of Nasaud, in accordance with Act 18 of 1890, will remain as community forests exempt from expropriation. Every farmer of the communities may make use of these forests, including those who cannot trace their ancestry to a border guard family.

Later on, at the time of its application, the exemption in the law was extended to the commonwealth of the Romanian border guard regiment at Caransebes.

The consequence of the discrimination between the commons of Romanian and Hungarian border guard families would soon become apparent. The agrarian committees in the first and second instances expropriated 27,000 cadastral holds of pastures and forests from the Properties for the benefit of Romanian communities, various churches, and Romanian individuals in the county of Ciuc. The management of the Properties appealed the expropriation measure. Since the injustice was blatant, management expected a just solution as a result of its appeal. The February 26,1923 decision of the agrarian committee came as a blast. Instead of redressing the injustice the agrarian committee declared all lands of the Properties Romanian state property. It justified its decision on the grounds that the Szekelys had received the property only as usufruct, and that they had lost even this right on account of their role in the revolution of 1848 and their "disloyal rebellion." In the opinion of the agrarian committee it had only been a matter of usufruct even after 1869, whereas ownership remained vested in the state. Since the Romanian state was the rightful heir to the Hungarian state, it considers itself the rightful owner of the commons. In any case, it was argued, this property used to belong to the Romanian principality of Moldavia before the so-called border rectification under Joseph II.

The decision was soon followed by execution. In April, 1923 the Romanian government dissolved the management of the Properties and took over its holdings.

The leaders of the peasants of Ciuc did not submit to the confiscation of the great peasant commonwealth and the wrong done to them. The management sent queries to both houses of parliament and to the


The Economic Livelihood of Hungarians in Greater Romania

ministries. In the name of the Hungarian Association Istvan Ugron led a delegation to call upon Minister of Agriculture Alexandru Constantinescu. Later Jozsef Sandor, a representative, requested the Minister to right the wrong, at the head of another delegation. The Minister promised immediate measures, but his promise remained unfulfilled, like the previous one. Since all interventions proved unsuccessful the management of the Properties decided to file a complaint with the League of Nations, as a last resort. The complaint was drafted and printed in 1923. Then, on instructions from the government, the police inspector of Miercurea Ciuc [Csikszereda] confiscated the printed copies of the memorandum as well as the manuscript, thus preventing, for the time being, the forwarding of the complaint to the League of Nations.

Soon there was a parliamentary intervention in the issue, and Constantinescu had to address the issue in parliament, on December 7, 1923. He referred to the actual considerations behind the move:

Having examined the appeals, I have reached the conclusion that in this case it is not a matter of expropriation, but rather that the state has to take everything back for its own purposes. The agrarian committee has performed a magnificently patriotic task, rectifying injustices and miseries suffered in the past. 20

Then the managers of the Properties took further steps. One of these steps was to contact the opposition Romanian Peoples Party which in an agreement with the Hungarian Party vowed to resolve the issue of the Properties. Unfortunately, when the Romanian Peoples Party did come to power, it forgot about its promise. Another attempt was made in 1928. At that time the government was in the hands of the Romanian National Peasant Party, under the prime-ministership of Iuliu Maniu. Since this regime constantly harped on its good intentions towards the peasants, and supported the creation of a separate peasant party among the Hungarians, the Szekely peasants of Ciuc and the managers of the Properties turned to Maniu for redress. While Maniu accepted the memorandum presented by the leader of the delegation, he made this meaningful statement: "I will examine your alleged rights." The promised examination never took place. Then the managers finally realized that they could not expect a favorable turn on the issue from within the country. Resorting to the only remaining alternative, on July 20, 1929, they transmitted their complaint, bearing the signatures of Arthur Balogh, the Senator from Odorheiu [Udvarhely], and of Gabor Pal, the Senator from Ciuc, to the League of Nations. The complaint


pointed out the irregularities and the unequal treatment, in the handling of the matter in disregard of the Treaty on Minorities. By law, the agrarian committee had jurisdiction only in matters of expropriation; yet the committee had intervened to resolve an issue of ownership that had not been challenged by anyone, and which belonged to the courts. By so doing the Romanian government had seriously contravened its commitment, under the Minorities Protection Treaty of December 19, 1919 in as much as it had dealt differently with the Romanian and with the Hungarian commons that had identical origins. 21

The signers of the complaint submitted additional materials to complement their arguments repeatedly. In these documents they revealed the antecedents of the affair, and their observations regarding the stand taken by the Romanian government. The government emphasized primarily its rights as heir to the Properties which, it argued, had belonged to the Hungarian government. It alleged that in 1869, at the proposal of the Hungarian government, Francis Joseph returned only the usufruct of these properties to the Szekelys of Ciuc. Therefore, the Romanian government committed no injustice with regard to the commonwealth of the Szekelys and did not show discrimination in favor of the commons of Nasaud and Caransebes, since the latter, in addition to making use of the estates, were also their owners. As regards the commonwealth of the Szekelys, it was not a matter of confiscation, but expropriation in accordance with the provisions of the agrarian laws.

In contrast, the appellants proved the veracity of their complaints, by pointing out that the Romanian government continued to pay the agreed upon rent for the buildings that had been the property of the commons until 1923, much as the Hungarian government had done before 1918. Thereby the Romanian government had recognized the private character of the commons, as did the Romanian administration of the county of Ciuc. What's more, when the former employees of the commons requested their pensions from the Romanian government after 1923, their request was denied with the explanation that they were not entitled to pensions since the Properties were an agency of the state. Neither the Hungarian state, nor the county of Ciuc had ever considered the Properties as property of the state. It is hard to believe that the Hungarian government would have granted the Hungarians far less rights with regard to these properties of the descendants of the border guard regiments than to the descendants of the Romanian border guard regiments that fought against it. 389

The Romanian government embarked on various delaying tactics. First, it questioned the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. Then it requested an extension of the trial date because, it claimed, it intended to settle with the signers of the complaint, and appointed a committee of six members for the purpose. The Council of the League complied with the request, delaying the discussion of the affair until the following session.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs in Bucharest did, indeed, call upon the signers of the complaint to negotiate on July 19, 1931. Except for two of the signers, these showed up. The Romanian committee opened the negotiations by declaring that the signers of the complaint were not entitled to represent the Properties of Ciuc because that commonwealth had never constituted the property of the Szekelys of Ciuc. The signers of the complaint rejected this objection and declared that they would not agree to any solution which would deprive the Szekelys of Ciuc of their Properties permanently. Since the Romanian committee was not empowered to make further proposals, the negotiations reached a deadlock. The signers of the complaint reported the unsuccessful attempt to the League of Nations. Eight weeks later, at the request of the League, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again called upon the signers to come and negotiate. The starting point for the proposal on this occasion was the same as on the previous occasion: all properties taken by the Romanian state belong to it by right of inheritance. The Romanian committee did hint at the prospect of certain concessions, should the complaint be withdrawn. They would return certain buildings, they would disburse assistance to the churches, and would recognize the right of the employees to a pension. The signers of the complaint did not accept these offers, hence the negotiations came to an end once again. When the promoters notified the League of Nations, the latter placed the affair of the Properties on its agenda for September 4,1931. But the Romanian government requested a delay once again, for the sake of further negotiations. 22 These negotiations were held in Bucharest on October 10, 1931, but without any positive outcome, since the Romanian government refused to return any part of the commons. The last attempt at a compromise took place in Brasov [Brasso], on November 4. On this occasion the signers once again requested a just resolution of the dispute over the Properties. They requested the return of the buildings, the return of the revenue derived from the already distributed lands and pastures, due compensation for the areas that could not be returned, and the restitution of the lands and forests held by the state as reserves, or an appropriate compensation for them. The state committee rejected all these requests


and refused to recognize any building, forest, or pasture as the property of the Szekelys of Ciuc. The state indicated its exclusive right of ownership with regard to these, and repeated the promises it had already made should the complaints be withdrawn.

The sponsors of the grievance, seeing the repeated failure of the negotiations and attempts at compromise, and the dilatory tactics of the Romanian government, requested the League of Nations to place the issue on its agenda. Thus the dispute was once again on the agenda for 1932. Then the Romanian government made a final attempt: it questioned the right of the League to bring a decision in the matter, claiming the Romanian courts had jurisdiction, and that the promoters of the grievance had made no effort to have their grievance examined by the courts. The League of Nations, however, rejected this interpretation of the Romanian government and, on the basis of a decision reached by a special legal committee, determined that it did have the right to settle the dispute and the aggrieved party was not obliged to seek redress in front of the Romanian courts.

The League decided the dispute on September 27, 1932. Its decision was essentially practical, avoiding the issue of property rights. The League's decision, nevertheless, recognized the justice of the complaint and the injustice of the procedure of the Romanian government, by declaring that the managers of the Properties be reinstated, and the municipal real estate be returned and handed over to the reinstated management. The Romanian government would also have to restitute 6,704 hectares of the pastures and forests still in its possession. It would recognize the right of the former employees to a pension in accordance with the rules applying to all civil servants.

The justification of the League's decision emphasized that this solution would preserve the legitimate interests of the minority while taking into account the supreme interests of the Romanian state. Thus the League did not deal with the essence of the infringement of rights, and its decision was intended to reassure the Romanian government. Naturally, the solution was painful to the promoters of the grievance and to Hungarian public opinion; but the Romanian government was more or less satisfied with the decision, even though this decision indirectly recognized the validity of the grievance. This decision repeatedly referred to "return" and "restitution" whereas - as Arthur Balogh, the foremost expert on the affair, noted - property can be restituted only if it does not belong to the one making the restitution. Thus, the rights of the Szekely peasants were theoretically conceded, but in practice they had to be satisfied with a decision aiming at the restitution of only parts of their confiscated property.


The Economic Livelihood of Hungarians in Greater Romania

Further difficulties cropped up when it came to carrying out the verdict. The Romanian government delayed the execution for a year and a half. Then, in June 1934, it presented a law proposal regarding the verdict of the League of Nations, giving Romanian authorities the right to dispose of the portion to be restituted to the Properties. The proposal did not list the Properties under dispute; moreover, it agreed to order restitution to the organizations in charge only in exchange for a statement by which the Szekelys would surrender all other property in dispute. In his intervention the Hungarian senator Elemer Gyarfas declared that the "condition would represent an inordinate constraint" and would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the decision of the League of Nations. Therefore, in the name of the Hungarian population, he protested most strongly against the law. 23

His protest, however, was in vain, because the law was adopted as proposed. Then the managers of the Properties once again forwarded a grievance to the League on October 25,1934. They pointed out in their petition that the law the government had proposed and passed in 1934 was in conflict with the verdict of the League. It provided the Romanian authorities with the right of intervention and control over goods that have been returned, moreover it did not comply with the provision of the verdict regarding pension for the former employees of the Properties since the pensions it offered constituted but half or one third of the pensions due. Moreover, only 75% of the pension was to be paid, retroactively.

The renewed complaints, however, led to no results. By that time the prestige of the League had been thoroughly shaken by international events, and it could not even offer the Szekely peasants of Ciuc what it had offered them a few years earlier. The final episodes of the affair took place in 1936. Valeriu Otetea, the Romanian prefect of the county of Ciuc, summoned the committee in charge of the Properties to a meeting on June 15, 1936, for the sake of handing over the real estate to the owners, as prescribed in the law: the expanded committee, under the chairmanship of the prefect, included the state councilor Avramescu, Petre Suciu, the director of forests, as well as members of the committee in charge of the Properties. By way of introduction Avramescu declared that the Properties would only be restituted if the owners agreed to a statement explaining that by accepting the almost 12,000 holds of estates and the buildings, all their claims will have been satisfied, and they will demand no further compensation from the Romanian government. The persons in charge of the Properties rejected this demand, declaring they were not entitled to make such a statement.


Because of this conflict of opinions, the Properties were not turned over and the negotiations were adjourned until July 1. 24

Since the Romanian government attached conditions to the restitution, the managers of the Properties stated their position in a memorandum. They insisted, among other things, that:

the board of directors, in the name of the commons it represents, is not authorized to issue the declaration of surrender demanded in Article II of the above law. This surrender was also prohibited by Article IV of the by- laws. Moreover, the board wants to avail itself of those legal recourses which entities, citizens or institutions, are entitled to under the constitution and by the laws of the country. 25

Thus the fate of the Properties did not alter after the attempt to carry out the verdict of the League of Nations; in final account, nothing was returned to the peasants of Ciuc. The true purpose of the measures adopted by the Romanian government was to remove the Szekely commons from the hands of the Szekely population and place it into Romanian hands. The government gave presents of increasing value to Romanians, individuals or institutions, out of the confiscated estates. Of the 54,616 cadastral holds of estates in the northern region of the county the government gave 27,744 holds to the Romanian residents of the communities of Bilbor [Belbor], Corbu [Hollo], Tulghes [Tolgyes], and Bicazu Ardelean [Bekas]. Later some Hungarian communities also received certain areas: the 3,106 Hungarian residents of Miercurea Ciuc received 30 holds, and the community of Seplac [Szeplak] received one hold. In contrast, the 1,419 residents of Bilbor had received 8,530 holds, and the 1,015 Romanian residents of Corbu received 6,632 holds. The ratio of estates granted to institutions was similar. Altogether 1,600 holds were distributed to the churches, of which 1,200 holds went to the Romanian Orthodox and Uniate churches, and 300 to the Hungarian churches. 26 The residents of Romanian communities also received lots, in addition to the forests and pastures, for building homes. Although the Transylvanian land-reform law expressly forbade awarding lands to absentee landlords, the community of Voslobeni [Vaslab], 100 kilometers from the estate, received a valuable piece of the forest. A number of Romanian communities in Transylvania as well as in the old Kingdom of Romania received a piece of the commonwealth of the Szekely peasants. Moreover, thousands of private individuals received terrains, or free wood in Ciuc county, without any payment. Some astute entrepreneurs plundered the forests ruthlessly, as a while


consequence of which the estates of the Properties suffered irreparable damage. Enormous forests were wiped out completely; in the place of the once so beautiful virgin forest there remained nothing but denuded, slippery terrain, and bare mountains. Thus the commonwealth of the Szekely peasants of Ciuc was almost totally lost to the Szekelys. The expert on the issue summarized the morale of the story in his French language monograph:

While lands amounting to 518,105 holds (or 297,910 hectares), which the rulers and lawgivers of Hungary had handed over to the border guards at Nasaud and Caransebes once upon a time from estates belonging to the Hungarian state was now completely at the disposal of the Romanian population, the Romanian government deprived the descendants of the Szekely border guards of their 62,800 holds estate (36,110 hectares), on the pretext that this estate had at one time been state property which was contrary to fact. C)f this illegally withheld property the Council of the League of Nations granted the government 51,217 holds (29,477 hectares) for permanent retention, ordering only that 11,651 (6,704 hectares) be restituted, representing 18.5% of the area and 1.5% of the value of the confiscated estate. As regards the 81.5% confiscated from the Szekelys, it was distributed mainly to the Romanian churches and communities, the government retaining the remainder. This Romanian property serves only national ends to this day. More recent Romanian laws prescribe that the use of certain property must remain the privilege of the descendants of the Romanian border guards. In contrast, only a minor portion of the estates of the Szekely border guards of Ciuc was retained by their descendants, and there is no sort of guarantee to ensure that even this portion will be used for the benefit of the Szekely minority. This is the fate of those properties which had been reserved, by the royal decision of February 16, 1869, to improve the lot of the Szekely nation. In obvious disregard of the Minorities Protection Treaty, close to 100,000 Szekelys were deprived of their property. If we consider merely the value of the lands, the losses amount to at least 99 million gold francs. 27

By the time the fate of the Properties of Ciuc was finally settled the true objectives and results of the Romanian land reform program were obvious to everyone in Transylvania. Indeed, as we know from the data gathered in Northern Transylvania, in every respect the land reform


was designed to promote the economic welfare of the Romanian element and to effect a decrease of the holdings of the Hungarian population. 28

The official Romanian statistics indicate clearly that 22.6% of all holdings confiscated was handed over to peasants entitled to land. Thus the primary goal of the land reform was not to ensure the complete satisfaction of the peasants in need of land. 56.7% of all the confiscated holdings was earmarked to create a new sort of commons of forest and pasture areas. According to data from Northern Transylvania, at most 33.2% of the confiscated holdings was earmarked for the Hungarian regions. As regards the entire area attached to Romania this ratio was obviously lower, and could not have exceeded 20.3%.

The Romanian land reform, promoted in the name of "social goals" resulted in 533,982 cadastral holds of completely unused land. As we have noted, only about 27% of the Hungarian peasants, that is those members of the Hungarian ethnic group who were entitled to land, actually received some. It is clear that the confiscated holdings would have been amply sufficient to cater to the needs of all Hungarians entitled to land. Of the 533,982 cadastral holds of unutilized area, 170,011 formed the so-called public reserve, out of which the Romanian government rewarded Romanian churches, schools, and other institutions. The remaining 363,972 cadastral holds were managed by the state that is, were reserved for Romanian purposes as well.

To what extent did the confiscation affect the small estates? The data collected in Northern Transylvania provide an interesting analysis. In the areas awarded to Hungary in 1940 where two-thirds of the Hungarian minority lived only 3,358 landowners were subjected to expropriation. 57.2% of these landowners, or 1,923 persons, were small and dwarf holders owning less than 50 cadastral holds, whereas 6.3% were smallholders owning between 50 and 100 cadastral holds. Moreover, 51.4% of landowners with less than 50 cadastral holds and 53.3% of landowners with between 50 and 100 cadastral holds were expropriated. Thus over one half of the dwarf and smallholders, mostly peasants, had been subject to expropriation. The affected smallholders were mainly Hungarian: 74.7% of those in the 1 to 50 hold range were Hungarian, as were 68.1% of those in the 50 to 100 hold range. 29 All this, in spite of the fact that, as noted from the data presented by Suciu regarding the areas of Hungary turned over to Romania, the Hungarians owned only 24.8% of the 4,037,496 cadastral holds of small and dwarf holdings, as opposed to 66.2% owned by Romanians. It is obvious, therefore, that the land reform had a much more negative impact on the smallholder peasants of Hungarian background than on the Romanian peasants, whereas among those who benefited from the


land reform the Romanians outnumbered the Hungarians by far. 78.1% of the Romanian population benefited, as opposed to 14.8% of the Hungarians, whereas the proportions of the general population in these areas was 58.7% Romanian and 31.2% Hungarian. A just land reform would have meant true social leveling, awarding land to those entitled to it among both nationalities in a manner that would have taken the ethnic ratios into consideration, as regards confiscation as well as redistribution. Thus the Hungarian population should have received not 14.8t6 but 31.2%, and the Romanian population only 58.7% instead of 78.15%. Hence Hungarian peasants under Romanian rule were treated unfairly both in regards to confiscation and in regards to redistribution.

Unfortunately, since the Romanian authors and the specialists on official assignment have not published exact data regarding the ethnic background of those losing or receiving land until now, we have no way of determining exactly how many Hungarian peasant lost how much land as a consequence of the biased application of the reform laws. Considering merely the data already presented, the confiscation of the land of the settlers, the nearly 100,000 Szekely peasants affected by the confiscation of the Properties of Ciuc, as well as the expropriation of smallholdings resulting from purchases facilitated by the Altruista Bank, we may estimate the number of Hungarian landless, draft holders, and smallholders who suffered serious material damage, or were by-passed by the land reform, at close to 150,000. In the case of purchases facilitated by the Altruista Bank, the land of Hungarian smallholders was taken away without any compensation. Thus, in the community of Jarma [Jarma] (in Mures-Turda [Maros-Torda] county) 132 holds were lost by the Hungarian smallholders; altogether 1,850 holds were taken away from 350 smallholders at Pata [Kolospata], Gheorgheni [Gyorgyfalva], and Bocin [Bocs]. In Aiton [Ajton] (in Cluj [Kolozs] county) 390 holds were taken from 39 smallholders in Sigheu Silvaniei [Szilagysziget], Chiesd [Szilagykovesd], Samsud [Szilagysamson, and Mocirla [Szilagymocsolya] 736 holds were taken away in the community of Boiu [Bun], Tirnava Mare [Nagy-Kukullo], and 85 holds from smallholders of Someseni [Szamosfalva] in Dezmir [Desmer]. 30 These confiscations affected many thousands of Hungarian smallholders.

The Hungarian peasantry did not profit from the land reform, but lost out. The acreage received by the 46,096 Hungarians mentioned in the Romanian statistics was far below the quantity of lands expropriated from Hungarian dwarf and smallholders, or from the community lands which had been so beneficial to the Hungarian masses up to that time. Thus the Hungarian peasants saw their fate deteriorate rather than improve as a result of the Romanian land 396

reform. This is demonstrated clearly by the measures the Romanian lawgivers took in the period following the land reform, for the sake of increasing its impact and achieving the Romanian economic objectives.

The curtailment of the holdings of the Hungarian peasantry and smallholders did not end with the land reform. According to the law on mineral rights, mineral waters were listed among the minerals, while the Romanian constitution specified that mineral wealth was the property of the state. Hence the exploitation of mineral waters in the Szekely region, almost exclusively in the hands of the minority group, was now reserved for the Romanian state. 31 The economic measure adopted a few years later prove that turning mineral wealth over to the state affected only the peasants of the minority group, for when it came to applying the constitution and the law on mineral rights to the Moc people, (Romanians living on the Western slopes of the Carpathians) a decree issued in 1927 allowed them to retain their rights to the gold mines. 32 Of course, there was no such decree to maintain the acidulous wells in Szekely hands.

By 1937 and 1939 further measures were adopted to confiscate properties in Hungarian hands. Towards the end of 1938 a military border region was established. The pertinent legislation enabled the state to expropriate any real estate in this region for military purposes. The communities and institutions were required to hand over all real estate that could be used for military purposes to the Romanian War Ministry, without compensation. Any real estate in the border region could only be brought into circulation by granting the state preemptive rights. Since the execution of the law affected mostly those areas where the majority of the population was Hungarian, it was obviously designed to make the real estate in Hungarian hands available for confiscation for Romanian purposes. 33

In 1939 a further law was passed regarding the preemptive rights of the state. According to this law the real estate purchased in border areas or in areas with a mixed population could only be used for settlement purposes and could only be sold to Romanians - i.e. those defined as racially Romanian in the constitution - in parcels of 5 to 10 hectares. 34

In 1937 a law was passed regarding the dissolution of the Saxon University and of the Community of the Seven Judges. Until then the property of these institutions served the general cultural welfare of the entire population of the Saxon region. 47.3% of the income from the property of the Saxon University and 56.3% of the income from the property of the Seven Judges went to the Romanian population, whereas 18.5% and 10.1% respectively were earmarked for the Hungarian


population. The law of 1939 stipulated that the income from both properties could be used only for the benefit of the Romanians and Saxons living in the area of Kiralyfold. Hence the Hungarian residents were deprived of their rights and of their part of the income, although the government could have opted to adopt the measures applied by the Hungarian government in 1879 when it declared the Romanian villages an integral part of the Kiralyfold and awarded a portion of the income of the Saxon University to the Romanians. The Romanian government disregarded the possibility of equal treatment or of renewing the measure previously adopted by the Hungarian government. 35

The same policies prevailed in the provisions of the law adopted in 1934. This law was designed to alleviate, by a series of measures, the predicament of the taxpayers who got into a difficult situation as a consequence of the world economic crisis. For instance, it granted a long period of grace for the payment of the taxes. But once again a deplorable distinction was introduced regarding the ethnic background of those in debt. The law excluded legal persons and community property from among the beneficiaries, hence these entities had to pay their debts in full on schedule. Yet the Romanian community property that belonged to the former second border guard regiment of Nasaud and the 13th border guard regiment of Caransebes were exempted from the law. Various measures of the law applied to ease the debts of these two legal persons, whereas the communities of Szekely region in Hungarian hands had to pay all their debts in the usual manner. Thus the Romanian lawmakers eased the situation of the communities serving Romanian interests, but not that of the commonwealths serving Hungarians. 36

In addition to the above, more than once the Romanian laws provided special treatment to the poor Romanian population of the Old Kingdom, Transylvania, and other provinces. For instance, they promoted the welfare of some Romanian residents by providing wood for heating and construction free of charge. In 1937 the Moc people of the Aranies [Aranyos] valley were helped by a 75% discount off the regular fare on railroads. The poor masses of Hungarian ethnic background including those living in misery in some parts of the Szekely region were never granted similar privileges. 37

Thus the Romanian land reform and the complementary legislation always considered the interests of individuals with a Romanian background but seldom had any regard for the masses of peasants of a different ethnic background. This was also substantiated when the reserve lands that remained in government custody as a result of the land reform were put to use, and by the measures adopted in cases of


individual expropriation when the injustices committed against Hungarian landowners were supposed to be righted by the Romanian courts.

As mentioned above, after the expropriation an enormous mass of land remained in government custody. The largest such reserves were located in the counties of Bihor [Bihar], Ciuc, Trei Scaune [Haromszek], and Satu Mare [Szatmar], and to a lesser extent in Odorheiu and Salaj [Szilagy]; 21.9% of the expropriated land in Ciuc county, 21% in Trei Scaune, and 24% in Satu Mare remained at government disposal. With regard to part of this area Constantinescu, the Romanian Minister of Agriculture, declared in the Romanian Senate on November 10, 1923, that:

we must keep the confiscated areas in Transylvania, from the Timis- Torontal through Arad, to Satu Mare, to enable us to resettle those Romanians who live abroad or on our Alps, because I feel that they alone representing the cradle of Romanian nationalism, are entitled to this land. 38

Later Romanian sources expressed themselves regarding this matter in a similar vein, or even more clearly. According to the hefty commemorative album issued by the Romanian Peasant Party in 1928:

Although little of the land expropriated in Transylvania was fit for agricultural purposes, nevertheless significant reserves remained after the requests for property had been satisfied. We decided to resettle farmers there from areas where there was not enough land available. 39

Later a Romanian, Victor Jinga, one of the best-known experts on the question of Romanian settlements and a former deputy secretary, was most outspoken regarding this objective of the Romanian land policies. According to him, the objective of the land reform measures in borderland areas was to change the numerical ratio between majority and minority populations.

The aliens who came here or were brought here, whatever language they speak, in whatever manner they worship God, have to be made to understand that this land is reserved for the complete and permanent rule of the Romanian people under the sun; and therefore, as a matter of obligation, in the interest of national self-preservation, we embarked on a determined and


sweeping undertaking, the first and foremost part of which was to clean the space of the Romanian nation from all alien elements. 40

In order to achieve this goal, according to the data by Jinga, altogether 111 Romanian settlements were established along the borders defined at Trianon. In these settlements the Romanians received a total of 69,223 cadastral holds of acreage, with an average of 13.9 holds per parcel. The number of resettled families was 4,973. It goes without saying that, in order to achieve the goal indicated above, not a single individual of Hungarian background received land in these areas.

There were instances during the execution of the land reform, whenever the Romanian authorities recognized the injustices committed at the expense of the Hungarian peasantry. Yet when it came time to pay the compensation awarded by the courts, the Romanian authorities balked. The case of the Romanian residents of the community of Harau [Haro] was especially infamous.

The pastures of the community, belonging to the Csangok of Deva [Deva] and amounting to some 126 cadastral holds, had been exempted from confiscation by the land reform committee of the district. The committee at the county level, however, decided in the opposite sense; confiscating the pastures, it divided them among the Romanians of Harau, the Orthodox churches of Deva and Harau, and other institutions. The Hungarian peasants appealed. On March 29, 1926, their appeal was sustained by the agrarian committee and the confiscation was annulled. Decree 3,754 of April 15, 1926, added that the present decision of the county agrarian committee "be carried out promptly and the execution reported." But the agrarian committee delayed execution for weeks, until, on May 4, it received orders by telegram to reinstate the Hungarian peasants on their property. The restitution was scheduled for the following day, but then came another telegram suspending the execution. After a few months of indecision the mayor of Deva, under Decree 3,555 of September 17, 1926, handed down a decision barring the Hungarian peasants from possession of the pasture as per central directive 21,262/1926. The residents of Harau then turned to the Romanian court at Timiaoara [Temesvar] on March 7, 1927, the court mandated the superintendent of agriculture of Hunedoara county to restitute the pastures to the Hungarians. On April 12, however, an armed band of Romanians of Harau numbering 100 to 120 surrounded the seven unarmed Hungarian peasants of Deva engaged in surveying the land, and assaulted them. One of the victims,


Peter Molnar, was pushed into the stream in a wounded condition, where he drowned.

After these events, on April 20, 1927, the Romanian police prefect of Deva visited the judge of the Hungarian settlement accompanied by another officer, and nailed on his door Decree 14,801 issued by the Casa Centrala section of the Ministry of Agriculture in Bucharest, barring the Hungarian peasants of Deva from the disputed pasture awarded to them by the court, and retaining these exclusively for the benefit of the Romanians of Harau. Thus, in this case, while the Romanian court recognized the rights of a group of Hungarian peasants, the judicial decision could not be enforced, and the Minister of Agriculture ended by sanctioning the aggressive intervention of the Romanians of Harau. A similar incident took place in the case of Bela Simeny, a landowner of Uroi. The agrarian committee had exempted part of his land from expropriation by a legally valid decision, but the Romanians of Simeria Vecheo [Pisk] and Uroi [Arany] "chased him with pitchforks from the furrows he had started digging." Simeny turned to the Romanian police prefect of Hunadoara county for support, but the latter declared that the "Agrarian Committee had brought about a decision which could not be technically enforced."

Soon after the above case, reported in the Hungarian press as "the crime of Harau," there was a similar incident with the pastures of the commonwealth of Sincrai [Kalotaszentkiraly] in Cluj [Kolozs] county. The Romanian community of Sacuien [Szekelyjo] had its eyes set on the pasture and, its demand recognized by the local agrarian committee of the county, the pasture was duly expropriated. The Romanians of Sacuien carried out the decision and took possession of the pasture. The peasants of Sincrai appealed. The Agrarian Committee allowed their appeal and brought about a fair decision, returning the disputed area to the Hungarian smallholders in 1929. But the Romanians of Sacuien prevented the execution of the decision by force. Then the residents of Sincrai filed a suit for interference with property. The final decision in the suit was handed down by the highest Romanian court, the Court of Appeals which rejected the arguments presented by the Romanians of Sacuien, declaring the Hungarian peasants of Sincrai the rightful owners of the property under dispute. When the decision was to be carried out; however, the Minister of Agriculture intervened in person to prevent the Hungarian peasants from taking possession of their lands. He threatened to send the peasants to Hungary, while instructing the inspector of the gendarmes to bar the peasants from returning to their pastures. After, this it was no longer possible to carry out the verdict of the highest Romanian court in the case, the


Hungarian peasants of Sincrai filed a complaint with the League of Nations. Thereupon the Romanian government sponsored a law on April 7, 1936, buying up, with the help of expropriation bonds, the 136 cadastral holds of pastures and forests of the commons of Sincrai and, for the sum of 1.1 million lei, handed these over to the Romanian community of Sacuien, to be paid in installments over a period of ten years, at 5% interest. 41 The same happened with some of the properties of the Szekely communities of Cirta [Karcfalva] and its vicinity, which the Romanian communities had taken over by force while the Romanian authorities stood by. Complaints to the League of Nations once again resulted in forced purchase. Not once was the Romanian government willing to return the land to the Hungarian owners, not even when the injustice had been redressed by judicial process.

In the Szekely region it also happened that the estates of certain Szekely communities were used for Romanian purposes, beyond the provisions of the land reform. For instance, the government took away by a subterfuge the income from the Szekelyhavas, forming the commonwealth of 127 Szekely communities and called the "Ancient Commons of Marosszek, " amounting to about 15 ,000 hold s, and awarded it to Romanians. The law recognized that the property belonged to the 127 Szekely communities in common, but it placed the county council of Mures in charge of the property. The council was composed of appointed rather than elected members, and the majority of the appointees were Romanian. Thereafter the Romanian council used the income from the commonwealth for Romanian purposes as they saw fit. Consequently, the Szekely communities were not only barred from managing their property, but were barred from its fruits. 42

After 1934 there was a movement to place the spas of the Szekely region under Romanian control. The Romanian Minister of the Interior moved to deprive the Szekelys of part of the holdings belonging to the bathhouses at Tusnad [Tusnad]. In 1935 the Minister summoned the council of four Szekely communities to surrender part of the area to the Romanian Tourist Office, without compensation. When the community councils refused to comply with the request after repeated demands, the Ministry dissolved them on the grounds "that they brought about decisions which overlooked measures adopted by the higher authorities, to the detriment of the administration of the communities, endangering the security of the state." 43 Thus the Minister of the Interior described the stand of the leaders of the Szekely communities, intent only on defending the interests of the Szekely peasants, as endangering the security of the Romanian state. The Minister appointed new


councils, consisting of resettled Romanians for the most part, which were willing to carry out the order of the Minister. Thus the land of the commonwealth of Tusnad became the property of the Romanian Tourist Office, at no cost.

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