[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Bibliography] [HMK Home] Genocide in Transylvania

Ethnocide in Rumania

Under the above title Prof. Michael Sozan (Dept. of Sociology­Anthropolgy, Slippery Rock State College) published an article in the December 1977 issue of the Current Anthropology (Vol.18, No.4, pages 781 and 782) which came under heavy attack by the "Rumanian Research Group" at the University of Massachusetts, Profs. Sam Beck, John W. Cole, David Kideckel, Marylin McArthur, Steven Randall and Steve Sampson. The attack calls Prof. Sozan's findings "badly misleading" and asserts that there is no discrimination whatsoever agalnst Hungarians in the Socialist Republic of Rumania.
The attack, followed by Mr. Sozan's reply was published in Current Anthropology, Vol.20, No. 1, pages 135­147, in March 1979. We are bringing here excerpts of the reply:
During and after the Hungarian revolution of 1956, the Rumanian government feared that Hungarians in Rumania would engage in a similar radical movement. The government allowed the detention of four revolutionary leaders, among them the Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy on Rumanian soil and carried out mass arrests. A document smuggled out of Rumania (see The Observer, Apr.14 and May 5, 1963) indicated "wide­scale arrests, deportations, and...executions of Hungarians". The Congressional Record, Aug. 8, 1964, revealed that close to 40,000 Hungarians were arrested, and in 1958 alone 56 of them were tried, of whom 10 were executed. Bailey (1964:26) reported that "thousands of Hungarians were arrested, hundreds put to death. In one trial alone in Cluj, thirteen out of 57 were executed."
More recently, as a part of a sweeping effort to silence all possible signs of independent­minded expressions within the Hungarian minority, the Rumanian secret police (Securitate) arrested scores of Hungarian intellectuals. They were subjected to savage beatings and other forms of torture. Among them Jeno Szikszai, teacher form Brasov and wife, Sandor Kuthy, teacher from Brasov, Zoltan Zsufka, teacher from Covasna, Istvan Kocsis, dentist from Sfintu Gheorghe, Joseph Haszmann, teacher from Papaut, Paul Kallay, clerk from Covasna, Peter Eros, librarian from St. Gheorghe. (Jeno Szikszai, Sandor Kuthy died from the effects of the tortures, Editor.)
Among the complaints widely reported in the world press we find the testimonies of communists (hardly a source of "anticommunist agitation"). First, there is evidence presented by Karoly Kiraly, vice­president of the Hungarian Nationality Workers' Council, and Central Committee member of the Rumanian Communist Party In his letter to another member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party he wrote " Anxiety and concept compel me to write about the manner in which the nationality question has been handled in our country of late..." Enumerating blatant violations of the constitution (i.e. school policies, minority language usage curtailment, the elimination of Hungarian officials from towns and cities with a large portion of Hungarians) Kiraly continues: "It is clear... that a multitude of factual realities violate the constitution... the tendency is to forcefully assimilate nationalities in Rumania."
Michael Dobbs, a reporter from the Manchester Guardian quotes Kiraly, by then in internal exile in Caransebes (Washington Post, March 2, 1978): "Government action includes the deployment of armed patrols, house to house arrests and the harassment and interrogation of hundreds of Hungarians...
Eric Bourne adds the following (Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 1978): "Last week, three more protests became known. Their authors were:
Hungarian­born Deputy Prime Minister Janos Fazekas, who listed minority grievances in a letter to the party, Transylvanian Hungarian writer and candidate member of the party committee Andras Suto, who protested restrictions on Hungarian­language education. Lajos Takacs, a former rector of the Cluj (Kolozsvar) University, which had separate Rumanian and Hungarian faculties until the mid­1950's, when all were merged under mainly Rumanian direction... Mr. Takacs itemized 18 areas in which laws of minority rights were not being observed."
The turning over of Northern Transylvania to the Rumanians in 1945 was done with the stipulation that Rumania "secure the rights of the nationalities." However, the "Nationality Statute" of February 5, 1945 was discarded after the 1947 peace treaties of Paris. In their Section
II. Political Clause, Art. 8, these treaties guaranteed equal rights to the inhabitants of Rumania without regard of race, language, religion or authenticity. (Based on these guarantees) as early as April 2, 1949, the United Kingdom and the United States filed a strong letter of protest with the Rumanian government for the violation of human rights.
The equality of nationalities is reasserted in Decrees 57/1968, 24/1971, and 468/1971. In Section 22 the use of minority languages is guaranteed in those villages, cities and counties where there is a "mixed population". The law requires the appointment of officials conversant in minority languages. In practice, however, Rumanian officials use only Rumanian. Kiraly (1978) complains that the "use of the native tongue is severely restricted at meetings of the party, the Young Communist League, the trade unions, and the various workers' councils. Indeed, the use of the native tongue is prohibited even at meetings of the Nationality Workers' Councils." The violation of law with regard to the proportionate representation of minorities is reflected in Kiraly's following words:
"With regard to the question of personnel, the replacement of Hungarian officials (where there still are any) with Rumanians is being carried out with incredible persistence. This applies equally to the politico­administrative apparatus and to the various economic and industrial enterprises."
Ex­Congressman (now New York City Mayor) Edward Koch made the following observation for the Congressional Record (1977): "I am distressed at reports that indicate that discrimination taints many aspects of life for the Hungarian speaking minority. Last year I was shown a copy of the Rumanian laws that now require a minimum of 25 students for any grade school class to be conducted in Hungarian, while only two students are required to form a class taught in Rumanian language."
Concerning Rumanian historiography, I repeat that "recent Rumanian versions of their history and ethnic origins have been written by politically motivated writers and are blatantly biased to the point of falsifying and inventing historical events." Current Anthropology 18:781.)
The Rumanian demographer Satmarescu ­who cannot be accused of harboring pro­Hungarian and irredentist sentiments ­ comments (1975:426) on the poor quality of published demographic data on Transylvania, the "tendency to overestimate the Rumanian section of the population" and the "frequency with which the basic territorial units for demographic tabulation have been modified." On page 438 Mr. Satmarescu argues that "Whether or not it is a deliberate policy to reduce the strength of the Hungarian minority...there is evidence of administrative measures, such as the discriminatory allocation of housing units, which make it more difficult for rural Hungarians to move into the large urban centers than for their Rumanian counterparts." On page 536: "assuming that the Hungarian population (in Transylvania) of 1.7 million in 1910 had increased over the period 1910­1966 at a.) the average rate observed in Transylvania, b.) the average rate observed in Rumania, c.) the average rate observed in Hungary, and d.) the average rate of natural increase observed in Hungary, and making allowance for emigration and reparations associated with the two world wars, suggests a minimum expected Hungarian population in 1966 of 2.0 million and a maximum of over 2.5 million."
Each of the several topics in contention is fertile ground for further study and debate. The data cited here demonstrate that through political, legal (as well as illegal), social, economic and educational means the the Rumanian government aims to destroy Transylvanian Hungarian Culture. The techniques of ethnocide have been richly documented by social scientists and by the international press.
Professor Sozan's article as well as his reply to the attacks is well supported with a long list of outstanding works, cited as reference material.

The Essence of the Transylvanian Problem

It is a proven fact today that the government of the Socialist Republic of Rumania, known as the "Ceausescu Regime", Marxist in theory and Nazist in practice, is ruthlessly embarked upon the total annihilation of the three­million­strong native Hungarian population of Transylvania.
According to available documented records, since 1944 more than 200,000 Hungarians have been exterminated by the Rumanians in death­camps, prisons, police stations, village squares, streets, highways and railroad stations. Among them close to 800 clergymen, 687 educators, and more than 10,000 other intellectuals. During the years of 1981 and 1982 alone, we know of 198 cases where Hungarian educators, clergymen and simple workers, men and women, young and old, were beaten to death by the SECURITATE ­political police ­ during the "interrogations" or became victims of "accidents", again by the hand of the Securitate.
Old Hungarian institutions of higher education, some of them dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, were all taken over and Rumanized. More than three­fourths of the Hungarian grade­ and middle­ schools operating in 1945 are closed down today. The use of the Hungarian language is forbidden in all public places, including schools, playgrounds and food markets, and even the children who are overheard talking among themselves in their mother tongue, are severly beaten and punished. During the last three years this Quarterly has published many of such atrocities, and lately the international media is beginning to pay increasing attention to what is happening to Hungarians in Rumania. It is clear that the Ceausescu regime is engaged in a effort to solve the minority problem of this multi­national country by stamping out the very root of the problem: the minorities themselves..
While Rumania, as a nation and a country, was established only one hundred years ago on the Northeastern corner of the Balkan, between the Black Sea, the lower Danube River and the Southeastern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains (known also as the Transylvanian Alps), Transylvania was an integer part of the Hungarian Kingdom for one thousand years, recognized by historians as the "citadel of western Christian culture and the bastion of western civilization." During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries Vlach immigrants began to seep in from the Balkan as migrant workers. Under the liberal laws of the Hungarian Kingdom they were allowed, even aided, in building their own villages, churches, schools and to maintain and develop their culture. Not having to serve in the Hungarian armies during the many wars fought in defense of the West against the Tatars and the Turks, and later against the Habsburgs in defense of the freedom of religion, the Vlachs prospered and increased in numbers. Today, calling themselves Rumanians
­ a name invented for political purposes a century ago they form a majority in many parts of Transylvania. Due to this "partial majority" Transylvania was cut off from the mother country and handed over to newly established Rumania as its share of the spoils of World War I. Within the Rumanian Kingdom between the two World Wars, the rights of the Hungarians were more or less recognized and respected. Thus, within twenty years of Rumanian occupation the Transylvanian Hungarian culture blossomed into World recognition through its writers, artists, inventors and educators. However, after World War II, though the peace treaties clearly stipulated administrative and cultural autonomy for the Transylvanian Hungarians, Communist Rumania soon began to set aside the provisions of the treaties, and embarked upon a course to destroy, first the Hungarian cultural heritage, then the Hungarians themselves.

Based on a politically motivated and completely false new history, the government of Communist Rumania declared Transylvania "the motherland of the Rumanian nation", claiming to be the descendants of the Daks and the Roman Legionaires stationed in the province of Dacia between 107 and 271 A.D. when Emperor Aurelianus withdrew the last remaining Legions from that province under strict order to destroy all buildings, supplies, and evacuate the land before the oncoming Goths. It is historically documented however, that the fierce Dak people were completely exterminated by the Legions between 107 and 117 A.D. and that the Legions occupying the province were the so­called "Legions of the Barbarians", meaning army units recruited from the Northwestern territories of the Roman Empire, inhabited by Germanic tribes. The Daco­Roman theory is therefore false and absurd. As research has proved, the Vlachs
­ who call themselves today Rumanians or even "Romanians" for the last half century ­ are the descendants of a large settlement of people brought over from the Italian peninsula by Greek landlords in the middle of the 4th century A.D. and settled next to Albania on lands devastated by the first Slav migration. This explains the Latin foundation of their language, the Albanian way of forming their numbers above ten, as well as the many Greek and Bulgarian words in their vocabulary. The truth is that the Vlachs moved slowly from Albania up through the Balkan to the lower Danube valley, where they appeared first, according to the documents, in the 10th and 11th centuries, while in Transylvania they were mentioned for the first time toward the end of the 12th century as "a small tribe of the Vlachs" herding sheep on the high pastures of the Southern Carpathians, Southwest from the fort of Fogaras. By that time, according to Byzantine chronicles, Transylvania was already a well established and prosperous part of the Hungarian homeland, inhabited by Hungarians.
In the shadow of this falsified history, the Rumanian government, as soon as Nicolae Ceausescu ­ a former junior member of the nazi Iron Guard ­ took over the helm, began to systematically destroy all the historical and cultural landmarks of the Hungarian past. Cemeteries were bulldozed over, old gravestones carted away and dumped into rivers. Museums, libraries and archives, including all the church archives, were confiscated and burned. All books, pictures, printed matters as well as private letters, in the possession of Hungarian families, more than 20 years old had to be reported to the police and were taken away "for safe keeping". Frequent raids into private homes saw to it that the law was enforced and those caught hiding anything older than twenty years were arrested, beaten, and in many cases sent to forced labor camps.
Under the hate­campaign of Dictator Ceausescu, the situation of the Hungarians in Transylvania has turned worse, year after year. The discrimination, humiliation, deprivation suffered by Hungarians of all ages from the hands of Rumanian authorities knows no limits today. Even the American press is beginning to notice the tragic fate of the Hungarian minority in Rumania, though in many cases the commentators seem to miss the point. They talk about the Rumanian government abusing its own people. For an example: several newspapers printed the U.P. headline "Szots, Rumanian poet, arrested!" Geza Sz6ts is not a Rumanian poet. He is a Hungarian poet in Transylvania, under Rumanian rule. He was charged with being one of the editors of the Transylvanian Hungarian underground publications "Ellenpontok", meaning Counterpoints. Thus, an illusion is being created by the Press, though unwillingly, by confusing the European meaning of the word "nation" with that of its American use.
In this geographical and political unit called America we are all "one nation under God" whether we came from the British Isles, from France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, or any other part of the world. We have the freedom to cherish our cultural heritage as long as we want to, or assimilate into the Anglo­Saxon culture, but whatever we choose to do, we are Americans.
In Europe, and in this case in Transylvania, it is entirely different. If you are Hungarian, you are part of the original cultural history of that land and your name alone is a landmark of that history. Should you try to forget your national and cultural origin, the officials of the Rumanian administration remind you of it day by day in the way of discrimination. Assimilation is made impossible by the very fact that you are humiliated daily for being a Hungarian, persecuted and beaten if you dare to use your mother tongue. As a Hungarian, you are a life­long member of the Hungarian nation, whether you live in Hungary proper or in one of those parts which were cut off from the motherland and put under foreign domination. You became a minority in your own homeland, without moving anywhere.
It should be clear to any thinking person that a land with mixed population can survive only if a peaceful coexistence between the different nationality groups can be successfully worked out. Like in Switzerland, where French, German and Italian population have lived side by side for centuries in peace and prosperity, with neither one trying to suppress the others.
In the past, Transylvania was often referred to as the Switzerland of the Carpathian Basin, and rightfully so. Hungarian kings in the 11th and 12th centuries brought German settlers into the land, and these Germans built their own towns next to their Hungarian neighbors, and took their share in developing and defending the country. As the migrating Vlachs began to seep in from the South, trying to escape from their despotic rulers, they also found a place for themselves and became citizens of the country.
However, compared to Switzerland the tragedy of Transylvania was, and still is, that besides its beauty it is also a very rich land, yielding great quantities of all kinds of natural resources. Due to these riches, every conqueror has tried to possess it during the centuries. It was forced again and again under Habsburg domination, who used their well­known policy of "divide and conquer" by inciting the Rumanians to burn down Hungarian towns and murder defenseless Hungarian women and children while the men were on the battlefields fighting for liberty. The seeds of national hatred were thus sown into a land where peaceful coexistence was the only way to peace and prosperity. It must be regarded as a miracle that in spite of all this handicap the Hungarian diet in the city of Torda, Transylvania, declared, without dissent, religious freedom for all religions and all nationalities as the law of the land in 1568. (It is indeed a shame that in 1980 the very building in which this great historic event took place was torn down by the Rumanian authorities for being a landmark of the Hungarian past.)
After the Rumanian Kingdom was created in 1878 from the "United Principalities of Moldavia and Vlachia" under the rule of Hohenzollern king, the word "Rumanian" emerged to replace the name "Vlach". From then on the same political intrigue, setting one Transylvanian national against the other, came seeping across the borders from the South and the East, finally leading to the tragic dismemberment of Hungary, the thousand­year­old political, cultural and economical unit which defended for centuries Central and Western Europe from Eastern invaders, and held the delicate balance of power in that otherwise turbulent area for one thousand years. As a result, the Hungarian population of Transylvania, for ten centuries a very active part of the majority nation, became a minority in Rumania, and a thorn in the political flesh of Rumanian nationalism.
Understanding the reasons which created the situation, it should be clear to anyone that neither assimilation nor emigration is the solution to the Transylvanian problem. It is not only historically false, but extremely dangerous to assume that in case the Ceausescu government yields to the pressure and makes emigration easier, aid to that government by the American taxpayers should be resumed. Doing this without securing the survival of the three million Hungarians living under Rumanian rule would be the same as signing the death sentences of so many men, women and children, Since the clue to Transylvania is coexistence, the Rumanian government must be persuaded to recognize this fact and act accordingly. The basic conditions for a good beginning were published recently in a memorandum sent by the Hungarian Socialist Workers Federation of Transylvania to the signatory powers of the Helsinki Agreement, among them to the Government of the United States of America. Any government of good will would automatically accept the conditions listed in that memorandum for the sake of justice and tranquility.
However, should Rumania stubbornly refuse to recognize the need for a peaceful and just coexistence between Rumanians and Hungarians in Transylvania, there can be only one solution left: the return of Transylvania to the mother­country, which took care of it for ten centuries and made it possible for all the different nationality groups to prosper in peace, each within its own cultural identity.

Hungarian Education and Culture in Transylvania in the Light of History and Tradition

Under the influence of contemporary Rumanian propaganda, many Americans, otherwise keenly aware of minority problems and ardently vocal against political or cultural oppression, seem to regard the assault of the Rumanian government against the Hungarian schools in Transylvania as just an unimportant annoyance. The reason for this lies in the misunderstanding of the Transylvanian situation, which can in no way be brought in parallel with the educational principles and practices of the United States.
Since the very beginning of its existence, the language of the United States was, and is English. Immigrants, who entered the country, had to learn the language in order to survive. It was the language of cultural institutions; the language of the business enterprises and job opportunities. In other words: the United States of America was, and is, a one language country, with the freedom granted to all immigrants to cultivate their own tongue if they so desired, through their own church­related institutions.
In Transylvania, since the eleventh century A.D., the language of the people who moved into the empty land, and established themselves there, was the MAGYAR, or Hungarian. Therefore, the official language of the new country became the same: the Hungarian language. It became the language of the schools maintained first by the priests, and later taken over by the state, and from the 15th century on, when the first "Collegium of Higher Education" was established in Transylvania's cultural center, the city of Kolozsvar, it was the language of all the colleges and universities throughout the country. Shortly before World War I, there were 1896 grade schools, 26 middle and high schools, and three college­level educational institutions in Transylvania, educating Hungarians in the Hungarian language.
When the Rumanian immigrants ­ political refugees and migrant workers ­ began to move into the country with the permission of the Hungarian government, they had the same right to make their own decision whether to take advantage of the country's educational institutions or not, as the immigrants entering America had. Those Rumanians, who settled near established educational institutions, did send their children into the schools, and their descendants soon assimilated, and melted into the Hungarian­speaking population, as can easily be recognized by the presence of Rumanian names in Hungarian history. Those, however, who settled with their sheep herds on the uninhabited mountain pastures, did not have the opportunity to assimilate, and their descendants later formed the "Transylvanian Rumanian nation", giving the Rumanian Kingdom across the mountains an excuse after World War I to occupy militarily and then to annex politically the entire Transylvania. From then on, the Calvary of the native Hungarian population began.
Together with the already established and state­maintained Rumanian schools, the Royal Rumanian government took over the Hungarian schools, too, rapidly diminishing their numbers, but still allowing some to operate under government control in the Hungarian populated areas. Church­maintained schools, however, were allowed to function, with certain subjects taught in the Rumanian language, but the rest in Hungarian.
After World War II, and especially after Mr. Ceausescu took control of the Rumanian Communist Party, the complete abolishment of the Hungarian language education began with the "nationalization" of the Universities and all Church­maintained educational institutions. This went parallel with the confiscation and annihilation of all Hungarian libraries, archives, and museums. It turned into an all­out war against Transylvanian Hungarian culture itself, which for long centuries had been the established and world wide recognized culture of the entire Carpathian Basin.
Should we search for a parallel in order to make born Americans understand the situation better, we would have to assume the fictitious possibility that one day Cuba might take over Florida, or Mexico occupies California, and the English­language American culture would be outlawed in those parts of our country from one day to the next. All schools, down to Kindergarten, would be forced to use the Spanish language only, whether the children attending those schools were from native Anglo­American parentage or not. The use of the English language would be strictly forbidden on the school grounds as well as all public places, business and industrial establishments.
That's exactly what is happening today in Transylvania. Educators or parents who voice the slightest protest, are being arrested, tortured, beaten to death. Those in the Free World who are trying to focus public attention on the plight of the three million Hungarians in Transylvania, are being threatened with assasination. A nation is being eradicated from the face of the earth by the use of the most sophisticated and cruel methods of physical and psychological terror, but expertly camouflaged by the cunning propaganda machinery of the National Socialist (NAZI) Republic of Rumania!

What Happened to More Than One­Half Million Hungarians Between 1944 and 1974?

According to figures taken from the files of the Office of Statistics, Ministry of the Interior, Bucharest, Room 241C "Confidential Folio No. XXX2," out of the 2,898,356 Hungarians residing in Transylvania, Moldova, the city of Bucharest and the other Rumanian provinces in 1944, thirty years later, in 1974 there were only 2,217,897 listed on church rolls, party rolls and other administrative records. Of these Hungarians, 236,981 were born after 1945, leaving the number of "survivors" at 1,980,916. Taking into consideration those who were buried in the cemeteries during those thirty years between 1944 and 1974 ­ a total of 194,562 ­ we find a discrepancy of 722,878 Hungarians unaccounted for. Assuming that perhaps as many as 100,000 of them have left their homeland voluntarily, there are still 622,878 Hungarians missing.
To our question, "what happened to those people?" the answer from Transylvania is nothing more than a guess, based on estimated figures. About 100,000 of them were supposedly deported and resettled in Rumania proper in order to yield space to the new Rumanian settlers. Dispersed among the Rumanian population of "Old Rumania" and left without churches, they are probably registered as Rumanians. About another 100,000 were killed by Rumanian terrorist units between October and December 1944. (To these killings and mass­murders we shall return later.) Approximately 50,000 Hungarian men were driven away on foot by the Russians in order to rebuild the roads and bridges within the Soviet Union, and were never seen again.
The rest, about 272,000 Hungarians were either deported by the Rumanian authorities into forced labor camps where they were simply thrown into mass graves after they died of malnutrition, illness or other causes, or they were arrested later by the dreaded SECURITATE and tortured to death.

Available Data on Mass Murder

The Olteanu­gang.
In the first part of October 1944, a band of heavily armed Rumanian civilians under the leadership of Gavril Olteanu fell upon six Hungarian mountain villages in the "Szekelyland" and murdered every Hungarian man, woman and child they could find in those villages. Men were decapitated by the use of axes or impaled in front of their families, women and children tortured the most barbaric way. The "Olteanu­unit" was finally arrested by Russian military authorities and handed over to the Rumanian police as common criminals. Most of the members of the group were released, while their leader, Gavril Olteanu, on the insistance of the Russians was sentenced by the Rumanian courts to four years in prison, of which he served two years. After his release he was treated as a "national hero" and received a comfortable government job as "hunting inspector".
The number of Hungarians killed by this unit is estimated between 2500 and 3000.

 [Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Bibliography] [HMK Home] Genocide in Transylvania