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DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter III. Summaries and Recommendations

Document 3

Secret H Document 43

August 25, 1943



The problem is the disposition of the territory acquired by Rumania from Hungary in 1920 and now in dispute between those two states.

The problem arises because both Hungary and Rumania presumably will be occupied by United Nations forces upon the defeat of the Axis armies in that area. The United Nations will then face the problem of administering the disputed area and ultimately of making a decision as to its final disposition.

In 1940 Germany and Italy drew the present line of partition through Transylvania, forcing Rumania to cede to Hungary the northern sector. Each state has designs on the part now held by the other, and the removal of German domination over both will bring that conflict into the open.

The territory in question, made up of historic Transylvania, the Rumanian Banat, and the Crisana and Maramure areas, covers 39,686 square miles and has a population of 5,548,000 (1930). Rumanians make up 58 percent of the total, Hungarians 25 percent, and Germans 10 percent. The Rumanians are found throughout the area; the Hungarians are strongest along the western boundary and in the three Szekler counties of southeastern Transylvania; the Germans are settled chiefly in the Banat and in southern Transylvania. The disputed territory has considerable forest and mineral resources; it complements, equally, the agricultural plains of Hungary and those of Old Rumania. The industries of southern Transylvania and the Banat give Rumania a somewhat more balanced agrarian-industrial economy; without them it would be almost wholly agrarian. The economy of Hungary, with or without the disputed area or any part of it, would retain a fairly even balance between agriculture and industry. II. ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

A. Action to be Taken when the Area is Occupied by the Military Forces of the United Nations

1. Maintenance of the Present (1940) Line as an Administrative Boundary during the Period of Occupation, Pending the Final Disposition of the Territory

Under this solution local Hungarian and Rumanian officials would be utilized by the Allied military government in the respective areas in which they are now functioning. This would be the simplest and probably the most satisfactory solution from the point of view of the occupying authorities. Since no initial boundary change would be involved, this solution would seem least likely to prejudice the ultimate settlement.

2. Restoration of the Line of 1939 as an Administrative Boundary during the Period of Occupation,Pending the Final Disposition of the Territory

This solution would require a complete shift from Hungarian to Rumanian administrative personnel in the area now held by Hungary, a change which would complicate and perhaps obstruct the operations of the occupying military authorities. The chances of the emergence of a democratic regime in Hungary favorably disposed towards the United Nations and willing to participate in a negotiated settlement with Rumania would be lessened by the adoption of this solution. In Rumania the restoration of the pre-war boundary, even though for temporary administrative purposes, would be regarded as the restitution of national territory taken by Hungary in 1940. It would increase the difficulties of securing Rumania's acceptance, at some later date, of a final settlement less favorable than the pre-1940 boundary.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee recommended that at the time of the military occupation of Rumania and Hungary by United Nations forces, the boundary of 1939 be restored pro-tempore. West of that line local Hungarian administration would be maintained; east of it local Rumanian administration would be utilized. It was thought that an occupation period of several years, during which the Allied military government would make use of local officials, would give the United Nations an opportunity to take stock of the developing situation and of the possibilities for a final solution and to promote a negotiated settlement. The subcommittee felt that this solution would be in consonance with Point Two of the Atlantic Charter, according to which the signatories "desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned". It was considered that the establishment of the temporary line might influence the ultimate territorial settlement.

Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

In the Political Subcommittee objection was raised to the recommen- dation of the Territorial Subcommittee on the ground that the fixing of an administrative boundary on the frontier of 1939 during the period of occupation would prejudge the final settlement.

3. Immediate Application of a Definitive Boundary Solution Previously Agreed upon by the United Nations

This solution would have the advantage of avoiding a long period of uncertainty and agitation. Both disputants are Axis states and the United Nations are bound by no commitments to them. This solution makes no provision, however, for a consultation of the population or for new factors which may arise during or after the present war.

Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

Some members of the subcommittee were not in favor of leaving the boundary problem unsettled during a long period of military occupation. They advocated an agreement among the principal United Nations on the main points of the final settlement before the armistice; those decisions could then be applied immediately upon occupation of the area. 4. Preparation for Holding a Plebiscite or for Establishing Other Machinery for Consulting the Wishes of the Population

This solution would provide some basis for a rapid settlement which could be justified on the grounds of self-determination. However, it might be difficult to conduct a plebiscite in the confused conditions prevailing at the close of hostilities in this area. In view of the complex ethnic distribution, the results of a plebiscite might be of little assistance in reaching a clearly defined territorial settlement.

Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

Several members stressed the desirability of consulting the wishes of the population if speedy and practical machinery for such consultation could be set up.

B. Final Solutions

1. Rectification of the Boundary of 1939 in Hungary's Favor to Secure a More Accurate Ethnic Division between Hungarians and Rumanians

The boundary of 1939, from the vicinity of Arad northwards to the border of Czechoslovakia, could be moved from ten to twenty miles to the east in the Arad area, in the vicinity of Szalonta, and in a continu- ous strip from Nagyvárad (Oradea Mare) to a point north of Szatmár (Satu Mare). The irregular strip which would be ceded to Hungary, approximately 3,475 square miles in area, had a population, in 1930, of some 298,000 Hungarians, 167,000 Rumanians, and 50,000 Jews. Since over one million Hungarians would remain in Rumania, this solution would not represent a genuine ethnic solution.

The three cities of Arad, Nagyvárad and Szatmár, which would be returned to Hungary,were assigned to Rumania in 1919 largely because the railway connecting them was considered to be of vital economic and strategic importance to Rumania. An ethnic line would cut this railway in several places between Arad and Nagyvárad. i> Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee did not agree on any recommendation for the ultimate disposition of the disputed territory. Some members were of the opinion that a residue of injustice had been left by the settlement of 1919-1920. It was thought that, even though Hungary's conduct since that time gave that country no claim to leniency, the boundary of 1939 might be modified in Hungary's favor along an ethnic line, if it should be apparent that such modifications would contribute to peace and stability.

2. Cession to Hungary of a Broader Strip of Territory East of the Boundary of 1939, including the Greater Part of the Counties of Szilágy (Slaj) and Szatmár (Satu Mare)

This solution represents an attempt to make a generous revision of the boundary of 1939 in favor of Hungary in the northwestern area, where Hungarians and Rumanians are about equal in numbers. The Szekler districts which are over 85 percent Hungarian in population, would be returned to Rumania. The other Hungarians left in Rumania would be slightly more numerous than the Rumanians remaining under Hungarian jurisdiction. The boundary envisaged by this solution would run to the east of the cities of Arad, Nagyvárad and Szatmár, leaving the railway connecting them entirely within Hungarian territory. It would give to Hungary an area of approximately 5,600 square miles, with about 450,000 Rumanians,390,000 Hungarians,138,000 Germans, and 60,000 Jews. Rumania would have 34,000 square miles of the disputed territory, with a population of 2,768,000 Rumanians, 963,000 Hungarians, and 406,000 Germans. Any further enlargement of the area, ceded to Hungary, short of extending it all the way to the Szekler districts, would increase greatly the number of Rumanians, as compared to Hungarians, left in the Hungarian share of the disputed area.

This solution might be combined with an exchange of populations involving the nearly 500,000 Rumanians left in Hungary and the approximately 600,000 Hungarians remaining in Rumanian Transylva- nia (not including the Szeklers) and with the establishment of a regime of territorial autonomy for the approximately 400,000 Szeklers. i> Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

This solution was suggested by the chairman as suitable for further discussion pending research. The subcommittee felt that transfers of population should be held to a minimum. The transfer of the Szeklers to Hungary proper or to western Transylvania was considered impracti- cable. It was thought that the Szeklers, if left within Rumania, should have some form of administrative and cultural autonomy.

3. Restoration of the Boundary of 1939

This solution represents a return to a boundary which was changed by fiat of the Axis Powers and was accepted under duress by Rumania, without consultation of the wishes of the population transferred to Hungary. That boundary, however, represented nearly the maximum Rumanian claims and has been considered unjust even by moderate and conciliatory Hungarian opinion. This solution would resurrect the unsolved problem of the large Hungarian minority of one and one-half millions in Rumania.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The subcommittee considered the boundary of 1939 unsatisfactory, since it had extended Rumanian territory in the west to include some purely Hungarian-speaking districts. It was agreed, however, that at least a temporary restoration of that boundary should be effected, as a basis of negotiations for a final settlement.

4. Maintenance of the Present Boundary Established by the Axis Powers

in 1940

This solution includes the solidly Hungarian-speaking Szekler region within Hungary, but this is made possible only by the inclusion of a wide stretch of intervening territory inhabited chiefly by Rumanians. Rumanian irredentism directed against this solution would be persis- tent. The northern part of Transylvania ceded to Hungary in 1940 is approximately 16,000 square miles in area and has about 909,000 Hungarian and 1,149,000 Rumanian inhabitants. In the part of Transylvania left to Rumania, 23,686 square miles in area, there are approximately 445,000 Hungarians and 2,059,000 Rumanians. This solution would have economic disadvantages unless provision were made 238 IgnáAc Romsics

for substantial freedom of trade and transit between Hungary and Rumania.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

Although it was admitted that the present boundary had some validity as a compromise line, no member of the Territorial Subcommit- tee favored its retention. It was considered an artificial solution which Germany had imposed partly with a view to perpetuating Rumanian- Hungarian antagonism.

5. Cession of all Transylvania to Hungary

This solution, the maximum satisfaction of Hungarian claims, would place over three million Rumanians under Hungarian sovereignty, reviving in more acute form the minority problem of the pre-1918 period. Possession of Transylvania's forest and mineral resources would give definite economic advantages to Hungary. Transylvania itself might derive some benefits from this partial re-constitution of the economic unity of pre-1918 Hungary, but its industrial and agricultural products would compete on unfavorable terms with those of Hungary proper.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

No member of the Territorial Subcommittee specifically favored this solution. Two members suggested that, in view of the uncertain future of Rumania and the apparent impossibility of reaching any solution of the Transylvanian problem by attempting to disentangle the nationali- ties, the re-constitution of a large political and economic unit including both Transylvania and Hungary might be envisaged as a possible basis of settlement.

6. Creation of an Autonomous or Independent Transylvania within a Federation or Union of East European or Danubian States

This solution represents an attempt to avoid the irredentist movements which almost certainly will appear if Transylvania is assigned either to Hungary or to Rumania or is partitioned between them. There is an historic basis for autonomy in the special status and privileges of self-government which certain elements in Transylvania enjoyed during long periods of its history, but there has been little evidence in recent years that either the Rumanians or the Hungarians in the province would regard autonomy as a final or even as a workable solution. If questions of security and of basic economic policy remained in the hands of federal or international bodies, objections to the creation of an autonomous Transylvania, on grounds of its small area and population and its uncertain status in international law, might be disregarded.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

Some members of the Territorial Subcommittee regarded the creation of an autonomous Transylvania with equal rights for all citizens as the least unsatisfactory of the alternative solutions. It was believed that this solution would be possible only if an Eastern European or Danubian federation, of which it would be a member, was a going concern. The argument was advanced that an autonomous Transylvania would serve merely as a field of conflict between Hungari- ans and Rumanians both inside and outside the province. It was agreed that a strong pressure from outside, from a regional or world authority or from the interested great powers, would be needed to maintain respect for this settlement.

7. Creation of an Autonomous Transylvania Standing in a Special Relationship to Hungary and Rumania

If there were no Danubian or Eastern European federation, the terms of Transylvania's autonomy might be defined by agreement between Hungary and Rumania, each recognizing the economic and cultural interests of the other in the autonomous province. Probably there would need to be a common security and foreign policy for all three territorial units. Transylvania would be expected to work out its own local problems without interference from the governments of Hungary and Rumania. The practical prospects of such a solution would depend largely on whether Russian pressures on both Hungary and Rumania had the result of forcing them into agreement on Transylva- nia.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The member of the Territorial Subcommittee suggesting this solution pointed out that it would obviate the necessity of segregating different ethnic elements and that Transylvania might form a bridge between Hungary and Rumania, leading toward a federation of the lower Danube. It was not made clear whether Transylvania should have the attributes of sovereignty or, while autonomous in re1ation to Hungary and Rumania, would act jointly with them in matters of foreign and military policy. This solution was considered possibe only if applied also to other areas of mixed population in eastern Europe, thus forming a number of small federations.

PS:JCC Campbell:MHP Box 153


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