The Tragedy of the Romanian Minority in Hungary Revisited

by Dr. Coriolan Brad

    The ethnic conflicts between Hungarians and Romanians have lasted for decades and will continue as long as the Hungarians refuse to acknowledge historical truth. Continually raising demands, they aim in an underhand manner at the territorial expansion of Hungary, a goal that cannot be achieved at present using military force, and for that reason they have changed their tactics. They use the Hungarian minority of Romania in a dishonest manner. If until World War II they openly raised their claim to Transylvania, currently their fundamentally revisionist claim is masked under the claims of the Hungarian minority of Romania that go far beyond the limits of the law and that are not granted by the Romanian state. As a matter of fact they know full well that no minority enjoys so much political and cultural freedom in Europe as the Hungarians of Romania enjoy; however, by raising ever greater claims on the one hand they try to achieve the dissolution of Romania's territorial integrity and on the other hand a boycott of Romania's admission in international democratic bodies.
    There are stil Romanians living in Hungary. I would like to know to what extent the principle of civic equality has been or is being applied objectively for that Romanian minority. After World War I approximately 250,000 Romanians were living in Hungary, concentrated mainly in places around the town of Gyula. According to the Hungarian statistic of 1990, in Hungary only approximately 4,800 Romanians remained.
   According to Romanian statistics, in 1930 there lived in Transylvania 1,353,276 Hungarians and Szekels (among the Szekels are counted the Romanians forced to live as Szekels), and according to the 1992 census in Romania live 1,620,000 Hungarians (a number that includes all Hungarian-speaking persons, that is Hungarians and Szekels). No need to comment: the above figures speak for themselves, and show where one can see ethnic and cultural genocide going on.
   In the two days I spent this summer in the town of Gyula and around it, I realized from the information imparted by various persons what are the causes of the tragedy of the Romanian minority in Hungary. Nothing happens by chance, everything is well thought out and well organized for an efficient assimilation.
    In mixed marriages the Hungarian ethnicity has always prevailed and in the course of nature the children are Hungarian and are raised to be Hungarians. One cannot accuse in any way a decrease in the birth rate of the Romanian population, for I have seen families with two and more children. Especially between the two world wars, and also at present, for a Romanian to be active in a public profession he has to adopt a Hungarian name, the aim being to create a homogeneous Hungarian society, for a person who has adopted a Hungarian name becomes forever integrated in the body of the Hungarian nation (S. Telkes).
    It is important to note the absence of associations and institutions that could assure the identity of the Romanians. This summer [1995], the Romanian Union of Hungary has been arbitrarily abolished; that traditional association that more or less stimulated the Romanian national consciousness has been replaced with the Movement for the Self-Government of the Romanians of Hungary, a body that nobody wanted. The Romanians do not know what it stands for; it was illegally imposed upon a minority that is being discriminated against.
    The spiritual Christian life [of the Romanians] takes place in the nineteen Orthodox and one Greek-Catholic parishes around Gyula, and an Orthodox one in Budapest. These parishes had until this year an insufficient number of priests who officiated divine services taking turns once or twice a month at various parishes. This year, the Orthodox Bishopric of Arad, under whose jurisdiction are the parishes around Gyula, sent a few missionary priests to answer the stringent needs of those parishes.The penury of priests has cause a decline in the Christian Orthodox feeling, seen in the very low participation of the parishioners in the
divine services, the increase in the various sects and the visits paid by some parishioners to Hungarian churches.
    Among the blatant disregard of the European norms of human rights and the rights of the minorities is the discrepancy between the huge number of schools of all types including universities with Hungarian as the teaching language in Romania, and the penury of schools with Romanian as a teaching language for the Romanian minority in Hungary. In the village of Micherechi with 96% of the population made up of Romanians, there is just one school for the Romanians and the teaching language is part Romanian and part Hungarian. In the other villages the classes for the Romanians are allowed on the premises of the Hungarian schools; in those classes teaching is done to a very small extent in Romanian, but is done mostly in Hungarian. At the Nicolae Balcescu high school of Gyula, which is allegedly a Romanian school, Romanian is but one of the foreign languages taught ordinarily in regular high schools. The study of Romanian has two phases: beginners and advanced. Vague notions of classical Romanian literature are
mentioned. But an analysis of I.B. Deleanu's comic epic Tiganiada (The Gypsies) is included in order to allege that the Romanians are descended from Gypsies. Geography and history are studied only in Hungarian with misrepresentations about the Romanian
people, about which it is alleged that it invaded its own land sometimes from south of the Danube, sometimes from Moldavia or Wallachia. Under these circumstances when historical truth is distorted and traditions and aspirations are misrepresented it is natural that the Romanians cease to feel and think that they are Romanians. The Romanian national consciousness has been eradicated among them, with the result that parents prefer to send their children to be schooled in Hungarian rather than in their mother tongue. The outcome of all that is that all Romanians who live in Hungary are perfectly fluent in Hungarian and speak
almost no Romanian at all, so that in the homes of many Romanians only Hungarian is spoken.
   If in bookstores in Romania there are whole shelves full of Hungarian books and on the stands there are Hungarian magazines and newspapers, the Romanian minority in Hungary has no access to information though the mass-media. I have visited all bookstores and stands in Bekescsaba and Gyula and found not a single Romanian book, newspaper or magazine. It appears that they are all forbidden except one newspaper titled NOI (Ourselves), published at the end of the week with local news and trivia that have nothing to do with the Romanian spirit and tradition. This newspaper can be received at home by subscribers. The
Hungarian television allows the Romanian minority 20 minutes every week only, Saturday between 9 and 9:20 p.m., an
inconvenient hour; and the program is censored so as not to demean the dignity of the Hungarian state, while the Hungarians enjoy in Romania a far larger time slot in their mother tongue.
   As things stand now, Magyarization has progressed and for the Romanians of Hungary a process of annihilation of their Romanian identity takes place. If before the return of Transylvania to Romania the Romanians preferred not to learn Hungarian in order to preserve their tradition and their identity, nowadays with their national consciousness destroyed, the Romanians of Hungary feel that they are Hungarians rather than Romanians. This phenomenon of Magyarization, of alienation, of separation from the body of the nation has its remote historical roots and has not been abated after World War II; on the contrary, it continues today in various forms.
   The reasons for the debacle of the Romanian minority of Hungary are many. In the first place, the absence of leaders among them who should identify with the fate of the Romanian minority. Then, the lack of teachers and priests in the villages populated by Romanians who should keep the torch burning of Romanian thinking and of the Dacian-Roman heritage. All governments of Romania are guilty in that respect ever since her emergence up to the present, since all disregarded the fate of the Romanians who lived outside Romania's borders, and did not offer the moral and material support that this minority should have received. And the Orthodox Church shares the guilt for leaving the flock without shepherds.
   A natural weakness in the Romanian minority has been their giving in for fear of losing their jobs or not being able to carry on in their public or private professions, which would have entailed the inability to provide for their and their families' material needs.
   The twelfth hour had arrived for the Romanian minority in Hungary. As things have evolved and continue to evolve, I do not think that that island of Romanians could save themselves. Magyarization has prevailed in all areas of life, politically, culturally, through the church and through the administration. The tragedy of that Romanian minority is to be deeply deplored for it is our
tragedy, the tragedy of the Romanian people. The Hungarians have brought to bear their entire ability to achieve the de-nationalization of the Romanians of Hungary and their integration in the Hungarian society, finding favorable circumstances to achieve their goal.
   The Hungarian policy toward the Romanian minority of Hungary has destroyed the ethnic and religious identity of the Romanians. what cannot be said of the Hungarian minority of Romania which enjoys as least equal rights with the Romanian population.
   It is worth noting that the hatred between the Romanians and the Hungarians in Romania is a diversion artificially created by the Hungarian irredentist leaders. In my trip undertaken this past summer in the Romanian counties with a majority of Hungarian inhabitants, of all the persons I talked with, whether Romanians or Hungarians, not one indicated nationalist disputes between the two ethnic groups. I have met many Hungarians who could speak only their mother tongue, but also many Romanians who were bilingual. It follows that the unrest and the ethnic disorders are extremely obviously artificial creations of the Hungarian irredentists. The confirmation of those facts is the failure of the planned Hungarian festivities of July 27 of this year in Debrecen and of September 2 in Odorheiul Secuiesc in Romania.
   For months the question has been impertinently raised of a bilateral Romanian-Hungarian treaty, based on a historical reconciliation between Romanians and Hungarians.
   Gentlemen of the Democrat Union of the Hungarians of Romania, who should harbor a desire for reconciliation?
   Do you believe that paragraph 1201 recommended by the Parliament of the General Assembly of the Council of Europe must be observed only by the Romanians?
   Which ethnic group is deprived of elementary fundamental human rights and undergoes destruction?
   Whose young people should appear as plaintiffs in Strassbourg, those of the Romanians or those of the Hungarians?
   Do you believe that good relationships could prevail between Hungary and Romania only in the final spirit of the communiqué of the Hungarian government published in 1941 after the Dictate of Vienna? That is how that text ended: Now that the injustice of Trianon has been done away with, Hungary will do everything in her power to establish good relations between the two countries,
which could not prevail in the last twenty years because of the intrigues of the participants in the Entente. Now the Entente is no more. Who is weaving intrigues at present?
   We hope that the past will not come to hunt us.

September 1995