Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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In January 1945, the front began its campaign for total control of Romania. The first task was to enact a radical land reform. Tbs was intended to allay the fear of the peasantry of communist plans for collectivization. At the same time, the front began a noisy campaign for the elimination of "reactionaries" from public life, that is, the opponents of communism. The front also appealed to latent Romanian nationalism by insinuating that, as the result of its activities, Stalin promised the return of the entire area of Transylvania, part of which was awarded to Hungary in 1940, to the Romanian state.

The propaganda of the front was reinforced by violent demonstrations held in major cities. Strikes in privately-owned firms, seizure of land by indigent peasants (all secretly and, sometimes, openly advocated by the front), and the arrest of opponents by the newly organized secret police added to the front's tactics. Premier Nicolae Radescu was finally provoked into an intemperate outburst on Romanian national radio, calling the communists "venal foreign beasts," referring to the Jewish and Hun- garian backgrounds of some of the leading party officials. Three days after this statement, Soviet army units occupied the headquarters of the Romanian armed forces, and the Soviet representative, who happened to be Andrei Y. Wyshinski of Stalinist show-trials fame, forced King Michael to dismiss Radescu. The king held out for a while but, on March 5, he had to give in. He appointed Petru Groza (see Groza, Petru) to replace Radescu, and Groza eventually paved the way for the communist takeover of Romania.


Fischer-Galati Stephen, Twentieth Century Romania 2nd ed. ( New York, 1991); Gilberg Trond , "The Multiple Legacies of History: Romania in 1990," in Joseph Held, ed. The Columbia History of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century ( New York, 1992), pp. 277-305.

National Minorities in Romania. A little over 10 percent of the population of Romania consists of ethnic minorities. At least, this is the percentage given by Romanian statistics. However, the number of ethnic Hungarians alone is probably more like 15 percent of the total population. According to some information, the number of ethnic Hungarians in Romania is about 2.5 million. The German minority, located mostly in Transylvania, number about 350,000 people. Other groups, including Gypsies, Jews, Russians, Bulgarians, Turks, Tatars, and others can also be found in the country. The largest minority of the latter are the Gypsies, but their number has never been fully ascertained.

During the interwar years, there were schools where children were taught in their mother tongue. There were ethnic theaters and even a Hungarian language university at Cluj. The Romanian constitution, accepted in 1952; created a Hungarian Autonomous Region in Transylvania.

However, after the impact of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 reached Romania, the communist autlmties resorted to coercion, more and more curtailing the rights of ethnic Hungarians and Germans. In 1959, the Hungarian Bolyai University of Cluj


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