Rumania, 1866-1947

Rumania, 1866-1947

Rumania, 1866-1947

Rumania, 1866-1947

Synopsis

This latest volume in the acclaimed Oxford History of Modern Europe series looks at the collapse of Communist power which has once again focused attention on the processes of nation-building in central and eastern Europe. In this comprehensive study, Keith Hitchins focuses on how Rumania's political and intellectual elites attempted to establish an independent state before the advent of Communist rule in 1947. It traces the efforts of the country's leaders to create the institutions of a modern state, to "Europeanize" without losing national identity, and to find ways of preserving independence in the international political and economic order dominated by the great powers. In his study, Hitchins emphasizes how Rumania's past history is essential to a clear understanding of its complex present and future.

Excerpt

This book is about modern nation-building, a process that absorbed the energies of the Rumanian political and intellectual élite between the latter half of the nineteenth century and the Second World War. It traces the efforts of that élite to form a national state encompassing all Rumanians and to provide it with modern political institutions and an economy and social structure based on industry and the city rather than on agriculture and the village. As the leaders of a lesser power they also recognized how crucial shifts in the international order were to the success of their undertakings at home. Thus, this account of nation-building keeps constantly in view Rumania's relations with the great powers. Of all these contacts, those with Western Europe were the most decisive: the West, or 'Europe', as many Rumanians referred to it, served the élite as a model of development, to be followed or avoided, but never ignored.

Political events grouped in five distinct periods--independence (1866-81), the reign of King Charles (1881-1914), the First World War (1914--18), Greater Rumania (1919-40), and the Second World War (1940-4)--provide the framework for this study of modern Rumania. But chronological boundaries have been crossed in order to follow general trends in economic and social development and to discern changes in the way Rumanians thought about themselves. A final chapter deals with the brief period between the overthrow of the wartime military dictatorship in August 1944 and the proclamation of a People's Republic by Rumanian Communists in December 1947. It traces the disintegration of modern Rumania and thus serves as an epilogue to this account of classical national-building.

I am glad to have this opportunity to thank persons who have helped me to bring this work to print. Many colleagues and friends in Rumania have aided me with ideas and suggestions. I cannot mention them all, but I would like to express my gratitude again to Pompiliu Teodor, Cornelia Bodea, Mihai C. Demetrescu . . .

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