|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|
The thinking of the Hungarian minority was also shown by the two documents submitted by the editors of Ellenpontok in September 1982 to the conference held in Madrid as a follow-up to the Helsinki Accord (both are reproduced in the Annexes, below). The first of these, the Memorandum, stresses the importance of internationally recognized collective rights for minorities as a means of interest protection. It calls for the right of the Hungarians of Romania to be regarded as an inseparable part of a broader cultural community of Hungarians,
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including Hungary and other Hungarian minorities; for the right to safeguard this community's individuality and collective values; for the right to establish an independent body for the protection of minority interests; and to have these rights secured by an international commission. The second document, the Program Proposal for a nationalities policy, emphasizes the gravely endangered situation of the Hungarian community in Romania and puts forward a series of demands aimed at finding a remedy. These are mostly of a cultural and educational nature, but in some respects they come close to proposing the establishment of an autonomous political corporation to represent the interests of the minority.
The proposed solution would give the Hungarians a good deal of independence vis-a-vis the state. It has certain affinities with the Austro-Marxist approach to the minority question adopted in interwar Estonia (with some success). However, it should be added that its chances of realization are nil. The Romanian regime has no interest whatsoever in giving its Hungarians a "privileged" position of this kind, nor would the Romanian majority stand for it, and there is no chance that international opinion would be capable of persuading the Ceausescu regime to introduce such reforms. Furthermore, the damaging precedent a move of this nature would create for Communist political practice in the whole of Eastern Europe makes such a solution unattainable. The fact of the matter is that as things stand today, no one has a particular interest in defending the rights of the Hungarians in Romania, apart from the Hungarian community itself. And the Hungarian community, as the record shows, lacks the political strength to defend its interests effectively.
Hungarian minority aims may be summarized as the aspiration to live a "Hungarian life" in Romania. The problem with this aim is that a "Hungarian life" has its own imperatives which are simply incompatible with Communist policy in Romania. If the Hungarians are anxious to transform the Hungarian Nationality Council into a genuine body, the Romanian people would be only too glad to achieve this for their own national organs. But this is an impossibility in a system where every institution is by and large a facade and where the
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whole society, the Communist party included, is run undemocratically in the interests of an authoritarian clique.
Thus, the Hungarians are really asking for the introduction of liberalization, perhaps akin to the dispensation that prevails in Hungary today. This is something that no one enjoys in Romania. Yet, there can be no doubt that the Romanian state treats the Hungarian minority as an alien body, considers it a potential danger to the territorial integrity of the Romanian state, and therefore subjects it to greater pressure and discrimination than the Romanian majority has to accept.
The Romanian leadership may as a result find itself in the grip of a self-fulfilling prophecy. By permitting the Hungarians to feel themselves second-class citizens in their own country, they may actually be creating the disloyalty toward the Romanian state on the part of the Hungarians that they fear. The developments of the last few years have unquestionably aroused public opinion in Hungary to the point where it is acting as a major source of pressure on the Budapest government to do something about Transylvania; and it is inevitable that the Soviet Union should be drawn into this dispute.
The irony of the situation is that the Hungarians of Transylvania have traditionally had a strong identity and consciousness of their own which did not automatically identify them with the Hungarian state. Until the early 1970s, the Romanian state had a good opportunity to create an autonomous Hungarian nationality consciousness, in which political loyalty was owed to Romania and Hungarian aspirations would have been restricted to culture. There are numerous indications that this opportunity has been missed and that the Hungarians of Transylvania are less and less likely to feel loyalty toward a state that denies them what they see as their basic rights as a national minority.
1. The Latin word "Transilvania" means the land beyond the forest; that is, beyond the forests between the Hungarian Plains and Transylvania. The Hungarian name, "Erdely," has the same meaning (derived from the ancient Magyar word "erdoelve"). Transylvania's original Romanian name, "Ardeal," borrowed from the Hungarian, has been pretty well abandoned in this century for the Latino-Romanian "Transilvania." The German name,
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"Siebenburgen," originally referred only to the seven towns founded by German settlers invited by Hungary's kings in medieval times.
2. George Schopflin, "The Ideology of Rumanian Nationalism," Survey 20, nos. 2-3: 77-104.
3. William H. McNeill, Europe's Steppe Frontier (Chicago, 1964), 1018.
4. Ibid., 108-10.
5. Ibid, 105. Daniel Chirot (Social Change in a Peripheral Society: The Geation of a Balkan Colony [New York, 1976]) attributes greater significance to economic factors and emphasizes different aspects of the process of development in Wallachia.
6. On the weakness of the Romanian state, see Emmanuel Turczynski, "The Background of Romanian Fascism," in Peter Sugar, ed., Native Fascism in the Successor States 1918-1945 (Santa Barbara, 1971), 101-11.
7. Robert R. King, History of the Romanian Communist Party (Stanford, 1980), 106-9.
8. Radu Florian, in "A roman tarsadalom marxista vizsgalata Lucretiu Patrascanu muveiben" (Korunk 4014: 250-55) discusses irrationalism and the writings of Nae Ionescu.
9. Attila Kovari, "The Romanian National Mystery: Myth-makers under the Microscope," Crossroads 3 (Spring 1979): 201-41.
10. The emergence of Romanian nationalism, as well as the Slavicization that preceded it, is discussed by George Schopflin in "The Ideology of Rumanian Nationalism"; see also Attila Kovari, "The Romanian National Mystery."
11. Michael Shafir, Political Culture, Intellectual Dissent and Intellectual Consent: The Case of Romania (Jerusalem, 1978), 12ff. See also Erno Gall, "A nepiesseg gondolata a roman muvelodesben," in Nemzetiseg, erkolcs, ertelmiseg (Bucharest, 1978).
12. Miorita is also discussed by Ion Ratiu in Contemporary Romania: Her Place in World Affairs (Richmond, England, 1975), 123.
13. Shafir, Political Culture, p. 22.
14. Ion Lancranjan, Cuvint despre Transilvania (Bucharest, 1982), 175. See also George Cioranescu, "Romania: An Escalation of Polemics on Transylvania," Radio Free Europe Research, August 11, 1982.
15. Paunescu is quoted by Ferenc Kunszabo, "Modern Genocide and Its Remedy," in Witnesses to Cultural Genocide (New York, 1979), 34.
16. This discussion of the Hungarian tradition is based on C. A. Macartney, The Habsburg Empire 1790-1918 (London, 1968); Andrew C. Janos, The Politics of Backwardness in Hungary 1825-1945 (Princeton, 1982), and P. Toma and I. Volgyes, eds., Polincs in Hungary (San Francisco, 1977). My own views are set out at greater length in "Hungary: An Uneasy Stability,"
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in Archie Brown and Jack Gray, eds., Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States (New York, 1977). On this theme, see also Chapter 16, below.
17. Peter Ruffy, "Az allamalapito" Magyar Nemzet, August 20, 1982.
18. A more detailed account of the state of the Hungarian minority is in George Schopflin, The Hungarians of Romania (London, 1978), which served as a principal source material in preparing this report.
19. Lajos Takacs, a professor of international law at Cluj (Kolozsvar) University; all references below on the state of the Hungarians are taken from his memorandum. Excerpts have been issued in English translation by the Committee for Human Rights in Rumania in Witnesses to Cultural Genocide, 145-61.
20. A Living Reality in Romania Today: Full Harmony and Equality between the Romanian People and the Coinhabiting Nationalities (N.p., n.d.), 18 pp. and 22 photographs; distributed by Romanian diplomatic missions in the spring of 1978, in various languages.
21. This statement appeared in the official Hungarian-language daily of the Romanian Communist party, Elore, March 31, 1972.
22. "Patriotic duty" is from Albert Szigeti's article in Invatamintul licealsi technic profesional (November 1976): 4-5. The minutes of the joint plenum of the Hungarian and German Nationality Councils were printed in Romanian and published by Editura Politica, Bucharest; the speaker referred to was Herman Schmidt of the Ministry of Education.
23. Committee for Human Rights in Romania, Romania's Violations of the Helsinki Final Act Provisions (New York, 1977) (mimeographed), 22.
24. Complaints about libraries have been appearing regularly in the Hungarian press in Romania, eg., Elore, March 19, 1972; Igaz Szo, no. 9 (1971): 345; and Konyvtari Szemle, passim. The dissatisfied farmer was at the village of Bodoc (B6dok), Megyei Tukor, May 18, 1972. Konyvtari Szemle was a specialized journal for librarians; it ceased publication in 1974, at the time of the paper shortage.
25. Text of the law in Scinteia, November 2, 1974; details of its enforcement in Neue Zurcher Zeitung, February 1-2, 1975, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 9, 1977. The latter makes it clear that the German religious communities were just as adversely affected as the Hungarian ones.
26. Z. Michael Szaz, "Contemporary Educational Policies in Transylvania," East European Quarterly 1114 (Winter 1977): 499. For more on this subject, see Chapter 15, below.
27. Financial Times, April 2, 1975.
28. The entire problem of official policy with regard to the language and its use in factories is a very complex one. The following quotations from various speeches by Ceausescu illustrate uncertainties and oscillations in the
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policy. They should be read in conjunction with Decrees No. 24 and 25/1976, which in effect gave the authorities the powers to direct labor, to order Romanian citizens to take up employment wheresoever the authorities choose; this is in contravention of every human rights and labor convention signed by Romania. Ceauaescu had this to say on October 24-25, 1968, to the Central Committee of the party: "While taking steps for the expansion and protection of training in the mother tongue, the state is facilitating to young people of other nationalities the assimilation of the Romanian language, this being an objective necessity for the full and effective implementation of the principle of equal rights . . . so that young people . . . may hold jobs in keeping with their capacities, at any economic, administrative, scientific or cultural unit, in any locality" (from Nicolae Ceauaescu, Romania on the Way of Completing Socialist Construction [Bucharest, 1969], 3:586; italics added. From volume 4 onward, this collection of Ceauaescu's speeches was entitled Romania on the Way of Building Up the Multilaterally Developed Society; twelve volumes had appeared by 1977). Two-and-a-half years later, in a speech to the German Nationality Council, Ceauaescu had this to say (February 17, 1971): "We have to concern ourselves less with the language we are writing in, but with what we are writing, for whom and how we are writing and if what we are writing serves socialism" (ibid., 5:531). A few weeks later, speaking to the Hungarian Council, Ceausescu stated (March 12, 1971): "That means that the problem of assimilating the Romanian language should not be looked upon as an obligation to learn one more language; it is linked, in the last analysis, to ensuring equality in fact. If, on leaving his or her locality or country as a youth is unable to communicate with others, he or she will fail to feel truly equal or free" (ibid., 686). Finally, in a speech to the Cluj party aktif, Ceauasescu stated (October 31, 1973): "We must further ensure conditions for learning in the mother tongue and for a corresponding cultural activity. We must have in view that all the cadres we are training have to work as well as possible in factories, agriculture - everywhere where this is required by the general interests of society" (ibid., 9:463). It clearly never occurred to Ceauasescu that in certain cases equality of rights might have been served by Romanians learning Hungarian.
29. Viktor Meier, the highly esteemed Eastern Europe correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), reported after a visit to a small Hungarian village near Cluj that only 10 of the approximately three hundred families there were Romanian and they were almost all families of policemen; on being asked whether the policemen spoke Hungarian, the villagers told him that they might know some, but it was better to speak to them in Romanian. FAZ, September 11, 1976.
30. "After the Andrei Visit to Budapest," Radio Free Europe Research, February 28, 1978.
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31. For the text of the Kiraly letters, see Witnesses to Cultural Genocide, 162-78.
32. Cf. Gyorgy Szaraz, "Debating an Odd Book on Transylvania," The New Hungarian Quarterly 24, no. 89 (Spring 1983): 96-104.
Conference reviewing adherence to the provisions of the
Helsinki Final Act*
(*English text, translated from the Hungarian, as submitted to the Madrid Conference.)
In the interest of the survival of the approximately two million Hungarians in Rumania, we appeal to the peoples of the states represented at the Madrid Conference. Perhaps there is still time to halt the process, induced by the policies of the Rumanian government, which is threatening our very existence as a nationality. The forced Rumanianization of Transylvania and the suppression of our culture are being carried out with unprecedented vehemence. Masses of Rumanians from beyond the Carpathian Mountains are being resettled into regions with a predominantly Hungarian population and into purely Hungarian communities, mainly cities. At the same time, according to official nationwide population statistics, the number of Hungarians remains stagnant. The Hungarian-language school system is gradually being destroyed. More and more obstacles are created to hinder the publication of Hungarian books and periodicals. Our language, in truth, has been forced out of public life entirely. The effort to seclude us from Hungarians living elsewhere is being carried out with increasing vigor. (Relations between Hungary and Rumania are at a sub-minimum level in all respects.)
All conceivable means are employed to thwart the natural development of our identity. Successive Hungarian generations are brought up in an atmosphere of chauvinism which denigrates our heritage and preaches the superiority of Rumanian history and culture, without allowing those Hungarians an opportunity to learn about their own ethnic background, or even the true history of Transylvania. The state
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powers treat us, especially intellectuals and workers, as if we were the enemies within. Terror on the part of the security forces is the order of the day. If we speak out in defense of our heritage, it is we who are called chauvinistic. We live as second-class citizens in Rumania, whose possibilities for career advancement are also limited by the fact that we are Hungarian.
We lack any means of self-protection. The individual is defenseless in the face of the tyranny of the state, and since 1949 - when the Hungarian People's Alliance was liquidated - there has been no organization to safeguard our collective interests. Thus, our situation is characterized by the denial of not only our individual rights, but our collective rights as well, two sets of rights which are inseparable in our case.
The fact that existing international agreements do not deal with the collective rights of minorities bears profoundly upon the possibilities for bringing about a change in our situation. The focus on individual human rights, which constitutes the prevalent approach to this problem in the international arena, fails to take into consideration the shared values critical to a national minority as a collective entity - values which evolved through tradition and are carried on through a national minority's unique culture and the group identity of its members. These values would require special legal protection. While for the majority - due to its larger size and dominant position - the medium for the expression of its unique values exists as a natural given, for the minority to achieve the same purpose would require a means of collective self-protection. For this reason, regardless of the underIying motive, the effort to secure human rights for minorities, without taking into account their nature as collective entities, can actually place them at the mercy of the majority.
Having taken the above into consideration, we believe that in order to alter our present deprived condition, it would be of fundamental importance that the international agreements reached in Madrid establish on the record our right to survive, and in doing so, define those human rights which would insure the preservation of our culture:
1. Allow us to regard ourselves as bound by unbreakable bonds to the entire Hungarian people, and grant the same right to all national minorities.
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2. Grant us the right to preserve our ethnic identity and collective values.
3. Allow us to establish an independent organization to protect our interests.
4. These rights - in our view - could acquire real validity only if an independent, unbiased international commission were formed which would examine our situation, act as arbitrator and also have supervisory authority.
* Attached to this memorandum is a Program Proposal in which we endeavored to formulate the most important of our demands of the Rumanian government in the interest of ameliorating our situation.
Transylvania, September 1982
By the editors of the samizdat periodical Ellenpontok (Counterpoints), whose continued anonymity in present day Rumania - where critics of the regime disappear without a trace or become "accident" victims unfortunately need not be explained.
|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|