Greater Romania, largely an unintended consequence of WWI, could hardly be greater indeed. Only a French general had the vision of a larger new Romania, stretching all the way to the Adriatic and thus including some of those Balkan lands and populations Romanian scholars cannot really place on their (mental) maps.The bad news was, Greater Romania consisted, even more than the Old Kingdom, of an ethnic, linguistic, confessional, local/regional, and symbolic geographical mix that could not be straitjacketed into the brand new frame of a fledgling nation-state.
Biopolitics forcefully encapsulates the representation of the nation as a living organism, functioning according to biological laws, and subsumed to the authority of the secular state. Biopolitics placed the nation-state within a scientific realm, one whose legitimacy stemmed from the dual claim that it could improve the “health of the population”, and protect the “racial qualities of the nation”. As the modern state became increasingly obsessed with its historical mission, namely to create a nation which was racially, spiritually and linguistically homogeneous, it also resorted to coercive mechanisms — such as stigmatisation, discrimination, segregation, and ultimately cleansing — in order to protect its members and eliminate those who were socially, ethnically and sexually different.
Vladimir Solonari examines the origin of the policy of “ethnic purification” which was pursued by the Romanian government during World War II. He argues that this policy had its roots in the traditional Romanian understanding of the nation as an ethnic entity which excluded national minorities from its body. In the inter-war period a series of nationalistic ideologues propagated the idea that only an ethnically “pure” country could succeed economically and politically. They recommended various measures of ethnic homogenization, among which population exchange with neighboring countries and resettlement of ethnic Romanians on “freed” properties featured prominently. The spectacular successes of Nazi Germany added luster to their cause.
This paper discusses a number of themes that led to the refashioning of the ethnicity and national identity of Moldavian Roman Catholics, the so-called Csangos, from the interwar period through wartime Romania and Hungary. This refashioning was advanced primarily through the historiography of the period, first by Hungarian historians and ethnographers and later by Romanian historians and Catholic priests.
This paper discusses the influence of the Roman-Catholic Church on the development of the Moldavian Csángós’ collective identity in Greater Romania (1920-1939). It sets out to analyze the influence the Church was able to exert both as an institution and through its individual representatives, namely priests working in Moldavia. Scrutinising one of the most powerful moral authorities in the Csángó society, this paper also examines the Vatican’s attitude towards the Csángó problem within the broader context of international relations.
This paper focuses on the interwar Romanian state’s efforts to remould the educational system to suit its politically engineered need for national integration. Considering the specificities of the Hungarian ethnic community in Transylvania, I argue that, on the one hand, some of the unexpected yet enduring legacies of nationalizing education were determined by the ethnic aspects of such unifying reforms. On the other hand, the long-term failure to modernize the educational system as such partially stemmed from the ethnic competition that characterised it as re-nationalizing the educational system in Transylvania also meant taking over the structural deficiencies inherent to it. Sheer quantitative expansion, expressed in ratios of enrolment achieved through the depletion of former non-Romanian educational assets, could not, as it was so optimistically assumed in the early days of the change of sovereignty, automatically entail a qualitative boom.
This paper analyzes the competition for the political and cultural integration of the Hungarian-speaking community of Szeklers into the Hungarian and Romanian national-states during the interwar period. A traditional East European peasant community facing the challenges of both modernization and state-building, the Szeklers first called for regional autonomy during the “Székely Kongresszus” held in Tusnádfűrdő/Tuşnad in 1902.
Satu Mare’s location in the de-nationalised zone in Romania at the Romanian-Hungarian frontier made it strategically important and an extreme case regarding Romanian national re-building as it had 97 % non-Romanians before 1914, according to the Hungarian linguistic definition of nationality. The city was heavily magyarised with a strong Hungarian and Jewish elite who were opposing the Romanisation. The Romanians were in minority, but they were backed up by the state and the international community through the peace conference, even though there was a conflict between the protection of minorities and the Great Power interest in re-nationalising Satu Mare.
Representations of the relations between the Gagauz minority and their Romanian political and administrative masters in the inter-war years have been characterised by mutual mistrust, persecution and recrimination. This picture is at least partly the product of both post-war Soviet propaganda and more recent experiences of conflict within the Moldovan state. However, gaining a satisfactory understanding of how a politically and economically marginalised and geographically peripheral group such as the Gagauz experienced this period of Romanian rule is particularly problematic.
This paper explores Aromanian political radicalism taking into account two points. Firstly, it deals with certain aspirations of a national group that was searching a homeland after decades of traumas. Born in a climate of violence, the Aromanian national identity adopted violence as a legitimate answer. Secondly, it has to do with the way of sublimating the Romanianness as community and motherland. Intellectuals like Papanace sought to provide a balanced self-identification criterion: Romanian but still Aromanian.
Subsequent to the national ‘general assembly’ held on the 8 January 1919, the Transylvanian Saxons declared their collective ‘Anschluss’ to Greater Romania and intent to be “loyal members of that state to which we belong.” That said, the Saxons entered the interwar period with a self-perception formulated around two or three generations previously. When the definition of ‘Saxons’ as a German-speaking protestant ethnic group, historically living in Transylvania, emerged around 1850, a large portion of this group had already developed strong identity patterns that were largely based on the legal guarantees awarded to them between the 13 and 15 centuries as the inhabitants of the autonomous Saxon territories (fundus regius). In early modern times this legal framework very gradually gave way to the self-perception of a group characterised by the same language, religion, and customs, and that only accepted into its ‘natio’ (an estate) those deemed to be similar regardless of where they came from.
While it appears peculiar that the Transylvanian Saxon eugenic discourse has largely evaded academic scrutiny, it embodies a highly indicative case study of the lure eugenic thought could exert on ethnic minorities battling a sense of anthropological crisis. Pursuing a eugenic movement that emerged under Dr. Heinrich Siegmund’s tutelage in the early twentieth century, tracing the process of its politicisation, radicalisation, and gradual translation into executable population policies by the mid 1930’s, this paper focuses on tracing the Saxon eugenic discourse’s conceptual and methodological evolution during the interwar period.
Given that both Romania and Serbia claimed the whole region of the Banat after the First World War, the partition agreed upon by the Paris peace treaties satisfied neither side. The majority of the Romanian population were farmers with high hopes for the 1921 land reform. But the majority of Swabians, of which 76.5% were farmers according to the 1930 census, did not stand to benefit from the reform. On the contrary, the communal grounds administered by the Catholic Church, used to finance schools as well as social institutions, were appropriated by the Romanian state.
Considering the wide assortment of nationalising agendas the newly constituted ‘Greater Romania’ sought to introduce in its various, newly acquired, provinces of Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina, and Bessarabia, the German and Hungarian minorities where from the outset forced to find a strategy of self-defence. The Romanian political elite never tried to assimilate these two minorities, which constituted a decisive difference in the Romanian minority policy – a stance exemplified by the persistent assimilatory pressures the state subjected the Tschango minority in Moldavia to since the 19 century. However, the German and Hungarian communities became the objects of a very resolutely realized policy of marginalisation in the economic, public life, educational, and administrative domains.
On the 21 January 1938 the newly appointed Romanian government issued a decree on citizenship revision regarding mainly the Jewish population. This was one of the central themes expounded by the National Christian Party (NCP) program entitled “Romania to the Romanians.” According to the National Christian Party leaders, the Romanian Jewish population had dramatically increased after the First World War – partially due to the state’s acquisition of new territories such as Transylvania, Banat, Maramureş, Bukovina, and Bessarabia, partially as the result of a significant Jewish emigration from Galicia. According to these NCP leaders, the Jews were understood as being excluded from the minority treaty the Romanian state signed with the Allied Powers in 1919 as well as other international treaties. Therefore, they could be deprived of their citizen rights, and eventually even be forced to leave the country. This was one of the first measures in a series of anti-Semitic laws and decrees to be legislated in the following years.
This paper analyzes the Jewish intellectuals’ response to the Emancipation granted in 1919 in relation to the Romanian Minorities Law and 1923 Constitution. I will focus on the public discourse and the changes to the terms of identity construction as they were publicly assessed by the Jewish intellectuals in word and print.
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