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ROMANIANS AND HUNGARIANS. LEGISLATION, EVERYDAY LIFE AND STEREOTYPES IN INTERWAR TRANSILVANIA

15 iulie 2012 Adrian Majuru Science and Culture

Starting with 1919, the Romanian political universe diversified; the minorities founded active political parties, as were those of the Hungarians, the Germans or the Jews. Of course, the political parties in the Kingdom – both old or new – had a more or less rigid attitude concerning the minorities’ problems. For instance, one of the most popular political parties, during the 1919-1929 period, the People’s league, later the People’s Party (founded in December 1918, in Jassy, by the General Alexandru Averescu) expressed its position concerning the minorities very cuttingly.

          The position of this party did not differ much from those of other interwar parties. Although between 1919-1930 it had an equidistant position, after 1930 the People’s Party would introduce the concept of “numerus clausus”, deploring the extremely reduced number of the Romanians in the main towns of Ardeal, and in some social structures in Transylvania.13

 

          To understand better the Romanian realities, let us examine a complex document concerning the minorities’ problems, in the interwar society. Thus, we shall also reach the everyday life. It is a report “concerning the rights of the religious minorities” in Rumania writen by the “American Committee of the Rights of Religious Minorities”. 14

          The report impartially showed the great difference between the modern legislation at a European level, and its weak representation in real life. In fact, the ethnic and religious minorities in Romania were facing serious problems, from the proliferation of the antisemitic attacks, to the deficiencies of the educational system, that were depriving  the   minorities of the rights stipulated by the constitution.15

                   The Committee reported the persistence of intimidation campaigns, the intolerance, the incomplete application of the law of the Rumanian citizenship, the ‘black coats’ organization who opposed the impartial application of the constitutional stipulations; the untidiness concerning the recognition of confessional liberties, as, for instance, the case of the Baptist church in Transylvania.

          As an argument, I shall choose to discuss the case of two unpublished documents concerning the situation of the Baptist and other minority confessions in Romania. Doctor Edgar Mullins, President of the “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary” Institute in Louisville (Louisiana), asserted that the Baptist’ situation was “worse then that of the Jews or the Unitarians. About their treatment, the non-conformists asserted that the Baptists prefer the Soviet Russia, ten times more than Romania. In Russia, Baptist missionaries can wander everywhere, distributing Bibles, and converting everyone willing to listen to them. The Soviet Government knows that the Baptist churches cannot be organized according to political aims”.

          In his turn, Doctor Frederick Griffin asserted, in a sermon delivered in the first Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, that “it is undeniable that the Lutheran Church suffers, like all the similar institutions, from the difficult financial situation in the Romanian state of today. The cause of the financial crisis of this church, is not the State, which allots considerable sums to this church, much greater than those allotted by the Hungarian State. (…)  The financial crisis of the Lutheran church of the Saxons in Transylvania, is due to the fact that its authorities allow themselves a luxury no other church in Romania can afford. (…) The Bishopric does not content itself with the salaries received from the state, but offers its workers bonuses 2-3 times greater than the above-mentioned wages. The same thing happens with the priest. (…). These are, essentially, the causes of the financial crisis of the Lutheran Church of the Transylvanian Saxons, crisis of which, as we have said, the Romanian government cannot be made responsible”.

          Beyond these impartial assertions, the author does not forget to mention “the oppressed populations in Transylvania, whose country was taken by force, whose estates are confiscated, whose members are fleeced by the Romanian government and people, of their religious services and their rights established by the treatises”.16

          All these were everyday realities that were strikinly different from the stipulations of the cosntitutional document promulgated in 1923. In this respect, the report of the above-mentioned American committee is illustrative in its details:

 

          “(…) The Hungarian minorities in Romania enjoy the most complete protective measures, in concordance with the rights that were given them by the minorities’ treatise. (…). The Committee considers that there is a great difference between the Constitution of the country-liberal in many regards – and its application by office workers, a striking difference visible mostly in the border districts. (…). The attempt at “Romanianizing” the minorities by force and at destroying their confessional schools, (…) will cause Romania to lose the confidence of those nationalities that, in other conditions, might have been its friends. (…). The Committee draws the attention to the way the Romanian authorities apply the law of citizenship. Undoubtedly, the fundamental right of citizenship is not offered to thousands and thousands of inhabitants instified at receiving it.

          The minorities are thus refused, in an arbitrary way, that element of protection that each country owes to its population, and this, despite all the solemn guarantiees offered to the minorities. During the visit, the Committee has noticed the existence of horrid campaigns of intimidation and brutality against the Jewish citizens of the state, coming from a mixture of intolerance, arrogance and ignorant hatred. (…). According to us, some governmental office workers have made a great mistake in not allowing several thousands of people belonging to the minority’ groups, to maintain their ethnicity and by regarding as Romanian those who use another native language (…). We draw the attention the Government upon the situation of the Hungarian church of Lutheran rite, and we insistently require that it be granted a satisfactory legal situation. (…) Finally, the Committee has noticed the fact that in the adjoined territories, there is a considerable contingent of educated citizens who could serve the state most profitably. At present, many of these citizens are in a desperate state because of what seems to be a calculated and determined effort of the majority to remove them from their official functions”.17

 

          The preliminary report of the American Committee for the Religious Minorities’ Rights was completed with the data contained in de speech held by Mr. Lanthorp Howland, one of the Presidents of the Committee. According to the latter, “the Romanians’ intention to form a national middle class was feeding the anti-Semitic attacks. To underline the application of some laws on a different organic base, Lathorp Howland gave example of the case of the town of Cluj where, in 1917, the population was mainly Hungarian, and the University had been turned into a Romanian university. He also cited of the Ukrainian minority which was situated, according to the interwar Romanian imaginary, in a dangerous synonymy with the Russians who, in their turn, were equal to Bolsheviks – the main enemy of the Romanian modern state.

          Lathorp’s approach is completely placed under the idea of the disagreement between legislation and everyday life reality. His reference to the changes that had occurred in the Ardeal region after 1918 are very categorically against the administrative system of the Romanian government.

 

          “(…) The Romanians wish to form a national middle class is, no doubt, work encouraging. The middle class is formed, in Romania, by Jews. Thus, the problem consists in hindering the Jews’ access in schools, so that Romanians have all the opportunities. (…) The Ukrainians have been the most terrorized of all minorities. Every Russian is a Bolshevik, to the Romanian authorities. Of religious minorities, the Baptists suffer more than any other sect, because they are the only ones who, like the Adventists, have crossed the Carpatians (to make proselytism). (…).The buildings are requisitioned in a haste and turned into Romanian schools. The exams are held with Romanian teachers, and the children are asked all sorts of unfair questions, so they can be rejected”.18

 

          Some objections were formulated when John Howland Lathorp delivered this lecture. A certain A.I.Popescu invoke the principle-still frequently in use today – according to which the missunderstanding of the Romanian case is due to the remote position of our country, compared to the European decision centers. Thus, the myth of the Romanian outskirts within the European space led inevitably, to the ignorance that led, inevitably, to the ignorance of the Romanian realities. The author asserted that, in order to understand “the minorities’ situation in our country”, several things had to be made clear, among which one was essential: “Todays’ minorities were yesterday oppressors of today’s majority. Subconsciously – I am not saying consciously,- they claim not their treatment as minorities, but their dominant situation from before the war”.

          We deal with a kind of approach that does not completely deny the opponents’ assertions, but tries to de-construct his image considered distorted because of misunderstanding the real situation. His arguments are somewhere at the border between a current propagandistic approach and the real problems:

 

          “Mr. D.I.Popescu has objected to the lecturer that he did not really consider the truly liberal opinion in Romania. (…) Romania, a remote and unknown country, has been attacked “in toto”, for every repressable fact due to a section of the country alone, a section that,  unfortunately, has its counterpart in every country (…). To understand the situation of the minorities in our country, several things should be considered, without of which a rightful perspective cannot be maintained, in judging the situation. There is, first of all, a matter of psychology. You know very well that the Hungarian State instituted, once, the oppression, the “dis-nationalization”, and the conversion to other religions of the Romanian majority. (…) We have proportionally shared these properties, in regards to the ethnic minority, so that neither the minorities’ churches, nor the minorities’ schools are as preponderent as they were before the war. (…) It would be ridiculous for you to believe that we – the majority native people of this country – could tolerate such an unfair distribution of goods, in favour of some minoritary languages or cults. (…) I wonder how come your heart did not soften at all, before the war, at the situation of the majority, like you now pity the “oppressed” minority? Why don’t you send identical commissions of inquiry, in Hungaria, Yougoslavia a.s.o. ? (…) We do not want to have in the 20th century the religious fights that we avoided in the Middle Ages. (…) If you will understand and respect our point of view, we are ready to discuss with you, point by point, everything that you have estimated as an “injustice”, in your report. And I assure you that we too, understand those who understand us”.19

 

          The minorities’ problem was at the heart of many analyses that sought fair solutions. One such analysis was elaborated in 1930, by the publisher Aurel Ciato, and presented by radio at Lugoj, Timisoara and Cluj, some Transylvanian towns. Aurel Ciato’s project mainly had in view the conflict between Romanians and Hungarians”.20

          The author insisted on the fact that there had never been conflicts between Romanians and Germans, invoking Daniel Roth’s words from 1848. The latter had underlined the fact that both collectivities had been confronted with “the source of misfortunes” coming from the part of the Hungarians.

          Aurel Ciato’s programme in five ponits was meant to solve the divergencies between Romanians and Hungarians, although it was clearly built to strengthen the Romanian element, mainly in Transylvania. The five clauses contain the following problems.

All those orders that have given priviledges to one nationality or another, unjustly, illegally or to the detriment of the Romanian interests will be annulled;

The Romanians in these territories will be integrally re-entitled to their own rights and, with that end in view, the propor-tionally corrective factor shall be used, according to which – by their number and within the state general interests – the sons of different nationalities will be appointed to public offices and the state benefits will be shared in the same proportions;

At the same time, the Romanian state will have to make up for what was committed or reglected, in the past concerning the Romanians, from a cultural and economic point of view. (…);

Another duty of the state will be to help, all Romanians who, forced by circumstances, (…) become estranged (…) from their nationality;

The state will care to further the most suitable means to cultivate the Romanian language”.21

Towards the end, the author stresses upon the common possibilities of the majoritary and the minority, to solve the breaks between them, in order “to satisfy all expectations and, at the same time, to give due content to the Romanian state.” The fundamental problem of the modern, unitary Romanian state was no other than “the re-establishment of the Romanian nation, according to the new conditions and social structure offered by these conditions.”

Aurel Ciato wished Great Romania to solve, as efficiently as possible, the Hungarian problem based upon the “dissensions between Romanians and Hungarians” so that it could become “the coorder of a new type of state in central Europe.” How was this ideal to be reached? The author developed a detailed programme eccording to which the minorities’ rights had to become concordant with “the real conditions of life in Romania and its population.”22

The programme in five points made the following references, to the minorities’ problems:

 

We shall rigourously observe that the fair interests and the rightful feeling of the population should not be harmed in any way. (…) The innovations to come should be a progression, an advantage, an amplification and a simplification, compared to the past.

We shall have in view that general feelings (…) of our statesman should not be guided by the invention of regionalism, but by the sincere and firm intention to introduce an ideal government that would consolidate the voluntary joining of the solitary parts to the whole in which they are called to take part.

Further on, we shall follow the principle of easing the minorities’ participation in the life of the state, giving them the possibility to acquire public functions and employing them as an active personnel of the Romanian State(…)

The nationalities, will then be attracted by our various preocupations, having them thus involved with all their interests, in the future and the prosperity of our country.

We shall even admit the co-habiting nationalities that were colonized here to play a civilizing part, consenting of their historic mission and, consequently involving them in loyally fulfilling their mission, fair-minded and patriotically – and their great economical and industrial entreprizes will be protected by the state.”

 

Regarding the use of native languages in the interwar Romanian everyday structures, Aurel Ciato offered the following solution:

“(…) The use the minoritaries’ languages in our country will be ensured individually, for each citizen, within the limits, in all functions and services where the need will occur. There would be two main sections in this respect:

Measures will be taken that each official worker has the possibility to learn, as quickly and accurately as possible, the official language of the state;

Each official worker will be obliged to know perfectly, besides the state language, the language of the majority population in his region.”23

 

The problem of the minorities – analysed variably in the interwar Romania – was, in fact, a European problem. From this point of view, Iuliu Maniu tried an approach, concerning the matter, in his article “Are minorities still a problem, to the peace of Europe?”

Iuliu Maniu stressed the improvement of the Transylvanian minorities’ general situation and, finally, he expounded an interesting theory. According to him, “if the Ancient Hungary would be restored tomorrow, within its former fronters, it would not last one single day, if universal suffrage would be established, and its population would be given the right to vote as they choose.”

According to Iuliu Maniu, his government had respected the two fundamental directions of the minority communities’ liberties. These two directions were:

 

“Full national freedom for all peoples who live on our territory. Each people should get schooling, independent administration, and the possibility to judge in its own language, the persons of its own race;

Full equality and autonomy for all religious groups in the State.”24

 

On the other hand, the “Ardealul” daily news–paper  underlined, in the article entitled “The Hungarian minority in Transylvania”, the generally positive status enjoyed by the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Thus, “all the institutions the Hungarians had had in Transylvania, before the union, had not only remained intact, (…) but also acquired a new impetus (…)” and the confessional freedom is a reality.

The constitutional liberties and rights were represented both in teaching, as in what concerned the Hungarian language publications. Last but not least, the Hungarian minority – not the only one in Transylvania – actively participated in the democratic exercise – with a disciplined electorate, a situation similar to the one we have today –  while the Romanian population and a great part of the Hungarians in Transylvania did not have this right, before the war. We present, further on, some reference points issued by this journal:

 

“(…) Unlike the Hungarian state that has not sustained any Romanian school in Transylvania, the Romanian state has not only authorized the Hungarian schools to function, supported by churches, (…) but has founded, on its account, primary and secondary schools of Hungarian language. In 1930, in Transylvania, there were 1362 primary schools and 57 Hungarian secondary schools, of which 483 primary schools and 5 secondary schools were financed by the state, for 1.353.000 Hungarians (…). In 1918, there were hardly, in Transylvania, 4-5 Hungarian daily newspapers; in 1928, their number was of 46. In 1928, 577 Hungarian periodical publications. In 1913, were published 77 different Hungarian books; in 1926, 400. (…). By the agrarian reform, 45.628 Hungarian peasants were provided with the assitance they needed for their existence, a necessity the Hungarian state had  never thought of.

(…) In 1910, the Hungarian Parliament had 286 members, but, only 5 Romanian deputies, who represented 3 million Romanians. After the union, 1.351.000 Hungarians were represented, in the Romanian legislative structures, by 14 deputies and 12 senators, in 1926, and in 1928, by 16 deputies and 6 senators. (…).”25

 

In the interwar Romanian imagination, the feeling under seige the Romanian population had had before the war, amplified. The perpetuation of this feeling, in spite of the projects and debates on the theme of the minorities’ problems, has determined the diversification and the exacerbation of the process of Romanianizing the historic provinces, often compared to a process of historic recuperation.26

On the other hand, the Romanians in the historic provinces – mainly those in Transylvania – were going through a crisis of identity determined mostly by the irreversible fenomenon of implementing the institutional models of the Old Kingdom, in the whole spectre of the daily life in Ardeal, which were more evolved from a cultural, social and economic point of view.

The way of thinking of the Romanians in Ardeal has remained, though, strongly rooted in the world before the war, for a long time. The dissolution of the Diligent Counsel, in April 1920, has caused discontentment in Transylvania among the minority, as well as among the Romanians who lived with the real feeling of their high position of the Ardeal province, compared to the Old Kingdom.

The image of the foreigner, in the Romanian traditional culture, can also be seen, with its “cliches”, in the public, private, official or confidential attitudes of the Romanians confronted with “the other”. Although Romanians have always co-habited with foreigners, and have been connected to many nations, it seems that none of these has ever complied with their expentacies, as “there is no nation Romanians would have come in contact with, that they would not have derided. For every foreigner they had to deal with the Romanians have discovered, a negative attribute, in comparison with themselves, so that “there is no nation they could think of as just, good, honest.”

Among the attributes Romanians have bestowed on “the others” in time, we find out that, “the Germans are uggly as hell”, the French enjoy the same “flattering” qualification,  the Jews are stingy (târtani) stingy, the Greeks are scabby goats, the German are stupid, the Bulgarians are “with leek”, and we would never end, if we tried to list all uttered against foreigners.”27

The Szeckler painter Barabas Miklos mentions the fact that the Bucharestans called the Germans “drunkards”, and they even call one another “German drunkards”, while disputing. 28  The reticence, the skepticism, even the opposition against foreigners, against “the others”, can also be noticed in the conflict between formal and fundamental, or between “Europeanization” and traditionalism, between the new and the old. The confruntation continues, and is extremely complex, even today.29

Somehow, the fury of Emil Cioran and his “furious generation” is explainable; it was fed by the sentiment of an acute lack of support and understanding. A new image of relationship between minority and majority, was, thus, born, in the confrontation between those who struggled, who had ideals, clearly defined aims, on one hand, and the others, the apatethic, the indifferent ones.30

The Great Romania was a complex world, that made great efforts to define itself in order to achieve fulfillment. The minorities’ problem was one of the essential points in this effort.

The present approach has tried to open up a perspective based upon the cleavage between the modernization process undergone by the Romanian society – a process in full development, during the interwar period – and the Romanian social corpus that was hostile to the full achievement of such a process. This confruntation between the new and the old can also be noticed in the analyses and the orientations regarding the solution of the minorities’ problem. Frequently, the above–mentioned confruntation was corroborated with the identity problem generated by the violent replacement of the old world with a totally different one after the war.

author: Adrian Majuru


13 See Indreptarea, year XX, no.1, January 3, 1938,  The People’s Party and the Minorities’ Problem

14 American Committee on the Rights of Religious Minorities, preliminary report concerning the religious minority rights. Report signed by: Dr. Henry A.Atkinson, generaql secretary of the Church union for peace, and secretary of the Reverend RA. Mc Gowan Commission, of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Conference, Reverend John Howland Lathorp, priest of the Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, (…), Reverend Dr. Graham C.Hunter (…) and Jules Jezequel, representative in Paris of the Churches’ Union for Peace, the National Archives in Bucharest, the Fund of the Ministry of National Propaganda, dossier 18, 1927-1928.

 

15  “(…) The minority teachers wanted to have their own teachers’ organizations. The reformed teachers from the Baia Mare diocese, and the Roman-Catholic ones in Oradea had asked permission to establish their own associations, but were turned down, although the Romanian teachers had had their own associations, during the Hungarian administration. (…)

The Romanian government went up to closing the confessional schools that were called “counter-schools”, institutions that, according to the Romanians, had been established by the Reformed Church only to oppose the new Romanian government, and to employ the Hungarian teachers who had refused to make their oaths to the Romanian administration, being, thus, dismissed. (…) The Hungarian organizations came against even more suspiciouse than the churches. Be those associations preocupied with gymnastics, music, culture, stenography, reading or general culture, or claiming of encouraging the cognition of national literature, the cultivation of national feelings or love of the country, the authorities suspected them of irredentism. (…).” (Irina Livezeanu, op.cit., p.213-219).

 

16 Dr. Edgar Mullins, President of the “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary” Institute in Louisville, and Dr. Frederick R.Griffin-preach delivered at the “First Unitary Church in Philadelphia; apud the “Record” newspaper, the National History Archives in Bucharest, the  Fund of the National Propaganda, dossier no.5

 

17 Ibidem

18 Notes taken from the Conference of Mr. John Howland Lathorp, delivered at Neighbourhood Club, 101, Clark Street, Brooklyn Heights, on December 14, 1927, the Fund of the Ministry of National Propaganda, dossier no.18, 1927-1928.

 

19 Ibidem

20 The National Archives in Bucharest, the Fund of the Ministry of National Propaganda, dossier 125, 1928-1941, The Minoritary Problem with us – with a preface explaining the dispute between Hungarian and Romanians, conference held in Lugoj, Timisoara and Cluj, by Aurel Ciato, publicist, Cluj, 1930.

 

21 Ibidem

22 “(…) We shall unconditionelly have in view our minorities, and we shall follow the example of America, that has managed to create that blend of immigrants of various nations into a single nation, changing the civilization accumulated there, into a special America culture, allowing, at the same time, all nationalities to preserve their distinct mother language.” (ibidem, p.54)

 

23 Ibidem, pp. 56-63

24 The article of His Excellency Mr.Iuliu Maniu, Prime Minister of Romania, the National Archives of Bucharest, The Fund of the Ministry of National Propaganda, dossier no.8

 

25 The National History Archives in Bucharest, the Vasile Stoica Fund, dossier 168, sequence from “Ardealul”, The Hungarian Minority in Transylvania):

“(…) The Churches have enjoyed all liberties. The Catholic Church of Roman rite, with dioceses in Alba-Iulia, Timisoara and Oradea – have seen their situation confirmed not only by the lows of the country, but also by the concordate concluded in 1927, between the Romanian State and the Holy See. The Calvinist, Protestant one is functioning freely, the grounds of its 1907 status. It could found, under the Romanian regime in 1926; a second diocese at Oradea (one was at Cluj). The Unitarian one – with 68.000 faithful, and one Bishop in Cluj has settled its status of government in 1923, with no involvement from the part of the State. Even more: because, among the Hungarians in Transylvania, 33.000 were of Lutheran confesion, the Romanian state has approved them to found their own national religious organization, different than the Lutheran Saxon one, and to choose a super-intendent of their own. In order to sustain the Hungarian clergy of various categories, the Romanian Government has assigned the same subventions from the budget, as for the Romanian clergy. The dioceses, the Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and Unitary Calvinis seminaries are completely financed by the state.  There are three categories of Hungarians, in Transylvania: the Eastern Hungarians, called Szecklers, the Hungarians from the boundary with Hungary, and the isolated groups from the diaspora, in Central Transylvania. (…) The Szecklers are a compact element, with local tendencies, with some ties with the land they have inhabited for 7 centuries. The Hungarians from the boundary areas are some groups from the Hungarian plain, pushed towards the East, and in direct contact with the Hungarian mass from beyond the borders. The Hungarians in the diaspora were, most of them, brought by various governments, colonized in the middle of the Romanian masses, with political aims, mainly to make a strip of Hungarian population on the line Oradea-Cluj-Targu Mures-Odorhei, to link the Szecklers to the Hungarian block; thus they have no tradition in Transylvania. (…) It is true that these islands of the diaspora are vividless and that the most important part of the Hungarian element in Transylvania is made of the Szecklers’ group (…).” (Ibidem).

 

26 “(…) The Transylvanian purists saw the meanness, the lack of discipline and the mizery of bureau cracy, as a burden of the Balcanic Romania, refusing settle down to it (…) it can be felt, yet, that the political leaders of the Ardeal region restlessly waited for the moment when the kingdom would catch up with the more civilized Transylvania. (…) Accustomed with its own political life, different than the one of the rest of Romania, by virtue of its intelectual culture, of its habits and its economical interests, the Ardeal region waited for s special treatment from the part of the Old Kingdom. (…) The dissatisfaction was led by the continous state of siege-intensified, by the arrests, the numerous expulsions, and by the closing of many schools where the personnel had refused to make their oath to the state. Finally, the living had become more and more expensive, as a consequense of the onerouse affairs concluded by the merchants coming to Transylvania, from Bucharest”. (Irina Livezeanu, op.cit., p.163, 194)

 

27 Andrei Oisteanu, The Image of the Foreigner in the Traditional Romanian Culture, “22”, year X, no.23, p.12

 

28 Andrei Verres, Painter Barabas and the Romanians, the Romanian Academy, Memoirs of the Literary Section, series III, vol.IV, MEM 8, Cultura Nationala, Bucharest, 1930, p.381

 

29 Adrian Marino, For Europe. The Integration of Romania. Cultural and Idelogical Aspects; Polirom, Yassy, 1995.

“(…) Idyllic image according to some, totally ideal and Utopian, in others’ opinion, Europe – reviewed in general – was confrunted, step by step, with the Romanian culture bath with an ideology and mentalities violently and radically hostile. It is even worthy noting that, while the Romanian elites had been, in 1848, firmly and openly European, – and by them we were becoming “European”, idelogically speaking – their voice was reduced to silence very quickly. We returned, spiritually speaking, back, in space and time, in a nebulous zone, impossible to localize in “Europe”. Up to the point where, during the second half of the XIXth century, and mainly between the two World Wars, the dominant ideology in Romania was predominantly nationalist, “ethnicist”, sometimes even rasist and always anti-European.”

 

30 The theme is extremely vast, from a bibliographical point of view. In sustaining it, I have selected two fragments from a diary an interwar novel:

“(…) These people know not to be have themselves, to respect one another or their superiors (…). When I return from abroad, I am impressed by the beggars in the streets, the gipsies, the Gipsy quarters, by the lack of urbanity from the part of the inhabitants. (…). I am irritated with the poverty of those who live in the towns, of the many, of the peasants, by the lack of hygiene, of civilization, despite all the qualities of our people.” (Petru Comarnescu, Diary, 1931-1937, The European Institute, Yassy, 1994, p.61)

“(…) hygiene, sweet air, courage – this is what I need, this is what we, the young ones, need. (…) other towns, other generations, other men – that is what we need. If we could pull down the whole Bucharest, and if I could build instead a town of the sun, a young town, white, virily, pure! A town without procurers, without old people – mostly without old people. Where are the old, there are rancour, venom, bitterness, cowardice, immorality. Only the children and the old are vicious, only they can practice the incest, for instance. (…). Health, courage, virility – instead of vice and cowardice!” (Mircea Eliade, The Return From Heavens, Rum Irina, Bucharest, 1992, p.171)

 

 

 

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