Courtesy Reuters

Transylvania Partitioned

TRANSYLVANIA entered a new phase of its long and turbulent history on August 30, 1940, when Germany and Italy divided it between Hungary and Rumania. Never reconciled to the loss of Transylvania and the adjacent territories of Crişana, Maramureş and the Banat in 1918, Hungary pressed her claim for their return with even greater vigor when the Soviet seizure of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina in June 1940 began the dismemberment of the Rumanian state.[i] In July negotiations were opened at Craiova for the return of southern Dobruja to Bulgaria, and on August 8 the first official admission was made, by Premier Ion Gigurtu, that Hitler's "ordering of the Südostraum" would involve the surrender of Rumanian territory to Hungary. At the behest of the Axis, direct negotiations were begun at Turnu Severin on August 16 between delegations from Bucharest and Budapest; but a week of memoranda and counter-memoranda left the two governments poles apart in their ideas as to what would constitute a satisfactory compromise. Anxious to settle this problem without a war, and perhaps fearful of opening the way for further Soviet aggrandizement, the Axis governments summoned Hungarian and Rumanian delegates to Vienna and presented them with a readymade and drastic solution of the Transylvanian dispute. The new arrangement may prove to have been but a stop-gap, if Britain or Russia wins the war. But if the Axis is victorious, the Vienna award may, with minor changes, stand for some time to come, in spite of the fact that Magyar nationalists are still calling for the return of the Banat and the rest of Crişana and Transylvania. In any case, the fundamental facts -- historical, geographical, ethnic and economic -- will remain, and it is to an examination of these that this article is addressed.


To both Magyar and Rumanian nationalists Transylvania has long represented the keystone of the national integrity, the strategic security and the economic well-being of their peoples. For Hungarians, Transylvania is as sacred a center of

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