Romanians in the Kingdom of Romania and surrounding territories according to the 1917 census.

Romanianization or Rumanization was the series of policies aimed toward ethnic assimilation implemented by the Romanian authorities during the 20th century. The most noteworthy policies were those aimed at the Hungarian minority in Romania as well as the Ukrainian minority in Bukovina and Bessarabia.[1][2][3]

Romanianization in Transylvania

In the period between the two World Wars

At the end of World War I, Transylvania, at the time a territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was occupied by the Romanian army. Shortly before, the Romanian National Council (representing the majoritary Romanian population) and representatives of the German population had taken the decision of unifying the province with Romania. The decision was contested by the Hungarian minority. The Treaty of Trianon established the Romanian border with the new Hungarian state. However, Transylvania had a large Hungarian minority, of 25.5% according to the 1920 census. A portion of them fled to Hungary after the union;[4] however, most of them remained in Romania and in the 1930s their number increased to 26.7% of the whole Transylvanian population. While Romania included large national minorities, the 1923 Constitution declared the country to be a nation-state, following the French model which was popular in many European nations at that time.

After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the post-war mass actions of the Romanians directed against primarily the Hungarian aristocracy and at times Jews.[5] The takeover did not happen without the reduction of the cultural and economic life of the Hungarians: while in accordance with the Agricultural Act of 1921 a number of Hungarian estates and lands were confiscated, the land reform openly favored the Romanians. Subtitles appeared in public places: "Romanian only allowed to talk". It's note to tell, that such educational institutions were closed and abolished as the Roman Catholic high school of Szatmárnémeti founded in 1670, on other in Alba Iulia founded in 1579, the Roman Catholic high school in Kézdivásárhely founded in 1696, the Unitarian high school in Cluj founded in 1566, or the Reformed main gymnasium of Marosvásárhely found in 1557, etc.

Although Romania won the war, the Anti-Hungarian sentiments were not remitted. During the 1930s (in response to the Hungarian Revisionist propaganda) Anti-Revisionist demonstrations began in Romania,[6] supported by Nationalist newspapers like the Universul. After a particularly violent protest in Cluj Foreign Minister Titulescu officially condemned the events in Bucharest newspapers.[7] During the autumn in 1944, after the withdrawal of the Hungarian military forces and administration from Transylvania, Székelyland was engaged and pillaged by the Romanian Gendarmerie and volunteers. However, on 12 November 1944 the Soviet Red Army expulsed the returning Romanian authorities from Northern Transylvania with reference to the massacres committed by members of Iuliu Maniu's so-called Maniu Guard, and the Romanian authorities were not allowed to return until the government of Petru Groza was formed on 6 March 1945.[8](The Hungarian-Romanian conflicts in 1940 and 1944 are still controversial.)

After the second World War

Since 1947 the Romanian authorities gradually eliminated the old Hungarian institutions, after the Treaty of Trianon borders had been restored. However Hungary was a Socialist country as well, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 Hungarians in Transylvania many times were accused of separatism and revisionism,[9] the major part of Hungarian intellectual and spiritual leaders (among others Catholic Bishop Áron Márton) were arrested and convicted for years. On the other hand, during the Communist era the former civil organization possibilities of the interwar period were eliminated.

After 1948, the industrialization of towns made the number of inhabitants in some urban areas to double or even triple, most of the newcomers being ethnic Romanians from the rural areas. The urbanization policy, natural phenomenon as the urbanization being required by the economic development and by the intention of transforming the predominantly agrarian country into an industrialized one, was followed throughout Romania, including in areas inhabited by minorities although much less significant.

By the late 1950s the regime of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej increasingly manipulated Romanian nationalism as a popular legitimizing device applying more repressive policies toward the Hungarian minority.[10] After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 the Magyar Autonomous Region was dissolved and most key posts were filled by loyal Romanians.[10]

In 1959, the Hungarian university in Cluj was merged with the Romanian one to become an almost exclusively Romanian-language institution.[11] The event was marked by the suicide of several Hungarian professors.[11] The Romanianization of education had begun earlier, in 1958 through the forced merger of Magyar primary schools with Romanian ones.[11] The Csángós for their part lost their last Hungarian school in 1958.[11]

After Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power in the 1960s, the assimilationist drive was pursued with new vigor.[12] The remaining minority "privileges" were lost, Hungarian representation in the local bureaucracies was limited to the proportion of Hungarians in the total population.[12] Mass resettlement of Moldavians and Romanians into Transylvania took place.[12] Hungarian intellectuals were coerced into leaving Transylvania and were compelled to take jobs in non-Hungarian areas which also contributed to Romanianization.[12]


According to census data, the Hungarian population of Transylvania decreased from 25.5% in 1920 to 19.6% in 2002. Changes were more significant in cities/larger settlements, where Hungarians used to be majoritarian, especially in Northern Transylvanian cities such as Oradea and Cluj-Napoca. It is possible that the population of Hungarians in these cities dropped since many Romanians declared themselves to be Hungarians when Transylvania was under the control of Austria-Hungary. Many Romanians would magyarize their last names since Romanians were considered second-class citizens in Austria-Hungary.

Romanianization of the Transylvanian population was also affected by the fact that 300,000 Germans emigrated into West Germany. The West German state paid to Romania the equivalent of $2,632 per ethnic German emigrant, as of 1983.[13] Also, about 50,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust emigrated to Israel on similar terms. These mass emigrations were, however, an example of positive discrimination towards the German and Jewish populations, as the rest of the Transylvanian population (Romanians, Hungarians, Romas) had no opportunity to take part in this economical emigration.

Romanianization was less sustained in the compact Székely areas of south-eastern Transylvania (the Székely Land), where in 2002 Hungarians made around 61% of the population. The capital city of the former Hungarian Autonomous Province (covering mostly the Székely areas) is an exception: the percentage of Hungarians in Târgu Mureş decreased to 46%, as the industrialization of the city led many people from the surrounding rural areas (largely Romanian) to move into the city. Among those who were Romanianized were descendants of Romanians who were Magyarized in the past.

Policies toward the Ukrainian minority in Romania

The territories of Bukovina (today split between Romania and Ukraine) and Bessarabia (today by 2/3 in the Republic of Moldova and 1/3 in Ukraine), historically populated by the Romanians and Ukrainians for hundreds of years.

In 1775, Bukovina was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, which offered certain currency in the public life for the two nations,[14] however the general policy on churches and education disfavored the Christian Orthodox population.[15] Austrian control favored immigration to develop the economy of the region.[16][17] Due to Bukovina being administratively linked to the province of Galicia, the ethnic composition of the province was altered by waves of Ruthenian (Ukrainian), German and Jewish immigrants.[14][16] According to Keith Hitchins,[16] "In 1774 the estimated population was 75000; in 1810 it was 198,000, and in 1848 378,000. The changes in the province's ethnic composition were dramatic. In 1774 the Romanians constituted an overwhelming majority, roughly 64,000 to 8,000 Ruthenians (Ukrainians) and 3,000 others. By 1810 the Romanian share had fallen from 85 per cent to 75 per cent (150,000 to 48,000 non-Romanians), and in 1848 there were 209,000 Romanians (55 per cent), 109,000 Ukrainians (29 per cent) and 60,000 others (16 per cent). The Jewish population rose from 526 in 1774 to 11,600 in 1848."

In 1918, following the collapse of Austria-Hungary, control over the whole of Bukovina fell under the Kingdom of Romania; same situation happens in Bessarabia after the relinquishment of Russian Empire. The takeover was followed by the policy of Romanianization of ethnic minorities, mostly Ukrainians, pursued by the Romanian authorities. The policies were built on an increasing sentiment spread in Romanian media and historic works that all of Bukovina was inherently a Romanian ethnic territory. Ion Nistor, a prominent Romanian historian and one of the most vocal proponents of Greater Romanian nationalism,[18][19] was made a rector of the University of Cernăuţi (Chernivtsi), the main university of the province. Enrollment of Ukrainians in the university fell from 239 out of 1671 in 1914 to 155 out of 3,247 in 1933, while Romanian enrollment in the same period increased to 2,117 out of 3,247.[20]

The Romanianization policies brought the closure of the Ukrainian public schools (all such schools were closed until 1928) and the suppression of most of the Ukrainian (Ruthenian) cultural institutions. The very term "Ukrainians" was prohibited from the official usage and some populations of disputable Ukrainian ethnicity were rather called the "citizens of Romania who forgot their native language" and were forced to change their last names to Romanian-sounding ones.[18] Among those who were Romanianized were descendants of Romanians who were assimilated to Ukrainian society in the past. As such, according to the Romanian census, of the total population of 805,000, 74% were called Romanians; the number included the Ukrainians and other possibly related Ukrainian ethnic groups Hutsuls referred to as "Romanians who forgot their native language"[21]

According to the 1930 census, Ukrainians made up 3.2% of the population of Romania. The declines in Ukrainian population between the censuses of 1919 and 1930 is illustrated as follows: the first census indicates a population of 16,250,000, of which 763,750 (4.7%) were Ukrainians; in 1930, as the total population had increased by 11% (to 18,025,896), the Ukrainian community had dropped to 576,828 members (75.5% of the previous total).[22]

Other ethnic minorities

Ethnic minorities who were Romanianized are Bulgarians who first arrived during the First and Second Bulgarian Empires in the 7th and 11th centuries respectively, Turks who arrived during Ottoman Empire, and Russians who arrived in Wallachia and Bessarabia. These ethnic minorities were not forcibly Romanianized, but voluntarily as many of them speak their own languages.

Notes and references

  1. István Pávai, "The Folk Music of the Moldavian Hungarians", Hungarian Heritage 2002 Volume 3 Numbers 1-2. Extract online at , accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  2. James Fuchs, "Averescu: Rumania's Mussolini", The Nation, Vol. 122, no. 3175, May 12, 1926. A relatively early citation for the term "Rumanization" - a policy attributed, among others, to the Romanian government of Ion I. C. Brătianu, one which would have contributed to an alliance between nationalist forces hostile to Brătianu and representatives of ethnic minorities, as the pseudo-fascist People's Party (led by Alexandru Averescu)
  3. Bukovina - Handbook, part of the Yizkor Book Project on In particular, see the section "The Church Question". Accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  4. Raffay Ernő: A vajdaságoktól a birodalomig-Az újkori Románia története = From voivodates to the empire-History of modern Romania, JATE Kiadó, Szeged, 1989, pages 155-156); Kovrig, Bennett (2000) ‘Partitioned nation: Hungarian minorities in Central Europe’, in: Michael Mandelbaum (ed.), The new European diasporas: national minorities and conflict in Eastern Europe, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, pp. 19-80. Ernő indicates an exodus of about 197,000 Transylvanian Hungarians fled to Hungary in 1918–1922, Kovrig estimates a further 169,000 over the remainder of the interwar period.
  5. Eugenia Barlea: Perspectiva lumii rurale asupra primului razboi mondial. Editura Argonaut, Cluj-Napoca, 2005.
  6. A Romanian point of view: Miklós Zeidler: Ideas on territorial revision in Hungary, 1920-1945. Social Science Monographs, 2007. p. 157.
  7. Thomas Lorman: Missed Opportunities? Hungarian policy towards Romania, 1932-1936. Slavonic & East European Review 2005. v. 83. p. 291
  8. Vincze Gábor: A kisebbségpolitikus Márton Áron. Magyar Kisebbség. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  9. Stefano Bottini - Zoltán Csaba Novák: Az 1956. évi forradalom sajátos romániai következményei (forrásközlés). In: 1956 megközelítése: levéltárak, irattárak = The specific consequences of the revolution of 1956 in Romania. In: Approach to 1956: archives, records. Levéltári szemle 2006. Volume 54. p. 61-73.
  10. 1 2 Bugajski, p. 200
  11. 1 2 3 4 Mandelbaum, Michael (2000). The new European diasporas: national minorities and conflict in Eastern Europe. Council on Foreign Relations. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-87609-257-6.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Bugajski, Janusz (1995). Ethnic politics in Eastern Europe: a guide to nationality policies, organizations, and parties. M.E. Sharpe. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-56324-283-0.
  13. "Relations with Noncommunist States" in Library of Congress Country Study: Romania, based on data as of July 1989. "In 1979 West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Bucharest and extended credit guarantees of approximately US$368 million in return for Romanian pledges to facilitate the reunification of ethnic German families. The issue resurfaced in 1983 when the so called education tax would have increased West Germany's payment of the equivalent of US$2,632 per ethnic German emigrant to US$42,105. After visits by Bavarian premier Franz Joseph Strauss and West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, an agreement was reached whereby the West German government increased its payment per emigrant to approximately US$5,263." Accessed online 12 November 2006.
  14. 1 2 Encyclopædia Britannica, Ukraine, Section:: History:: Western Ukraine under the Habsburg monarchy:: Bukovina
  15. Keith Hitchins, The Romanians 1774-1866, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820591-0, p. 227-229
  16. 1 2 3 Keith Hitchins, The Romanians 1774-1866, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820591-0, p. 226
  17. Raimund Friedrich Kaindl, Das Ansiedlungswesen in der Bukowina seit der Besitzergreifung durch Österreich, Innsbruck, 1902, pp. 1-71
  18. 1 2 Oleksandr Derhachov (editor), "Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis", Chapter: "Ukraine in Romanian concepts of the foreign policy", 1996, Kiev ISBN 966-543-040-8
  19. Mariana Hausleitner, "Cernauti University, 1919-1940: Concepts and Consequences of Romanization". Presented at ""Culture and the Politics of Identity in Modern Romania", May 27–30, 1998, Elisabeta Palace, Bucharest, Romania
  20. A. Zhukovsky, Chernivtsi University, Encyclopedia of Ukraine, 2001, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  21. Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1988, p.191
  22. "Populatia României Mari". România Mare (in Romanian).

See also

External links

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