THE ROUMANIAN ARMY BRINGS ORDER
On the evening of January 13th, 1918, the Roumanian Army entered Kishineff. General Broshteanu and his staff arrived at noon of the 14th; and on the 15th, he was given a formal reception by the Diet. President Inculetz, in introducing him" reminded the deputies through what a crisis they were passing, and emphasized the assurance given him, that the Roumanian troops were in Bessarabia solely for the preservation of order and the safeguarding of the railway communications and army supplies and munitions. Gen. Broshteanu, in his address, bade his hearers banish any fears they might have of losing their newly won liberties. "I am bound to declare to you," he said, "that Roumania is herself in too difficult a situation to have any thoughts of conflict or conquest." Our .only purpose, he went on, is to guard munitions, communications and the railways; but we have also brought you security. In every town through which we have passed, I have been told: the arrival of your army has given us the first restful night's sleep we have had in months. We of the Roumanian Army hope that under our protection you will proceed to develop your Republic as you see fit. We do not wish to interfere.
With the arrival of the Roumanian Army and the assurance of order, all classes in Bessarabia except the Russian revolutionaries, breathed a sigh of relief. The murders of prominent Bessarabians during the previous few weeks-in the district of Orhei, MM. Cveatcovsky, Ducantoni, Mihalash, Marabute, Zenin-Creazcov, in Soroca, M. Butmi de Catzman, in Baltz, MM. Bantash, Roset, Anush, in Bender, M. Balutzel, in Kishineff, M. Mihai Razu, to name only persons well-known through the province-had united peasants and land-owners, business men and functionaries, in a willingness to risk annexation for the sake of security. This was soon evidenced by a Peasants' Congress, scheduled for Jan. 18, and heralded by the Russians as sure to undo the work of the Diet. Of the 384 delegates, only 118 assembled; their leaders protested against the Roumanian occupation, to be sure, but discovered they had only luke-warm support, and the Congress dissolved.
And now the Diet took another step forward; on Jan. 23, 1918, it proclaimed the independence of the Moldavian Republic; Inculetz and Erhan pointed out that the situation of Bessarabia, between two independent states, Roumania and the Ukraine, necessitated this action. Ciugureanu, the new President of the Council of Directors, had already voiced the sentiments of many of his colleagues, in the debates of Jan. 16 : "From the moment I first began to think and to form political convictions, I have belonged to the Social Revolutionary Party, and have looked upon national problems from that point of view, which I consider to be that of a broad federal autonomy. I have spent my life in Russia, I carried on my studies in Russia, nor have I broken off my relations with Russia. We were all of us brought up on the Russian classics, we value them highly, and in consequence we have a solely Russian viewpoint. But how can we speak of a Russian viewpoint today? It is painful to say it, but it is the fact-Russia exists no longer, Russia is falling apart, and the process keeps accentuating itself. The only viewpoint possible today seems to me a Moldavian-Bessarabian. We must think only of ourselves, and how to help ourselves . . . . Yesterday the Roumanian Army arrived; it has created peace and order, but it is going to stay here only so long as its interests lead it to stay; as soon as those interests are satisfied and it leaves, anarchy will begin. In view of this we must reorganize our army." Ciugureanu pointed out also the economic crisis, the fact that schools and hospitals were closing for lack of money, the difficulty of laying taxes, complicated by demagoguery, and the impossibility of raising a foreign loan. Nor was his worry over the possible departure of the Roumanian Army decreased by the letter of the French Minister to Roumania, M. de St: Aulaire, to the French Consul in Kishineff, M. Sarret, under date of Jan. 15, 1918, in which he says: `All my colleagues, Ministers of the Allied Powers, and I, are authorized to declare officially to you that the entry of the Roumanian troops into Bessarabia is a purely military measure, having for its purpose the safeguarding of the normal working of the rear of the RussoRoumanian Front, in conformity with the regulations established for all the belligerent states. Thus the entry of the Roumanian troops into Bessarabia could not have any bearing either on the present political situation in Bessarabia, or on the future fate of the country."
With the broad view of events now possible, we can see that the Roumanian Army could not fail to remain. Bessarabia was isolated, the Ukraine independent, Moscow in Bolshevist hands, Wrangel and Denikin yet to appear, and marauding hordes of disbanded Russian soldiers still trooping through the country. In the West, the defeat of the British Fifth Army was impending, and German victory loomed closer than ever before. Even to those isolated in Bessarabia, there must have seemed nothing available but those troops. The Moldavian Republic made a brave effort to meet the situation. For 62 days it poured oratory on the troubled waters, while the Roumanian troops spread over the province, meeting organized resistance only along the Dniester near Bender. Here the new Rumcerod-Soldiers' Soviet of Odessa-using Tiraspol as a base, conducted quite vigorous operations, especially as the Roumanian troops were widely scattered, from the Sereth front down to the Danube, and repressing the sporadic outbreaks of Russian deserters in Moldavia itself. But the Bolshevists had their difficulties also-driving back Yudenitch and Korniloff, and the attacks of the Finns, Letts, Esthonians, Ententophile Ukrainians, CzechoSlovaks and Don Cossacks. Rakovsky had come down to Odessa to form a High Commission to fight Roumanian and Ukrainian counterrevolution; this supplemented the Rumcerod-Soviet of Soldiers and Workers-which was nominally the chief authority even yet in Odessa; and their dealings with the Roumanians over events in Bessarabia bring out the confusion in the Ukraine. An armistice till Feb. 3 was agreed upon; meanwhile Rakovsky's High Commission and the Rumcerod demanded the evacuation of Bessarabia by the Roumanians, the surrender of all the Russian military stores, the extradition of Gen. Shtcherbatcheff, the Russian Commander-in-Chief, and various other persons, etc. Negotiations went on also between the Allied representatives in Odessa, headed by the Italian Consul Fasciotti, and the Rumcerod. But suddenly the situation changed; the Ukraine signed a separate peace at Brest-Litovsk late in January (Feb. 9, N. S.), three weeks later German troops entered Kieff, the Dniester was set as the boundary, and the Bolshevists disappeared.Next Chapter Previous Chapter
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