Modern Rumania was formed by the fusion of the Rumanian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia into a single national state. This historic event took place in 1859 as a result of the votes of the Assemblies of Jassy and of Bucharest. The union of the Principalities was recognised by the guarantor Powers — the signatories of the Treaty of Paris of 1856.

It was not, however, the whole of Moldavia as it had been constituted by its great Voivodes, Alexander the Good (1400—1432) and Stephen the Great (1457—1504), which took part in the union of 1859. At the Assembly of Jassy there had been no representatives of Upper Moldavia (the regions of Cernauti and Suceava), nor any of the landowners of the regions in Eastern Moldavia situated between the Prut and the Dniester (Hotin, a part of Jassy, Soroca, Orhei, Lapusna, Tighina, Hotarniceni, Codrul and Greceni). These regions no longer formed part of Moldavia. Upper Moldavia had been annexed to the Austrian Empire under the name of Bukovina, while Eastern Moldavia had been incorporated in the Russian Empire under the name of Bessarabia.

The former territory of Moldavia had been twice diminished : first in 1775, when the Empress Maria Theresa occupied Upper Moldavia and incorporated it in the Hapsburg Empire ; then in 1812, when the Tsar Alexander I seized Eastern Moldavia and annexed it to the vast Muscovite Empire.

A map of Moldavia, printed in Holland in 1737 and recently discovered in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris, represents the whole of Moldavia with its historical [8] boundaries as they had been established along the Dniester by the old rulers of the country. This map was drawn by Prince Demetrius Cantemir, author of a history of the Ottoman Empire and of a detailed and reliable description of Moldavia in his time.

Living as they were under foreign domination, the Rumanians of Bukovina and Bessarabia could not share in the joy of the Union proclaimed in 1859. Nor could they contribute intellectually and actively to the building of modern Rumania. They were still to endure a foreign yoke for more than half a century before the hour of liberty was to strike for them too.

It was in the confusion of the World War that the principle of liberty and self-determination for the oppressed nations of Europe triumphed. United to her great and powerful allies, Rumania too made the supreme sacrifice of her blood in order to secure the triumph of her national cause and to free her sons from the yoke of Austria-Hungary and of Russia.

But it was only after the victory of the Allies that the Rumanians of Bukovina and Bessarabia, like their brothers of Transylvania, of the Banat and of the Maramures, were able to shake off the yoke of foreign domination and to proclaim freely and with an indescribable enthusiasm the union of their provinces with the Kingdom of Rumania. The proclamations of union of Bessarabia, of Bukovina and of Transylvania followed each other in rapid succession.

On March 27, 1918, the National Assembly of Chisinau proclaimed the union with the mother country of the Bessarabian territories lying between the Prut and the Dniester. On October 28, 1918, in a national congress at Cernauti, the Rumanians of Bukovina proclaimed the union of Bukovina with the free Kingdom of Rumania. Finally, on December 1, 1918, in a great National Assembly at Alba Iulia, the Rumanians of Transylvania, of the Banat and of the Maramures, proclaimed the union of their territories with the Kingdom of Rumania.


Thus, in 1918, 59 years after the Union proclaimed at Jassy and at Bucarest, the total unification of the country was happily completed by the votes of the assemblies of Chisinau, Cernauti and Alba Iulia. Issuing from the freely and unanimously expressed will of the Rumanians of the Old Kingdom, of Bessarabia, of Bukovina and of Transylvania, these memorable historic declarations constituted the sure and strong foundation on which stood proudly and impressively the political edifice of Greater Rumania, now fully established within its old racial and historical boundaries under the wise and energetic government of H. M. King Ferdinand I and of Queen Marie.

By their incorporation into the political organism of the national Rumanian State, Bukovina and Bessarabia, having adopted the common rhythm of national life, now enjoy all the benefits and advantages of a national government, while they, on their part, contribute new forces to the development and consolidation of the common fatherland.

In order to show the extent of the work accomplished by the Rumanian government in the provinces recently restored to the mother country and to place it in its proper setting, a short account will be given of the conditions in these provinces during the period of foreign domination and of the circumstances of their union with the Kingdom of Rumania, while their prosperity under the watchful care of the government of Greater Rumania will also be briefly described.




Bessarabia is that part of Moldavia which lies between the Prut and the Dniester. The forests of Bukovina shade its forehead ; the Black Sea bathes its feet. Until 1812, it was an integral part of the Moldavian Voivodate. It had been conquered little by little by the early Voivodes of Moldavia, who vanquished the Tatars and drove them beyond the Dniester. Along this river, which, according to a popular tradition, God had placed as a boundary between Rumania and Poland, the Moldavian Voivodes built with the help of Genoese artisans those mighty fortresses the impressive ruins of which still excite our wonder today. For centuries the Moldavian Voivodes valiantly crossed swords with the heathen in defence of Bessarabia. Peter Voda Musat relieved the fortress of Hotin in 1371; Alexander the Good fortified Cetatea Alba, which had been taken from the Genoese ; and Stephen the Great controlled the passages of Tighina, Soroca and Orhei with defensive works built against the continual invasions of the Tatars and the Cossacks.

While defending this Rumanian territory, the Voivodes also promoted its agricultural development by making large grants of land to the warriors who distinguished themselves on the battlefield, and they encouraged its religious life by erecting sanctuaries to God, the giver of victory. It was Alexander the Good who built the monastery of Varza- resti, the first Rumanian religious foundation of Eastern Moldavia.


The Genoese merchants of Chilia and Cetatea Alba had access to the princely residence of Suceava, and it was at Soroca and at Hotin that trading was done with the Cossacks, the Russians and the Poles.

Alexander Voda of Lapusna, known as Lapusneanu, was a native of Bessarabia. Vlaicu, one of Stephen the Great's counsellors, founded Chisinau, the capital of modern Bessarabia. The landowners of Tigheciu were regarded as the „surest bulwark of Moldavia” in the continual struggles which the country was obliged to carry on against the Tatars. Their courage and their prowess are legendary. Codreanu, Gruie-Grozaveanu, Novae and Ghelea are the heroes of ballads and of old folk songs. It was from Bessarabia that the Cantemir dynasty issued. It was from a river of Bessarabia, the Cogalnicu, that the great Rumanian statesman, Michael Cogalniceanu, derives his name. It would be easy to extend this enumeration of historical facts showing the close ties which, for more than four centuries, connected the region lying between the Prut and the Dniester with Rumanian life in Moldavia as a whole. Toward the end of the 15th century, the political preponderance of the Turks on the Danube made them masters of Chilia and of Cetatea Alba, which became Turkish cities or vilayets. Suleiman the Magnificent fortified Tighina and called it „Bender”, which is the Turkish word for „door”, the door opening the way to new Turkish conquests beyond the Dniester.

Later, the Turks also seized the citadel of Hotin. And toward the middle of the 16th century, the Tatars reappeared in the Bugeac.

The region occupied by the Tatars, up to the Cogalnicu River, is also cited in the historical documents of the 17th and 18th centuries under the name of Bessarabia, i.e., the country of the Basarabs, an ancient dynasty coming originally from Muntenia (Wallachia).

The Turks were in the habit of giving countries names derived from those of their ancient founders. Thus the Dobrogea was so named after the Dobrotici, while Bogdania [12] was so called from the name of the Voivode Bogdan I, the founder of Moldavia. Similarly, Muntenia (or Wallachia) was called Bessarabia after Basarab I, the founder of the Basarab dynasty.

In the time of Mircea the Elder, when the power of the Basarabs extended in the direction of the Tatar countries on both banks of the Danube as far as the Black Sea, these regions had been incorporated in the country of the Basarabs, or Bessarabia.

In the course of time, the name Bessarabia, as applied to Muntenia (or Wallachia), fell into disuse and came to designate only the Tatar country of Bugeac. It remained in use only for the coast region north of the Danube, especially for the Turkish cities which were later established there, and, later on, for the Tatar country of Bugeac. When the Russians, in 1812, occupied all that part of Moldavia which lies between the Prut and the Dniester, they extended the name of Bessarabia to the whole of Eastern Moldavia. Thus, since 1812, the region between the Prut and the Dniester which had been wrested from Moldavia has been designated in official documents in the Russian language under the name of Bessarabia.

Unlike the Russian officials, the native Moldavian population continued to call the land of its birth Moldavia, and this name has remained in use down to our own day.


Russia's designs on Constantinople were the central theme of the political testament of Peter the Great. The political ideal of Russia was to break a path by land toward the capital of its dreams. By repeated wars and conquests, Russia reached, first, the line of the Dnieper ; then, by the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji, the Bug; and at last, by the Peace Treaty of Jassy (1792), the Empire of the Tsars reached the Dniester. But this was not the frontier at which Russia intended to halt ; her aspirations extended to the Prut, and even [13] beyond the Danube and the Dobrogea toward Constan- tinople.

To realise this political ideal, Russia started in 1806 another war against Turkey — a war which lasted until 1812 and was ended by the famous Peace Treaty of Bucarest, which cost Moldavia more than half its national territory. Hostilities had lasted six full years, and Turkey, who expected help from the Western Powers and especially from France, was at the end of her resources. She counted above all on Napoleon, then making ready his great expedition against Moscow.

But as the decisive intervention of France did not come, both belligerents became very uneasy . The Russians, daily fearing to be attacked by Napoleon, wished to sign the peace as soon as possible in order that they might recall the army of the Danube to oppose the French. The Turks, exhausted and discouraged after six years of war, no longer hoped for anything but the signature of the peace. The rumour was abroad in diplomatic circles that the Tsar was willing to make peace without the acquisition of territory, in order that he might promptly withdraw his armies and transfer them to the western front.

As the negotiations, which were conducted at Giurgiu, dragged on, Russia tried a bold stroke in Bulgaria beyond the Danube with the object of intimidating Turkey and forcing her to sign the peace treaty. The resumption of hostilities caused much disquiet in government circles at Constantinople ; the Sultan, thinking that it was vain to expect a reply from Napoleon, reopened peace negotiations at Bucharest and agreed to the cession of Bessarabia. It was thus under the stress of events that, on May 16, 1812, the famous Peace Treaty of Bucharest was signed, making the Prut River the boundary separating the Ottoman Empire from the Russian Empire.

Meanwhile Napoleon had begun his campaign against Russia. The Tsar, recalling in hot haste his armies from the Principalities, turned them against the French forces. If Turkey had deferred for a little while the signing of the [14] peace, the mutilation of Moldavia might have been avoided. But the decisions of destiny are irrevocable. The Porte was soon forced to recognise that its haste had led it to commit a great political blunder. And what usually happens took place — those responsible sought among the underlings a scapegoat to expiate their faults. A victim was found in the person of the interpreter for the Porte, Dumitrache Moruzi, who paid with his head for the error of his betters. That the alleged treason of Moruzi caused the loss of Bessarabia is a legend sprung, like so many others, from an imagination excited by painful events. If Turkey lost Bessarabia, it was the fault of the diplomacy of the Porte, which was carried on at that time by men who had no understanding of public affairs, no assurance as to the duration of their power, and no foresight.

The loss of Bessarabia produced the greatest consternation among the Moldavians, who made haste, as they had done when Austria took Bukovina, to protest to the Porte against the amputation of their unhappy country. For six years it had been trampled by Russian armies which the Moldavians, at the cost of heavy damage, had supported with their labour and their cattle.

To reward them for these considerable sacrifices, the Russians detached from Moldavia its most fertile regions and those which were the home of its strongest traditions — in a word, the very heart of the country.

But it was no longer possible to modify the Treaty of Bucharest. For 100 years, the Prut was to be an accursed river, cutting a nation in two.

A chronicler of the period, Manolache Draghici, relates that the inhabitants of Moldavia long regarded the peace signed at Bucarest as accidental and not destined to last, expecting from day to day the restoration of their country to its former state. But they were deluding themselves.

Driven by these hopes, however, the Moldavians made a final attempt to save the territorial integrity of their country : they applied to the Chancellor Metternich, asking him to lay before the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the [15] question of the retrocession of Bessarabia. Prince Metternich is said to have been convinced of the justice of this claim. But his reply was negative : he declared that any attempt to persuade Russia to return the territory which she had wrested from Turkey during the last war was bound to be vain.

Thus was Moldavia amputated of more than half her territory. The Eagle of the Urals had sunk its talons deep in her bleeding body and had ravished from her five great citadels, 17 cities and 685 villages, with a population of about half a million souls.

The Moldavians thus sacrificed were constrained to bid farewell to their brothers of free Moldavia and to pass under Russian rule.

The same chronicler records in his book the touching scenes of parting between the brothers on each side of the Prut:

„As the fatal day approached on which was to expire the period stipulated in the treaty within which each must take up his residence in the place where he intended to remain permanently, there were unforgettable hours of tears and lamentations. Crowds of men, with their flocks of sheep, thronged the banks of the Prut from its source to, its mouth. For weeks on end they journeyed from village to village, from town to town, bidding farewell to their parents, their brothers and their kinsmen, with whom they had grown up and lived until that day, when they must part forever”. With the pain of this separation there went a melancoly lament, the deep and even bitter sadness of these verses :

Here is the Prut which divides us.
Will it not die, the Prut?
If we should give it a day
We could dry it up with our mouths.

But this parting of the Moldavian people was not des- tined to be eternal. It lasted only a hundred years, until 1918. By the act of Union of Chisinau, those who had [16] been separated stretched forth fraternal hands to one another and were once more and, as was just and natural, forever united.


Russia had already occupied Bessarabia during the war. She now began to consolidate her position in Moldavia. She applied in the new territory the Russian rules of administration, though she made allowance, at least in the beginning, for the local traditions and customs and for the old laws. The Russian effort to absorb Bessarabia into the vast empire of the Tsar was facilitated by the fact that the native Moldavian population were of the same Orthodox faith as the Russians. Chisinau, capital of the new Russian province, became a Moldavian archbishopric, the see of the Moldavian bishop Gabriel Banulescu, whose province extended as far as the Bug, thus including a whole region situated beyond the Dniester and having a large Moldavian population. This population has kept its language and nationality down to the present ; they constitute today a Moldavian Republic within the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. The first governor of Bessarabia was the Moldavian boiar Scarlat Sturdza, his lieutenant being the boiar Matthew Crupenschi.

In 1818, the Tsar Alexander I visited Bessarabia and on this occasion gave it a self-governing Statute : the Statute for the provincial organization of Bessarabia. It was the Tsar's sincere wish that the inhabitants of Bessarabia should be allowed to enjoy the right to speak their own language, to practise their own religion and to have an autonomous administration.

The Statute provided for the maintenance and the respect of Moldavian laws and traditions ; it further permitted the use of the Moldavian language in religious worship, in the school and in the administration.


Unfortunately for the Rumanians of Bessarabia, the provisions of the Statute were not respected „eternally”, as the Statute itself had promised. For the successor of Alexander I, the Tsar Nicholas I, suppressed the autonomy of Bessarabia, replaced the Moldavian laws by Russian laws and introduced the Russian language in all public documents. All phases of public life were Russified under the influence of the Russian Church and the Russian officials.

Subsequently, Bessarabia also lost its privileged status as an oblastie or province of the Russian Empire ; it became a gubernie (government), that is, a mere administrative district like the other Russian „government”.

Simultaneously with the Russification of the public administration and of education, the same policy was pursued in religious matters. Shortly after the death of Archbishop Gabriel Banulescu, Russian influence began to make its way into the old Moldavian church of Bessarabia, Russian being substituted for the national Moldavian language. This measure was fatal to the Moldavians. Not understanding the Russian language, they fell a prey to sectarian movements which did much to weaken their ancestral faith.


The Crimean War, with its fatal consequences for the Russians, awakened in 1853 the old hope of the Moldavians to return to their mother country Moldavia. But e hopes were fulfilled for a part only of the Bessarabian population — that of the three southern districts of Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail.

It was by the terms of the Peace Treaty of Paris of 1856 that Russia was compelled to return these districts to Moldavia when they were once more incorporated in Rumania. Great was the joy of the Moldavians when this [18] territory was recovered. Their enthusiasm found expression in a national marching song:

Forward ! the Lord is with us!
Forward, beyond the Prut!
Keep we the soil
Which was ever ours!

The population of these three districts took part in the Act of Union of Jassy (1859), thereby benefiting from all the social reforms carried out by the first sovereign who ruled over the United Principalities in modern Rumania. The most important of these reforms were an initial distribution of land among the peasants and the secularisation of the property of the monasteries, the revenues of which were appropriated to the use of the Holy Places in the East.

The Moldavian government put into force the ancient local laws, which the Russians had, in fact, respected. It was in this period that the episcopal see of Ismail was created and that Moldavian schools of all grades were founded with the object of spreading enlightenment among the population.


The joy of the Moldavians was not, however, of long duration. In 1877 a new war broke out between Russia and Turkey, ending in the preliminaries of San Stefano and in the decisions of the Peace Congress of Berlin (1878). A victorious Russia demanded a clear road to the Danube by the return of the three districts of Bessarabia. Rumania, who had been Russia's ally in this war, resolutely opposed the spoliation of a part of the national patrimony. But her efforts were of no avail and she was forced to evacuate the three districts and to withdraw her troops and her officials beyond the Prut, just as the Emperor Aurelian had done many centuries before when he transferred his [19] legions and the officials of Trajan's Dacia south of the Danube into the Dacia of Aurelian.

On October 1 1878, the Russian authorities took possession of the regions thus handed back to them. Once again Beaconsfield's dictum proved true, that, in politics, ingratitude is often the reward of the best services.

Bessarabia, then, passed once more under Russian dommination, which grew increasingly burdensome and increasingly harsh for the native Rumanian population.

Russia, moreover, was far from pleased to see the revival and the progress of a free Rumania which was bound to be a powerful centre of attraction for the political and national aspirations of the Rumanians in all the subjected provinces. Rumanian culture and literature were undergoing a notable development and the Rumanian Academy of Bucharest had elected among its members representatives of all the Rumanian provinces, including Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania.

In these provinces national claims and intellectual life steadily increased in vigour. Rumanian books and periodicals circulated in Bessarabia, as they did in Bukovina and in Transylvania, where they set up powerful currents of awakening and of national sentiment. In spite of the cheerless and arduous life which they were obliged to lead under Russian domination, the Rumanians of Bessarabia furnished Rumanian culture with a considerable number of writers and thinkers, such as Bogdan Petriceiu Hajdeu, Aleco Russo, Constantin Stamate, Alexander Donici, Zamfir Arbore and, nearer to our day, Alexander Matievici, who was cut off prematurely, assassinated because of the national sentiments and aspirations which he celebrated in his books. The Moldavian language was banished from the school, the church and all the branches of public administration ; but, possessing the vigour of a Written language in the chronicles, it lived on and was preserved among the landowners who, in the pride of their past, cultivated it with love and veneration until the reunion of Bessarabia with the mother country.

2* [20]


During the World War, the Russian armies, which included nearly 300,000 Rumanians from Bessarabia, co-operated in Moldavia with the Rumanian army on the Carpathian front. The Bessarabian soldiers were thus thrown in contact with their Rumanian brothers from the Old Kingdom, Transylvania and Bukovina ; and they discovered in their own hearts the pure and fair light of the national idea. The national consciousness which this fraternal contact awoke in them was all the keener because it had so long remained smothered under foreign domination.

The awakening of Rumanian national consciousness among the Moldavian soldiers and officers of Bessarabia soon bore the fruits that were to be expected. The example of the soldiers was followed by their parents and their brothers who had remained at home, as well as by the Bessarabian intellectuals who, until then, had been able only in secret to read Rumanian books and newspapers.

The outbreak of the Russian revolution produced throughout Russia a crop of meetings and congresses of all sorts. The soldiers of Moldavian origin could not fail to follow this movement. They held military meetings, such as that of Odessa (April 1917) in which more than 10,000 Bessarabian soldiers took part and in which they affirmed their Rumanian national sentiments, demanded for Moldavian Bessarabia administrative, religious, educational and economic autonomy and asked that a legislative assembly be called for the purpose of establishing a new political and national organisation.

Nor did the teachers of Bessarabia remain inactive. In a congress held at Chisinau, they decided to introduce the use of the Rumanian language in the schools and to adopt the Latin alphabet for the writing of the Rumanian language. The use of the Cyrillic alphabet by Rumanians had become restricted, in fact, to Bessarabia, where Russian influence had maintained it. In the Old Kingdom, in Transylvania [21] and in Bukovina, the Latin alphabet had long since been adopted.

In consequence of the decision of the teacher's congress, Rumanian language and history courses were opened at Chisinau, being entrusted to teachers from every Rumanian province.


In July 1917, it was decided to call together at Chisinau a provincial assembly, a Bessarabian Council, for the purpose of working out draft legislation for the establishment of national and territorial self-government in Bessarabia. At the same time, the Moldavians resolutely opposed the claims of the Ukrainians to Bessarabia and they demanded the exclusive right to govern themselves within the social and historical limits of Bessarabia.

In October 1917, a military congress at Chisinau proclaimed the autonomy of Bessarabia and decided to convene the Bessatabian Council.

On December 21, 1917, the Bessarabian Council met at Chisinau. On December 2, it proclaimed Bessarabia a Moldavian Federal Democratic Republic. The executive power was entrusted to a governing council.

But the work of organisation and consolidation of the new republic at once encountered great difficulties; for the „Moldavian cohorts”, composed of Bessarabian soldiers, proved too weak and too undisciplined to maintain peace and order in Bessarabia. Innumerable bands of Russian soldiers leaving the Rumanian front invaded Bessarabia and there gave themselves over to pillage and to crimes of all sorts. Under these conditions, the decisions of the Bessarabian Council on administrative organisation, on the nationalisation of education and, in particular, on the application of agrarian reform, could not have the immediate effect which everyone desired.


The northern and southern regions of the country remained at the mercy of the bolshevised Russian armies. In the rest of the country, the houses of the nobility and the barns and granaries were sacked and in flames. In its dismay, the population repeatedly demanded protection and aid against the bands who were pillaging the country and terrorising the people.

To put an end to this unendurable situation, the Council of Directors decided on December 8, 1917 to send a delegation to Jassy to ask the Rumanian government and the representatives of the Entente to give them the help of the Rumanian army against the anarchy which reigned in Bessarabia.

Bukovina and Transylvania later were to make the same appeal to the mother country to suppress the anarchy which was threatening the entire country.

The Bessarabian appeal was heard and, on January 13, 1918, the Rumanian army made a triumphal entry into the capital of Bessarabia. With it, peace and order returned to Bessarabia, and the Bessarabian Council was able to pursue in peace its legislative work.

On January 24, 1918, the anniversary of the Union of 1859, the Bessarabian parliament met in solemn session to proclaim the independence of the Moldavian Republic.


Formally, Bessarabia had become an independent state. In fact, the new republic possessed neither the organs nor the means requisite for the life of an independent state. It was clear that the mere proclamation of the republic could not be the final solution of the Bessarabian problem.

On the contrary, all reasonable and responsible persons in Bessarabia realised that the only sensible solution of the Bessarabian problem was the union of this old Moldavian territory with the Kingdom of Rumania.


Although this idea had not hitherto found expression, yet it was implicit in the innermost feelings of every Rumanian of Bessarabia, as a heritage handed down from father to son. Political developments likewise pointed toward this solution — the only and the most natural solution — of the Bessarabian problem.

This aspiration, moreover, was shared by the whole Rumanian people. It was possible, therefore, for the Bessarabian Council to proclaim on March 27, 1938 the union of Bessarabia with the Kingdom of Rumania. The text of this historic document is as follows :

"In the name of the Bessarabian people, the Bessarabian Council declares that, in virtue of historical right and of the rights of peoples, and in accordance with the principle of national self determination, the Moldavian Democratic Republic of Bessarabia, having its territory comprised between the Prut, the Dniester, the Danube, the Black Sea and the old Austrian boundary taken from former Moldavia by Russia more than a hundred years ago, unites itself from this day forth and forever with its parent Rumania".

This proclamation was enthusiastically adopted by the Bessarabian Council and transmitted to the Rumanian government at Jassy. In the name of the Rumanian people and of the King of Rumania, the Government thereupon declared Bessarabia to be forever united with the one and indivisible Rumania.

Upon receipt of the proclamation of the historic act of the Chisinau Assembly, King Ferdinand sent the following message to the President of the Bessarabian Council: "I have learned with deep emotion and a joyful heart of the important decision which has just been taken at Chisianu. The Bessarabian Council's noble and lofty action is a solemn affirmation of the national sentiments which have recently had so mighty an awakening in the hearts of the Moldavians beyond the Prut. It is the fulfilment of a magnificent dream. I thank God with all my heart for giving me in these sad days the consolation of [24] seeing our brothers of Bessarabia return to the mother country after a hundred years. I send you this expression of my deepest gratitude de to gourself and to the Bessarabian Council, whose patriotic efforts have been crowned with success.

"In this solemn and edifying moment for the fatherland which, from this day forth, is common to us all, I send to all the citizens of the new Rumania beyond the Prut my royal greeting and the assurance of my deep and warm fatherly affection".

An eye-witness described in the following terms in the organ of the Bessarabian Council the great animation which everywhere reigned on the day of the union of Bessarabia "The public, transported with enthusiasm, cried : `Long live Greater Romania', `Long live His Majesty the King, our beloved Ferdinand I, the greatest democrat of Greater Rumania'. Deputies and public embraced one another. All, eyes ran with tears of joy. The enthusiasm was so great and so contagiously intense that even foreigners were seized with it as well as those who had tried to the very last to prevent the realisation of an event which caused such joy to the Moldavian people. They now congratulated and embraced the patriots, telling them, as it were, with their eyes that they had done their duty well and that they would have done the same in their place.

"Then the whole city was given up. to the wildest enthusiasm. The bells of all the churches of Chisinau began to peal, announcing to the world the joy of the Moldavians set free. Guns began to rend the air with their roaring salute to the happy event. Aeroplanes rose higher and higher toward the infinite altitudes of an azure sky, borne aloft as if by magic on the invisible wings of the purest and holiest joy. And in the streets of Chisinau, numberless groups of citizens surrounded the happy artisans of the great act of union — the Bessarabian patriots who had just restored to Rumania the daughter whom the Russians had forcibly seized 106 years before. They moved in a tumultuous flood toward the Church of the Council, there to render [25] thanks to God who had deigned to guide their steps and to reward their heroic efforts with so magnificent and complete a success".

The Act of Union of Chisinau was ratified by the Rumanian parliament on December 28, 1918. The Chamber of Deputies received the Bill in a storm of applause. Its rapporteur, the Bessarabian deputy Basil Stroescu, moved to tears and lifting his eyes to heaven, said : "God grant that this Union be accomplished under favourable auspices and forever".


Delivered from foreign rule by the unanimous will of the population and the fraternal aid of the Rumanian army, Bessarabia, like Bukovina and Transylvania, was to fall in again with the rhythm of national life and to benefit from the care and solicitude of a paternal government.

After a hundred years of separation, immediate measures had to be taken to revive in the new province Rumanian culture and the Rumanian spirit. But it was even more urgently necessary to take energetic measures to restore domestic order after the profound disturbances caused by the Russian revolution. The revolutionary movements emanating from Petrograd were sweeping over and threatening to engulf Bessarabia. The spirit of anarchy and revolution was fostered by the Russian troops who, in their disorderly retreat from the Rumanian and Bukovinian front, had to pass through Bessarabia to reach their own country. Thus the Rumanian army which had come to the aid of the Bessarabian population found itself in a particularly critical situation, for it had to disarm these disorderly bands and transfer them beyond the Dniester. The Rumanian army received effective help in this task from the "Moldavian Cohorts" of Bessarabia and from the corps of Transylvanian and Bukovinian volunteers whom the Rumanian prisoners in Russia had organized at Kiev. [26] Skilfully led by the Rumanian officers of the Old Kingdom, this campaign played a decisive part in the re-establishment of order and peace in Bessarabia.

These were difficult moments, tbut the Rumanians of Bessarabia had the good fortune to find beside them, watching over them, their brothers of the mother country. For Rumania, in spite of the dangerous situation in which she found herself, was able to send them something much better than a platonic encouragement — an invincible army. By holding the line of the Dniester like an immovable wall and thus closing the road to anarchy, the army enabled the Rumanians of Bessarabia to work in peace and to determine the future of their province in thei own way.

Thus, under the protection of the Rumanian army, the Bessarabian population was able to turn to the carrying out of the great political, social and economic reforms of which the new Rumanian province had long felt theneed.

In Tsarist Russia, the most reactionary form of absolutism still subsisted. Public liberties were non-existent, while class privileges flourished as in the Middle Ages. It was against this lamentable situation that the Revolution was to burst forth with such violence, to strike down autocracy and to suppress class privileges.

Under Russian rule, Bessarabia had suffered much from this system. The population was ready, therefore, to resort to any means to win civic liberties, to suppress class privileges and to obtain a better and fairer distribution of wealth and of the means of existence. Equal rights for all, in the sense of the most advanced democracy — such was the goal of the political and national aspirations of the Bessarabians.

But the union with Rumania made it unnecessary for the Bessarabian population to fight for its political and civil rights. For universal suffrage and a fairer distribution of cultivable land were already on the programme of the Rumanian government.

King Ferdinand, of noble memory, had promised these democratic rights to the Rumanian soldiers at the front [27] during the war; and, at the very moment when the Bessarabian Council at Chisinau was voting the union of Bessarabia with Rumania, the Rumanian parliament of Jassy was working out the conditions and the methods of application of the great political and social reforms relative to universal suffrage and to agrarian reform.

This circumstance explains how it was that, on November 27, 1918, the Bessarabian Council, which had from the outset specified the realisation of these reforms as a condition of the union, withdrew the conditions stipulated by the act of Union of March 27, "being convinced that, in the Rumania of all the Rumanians, a truly democratic regime had an assured future" . Thus the Council of Bessarabia, on the eve of the Rumanian Constituent Assembly, which was to meet after election by universal suffrage and which was to solve the agrarian question according to the needs and the wishes of the people, annulled the other conditions of the act of union of March 27, and proclaimed the unconditional union of Bessarabia with the Kingdom of Rumania.

The chief reforms which were to follow the return of Bessarabia to united Rumania were as follows : distribution of land to the peasants who had been spoliated under the Russian regime ; admission of the masses to public life by the establishment of equal and universal suffrage with a secret ballot, implying the restoration to the people of the right to govern itself through its own representatives; restoration of the Rumanian language and culture to the righful place which had been denied them in the school, the church, the administration, and the law courts and, as a consequence of this measure, the right of the minorities to use their own languages both for educational and for other purposes; decentralisation of the administration and development of the powers of the local autorities. In a word, the programme consisted in the restoration of rights for all the inhabitants irrespective of their nationality or religion.

Immediately after the annexation, the agrarian law was promulgated in Bessarabia. This law expropriated the great [28] landowners, most of whom were foreigners in the country. Their lands were divided into allotments ranging up to 25 hectares (62 acres) and were given to the peasants who had cultivated them for centuries and who had defended them at the cost of their blood against all enemy invasions.

In this way, a great social injustice was repaired, and conditions favourable to the development and progress of the Bessarabien peasants were established. The expropriation affected 4,271 estates having a total area of 1,498,916.05 hectares (3,703,971 acres) and providing for the settlement of 357,016 peasant proprietors.

Most of the peasants who thus became landowners were obliged, however, to get into debt to buy equipment and tools for their new farms ; they soon found themselves unable to pay off these debts. Since 1934, the Rumanian government has sought to lighten their burdens by a law for the conversion of agricultural debts which has reduced by half the principal of the debt and provided that the rest might be paid by instalments over a period of 17 years.

Under the Rumanian regime, the Bessarabian population's second aspiration has also been fulfilled by the admission of the masses to a share in public life. The new electoral law provided for direct and equal universal suffrage with a secret ballot and with proportional representation for the minorities in the Constituent Assembly of Rumania. The elections for the Constituent Assembly were held during the autumn of 1919, and Bessarabia sent to the new Rumanian Parliament 90 deputies and 35 senators, representing all social classes and all the racial minorities. Out of 500,875 registered voters, 395,158, or nearly 80%, went to the polls.

The new Constitution of Rumania, adopted in 1923, was voted with the help and consent of representatives of all the united provinces, including Bessarabia, which entered the new structure of the State with equal rights. The administrative laws wich were promulgated in accordance with the new Constitution were also applied in Bessarabia. Bessarabia was divided into nine departments or districts, [29] each endowed with the attributes of legal personality and provided with departmental councils elected by equal universal suffrage with a secret ballot and with minority representation.

It was in accordance with the same principle that municipal elections were held in the urban and rural districts and that the right of the people to govern itself through its own representatives was re-established.

The new organisation of the courts of justice created a court of appeal at Chisinau and tribunals in all the district capitals ; and it provided for the unification of the codes of procedure.

By a law on public worship, Bessarabia became a Metropolitan province with its see at Chisinau and a suffragan bishopric was created at Ismail. The church has restored the Rumanian or Moldavian language to its ancient rights, thus meeting one of the most ardent wishes of the Orthodox believers of Bessarabia, whom the Russians had deprived even of the right to pray to God in their own language.

The laws on the organisation of the various grades of education have been applied in Bessarabia as in the other parts of the kingdom. A Faculty of Theology and a University School of Agriculture have been established at Chisinau under the University of Jassy. Prior to the annexation, there was not a single Rumanian secondary school in Bessarabia ; since the union, Rumanian secondary and vocational schools have been founded in all the cities and larger towns of the province for the purpose of spreading education throughout the mass of the people.

The Rumanian regime has given particular attention to Rumanian primary education, which hardly existed in Bessarabia before the union. Today there is not a single hamlet in the new Rumanian province beyond the Prut which does not have its primary school and one or more teachers working successfully to overcome ignorance in this region where, under Russian rule, the number of illiterates had reached fantastic proportions, amounting in some places to 80 per cent.


Before the union, there were practically no surfaced roads in Bessarabia. The towns, even the district capitals, were connected only by roads known as sleah, which could be used only in the periods of summer drought and when the ground was frozen in wintertime. The railway system was so undeveloped that only four of Bessarabia's nine district capitals could be reached by rail.

The Rumanian regime has spared neither trouble nor technical and financial means to end this state of things through an extensive policy of communications. Several bridges have been built across the Prut in order to facilitate communications between the new province and the Old Kingdom. Thousands of miles of roads and highways have been built and surfaced ; and the railway system has been transformed by the introduction of standard-gauge track and by the construction of new lines to facilitate the circulation of men and goods.

The Rumanian regime has devoted particular attention to medical assistance, which, in the time of the Russian occupation, can hardly be said to have existed in Bessarabia. At Chisinau, a general inspectorate of public health has been created, hospitals have been rebuilt and equipped and a campaign has been started against the social diseases, in particular against malaria and typhus, which are endemic in Bessarabia and a real social plague. To combat epidemics, especially malaria, hundreds of dispensaries have been created in all parts of the country and a considerable number of doctors and nurses have been sent into Bessarabia. Finally, professional associations, an entire novelty for Bessarabia, have been created : agricultural chambers in all the district capitals, chambers of commerce and industry at Chisinau, Balti and Cetatea Alba and a chamber of labour at Chisinau.

One of the most important tasks for Bessarabia is the afforestation of regions which were disaf forested under the Russian regime and especially during the World War.

Another and no less important task consists in the draining of the marshes, breeding-places of malaria, and [31] the regularisation of the waterways, especially the Dniester and the Prut, which cause each year consideravle destruction by flood.

The Rumanian regime has applied in Bessarabia for the first time a law on vocational training and on the exercise of occupations which was voted in 1936 for the purpose of regulating work and of protecting the workers.

Two National Credit Institutions, the one for agriculture and the other for trades, the creation of which was recently voted by the Rumanian Parliament, are of obvious importance for the whole country and especially for Bessarabia. Thus the participation of Bessarabia in the political, national, economic, intellectual and religious life of the Rumanian State marks for this province the beginning of a new era of progress and prosperity.




From time immemorial, the territory which the Austrians called Bukovina after its beech forests (Bukovina: silvae faginales) formed an integral part of Moldavia. Indeed, Bukovina is the very cradle of the Moldavian State. Here was located the old capital of Moldavia, Suceava, the residence of the Princes, later transferred to Jassy.

The Metropolitan of Moldavia resided at Suceava, where the relics of the Orthodox martyr, John the New, patron saint and protector of Moldavia, who died at Cetatea Alba in 1324 are still preserved today ; they had been transferred to Suceava by Alexander the Good in 1401. Not far from the old episcopal see of Radauti is the vault in which are buried the remains of the founder of Moldavia, the Voivode Bogdan I (d. 1364).

At Putna, surrounded by his treasures, sleeps the great Christian hero, Stephen the Great, who won immortal fame in his wars against the heathen by defending not only the whole of oriental Christendom but the Christian occident as well. The treasures and the bones of Jeremiah and Simeon, founders of the Movila dynasty, are preserved in the Monastery of Sucevita, the walls of which are decorated with magnificent frescoes. At Voronet, at Moldavita, at Patrauti, at Arbore, at Dragormina, at Homor, at Saint Elijah, at Siret — the ancient capital of Latscu Voda — and at Saint Onofrei, are to be found admirable specimens of painting and architecture, bearing witness to the generosity and to the artistic tastes of the old Moldavian rulers and nobles.


Bukovina, with its numerous monasteries clustering close together, each marking the culmination of a migthy and glorious reign, offers to the artolver and to the antiquary the joy of continual discoveries.

Cernauti, capital of Bukovina, is mentioned as early as 1408 in the commercial treaties between Moldavia and Poland. At Campulung in Bukovina, there still survives that old spirit of liberty and independence which was the strength of the Moldavian republic of landowners of which Demetrius Cantemir speaks. In the forest of Cosmin, near Cernauti, the memory of the brilliant victory won by Stephen the Great over John Albert, King of Poland, in 1497, at the battle of Codrul Cosminului, has been kept alive down to the present day.

It was toward this soil, marked at every step with the imperishable traces of Rumanian art and genius, that Austria turned a gaze of greed for conquest. In the midst of the Russo-Turkish war of 1768—1774 and shortly after the first partition of Poland (1772), she asked the first Ottoman Empire for a strip of Moldavian territory to connect Galicia, which she had just wrested from Poland, with Transylvania, which she had subjugated after the extinction of its Voivodes in 1691.

The consent of Turkey was bought with gold and rich gifts. But, when it came to marking out the new boundary, Austria was no longer satisfied with the narrow strip of territory which she had asked for at first. She took possession of the whole region of Cernauti and of the larger part of that of Suceava, the richest of all in historical memories and dear to the whole Rumanian nation.

In vain the boiars and the clergy, with Prince Gregory Ghica at their head, protested against the violation of the territory of their country. In vain they demonstrated to the Porte, by means of maps and documents, that Austria, instead of the narrow strip which she needed for her communications, had laid hands on two entire regions of Moladvia, the fairest and the richest in historic memories.

3 [34]

The protests of the Moldavians remained unanswered, for Austrian diplomacy had given gold in abundance to corrupt the Turks and to gain their consent to the cession of that Upper Moldavia which Austria, in order to conceal her usurpation from European diplomacy, was to call by the incorrect name of Bukovina.

There is more than a simple coincidence between the taking of the oath to the new sovereign, forced upon the Bukovinians, and the assassination at Jassy, on October 1, 1777, of the Voivode Gregory Ghica, who had opposed the occupation of Bukovina.

The act of cession was concluded by the Turkish suzerain without the consent of the Moldavians, though under the ancient capitalutions Turkey did not have the right to alienate a single square inch of the vassal country. Signed at Palamutca on the Dniester in 1775, the act of cession was later made a part of the peace treaty which Austria and Turkey signed at Sistov in 1791 and which gave to Austria Bukovina, that is to say, a territory of about 4,000 square miles, and a population of nearly 100,000 living in three cities (Suceava, Siret and Cernauti) and about 200 villages.


"Austrian Moldavia" , as this territory was called in the Austrian official documents before it received the definitive appellation of Bukovina, was placed under the military rule of the generals commanding in the territory. There was no civil government until 1786, when Bukovina was incorporated in Galicia as a simple administrative district of the province which had been taken from Poland.

The Bukovinian population and clergy protested with energy against this arrangement and demanded a distinct administration for "Austrian Moldavia" , pointing out that the Rumanian province could not be assimilated with Ga- licia because of the difference of language and of religion. [35]

This protest, like the Moldavian claims, i.e. the claims of the Rumanians of Bukovina, remained unheeded, however, until 1848, when Bukovina was separated from Galicia to become an autonomous province with the title of Duchy. It kept its national coat-of-arms — the aurochs head of Moldavia.

This solution, however, could not satisfy the Rumanians of Bukovina. As against the national autonomy which they demanded, Vienna granted them only administrative autor nomy marked by a tendency to centralisation. Moreove-, the use of German was obligatory in administrative, judicial and educational affairs.

The Church likewise manifested its displeasure. The Austrian administration had broken the hierarchical ties which connected the Church of Bukovina with the Archbishopric of Jassy, and had attached the bishopric of Radauti — transferred to Cernauti — to the Serbian Archbishopric of Karlowitz. After the proclamation of the dual constitution of 1867, the bishopric of Bukovina was grouped with the Orthodox bishoprics of Dalmatia to form the famous Orthodox Metropolitan Province of Bukovina and Dalmatia, which was abolished only after the return of Bukovina to the mother country.

The Austrian government, scorning the rights of the national language, used every means to hinder the development of Rumanian culture. Whoever in Bukovina held fast to Rumanian sentiments was persecuted and execrated. There was no place in Bukovina for a Rumanian national life and some of the greatest men of the country, like the learned George Popovici and the great historian Demetrius Onciul, were forced to take refuge in Rumania in order to be able to live and to think as Rumanians.

The property of the monasteries of Bukovina was secularised and turned into a church fund, the revenues of which were devoted to the maintenance of the Church of Bukovina. They were also employed for the construction of the new Metropolitan palace built in the Moorish-Byzantine style. It was in the beautiful marble hall of this 3* [36] palace that the union of Bukovina with Rumania was to be proclaimed and that the Rumanian University of Cernauti was to be inaugurated.

Colonies of German and Ukrainian foreigners were settled on the lands of the Bukovinain Church, while the Rumanian peasantry was persecuted, oppressed and forced to emigrate to the Kingdom of Rumania and even to America.

The Austrian policy was always hostile to the national and spiritual aspirations of the Rumanians. Austria did not look with favour on the rise and on the prosperity of a free Rumania which might become a Rumanian Piedmont, with national claims on Transylvania and Bukovina. Consequently, Austria always practised toward the Rumanians a policy of persecution and of scorn for their rightful political and national claims.

She sought by all possible means to wipe out in Bukovina the traces of the old Moldavian civilisation and to modify the racial character of the Rumanian population. In these circumstances, it was but natural that the resistance of the Rumanian population to foreign domination should manifest itself more and more openly. Witness the celebrated prosecution of the students of the University of Cernauti who, on the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of Gregory Ghica, the martyr prince, had sent to Jassy a telegram of sympathy.

To counteract the development of Rumanian activity, Austria also supported the political aspirations of the alien populations of Bukovina. The Ukrainians in particular, who, after the Austrian occupation, had migrated in large numbers from Galicia where living conditions were much harder and much more precarious, were treated in Bukovina with special consideration.

Since she aimed at the formation of a Greater Ukraine at the expense of Russia, Austria supported with all her might the political and national aspirations of the Ukrainians of Bukovina, making continual concessions to them to the detriment of the native Rumanians. This policy went [37] so far that, during the World War, Austria undertook to cede Bukovina to the Ukrainians.

In payment for this shameful bargain, the Ukraine was to furnish 16,000,000 kilogrammes of wheat which Austria needed to feed her starving population.

In 1775, the Chancellor Kaunitz and the Inter-Nuncio Thugut bought Bukovina from the Turks with bags of money and gold snuff-boxes; one hundred and forty-five years later, the Chancellor of Hapsburg Austria, Count Czernin, was to bargain with the Ukraine for the cession of Bukovina, in return for sacks of wheat. But this shameful sale did not take place because Austria was rapidly moving toward total decomposition. The formidable blows which the Allies dealt her on the Rhine and on the Isonzo shook so severely that hybrid and anachronistic political patchwork that they broke it to pieces. The elements of which it was composed were then able to recover their original force.

Yet one hundred and fifty= years of Austrian domination left no durable creations in Bukovina. All the monuments of Bukovina are the work of the native Rumanian spirit.

The rule of the Hapsburgs always remained foreign. It persisted in its traditional antagonism to the Rumanian spirit, the real master, by right of inheritance, of Bukovina. To shake off that domination thus became, in our own times, an imperative obligation.


The affirmation of Rumanian independence by the participation of the Rumanian army in the taking of Plevna in 1877 and the proclamation of the Kingdom of Rumania had aroused immense enthusiasm and the liveliest hopes among the Rumanians living under the yoke of foreign rule.

A powerful Rumania could not fail to manifest an interest in the fate of compatriots who were under foreign domination. The Austrians therefore sought to repress the [38] outbursts of national feeling among the Rumanian population and to prevent the latter from advancing toward the achievement of its twofold ideal, political and national. The Rumanians, under these circumstances, were obliged to reply by a stubborn opposition to Austrian domination. They steadily asserted their national and political rights, both in the press and with the voices of their representatives in the Diet of Bukovina and in the Parliament at Vienna.

Their intellectual contact with their fellow countryman in the Kingdom daily strengthened an idea of spiritual unity which was bound to lead naturally to the idea of political unity. This new current sprang from the young intellectuals, whose minds had been trained by the reading of the works of the young literary schools of free Rumania. Their undisputed leader was N. Jorga, the great apostle of the unity of the Rumanian nation ; it was through the reviews which he edited that they exercised their influence.

The idea of the spiritual unity of all the Rumanians, which had to precede political union within the frontiers of race and of history, took deep root in a group known as the Junimea Literarà (Literary Youth) of Cernauti. The representatives of this national and intellectual movement did not aim at immediate political achievements nor at the solution of contemporary economic problems. They simply took up the uninterrupted tradition of the policy of protest, addressing themselves to the hearts of their compatriots for the purpose of strengthening their hope that deliverance was at hand.

The apostles of the irredentist movement maintained frankly and firmly that Bukovina was a Rumanian land and that sooner or later it would be reunited with Moldavia, from which it had been detached.

Thus, when the World War broke out, thousands of Rumanians refused to enlist in the Austrian army and took refuge in Rumania to help their compatriots break the century-old chains and to unite Bukovina once more with the mother country.


As soon as Rumania entered the war (1916), the Bukovinian refugees went into action, some on the front as combatants, others as information and liaison agents, and others again as writers and propagandists ; they endured with resignation, side by side with their free compatriots, the privations and sufferings of war.

Many of them, like John Gramada, Lascar Lucia and others, died heroically at the front, mingling their blood with that of their comrades of the free Kingdom for the triumph of the great Rumanian cause, and giving up their lives for the deliverance of their own Bukovina.

In the spring of 1917 the number of Bukovinian refugees considerably increased. In the course of the battles which took place on the eastern front between the Russian and the Austro-German armies, compact groups of Rumanian, Czech, Serbian, Polish and Italian soldiers and officers fell into the hands of the Russians. It was among these prisoners that were formed the first units of those Rumanian volunteers from Transylvania and Bukovina who received at Jassy, on June 8, 1917, a magnificant and enthusiastic welcome. The tricolour flag to which the Bukovinian soldiers took the oath of fidelity was not new to them, for it was under the folds of that flag that their ancestors had been victorious in the forest of Cosmin.

But for nearly 150 years it had not floated under the sky of Bukovina. The Bukovinian volunteers were now to add new lustre to its fame by winning the brilliant victory which the whole Rumanian nation expected with entire confidence from them and from their companions, the veterans of the glorious battles of Oituz, Marasti and Marasesti. Destiny had reserved to them the honour of planting anew the tricolour flag at Suceava and at Cernauti, where it had been replaced in 1775 by the black and yellow flag of the Hapsburgs.

On October 6, 1918, the National Committee of the Rumanians of Transylvania and Bukovina and of the Corps of Officers of the Volunteers, acting in their own name and in that of their fellow countrymen, who were [40] remaining behind where they were terrorised and prevented from freely expressing their will, requested that they be delivered from the yoke of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and allowed to form with the whole Rumanian people a single national state under the sovereignty of the Rumanian dynasty.

They contested the right of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to interfere with the destiny of the Rumanians of Transylvania and of Bukovina, since Austria-Hungary had held them for long centuries in the most shameful slavery. They demanded that all the territory inhabited by Rumanians in the Empire of the Hapsburgs should be freed and united to the Kingdom of Rumania, as had been provided in the Treaty of Alliance between Rumania and the Entente Powers.

To the homage of the Bukovinian refugees and volunteers, King Ferdinand had replied as follows :

"At this great moment, when all Rumanians are striving with fervent prayers and an indomitable will toward an early fulfilment of the age-long dream of their nation, I cannot but feel a great joy at this proof of your living faith in an ideal, in justice and in the virtue of your ancestors. This faith guided me when I took up arms and it has not left me in the hours of suffering and pain which I have gone through.

"I was sure that this faith, kept alive in the hearts of millions of men wherever the melodious Rumanian language is heard, would triumph, spreading everywhere, crossing the valleys and passing over the mountains".

The action of the Rumanian refugees and volunteers was effectively seconded by the Rumanian population remaining in Bukovina. It was from this convergent action that there issued the Act of Union of Cernauti, which expressed the unanimous will of the Rumanians of Bukovina.

On October 27, 1918, the Constituent Assembly of Bukovina met at Cernauti and demanded the union of the province with the mother country, protesting energetically against any mutilation of its territory in favour of the Ukraine.


On November 9, a Rumanian aeroplane flying over Cernauti had announced to the Bukovinians the arrival of the Rumanian army of liberation. It brought the following proclamation :

"In response to the appeal of the Bukovinian National Council, the Rumanian army, at the order of H. M. King Ferdinand I of Rumania, has entered the land of the great Voivode Stephen in order to safeguard the lives, the liberty and the property of all the inhabitants against the bands of criminals who have begun their work of destruction in our fair land.

"Crossing the frontier which a cruel destiny placed between us more than a hundred years ago, the Rumanian troops come among you to bring you their fraternal aid. You are free to express your wishes in accordance with the right of peoples to self-determination".

Bukovina needed the powerful supports of a military force which she herself did not possess at that time. Her sons, who were scattered over all the battlefields of the Austro-Hungarian front had not yet come home. The Austrian army of Bukovina was in utter rout and bands of vagabonds were everywhere spreading terror and dismay. As in Bessarabia, the most complete anarchy reigned in Bukovina when Rumania came to the rescue with her army of liberation.

On November 11, 1918, the Rumanian army, with its tried warriors from the battlefields of Oituz and Marasesti, made its triumphal entry into Bukovina. It was everywhere wamly and enthusiastically welcomed by a population longing for peace and for national liberty. The presence of the Rumanian troops put an end to the state of anarchy and enabled the Rumanian population to decide freely as to its future.

The entry of the Rumanian army into Cernauti was a day of rejoicing for the capital of Bukovina. Thence the army advanced, meeting no resistance, to the Ceremus and to the Dniester, bringing to the population the peace for which they longed. It even entered the Polish district of [42] Pocutia to preserve the population from pillage and anarchy.

The Committee of Refugees and Volunteers of Jassyand the National Council of Cernauti jointly decided on the unconditional union of Bukovina with the Kingdom of Rumania.

The General Congress of Bukovina was called together at Cernauti on November 28, 1918, for the purpose of defining the political relations between Bukovina and the Kingdom of Rumania.

The representatives of the districts of Bukovina, after hearing a statement by the president, enthusiastically voted the motion of union :

"The General Congress of Bukovina, meeting on November 28, 1918 in the Hall of the Synod of Cernauti; considering that, since the foundation of the Rumanian Principalities, Bukovina, comprising the ancient regions of Suceava and Cernauti, has always been a part of Moldavia and forms the original nucleus of the Moldavian state ;

"Considering that it is in the territory of this country that are located the ancient princely residence of Suceava, the princely tombs of Radauti, Putna and Sucevita and many other precious memorials to the past of Moldavia ;

"Considering that the children of this country, side by side with their brothers of Moldavia and under the command of the same princes, have defended their national existence in the course of the centuries against all violations and against foreign invasion ;

"Considering that Bukovina, in 1774, was separated from Moldavia by a brutal trick and attached by force to the Crown of the Hapsburgs ;

"Considering that during 144 years the Bukovinian people endured the sufferings inflicted by a foreign government which treated their national rights with contempt and sought by all sorts of iniquities and persecutions to alter their character and to lead them to quarrel with other peoples with whom they wish to live on terms of friendship ;

"Considering that the Bukovinians, in the course of a period of 144 years, have fought like martyrs on all the [43] battlefields of Europe under a foreign flag for the existence, the glory and the greatness of their oppressors, and that their reward has been to suffer a restriction of their language in public life, in the school and even in the Church;

"Considering that during this time the native people has been systematically prevented from enjoying the wealth and the resources of this country and has been in a large measure despoiled of its ancient inheritance ;

"Considering that the Bukovinians nevertheless did not lose hope that the hour of salvation, awaited with so much fervour and courage, would one day strike and that the heritage of their ancestors, divided by unjust frontiers, would be completely retored by the reunion of Bukovina with the Moldavia of Stephen ; that they have never ceased to believe in the fulfilment of the great dream of the Rumanian nation, the union of all the Rumanian countries in a single national state from the Dniester to the Tisza.

"Declares that this solemn hour has struck ; that today, after the efforts and the sacrifices of Rumania and of her mighty and noble allies, the principles of right and of humanity, reign in the world for all peoples ; that the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy, shaken loose from its foundations in consequence of the crushing blows which have been dealt it, has fallen and that all the peoples who were sheackled on its territories have won the right to free self-determination ; and that the first thought of liberated Bukovina turns to the Kingdom of Rumania, in which it always trusted for its liberation:

"We, members of the General Congress of Bukovina, embodying the supreme power of the country and invested with legislative powers, in the name of national sovereignty, proclaim :

"That Bukovina, within its ancient frontiers extending to the Ceremu, the Colacin, and the Dniester, is unconditionally and forever united to the Kingdom of Rumania".

A delegation of fifteen members was appointed by the Congress to present this resolution to King Ferdinand I at Jassy.


At the same time, in a telegram of homage sent to King Ferdinand I, the Congress proclaimed him King and Sovereign, liberator and protector of Bukovina, and begged him to receive liberated Bukovina under his sceptre. Thus was renewed an historical tradition which had been abruptly interrupted a century and a half before.

The resolution of the General Congress was submitted to royal approval and, by a decree-law of December 30, 1918, it was declared that Bukovina "throughout the whole extent of its historical territory is and remains forever united with the Kingdom of Rumania" .

The decree-law relative to the union of Bukovina with Rumania was ratified on December 29, in the course of the first session of the Parliament of Greater Rumania, which included representatives of Bukovina. The bill which gave final sanction to the union of Bukovina with Rumania and to the incorporation of its territoty in the Rumanian Kingdom was promulgated on December 31, 1918.

At the same moment, the Rumanian Parliament ratified the acts of union of Chisinau and of Alba Iulia. The Rumanian State had at last secured the whole of its ancient territory from the Dniester to the Tisza. The Rumanians who had lived so long under a foreign yoke had expressed by a free vote their resolute will to live forever united with their brothers in a free Rumania.

The decisions of the Congresses of Chisinau, Cernauti and Alba Iulia, however, had still to receive international sanction. This was the work of the Paris Peace Conference.

The Act of Union of Cernauti was recognised by Austria in Article 59 of the Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain, by which Austria renounced in favour of Rumania all her rights in Bukovina. The frontier was to be finally settled at a later date by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. The differences which were to arise over the new boundary between Rumania and Poland were settled in January 1928 by a boundary agreement between the two countries.


Thus the Act of Union of Cernauti of November 1918 received international sanction and Bukovina returned to the mother country with its entire territory.

A wrong that had persisted 144 years had been righted. Moldavia had recovered her unity.


The reunion of Bukovina with the mother country was concluded at a moment when the world, sorely tried by the sufferings of the most terrible of all wars, desired above all calm and peace. Everyone realised the importance of this great political act, which prepared a brilliant future for the united Rumanian people. The distrust of everything Rumanian and especially of the Rumanian State, its institutions and its political and spiritual mission at the mouth of the Danube, which the authorities of the Hapsburg Empire had tried to arouse in the perturbed minds of the Rumanians of Bukovina, had disappeared as if by a miracle. Everyone now recognises and appreciates the great work of civilisation that the Rumanian State has succeeded in accomplishing in the brief period which has elapsed since the union. Criticism, which was never very serious, has now ceased and, after eighteen years of assiduous labour, it canbe recorded with satisfaction that all the citizens of this province, without distinction of race or religion, participate to the full in the life of the Rumanian State, having learned to appreciate its persevering efforts to maintain order and internal peace and to create conditions favourable to their spiritual and material progress.

To this work of creating an organic union between Bukovina and the Rumanian State, to the task of economic and administrative improvement, to a general effort of restoration and consolidation of a country at last united, all those of good will in Bukovina have eagerly devoted themselves with all the attachment and all the spirit of sacrifice and patriotic abnegation of which they are capable.


These has been no protest from Bukovina against the new state of affairs. On the contrary, all without distinction have recognised in the Union the reparation of an historical injustice and the realisation of their just and age-old national claims. The Union was the final affirmation that Bukovina, by its geographical situation, by its political and cultural traditions and by the racial unity of its native population, was an integral part of the territory of the Rumanian State and of the historic patrimony of the Rumanian nation. This fact, moreover, was recognised by the leading statesmen of the whole world when the Paris Peace Conference admitted all the claims of the Rumanians to the whole of Bukovina with its ancient boundaries suh as the courage of the Moldavian people had established them long ago on the banks of the Ceremus and the Dniester.

The population of Bukovina, without distinction of race or religion, recognised from the first that its moral and material interests could not be better defended and served by any other political combination. For Rumanian hospitality and religious tolerance have nowhere been more largely manifested than in Bukovina ; all the citizens in that region live in peace and perfect harmony, all alike devoted to their country and labouring with all their might for its prosperity and progress.

The recovery of Bukovina by the Rumanian State revealed still more clearly these excellent traits of mind and heart and gave them wider possibilities of development.

The laws passed since the Union are applied with the same solicitude and the same justice to all the citizens of the country without discrimination.

The great social reforms, such as the agrarian law, the law on the conversion of agricultural debts, the work of restoration in the regions devastated during the war, the rebuilding of churches, schools and all the public institutions and the new administrative and judiciary organisation, have all been carried out with equal attention to the needs of the entire population without distinction. All the [47] citizens have always taken part in the legislatiove elections and have exercised their political rights without any restriction. All the political parties have always been represented in the different legislative assemblies in proportion to their size and importance.

The Rumanian Constitution grants to the new Rumanian citizens many more rights and liberties than the old "fundamental State law" of the Austrian Empire of 1877. Among other things, the death penalty, applied under the Austrian regime to common-law criminals, has been abolished.

Thus the union of Bukovina with the Kingdom of Rumania, in addition to its great historical and national importance, has resulted in a whole series of practical improvements for the welfare of the population; it has aided the peasants by the agrarian reform and the conversion of agricultural debts ; and it has promoted economic and industrial life by incorporating Bukovina in the vast and rich economic area of Greater Rumania.

Before the Union, the economic life of Bukovina was almost suffocated. Its territory was too narrow ; and it was far removed from the Adriatic Sea, with which it communicated only through Trieste by the roundabout route passing through Lwow, Cracow, Vienna, Graz and Lubliana. Now, with the enlargement of the political boundaries, the economic outlets of Bukovina have become more extensive.

The tariff barriers separating the province from Bessarabia and Moldavia have disappeared, so that today Northern Bessarabia and the departments of Dorohoi, Botosani and Baia have again found in Cernauti the centre of their economic life. There, on fair-days, as in the good old time, merchants and villagers come together from Dorohoi, Botosani, Hotin and Balti and even from Soroca on the Dniester. The Bukovinian villagers can sell the products of their wood industry as far as the most remote hamlets of the Moldavian and Bessarabian departments and bring back grain, wool, hides and other products not found in sufficient quantity in Bukovina.


Thus, in addition to neighbourly relations and the development of a community of thought between the inhabitants of the different provinces now united to the Old Kingdom, we see growing up again before our eyes, through the exchange of goods, the commercial relations of former times.

Before the Union, the population of Bukovina had to surmount great difficulties of customs and transport to obtain its supply of maize. It imported annually from the Old Kingdom 5,000 carloads of maize. Today this supply is obtained much more easily.

Even the distance of Bukovina from its seaports has been notably reduced. Galati and Constanta are much nearer than Trieste. Cernauti too has especially profited by the Union ; it has experienced great economic progress because of the considerable expansion of its markets and because of its position on the main line of communication which joins Rumania to Warsaw, Berlin and Ostend.

The Austrian government had always hampered the industrial development of Bukovina, for it was determined to keep this province as a market for its own industrial products.

Under the Rumanian regime, on the contrary, Bukovina has begun to display great industrial activity, markets being found in all the cities of the country.

Immediately after the signing of the Act of Union, there began in Bukovina the essential work of establishment, consolidation and organisation of the Rumanian government and administration. There was much to be done, After four years of war and frequent Russian occupations. Bukovina was a desolate waste. The villages and towns which had marked the Austro-Russian front were in ruins. Heaps of rubbish alone marked the places where, before the war, flourishing farms and villages had stood. The people of these villages, coming home, weak and ill, from Russian prisons or from the Austrian front, found no other shelter than huts as damp and as dark as in the days of primitive man and with the roof alone rising above the level of the ground.



Even the regions most remote from the front had been laid waste by the Russian or Austro-Hungarian armies of occupation which had carried away everything down to the very ashes on the hearth.

Most of the schools and churches were in ruins. The railways, the roads and the bridges were impracticable. The public services, completely disorganised, could not function. The means of feeding the population were almost non-existent. It was impossible to collect taxes. Widows and orphans were receiving no assistance. The money in circulation was reduced to a minimum. The civil servants had not received their salaries and the public administration had been forced to borrow from private banks to meet the most urgent expenditures. A state of agitation and uncertainty reigned everywhere. In some regions of Bukovina, privation and misery were driving the population to rioting and violence.

Such was the situation in Bukovina when it returned, disorganised and completely exhausted, to the mother country.

It was not an easy thing for the Rumanian government to take possession of a heritage so encumbered.

Yet the Rumanian administration, thanks to the services of experienced men filled with the spirit of sacrifice, proved able to reorganise this dilapidated country, to rebuild it, to raise it from the miserable condition to which it had fallen, and to guide it with intelligence and energy along the road to prosperity.

A decree-law of December 1918 on the administration of Bukovina introduced order into public affairs. It entrusted the administration of Bukovina to a minister delegated by the Rumanian government, who exercised his administrative power through secretaries placed at the head of the most important branches of the administration.

In April 1920, the ministerial delegate was replaced by the president of a Regional Commission of Unifica- tion which was given the task of winding up the affairs of 4 [50] the regional services and of transferring their attributions to the corresponding ministerial departments at Bucarest.

By 1922 the work of administrative unification was completed. It had been carried out with great circumspection and care not to injure local interests. It was accomplished by ordinances and ministerial decisions, with due respect for the old laws of Bukovina. But as these laws no longer corresponded with all the needs created by the Union, the Rumanian government came to the natural decision to call together the legislative bodies for Unified Rumania.

The electoral law of the Old Kingdom no longer met the needs of the new situation ; much less could it be extended to the new provinces. It was therefore necessary to issue a new electoral law for the whole country. This was done. In November 1919, the first parliament of Greater Rumania met at Bucarest.

Bukovina had the honour of sending to the first Senate of Greater Rumania the late Metropolitan Vladimir of Repta who, as the oldest member, presided over the opening session.

The Rumanian government was grappling at the time with the agrarian problem, which had to be faced in Bukovina as well as in the other parts of the kingdom. The peasants, oppressed and exploited for centuries, were demanding land in orer to improve their standard of living. In order to satisfy this legitimate demand, the government issued a decree-law on agrarian reform, expropriating 561 estates with a total cultivable area of 187,306 acres (75,798.52 hectares). These lands were distributed in lots of about 12 acres (5 hectares) each to 76,911 Bukovinian peasants.

As the Bukovinian peasantry were crushed under a load of debt, the State found it necessary to intervene in their behalf by passing in 1934 a law on the conversion of agricultural debts. This law provided a special regime for Bukovina. Agricultural debts there were reduced by 70% and the balance was to be paid in small instalments apread over a period of 17 years.


Simultaneously with this great work of social justice, the government also took up the task of rebuilding the towns and villages destroyed by the war, of reconstructing the churches, rectories and schools which had been demolished during the war and of repairing communications, hospitals and other establishments for social assistance.

This work of reconstruction, however, advanced but slowly owing to lack of funds and because the needs created by the war were so many and so hard to satisfy. In spite of these difficulties, the Rumanian government spared neither labour nor money to help the population of Bukovina and to accomplish everywhere a work of reconstruction and improvement which is worthy of praise and gratitude.

The unification of the laws of the new Rumania was also undertaken at the same period and soon completed. This work was to be crowned by the adoption of the constitution and its promulgation on March 20, 1935. The new constitution brought Bukovina, as well as the other provinces, under the broad and liberal regime of the unitary Rumanian state. It further provided the basis on which were erected other special laws, such as the law on public worship, the administrative law, the law on the organisation of justice and the law on education.

The law on public worship constituted a permanent solution to the religious problem in Bukovina and to that of the Church Fund of the province.

The Church of Bukovina had formerly belonged to the Orthodox Metropolitan province of Moldavia, with an old episcopal see at Radauti. When Bukovina was annexed to Austria, the Church of Bukovina was severed from the Moldavian archbishopric and attached to the Serbian Patriarchate of Karlowitz. For years the political leaders of Bukovina demanded that the Church of Bukovina be united with the Rumanian Metropolitan province of Transylvania. But the Austrian government paid no heed to this demand. Immediately after the proclamation of the dual constitution of Austria-Hungary, however, the Austrian government 4* [52] agreed to the creation of an Orthodox Metropolitan province at Cernauti.

Thus was created, in 1873, the Orthodox Metropolitan province of Bukovina and Dalmatia, with its Metropolitan Synod at Vienna. The Church of Bukovina remained in this situation until the Union was proclaimed. The Metropolitan Vladimir was then restored to the Metropolitan throne from which the Austrians had driven him during the war on the pretext that he was disloyal to the Austrian state.

After the Union, the Metropolitan of Bukovina was admitted as a member of the Synod of the independent Rumanian Church. To the Metropolitan province was attached, as a suffragan see, the newly-created bishopric of Hotin. Thus were satisfied the legitimate desires of the Orthodox believers of Bukovina. The administration of the Church Fund, comprising the estates belonging to the monasteries and bishoprics of Bukovina, was entrusted to the diocesan council, presided over by the Metropolitan. Under the Austrian regime, this proporty had been administered directly by the Vienna government.

The Church of Bukovina, by the new law on public worship, acquired its independence and the right to administer its property and to choose its own administrative organs. Finally, an Archidiocesan Assembly was created to represent the entire Church of Bukovina.

The new administrative law divided Bukovina into five departments, each endowed with the attributes of legal personality and with a large degree of administrative autonomy. The law on the organisation of justice added three new courts to the two which existed in Austrian times and gave to Bukovina a Court of Appeal, thus satisfying one of the most ardent desires of the Bukovinians who had been dependent, under the Austrian regime, on the Court of Appeal of Lwow, the capital of Galicia.

The Rumanian government would not have fulfilled the whole of its civilising mission if it had not taken all possible measures to spread education, to raise educational standards and to develop culture. It therefore reorganised [53] and added to the educational system, rebuilt schools and created vocational and technical schools. To train teachers for the elementary schools, it founded at Cernauti, side by side with a training school for boys which had been established long before by the Austrians, a training school for girls. In secondary education likewise, it made a notable advance over the previous period by opening new schools in the larger centres.

The Carol II University of Cernauti was also reorganised. Formerly German, it became a Rumanian University; and this was an appreciable benefit for the development of its scientific and intellectual activity. A National Theatre and a Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art were also founded at Cernauti. In the Austrian period, instruction in all the schools had been in German, the official language. The use of Rumanian, the language of the majority of the native population, was allowed only in a few rural schools and, optionally, in certain secondary schools. It was the intention of the Austrian government to impose its own modes of thought and feeling on the Rumanians and thus to sever them from their own national culture. But the Rumanians defended themselves stubbornly against these hateful efforts and managed, even under foreign domination, to preserve their national consciousness, their spirit of solidarity and their common aspirations with their fellow countrymen in the Kingdom and in the other Rumanian provinces. The Act of Union was the glorious culmination of their persevering struggle.

In the twenty years which have elapsed since the Union was proclaimed at Cernauti, Bukovina has benefited from the care and attention of a truly paternal administration. Unlike the foreign domination, the Rumanian government has sought to awaken and to develop affection and confidence toward the existing institutions and to carry out important improvements in all phases of public life.

If it has succeeded, the credit is due to its wise and frank administration, to its respect for the laws and for legality, to its constant regard for national and spiritual [54] traditions, and to the pains it has taken to develop and encourage agriculture, commerce and industry by creating professional associations, chambers of agriculture and chambers of labour and of industry, and by protecting the workers, increasing credit and developing co-operation.

The results of the fruitful work accomplished by the Rumanian government in Bukovina and the progress which it has achieved there in all the fields of public and of private activity may be recorded therefore, with profound satisfaction.

God grant that this favourable result may increase still further in the years to come, for the welfare of the citizens and for the development and the prosperity of the common motherland.


The reunion of the provinces with the mother country in 1818 fulfilled the age-long dream of the Rumanian people. The political leaders who had defended the national ideal in the oppressed provinces and the intellectuals, most of whom went as volunteers to the front where their patriotic duty called them, surely showed themselves worthy of that great event.

King Ferdinand the Loyal, the unifier, who, sword in hand, opened the way for this decisive step in the history of the Rumanian people, understood the sacrifice by which each Rumanian had paid for the achievement of the common ideal. He therefore richly rewarded his people by giving it the great and essential social reforms which have been mentioned and by supervising their application.

H. M. King Carol II, the organiser, gloriously following the example of his royal father, showed from the beginning of his reign that he sought the spiritual unification of his Kingdom and that he wished the Rumanian State to take its rightful place in international affairs.

This great work must take time ; it is still going on before our eyes. New educational, intellectual and social institutions are still being created and developed.


All the great problems of the life of the Rumanian people command the interest of H. M. the King, who regards them with the most benevolent attention and gives them his most substantial aid. His great solicitude for all classes of society, for public health and for the welfare of the workers is most effectively manifested.

In order to make himself better acquainted with the vital necessities of the country, the King has visited all the provinces, leaving indelible memories in the hearts of the people.

The enthusiastic welcome which Bessarabia gave H. M. King Carol II in 1934, on the occasion of his first official visit, proves the deep attachment and the infinite devotion of the Rumanian population of that province.

At Balti, where a Cathedral was dedicated and where His Majesty delivered one of those memorable speeches in which he expresses at once his interest in our Church and his determination to give the fullest play to the genius of the Rumanian people, at Chisinau, at Hotin and all over Bessarabia, the King has left the mark of his personality and a sense of confidence in his exalted royal mission. Bukovina had the honour to receive its Royal Sovereign for the first time in May 1933.

This visit was for the Bukovinian people a re-birth and an awakening to national life. The highest institution of Bukovina, the University of Cernauti, which still kept something of the Austrian atmosphere, received with enthusiasm the King's permission to take the name of "Carol II University" . The King then received the degree of doctor honoris causa of all the faculties of the new Carol II University.

A visit to the historic monuments of Bukovina and, in particular, to the monastery of Putna where lies buried the great Voivode Stephen, gave proof of His Majesty's attachment to Upper Moldavia.

The King's second visit to Bukovina took place in October 1935, in connection with the royal military manoeuvres which were held in that province. His Majesty then took part in the solemn ceremony of the restoration of the [56] monastery of Putna, thus becoming the second founder of that holy place. At the same time, new University buildings were inaugurated in an impressive ceremony.

The Bukovinian people this time had the joy of seeing the sovereign visit the villages in field uniform and show a keen interest in the life of the rural population.

Acting as the messengers of the King's solicitude for the improvement of the material and physical conditions of the country side and of the peasantry, the student teams which were created by the King's wish have visited the villages of Bukovina. Their activities in the villages have made possible appreciable improvements and they have left durable traces of their visits wherever they have worked.

But His Majesty gave to Bukovina the most signal evidence of solicitude and confidence when he accepted its traditions of hospitality by sending the Grand Voivode Mihai in the spring of 1936 to become familiar with the country and to learn to love its traditions, its customs and the beautiful national costume which the Prince himself wears with so much nobility. His visits to the villages in the mountains and the plains, his conversations with the loquacious shepherds and his participation in the folk-dancing on holidays, beating the measure with his foot or gaily joining the circle of robust village lads, are unforgettable memories that strengthen the ties of the heart.

The Rumanian people of Bukovina and Bessarabia look upon His Majesty King Carol II as the Just Master, the wise Sovereign awaited for centuries.

In the person of H.R.H. the Grand Voivode Mihai, they see an assurance that their fidelity and attachment will endure.