The Minister in Rumania (Gunther) to the Secretary of State

No. 156

Sir: With reference to my previous discussions of the anti-Semitic measures proposed by the National Christian and Peasant Union of Rumania headed by Prime Minister Goga and Minister without Portfolio Cuza (See despatches Nos. 141 of January 218 and 144 of January 25), I have the honor to transmit herewith a translation of a decree issued on January 20, 19388 providing for a legal examination of the citizenship of all Jews residing in Rumania.

There have been many measures proposed and some passed abrogating the rights of Jews since the present Government came into power and an over zealous populace now takes advantage of the present wave of anti-Semitic feeling fostered by the electoral campaign to molest and insult Jews, particularly in public places, but this decree is the key stone of this Government’s policy. In fact it is the only well formulated policy so for announcement [far announced] and certainly the measures upon which the attention of the public both here and abroad has been most attentively fixed. All the leaders of the party now in power and the King have openly and repeatedly avowed [Page 679]their desire for a State governed solely by Rumanians, “Rumania for the Rumanians” and their belief in an imminent ethnic renaissance of the nation for which all must strive at no matter what sacrifice. They have likewise attributed all the ills, both economic and spiritual, from which the country is now suffering to the influx of Jews into Rumania since 1918. According to various statements these number from 250,000 (the King) to a million (Cuza). The present Government claims that these Jews are residing here illegally or that they have acquired their citizenship rights fraudulently. The present decree provides a method of determining citizenship although it is loosely worded and may in fact be unconstitutional since it discriminates against a portion of the population although its terms are general. No one has yet offered a satisfactory solution of what is to be done with those Jews who are found to be residing in the country illegally and without citizenship rights although there has been much vociferous talk of expulsion to an undetermined destination. However regardless of their ultimate fate it is obvious that if this decree is rigidly enforced and it will unquestionably be during the electoral campaign—the Jews will suffer greatly.

The decree in substance endeavors from a legal point of view to verify the following categories of citizenship:

Citizenship acquired by registration in the nationality registers of the annexed territories;
Citizenship acquired through the granting of citizenship rights, apparently referring to the decree laws of 1918 and 1919;
Citizenship acquired through Commissions of Appeals and other court decisions; and
Citizenship acquired by subsequent registration in the nationality registers.

While these categories appear to be general in application it will be observed by a study of the decree that it will be applied to Jews only.

In regard to the first category, article 5 of the decree provides that the mayors of the Communes “shall compile a list of Jews recorded in the nationality register of the communes.” Article 6 provides a period of 20 days for these Jews to prove that they have fulfilled the conditions required by Article 56 of the nationality law of 1924 (article 56 is based on the Peace Treaties namely, pertinenza [pertinentia?] rights). If they do not comply within the period of 20 days, the decree considers those who have failed to do so as having admitted that they did not fulfill the conditions required to acquire Rumanian citizenship.

The second category refers to decree law No. 2085 of 1919, regarding persons to whom citizenship rights were granted. These persons (Jews) are obliged to present within 20 days (a) birth certificate, (b) evidence that parents resided in the country, if the applicant was born [Page 680]abroad, (c) evidence that the applicant was not a citizen of a foreign country, (d) evidence of recruitment in the army or mobilization after 1913 and, (e) other documents according to the decree law of 1919. The same sanctions are applied as under category one if application is not filed within 20 days.

The third category is effected ex officio by the courts based on complaints or other evidence obtained by the courts. The interested party has a right to appeal the decision.

The fourth category apparently refers to registrations to be effected in the nationality registers in the future.

As of possible use to the Department in reviewing this question there are also transmitted herewith a memorandum prepared by this office9 entitled “Citizenship Status of Jews in Rumania” and a discussion9 from the legal point of view of the cancellation of civil rights granted to Jews in Rumania prepared by Mr. B. Smolar of the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

As an example of the extremist tendency in anti-Semitism there is also enclosed a translation of a decree issued on January 4th9 prohibiting Jews from employing Christian servant girls under the age of 40 on the grounds of white slave traffic. This measure, which is said to have been the pet of Professor Cuza, has created such a bad impression and has been so thoroughly ridiculed by even members of the party that an order has been issued abrogating its enforcement until the Spring planting season when the peasant girls can find employment in the fields. I am reliably informed that this is in conformity with the King’s wishes and it is not likely that the measure will ever be enforced although it will remain on the statute books as a reminder of Rumania’s first great nationalist purge.

Respectfully yours,

Franklin Mott Gunther
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.