740.0011 Stettinius Mission/3–1944
Memorandum by the Division of Southern European Affairs22
Rumania is an enemy country and a member of the Axis. When Germany attacked Russia in June 1941, the Antonescu regime in Rumania joined forces with the Nazis in order to regain Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, seized by the Russians in June 1940.23 Antonescu believed that the Germans would defeat Russia in a few weeks and, believing that a brief, successful war against the Russians would be popular at home, acted accordingly. Rumania also followed the Axis in declaring war on the United States on December 12, 1941.
The Rumanian people, despite their generally pro-western democracy sentiments, responded favorably as long as they were recovering territory, but were quickly disheartened as the war went on into Russia and their casualties mounted toward the half-million mark. Now they realize that Germany is losing the war and that the territory which they “recovered” at such great sacrifices will probably be lost again. They want above all else to withdraw from the war and to make their way into the Allied camp, but so far both the Antonescu regime and the democratic opposition under Maniu have manifested no disposition (a) to turn actively against the Germans or (b) to submit without resistance to the Russians. Their highest hope is that something will happen to enable them to surrender to the Anglo-Saxons.
Whereas the Antonescu regime has had the character of an Axis dictatorship and must accept full responsibility for Rumania’s participation in the war alongside Nazi Germany, there is no hesitation in accepting as genuine the professions of Maniu and other elements of of the democratic opposition that the sentiments of the Rumanian people as a whole are, and have been throughout, favorable to the western democracies.
The British and ourselves have, in consultation with Moscow, followed fairly parallel lines in our policies and attitudes vis-à-vis Rumania and the other Axis satellites and persisted coldly in our demands for unconditional surrender to the three principal Allies. The two particular problems at present are (a) to find expeditious means to facilitate Rumania’s withdrawal from the war and (b) to determine the extent of American and British responsibilities in Rumanian affairs.[Page 147]
It is the American view that these two problems are closely linked together and that the resolution of the second will largely determine the means available for the first. With this in mind, the British and American Governments might consider the desirability of reaffirming their expectation that Rumania and the other Axis satellites shall exist in future as independent states within reasonable frontiers. For the purpose of facilitating Rumanian withdrawal from the war, it would then be possible to give that country certain basic assurances regarding its future national existence, at the same time intimating that the more immediate treatment to be accorded that country as regards military occupation and the specific provisions of the surrender terms will be dependent upon such contribution as Rumania may yet be able to make to the Allied prosecution of the war against Germany.
The British have been more ready than ourselves to suggest that Rumanian affairs lie naturally and necessarily in Russian hands. While we recognize the Soviet Union’s primary interest in Rumania, both as regards the immediate military phase and the long-range political aspect and acknowledge that distance and lack of important material considerations detach us somewhat from Rumanian affairs, we think that both the United States and Great Britain should maintain their interest in that country and should apply to Rumania the general principles underlying our conduct of the war, assuring as far as possible Rumania’s continued existence as a state with such territories as would enable it to make its way as an independent country.
The confused juridical case on the status of Bessarabia might make it possible for us to contemplate the separation of that region from Rumania. The Soviet claim to Northern Bucovina is justified only on Soviet strategical grounds, supported by some general ethnical arguments, but there is no indication that Moscow would let this question be opened. It would be difficult for us to acquiesce in any further extension of Russian claims to Rumanian territory, even if Moscow were to offer to compensate the Rumanians by supporting their demands for the return of Transylvania. The British views on the important Transylvanian problem are not known nor have our own been finally determined, but our several comprehensive studies of this complicated question tend to lead in the direction of whatever form of Transylvanian autonomy would be best adapted to serve the interests of international security and to fit into the general pattern finally determined for the Danubian area.
- Prepared for Under Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., in connection with his departure for London for discussions with members of the British Government, held April 7–29, 1944. For report by Mr. Stettinius to the Secretary of State regarding this mission, see vol. iii, p. 1.↩
- For correspondence on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 479 ff.↩