The Acting Representative in
) to the
Secretary of State
Subject: The Rumanian Armistice Today
Sir: I have the honor to report upon the present status of the Rumanian Armistice Convention as it is regarded by Rumanian officials, the public, and the Soviet authorities. The Armistice Convention is an all-embracing instrument encompassing within the [Page 389] application of its provisions the overwhelming bulk of the country’s present problems. For this reason the subject is related to this Mission’s despatches Nos. 354 and 371 of June 11 and 19, which are respectively entitled, “The Rumanian Attitude Today” and “The Russian Attitude Today”.1 It is thus the third in a series attempting to depict the present temper and atmosphere of Rumania upon the broadest political lines.
With the end of the war in Europe, Rumanians naturally consider that the Armistice Convention is in need of revision, since some of its provisions automatically become obsolete with the cessation of hostilities. This view is uniformly held by the opposition and the NDF Government. In fact, the Rumanian Commission for the Execution of the Armistice presented such a request to the Allied Control Commission, which was reported in the Mission’s despatch No. 349 of June 8 entitled “Rumanian Note to the ACC Requesting Revisionary Studies of the Armistice Terms”.2
Supplementing the Government’s position, the opposition has sought to present arguments showing that the application of the Armistice far exceeded the original significance and meaning of the articles at the time of signature. A memorandum in French, attached as enclosure No. 1,2 from Mr. Julius Maniu, President of the National Peasant Party, is illustrative of this viewpoint in the elaboration of the position that Rumania when signing the Armistice expected different terms and an administration of the Convention at variance with that later practiced. The main point of this memorandum rests in the contention that the original articles of surrender evolved in Cairo in the spring of 1944 were understood by the Rumanian groups cooperating in the coup d’état of August to be in force, with the addition of three points agreed upon by the Soviet Government through its representative in Stockholm.
Former Foreign Minister C. Visoianu, who was present in Moscow at the time of the signature of the Armistice and who, together with Prince Stirbey, had negotiated with the Allied Governments at Cairo, has prepared a statement concerning the matters discussed in Moscow at the time of the Armistice signature. Mr. Visoianu was not one of the Rumanian signatories at the Convention, but was, in fact, chief counselor of the Rumanian delegation. His statement in English is given as enclosure No. 2, and its object is to point to a certain part of the proceedings wherein the Allied Government representatives agreed that it was a matter of course that all “Soviet forces would leave Rumanian territory at the cessation of hostilities”.[Page 390]
The common bond uniting both the NDF and the opposition in urging a revision of the Armistice and a change in the practices of its administration is the realization that the Armistice Convention in itself is the country’s greatest single problem, because through it every aspect of the country’s life is vitally affected. Similarly, the application of its provisions through unilateral interpretation, such as is done by the dominant Soviet officials acting through the Allied Control Commission in the name of the three Allied Government[s], means political and economic chaos, a progressive social deterioration of the country, and most important to the NDF—growing popular discontent with the Government. This is the prospect confronting the NDF Government, of which all its elements were not fully aware when it assumed office, since the present Government is now being subjected to as strong criticism for non-fulfillment of the Armistice obligations as any of its predecessors.
In the very presence of Soviet troops in Rumania the Left Parties find a strong support for the attempted impression of their views upon the Rumanian public. The success of this indirect pressure, however, has been extremely limited, as described in this Mission’s previous despatch entitled “The Rumanian Attitude Today”. Nevertheless the opposition, which comprises the overwhelming majority of the country, realizes that it is impossible to hold free elections here so long as Soviet troops remain on the ground. Political life in the western democratic sense is made impossible to operate.
In economic matters by the constantly changing and ever-rising Soviet demands under the key articles 10, 11 and 12, it is impossible for any type of Government to evolve a coherent program. Brief examples might be given at this juncture. Article 11 describes the indemnity Rumania should pay for damages inflicted on the Soviet Union, which by June 1, were reported by the Rumanian Commission for Execution of the Armistice to have been fulfilled for that period by more than fifteen percent in an estimated yearly indemnity of two hundred billion lei. The present total bill to be paid over six years at present would amount to one thousand two hundred billion lei, which at the time of the signature of the protocol for the execution of Article 11 was considered satisfactory by the Soviet and Rumanian Governments. Under Article 10, which provides for Rumanian maintenance of all Red Army military establishments in the country, for the ten months of the Armistice up to July 1 it was reported by Rumanian sources that official requisitions had totaled four hundred billion lei and unofficial spot takings by Soviet troops were reckoned at four hundred and eighty-eight billion lei. Thus in that time [the] Rumanian Government has given two-thirds of the sum it is paying over six years under Article 11. And now there is the new shock of [Page 391] maintaining well over a million men of the Red Army while they recuperate or proceed in very slow transit through Rumania bound for the Soviet Union.
The requests under the above two articles could be met in a sound economic way if it were not for what reputable Rumanian sources consider the catastrophic requests totalling one thousand billion lei suddenly being made under Article 12, wherein it is demanded that the country return establishments and material within a three-month time limit of everything the Russians consider Rumania to have taken in three years of operations in the Soviet Union. This includes crops and livestock consumed by the Rumanian Army in Russia and impossible to duplicate quickly. Details revealed of the impending economic chaos of the country caused through surpise requests of the Russians have served to keep the entire structure of the country in both an economic and social turmoil as inflation grips Rumania through Government large-scale printing of bank notes to meet sudden and quantitatively large Soviet demands.
The causes of conflict between Rumanians and Russians over the Armistice arise because of their fundamentally opposite concepts in considering the Convention. The Rumanians prefer to regard the Armistice clauses as a series of servitudes imposed upon them for a period of time as a result of their losing the war, as a means of assisting the United Nations in the war against Nazi Germany, and as a program of indemnification to the Soviet Union for the economic losses they caused that country. The Russians, on the other hand, interpret every Armistice clause in a political sense that startles and antagonizes the Rumanian population. The Rumanians see the Armistice as an itemized bill for damages, while the Russians see it as a guarantee of future security and of local political domination.
The Russians are aware that public sentiment because of the application of the Armistice is beginning to run stronger against them. Reports available to this Mission of peasants refusing to sell their livestock to the Government in return for newly printed bank notes and of isolated cases of force employed against Rumanian officials seeking to collect material to be turned over to the Soviet Union are certainly not unknown to the Soviet authorities. This has caused a series of sparks to arise from the growing friction between the Rumanian people and the occupying troops.
In the growing warmth of sparks of discontent, balanced Rumanians are alleging that the Soviet Union, failing to secure any popular support for its political ideas through the Rumanian Communist Party, has decided to utilize the many weapons offered by the Armistice, notably its economic clauses, to force unrest, inflation, and acute economic distress. These Rumanians fear this would virtually liquidate [Page 392] the middle class and would inaugurate a chaotic period which would secure that growth of communism which present efforts have failed to achieve. However, if the Russians are sincerely concerned, as some believe, with the growing bitter Rumanian attitude over the application of the Armistice, they may be serious in their present criticism of NDF tactics in this respect. In that event, if one may utilize the Antonescu regime as a precedent, just as the latter was realistically backed by the Nazis because it could better control the country in contrast to the previously supported Legionnaire regime, so may the Russians decide to relax support for an outright communist-dominated Government and settle upon a composition that could more efficiently give them their desires under the Armistice and keep the country to the Soviet heel.