Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

Principal Rumanian Problems


The long-range interest of the United States in the maintenance of peace and stability in eastern Europe may be involved in the issues [Page 246] now arising in connection with the control of Rumania during the armistice period and with the eventual peace settlement. The fundamental problem is the degree to which the United States will acquiesce in the exercise by the Soviet Union of a dominant or exclusive influence in Rumania. The British seem to fear that present Soviet policies threaten Rumania’s existence as an independent state and may block the British plans to restore their pre-war political and economic position in Rumania. Prominent Rumanians have made direct appeals to American representatives in Bucharest for an indication of the policy of the United States on the matter of possible Soviet domination of Rumania.

Under the armistice agreement, to which all three principal Allied Governments were parties, the Allied Control Commission operates under the general direction of the Soviet High Command. The Soviet authorities have taken a number of unilateral decisions, such as those involving the property of American-owned petroleum companies, on matters which the Department believes should have been made the subject of consultation and agreement among the three Allied Governments.

It would be desirable to secure the agreement of the British and Soviet Governments to the following principles:

Respect for the Rumanian people’s right to independence and to the choice of their own government;
An Allied economic policy toward Rumania, under the armistice and the peace settlement, which will reconcile the legitimate claims of Allied nations to reparation with the general interest in promoting the rapid economic recovery of Europe;
The desirability of finding a solution of the Hungarian-Rumanian frontier dispute which will give some satisfaction to Hungary’s legitimate claims and promote peaceful relations between the two states.

Principal Rumanian Problems

Long-Range American Interest in Rumania

The principal long-range American interest in Rumania is that that country should once more become a peaceful member of the community of nations, and should not, either through its relationships with larger powers or through the policies of its own rulers, become a menace to peace. It is our belief that this aim is most likely of attainment if Rumania is an independent state, with a government of its own choosing, and if solutions of its territorial, minority and economic problems are found which represent a maximum contribution to the stability of the region. Economically, the United States has an interest in maintaining equal treatment and opportunity in Rumania for all nations.

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Execution of the Armistice Agreement

Rumania has been within the Soviet theater of military operations. The United States did not object to the Soviet Union’s taking the leading role in the negotiation of the armistice with Rumania and in the control of Rumania during the armistice period. We have not objected to the Soviet view that the executive functions of the Allied Control Commission should be exercised by the Soviet military authorites, nor do we deny that the Soviet Union has a more direct interest in Rumania than do the other Allied powers.

The United States, however, as a signatory to the armistice agreement, bears some responsibility for its execution. We have taken the position that the principal American representative on the Control Commission, Brigadier General Schuyler, has the right to be informed of the policy directives issued in the name of the Commission before they are communicated to the Rumanian Government and to refer the matter to Washington when he believes a directive to be inconsistent with the policies of the United States Government.

A recent illustration of this point is the Soviet proposal to deport “racial” Germans from Rumania for labor service in the USSR, issuing the necessary orders to the Rumanian Government in the name of the Allied Control Commission. The United States Government does not desire to be associated with this action, on the ground that it is not justified under the Armistice Agreement with Rumania and involves certain general questions, such as payment of reparation by Germany in the form of labor service and the transfer of national minorities, on which an agreed Allied policy has not yet been formulated. The American representatives in Rumania have been instructed to make our position clear to the Soviet authorities and to the Rumanian Government.

The tendency of the Soviet authorities to take unilateral decisions on matter of direct concern to other Allied states, as, for example, in the removal of petroleum refinery equipment from the premises of oil companies, including the American-owned Romano-Americana, is a cause of some concern to the Department. Ambassador Harriman has taken up with the Soviet Government the question of the removal of the refinery equipment, stressing our interest in the rapid rehabilitation of the Rumanian oil industry and in the protection of American property. The Soviet Government has given no satisfactory reply.

Soviet Policy and American Interests

The United States has a civilian representative in Rumania, Mr. Burton Y. Berry, who has the personal rank of Minister and maintains informal relations with the Rumanian Government. This arrangement was agreed to by the Soviet Government and thus far has worked out well.

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Rumania has several times requested co-belligerent status and permission to send diplomatic representatives to United Nations capitals. The Department has taken the position that there should be no official statement declaring Rumania to be a co-belligerent, although the wording of the Armistice Agreement, statements made at the time it was presented to the Rumanian delegation in Moscow, and the actual contribution of Rumania to the military operations against Germany give Rumania a good basis to claim such a status. The Department has seen no reason for Rumania to be represented in Washington until the conclusion of peace between the United States and Rumania. Any decision to grant either of the Rumanian requests should be made only after agreement among the three principal Allied Governments.

The strong influence of the Soviet Union in Rumania has been the cause of some alarm, especially in British circles which fear that it will block the British plans to restore their pre-war political and economic position in Rumania. Prominent Rumanian leaders, including Mr. Iuliu Maniu, the Peasant Party Chief, whose devotion to democratic principles throughout his long career is well known, have made known to the official American representatives in Bucharest their fear that the Soviet Union’s present policies in Rumania are aimed at the eventual domination and annexation of that country; they have asked for an indication of the attitude of the United States Government. The Department does not believe that the evidence at hand supports their view, although there have been some indications of Soviet intervention in internal Rumanian affairs and of a Soviet policy of stripping Rumania economically.

It would be advantageous if reassurances could be obtained from the Soviet Government that:

The Soviet Union does not seek to dominate Rumania and that it will consult with the other principal Allied Governments before taking actions which affect the latter’s interests in Rumania;
In exacting reparation deliveries from Rumania, the Soviet Union will take account of American property interests and of the interest of all the United Nations in the rapid economic recovery of Europe:
The Soviet Government will agree to work with the other principal Allied Governments for a just and stable solution of the boundary dispute between Rumania and Hungary.

The United States should favor the conclusion of peace between Rumania and the Allies at the earliest possible date permitted by military and political conditions. American interests in Rumania would probably be better protected if normal diplomatic relations should replace the present system of control under the armistice which gives such wide powers to the Soviet authorities. It is also in our interest that free elections be held and that Rumania be left to manage its own internal affairs as soon as possible.