740.00119 Control (Rumania)/2–2545: Telegram

The American Representative in Rumania ( Berry ) to the Secretary of State

137. By 5 o’clock an estimated 20,000 persons had marched in three columns with flags, slogans and pictures from the nationals guard to the palaces guard. The crowd was quiet, orderly, curious and expectant. At 5:17 an exuberant Soviet officer seeing a column approaching with the Red flag at its head expressed joy by firing his revolver in the air. The palace guards and those at the nearby Ministry of Interior reacted to the sound of shooting with several bursts of machine gun fire over the heads of the crowd. Within a few seconds the entire assembly had dispersed or sought safety by assuming a prone position. There was one casualty, a man who died of heart failure. (See my telegram No. 136 of February 24, 5 p.m.54)

When no firing was heard for several minutes a large part of the crowd reassembled. Communist Minister Patrascanu55 made an address saying “they have [shot?] without shame the people’s masses. Those who ordered this, those who carried the order out, those who are really responsible will pay with their heads. General Radescu must go. An NDF government must come for it alone is capable of weeding out the Fascists.”

General Moshviyan in the name of the Soviet High Command and the ACC at 5:40 instructed the Rumanian city commander to take steps to restore order adding that if no reply was received by 6 o’clock he would be compelled to intervene. The Rumanian commander said that he would do all within his power to restore order.

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At 8:45 a group of a few hundred National Peasant Party sympathizers while passing the palace singing the national anthem and manifesting for King and Government were fired upon with automatic weapons from a passing car. Two of the demonstrators were killed and eleven wounded.

At 10 o’clock the Prime Minister addressed the nation by radio. He stated that a handful of individuals headed by two foreigners, Ana Pauker and Luca56 the Hungarian, were attempting to subdue through terror. He told of reports of violent attacks by the agents of these people on public buildings at Craiova, Caracal and Brasov and of his efforts to prevent disturbances in the capital. He concluded by calling on Rumanians to face the danger that he had exposed.

At one o’clock this morning Admiral Bogdenko, Acting Vice Chairman of the ACC called the Premier to Soviet headquarters and asked (1) why he had spoken over the radio without prior Soviet approval of his speech and (2) why he had used the names of Pauker and Luca. Radescu replied that (1) he was attacked personally and violently in the left press being labeled “Fascist Dictator” and he felt that he was entitled to reply by radio as that was the only means open to him since the typesetters had consistently refused to print his speeches and (2) he mentioned the names of Pauker and Luca in order to avoid naming the Rumanian Communist Party as the provoker of civil disturbances.

This morning’s Communist paper Scanteia carries the headlines “Executioner Radescu yesterday organized a bloody massacre in palace square”. It then describes how a demonstration of 600,000 peaceful and disciplined people were attacked by machine gun fire, identifying the act as part of a Nazi plan to bring disorder behind the Red Army front. It says that Radescu and his band must be removed and sent before the tribunal of the people to account for the massacre of the nation.

The same paper carried a telegram addressed to the King signed by five Ministers and three Under Secretaries. The telegram says that assassins Radescu, Nicolescu and Maniu have killed and wounded citizens, have compromised the Crown and tried to annihilate the act of August 23. The signers thus “protest against the assassination of peaceful people and demand the immediate dismissal of the government led by the executioner Radescu and the rest of the people guilty and responsible for the massacre of February 24”.57

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The events of the past 24 hours have closed the negotiations which were quietly going on to reform the present coalition government. These events have brought to a crisis the tension between General Radescu and the NDF which became public knowledge during the Prime Minister’s speech at the Aro Theater. The events show that a minority with the use of tactics that have proved successful elsewhere is persisting in its efforts to gain control of the Government. However as General Radescu has refused to yield, an open clash was brought about between him and the leaders of the minority. They are now seeking his dismissal by appealing to the [apparent omission]. He will not resign and as he is still supported by a majority of the Cabinet, the King may decide not to dismiss him as the left Ministers also refused to resign, it is expected locally that the violent element may resort to assassination unless Moscow directs a change in program. Significantly the demonstrations and tension of the last few days has noticeably weakened the position of the left parties [within?] the country. There is no enthusiasm shown by the people for either cause or the methods, even the demonstrators themselves being heard frequently to express disgust. While the Government’s position with the people improves the violent element of the Communist Party increasing demands, distorts facts and levies charges.

Repeated to Moscow as No. 22.

Berry
  1. Not printed; it reported mounting evidence of Soviet support for the National Democratic Front (740.00119 Control (Rumania)/2–2445).
  2. Lucretiu Patrascanu, Rumanian Minister of Justice and leading member of the Rumanian Communist Party.
  3. Vasile Luca, Secretary General of the National Democratic Front and leader in the Rumanian Communist Party. Luca was born in Transylvania of Hungarian (Szekler) parents.
  4. Telegram 140, February 27, 5 p.m., from Bucharest, reported that the King planned to receive separately the Ministers who urged the dismissal of General Radescu and that Radescu believed he would be unable to re-form a government and would resign shortly (871.00/2–2745).