740.00119 Control (Rumania)/3–745: Telegram

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

179. For Department only. This afternoon I passed 2 hours with the King and Queen Mother hearing their account of the events of the last 8 days.

The King confirmed the facts which I reported in my telegram No. 142, February 27, midnight3 of the arrival in Bucharest of Vyshinsky and his first call at the palace.

The King said he was under the impression that Prince Stirbey was pleased when he did not succeed in forming a government. (Re my telegram No. 154 of March 2, 10 a.m.) He confirmed point by point the information supplied in my No. 146 of February 28, 7 p.m. and when it was time for me to go he took me to his study to point out the plaster that was cracked around the door frame when Vyshinsky terminated so brusquely his second interview by banging the door of the King’s study.

At Vyshinsky’s third audience he informed the King that he had been sent to Rumania by Marshal Stalin to convey a special message. The King’s phraseology describing the message was very similar to [Page 503] that reported in my No. 152 of March 1, 11 p.m.4 He added the interesting statement that Mr. Vyshinsky had said to him that the American and British representatives had called that day (March 1) at the Soviet Legation and had made inquiries about the formation of the new Government but he had denied any knowledge of who would head the Government. Vyshinsky said he informed the King of this as a proof of Soviet Government’s confidence in the King and he asked that the King respond with equal confidence in Soviet Government.

Since Stirbey, a neutral, had failed and Vyshinsky had nominated Groza in name of Soviet Government, the King felt he must charge Groza with the formation of a government. However, because of Groza’s small following in the country the King limited his mandate by the language reported in my No. 162 of March 3, 6 p.m.5 Because of its unrepresentative character the King refused to accept the first cabinet presented by Groza and recommended discussions among the party leaders for purpose of finding another Prime Minister designate. At this stage Vyshinsky sent word that the cancelation of Groza mandate would be considered by Soviet Government as a hostile act. From that time, Saturday evening,6 the King said to his way of thinking he had to decide only one question, whether to get out or stay.

He said it had been authoritatively reported to me that he had decided on Monday not to accept a Groza minority government (re my telegram 167, March 5, 7 p.m.7) and I inquired what factors caused him to change his mind. He replied that Monday evening8 two reports were brought to him, one from Vyshinsky saying unless the King accepted a Groza government by the following afternoon, Vyshinsky could not be responsible for the continuance of Rumania as an independent state, and the other brought by Groza saying the Soviets had promised great improvement in relations between Soviet Union and Rumania upon formation of a NDF government. He mentioned specifically, the return of the control of the transportation system, the return of northern Transylvania and an application of the terms of the armistice with greater tolerance. The King summoned the leaders of the historic parties late Monday night (re my telegram [Page 504] 171 of March 6, 7 p.m.9). Both he and the Queen Mother appealed to them to put aside party politics and throw their full strength into helping the country in this emergency. They agreed.

The following morning each party made stipulations and the result was no agreement could be made between NDF and historic parties. Some of his close advisors, such as Visoianu and Savel Radulescu, then urged the King to abdicate. The Queen urged a regency. Others such as the Marshal of the Court10 and the Patriarch urged him to stay on. Tuesday noon he again summoned Maniu and Bratianu. Bratianu came speaking for himself and Maniu who was bedfast. The King explained his predicament and asked Bratianu’s advice as the eldest statesman of the country. Bratianu said the King should not desert the country.

In describing his thinking the King said he decided if he abdicated it would be hailed in some quarters abroad as a magnificent gesture for a principle but the Rumanian people would be no better off. If he stayed and “ate some humble pie” he might be able to do something for his people. He said he was not afraid of the Russians as when he acted on August 23 he knew the Russians would occupy Rumania but he was not so sure of the Rumanian Communists. Nevertheless he took “one of the risks of the procession and decided to stay”.

I inquired if the public demonstrations and parades had helped him to make his decision. He replied that he did not know about what was going on in the streets as he was so busy with conferences within the palace.

The unexpected arrival of Marshal Malinovsky Tuesday morning the King took to be a sign of confirmation of Vyshinsky’s threat. He thought the Marshal had come to preserve order while the NDF installed a Groza government by popular acclamation.

At this point the Queen asked why I had not given them an indication as to whom the American Government preferred as Prime Minister. I said I had sent the King word of our desire for a coalition government broadly representative of all political groups and social classes but that I could not suggest any personality as that would be interpreted as putting our finger into the Rumanian political broth. The King replied, “Why should you hesitate to put your finger in the broth when you know that your ally has put his hand down my throat.” Tuesday afternoon the Groza government was formed and in the evening it was sworn in. An hour later Vyshinsky and Marshal Malinovsky had an audience with the King. Malinovsky read a brief political lecture to the King to the effect that order must be preserved, [Page 505] full concentration could not be given to front line activities if there were unrest behind the lines, that the Rumanian Government had failed in the past and that it was not going to be permitted to fail in the future. At this audience Vyshinsky was less dogmatic but the manner and conversation of both officials left no doubt in the King’s mind that they had planned to install a Groza government.

When I touched upon the future the King said both Groza and Tatarescu11 had given their word that they would not start political recriminations. But he said, “I don’t know whether or not Ana Pauker will approve those promises.”

  1. See footnote 65, p. 485.
  2. See footnote 82, p. 493.
  3. The language used by the King, as quoted in telegram 162, March 3, from Bucharest, was as follows: “I charge you to form a government of large democratic concentration with the help of all parties in normal proportion so that it might result in a complete understanding and to assure a government of order and productive labor.” (740.00119 Control (Rumania)/3–345)
  4. March 3.
  5. Not printed; it reported, inter alia, that the King had told those near him that if Groza could not form a government under the original mandate, he, the King, would again consult all party leaders with the idea of surrendering his prerogatives (740.00119 Control (Rumania)/6–545).
  6. March 5.
  7. Not printed; it described domestic Rumanian political negotiations of March 5–6 culminating in the announcement of the morning of March 6 that Groza had formed a government (740.00119 Control (Rumania)/3–645).
  8. Dimitri Negel.
  9. Tatarescu became Vice Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Groza government.