The Chargé in Romania (Pigott) to the Secretary of State

[Extracts] secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I desire to acknowledge your letter of February 16, 1949 enclosing a copy of the January 1949 Policy Statement on Rumania1 and requesting comment and recommendations on the contents of the Statement.

The Statement leaves little to be desired in the scope of the subject matter covered or in the comprehensive treatment given the various facets of our relations with and interest in Rumania. If there is any cause to take exception to the Statement it might be in the interpretation of the character of the Rumanian society and institutions and the occasional seeming failure to evaluate the practical possibilities of accomplishment or application of our stated objectives.

I must confess in reading portions of the Statement to a certain feeling of unreality in the objectives expressed and of a sense of lofty [Page 536] idealism unrelated to the practical prospects of attainment. While, for example, it may be our sincere desire to provide for the people of Rumania conditions conducive to the establishment of a true democracy with all its attendant advantages, it must be remembered that democracy in the accepted Western sense has never existed in Rumania nor are the people presently capable of accepting in a full sense its advantages and obligations. It seems to me therefore that our objectives should reflect these limitations and that we should concern ourselves with the more practical objective of providing a regime in Rumania, however faulty in its attainments of practical democracy, which will at least provide the basic human rights and freedoms and permit the people of Rumania to live in peace.

Where we may desire to promote such desirable objectives as the encouragement of passive resistance among the Rumanian people or the opposition to further Communist encroachment, we should qualify such aims to the extent of our capacity to bring them to successful fruition. Otherwise the statements take on the character of pious hopes and dilute the force of other elements of policy.

The Statement refers at various points to a reliance upon the peasant as the broad base upon which a truly democratic government in Rumania may be founded. I fear this overrates the peasants’ concept of or interest in democratic government. The best that might be hoped for is that the peasantry could be brought to form the mass support of leaders with democratic intentions.

There appears a tendency in the mental approach to the discussion of certain problems to consider Rumania as a component of a group of more or less identical satellites and to analyze these problems from a “satellite” viewpoint. It should be borne in mind in any grouping of treatment that the peculiar geographic position of Rumania, isolated as it is from the West, makes it possible for the present government to resist Western pressure much more effectually than certain other satellites and, without fear of effective reprisal, to conduct its affairs with almost complete disregard of Western interests.

In the matter of presentation I find the Statement somewhat diffuse and, in places, repetitious. Similarities of thought and interest occur between statements under the headings of Objectives, Policy Issues and Policy Evaluation which, though perhaps unavoidable in some instances, could better serve clarity and comprehension if consolidated. The value of the Statement could be distinctly enhanced by a more succinct expression of our policy and problems, and by a better grouping of related ideas.

There arises the question of the audience for which this document is designed. If it is designed for those reasonably familiar with the Rumanian scene much of the present explanatory matter could be left out and the Statement drawn down to perhaps three or four pages. [Page 537] If, on the other hand, it is designed to familiarize persons with Rumanian problems then, in parts at least and particularly in the Political Section, it might be desirable to reinstate in the discussion of the various objectives and issues terse statements of the backgrounds and reasons for these conclusions.

Specific comments on the various sections of the Policy Statement are treated in the enclosure.

Respectfully yours,

C. Montagu Pigott

Memorandum Prepared by the Legation in Romania2


Comments on Policy Statement on Rumania

A. Objectives

1. Long Range Objectives. The Department’s listing of the long range objectives of American policy appears all inclusive and too generalized and visionary to be presently practicable. It might be well to keep in mind that never in Rumanian history have such goals been obtained and they represent a system which by Rumanian standards would be little short of Utopian. Our prime long range objective would appear to be to restore the Government to the people and worry about its form and policies later.

2. Short Term Objectives.

(1) “Protection so far as possible in the circumstances of American interests in Rumania and the defense of United States prestige against a systematic attempt on the part of the present Rumanian authorities to undermine it”.

No one can argue with this aim and it has been the consistent policy of the Legation to endeavor to carry out the principles expressed. However, the Legation has little, if any, confidence in its ability to “protect American interests” vis-à-vis the present Rumanian Government and it must be thoroughly understood that our chances of according effective protection are practically nil. The installation of an illegal Communist regime in Rumania has taken the matter out of our hands and our efforts, at best, are merely for the record.

(2) “An effort within the limits of practicability to obtain implementation of the Treaty of Peace”.

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Since the drafting of the policy statement there have been further developments in this field and the Legation’s position was stated in its telegrams Nos. 136 of February 20, 159 of March 2 and 168 of March 5, 1949.3 Briefly, we feel despite meager prospects of obtaining either Soviet or Rumanian cooperation in the matter, we should press for treaty observance of the political, military, and economic clauses and failing to obtain satisfaction here, should refer all phases of the question to a world organization. We can hardly justify branding Rumania as a treaty violator if we have not made every conceivable attempt with the machinery supposedly available to us to force compliance.4

(3) “Removal of the justification for retaining Soviet forces in Rumania by the earliest possible conclusion of an Austrian settlement”.

While the conclusion of an Austrian settlement5 entailing an obligation on the part of the Soviet Union to remove the troops it now has in Rumania purportedly to maintain “its lines of communication” might be salutory here, the Legation has little reason to suppose the Soviets would in fact remove all of their military personnel. The secret military protocol to the Rumanian-Soviet Mutual Assistance Treaty, envisages the presence of Soviet Military personnel and it seems almost certain that the Rumanian Government would request the Soviets to maintain forces here if they felt it desirable from the point of view of internal security. The Legation is inclined to believe that the present regime would, in fact, make such a request. Once the Rumanian army is sufficiently infiltrated with Soviet agents and commanded by only trusted internationally minded Communists, the uniformed Soviet troops might be permitted to depart.

(4) “Support the morale of the preponderant majority of the Rumanian people by keeping alive their faith in the values of western civilization, et cetera”.

The Legation agrees with the aims expressed here but feels that in the long run with no material improvement in the present situation here, our efforts may become increasingly less valuable as opposition gives way to resignation and resignation eventually to acceptance. Our aim at the moment should be to express constantly to the Rumanians our interest in their welfare over the Voice of America and continue our efforts to show them they have not been forgotten. It must be made clear, however, that the Rumanians must work for their own [Page 539] deliverance and that liberation will not be handed them on a silver platter without effort on their part.

(5) “Encouragement of passive (but not abortively overt) resistance by the Rumanian people to the totalitarian system and to the Communist ideology which is being imposed upon them”.

Without being exactly sure what the Department has in mind on this point, the Legation is inclined to believe we should proceed cautiously in the encouragement of any resistance, passive or otherwise. It is important we start nothing we are unwilling to back up and carry all the way through. In a police state such as Rumania has become with both the state apparatus and the many organizations of the Rumanian Workers (Communist) Party controlling each and every activity of the entire population, it is not very easy for the people to offer even passive resistance and what resistance is left will not, as mentioned above, last forever. If, as mentioned in point (4) above, we continue to point out to the Rumanians the advantages of democracy over dictatorship and to show them the criminal nature of the present regime here, we would seem to have gone about as far as is presently possible in encouraging passive resistance. Any embroilment in Rumanian politics at the present time on the part of the United States Government would only make matters worse unless we are prepared to offer material assistance to the resistance.

(6) “Development of such trade between Rumania and the West as can be adequately controlled to serve the interests of European recovery et cetera.”

The Legation concurs in this principle but feels an increase in Rumania’s trade with the West will have no effect on the “stranglehold upon Rumania of the USSR”. Rumania is at the moment ruled by Communists who are fully trusted agents of the Kremlin and whose policy is the development of international Communism, not the recovery of Rumanian prosperity. They are interested in Rumania’s economy only insofar as it promotes their political ends and the prosperity of the Soviet Union and economic considerations are most unlikely to make them relax their grasp. The present rulers of Rumania will trade only when it suits them and not in the commonly accepted sense of international trade.

B. Policy Issues

The six broad policy objectives appear to cover the situation although they appear to be little more than pious hopes, vaguely expressed.

1. Political.

The Department’s short summary of the political situation here accurately reflects the shape of things in Rumania although for persons [Page 540] not fully acquainted with the situation it appears to lack details of the manner in which Soviet control was established.

In discussing the attitude of the Rumanian Government toward United States officials in Rumania, it might be well to point out that the Rumanian Government obviously desires to hamper the Legation with its endless restrictions and to keep its personnel small by withholding visas and declaring persons personae non gratae on the flimsiest of pretexts. The Rumanian Government apparently is not at this time prepared to take the initiative in breaking off relations with the United States but it is determined to make sure that such representation as it permits the United States to have in Rumania is rendered ineffective.

In the paragraphs dealing with the actions taken by the United States to cope with the situation, the Legation agrees that the United States should from time to time let the Rumanian Government know exactly where we stand and what we think of its conduct. While the constant sending of diplomatic notes which bring no visible results may tend temporarily to lower our prestige vis-à-vis the Rumanian people, the Legation feels it is important not to let the Rumanian Government violate any of its international commitments without protest, act towards United States officials in any manner but that normally prescribed in relations between states, and to make it entirely clear that we intend to implement our protests through any machinery that may conceivably be available. In dealing with an organization such as the Rumanian Government, the Legation believes that “dignified vigor” is usually appropriate but that, if necessary, dignity might on occasion be dropped in favor of a more forthright if less palatable manner of driving our points home.

Without wishing to make any recommendation that the United States break off relations with the present Rumanian Government, the Legation feels certain of the considerations listed by the Department as prompting the maintenance of relations are a bit ephemeral: The following are the Legation’s comments on the individual points raised:

Protection of American interests: Even with a diplomatic representation in Bucharest, the Rumanian Government has to date been successful in totally destroying American economic interests in Rumania. While settlement of the matter may drag on for many years, the presence of a diplomatic mission in Bucharest is not an essential in continuing our efforts for compensation. Our protection is at best a paper protection and our efforts consist of protests for the record rather than effective action capable of obtaining immediate redress.
Implementation of the Peace Treaty. The Legation agrees that no thought should be given to any rupture in relations until all possible steps have been taken in Rumania to compel compliance or at least to document our position. Once the matter has been removed from the Bucharest scene and thrown into the machinery of the United Nations, this consideration would no longer apply.
Information. The intelligence activities of the Legation and of other United States Government agencies represented in Bucharest have declined markedly in the past year and this trend has been accelerated since the passage by the Rumanian Government in January, 1949 of a law providing capital punishment for persons conveying state secrets to foreign powers.…
The avoidance of formalizing an open separation between East and West. The Legation agrees that the United States should not be the one to instigate a break and realizes the unfortunate repercussions this might have in the overall world picture and the possibility that a break in relations with one Iron Curtain country might start a chain reaction leading to a break with all.

Contacts with the Rumanian people. There appear to be two sides to this question, both deserving of consideration: (a) A break in relations would remove the pitifully few remaining contacts we have with the Rumanian people and might make the Rumanians feel we had lost interest in them and had thrown in the towel. Our continued presence in Rumania would show we were continuing our attempt to bring about an improvement in the situation and to make the present Rumanian Government live up to its international commitments, and (b) It is possible a rupture in diplomatic relations might show the Rumanian people we were no longer willing to stand for repeated insults, we were withdrawing recognition from a detested tyranny, and we would be permitted to aid the Rumanian people in manners not possible while we still accord recognition to the present Government.

The Legation feels both considerations should be taken into account whenever the Department periodically reviews the problem of continuing diplomatic relations with Rumania. While there might be some temporary loss of prestige with the democratically inclined mass of the Rumanian people, if we break relations, in the long run if, over the Voice of America and by our actions in the United Nations and elsewhere, we show the Rumanians we have not lost interest, we would suffer no permanent damage from the point of view of prestige.

The above views have been cited not to indicate the Legation believes the time has come for a break in diplomatic relations with Rumania but to point out that in the Legation’s opinion, there are few compelling reasons against an eventual break if it should be felt advisable for reasons of high policy to make it. To recapitulate, the Legation believes (1) no consideration should be given to terminating our recognition of the present Rumanian Government until we have exhausted all hopes of compelling Rumanian compliance with the Peace Treaty with the means available to us locally; (2) intelligence available in Rumania is small at the present and is decreasing all the time and (3) that a break would have both favorable and unfavorable repercussions vis-à-vis Rumanian public opinion.

The points discussed in the remainder of the chapter on political matters, the Peace Treaty, the Voice of America, the encouragement of passive resistance, and the gathering of intelligence have been covered in the various points already raised.

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[Here follow Section 2, Economic and Part C Relations with Other States.]

D. Policy Evaluation

The Legation is inclined to the belief that the statement “there may well be local elements (such as the anti-Soviet feeling of the bulk of the Rumanian people) which will afford possibilities for retarding the communization of Rumania and for eventually undermining the Soviet subjugation of that country” minimizes the rapid progress already made towards communization and the fact that a regime imposed by force can only be removed thereby. It does not seem possible, as seen by the case of Russia, to retard the progress of Communism once it has seized power merely by adverse public opinion. The United States may conceivably be able to improve the Rumanian situation by the use of the United Nations and other international agencies but there is little hope of effecting improvement through purely Rumanian agencies.

The Legation’s comments on the Department’s numbered “problems of prime concern to the further development of United States policy” follow seriatim:


The recent creation of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance indicates some sort of Eastern Federation will come into existence in fact, if not in name. The Legation does not believe any federation can spring from the peasants of the Balkans who without exception are too restricted in viewpoint, suspicious, nationalistic, and uneducated.

The rumors of impending absorption of Rumania into the Soviet Union have been quiescent for some time and the Legation does not feel it is probable in the immediate future.

The establishment of a violent and repressive rightist counterrevolution would seemingly only be possible if the overthrow of the present regime was caused by purely internal factors. The Legation does not believe it is possible for the present Communist regime to be overthrown by Rumanians alone unless there should be an unforeseen relaxing in the Soviet grip on Rumania and believes external assistance to be essential. In the event of a war such a regime might emerge in the confusion but it could hardly hope long to survive in either a free or a Communist world. Moreover the Legation doubts that the future of Rumania rests with the peasants and feels rather that it depends on leaders who can use the peasants as mass support.
Rumanian anti-Semitism is a real and tangible thing and must be taken into consideration in any long range plans for the future. Should the present regime be miraculously overthrown, it is hard to see how a pogrom could be averted.

The Legation does not take quite such a gloomy view of possible future leadership of a democratic Rumania as does the Department. After years of Hitler, Schumacher6 and others emerged in post-war [Page 543] Germany and de Gasperi7 and his associates in Italy followed the even longer dictatorship of Mussolini. A skeleton organization of the National Peasant Party is known to exist, and the National Liberal and Independent Socialist Parties have never been formally suppressed although they are lying dormant at the moment. While the regime may eventually “liquidate” vast numbers of political prisoners the fact that only a handful of fiery Communists are loyal to it makes it seem unlikely all possible future leaders could be disposed of in this manner.

The Legation agrees with the Department’s remark that although King Mihai was popular in Rumania, there is no assurance that the Rumanian people would necessarily desire the return of the House of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen once the present regime is overthrown. An unconfirmed report has recently reached the Legation that Iuliu Maniu from prison has indicated his opposition to any reinstitution of the monarchy. However, if King Mihai should by his words and deeds while in exile demonstrate to the Rumanian people that he is doing everything in his power to effect their liberation, he might be able to regain his throne if he acted quickly once the liberation came.

The Legation agrees with the Department’s opinion of the present political figures among Rumanian refugees abroad and does not feel they offer much hope of future leadership of a democratic Rumania which will have to come from persons now within Rumania.

  1. The transmittal letter under reference here is not printed. The Policy Statement on Romania is printed on p. 521.
  2. The memorandum was prepared by C. Montagu Pigott, Chargé in Romania, and by C, Vaughan Ferguson and Robert C. Creel Second Secretaries of the Legation.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. For documentation on the efforts of the United States to assure fulfillment of the human rights articles of the Treaties of Peace with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania, see pp. 223 ff.
  5. For documentation on the continuing negotiations for an Austrian peace settlement, see vol. iii, pp. 1066 ff.
  6. Kurt Schumacher, Chairman of the German Social Democratic Party.
  7. Alcide de Gasperi, Italian Prime Minister and leader of the Christian Democratic Party.