No. 755

611.66/12–551: Despatch

The Chargé in Romania ( Gantenbein) to the Department of State

secret
No. 208

Subject: State of U.S.-Rumanian Relations

The official tone given here to the state of United States-Rumanian relations has been increasingly hostile since the end of the summer, although scurrilous newspaper and radio attacks against the United States had occurred daily for many months before then. As a starting point in this recent phase, one might take the Catholic Church-Italian Legation trial in mid-September in which both the Church and that Legation were portrayed by the prosecution and by the official propaganda as agents of an aggressive American espionage and sabotage network. While this Legation was not directly attacked, Mr. Murat Williams and myself were mentioned as exchanging information with Mr. Puri-Purini, First Secretary of the Italian Legation, who was a special target of the trial.

The Government’s note of September 18 protesting the abrogation of the United States-Rumanian Commercial Agreement of 1930 went much further.1 Here was a direct accusation of the Foreign Office, which characterized the abrogation as “an act proving the hostile policy of the Government of the United States against the Rumanian People’s Republic and seeking the further deterioration of the relations” between the two countries, and which declared [Page 1518]that the responsibility for this policy lay entirely with the Government of the United States.

The official hostility became still more pronounced at the time that the USAF lost cargo plane was reported to have crossed the Rumanian frontier. The antics of Mme Pauker in calling me to her office on November 20 several hours after the Legation had made inquiries at the Foreign Office as to the location of the plane and welfare of the crew, and maintaining that the crossing of the frontier could have been no mishap, and in then sending a strong protest note three hours later before the fate of the plane and its crew were even made known, were in line with the same policy.

The most recent instance occurred when the First Assistant Foreign Minister a week later called me immediately to the Foreign Office at ten o’clock one night (a few minutes later he changed the appointment to the next morning) in order to present a still more hostile note protesting the recent Mutual Security Act. Terming the law “an aggressive act against the R.P.R. and the other countries against which it is aimed”, the note said that “this law unmasks the American Government’s policy directed against general peace”. Replete with similar scurrilous passages, the note concluded that the United States bore full responsibility for the activities allegedly provided for and demanded the law’s repeal. The propaganda accompanying the protest, including the newspaper reports of obviously trumped-up indignation meetings and letters, has been both extensive and vituperative. Scanteia 2 took occasion to comment in abusive terms on former members of the Legation, including Messrs. Melbourne and Hulick,3 characterized as “American spies” who directed sabotage activities in Rumania.

While all of this could logically be a prelude to some drastic act, such as an operation against Yugoslavia or the severance of diplomatic relations with the United States and perhaps other Western countries, it seems more likely that it is only a part of the Kremlin-directed anti-American propaganda, and war of nerves which has to keep pulling new rabbits out of the hat in order to avoid languishing. As I have commented previously, it would seem incongruous for the Rumanian Government to be increasing its diplomatic staffs in various Western capitals, including that in Washington, in recent months if it contemplated a rupture in diplomatic relations. As to the efficacy of this kind of propaganda, if one of its main purposes is to foster the hate and indignation which it claims is so extensive here, it is patently unsuccessful. During the year and a [Page 1519]quarter that I have been here, I have seen no first-hand evidence of genuine anti-American feeling apart from members of the Communist Chinese Embassy and possibly two or three people in the Foreign Office.

On the other hand, United States-Rumanian official relations will likely continue to strike new lows. Professed indignation (not yet begun) at the evidence which the United States submitted last month to the United Nations concerning Rumanian violations of the civil-rights clauses of the Peace Treaty may form the subject of the next protest and propaganda barrage. Meanwhile the creation several days ago of an office to supply the local-personnel needs of the diplomatic corps, (Legation’s telegram No. 237 of December 14) may be relied upon to add one more harassment to the Legation and its American staff, while the demands for Secret Police intelligence among the loyal Rumanian members of the mission continue to increase. (Legation’s despatch No. 177 of November 17, 19514).

James W. Gantenbein
  1. See Document 634.
  2. Official daily newspaper of the Romanian Workers’ Party (Communist).
  3. The reference here is to Roy M. Melbourne and Charles Hulick, Jr., Foreign Service Officers who served in the U.S. Mission in Romania, 1945–1947.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.