No. 756

611.66/12–1851: Despatch

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

secret
No. 220

Subject: Recent Rumanian protests and calumnies against the United States; possible fears of U.S. espionage and sabotage.

Regarding the most recent developments here in the crescendo of official protests and other denunciations levelled against the United States in the last few weeks, especially since the accidental crossing of the Rumanian and Hungarian frontiers by a USAF plane on November 19,1 I should like to make the following observations:

1. While various Chiefs of Mission here have asked me in the last few days whether I interpreted this current barrage of protest and calumny to be a possible prelude to Rumanian severance of diplomatic relations with the United States, I continue to believe this is probably not the case, at least not for the time being. The consensus of opinion within the Western Diplomatic Corps also holds to this interpretation. It seems logical to assume that if and when the [Page 1520]Communist authorities decide to break off relations with the United States, a fabricated situation will suddenly be sprung as a basis for such action, which will not require a long-time propaganda build-up.

2. There is some evidence that the authorities may be genuinely apprehensive of (a) the $100,000,000 item in the Mutual Security Act and (b) the special interest in Rumania shown by the United States Government in its compilation of civil-rights violations recently submitted to the U.N. This is indicated by the stepped-up demands for information from the Legation’s Rumanian staff (although this may be attributed also to the separation in recent months of several Rumanian employees suspected of collaborating too liberally with the Security Police); indications of greater surveillance in front of the Legation office and residence; and the appearance of a somewhat hysterical note in the press treatment of the Mutual Security Act and the civil-rights matter, with indications of little or no cool-headed consideration of the favorable Western publicity afforded by this precipitate and extensive propaganda.

Possibly, although not necessarily, related to this situation is a report which I heard today as emanating from a Rumanian lawyer with extensive connections within Government and State cooperatives’ circles, who said that he had detected an atmosphere of nervousness within these circles in the last several weeks. Although he was not disposed to indicate a cause for this situation and while it may have been connected with the Slansky liquidation in Czechoslovakia, it may have been produced by other apprehensions, such as fear of a United States-directed or encouraged movement of some kind within the country. Perhaps in the same picture is the reported sabotage movement mentioned in the Legation’s despatch No. 219 of today;2 people in the government may think that agents of the United States are directly or indirectly responsible for this movement.

3. The recent issue of the Hungarian White Book and the publication here of similar material beginning December 6 attacking various former members of this mission indicate that similar directives have come from the propaganda headquarters to both Rumania and Hungary. Whether these directives were given before or after the events of the last few weeks and whether, therefore, they are to be identified with the possibly real apprehension mentioned above, are impossible to say. Translations of an unsigned article in two installments as published here in Romania Libera 3 December 9 and 11 under the caption “American ‘Diplomatic’ Records” and of a somewhat similar article in Scanteia on December 12 entitled “Spies Masked as Diplomats” are enclosed.4 The Department’s attention is invited also to the Government’s “Declaration” regarding United States-Rumanian relations published here on December 6 on the occasion of the United States’ presentation to the United Nations of evidence of Rumanian civil-rights violations; copies of [Page 1521]the declaration, which enumerated a number of former United States officials here as “agents of the American espionage services and warmongers’ cats’-paws” were transmitted under cover of the Legations despatch No. 209 of December 6.5

James W. Gantenbein
  1. Regarding this incident, see Documents 739 ff.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Communist daily newspaper in Bucharest.
  4. None printed.
  5. Not printed.