Transylvania and the Dynasty of Greater Roumania

Attaché, Roumanian Legation, Washington, D. C.

TRANSYLVANIA has finally been joined to the mother country. For us who chafed under foreign rule generation after generation this is a time of great rejoicing. That our former enemies should try by insidious propaganda to win their rich province back can neither mar our happiness, nor cause us fear, for we are strong now, and can assert our right to be Roumanian in fact as well as in spirit.

It was not always so. I remember the time, twenty years ago, when some of my relatives succeeded in obtaining passports from the Hungarian Government to go to Bucharest to visit the exposition in commemoration of the fortieth year since Carol I ascended the throne of Roumania. They told us many beautiful stories on their return about the Roumania of our dreams, about the country for which our Transylvanian ancestors suffered so much under Hungarian oppression. They related to us how they were received by our brothers beyond the Carpathian mountains: they told us of the tears they shed at meetings and discussions, where oaths were solemnly repeated for our liberation. And they drew an unforgettable picture of the King and Queen as they addressed the Transylvanian pilgrims, encouraging them more with looks than with words (for Austro-Hungarian diplomacy could afford many spies). They encouraged them not to give up, for the hour was coming when our martyrdom would end; that we must have patience, that ten centuries of hopes, suffering, and exasperation must ultimately bear their glorious fruit in the union of all the Roumanian provinces with Roumania, the Mother Country.

Beautiful tales they were, told in the family circle, behind closed doors, around the table, by the light of a nickering candle. The old faces were wet with tears, looking into the glowing eyes of the young, scrutinizing their faces, as if to see whether Hungarian schools had influenced the beliefs in which they were brought up at home.

They were the years when the Hungarians began to practice their policy of denationalization, closing all our schools, which were maintained from the pennies contributed by needy peasants and by struggling Roumanian intellectuals. Our expression must have told them many things, for they began to smile at us, through their tears.

.....The children of twenty years ago were men in the year 1914,—or so the Hungarians thought, for they drew us into the service, into the terrific world struggle.

Roumanian it was, and ardently patriotic, my generation from Transylvania, which was forced to take up arms on the side of the Hungarians, whose cause was not our cause, whose victory meant our defeat. Tragic days they were, full of mental torture. But in the darkest moments we hoped, with the faith of youth, with the courage of never giving up. Were not our ancestors the men who colored red with their blood every inch of Transylvanian soil? Were not we the descendants of those who fought with Horia, Closhca and Crishan for the freedom of Transylvania? Did not our fathers follow the dashing and valiant young Avram Iancu, in the bloody years of 1848-1849?

Courage and hopes and wonderful dreams whispered in our hearts on star-lit nights, the quiet of which was broken only by hesitating, tired, and weary exchanges of fire. Our thoughts were with the "enemy",—oh, how hateful this word sounded to us,—our good wishes were with those on whose side we wanted to see Roumania.

And then came August 28, 1916—the long expected day of Roumania's entrance into the war on the side of the Allies. How great that day was! It meant: "Now or never" for every Roumanian. For the Transylvanian Roumanians it also meant the beginning of a new Calvary, of new tortures, of new agony. Our old, who could not be drawn into the ranks, were thrown into prisons. But gladly they faced those days of trial, for they were the dawn of a New Era: they were heralding Greater Roumania.

August 28th was the day of the Virgin Mary. The bells in Transylvanian churches rang with hidden joy. At last our day of liberty was approaching!

We thought of the greatness of King Ferdinand, who broke all his family ties to abide by the wishes of his people! We saw in our dreams the magnificent smile of his Consort, Queen Marie, who now was to be found wherever there was a need for her encouraging words and her soothing hands.

Our love was with them, wishing them success, and the fulfillment of our fondest hopes!

But days of trial were yet to come! The Roumanian Army, left unaided by the promised support of Russia, saw herself overwhelmed by Mackensen's army, which was equipped with superior armament. The brave Roumanian "Dorobantzi",—whose deeds at Plevna were admired by an amazed world, clad in rags, fighting with old, demoded rifles, astonished with their tenacity the Teuton giant, whose admiration they won! But what was the use! Russian treachery forced the remnants of King Ferdinand's army to entrench itself in Moldavia, after the glorious and bloody battles of Marashti and Marashesthi, and Moldavia was already crowded with those who escaped the German bombs! Ten percent of the population of Roumania perished. No nation has ever suffered such a loss by the hand of the enemy.

Roumanian Peasant Dress
From a photograph of Mrs. Cortlandt Schuyler Van Rensselaer,
daughter of Dr. T. Tileston Wells, Consul General of Roumania

Amidst the ruins, in the hospitals filled with the moans of the dying, you could see a tall figure, with a divine smile on her face, going from bed to bed, laying her hands on the feverish faces of the brave, bringing them comfort and cheerfulness. The Queen of Roumania was with the sufferers day and night. She gave no heed to persuasion or to force. The ugly epidemic of typhoid fever was no deterrent to her. She held the hands of the dying, until their last breath, easing their agony.

Her little baby, the five year old Mircea, the Darling Prince of the Nation, passed away in those terrible days, following the path of the Flower of Roumania. There she was, this wonderful mother, with deep sorrow in her heart, not only for her country, and for her people, but also for her baby, the most beloved of all! She plunged with even greater devotion into her relief work, not giving up, not losing confidence in the future of Roumania.

Every grieving heart felt her consolation. Dear she became to every soul. Admiration grew into worship. She was the realization of the wonderful stories of the vast Roumanian folklore. She was the good, gentle, and loving Queen of the Roumanian fairy tales. Wonders she accomplished. Fatigue, exhaustion, and sorrow could not overcome her. Her radiant smile brought light into the darkness, and that light,—faint at first, as the coming of the dawn, but growing ever stronger, —lit the Roumanian horizon.

The fall of 1918 came, with its hectic days.

The Allies were victorious everywhere, and the surviving Transylvanian youth saw the Monarchy crumbling to pieces.

We went home, in Transylvania, bursting with desire for action. Soon came December 1, that glorious day of our Alba Julia, when representatives from even the remotest villages of Transylvania, Chrishana, and Banat lifted their unfaltering voices, like a mighty thunder: "Union with the Mother Country!"

It was a day never to be forgotten. Fortunate, indeed, were those who could be there! Tears of joy, tears of happiness, were on the face of everyone.

And those days of May, 1919, when the Royal Family came to Transylvania, now to our Transylvania! The laughing Spring, in all its glory, furnished a fitting decor to the Transylvanian hills and meadows. Nature and man were joyous and grateful to their rulers.

.....Is it then a wonder that Transylvania is so devoted to the Sovereigns of our beloved Greater Roumania?