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Romanianization or Rumanization is the term used to describe a number of ethnic assimilation policies implemented by the Romanian authorities during the 20th century. The term particularly refers to Romanian government policy in several periods toward the Hungarian minority in Romania and the Ukrainian minority in Bukovina or Bessarabia.[1][2][3][4]


Romanianization in Transylvania


In the period between the two World Wars

At the end of World War I, Transylvania, at the time a territory of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was occupied by the Romanian army. Shortly before, the Romanian National Council (representing the Romanian population) and representatives of the German population had taken the decision of unifying the province with Romania. The decision was contested by the Hungarian minority. The Treaty of Trianon established the Romanian border with the new Hungarian state. However, Transylvania had a large Hungarian minority, of 25.5% according to the 1920 census. A portion of them fled to Hungary after the union;[5] however, most remained in Romania, as by 1930 their number increased to 26.7% of the Transylvanian population. While Romania included large national minorities, the 1923 Constitution declared the country to be a nation-state, following the French model which was popular in many European nations at that time.

After the second World War

After 1948, the industrialization of towns made the number of inhabitants in some urban areas to double or even triple, most of the newcomers being ethnic Romanians from the rural areas. The urbanization policy, natural phenomenon as the urbanization being required by the economic development and by the intention of transforming the predominantly agrarian country into an industrialized one, was followed throughout Romania, including in areas inhabited by minorities although much less significant.


According to census data, the Hungarian population of Transylvania decreased from 25.5% in 1920 to 19.6% in 2002. Changes were more significant in cities/larger settlements, where Hungarians used to be in majority, especially in Northern Transylvania such as Oradea (Hungarian: Nagyvárad) and Cluj-Napoca (Hungarian: Kolozsvár).

Romanianization of the Transylvanian population was also affected by the fact that 300,000 Germans emigrated into West Germany. The West German state paid to Romania the equivalent of $2,632 per ethnic German emigrant, as of 1983.[6] Also, about 50,000 Jews who survived the Holocaust emigrated to Israel on similar terms. These mass emigrations were, however, an example of positive discrimination towards the German and Jewish populations, as the rest of the Transylvanian population (Romanians, Hungarians, Romas) had no opportunity to take part in this economical emigration.

Romanianization was less sustained in the compact Székely areas of south-eastern Transylvania (the Székelyföld), where even now Hungarians make around 80% of the population. The capital city of the former Hungarian Autonomous Province (covering mostly the Székely areas) is an exception: the percentage of Hungarians in Târgu Mureş decreased to 46%, as the industrialization of the city led many people from the surrounding rural areas (largely Romanian) to move into the city.

Policies toward the Ukrainian minority in Romania

The territories of Bukovina (today split between Romania and Ukraine) and Bessarabia (today by 2/3 in the Republic of Moldova and 1/3 in Ukraine), historically populated by the Romanians and Ukrainians for hundreds of years.

In 1775, Bukovina was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, which offered certain currency in the public life for the two nations,[7] however the general policy on churches and education disfavored the Christian Orthodox population.[8]. Austrian control favored immigration to develop the economy of the region.[9][10] Due to Bukovina being administratively linked to the province of Galicia, the ethnic composition of the province was altered by waves of Ruthenian (Ukrainian), German and Jewish immigrants.[7][9] According to Keith Hitchins,[9] "In 1774 the estimated population was 75000; in 1810 it was 198,000, and in 1848 378,000. The changes in the province's ethnic composition were dramatic. In 1774 the Romanians constituted an overwhelming majority, roughly 64,000 to 8,000 Ruthenians (Ukrainians) and 3,000 others. By 1810 the Romanian share had fallen from 85 per cent to 75 per cent (150,000 to 48,000 non-Romanians), and in 1848 there were 209,000 Romanians (55 per cent), 109,000 Ukrainians (29 per cent) and 60,000 others (16 per cent). The Jewish population rose from 526 in 1774 to 11,600 in 1848."

In 1918, following the collapse of Austria-Hungary, control over the whole of Bukovina fell under the Kingdom of Romania. The takeover was followed by the policy of Romanianization of ethnic minorities, mostly Ukrainians, pursued by the Romanian authorities. The policies were built on an increasing sentiment spread in Romanian media and historic works that all of Bukovina was inherently a Romanian ethnic territory. Ion Nistor, a prominent Romanian historian and one of the most vocal proponents of Greater Romanian nationalism,[11][12] was made a rector of the University of Cernăuţi (Chernivtsi), the main university of the province. Enrollment of Ukrainians in the university fell from 239 out of 1671 in 1914 to 155 out of 3,247 in 1933, while Romanian enrollment in the same period increased to 2,117 out of 3,247.[13]

The Romanization policies brought the closure of the Ukrainian public schools (all such schools were closed until 1928) and the suppression of most of the Ukrainian (Ruthenian) cultural institutions. The very term "Ukrainians" was prohibited from the official usage and some populations of disputable Ukrainian ethnicity were rather called the "citizens of Romania who forgot their native language" and were forced to change their last names to Romanian-sounding ones.[11] As such, according to the Romanian census, of the total population of 805,000, 74% were called Romanians; the number included the Ukrainians and other possibly related Ukrainian ethnic groups Hutsuls referred to as "Romanians who forgot their native language".

According to the 1930 census, Ukrainians made up 3.2% of the population of Romania. The declines in Ukrainian population between the censuses of 1919 and 1930 is illustrated as follows: the first census indicates a population of 16,250,000, of which 763,750 (4.7%) were Ukrainians; in 1930, as the total population had increased by 11% (to 18,025,896), the Ukrainian community had dropped to 576,828 members (75.5% of the previous total).[14]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Democracy and Governance Assessment of Romania (Microsoft Word document), USAID/Romania, 24 September, 2001. Accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  2. ^ István Pávai, "The Folk Music of the Moldavian Hungarians", Hungarian Heritage 2002 Volume 3 Numbers 1-2. Extract online at [1], accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  3. ^ James Fuchs, "Averescu: Rumania's Mussolini", The Nation, Vol. 122, no. 3175, May 12, 1926. A relatively early citation for the term "Rumanization" - a policy attributed, among others, to the Romanian government of Ion I. C. Brătianu, one which would have contributed to an alliance between nationalist forces hostile to Brătianu and representatives of ethnic minorities, as the pseudo-fascist People's Party (led by Alexandru Averescu)
  4. ^ Bukovina - Handbook, part of the Yizkor Book Project on In particular, see the section "The Church Question". Accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  5. ^ Raffay Ernő: A vajdaságoktól a birodalomig-Az újkori Románia története = From voivodates to the empire-History of modern Romania, JATE Kiadó, Szeged, 1989, pages 155-156); Kovrig, Bennett (2000) ‘Partitioned nation: Hungarian minorities in Central Europe’, in: Michael Mandelbaum (ed.), The new European diasporas: national minorities and conflict in Eastern Europe, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, pp. 19-80. Ernő indicates an exodus of about 197,000 Transylvanian Hungarians fled to Hungary in 1918–1922, Kovrig estimates a further 169,000 over the remainder of the interwar period.
  6. ^ "Relations with Noncommunist States" in Library of Congress Country Study: Romania, based on data as of July 1989. "In 1979 West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Bucharest and extended credit guarantees of approximately US$368 million in return for Romanian pledges to facilitate the reunification of ethnic German families. The issue resurfaced in 1983 when the so called education tax would have increased West Germany's payment of the equivalent of US$2,632 per ethnic German emigrant to US$42,105. After visits by Bavarian premier Franz Joseph Strauss and West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, an agreement was reached whereby the West German government increased its payment per emigrant to approximately US$5,263." Accessed online 12 November 2006.
  7. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, Ukraine, Section:: History:: Western Ukraine under the Habsburg monarchy:: Bukovina
  8. ^ Keith Hitchins, The Romanians 1774-1866, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198205910, p. 227-229
  9. ^ a b c Keith Hitchins, The Romanians 1774-1866, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198205910, p. 226
  10. ^ Raimund Friedrich Kaindl, Das Ansiedlungswesen in der Bukowina seit der Besitzergreifung durch Österreich, Innsbruck, 1902, pp. 1-71
  11. ^ a b Oleksandr Derhachov (editor), "Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis", Chapter: "Ukraine in Romanian concepts of the foreign policy", 1996, Kiev ISBN 966-543-040-8
  12. ^ Mariana Hausleitner, "Cernauti University, 1919-1940: Concepts and Consequences of Romanization". Presented at ""Culture and the Politics of Identity in Modern Romania", May 27-30, 1998, Elisabeta Palace, Bucharest, Romania
  13. ^ A. Zhukovsky, Chernivtsi University, Encyclopedia of Ukraine, 2001, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Accessed 11 Feb 2006.
  14. ^ (Romanian) "Populatia României Mari". România Mare.  

See also

External links


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