May 10th is a national holiday in Rumania. What the Fourth of July is to the United States of America, May Tenth ### is to Rumaniaâ€”Independence Day.
Strictly speaking. Rumania declared her independence with the outbreak of the Russo-Turk war in 1877 and became independent in 1878 by virtue of the Berlin treaty. However, it was on May 10, 1881, when Rumania became de facto a Kingdom and Prince Carol, The First, was #hen crowned King of Rumania.
To the Jews in Rumania, who #ad taken no small part in the war #or independence, the rise of that #rincipality to the dignity of a Kingdom, a brighter future appear#d on the political horizon.
Alas! They were soon disillu#ioned. The mistaken policy of the Bratiano regime destroyed every #rospect of amelioration, for the Bratiano government was irrecon#ilably hostile to the Jews, as such.
In accordance with this spirit, #very Parliament promulgated #aws, which were inimical to Jewish interests; so much so, that at #he outbreak of the World War #here were 256 anti-Jewish laws in #he Rumanian statutes, although #he word “Jew” was not mentioned. #nstead, “Straini” (Aliens) was #he official designation of the race #gainst whom these laws were in #act directed; since the Jew was #ot a citizen of that land of his #irth, he was logically the ALIEN #gainst whom the laws were #igidly enforced. In their mad #ropaganda against the Jews, they #unded economic societies of vari# us kind and nature, but with the #ole object to destroy the Jews. Nici un ac de la Jidani” (not a #eedle from the Jews) was their #logan. Since the “Strain” (the #ews) could hold no monopoly, #verything was turned into mon#poly by construction and interpret#ation.
“Only the air.” says Schwartzfeld, had not been turned ####ly exclusively for Rumanians.” #nd now, after a campaign of #atred of more than seventy-five #ears, we find no more “Straini”, #t full-fledged Jewish citizens #hose voice is heard in Parlia#ent. In the Senate, Jewish in#rests are represented in per#tuity. All the anti-Jewish laws #ve become dead letters; Jews are #w holding public office under the #ectorate. Moreover, it happened #ore than once, when a Jew was #posed in the election by an anti-#mite, the former came out the #ctor. Anti-Semitism, if not actu#ly forbidden is officially taboo#d, wherever possible, rigidly suppressed.
King Carol the First died and he #as succeeded to the throne by #ing Ferdinand. While the new #ing was liberally inclined, he was #able to change the Bratiano poli#s. Even after the senior John #atiano died and his two sons, #nel and Vintila, took over the #lm, the same treatment was ac#ded to the Jews.
The World War broke out and #mania became our ally. Glowing #omises were then made to the #ws, but at the Treaty of Ver#illes, the then Premier Bratiano, #fused to sign the Treaty by which #e Jews in Rumania were recog#zed as citizens. Finally, the #eaty was signed. A greater Ru#ania was thereby created; instead ### 250,000 Jews of the Old King#m, it became now endowed with #lly a million of Jews, with full citizenship.
### Did their lot change, as citizens? #ere they permitted to exercise #eir civil and political rights #thout molestation? Not while #e Bratianos were in power.
Eventually, the politics took a #n. The Bratiano power began ### wane. General Avarescu came #o power and was shortly followed ### Maniu and, as a Transylvanian, imbued with the Western-European spirit, he followed a more liberal policy. However, anti-Semitism now began to grow more militant.
King Ferdinand has passed away, and, his heir Carol, having been exiled by the Bratianos and having renounced his right to the throne; his son, the constitutional heir, still a minor, a regency was established. The personnel of the regency, with the exception of the then dowager Queen Maria, was not over-burdened with love for the Jews; and, while Maniu was inclined to follow his liberal policy, there were members in his Cabinet who followed tactics prejudicial to the Jews and anti-Semitism became so much the bolder.
In 1930, the Errant Son of Rumania came home and at once took possession of the vacant throne that was his. The meeting of Maniu when he called to greet his future King at Cotroceni, a suburb of Bucharest, was dramatic:
“I suppose,” said the King, “you have come to arrest me.” “I have more reason to fear that you may arrest me,” replied Maniu.
The result of this interview, immediately after the arrival of Carol, is now history. The Parliament was immediately convened and Carol was acclaimed King of Rumania.
With the ascension of King Carol to the throne, a new era set in for the Jews. They found very soon that Rumania was ruled by a young, broad-minded, vigorous and alert King with modern ideas. The entire country realized at once that their “Suveran” ( as he is usually spoken of) was a very active man with ideas all of his own: that now they had for the first time a native Rumanian on the throne and for the first time, they heard Parliament addressed in a pure Rumanian and eloquent language, for King Carol is an orator; and in his speech to Parliament, the King warned the Rumanian politicians that he desired his people to live amicably and peaceably.
But, the anti-Semites did not take Carol very seriously. However, they had occasion very quickly to learn what he meant. And while Germany began to turn the clock of civilization back, King Carol moved it forward. Orders were given at once to the Police, the Jandarmarie, and to the Secret Police, to suppress anti-Semitic propaganda in every way. The heretofore powerful Iron Guards were disbanded and every anti-Semitic move was held in check. The King himself even went so far as to address the students and in unmistakable language told them to pay all attention to their studies and to leave political propaganda to th elders.
Anti-Semitic demonstrations are permitted no longer. In my recent visit to Bucharest, I had occasion to witness an anti-Semitic demonstration. A band of so-called “students” was coming along the Boulevard Elizabetha shouting “Jos Jidanii” (down with the Jews)! But, as soon as this band of brigands reached Calea Victoria, they found themselves surrounded by a cordon of Jandarms, who drove them to the Profecture. I do not know, whether they were served with refreshments, but I have an idea of the nature of the sermon, in view of the cries of agony I heard coming from the basement of the Profecture. It was 11:30 at night. After that, the streets were no more disturbed.
The anti-Semites became desperate and resorted to other means. The assassination of Duca then followed. But this, too, had its reaction in favor of the Jews and was merely another step to the gallows on which anti-Semitism in Rumania is being hung. By this despicable act the country saw only one more step left upon which the hydra of anti-Semitism will be found climbing the stairs of the Royal Palace. The government now decided to take a firm stand, and by this stand the Jews have profited infinitely. Doubtless, anti-Semitism is being crushed in all of its phrases. The recent stand taken by the peasant party against their leader, Vaida-Voevod, has demonstrated to what extent the anti-Semites have lost their ground, and, although anti-Semitism has not been uprooted completely, as yet, it is being effectively checked.
Unfortunately, in a constitutional monarchy free speech cannot be denied and under this pretext the anti-Semites are still able to hold their meetings, however, with certain limitations. For the same reason, the Students’ Congress was permitted to be held at Crajova, but, again, on promise of good behavior.
In this respect, Rumania follows the tactics of the English. Whoever has visited Hyde Park, in London, some evening, must have seen the many soap box agitators denouncing everybody and everything, from the King down, while the agents of the government look on passively, letting them shout as loud as they please, until the mob evaporates and the speakers with themâ€”but the police is always at hand.
Nazism and Bolshevism will never strike root in Rumania. It must be remembered that Rumania is now endowed with a German population of over a million souls, three-fourths of which is to be found in Transylvania and in Bucovina, formerly Hungarian and Austrian territory, respectviely. It is, therefore, only natural that these should lean towards their Nazi kind in Germany. Fortunately, however, their own ground is not sound enough to permit them to take a bold stand against the Jews. Nevertheless, the Jews in the annexed territories cannot feel themselves very comfortable.
The Hungarian Jew, now a Rumanian citizen, finds himself sandwiched in between two neighbors, one Hungarian, the other Rumanian. In the political strife, if he is loyal to his government, the Hungarian charges him with lack of patriotism. If he sympathizes with his magyar neighbor, the Rumanian brands him a traitor. The same condition prevails in Bucovina and in Bessarabia. However, the Rumanian Government knows the patriotism of the Jew and, like Great Britain in the Orient, trusts him more than any other minority member. Maniu in Transylvania and Niculetz in Bessarabia know the value of their Jews and do not permit anti-Semitism to raise its head. True, there are still some sporadic disturbances here and there, but they make no impression. “The disorders, which at no time took on serious proportions,” says Morris Wood, correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “were really the acts of hooliganism rather than political manifestations.”
Due to the firmness of King Carol, anti-Semitism in Rumania is dying and as long as King Carol is on the throne of Rumania, whether it appear in the form of Iron Guards or Black-Guards, the Jews will be protected, and with the same devotion to their country and unswerving loyalty to their King, they again celebrate “ZECE MAI.” the Rumanian Independence Day.