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Staatenlose in Roumania: Nationality Law Must Be Amended to Give Them Citizenship Says Official Orga

February 23, 1932
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The existing Roumanian Nationality Law under which tens of thousands of Jews and others in Roumania are denied citizenship and are reduced to the position of Staatenlose, must be amended, in order to allow these people who have now no nationality, and yet have no other home or fatherland than Roumania, to acquire citizenship and to obtain the protection of the Roumanian State, the “Viitorul”, the official organ of the Liberal Party, which itself enacted the law in 1924 and was in power till 1928, when it was succeeded by the Maniu Government, writes in an editorial article.

The matter is raised by the paper in connection with the statement made by the new Minister of Justice, Professor Valeriu Pop, in his interview with the J.T.A. representative (given in the J.T.A. Bulletin of January 22nd.) in the course of which he said, “I am determined to take all necessary measures to regulate the question of the Staatenlose and to bring about the amendment of the law relating to the acquisition and loss of Roumanian citizenship”.

It is necessary to guard against the possibility, however of subversive elements taking advantage of a reform of the Nationality Law, it adds, in order to obtain the protection of Roumanian citizenship. But in principle, the gates to Roumanian citizenship should be opened wide also to aliens, who in their hearts cherish the desire to become Roumanian citizens.

Mr. Lucien Wolf, in a report to the Jewish Board of Deputies in 1930 on the conditions in Roumania instanced as one of the most outstanding Jewish grievances the failure of the Government to amend the Nationality Law, under which many thousands of Jews in the annexed Provinces are still deprived of all nationality and reduced to the status of Staatenlose.

The Joint Foreign Committee has continued ever since the enactment of the present Nationality Law in 1924, he said, to press the question on the various Roumanian Governments. It has continued to receive complaints regarding the operation of Article 56 of the Roumanian Nationality Law in the Annexed Provinces, where it has transformed a large portion of the population, among whom are many Jews, into veritable “Staatenlose”- that is to say, persons without nationality. This question was the subject of a long correspondence with the Roumanian Government in 1924, 1925 and 1926, but no final solution was arrived at. The Maniu Government, shortly after its assumption of office, promised to amend the law with a view to putting an end to the grievance, but this promise also has not been fulfilled.

Article 56 of the Nationality Law stipulates that only inhabitants of the Annexed Provinces who possessed the local Heimatsrecht on November 18th., 1918, shall be entitled to Roumanian Nationality. This provision is in direct conflict with Article 3 of the Minorities Treaty accepted by Roumania on December 9th., 1919, and so far as the Jews are concerned, with Article 7 of the same Treaty. The Roumanian Government has argued that as Article 3 of the Minorities Treaty is inconsistent with Article 70 and 61 of the Treaties of Peace with Austria and Hungary respectively, mit must be regarded as inoperative. There is, however, no real conflict

between the Treaties, for the Minorities Treaty is clearly an enlargement of the Nationality Provisions of the main Treaties. Moreover, the objection raised by the Roumanian Government was disposed of by the Permanent Court in its Advisory Opinion No. 6, relating to the settlers of German origin in the territory ceded by Germany to Poland. But even if the contention of the Roumanian Government in regard to Article 3 were justified, it would be completely indefensible in regard to Article 7, which relates to the Jewish inhabitants and confers upon them Roumanian nationality without any reference whatever to the provisions of the Treaties of Peace.

A special hardship attaching to the Nationality Law was that it was not promulgated until long after the period had elapsed during which inhabitants of the Annexed Provinces could opt for their former nationality. The result was that all escape from the outcast status imposed upon them was closed, and that about 100,000 persons found themselves without nationality of any kind, and exposed to all the disabilities, embarrassments and indignities which such a situation entails. The economic sufferings resulting from this state of things led to a protest being addressed to the League of Nations.

Although at the instance of M. Mitilineu an effort was made in 1926 to facilitate the grant of Certificates of Nationality by administrative instructions to the Courts of Appeal, no progress was made with the solution of the problem and at the end of that year it was reported to the Joint Foreign Committee that in the Bukovina alone at least 14,000 Jews, being largely heads of families, were still without national rights. In Transylvania and in Bessarabia the numbers were said to be still higher.

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