I was doing my thing the other day, reading through yet another lengthy patriotic screed on Romanian history, when an unexpected fact caught my eye.
Scrambling to my keyboard, it didn’t take me long to find this: Why Didn’t the United States Recognize the Union of Romania with [Moldova]?
And here’s the short answer:
The international recognition of the union of [Moldova] with Romania proved to be a rather difficult process.
Although the new Bolshevik power was not represented at the Paris Peace Conference, the great Western Powers had hesitations in recognizing territorial changes in regards to their former Russian ally.
The decision to unite with Romania taken by the [Sfatul Tarii] in Chișinău on March 27, 1918, was recognized at the 1920 Peace Conference in Paris by the main Allied powers: the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan. But the United States refused to sign the document.
That’s right, kids. The good old USA, Romania’s BFF4EVAH, refused to sign the treaty which legitimized the annexation of (eastern) Moldova by Romania.
And Japan, although it did sign the agreement, never ratified it. Charles King (p.39):
After serious lobbying in Paris, in October 1920, the Romanian foreign minister, Take Ionescu, succeeded in concluding a treaty that would have recognized Romania’s claim to Bessarabia. However, since the treaty was never ratified by Japan and failed to include the United States and Rusia, it remained a legally worthless document.
The chief problem, complained [Ionescu] to the United States, was not that the Allied powers were opposed to the Bessarabian annexation but that they could rarely be bothered to give much thought to it.
“The same people who used to believe that Ukraine was a musical instrument from Hawaii thought that, when they saw the name Bessarabia, it was a part of [Saudi] Arabia.
Frankly, it was only because they hired the world’s best American propagandists that Romania did as well as it did in Paris.
Who Speaks for Moldova?
From the Romanian government’s official history:
The Romanian prime minister refused to go on participating in the [Paris] peace talks and left the conference.
France, Britain, Italy and Japan signed a treaty with Romania on 28 October 1920 whereby they recognized Bessarabia’s union with Romania. The document would be ratified in 1922 by Britain, in 1924 by France, and in 1927 by Italy!
Wishing to maintain good relations with the Soviet Union, Japan would not ratify the treaty. Although the US Congress did not ratify the peace treaties of Paris, the USA indirectly recognized the union of Bessarabia.
The (!) mark after Italy is in the original text LOL.
Hilariously, Ionescu lobbied intensely for international recognition while PM Bratianu decided to take his toys and go home.
But what absolutely no one will ever tell you is that “Bessarabia” (Moldova) sent three delegates to the Paris Peace Conference, but they weren’t in favor of Romanian annexation. The Moldovan delegation (PDF) was headed by Alexander Krupenskiy (multiple spellings).
In contrast to [Ion] Pelivan [a Moldovan who supported annexation], who held the mandate of the member of the Romanian delegation to the Peace Conference, A.N. Krupenskii and the former mayor of Chișinău, A.K. Schmidt, were “dispatched to Paris as couriers carrying documents and letters to the representative of Russia to the Peace Congress.”
In the French capital, these two men ensured the Russian émigrés that their co-nationals were eager to again be “citizens of the Great Russian State and […] are ready to contribute to the restoration of the Greater Russia by all means.” During the conference, the Bessarabians acted together with the Russian political émigrés and diplomats for the support of the “Russian cause”.
It’s important to note that Krupenskii supported the Russian monarchy, not the Soviet Bolsheviks. Another member of Krupenskii’s team was Vladimir Tsyganko, who had been a member of the Sfatul Tarii but had opposed annexation.
Tsyganko printed a document [in English] called the “Bessarabian Question Before the Peace Conference” that was handed out to all of the delegates, but unfortunately, I can’t find a copy.
Keep in mind that the Paris Peace Conference was going on during the middle of the Russian civil war that saw Romania refuse to provide aid to anti-Bolshevik forces at a critical moment in the war.
And since the Soviet Union never signed a treaty border with Romania in 1920 (or thereafter), it continued to contend that Moldova (aka “Bessarabia”) had been illegally occupied by Romania.
After all, Russia had been legally given title to the territory in 1812 by the Treaty of Bucharest, but nobody consulted the Soviet Union when Britain, France, and Italy just decided to “give it away” to Romania in 1920.
In 1940, the Soviet Union was in a far more powerful position than in 1920, so it reclaimed the territory without Romania firing a shot. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Perhaps even more interestingly, I also found an interesting connection between Albert Einstein and Romania.
In 1924, in an area of “Bessarabia” that is now Ukraine but was then part of the Kingdom of Romania, there was a Communist uprising in a city named Tatarbunary.
The Romanian military quickly rounded up the insurgent leaders in less than a week, but nonetheless, some 3,000 people were wounded in the fighting.
But what caused the global press to pay attention to the incident was “Trial of the 500” or the Romanian government’s prosecution of 489 defendants in a lengthy and complex trial.
None of the defendants spoke Romanian, but nonetheless, the trial was held entirely in Romanian. And Romania received very negative press indeed:
The trial attracted Soviet propaganda and international attention, with Romain Rolland, Maxim Gorky, Paul Langevin, Theodore Dreiser, and Albert Einstein, among others, speaking out on behalf of the defendants, while Henri Barbusse even traveled to Romania to witness the proceedings.
Barbusse was a life-long friend of Einstein’s and later wrote a series of highly influential editorials about the incident.
Meanwhile, here is how the CIA recorded news articles about the incident:
In September 1924, a peasant uprising [in Tatar-Bunar] against the Romanian occupiers occurred. The uprising showed the whole world what the Bessarabian people thought about the imperialist invasion of this land which belonged to Soviet Russia and was illegally annexed by the Romanian Kingdom in January 1918.
“Romanian gendarmes, occupation forces, infantry, and artillery regiments razed Tatar-Bunar to the ground along with a score of other villages.”
The visit at that time to Romania of Henry Barbusse was an unforgettable event. The expose articles of the great French communist writer about the tragedy of Tatar-Bunar moved the hearts of millions of people the world over, not only the Soviet people but progressive forces in France, the United States, Japan, and even in Romania and other countries, [who] raised their voices in defense of the victims of Tatar-Bunar.
After sentencing 85 participants in the uprising to hard labor, the Romanian government formally outlawed the Communist Party.
Precisely in response to this, a month later, the Soviet Union formed the MASSR which would later become the nucleus of today’s Pridnestrovie (aka “Transnistria”).
There is a street (even today) in Cluj-Napoca named Henri Barbusse.
Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, later married (🇷🇴) Elisabeth Roboz, a Jewish-Romanian girl from Orastie.
AND NOW YOU KNOW!