How Basarabia got togheter with Romania
How did Bessarabia appear? 1812
The Russian-Turkish war between 1806-1812 led to the annexation by the Tsarist Empire of the territory of Moldavia between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers, “that larger and more fertile part of the Moldovian Principality” (Leon Casso).
The Peace Treaty of Bucharest (signed at Manuc`s Inn), concluded on 16/28 May 1812, stipulated that “the border between the two states should be the Prut River from its entrance into the country of Moldavia to the place where it meets the Danube River, from where it will follow the left bank of the river Danube, up to the mouth of the Chilia branch and to the sea; the mentioned mouth is to be used by both parties”.
For a long time Moldavians believed that the 1812 Peace of Bucharest was not definitive. The Tsarist Empire seized a foreign territory, which had never belonged to it and which represented almost half of the territory of Moldavia: the Ottoman territories Hotin, Bender, Akkerman, Chilia, Ismail and Reni, the Tatar inhabited territory called Bugeac, and the counties Balti, Soroca, Orhei, Lapusa, Codul Tigheciului and Greceni. The new territory seized for the benefit of the Russian Empire included 17 towns and 685 villages with a total population of about 482,630 souls and 7400 sq.km larger than the one remaining under the rule of the Lord of Moldaviai. Among the inhabitants: 419,240 were Romanians; 30,000 were Ruthenians; 19130 were Jews; 6000 were Lipovans; 3200 Greeks; 2650 Armenians; 1205 Bulgarians; 1205 Gagauzii.
In 1813 the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia was established, the appointed metropolitan bishop being Gavriil Bănulescu-Bodoni, who was subordinated to Moscow and not to Constantinople.
Leon Casso wrote in the work of Russia and the Danube Basin: “By the Moldavian part of Russia, we were given the first opportunity to prove to the Christian peoples of the Balkans what the difference between the Christians under the Ottoman yoke and the degree of happiness they would expect if they were adumbered by the wings of the two-headed eagle.”
Tsar Alexander I wanted to make “this fruitful country to enliven a new life,” being an example of good administration. In 1818, the Settlement of the Basarabia region was established, a “constitution” in which a series of rights were granted, mainly the maintenance of the old laws and customs of Moldova, but also the use of the majority language.
Now the policy of creation by the Tsarist Empire of a Moldovan identity and language has begun, in the desire to prove that Moldavia from the Prut and Nistru broke from the Moldovan country, has another identity and even another language. In fact, they wanted to maintain stability and calm in this newly organized country and its gradual integration into the Tsarist Empire, then transformation into a Russian government.
The historian Ion Nistor analyzed the changes after 1825 when, when Tsar Alexander I died, the new Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) set up brutal autocracy, suppressing any type of local autonomy existing in Bessarabia. The Settlement was abolished and replaced by the Regulation on the administration of the Bessarabian region of Voronțoviii, which led to the suppression of the laws of the country, the replacement of the Moldovan officials with the Russians who came to Bessarabia – who did not know their country, language, traditions and customs. The Russian language was introduced into the administration, and the locals forced to teach it, the Russians being imposed as a “ruling nation”.
It was then that the Tsarist Empire initiated its policy of forging a Moldavian identity and language in an attempt to prove that the part of Moldavia between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers, which had been taken from the Principality of Moldavia, did not share its identity and language. In fact, the Tsarist Empire wanted to maintain stability and calm in this newly organized territory and to ensure its gradual integration into the Tsarist Empire, then its transformation into a Russian governorate.
The Settlement was abolished and replaced with Vorontzov’s Regulation on the Administration of Bessarabia, which led to the suppression of the country’s laws, the replacement of Moldavian officials with Russians who came to Bessarabia without knowing the country, its language, traditions and customs. The Russian language was introduced into the administration and the locals were forced to learn it, the Russians being imposed as a “ruling nation”.
The consequences were tragic: the Romanian language disappeared from the administration and the church, the russification being imposed by all means. The emigration of the Romanian peasants from Bessarabia to Moldavia, which began in 1812 (when 30,000 peasants crossed the Prut River), accelerated after rumors spread that serfdom would be introduced in Bessarabia, as in the rest of the Tsarist Empire. Emigration was forbidden by the Russian authorities, under pretext of the “plague” that was haunting Moldavia.
In order to repopulate the deserted settlements, especially Souther Bessarabia (the Bugeac), the Russian Empire brought colonists from various countries such as: Turkey, Poland, Germany and Switzerland. The colonists settled in the counties: Akkerman, Ismail and Bender (Tighina), where the Tatars used to live, but whom the Russians had moved to Crimea in 1808. The colonists received 60 acres of land per family, privileges and exemptions from military service and taxes. Bulgarian colonists were brought in the years 1819-1820 and by the end of the 20th century a large number of Bulgarians, as well as Germans, Ruthenians, Galicians had been brought. Also, part of the Moldavian Jewish population immigrated to Bessarabia, where 16 Jewish colonies were established.
The Tsarist Empire made great efforts to change the ethnic composition of Bessarabia, but the base of the population remained the Romanian peasantry.
In 1856, after the Crimean War (1853-1856), defeated by the Anglo-French-Turkish coalition, the Russians had to withdraw from southern Bessarabia, which returned to Moldova. Articles XX and XXI of the Treaty of Paris (March 30, 1856) provided: “The new frontier will depart from the Black Sea at (…) east of Lake Burma Sola, it will perpendicular to the Akkerman Road, will follow this road to the Wave Trajan will cross south of Bolgrad, climb along the Ialpug River to Sărăţia and end up at Katomori on the Prut. Above this point, the old border between the two empires will not suffer any change. ”
However, Moldovan politicians were not satisfied with this partial restitution. Thus, the Moldovan journalist Vasile Ghica, addressed a document of the Allied Powers, which showed that the whole of Bessarabia had to be rendered to Moldova.
Tsar Alexander II felt damaged by this loss of “national patrimony”, and Bessarabia remaining in the Tsarist Empire was subject to the same policy of forced Russianization and change of ethnic composition. After the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the conquest of independence by the Romanian state, the tsar abducted the counties of Cahul, Bolgrad and Ismail for the second time, although Romania intervened at a critical moment for the Tsarist army, inclining the fate of the war to the Russians.
The Russification was not as efficient as had been expected, so that on the occasion of the 1897 census in the Russian official statistics there was no mention of the Moldavians (Romanians), who were simply registered as Orthodox, thus omitting the majority Moldavian ethnicity in Bessarabia.
The uprisings in the Tsarist Empire and then the First World War showed that the Empire was not an ethnically, linguistically, culturally or religiously homogeneous state, and that the inhabitants of Bessarabia were quite hostile to the Russians.
Following the Russian revolution of March 1917, which led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of a provisional government in St. Petersburg, Bessarabia hoped that under the new regime the province could gain its autonomy. Soon political parties (the Moldavian National Party, the Moldovan Progressive Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Odessa) were formed, and in the months that followed, numerous meetings were held, bringing together representatives of various socio-professional categories (military, students, peasants) who expressed their wishes about the future of Bessarabia. In both parties’ programs and in the resolutions of the popular assemblies, common ideas were found, such as: support to the Russian Provisional Government, obtaining administrative, judicial, ecclesiastical and economic autonomy of Bessarabia, guaranteeing national and citizen rights for all residents, stopping colonization with foreigners , the ownership of the peasants, the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Bessarabia, the introduction of the Romanian language into administration, justice, school, etc.
Celebration of Liberty in the town of Balti after the Russian Revolution in February 1917. March 10, 1917 (National History Museum of Moldova)
The revolutionary Russian model quickly arrived in Bessarabia, where, at the very beginning of February 1917, a congress of the representatives of the villagers was convened, which wanted to organize a legislative assembly. Other social categories: the clergy, the teachers, the soldiers organized to demand the autonomy of Bessarabia.
On April 3, 1917, the National Moldovan Party led by Vasile Stroescu (Honorary President) was formed. Among the leaders were Paul Gore (chairman), Vladimir Herta, Pantelimon Halipa (deputy chairpersons), Onisifor Ghibu (secretary) Ion Pelivan, Daniel Ciugureanu , Teofil Ioncu, Ion Buzdugan, General M. Donici. The Party drew a Moldovan Word (March 1917-March 1918) and formed the Moldovan Bloc, the largest faction in the Councils of the Countries, and the one that decided the Union.
Also in April 1917, the Coalition Congress of Bessarabia (April 6-7, 1917), the Congregation of the Teachers of Bessarabia (11-13 April) and the Eparchial Congress (19-24 April 1917) took place, all requiring the political autonomy and organization of the church Bessarabia.
In May 1917, the Soviet Gubernic Congress (19 May 1917) discussed the national issue in Russia; then the Moldovan Students’ Congress (May 20, 1917) led by Teofil Ioncu; Congress of the Peasants of Bessarabia (21-23 May 1917) requesting a federal republic; (May 25-28, 1917), where poet A. Mateevici contradicted the denationalized teachers, the congress decided to organize the education in Romanian and the introduction of the Latin grammar in all the schools in Bessarabia.
A danger arose in July 1917, when the Ukrainian Council negotiated with the Russian government that Bessarabia was one of the rulers of the new Ukraine. Faced with this danger, the representatives of all existing committees and committees (about 20) gathered on July 20, 1917 and who decided to send a delegation to Kiev at the meeting of provincial governors belonging to autonomous Ukraine, and its representative, V. Cristi, argued that Bessarabia can not be embedded in Ukraine, but must form a special autonomous unity.
However, Kerenski’s Russian government established the borders of Ukraine on July 27, 1917, with 10 provinces including Bessarabia. After the intervention of the Chisinau delegation, the Kerenski government recognized the right of self-determination and autonomy of Bessarabia.
Meanwhile, the Soviet soldiers had organized under the slogan “All Soviet Power!” In Chisinau, demanding the removal of all officers from the army. In August-September 1917 local soviets had to take control of local civilian and military structures.
During this period, Bessarabia seemed to be subject to two major dangers: the danger of boshevism and the abusive inclusion of the Ukrainian state. In October 1917 the Congress of the Moldavian Soldiers proclaimed the autonomy of Bessarabia and decided to elect a representative assembly – the council of the country, the supreme legislative body of Bessarabia, consisting of 70% Moldovans and 30% representatives of the other nationalities, 10 seats returning the Romanians over the Nistru. The number of deputies was 120: 84 seats were for Moldovans (of which 44 deputies from the congressmen, 30 deputies representing the peasantry, 10 members of the parties of the Moldovan organizations), 36 seats for the other nations of Bessarabia and 10 seats for the Moldovans beyond the Nistru, if they showed interest in participating in the Councils of the Country Councils.
Starting with November 1917, the Country Council became the representative body of the Bessarabians, which consisted of elected deputies and representatives of various public organizations. The composition of this assembly was: 47% were centre oriented (the Moldavian National Bloc); the Peasant Faction represented 20% and the Social Democrats, Social Revolutionaries and the landowners, 33 %.
The power would be held by the Country Counsel, whose measures would be implemented by the advice of the Directors-General (a chairman and ten directors: internal affairs, education, agriculture and peasant issues, finance, rail, post and telegraph army, justice and cult, trade, industry, labor protection, foreign affairs, general control).
On 21 November 1917, Mr. Halippa spoke, at the opening ceremony of the Council of State, the following speech: “Gentlemen! When we all doubted 8 months ago, when we were all kidnapped by the illusory internationalism created by the Russian revolution, we first raised the national flag, which is a star for the idea of the homeland love, that is, our Moldovan land. … Our work was very difficult, because on the one hand the people suffered, numb in the chains of slavery, and on the other – we recognized that these chains could not be broken immediately. … We want to live in fraternal understanding with all nationalities and that is why we propose to organize them. I declare that the National Party represents the Moldovan nation (applause). But with this, I declare that we are far from the idea of subjugating others, on the contrary we want to work in the Country Counsel for the good of all the Bessarabian nationalities, who have the right to live in its hospitable land. “
An interesting piece of information is from the journalist D.D. Patrascanuiv stating that he attended a council meeting held at night (because the deputies were dealing with other affairs) and each faction had a preparatory meeting held in another room, where the deputies of a party discuss the issues and make the decisions and in a public hearing I know the issues and I know what to do.
The Soviet of Chisinau refused to recognize the council of the country in November 1917, and in early December it launched an appeal “to the workers and to the all-encompassing people” calling for a fight against the Country Counsel, which is accused of wanting to occupy Bessarabia being in the alliance secretly with England France and Romania.
The works of the Country Council started on 21 November 1917. On its second session it was decided that the Council was to hold the power in Bessarabia and its measures were to be implemented by the Council of General Directors (a chairman and ten directors: internal affairs, education, agriculture and peasant issues, finance, railway, post and telegraph, army, justice and cults, trade, industry, labor protection, foreign affairs, general control).
On December 2, 1917, in the face of Bolshevik and Ukrainian threats, the Country Council proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic, a component of the Russian Federal Democratic Republic.
“In this awful moment, the only way to save the Russian Democratic Republic is for their peoples to unite and to leave their fate in their hands, forming their national powers within the borders of their countries of residence.
In its power and its foundation and considering the settlement of the public order and the strengthening of the rights won by the revolution, Bessarabia, relying on its historical past, declares today the Moldovan Democratic Republic, which will join the Russian Federation Democratic Republic as a shareholder of the same rights”.
The Country Council did not recognize the Soviet of the People’s Commissaries that had come to power in Russia, which prompted the Bolshevik military units on the territory of Bessarabia to initiate hostilities. At this time of great danger Vladimir Cristi and Ion Pelivan were sent to Iasi to ask for the support of the Romanian government and of the Entente. The armed units of the Basarabian Romanians decided not only to recognize the Country Council but also to support it with military forces.
The chaos caused by the withdrawing Russian army, the robberies and the rapes, as well as the danger of bolshevization (Bolshevik groups were in course of organization and wanted to go to the capital of the province) led the Government of Chisinau to request the intervention of the Romanian army. On December 22, 1917, the Council sent a telegram to the Romanian government in Iasi, asking it to dispatch to Bessarabia a Transylvanian emergency regiment which to be put at the disposal of the Moldavian Government.
On January 4, 1918, the Averescu cabinet responded to the request and sent Romanian armed forces to Bessarabia. But things precipitated; The People’s Council of Commissaries in Russia broke diplomatic relations with Romania by declaring war, while the Bolsheviks in Chisinau wanted to take over the power, to liquidate the Country Council, to decree a state of siege in Chisinau and to hold accountable those who asked for Romanian troops. The Country Council went into illegality on 6-7 January 1918 and the Bolsheviks called for a revolutionary tribunal to be convoked in Chisinau to condemn the representatives of the Council.
Under death threat, Ion Inculet, the President of the Country Council, and Pantelimon Erhan, the chairman of the Board of Directors, sent a telegram of protest against the arrival of Romanian troops in Iaşi, while Ion Pelivan left clandestinely for Iaşi to desperately ask for the help of the Romanian armed forces.
On 8 January the Romanian troops reached the border and on January 13, 1918, the Romanian armies led by General Ernest Broşteanu entered the city of Chisinau, where the Bolsheviks had concentrated their forces in order to attack the Moldavian government. The Bolsheviks were chased away by the Romanian troops, which made Soviet Russia give an ultimatum to Romania and arrest C. Diamandy, the Romanian ambassador to Petrograd, along with other diplomats and the Romanian military mission.
The general discussed with the representatives of the council and assured them that coming to Chisinau had two purposes: supplying the army and securing order. Broşteanu declared, “No government without organizational force can solve the problems that fall upon it. Only force can create peaceful life in the state. Create your life as you think, and no one will interfere in it. In organizing it, we will not stop you. ”
The arrival of the Romanian army, which stabilized Bessarabia, stopped the chaos, the fear of anarchy and blasphemy, and the Country Councils could decide the fate of the province.
Thus, on January 24, 1918, the Country Council proclaimed the independence of the Moldavian Democratic Republic. .
The steps towards unification were difficult and threatened by threats from the Russian-speaking troops from Ukraine, who had proclaimed their independence and wanted to annex Bessarabia and the Bolsheviks.
The uncertainty of the stability and even the existence of the Romanian Kingdom, in a period of truce, with a peace treaty to be signed and which contained draconian conditions for the Romanian state, which will not be ratified and recognized by King Ferdinand I, did that the Councils of the Land should oscillate in January 1918 between independence and union with Romania.
With the entry of the Romanian Army into Bessarabia, an act endorsed by Germany and the Central Powers, as their troops still fought with the remnants of the Tsarist army, one of the urgent problems – to avoid chaos in this area – has been resolved.
King Ferdinand adopted the tactic of lack of interest in Bessarabia in order not to approve the idea of Central Powers who said that Bessarabia is a compensation for the territorial crises in Dobrudja and those on the border with Austria-Hungary.
This tactic has paid off, the unification of Bessarabia being perceived as it was in fact – a choice of Basarabians, not a compensation given by the Central Powers to a defeated Romania.
Constantin Stere played an important role in the grouping of the pro-union forces in Chisinau, contributing with a whole plethora of political people to the act of union. Stere was a famous character in Bucharest, in Iasi, but also in Chisinau. Revolutionary, arrested and condemned to the ocas by the Czarist authority precisely because he fought for the rights of the Bessarabian Romanians, Stere was the one who responded to the representatives of the Minorities from the Country Council, the Russians mainly: “The Romanian people did not come to Bassarabia from outside, he here he was born, here was that boiler where all the elements from which the Romanian people were born and melted and melted. We do not have a place where we go, and no one can drive us out of our house. An endless age, we, gone, silent, aware of our weakness, we carried the yoke, for a whole century our language was persecuted as a revolutionary poison; immense sacrifices were made by those who wanted to acquire the beginnings of national culture. […] Do not forget, gentlemen, that not only the question of national justice, but also the question of social justice, demands that we have the strength and the determination to take responsibility for us. Today you can give the people the land that he has asked for in terms acceptable to him and no one can guarantee that tomorrow you will be able to have this opportunity. “
The Union of Bessarabia came at a critical moment for the Romanian state, being negotiated by the Marghiloman government with the representatives of the Country Council, in Iasi and then in Chisinau. These negotiations focused primarily on the right to property: the radicals wanted total land reform, while landowners wanted to respect their right to property.
Besides the right to property, autonomy was another condition, as was the participation of representatives of Bessarabia in the government of Iasi.
Alexandru Marghiloman and part of his cabinet went to Chisinau as a result of the negotiations that took place in Iasi, when the Country Council discussed and negotiated the union with the Romanian state.
On March 27 / April 9, 1918 “on behalf of the people of Bessarabia, the Country Council declares: The Moldavian Democratic Republic (Bessarabia), within its borders between the Prut, the Dniester, the Danube, the Black Sea and the old frontier with Austria, cut off by Russia from the old Moldavia more than a hundred years ago, based on the power of historical law and the law of nationalities, based on the principle that peoples alone can decide their fates, unites from now and until forever with its mother, Romania”.
The Declaration of Union was signed by the President of the Country Council, Ion Inculet, by Pantelimon Halippa, the Vice-President of the Council, and by Ion Buzdugan, the secretary of the council.
The conditions imposed by the Romanian majority in Bessarabia were:
1. The Country Council was to carry out an agrarian reform, which had to be accepted without objection by the Romanian government;
2. Bessarabia would remain autonomous, having its own legislative body, the Country Council, elected through democratic vote;
3. The Country Council was to vote the local budget, control the councils of the zemstvos and the cities and appoint local administration officials;
4. Recruitments were to be made on a territorial basis;
5. Local laws and the form of administration could only be changed with the consent of local representatives;
6. The rights of minorities were to be guaranteed by law and respected by the Romanian state;
7. Two representatives of Bessarabia were to be part of the Romanian central government;
8. Bessarabia was to send to the Parliament of Romania a number of deputies in proportion to the population of the region;
9. All elections were to be organized on a democratic basis, based on a direct, equal, secret and universal suffrage;
10. The new Constitution had to guarantee the freedom of speech and religion;
11. An amnesty was to be proclaimed for all those who committed political crimes during the revolution.
The union of Bessarabia was the result of a negotiation process between the representatives of the Country Council and the Romanian intelligentsia in Bessarabia, on the one hand, and the Romanian government led by Alexandru Marghiloman, on the other hand. It was a process influenced by the propaganda of the Transylvanians who wanted and fought for the union of Transylvania with Romania.
Shortly after the unification, unfortunately, the dispute started: who made the union and especially where – in Chisinau, Iasi or Bucharest. Who was the decisive role: the President of the Council of Ministers – Al. Marghiloman, of Constantin Stere, of the Romanian Army called to stabilize the country or the Romanians from Chisinau – Ion Inculet, Pantelimon Halipa, Daniel Ciugureanu, Gherman Pântea, Onisifor Ghibu etc.
The Union’s opponents have for decades, through an entire historiographic production, claimed that the Union took place in Bucharest and Iasi and was imposed with the help of the Romanian Army in Chisinau. Partisans of union have written and argued that the Union was the fruit of the will of the Romanians in Bessarabia.
At the 100th anniversary of the Union, reading the documents of the past, the memoirs, analyzes and syntheses published in the 100 years – we realize that the Union of Bessarabia was the fruit of building a special historical moment: the dissolution of the Tsarist Empire and the chaos of the Russian army, autonomy / independence of the peoples of the former empire, the desire for peace and stability of the Bessarabian Romanians and the regaining of their own lands and their own language, the presence of intellectuals from all provinces in Chisinau and the will of the Central Powers to compensate Romania, the three of 1918 – the vote of the Land Council and the Union of Bessarabia.
Finding Basarabia in the composition of Great Romania has as initial date the vote of the Country Council of 27 March / 9 April 1918 with Romania, and as the final date – 26-28 June 1940. The interwar period is the 22-year period circumscribed to the two wars world, a stage in which Bessarabia returned to the Romanian culture and civilization, evolving into the composition of the Romanian national unitary state.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union concluded the Non-Aggression Pact (or the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) with a secret additional protocol in which the third article referred to the interest manifested by the Soviet Union in Bessarabia and the “total disinterest” of Germany “in this territory”. This “interest” was put into practiced in the summer of 1940, when Romania was again obliged to submit to the will of the great powers and to give up Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. The territory between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers returned to Romania in 1941, but the Moscow Armistice Convention of 12-13 September 1944 obliged the Romanian state to recognize the annexation of Bessarabia, northern Bucovina and the Herta territory by the Soviet Union. The fact that Bessarabia was for almost half a century under Soviet occupation has largely blocked or waned its natural identity – ethnic, linguistic, cultural -, which was forcibly replaced with a different one, either opposite to its own, either falsifying. It is our duty to tell the truth and hope that at a not-so-distant-point, we will get to live the same moments of excitement and enthusiasm as the people who made Greater Romania.
“The union of Bessarabia and Bucovina with Romania 1917-1918. Documents “, anthology by Ion Calafeteanu and Viorica Moisuc, Chisinau, 1995
Vasile Bianu, Signs from the War of Romania Maria, Tome I, From Mobilization to Peace in Bucharest, Cluj, The Ardeal Institute of Graphic Arts, 1926
Alexandru V. Boldur, Unirea. Psychological analysis of the events: 1918-1928, Chisinau, 1928
Alexandru V. Boldur, Romanian Basarabia, Bucharest, Carpathian Typography, 1943
Paul Cernovodeanu, Basarabia. The Drama of a Romanian Historical Province in the International Political Context 1806-1920, Bucharest, 1993
Gheorghe E. Cojocaru, Country Counsel. Itinerar, Chisinau, 1998
Iurie Colesnic, Union Generation. Encyclopedia, Ed. Museum Culture, Chisinau, 2016
Iurie Colesnic, Bassarabia unknown, vol. I and II, Chisinau, 1997
Ion Constantin, Ion Pelivan, father of the national movement from Transylvania, 2012
Ion Constantin, Gherman Pintea between the myth and reality, Editura Biblioteca Bucureştilor, 2010
Ion Constantin, Pantelimon Halipa fearless for Basarabia, Publishing House of Bucharest, 2009
Alexandru Marghiloman, Daily Notes, vol. III and IV, Publishing House of Graphic Arts “M. Eminescu “, 1927
IG Duca, Political Remembrance, vol. 2, Munich, 1981
Onisifor Ghibu, From the Russian Basarabia to the Romanian Basarabia, Vălenii de Munte, 1926
Al. Tzigara Samurcaş, Memories, vol. 2, 1910-1918, “Grai and Soul – National Culture” Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999, p. 213
Nicolae Enciu, Short History of Eastern Moldova: From the Invention of Bessarabia to the Paris Conference (1946 – 1947, in “Bessarabia 1812 – 1947. Places, People, Frontiers”, ICR – MNIR, 2012
Unification of Bessarabia in memories
Vasile Th. Cancicov, Journal of Occupation, Vol. I, Daniel Cain’s Edition, Humanistas, 2016, pp. 242-243
“Wednesday March 28 [Bucharest]”
A great event: Bessarabia proclaimed its union to the Romanian Kingdom. […] After 106 years since the Russians were kidnapped, Bessarabia, re-emerging through the revolution, returns alone and joins the country from which it was unblocked. […]
I went out into the city, the same Germans on the street, the same crowd fills up and down, indifferent; it’s a cold on everyone’s faces, as if nothing has happened. There is no tricolor flag anywhere, no sign that the union that dreamed of the generation of Cuza and Kogalniceanu was made. There is the knees of the harnessing on our souls, and no one cries.
Unpacking Moldavia in 1812, we lost in 1878 the last colt that we were left with, without the hope of seeing it again. Since then, as for a buried child, Romania has done nothing for her. If sometimes the matter of a national ideal has stirred up our spirits, it has always been in the Carpathian direction and never over the Prut. […] And the wheel of luck returns so that although we did not go with the Germans, but with the Russians, Bessarabia comes. […] The border between Moldova and Bessarabia is abolished, it is announced the abolition of passports. ”
Al. V. Boldur, Romanian Basarabia
“The word <Basarabia> awakens in the soul of each Romanian historical memories of battles and sacrifices, with which for many centuries this beautiful corner of the Romanian earth has been defended. They have created birth and feel an indissoluble connection between the Romanian soul and this much-tried province.
From a geographic point of view Bessarabia forms a unit with Moldova up to Siret. The land between Siret and Nistru is a plateau with heights up to 300 meters, reaching even at 600. Several hills go parallel in the direction from North-West to South-East.
… But this regional policy has failed. The Russian governments have failed to reach the desired goals in Bessarabia. Throughout the course of Russian rule in Bessarabia, the Moldovan culture, foreign to the Russians, was preserved. Bessarabia remained a powerful spiritual fortress of Romanianism, a province of Romanian character, as before annexation.
Without preserving the Romanian culture, this real ethno-psychological permanence in Bessarabia under Russian domination, it would not have been possible to unite Basarabia with the Kingdom of Romania, with all the favorable circumstances of the Russian or foreign political context.
Onisifor Ghibu, Basarabia
“If in Transylvania and Bukovina the thought was that, once and for all, they will unite with Romania, we must admit that almost no one believed in the resurrection of Bessarabia, which was reckoned for forever lost in the arms of the colossus of the east. The hundred and more years of Russian oppression seemed to have extinguished any trace of Romanian consciousness without any hope of indecision.
Yet, in the book of life, it was written that the stone that the Creator despised would become the corner stone; Bessarabia, the most backward and most alienated Romanian province, was the first to return to the national body, and the classical country of Dacian-Roman iredentism, Transylvania, was destined to be the last to the great feast of joy. ”
Al. Tzigara-Samurcaş, Memories, vol. 2, 1910-1918, “Grai and Soul – National Culture” Publishing House, Bucharest, 1999, p. 213
“The new departure of Marghiloman to Iasi ends with the publication in the Official Gazette of his appointment as Prime Minister on 19 March (19/27). Despite all the enormous difficulties encountered, Marghiloman succeeds in proclaiming the union of Bessarabia in Chisinau on 27 March / 9 April. The magnitude of the act is not enough to be appreciated and the difficulties resume with the return of Marghiloman to Bucharest, where they plot intrigues against the dynasty, not without the knowledge of Lupu and Cioranescu. ”
Vasile Bianu, Signs from the War of Romania Maria, Tomul I, From Mobilization to Peace in Bucharest, Cluj, The Ardeal Institute of Graphic Arts, 1926
15/28 March 1918
“On the same day, at 6 pm, a public meeting took place in the Ballroom Club Hall, composed of the great owners, the county council members, almost all the peasants, the intellectuals of the towns and villages, and acclaimed a motion with the same content, all shouting: Long live the Union! Long live Romania! Long live King Ferdinand, and the military music touched the royal anthem and other national songs. After the meeting the crowd manifested through the city for the union, and the main street was glued to the same interest. The next day, General Schina, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, headquartered in Balti, gave the same clubs where the public meeting was held, a table for all participants in the public gathering and demonstration.
I.G Duca, Political Memories, volume 2, p. 230
“I go back to Poklewski (the official representative of the Russian government of Kerenski), who half-heartedly, half-jokingly tells me,” I catch you looking at Bessarabia and that, given the Russian revolution, recovering alongside Ardeal and this province.
That I on the Rock Hill was thinking of joining with Bessarabia, nothing more natural. I had never gone to the banks of the Prut before and during the war without sighing after Bessarabia, as in my youth I had never climbed the Carpathian Mountains without dreaming of completing Transylvania. ”
Alexandru Marghiloman, Political Notes, volume 3
April 2, 1918, Iaşi
“Long meeting with the members of Bessarabia delegation Inculet, President of the Country Council; Dr. Ciugureanu, President of the Council of Ministers and Halippa, Vice President of the Country Counsel – My thesis: Bassarabia too weak to live alone and separated; – The Ukrainians are lying north and the seaside; neither money nor army. The union would do only one job: to stop the dismemberment. Inculeth, ex-agent of Kerenski, wants only a union with full autonomy; the other two unions. I speak of equality of rights, ministers taking place among us, etc. “Alexandru Marghiloman, Political Notes, volume 3, pp. 443 – 444
March 27 / April 9, 2018
“At three-half we go to the Tip: he would have delayed an hour, but I’m opposed. No escort, and only civilians, plus Mircescu. When we enter the hall full of aclaam, some rebellious men stand in their seats, but without protesting or manifesting. I pronounce a vibratory speech, strongly applauded, and read the terms formulated; to respect their sovereignty I declare that they leave the palace, but I ask them to step on the papers.
We go to the Military Circle; a very well served tea. All generals and officers present. We look forward. At 7, Colonel Condeescu comes to announce that we can go to the council, because the vote is broken. By 80 votes it was decided that the vote would take place through a nominal and open call. When we climb the stairs, in the midst of an indescribable emotion, we are told that by 86 votes against 3, plus 35 abstentions, the union was voted. I want to congratulate Stere; a torture crisis threw him into my arms, Cazacu wept. General are embracing MPs. Hârjeu, with his wet eyes, tells me that he will never forget that I have allowed him to live with me this unforgettable hour. Everyone is so moved that I can not speak. By myself, reminding me everything they have done to me, I can not untie my teeth.
Finally, the solemn meeting must begin. This time I had arrived with a cavalry escort and all generals. Surrounded by them, we enter the hall, lit like a day and full of the world. ”
Inculet proclaims the vote and declares that the assembly (only 13 deputies was missing) adopted the decision of the Moldovan bloc to unite with Romania. – I climb to the platform and declare that <on behalf of the Romanian people and their King M.S. Ferdinand I (ovations) take note of the decision of the Council and proclaim Bessarabia united, this time forever, with Romania unviable. > (It’s a real frenzy). Add <Let us bow to the genius of our race that allowed the people of Bessarabia to keep alive, through the ages, the spark that upon their first breath of liberty lit their hearts, and to salute these people deeply – government – who, without selfish concerns, being able to remain the rulers of a State, wanted to be the servants of a nation.
We then go to the cathedral, where Gurie, after holding a short speech and proclaiming the king and the queen the sovereigns of the land, served a Te-Deum. A lot of people.
At 9am in the Casino, they give a lunch of 220 tableware to the peasant’s council and city notaries Everyone, including the big owners, hastily received my invitation.
I leave Chisinau at 1 am. ”
Alexandru Marghiloman, Political Notes, volume 3, pp. 459-461
March 30 / April 12  Iasi
Celebrations in honor of Basarabians: Inculeţ, Ministers, Stere and Halipa. – 10 hours of reception at the train station, big crowd, acclamation. – Cortegiu to go to the Metropolis; each minister carries a Basarabian colleague in his carriage. At 11 jum. Arrival of the Court; the royal pair in carriage à la Daumont. Very nice Te-Deum. Crowd in the church, as well as out; very good chorus. The Liberals came all, even Bratianu; the former conservatives have all abstained. Mrs. D. Greceanu was instructed, in the face she was showing me, to announce this abstention. They complain that they have not received invitations, which have not been sent to anyone.
After a circle held at the Metropolitan Palace, the troop magazine on Stefan cel Mare Street. What a great man and a true creature of men were these soldiers: the living eye, the tanned face, the wise appearance. At 1 and a one-night breakfast at the Palace. Toast of the King. He had asked me if he should have you and I strongly encouraged him. … <I have not inherited the gift of the word, but what I say, I say with all my heart. Inculet had to answer. He praised the letter published in the Monitor by which the King rents his estates to the Peasants and gave the King the title of Christianski-Karoli (the peasant king).
After the table the King decorates Basarabeni. Stere is called the big officer of the Star. Thank you warmly. The King is of a rare and cheerful, and very familiar.
At 3 jum. Demonstrations. The mountain of union is playing. Principles descend into the streets with a few Basarabians and play it among the people.
At 8 jum. I have a lunch in the Metropolitan’s living room. Meissner praises me in his toast. It is the first time that the Romanians seem to realize that we have taken part in something in the great act that has been fulfilled!
Mary Queen of Romania, War Journal, 1918, Humanistas Publishing, translated by Anca Barbulescu, edited by Lucian Boia, p. 25
March 28 / April 10, 1918
“Bessarabia declared itself annexed to Romania. It is a reason of great joy – I should be glad, too, but I have uncovered myself and I can only look forward with fear, wondering what troubles the situation will bring us. But here’s what happened: my train arrived five minutes after Marghiloman, who had been to Chisinau and on the return had been welcomed with many ova and on the platform there, my current prime minister, who we are en froid , we got our hands in front of the crowd that cheered, and congratulated us as if the whole world were a rose garden. To see, to see, at least we finally had a happy event, how long it will last! ”
Friday, March 30 / April 12, 1918
“Day full of strange emotions, joy on the outside, and bad feelings on the inside. There is no doubt that the annexation of Bessarabia is a great event for the country, it is the first step towards the “Unification” of the Romanian people I dreamed of. It happened unexpectedly, through the breakup of all-powerful Russia, happened at a time when my heart was too grieved to enjoy, I was no longer accustomed to joy, and I crushed my soul so much, this good news is stifled by the miserable detestable peace and the hideous worry that the new government’s policies are causing me. […] Moreover, the Germans steal everything we have, we are slashing the whole country in all respects, and already stretching our rapacious hands to Moldova and Bessarabia. […] At 11, a solemn ministry was held at the Metropolis. There was a reception at the Metropolitan, the occasion with which all the Bessarabian delegation was presented, then a small parade. After that, lunch at Nando in honor of Bessarabians. It was a very cheerful meal. Nando spoke loudly, and our new subjects showed great loyalty. They are mostly simple people and behaved simply, for example they got up from their place to come and pray to give them autographs. “, Pp. 32-33.
i Bessarabia 1812-1947. People, Borders, National History Museum of Romania, Romanian Cultural Institute, p. 13
iii Count Voronţov – governor of Bessarabia, suppressed the autonomy of Bessarabia
iv D. D. Patrascanu in Iurie Colesnic, Bessarabia unknown, vol II, cited Iurie Colesniuc, The Generation of the Union, p. 14