Behind the Iron Curtain – Chapter I (first part)


  1. Rumania’s geographical position and its consequences

Rumania is situated at the intersection of three directions of expansion and three groups of world interests. On one side, this country lies in the way of the Russian southward expansion towards the Mediterranean and the routes of the great World Trade. The modern Russian state has revealed this ambition since its very creation by Peter the Great. On the other side, Rumania lies in the way of the German eastward expansion tendency towards the broad areas of colonization, raw materials and agricultural production of the Danube lowlands, the Ukraine and the Near East. The German people have pursued this expansion for 250 years, under the Habsburgs, the Hohenzollerns and under Hitler. Lastly, Rumania is the only serious bulwark of defence for the Imperial route to India in the whole Near East. Should this route be abandoned to its own fate, Great Britain would have to abandon her part as World Power.

Rumania’s geographical position has been a cause of great misfortune to the Rumanian people during the last 250 years[1]. Since 1690, the Rumanian territory has been invaded and partly or totally occupied 7 times by the Germans or Austrians, 11 times by the Russians and 13 times by the Tatars or Turks. Each foreign occupation was followed by murder, deportation, looting, devastation and disorganization of the State. Citizens of countries like England and the United States who have never experienced foreign occupation may not easily imagine what an invasion every 10 or 20 years exactly means for the very life of a people. Spiritual life has no possible serenity, social life has no possible stability, political life has no possible continuity. Lastly, economic life cannot rely on reserves, credit, savings, nor on long lasting plans.

It would seem quite natural that the Rumanian people and their government try by all means to avoid foreign invasion and occupation. But they could hardly do it by their own resources. The German people number about 80 million and the peoples of the Russian State about 200 million, whereas the Rumanian people number only 16 million and the Rumanian State never had more than 20 million inhabitants.

The only efficient possibility left to the Rumanian people for their defence against the most dangerous of possible invaders would be the conclusion of alliances with the other nations interested in these regions, i.e. with Germany or Great Britain against Russia and with Great Britain or Russia against Germany. If one or the other of these allies were to lose its powers or be likely to become an invader in its turn, the Rumanian people would be obliged to reverse their alliances in order to save their very existence.

The permanent risk of invasion as well as the subsequent lack of security and political uncertainty have become fundamental traditions in Rumania’s foreign policy. For this very reason, the Rumanian people would never be free from fear unless the Atlantic Charter would be enforced all over the world.

The Rumanian people have never carried on an imperialistic policy and never wanted to usurp what was not their own. Their only desire had always been to unite the territory they inhabited into a single independent State where they should rule and rule alone.

The Rumanian people played a part in international history only when foreign invaders tried to usurp some Rumanian province. Then, in defending their country they often defended the whole western civilization. The Prince of Moldavia Stephen the Great, for instance, succeeded in stopping the armies of Mahomet II, which after the fall of Constantinople threatened to submerge the whole of Europe. He was therefore called “The Athlete of Christ” by Pope Sixtus IV.

[1] For broader information about the troubled history of the Rumanian people, the reader may consult Professor Seton Watson’s book: “A History of the Rumanians”, Cambridge, University Press, 1934, also translated into French under the title “Histoires des Roumains”, Paris, Les Presses Universitaires, 1938.

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