he Banat Problem
Editor of •'America"
Published and Distributed by Roumanian
National League of America
5705 Detroit Ave.
The Banat Problem
Editor of "America"
Published and Distributed by Roumanian
National League of America
5705 Detroit Ave.
To people living in the United States, the
Banat of Temeshvar may seem very small and
far away, and the proposed division of this
province between Roumania and Serbia may
seem relatively a matter of small importance
at this time when the whole world is talking in
The proposed division of the Banat, however,
brings into question every principle for which
the world war was fought, the right of every
nation however small to complete territorial
integrity, the rights of self-determination, the
choice between diplomacy of the old order
based on special interest, or diplomacy based
on honest examination of facts. The problem
of the Banat revives all of the old Balkan issues.
This article, frankly, is a statement of the
Roumanian claims upon the whole of the Banat,
claims which the writer believes must appeal
not only to the American sense of justice but
to the American instinct of common sense. It
has for it purpose also to show that a just settle-
ment of the Banat question and of all the ques-
tions in the Near East are of direct importance,
not only to Roumanians but to Americans and
to all others who sincerely desire world peace.
JUL 2u (920
The Banat Problem
STATEMENT OF CASE
The Banat problem may be briefly stated thus :
The Banat of Temeshvar is the province of
what was once a part of Hungary which lies
across the Danube river from Belgrade, the
capital of Serbia. It is a rich province in agri-
culture, forests, minerals and other natural re-
sources. Through it runs the main line of
railroad from Paris and Berlin to Constantinople
and the Near East.
Its population is made up mainly of Rou-
manians, Swabians (Germans), and Serbians,
peoples who under centuries of Austrian and
Hungarian domination have seldom had a
chance to speak. The Roumanian population
dominates completely the counties in the eastern
half of the state and forms a relative majority
even in most of the counties to the west. In
the western counties, however, there are numer-
ous large colonies of Serbians, although even
there, the Swabians and Roimianians are more
It has been evident the Swabians could not
control any part of the province since they are
far removed from any other German state.
Therefore since either Roumanians or Serbians
must dominate, this proposal has been made:
That the Banat be divided by an arbitrary
north and south line, the counties to the east-
ward being attached to Roumania and those
to the west to Serbia.
Serbia has asked for this, maintaining
Serbian control is necessary in the western
provinces to protect the interests of the Serbian
colonists, furthermore, that a foothold in the
Banat is necessary to protect the approach to
Belgrade, and Serbian propagandists have been
very busy making a case at Paris.
Roumania says, however, this must not be
done, and goes back into the history and eth-
nology of the Banat to demonstrate that this
province is fundamentally a part of the Rou-
manian kingdom, that it is geographically a
part of Roumania and that it must be reunited
with the Roumanian kingdom, if there is to be
any hope of permanent peace in the Balkans
or of world peace.
The facts which support these arguments will
be presented later in this article. The purpose
now is to show some of the principles which
have been raised by the proposed settlement of
the Banat problem, questions which involve
the methods, if not the motives of the Paris
Should any state or province ever be divided
arbitrarily without respect for its history, its
political and economic boundaries, or the wishes
of the majority of its people?
Even in the settlement of individual estates
it has been the axiom for ages to avoid arbitrary
divisions of property, giving for instance, to
one heir the horse, to another the wagon; to
one the house and barn, to another the land
on which they rest; to one the mill pond, to
another the control of the tributary waters.
How much more dangerous then in settling
the estates of nations to follow this arbitrary
method, for the lands and properties of nations
cannot be partitioned without partitioning also
the human beings who are inseparable from
them. The causes of the world war were found
in such mistakes.
The method of settlement proposed for the
Banat is the old, old ''cut-and-try" method
which the Great Powers have always used in
dealing with their neighbors in the Near East.'
And with what terrible results?
MISTAKES OF PAST
Let us survey for a minute some of the mis-
takes made in the Near East in the past.
"From time immemorial, Europe has been
confronted with an Eastern Question," writes
J. A. R. Marriott in his ''Historical Study in
European Diplomacy," and John Morley des-
cribes "that shifting, intractable, and inter-
woven tangle of conflicting interests, rival
people and antagonistic faiths" which he con-
siders under the one heading of "Balkanism,
the Unsolved Eastern Question."
But why has there been this interwoven
tangle of conflicting interests? Has it really
been a tangle of the interests of the Balkan
people .themselves or of the interests of the
various Great Powers which had in the Balkans
something at stake? Has not history proved
the Great Powers in the past always ready to
set the Balkan nations against each other,
always anxious to keep them weak, to prevent
them from working out their national destinies?
There is no denying this, as Herbert Adams
Gibbons points out in the Century Magazine
for March 1920 in an article on Roumania:
"To prevent the Balkan states from forming
an alliance and securing national unity the
Great Powers at Paris in 1856 and at Berlin in
1878 arranged frontiers in such a way as to
kindle the animosity of one Balkan race against
It was in 1878 that Bessarabia was taken
away from Roumania and given to Russia in
violation of the most sacred pledges of friend-
ship. Of the reason why none of the other
Great Powers made a move to protect Rou-
mania against this steal by Russia, Marriott in
his book, "The Eastern Question," p. 305,
makes this ^illuminating comment:
"That was a gross blunder, the consequences
of which are not yet exhausted, yet we could not
turn aside from the pursuit of larger issues to
befriend a state in whose fortunes Great Britain
was not directly interested."
So it has been always in the Near East.
Self interest first. And the self interest of the
Great Powers has always dictated the little
states of the Near East should be retarded in
development, for were a single great state to
grow to maturity there, it would no longer be
possible to dictate policies which make possible
exploitation by outside interests.
Now in the Banat problem. Isn't it the
same fundamental principle at stake? Borrow-
ing from Peter to pay Paul. Taking from Rou-
mania to satisfy the debt to Serbia. With no
real thought for the rights in the case. With no
real thought for the future. With little or no
regard for the wishes of the majority of the
people who have their homes in the Banat.
Roumania's ethnical, economic and historic
destiny can never be complete without the whole
of the Banat. And yet to Serbia the addition of
a portion of the Banat would be of relatively
little future importance. Immediate desires
would be satisfied so far as Serbia is concerned.
But Roumania would be left with a new ''Irre-
denta." To-day 'The League of Banat" — a
great organization to redeem the whole province
— is the immediate result.
Thus it will be seen the Banat affords a real
opportunity for Americans, an opportunity to
see that in this one case, at least, the old order
of "high diplomacy" with reference to the Near
East is not perpetuated. It was for this pur-
pose Americans entered the war, to see that in
all international affairs right should succeed
Consider the geographical boundaries of
the Banat and it will be seen readily that it is a
distinct unit, one which under any circumstances
would not be easily divisible into two parts under
separate governments, but which is all the
harder to partition because the whole is ' so
obviously a part of the Greater Roumania and
proper sphere of influence.
The Banat lies on a sloping shoulder of land
which leads down from the Carpathian moun-
tains! The walls of the Carpathians are the
eastern boundary. On the other three sides
are rivers, broad and navigable most of their
On the north, the river Maros comes down
from the mountains between the Banat and the
redeemed Roumanian province of Transylvania.
On the west, the Theiss forms the boundary to
the turning point where it joins the Danube.
And the Danube forms the southern boundary
running between the Banat and Serbia all the
way to the Iron Gates.
The Banat is thus an essential part of that
portion of reimited Roumania which lies west
of the Carpathian mountains. It fills in the
space between Transylvania and the Danube.
It is essential that Roumania. retain the whole
of the Banat if there is to be free egress by
river water-ways from Transylvania to the rest
of the kingdom. If the Serbian claim to a
foothold in the Banat is allowed it will be the
same as establishing a foreign toll gate through
which all Roumanian water traffic must pass.
(See Map No. 1).
BANAT ALWAYS A UNIT
Not only is the Banat now a geographical
imit but it has always been a unit politically no
matter what rule it might be enduring. And it
has been a characteristically Roumanian prov-
ince ever since the second century when the
j:^^^LEJjrrc:j^ jr^^z:rTiTs*jrjE;i^ "f/^fz/jvTUOjr
MAP No. 1. This map shows how the Banat, geographically, is a part ofthe Greater
Roumanian unit, the southwest cornerstone of the Kingdom. Bounded by the Danube
the Theiss and the Muresh rivers, it fills out the provinces regained from|Hungary in
Transylvania and Crichana. To take away any part of thetBanat and give i^ *« Serbia
would be to destroy geographical unity and isolate the Roumanians of the west by pre-
7en"Lg commumSiorwyh^heRoumL^^ east through the Danubian system.
Roman colonists planted by Trajan mingled
with the original Dacians to form the Rou-
manian race. Long before the Mag^^ars or
Hungarians came, or the Serbian or Swabian
German colonists, the Banat was a powerful
and autonomous Roumanian state. The
Magyars conquered only after the death of
History adequately reveals the relatively
small importance of the various efforts by
nationalities other than the Roumanians to
dominate the Banat. Most of these colonies
came either as the result of persecutions in their
home land or upon invitation of the Austrian
and Hungarian governments which wished to
reduce the importance of the Roumanians every-
The first colonists were the Serbs in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They came
imder the leadership of the patriarch Arsenic
Cemoevici, after their country had been in-
vaded by the Turks. There had been a handful
of Serbians in the Banat and southern Hungary
even prior to this, after the defeat by the Turks
at Kossovo in the fourteenth century, but those
pioneers were only a handful.
When the Banat was in turn conquered by
the Turks in 1552, the Roumanian natives and
the Serbian colonists alike were driven to refuge.
The Serbians pressed on farther north. The
Roumanians, for the most part, were compressed
into the hilly counties in the eastern part of the
Banat near the Carpathians, although some of
them remained in the western lowlands even
during Turkish occupation.
The Turks were driven out of the Banat
in 1718, and when they left, the western part of
the province was almost but not wholly deserted.
Religious persecutions by the Magyars had
succeeded Turkish oppression in confining the
Roumanians to the eastern counties.
It was at this time the Serbians took ad-
vantage of the situation of the Roumanian
population in the Banat to cross the Theiss
and the Danube in great numbers, and migra-
tions begun then were continued almost down to
the present time.
It would be hard to say whether all these
Serb migrations were voluntary or whether many
were under compulsion, for numbers doubtless
were included in forced colonizations listed in
K. Von Czoemig's book ''Ethnographic der
Oesterreichischen" (Vienna, 1855) which de-
tails such occurrences from 1720 to 1846.
It will suffice to point out the following
facts. The population of the Banat despite
early Serb migrations had been left almost pure
Roumanian after the Turks receded in 1718.
By 1910, according to official Hungarian statis-
tics, there were 592,049 Roumanians; 284,328
Serbians in the province and 387,547 Swabian
(Germans), and 76,058 persons of other national
But despite forced colonization under Aus-
trian and Hungarian suzerainty and despite
voluntary immigration due to the richness of
the country, and despite the persecution and
suppression of the Roumanians in all parts of the
Banat, they had maintained a clear majority
in the whole province. Out of a total popula-
tion of 1,582,133 in the Banat, the Roumanians,
even by Hungarian count, numbered 592,049.
A word as to Hungarian statistics. They
have always been notoriously corrupt and un-
fair to the Roumanians. In 1900, for instance,
the llimgarians claimed only 170,124 Magyars
in the Banat. In their 19 10 census they claimed
more than double this number. According to
the Hungarians, the Roimianian population in
the same time had increased only from 578,789
to 592,049. These figures alone are sufficient
to indicate contraband census methods. '
Most historians in dealing with census figures
on Roumanian population in districts under
Magyar rule prefer to use religious statistics.
Using these church figures in his ''Notes Sur
La Guerre Roumaine," N. P. Commene, a
French writer, determines the Roumanian popu-
lation in the Banat at 615,336 and the Serbian
population at only 284,328 as compared with the
Magyar figures of 592,049. This probably is
It will be noticed at once that the Swabian
(German) population in the Banat, as well as
the Roumanian, outnumbers the Serbian ele-
ment. And the Swabians we know are almost
unanimous in declaring they want to be at-
tached to the Roumanian kingdom. The Rou-
manians alone, if a plebescite were held would
be able to carry the vote for imion with Rou-
mania. Aided by the Swabians, the vote against
MAP No. 2
In this map, all areas in plain white indicate areas where
Roumanian population predominates. Thus it will be seen that in
Serbia, itself, just south of the Danube in the Timoc valley, there
is a large region where the population is almost entirely Rou-
manian, with the Serbian population appearing only in isolated
groups (shown by black dots). Roumania makes no claim to
these 290,000 Roumanians who happen to be living in Serbia proper.
division of the Banat with Serbia, would *he
Serbia has acknowledged the weakness of
her position in relinquishing her claim to the
whole of the Banat and contending only for the
western part where the Serbian colonists are
thickest. But there is a situation which makes
even this claim an absurdity. In Serbia proper,
south of the Danube near the Iron Gates, in the
valley of the Timoc river, there are large colonies
of pure Roumanians. (See Map No. 2).
Roumania does not for this reason lay claim
to a slice of Serbian territory. The Roumanians
in the Timoc valley, more than 290,000, form
a compact mass in the Serbian provinces
of Pozharevatz, Kraina, and Tchema-Rieka.
They happen to have made their homes within
the ethnical boundaries of Serbia and bow to
that fact. The Serbians in the Banat and the
Serbian governraent should be equally reason-
able as regards their claims in Roumanian terri-
President Wilson in his address to the United
States Senate, Jan. 22, 1917, in speaking of the
purposes of nationalities said:
"Peace cannot be had without concession
and sacrifice. The statesmen of the world must
plan for peace, and nations must adjust and
accommodate their policy to it in the same way
as in the past they have planned for war and
made ready for pitiless contest and rivalry."
SACRIFICES OF PEACE
Peace cannot be had without sacrifice of
selfish and unnatural ambition whether in the
case of the individual or of a nation. The
Roumanians have made their concession in
not demanding the Roumanian population of
the Timoc valley and Southern Serbia. The
Serbians likewise must be made to give up their
unnatural claims upon the Banat.
The diplomats who have discussed seriously
the plan for partitioning the Banat between
Roumania and Serbia have considered only one
of the many facts which must be considered.
They have looked upon the Serbian colonies in
the Banat alone. They have not considered
properly the ethnology, the history and most of
all the geography of the Banat. Their remedy
is almost purely philosophical, provisional and
impracticable. Americans must bring pressure
to bear on these diplomats to see they do not
favor Serbian claims which in this case, instead
of following the principle laid down by President
Wilson, have been pressed to the point of ab-
SERBIAN CLAIMS ANALYZED
What has preceded has shown how futile
would be any attempts by the Serbian propa-
gandists to justify their claims to the Banat
partition on purely ethnical grounds. The
Roumanians were beyond doubt the original
people of the Banat. The Serbians at best have
never been more than refugees or colonists. Let
us examine nevertheless the claims of the Ser-
bians that they really do form the most consider-
able element in the western counties of the
province. There is no dispute as to Roumanian
preponderance in the eastern, mountainous
coiinty of Caras-Severin where the Roumarrians
form 72 per cent, of the population and the
Serbs but 3 per cent.
The other two counties, Timis and Torontal
have a total population of 1,105,000, of which
only 266,000 are Serbs, even according to gen-
erous estimates. This gives them only 22 per
cent in those counties. They originally claimed
both these counties but as G. Mironesco pointed
out in ''The Problem of the Banat," "even the
moderate Serbs understood it was ridiculous
to assert that a territory should belong to a
population which did not form even a quarter
of the total population." Hence their claims
are now limited to Torontal only.
But even in the Torontal the Serbs do not
form a majority. Out of a total population
there of 615,151, the Serbs have only 199,750 or
32.04 per cent. The rest are Swabians and
Roumanians mostly. And the Swabians not
only desire to be united with the Roumanian
kingdom but they speak Roumanian, recog-
nizing it as the proper language of the province,
and are prepared for Roumanian citizenship.
An examination of the situation in the whole
Banat by districts within the counties is even
more significant. The Roumanians have an
absolute majority in 18 districts and a relative
majority in three out of a total of 39. The
Swabians, who are Roumanians in sympathy,
have an absolute majority in 11 districts and a
relative majority in seven. The Serbs by con-
trast have an absolute majority in only three
districts and a relative majority in three. And
MAP No. 3
The sparseness of the Serbian population in the Banat is shown
here by the black dots in the field of white which indicates Rou-
manian predominance. The Serbian population in the Banat is
confined to islands in the sea of Roumania and other national-
ities, islands which show plainly the Serbs were merely colonists
and not original inhabitants.
it is important to note (Map No. 3) the Serbians
even in these districts have no geographical
cohesion: They form Uttle islands of Serbs in
the sea of Roumanians and Swabians.
The districts where the Serbs have an abso-
lute majority are Feher-Templom, Torobece and
Antfalva. Let us see how they are separated.
Between Feher-Templom and Antfalva is a
Roumanian- Swabian zone. Between Torobece
and Antfalva is a non- Serbian zone, chiefly
"The western part of the Banat resembles a
piece of ethnic mosaic work" declared Prof.
Cholnoky Jone, of Cluj university. He was a
Himgarian, at that, and no friend of Roumania.
A FAIR OFFER
Roumania has made a proposal which would
give a fair solution to the problem of the Banat.
In addition to renouncing all claims to the 400,-
000 Roumanians living in Serbia proper, in-
cluding the Timoc valley, Roumania has offered
to cede to Bulgaria certain territory in Dobrudja
in order to persuade Bulgaria to cede to Serbia
the Serbian areas in Bulgaria at Widin which
are adjoining Serbia proper.
This would be a sensible readjustment which
would go far all round to make peace in the
Balkans and the Near East, but the Serbians
have rejected it, refusing to make the sacrifices
which President Wilson has declared all nations-
should be ready to make for the sake of future
peace. Roumania has gone far to meet the
spirit of President Wilson's appeal and can do
no more. This compromise failing, her claims
to the whole of the Banat now are presented
on the basis of cold facts.
The Roumanians would welcome settlement
now by a plebescite for the whole of the Banat,
including the Swabian population, a plebescite
free from all suspicion of foreign desire or in-
AMERICANS CAN HELP
The French and Italians have already pro-
nounced themselves in favor of giving the whole
of the Banat to Roumania. But the support
of the Americans who are as Turgot, the great
French economist predicted in 1782, ''the hope
of mankind," is needed. The Americans can
do much so that it will not be said of this peace
as Claredon said of the treaty of Paris in 1856,
"We have made the peace but it is not THE
PEACE, because we have left so much in an
And this should be done, not only because
the Roumanians in the Banat would otherwise
be left unsatisfied but because the Swabians
would be discontented. The Serbians have
asked that the Swabians be not considered in
the settlement of the Banat problem "because
they are so far away from any German state."
The Supreme Council must see this is no
reason at all. President Wilson has said:
"Peace must be planted on the tested founda-
tion of political liberty. We fought to assure
the rights of nations great and small, and the
privilege of men everywhere to choose their way
of life and obedience."
Not to take into consideration the historic
and ethnic rights of the Roumanians *to the
whole of the Banat would be to .violate the deep-
est principles of justice. Not to take into ac-
count the wishes of the 387,545 Swabians, as the
Serbs insist, would be to disregard President
Wilson's injunction that all people have the
right to choose their own way of life and obedi-
ence. Nor do the Roumanians disregard the
very important rights of the Serbians in the
Banat. The Roumanians cannot allow them to
divide a province on claims which are relatively
superficial and unimportant, but they do promise
them under the Roumanian government which
would be established as the result of a plebescite,
full rights with other citizens in ordering and
adjusting that government. No more surely
could be done than that.
"Banatul Timisoarei" is the Roumanian
title for the Banat although it never was gov-
erned by a Ban (the equivalent of a French
marquisate). The Banat seems to have ac-
quired this title after the peace of Passarowitz
when the Turks had been driven out in 1718.
In ancient times the Banat was a part of the
Roumanian principality of Transylvania.
When Trajan descended on the kingdom of
the ancient Dacians in the second century, he
made his headquarters at Jidovini in the Timis
valley. The Romans built a road which is
still seen today. They named the mineral
spring of Mehadia ''Thermae Herculis," a name
which the Roumanians, children of the Romans
and the Dacians, have preserved.
The Himgarians, the last of the Barbarians
to invade the Banat, foimd the Roumanians
there well organized after the traditions of their
Roman and Dacian fathers and many bloody
battles were fought for domination of the ter-
ritory. After the death of Prince Glad, the
Roimianians and the Hungarians came to an
understanding which existed through the tenth
and the thirteenth century, although as usual
there were many infringements on the agree-
ment by the Huns.
In 1552, when the Turks came, the Banat was
made a Turkish sanjak or province, that is, all
except the eastern part where the Roumanians
true to the example of their Dacian forefathers
held their independence in the hills. The Turks
were driven out in 1716, but after the peace of
Passarowitz in 1718, the Austrian Hapsburgs
placed the province under military administra-
tion which they prolonged till 175JI, in order to
give excuse for religious persecutions of the
SERBS AID AUSTRIA
There was, at this time, a distinct effort to
annihilate the Roumanian majority in the prov-
ince, and it was to further this purpose the great
colonies of Serbians were brought in. Coimt
Claudius Marcy, appointed governor of Tenes-
var in 1720, with the consent of Empress Maria
Theresa, also brought in large numbers of
German peasants and placed them on lands
claimed by the crown.
In 1779, the Banat was turned over by the
Austrians from their own misrule to the misrule
of the Hungarians, but after the revolution of
1848-1849 it was taken back again with the
county of Bacs and made an Austrian crown
land. In 1860, however, the Banat became
again and for the last time a subject of Hungary.
It is not necessary, however, to trace all the
events of Austrian and Hungarian misrule. It
is necessary to controvert certain historical
claims presented by the Serbian propagandists
after finding the weakness of their ethnical
rights in the Banat.
The Serbians claim to have had at times a
distinct Serbian organization of the Banat, a
"Voivodia", or principality. This is not ex-
actly correct. The Serbian Voivodia was ad-
ministrative and not a political unit and it was
never independent. Jt was a creation of the
Hapsburg government designed to favor the
Serbs and crush the Roumanians.
A CLAIM EXPLODED
Examine' the records of the Voivodia. You
will find them in German and not in Serbian.
This is final proof the Voivodia was the instru-
ment not of Serbian independence but of
Destroy this claim and you have remaining
only the claim that the Serbians have lived long
in the Banat. But they themselves admit they
were never more than colonists, and at that, im-
ported by the Austrians with the hope of crowd-
ing out and denationalizing the Roumanians.
It is a signifigant fact that instead of crowd-
ing out or assimilating the Roumanians the
Serbians in the Banat have to a large extent
been Roumanianized. They speak the Rou-
manian language. They are economically de-
pendent on their Roumanian neighbors. The
Banat is another striking example of the tenacity
of Roumanian national life which was attested
as long ago as the fifth century by Prisons, a
Byzantine historian, sent by Emperor Theo-
dosius II to the court of Attila, the Hun
History only drives one back to ethnology or
brings one face to face with the statistical facts
regarding the Banat as they stand today. The
proof that the Banat, the whole of it, belongs
to Roumania and is indomitably Roumanian,
cannot be gainsaid.
THE ECONOMIC SITUATION
After all other claims and counter claims
regarding the Banat have been considered and
analyzed it is necessary to consider and analyze
what is said about the Banat as an economic
The Roumanians claim the Banat is a unit
industrially and commercially just as it is geo-
graphically and therefore must not be broken
up. They point to the great coal and iron mines
in the eastern part of the province, to the systems
of canals and railways and rivers which have
been developed with the Banat as a unit and
show that no part can be taken away without
tremendous injury to itself and to the rest of
The Serbians, on the other hand blandly
insist they must have the western county of
Torontal, although they can advance oitly one
economic reason, and even this very much
exaggerated. They say the Torontal is a rich
agricultural land in which there are many
Serbian farmers and hence it should be added
to Serbia to compensate for the agricultural
poverty of the mountainous land within the
borders of Serbia proper.
Forgetting for the moment all that has been
said regarding the injustice and impracticability
of the Serbian scheme in the light of history and
ethnology and military expediency. Let us see
the economic effect:
WOULD CHOKE INDUSTRY
It is as though the people of Great Britian
and Canada were to say to the United States:
''We have a large number of French Cana-
dians and English Canadians living in the state
of Michigan. Now, you already have more
states than you need. Therefore we will take
Michigan. It will help our agriculture and it
will give us a foothold in your country to guaran-
tee us against invasion by your forces."
It is as absurd to say the Torontal is absolute-
ly essential to the food supply of Serbia as to say
the addition of Michigan to Canada would pro-
duce any appreciable effect. What would re-
sult is this:
If Canada took Michigan you would have
at the straits of the St. Clair river a toll station
controlled by a foreign power which could and
probably would exact tribute from all passing
traffic. Instead of a great open waterway be-
tween the two powers permitting the full de-
velopment of each you would have a closed
MAP No. 4
The dotted line from Arad to the Danube shows the original
Serbian claim in the Banat, abandoned voluntarily on the face of
its absurdity. The dotted line from near Segedin to Bazias on the
Danube show the present Serbian claim to practically the whole
county of the Torontal. It will be seen at a glance if this claim is
allowed the whole Roumanian railway system will be cut in two
and an overlordship established on the Roumanian water rights
in the Maros, the Theiss and the Danube.
waterway, a superficial means of profit* to the
one, a lasting detriment to the other.
It is not the land loss of the Torontal or
even the loss of the products of that county
which Roumania fears most. It is the lasting
damage to her industry and commerce.
If the whole Great Lakes system were not
an open waterway the development of the whole
region in the United States which borders on it
would be stunted and checked. This is what
will happen in the Banat if Serbia is given the
foothold she desires across the Danube and the
RIVER TRADE THREATENED
If Serbia is allowed to hold the Torontal,
she will control completely the waterways of the
Theiss and the Danube for all traffic going
through. More than that she will control not
only these rivers but the Temes river and the
Bega canal which come down from the interior
of the Banat. And she will block the through
railways from Western Europe to Constanti-
nople and the railways which lead from the
industrial regions in the eastern portion of the
Banat. And finally, she will control the river
traffic coming down the Maros and the Theiss
not only from the Banat but from Transylvania.
An intolerable condition will exist. (See Map
No. 4) ^
Nature was very ingenious in laying out the
Banat. The mountainous eastern part of the
country was provided with deep wells of iron,
copper, tin, lead and zinc, and plenty of the
best steam coal. It was fitted to be a modern
industrial region. And the western plains ad-
joining this region were made for the growing
of wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize and with flax
hemp to meet the needs of the industrial workers
of the eastern part.
Only 27.15 per cent of the land near the
mountains is arable, but the western fields more
than make up for this deficiency. Now let us
see what will happen if Serbia gets the principal
food bearing district of the province.
At Resitza and Anina (marked 1 and 2 on
Map No. 4) near Steirdorf are the great steel
rolling mills, and the great coal mines. There
are the industries which for years have supplied
all the rolling stock and rails for the Austro-
Hungarian railways. There are resources which,
when developed, will supply not only Roumania
but all of Eastern Europe.
RAILROADS ALSO AFFECTED
But the natural outlet for this region is by
the railways leading down through the lowlands
which Serbia claims. If Serbia gets the Torou;
tal, the natural rail lines (marked 3 and 4 on
Map No. 4) will be cut off and the road to the
Danube will be cut off. Because of the moun-
tainous nature of the country it would not be
feasible to build new lines in strictly Rouma-
nian territory east of the proposed boundary.
The only outlet for the products of this region
would be by way of the one mountain railroad
now in existence (marked 5 on Map No. 4).
This is the winding, over tunnelled, steep-graded
line from Oravica to the Reschitza railroad and
it is altogether unsatisfactory.
And after getting heavy steel products to the
Reschitza line, there would be further difficul-
ties because the line from there to Temesvar is
already overcrowded and inadequate. And after
getting to Temesvar, the problems of distribu-
tion to all parts of the country would have been
only begim, for it still would be necessary to
follow circuitous overland routes to get around
the Carpathians without cutting through a
foreign count r>\
It is obvious what would happen to the coal,
steel and iron country. Walled in by the im-
pregnable Carpathians on the east and by the
Serbian tollgates on the west, it would pine and
dwindle, Roumania, needing transportation to-
day more than ever in its history would receive
small relief from this territory.
WOULD ISOLATE TEMESVAR
And what of the important city of Temesvar
itself, accustomed to handling more than 8,500
trunks of fir and more than 400,000 tons of
merchandise annually. Many of its principal
railroads from the west and southwest would
be in Serbian hands. And the Bega canal
leading out to the Theiss and the Danube
would likewise be in the control of strangers.
All this could lead only to unrest and trouble,
possibly war at some future date.
The proposed division of the Banat could
create an economic situation which far from
relieving the food shortage of Serbia or providing
that country with military protection would only
lead to new dangers and distress.
Must Belgrade be protected and provisioned
by a portion of the Banat? It has been pointed
out with wisdom that Belgrade has long ceased
to be the logical capital of Serbia, and except in
name only, is even now merely a provincial city.
It is safe to predict the time will come when the
Serbian capital will be transferred to some city
nearer the heart of that country. So there is
little in the argument that Belgrade must be
rationed and protected by a slice from the Banat.
This military argument of the Serbs because of
the extraordinary progress in methods made
during this war loses all value.
REAL SERB OBJECTIVES
It is obvious that the real Serbian objective
is the control of the Banat waterways which are
vital to Roumania's future. Let us consider the
actual size and importance of these streams.
Hungarian figures follow:
The Muresh or Maros river between the
Banat and Transylvania has 118 kilometers nav-
igable for steamboats.
The Temesh river which taps the heart of the
Banat has 88 kilometers navigable for barges
and three kilometers where steamboats can go.
The Theiss from the confluence of the
Muresh to the junction with the Danube has
180 kilometers navigated by steamboats.
The Danube from the mouth of the Theiss
to Verciorova at the Iron Gates offers 250
kilometers navigable by steamboats.
In all there are 666 kilometers, 460 of them
in the comitat of Torontal itself which would be
directly affected if control were given to Serbia.
But these figures only tell a small part of the
story. All through navigation on the whole
Danubian system from the Black Sea to the
navigation head would thus be placed under
Serbian domination. Not only Rouma»ia, but
Hungary and Austria and all other countries
directly or indirectly dependent on Danube
traffic, would suffer. Not only justice to the
Roumanian claims on the Banat but economic
justice to all Central Europe demand that the
Danube be kept open.
THE ITALIAN PARALLEL.
It is interesting now to contrast the handling
of the Banat problem with that of the similar
problem of the Italian littoral on the eastern
coast of the Adriatic. In its findings on the
Banat problem the Peace Conference has exactly
reversed the position it took in the earlier
In the dispute between Italy and Jugoslavia,
President Wilson was among those who at first
agreed to an Italian frontier running from the
Arsa river to the Karawanken mountains, a
frontier which would have given to Italy more
than 300,000 Jugoslavs.
France, Great Britain and the United States
shared in a memorandum signed Dec. 9, 1919
"Italy's geographical position, as well as her
economic requirements, is held to justify this
serious infringement of ethnical principle."
For Italy, geography and economics are made
to apply despite ethnology. For Roumania in
the Banat, despite the fact there is no dispute
as to the justice of her claims either geograph-
ically, economically or ethnologically, a portion
of the province is about to be torn away and
handed as a pawn to Serbia. Why should not
the principle which apphes to the Uttoral of the
Adriatic be apphed in the even stronger case of
the Uttoral of the Theiss and the Danube?
Mr. A. J. Balfour in his Mansion House
speech in 1903 cynically forecasted the present
situation as regards Serbia.
''The weaker power first leans on one Eu-
ropean government, then on another European
government," said he, "intrigues with both,
does everything to bring the two into conflict,
in the hope it may come out the better for it."
But Lloyd George declared on Sept. 6, 1917:
"This is pre-eminently the day of small
And President Wilson declared in the United
States Senate on Jan. 22, 1917:
"People must not be handed about from
potentate to potentate as if they were property."
Let us see to it that through the unjust
reversion in the solution of the Banat problem
we do not go back to the ironic rule laid down by
Mr. Balfour so long before the war. Let us
follow rather the ideals set forth during the
In working out the economic problems of
Roumania let there be as much justice as in
working out the economic salvation of Italy.
In conclusion it will be sufficient merely to
point Out the following points which have been
1. The Serbians never having been more
than colonists in the Banat cannot well contest
the ethnical claims advanced by the Rouriianians
who beyond all doubt are the original inhabitants
of the province.
2. In history, because of the role which they
played as instrumemts of the Hapsburg and
Hungarian oppressors, the Serbs can find no
justification for their claims. Never have they
ruled or had any important part in free govern-
ment in the Banat, while the history of Rouma-
nia and the history of the Banat in the struggle
for independence are inseparable.
3. A glance at any map shows the Banat to
be a geographical unit, properly a part of the
new Greater Roumania.
4. Economic principles demand that the
whole of the Banat be restored to Roumania,
for otherwise neither Roumania nor the Banat
itself can be developed in accordance with their
5. A plebescite of the people anywhere in the
Banat would give the province back to Rouma-
In the old selfish principles which have been
revealed in the proposed settlement of the
Banat question by a partition between Rouma-
nia and Serbia, there is invoked an issue which
cannot be ignored by Americans.
It is this:
Shall the old "high diplomacy" be restored
in the Near East? Shall one nation there be
set against another? Shall there be a settlement
of mere convenience and not of justice? Or shall
we see to it that there is no peace of mind
among the diplomats at Paris until there is
actual peace in the Near East?
LIBRftRY OF CONGRESS
020 914 557 1