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Full text of "The Banat problem"

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he Banat Problem 

By 
John Jivi-Banatanu 

Editor of •'America" 
Roumanian Daily 



CLEVELAND, O. 



Published and Distributed by Roumanian 

National League of America 

5705 Detroit Ave. 

1920 



o 

o 



The Banat Problem 

By 
John Jivi-Banatanu 

Editor of "America" 
Roumanian Daily 



CLEVELAND, O, 



Published and Distributed by Roumanian 

National League of America 

5705 Detroit Ave. 

1920 



3w£ 



5 



FOREWORD! 

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 
world-sized figures. 

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. 



Gift 
JUL 2u (920 



The Banat Problem 
I. 

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 
numerous. 

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. 

PRINCIPLES INVOLVED 

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 
conference. 

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 
another." 

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." 

"SOMEBODY'S" INTERESTS 

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 
special privilege. 

II. 

ETHNICAL 

AND 

GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION 

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 
length. 

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 



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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 
Prince Glad. 

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- 
where. 

EARLY IMMIGRANTS 

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 

10 



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. 

ROUMANIANS PREDOMINATE 

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 
origins. 

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 

11 



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 
nearly correct. 

SWABIANS NUMEROUS 

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 

12 




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. 



13 



division of the Banat with Serbia, would *he 
overwhelming. 

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- 
tory. 

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 

14 



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- 
surdity. 

III. 

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 

15 



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. 

SERBIAN "ISLANDS" 

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 

16 




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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. 



17 



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 
Swabian. 

"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. 

IV. 

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 

18 



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- 
fluence. 

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 
unsettled state." 

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 

19 



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. 



V. 

HISTORICAL FACTS 

"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 

20 



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 
Roumanian population. 

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 

21 



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 
Austrian oppression. 

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 

22 



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 
chieftain. 

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. 

VI. 

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 
problem. 

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 province. 

The Serbians, on the other hand blandly 
insist they must have the western county of 

23 



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 

24 




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. 



25 



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 
Theiss. 

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- 

26 



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- 

27 



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 

28 



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 

29 



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 
dispute. 

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 
which said: 

"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 

30 



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 
nations." 

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 
war. 

In working out the economic problems of 
Roumania let there be as much justice as in 
working out the economic salvation of Italy. 

CONCLUSIONS 

In conclusion it will be sufficient merely to 
point Out the following points which have been 
established : 

1. The Serbians never having been more 
than colonists in the Banat cannot well contest 

31 



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 
rich promise. 

5. A plebescite of the people anywhere in the 
Banat would give the province back to Rouma- 
nia. 

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? 

32 



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