Paris Peace Conference (WW II) 1946 – Settling Romania’s Western Frontiers


Settling Romania’s Western Frontiers
Notes prepared by Dan Dimancescu from original files and records of D. Dem Dimancescu, member of the Romanian Delegation at the Conference.

– 50 person delegation (see names)
– Headed by Mr. Gheorghe Tatarescu, Vice President of the Council
– Secretariat: Hotel Continental (Paris)

Post-War border settlements were one of Romania’s principal issues, especially on the Western frontier with Hungary which had been extended into Romania (Transylvania) during the pro-Nazi war-time regime of General Antonescu. Hungary argued for control over several urban zones of major demographic and economic importance to Romania. On this issue Romania benefited from the Soviet Union’s disfavor with Hungary’s support of the Nazis while Romania, in 1944, had turned its armies against the German/Hungarian western military front and fought on the month-long siege of Budapest and beyond to Czechoslovakia.

Two major issues faced Romania’s delegation in Paris in 1946:

One was to establish the point at which it entered the war. Was it August 24, 1944, when King Michael aligned himself with Romania’s natural allies, or was it as proposed by others on September 12, 1944, at the moment when an armistice was signed in Moscow. It was successfully argued by the Romanian delegation that no less than 15 divisions and up to 18 totaling 385,000 men plus an air corps were engaged against Germany and its Hungarian-Horthyst allies during this interim period. From the 23rd of August to May 10, 1945, a period of 260 days, 12 divisions moved 1000 km into enemy territory. The earlier date was agreed to thereby giving Romania vital leverage in making post-war claims.

A second was to argue for its pre-war borders including Bessarabia, Dobrogea and all of Transylvania. The first two were not successfully achieved because of Soviet opposition. But Hungarian territorial claims within Romanian territory [see Maps] were successfully resisted. Those maps (prepared by D. Dimancescu) were a backdrop to a speech by Mr. G. Tatarescu [SEE photo] to the Political and Territorial Commission for Hungary & Romania. His speech was factual, emphatic, and successful in persuading the Commission to deny Hungary those claims.

Hungary initially claimed 22.000 km2 (or about 22% of the total Transylvanian surface of an estimated 103.000 km2) but facing opposition reduced its claim to 4.000 km2. In the words of M. Paul Auer speaking for the Hungarian delegation on August 31, 1946: “Under these conditions, the return to Hungary of this territory, which does not belong to the geography unity of Transylvania and which, in the course of history, did not constitute an integral part, would seem to be a simple frontier adjustment.”

In response on September 2, 1946, G. TATARESCU made the following arguments before the Political and Territorial Commission for Hungary & Romania (Conference of Paris)

[Romania’s pre WW-II boundaries were established at the Peace Conference of 1919 and, more than a quarter century later, they were confirmed on May 7, 1946, by the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain and France.]  “But against this decision, Hungary interjects a new appeal. Reappearing in this new appeal are claims that were examined and debated twenty-five years ago.”

“The frontier of 1920 is an ethnic frontier. Its path coincides as perfectly as possible with the line of contact between the Romanian element and the Hungarian one.
“If, on the borders, the infiltrations are greater and islets of Hungarian more numerous, it is due to the forcing back of the Romanian element away from the richer plains and into the poorer hills and mountain regions. The integration of these areas [see Maps]  into the frontiers of the Romanian State is linked to the strengthening of the Romanian population’s economic development, empoverished long ago by design by the Hungarian regime.

“The territory included in the frontiers of 1920 consists of a single economic unit from which one would not know how to extract any one fragment without resulting in serious inconveniences to the whole population. The railroad and the parallel road that originate at the Danube follow the western frontier thereby assuring the sole link between these regions of Transylvania. In addition, the plain regions possess agricultural resources that the adjacent mountain regions could not do without
The 4.000 km2 newly claimed by Hungary represent, it is true, 4% of the Transylvania territory. But on this territory of 4% live, not a corresponding percentage of people, but one that is equal to 8.5% of the Transylvanian population which should be enough to suggest the importance of the Hungarian pretensions. Further, this area small as it appears, contains the three large towns of Arad, Oradea, and Satu Mare. And this, again, contrary to Hungarian affirmations, is of extreme importance for Romania….  To cut out these towns would result in the immediate collapse of the provincial economy

“A simple look at the physical map of Romania [SEE photos above], one of which is executed in relief and on which are marked in white the regions demanded by Hungary and put at the disposal of the Commission, is enough to realize the insurmountable geographic and technical difficulties in the way of constructing a new railroad further east…
“For its frontiers and for its independence, Romania, in the last phase of the war, let loose against Germany and Hungary all its living forces. For this global war of liberation, the Romanian nation mobilized all its reserves of men and its last material resources. Fourteen fully equipped Romanian divisions cooperated in the fight which permitted the world to shake the Nazi yoke and for Transylvania to escape the Horthyst yoke …. 120,000 dead and wounded fell in the hills of Transylvania, in the plains of Budapest and in the valleys of the Tatras. And it is precisely under the walls of Arad, Oradea, and Satu-Mare, of Hungary now dispute our sovereignty, it is under these walls of these towns and for their liberation that our soldiers shed the best of their blood and that our elite divisions were decimated
“To accept the Hungarian claims would be a defeat for international morality, and would be a fatal error for history.”

MAPS see

Click on pictures to enlarge

Romanian delegation

G. Tatarescu; maps showing western border issues

FINAL WW-II TREATY SIGNATURE: Peace Treaty with Romania
Signed in Paris on February 10, 1947, in the Salon de l’Horloge (Ministère des Affaires Étrangères) and concluded at 3:30 pm.  Copies of the Peace Treaty texts are available.

Four Romanian delegation members signed:
           Gheorghe Tatarescu
            Lucretiu Patrascanu
            Stefan Voitec
            Genl Demetre Damaceanu

Other signatories of the Peace Treaty with Romania included:
            James Byrnes (United States)
            Viacheslav Mikailovich Molotov (USSR)
            Ernest Bevin (UK)
            Bogomolov (USSR)
            Duff Cooper (UK)
            Caffery (USA)
            Beasley (Australia)
            Kisselev (Byelorussia)
            Mjr Gnrl Vanier (Canada)
            Masaryk & Clementis (Czechoslovakia)
            Sir Samuel Runganadhan (India)
            Jordan (New Zealand)
            Senin (Ukraine)
            Parminter (South Africa)