Between the United States of Austria and Greater Romania
In 2018 it was the 100th anniversary of Transylvania becoming part of the entity today called Great Romania.
As a Romanian and Transylvanian, I have no reason for a joyful celebration, on the contrary, I am sad. If I had lived in 1918 and anticipated the incompetence, impatience and corruption of the Bucharest regimes, for next moments, I would have been indecisive to choose between a Romanian, a Balkan-type, incompetent and corrupt government and a Nationalistic Hungary.
Because what could Bucharest offer to the Romanians in Transylvania beyond the dominance of the Romanian language? Did we choose the best alternative for Transylvania in 1918? What would Transylvania look like if the First World War did not have happened? How would we explain Budapest’s desire for the magyarization of non-Hungarian ethnic groups?
Looking back into the past, in order to find the right answer, we must take into account one of the consequences of the French Revolution of 1789, namely the emergence of nationalism and the idea of a nation-based state. The Hungarians, through the French Revolution, entered the 19th century in the spell of political thinking, embodying the concept of national unity. Accordingly, Hungary has sought to become a nation-state like other European countries.
However, this effort was not easy, as, at the beginning of the 19th century, less than forty percent of the total population of Hungary and Transylvania spoke Hungarian. German philosopher, Johann Gottfried Herder predicted that the Hungarian language would disappear within a few centuries due to the low birth rate of the Hungarian population. To remedy this situation, the Hungarian governments, at the time of dualism, started a policy of magyarization that culminated before the First World War. In the following, I will propose a scenario, in other words, an “alternative history” of how Transylvania’s fate could have been if the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the Austrian-Hungarian throne, does not happen. The Crown Prince was a rather interesting and mysterious personality. In the years when he was expected to take over the leadership of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he cherished reform plans that would become viable in the 20th century.
In this context, the idea and plan of the United States of Great Austria were born. The detailed plan prepared by a group of scientists belonging to the Ferenc Ferdinand crown prince environment was worked out by the Romanian Aurel Popovici in 1906, and later he wrote a book United States of Austria.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand knew the situation of the Romanians and the other minorities, and he intended to divide the empire with the centre of Vienna into fifteen, ethnically and linguistically unified semi-autonomous states, thus preserving the empire as well as solving the problems of the nationalities. What would it have meant for the Romanians in Transylvania if the Prince of the Throne survived the assassination and could implement his plan?
This would have been a chance to preserve the Romanian identity in Transylvania without breaking away from Western civilisation. Having a capital in Bucharest is different than in Vienna.
Likewise, it would have meant that our Transylvanian culture and civilisation would remain untouched, along with the Hungarian and German minorities and their culture. Hungarians and Germans have established a cultural relationship between the West and us through the centuries. From the point of tourism, Transylvania would have created the best and most attractive tourist attractions in Eastern Europe. Also, we would have had the opportunity to stay away from most criminals, incompetent and corrupt governments in Bucharest.
Likewise, we would not have had any connections with the Balkan-culture of the Old Romanian Kingdom. The Transylvanian Romanians expressed their support for reunification with the Kingdom of Romania. But they did not know what was expected of them. It would have been much better if Romanian Transylvanian politicians, who knew corruption and the mentality of the Romanian Kingdom, demanded autonomy for Transylvania under strict conditions. And what can we do today? Let’s rebuild Transylvania’s cultural memory by studying local history and cultural history, restoring the many historic monuments left to collapse, love and appreciate the Hungarians and Germans as they have remained among us, but be proud of being Transylvanians.
You can read this manifesto in Hungarian HERE.
The author Cornel Unc is a Baptist pastor in Windsor, Canada.
Source: by Cornel Unc