Libmonster ID: MD-898

Author: B. B. KROSS, E. I. SPIVAKOVSKY

Moscow, Nauka Publishing House, 1969, 370 p. The print run is 1100. Price 1 rub. 61 kopecks.

The book under review, written by V. N. Vinogradov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Slavic Studies and Balkan Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences, is devoted to a topic that has been insufficiently developed by Marxist historiography up to now. These include, in particular, the foreign policy reorientation of Romania, which, being an ally of Austria-Hungary and" Germany " since 1883, entered the war in 1916 on the side of the Entente, the revolutionary movement in Romania at that time, the influence of the February and October Revolution.

page 167

The impact of the October Revolutions on the position of various classes of Romanian society and their policies during the war years.

Bourgeois Romanian historians have argued that the main reason for Romania's reorientation was allegedly the desire of its rulers to liberate Romanians living within the borders of Austria-Hungary. Soviet historians have always considered it indisputable that neither King Carol, nor his nephew Ferdinand, whom V. I. Lenin branded as one of the "crowned robbers"in 1917 , 1 nor other Romanian rulers can be considered "fighters for national ideals". Diplomatic documents show that the Romanian government until 1916 conducted negotiations with both the Entente and the Austro-German bloc. At one time, M. N. Pokrovsky came to the well-known conclusion that Romania was completely indifferent to which side to fight on, and its choice depended entirely on external factors (who would win the war); this conclusion was shared by other historians (for example, F. I. Notovich).2 However, a study of the diplomatic history of the Balkan Wars shows that Romania's withdrawal from the Triple Alliance began before 1914. Therefore, it is natural to conclude that not only the course of the First World War, but also some other reasons determined the foreign policy reorientation of Romania. I. Gheorghiu and other Romanian historians saw this reason in Romania's financial dependence on the Entente. However, we must not forget that until 1916, the strongest positions in Romania were maintained by Austro-German capital. At the same time, as V. N. Vinogradov showed, many influential Romanian politicians were connected simultaneously with both Entente and Austro - German capital. Obviously, Romania's departure from the Triple Alliance cannot be explained solely by external factors. With the development of Romanian capitalism, its contradictions with the Austro-German bloc grew, contributing to the reorientation of Romania. The fact that this was a natural process is confirmed by the material contained in this book.

In the chapter "The July crisis of 1914 and Romania", the author shows that even before the war began, "the alliance with Austria-Hungary was virtually dead" (p. 38), and that in this connection the most influential circles of the Romanian landlords and bourgeoisie from the very beginning of the war considered the victory of the Entente preferable (p.33-40). The material of one of the best chapters of the book, "Oligarchy and War", which for the first time traces in detail the struggle of various trends in the ruling circles of Romania during the years of neutrality, indisputably confirms the above conclusion. Romanian .the oligarchy as a whole preferred to fight on the side of the Entente, not excluding the possibility - in the event of a decisive German victory - of acting on the side of the latter. The same conclusion suggests itself when reading the chapter "Ionel Bratianu's diplomatic bargaining with the Entente". It once again emphasizes the preference given to the Entente by the Romanian ruling circles from the very beginning of the war (and even before it began). V. N. Vinogradov consistently refutes the theses of his predecessors that contradict this conclusion. Thus, he convincingly proved that (contrary to the opinion of F. I. Notovich) the decisions of the Crown Council of August 3, 1914, were by no means beneficial to Germany and Austria-Hungary, and that the agreement with Russia of October 1, 1914, was not only a treaty of neutrality, as historians usually characterized it, but predetermined Romania's entry into the war on the territory of on the side of the Entente. (It is true that the agreement did not oblige Romania to immediately enter the war, and therefore it does not seem to us absolutely erroneous to characterize this agreement as a "neutrality treaty".)

Following in detail the diplomatic negotiations between Romania and the Entente countries, the author concludes that "the nature of Romania's participation in the First World War was determined... the aggressive plans of the Romanian oligarchy" (p. 168). These plans almost failed, as the real capabilities of the ruling circles of Romania were far inferior to their appetites. Only the willingness of the Romanian oligarchy to play the role of executioner in the struggle against "world Bolshevism" allowed it to finally achieve at the peace conference the transfer of Transylvania and the consolidation of the occupied territories: Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Southern Dobrudja.

The author chose as the object of his research one of those turning points in history, which, being the result of a long development, at the same time became the beginning of a new era. Therefore, the reader of the mo-


1 V. I. Lenin. PSS. Vol. 31, pp. 395-395, 405.

2 F. I. Notovich. The Bucharest World of 1918, Moscow, 1959, p. 22.

page 168

you may unwittingly want to get acquainted with both the background of the events described and their consequences. But the author strictly adheres to the chronological framework of his topic and ends the story on the date of signing the Compieux armistice. Only in conclusion does he briefly mention the unification of Transylvania with Romania in December 1918, the intervention against Soviet Hungary in 1919, the work and decisions of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920, and the results of the war for Romania in a broad sense. These issues will be the subject of a number of special studies in the future.

Among the problems that are raised in the book, but a special in-depth development of which remains to be done, is the question of the prerequisites for Romania's departure from the Triple Alliance, the dating of its beginning, and its stages.

Another major issue covered in the book is the revolutionary struggle of the Romanian proletariat. The study shows the reader how, step by step, starting with the first anti-war demonstrations in 1914, the proletariat was tempered, gaining revolutionary experience. Overcoming the opportunism of the "defense of the fatherland" supporters like C. Dobrogeanu-Gheri and the conciliationism of centrists like H. Rakovsky, the left-wing Romanian social Democrats came to a correct understanding of their tasks in the fight against the imperialist war. In this connection, it is probably necessary to emphasize the significance of the victory of the left's ideology during the preparation and holding of the second inter-Balkan conference of socialist parties in the summer of 1915, which was noted by V. I. Lenin on the eve of the Zimmerwald Conference .3

The author shows the great influence of the February and October Revolutions in Russia on the situation in Romania in a multi-faceted and well-documented way. This was a difficult period for the Romanian social-democracy, which in the new conditions was striving to develop a new program. The author rightly criticizes X's position. Rakovsky. It should be emphasized that the latter openly supported the Mensheviks. The "report-appeal" to the Russian Revolution on behalf of the Social-Democratic Party and the Iasi Committee, compiled by the left-wing socialist M. G. Bujor, as well as some other documents, also testified to the ideological and theoretical weakness of the Romanian social-Democrats.

The author rightly notes that class instinct, faith in the strength of the masses, willingness to serve the working class honestly, feelings of ardent internationalism and fraternal friendship for the peoples of revolutionary Russia allowed the Romanian internationalists to then quickly take the path of supporting the Bolsheviks. It should be noted, however, that the" road to Leninism " was actually more complex and lengthy, and much more intense in political struggle, than is shown in the section of the book under this title devoted to the second half of 1917. The reason for this discrepancy is not the organic shortcomings of the study itself, but, in our opinion, the unfortunate distribution of the material (as well as the revision of the section titles), because in fact almost the entire third section of the book (with the exception of two paragraphs containing foreign policy issues) is devoted to this topic - "the path to Leninism".

The author shows in detail the revolutionary situation. But if the crisis at the top is depicted very vividly and convincingly, then the second part of the problem was not so lucky. Was there a necessary and sufficient crisis situation among the lower classes in 1918? How exactly did it differ from the usual upsurge of the revolutionary movement? And why, if there really was a revolutionary situation, didn't there be a social explosion?

Closely related to these questions is the question posed by the author himself: why, in the conditions of the rise of the revolutionary movement and the development of the revolutionary situation in the country, " three large-scale reactionary actions became possible, namely: the disarmament of the Russian troops in December 1917-January 1918, the seizure of Bessarabia in January-March 1918, and participation in the suppression of The Hungarian Soviet Republic in the spring of 1919 " {p. 250). V. N. Vinogradov rightly sees the reasons for this in the fact that the oligarchy managed, due to the weakness, lack of consciousness and organization of the proletariat, to use for its own purposes the national feelings of the Romanian people, which were aggravated by the occupation of two-thirds of the country by the enemy.

The ideological gap between revolutionary and opportunist tendencies, Vinogradov emphasizes, was clearly marked by the end of the war. Mainstream


3 See V. I. Lenin. PSS. Vol. 49, p. 121.

page 169

the classes, using the opportunists, have enticed the masses with slogans of national unity, imbuing them with their own bourgeois-nationalist meaning. The revolutionary wing of social-democracy exposed this deception, but because of its organizational and theoretical weakness, it was unable to convince the broad masses of the need to solve the problem of national unification from the standpoint of proletarian internationalism.

Did the Romanian revolutionaries become communists by the end of 1918, as the author claims (p. 328)? Indeed, they made "a huge step in the theoretical field" by adopting the communist platform, but the weight of the old, erroneous, opportunist views borrowed from K. Dobrogeanu-Geri and H. Rakovsky was not completely eliminated either in the theoretical or practical field. Moreover, the representatives of the revolutionary trend were still very immature and unknown, and "not only did they not break with its (reformist ) bearers organizationally, but they did not even raise the question of this" (p.329). It took them at least another year to really understand the necessity and urgency of the central task - the organization of a militant party of a new, Leninist type, the need for a strong and organized struggle for its creation.

After going through "all the circles of hell" during the war years, the Romanian revolutionaries made a generally correct conclusion: to fight against war, for peace, for revolution. From the standpoint of Lenin's understanding of proletarian internationalism, they were ready at the end of the war to participate in the creation and strengthening of the Leninist Communist International, which, together with the RCP (b), did much to help the young Romanian communist movement. On this path, the years 1917-1918 were a special period in the history of the Romanian revolutionary movement: "This was an important stage in the transition to Leninism, in the birth of the communist wing in the bosom of social-democracy" (p.347). This, of course, is the correct conclusion of the author and is the answer to the above question. The book shows that although " the war slowed down the growth of the revolutionary upsurge "(p. 338), the new intensification of the class struggle in the post - war period led to the first major action of the proletariat in the country's history-the general strike of 1920, which was a real review of the fighting forces of the working class on the eve of the creation (in May 1921) of the Communist Party of Romania.

V. N. Vinogradov's solid and interesting monograph, based on a large number of Soviet and Romanian archival and published sources and a wide range of press materials, written in vivid, imaginative language, is not only a serious contribution to historiography due to the successful research of a number of major, topical issues, but also encourages historians to further research. It is also a well-reasoned response to those in the West who are trying to distort the history of the fraternal Romanian people and discredit their glorious revolutionary past.


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