Tămădău Affair

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The Tămădău Affair (Romanian: Afacerea Tămădău, Înscenarea de la Tămădău - "the Tămădău frameup" - or Fuga de la Tămădău - "the Tămădău flight") was an incident that took place in Romania in the summer of 1947, the source of a political scandal and show trial.

It was provoked when an important number of National Peasants' Party (PNŢ) leaders, including party vice president Ion Mihalache, had been offered a chance to flee Romania, where the Communist Party (PCR), the main force inside the Petru Groza government, already had a tight grip on power with backing from the Soviet Union (see Soviet occupation of Romania). The affair signalled some of the first official measures taken against opposition parties, as a step leading to the proclamation of a People's Republic at the end of the same year (see Communist Romania).

Background[edit]

The PCR victory in the 1946 general election, achieved through widespread electoral fraud,[1] was followed by the first attempts at anti-Communist resistance (including large rallies, and the creation of a "military circle" led by Mihalache).[2]

As the main adversary of Stalinism and committed supporter of the Western Allies, the PNŢ was the main target for PCR hostility. PNŢ party president Iuliu Maniu was already targeted for having backed attempts (during World War II) by the Conducător Marshal Ion Antonescu to sign a separate peace with the United Kingdom and the United States (see Romania during World War II).[3] In late October 1946, the PNŢ entered into open conflict with the authorities; the first volley was to send a Report to the United Nations, heavily critical of Soviet policies (the text was subject to censorship inside Romania).[4]

The Communist press alleged that the National Peasants' Party had been organizing a wide network of armed resistance (groups cited in that context may have indeed existed as early as 1947, and probably merged into the resistance movement of the 1950s).[5] At the same time, the Communists approached several PNŢ politicians with offers to join the Communists in administrative positions. Similar offers were made to other parties: the PCR obtained the cooperation of Mihai Ralea, who led the Socialist Peasants' Party, as well as Anton Alexandrescu, Nicolae L. Lupu, and Victor Eftimiu.[6]

Events[edit]

Several details of the Affair are still unclear. The offer to flee Romania was either quickly discovered (as the PCR alleged), or had already been investigated, and, in the hope of discrediting the opposition party, partly facilitated by agents of Teohari Georgescu, Minister of the Interior.[7] In October 1947, Maniu declared that:

"The idea for Mr. Mihalache and a few friends to go abroad was an older one and I had decided at some point to leave myself, in case Mr. Mihalache would not allow himself to leave. This discussion between us lasted for a while, and we were thinking how we could find a means of locomotion. When the question was being debated between the two of us with no one else aware of it, Dr. Emil Haţieganu came to see me. [...] He said: I have two aviators who have a plane at their disposal and have let me know that they have secured 3-4 seats, as they are to leave on an official military mission to Istanbul. I said that I was satisfied by the offer and I that I would designate 3-4 persons to leave."[8]

Early on the morning of July 14, 1947, at the Tămădău airfield (46 km from Bucharest), Siguranţa Statului and armed soldiers arrested a number of prominent PNŢ politicians, including Mihalache, Nicolae Penescu, Ilie Lazăr, Nicolae Carandino, Dumitru and Eugen Borcea, all of whom were waiting for airplanes to transport them out of the country; the presence of a reporter for the official press, accompanying the soldiers as the arrest was being carried out, was never properly explained.[9]

The scandal was centered on the charge of treason ("of the people's interests"), provoked by the allegation that those arrested had attempted to establish a government in exile.[7] At that time, however, it was not illegal for a citizen of the Kingdom of Romania to leave his country of birth, and there was no official policy hostile to the Western Allies.[10] Calls for a trial of the entire party were voiced by the Communist press (notably, by Silviu Brucan), and Maniu himself, although not present at Tămădău, was argued to have planned the escape.[10] Arrested while under treatment in a sanatorium,[11] Maniu later admitted to the fact, and indicated that he was prepared to assume complete responsibility:

"[After Haţieganu's offer] I spoke to Mr. Mihalache, I specifically asked him to make use of this opportunity and he accepted. Indeed, the moral and political responsibility for the departure of Mr. Mihalache and our friends is mine."[8]

He denied, however, any subversive goal:

"The purpose as designed by me was that, through going abroad, they were to inform foreign countries of the situation in Romania."[8]

Outcome[edit]

Later the same day (July 14, 1947), authorities stormed into the PNŢ headquarters and confiscated all documents held in the archive, a move followed by other searches for documents in various locations.[12] On July 19, the Assembly of Deputies of Romania voted to outlaw the party press (including Dreptatea), and to lift the parliamentary immunity of PNŢ deputies — the entire party leadership was arrested on the same day, and the party was banned on July 30 (on the basis of a report filed by Teohari Georgescu).[13] In parallel, Soviet authorities handed Teohari Georgescu the handwritten testimony of a former Abwehr agent, Alfred Petermann, who alleged that Maniu had worked as an agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service during the war, keeping contact with Alfred Gardyne de Chastelain.[14]

All those involved and those judged to have been involved were sentenced to harsh penal labour sentences: Maniu died in Sighet prison in 1953, and Mihalache in Râmnicu Sărat ten years after.[15] Most other important party activists were sentenced with or without trial in the following years;[16] Corneliu Coposu, who was to lead the reestablished party after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, was also arrested and imprisoned in connection with the Tămădău Affair.

Constantin Titel Petrescu, leader of a splinter group of the Social Democratic Party (one which had refused cooperation with the Communists), was also implicated in the trial — it was concluded that he had participated in planning the Tămădău episode, and was himself later tried and convicted on the basis of this and other accusations.[17] The diplomat Neagu Djuvara, who was present at the Romanian Legation in Sweden, was mentioned in one of the testimonies at the trial, and opted not to return to his country.[18]

The episode was soon after used against the Foreign Minister, Gheorghe Tătărescu, leader of the National Liberal Party-Tătărescu (which, although aligned with the Communists, had by then criticized several Communist policies). He was attacked by the PCR newspaper Scînteia for having allegedly failed to act against a pro-Maniu conspiracy inside his ministry, unceremoniously demoted, and replaced by the Communist activist Ana Pauker.[19]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Frunză, p.287-292, 297
  2. ^ Frunză, p.292-293, 295
  3. ^ Frunză, p.293-295
  4. ^ Frunză, p.297-298
  5. ^ Frunză, p.296
  6. ^ Frunză, p.299
  7. ^ a b Frunză, p.300-301
  8. ^ a b c Maniu, in Lăcustă
  9. ^ Cioroianu, p.95; Frunză, p.301; Vohn
  10. ^ a b Frunză, p.301
  11. ^ Cioroianu, p.96; Vohn
  12. ^ Vohn
  13. ^ Frunză, p.302-303
  14. ^ Pokivailova & Chiper, p.44-49
  15. ^ Both Maniu and Mihalache had been sentenced to life in prison; upon sentencing, Maniu, who was 75, was required to pay 50,000 lei, to cover his own funeral expenses (Frunză, p.388)
  16. ^ Cioroianu, p.96; Frunză, p.388
  17. ^ Frunză, p.389; Petrescu was released in 1955, after the United Kingdom Labour Party interceded with Nikita Khrushchev — nonetheless, he was still required to sign his ideological affiliation to Communism (Frunză, p.390)
  18. ^ Roman
  19. ^ Frunză, p.307-308

References[edit]

External links[edit]