„When creating Greater Romania, the generation of the Union have used all their most precious values, their noblest dreams, their purest and most heroic courage, their most steadfast determination; and they sacrificed their dearest children in the battlefields, they sent their worthiest men to the union national meetings. A country capable of so many sacrifices, which proved so much moral strength, deserves to live and it will live”. (Iuliu Maniu)
THE WAY TO THE GREAT UNION
The Great Union of 1918 was the historical process which resulted in the Romanian provinces uniting with Romania within the same nation-state. Immediately after the outbreak of World War I Romania declared its neutral position. In August 1916 Romania decided to enter the war on the side of the Entente powers. The first step towards union was taken in November 1917 when they set up Sfatul Ţării, the legislative body of Bessarabia, which proclaimed the establishment and independence of the Moldavian Democratic Republic. On 27 March 1918 Sfatul Ţării of Chişinău, which had been elected by universal, direct, equal and secret vote, decided by a majority of votes in favour of the union of the Moldavian Democratic Republic with Romania.
On 28 November 1918 the General Congress of Bucovina in Cernăuţi decided on the unconditional union of the region in its old borders with the Kingdom of Romania. Shortly after this, in Transylvania, the National Assembly of Alba Iulia, consisting of 1,288 elected delegates and supported by 100,000 participants, on 1 December 1918, adopted the resolution which endorsed the union of Transylvania, Banat, Crişana and Maramureş with Romania. Following the achievement of the Great Union, the population and the country’s territory doubled in number and size. The century-long expectations were met, and so there occurred the “astral hour” of the Romanian people, the millennia-old dream of completing the state unity, which so many generations of Romanians had expected. At that unique moment in our national history, the Romanians knew how to get in line with the course of history to the benefit of their nation, and the political class turned out to be at their best in the mission they had been entrusted with.
THE GENERATION OF THE GREAT UNION EXTERMINATED IN PRISONS
In the Year of the Centennial, it is proper to bow our heads to all those who sacrificed themselves for the creation of Greater Romania and were “rewarded” with suffering, humiliation and years of imprisonment for fulfilling the national ideal of all Romanians. The martyrs of the Great Union faced any danger in order to see the accomplishment of the great work they dreamt of and fought for. The communist regime established in Romania found many of those who played a decisive part in the creation and consolidation of the Romanian State “incompatible” with the new system. The Soviet occupiers and the communist rulers in Romania set in motion a systematic programme for hunting and removing Romania’s political, cultural, intellectual, and military elite. People of high achievement in the history of this country and the creation of the Great Union were declared “enemies of the people” and enemies of “the regime of people’s democracy.” One by one, the founders of Greater Romania were arrested and convicted, with or without a trial, were tortured, imprisoned for long years, and most of them died in communist prisons for the “guilt” of believing in democracy and their country. The Bessarabian politicians on Sfatul Ţării were charged, almost without exception, with “having betrayed the interests of the Moldavian people” when they voted for the Union of Bassarabia with Romania on 27 March 1918. They were deported to the concentration camps in Siberia and endured the burden and the humiliation of the Soviet regime prisons, paying with their lives for the imaginary guilt invented by the communist system. The bodies of the Great Union martyrs were thrown into mass graves, without being given a Christian burial. It is only those who had died before this ill-fated period or those who went abroad, going into exile, it is only them that were spared this tragic and sinister destiny.