The Second Vienna Award
was the second of two
. Rendered on August 30, 1940, it
re-assigned the territory of Northern Transylvania from Romania to Hungary.
Prelude and historical background
After the World War I
, the multiethnic
Kingdom of Hungary
apart by the Treaty of Trianon
form several new nation-states. The new Magyar
nation-state of Hungary was approximately ‚Öď
the size of the former Kingdom, and many ethnic Magyars now lived
outside the borders of Hungary. Many historically important areas
were assigned to other countries, and the distribution of natural
resources came out unevenly as well. Thus, while the various
non-Magyar populations of the old Kingdom generally saw the treaty
as justice for the historically-marginalized nationalities, from
the point of view of the Hungarians, the Treaty had been unjust and
even a national humiliation.
The Treaty and its consequences dominated Hungarian public life and
political culture in the inter-war period. In addition, the
government of Hungary swung more and more to the right in those
years; eventually, under Prime Minister Gyula G√∂mb√∂s, Hungary established
close relations with Benito
Mussolini's Italy and Adolf Hitler's Germany.The alliance with Nazi Germany made possible Hungary's regaining
of southern Slovakia in the
First Vienna Award of 1938 and
Subcarpathia in 1939. But that and the subsequent military conquest
of Carpathian Ruthenia in 1939 still did
not satisfy Hungarian political ambitions.
allocated only a fraction of the territories lost by the Treaty of
Trianon, and in any event, the loss that the Hungarians resented
the most was that of Transylvania
At the end
of June 1940, as relations between Romania and her
neighboring countries were seriously strained, the Romanian
government gave in to a Soviet ultimatum, and allowed Moscow to retake
Bessarabia and Northern
Bukovina, which had been incorporated into Romania after
World War I.
territorial loss was undesirable from the Romanian perspective, the
government viewed it as preferable to the conflict which could have
arisen had Romania resisted Soviet advances. However, the Hungarian
government interpretedthe fact that Romania gave up some of its
territories as an admission that Romaniano longer insisted on
keeping its territory intact.
occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina inspired
Budapest to escalate its efforts to resolve the question of
Peace in the Balkans
was very much in the interest of the Axis Powers
, both for strategic
and material reasons, and so they suggested to the parties
concerned that they solve their problems by direct
The negotiations started on August 16
. The Hungarian delegation hoped to gain as much of
Transylvania as possible, but the Romanians would have none of that
and submitted only a small region for consideration. Eventually,
the Hungarian-Romanian negotiations fell through entirely. After
this, the Romanian government asked Italy and Germany to
Meanwhile, the Romanian government had acceded to Italy's request
for territorial cessions to Bulgaria. On September 7, under the Treaty of Craiova, the "Cadrilater" (southern Dobrudja) was ceded by Romania to Bulgaria.
ministers of foreign affairs of the Axis, Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany and
Galeazzo Ciano of Italy, announced
the award on August 30, 1940 at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
result of the award, Hungary regained 43,104 km¬≤ of its territories
lost to Romania after the First World War. The new border was
guaranteed by both Germany and Italy.
The population statistics in Northern Transylvania and the changes
following the award are presented in detail in the next section.
The rest of Transylvania, known as Southern Transylvania, with
2,274,600 Romanians and 363,200 Hungarians remained Romanian.
The territory in question covered an area of 43,104 km¬≤.
The 1930 Romanian census registered for this region a population of
2,393,300. In 1941 the Hungarian authorities conducted a new census
which registered a total population of 2,578,100. Both censuses
asked separately about language and nationality. The results of the
two censuses are summarized in the following table.
|1930 Romanian census
||1941 Hungarian census
As √Ārp√°d E. Varga writes, "the census conducted in 1930 met
international statistical requirements in every respect. In order
to establish nationality, the compilers devised a complex criterion
system, unique at the time, which covered citizenship, nationality,
native language (i.e. the language spoken in the family) and
Apart from the natural population growth, the differences between
the two censuses are due to some other complex reasons, like
migration and assimilation of Jews or bilingual speakers. According
to Hungarian registrations, 100 thousand Hungarian refugees had
arrived in Hungary from South Transylvania by January 1941. Most of
them sought refuge in the north, and almost as many persons arrived
from Hungary in the reannexed territory as moved to the Trianon
Hungary territory from South Transylvania. As a result of these
migrations, North Transylvanian Hungarians increased by almost 100
thousand. In order to "compensate" for this, a great number of
Romanians were obliged to leave North Transylvania. Some 100
thousand had left by February 1941 according to the incomplete
registration of North Transylvanian refugees carried out by the
Romanian government. Besides this, a fall in the total population
suggests that a further 40 to 50 thousand Romanians moved from
North to South Transylvania (including refugees who were omitted
from the official registration for various reasons). The Hungarian
assimilation gain is made up of losses on the part of other groups
of native speakers, such as the Jewish people. The changing of
language was most typical among bilingual Romanians and Hungarians.
other hand, in MaramureŇü ( ) and Satu Mare (
) counties, in dozens of settlements many of those who had declared
themselves as Romanian now identified themselves as Hungarian, even
though they did not speak Hungarian at all (nor did they in
Historian Keith Hitchins summarizes the situation created by the
award in his book "Rumania: 1866-1947 (Oxford History of Modern
Europe), Oxford University
- Far from settling matters, the Vienna Award had exacerbated
relations between Rumania and Hungary. It did not solve
the nationality problem by separating all Magyars from all
Rumanians. Some 1,150,000 to 1,300,000 Rumanians, or 48
per cent to over 50 per cent of the population of the ceded
territory, depending upon whose statistics are used, remained north
of the new frontier, while about 500,000 Magyars (other Hungarian
estimates go as high as 800,000, Rumanian as low as 363,000)
continued to reside in the south.
Romania had 14 days to evacuate concerned territories and assign
them to Hungary. The Hungarian troops stepped across the Trianon
borders on September 5
. The Regent of
Hungary, Mikl√≥s Horthy
attended in the entry. They reached thepre-Trianon border,
completing the reannexation process, on September 13.
Generally, the ethnic Hungarian population welcomed the troops and
regarded separation from Romania as liberation. The large ethnic
Romanian community that found themselves under Hungarian Horthyist
occupation had nothing to celebrate though, as for them the Second
Vienna Award represented the return to the times of the long
Hungarian rule. Unfortunately, some massacres also took place.
September 9 in the village of Treznea ( ), some Hungarian troops made a 4
km detour from the ZalńÉu‚ÄďCluj route of the Hungarian Army and started firing at
will on locals of all ages, killing many of them and partially
destroying the Orthodox
church. The official Hungarian sources of the time recorded
that 87 Romanians and 6 Jews were killed,
including the local Orthodox priest and the Romanian local teacher
with his wife, while some Romanian sources give as many as 263
locals who were killed. Some Hungarian historians claim that the
killings came in retaliation after the Hungarian troops were fired
upon by inhabitants, allegedly incited by the local Romanian
orthodox priest, but this claims are not supported by the accounts
of several witnesses. The motivation of the 4 km detour of the
Hungarian troops from the rest of the Hungarian Army is still a
point of contention, but most evidence points towards the local
noble Ferenc Bay, who lost a large part of his estates to peasants
in the 1920s, as most of the violence was directed towards the
peasants living on his former estate.
- Similarly, 159 local villagers were killed on 13‚Äď14 September
1940 by the Hungarian troops in the village of
Ip (Hungarian: Szil√°gyipp). Again, some
Hungarian historians suggests that this was the result of a
retaliation to the killing of 4 Hungarian soldiers by a grenade.
The exact number of casualties is disputed between some historians,
but the existence of such events cannot be disputed.
The retreat of the Romanian army was also not free from incidents,
mostly consisting of damaging the infrastructure and destroying
The Second Vienna Award was voided by the Allied Commission
Armistice Agreement with Rumania
Article 19 stipulated the following: "The Allied Governments
regard the decision of the Vienna award regarding Transylvania as
void and are agreed that Transylvania (the greater part thereof)
should be returned to Rumania, subject to confirmation at the peace
settlement, and the Soviet Government agrees that Soviet forces
shall take part for this purpose in joint military operations with
Rumania against Germany and Hungary."
This came after King Michael's
following which Romania changed sides and joined the
Allies. Thus, the Romanian army fought Nazi Germany and its allies
in Romania, regaining Northern Transylvania, and further on, in
Czechoslovakia (e.g. Budapest
& Siege of
The 1947 Treaty of Paris
borders between Romania and Hungary, as originally defined in
Treaty of Trianon
, 27 years
- √Ārp√°d E. Varga. Erd√©ly magyar n√©pess√©ge 1870-1995
k√∂z√∂tt. Magyar Kisebbs√©g 3-4, 1998, pp. 331-407.
- P. ŇĘurlea. Ip Ňüi TrńÉznea: AtrocitńÉŇ£i maghiare Ňüi acŇ£iune
diplomaticńĀ, Ed. EnciclopedicńÉ, BucureŇüti 1996.
- Gh.I. Bodea, V.T. Suciu, I. PuŇücaŇü. AdministraŇ£ia militarńÉ
horthystńÉ √ģn nord-vestul Rom√Ęniei, Ed. Dacia, 1988.
- Maria Bucur. Treznea. Trauma, nationalism and the
memory of World War II in Romania, Rethinking History, Volume
6, Number 1, April 1, 2002, pp. 35-55.