The "Beech Forest," as the name Bucovina indicates, is of only some 3850 square miles (a little larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, but less than Connecticut), and nearly half of that is woods of beech and pine; but its population (800,098 in 1910, 811,721 in 1919) is a strange mixture of Roumanian, German and Slav (Ruthenian). Before I774 it formed the northwestern extension of Moldavia into Poland and Russia; and the rulers of Moldavia several times subjugated considerable districts in those countries, while the Bucovina hills formed a shelter for generations for the raiders of whom the Polish writer of the Life of St. Cunigund (about 1400) speaks: "Valachorum...natio, rapto vivere assueta, in pecore pascendo et ove nutrienda occupata, agmine facto ex Alpibus quae Hungariam a Poloniae Regno determinant, in quibus suas exercent pasturas tenentque cubilia, frequenter in oppidum Antiquae Sandecz hostiliter nocte...insiliebant "-" the tribe of the Wallachs, accustomed to live on rapine and busied in pasturing their herds and feeding sheep, used to raise bands and sweep down from the Alps which separate Hungary from the Kingdom of Poland and in which they pasture their flocks and have their shelters, often making night raids upon the town of Old Sandecz." Indeed, there were Roumanians scattered all over nearer Galicia, and in Lemberg they had their own Chamber of Commerce, their quarter, market-place, church, "Pons Valachicus" and "Via Valachica" (Roumanian Bridge and Avenue). But the increasing power of Poland and then of Austria turned the tables, coinciding with the continual decadence of the Principalities under the Phanariote regime; nevertheless conditions of life, especially for the peasants, were much easier in Moldavia, and there was constant emigration of Ruthenians (Ukrainians, Little Russians) into the border districts. The Poles, who were short of labour, made every effort to stop this; a typical episode is this of 1742; four cart-loads of Ruthenian peasants had surreptitiously succeeded in crossing the border, but were followed by mounted Polish frontier-guards, who fired upon them and wounded several till driven away by the nearest Roumanian villagers; the local governor made a formal demand upon the Poles for the punishment of these guards who had violated the boundary. But the infiltration kept on, till all the districts nearest Galicia had a large proportion of Ruthenians. Meanwhile Austria, her appetite whetted by the Partition of Poland which had given her Eastern Galicia, applied to the Porte for the strip of land next adjoining in order to have a corridor from Galicia to Transylvania. Prince Gregory Ghica protested against the cession, but in vain; and in 1775 the Austrians took over this Roumanian territory. They found it probably at least three-quarters Roumanian, and at first made use of that language, with German, as official, together with some use of Ruthenian. A very interesting contemporary description by an Austrian officer says: " The original inhabitants of the Bucovina are just the same as the majority of those in Turkish Moldavia, descendants of the Wallachian or Roman colonists. They received in former times a considerable increase of coreligionists who emigrated from Transylvania. Besides these inhabitants many have immigrated from the neighbouring countries...; accordingly one finds many Hungarian, Transylvanian, Armenian and especially Jewish families in the country. The general language of the country is the Wallachian, which is composed of a corrupt Latin; various other tongues are spoken, however, by the tribes which have settled in the country, especially the Old Russian or Ruthenian. There has even been a bountiful sowing of the German language, since the lamented Maria Theresa founded German schools throughout the country, to the benefit of all the inhabitants, but especially of German veterans' children."
This passage brings up two of the most interesting problems in connection with the Bucovina-the religious question, and the school situation. While Moldavian, the Bucovinans: had belonged to the Oriental Greek Orthodox Church; and this organization, which had very valuable property, was at first left untouched by the Austrians, though they dipped more and more into its income, and at the beginning of the World War seized all its fluid assets as a loan. The Ruthenians, however, belonged to the Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church, ever since the Pact of 1595 with Pope Clement VIII; their rite and belief coincide in general with those of the Greek Orthodox Church, but they owed allegiance to Rome. As these Galician Ruthenians crossed over into the Bucovina, where there were no Greek Catholic churches, they naturally joined the Orthodox congregations; and Rome saw with alarm the constant increase of the schismatic Oriental Church, at the expense of the Catholics of Greek rite. In 1780 the Papal Nuncio at Vienna was besought to appoint Greek Catholic priests and found churches for the Bucovina; the Council of War disapproved of the step; but in 1806 the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Lemberg in Galicia addressed a memorial to the Emperor Francis I, informing him that the Ruthenians of Greek Catholic rite who had entered the Bucovina in such numbers, would not join Catholic churches of Latin rite, but went instead to the Oriental churches, and begging him to use the Bucovina religious funds to establish Greek Catholic worship there-but again in vain. Proselyting went on, and in 1848 one of the counts against the government on the part of the Roumanian liberals was that they had countenanced the activities of missionaries from Galicia; but meanwhile the Ruthenians had discovered that their aim of becoming the predominant element in the Bucovina was better served by wresting the control of the Greek Orthodox Church away from the Roumanians; and in this the Austrian government gave them every assistance. Their policy was to eliminate the Roumanians as rapidly as possible, from fear of Roumanian irredentism, and give Ruthenians every possible privilege, with a view to effect in the Ukraine Austria's dream being an expansion to Odessa, quite as much as to Saloniki. The Ruthenians therefore began a campaign to get control of the Greek Orthodox organization and funds in the Bucovina, and gave scant assistance to the Greek Catholic propaganda, which, beginning in 1861 with the founding of a Greek Catholic community in Czernowitz, had reached in 1910 a total of only 26,182 souls (falling to 20,783 in 1919). The Orthodox authorities had early given special privileges to the Ruthenians in their church services; in 1789, the new Bishop of Czernowitz, Daniel Wlachowicz, a Serb by birth, permitted them to use Church Slavonic instead of Roumanian in their services, and even imported Ruthenian priests for them from Galicia and the Ukraine. With the passage of time, they demanded and received in 1906 a Ruthenian Orthodox bishopric in the Bucovina; and at the beginning of the war it was understood that there should be a Ruthenian successor to the venerable and distinguished Archbishop of Czernowitz Vladimir de Repta, whom I had the privilege of seeing both in his magnificent palace at Czernowitz, and in the first Parliament of Greater Roumania, where it was reserved for him, as protagonist of the Roumanians outside the kingdom, to be the first presiding officer of the Roumanian Senate. I shall never forget his ascetic figure, in brilliant purple robes, as he listened to King Ferdinand's inaugural address, with the tears running down his cheeks. His dearest prayer had been answered before he was gathered to his fathers.
Austria had also utilized the schools as a method of suppressing the Roumanian element. I wish however to avoid giving the impression that Austrian methods were in any degree as arbitrary and severe as Hungarian. Any one who travelled in Transylvania and then in the Bucovina, noted the difference at once. With the Roumanian occupation of Transylvania, one saw the exultation over Hungarian oppression in a hundred little ways; the railroad stations, for instance, which had, under Magyar jingoism, borne only the Hungarian name of the town, immediately blossomed forth with only the Roumanian name, which however more melodious than the Magyar designation-one need only compare Nagyvarad with Oradia Mare-is equally unintelligible to a Westerner who knows the town only as Grosswardein. But in the same month (November, 1919) I was amused to find the main square in Czernowitz, the capital of the Bucovina, still called the Franz-Josefsplatz, and the street-names (German in large type in the centre, Roumanian in small type above and Ruthenian below) still untouched. But apparently the live and let live methods of Austria were none the less effective-far more so than the brutal Hungarian system, which merely fanned Roumanian resentment to a flame; in the Bucovina, Roumanian national feeling was gradually dying out before this slow, unimpassioned encouragement of Ruthenians in religion-and Germans in schools, and before the social privileges which the Austrians never failed to accord to the Roumanian landed aristocracy in the Bucovina, to keep them contented.
The Austrians found a few Roumanian schools and one theological seminary in the Bucovina when they took over the province in 1774. These they closed and replaced with German schools, which they declared in 1815 Roman Catholic confessional schools depending on the Archbishop of Lemberg. That automatically excluded Roumanian Orthodox teachers. It was not till 1844 that permission was given to open Roumanian confessional schools also. In 1869 the schools ceased to be confessional and became governmental-which meant German. All the courses in the Czernowitz Normal School were given in German. In 1911 the census gave 82 German schools, 12 Polish, 126 Ruthenian, 179 Roumanian, 5 Magyar and 127 bi- or tri-lingual! No better evidence can be had of the diversity of the elements which form the Bucovina. The scholars were 14,500 German (which includes the Jews), 900 Polish, 40,000 Ruthenian, 40,100 Roumanian, 1800 Magyar and 15,000 other nationalities. There were 1289 men teachers in these schools, and 853 women. There were 10 gymnasia (lycees) for boys, with 5600 students (2946 Germans, 10 Bohemians, 238 Poles, 1194 Ruthenians, 1193 Roumanians) and one for girls, with 1343 pupils; one normal school, with 13 professors and 377 men students (78 German, 25 Polish, 151 Ruthenian, 123 Roumanian) and 164 girls (39 German, 12 Polish, 51 Ruthenian, 62 Roumanian and others); 17 technical schools, with 934 German pupils, 228 Roumanian, 3 Czech, 161 Polish and 153 Ruthenian; and three agricultural schools, with 25 professors and 65 students. The University of Czernowitz was founded in 1875, on the occasion of the centennial celebration of the incorporation of the Bucovina into Austria. Its avowed purpose was to become an outpost of German culture in south-eastern Europe; indeed, it was some years before it contained even a chair of Roumanian language and literature! In a recent session, in the various departments (Law, Theology, Philosophy and Pharmacy), there were 1180 students, of whom 575 were Germans, 279 Roumanians, 7 Czechs, 85 Polish, 207 Ruthenians, 8 Serbo-Croats. The University has an excellent library, of well toward 250,000 volumes, which luckily was spared under the various Russian occupations of the war; and it succeeded in attracting a number of distinguished German scholars. I had heard in Buda-Pesth (and the story was repeated to me by a non-Roumanian journalist in Czernowitz itself) that the Roumanian government, on occupying the Bucovina, had expelled the German professors, and made over the university into a Roumanian institution; but in a conversation with the Rector, Dr. Tarnavsky, I learned that these German scholars who left had done so because they felt themselves part of the German University system, and only after they had been urgently invited by the Roumanian government to remain. It was true, he said, that they hoped, as befitted a Roumanian institution, to make Roumanian the language of instruction; but the members of the present faculty who did not speak the language were to be given all the time necessary-two or three years if needful-to master it. I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a number of non-Roumanians in the faculty; and I have lately received a letter from one of them, a German Bohemian, who tells me that he is given every facility for his work by the Roumanians. But unfortunately the fall in value of the crown hampers all scholarly and university activity. The University Library allowance for the purchase of books and periodicals does not suffice to pay for the renewals of foreign periodicals alone! And the teacher crisis, which is enough of a problem even in the United States, is in the highest degree embarrassing in the Bucovina. It is true that in the gradual decay of culture which we are witnessing all over the world, 60% of American teachers have never reached the third year of high-school; but where is the Roumanian government to find its teachers for the Bucovina, where, according to a Roumanian author, thanks to the long Austrian embargo on Roumanian higher schools, 80% of the Roumanian population can neither read nor write?
Of the 811,721 inhabitants of the Bucovina, nearly one-quarter live in the city (91,852) or county (94,940) of Czernowitz. The city lies fan-shape upon the steep hills running down to the Pruth, and is quite Austro-German in its appearance and construction. Its business is largely in the hands of the 43,555 Jews and 14,597 Germans who live there; most of the Polish population of the Bucovina is concentrated there also (10,848). The city contains also 12,639 Roumanians and 9566 Ruthenians (census of 1919). I found it possible to make myself understood everywhere on the streets and in the shops with German or Roumanian. According to the non-Roumanian newspaper men with whom I talked, the new Roumanian administration was accommodating itself to the peculiar conditions in the Bucovina, after considerable friction at first; they themselves felt keenly the inconveniences of the difficulty of communication with Vienna, their chief source of news in the past, but found a gradual improvement there also. As everywhere, the lack of coal hampered all departments of life; beech-wood for burning had gone up from 35 crowns to 1680 crowns a cubic metre; all other commodities had risen in price enormously; but wages had also increased many times.
Politically, Roumania has had a serious problem here, as in Bessarabia, with Bolshevistic agitation among the Jews and Ruthenians. The latter, being Slavs, are fertile soil for Communistic propaganda, just like the Russians and Bulgarians; while the Roumanian peasant, being a hard-headed Latin like an Italian or Spaniard, is not at all receptive to Bolshevism. I had ocular demonstration of this the evening of November 17, 1919, in Czernowitz; Ruthenian soldiers who formed half of a regiment newly formed by the Roumanians out of returned war prisoners from the Bucovina, were tampered with by local Bolshevistic sympathizers, who persuaded them to mutiny and return to their homes; they shot up the town, seized a train and were nearly home when overhauled. The Roumanian half of the same regiment remained loyal!
According to the census of 1910, of the 800,098 inhabitants of the Bucovina, 273,254 used Roumanian as "Umgangsprache" (customary spoken language), 305,101 Ruthenian, 168,851 German, 36,210 Polish, 10,391 Magyar, 1005 Bohemian, 80 Slovak and 5206 Russian and other languages. first Roumanian census ( 1919) gave the Roumanians 378,859 and the Ruthenians 227,361. About 68% of the population is Greek Orthodox, 13% Hebrew, 12.3% Roman Catholic, 3.3% Greek Catholic, 2.6% Protestant. The farms are prevailingly tiny; this applies particularly to the Roumanian element, who occupy three-quarters of all the individual farms; but their farms make up only one-eighth of the whole farm area. Before the war there were 4 sugar refineries (all destroyed or dismantled by the Russians); 2 flour mills (both destroyed); 5 large distilleries (all destroyed) and 70 large farmer's stills (all but 3 destroyed); etc. The combination of the Russian devastations, coal shortage and transportation crisis make it easy to dispose of the industrial situation in a few words! Co-operatives were well developed; in 1913 there were 90 co-operative stores (cooperative de consum); 71 village co-operatives; 20 city trades-union Cooperatives; and a few others. There was a Landesbank, for rural credits; a mortgage loan institution, 3 savings banks, one government pawn-shop, and a number of branches of Vienna banks, which had Bucovina deposits totalling about $8,000,000. There were 586 popular banks, 470 of the Reiffeisen system, and 114 of the Schultze-Delitzsch. The railroads totalled about 375 miles, and there were about 700 miles of improved high-way.
The Bucovina is a small district, neither wealthy nor fertile; and the
joy over its return is disproportionately great in Roumania. It is much
as if the State of Maine had been held by the British for over a century,
during which it became half French-Canadian, and were then returned to
us. The Bucovina has always been a favourite theme with the Roumanian poets;
the Bucovina litterateur, S. F. Marian, has published a collection of the
ballads and other poems which circulate among its Roumanian peasantry.
One of the best of Alecsandri's poems is that dedicated to the Bucovina:
Cu pomi roditori
Shi mandri feciori!
Cuib de paserele
Care ‘n ochii lor
Au foc rapitor.
Tu ce eshti o floare
Fii in veci voioasa
With fruitful trees
And proud sons!
Nest of birdlets
Which in their eyes
Have ravishing fire.
Thou who art a flower
Be ever happy
|Cand pe bolta bruna tremura Selene
Cu un pas melodic, cu un pas a lene
Lin in calea sa;
Eol pe-a sa arpa bland rasunatoare
Cant’ a noptzii dulce, mistica cantare,
Cant din Valhala.
|When Selene flutters through the dark arch
With melodious step, with leisurely step
Gently in her path;
Aeolus on his harp, softly resonant,
Sings the mystic song of the sweet night,
Sings in Walhalla.
|Atunci ca shi silful ce n’adoarme ‘n pace
Inima imi bate, bate shi nu tace,
In fantazii mandre ea ishi face cale,
Peste muntzi cu codri, peste deal shi vale
Mana al ei dor.
|Then like a sylph who cannot fall asleep in peace
My soul beats, beats and will not keep still,
In proud imaginings she makes her way,
Over mountains and forests, over hill and dale
Urged on by fondness for her (i.e. Bucovina)
|Mana doru-i tainic colo inspre tine,
Ochiul imi sclipeshte, genele-mi sunt pline,
Inima mi-e grea;
Astfel totdeauna, cand gandesc la tine,
Sufletul mi-apasa nouri de suspine,
|Mystic longing for thee up there urges me on
My eye glistens, my eye-lashes are full,
My soul is heavy;
Thus always, when I think of thee,
My spirit rouses clouds of sighs,