Primary Documents - Take Jonescu on Romania's Entry into the War, August 1916
Reproduced below is the reaction of the former Romanian Prime Minister, Take Jonescu, to news of his country's entry into the First World War on the side of the Entente Powers. For Jonescu the key significance of the war is Europe's new-found belief in the right of national self-determination, a matter of great importance to Romania herself.
Jonescu had been an early advocate of Romania's abandonment of wartime neutrality, recommending that she enter the war against the Central Powers, an initially unpopular stance.
Click here to read King Ferdinand's proclamation to the Romanian people; click here to read the King's proclamation to the Romanian Army issued the dame day; click here to read the reaction of the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg. Click here to read the statement issued by the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S. in October 1917. Click here to read a memoir of the invasion of Romania by Queen Marie.
Take Jonescu on Romania's Entry into the War, 27 August 1916
Rumania's entry into the war is simply the outcome of the entire history of the Rumanian people.
A Latin colony established astride the Carpathians between the Black Sea and the Tisza, the Magyar invasion had separated us into two. In spite of centuries of political separation, the intellectual life of all Rumanians has been one and the same, and in every epoch the national aspiration in the two sides of the Carpathians has been for union and a single independent State.
Never before this war has the principle of nationality, the corollary of national sovereignty - that is to say, the right of every people to live according to its own genius - been declared as the foundation of political right in Europe.
This principle was first declared by immortal France, but it has been English statesmen of this present epoch who have given it its definite consecration. So, too, are the British people for this principle. Yet more than any conquest do they value being champions of right and liberty.
I know no greater good fortune than to be able to assist in the realization of this national ideal while serving at the same time the cause of civilization and permanent future peace. Such is the case of the Rumanian people at this moment.
For two years I never ceased maintaining that if Rumania had nothing to claim for herself she owed it to her own feeling of dignity and honour to draw the sword on the side of the crusaders for the right.
The creation of a great Rumania, which will convert us into a State of 14,000,000 inhabitants, is not only a Rumanian but a European interest. We must put Germany into such a position that she will find it materially impossible to start again that tragedy of armaments a outrance which fatally led to this monstrous war.
We must put between Germany and the Orient, which she covets, States sufficiently strong and representing military worth sufficiently great to be able to resist all intrigues and sufficiently distant from the German spirit to be by the nature of things soldiers of civilization against German stupidity.
Magna Rumania will fulfil these three conditions. With our amazing racial fecundity, we shall have in forty years between Tisza and the Black Sea a State of 25,000,000 inhabitants, and for France, England, Russia, and Italy this will be some recompense for their enormous sacrifices.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
A "red cap" was a British military policeman.
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