Local Issues of Northern Transylvania 1944-1945
(Transilvania du Nord / Északerdély)
The territory of Transylvania, in the northwestern part of present-day Romania, was incorporated into Hungary until the Treaty of Trianon (June 4, 1920), at which time it was awarded to Romania. As a result of the 2nd Vienna Award (August 30, 1940), the northern portion of this territory was returned to Hungary. Following World War II, it was again incorporated into Romania. These facts alone give this region a rich and interesting postal history.
What is little known, even among philatelists, is that Northern Transylvania achieved a degree of quasi-independence (in civil matters) under the occupation of the Red Army. Romania, one of the Axis powers, surrendered unconditionally on August 23, 1944, shortly after her borders were crossed by Soviet troops.
On September 12, 1944, an armistice was concluded in which the USSR promised to return Northern Transylvania to Romania, and Romania agreed to commit its military forces to the allied cause. The 1920 frontier was formally re-established by the peace treaty of February 10, 1947.
Soviet and Romanian troops first entered Northern Transylvania on September 21, 1944, and on October 25 finally succeeded in clearing the entire region from the defending Hungarian and German troops. In spite of the armistice agreement, Romanian civil officials were not allowed to assume civil control. The Red Army continued to hold the area under military occupation, granting autonomy to each district in civil matters.
Some civilian officials, including postal personnel, accompanied Romanian military units into the southeastern portion of the region, but were quickly ordered to leave by the Soviets. Some supplies of Romanian postage stamps were, however, left behind.
Permission to resume civil control over Northern Transylvania was granted on March 11, 1945, and Romanian administration resumed in fact on April 9th. Thus there existed an interregnum period of almost six months, during which Northern Transylvania was neither part of Hungary nor part of Romania, but was also not an independent state.
Northern Transylvania is a 16,830 square mile area situated in the Carpathian Basin. The 1940 population was approximately 2.5 million, with about equal numbers of ethnic Hungarians and Romanians. In addition, there was a substantial German minority. Hungarians were generally predominant in the urban areas.
© Jay T. Carrigan, 2008-2009