The Birth of Romania: Fact and Fiction

At a time when a Communist government is trying to destroy all links between Romania and the West, Radu R. Florescu surveys the facts and legends about his country's past.

Romania’s historical tradition has been frequently challenged in the West and, to this day, is accepted only with qualifications by English-speaking scholars. At a lower level, a Romanian secondary-school pupil, turning from his pre-war classroom textbook to a survey of Eastern Europe at the English fifth-form level, would scarcely believe that he was reading essentially the same story. Objective history ideally requires that the picture of any great man or problem be not substantially divergent, whether viewed by a Catholic or Protestant, French or German historian.

We know that not even the West has reached that necessary degree of impartiality. Nevertheless, we usually recognize an important personality or the fundamentals of a problem, although we may still disagree on particulars. This statement, however, is hardly true of the heated polemics that have separated Romanian historians from almost all their neighbours for over a century. The controversy has not been limited to interpretation of detail: it has affected fundamental problems, such as racial origins, the composition of the language, and ethnic continuity during the Middle Ages.

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