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Book Review


29 Columbia Law Review 538 (1929)


This volume constitutes an analytical study of one of the most complicated problems arising out of the readjustment of political and property relations consequent upon the Peace Treaties. As part of the spoils of war, Rumania received from the Allies the province of Transylvania, carved from Hungary, and other territories. Rumania also received the unprecedented privilege (of doubtful wisdom but less doubtful immorality) of confiscating in old Rumania the private property of enemy subjects, which the Allied Governments had equally reserved to themselves. But in the annexed territories, after much negotiation, a different regime was provided for. There, the privilege of confiscation, called "retention and liquidation," was denied to Rumania. Nevertheless, she undertook to inaugurate what was called a system of land reform, by which estates over approximately 75 acres were to be divided up, distributed to the peasants, and compensation paid to the expropriated owners in the form of paper lei in 50-year bonds, estimated to be worth about one per cent of the gold value of the property. In Transylvania the Rumanian legislation added a condition that the law was to be applied to "absentees," who were defined as persons who had been "absent from the country between December 1, 1918 and March 23, 1921." Inasmuch as Transylvania was then occupied by Rumanian troops and Hungarians had for the most part fled, particularly those who later opted to retain Hungarian nationality, it would seem that the law, while in form of general application, would strike most particularly the Hungarian optants. Hungary protested that the agrarian law, as applied to these owners of land, was a violation of the Treaty of Trianon, forbidding "retention and liquidation" of Hungarian property in Transylvania, as well as of the Minorities Treaty between Rumania and the Allied Governments. Rumania denied that the restriction as to "retention and liquidation" imposed upon her, applied to anything but exceptional war measures, for example, the sequestration of the property of alien enemies, and had no application to agrarian land reforms, which applied to all inhabitants.

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