Das pittoreske Bessarabien. Die Identität der östlichen Provinz im Rumänischen Königreich nach 1918 definieren
On 24 January 1918, the Moldavian Democratic Republic declared its independence from Soviet Russia and, a few months later, declared its union with the Kingdom of Romania. Bessarabia, the land between the Prut and Dniester rivers, which had been part of the Moldavian Voivodeship and had been annexed in 1812 by the Tsarist Russia, was saved from bolshevization for the next two decades. In 1940, Bessarabia was occupied by the Soviet armies, won back by Romanian armies allied with the Axis in 1941, and reoocupied by the Soviets in 1944, later to become the Soviet state called the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. Though Bessarabia’s return to its “origins” – the integration of this territory into the national Romanian state in 1918 – brought about ecstatic expressions of joy, the union was neither a problem-free process nor a self-evident political act, accepted as such on both sides of the river Prut. The present study deals with the strategies used in the public discourse between the two world wars aiming at the harmonization of the provinces of Greater Romania, as the kingdom was called, as well as at the promotion of marginal territories, poorly known and often regarded with suspicion. Bessarabia utilized the same strategy that was successful for the Romanians, when they sought recognition from what was then known as “the civilized world/Europe.” The strategy was an emphasis on the picturesque, via which an area full of differences was poetically represented as pleasant, interesting and relaxing. The picturesque diminishes the differences that the eye of the foreign traveler discovers in both the human and natural landscapes: the differences become agreeable, without needing to deny or conceal them. Integration into another world can thus be made without giving up any particularities, which neverthess yet must become part of the communication, in order to create a discourse that would make them known and accepted.