Recollections of a Romanian Diplomat, 1918-1969: Diaries and Memoirs of Raoul V. Bossy

Monday, June 30, 2003

The half century covered by Raoul Bossy's diaries and memoirs was one of major upheaval in the world, particularly in Eastern Europe. A keen and witty observer, Bossy faithfully recorded the reactions of informed people to the then unfolding international events. His recollections begin in 1918, when Bossy entered the Romanian diplomatic service as a lowly attaché and began his climb through the ranks: cabinet chief of the minister of foreign affairs to political director of the prime minister's office to secretary-general of the Romanian regency. By the early 1940s he achieved what was at that time the most important posting for a Romanian diplomat—envoy to Berlin.

Because of his intelligence and political acumen, Bossy was chosen early in his career to work closely with outstanding statesmen, allowing him to witness policymaking at firsthand and to establish long-lasting friendships with major players. As envoy to Hungary, Bossy had a front row seat from which to observe Hitler's annihilation of Austria and of Czechoslovakia. Within a year of the war's outbreak, the United Kingdom was left alone to face Germany, and the guarantees it had given Romania became useless. In mid-1940, with German agreement, the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Two months later the Vienna Diktat gave Hungary a large chunk of Transylvania, with more Romanian inhabitants than Hungarians.

This national calamity inevitably led to a major political upheaval. Carol II fled Romania and General Antonescu came to power, ultimately establishing a pro-German, full-fledged military dictatorship. Without even being consulted, Bossy—a diplomat with well-known pro-Allied sympathies—was appointed envoy to Berlin. He resisted as much as he could, accepting with "the greatest reluctance" the appointment to "the regime in Germany [which] fills me with revulsion."

For almost two years Bossy did his best to defend Romania's interests in Berlin but to no avail. He tendered his resignation five times before it was finally, and reluctantly, accepted in early 1943. He then took refuge with his family in Switzerland and worked closely with the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to reduce the sufferings of prisoners of war and of refugees. Bossy died in 1975.

Copyright 2003.