For on the twenty-third of August, before the hospital was half finished, Romania capitulated to the Allies, and the Russians entered our country, pouring in and overrunning it, burning and destroying, bringing misery and terror in their wake.
The armistice negotiations had been under way for a long time, and they had implied that all three Allies would take equal part in carrying out the stipulations. But it proved to be Russia alone who represented the Allies. Amongst the conditions imposed upon us was that the Russians were to have free passage through Romania to the Western front—to Hungary, Czecho-Slovakia and Germany. They were to be provisioned by the countryside, but the stipulations were firm in stating that the Russians would neither occupy us nor interfere in any way with Romanian politics or the life of the people.
However, the Russian Army crossed our borders and occupied us with complete disregard for the conditions agreed upon. There was only a short respite between the cease fire and the horrors of a Russian total occupation. The United States and Great Britain were represented in the country only by small missions which were powerless to enforce the armistice stipulations, and the Allied governments were—understandably, but for us tragically—too deeply involved in the urgencies of the European invasion to help us.
Notwithstanding the tremendous political upheaval, the country remained quiet and intensely loyal to the King.
King Michael, to abdicate. On the thirty-first, early in the morning, driving through blinding snow and accompanied by Stefan, I went to see him to discuss what we were to do. We met on the roadside outside Bucharest—our cars standing in the whirling snow, drifts accumulating about them in the short hour that Michael and I talked in his car. Then we parted; Stefan and I went on to the capital, I to make contact with the government and to go to the Ministry of Health. (see I Live Again page 349)
The Communist government had agreed that my family and I could remain in Romania as private citizens if we wished, but the course of events during the next few days proved to me the hopelessness of expecting that we would ever be permitted the decent retirement and privacy of this status. Affront, surveillance and studied insult to me and to the family were continual. I knew that this situation could not be endured and would become even more outrageous. I knew now that there was no safety for my children in Romania. My work at Bran was at an end: I knew that we, too, must go into exile.
Stefan and I were in Bucharest for six days. There were maddening delays and unsatisfactory interviews with evasive government officials. There was the constant racking uncertainty as to what would happen next.