Romania in World War II

Last updated

Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania under King Carol II officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron Guard rose in popularity and power, urging an alliance with Nazi Germany and its allies. As the military fortunes of Romania's two main guarantors of territorial integrity—France and Britain—crumbled in the Fall of France, the government of Romania turned to Germany in hopes of a similar guarantee, unaware that the then dominant European power had already granted its consent to Soviet territorial claims in a secret protocol of 1939's Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Contents

In the summer of 1940, a series of territorial disputes were diplomatically resolved unfavorably to Romania, resulting in the loss of most of the territory gained in the wake of World War I. This caused the popularity of Romania's government to plummet, further reinforcing the fascist and military factions, who eventually staged a coup that turned the country into a dictatorship under Mareșal Ion Antonescu. The new regime firmly set the country on a course towards the Axis camp, officially joining the Axis powers on 23 November 1940. As a member of the Axis, Romania joined the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, providing equipment and oil to Nazi Germany as well as committing more troops to the Eastern Front than all the other allies of Germany combined. Romanian forces played a large role during fighting in Ukraine, Bessarabia, Stalingrad and elsewhere. Romanian troops were responsible for the persecution and massacre of up to 260,000 Jews in Romanian-controlled territories, though most Jews living within Romania survived the harsh conditions. [1] According to historian and author Mark Axworthy, the second Axis army in Europe, arguably, belonged to Romania, though, this is disputed since many would agree that this position goes to the Italian army. [2]

After the tide of war turned against the Axis, Romania was bombed by the Allies from 1943 onwards and invaded by advancing Soviet armies in 1944. With popular support for Romania's participation in the war faltering and German-Romanian fronts collapsing under the Soviet onslaught, King Michael of Romania led a coup d'état that deposed the Antonescu regime and put Romania on the side of the Allies for the remainder of the war; Antonescu was executed in June 1946. Despite this late association with the winning side, Greater Romania was not restored. However, the country was able to regain Northern Transylvania from Hungary.

Background

Ethnic map of Greater Romania according to the 1930 census. Sizeable ethnic minorities put Romania at odds with Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union throughout the interwar period. Romania 1930 ethnic map EN.png
Ethnic map of Greater Romania according to the 1930 census. Sizeable ethnic minorities put Romania at odds with Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union throughout the interwar period.

In the aftermath of World War I, Romania, which fought with the Entente against the Central Powers, had greatly expanded its territory, incorporating the regions of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, largely as a result of the vacuum created by the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. This led to the achievement of the long-standing nationalist goal of creating a Greater Romania, a national state that would incorporate all ethnic Romanians. However, the newly gained territories also included significant Hungarian, German, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Russian minorities, which put Romania at odds with several of her neighbours. [3] This occasionally led to violent conflict, as exemplified by the Hungarian–Romanian War and the Tatarbunary Uprising. To contain Hungarian irredentism, Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia established the Little Entente in 1921. That same year Romania and Poland concluded a defensive alliance against the emergent Soviet Union, and in 1934 the Balkan Entente was formed with Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, which were suspicious of Bulgaria. [4]

Since the late 19th century onwards Romania had been a relatively democratic constitutional monarchy with a pro-Western outlook, but the country faced increasing turmoil in the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression in Romania and the rise of fascist and other far-right movements such as the Iron Guard, which advocated revolutionary terrorism against the state. Under the pretext of stabilizing the country, the increasingly autocratic King Carol II proclaimed a 'royal dictatorship' in 1938. The new regime featured corporatist policies that often resembled those of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. [5] In parallel with these internal developments, economic pressures and a weak Franco-British response to Hitler's aggressive foreign policy caused Romania to start drifting away from the Western Allies and closer to the Axis. [4]

On 13 April 1939, France and the United Kingdom had pledged to guarantee the independence of the Kingdom of Romania. Negotiations with the Soviet Union concerning a similar guarantee collapsed when Romania refused to allow the Red Army to cross its frontiers. [1] [6]

On 23 August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Among other things, this recognized the Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia (which had been ruled by the Russian Empire from 1812 to 1918). This Soviet interest was combined with a clear indication that there was an explicit lack of any German interest in the area.

Eight days later Nazi Germany invaded the Second Polish Republic. Expecting military aid from Britain and France, Poland chose not to execute its alliance with Romania in order to be able to use the Romanian Bridgehead. Romania officially remained neutral and, under pressure from the Soviet Union and Germany, interned the fleeing Polish government after its members had crossed the Polish–Romanian border on 17 September, forcing them to relegate their authority to what became the Polish government-in-exile. [7] After the assassination of Prime Minister Armand Călinescu on 21 September King Carol II tried to maintain neutrality for several months longer, but the surrender of the Third French Republic and the retreat of British forces from continental Europe rendered the assurances that both countries had made to Romania meaningless. [1]

Romania after the territorial losses of 1940. The recovery of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina was the catalyst for Romania's entry into the war on Germany's side. PerdidasTerritorialesRumanas1940-ro.svg
Romania after the territorial losses of 1940. The recovery of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina was the catalyst for Romania's entry into the war on Germany's side.

In 1940 Romania's territorial gains made following World War I were largely undone. In July, after a Soviet ultimatum, Romania agreed to give up Bessarabia and northern Bukovina (the Soviets also annexed the city of Hertsa, which was not stated in the ultimatum). Two-thirds of Bessarabia were combined with a small part of the Soviet Union to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. The rest (northern Bukovina, the northern half of Hotin county and Budjak) was apportioned to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Shortly thereafter, on 30 August, under the Second Vienna Award, Germany and Italy mediated a compromise between Romania and the Kingdom of Hungary: Hungary received a region referred to as 'Northern Transylvania', while 'Southern Transylvania' remained part of Romania. Hungary had lost Transylvania after World War I in the Treaty of Trianon. On 7 September, under the Treaty of Craiova, Southern Dobruja (which Bulgaria had lost after the Romanian invasion during the Second Balkan War in 1913), was ceded to Bulgaria under pressure from Germany. Despite the relatively recent acquisition of these territories, they were inhabited by a majority of Romanian speaking people (except Southern Dobruja), so the Romanians had seen them as historically belonging to Romania, and the fact that so much land was lost without a fight shattered the underpinnings of King Carol's power.

On 4 July, Ion Gigurtu formed the first Romanian government to include an Iron Guardist minister, Horia Sima. Sima was a particularly virulent antisemite who had become the nominal leader of the movement after the death of Corneliu Codreanu. He was one of the few prominent far-right leaders to survive the bloody infighting and government suppression of the preceding years.

Antonescu comes to power

Antonescu and Adolf Hitler at the Fuhrerbau in Munich (June 1941). Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B03212, Munchen, Staatsbesuch Jon Antonescu bei Hitler.jpg
Antonescu and Adolf Hitler at the Führerbau in Munich (June 1941).

In the immediate wake of the loss of Northern Transylvania, on 4 September the Iron Guard (led by Horia Sima) and General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu united to form the "National Legionary State", which forced the abdication of Carol II in favor of his 19-year-old son Michael. Carol and his mistress Magda Lupescu went into exile, and Romania, despite the unfavorable outcome of recent territorial disputes, leaned strongly toward the Axis. As part of the deal, the Iron Guard became the sole legal party in Romania. Antonescu became the Iron Guard's honorary leader, while Sima became deputy premier.

In power, the Iron Guard stiffened the already harsh anti-Semitic legislation, enacted legislation directed against minority businessmen, tempered at times by the willingness of officials to take bribes, and wreaked vengeance upon its enemies. On 8 October German troops began crossing into Romania. They soon numbered over 500,000.

On 23 November Romania joined the Axis powers. On 27 November, 64 former dignitaries or officials were executed by the Iron Guard in Jilava prison while awaiting trial (see Jilava Massacre ). Later that day, historian and former prime minister Nicolae Iorga and economist Virgil Madgearu, a former government minister, were assassinated.

The cohabitation between the Iron Guard and Antonescu was never an easy one. On 20 January 1941, the Iron Guard attempted a coup, combined with a pogrom against the Jews of Bucharest. Within four days, Antonescu had successfully suppressed the coup. The Iron Guard was forced out of the government. Sima and many other legionnaires took refuge in Germany; [8] others were imprisoned. Antonescu abolished the National Legionary State, in its stead declaring Romania a "National and Social State."

The war on the Eastern Front

Romania annexed Transnistria, the area between the Dniester and Southern Bug, in July 1941 (1941 ethnic map). RECENSAMANT 1941 JUDETE.png
Romania annexed Transnistria, the area between the Dniester and Southern Bug, in July 1941 (1941 ethnic map).
1941 stamp depicting a Romanian and a German soldier in reference to the two countries' common participation in Operation Barbarossa. The text below reads "the holy war against Bolshevism". Razboiul Sfant Contra Bolsevismului (1941 stamp).svg
1941 stamp depicting a Romanian and a German soldier in reference to the two countries' common participation in Operation Barbarossa. The text below reads "the holy war against Bolshevism".

On 22 June 1941, German armies with Romanian support attacked the Soviet Union. German and Romanian units conquered Bessarabia, Odessa, and Sevastopol, then marched eastward across the Russian steppes toward Stalingrad. Romania welcomed the war because they were allies with Germany. Hitler rewarded Romania's loyalty by returning Bessarabia and northern Bukovina and by allowing Romania to administer Soviet lands immediately between the Dniester and the Bug, including Odessa and Nikolaev. [9] Romanian jingoes in Odessa even distributed a geography showing that the Dacians had inhabited most of southern Russia. [1] [10] After recovering Bessarabia and Bukovina (Operation München), Romanian units fought side by side with the Germans onward to Odessa, Sevastopol, Stalingrad and the Caucasus. The total number of troops involved on the Eastern Front with the Romanian Third Army and the Romanian Fourth Army was second only to that of Nazi Germany itself. The Romanian Army had a total of 686,258 men under arms in the summer of 1941 and a total of 1,224,691 men in the summer of 1944. [11] The number of Romanian troops sent to fight in the Soviet Union exceeded that of all of Germany's other allies combined. A Country Study by the U.S. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress attributes this to a "morbid competition with Hungary to curry Hitler's favor... [in hope of]... regaining northern Transylvania." [1]

Bessarabia and the Northern Bukovina were now fully re-incorporated into the Romanian state after they had been occupied by the USSR a year earlier. As a substitute for Northern Transylvania, which had been given to Hungary following the Second Vienna Award, Hitler persuaded Antonescu in August 1941 to also take control of the Transnistria territory between the Dniester and the Southern Bug, which would also include Odessa after its eventual fall in October 1941. Although the Romanian administration set up a civil government, the Transnistria Governorate, the Romanian state had not yet formally incorporated Transnistria into its administrative framework by the time it was retaken by Soviet troops in early 1944.

Romanian armies advanced far into the Soviet Union during 1941 and 1942 before being involved in the disaster at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–43. Petre Dumitrescu, one of Romania's most important generals, was commander of the Third Army at Stalingrad. In November 1942, the German Sixth Army was briefly put at Dumitrescu's disposal during a German attempt to relieve the Third Army following the devastating Soviet Operation Uranus.

Prior to the Soviet counteroffensive at Stalingrad, the Antonescu government considered a war with Hungary over Transylvania an inevitability after the expected victory over the Soviet Union. [1] Although it was an ally of Germany, Romania's turning to the Allied side in August 1944 was rewarded by returning Northern Transylvania, which had been granted to Hungary in 1940 after the Second Vienna Award.

War comes to Romania

Air raids

American B-24 Liberator flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploiesti, as part of Operation Tidal Wave on 1 August 1943. Due to its role as a major supplier of oil to the Axis, Romania was a prime target of Allied strategic bombing in 1943 and 1944. Operation Tidal Wave in 1943.jpg
American B-24 Liberator flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploiești, as part of Operation Tidal Wave on 1 August 1943. Due to its role as a major supplier of oil to the Axis, Romania was a prime target of Allied strategic bombing in 1943 and 1944.

Throughout the Antonescu years, Romania supplied Nazi Germany and the Axis armies with oil, grain, and industrial products. [1] Also, numerous train stations in the country, such as Gara de Nord in Bucharest, served as transit points for troops departing for the Eastern Front. Consequently, by 1943 Romania became a target of Allied aerial bombardment. One of the most notable air bombardments was Operation Tidal Wave — the attack on the oil fields of Ploiești on 1 August 1943. Bucharest was subjected to intense Allied bombardment on 4 and 15 April 1944, and the Luftwaffe itself bombed the city on 24 and 25 August after the country switched sides.

Ground offensive

In February 1943, with the decisive Soviet counteroffensive at Stalingrad, it was growing clear that the tide of the war was turning against the Axis powers.

By 1944, the Romanian economy was in tatters because of the expenses of the war, and destructive Allied air bombing throughout Romania, including the capital, Bucharest. In addition, most of the products sent to Germany – such as oil, grain, and equipment – were provided without monetary compensation, as Germany refused to pay. As a result of these uncompensated exports, inflation in Romania skyrocketed. This caused widespread discontent among the Romanian population, even among those who had once enthusiastically supported the Germans and the war, and an angry relationship between Romania and Germany. [1]

Beginning in December 1943, the Soviet Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive pushed Axis forces all the way back to the Dniester by April 1944. In April–May 1944, the Romanian forces led by General Mihai Racovițǎ, together with elements of the German Eighth Army were responsible for defending northern Romania and took part in the Battles of Târgu Frumos, which David Glantz considered to be an initial Soviet attempt to invade Romania, supposedly held back by Axis defensive lines in northern Romania. The Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, launched on 20 August 1944, resulted in a quick and decisive Soviet breakthrough, collapsing the German-Romanian front in the region. Soviet forces captured Târgu Frumos and Iași on 21 August and Chișinău on 24 August 1944.

The Holocaust

See also Responsibility for the Holocaust (Romania), Antonescu and the Holocaust , Porajmos#Persecution in other Axis countries .
Sephardic Temple in Bucharest after it was plundered and set on fire in 1941 Templul evreilor spanioli din Bucuresti.jpg
Sephardic Temple in Bucharest after it was plundered and set on fire in 1941

According to an international commission report released by the Romanian government in 2004, between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were murdered or died in various forms on Romanian soil, in the war zones of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and in the occupied Soviet territories under Romanian's control (Transnistria Governorate). Of the 25,000 Romani deported, who were deported to concentration camps in Transnistria, 11,000 died. [12]

Though much of the killing was committed in the war zone by Romanian and German troops, there were also substantial persecutions behind the front line. During the Iaşi pogrom of June 1941, over 13,000 Jews were massacred or killed slowly in trains traveling back and forth across the countryside.

Half of the estimated 270,000 to 320,000 Jews living in Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Dorohoi County in Romania were murdered or died between June 1941 and the spring of 1944, of which between 45,000 and 60,000 Jews were killed in Bessarabia and Bukovina by Romanian and German troops, within months of the entry of the country into the war during 1941. Even after the initial killings, Jews in Moldavia, Bukovina and Bessarabia were subject to frequent pogroms, and were concentrated into ghettos from which they were sent to Transnistria, including camps built and run by the Romanian authorities.

Romanian soldiers and gendarmes also worked with the Einsatzkommandos , German killing squads, tasked with massacring Jews and Roma in conquered territories, the local Ukrainian militia, and the SS squads of local Ukrainian Germans (Sonderkommando Russland and Selbstschutz). Romanian troops were in large part responsible for the Odessa massacre, in which from October 18, 1941, until mid-March 1942, Romanian soldiers in Odessa, aided by gendarmes and police, killed up to 25,000 Jews and deported more than 35,000. [12]

The number of deaths in all areas is not certain, but the lowest respectable estimates run to about 250,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma in these eastern regions.

Nonetheless, most Jews living within the pre-Barbarossa borders survived the war, although they were subject to a wide range of harsh conditions, including forced labor, financial penalties, and discriminatory laws. Jewish property was nationalized.

The report commissioned and accepted by the Romanian government in 2004 on the Holocaust concluded: [12]

Of all the allies of Nazi Germany, Romania bears responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than any country other than Germany itself. The murders committed in Iasi, Odessa, Bogdanovka, Domanovka, and Peciora, for example, were among the most hideous murders committed against Jews anywhere during the Holocaust. Romania committed genocide against the Jews. The survival of Jews in some parts of the country does not alter this reality.

The royal coup

King Michael I of Romania led the coup that put Romania on the Allied side. Mihai.jpg
King Michael I of Romania led the coup that put Romania on the Allied side.

On 23 August 1944, with the Red Army penetrating German defenses during the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, King Michael I of Romania led a successful coup against the Axis with support from opposition politicians, most of the army and Communist-led civilians. [13] Michael I, who was initially considered to be not much more than a figurehead, was able to successfully depose the Antonescu dictatorship. The King then offered a non-confrontational retreat to German ambassador Manfred von Killinger. But the Germans considered the coup "reversible" and attempted to turn the situation around by military force. The Romanian First, Second (forming), and what little was left of the Third and the Fourth Armies (one corps) were under orders from the King to defend Romania against any German attacks. King Michael offered to put the Romanian Army, which at that point had a strength of nearly 1,000,000 men, [14] on the side of the Allies. Stalin immediately recognized the king and the restoration of the conservative Romanian monarchy. [15]

In a radio broadcast to the Romanian nation and army on the night of 23 August King Michael issued a cease-fire, [13] proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of an armistice (to be signed on September 12) [16] offered by Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany. [17] The coup accelerated the Red Army's advance into Romania, but did not avert a rapid Soviet occupation and capture of about 130,000 Romanian soldiers, who were transported to the Soviet Union, where many perished in prison camps. The armistice was signed three weeks later on 12 September 1944, on terms virtually dictated by the Soviet Union. [13] Under the terms of the armistice, Romania announced its unconditional surrender [18] to the USSR and was placed under occupation of the Allied forces with the Soviet Union as their representative, in control of media, communication, post, and civil administration behind the front. [13] Some attribute the postponement of a formal Allied recognition of the de facto change of orientation until 12 September (the date the armistice was signed in Moscow) to the complexities of the negotiations between the USSR and UK. [19]

Nicolae Ceausescu and others welcome the Red Army as it enters Bucharest on 30 August 1944 1944soviet1.png
Nicolae Ceaușescu and others welcome the Red Army as it enters Bucharest on 30 August 1944

During the Moscow Conference in October 1944 Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, proposed an agreement to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin on how to split up Eastern Europe into spheres of influence after the war. The Soviet Union was offered a 90% share of influence in Romania. [20]

The Armistice Agreement of 12 September stipulated in Article 18 that "An Allied Control Commission will be established which will undertake until the conclusion of peace the regulation of and control over the execution of the present terms under the general direction and orders of the Allied (Soviet) High Command, acting on behalf of the Allied Powers". The Annex to Article 18 made clear that "The Romanian Government and their organs shall fulfil all instructions of the Allied Control Commission arising out of the Armistice Agreement." The Agreement also stipulated that the Allied Control Commission would have its seat in Bucharest. In line with Article 14 of the Armistice Agreement, two Romanian People's Tribunals were set up to try suspected war criminals. [21]

Campaign against the Axis

Romanian operations against the Axis WWII Southern Central Europe 1944-1945.png
Romanian operations against the Axis

As the country declared war on Germany on the night of 23 August 1944, border clashes between Hungarian and Romanian troops erupted almost immediately. On 24 August, German troops attempted to seize Bucharest and suppress Michael's coup, but were repelled by the city's defenses, which received some support from the United States Air Force.[ citation needed ] Other Wehrmacht units in the country suffered severe losses: remnants of the Sixth Army retreating west of the Prut River were cut off and destroyed by the Red Army, which was now advancing at an even greater speed, while Romanian units attacked German garrisons at the Ploiești oilfields, forcing them to retreat to Hungary. The Romanian Army captured over 50,000 German prisoners around this time, who were later surrendered to the Soviets. [22]

In early September, Soviet and Romanian forces entered Transylvania and captured the towns of Brașov and Sibiu while advancing toward the Mureș River. Their main objective was Cluj (Cluj-Napoca), a city regarded as the historical capital of Transylvania. However, the Second Hungarian Army was present in the region, and together with the Eighth German Army engaged the Allied forces on 5 September in what was to become the Battle of Turda, which lasted until 8 October and resulted in heavy casualties for both sides.[ citation needed ] Also around this time, the Hungarian Army carried out its last independent offensive action of the war, penetrating Arad County in western Romania. Despite initial success, a number of ad hoc Romanian cadet battalions managed to stop the Hungarian advance at the Battle of Păuliș, and soon a combined Romanian-Soviet counterattack overwhelmed the Hungarians, who gave ground and evacuated Arad itself on 21 September.[ citation needed ]

The Romanian Army ended the war fighting against the Wehrmacht alongside the Red Army in Transylvania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, from August 1944 until the end of the war in Europe. In May 1945, the First and Fourth armies took part in the Prague Offensive. The Romanian Army incurred heavy casualties fighting Nazi Germany. Of some 538,000 Romanian soldiers who fought against the Axis in 1944–45, some 167,000 were killed, wounded or went missing. [23]

LocationBeginningEndPersonnelCasualties
(KIA, WIA, MIA)
Mountains crossedRivers crossedLiberated villagesFrom which townsLosses
of the enemy
Romania 1944-08-231945-05-12>275,000 (538,000)58,3303,83131167,000 KIA, WIA
Materiel
Hungary 1944-10-081945-01-15210,00042,700341,2371421,045 POW
9,700 KIA
? WIA
Materiel
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 1944-12-181945-05-12248,43066,4951041,7223122,803 KIA, WIA, POW
Alpine and Danube Reichsgaue 1945–04-101945-05-122,000100714,000 KIA, WIA, POW
Materiel
TOTAL1944-08-231945-05-12538,536169,82220123,82153117,798 POW
18,731 KIA
LEGEND: KIA = Killed in Action; MIA = Missing in Action; WIA = Wounded in Action; POW = Prisoners of war. [24] [25] [26]

Aftermath

Map of Romania after World War II indicating lost territories. Romania WWII.png
Map of Romania after World War II indicating lost territories.

Under the 1947 Treaty of Paris, [27] the Allies did not acknowledge Romania as a co-belligerent nation but instead applied the term "ally of Hitlerite Germany" to all recipients of the treaty's stipulations. Like Finland, Romania had to pay $300 million to the Soviet Union as war reparations. However, the treaty specifically recognized that Romania switched sides on 24 August 1944, and therefore "acted in the interests of all the United Nations". As a reward, Northern Transylvania was, once again, recognized as an integral part of Romania, but the border with the USSR and Bulgaria was fixed at its state in January 1941, restoring the pre-Barbarossa status quo (with one exception). Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Eastern territories became part of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

In Romania proper, Soviet occupation following World War II facilitated the rise of the Communist Party as the main political force, leading ultimately to the forced abdication of the King and the establishment of a single-party people's republic in 1947.

Major battles and campaigns

This is a list of battles and other combat operations in World War II in which Romanian forces took part.

BattleDateLocationRomania and its alliesEnemiesIssue
Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina 28 June – 3 July 1940Romania Flag of Romania.svg National Legionary State Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Legionnaires' rebellion and Bucharest pogrom 21–23 January 1941RomaniaFlag of Romania.svg  Romanian government Flag of the Legionary Movement.png Iron Guard Victory
As part of the Axis (1941–1944)
Operation Barbarossa 22 June – 5 December 1941 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Raid on Constanța 26 June 1941RomaniaFlag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Operation München 2–26 July 1941RomaniaFlag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Battle of Uman 15 July – 8 August 1941 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Siege of Odessa 8 August – 16 October 1941 Soviet Union Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Battle of the Sea of Azov September 1941 – August 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Siege of Sevastopol 30 October 1941 – 4 July 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Italy
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Battle of Rostov 21 – 27 November 1941 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Second Battle of Kharkov 12 – 28 May 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Italy
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Case Blue 28 June – 24 November 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Battle of the Caucasus 25 July 1942 – 12 May 1944 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Italy
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Battle of Stalingrad 23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Operation Uranus 19 – 23 November 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Operation Winter Storm 12 – 23 December 1942 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Operation Little Saturn 12 December 1942 – 18 February 1943 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Operation Tidal Wave 1 August 1943RomaniaFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States Victory
Donbass Strategic Offensive 13 August – 22 September 1943 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Battle of the Dnieper 24 August – 23 December 1943 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Kerch-Eltigen Operation November 1943 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive 24 December 1943 – 14 April 1944 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Uman–Botoșani Offensive 5 March – 17 April 1944 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive 8 April – 6 June 1944 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Victory
Crimean Offensive 8 April – 12 May 1944 Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Lublin-Brest Offensive 18 July – 2 August 1944Belarus/PolandFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Defeat
Jassy–Kishinev Offensive (First phase)20–23 August 1944RomaniaFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Switched sides
As part of the Allies (1944–1945)
Jassy–Kishinev Offensive (Second phase)23–29 August 1944RomaniaFlag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
aerial support:
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Battle of Turda 5 September – 8 October 1944RomaniaFlag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Battle of Păuliș 14–19 September 1944RomaniaFlag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg  Hungary Victory
Battle of Debrecen 6–29 October 1944 Hungary Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Battle of Carei 21–25 October 1944 Hungary Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Flag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg  Hungary Victory
Budapest Offensive 29 October 1944 – 13 February 1945 Hungary Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Siege of Budapest 29 December 1944 – 13 February 1945 Hungary Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Bratislava–Brno Offensive 25 March – 5 May 1945 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakia Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory
Prague Offensive 6–11 May 1945 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany Victory

Romanian armament during World War II

Modern non-self-propelled weapons

The list below displays the modern (designed and built after the end of World War I) infantry weapons and artillery pieces used by the Romanian Army during World War II.

Tanks

The list below comprises the models and numbers of Romanian Army tanks of all types in service as of 19 July 1944: [41]

A Romanian TACAM T-60 during the National Day parade, 10 May 1943. TACAM T-60.jpg
A Romanian TACAM T-60 during the National Day parade, 10 May 1943.
The Maresal tank destroyer (prototype M-05), the best-known Romanian-built armored vehicle of the war, was in service with the M Battalion of the 2nd Armored Regiment from May to October 1944 Maresal tank destroyer.jpg
The Mareşal tank destroyer (prototype M-05), the best-known Romanian-built armored vehicle of the war, was in service with the M Battalion of the 2nd Armored Regiment from May to October 1944
NameTypeCountry of OriginQuantity
FT-17 Light tankFlag of France (1794-1958).svg  France 62
R-1 TanketteFlag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czechoslovakia 14
R-35 Light tankFlag of France (1794-1958).svg  France 30
R-35/45 Tank destroyerFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 30
R-2 Light tankFlag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czechoslovakia 44
T-38 Light tankFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 19
T-3 Medium tankFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 2
T-4 Medium tankFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 81
TACAM T-60 Tank destroyerFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 34
TACAM R-2 Tank destroyerFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 20
TAs Assault gunFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 60
Mareşal Tank destroyerFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 7
STZ TanketteFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 34

Air force

See also

Related Research Articles

This article covers the history and bibliography of Romania and links to specialized articles.

Ion Antonescu Prime minister and Conducător of Romania during World War II

Ion Antonescu was a Romanian military officer and marshal who presided over two successive wartime dictatorships as Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II.

Axis powers Alliance of countries in World War II

The Axis powers, originally called the Rome–Berlin Axis, was a military coalition that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.

Kingdom of Romania kingdom in Southeastern Europe between 1881 and 1947

The Kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy that existed in Romania from 13 March (O.S.) / 25 March 1881 with the crowning of prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as King Carol I, until 1947 with the abdication of King Michael I of Romania and the Romanian parliament's proclamation of Romania as a putative socialist people's republic.

Mihai Antonescu

Mihai Antonescu was a Romanian politician who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during World War II.

Northern Transylvania Region of Romania that became part of Hungary in 1940; returned to Romania in 1944

Northern Transylvania was the region of the Kingdom of Romania that during World War II, as a consequence of the August 1940 territorial agreement known as the Second Vienna Award, became part of the Kingdom of Hungary. With an area of 43,104 km2 (16,643 sq mi), the population was largely composed of both ethnic Romanians and Hungarians.

Transnistria Governorate Territory in southwest Ukraine conquered by the Axis Powers and administered by Romania (1941-44)

The Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian-administered territory between the Dniester and Southern Bug, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944. Limited in the west by the Dniester river, in the east by the Southern Bug river, and in the south by the Black Sea, it comprised the present-day region of Transnistria and territories further east, including the Black Sea port of Odessa, which became the administrative capital of Transnistria during World War II.

Second Jassy–Kishinev offensive Military offensive

The second Jassy–Kishinev operation, named after the two major cities, Iași ("Jassy") and Chișinău ("Kishinev"), in the staging area, was a Soviet offensive against Axis forces, which took place in Eastern Romania from 20 to 29 August 1944 during World War II. The 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts of the Red Army engaged Army Group South Ukraine, which consisted of combined German and Romanian formations, in an operation to reoccupy Bessarabia and destroy the Axis forces in the region, opening the way into Romania and the Balkans.

Siege of Odessa (1941)

The siege of Odessa, known to the Soviets as the defence of Odessa, lasted from 8 August until 16 October 1941, during the early phase of Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II.

Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina 1940 Soviet annexation of territory in northeast Romania; Moldavian SSR established

The Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina took place from June 28 to July 4, 1940, as a result of the ultimatum by the Soviet Union to Romania on June 26, 1940, that threatened the use of force. Bessarabia had been part of the Kingdom of Romania since the time of the Russian Civil War and Bukovina since the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, and Hertza was a district of the Romanian Old Kingdom. Those regions, with a total area of 50,762 km2 (19,599 sq mi) and a population of 3,776,309 inhabitants, were incorporated into the Soviet Union. On October 26, 1940, six Romanian islands on the Chilia branch of the Danube, with an area of 23.75 km2 (9.17 sq mi), were also occupied by the Soviet Army.

Romanian armies in the Battle of Stalingrad

Two Romanian armies, the Third and the Fourth, were involved in the Battle of Stalingrad, helping to protect the northern and southern flanks respectively, of the German 6th Army as it tried to conquer the city of Stalingrad defended by the Soviet Red Army in mid to late 1942. Overpowered and poorly equipped, these forces were unable to stop the Soviet November offensive, which punched through both flanks and left the 6th Army encircled in Stalingrad. The Romanians suffered enormous losses, which effectively ended their offensive capability on the Eastern Front for the remainder of the war.

National Legionary State

The National Legionary State was a totalitarian fascist regime which governed Romania for five months, from 14 September 1940 until its official dissolution on 14 February 1941. The regime was led by General Ion Antonescu in partnership with the Iron Guard, the Romanian ultranationalist, antisemitic and anti-communist organisation. Though the Iron Guard had been in the Romanian Government since 28 June 1940, on 14 September it achieved dominance, leading to the proclamation of the National Legionary State.

Arms industry in Romania

Before 1989, Romania was among the top ten arms exporters in the world, however its arms industry declined considerably during the 1990s. Exports fell from roughly $1 billion before 1989 to about $43 million in 2006, and the number of employees also fell from 220,000 in 1990 to 20,000 in 2009. Sales to the Romanian Armed Forces have plunged after Romania's accession to NATO in 2004, as factories continue to produce Warsaw Pact-caliber weapons and ammunition, which are incompatible with their Western counterparts.

Operation München

Operation München was the Romanian codename of a joint German-Romanian offensive during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, with the primary objective of recapturing Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and the Hertza region, ceded by Romania to the Soviet Union a year before. The operation concluded successfully after 24 days of fighting. Axis formations involved included the Romanian Third and the Fourth Armies and the German Eleventh Army. The invasion was followed by a genocide against the Jewish population of Bessarabia.

Ion Gigurtu

Ion Gigurtu was a far-right Romanian politician, Land Forces officer, engineer and industrialist who served a brief term as Prime Minister from 4 July to 4 September 1940, under the personal regime of King Carol II. A specialist in mining and veteran of both the Second Balkan War and World War I, he made a fortune in interwar Greater Romania. Gigurtu began his career in politics with the People's Party (PP) and the National Agrarian Party, moving closer to the far right during the 1930s, and serving as Minister of Industry and Commerce in the cabinet of Octavian Goga. Shortly after the start of World War II, Gigurtu was affiliated with King Carol's National Renaissance Front, serving as Public Works and Communications Minister and Foreign Minister under Premier Gheorghe Tătărescu, before the territorial losses incurred by Romania in front of the Soviet Union propelled him as Tătărescu's replacement.

Southern Transylvania was a region of the Kingdom of Romania between 1940 and 1944, during World War II. The region of Transylvania, belonging entirely to Romania when the war started in 1939, was split in 1940 between Romania and Hungary, with the latter taking Northern Transylvania in the aftermath of the Second Vienna Award.

During the Second World War, the Kingdom of Romania produced, converted or significantly improved a variety of armored fighting vehicles, ranging from licence-built unarmed artillery tractors to tank destroyers of an original design which ended up - according to some accounts - as inspiration for some German AFV.

Territorial evolution of Romania History of Romanias borders and territories

The territorial evolution of Romania includes all the changes in the country's borders from its formation to the present day. The precedents of Romania as an independent state can be traced back to the 14th century, when the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were founded. Wallachia during its history lost several portions of its territory, either to the Ottomans or the Habsburgs. However, this land would be later essentially recovered in its entirety. Moldavia, on the other hand, suffered great territorial losses. In 1775, the Habsburgs invaded Bukovina and annexed it, and in 1812, the Russian Empire took control of Bessarabia. Both territories were later exposed to powerful colonization policies. The principalities declared unification in 1859 as the Principality of Romania. This new state sought independence from the Ottoman Empire's vassalage, and in 1878, it fought a war against it alongside Russia. However, the latter would annex Southern Bessarabia, which was recovered decades before. Romania received Northern Dobruja as compensation, and would wage a war for the southern part against Bulgaria in 1913.

Bukovina Governorate Romanian autonomous province during World War II

The Bukovina Governorate was an administrative unit of Romania during the Second World War.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 U.S. government Country study: Romania, c. 1990. PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. Third Axis Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, by Mark Axworthy, Cornel Scafeş and Cristian Crăciunoiu, page 9
  3. Axworthy, p. 12
  4. 1 2 Axworthy, p. 13
  5. Axworthy, p. 22
  6. Henig, Ruth (2013). The Origins of the Second World War 1933–1941. Routledge. pp. 92–93. ISBN   9781134319879.
  7. Michael Alfred Peszke. The Polish Underground Army, the Western Allies and the Failure of Strategic Unity in World War II, McFarland, 2005, ISBN   0-7864-2009-X
  8. Țiu, Ilarion. (2010). The legionary movement after Corneliu Codreanu : from the dictatorship of King Carol II to the communist regime (February 1938 – August 1944). East European Monographs. pp. 184–186. ISBN   978-0-88033-659-8. OCLC   630496676.
  9. Vladimir Solonari, A satellite empire: Romanian rule in southwestern Ukraine, 1941–1944 (2019).
  10. Bachman, Ronald D.; Keefe, Eugene K. Area handbook for Romania; Library of Congress. Federal Research Division (1991). Romania : a country study. The Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. : The Division : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O. pp.  41.PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. Axworthy, Mark; Scafes, Cornel; Craciunoiu, Cristian (editors) (1995). Third axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces In the European War 1941–1945. London: Arms & Armour Press. pp. 1–368. ISBN   963-389-606-1.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. 1 2 3 International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania (November 11, 2004). "Executive Summary: Historical Findings and Recommendations" (PDF). Final Report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania. Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority). Retrieved 2012-05-17.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Country Studies: Romania, Chap. 23, Library of Congress
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2011-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. Deutscher, Stalin. 1967, p. 519
  16. (in Romanian) Delia Radu, "Serialul 'Ion Antonescu și asumarea istoriei' (3)", BBC Romanian edition, August 1, 2008
  17. (in Romanian) "The Dictatorship Has Ended and along with It All Oppression" – From The Proclamation to The Nation of King Michael I on The Night of August 23 1944 Archived 2016-02-28 at the Wayback Machine , Curierul Național , August 7, 2004
  18. "King Proclaims Nation's Surrender and Wish to Help Allies", The New York Times , August 24, 1944
  19. (in Romanian) Constantiniu, Florin, O istorie sinceră a poporului român ("An Honest History of the Romanian People"), Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1997, ISBN   973-9243-07-X
  20. European Navigator: The division of Europe
  21. "The Armistice Agreement with Romania". Archived from the original on August 20, 2016.
  22. (in Romanian) Florin Mihai, "Sărbătoarea Armatei Române" Archived 2013-06-16 at the Wayback Machine , Jurnalul Național , October 25, 2007
  23. Third Axis Fourth Ally, p. 214
  24. (in Romanian)Teroarea horthysto-fascistă în nord-vestul României, București, 1985
  25. (in Romanian) Romulus Dima, Contribuția României la înfrângerea Germaniei fasciste, București, 1982
  26. Armata Română în al Doilea Război Mondial/Romanian Army in World War II, Editura Meridiane, București, 1995, ISBN   973-33-0329-1.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 29
  28. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 76
  29. 1 2 3 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 75
  30. Mark Axworthy, Osprey Publishing, 1991, The Romanian Army of World War II, p. 42
  31. John Walter, Greenhill Books, 2004, Guns of the Third Reich, p. 86
  32. 1 2 3 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, pp. 29-30 and 75
  33. 1 2 3 Great Britain. Foreign Office, Ministry of Economic Warfare, 1944, Rumania Basic Handbook, p. 27
  34. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 147
  35. 1 2 3 4 5 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 30
  36. 1 2 Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, pp. 30 and 75
  37. American Military Institute, 1996, The Journal of Military History, Volume 60, p. 720
  38. 1 2 3 Ronald L. Tarnstrom, Trogen Books, 1998, Balkan Battles, p. 407
  39. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, pp. 149 and 235-237
  40. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, pp. 153 and 219
  41. Mark Axworthy, London: Arms and Armour, 1995, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 232

Further reading

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ .

Military and political history

Holocaust