Romanian prisoners of war in the Soviet Union

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By the end of World War II the number of Romanian prisoners of war in the Soviet Union was significant, about 140,000 of them having been taken prisoner even after August 23, 1944, the date when Romania switched its alliance from the Axis Powers to the Allies.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

These prisoners of war worked in various labor camps. Some were originally from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina [ citation needed ], which were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, some were from Romania proper.

Labor camp prison

A labor camp or work camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor as a form of punishment under the criminal code. Labour camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons. Conditions at labor camps vary widely depending on the operators.


Bessarabia is a historical region in Eastern Europe, bounded by the Dniester river on the east and the Prut river on the west. Today Bessarabia is mostly part of modern-day Moldova, with the Ukrainian Budjak region covering the southern coastal region and part of the Ukrainian Chernivtsi Oblast covering a small area in the north.

Bukovina Historical region of Romania

Bukovina is a historical region, variously described as in Central or Eastern Europe. The region is located on the northern slopes of the central Eastern Carpathians and the adjoining plains, today divided between Romania and Ukraine.

For example, 6,730 Romanians worked in the Spassky camp of Karlag, in Karaganda Oblast, Kazakh SSR, [1] in Vorkuta, in Norilsk, and in other places.[ citation needed ] Spassky camp nr. 99 was established in July 1941, and was the largest POW camp in the region. While most of those prisoners were German and Japanese, over 8,000 of them were Romanian POWs. [2] Over 1,100 of those Romanian prisoners died at Spassky camp, due to the harsh conditions there. [2]


Karlag was one of the largest Gulag labor camps, located in Karaganda Oblast, Kazakh SSR, USSR. It was established in 1931 during the period of settlement of remote areas of greater USSR and its' ethnic republics. Cheap labor was in high demand for these purposes. Hundreds of thousands of inmates were creating wealth for the nation for a mere bowl of soup a day. People were arrested and transported from the West of the Aral Mountains to the gigantic labor camp in Central Kazakhstan spanning from Akmola Region in the North to the Chu River in the South. Later, after WWII, another wave of "enemies of the people" poured in from newly added territories. These were immigrants and Soviet POW's captured by Hitler's army and later "liberated" by the Soviet Army. An enormous part of Karlag inmates were political prisoners - "enemies of the people" who were victims of the Article 58 RSFSR. Over a 1,000,000 inmates served in total in Karlag over its history.

Vorkuta Town in Komi Republic, Russia

Vorkuta is a coal-mining town in the Komi Republic, Russia, situated just north of the Arctic Circle in the Pechora coal basin at the Usa River. Population: 70,548 (2010 Census); 84,917 (2002 Census); 115,646 (1989 Census).

Norilsk City in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia

Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located above the Arctic Circle, east of the Yenisei River and south of the western Taymyr Peninsula. It has a permanent population of 175,000. With temporary inhabitants included, its population reaches 220,000.

Some Romanian prisoners volunteered to fight for the Soviets; they went on to form the Tudor Vladimirescu Division under Nicolae Cambrea in October 1943, but it did not go into action until after King Michael's Coup led Romania to join the Allies. In April 1945 a second division, the Horia, Cloșca și Crișan Division led by Mihail Lascăr, was created, a mixture of prisoners and Romanian communist volunteers, but the war ended before it saw combat.

Tudor Vladimirescu Division

The Tudor Vladimirescu Division was a Soviet-organized division of Romanians that fought against Germany and Hungary during the final year of World War II.

Nicolae Cambrea (1900–1976) was a Romanian Brigadier-General during World War II. In 1942, heserved as Chief of Staff 5th Division. He was briefly a Soviet prisoner of war, but the following year joined his captors and became General Officer Commanding of the Tudor Vladimirescu Division. He was Vice Chief General Staff in 1945, Deputy General Officer Commanding 2nd Military Region in 1947, Commandant Army Instruction Center in 1948, and General Officer Commanding 3rd Military Region in 1949. Cambrea retired in 1950.

King Michaels Coup

King Michael's Coup was a coup d'état led by King Michael I of Romania during World War II on 23 August 1944. With the support of several political parties, the king removed the government of Ion Antonescu, which had aligned Romania with Nazi Germany, after the Axis front in northeastern Romania collapsed in the face of a successful Soviet offensive. The Romanian Army declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Soviet Red Army on the Moldavian front, an event viewed as decisive in the Allied advances against the Axis powers in the European theatre of World War II. The coup was supported by the Romanian Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party, and the National Peasants' Party who had coalesced into the National Democratic Block in June 1944.

An April 1946 report to Vyacheslav Molotov (see the wikisource reference) stated that in 1945, 61,662 Romanian POWs were repatriated, 20,411 took part in forming Romanian volunteer divisions, and about 50,000 more remained in labor camps. The last Romanian POW were freed in 1956. Some were arrested again by Communist Romanian authorities on their arrival in Romania "for waging war on the Soviet Union", and sent to Sighet prison. [2]

Vyacheslav Molotov Soviet politician and diplomat

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik, and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin. Molotov served as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (Premier) from 1930 to 1941, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956. He served as First Deputy Premier from 1942 to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev. Molotov was removed from all positions in 1961 after several years of obscurity.

Wikisource Wikimedia project, an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki

Wikisource is an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikisource is the name of the project as a whole and the name for each instance of that project ; multiple Wikisources make up the overall project of Wikisource. The project's aims are to host all forms of free text, in many languages, and translations. Originally conceived as an archive to store useful or important historical texts, it has expanded to become a general-content library. The project officially began in November 24, 2003 under the name Project Sourceberg, a play on the famous Project Gutenberg. The name Wikisource was adopted later that year and it received its own domain name seven months later. The project has come under criticism for lack of reliability but it is also cited by organisations such as the National Archives and Records Administration.

On September 9, 2003, a granite monument was inaugurated at the Spassky camp cemetery by then-Romanian President Ion Iliescu. [3] It bears the inscription " In memoriam . To those over 900 Romanian prisoners of war who died in Stalinist camps in central Kazakhstan in 19411950." [4]

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

President of Romania position

The President of Romania is the head of state of Romania. The President is directly elected by a two-round system for a five-year term. An individual may serve two terms. During his/her term in office, the President may not be a member of any political party.

Ion Iliescu Romanian politician

Ion Iliescu is a Romanian politician who served as President of Romania from 1989 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004. From 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 until his retirement in 2008, Iliescu was a senator for the Social Democratic Party (PSD), of which he is honorary president.

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  1. Frank Gordon, "Latvians and Jews between Germany and Russia", Memento, Stockholm, 1990 ISBN   91-87114-08-9, page 81 (in Swedish and English)
  2. 1 2 3 (in Romanian) Alexandra Olivotto, "Prizonieri români in Kazahstan" (Romanian prisoners in Kazakhstan), Cotidianul , April 14, 2006
  3. (in Romanian) "Istorie şi Destin - Prezenţa Românilor în Kazahstan" (History and destiny - Romanian presence in Kazakhstan), Observatorul, Toronto, January 15, 2007
  4. (in Romanian) Vasile Soare, "Prizonierii militari şi civili români detinuţi in lagărele de concentrare staliniste de pe teritoriul regiunii Karaganda, Kazahstan, in perioada 1941-1950", The Epoch Times , March 14, 2006

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