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|History of Romania|
The Soviet occupation of Romania refersto the period from 1944 to August 1958, during which the Soviet Union maintained a significant military presence in Romania. The fate of the territories held by Romania after 1918 that were incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 is treated separately in the article on Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
During the Eastern Front offensive of 1944, the Soviet Army occupied what had been the Kingdom of Romania prior to the military occupation. The northwestern part of Moldavia was occupied as a result of armed combat that took place between the months of April and August of that year, while Romania was still an ally of Nazi Germany. The rest of the territory was occupied after Romania changed sides in World War II, as a result of the royal coup launched by King Michael on August 23, 1944. On that date, the King announced that Romania had unilaterally ceased all military actions against the Allies, accepted the Allied armistice offer,and joined the war against the Axis Powers. As no formal armistice offer had been extended yet, the Red Army occupied most of Romania as enemy territory prior to the signing of the Moscow Armistice of September 12, 1944.
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (USSR), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
The Kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy that existed in Romania from 26 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 proclaiming Romania a socialist republic.
Military or belligerent occupation is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature, by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.
The armistice convention and eventually the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 provided a legal basis for the Soviet military presence in Romania, which lasted until 1958,reaching a peak of some 615,000 in 1946.
The Paris Peace Treaties were signed on 10 February 1947 following the end of World War II in 1945. The Paris Peace Conference lasted from 29 July until 15 October 1946. The victorious wartime Allied powers negotiated the details of peace treaties with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Finland. The treaties allowed the defeated Axis powers to resume their responsibilities as sovereign states in international affairs and to qualify for membership in the United Nations.
Soviet authors and the 1952 Constitution of Romania referred to the events of 1944 as the "liberation of Romania by the glorious Soviet Army".On the other hand, most Romanian and Western sources use the term "Soviet occupation of Romania," some applying it to the whole period from 1944 to 1958.
The 1952 Constitution of Romania, also called the "constitution of building socialism", expressed the consolidation of Communist power, featuring greater ideological content than its 1948 predecessor. A draft was written by a commission elected by the Great National Assembly on March 27, 1952, and published on July 18. By a 324-0 vote, it was adopted by the Great National Assembly on September 24, when it came into force, and published three days later.
After having withdrawn its troops from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in response to the June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum, Romania entered an alliance with Nazi Germany and declared war on the Soviet Union. Romanian troops entered World War II in 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, under the German High Command. Following the recapturing of the territory annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, Romanian troops occupied Southern Ukraine all the way to the Southern Bug. However, Romania's eastern campaign ended in disaster, notably at Stalingrad.
Bessarabia is a historical region in Eastern Europe, bounded by the Dniester river on the east and the Prut river on the west. About two thirds of Bessarabia lies within 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 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.
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.
By the end of 1943, the Red Army had regained control over most of the Soviet territory, and was advancing westward beyond the borders of USSR to defeat Nazi Germany and its allies. It was in this context that the Soviet forces crossed into Romania and occupied Northern and Eastern Moldavia.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
Moldavia is a historical region and former principality in Central and Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester River. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, Moldavia included the regions of Bessarabia, all of Bukovina and Hertza. The region of Pokuttya was also part of it for a period of time.
On August 23, 1944 King Michael launched a coup d'état, thereby overthrowing the pro-Nazi government of Ion Antonescu, and putting Romania's Army on the side of the Allies. As a result, King Michael was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne, on December 30, 1947.
The coup facilitated the advance of the Red Army into Romania at an accelerated pace,and enabled the combined Romanian and Soviet armies to liberate the country from the German occupation. In the absence of an actual signed armistice, the Soviet troops continued to treat the Romanians as a hostile force. The armistice was signed three weeks later, on September 12, 1944, "on terms Moscow virtually dictated." The coup effectively amounted to a "capitulation", an "unconditional" "surrender" to the Soviets and the rest of the Allies. In the wake of the cease fire order given by King Michael, between 114,000 and 160,000 Romanian soldiers were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets without resisting, and they were forced to march to remote detention camps, located in the Soviet Union; according to survivors interviewed in a 2004 documentary, up to a third of the prisoners perished on the way.
By September 12, the Red Army had already gained control over much of the Romanian territory. Under the terms of its Armistice Agreement with the Allies, Romania became subject to an Allied Control Commission, composed of representatives of the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom, while the Soviet military command exercised predominant, de facto authority. Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were again incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Article 3 of the Armistice Agreement with Romania(signed in Moscow on September 12, 1944), stipulated that
The Government and High Command of Rumania will ensure to the Soviet and other Allied forces facilities for free movement on Rumanian territory in any direction if required by the military situation, the Rumanian Government and High Command of Rumania giving such movement every possible assistance with their own means of communications and at their own expense on land, on water and in the air.
Article 18 of the same agreement stipulated 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.
In the Annex to Article 18, it was made clear that
The Rumanian Government and their organs shall fulfill all instructions of the Allied Control Commission arising out of the Armistice Agreement
and that The Allied Control Commission would have its seat in Bucharest.
In line with Article 14 of the Armistice Agreement, two People's Tribunals were set up for the purpose of trying suspected war criminals, one in Bucharest, and the other in Cluj.
The plenipotentiary signatories to the armistice as indicated therein were:
The effect of the Armistice Agreement ceased on September 15, 1947, when the Paris Peace Treaty with Romania entered into force. Article 21, paragraph 1 of the new treaty provided the legal foundation for continued and unlimited Soviet military presence in Romania:
Upon the coming into force of the present Treaty, all Allied Forces shall, within a period of 90 days, be withdrawn from Roumania, subject to the right of the Soviet Union to keep on Roumanian territory such armed forces as it may need for the maintenance of the lines of communication of the Soviet Army with the Soviet zone of occupation in Austria.
The Romanian delegation at the Paris Conference was headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Gheorghe Tătărescu. The Peace Treaty with Romania was signed on February 10, 1947, in the Salon de l'Horloge of the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères. On the Romanian side, the four signatories were Gheorghe Tătărescu, Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, Ștefan Voitec, and Dumitru Dămăceanu. The signatories for the Allied powers included United States Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ernest Bevin.
|May 8, 1945||80,000|
|November 1, 1945||500,000|
|January 4, 1946||420,000|
|March 1, 1946||615,000|
|June 1, 1946||400,000|
|November 1, 1946||240,000|
|1947||60,000 – 130,000|
|May 1 – July 1, 1948||35,000|
|October 1, 1948||32,000|
|July 1, 1949||28,000|
|October 1, 1949||19,000|
|January 1, 1950||32,000|
|April 1, 1950||33,000|
|September 1, 1950 –|
After the conclusion of the Armistice Agreement in 1944, Soviet troops occupied the entire territory of Romania. Estimates of troop levels vary between 750,000 and 1 million (estimates of British military officials), to between 1 and 1.5 million (estimates of the Romanian General Staff); many Western diplomats and experts refer to more than 1 million Soviet troops.
On November 8, 1945, King Michael's name day, an anti-communist demonstration in front of the Royal Palace in Bucharest was met with force, resulting in dozens of casualties. Soviet officers restrained Romanian soldiers and police from firing on civilians, and Soviet troops restored order.
The estimated strength of Soviet forces stationed in Romania (including air, navy, ground, and security troops), from VE Day to 1952, is shown in the table on the right.
During the second half of 1946, more than half of the combat capabilities of the Soviet Air Forces were residing outside the USSR, with the largest portion in Poland and Romania (2,500 planes in each country). – Slatina, Sibiu – Alba-Iulia, Constanța, and Brăila – Focșani. Troop levels reach a relatively stable level from May 1948 until October 1956: two full divisions, plus supporting units adding up to roughly a third division.The troop levels surged to a high of 615,000 in March 1946, but they were drawn down after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty in 1947. By the end of 1946, Soviet units in Romania were concentrated in five areas: Craiova
Although with the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955 the reason for the presence of Soviet troops as stated in the Paris Peace Treaties ceased to exist, Premier Gheorghiu-Dej announced that these troops would stay as long as foreign soldiers continue to be stationed in West Germany.
Soviet troops stationed in Romania participated in the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of November 1956. Soviet troop facilities inside Romania were off limits to all Romanians at the time.
|Land forces||120,000 officers and troops|
|Anti-aircraft forces||5,000 officers and troops|
|Naval forces||5,000 officers and troops|
|Air forces||8,000 officers and troops|
|Total||138,000 officers and troops|
The Soviet occupation of Romania led to a complete reorganization of the Romanian People's Army under the supervision of Soviet Army representatives. The manpower of the Romanian army was limited by the Paris peace treaty to a total of 138,000 (officers and troops); however, under the Soviet occupation it grew far beyond the limits imposed by the treaty, through increasing militarization of Romania's population. By 1953, regular army forces had grown to approximately 300,000; reserve army forces to approximately 135,000; and "interior" forces (border guards, security brigades, et al.) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior to over 325,000.
At the inception of this organizational overhaul, pro-German elements were purged from the Romanian armed forces. In 1944–45, two divisions composed of Romanian volunteers— former prisoners of war, trained in the Soviet Union during the war, and also Communist activists such as Valter Roman — were formed: the Tudor Vladimirescu Division, under the command of Colonel Nicolae Cambrea, and the Horia, Cloşca şi Crişan Division, under the command of General Mihail Lascăr (who was to serve as Minister of Defense from 1946 to 1947). These two units were to form the nucleus of the new Romanian Army under Soviet control. Once the Romanian Communist Party took the reins of power, 30% of officers and noncommissioned officers (mostly experienced soldiers, but at the same time a potential source of opposition to the Sovietization of the Army) were purged from the military.
Following the Romanian Workers' Party seizure of political power, the Sovietization of the Romanian army went into full gear, under the supervision of the new Minister of Defense, Emil Bodnăraş. This reorganization involved the adoption of the Soviet model of military and political organization, and a change of the military doctrine of combat and defense, in the context of Romania's integration into the Soviet strategic system, at the dawn of the Cold War.
Soviet officers were appointed as advisers charged with supervising the thorough reorganization of the army. They held leadership and surveillance positions in the main institutions of the state, but also in areas of lesser importance. In the beginning, they only held a few positions in the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff, and the political sections inside the army. With the passage of time, the number of Soviet advisers gradually increased, while at the same time their positions became permanent. In November 1952, there were 105 permanent and 17 temporary Soviet adviser positions in military schools. After 1955, their number began to decrease: 72 in 1955, 63 in 1956, 25 in 1957 and 10 in 1958.
After 1945, new military regulations were developed, following the templates of the Red Army, and they were finalized in 1949–1952. Consequently, a number of officers and military students were sent to the Soviet Union to complete their training. Between 1949 and 1952, 717 Romanian students were being trained in the USSR, while in 1958 471 Romanian military students were pursuing education in the USSR. Their number decreased in the following years.
Immediately following the August 23, 1944 events, communists began to infiltrate the Ministry of Internal Affairs on a large scale. The General Directorate of the Security of the People (Romanian initials: DGSP, but more commonly just called the Securitate) was officially founded on August 30, 1948 by Decree 221/30. The Securitate was set up by SMERSH, an NKVD unit charged with dismantling the existing intelligence agencies and replacing them with Soviet-style bodies in the Soviet-occupied countries of Eastern Europe. The SMERSH unit in Romania, called Brigada Mobilă, was led until 1948 by the former NKVD operative Alexandru Nicolschi. Its stated purpose was to "defend democratic conquests and guarantee the safety of the Romanian People's Republic against both internal and external enemies." The first Director of the Securitate was Soviet intelligence operative Gheorghe Pintilie. Alexandru Nicolschi (by then a general) and another Soviet officer, Major General Vladimir Mazuru, held the two deputy director positions.
The Red Army took part in the expulsion of up to 70,000 Transylvanian Saxons from Romania that was initiated in January 1945. In October 1944, the Sănătescu government, at the request of the Allied Control Commission, began arresting young Romanian citizens of German descent, who were eventually placed at the disposal of the Soviet command. At the request of the Allied Commission, the Rădescu government ordered the forced transportation by train of Transylvanian Saxons to the Soviet Union. In a protest dated January 13, 1945, the Rădescu government affirmed the Romanian government's duty to protect each of its citizens, regardless of ethnic origin, and noted the absence of a legal basis for the deportation of the Transylvanian Saxons.The expellees were gradually allowed to return to Romania between late 1945 and 1949, though it is estimated that up to 10,000 perished during the expulsion or while in the Soviet Union. Such deportations would be outlawed in 1949 by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The SovRoms were Soviet-Romanian joint ventures established on Romanian territory at the end of World War II, and lasting until 1954–1956. An agreement between the two countries regarding the establishment of these enterprises was signed in Moscow on May 8, 1945. In theory, the purpose of these ventures was to generate funding for post-war reconstruction efforts. However, their real purpose was to provide resources for the Soviet side. Generally, they were a contributing factor to the draining of Romania's resources, in addition to the war reparations demanded by the Armistice Agreement and the Paris Peace Treaties, which had been initially set at 300 million U.S. dollars. The Soviet contribution to the creation of the SovRoms consisted mostly in reselling leftover German equipment to Romania, at systematically overvalued prices. The total value of goods sent from Romania to the Soviet Union was estimated at 2 billion dollars, exceeding by far the amount of war reparations demanded by the Soviets. By 1952, 85% of Romanian exports were directed towards the Soviet Union. The last Sovrom was dissolved in 1956.
One of these companies was Sovromcuarţ, which started its operations in 1950 at the Băiţa mine in Bihor County, under a name that was meant to conceal the true object of its activity.Its initial workforce consisted of 15,000 political prisoners; after most of them died of radiation poisoning, they were replaced by local villagers, who were completely unaware of the fact that they were working with radioactive material. Romania secretly delivered 17,288 tons of uranium ore to the Soviet Union between 1952 and 1960, which was used, at least in part, in the Soviet atomic bomb project. Uranium mining continued there until 1961. All ore was shipped abroad for processing, initially to Sillamäe in Estonia; the uranium concentrate was then used exclusively by the Soviet Union.
Comparing the Soviet occupation of Romania to that of Bulgaria, David Stone notes: "Unlike Bulgaria, Romania had few cultural and historical ties with Russia, and had actually waged war on the Soviet Union. As a result, Soviet occupation weighted heavier on the Romanian people, and the troops themselves were less disciplined."
The Potsdam Agreement was the August 1945 agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory. It also addressed Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations 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.
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.
Following the termination of hostilities in World War II, the Allies were in control of the defeated Axis countries. Anticipating the defeat of Germany and Japan, they had already set up the European Advisory Commission and a proposed Far Eastern Advisory Commission to make recommendations for the post war period. Accordingly, they managed their control of the defeated countries through Allied Commissions, often referred to as Allied Control Commissions (ACC), consisting of representatives of the major Allies.
Northern Transylvania was the region of the Kingdom of Romania that during World War II, as a consequence of the 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. After World War II, the Paris Peace Treaties returned Northern Transylvania to Romania.
The Romanian Land Forces is the army of Romania, and the main component of the Romanian Armed Forces. In recent years, full professionalisation and a major equipment overhaul have transformed the nature of the Land Forces.
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.
The SovRoms were economic enterprises established in Romania following the Communist takeover at the end of World War II, in place until 1954–1956.
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The Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from June 28 – July 4, 1940, of the Romanian regions of northern Bukovina and Hertza, and of Bessarabia, a region under Romanian administration since Russian Civil War times. These regions, with a total area of 50,762 km2 (19,599 sq mi) and a population of 3,776,309 inhabitants, were subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union.
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Emil Bodnăraș was an influential Romanian Communist politician, an army officer, and a Soviet agent. He was involved in many of the events of Communist Romania, thus making him a complex figure of Romanian Communism.
Teofil Oroian is a Romanian Army officer and military historian.
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.
During World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed several countries effectively handed over by Nazi Germany in the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. These included the eastern regions of Poland, as well as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, part of eastern Finland and eastern Romania. Apart from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and post-war division of Germany, the USSR also occupied and annexed Carpathian Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia in 1945.
Romania–Russia relations are the foreign relations between Romania and Russia. Romania has an embassy in Moscow and consulates-general in Rostov-on-Don and Saint Petersburg. Russia has an embassy in Bucharest and a consulate-general in Constanţa. Historical relations have oscillated between grudging cooperation, neutrality, open hatred and hostility.
The Hungarian–Romanian War was fought between the First Hungarian Republic and the Kingdom of Romania. Hostilities began on 13 November 1918 and ended on 3 August 1919. The Romanian Army occupied eastern Hungary until 28 March 1920.