1881-1914 1918-1924

Romania in World War I

Administration . King Ferdinand I. ruled from 1914 to 1927. General elections were held in 1914 (twice) and in 1916. Ion C. Bratianu (Liberal) held the office of PM from 1914 to 1918. From 1916 to 1918, parts of Romania were under German & Austrian military occupation.

The Ethnic Map of Romania and Beyond; Romanian Irredentism . In 1914, before World War I broke out, Romania essentially consisted of three parts : Wallachia, Moldavia and the Dobruja. The first two regions had a more or less homogenious population of Romanians, sharing both the language and the Orthodox faith. The Dobrudja was an ethnic caleidoscope with an ethnically heterogenious population; there were strong Muslim elements (Turks); ethnic Romanians were a minority.
On the other hand there were large ethnic Romanian populations left outside of the Romanian kingdom : Bessarabia, i.e. the land between the Pruth and Dnjestr Rivers (historically the eastern half of the principality of Moldavia), a province of the Russian Empire since 1812; the Southern Bukovina (Austrian) and Transylvania (Hungarian). In Romania, as elsewhere, nationalists dreamt of a Rumanian state including all provinces where Romanian was the dominant language (Irredentist Policy).

Foreign Policy : Neutrality 1914-1916 . When World War I broke out in 1914, Hungarian officials feared that in case of a Romanian attack, Transylvania might easily fall to the enemy. Romania stayed neutral, and when Bulgaria entered the war in 1915, Romania reiterated her neutrality.
Foreign Policy : the War 1916-1918 . Romania entered the war in August 1916 when Romanian forces did make quick progress in Transylvania, only to be pushed back by a Central Powers offensive beginning in September. By the end of the year, all of Wallachia and much of Moldavia were occupied by German and Austrian forces, the Dobruja by Bulgarian forces.
Here the front stabilized. In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out, the ensuing turmoil greatly jeopardizing the Romanian position. On April 9th 1918 Bessarabia voted for unification with Romania. The Central Powers' spring offensive soon lead to the occupation of entire Rumania, including Bessarabia. On May 7th 1918, the Treaty of Bucharest was signed, dictated by the victorious Central Powers. Romania had to cede the Southern Dobruja, and territory in the south of the Northern Dobruja, to Bulgaria; Romania had to lease the Ploesti oil fields to Germany for 90 years.
Foreign Policy : The Final Year, 1918 . King Ferdinand I. refused to sign the Treaty of Bucharest; the latter was declared null and void by the Entente on the occasion of Germany's armistice in November 1918.

The Economy . Romania's production of wheat was 1.26 million metric tons in 1914, 2.44 million in 1915, 2.13 million in 1916, no data available for 1917, 0.58 mllion for 1918. During the occupation of Romania, the Central Powers requisitioned a large amount of grain, then shipped to Austria respectively Germany.

Social History . According to the 1913 census, Romania had 7.5 million inhabitants (NIYB 1916 p.606).
Romania's casualties in WW I, including P.O.W.s, are estimated at 300,000 to 400,000.

Articles List of Prime Ministers of Romania, Ion I.C. Bratianu, Elections in Romania, Kingdom of Romania, Ferdinand I. of Romania, Northern Dobruja, Southern Dobruja, History of Dobruja, History of Bucharest, Romanian Campaign (WW I), Treaty of Bucharest 1918, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS List of Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Historical Population Statistics : Romania, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
President Wilson's 14 Points, from Avalon Project, points X and XI referring to Rumania
Rumanian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
French propaganda postcard featuring neutral Romania : Prudence is the mother of security, 1915, from WW I Propaganda Postcards, scroll down; Artist Emil Dupuis
The Truce of Focsani, between Roumania and the Central Powers, December 9th, 1917, posted by V. Ferraro, Mt. Holyoke
Romania's Declaration of War with Austria-Hungary, 28 August 1916, from First World War.com
King Ferdinand's Proclamation to the Romanian People, 28 August 1916, from First World War.com
King Ferdinand's Proclamation to the Romanian Army, 28 August 1916, from First World War.com
Take Jonescu on Romania's Entry into the War, August 1916, from First World War.com
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg on Romania's Entry into the War, August 1916, from First World War.com
August von Mackensen Report on the Romanian Campaign, 3 March 1917, from First World War.com
German Report on the Romanian Campaign, March 1917, from First World War.com
Romanian Ambassador to U.S. on Romania's Wartime Experiences, October 1917, from First World War.com
Treaty of Bucharest, 7 May 1918, from First World War.com
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Nicolae Petrescu-Comnene, The Great War and the Romanians : Notes and Documents on World War I, 120 pages
Article : Rumania, in : New International Year Book 1914 pp.612-614, 1916 pp.606-668, 1918 pp.555-557 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on June 24th 2007

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