1918-1924 World War II

Rumania 1924-1941

Foreign Policy . Rumania continued her defensive alliances with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (Little Entente) and with Poland. In 1927 Romania and the Papal See signed a concordat. In 1930, Romania signed a commercial treaty with Italy, which at the time was interpreted as a Romanian attempt to counterbalance French hegemony on the Balkans (NIYB 1930). In 1934 Romania, Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey signed the Balkan Pact, while, a.o., Bulgaria, Hungary and the USSR refused to do so; the attempt to have the states of the region recognize the existing (post-WW II) borders thus failed. In 1934, Romania and the USSR established diplomatic relations; in 1935 the USSR returned the Romanian treasures and archives which had been sent to Russia in 1917 to prevent them from falling into German hands.
In December 1937 to February 1938, Romania had an openly pro-German cabinet advocating Romania to abandon the Little Entente and instead enter in alliances with Italy and Poland, while King Carol (foreign policy was royal prerogative) assured France and the world of her adherence to treaties and alliances Romania had engaged in. Nonetheless, Germany and Italy on one side, France and Britain on the other, vied for influence in Romania.
The year 1938 saw the collapse of the system established at the Paris Peace Conference : the Munich Pact resulted in the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Rumania was unable to defend itself against countries such as Germany and the USSR, depended on the protection of France. On the other hand, it was extraordinarily attractive for any European belligerent to control, because it offered rich mineral deposits and central Europe's only oil fields of importance - the Ploesti Oil Fields.
On August 23rd 1939 the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed. In a secret memorandum added to it, both countries delimited their mutual spheres of interest; Germany recognized the USSR's claim on Bessarabia and the Northern Bukovina. On June 25th 1940, France's forces surrendered to the Germans. Rumania had no prospect of outside help. Now Germany and the USSR pressed Rumania for territorial concessions; Rumania ceded Bessarabia and the Northern Bukovina to the USSR, Northern Transylvania to Hungary and the Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria.
King Carol II. abdicated, succeeded by King Michael I.

The Economy . under the liberal cabinet of Ion Bratianu (1922-1926) the Romanian economy overcame the problems of the post-war crisis. Exports increased, grain and oil being the most important items. In 1927 tariffs for imports were raised. In 1929 regulations were passed regarding the construction of highways. In 1930 Romania signed commercial treaties with Italy and the U.S.A., in the latter granting and receiving MFN status. The Great Depression affected Romania; in 1931 it was behind on payments, in 1932 a general moratorium on government payments was declared; cabinets changed quickly. Prices for agricultural products - Romania's main export goods - dropped by 56 % between 1929 and 1934. In 1935 the government began to subsidize exports, while imports were regulated; Romania defaulted on its financial obligations to foreign creditors.
Following the dismissal of a pro-German cabinet minister and the appointment of a pro-French minister instead in 1936, both Czechoslovakia and France granted financial credits to Romania. The Anti-Semitic legislation passed in early 1938 affected Romania's economy, which was "largely controlled by the 828,000 Jews" of Romania (FW YB 1938). In 1939, Romania signed economic agreements with Germany (March) and Britain (May), which resulted in Romania being granted further credits.
In 1924, Romania produced 1.91 million metric tons of wheat, in 1931 a record 3.68 million metric tons, in 1932 1.51 million metric tons, in 1939 4.45 million metric tons, in 1940 1.37 million metric tons (IHS pp.293-294).
In 1924, Romania produced 1.9 million metric tons of crude petroleum, in 1936 a record 8.7 million, in 1941 5.5 million (IHS p.426).

Domestic Affairs . In 1927/1930 C.Z. Codreanu founded the Iron Guard, a nationalistic, anti-Semitic militia responsible for occasional riots and assassinations. In 1927 King Ferdinand died; his son Carol had been excluded from succession because of his lifestyle. In 1927-1928, massive peasant demonstrations resulted in the 'bloodless revolution' of 1928 - the resignation of the National Liberal Party cabinet headed by Vintila Bratianu and the formation of a National Peasants Party cabinet under I. Maniu.
King Michael I., only 9 years old, was deposed in 1930; King Carol II. assumed the throne and began a Personal Regime, ruling through dependent cabinets. In 1934, foreign influence on Romanian domestic policy increased; the Iron Guard was openly pro-German; French influence resulted in the resignation of minister of education C. Angelescu. In 1935 Codreanu dared to threaten King Carol with assassination in case Romanian forces were to fight along their Little Entente allies.
While the pro-German forces in Romania were numerically stronger, statements by the German and Italian governments supporting Hungarian territorial claims in Transylvania strengthened the pro-French camp in Romania (1935). In 1937 Freemasonry was banned. Socialist trade unions were dissolved in 1938. The cabinet O. Goga (Dec. 1937 - Feb. 1938) implemented a Romanian version of race laws, depriving the Romanian Jews of their Romanian citizenship, barring them from holding public office etc. In February 1938 King Carol II. dismissed the Goga cabinet, established a Royal Dictatorship; the constitution was suspended, all parties dissolved, the Iron Guard banned, its leader Corneliu Codreanu convicted (he was assassinated soon after). Martial law was declared, censorship introduced. A new constitution, granting the king dictatorial powers, was approved by referendum (Feb. 24th 1938). The position of the ethnic minorities was improved.

Cultural History . In 1935, the Retezat Mountains were declared Romania's first national park.
Romanian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics of Paris 1924, Amsterdam 1928 and Berlin 1936. Romania did not send a team to the Summer Games at Los Angeles 1932.

The Iron Guard, from The Culture of Fascism in 20th Century Europe at Claremont McKenna
Article Relations with Romania, from Encyclopedia of Russian History
Articles Category : Romanian Monarchs, Category : Defunct Political Parties in Romania, Category : Prime Ministers of Romania, Kingdom of Romania, Iron Guard, Category : People assassinated by the Iron Guard, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Balkan Pact, Little Entente, Romania at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Romania at the 1936 Summer Olympics, from Wikipedia
150 Years of the Romanian Petroleum Industry, from SPE
Independent Romania, from Jewish Virtual Library
Hikmet Öksüz, The Reflections of the Balkan Pact in Turkish and European Public Opinion, in : Turkish Review of Balkan Studies 2007 pp.147-171
DOCUMENTS Rumanian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
Pact of Organisation of the Little Entente, signed at Geneva, February 16, 1933, posted by Ungarisches Institut
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Hübner's Weltstatistik, 73. issue, edited by Ernst Rösner, Wien 1939, in German [G]
Chapter XXX : Carol, Lupescu and Rumania, pp.438-452, in : John Gunther, Inside Europe, 1940 war edition, NY : Harper & Bros. 1940 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1925 pp.1238-1246, 1926 pp.1200-1209, 1928 pp.1235-1243, 1929 pp.1212-1221, 1932 pp.1232-1240, 1937 pp.1264-1274 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Americana Annual 1927 pp.767-768, 1928 pp.697-698, 1930 pp.686-688, 1931 pp.677-679, 1932 pp.637-639, 1933 pp.686-688, 1934 pp.526-527, 1935 pp.636-638, 1936 pp.651-653, 1937 pp.631-632, 1938 pp.616-617, 1939 pp.686-687, 1940 pp.687-689 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : New International Year Book 1925 pp.617-618, 1928 pp.665-666, 1930 pp.689-691, 1932 pp.735-737, 1933 pp.730-732, 1934 pp.632-634, 1935 pp.649-651, 1938 pp.660-663, 1939 pp.686-689, Events of 1940 pp.664-667 [G]
Article : Roumania, in : New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 pp.462-463, 1933 pp.455-457, 1934 pp.467-469, 1935 pp.464-465, 1936 pp.438-440, 1937 pp.442-444, 1938 pp.445-447, Rumania 1939 pp.465-467, 1940 pp.466-467 [G]

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First posted on April 27th 2002, last revised on June 6th 2008

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