1924-1941 1944-1948

Rumania in World War II, 1941-1945

Administration . King Michael I. ruled from 1940 to 1947. No general elections were held between 1938 and 1945.
The period from 1940 to 1941 is referred to as the National Legionary State (legionaries pertaining to the Iron Guard). PM was Marshal Ion Antonescu, from 1940 to 1944. Following the failed coup of 1941, the Iron Guard was banned.

Foreign Policy - German Alliance, War . Romania entered into an alliance with Germany (April 1941). On June 22nd 1941 the German invasion of the USSR began; Rumania, as a German ally, regained Bessarabia, the Northern Bukovina and even gained Transnistria (the land between Dnjestr and Bug Rivers, with a predominantly Ukrainian population). Rumanian forces had to fight with German ones on the Russian front. They played a prominent part in the struggle for Stalingrad.
The allied domination of the skies over Europe considerably harmed the German war effort. The allied air raid of the Ploesti oil fields deprived the Germans of critical supplies.
In 1944, the Soviet Red Army made quick progress, reaching Rumanian territory in spring. On August 23rd, Marshal Antonescu was arrested; the transition cabinet of General Sanatescu discontinued the war and permitted the German troops to freely withdraw. The Germans bombarded Bucharest, causing the Rumanian government to declare war on Germany. On September 12th, Rumania and the USSR signed an armistice in Moscow. Rumania's territorial gains in the east - the Northern Bukovina, Bessarabia and Transnistria - were all ceded to the USSR. Rumania regained Northern Transylvania; the Southern Dobrudja, however, stayed Bulgarian.

The Economy . In 1940, Romania produced 5.8 million metric tons of crude petroleum, in 1943 5.3 million, in 1944 3.5 million (IHS p.426).
In 1940, Romania produced 1.37 million metric tons of wheat, in 1941 1.98 million, in 1942 0.855 million, in 1943 2.31 million, in 1944 3.28 million (IHS p.294).
Food rationing was introduced in 1941, two breadless days per week introduced (May 1941); food prices, compared to the previous year, had risen ten-fold (NIYB 1941 p.578). In October, prices were regulated. The food shortage in Romania was attributed to food exports to Germany.
The air raids, beginning in 1943, caused significant damage to Romania's industries, most notably the oil fields near Ploesti.

Resistance . In 1941 in the London exile, a Free Romania Movement was established (NIYB 1941 pp.578-579). On January 7th, while in exile in Mexico, former King Carol II. declared his intention to assume the position Regent of Romania and of leadership of a Romanian government-in-exile which was to join the United Nations; he failed to gain recognition by the Allies (NIYB 1942 p.606).
Throughout Romania, from 1942 on, acts of sabotage were conducted (NIYB 1942 p.606).

Social History . In 1940, after the cession of Northern Transylvania, the Southern Dobruja and Bessarabia, Romania had an estimated population of 13 million (NIYB 1941 p.577), in 1944 13.7 million (Lahmeyer).

Ethnic, Religious Minorities . Romania had introduced race laws in 1938; from Antonescu's assumption of power in 1940 on, the Iron Guard took matters into her own hand and implemented pogroms against the country's Jewish population. On January 21st 1941, an Iron Guard attempted coup against Antonescu failed. The concentration of Romania's Jewish population in Ghettos began in August 1941; the deportation of Romanian Jews to annihilation camps (Auschwitz) began in August 1942. Overall, 43 % of Romania's prewar Jewish population perished in the Holocaust.
Other minorities exposed to Iron Guard brutality were Romania's Roma (Gypsies), Turks and Tatars.

Articles Michael I. of Romania, Elections in Romania, List of Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Ion Antonescu, Romania during World War II, Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom, Iasi Pogrom, History of the Jews in Romania, Bombing of Bucharest in World War II, Bombing of Rumania in World War II, Operation Tidal Wave, National Legionary State, from Wikipedia
Jewish History in Romania, from heritagefilms
The Iron Guard, from The Culture of Fascism in 20th Century Europe at Claremont McKenna
Independent Romania, from Jewish Virtual Library
Romania in World War II, from World War II Multimedia Database
DOCUMENTS Armistice Agreement with Rumania; September 12, 1944, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Rumanian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money and from Currency Museum
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
United States Holocaust Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust, NY : MacMillan 1996 [G]; pp.70-74 on Romania
Matatias Carp, Holocaust in Romania. Romania's Jews, 1940-1944, (1946) trsl. by Andrew L. Simon (2001), posted by Hungarian History, online book
Article : Rumania, in : Statesman's Year Book 1943 pp.1212-1222 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Americana Annual 1943 pp.643-645, 1944 pp.618-619 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 pp.616-617, 1945 pp.618-619 [G]
Article : Rumania, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1941 pp.431-432, 1942 pp.401-403, 1943 pp.400-401, 1944 pp.514-517 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on August 26th 2007

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