Wwii

I n the years leading up to WWII, Romania, under the able guidance of loreign minister Nicolae Titulescu, sought security in an alliance with Trance and Britain, and joined Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in the Little Entente. Romania also signed a Balkan Pact with Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece, and later established diplomatic relations with the IISSR. These efforts were weakened by the Western powers' appeasement of Hitler and by Romania's own King Carol II.

Carol II succeeded his father Ferdinand I to the throne. Extreme right-wing parties opposed to a democratic regime emerged, notably the anti-Semitic League of the National Christian Defense which consequently gave birth to the Legion of the Archangel Michael in 1927. This notorious breakaway faction, better known as the fascist Iron Guard, was led by Corneliu Codreanu and by 1935 dominated the political scene.

Finding himself unable to manipulate the political parties, Carol

II declared a royal dictatorship in February 1938. All political parties were dissolved and laws were passed to halve the size of the electorate. Between 1939 and 1940 alone, Romania had no less than nine different governments.

In 1939 Carol II clamped down on the anti-Semitic Iron Guard, which until 1937 he had supported. Codreanu and 13 other legionaries were arrested, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, then assassinated. In revenge for their leader's death, Iron Guard members murdered Carol ll's prime minister, Armand Calinescu, leading to the butchering of 252 Iron Guard members by Carol II's forces. In accordance with the king's wishes, the corpses were strung up in public squares. Only with the collapse of the Axis powers at the end of WWII did the Iron Guard disintegrate (in 1999, Codreanu's nephew Nicador Zelea Codreanu tried unsuccessfully to revive the reviled group).

Romania was isolated after the fall of France in May 1940, and in |une 1940 Greater Romania collapsed in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The USSR re-occupied Bessarabia. On 30 August 1940 Romania was forced to cede northern Transylvania to Hungary by order of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. In September 1940 Southern Dobrogea was given to Bulgaria.

Not surprisingly, the loss of territories sparked widespread popular demonstrations. Even Carol II realised he could not squash the increasing mass hysteria and on the advice of one of his councillors, the king called in General Marshall Ion Antonescu. To defend the interests of the ruling classes, Antonescu forced King Carol II to abdicate in favour of the king's 19-year-old son Michael. Antonescu then imposed a fascist dictatorship with himself as conducator (supreme leader).

German troops were allowed to enter Romania in October 1940, and in June 1941 Antonescu joined Hitler's anti-Soviet war. One of Antonescu's aims in joining forces with Hitler was to recover Bessarabia and this was

DID YOU KNOW?

The first ton of oil worldwide was extracted from Romania (the second was from the USA, the third from Russia).

Radu loanid's The Holocaust in Romania (2000) chronicles how Romania used other brutal methods aside from organised murder to try and rid itself of Roma and Jews during WWII.

1812

1819-34

Treaty of Bucharest grants Russia control of eastern Moldavia and | the Ottoman Empire gains control of western Moldavia.

Wallachla and Moldavia were occupied by Russia. Between 1835-56 the two principalities were Russian protectorates.

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