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The lesser known: Romania's role in the WW2


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#1 Masklin

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:09 PM

I will try to put on brief the roles that the romanian army played during the second world war, roles that were either forgotten either erased from history, after Romania's occupation by the Soviets.I'll try to be as brief as possible.If you have any questions, or curious about detailes, let me know.

As many of you know, on the 23rd of august 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed what was about to enter in history as the "Ribbentrop-Molotov pact", in which the 2 countries divided the Eastern Europe.
After the beggining of the war, Romania remained neutral, allowing the polish refugiees to transit the country, and helping them to find a safe place untill the end of the war (many flew to Britain, including the polish government).
But after the fall of France on june 22 1940, Romania lost all it's allies.Giving this fact, thr U.S.S.R. occupied the north-east teritories of Bassarabia and Bucovina, Hungary, with the aid of Germany occupied Transilvanya, while Bulgaria occupied the south of the country.
With his country occupied, the romanian king Carol II fled the country, giving the throne to his 18 years-old son, Mihai, who, in the same day gave unlimited powers to the prime minister, general Ion Antonescu, a friend of Hitler.This is how, on the 23rd of november 1940, Romania became an ally of Germany, Romania beeing rich in oil(90% of Germany's oil came from Romania),and close to the Soviet Union.

Beeing close to the Soviet Union meant we had to support Germany in the Barbarossa operation.Which we did.On the 22th june 1941, supporting the germans were 325.685 soldiers (there 2 army corps:the 3rd and the 4th) and 205 planes.The atack against the Soviet Union began on the 22th june 1941.The main reason we attacked the U.S.S.R. was to regain the lost territories, which we did untill the day of 26 july 1941.Still, Atnonescu ordered the crossing of the river Dniester, and the advance of the romanian troops inside the U.S.S.R..On 10 november, the romanian army was allready at the gates of Sevastopol(in Crimeea), Odessa beeing conquered on 14 october.We remained there, fighting the russians untill the axis retreat.

In September 1942, the 3rd and 4th romanian army corps started to take up their positions around Stalingrad. After the fall of the city, they were going to form the 'Marshal Antonescu' ArmyGroup together with the German 6th Army.The romanian army lost 158,854 men (dead, wounded and missing) between 19 november 1942 and 7 january 1943. This represented 16 of the 18 divisions engaged at Stalingrad and half of the active troops (31 divisions). The Romanian Air Corps lost 73 airplanes (26 in battle and the rest on the ground).During the horrible battles in the encircled Stalingrad, the Romanian troops had performed very well under the circumstances.On 2 february 1943, the resistance of Axis troops in Stalingrad ceased.

I will try to short up the story a bit, not mentioning the role in the Caucasus.The romanian army helped the germans in their last stand in Crimea, which ended on the 10th of may 1944.

Following a coup d'etat lead by king Mihai I on 23rd of august 1944, Antonescu was arrested, and Romania switched sides, joining the allies side, agianst Nazi Germany.By some accounts, the coup may have shortened World War II by 6 months, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

Since the coup, the romanian army fought alongside the russian troops (alongside in theory, because the russians stood behind and left all the work to the romanians) in the battles at Budapest, and the liberation of CzechoSlovakia.


i hope you will find these things interesting.I hope I didn't bore you too much, and please, if you have any questions, just ask.
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#2 PzJgr

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:28 PM

Ha, in fact, more details would be welcomed. I am interested in Romania's role in the crimea. I did not know they went down into the peninsula. I thought they just supported the 6th Army around Stalingrad. Great Stuff. Thanks
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#3 Masklin

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 04:34 PM

How many details would you like?

The battle for Crimea begun on 17 july 1941, when the 3rd army crossed the Dniester river early in the morning, taking the russians by sursprise.By noon the first line of fortifications was taken, the Romanian units had successfully established several bridgeheads and then resumed advance towards north.Of course, the russians regrouped and, for 3 days they counterattacked the romanian forces.The losses suffered by the 3rd army during the three days of battle were 1,892 (666 dead and 1,226 wounded). Over 1,000 soviet soldiers were captured along with a large amount of equipment and 182 pillboxes and bunkers were destroyed.
Between 1st and 14 september, the 3rd army occupied a defensive position on the German 30th corps flank, which was forcing the river Dnepr. It had to face powerful counterattacks from the 18th Soviet Army . During the offensive from the Dniester to the Dnepr, the 3rd Army suffered 19,861 casualties.
Thus, Crimea remained isolated, linked to the now occupied mainland by an isthmus at Perekop.The 11th Army, under von Manstein, was tasked with invading the Crimea.Under his command there was the romanian mountain corp.The mountain corp, however, conducted only an active defense.The Korne Motorized Detachment entered in Crimea through the Perekopisthmus and made a quick advance and intercepted the Simferopol-Yevpatoria highway on 31 october, cutting off the retreat route towards Sevastopol.
On 10 november, the 11th army started to prepare the assault on Sevastopol. This mission was assigned to the German 54th and 30th Corps. The romanian mountain corp was assigned to the defense of the Crimean coast between Sudak and Alushta. A new romanian unit, the 4th mountain brigade, was sent to Crimea at the request of the german command. It arrived at its destination on 26 november and on 2 december commenced the anti-partisan actions in the Yaila mountains. These proved to be quite a problem. The 1st Mountain Brigade also fought them between 6 and 18 november, before it was sent to take part in the assault on Sevastopol, but did not manage to wipe them out. However, by 15 December, the 4th mountain brigade managed to secure most of communication routes and to destroy the partisan nests, despite the terrible winter conditions (-25˚C, blizzard).
On 18 november the 1st mountain brigade received the order to move to Sevastopol were it was going to be subordinated to the German 30th Corps, in the southern part of the Sevastopol front. It arrived in the designated area on 22.
The assault was planned for 17 december. The 1st mountain brigade's objective was the Chapel Hill.Because of some mistakes in the communication of the orders, the 3rd mountain battalion didn't reach the starting position at the time when it was suppose to and the assault was carried out only by the 23rd Battalion, but the advance was halted at Karlovka, a village captured only a few days later, on the 19th of december,after some fierce fighting.Thus on 23 december, the 1st mountain brigade and the 170th Infantry Division took the Chapel Hill. During the 7 day offensive (17-23 December) the brigade lost 1,261 men (331 dead, 801 wounded, 129 missing). But the brigade and its commander (Maj. Gen. Mihail Lascar) won the admiration of Gen. von Manstein, who mentions him in his memoirs.
Another romanian unit that took part in the first battle of Sevastopol was the "Korne" detachment, which was subordinated to the 54th Corps in the northern part of the Sevastopol front. It was situated on the extreme right of the corps and attacked parallel with the seaside towards the Kacha Valley, securing the flank of the german 22nd infantry division, which was the main offensive element of the 54th Corps. It reached the valley on 23 december and by 25 it had already cleared the area of Soviet troops.

#4 PzJgr

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 04:51 PM

Now this is more like it. Do you have photos or links to maps? Photos are always accepted.
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#5 Masklin

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 05:46 PM

You can find photos here: WorldWar2.ro - Photo Gallery.On that same site you can find additional and more detailed info about the crimean campaign and other military operations.

#6 Kommando

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 06:03 PM

Were the Romanians most comfortable as German or Russian allies, or did they like neither? They after all did fight the Germans in World War 1, and in 1940 the Russians occupied Romanian territory.

/Kommando

#7 Masklin

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 06:15 PM

We were much more confortable as German allies.They gave us equipment, and fought alongside, while (no offence to anyone) the Russians continued to pillage romanian villages, raping Romanian women, and during battle, they stayed confortable behind the lines and let us do all the work.For example in Budapest, they stayed behind, and with only 2 weeks before the fall of the citadel, sent the Romanian troops in CzechoSlovakia, while they were seen as the liberators of the Hungarian capital. After the war ended, they treated us as if we were enemies the whole war, and Stalin made us suffer for fighting against them at Stalingrad.
It was better to be a German ally by far.

#8 PzJgr

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 07:14 PM

Was Romania as facist as Hungary was? I mean, was there an equvilent to Hungary's Aerocross? I don't recall reading a strong facist presence in Romania. But very patriotic. Good postings.
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#9 Masklin

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 07:42 PM

Romania's political problems are hard to describe.Before the outbreaks of war, there was a fascist movement called the Legionaries (also known as the green shirts, and the legion of archangel Michael).They were responsable for many murders of romanian political figuers, including 2 prime-ministers:Ion Gh. Duca and Armand Calinescu or the historian Nicolae Iorga.This movement even had a political party, called the Iron Guard, which was declared illegal by both the Duca government and king Carol II.
In an attempt to keep the Iron Guard out of the political life (the iron guard was becoming stronger and stronger in numbers because of their antisemmitic, antimasonic, anticommunist and religious-mysthic like character), king Carol II put the base of a dictatorship, thus making him the first dictator in Romanian history.
After Carol II's abdication, the prime-minister Antonescu (who, as i said before was a friend of Hitler) needed support so, on september 4, 1940, he formed an allience with the Iron Guard, forming a "National Legionary State" government. Once in power, from september 14, 1940 until January 21, 1941 the legionaries ratcheted up the level of already harsh anti-Semitic legislation and pursued, a campaign of pogroms and political assassinations. More than 60 former dignitaries or officials were executed in Jilava prison while awaiting trial; historian and former prime minister Nicolae Iorga and economist Virgil Madgearu, also a former government minister, were assassinated without even the pretense of an arrest.
The Iron Guard have become infamous for their participation in the Holocaust, killing jews or hanging them in slaughterhouses.
On january 24, 1941 Antonescu successfully suppressed a legion-inspired military coup, resulting in the legionaries being forced out of a governing role and losing its government protection. During the three-day civil war, eventually won by Antonescu with support from the german army, members of the Iron Guard instigated a deadly pogrom in Bucharest, the capital city.

#10 Miguel B.

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 08:30 PM

Nice info you got there. Thanks... Feel free to post more :D



Cheers...

#11 Kommando

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 11:53 PM

I have a few more questions if you don't mind answering:

-How good & how many were the Romanian tanks? Could they match the German Pz IV & the Russian T34, or were they obsolete?
-What antitank equipment did the Romanian army possess and in what numbers?
-How much of the Romanian armed forces fought in Russia, at the time Romania was an ally of Germany?
-What were the standard rifles, submachineguns and machineguns in the Romanian infantry, and how good were they in comparison to other nations?

You don't need to answer every question at once if you don't have time. Also, I will might come with more later, but this is all that I can think of for now.

/Kommando

#12 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:46 PM

Care to comment or add to these two threads I created?

http://www.ww2f.com/...-romanians.html

http://www.ww2f.com/...000-1944-a.html
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#13 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:57 PM

For you Kommando,

Romania
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For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#14 Masklin

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 08:17 PM

Ok, to start with, Tanks:

At the beginning of hostilities Romania was armed with a number of obsolete light tanks of czeh and french design:35-36 R1 cavalry light tanks (built by Ceskomoravska Kolben Danekas as model AH IV - all were lost in the war), 126 Skoda R2 (80 lost by the end of March 1943, with 21 of the remaining transformed into TACAM 2 self proppeled guns by mounting a captured Zis 3 russian AT gun), 75 Renault R35 (40 lost by mid 1943 with the rest returned to Romania and re-fitted with a captured russian 45mm AT gun and czech ZB 1937MG).

For training we had some 50 WW1 vintage Rernault FT 17 tanks (recieved from the french army in 1919 and capturead by the Russains in 1944)

By mid war the situation of the Armoured corps was simply disastruous, so the Romanian government took the decision to buy German weapons, beginning with a batch of 11 T3 (PzKpw III) N (brand new) and about 50 T4 (PzKpw IV) (all used, of different variants but mainly F, J and H).

Also purchased were 108 TAS III (Sturmgeshutz III G) and an unknown number of very used T-38(t) (Skoda LT-38, in German use as PZ 38t) of which only 10 survived to the end of the war.

A further project was the conversion of 23 captured T60 light tanks into TACAM 1 (Tun Anti Car pe Afet Mobil - Self Proppeled Anti Tank Gun) by mounting a Zis 2 76.2mm AT gun, also captured from the russians.
Light vehicles used by the Romanian Army on the Eastern Front were Malaxa UE (Renault UE built under licence) unarmed artillery tractors, captured russian T-20 Komsomolets (artillery tractor with a single DP 7,62MG) and a number of armoured cars of the types: Skoda vz. 25, Skoda vz. 27, Tatra vz. 29, BA-10, BA-64 (captured), Sdkfz 222 2 cm kwk 38 L/55, Sdkfz 223 le.Pz. SPW Funk and 8 italian Autoblinda 41.

A very ambitious project for a turetless "tank hunter" was the development in late '43 early 44 of about 5 protypes of a vehicle called "Maresal" (Marshall) that was based on a heavily modiffied T60 Chassis, with a 75mm AT gun built in-house (used in the later part of the war as a very sucessful piece of artillery). Although the project had some very innovative points (that directly inspired the grman Hetzer), the prototypes were small, cramped and plagued with problems to the end, with the single test-fire with the M05 prototype resulting in a ruptured gun mounting bracket, recoil brake sleeve, radiator and fuel tank.

After the 23 August defection from the Axis, the advancing Russains managed to "capture" from the unresisiting (now allied) Romanian army all of the damaged vehicles that were being-re-fitted in factories, so we were left with only those tanks that were on the front lines at the time.
Also, the Russians ordered the "Maresal" and TACAM projects stopped, with all the prototypes and 12 unfinished vehicles scrapped.

The rest of the war (The Hungarian and Czechoslovak campaigns) was fought with the restant tanks, without any material help from the Russains, and was fraught with problems regarding the unavailability of parts and ammuniton for the German-made vehicles. Luckly wew were able to scavenge some from captured German stocks, but by the end of the war the Romanian Armoured corps consisted of only 2 T4 tanks in working order, 5 SPW (Sdkfz 251) and 3 Autoblindata 41.

After the end of the war, in may 1946 these meager numbers were complimented with 65 tanks from captured german stocks by the "grace" of the Russian high Command. These included 13 PzKpw V "Panther" , 3 Geschutzwagen IV "Nashorn", 2 Sturmgeshutz III and several PZKPw IV (of all variants) in very poor shape. (all of which were later melted down)

#15 Skipper

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:52 AM

Very interesting Masklin. I also have a few questions. How did the average Romanian react when the Russians annexed Moldavia in 1940. Was the alliance with Germany a way to get this province back? Also how did the Germans and the Romanians get along when they were together on the Ostfront?

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#16 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:59 AM

There appears to be some M3A1 STUART TANKs and M3A3 GRANT/LEE TANKs used too.

http://www.ww2f.com/...-romanians.html

Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 14 July 2008 - 01:07 AM.

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#17 Skipper

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:21 AM

good link ! Amazing when you considerer these tanks were made in the U.S. then served to the Red army and were eventually reused by the Romanians. Quite a career for a tank.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#18 Masklin

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 03:08 PM

Yes, it is true, we had some M3A1 STUART TANKs and M3A3 GRANT/LEE tanks (actually we had over 13 types of captured tanks) but we never used them, because we had no ammunition, no spare pieces, and most of all, we had nobody who knew how to operate/fix them.

#19 Masklin

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 03:32 PM

Very interesting Masklin. I also have a few questions. How did the average Romanian react when the Russians annexed Moldavia in 1940. Was the alliance with Germany a way to get this province back? Also how did the Germans and the Romanians get along when they were together on the Ostfront?


How did the average Romanian react?With hatrid.Joined the fascist movement called "The iron guard".Supported general Antonescu(a friend of Hitler) to take the lead of the country, and yes, joining the Nazi's side in the war, and get the province back.

As far as I know, the Germans ans the Romanians got along pretty good.Some of the Romanian divisions were under German command, and some German troops under Romanian command.It was a very big shock for everybody when we switched sides...
The only thing constant in the world is change.

#20 Kommando

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:22 PM

Yes, it is true, we had some M3A1 STUART TANKs and M3A3 GRANT/LEE tanks (actually we had over 13 types of captured tanks) but we never used them, because we had no ammunition, no spare pieces, and most of all, we had nobody who knew how to operate/fix them.


Were any of the captured tanks' chassis used to mount Romanian or German guns on?

For you Kommando,

Romania


Ok, to start with, Tanks:

At the beginning of hostilities Romania...


Thanks for the information.

/Kommando

#21 Masklin

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:56 PM

Were any of the captured tanks' chassis used to mount Romanian or German guns on?


Not as far as I know, but of course, I don't know everything.Still, most of the tanks captured were melted at the end of the war, in agricultural purposes.A few survived and can be viewed at the National Military Museum.
The only thing constant in the world is change.




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