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The Drift into Germany’s Orbit: Romania, 1938–1941

  • Dennis Deletant

Abstract

Romania was driven into alliance with Nazi Germany by fear of the Soviet Union. ‘Nothing could put Romania on Germany’s side’, remarked a member of the Romanian Foreign Ministry to the British Minister Sir Reginald Hoare in March 1940, ‘except the conviction that only Germany could keep the Soviets out of Romania.’1 That conviction was quick to form after the collapse of France in May 1940, the Soviet seizure from Romania of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina at the end of June, and the loss of Northern Transylvania to Hungary under the Vienna Award in late August. One third of Romania’s 1939 area was ceded in 1940 and with it Romania’s population fell from 19.9 million to 13.3 million. The loss of the three territories led King Carol II to accept Hitler’s frontier guarantee, one which he gave only after Carol’s agreement to the Vienna Award.

Keywords

Jewish Community Foreign Minister Romanian People Romanian State Soviet Troop 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Maurice Pearton (1998a), ‘British Policy Towards Romania: 1939–1941’, in Dennis Deletant and Maurice Pearton (eds), Romania Observed (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică), p. 95.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Carol’s discussions with the British and Germans are analysed in Haynes (2000), pp. 57–8; see also Dov B. Lungu (1989), Romania and the Great Powers, 1933–1940 (Durham and London: Duke University Press), pp. 142–4.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
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  4. 10.
    Haynes (2000), pp. 78–9. The guarantee was also the result ol French pressure on Britain to guarantee Romania as the price ol France’s willingness to help guarantee Greece: D. Cameron Watt (1983), ‘Misinformation, Misconception, Mistrust: Episodes in British Policy and the Approach of War, 1938–1939’, in Michael Bentley and John Stevenson (eds), High and Low Politics in Modern Britain: Ten Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 247–9 (I am grateful to Rebecca Haynes for this reference).Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    Grigore Galencu (1945), Prelude to the Russian Campaign (London: Frederick Muller), p. 237.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
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  7. 14.
    On 14 October 1939, Smigly-Ridz was moved to a village called Dragoslavele. He eventually escaped from his place of internment, at the third attempt, during the night ol 15–16 December 1940 and crossed into Hungary, before making his way back clandestinely to Poland. Details from Stanley S. Seidner (1977), ‘Reflections from Rumania and Beyond: Marshal Smigly-Rydz in Exile’, The Polish Review, Vol. 22(2): 29–51.Google Scholar
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  18. 61.
    One Romanian source gave the area ceded as 43,591 square kilometres and the breakdown of population in northern Transylvania at the time of the award as 1,305,000 Romanians; 968,000 Hungarians; 149,000 Jews; and 72,000 Germans (Silviu Dragomir, La Transylvanie avant et après l’Arbitrage de Vienne (Sibiu, 1943), p. 43). Another put the area at 42,610 square kilometres in which there were 1,315,500 Romanians and 969,000 Hungarians as well as other nationalities (Golopenţia (1941): 39–40). Compare this with the Hungarian census of 1941, taken after an exodus of Romanians to southern Transylvania, which put the population of northern Transylvania by language at 2,577,000, of whom 1,347,000 were listed as Hungarians; 1,066,000 as Romanians; 47,500 as German speakers; and 45,600 as Yiddish speakers. Of the total Jewish population of about 200,000 in the province before the partition, 164,000 lived in the area cededGoogle Scholar
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  20. 69.
    Constantin (Dinu) Brătianu (1866–1953), second son of Ion C. Brătianu (1821–1891), appointed leader of the National Liberal Party in 1934. Constantin (Dinu) Brătianu was arrested by the Communist authorities on — according to one source — 3 May 1950, and imprisoned without trial at Sighet, where he died on 23 August 1953 (see Florian Tănăsescu and Nicolae Tănăsescu (2005), Constantin (Bebe) I. C. Brătianu — Istoria P.N.L. la interogatoriu (Bucharest: Editura Paralela 45), p. 179.)Google Scholar
  21. 70.
    Aurel Simion (1979), Preliminarii politico-diplomatice ale insurecţiei române din august 1944 (Cluj-Napoca: Editura Dacia), p. 208.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dennis Deletant 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Deletant
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityUSA

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