Soviet occupation of Romania
The fate of the territories held by Romania after 1918 that were incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 is treated separately in the article on Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.
The armistice convention and eventually the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 provided a legal basis for the Soviet military presence in Romania, which lasted until 1958, reaching a peak of some 615,000 in 1946.
The Soviets and Romanian communists referred to the events of 1944 as the "liberation of Romania by the glorious Soviet Army" in the 1952 Constitution of Romania.
On the other hand, most Western and Romanian anti-communist sources use the term "Soviet occupation of Romania," some applying it to the whole period from 1944 to 1958.
Background and beginning of the occupation
After having withdrawn its troops from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in response to the June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum, Romania entered an alliance with Nazi Germany and declared war on the Soviet Union.
However, Romania's eastern campaign ended in disaster, notably at Stalingrad.
As a result, King Michael was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne, on December 30, 1947.
The coup facilitated the advance of the Red Army into Romania at an accelerated pace, and enabled the combined Romanian and Soviet armies to liberate the country from the German occupation.
In the absence of an actual signed armistice, the Soviet troops continued to treat the Romanians as a hostile force.
The armistice was signed three weeks later, on September 12, 1944, "on terms Moscow virtually dictated."
The coup effectively amounted to a "capitulation", an "unconditional" "surrender" to the Soviets and the rest of the Allies.
In the wake of the cease fire order given by King Michael, between 114,000 and 160,000 Romanian soldiers were taken prisoners of war by the Soviets without resisting, and they were forced to march to remote detention camps, located in the Soviet Union; according to survivors interviewed in a 2004 documentary, up to a third of the prisoners perished on the way.
By September 12, the Red Army had already gained control over much of the Romanian territory.
Under the terms of its Armistice Agreement with the Allies, Romania became subject to an Allied Control Commission, composed of representatives of the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom, while the Soviet military command exercised predominant, de facto authority.
Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were again incorporated into the Soviet Union.
The Armistice Agreement
Article 3 of the Armistice Agreement with Romania (signed in Moscow on September 12, 1944), stipulated that
Article 18 of the same agreement stipulated that
In the Annex to Article 18, it was made clear that
and that The Allied Control Commission would have its seat in Bucharest.
The plenipotentiary signatories to the armistice as indicated therein were:
- Allied powers: "representative of the Allied (Soviet) High Command, Marshal of the Soviet Union, R. Y. Malinovski, duly authorized hereto by the Governments of the United States of America; the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom."
- Romania: "Minister of State and Minister of Justice L. Patrascanu, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Adjutant of His Majesty the King of Rumania General D. Damaceanu, Prince Stirbey, and Mr. G. Popp."
Paris Peace Treaties, 1947
Main article: Paris Peace Treaties, 1947
The effect of the Armistice Agreement ceased on September 15, 1947, when the Paris Peace Treaty with Romania entered into force.
Article 21, paragraph 1 of the new treaty provided the legal foundation for continued and unlimited Soviet military presence in Romania:
The Peace Treaty with Romania was signed on February 10, 1947, in the Salon de l'Horloge of the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères.
The signatories for the Allied powers included United States Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ernest Bevin.
Soviet forces in Romania, 1944–1956
|May 8, 1945||80,000|
|November 1, 1945||500,000|
|January 4, 1946||420,000|
|March 1, 1946||615,000|
|June 1, 1946||400,000|
|November 1, 1946||240,000|
|1947||60,000 – 130,000|
|May 1 – July 1, 1948||35,000|
|October 1, 1948||32,000|
|July 1, 1949||28,000|
|October 1, 1949||19,000|
|January 1, 1950||32,000|
|April 1, 1950||33,000|
|September 1, 1950 –
After the conclusion of the Armistice Agreement in 1944, Soviet troops occupied the entire territory of Romania.
Estimates of troop levels vary between 750,000 and 1 million (estimates of British military officials), to between 1 and 1.5 million (estimates of the Romanian General Staff); many Western diplomats and experts refer to more than 1 million Soviet troops.
Soviet officers restrained Romanian soldiers and police from firing on civilians, and Soviet troops restored order.
The estimated strength of Soviet forces stationed in Romania (including air, navy, ground, and security troops), from VE Day to 1952, is shown in the table on the right.
During the second half of 1946, more than half of the combat capabilities of the Soviet Air Forces were residing outside the USSR, with the largest portion in Poland and Romania (2,500 planes in each country).
The troop levels surged to a high of 615,000 in March 1946, but they were drawn down after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty in 1947.
Troop levels reach a relatively stable level from May 1948 until October 1956: two full divisions, plus supporting units adding up to roughly a third division.
Although with the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955 the reason for the presence of Soviet troops as stated in the Paris Peace Treaties ceased to exist, Premier Gheorghiu-Dej announced that these troops would stay as long as foreign soldiers continue to be stationed in West Germany.
Soviet troops stationed in Romania participated in the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of November 1956.
Soviet troop facilities inside Romania were off limits to all Romanians at the time.
Reorganization of the Romanian Army
|Land forces||120,000 officers and troops|
|Anti-aircraft forces||5,000 officers and troops|
|Naval forces||5,000 officers and troops|
|Air forces||8,000 officers and troops|
|Total||138,000 officers and troops|
The manpower of the Romanian army was limited by the Paris peace treaty to a total of 138,000 (officers and troops); however, under the Soviet occupation it grew far beyond the limits imposed by the treaty, through increasing militarization of Romania's population.
By 1953, regular army forces had grown to approximately 300,000; reserve army forces to approximately 135,000; and "interior" forces (border guards, security brigades, et al.)
under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior to over 325,000.
At the inception of this organizational overhaul, pro-German elements were purged from the Romanian armed forces.
In 1944–45, two divisions composed of Romanian volunteers— former prisoners of war, trained in the Soviet Union during the war, and also Communist activists such as Valter Roman— were formed: the Tudor Vladimirescu Division, under the command of Colonel Nicolae Cambrea, and the Horia, Cloşca şi Crişan Division, under the command of General Mihail Lascăr (who was to serve as Minister of Defense from 1946 to 1947).
These two units were to form the nucleus of the new Romanian Army under Soviet control.
Once the Romanian Communist Party took the reins of power, 30% of officers and noncommissioned officers (mostly experienced soldiers, but at the same time a potential source of opposition to the Sovietization of the Army) were purged from the military.
This reorganization involved the adoption of the Soviet model of military and political organization, and a change of the military doctrine of combat and defense, in the context of Romania's integration into the Soviet strategic system, at the dawn of the Cold War.
Soviet officers were appointed as advisers charged with supervising the thorough reorganization of the army.
They held leadership and surveillance positions in the main institutions of the state, but also in areas of lesser importance.
In the beginning, they only held a few positions in the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff, and the political sections inside the army.
With the passage of time, the number of Soviet advisers gradually increased, while at the same time their positions became permanent.
In November 1952, there were 105 permanent and 17 temporary Soviet adviser positions in military schools.
After 1955, their number began to decrease: 72 in 1955, 63 in 1956, 25 in 1957 and 10 in 1958.
After 1945, new military regulations were developed, following the templates of the Red Army, and they were finalized in 1949–1952.
Consequently, a number of officers and military students were sent to the Soviet Union to complete their training.
Between 1949 and 1952, 717 Romanian students were being trained in the USSR, while in 1958 471 Romanian military students were pursuing education in the USSR.
Their number decreased in the following years.
Reorganization of the security services
Main article: Securitate
The General Directorate of the Security of the People (Romanian initials: DGSP, but more commonly just called the Securitate) was officially founded on August 30, 1948 by Decree 221/30.
The Securitate was set up by SMERSH, an NKVD unit charged with dismantling the existing intelligence agencies and replacing them with Soviet-style bodies in the Soviet-occupied countries of Eastern Europe.
Its stated purpose was to "defend democratic conquests and guarantee the safety of the Romanian People's Republic against both internal and external enemies."
The first Director of the Securitate was Soviet intelligence operative Gheorghe Pintilie.
Expulsion of Germans
Main article: Expulsion of Germans from Romania after World War II
The Red Army took part in the expulsion of up to 70,000 Transylvanian Saxons from Romania that was initiated in January 1945.
In October 1944, the Sănătescu government, at the request of the Allied Control Commission, began arresting young Romanian citizens of German descent, who were eventually placed at the disposal of the Soviet command.
At the request of the Allied Commission, the Rădescu government ordered the forced transportation by train of Transylvanian Saxons to the Soviet Union.
In a protest dated January 13, 1945, the Rădescu government affirmed the Romanian government's duty to protect each of its citizens, regardless of ethnic origin, and noted the absence of a legal basis for the deportation of the Transylvanian Saxons.
The expellees were gradually allowed to return to Romania between late 1945 and 1949, though it is estimated that up to 10,000 perished during the expulsion or while in the Soviet Union.
Such deportations would be outlawed in 1949 by the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Main article: SovRoms
The SovRoms were Soviet-Romanian joint ventures established on Romanian territory at the end of World War II, and lasting until 1954–1956.
An agreement between the two countries regarding the establishment of these enterprises was signed in Moscow on May 8, 1945.
In theory, the purpose of these ventures was to generate funding for post-war reconstruction efforts.
However, their real purpose was to provide resources for the Soviet side.
Generally, they were a contributing factor to the draining of Romania's resources, in addition to the war reparations demanded by the Armistice Agreement and the Paris Peace Treaties, which had been initially set at 300 million U.S. . dollars
The Soviet contribution to the creation of the SovRoms consisted mostly in reselling leftover German equipment to Romania, at systematically overvalued prices.
The total value of goods sent from Romania to the Soviet Union was estimated at 2 billion dollars, exceeding by far the amount of war reparations demanded by the Soviets.
By 1952, 85% of Romanian exports were directed towards the Soviet Union.
The last Sovrom was dissolved in 1956.
Its initial workforce consisted of 15,000 political prisoners; after most of them died of radiation poisoning, they were replaced by local villagers, who were completely unaware of the fact that they were working with radioactive material.
Uranium mining continued there until 1961.
Comparison with Soviet occupation of Bulgaria
Comparing the Soviet occupation of Romania to that of Bulgaria, David Stone notes: "Unlike Bulgaria, Romania had few cultural and historical ties with Russia, and had actually waged war on the Soviet Union.
As a result, Soviet occupation weighted heavier on the Romanian people, and the troops themselves were less disciplined."
In popular culture
- Davai ceas, davai palton (eng.: give the wristwatch, give the overcoat). The well-known Romanian stage actor Constantin Tănase was performing in Bucharest a year after the arrival of Soviet troops. He used to satirize the soldiers' habit of "requisitioning" all personal property in sight (in particular, wristwatches and coats), demanding them by saying, "Davai ceas, davai palton". There are differing accounts of his demise, in August 1945, but one of them states that he was found dead two days after one of his satirical acts.
- The writer Mihail Sebastian was among the eyewitnesses to the events of 1944. In his diary (Journal, 1935-1944: The Fascist Years), he described the atmosphere in Bucharest at the time, as follows: "Bewilderment, fear, doubt. Russian soldiers rape women (as Dina Cocea was saying yesterday). Soldiers stop cars, let the driver and passengers out, get behind the wheel, and take off. Stores looted. This afternoon, at Zaharia, three of them broke in the safe, taking watches. (The watch is the toy they like the best.)" Sebastian died in a tram accident just weeks after the Soviet Army occupied Romania. His Journal has recently gained a new audience in the West. In 2004, American playwright David Auburn wrote a one-man play, entitled The Journals of Mihail Sebastian; it made its debut the same year in New York City, starring actor Stephen Kunken in the role of Sebastian.
- The 25th Hour. Virgil Gheorghiu's best-known book depicts the plight of a young farmhand, Johann Moritz, under German and Soviet occupation. Johann is sent to a labor camp by a police captain who covets his wife, Suzanna. At first, he is tagged as a Jew. Later, he is "rescued" by a Nazi officer, who forces him into service as a model for German propaganda. Imprisoned after the war, he is severely beaten by his Russian captors, then put on trial by Allied forces because of his work for the Nazis. In 1967, Carlo Ponti produced a film based on this book; directed by Henri Verneuil, it featured Anthony Quinn as Johann and Virna Lisi as Suzanna.
- Romania during World War II
- Romanian anti-communist resistance movement
- Southern Group of Forces
- Soviet occupations
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet occupation of Romania.