History Today in Military History

Today in military history: Romania joins the Axis Powers

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Adolf Hitler empfing am 10.6.1941 vormittags, im F¸hrerbau in M¸nchen in Gegenwart des Reichsaussenministers v. Ribbentrop den rum‰nischen Staatsf¸hrer General Antonescu zu einer mehrst¸ndigen Besprechnung. Im Anschlufl daran gab zu Ehren des rum‰nischen Staatsf¸hrers Adolf Hitler einen Empfang. Ubz: Adolf Hitler geleitet seinen rum‰nischen Gast nach dem Empfang an den Kraftwagen. In der zweiten Reihe v.r. Reichsaussenminister v. Ribbentrop, daneben Generalfeldmarschall v. Keitel. 13.6.41 5903/41

On Nov. 23, 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact, officially becoming an Axis Power.

Romania had experienced political instability in the years leading up to World War II. By 1937, the fascist government bore a resemblance to that of Germany’s, including anti-Semitic laws, so in June of 1940, King Carol II allied itself with the Nazis — only to be subsequently invaded by Hitler.

Their German “allies” tore through Romania’s resources to support their war. Hitler pillaged Romania’s oil wells, installations and food crops, causing a food shortage for native Romanians.

The king abdicated in September, leaving Romania under the control of fascist Prime Minister Ion Antonescu, who signed the Tripartite Pact on Nov, 23, formally recognizing an alliance with Germany, Italy, and Japan. 

Eventually, the deposed king’s son would overthrow the Fascist regime and swing Romania to the Allied side. Caught between the Germans and the Soviets in 1944, King Michael, son of the late King Carol, decided to fight alongside the Soviet Union and declare war against a losing Germany.

Sadly for King Michael, the Soviets would force him to abdicate as they established a communist government in his place. On Aug. 22, 1944, the Soviet Union secured an armistice with Romania for the Allies.

After the war, Romania became a socialist republic, but after the 1989 Revolution, the country began to transition towards democracy and a capitalist market economy. 

In 2004, the Romanian government would release a report bearing responsibility for the deaths of between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

Featured Image: Ian Antonescu and Adolf Hitler at the Führerbau in Munich (June 1941)