Romanian Armed Forces
in the Second World War
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Marshal Ion Antonescu
General Gheorghe Avramescu
General Petre Dumitrescu
General Gheorghe Mihail
Lt. general Nicolae Ciuperca
Lt. general Nicolae Dascalescu
Lt. general Corneliu Dragalina
Lt. general Nicolae Macici
Lt. general Mihail Racovita
Lt. general Nicolae Sova
Maj. general Radu Băldescu
Maj. general Ioan Dumitrache
Maj. general Mihail Lascar
Maj. general Leonard Mociulschi
Maj. general Ioan Sion
Brig. general Radu Korne
General of Air Squad Aviator Gheorghe I. Jienescu
General Gheorghe Avramescu
Lt. gen. Gheorghe Avramescu
Lt. gen. Dragalina (left)and lt. gen. Avramescu (right) at a hunt.

3 June 1941 � 5 October 1943: Mountain Corps

29 July 1941: Iron Cross 2nd and 1st classes

17 October 1941: Mihai Viteazul Order, 3rd class

18 July 1942: promoted to the rank of lt. general

29 July 1942: Coroana Romaniei Order Grand Officer class

1 September 1942: Mihai Viteazul Order, 2nd class

25 October 1942: German Cross in Gold

6 October 1943 � 22 February 1944: 3rd Corps

23 February � 23 August 1944: 6th Corps

31 August 1944 � 11 January 1945: 4th Army

15 November 1944: Mihai Viteazul Order, 3rd class with swords

autumn 1944: promoted to the rank of general

19 February - 2 March 1945: 4th Army

Gheorghe Avramescu was born on 26 January 1884 at Botosani in a modest peasant family. Like many other young men of his social position, he chose the military career. In 1906 he was admitted into the Infantry Officers School in Bucharest, which he finished in July 1908, the 11th out of 60. He received the rank of 2nd lieutenant and was assigned to the 16th Dorobanti Regiment in Suceava, where he commanded a platoon. He remained there until 23 September 1910, when he was dispatched to the Special Infantry School. He graduated one year later, was promoted to 1st lieutenant and entered the ranks of the 38th Infantry Regiment Neagoe Basarab, which had its garrison in Braila. There, in February 1913, he married Adela Gologan. After the end of the 1913 Bulgarian campaign, in October, he went to study at the Military Academy, being assigned de jure in the 39th Infantry Regiment. After only one year he had to interrupt the school and went back to the 38th Regiment to command a company.

Romania's entry into the great war being waged all over Europe was nearing. Several reserve units were raised, but they lacked good officers. Thus, Gheorghe Avramescu was promoted captain and named commander of the 9th Company/78th Reserve Infantry Regiment. The 40th Brigade (9th Division), to which the regiment was subordinated, was deployed in the Dobruja and soon after the hostilities with the Bulgarian and German troops started, Avramescu took over the 3rd Battalion. He fought in the battles at Parachioi � Calaici, Mulciova, Perveli and Muratan, where he was wounded in the right arm on 7/20 October 1916. He returned to the front after one month and was given command of the 2nd Battalion of the 38/78th Regiment. Following the losses they have suffered, the two regiments from Braila were united to form one unit. He distinguished himself again in the Battle for Bucharest between 16/29 November � 20 November/3 December 1916 and then again during the retreat to Moldavia at Urziceni, Glodeanu Sarat and Pogoanele. For his actions during this first campaign, he received the Steaua Romaniei Order Knight class with Virtute Militara ribbon at the beginning of 1917. During the spring reorganization of the Romanian Army was created the 73/78th Regiment from the remains of the two reserve regiments. He participated in the fighting at Marasesti as battalion commander and in September he was promoted to the rank of major. For this second campaign he received the Coroana Romaniei Order Officer class with Virtute Militara ribbon. In February 1918, Gheorghe Avramescu was moved to the staff of the 1st Vanatori Division, as chief of the Mobilization and Organization Bureau, although he had only studied for a year at the Military Academy. He remained in this position until 1/14 October 1918, when he was sent to continue his training at the Academy, but the remobilization four weeks later made him interrupt his studies once more. Major Avramescu was named chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the 3rd Corps.

After the fighting with the Hungarian Communist Republic was over, in 1919, he came back to the War Academy and graduated 2nd in his class the following year. He then returned to command a battalion of the 78th Regiment. Following the disbandment of this unit in 1923, he was promoted to the rank of lt. colonel and named chief of staff of the 10th Infantry Division. He held this position until 31 March 1929, when he was again promoted and received the command of the 38th Infantry Regiment in Braila, his old unit. Avramescu was then moved in October 1932 to the General Staff, where he was the chief of the 6th Transport Bureau. From March 1934 he was assigned to the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie and form June 1935 he received the command of the 12th Infantry Brigade. A year later he became brig. general and from November 1937 he took over the 10th Infantry Brigade. After over two years, in September 1939, he was named commander of the 10th Infantry Division, to which his brigade had been subordinated and on 8 June 1940 he was promoted to the rank of maj. general.

The beginning of the Eastern campaign found him as CO of the Mountain Corps, with which he participated in the offensive in Northern Bukovina in July 1941, for which he received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class and the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st classes. It forced its way through the fortified Stalin line and advanced to the River Bug and then to the Dnepr, covering the left flank of the 11th German Army. It arrived north of Crimea, where it took part in the Battle of the Azov Sea, contributing to the defeat of the Soviet 9th and 18th Armies. Subordinated to the von Manstein's 11th Army he participated with his units in the breakthrough into the peninsula through the Salkovo Isthmus, then in the winter battles of 1941, when he directed the operations from the first line, like in the case of the fights around Feodosiya. However, there were periods, when the Mountain Corps had practically only one unit or even none under its effective command in 1941, because Manstein had assigned the Romanian units de facto to the German corps. He protested and managed to obtain Antonescu's intervention in the matter. Thus in June 1942, in the final assault on Sevastopol, where he received a sector command, with two divisions (1st Mountain Division and 18th Infantry Division) subordinated to him. The 18th Infantry Division was protecting the left flank of the 54th Corps and the 1st Mountain Division the right flank of the 30th Corps. The corps' mission was to tie down the Soviet forces in front of it and assist the neighboring German corps in their advance. The Romanian troops were spread out on a line of 17 km, the same as the 54th Corps, but which have 4 divisions. Also this sector had a very irregular wooded terrain, the most difficult around Sevastopol. They, however, managed to take some key defensive positions, like the Bastion II, the most important Soviet observation point. The Mountain Corps was pulled out of the first line, after the front narrowed and assigned the task to clear up the Balaclava pocket, where it captured the 109th Rifle Division (over 10,000 POWs). For his deeds he was promoted to lieutenant general and awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 2nd class and the German Cross in Gold.

The Mountain Corps remained in Crimea, from where it executed its administrative and disciplinary attributes regarding the mountain troops fighting in the Caucasus and the Kuban. I would also like to add that, during his stay in Crimea, general Avramescu was the one who initiated the Mountain Corps' Simferopol Canteen for the poor inhabitants of the city, where up to 2000 people were fed daily in some periods.

In late 1943 he was named CO of the 3rd Corps, which was situated in Trans-Dnestra, and then of the 6th Corps, with which he took part in the battles in Moldavia in 1944. In August, on the eve of the Soviet Jassy-Kishinev Operation, he took effective command of the 4th Army, because general Racovita was away on leave. He had foreseen the major offensive prepared by the 2nd Ukrainian Front in his sector, but could not prevent the disaster, because of the limited number of armored and motorized units at his disposal, with which he couldn't launch an effective counterattack. On 20 August he entered in an argument with marshal Antonescu, who had arrived at the army's command post in Bacau. He wanted to give the order to pull back to the Adjud-Focsani-Namoloasa-Galati fortified line, because he considered it to be the only place where he could stop the numerous Soviet tank corps. As a result he was replaced with general Ilie Steflea, the marshal's right-hand man. Avramescu returned to the 6th Corps, the unit which he officially commanded, but only for a short while, as the events took an unexpected turn.

On 31 August he was appointed at the command the 4th Army, which he led in its campaign in Transylvania. His troops stopped the German-Hungarian offensive in September and then counterattacked, advancing to the river Mures. In October, the Soviet-Romanian offensive began and it pushed back the Axis armies in Northwestern Transylvania. On 26 October 1944, Carei was taken and the 4th Army crossed the pre 1939 border with Hungary. The advance continued to the Tisza and then on the Hernad Valley and through the Heygjala Mountains to the Slovakian frontier. For his contribution to the retaking of Northwestern Transylvania, general Avramescu was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order with swords 3rd class. Only three Romanian generals received the model 1941 3rd and 2nd classes and the model 1944 3rd class of the order. Incidentally all were mountain troops commanders.

The state of the Romanian armies in early 1945 was miserable. This was mainly the result of poor supply. The new allies were using the Romanian supply system for their own needs. Most of the Romanian products were sent to the Red Army units. General Gheorghe Avramescu protested vehemently on many occasions. Of course that marshal Rodion Malinovsky dismissed the facts as "the result of the sabotage of the officers of the old regime". After the Soviet command allowed 200 wagons of food to be delivered to the 4th Army, Avramescu continued to protest, especially because most of the Romanian units were under strength and were receiving missions beyond their possibilities.

According to the memoirs of general Gheorghe Mihail, then the General Inspector of the Infantry and a member of the Superior Council of the Army, he was called over by general Sanatescu, the Chief of the General Staff, who showed him a letter from general Dragomir, in which general Avramescu was accused of secret ties with the Germans opposing his army. General Sanatescu in his own memoirs mentions a report of colonel Grosu on the strange behavior of the commanding general. The two generals decided not to make public the accusations and, because Avramescu had only one month before he reached the retirement age, to give him a 25 days vacation, at the end of which he would be retired from active duty.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of the long and impressive military career of general Gheorghe Avramescu. The CO of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, marshal R. I. Malinovsky, requested his return to the command of the 4th Army. The apparent reason was the decrease of the army's operational capacity by 50% since his departure. This was very debatable, taking into consideration the high competence of the new commander, lieutenant general Nicolae Dascalescu. Initially, general Mihail opposed the decision and even managed to convince the Superior Council of the Army to refuse. However, the Council eventually succumbed to the Soviet pressure and general Avramescu returned on the front and successfully led the 4th Army in the first phase of the Zvolen � Banska Bystica Operation in Slovakia.

On 2 March 1945 he and general Nicolae Dragomir were summoned to the command of the Soviet 40th Army in the Slovak town of Divin, to present the situation of the 4th Romanian Army. After an hour the officers that came with them were communicated that Avramescu and Dragomir left with general Filip Fedorovich Jmachenko to the command of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, where they were summoned by Malinovsky. In fact the two generals had been arrested. At 2030 the chief Soviet liaison officer to the 4th Army communicated that general Dascalescu was the new CO. On 5 March Dacalescu sent an official letter to Jmachenko, asking him when did Avramescu and Dragomir leave to Bucharest (as he was told initially) and when are they going to return. Four days later, Jmachenko visited the command post of the 4th Army. Again Dascalescu asked where are the two generals. The only answer he could get was a recommendation to ask the Ministry of Defense or the Romanian General Staff.

On 3 March 1945 his wife (Adela) and his daughter (Felicia) were arrested and sent to Siberia. His daughter killed herself on 6 March. His wife returned to Romania in 1956. The Romanian authorities addressed the Soviet Supreme Tribunal and found out that general Gheorghe Avramescu died on 3 March 1945 near the town Iasbereni, following an attack of German aircraft. He was buried in Budapest. There is the possibility that he was in fact executed by the NKVD, because, strangely, only one bullet hit the car and no one else inside was hit, except the Romanian general.

On 23 October 2000, general Avramescu returned to Romania and was buried in the Military Cemetery in Cluj. The 24th Mountain Battalion today bears the honorary name General Gheorghe Avramescu

The debate over his supposed intention to defect with his entire army to the German side, as the Soviets suspected following the defection of his son in law, is still opened. On one side we have to consider his very good military education and experience, which would have told him that the war was already lost and this action would be folly. On the other hand we have several German and Romanian, from members of the Iron Guard, testimonies of this planned action, but their objectivity is doubtful. Only the Soviet archives could provide more information.

Author: Victor Nitu

Arhivele Militare Romane, UM 02405 Pitesti, Memorii Batrani, general Gheorghe Avramescu

Pandea A., Ardeleanu E. Romanii in Crimeea, Editura Militara, 1995

Dutu A., Dobre F. S-a mai dezlegat o enigma în "cazul" Avramescu? in Magazin Istoric May 1997 issue

Otu P. Cantina din Simferopol in in Magazin Istoric March 1998 issue

Dutu A., Dobre F., Loghin L. Armata Romana in al doilea razboi mondial (1941-1945) - Dictionar Enciclopedic, Editura Enciclopedica, 1999

Dutu A., Retegan M. Razboi si societate vol. 1, RAO, 2000

User Comments Add Comment
dana  (6 October 2005)
Din cate am citit pana acum stiu ca orasul Carei a fost eliberat in 25 octombrie, in jurul orei 9 dimineata, nu in 26 cum apare in articolul dvs. Aveti informatii noi despre data de 26? Oricum, personal consider site-ul foarte bun, fiind o sursa informativa pretioasa. Pe mai departe, toate cele bune!