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> 46. The Romanian-German Confidence Crisis...
dragos
Posted: June 03, 2004 07:55 pm
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46. The Romanian-German Confidence Crisis during the Stalingrad Battle

by Florin Constantiniu

As a result of the Stalingrad battle, both the 3rd and the 4th Romanian Armies were destroyed. Subsequently, the military and political relations between Romania and Germany, coming to a head in 1942 due to the mentioned realities, were confronted to a shock provoked by a serious crisis which cropped up between the High Commands of the two countries.

Not only the loss of the two Romanian Armies concerned Marshal Ion Antonescu, but also the humiliating accusation of the Germans, who hastened to present the Romanians as being responsible for the catastrophe they were involved in. A wave of reproches and insulting words came upon the Romanian soldiers; moreover, on the front line, their "combat fellows" also treated them with contempt and in a boorish manner. They couldn't know anything about and they couldn't have at that time an accurate view on the repeated requests made by Ion Antonescu and by other Romanian military authorities in order to reveal the fragility of the Romanian troops' disposition at th Don River's Bend and in the Kalmuk Steppe!

The Romanian-German confidence crisis came to a head - according to historian Jurgen Forster when on December 9, 1942 Marshal Ion Antonescu's letter was delivered to Fieldmarshal Erich von Manstein, who was recently appointed as chief of the "Don" Army Group. In this letter, after reminding Romania's contributions in the war, Antonescu revealed, for the very first time, the absence of any convention between his country and Germany: "One cannot take into account this generous sacrifice as a non-restrictive obligation. None should ask else but what we consent to give, as long as between Romania and Germany neither a political, nor a military convention exists".

The tone of the letters becomes even dramatic in the excerpts comprising Marshal's references to the situation in which several Romanian soldiers were shot dead by the German ones, three Romanian officers and the NCOs being disarmed by their German fellows: "I have got a political and historical responsibility and I also have a sacred duty as concerns my soldiers. I would dishonour myself by letting them be dishonoured. And still I'll be nothing but a coward, if I'll tolerate pieces of cowardice to be commited against them".

By the end of his letter, Antonescu emphasized to Fieldmarshal von Manstein the framework. of competences in the cooperation domain, adding in the final lines a threat in regard with a possible reviewing of his position as concerned the participation of the Romanian troops in the fights on the Eastern front: "The Romanian soldier can't be condemned by anyone else but the Romanian officer and the Romanian commander. He can't be humiliated by a foreigner, less by a combat fellow, even in case he's doing some mistakes. He cannot be massacrated in bootless attacks (...) He cannot be punished by somebody else but a Romanian officer. Not anyone can dispose of our brave units the way he wants to, as anyone can't dispose of yours. It is my duty to warn you that, if this attitude and these deeds will not stop, I will have to reconsider the situation of our forces on your front".

It is obvious that the letter addressed to Fieldmarshal von Manstein was actually addressed to Hitler; choosing as addressee the new commander of the "Don" Army Group, Antonescu wanted to avoid an increasing of the tension in the Romanian-German relationship.

A few days after this letter was sent, an unpredictable event make worse the confidence crisis between the two allies: on December 17, 1942, Horia Sima, who was confied in the Berkenbruk camp, run to Italy. The Marshal percevied the "escape" of the chief of the Iron Guard movement as a sign from Fuhrer's part, who being discontented with the Romanian military "deeds" in the Stalingrad battle, made him known that he could be replaced by another one, after all.

The augmentation of the strains made very necessary a top-level meeting for solving the crisis. It took place at Rastenburg, on January 10-12, 1943. The one who best perceived the reasons for the so-called "success" of these discusions was General Ion Gheorghe, as he wrote: "It was a characteristic and a decisive feature in the future development of the Romanian-German relationship framework the fact that both partners expected each from the part of the other one an avalanche of reproaches and that they were, in a sort of way, surprised and embarassed, as the predictable avalanche did not occur; both of them seemed to be very glad as they got free of some awkward discussions".

Indeed, taking into account the previous exchange of reproaches between the military authorities from both sides and also the hostile acts of the German military against the Romanian ones, one should have expected a stormy meeting between Hitler and the Romanian Marshal.

Actually, the reality was different. The discussion started, unexpectedly, not with references on the situation of the troops on the front's line, but with "Horia Sima's case". Only after this incident was cleared up, the military issue came on the agenda. The Fuhrer stated again that the situation will be reestablished and he assured the Marshal of the fact that the German riposte would have as a result a "chatastrophic" defeat for the Soviets.

A far bigger importance by comparison with the valuation and plans for the future operations (the first being too optimistic, the second illusory), had the accord which concerned the Romanian Army's refreshment and its rearming with the help of the Reich. The German supplies of military weaponry and technical means did constitute "the golden bridge" where the two allied countries could meet together and where the discontentment of Romania could be removed. It was established that 19 Romanian division would benefit by this rearming programme, which was to be ended in the spring of 1944; until then the eight divisions in Caucasus and the two in Crimea were to be maintained.

In order to understand the quick manner in which was solved the confidence crisis, we must take into account Marshal I.on Antonescu's experience in the First World War. At that time, during the 1916's campaign, the Romanian Army had suffered severe defeats, being obliged to abandon a significant part of the national territory. In extremely difficult conditions, during the first months, on the Moldavian territory, a real "miracle" of recovering the Romanian Army occured; being trained again and reinforced with new supplies, this army-that had been defeated at Turtucaia and also had lost the battle of Neajlov-Arges achieved, after that, to gain the great victories at Mărăşti, Mărăşeşti and Oituz, in the summer of 1917.

Antonescu believed that history would repeat this "miracle"; for his part, the disaster in the Kalmuk Steppe and at the Don River's Bend represented the equivalent to the 1916's campaign; the severe defeats suffered in 1917 had not got Romania out of the war; due to a remarkable effort, the army again reestablished its full combat capacity. Now - Antonescu believed - the recovering was to be even more easy to be made, as the enemy was still very far from the borders of Romania, and the rearming was to be assured by the Wehrmacht.

"The golden bridge" - in other words, the recovering of the Romanian Army on the basis of the German military combat means - ceased the confidence crisis between the two coalition allied partners, despite the fact that another unpleasant episode existed, which was quickly solved: (the reference was made on Hitler's February 2 dated letter about the so-called "decomposition phenomenon" which - the Fuhrer asserted was registered among the Romanian troops in the Kuban area, this fact having as a result a categorical invalidation, of the phenomenon after the War minister, General C.Pantazi, checked up the troops, so that Hitler backed out his charges). The situation in the area of the front seemed to support Fuhrer's fully promising valuations. In spite of the fact that the "Wintergewitter" Operation, that was launched with the view of reestablishing the contact with the surrounded at Stalingrad 6th German Army, has been stopped when the forces of Fieldmarshal von Manstein reached a line only 40-50 km nearby the city, after the traumatic surrender (February 2, 1943) of Marshal von Paulus, who was the first Fieldmarshal of the German Army imprisoned by Russians, his rank fellow, von Manstein, at the end of an admirable led military operation, succeeded not only to re-establish the German disposition, but also to take the counteroffensive and - great and remarkable performance - to conquer Harkov, on March 14. Only the melting of the snow, that made roads to become impassable, had stopped this new offensive impulse of the Wehrmacht.
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Petre
Posted: November 02, 2015 06:00 pm
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Book : Gen. Hans Doerr "Der Feldzug nach Stalingrad (The Campaign to Stalingrad)", 1955.
Chapter IX The romanian troops :

Se va vorbi mult īn continuare despre īnfrāngerea, zdrobirea şi eşecurile trupelor romāne, deoarece evenimentele chiar aşa au decurs şi ele nu trebuie īnfrumuseţate īntr-o lucrare de istorie militară. Asta nu īnseamnă īnsă nici negarea meritelor capacităţii combative a trupelor romāne, nici recunoaşterea vinovăţiei lor.
De la īnceperea campaniei īn răsărit, mari contingente de trupe romāne au luat parte la operaţii. Īn compunerea Marilor unităţi germane ei au luptat cu curaj şi au īndeplinit misiunile īncredinţate. Tocmai pentru că trupele romāne s-au comportat bine, participānd la lupte īn compunerea Marilor unităţi germane īn Podolia, Donbass, īn Crimeea, īn Caucaz ş.a.m.d., īn vara şi toamna 1942 au fost īnfiinţate (?) două armate romāne.
Маreşalul Antonescu, Comandanţii de armate Dumitrescu şi Constantinescu, precum şi comandanţii subordonţi lor, tovarăşi de īncredere ai fraţilor lor de arme germani, au făcut totul pentru buna colaborare cu comandamentul trupelor germane. Modestul soldat romān a luptat cu vitejie, iar două divizii romāne au īmpărtăşit soarta Armatei 6 la Stalingrad.
Vina pentru prăbuşirea poziţiilor romāne de pe Marele Cot al Donului şi din Stepele Calmīce o poartă Comandamentul Suprem al armatei germane, care īn aroganţa lui, ce a depăşit toate limitele, a pus īn faţa aliaţilor sarcini pe care ei nu le puteau īndeplini. Comandantul Suprem a ignorat propunerile comandanţilor săi, ca şi pe cele ale comandanţilor aliaţi. Nici chiar mareşalul Antonescu – singura persoană influentă dintre liderii puterilor Axei, care discuta cu Hitler fără ocolişuri şi nu admitea să fie ignorat, nu a putut să-l facă pe Hitler să dea atenţie avertismentelor sale. El i-a raportat lui Hitler că Armatele 3 şi 4 romāne, din cauza pierderilor suferite (?), a lipsei de mijloace antitanc (ei aveau numai tunuri antitanc cal. 37 mm cu tracţiune hipo), de artilerie grea (la divizii nu exista artilerie calibru greu), precum şi a altor neajunsuri la armament şi echipament, nu erau īn măsură să se opună unui atac decisiv al inamicului.
Cu toate acestea, diviziilor romāne le-au fost repartizate sectoare a căror lăţimi erau egale ca dimensiuni cu cele primite de o divizie din armata germană. Trebuie notat că trupele romāne nu erau pregătite să lupte cu curaj după reguli de luptă precum cele proprii armatei germane; ele au executat pregătire īn spiritul tacticii franceze, care presupunea un grad mare de siguranţă, ceea ce corespundea spiritului naţional al romānilor. O lăţime a sectorului pentru divizie, de 20 km şi peste, nu corespundea cu posibilităţile trupelor romāne. Urmarea a fost că īncă de la īnceput trupele s-au simţit nesigure şi mai slabe ca inamicul, pentru că īşi cunoşteau incapacitatea de a respinge atacurile tancurilor.
Īn aceste condiţii nu trebuiau pretinse de la diviziile romāne acţiuni de succes precum cele obţinute de diviziile germane, dotate cu armament modern. Şi chiar dacă nu s-a pretins direct, asta era clar din ce misiuni au primit.
Atitudinea incorectă faţă de trupele acestui aliat, de care este vinovată Germania, ne obligă să ne abţinem de la orice fel de aprecieri negative.


This post has been edited by Petre on November 02, 2015 06:00 pm
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Petre
Posted: March 25, 2016 06:02 pm
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Book : A.A. Greciko (former Minister of defence, USSR) - The Battle for Caucasus, 1967.
QUOTE
(...)
La 19 sept după o puternică pregătire de aviaţie, Div. 3 munte romānă a trecut la ofensivă şi a īnceput să pună presiune pe subunităţile din prima linie ale Div. 216.... Īn zorii zilei de 25 sept, cu un raid al unităţilor de artilerie şi aruncătoare şi cu lovituri din aer a īnceput contraatacul trupelor noastre. Luptele aprige au durat mai mult de două zile. Aici Div. 3 munte romānă a fost aproape peste tot īnfrāntă. A pierdut aproape 8 mii soldaţi şi ofiţeri, morţi, răniţi şi prizonieri. Trupele noastre au distrus 25 tunuri, 7 tancuri, 75 mitraliere, 50 maşini. Au fost făcute şi numeroase capturi. Pierzānd aproape jumătate din efectiv, Div. 3 munte a fost retrasă de pe front.
(...)
Victoria trupelor sovietice la Stalingrad şi luptele grele din Caucaz au adus tulburare şi derută pentru trupele sateliţilor. Īn acea perioadă īn Jurnalul de Acţiuni al Grupului german de Armate «А» aproape zilnic apăreau astfel de īnsemnări : «Īncrederea tuturor diviziilor romāne a scăzut considerabil ... Iată un exemplu din care se poate vedea lipsa dorinţei comandanţilor şi trupelor de a executa acţiuni de luptă : Div. 2 munte romānă are efectivul combatant o mie oameni, dar la drepturi sunt 12 mii».
Īn pofida solicitărilor categorice ale comandamentului german să fie restabilită disciplina la unităţi, soldaţii romāni au refuzat să-şi verse sāngele fără rost...
(...)
Comandamentul Armatei 17, scurt timp după asta a primit observaţii pentru că «nu a fost instituită pānă acum disciplina īn Marile Unităţi», şi că «īntr-un timp scurt s-a schimbat starea de spirit a efectivelor Armatei». Dacă şi germanii «şi-au schimbat starea de spirit», atunci unităţile romāne şi slovace care făceau parte din Grupul de Armate «А», erau demoralizate īn şi mai mare măsură. Deja īn ianuarie 1943 comandamentul romān «propune să fie trecute īn Crimeea toate diviziile romāne implicate īn lupte īn fāşia Armatei 17». Īncrederea diviziilor romāne slăbise considerabil. La īnceputul lunii februarie comandamentul Grupului de Armate a trebuit să recunoască că «īn subunităţile romāne nu se mai poate avea nicio īncredere ». Soldaţii romāni dezertau īn grup şi cīte unul sau se predau Armatei Roşii. Mulţi dintre ei plecau cu de la sine voie īn spatele frontului. Treburile au ajuns pānă acolo īncāt īn raionul Djankoi ( ? – īn centrul Crimeei ) au fost pregătite locuri speciale, practic nişte lagăre, unde erau aduşi soldaţii romāni prinşi că au fugit. Generalfeldmarschall Kleist a fost nevoit să se adreseze SMG al armatei regale romāne cu o plāngere către Antonescu pentru slaba activitate a trupelor romāne īn Kuban şi a cerut să fie atenţionaţi comandanţii de divizii asupra «necesităţii de a-şi īndeplini īndatoririle». Hitleriştii au folosit toate măsurile pentru a reface spiritul de luptă al aliaţilor lor. La mijlocul lunii februarie Hitler a emis un ordin īn care cerea ca «aliaţii care au suferit īnfrāngeri să fie trataţi şi mai departe corect, cu camaraderie şi decenţă». Dar flatările n-au ajutat. Atunci, pentru «restabilirea disciplinei» īn unităţile romāne, a venit la Grupul de Armate «А» ministrul de război romān, gen. Pantazi. La 6 feb. īntre acesta şi Şeful St.Maj. al Grupului de Armate, col. ... au avut loc discuţii, pe timpul cărora s-au dezbătut măsurile pentru ridicarea moralului şi a spiritului de luptă al unităţilor romāne. Ca măsuri, gen. Pantazi a informat că mareşalul Antonescu i-a īmputernicit pe comandanţii de divizii să aprobe condamnările la moarte. Din īnsărcinarea lui Antonescu, ministrul de război a mers la trupele romāne «pentru a le ridica moralul şi spiritul de luptă». Pantazi a dorit să refacă capacitatea de luptă a unităţilor romāne la faţa locului şi să afle numele comandanţilor care «dau semne de oboseală».
Īnsă la 23 feb. īn Jurnalul Grupului de Armate s-a scris : «Bat.1 din Div.19 inf romānă a refuzat īn totalitate să lupte. Comandamentul romān a vrut să īmpuşte pe fiecare al treilea ...». Cum se vede, nici gen. Pantazi n-a reuşit să ridice moralul şi spiritul de luptă al trupelor sale.
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