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> 62. The Geo-Strategic Position
dragos
Posted: July 09, 2005 09:43 pm
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by Petre Otu

Nicolae Iorga said that, due to its geographical site, Romania is "a State of European necessity" being situated at a crossroads point which links the West with the East, the North with the South and, within the Black Sea Baltic Sea system, a buffer-state, which had to suffer intense "political shakings" during its entire history, separating the two Europes the continental and the peninsular one. Nicolae Iorga's statement was entirely confirmed, in the context of the military operations developed during the summer of 1944, when Romania disposed of geo-strategic attributes which were very important for the both two coalitions of forces fighting one against the other on the Romanian territory. These attributes were conferred, first of all, by the geo-strategic elements of the Romanian land, whose military valour stands very high (the chain of the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube river with its mouths and the Black Sea).

For the German High Command, the Romanian space offered the possibility to organise several strong defensive lines in the Oriental, Meridional and Occidental Carpathians, thus covering the strategic southern directions towards the Balkan Peninsula and from the Danube's middle-valley towards Hungary, Austria and the south of Germany's territory. The opening of these directions also represented a very important objective for the Red Army, this reality being understood very well by the officials of the Romanian General Headquarters. Taking notice of that, one of them wrote in a document issued on July 1, 1944: "If we take into account the capital importance that the Russians attribute to the Balkan area and that the shortest way to reach there passes through Romania, the overwhelming importance of the Romanian front in the Russian Command's view appears evident".

Moreover, the mountain zone's importance was undoubtely proved on the theatres of military actions in the World War II.

It is sufficient to mention the extremely bloody confrontations carried out in Italy at Monte Cassino, where the German troops during January-May 1944 - stopped the Allies armies' offensive towards Rome and inflicted heavy losses on them.

For the purpose of breaking the strenght of a possible Soviet offensive, a powerful fortified belt (Focsani-Namoloasa-Braila) was built between the Carpathians' Curve and the Danube's bend, which was appreciated by the military experts as having been one of the strongest in the whole Europe. This region, also called "Focsani Gate", had played a very important role in the pastimes too, because it had locked-up the invasions from the Euro-Asian steppe towards South and South-West.

In other respects, as the Directive of the Soviet Supreme Command (August 2, 1944) ordered, the main mission for the both two Ukrainean Fronts was to break through the enemy's defence up to the fortified line. Its passing through was to be accomplished by another strategic operation. On its turn, the German High Command appreciated that the fortified line gave the opportunity to put an end to the Soviet advance in the East; also, Marshal Ion Antonescu and the Romanian General Headquarters considered the "Focsani Gate" as a presumptive position for the concluding of the truce.

The keeping of the mountains line and of the fortified position (Focsani-Namoloasa-Braila) assured the viability of the communications on the Danube river, which was essential for handling an effective control over the entire Europe by the Great Powers. Also, the Romanian Black Sea shore represented an important strategic road towards Bulgaria and towards the Straits, in case of a German Navy's presence in the Black Sea area.

This geographical elements were completed by the economic potentialities, especially concerning the oil fields - a vital raw-material to carry through the war. In this respect, Hitler knew the exceptional value of the Romanian "black gold", when he declared to general Alfred Gerstenberg: "If we shall lose the oil fields, we shall not be able to win the war". The Fuhrer was so obsessed by the thought of regaining the Prahova Valley, that he established as a main objective, in launching the last big offensive operation in the Balaton Lake region, a chimeric scope: to reach the Romanian oil fields.

Thus, in the summer of 1944, Romania was settled in a geo-political and geo-strategic pole that, naturally, put together all the advantages and disadvantages of such a situation. Settled onto a trium confinium, the Romanian state was, like in the pastimes, a bridge between the Occident and the Orient, opening or closing strategic directions which were essential for the final upshot of the war and for the future configuration of Europe's political map.
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