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> 7. Remaking Great Romania Imperative...
Posted: December 18, 2003 08:11 pm
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7. Remaking Great Romania Imperative - General Ion Antonescu Policy - by Florin Constantiniu

The territorial cuts suffered by Romania in 1940 summer generated a political crisis that resulted in the demise of King Carol II and the taking over of the power by General Ion Antonescu, whose professionalism and moral value indicated a real saver of the Romanian nation which was going through one of the most difficult moments in its history.

The main goal of the "Leader of the Romanian State" - the official title of General Ion Antonescu, invested with exceptional powers - was to remake Great Romania, namely to re-establish the legally historical borders, confirmed by the 1919-1923 peace treaties and crippled in summer 1940.

Until the moment when France collapsed and the British forces retreated from the continent, General Ion Antonescu, remained faithful to Romania's traditional orientation towards Paris and London. After June 22nd, 1940 - the day when France signed the truce - General Ion Antonescu could but learn the lesson of the changes that had taken place on the continent following the quick successes of the German Army.

Seeing France on its knees, Great Britain, expecting to be invaded by the Wehrmacht, the Soviet Union making her threats, General Ion Antonescu throught that Romania's security interest imposed cooperation with the Berlin-Rome Axis, mainly with the Third Reich; he consequently joined the Tripartite Pact (November 23rd, 1940).

Before General Ion Antonescu took over the power, King Carol II had requested Hitler to send a Military Mission to Romania. The General was pleased to make anew this request. The presence of the German Mission and forces on the Romanian territory, appeared to him as a guarantee against the Soviet Union's pressures and border violations (in the Danube Delta).

Hitler had decided, ever since July 31st, 1940, to attack the Soviet Union the following spring. When the German-Soviet talks occasioned by V.M. Molotov's visit to Berlin (November 12nd-13rd, 1940), failed, Hitler signed, on December 18th, 1940, the Directive No.21 (Operation "Barbarossa" against the URSS), with provisions on Finland's and Romania's participation in the war.

As the Directive was secret General Ion Antonescu could not be informed on its contents.

But the German troops' movements in Romania and in Eastern and SouthEastern Europe revealed to the professional officer Ion Antonescu the Reich's true intentions, even if they were not reported to him.

That is why, on June 12th, 1941, when Hitler infomed the General (at Munich) on his intention to attack the USSR, the leader of the Romanian State was not surprised.

Hitler told Antonescu that, unlike Great Britain - accused that it deployed forces from its colonies and dominions on the front - he could not expect Romania to take part in the war, merely facilitate the deployment of German troops on its territory. The General's answer was quick: "the Romanian people would never forgive him if, while the German soldiers were fighting to liberate the Romanian territories annexed by the USSR on June 28th, 1940, the Romanian army was in expectation".

This answer was in full accordance with the national interest, with the national dignity, it was fully concording with the General's belief that a total and loyal cooperation with the Reich - the greatest power on the continent at that time - would allow Great Romania to re-make its borders. Romania's participation in the Eastem Campaign was in the General's view - to bring Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and the Hertza Country back to Romania; fidelity on the Romanian-German military relationships was to convince Hitler to think over the Vienna Dictate. General Ion Antonescu's political and strategical perception was then grounded on a seemingly correct evaluation of the situation. It must not be considered, we believe, in the light of the subsequent events, e.g. the German failures on the Eastern Front, after the unsuccessful "Blitzkrieg of Winter" 1941-1942 in the battle for Moscow.
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