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> 4. Stolen Territories
Posted: December 18, 2003 08:05 pm
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by Petre Otu

In implementing her August 23rd, 1939 agreement with Germany, the Soviet Union requested, through the notes of June 26th and 29th, 1940 that Bessarabia and northern Bukovina should be ceded to it, the latter having not being included in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Romania's total political and military isolation, as well as its eastern neighbour's overwhelming military superiority forced the Romanian Government to give up. The retreat of the authorities and of the army west of the Prut within four days, a deadline imposed by the Soviet Union, was dramatic due to the extremely short time and to the provocative behaviour of both the Soviet commands and troops, and of part of the minority population, mainly the Jewish.

Simultaneously with the tragedy of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, Hungary and Bulgaria increased their revisionist activities against Romania. In pursuit of its own political and strategic aims, Germany, seconded by Italy, imposed the Vienna Dictate on Romania, by which north-western Transylvania was offered to Hungary. The general situation forced the Romanian Government through the September 7, 1940, Craiova treaty, to cede Cadrilater (the Quadrillateral, namely the counties of Durostor and Caliacra) to Bulgaria.

The fact that territories were stolen from Romania had an extremely negative impact on both the Romanian operational and strategical capability and on the national military potential, as the area of the country and its population decreased with about one third.

More than 50 per cent of the population in the stolen areas were Romanians (3,421,000) which clearly proves that the breaking up of the national territory was not grounded on ethnical principles but on reasons of another nature. Simultaneously, the mobilisated effectives were reduced from 3,4 million to 2,2 million men and the 1941 contingent decreased from 152,734 to 97,615 men. The industrial production diminished with about 12 billion lei, from 75,5 to 63,6 billion lei. Out of the 3695 anterprises the national economy had got, 974 remained in the annexed territories (about 25%), many of which working for the defence sector. The arable area diminished with over 5 million hectares, from 13,874,000 ha (1918) to 8,809,000 ha (by the end of 1940). Significant natural mineral ores for specific military use - 38,5% of the gold resources; 64,7% of copper, 97,6% of the lead resources etc. - remained in the occupied territories.

Additionally, there were direct losses recorded by the armed forces: training fields, buildings, installations, fortifications, furniture, raw materials etc. were left behind and their value amounted to 7,258,725,747 lei (at the value of 1940), out of which 851,159,571 lei in Bessarabia, 168,201,981 lei in northern Bukovina, 5,904,234,105 lei in north western Transylvania and 335,130,090 lei in Cadrilater.

The stolen territories also destroyed the geographical military unity of country. We lost natural obstacles that were strong defensive lines - the Apuseni Mountains, the Dniester, the Eastern Carpathians. The Romanian army deployed in Moldova, with its forward line on the Prut river, lacked its operational depth, which made it difficult to organize the defence of that region. The strange form of the line of demarcation, imposed by the Vienna Dictate, neutralised the strategic value of the Transylvanian fortified line and made the Hungarian forces come closer to the Southern Carpathian passes.

Deprived of a part of its geopolitical and geo-strategical heritage, with its territory, population, economic potential and military force diminished by one third, Romania had to make unbelievable efforts in the following period to organize an efficient national defensive system, able to safeguard its ethnical and state being.
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