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Encyclopedia > Romanian Campaign (World War I)
Romanian Campaign
Part of Balkans theatre
Date: August 1916 - December 1916
Location: Romania
Result: Treaty of Versailles
Combatants
Central Powers, Bulgaria Romania, Russia
Commanders
General Falkenhayn General Mackensen General Averescu, General Zaionchovsky
Strength
450,000 600,000
Casualties
60,000 roughly 330,000 (50% POWs)

The Romanian Campaign was a campaign in the Balkans theatre of World War I fought between Romania and Russia against armies of the Central Powers. Combatants Central Powers Triple Entente, Serbia, Romania The Balkans Campaign of World War I was fought between Serbia and later Romania who sided with the Allied Powers against the Central Powers, mostly Austria-Hungary and Germany as well as Bulgaria. ... The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. ... European military alliances in 1915. ... Erich von Falkenhayn Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn (11 November 1861 - 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. Falkenhayn was a career soldier. ... Field Marshal August von Mackensen August von Mackensen (December 6, 1849–November 8, 1945), was a German Field Marshal, born August Mackensen in Haus Leipnitz, in the Prussian province of Saxony, to Louis and Marie Louise Mackensen. ... Combatants Central Powers Triple Entente, Serbia, Romania The Balkans Campaign of World War I was fought between Serbia and later Romania who sided with the Allied Powers against the Central Powers, mostly Austria-Hungary and Germany as well as Bulgaria. ... Combatants Allies: Serbia, Russia, France, Romania, Belgium, British Empire, United States, Italy, and others Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire Casualties Military dead:5 million Civilian dead:3 million Total dead:8 million Military dead:4 million Civilian dead:3 million Total dead:7 million The First World... European military alliances in 1915. ...

Contents


First Allies, then Enemies

For many years before the start of World War I, Romania was an ally of Austria-Hungary. However, under the terms of the alliance, Romania was only obligated to go to war in the event that Austria was attacked. When the war started, Romania argued that Austria herself had started the war and consequently, Romania was under no formal obligation to join in the war. This was essentially the same arguement that Italy used at the start of World War I, with the same outcome - a former ally of the Central Powers sat on the sidelines and fielded offers from both sides to join in the war. Like Italy, Romania eventually joined the Allies, but with disastrous consequences. Austria-Hungary, also known as the Dual monarchy (or: the k. ... European military alliances in 1915. ...


In exchange for entry into the war, Romania demanded the territory of Transylvania, which was under Hungarian administration. Romanians made up the largest ethnic group in Transylvania though the territory, located on the western side of the Transylvanian Alps, had been part of the Kingdom of Hungary for much of the last 900 years (see History of Transylvania for details). The Romanians also demanded some land that belonged to Bulgaria in the region called Dobruja. The Allies accepted this deal late in the summer of 1916. If the Romanians had sided with the Allies earlier in the year, before the Brusilov Offensive, perhaps the Russians would not have lost. It must be said that Russia held up the deal herself, out of worries about Romanian territorial designs on Bessarabia (See Esposito, text for map 37). This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Southern Carpathians (also called Transylvanian Alps; in Romanian: Carpaţii Meridionali) are located between the Prahova river in the east and the Timiş river and Cerna river in the west. ... The Kingdom of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyar Királyság) is the name of a multiethnic kingdom that existed in Central Europe from 1000 to 1918. ... This is an article about the history of Transylvania // Ancient History: Transylvania as the heartland of the Dacian state Dacian Kingdom, during the rule of Burebista, 82 BC Herodotus gives an account of the Agathyrsi, who lived in Transylvania during the 5th century BC. A kingdom of Dacia was in... Dobruja, or sometimes Dobrudja (Dobrogea in Romanian, Добруджа—transliterated Dobrudzha—in Bulgarian, Dobruca in Turkish), is the territory between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast. ... 1916 (MCMXVI) is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January-February January 1 - The Royal Army Medical Corps first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ... Combatants Russian Empire Austria-Hungary Imperial Germany Commanders Aleksei Brusilov Conrad von Hötzendorf Alexander von Linsingen Strength 40+ infantry divisions (573,000 men) 15 cavalry divisions (60,000 men) 39 infantry divisions (437,000 men) 10 Cavalry divisions (30,000 men) Casualties ~500,000 men killed and wounded 1... 1927 map of Bessarabia from Charles Upson Clarks book Bessarabia or Bessarabiya (Basarabia in Romanian, Besarabya in Turkish) was the name by which the Imperial Russia designated the eastern part of the principality of Moldavia ceded by the Ottoman Empire to Russia in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish...


The Romanian government signed a treaty with the Allies on August 17, 1916 and declared war on the Central Powers on August 27. The Romanian army was quite large, about 500,000 men in 23 divisions. However, it was a paper tiger with poor officers, poor equipment, and more than half of the army was hardly trained. Meanwhile, the German Chief of Staff, General Falkenhayn correctly reasoned that Romania would side with the Allies and made plans to deal with Romania. Thanks to the earlier conquest of Serbia and the ineffective Allied operations on the Greek border, the Bulgarian army was quite willing to help fight the Romanians. August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1916 (MCMXVI) is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January-February January 1 - The Royal Army Medical Corps first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ... August 27 is the 239th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (240th in leap years), with 126 days remaining. ... Symbol of the Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division in NATO code A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of around ten to fifteen thousand soldiers. ... The phrase paper tiger is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhi laohu (紙老虎), meaning something which seems as threatening as a tiger, but is really harmless. ... The term Chief of Staff can refer to: The White House Chief of Staff, the highest-ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. ... Erich von Falkenhayn Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn (11 November 1861 - 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. Falkenhayn was a career soldier. ...


War Begins, Late August 1916

Romanian invasion of Austria-Hungary, August 1916
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Romanian invasion of Austria-Hungary, August 1916

On August 27, three Romanian armies launched attacks through the Transylvanian Alps and into Transylvania. The attacks were initially successful in pushing weak Austrian units out of the mountains but the Germans sent four divisions to reinforce the Austrian lines and by the middle of September, the Romanian offensive was halted. The Russians loaned them three divisions for operations in the north of Romania but very few supplies could be sent because Constantinople remained firmly under control of the Ottoman Empire. August 27 is the 239th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (240th in leap years), with 126 days remaining. ... Map of Constantinople. ... Imperial motto (Ottoman Turkish) دولت ابد مدت Devlet-i Ebed-müddet (The Eternal State) The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (1683) Official language Ottoman Turkish Capital Söğüt (1299-1326), Bursa (1326-1365), Edirne (1365-1453), İstanbul (1453-1922) Imperial anthem Ottoman imperial anthem Sovereigns Padishah of the Osmanl...


The first counter attack came from General Mackensen in command of a multi-national army of Bulgarian divisions, some Ottoman divisions, and a German division. This army attacked north from Bulgaria, starting on September 1. It stayed on the south side of the Danube river and headed towards Constanţa. Along the way Mackensen's army defeated a Romanian force which crossed the Danube behind his line of advance. The defeat of this Romanian force demoralized the garrison of the fort at Turtucaia which surrendered on September 6 (see the Battle of Turtucaia for details). Field Marshal August von Mackensen August von Mackensen (December 6, 1849–November 8, 1945), was a German Field Marshal, born August Mackensen in Haus Leipnitz, in the Prussian province of Saxony, to Louis and Marie Louise Mackensen. ... September 1 is the 244th day of the year (245th in leap years). ... The Danube bend at Visegrád is a popular destination of tourists The Danube (German: Donau, Slovak: Dunaj, Hungarian: Duna, Slovenian: Donava, Croatian: Dunav, Serbian: Дунав/Dunav, , Bulgarian: Дунав (Dunav), Romanian: Dunăre, Ukrainian: , Latin: Danuvius), all ultimately derived from the PIE *dānu, meaning river or stream, is Europes second... ConstanÅ£a (pronunciation in Romanian: ; German Konstanza; old names: Kustendji, Kustendja, Köstence, Constantza, Tomis) is a seaport on the Black Sea and the capital of ConstanÅ£a County, Romania. ... This article is about the day of the year. ... Combatants Romania Central Powers Commanders Alexandru Averescu von Mackensen Strength Unknown Unknown Casualties 25,000 The Battle of Turtucaia was a battle between Romanian and Central Powers forces fought during World War I. The battle of Turtucaia represents one of most significant defeats suffered by the Romanian Army in its...


Russian reinforcements under General Zaionchovsky arrived in time to halt Mackensen's army before it cut the rail line that linked Constanta with Bucharest. Fighting was furious with attacks and counter attacks up till September 23. Bucharest (Romanian: BucureÅŸti ) is the capital city and industrial and commercial centre of Romania. ... September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years). ...


Overall command was now under Falkenhayen (recently fired as German Chief of Staff) who started his own counter-attack on September 18. The first attack was on the Romanian 1st army near the town of Hatseg, the attack halted the Romanian army advance. Eight days later two German divisions of mountain troops nearly cut off an advancing Romanian column near Hermannstadt (modern day Sibiu). Defeated, the Romanians retreated back into the mountains and the German troops captured Red Tower Pass. On October 4, the Romanian 2nd Army attacked the Germans at Kronstadt (modern day Brasov) but the attack was repulsed and the counter-attack forced the Romanians to retreat here also. The 4th Romanian army in the north of the country retreated without much pressure from the Austrian troops so that by October 25, the Romanian army was back to its borders everywhere. September 18 is the 261st day of the year (262nd in leap years). ... County Sibiu County Status County capital Mayor Klaus Johannis, from Democratic Forum of Germans of Romania, since 2000 Area 121 km² Population (2002) 171,535 Density 1,417 inh/km² Geographical coordinates , Web site http://www. ... October 4 is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Braşov (Hungarian: Brassó, German: Kronstadt) is a city in Romania, residence of Braşov county. ... October 25 is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 67 days remaining. ...

Central Powers counter attack, September-October of 1916
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Central Powers counter attack, September-October of 1916

Back on the coast, General Mackensen launched a new offensive on October 20, after a month of careful preperations, and his somewhat odd army defeated Zaionchovsky's Russian troops. The Russians were forced to withdraw out of Constanta towards the marshy delta of the Danube river. The Russian army was now both demoralized and nearly out of supply. Mackensen felt free to secretly pull half his army back to the town of Sistova (in Bulgaria) with an eye towards crossing the Danube river. October 20 is the 293rd day of the year (294th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 72 days remaining. ... Svishtov (formerly Sistova)is a Bulgarian town at Danube river, nearly 235 km north-east from Sofia. ...


The Conquest of Romania

Falkenhayn's forces made several probing attacks into the mountain passes held by the Romanian army to see if there were weaknesses in the Romanian defences. After several weeks, he concentrated his best troops in the south for an attack on the Vulkan Pass. The attack was launched on November 10 and it pushed the Romanian defenders back through the mountains and into the plains by November 26. There was already snow covering the mountains and soon operations would have to halt for the winter. Advances by other parts of Falkenhayn's 9th army also pushed through the mountains, the Romanian army was being ground down by the constant battle and their supply situation was becoming critical. November 10 is the 314th day of the year (315th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 51 days remaining. ... November 26 is the 330th day (331st on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...


On November 23, Mackensen's best troops crossed the Danube at two locations near Sistova. This attack caught the Romanians by surprise and his army was able to advance rapidly towards Bucharest against very weak resistance. Mackensen's attack threatened to cut off half the Romanian army and so the Romanian Supreme Commander (recently appointed Averescu) tried a desparate counter-attack on Mackensen's force. The plan was bold, using the entire reserves of the Romanian army, but it needed the cooperation of Russian divisions to contain Mackensen's offensive while the Romanian reserve struck the gap between Mackensen and Falkenhayn. The Russian army disagreed with the plan and did not support the attack. November 23 is the 327th day of the year (328th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 38 days remaining. ...

Conquest of Romania, November 1916 to January 1917
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Conquest of Romania, November 1916 to January 1917

On December 1, the Romanian army went ahead with the offensive. Mackensen was able to shift forces to deal with the sudden assault and Falkenhayn's forces responded with attacks along the entire front. Within three days, the attack had been shattered and the Romanians were retreating everywhere. Bucharest was captured on December 6 by Falkenhayn's 9th army cavalry. Rains and terrible roads were the only things that saved the remainder of the Romanian army but more than 150,000 Romanian soliders were captured. December 1 is the 335th (in leap years the 336th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... December 6 is the 340th day (341st on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Russians were forced to send many divisions to the border area to prevent an invasion of southern Russia and the German army fought to a standstill by the middle of January, 1917. The Romanian government relocated and part of the Romanian army still fought but for most purposes, Romania had been conquered.


Rumanian casualties are estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000 (including POWs). German, Austrian, Bulgarian, and Ottoman losses are estimated at around 60,000. This victory was an impressive feat for the German army and their generals. Most of the successful fighting had been done by German divisions (along with some Bulgarian forces in the south).


Aftermath

Fighting continued in 1917 as a small part of Romania remained under Russian protection. In May of 1917, the Romanian army attacked alongside the Russians in support of the Kerensky Offensive. After minor gains, the Russians and the Romanians were driven back by a counter attack from Mackensen's forces. This then turned into the Battle of Mărăşeşti, which was a minor victory for the Romanian army. Combatants Russia Germany, Austria-Hungary Commanders Aleksei Brusilov von Bothmer Strength XI, VII, VIII Armies South Army (A.H.-Germany) VII and III Army (Austria-Hungary) Casualties 400,000 ? The Kerensky Offensive (aka July Offensive or Galician Offensive) was the last Russian offensive in World War One. ...


When the Bolsheviks took power and then signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Romanians were left isolated and surrounded by German forces. They had little choice but to surrender which they did in May of 1918. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, at Brest, formerly Brest-Litovsk, between Russia and the Central Powers, marking Russias exit from World War I. The treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year but is significant as a chief...


Clearly, Romanian choose a bad time to enter the war. Entry on the Allied side in 1914 or 1915 could have saved Serbia from conquest. Entry in early 1916 might have allowed the Brusilov Offensive to succeed. Instead, they joined late, and were distrusted by the one major power that could help them: Russia. Combatants Russian Empire Austria-Hungary Imperial Germany Commanders Aleksei Brusilov Conrad von Hötzendorf Alexander von Linsingen Strength 40+ infantry divisions (573,000 men) 15 cavalry divisions (60,000 men) 39 infantry divisions (437,000 men) 10 Cavalry divisions (30,000 men) Casualties ~500,000 men killed and wounded 1...


General Esposito argues that the Romanian high command was terrible:

Militarily, Rumania's strategy could not have been worse. In choosing Transylvania as the initial objective, she ignored the threat to her rear. When the advance through the mountains failed, the high command refused to economize forces on that front to allow the creation of a mobile reserve with which Falkenhayn's later thrusts could be countered. Nowhere did the Romanians properly mass their forces to achieve concentration of combat power. (Esposito, map 40)

Despite this disaster, Romania was on the winning side and regained its independence with the surrender of the Central powers in November of 1918. The Allies rewarded Romania with control over Transylvania in the Treaty of Versailles. This in turn lead to ill-will between Hungary and Romania which persisted for decades after the end of the war. The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. ...


Sources

  • Esposito, Vincent (ed.) (1959). The West Point Atlas of American Wars - Vol. 2; maps 38-40. Frederick Praeger Press.
  • Falls, Cyril The Great War (1960).

 
 

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