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Forgotten Army, Lost Victories

By Robert M. Citino 
Originally published under Front & Center Blog. Published Online: February 09, 2010 
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Last week I introduced the subject of the Romanian Army in World War II, and the key role it played in the fighting on the Eastern Front.  My intention was not to praise or condemn the Romanian Army–simply to point out its importance.  No one will ever be able to call it the best army out there.  Its equipment was outmoded, and its training standards were nowhere near Great Power status.  Nevertheless, the Romanians held huge sectors of the front for most of the war, and as Germany's largest ally in the East, they contributed an important share of Axis manpower.  There can be no comprehensive history of Barbarossa–its battles, its campaigns, even its atrocities–without paying some close attention to the Romanians.  Unfortunately, history has all but written them out of the story.  In fact, the Romanians often seem to get scapegoated for the defeat, with the collapse of their armies on the flanks of the Stalingrad position being exhibit A.  It is a ridiculous notion, unless you're an author with an ax to grind. 

And that is the key point.  The historical reputation of the Romanian Army in World War II has been fixed, apparently forever, by a handful of references in the German memoirs, especially those of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Lost Victories.  It is a book that sits on the shelf of  every Eastern front scholar or buff.  I plead guilty to owning a copy myself, a particularly well thumbed one, at that.  Like all the other German memoirs, however (Guderian's Panzer Leader comes immediately to mind), this one has historical holes big enough to accommodate a King Tiger.  Manstein gives us the Romanians as primitive drones who had difficulty thinking for themselves and who lived in constant fear of the Russians.  "In difficult situations," he writes, "this was liable to end in a panic."  But to be fair, foot soldiers lacking heavy weapons and antitank guns have every reason in the world to panic under a tank attack.  Likewise, Manstein mentions the practice of disciplinary flogging.  Sure, that's a bad idea.  But remember, his Wehrmacht dealt with its disciplinary problems by executing its own soldiers wholesale.  He does admit that the Romanians did their duty "as best they could," but only when they "submitted to German military leadership."  Meaning his own, of course.

Lost Victories is still a crucial account of the war, and so are the other memoirs.  On operational matters–deployment and maneuver of divisions, corps, and armies–they are as good a source as you can find.  But Manstein has an agenda, actually several of them:  defending his generalship and reputation, hiding his participation in war crimes, and blaming others for everything that went wrong. 

Lost Victories should come with a warning label:  Use with Caution.

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46 Responses to “Forgotten Army, Lost Victories”


  1. 1
    Bill Nance says:

    historical holes big enough for a king tiger or perhaps, dare I say…. an elefant?

  2. 2
    Luke Truxal says:

    I can't believe you went there Bill. The Romanians remind me of a quote from Breaking Up with Sarah Marshall. " When life gives lemons BLANK the lemons and bail." Basically it seems like the Romanians could do nothing to stop or slow down the offensive so the next basic instinct is survival. Even the German armor got the heck out of Stalingrad and left the 6th Army to fend for itself because the 6th wasn't mobile. Are their arguments stating what the Romanians could have done to stop the Soviets while being spread that thin with inferior equipment?

  3. 3
    Bill Nance says:

    The sadder element is that the Romanian story of WW II has been largely lost by now. I wonder if they have some locally produced scholarship that could balance Manstein & co. out some?

  4. 4
    Rob Citino says:

    Mark Axworthy et al, Third Axis Fourth Ally is the best book in English.

  5. 5
    Patrick Hays says:

    That is the fundemental problem with memoirs. Either someone has an axe to grind or someone or somebody else has to be set up for a fall.

  6. 6
    Titanium Alloy says:

    If the Romanians had read Nietzsche, they would have had more willpower.

  7. 7
    Paul Schultz says:

    Thank you for an excellent article. In my opinion, Romanian soldiers suffered from the same "malaise" afflicting the servicemen of all nations whose leaders chose to plunge them into a war in which the troops had no interest (Mussolini's demoralized legions spring to mind). In 1942, it is probably safe to say that most German soldiers still believed in their cause and their Fuhrer. The same cannot be said for the hapless Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian conscripts shivering in the Russian snow with inferior equipment while expected to stop Soviet armored onslaughts. Manstein's disdain aside, it was never realistic to suppose that these satellite armies would perform with the same level of dedication as did the Wehrmacht (even though Hitler deluded himself that their deployment in vital sectors of the Eastern Front would make up for the catastrophic losses his own forces had undergone the previous winter). It is more appropos to view these soldiers as victims of Hitler's ruthless policies (they suffered grievous losses by war's end, after all) than to evaluate their fighting quality in a cause that was not even theirs to begin with.

    WWII buffs might want to check out my new novel, THE FUHRER VIRUS. It is a spy/conspiracy/thriller for adult readers and can be found at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/TheFuhrerVirus.html, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and on Google Review. Read a recent review on PODBRAM.

    Thanks!

    Paul Schultz

  8. 8
    Peter Suciu says:

    A very good book on the subject is Third Axis, Fourth Ally, which notes that Romania actually more more troops in the conflict than France.

    Romania was the third largest Axis power in Europe, and after changing sides became the fourth largest "allied" power – although not technically an Allied power.

    But it is worth noting how Romania became involved in the whole situation. The country faced a dual threat from Hungary (a German ally) and the Soviets. Once France was out of the picture Romania was truly between a rock and a hard place and basically sided with the Germans to keep Hungary in check. And once Romania changed sides, it could be argued that the troops fought harder against the hated Hungarians.

  9. 9
    Bill Nance says:

    Of course, what makes history so full of irony is that 60 years later you have Hungarians and Romanians attending the same American military courses, as Allies.

  10. 10
    Bill Nance says:

    And those Eastern European guys know how to soldier!

  11. 11
    Frank Chadwick says:

    Very nice series of articles. It's also worth mentioning that whenever German authors want to talk about how badly they were outnumbered in the east, they invariably compare the combined Soviet armies (with inflated numbers) to just the Germans — not the Germans and their allies — which makes a big difference in numbers.

  12. 12
    John Merkatatis says:

    Now here I would like to disagree with you mr Citino;Verlorene Siege( Lost Victories) has been centered on some particular points o the war
    In the Eastern Front and is probably the greatest authority on that matter;a) The Crimean campaign where the Romanians played a fair part,largely by their mountain corps)
    b) the relief of Stalingrad,where finally he blames Hitler for his order to Paulus to defend fortress Stalingrad to the last man which prevented the exit of the 6th army from Stalingrad(Alan Clark in his book 'Barbarossa' supports Manstein's view totally) thus condemning
    the sixth army to destrution along with the southern Front of the German army.which was saved by Manstein's counter offensive against Harkov front.
    c) the preparation and execution of "Operation Citadel" where Manstein(The finest Operational brain of the German army as Guderian calls him,and Guderian is recognized as one of the great captains of history…) reiterated with Hitler that the operation should commence at the end of May at the latest,and he was proved correct,
    d)his own plan for the operations in the east 'with the back of the hand' tactics which could result in one of the perfect battles of 'offensive return' in the history of war,although Hitler should have taken a great dose of calming pills to even read that plan since it foreshaw a retreat from great tracks of land in the south,both strategies supported fully by Allan Clark( who,incidently,supports Hitler's actions in the eastern front).
    Finally he deals with the events leading to the acceptance and adoption of the "Fall Gelb" plan(Case Yellow) the attack in the West,all fully verified by a veriety of sources(all that of course in the first part of his book dealing with the operations in the west.
    Manstein also brings into the fore that field marshal Von Richthofen was the greatest airforce leader in WWII an opinion that is greatly supported in various quarters.
    Finally,I would like to say that when one studies the characteristics and actions of a military leader his suspected involvement in war crimes doesn't impair his military genius in the slightest; like I have to judge Nathan Bedford Forrest(to give an American history example) as
    a cavalry leader by his racist views and his founding of KKK…it doesn't stand to reason.
    Mr Citino,thank you for the space and I propose to deal with the Romanians at some time tomorrow.

  13. 13
    John Merkatatis says:

    Well,for mr Titanium alloy,mr Nance and others,I would say that if Romanians wanted so badly Bessarabia and Bucovina as to enter WWII in the side of Germany,they should be perfectly well motivated to fight;none gets tracts of land that double your country without lifting a finger and that was Hitler's complaint to his allies before the 1942 summer campaign about their ciontribution to the war.

  14. 14
    Rob Citino says:

    Thanks, Frank! Appreciate it! And a very good point.

  15. 15
    Bill Nance says:

    John,
    I think the point is that Manstein should be read critically, not ignored. According to Manstein, if Hitler had simply listened to him, the war would have been won. As an Army and Army group commander, you think he MIGHT have a reason for deflecting some of his failings? Sure, Manstein did have many great successes, but to simply take his word at it, even if 'verified' by others with much the same bias, is to not properly assess the problem. Manstein was a smart general – no denying. But to read Lost Victories, you'd think that he was Moltke (the elder), Napoleon, and Clausewitz all rolled into one.

    No one is saying the Romanian army was the elite of the East Front. However, surely they deserve better than the rembrances of a commander with every reason to slander their performance, especially when they don't have the ability to tell their own story.

  16. 16
    Willie Jacques says:

    The German generals weren't the only generals writing revisionist memoirs – so do many of our generals and war correspondents.

    Seems to me that many historians and magazine writers introduces their own bias into their writings. That is human nature!!

    I subscribe to several military magazines and read many WW11 books, and I see the bias.

  17. 17
    Clay Ellis says:

    Citinio is correct, any biographry should be read with caution, I not long ago finished a biography of German who served on the Russian front. It had the mandatory attacks by "Russian Hordes" defeated by "heroic German" troops. Repeated time after time, again and again. But if you looked at the maps and read between the lines you saw that the fighting was moving westwards after every repulse of the "Russian Hordes".
    And you are right that the Romunians desired better treatment than what they got, the important contributions the Romanian army provided in a number of battles is usually glossed over. Who's fault is it when undertrained, undersupplied and badly equiped troops fail? When you put them in the front line you get what you pay for, even for the Romanian doctrine they were holding a longer stretch of the front than they were supposed to.
    The germans did have a history of leaving allies in the lurch. Rommel left a number of Italian infanty behind when he started his retreat from Montgomery. It is hard to summon a lot of enthusiaism to fight when you know your ally willing to fight to the last drop of your blood. And how many allied troops were flown out of Stalingrad? Most of the accounts that I have seen don't list many other troops than germans being flown out.
    And did not the germans kidnap the son of the Romanian leader and then later seize the entire government to make sure the Romanians remained Axis?

  18. 18
    Bartek says:

    BTW Guys

    Only Germans left allies in the lurch ???
    As Pole I can give You some quite different cases "of leaving allies" ,just exactly from the other side of WW 2nd ;-)

    Regards

    Bartek

  19. 19
    Bartek says:

    One of the reason that Romanian army appeared combat ineffective was corruptions at it's ranks .
    During Polish-Soviet war 1920 some Polish refugees escaped to Romania ,behind Dniestr river , and they told that Romanian soldiers were asking refugees for food ! Because their officers had stolen money prepared for aprovization ! If nothing was changed till 1941 it was really impressive that Romanian army was able for war .

  20. 20
    Bill Nance says:

    Bartek,
    good points, though Romania was the focal point for this particular discussion. That said, in my opinion the Poles were treated badly by their allies at the beginning of the war, and then their units in exile were treated shamefully by the British throughout 1944 – a good case in point being Sosabowski's (sp?) 1st Polish Airborne Brigade at Arnhem.

  21. 21
    Kurt Steiner says:

    You are nothing but a mouthpiece for the ugly ignorant who read the official establishment line and parrot it bacxk like they know something. What you say is hogwash. I
    Instead of digging for the truth which requires knowledge of the German and Russian languages, you repeat the same old establishment lies.
    How dare you call yourselves military historians. You are just pseudo illiterates who repeat the lies conceived in WW2 and write in your personal opinions which always agree with the ppap and distortions that fills your heads.
    You are inferior. This site is nothing but sophmoric propaganda.
    What minds crave your constant dish-out of the same old rancid puke?

  22. 22
    Bartek says:

    Bill
    Next problem of Romanian army was poor economy of their motherland .Even a very good soldier achieved only a little when he was unsupplied in ammo , hungry ,with unmodern arms .
    It is nothing strange that for IIIReich's industry Wehrmacht was first to be armed and supplied ,for it's allies left only a few items of all .
    Before WW 2nd Romania was one of the best weapon market for Polish industry ,we were selling them Bofors ATG 37mm , AAG 40mm ,combat planes PZL -11c , -23 , – 24 ,- 37 , PZL-37 were even bombing Soviets at 1941 [ directly in their proper destiny ;-) ] . That were a very good weapons at 1939 ,but not at 1942 or 1943 .I don't think so that Romania was able to replace it's arms in a few years , even such powers like USA, USSR, GB ,IIIReich were using a huge amount of unmodern equipment during the war .

  23. 23
    Bill Nance says:

    Bartek,
    Great thoughts. Didn't know about the Polish arms trade in the 30s. I do know their tech was better than what people credit them with normally. I think perhaps the larger issue is that very few nations can 'play with the big boys' so to speak. In other words, there are only a handful of nations that had the industry, technology, research capacity, and manpower to fight a global war. The result was that the second tier nations had to depend on the supply of their larger allies. For the Allies, this wasn't so bad AFTER the US got into the war and was producing enough for all. For the Axis, things quickly went downhill as German industry was barely keeping up (or not) with the demands to supply German forces.

    Incidentally, are you Polish? Your screen name is very similar to an old roommate of mine who had emigrated from there.

  24. 24
    Metallic Hexagon says:

    I am not a military historian. I am completely biased and incompetent. I don't speak any foreign languages. I am not a pseudo illiterate, I am in fact a genuine illiterate. I am a sophomoric rancid putrid liar, who repeats the same old lies that have been told for decades. I am the world's least interesting non-academic.

  25. 25
    John Merkatatis says:

    Frank,

    The Russians have released pittifully little about their forces in WWII to their allies and western researchers alike; any information about composition of units and numbers involved in any 'theatre of operations' in
    the eastern front comes from other sources including the Germans whose
    reports to various command centres are deemed to be accurate.The archives of the Vehrmacht are taken by the Americans and placed in Alexandria,New York and are open to researchers as far as I know.,therefore accessible to Americans;the ratio of 4-5 to 1 was average in eastern front in favour of the Russians after December 41 when they started their counter offensives.

  26. 26
    Bartek says:

    Yes Bill

    I'm really Polish :-) for example I can speak the words like :

    Grzegorz Brz?czyszczykiewicz ,urodzony Szczebrzeszyn ,powiat ??kowody

    My screen name is shorter and little bit colocvial version of name : Bartosz

  27. 27
    John Merkatatis says:

    I agree with all comments about Romania since I live there for some time and the only thing I can say is that 'corruption'is their middle name.
    Romanians wanted to enter the Axis alliance in fear of possible confrontation with the Hungarians,but mainly,to ward off the Russians;to enter the alliance,they had to eliminate all points of friction with the prospective allies ie ceede Transylvania to Hungary;they had the choice and accepted! To recover losses they entered the war unprepared,because
    Hitler promised to Antonescu Bessarabia and part of Bucovina.They refrained from any other action until,under the protests of Hitler, Antonescu sent 3rd and 4th Romanian armies for the campaign of 42 totalling their number of divisions to 22.Only the mountain corps gained positive comments from the Germans when it took part in the Crimean operations with Manstein's 7th army.The Germans found that the Romanians were poorly trained(inexcusable),poorly equipped,with little communication between officers and men(see German archives-Alexandria,N.Y.) with catastrofic results in the moral of the army.This army they put to defend the northern front along the advance of the German army towards Stalingrad,the area where any possible Russian counter-offensive would take place;it happened when the Germans were deeply entangled in the battle of Stalingrad and the Romanians stood only few hours against the Russians…the rest is known.they probably lost the war for Germany…

    P.S Mr Kurt Steiner,on what exactly are you so aggravated about?

    • 27.1
      Marius says:

      Some points from a Romanian:

      1. Transilvania was taken, we didn't offer anything.
      2. We choose our enemies not our allies, because we never saw Germany as our ally trully, like France and UK – Romania's tradional allies. As you remember, in 1940, France was defeated and UK was fighting for survival. Simply put, URSS was the worst evil, so we choose to fight Russians. All the Germany allies gained territory, except Romania who was ripped off and parts of our teritory went to Hungary and Bulgaria, as a result of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.
      3. It is said that there was an agreement between Hitler and Antonescu that granted Romania to receive back Transilvania. This was a strong reason why Romania choose Germany.
      4. We didn't fear Hungary… During WWI, Romanian troops entered the Hungarian Parliament, in Budapest… There are still some jokes about it…

  28. 28
    Bill Nance says:

    Bartek,
    Polish will always kill me, I can't even begin to pronounce that. Right now I'm in the process of reading about the Polish cavalry prior to WW II. It's not really part of a project, but it is enjoyable reading.

  29. 29
    John Merkatatis says:

    Bill,

    I think I owe you a reply;I fully agree with you that Manstein,and all military writers for that matter should be read critically.I did read Manstein critically for a large number of years in parallel to other writers like Guderian,von Melenthin,the publications of the Swiss Directorate of Military studies and many others so that I agree that he appears to be Clausewitz and Napoleon(although I would say: Gaston de Foix),but Bill,please reflect a little: Clausewitz was a staff officer and so was Manstein and more as a Major General top rank for any staff officer in an army group;Manstein's Plan for "Fall Gelb"(Case Yellow) against France,with a simple change from the von Shliefen plan(schverpunct rechts) destroyed an entire coalition on the battle field and brought about the surrender of France;I don't think that
    Austerlitz was more effective or that it brought about greater results nor do I think that Clausewitz ever achieved something similar.that Manstein defended his plan to the detriment of his career(he was posted as commander of 56th corps as a disciplinary measure instead of leading the attack he had planned..) doesn't show someone with an agenda.
    For the campaign of 1942 von Runstent and Manstein proposed plans that Hitler could only digest with calming pills;but both aimed at the total defeat of the Russians trapping them into a war of manoeuvres that the Russians were not trained for since they always were cumbersome and couldn't exercise initiative without authorization(at that time)
    His plan to relieve Stalingrad was brilliant in its inception and execution bringing Hoth within 35 miles from the city;had Paulus dared to exit,the entire southern front would have been stabilized.
    Alan Clark,who supports Hitler's military decisions takes the side of Manstein in the above instances and when Hitler replaced him with Model in 1944 he said"If I had twenty full divisions I could think of none better than Manstein to lead them;but the time for manoeuvres is over"
    It is well known that WWII was the victory of military quantity over military quality,and the German General Staff bred many competent world class
    leaders,many too junior to gain renown;
    I never take the words of a writer as Gospel but when what he writes is crystal clear,it is verified by other independent sources I accept it.
    A small note:that the Germans gave priority to Germans in the evacuation from Stalingrad it was based on specialites,cadres and wounded who were
    evacuated according to orders and naturally Romanians came sort.

  30. 30
    Bartek says:

    John

    If Germans found Romanian army so unable for combat why they gave them such important part of front during the Stalingrad operation ?

    How Paulus could expected that Romanian's 37mm ATG would hold T-34 and KW-1 ?

    IMHO It looks like that Manstein&Co. were blaming Romanians for their own mistakes .

  31. 31
    Bartek says:

    At the spring 1940 Romanian army got :

    1 200 000 men
    4 armies
    10 infrantry corps
    1 guard corp
    1 mountain corp
    1 cavalry corp

    24 IDs
    3 CavDivs
    4 MountainBdes
    2 FortressAreaBdes
    1IndCavBde
    1 MotorizedBde
    8 ResDivs
    1 ResCavDiv
    5 IndBorderGuardRegiments

    Infrantry division consisted of :

    3 regiments ,each of three batalions
    each batalion got :
    12 LMGs , 16 MMGs , 2 mortars*60mm ,
    + 1 engeneering company , cavalry squadron, 1 heavy arms company with 6 ATG*37mm for each regiment

    division got 1 engeneering batalion, 1 cavalry squadron, 1 antitank company with 12 ATG*47mm ,
    artilery regiment got 36 fieldguns*75mm , 16 howitzers *100mm and 6 AAG*25mm.
    But only at theory , at the real Romanian army got only :
    40% of needful mortars 60mm
    60% of mortatrs 81mm
    70% of ATG*37MM
    40% of ATG 47mm
    20% of AAG
    Amount of howitzers and LMGs was close to none .

    Tanks :
    76 Renault F-17 , 151 Ansaldo, 35 CKD AH-1V , 126 Skoda S-II , 41 Renault R-35

    After fall of Poland at 1939 Polish units disarmed at Romania left 45field guns *105mm , 80 field guns *75mm , 669 ATG * 37mm , 54AAG*40mm , 35 tanks Renault R-35 , it's possible that some part of that equipment was sold to Romania by III Reich for oil .
    Some sources remainds about 200 combat planes evacuated to Romania from Poland after 17th of September 1939 ,from them were formed 6 squadrons .

  32. 32
    John Merkatatis says:

    Bartek,
    The answer to your question is simple:despite the general belief,Stalingrad was not the objective for the 1942 summer campaign;Caucausus oil fields were.When Hitler intervened and altered the plans to include Stalingrad as an objective,he broke the all
    powerful 'Moltpulk',which the Russians had nothing to face with,and
    by dividing the forces into two,the means to guard the northern front
    were not there and the German north army group was overextended,hence the solution of a Romanian army in the north, stiffened by two German divisions and the Romanian VI corps in the south of Stalingrad and here is a mute point:the two German divisions
    with enough fire power to stop the Russian armour long enough for the sixth army and 4th panzer army to redeploy,reported inability of movement when their intervention was needed because the wiring of their tanks and other vehicles were eaten by mice(!)

  33. 33
    Bartek says:

    Yes John ,I know about that mice :-) ,but don't You think that whole plan was little bit optimistic ?
    After Don river had frozen Russian could attack at the each point of Northern flank ,could transport supply without brigdes .If Stalin had not decided to attack Romanians close to Stalingrad , Soviets could attack Italians ,a little bit far to the West , with the same effect .

  34. 34
    John Merkatatis says:

    Bartek,

    I agree,with your last comment,as to Stalin's choice of a place to attack,but the important things are:a) Did the Germans have a choice of force to place
    in the northern front? certainly not.
    b)Could the Romanians delay the Russians for some time? they certainly
    could(for how long? obviously enough time to allow 4th panzer army and 6th army to redeploy and present a defensible front which wasn't very long)
    did they do that? I would say no;
    In a similar situation, few months before Stalingrad counter-offensive,in El Alamein,the Italian Airborne division Folgore was left to defend a very long front to help the Africa Corps to disengage from the 8th army;the Italians were facing the entire victorious allied wright wing, but stood to defend their ground against armoured and mechanised units almost to the last man and succeeded in their mission.We are speaking about two relatively disintrested armies,German allies,and the distinct difference in their sense of duty is evident…

  35. 35
    jack drill says:

    agree with John Merkatatis

  36. 36
    Alex Constantin says:

    Dear John,
    I have to disagree with many of your statements, witch are very inaccurate.
    First, in Crimea, von Manstein commanded the 11th Army, not the 7th.
    Second, at Statingrad the Romanian 3rd Army took the place of the Italian 8th Army on the left flank because the Germans grew tired of the Italians lack of cooperation. Actually, after Stalingrad the 8th army was sent home. The Romanians found an impossible situation left by the Italians. The Soviets had two bridge heads over the Don from witch they constantly attacked the Romanian positions. Gen Dumitrescu informed the German high command of this and asked permission to destroy the bridge heads, but was refused several times. Even Paulus requested Hitler to allow this operation with the same result. From this bridge heads the assault on nov 19th was started. Romanian 3rd Army resisted with heavy casualties until nov 23rd, but Paulus had orders from Hitler not to divert from Stalingrad. On the Romanian left flank was the Italian 8th army which started to retreat before the romanians did.
    Being attacked with 3 Soviet armies, having virtually no tanks and with few AT guns, how long do you think they could’ve resisted? For further details please read “Stalingrad 1942”, Osprey Publishing.
    Third, the causes of Romania joining the Axes are more complex. Without knowing the political and economic situation of that period in Romania you can’t understand it. All your statements in this case are false.
    Maybe the Germans didn’t have a choice about the forces on their flanks, but they could have listened to the rapports about the forces gathered there by the Soviets. The counter-offensive was inevitable and yet they did nothing to prevent it or to block it.
    And, as a remark, if the Romanians were so poor allies to Germany, how come they received the highest number of Iron Crosses of all classes ?

  37. 37
    Alex Constantin says:

    Fallowing the loss of territory in 1940, Romanian army was partially reorganized.
    In 1941 there were only 3 Armies (1st, 3rd and 4th), 7 Army Corps (I-VII), 18 Infantry Divisions (1-11, 13-15, 18-21), 6 Cavalry Brigades – later divisions (1, 5-9), 4 Mountain Brigades – later divisions (1-4), 2 Guard Divisions, 1 Frontier Guards division and 6 Reserve Divisions which were disbanded at the end of that year (25, 27, 30, 31, 32, 35), plus other smaller units, totaling some 686.000 men.
    The Romanian Army started a process of modernization in the mid of 1930’s, by purchasing or licence manufacturing a series of French, British, Czech, Italian and German weapons. This equipment, although sound for the late 30’ came obsolete during the war. As the war progressed the home industry produced more and more weapons, including rifles, machine guns, mortars, AT and AA guns, and developed it’s own SMG, Orita 9mm, and AT gun, Resita 75mm, and even a tank destroyer, Maresal, that never got to production because of the Soviets.
    Another cause for the Romanian army’s lack of adequate equipment was Germany’s incapacity to provide the promised weapons. When Romania joined the Axis, she was promised substantial quantities of equipment which never came. The deliveries were slow and few and the weapons were in many cases obsolete.
    Regarding the Polish planes, I know that several PZL models were locally produced under license at IAR, along side the natives IAR 80/81 and IAR 39, and later Me 109. As fore the equipment of the Polish forces which fled to Romania, some if not all of it was transferred through an agreement.

  38. 38
    Tommaso says:

    However, Lost Victories is a great account of an incredible part of our history. Obviously, the author was also an actor at the time, and the reader have to take this into account.
    The descriptio of the behaviours of the Italian Army by von Manstain follows a similar if not a worst path. Obviously, the Rumenians had a much bigger involvement in the events than the Italians or the Hungarians.

  39. 39
    John Merkatatis says:

    Yes Alex ,apologies for the oversight,it was the 11th not the 7th,an oversight-the 7th belongs elsewhere-but I don't know where you draw your information from,…be that as it may,in your Second point:
    what does "tired of Italians lack of cooperation" mean? certainly the Romanians were placed there not to replace the Italians whose lines where to the north of the Romanians in an oblique line…
    So the Romanians found two Soviet bridgeheads along the Don.It means two well entrenched bridgeheads which,If you don't know what a Soviet bridgehead meant read Guderian,especially about Baranov;if they already confronted the Romanians openly,Dumitrescu at best could only contain them,let alone destroy them.Since the bridgeheads were in his front,he didn't need permission to eliminate them if he could.
    In reality,he most likely didn't have the means and needed German intervention;that he needed 'permission' for a local operation within the area of his command sounds a lame excuse,army commands don't have so strict operational control from above unless they were …Soviet armies..anyway the 6th army(Paulus) and the 4th army(Hoth) were fully engaged at the time,in and around Stalingrad and couldn't spare units for an independent operation aside from the main objective.
    About the local economic and political situation in Romania I know it from Romanians of different beliefs,well placed to express an opinion,from German archives containing reports of assessment directed to superior commands and therefore reliable,from published documentation of embassies at the time in Romania(one of them was that of my country) and from individuals who were in contact with members of the Romanian Goverment at the time and I met such persons in the sixties.If they gave me 'false' or misleading information Alex then I have an unfounded argument,but,with respect,allow me to give credit to such information as it has been cross-checked over the years;I shall also trouble you to remember that the Russian occupation may have bedevilled Romania, but it has also prevented the arrest and trial of certain people who could have shed true light to certain aspects of the workings of the Romanian government from 1939 to 1944 and having passed under the protection of the communist regime for various reasons,had become inaccessible.

  40. 40
    Sebastian says:

    I grew up with "the hided stories about Eastern front in ww2, Odessa, Sevastopol,Kuban,Stalingrad " of my old relatives who fought there. I said hided , becuse were forbited in history books in comunist era in Romania. About ww2 Romanian history books wrote only about Romanian Army fought only in Hungary and Cehoslovakia.
    But what I want to say?
    First I realy appreciate the comments , especially of Citino and Alex Constantin!
    Second ,do not forget something…. Red Army was almost finished at the end of 1941,the moral was low , supplies were not enough. What all romanian veterans who fought on Eastern front told was that if americans and british did not suplly with weapons ,truks,tanks,aeroplanes,raw materials and food, Soviet Union could not resist to the Axis allies!
    Third, shame to von Manstein about the performance of Romanian Army !
    At Stalingrad when Romanian Army 3 was overwelmed of three Russian armies and tanks, 40,000 Romanian soldiers were encircled and formed "Lascar Group". The "Lascar Group" had same order to fight until last man as german allias . Even if they had not more food and ammunition they refused to became POW and fought until few could to break the ecircled positions ( an battalion). In contrast von Paulus did not respect the direct order from Hitler and give the order to became POW to remains of 20th romanian Infantry division and 1st Cavalry division who were under his command.
    Plus von Manstein have to remember that Romanian 6th Corp Army even underequpped and with heavy losses advanced in Southestern front until 1942 800 km kepping up with 4th Panzer army . MORE than any other german unit !
    Odessa, Sevastopol, Caucas, Kuban….. Stalingrad these are big oprations where romanian participated active and did their jobs more than remarcable and with honor !

  41. 41
    aetius says:

    beside all these, even von Manstein admitted that:
    "I have already shown what could and could not be expected of Romanian troops in various situations. But they were still our best allies and did fight bravely in many places." – Field Marshal Erich von Manstein in "Lost Victories"

  42. 42
    Alex Gabriel says:

    From the books you peoples read does anyone noticed that Romania was a robbed country all the time ? Romanian's gold is kept in Russia , in the past Ottoman empire has kidnapped kids , stolled gold, food, and anything they have found ? Germans and Romanian alliance in WW2 ? that was some kind of "with us or against us" and Romania made the choice. And now … those politics they are robbing that country without shame. Nobody can talk based on opinions. Now probably somebody will read a Swen Hassel book and will explain how the WW really was.

  43. 43
    Andrei Zamfirescu says:

    http://www.worldwar2.ro/

    interesting discussion…here is an interesting site about Romanian army for those who are interested in this subject

  44. 44
  45. 45


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