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Morar Andrei

What if the Romanian Army defended Bucharest in 1916, instead of abandoning it?

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Morar Andrei

It is known that in November 1916, the Romanian army and autorities retreated from the capital, instead of oposing resistance. It is said that it was caused by some building owners who didn't want any sort of street fight to happen because their proprieties could be destroyed. My questin is what if, instead of giving up, Bucharest was defended by the army and defended until the bitter end? How long could the fortifications arround the capital resist (remember that the battle of Verdun was already taking place by many mounths, and the french forts rezisted decently) to the german attacks, and most importantly, how much time could the romanian army win to organize a stronger defence on the south of Moldavia, many german forces being occupied to besiege Bucharest? Thank you for answer and cheers from Transylvania!

 

IMG_20171002_202303.jpg

Edited by Morar Andrei

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Morar Andrei

What would have happened? How long could they rezist?

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James A Pratt III

The Rumanian army was too demoralized and disorganized to have defended Bucharest. The city's defenses were obsolete. There were no real stocks of food and ammunition ect for a siege. Any attempt to hold this city would have just cost the Rumanians a good part of what was left of their army.

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Morar Andrei

Very intetsting to find out. Next question would be, in an alternate scenario, what if the morale of the Romanian soldiers was hight, they were well equiped and had enaugh supplies, and the forts of Bucharest weren't obsolete? How long could they rezist if were fully prepaired? And even if the city fell, could they use the defence of Bucharest as a propagand image to represent the courage and determination of the romanians to defend their cities and country? Thank you again!

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Paul Hederer

Hi Andrei,

 

You could argue that the Romanians did fight for Bucharest, during the battle of the Agres, urged on by the head of the French military mission, General Berthelot. Unfortunately, the battle was not successful for the Romanians. 

 

The forts making up the fortifications of Bucharest were on par with the Belgian forts which were destroyed by the Germans in 1914, and I'm sure would have met a similar fate. The Central Powers had super heavy batteries deployed to Romania just for this purpose. 

 

I think saving what was left of their army, and holding what they could of Moldova was the priority of the government and the Romanian high command. They had already evacuated large amounts of supplies, ammunition, and army-age men. 

 

I think the image of a Romanian Army surviving to fight on and hold what it could was perhaps more inspiring than it perishing in the rubble of Bucharest fortifications. 

Edited by Paul Hederer

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Morar Andrei

Here comes another question: if the battle of Arges was well executed and there was not the misfortune of the plans falling into enemy hands, which would have been the fate of the Romanian front? How could this battle, if it was won, affect the events?

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28juni14

Hallo Andrei!

 

While most historians/students of the Romanian Campaigner are emphatic that Romania's entry came too late; after the Brusilov Offensive was spent, In my humble opinion  the Romanian incursion into Transylvania should have remained the primary focal point for their army; all other fronts should have remained secondary.   Had Stavka  provided more than a 3rd-rate Corps for the Dobrogea Army,  the Romanian high command would not have had to deploy 4 divisions from that primary objective in Transylvania.  

While they had numerical superiority in the Alps, Von Falkenhayn should have been denied all the passes.  The fall of Kronstadt proved the unhinging of both Romanian Armies fighting in the vicinity.  This should never have happened; the cause wasn't poor morale, but rather questionable passive leadership and poor unit coordination on the part of the Romanians. 

 

Again, only my personal opinion, but had the Rumanian Donauflotille been active,  Mackensen would have been denied a crossing of the Donau.  Further, those four monitors would have safe guarded the bold Romanian river crossing into Bulgaria. (And it had a chance of working in 1916 just as it did in 1913, if the German air-superiority could have been neutralized .)

 

Defending Bucharest ceased to be an option once Falkenhayn's Cavalry & Jaegers struck out from the Alps, and Machensen was able to make it a race for the city.  Declaring it an open city was prudent in my opinion;  defending would have only resulted in encirclement, domestic damage, and further loss of resources; as Paul has mentioned earlier.

 

In short, the failure of the campaign was assured when timely Russian participation did not materialize , and Falkenhayn had the Alpine Korps as a point weapon.

 

Just my views & opinions.

 

 

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Morar Andrei

28juni14,

 

I agree with all what you said. There were mistakes done by both the Rusdians and Romanians, which are rarely mentioned in our history books.

The Romanian Army was very disorganised after the battle of Turtucaia (defeat which was over exagerrated by the newspapers in Bucharest and just made the population panic), and began sending troops from a front to another. I recently read about the German operations in East Transylvania (modern Brasov county) during 1st - 8th of October 1916 (it's nice that I found many details about the battles that took place on my area), and I was amaized that the Romanian HQ was informed about the presence of Falkenhayn in Transylvania only one month after he was deployed there, according to "Austria-Hungary Last War 1914-1918".

 

Another strategic move that is discussed about our front is that if it was not better for the Romanian troops and administration to retreat on the other side of the River Prut, idea supported by the Russian generals because there f a decreasing in lenght if the front, but rejected by the royal family of Romania (they cinsidered that this move would have decreased the morale of the population in a crytical moment when the German propaganda dropped in the Romanian territory was very intense).

 

But I don't think it can be denied that Romania had to defend in 1916 a 1100km border against all the Central Powers, with an army of only 800000 strong and a very doubtful rusdian support. This is a very interesting topic that can be developed and discussed for hours.

 

Thank you very much for postiong your point of view :)

Regards, Andrei

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28juni14

Andrei, you are quite correct, this topic is too oft neglected/ignored.   Romania had much in common politically with Italy at the time.  While Italy's unscrupulous behavior surprised no one, and was even anticipated, Romania on the other hand, enjoyed benevolent relations with Germany while Carl was yet alive.   His death saw the Romanian treaty with Germany/Austria-Hungary ignored and an open flirtation with the entente powers (particularly France).  

By 1916, Transylvania had been under Magyar rule for 5 centuries and there seems little chance it could become part of Romania by any other means than war with Hungary. However, I've always suspected that the more numerous ethnic numbers there were Saxon, and not Romanian.  The architecture of public buildings, numerous Evangelical churches, and agricultural habits all bespeak of Saxon rather than either Hungarian or Romanian ethnicity.   

Can you tell me if the Romanian element in Transylvania was indeed significant at the time ?  Thank you.

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Morar Andrei

Not really. From what I read, the population in Transylvania was like 54% romanians at the moment of entering the war.

 

I can take as an example my area, Fogaras district. On the southern bank of river Alt/Olt, the population is mostly Romanian, but on the northern side, the saxons are dominant. It can be seen on the different architectural stiles from both sides of the river.

 

About the Romanian element, there were unionistoc movents there. One name that firstly comws in my mind is the one of Dr. Ioan Șenchea, assasinated by the Hungarian police when the Romanians crossed the border in 1916, another important Romanian gigure of the time being Ion Codru Drăgușanu.

 

If we talk on the international plan, there were the Romanian Legions from the Italian, French and American Army. The Italian unit was done from 2000 romanians prisoners from Transylvania, whole the other two were consisted from volunteers living in USA and France. Also, Romanian units were involved after the war against the Bolsheviks in Russia.

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28juni14

Thank you, Andrei,...   There remains much to be shared about Romania during this period; it's people,  internal politics, and armed forces.

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Morar Andrei

As I was talking about Romanian legions during the Great War, here are a few images:

 

 

Legione_Romena_postcard.jpg.acbb7316f3a04702c29e5533cf605c5c.jpg

The Romanian legion from the Italian

army. You can observe the marking on the stone that says "ROMANVL•••NV•••PIERE/ ROMÂNUL NU PIERE" (The Romanian doesn't/will not die), together with the place and date (Italy, October MCMXVIII/1918)

 

5ad5e03bb0d96_Voluntari_romni_din_Youngstown.jpg.06c9b961833b99804b9c02e53023ab93.jpg

Romanian Volunteers corps from the American Army

 

clip_image005marasesti.jpg.5f00713dd44c1b285c9b0ed781673b64.jpg

The Romanian Legion from Siberia (together with their armoured train "Mărășești")

 

Voluntarii_ardeleni_01.jpg.26be73ad83e4f472cfa7545a6a81f74a.jpg

The Trasylvanians volunteers Legion from the Romanian Army

 

 

 

There are two more units: the Volunteers Legion from France and the Legion from Prague, but unfortunately I couldn't find any image related to

Edited by Morar Andrei

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Morar Andrei

What else would you like to find out?

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Interested

Hello Andrei,

Your topic is something I had not ever considered, thank you for raising it.

As it happens I will be in Transylvania in June, I hope the weather will be good!

Philip

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Morar Andrei

Interested,

 

In the previous years the weather has been sunny in Transylvania, and the temperatures tend to grow each year. There might be years when summers come a bit late (after 20th of June - 1st of July), but if you get nice weather, you can expect to be even hot. That's why for example it is most suited to go on a mountain trip in the Carpathians in mid-late June or late August, because the temperatures are not so hight. If you want to find something else, just ask.

 

Have a nice trip :)

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RobynM

Fascinating Morar.

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