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Remembered Today:

Why only 1916?


Morar Andrei

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One thing I am personally bothered about is that whenever Romania is mentioned as a nation that fought in WW1 (if that happens, there are many who forget were a part of it too), we are mostly referred to as a failure, the disastrous campaign in Transylvania + loss of 2/3 out of the national territory being the main argument pushed forward. After that, everything that happened in 1917 (restructure of the army, French Military Mission, battles of Mărăști, Mărășești and Oituz) is completely skipped over, going directly to the armistice with Germany and forced capitulation. Two examples where I met this is in DK's "World War One - The Definite Visual Guide" and some articles related to Romanian Army as depicted by other, international museums (in the article's case, the Imperial War Museum in London), plus countless online discussion I either witnessed or was part of. 

In order to conclude, why is 1916 the only thing mentioned when talking about the Romanian contribution to the Great War? Is 1917 and its three major (at least for Romanian national history) battles irelevant, our poir performance of 1916 overshadowing any form of possible redemption given by the following year? 

 

P. S: to cheer the things up a bit, I will leave this here

Romanian_infantry_WW1.png

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The short answer is that it is for the same reason that there is little written on 1917-1918 Eastern Front in general. Riga, the Kerensky Offensive, and other events get little in the histories.  Clearly an area where a historian/writer could make a difference. 

 

Access to sources is likely another issue. Given that the events in the east in 1917 weren't seen as having a strategic impact on the Central Power beyond the stretching of the Central Power's resources, the need to break the language barrier isn't particularly strong. The Romanain successes didn't have a significant impact on the overall outcome the war, and both Russian and Romanian positions collapsed at the same (the Romanian due to the Russian collapse). 

 

A good history of the Romanian Army in WW1 is needed. Whether a champion will step up to take on the challenge is yet to be seen. 

 

v/r  Jeff

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It's been a while since I listened to it, but there's podcast on the history of the First World War (that might actually be the exact name of it) that has a multipart series on Romania during the war. Overall, it's a fairly comprehensive podcast that covers almost every aspect of the war, but those episodes could be of some interest. 

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Nice to see that there is some interest regarding this area. But still, the question stands: why are we known mostly for the disaster campaign of 1916, while the 1917 victories are mostly ignored? I guess we did a poor first impression, then people are no longer interested. 

Most things that present the events of the Great War, when they mention Romania, put an emphasis on how quick and swiftly they were defeated, and make look like at the end of 1916 Romania was kicked out of the war, and 1917 emphasising the Western Front, even if it's said that the battle of Mărăști has the biggest average of land occupied per day by any of the Entente nations. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Perhaps, the biggest contribution made by Romania came when they defeated the Hungarian Army after Bela Kun established the Hungarian Soviet Republic.  There were also 4,000 Romanian troops serving with the Allied campaign in Siberia in 1919, many of them never made it home.

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Indeed. Yet these things are also forgotten. It's just like everyone forgot about us once we lost 2/3 of the national territory, many history books (at least in the West; Romanian national spirit puts a great accent on 1917, and the heroic sacrifices that kept the country floating in defeating the Germans in 3 major battles) saying we just got knocked out in. 

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James A Pratt III

The books "The Rumanian Battlefront in WW I" and The Revolutionary Russian Army and Rumania 1917 by Glenn E Torry both deal with Rumania in 1917.

 

Online there is the Austrian official history "Austria-Hungary's Last War 1914-1918" in English and in German

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On 09/04/2020 at 23:13, jwsleser said:

Access to sources is likely another issue.

I have been looking at the War Cabinet's Eastern Reports and the Committe of Imperial Defence secret papers and they contain a huge amount of intelligence reports about the Rumanian front.  The British Railway Mission to Rumania, headed by Colonel Archiibald Jack also telegraphed important information, which could help any historian interested in this forgotton front.

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Morar Andrei
On 28/04/2020 at 00:21, James A Pratt III said:

The books "The Rumanian Battlefront in WW I" and The Revolutionary Russian Army and Rumania 1917 by Glenn E Torry both deal with Rumania in 1917.

 

Online there is the Austrian official history "Austria-Hungary's Last War 1914-1918" in English and in German

 

 

I had the chance to read parts from "Austria-Hungary's Last War", and I like the amount of details in it. If you dig a bit and look into speciality books, of course there will be something. But my point was about the general public and their level of knowledge.

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Morar Andrei
Just now, Morar Andrei said:

 

 

I had the chance to read parts from "Austria-Hungary's Last War", and I like the amount of details in it. If you dig a bit and look into speciality books, of course there will be something. But my point was about the general public, they ones who are not that much dedicated towards history and their level of knowledge. Also, many things I found about WW1 history that are addressed to the general public skip over 1917, and only talk about the first part of the conflict, preferring to portray the Romanian Army as an incompetent entity that could not defend its territory and had to give up. 

 

Sorry, instead of editing my reply, I quoted myself. 

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  • 8 months later...
knittinganddeath

It might be that if you look at German and French sources you will get a different idea of Romania's importance. I read a lot of newspapers from Germany during 1914-15, and they write much about Bukovina in particular and Romania in general. You can see on this front page, for example, from February 1915: "There is hardly a country whose stance towards the current world war has been more written about and discussed than Romania." The country's neutrality was something of a preoccupation in both Germany and France as can be seen in this front-page article from L'Echo d'Algers: "Romania and Italy cannot remain neutral without compromising their future" and "If King Carol does not declare war on Austria, he faces the possibility of a revolution."

 

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You have to consider that the king of Romania was the last to keep his throne in 1918...

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phil andrade

According to data that I have seen from the German War Graves organisation - the VdK - there are 53,075 German military personnel interred in Romania from the Great War.  This is a significant number, and does not include additional German soldiers whose bodies remain unrecovered there.  Then there must be many more Austro- Hungarian, Bulgarian and, I daresay, Ottoman dead to be reckoned with. The scale and intensity of the fighting is apparent from this.  Yes, I agree with our friend....I, for one, am intrigued at the lack of popular awareness of the battles fought by the Romanians, and would like to know more about them.

 

Editing here : it troubles me that I might have misinterpreted things here.  That large number of German dead buried in Romania might be attributable to large cohorts of Russians who fought alongside Romanians.  Does the present day boundary of Romania reflect territorial acquisition after 1918, implying that the German victims enumerated today were casualties of battles fought away from the Romanian armies ?  I keep reading the name “ Bukovina “, and wonder if this was such a region.  All the same, the additional Bulgarians and Austrians etc would still need to be taken into account, and the implications are that the Romanian soldiers made a good account of themselves.  You can see from this how abysmally ignorant I am about this theatre of the war.

 

Phil

Edited by phil andrade
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