Romania, officially the Kingdom of Romania (Romanian: România, Regatul României) was a sovereign state in South-East Central Europe. From 1859 to 1877, Romania evolved from a personal union of two vassal principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) under a single prince to a full-fledged independent kingdom with a Hohenzollern monarchy. In 1918, at the end of World War I, Transylvania, Eastern Moldavia (Bessarabia), and Bukovina united with the Kingdom of Romania, resulting in a "Greater Romania".
Loss of Territory
In 1940, Romania lost territory in both the east and the west. In July, after a Soviet ultimatum, Romania agreed to give up Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. Two thirds of Bessarabia were combined with a small part of USSR to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. The rest (Northern Bukovina and Budjak) was apportioned to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Shortly thereafter, on 30 August, under the Second Vienna Award (or Vienna Diktat/Vienna Arbitration), Germany and Italy forced Romania to give half of Transylvania to Hungary. The Hungarians received a region referred to as "Northern Transylvania", while "Southern Transylvania" remained Romanian. Hungary had lost all of Transylvania after World War I in the Treaty of Trianon. They had never surrendered the ambition of regaining the territory. On 7 September, under the Treaty of Craiova, the Kadrilater or "Quadrilateral" (the southern part of Dobrudja) was ceded to Bulgaria (from which it had been taken at the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913). Given the relatively recent unification of all the territories Romanians have felt as historically belonging to them on one hand, and on the other hand the fact that so much land was lost without a fight, these territorial losses shattered the underpinnings of King Carol's power.
Romania joins the Axis
In the immediate wake of the loss of Northern Transylvania, on September 4, 1940, the Iron Guard (led by Horia Sima) and General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu united to form a "National Legionary State" government, which forced the abdication of Carol II in favor of his 19-year-old son Mihai.
In power, the Iron Guard stiffened already harsh anti-Semitic legislation, enacted legislation directed against Armenian and Greek businessmen, tempered at times by the willingness of officials to take bribes, and wreaked vengeance upon its enemies. On October 8, 1940, Nazi troops began crossing into Romania. They soon numbered over 500,000.
On November 23, 1940, Romania joined the Axis Powers.
The war on the Eastern Front
On May 10, 1942, Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, attacking the Soviet Union on a wide front. Romania joined in the offensive, with Romanian troops crossing the River Prut. After recovering Bessarabia and Bukovina (Operation München), Romanian units fought side by side with the Germans onward to Odessa, Sevastopol, and Stalingrad. The Romanian contribution of troops was enormous. The total number of troops involved in the Romanian Third Army and the Romanian Fourth Army was second only to Nazi Germany itself. The number of Romanian troops sent to fight in Russia exceeded that of all of Germany's other allies combined.
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