23rd August 1944 - Dedicated episode?

Hi TG team,

Absolutely love your work and been supporting for almost 3 years now.

I have a specific question, particularly as a Romanian - will you do a specific, specialised episode on the 23rd of August 1944?

For those who don’t know, on the 23rd of August 1944, Romania switched sides and joined the Allies, shortening the war by at least 6 months. The moment, with significant historical value, was praised significantly by the Allies but the action of it - particularly with King Michael literally orchestrating a coup to arrest the Chief of the Army, Ion Antonescu, right in the palace - is worthy of an actual movie. I wanted to ask if you will do a specific episode on this.



Why 23rd August 1944? In 1943, Romania could see the war was going south for the axis. Italy was invaded, Mussolini had been kicked of his own party, and the Germans had just lost Kursk. So why not a Coup in 1943?

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Really? Six Months? Where’d you get that number?

I am reminded of this exchange from “The Cheap Detective” (1978)

Jasper Blubber: “In 1853, an little-known historical fact occurred; 12 albanian fishermen conquered china, tibet and mongolia.”

Lou Peckinpaugh: “My goodness, I didn’t know that.”

Jasper Blubber: “That’s because you didn’t take history in Albania.”

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It would appear this claim is based on one source: Constantiniu, Florin, O istorie sinceră a poporului român An Honest History of the Romanian People), Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, București, 1997, ISBN 973-9243-07-X (in Romanian)

Near as I can tell, this assertion would have the war in Europe ending in November, 1945 (that is, after the surrender of Japan). I would very much like to know the calculus Dr. Constantiniu used to arrive at his figure of 6 months – 7 months after the Russians and US Army met up on the Elbe.

Why this 6-month value would be true is somewhat mysterious (to me). The Romanian army was ill-equipped to hold off the Russians in any case. Any Romanian defense of the homeland would have been crushed. Romania’s main tank in 1944 was the R-35, with its 47mm cannon, whose shells would be shrugged off by T-34’s. Romania had some few captured Russian tanks, but with very limited ammunition. Russian artillery dwarfed that available to Romanian units. The Romanian Army - when Romania changed sides - were driving their redoubtable R-35s would still have been useless against Pz-4s, and anything better.

The Romanian Air Force in 1944 was flying IAR 80’s, which were about even with a 1940 Me-109E or Hurricane-1, but nothing newer. A measure of its value is that as soon as the Russians took over in Romania, almost all IAR 80’s were scrapped and replaced by Russian-built aircraft, which were all superior. The Soviets were able to maintain air supremacy until Romania gave up.

The Romanians declared a ‘unilateral cease fire’ (actually an unconditional surrender), when the Russians were already rolling into the country, brushing aside Romanian and German defenses. A month after the Romanian ‘cease fire’, the entire country was controlled by the Red Army.

It might be injurious to Romanian pride, but by 1944, Romania just plain wasn’t a major player in the war. Their best units had been obliterated long since on the Eastern Front. Their only real defense was provided by (weak) German units, who were brushed aside not quite as fast as the Romanian units.

Oh, and just because it’s in Wikipedia, doesn’t mean its true.


Right, there’s a couple of significant problems with your arguments.

Defense of the homeland was a different ballgame to participation in the war. Due to the unwelcome and unwanted participation in the war with Nazi Germany, which the Chief of Staff of the Romanian Armed Forces were very well aware - keep in mind, the population was not pro-Nazi - the Romanian forces on the Eastern Front operated at well below capacity. This means, in more exact numbers, that the Romanian Army only had a much smaller percentage that it was able to field because, well, nobody wanted to fight for the Nazis, with the Nazis, and anywhere beyond Moldova.

With regards to the equipment - Romanian Army was not equipped or designed to deal with armored warfare like Panzer battalions. Instead it relied on defence, heavy, massed defence, with more than ample artillery and anti-tank guns. The 75mm Resita 1943 gun was very good and it provided strong defence for infantry batallions. Fighting in defence would have been very much possible, particularly around the Carpathian Arc, but eventually it would have turned into a slog.

As for the IAR-80, again, it was more than capable even by 1943. Clearly it would not hold up against a Mustang but the Tidal Wave disasters in 1943 and 1944 for the US Army showed clearly it was good enough.

And with the argument about the ceasefire, what would you expect? They were “allies”.

Romania was never a major player in the war, despite the numbers of men and industrial output, and it never wanted to be. Defense of the homeland is an entirely different ballgame.