Romania is one of several nations in Steel Division II.
Historical background[edit | edit source]
The modern state of Romania has its roots in the 19th century, when two vassal principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, united under a Hohenzollern prince and separated from the Ottoman Empire in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Throwing its lot in with the Russian Empire, Romania gained independence and the first Kingdom of Romania - Regatul României - was formed in 1881 under Carol I (Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen). Trapped in between empires - the Ottomans, Russia, and Austria-Hungary - Romania was naturally drawn into local conflicts in this corner of Europe, especially with the neighboring Bulgaria.
It would have changing luck: Victories in 1913 would be followed by dramatic defeats in 1916, which pushed the Entente-aligned Romania out of the Great War, only to be followed by a resurgence after Bulgaria's defeat and joining of Bessarabia and Transylvania. România Mare - Greater Romania - that emerged out of World War I was the single largest Romanian state in history, but was also fraught by ethnic tensions and plagued by inequality, illiteracy, and primitive architecture. On the other hand, industrialization in the interwar period allowed Romania to develop a robust steel and oil industry, along with a respectable arms industry that produced both licensed and domestic designs, including the Mareșal tank destroyer that inspired the German Hetzer.
Greater Romania would not survive three decades. Increasing nationalism and the rise of the fascist Iron Guard, coupled with the ravages of the Great Depression, steadily turned a nominally liberal constiutional monarchy into a dictatorship. A string of 25 governments of the 1930s punctuated by assassinations and attempts to eliminate the fascist Iron Guard and other ultranationalist parties culminated in Carol II establishing a royal dictatorship in 1938, that was dissolved just two years later, when pressure from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany after the fall of Poland and Western Europe forced Carol to cede nearly half of Romania to Hungary, the USSR, and Bulgaria.
Under Mareșal Ion Antonescu, Romania became a fascist dictatorship, joining the Axis Powers in late 1940. Antonescu would consolidate his power after the Iron Guard attempted a coup in early 1941. Under his leadership Romania invaded the Soviet Union in June, annexing Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Transnistria, and becoming the largest allied army fighting alongside the Nazis in the USSR. Though hampered by its relative lack of sophistication in terms of overall military technology and training, Romania would also gain the dubious honor of being victorious against the defenseless: Killing nearly 400 000 Jews in Romania itself and annexed territories.
Romania would ultimately exhaust much of its military potential at Stalingrad in 1942. Coupled with terrifying losses as a result of Allied strategic bombing campaigns aiming to neutralize its oil production, Romania was in no position to withstand the grand offensives of the Soviet Union in 1944 and ultimately switched sides after King Michael I executed a coup and aligned Romania with the Soviet Union, softening the reckoning that would come after Nazi Germany's fall in 1945.
By 1947, Michael was forced to abdicate, with the country becoming a vassal state of the Soviet Union, known for its capricious leaders and executing its last communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu, in 1989.