In this week, 100 years ago, the Kingdom of Romania entered World War One on the side of the Allies.
Most people remember World War One as Western Europe tearing itself apart, with Russia leaving early and the US coming late. But we shouldn’t forget the hundreds of thousands of brave Romanians who also fought to preserve world peace.
The country had been neutral for the previous two years but had been coming under increased pressure from Russia and the other Allied powers to join them. Romania also had ideas of its own for entering the conflict – namely, seizing Transylvania. This region was part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy but had a large Romanian population. In the spirit of the day, the Romanians believed that if they helped the Allies fight the Central Powers they would be rewarded with the land they believed was rightfully theirs.
Unfortunately, Romania was a little out of its league. Even the support of the mighty Russian Empire couldn’t stop the early successes quickly turning into inevitable defeats. And after the events of Red October led to the withdrawal of Russia, Romania stood alone, almost totally surrounded by Central Powers. It too soon withdrew.
But surprisingly that wasn’t the end of the Romanian war effort. Cheekily, with Germany on the eve of defeat and after all the other Central Powers had surrendered, Romania re-entered the war. One day later, World War One ended.