100 years ago, Romania, taking advantage of the unrest in Russia, occupied Bessarabia. Bessarabia was part of Romania for 22 years, until 28 June 1940, when a strong Soviet Russia regained its land, which was heavily watered in various wars with Russian blood.
In the 1916 year, deciding, after long trades, that the time had come, Bucharest took the side of the Entente. However, the German-Austrian, Bulgarian and Turkish troops quickly crushed the poorly trained Romanian army. Most of Romania was occupied. The Russian command had to move the entire front south to cover Bessarabia. The Russian army came to the aid of the dying Romania, the Romanian front was formed. The remaining combat-ready units of the Romanian army were taken to the province of Moldova. During the most brutal and bloody battles of the enemy was stopped.
During the evacuation and retreat, the Romanian authorities and the British did everything to undermine the country's existing economic potential. The Romanian military and authorities took literally everything from the civilian population, including milk, eggs and bread. Many officers quietly profited from this, literally creating nothing but huge states. The British tried to destroy the oil industry - oil reserves and equipment. Their destruction was conducted under the direction of the British military attache Thompson and Colonel Griffiths. The wells were filled with stones and scrap iron, machinery and equipment were smashed and broken. The premises and tanks were burned. The fires were terrible, the flames reached a great height. The British are not limited to the destruction of oil fields. In Romania, there were 80 thous. Wagons purchased by the English wheat. Some managed to take out, the part captured by the Germans, the other - burned. Also, the British tried to destroy the main industrial enterprises of the kingdom and rolling stock.
By the beginning of the 1917 campaign, the Romanian army was restored with the help of Russia and its allies in the Entente. But the problem was that the war led to economic ruin in Russia, the collapse of the transport system. This was partly due to the sabotage of the February-conspirators who were preparing the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II. The front-line could not satisfy the demands of the army, and the supply from the Volga and Siberia almost stopped. The South-Western Front lived today, there were no stocks. The Caucasian army was starving. And here we have to supply the Romanians. Until April, 1917, the supply more or less worked, but after finally collapsed. Romanian troops switched to self-supply, that is, they simply plundered the local population.
The situation was extremely difficult. There was an acute shortage of food, fuel, and essential goods. The Russian quartermaster General Sannikov noted: “During the whole of last winter, the situation in Romania was very difficult: Romanian soldiers actually died of starvation.” Typhus, the satellite of hunger, mowed people. With the help of the most severe requisitions, entire counties were devastated. The peasants, knowing that everything would be taken away from them, themselves sold off all the available surpluses. The triple arbitrariness reigned in the villages: landlords, local authorities and the military. A similar situation was in the occupied lands, where food was swept clean by invaders.
In the spring of 1917, the situation became even more desperate. Soon after February, a delegation of the Petrograd Council visited Romania. P. D. Mostovenko, who was part of it, recalled: “At first, we simply ran into dying people, corpses of animals that were not cleaned.” General A. Averescu with military laconicism wrote in his diary: "The population is dying from cold and hunger." The statistics bring us terrible figures: 70% of the children born in 1917 in Moldova have not lived even a year. There were villages where all newborns died. Total on unoccupied territory in 1917 - 1918. (not counting the army) died 240 thousand people.
Against this terrible background, the behavior of the upper classes of the Romanian society and their minions looked disgusting. The Romanian elite had not previously been an example of virtue, but during the war it lost all propriety and organized a "feast during the plague." Landowners and gendarmes forcibly drove women and children to work on landowner lands. The gendarmes robbed peasants, raped women and girls whose fathers and brothers were mobilized to the front. Aristocrats and officers burned their lives, drank and depraved. Treasury has reached an incredible size. Everyone who has the power and access to property, as if in anticipation of the near end, sought to fill his pockets and often immediately pull down the loot. State property was written off as missing or spoiled during retreats and hostilities, and then sold on the black market. So, the stolen army horses were sold by whole herds, and then Romanian officials demanded that Russia supply the horses because of the acute shortage of horsemen in the army. Flood bribery reigned, money opened any doors. For bribes exempted from military service. The pursuit of income knew no bounds and bordered on madness.
At the same time, the pro-German party intensified in the Romanian elite, shaken by the military defeat and occupation of most of Romania. Germany was considered "invincible." The opinion was spreading that a demonstration against Russia would allow Romania to get Bessarabia. It is worth noting that the time of the evacuation of the Romanian government prudently left part of the administrative and police apparatus in place, which was instructed to transfer the local affairs to the occupiers in good order and cooperate with them. In particular, only in Bucharest "for supervision" was left about 400 gendarmes, 500 police officers and the police battalion under the command of Major Presen, brother of the Chief of General Staff of the Romanian Army. And the people of Bucharest were ordered not to show even the slightest resistance to the invaders under the threat of the death penalty. As a result, the Germans made only small changes in the abandoned Romanian administration. She was headed by a supporter of cooperation with Germany, Lupu Kostake, who led the Department of Internal Affairs. Cooperation with the enemy, carried out with the knowledge and even at the direction of the king and the government, created the possibility and facilitated the possibility of Romania moving into the camp of the German bloc.
The king and the Romanian government, under the influence of the revolution in Russia and because of the growth of revolutionary sentiments among the people and the army, were forced to make concessions. King Ferdinand promised the soldiers land and voting rights after the war. Parliament revised the constitution of the year 1866, where private property, including land, was declared "sacred and inviolable." Innovations provided for universal suffrage, the elimination of land holdings of the king and the state, the alienation for the purchase of 2 million hectares of landowner land. All these measures strengthened the Romanian army, which consisted mainly of peasants. The overwhelming majority of the peasant soldiers had their houses and land behind the front line, occupied by the enemy, they had to be freed. As a result, by the summer of 1917, the Romanian army was restored. It consisted of 15 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions, a total of about 400 thousand soldiers.
King of Romania Ferdinand I
At first Austro-German invaders simply robbed everything that came to hand. Exhausted soldiers eat off. The newly captured Romania was not depleted by the war and rich in food. At the same time, goods and raw materials were plundered and destroyed senselessly. In particular, cattle were slaughtered and meat quickly became rare. Cattle were stolen in Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, they transported food and goods.
However, soon the German command realized that such a robbery led to the killing of the goose that laid the golden eggs. With the exhaustion of a long war of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, only Romania could provide relatively serious reserves. Therefore, after a period of disordered robbery, the time has come for the robbery of organized and systematic. The Germans introduced a system of forced labor. For violation of the orders of the commandants imposed a monetary fine and was supposed to 3 years in prison. Through tough measures, the occupants achieved a growth in acreage and the restoration of part of the oil industry.
In the cities - from warehouses and shops - 3 / 4 immediately confiscated all goods. Bread was left at the rate of 400 g per day per person and a hard minimum of other food. In the villages, peasants were left with seeds and 500 of corn per person per day. Everything else was exported. Residents on pain of death penalty were required to provide lists of their food. The following goods and items were seized: motor vehicles, crews, clothing and footwear, cast iron and copper, rubber, typewriters, furniture, etc. Soldiers with German pedantry searched the villages and towns, literally scooping everything. For undelivered weapon the shooting was established, for the hidden good - fines.
According to official data from Romania from December 1916 of the year - to October 1918 of the year were taken: about 2,2 million tons of grain and vegetables, 90 thousand cattle, more than 200 thousand sheep and pigs, 1,1 million tons of oil, 200 thousand. tons of wood, about 100 thousand tons of salt, as well as a lot of metal, leather, textiles, alcohol, wine, vodka and tobacco.
At the same time, the Romanian population was forced to feed the occupying Austro-German, Bulgarian and Turkish army - about 500 thousand soldiers and 140 thousand horses. Thus, the monthly consumption rate of meat by them was more than 13 thousand heads of cattle and 67 thousand sheep. In addition, the soldiers sent their families often living on the verge of starvation - their number was not limited, only the weight - no more than 10 kg. During the first year of occupation, more than 1 thousand cars with parcels were sent to Germany and Austria-Hungary. And the soldiers, who went on vacation, looked like bagmen, they dragged along as much as they could carry. Just a robbery continued during requisitions, holdings, troop movements, etc.
It is clear that such a robbery caused terrible poverty, hunger. Typhus destroyed entire villages. The people tried to resist - refused to go to work at the enterprises and landowner fields, sabotaged the order to surrender weapons and the supply of food, went to the "hungry" demonstrations. There were cases of arson prepared by the occupiers for the removal of property, damage to telephone and telegraph lines, killing of enemy soldiers and their police officers. In response, the occupiers imposed huge fines on entire villages, sent people to hard labor, and shot them.
The collapse of the Romanian front
The February Revolution had a tremendous impact on the Romanian front. The Provisional Government removed from the command of the conservative General V. V. Sakharov (the Romanian King Ferdinand I was formally considered Commander-in-Chief). In his place was appointed General D. G. Shcherbachev, who at that time did not openly express his sentiments.
February caused widespread disintegration of troops, which were already weakened by the fierce and bloody battles of 1914 - 1916. The sacred royal power has fallen, the core of the army has been knocked out. Moreover, the Provisional Government headed for the "democratization" of the army. The soldiers did not want to fight anymore. Discontent, outrage, hatred, driven into the depths of the soldiers' souls, burst out. The escape of soldiers by May 1917 took a large scale. Whole parts rebelled. The front was falling apart. The soldiers rallied instead of fighting.
The Socialist Revolutionaries and Menshevik internationalists initially dominated the soldiers' committees. They got a majority at the congress of Soviets of soldiers, sailors, officers and workers' deputies of the Romanian Front held in Odessa in May. Black Sea fleet and Odessa district. The Odessa Military District then included the Odessa, Kherson and Bessarabian provinces. The congress formed an executive body - the Central Executive Committee of soldiers, sailors, workers and peasants' deputies of the Romanian Front, Black Sea Front and Odessa District (CEC Rumcheroda). The committee campaigned for a "revolutionary war." However, when the Kerensky government organized an offensive in the summer, the majority of the soldiers did not support it. The soldiers did not want to fight.
The Romanian Front launched an offensive on July 20 of the year 1917. About 240 thousand Russian-Romanian were deployed against 400 thousand Austrian-German troops. In the early days, Russian troops successfully attacked. But soon the shock units were knocked out, and the rest did not want to die, they began to rally and voluntarily leave positions. The restored Romanian army fought more successfully this time. In the battle of Mereshti (July 22 began) the Romanian army under the command of General A. Averescu, with the support of the Russian troops, was able to move forward. “The Romanians have done relatively much,” noted the new Supreme Commander A. A. Brusilov, “they had success. But, in view of the general state of affairs on our front, I sent a gene telegram. Shcherbachev with orders to suspend a further offensive. " The counter-offensive of the Austro-German forces under the command of Field Marshal Mackensen was stopped in the battle at Marasesti (August). By September 8 the front has finally stabilized.
The unfortunate "offensive of Kerensky," undertaken by the Provisional Government under the pressure of Western "partners", finally destroyed the Russian front. If earlier the troops were ready to at least defend themselves, then the failure of the offensive, with the death of the most combat-ready units still ready to attack, finished off the army. Front enveloped the chaos. Revolutionary propaganda intensified, replenishment was infected with disobedience, did not want to go to the front line, the soldier mass as a result of "democratization" actually became unpunished, that is, discipline, organization, order - the basis of the army, disappeared. Even the restoration of the death penalty could no longer change the situation. To maintain order, punitive detachments were formed from cavalrymen and gunners, least of all infected with revolutionary moods. But the effect was minimal. Smoot and chaos in the country only gained momentum. The military mechanism was hopelessly destroyed. Unsuccessful Kornilov revolt finished off the position of the officers. Frequent reprisals against the officers. The soldiers wanted only peace and return home.
To be continued ...