Children give flowers to fighters of the Red Army during a parade in Chisinau in connection with the return of Bessarabia to the Soviet state
80 years ago, on June 28, 1940, the Bessarabian operation of the Red Army began. Stalin returned Bessarabia to Russia-USSR.
Historical the region in southeastern Europe between the Black Sea and the Danube, Prut and Dniester rivers has been part of Russia since ancient times. At first it was under the control of the Scythians - the direct ancestors of Rus Rus. Then, Slavic tribes of streets and Tiverts lived here. Among their cities was Belgorod (now Belgorod-Dniester). These tribal unions were part of Kievan Rus. Further, these lands were part of Galician Rus. The city of Galati is the Old Russian Small Galich.
After a series of invasions of nomads and the “Mongolian” invasion, the region was devastated. In the middle of the XIV century, Bessarabia became part of the Moldavian Principality and was inhabited by Moldavians (Slavic Rusyns took an active part in their ethnogenesis). At the beginning of the XVI century, Turkey conquered Bessarabia and built a number of fortresses here. In the course of a number of Russian-Turkish troops, Russia gradually returned to its control the Northern Black Sea Coast. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-1812 in the Bucharest peace of 1812, Bessarabia was annexed to the Russian Empire.
According to the Adrianople Peace Treaty of 1829, which ended the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, the Danube Delta was annexed to Russia. The Crimean War led to the loss of part of Bessarabia. In the Paris world of 1856, part of Russian Bessarabia was annexed to Moldova (Ottoman vassal), and the Danube Delta to Turkey. It took a new war with Turkey (1877-1878) to regain its land. Under the Berlin Treaty of 1878, the southern part of Bessarabia was ceded to Russia. However, Romania (then Russia's ally against Turkey) received Northern Dobrudja and the Danube Delta.
Taking advantage of the collapse of the Russian Empire, which was an ally of Romania in the war against the German bloc, in December 1917 - January 1918 the Romanian army occupied Bessarabia. In December 1919, the Romanian parliament legalized the annexation of Bukovina and Bessarabia. In October 1920, the Entente countries adopted the Paris Protocol, in which they justified the annexation of Bessarabia and recognized the sovereignty of Romania over the region.
Bucharest actively pursued a Romanian policy of the occupied Russian suburbs. The share of the Romanian population artificially increased. In the agricultural sector, a policy of colonization was carried out - the number of Romanian landowners increased.
The Russian language (including its Little Russian version) was expelled from the official sphere. Russian and Russian speakers from government bodies, education and culture. Thousands of people were fired due to lack of knowledge of the state language or for political reasons. The former press was liquidated, censorship was introduced. Old political and public organizations were liquidated (for example, communists). The population was tightly controlled with the help of the military administration, gendarmerie and secret police. As a result, by the end of the 1930s, speaking was allowed only in Romanian.
It is clear that such a policy of Bucharest led to strong resistance. Romanians forcefully suppressed the resistance of the local population. The Romanian army brutally crushed a series of revolts. In particular, the Tatarbunar uprising of 1924 is an uprising of peasants led by local communists against the Romanian authorities. Thousands of rebels were killed and arrested. The repression, terror and anti-people’s policies of the Romanian authorities (in particular, the agrarian policy that infringed on the interests of the peasantry) led to the mass exodus of the population of Bessarabia. In just ten years, about 300 thousand people fled to America, Western Europe and Russia (12% of the region’s population).
Moscow did not recognize the rejection of its region. In a note dated November 1, 1920, Soviet Russia expressed a strong protest against the annexation and the Paris Protocol. At the Vienna Conference of 1924, Moscow proposed holding a plebiscite in Bessarabia that could approve the annexation or reject it. But Romania rejected the proposal of the Soviet Union. In response to this, on April 6, 1924, the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of the USSR made the following statement in the newspaper Pravda:
"From now on to a plebiscite, we will consider Bessarabia an integral part of Ukraine and the Soviet Union."
Thus, historical law was on the side of Russia. Bessarabia was a Russian outskirts, which from ancient times was inhabited by Rus-Slavs. The region was part of Russian land. During a series of invasions, including Turkish, Bessarabia was torn away from Russia. After a series of heavy wars in which thousands of Russian soldiers died, Russia returned Bessarabia. The Troubles of 1917-1918 led to the fact that the region was occupied by Romania (an ally who betrayed Russia). Moscow never recognized the annexation of Bessarabia.
In the late 1930s, Moscow got the opportunity to return the land occupied by Romanians. Germany, when signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939, agreed that Bessarabia is included in the sphere of influence of the USSR. Romania was an ally of France. However, in May - June 1940, German divisions overwhelmed France. The time has come.
Romania was bigger and stronger than the Baltic states. However, it was weakened by internal contradictions. The country was torn by political intrigues, predation and theft of the top. For a long time, the nationalists from the Iron Guard did not have the support of the financial and economic circles of the country, so they could not win in parliament. However, in the 30s, their position was strengthened. Nationalists have relied not on destructive, but on creative programs. Created labor and agricultural communities, trade cooperatives. As a result, attracted new supporters, strengthened the financial situation. In addition, the chief of the General Staff, and then the Minister of Defense of Romania, Jon Antonescu, became interested in nationalists. He was closely associated with the financial elite of the country. In financial and industrial circles at this time, many realized that the country was at an impasse and were looking for a way out of the crisis. The example of the Reich seemed attractive.
Antonescu was not averse to becoming the Romanian Fuhrer. But he did not have his own party. Then he began to provide material assistance to the "Iron Guards." The king of Romania, Carol II, who, not without reason, feared the ambitious Minister of Defense, in the spring of 1938 ordered the arrest of Antonescu and the top of the Iron Guard. But the general was too popular a person, he had to be released. He was only demoted to corps commander. And the head of the Iron Guard, Corneliu Codriana and his associates, were allegedly killed while trying to escape. In response, the nationalists unleashed terror against their opponents (several interior ministers were killed).
Meanwhile, Antonescu acquired the image of a "fighter for the people." He criticized the government for a failed domestic policy. In foreign policy, he demanded to stop looking at Paris and move into the wake of the Reich. In the summer of 1940, his advice seemed prophetic. German troops entered Paris. Romania had no more patron. And near the Romanian border, the Red Army was preparing for a campaign.
Soviet tank T-26 and armored vehicles BA-10 on the road in Bessarabia
Army General G.K. Zhukov at a military parade in Chisinau
The troops in the Romanian direction at the beginning of June 1940 were led by the hero Khalkhin-Gola G.K. Zhukov. On June 9, 1940, the troops of the Kiev and Odessa districts began preparations for the liberation campaign. In mid-June, the USSR led troops to the Baltic states (“The myth of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states”). After that, it was time to return Bessarabia. On June 20, 1940, the commander of the Kiev Military District, General Georgy Zhukov, received a directive from the People's Commissar of Defense and the General Staff to begin preparations for the Bessarabian operation in order to defeat the Romanian army and liberate Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia. The Southern Front was created from the troops of the Kiev and Odessa military districts: the 12th, 5th and 9th armies. Three armies consisted of 10 rifle and 3 cavalry corps, separate rifle divisions, 11 tank brigades, etc. In total, over 460 thousand people, up to 12 thousand guns and mortars, more than 2400 tanks, over 2100 aircraft. Plus support for the Black Sea fleetsea aviation - 380 aircraft. The formation of the Danube Flotilla began.
Moscow informed Berlin that it was going to return Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina at the same time (there the majority of the population were Little Russians, Ukrainians). Berlin expressed surprise and only argued a little about Bukovina. Formally, it was never formally part of Russia, and in the 1939 pact there was no talk of it. However, the Germans did not quarrel over such a trifle and agreed. On June 26, 1940, Molotov presented the Romanian ambassador with a demand to transfer Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the USSR. Moscow emphasized that Romania took advantage of Russia's temporary weakness and forcibly tore its lands.
In Romania, mobilization was announced. Romania deployed a large group of troops on the Soviet border - the 1st army group (3rd and 4th armies). Only 6 army and 1 mining corps, about 450 thousand people. Bucharest put up 60% of its strength. However, the Romanian elite was frankly afraid of fighting against the USSR. There were no powerful defensive lines like the Mannerheim or Maginot line on the Romanian border. In the prewar time, the Romanians were mired in frivolity, theft and contention, the defense of the eastern borders did not pay much attention. Hoping on the "roof" of France and England. Now there were no patrons. If the Russians begin the offensive, they cannot be stopped. The combat readiness of the army, despite its strength, was low.
Bucharest began to beg for help from Germany. But in Berlin, they did not want a big war in the Balkans. Suddenly, the Russians will not just crush the Romanians, but will they go further? They will take the oil fields that the Reich needs, will put their ruler in Romania. Maybe they will go further, to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Germany will get a big problem in Southeast Europe. Therefore, Berlin wanted to resolve the conflict without war. German diplomacy began to put pressure on Bucharest, insisting that he give in. At the same time, other neighbors of Romania began to fuss, from whom it also took away a number of territories. The Hungarians remembered that after the First World War the Romanians stole Transylvania from her, the Bulgarians remembered South Dobrudja. If the Russians launch an offensive, Hungary and Bulgaria can also fight for their lands. In these disputes, the Germans played their game. Begging Bucharest to surrender to Moscow, they lied that they would take Romania under their protection, put Hungarians and Bulgarians in their place.
The Romanian elite itself knew that it was not the country that was not ready for war. On June 28, 1940, Romania adopted an ultimatum. Zhukov’s army entered Bessarabia peacefully. Romanian troops left the river without a fight Rod. Only a few minor skirmishes and skirmishes occurred. By July 3, 1940, the Bessarabian operation as a whole was completed. Our troops established full control over the territories of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Hertz, and a new border was established between Russia and Romania.
Local residents, especially Russian and Ukrainian Little Russians, who suffered greatly from the Romanian policy, enthusiastically greeted the Red Army. Red flags hung on the houses: “Ours have come!” On the streets unfolded nationwide festivities. Bessarabians who lived and worked in Romania tried to return to their homeland in order to live under Soviet rule. On August 2, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decided to unite the Moldavian Autonomous Republic with Bessarabia, the Moldavian SSR was created with its capital in Chisinau. Northern Bukovina became part of the Ukrainian SSR.
The population of Bessarabia, like the Baltic states, only benefited from reunification with Russia. Some citizens chose to go abroad, someone came under repression and deportation. Political figures, officials, representatives of the ruling class (manufacturers, bankers, landowners), hostile to Russia, suffered. But there were an insignificant number of them: in Bessarabia - 8 thousand people. At the same time, they were not shot, not driven to hard labor, but only evicted away (to Turkestan or Siberia). In Germany, France, Romania and other countries, major military-political changes were accompanied by much more massive repression and purges. The bulk of the people in Moldova only won. The development of the economy, culture, science and education of the republic began.
Thus, Stalin without war returned to Russia its historical lands. The military, economic and demographic potential of the Soviet Union was strengthened. Of great military and economic importance was access to the largest navigable river in Western Europe - the Danube. The Danube Flotilla was created on the Danube. The creative policy of Stalin brought Russia a tremendous gain. Without losses and serious efforts, the USSR annexed vast northwestern, western and southwestern territories. The country regained its previously lost outskirts. The collapse of the Versailles system, the Anglo-French coalition brought Russia to the rank of great powers, for the first time since 1917!
Soviet tanks BT-7 at the parade in Chisinau
Tractor tractors “Stalinets” tow A-122 19-mm hull guns during the parade in Chisinau
Chisinau residents welcome Soviet soldiers, July 1940