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The War in Romania, 1916

Number six in a series of folding postcards, each one showing one of the Western Front battlefields on the interior. The outer back shows a map of central Europe with the Entente Allies is pink and the Central Powers in Yellow. The map shows Europe after Turkey's entry into the war at the end of October, 1914, and before Italy's entry in May, 1915. The publisher may have hoped neutral Italy and Romania would soon join the Allies, and has outlined them in pink.
Text:
Outer back:
Europe Centrale
En vente chez tous les libraries
Les cartes du front
tirées en 5 couleurs
format double carte postale
No. 1. Les Flandres
_ 2. Artois-Picardie
_ 3. Aisne & Oise
_ 4. Argonne-Côte de Meuse
_ 5. Lorraine
_ 6. Vosges-Alsace
A. Hatier. Editeur.8.Rue d'Assas, Paris.
Inner detailed map:
Les Cartes du Front.
No. 6. Vosges-Alsace.
Chemin de fer, voie norm[a]le
" voie étroite
Route principale
Fleuve ou rivière
Canal du navigation
Fort
Kilometres
Outer front:
Correspondence des Armees
Franchise Militaire

Central Europe
Available at all libraries
Cards of the Front
drawn in 5 colors
Double postcard size
No. 1. Flanders
_ 2. Artois-Picardie
_ 3. Oise Aisne &
_ 4. Argonne-Meuse Coast
_ 5. Lorraine
_ 6. Alsace-Vosges
A. Hatier. Publisher.8.Rue d'Assas, Paris.
Inner detailed map:
Cards of the Front
No 6. Alsace-Vosges.
Normal Railroad
Narrow Gauge Railroad
Major road
River or stream
Navigable canal
Fort
Kilometres
Outer front:
Correspondence of the Armies
Military Franchise

Number six in a series of folding postcards, each one showing one of the Western Front battlefields on the interior. The outer back shows a map of central Europe with the Entente Allies is pink and the Central Powers in Yellow. The map shows Europe after Turkey's entry into the war at the end of October, 1914, and before Italy's entry in May, 1915. The publisher may have hoped neutral Italy and Romania would soon join the Allies, and has outlined the two countries in pink.

Image text

Outer back:

Europe Centrale

En vente chez tous les libraries

Les cartes du front

tirées en 5 couleurs

format double carte postale

No. 1. Les Flandres

_ 2. Artois-Picardie

_ 3. Aisne & Oise

_ 4. Argonne-Côte de Meuse

_ 5. Lorraine

_ 6. Vosges-Alsace

A. Hatier. Editeur.8.Rue d'Assas, Paris.



Inner detailed map:

Les Cartes du Front.

No. 6. Vosges-Alsace.

Chemin de fer, voie norm[a]le

" voie étroite

Route principale

Fleuve ou rivière

Canal du navigation

Fort

Kilometres



Outer front:

Correspondence des Armees

Franchise Militaire



Central Europe

Available at all libraries

Cards of the Front

drawn in 5 colors

Double postcard size

No. 1. Flanders

_ 2. Artois-Picardie

_ 3. Oise Aisne &

_ 4. Argonne-Meuse Coast

_ 5. Lorraine

_ 6. Alsace-Vosges

A. Hatier. Publisher.8.Rue d'Assas, Paris.



Inner detailed map:

Cards of the Front

No 6. Alsace-Vosges.

Normal Railroad

Narrow Gauge Railroad

Major road

River or stream

Navigable canal

Fort

Kilometres



Outer front:

Correspondence of the Armies

Military Franchise

Other views: Interior, Larger, Larger, Larger, Larger, Back

August 27 through December 31, 1916

Romanian Front

Romania Joins the Entente Allies

The Kingdom of Romania shared no border with the Ottoman Empire and played no part in the First Balkan War that Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria waged against the Turks. Dissatisfied with its spoils from that war, Bulgaria turned on Greece and Serbia on June 29, 1913 in the Second Balkan War. On July 10, Romania joined the alliance against Bulgaria, attacking it across their lengthy shared border, and seizing territory from Bulgaria in southern Dobruja.

Despite this background, Romania’s greatest nationalist — and expansionist — ambitions were to incorporate two neighboring and largely Romanian populations, one in Bessarabia in Russia, the other in Transylvania in Austria-Hungary. Transylvania was separated from Romania on the south by the Transylvanian Alps and on the east by the southern Carpathians.

Both the Central Powers and the Entente Allies made promises to entice Romania into the war. The Allies wanted Romanian support against Bulgaria, and promised to attack Bulgaria from Salonica, to attack Austria-Hungary in the Bukovina, and to send three Russian divisions to Dobruja for support. In their bargaining, Great Britain and French were generally willing to offer anything, but Russia, because of Romania's designs on Bessarabia, was more sceptical. The Central Powers could offer Bessarabia.

The Allied defeats of 1915 — of the Russians in the Battle of Gorlice-Tarnow, of France and Britain at Gallipoli, and of its neighbor Serbia, occupied by year's end — convinced Romania to stay on the sidelines. But the allies were more successful in 1916, holding firm at Verdun and advancing on the Somme. When Russia staggered Austria-Hungary with the Brusilov’s Offensive, Romania decided the time was right to join the Entente Allies.

John Bull, symbol of Great Britain and here a bird-catcher, tries to entice the kingdom of Romania, in 1915 a neutral nation, into his trap. He already has Russia by the nose, and the plucked cock of France and an Italian fowl close at hand. Neutral (and wise) Greece rests out of reach, while Bulgaria sings to the Islamic crescent moon of Turkey. In the background Turkish, German, and Austro-Hungarian soldiers meet at a crossroads. Carved into the tree is a heart dated 1915, and the initials

The success of the Brusilov Offensive was one of the deciding factors for Romania, but by the time they declared war Austria-Hungary on August 27, 1916, German reinforcements had stiffened Austrian resistance, the Russian offensive had come to a halt, and Romania, which might earlier have provided valuable reserves, could no longer help.

Prime Minister Gheorghe Brătianu had negotiated Romania's entry into the war thinking the moment, one of Austro-Hungarian distress on its Russian and Italian fronts, opportune, in great part because of the success of Russia's Brusilov Offensive and Italy's Sixth Battle of the Isonzo, both of which had come to a standstill at the end of August. Brătianu had also expected an Allied offensive against Bulgaria from the Salonica Front that would tie down Bulgarian forces and prevent an attack along Romania's southern — and largely exposed — border. The French may have overstated the size of the Salonica forces as 400,000 men, between 50,000 and 170,000 more than the actual number. The agreement Brătianu signed also left vague what the Salonica action would be.

Under the command of French General Maurice Sarrail, Allied forces on the Salonica Front moved north for an offensive to support Romania, but were instead struck by the Bulgarians on August 17, ten days before Romania's entry into the war. Driven back, the Allies were unable to stabilize their line until the 27th, the day Romania went to war. Sarrail would not attack until September 10, and then in an offensive that did little to aid his new ally.

Romania's deployment of its four armies depended on which of its two war plans it executed. The first plan, advocated by the Allies, required defending against Austria-Hungary behind the natural barriers of the Transylvanian Alps and the southern Carpathians while launching a joint offensive against Bulgaria to link up with Allied forces driving north from Salonica. The second called for defending against Bulgaria behind the natural barrier of the Danube River while driving into Transylvania with three armies. In hopes of satisfying its expansionist dreams, Romania chose the second plan.

Romania Invades Austria-Hungary

The Romanian First, Second, and Fourth Armies crossed the mountains into the salient of Austro-Hungarian Transylvania the night of August 27, 1916, and quickly seized the city of Kronstadt. For two weeks they advanced slowly against the Austro-Hungarian First Army which strengthened as the Romanian advance shortened its line. With help from units of a newly forming German Ninth Army, the Austro-Hungarians halted the Romanian advance on September 18.

After the failure of Germany's siege of Verdun, Kaiser Wilhelm replaced German commander Erich von Falkenhayn with Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff on August 29. The new commanders appointed Falkenhayn to lead a new Ninth Army in the campaign against Romania on September 6. Falkenhayn had been aware of Romania's negotiations with the Entente, and had prepared, building the Ninth Army on the right wing of the Austro-Hungarian First Army on Romania's western border.

Across the border from Romania's northwest, Falkenhayn arrived to take command of the Ninth Army on September 18, and immediately launched a counter-offensive. He initially concentrated on the Romanian First Army on the Romanian left, and, in attacks beginning September 18, began to force the Army out of Austria-Hungary. From September 26 to 29 Falkenhayn and Austro-Hungarian General Arthur Arz von Straussenburg defeated the Romanians at Hermannstadt. Falkenhayn then moved to the Romanian center, and, in attacks beginning on October 4, forced the Romanian Second Army back into Romania. From October 7 to 9, Falkenhayn and Arz von Straussenburg again defeated the Romanians, this time at Kronstadt. To the north, the Fourth Army on the Romanian right was in danger of being isolated, and retreated to the mountains and Romania.

The Battle for Dobruja

Along with building his Ninth Army, Falkenhayn had also formed a Bulgarian-German Danube Army under German General August von Mackensen on the Romanian southeastern border at Dobruja between the Danube and the Black Sea. Here, where the Danube, which flowed east between Romania and Bulgaria, turned north before reaching the Black Sea, Romania was vulnerable.

Postcard of a September 4, 1916 German air raid on Constanta, Romania

On September 2, five days after Germany declared war on Romania, Mackensen's forces crossed the border into Dobruja. The Romanian fortified cities on the Danube fell quickly: Turtukai surrendered on September 6; Silistria on September 9. By mid-September Mackensen was approaching the sole Dobruja rail line that bifurcated the region, that was Romania's primary Danube crossing point, and that connected the Black Sea port of Constanza to the capital of Bucharest.

But Russia had made good on its promise of three divisions. Under General Andrei Zaionchovsky, 30,000 men had arrived on September 1, when Mackensen began his invasion, and were in position north of the rail line on September 16. Units of the Romanian Third Army which had been positioned west of Dobruja had moved east against Mackensen. The Romanians had also transferred three divisions from the Transylvania offensive, weakening it. The Romanian and Russian forces stopped Mackensen's advance on September 20, and pushed it back 10 miles in four days of bitter fighting.

In the southeast at the beginning of October, the Romanian Third Army failed in an attempt to cross the Danube into Dobruja and strike Mackensen from behind. Having reinforced his Army with two Turkish divisions, Mackensen resumed his attack on October 20, and took Constanza and the railroad that crossed Dobruja by October 25.

The Fall of Walachia

Falkenhayn's assault to drive the Romanians from the mountains resumed in November, with fighting on the Olt and Jiu Rivers and passes through the month. The Romanians resisted fiercely but in a two-day battle on November 16 and 17 the Austro-German forces reached the plain of Walachia. Desperate to hold the capital, the Romanians planned to launch an offensive from the Olt River, the natural defense west of Bucharest, but Austro-German forces crossed the river on November 23.

Map of the the Balkan Front — Germany

With most of Dobruja under his control, Mackensen had moved some of his forces westward for an assault on Bucharest. He crossed the Danube at Sistov-Zimnicea southwest of the capital on November 23. The German Ninth Army which had been reinforced with four divisions from the Western Front, continued to push the Romanian First Army back towards Bucharest.

Encouraged by General Henri Berthelot, head of the French Military Mission to Romania, the Romanians made plans for a counter-offensive to defend Bucharest, but planners poorly understood their situation. Romanian intelligence had failed to anticipate the river crossings and underestimated the size of the forces invading the country. The Romanians also anticipated more support from Russian forces than they would receive.

Their situation desperate, the Romanians sought to take advantage of a gap between Falkanhayn's right wing and von Mackensen's forces west of Bucharest. With inadequate forces and without support, the Romanians fought in the last days of November and the first of December. Their efforts failed, and the Romanians fell back, abandoned Bucharest to preserve it from a protracted battle, and continued retreating. On December 6, Mackensen entered Bucharest.

What was left of the Romanian 1st Army retreat to the northeast. To the north, in Moldavia, Russian forces had aided Romania, redeploying from the Bukovina to the right wing of the Romanian Fourth Army. The Central Powers forces continued advancing until January 7, 1917, sometimes battling primarily Russian units fighting to protect Russia. In northern Dubroja, only the Danube separated Russia and occupied Romania. Of its territory, Romania held only Moldavia. What remained of its army was reinforced by Russian units to hold the front.

The Aftermath

In fighting that had lasted 100 days, Romania had lost at least 200,000 men. The Central Powers had captured one million tons of oil, two million of grain, 300,000 head of livestock, and 200,000 tons of timber. The Eastern Front had been extended over 400 kilometers. With a broken Romanian army, much of the burden for holding the extension of this line would fall on Russia.

1916-08-27

1916-12-31

Events contemporaneous with The War in Romania, 1916

Start Date End Date View
1915-06-23 1917-11-12 Battles of the Isonzo
1916-02-21 1916-09-02 Battle of Verdun
1916-06-04 1916-09-20 Brusilov Offensive
1916-07-01 1916-11-13 Battle of the Somme
1916-08-27 1916-08-27 Romania declares war on Austria-Hungary
1916-08-27 1916-12-31 Romania at War, 1916
1916-08-28 1916-08-28 Italy declares war on Germany
1916-08-29 Hindenburg replaces Falkenhayn