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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

ROMANIA: 1920-2020

The First World War was an event whose ripples reach out to us over a century after it ended.

The war saw the collapse of three empires:

  1. The Tsarist Russian Empire in 1917, eventually replaced later that year by the Soviet Empire. The Soviet Empire lost a great deal of territory in The West, such as Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

  2. The Ottoman Empire was reduced to the rump state of Turkey (who still held a slither on the European continent, East Thrace).

  3. The Austro-Hungarian Empire shattered into its constituent parts in the wake of defeat in 1918. Transylvania took the opportunity to unite with Romania.

The result for Romania at the end of The First War was the enlargement of its territory, leading to the use of the inter war phrase 'Greater Romania'. This lasted until after The Second World War when it was again reduced in size to its present borders.

The West might have thought, or at least hoped, that Romania would continue along the road to democracy under its German Royal House. In the 1920s this still looked a possibility, but the 1930s saw a rise in fascism, which finally took power in 1937/38 and in 1940/41 - a total of six months in all.

The Second World War was traumatic for the country as it changed sides in 1944 to join The Allies. Yet, at the war's end it was reduced in size, and, worse still, following Red Army occupation it fell under the control of Eastern European Communism, which we associate with the name Ceausescu. Since the Fall of Communism in 1989, Romania finds itself once more on the rocky road to full democracy.

The period is full of extraordinary characters including King Carol II, Magda Lupescu, Antonescu, King Michael, and The Ceausescus.

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