On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bucharest during the Great Patriotic War, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation declassified a number of documents on the fighting in Romania and the most significant events of the Bucharest-Arad operation.

So, the agency placed in the multimedia section photocopies of resolutions, military journals, political reports, newspaper publications and award sheets for the most distinguished fighters.

Coup and war

During the First World War, Romania fought on the side of the Entente, maintaining close relations with France. After the war, the territories controlled by Bucharest nearly doubled. Romania annexed Transylvania and Bukovina, formerly part of Austria-Hungary, and annexed Bessarabia, which had previously been part of the Russian Empire. Between the world wars, the Romanian authorities continued their cooperation with Paris, and in 1940 began to draw closer to Berlin.

In June of that year, the Soviet Union in an ultimatum demanded that Romania release Bessarabia and Bukovina, and Bucharest had to cede. According to the decision of the Second Vienna Arbitration, Romania transferred Hungary to Transylvania. Due to territorial losses, King Karol II was overthrown. The government was led by former Defense Minister Ion Antonescu, who became a dictator and initiated an alliance with Adolf Hitler. The new king Mihai I was forced to submit to Antonescu.

On June 22, 1941, Bucharest took part in the attack on the Soviet Union and, with Hitler’s consent, occupied Bessarabia and the Ukrainian SSR between the Southern Bug and the Dniester. Romanian troops suffered heavy losses in the battles of Odessa and Sevastopol, in the North Caucasus and in Stalingrad. The defeats and the economic crisis caused acute discontent of the Romanian population with Antonescu's policies and led to an increase in the popularity of the Communists. The liberation of Odessa in April 1944 was evidence that the Red Army would inevitably enter Romanian territory.

“Romanian troops suffered heavy defeats. Cavalrymen who ended up in the cauldrons were forced to eat their horses in order to survive, ”military historian Yury Knutov told RT in an interview.

Among the archival documents of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation there is a resolution of the USSR State Defense Committee of April 10, 1944 stating that the entry of the Soviet military into Romanian territory was caused solely by military necessity, the continued resistance of the German troops and military units allied with Germany, Romania.

The document emphasizes that “in the areas occupied by the Red Army, councils and bodies of Soviet power do not create, maintain without changing all the Romanian authorities in these areas and the existing system of economic and political structure. "Treat the Romanian civilian population with Soviet dignity, prevent any unauthorized and arbitrary actions."

The military leadership of the USSR was instructed to ensure the preservation of the personal and property rights of Romanian citizens and to render all possible assistance to the work of hospitals, schools, telegraphs, and telephone communications.

In addition, the bilingual appeal of the Red Army command to the people and military of Romania is documented in two languages.

  • The appeal of the Soviet command to the Romanian people and the Romanian army
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

“Romanians! The Red Army has entered your territory to finish off the German robbers. She has no other goals, the statement says. - We do not want to impose our rules on you. After the expulsion of the Germans, you will establish on your land such orders as you yourself wish. ”

"The long awaited event"

Mihai I came to the conclusion that continuing the war was not practical. He began to prepare for a truce with members of the Anti-Hitler coalition and established contacts with the opposition. In turn, the Romanian Communists began negotiations on cooperation with senior military commanders. On June 20, 1944, national-democratic and left-wing parties created a single bloc to overthrow the dictatorship.

On August 23, Mihai I tried to convince Antonescu to stop fighting with the USSR, and when he refused, he ordered him to be arrested. At the same time, the Communists in Bucharest revolted against the supporters of the ousted dictator.

The Nazi forces tried to establish their control over the capital of Romania, but were defeated. These events are discussed in the declassified documents of the Hitlerite Army Group "Southern Ukraine".

Residents of the city and volunteers stood up to defend their capital. Thus, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a report by the head of the German air force mission in Romania, aviation general Alfred Gerstenberg, the chief of the Wehrmacht general staff, saying that there is no way to break into Bucharest, because the Romanians have strong resistance.

On August 31, the first units of the 6th Panzer and 53rd Army of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, as well as the 1st Romanian Volunteer Division named after Tudor Vladimirirescu, entered Bucharest. Residents of the capital of Romania welcomed the Red Army.

  • The journal of military operations of the troops of the 53rd army in August 1944
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

“Most of the Romanian population met the end of the war with the Soviet Union with great relief, as a long-awaited event,” the 53rd Army said in a political report.

According to the document, the entry of the Red Army into Bucharest took place without incident. Residents of the city cursed the government of Antonescu, raised red flags and presented flowers to Soviet soldiers.

“The Soviet command recognized that the Romanians themselves rose against the Nazis,” said Yuri Knutov.

Courage in battle

After entering Bucharest, Soviet troops swiftly moved west, overcoming the stubborn resistance of the German-Hungarian units. The Red Army showed courage in battles with the Nazi invaders, as evidenced by a number of declassified award documents.

“For heroism and courage, for steadfastness, courage, discipline, organization and skillful performance of combat missions, transform the 6th tank army into the 6th guards tank army,” the extract from the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief No. 00307 says.

So, the commander of the cable-pole company of the 60th separate battalion of the 49th rifle corps, senior lieutenant Suren Abramov, was introduced to the Order of the Patriotic War II degree. Thanks to his efforts, the corps command was constantly in touch with subordinate units during the battles in the Bucharest region.

  • Award sheet for the commander of the cable-pole company of the 60th separate battalion of the 49th rifle corps of senior lieutenant Suren Abramov
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The documents also note that the senior sergeant Prokofy Baranov, who commanded the ISU-122 self-propelled gun, destroyed three large-caliber guns, six vehicles, 30 soldiers and enemy officers in the battle at Ploiesti. And the medical officer of the 6th Guards Airborne Rifle Regiment, Junior Sergeant Emelian Belinsky, evacuated 25 people from the battlefield, dying himself. These two fighters were posthumously awarded the orders of World War II degree.

Among the declassified materials presented the order of the Supreme Commander of the USSR Joseph Stalin of August 31, 1944 on the assignment of the most distinguished units in the battles on the outskirts of Bucharest honorary name "Bucharest".

  • Order of Joseph Stalin of August 31, 1944 on the assignment of the honorary name "Bucharest" to the most distinguished units in battle
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

“By the beginning of October 1944, thanks to the joint efforts of the Soviet and Romanian troops, almost the entire territory of the country was liberated from the Nazis,” Knutov said.

Thus, according to the expert, the Red Army created a bridgehead for the liberation of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans.