On this day in 1940, Hitler occupies Romania as part of his strategy of creating an unbroken Eastern front to menace the Soviet Union.
As early as 1937, Romania had come under the control of a fascist government that bore great resemblance to that of Germany’s, including similar anti-Jewish laws. Romania’s king, Carol II, dissolved the government a year later because of a failing economy and installed Romania’s Orthodox Patriarch as prime minister. But the Patriarch’s death and a peasant uprising provoked renewed agitation by the fascist Iron Guard paramilitary organization, which sought to impose order. In June 1940, the Soviet Union co-opted two Romanian provinces, and the king searched for an ally to help protect it and appease the far right within its own borders. So on July 5, 1940, Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany-only to be invaded by its “ally” as part of Hitler’s strategy to create one huge eastern front against the Soviet Union.
King Carol abdicated on September 6, 1940, leaving the country in the control of fascist Prime Minister Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. While Romania would recapture the territory lost to the Soviet Union when the Germans invaded Russia, it would also have to endure the Germans’ raping its resources as part of the Nazi war effort. Nevertheless, with German troops now occupying his nation, Antonescu would go on to sign the Tripartite (Axis) Pact in November, tying Romania to the military machinations of not only Germany, but Italy and Japan as well.