Romania Recent History

First World War and the consequences for Romania

Carol I died without direct descendants and so his nephew Ferdinand I succeeded him on the throne. Romania initially remained neutral during World War I, but then joined the Entente in 1916 (the alliance of Great Britain, France and Russia). In the peace treaties Romania then received Transylvania, the eastern Kreischgebiet, Bukovina and two thirds of the Banat in 1919 and 1920 respectively, and Bessarabia from Russia. The area and the population had doubled all of a sudden. Romania was now also a multi-ethnic state.

Between the wars and the Second World War

When King Ferdinand died in 1927, his son Karl II (Carol II) had already been excluded from the line of succession because he had behaved improperly with numerous love affairs. His only 5-year-old son Michael I became King of Romania.

But in 1930 Karl returned from exile and became king after all. In 1938 he dismissed the government, thus taking power and preventing the fascist group Iron Guard from participating in the government. But a year later a new government was formed.

During the Second World War, Romania again lost numerous areas that it had gained at the end of the First World War. Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia went to the Soviet Union in 1940, southern Dobruja to Bulgaria and northern Transylvania to Hungary. Charles II went back into exile, Michael came back to the throne. But the power was held by General Ion Antonescu.

Antonescu built a fascist military dictatorship. The Jews living in Romania were persecuted and murdered, and many Roma were deported. Romania entered World War II on the side of Germany.

Romania took part in the campaign against the Soviet Union in 1941 and received back the territories that had been lost a year earlier. In 1944, however, the Soviet Union invaded Romania. Antonescu was overthrown in the royal coup led by Michael I. Romania switched sides and now fought on the side of the Allies.

After the end of the Second World War, Romania got northern Transylvania back from Hungary. Bessarabia and northern Bukovina fell again to the Soviet Union. Today the Republic of Moldova is located there, part of it belongs to Ukraine.

Romania Recent History

History of Romania from 1945 to the present day

People’s Republic and Socialist Republic

According to ethnicityology, Romania came under Soviet influence after World War II. Communists seized power in the country. Political opponents were persecuted, other parties were banned, industry and agriculture were nationalized. The Securitate secret police was established. In 1948 Romania was declared a People’s Republic. The party leader and head of state was Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.

After his death Nicolae Ceaușescu was his successor. He made Romania a socialist republic. Under his dictatorial rule he promoted a personality cult around himself, had all opposition brutally suppressed and introduced a new family policy.

Every family should have at least five children and contraception was banned. Many families became impoverished and abandoned their children. The number of street children increased enormously. Children’s homes were overcrowded and there were catastrophic conditions of neglect. Particularly inhumane treatment was given to handicapped children who were twilight in homes set up especially for them.

The Romanian Revolution 1989

Ceaușescu rejected the reforms in the Soviet Union, which Mikhail Gorbachev had been promoting there since 1985. But Romania’s economy was on the verge of collapse, and the impoverished population was encouraged by what was happening in the other countries of Eastern Europe. The end of the Ceausescu regime was demanded in demonstrations from mid-December. There was real street fighting. After the army had allied itself with the demonstrators, Ceaușescu was brought before a military tribunal on December 25, 1989 and shot dead.

Romania since 1990

Ion Iliescu was elected as the new president, initially on a temporary basis and then by election in 1990. In 1992 he was re-elected. In 1996 he lost the elections to Emil Constantinescu, who held office until 2000. Then Iliescu was elected again and remained in the office of President until 2004. Traian Băsescu was then President until 2014. Klaus Johannis has held this position since 2014.

After the end of communist rule, Romania faced the consequences of dictatorship and mismanagement. The economy was transformed into a market economy, state property was privatized again. Things slowly went up and the economy grew. Nevertheless, Romania is still lagging behind, for example in agriculture.

In 2012 there was a national crisis because the population did not want to accept the government’s tough austerity measures. A procedure for impeachment has been initiated against President Băsescu. He was removed from office, but was then able to return to office because too few people took part in the referendum.