Region: Central / Eastern Europe
Group: Occupations in World War 1
Classification: Military Occupation
Prior Regime: Kingdom of Romania
1916, Aug 27 – Romania declares war on Austro Hungary, launching a surprise attack
1916, Dec 3 – Romania defeated by the Central Powers
1818, Mar 7 – Treaty of Bucharest, where Romania surrenders, and makes territorial concessions
1918, Nov 30 – Romania re-enters the war
Following Regime: Kingdom of ROmania
Scott Catalogue: (Romania, Occupation Stamps) 1N1-1N34
Pick Catalogue: (Romania, WW1, German Occupation) M1-M8
The Kingdom of Romania was a Constitutional Monarchy, ruled by King Carol I of Hohenzollern. In 1883, King Carol signed a secret treaty with the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) which obligated Romania to militarily support the Austro-Hungarian Empire if it was attacked. As World War 1 began, the King wanted to enter the war as an ally of the Central Powers, however the Crown Council in Romania disagreed, and decided to declare neutrality, arguing that since Austria-Hungary had initiated the war, Romania was under no formal obligation to come to their support. King Carol 1 died two months later on 10 Oct, 1914 and was succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand.
As World War 1 spread, Romania began negotiating an agreement with the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia) for Romania to enter the war on the side of the Allies. In return, Romania would be provided military support from the Russians, provisions in support for the war, and afterwards Romania would be given the territories of Transylvania, Banat and Bukovina, which was currently under Austria-Hungarian rule. Transylvania had long been desired by Romania, as it had a majority ethnic Romanian population. The agreement was signed on 18 Aug, 1916 and on 27 Aug Romania declared war against Austria-Hungary.
Romania launched a major offensive into Transylvania, catching the Austro-Hungarians by surprise. While they experienced some early successes, however in Oct 1916, with combined forces of the Germans, Austrians, Bulgarians and Ottomans, the Central Powers repulsed the Romanian attacks, and within two months had completely overrun the country. On 6 Dec, 1916, Central Powers forces marched into Bucharest, while the Romanian Army, along with the Romanian government was forced to retreat to eastern Moldavia, where it joined up with Russian forces. The Romanians, with support from the Allies and the Russian Army were able to hold the line, rebuilding their army as best as they could.
The situation changed dramatically with the onset of the Russian Revolution in Oct. 1917. With the Russian army in virtual collapse, Russian troops were withdrawn from the war in early 1918, leaving the Romanians in a very vulnerable position. Surrounded by enemy armies, the Romanians had no choice but agree to surrender, which was finalized in the 7 May, 1918 Treaty of Bucharest. In this agreement, Romania was also required to relinquish their coastal territories along the Black Sea to Bulgaria.
In the second half of 1918, with major victories by the Allies, the Central Powers collapsed and the war began to wind to a close with complete victory by the Allies. Emboldened by the changes in the war, on 10 Nov, 1918, Romania announced that it unilaterally revoked the Treaty of Bucharest, and re-entered the war on 10 Nov, 1918. This was one day before the armistice between Germany and the Allies was signed to end the war in Western Europe. With the retreating forces of the Central Powers, the Romanian Army moves out of Moldavia into the previously occupied Romania, and continued its advance into Austrian territories of Transylvania, Banat and Bucovina.
The King returned to the capital on November 30th, and ultimately the Treaty of Versailles nullified the Treaty of Bucharest, additionally giving Romania control of the long desired province of Transylvania, as well as additional territories which make up most of Romania today.
This did not totally end the fighting in the region. In 1919, many of the ethnic groups and factions within the territories of the former Austro Hungarian Empire, such as in Temesvár (Timişoara), the capital of the Banat region, took advantage of the uncertainty and turmoil, vying for control of lands formerly under the empire’s control. Ultimately the uprisings were quelled and the final borders were confirmed.
In 1917, during the occupation of Romania by the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary issued occupation postage stamps. The Austrian stamps used KuK FELDPOST stamps surcharged into Romanian currency (bani and lei). The stamp design, featuring Emperor Karl of Austria was used in many areas during the war, with the bottom intentionally left blank so that local denominations could be printed on the stamp. Seventeen different denominations were issued from 3 bani to 4 lei).
The following year, in 1918, new stamps were issued with the same denominations. Again, using the KuK FELDPOST stamps with an almost identical design, the bottom of the stamp featured an unprinted box for the currency unit to be printed in. It was felt that it would make the stamps more legible.
In 1917, during the occupation, the Central Powers issued 8 occupation banknotes in 25, 50 Bani, 1, 2, 5, 20, 100, 1.000 lei. The Occupation notes were issued from the “Banca Generala Romania”.