Romania Narrowly Avoided Getting Bombed by the Soviets


On the 77th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Russia published secret documents from the Second World War including an order dated June 22nd, 1941, from Soviet command for the bombing of Axis member Romania.

The objective of the project is to shed light on one of the most terrible periods in Soviet history – the commencement of the Great Patriotic War of 1941 to 1945.

On June 22nd, 1941, the Nazis launched an unprovoked assault on the Soviet Union, which in turn started a conflict that killed millions of soldiers and civilians alike during one of history’s darkest periods.

German troops at the Soviet state border marker, 22 June 1941

Released by the Russian Defense Ministry, the files were written by the Red Army’s most prominent generals, including Marshall Ivan Bagramyan, and date back to the early 1950s.

A three-page document signed by Georgy Zhukov, then Chief of General Staff, is given special attention. Signed just three hours after the start of the Nazi invasion, the report makes the harrowing suggestion that those allied with Germany and had impinged on Soviet territory should be attacked and destroyed.

The report makes special concessions for Finland and Romania specifically, suggesting that the two countries shouldn’t be attacked until special instructions are given. However, a postscript from Zhukov himself on the last page of the document comes with a harsh recommendation that Romania should be bombed.

General Georgy Zhukov speaking on 1 September 1941. Photo: RIA Novosti archive, image #2410 / P. Bernstein / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Since the start of the 1940s, Romania had been a significant contributor to the Nazis military campaign, and also in their campaign regarding the extermination of Jews.  According to documents related to the Holocaust, the Romanian authorities of the time collaborated with the Third Reich in the systematic murder of 160,000 Romanian Jews.

Having joined the Axis, Romania took part in the Nazi-led invasion of the USSR on June 22nd.  Finland, also mentioned in the documents, wasn’t an Axis regime, but participated in the alliance’s operations.

Romanian soldiers participating in the deportation of Jewish families. Photo: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F016206-0003 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Released just recently, the documents display only a fraction of the evidence of the heroism of the soldiers and commanders of the Red Army who are responsible for defeating Hitler’s attempt to invade the Soviet Union.

The invasion was codenamed “Operation Barbarossa” and would have used Hitler’s blitzkrieg tactics in order to both defeat and then occupy the USSR.  The ministry also published Hitler’s map and battle plans, including a mass-scale operation detailing the deployment of Nazi forces on the borders of the USSR, and the directions of the principle attacks during the first few days of the war.

The Marcks Plan (published 5 August 1940) was the original German plan of attack for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Union during World War II, as depicted in a US Government study (March 1955)

Details and displays of the heroism of the Soviet people during this conflict have been revealed, including reports regarding troops in Kiev, who were among the first line of defense against the Nazi war machine, while other reports include the notion of the mobilization of the entire USSR fighting side by side against insurmountable odds.

Several documents were filled with lighter news about Soviet pilots returning home safely from operations, while others recognize and mourn the tragic deaths of airmen.

German sentinel in the citadel of Kiev on 19 September 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L20208 / Schmidt / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Official figures push the overall cost in lives lost for the Soviet Union to over 26 million, with more than eight million of these spent fighting back the Nazi invasion troops and then turning the tide, leading to the ultimate defeat of Nazism.

Contrary to the popular narrative about the Second World War, the Soviet Union absorbed the most damage of all the victorious nations of the war, having dealt with more than seventy-five percent of Nazi Germany and their allied forces being concentrated on the Eastern Front.  Also, the Eastern Front was where Nazi Germany suffered the majority of its war losses, with the actual percentage being seventy-four percent.

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