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Convinced that he must find a solution for Romania's exit from the alliance with Germany, the young king consulted with various representatives of the democratic and opposition parties, including Iuliu Maniu (President of the National Peasant Party), Dinu Bratianu (President of the National Liberal Party), Constantin Titel Petrescu (President of the Social Democratic Party) and Lucretiu Patrascanu (Communist Party of Romania).

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Iuliu Maniu

The plan is clear: if the marshal can not be convinced to step out of the coalition with Germany and join the Allies, he will be arrested and removed by force from power. Date set for the coup: August 26.

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By lucky coincidence, while in Sinaia, the King finds an essential piece of information: Antonescu is preparing to leave on the front on August 24th. The King is alert and hurried to Bucharest to let people know that the coup d'etat should be moved urgently the next day. Some of his collaborators are not to be found, so he calls General Sanatescu, Colonel Emilian Ionescu, Ionel Mocsony Starcha and several soldiers and prepares for the final confrontation.

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On August 22, King Michael takes his courage and calls Antonescu to the Royal Palace the next day, under the pretext of a discussion on the situation on the front.

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On the afternoon of August 23, 1944, without any suspicion, the marshal comes and, for an hour, discusses the political and military situation of the country with the king, but he does not believe it.

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"We started by telling him that this situation can not continue. We can not defend ourselves. The Russians are too many, we have to go out of the war. (...) He clearly refused. And he said he had promised Hitler that he would be next to the end. That he gave him the word of honor, as an officer. "

(King Michael, Fragment of the interview by John Florescu)

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Seeing that the marshal can not be convinced, the king spoke the key phrase: "In this case, I am sorry, but there is nothing else to do." At that moment, three soldiers and an officer, who were hiding in the other room, have entered and arrested Antonescu. Shocked, the Marshal threatens the soldiers and Sanatescu with the execution, but they are not intimidated and locked in a secure room in the palace.

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With Antonescu arrested, the king is in a hurry to form a new government before the Germans learn about the coup and destroy any attempt to exit the war. The government is formed mostly of soldiers, but also with the participation of the parties, represented by Iuliu Maniu, Dinu Bratianu, Lucretiu Patrascanu and Constantin Titel Petrescu.

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The German phone lines were cut off to help the king earn some time. Until 8 o'clock that evening, the government and the key men of the army had been changed, and the king had recorded his war-out proclamation.

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On the evening of August 23, 1944, at 22:00, the proclamation of Romania's exit from the war and the passage on the side of the Allies is broadcast on the radio. The country is engrossed in a wave of enthusiasm and people come out on the streets, chanting "the King, the King!"

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Luckily, fate proved to be on the side of King Michael, who managed to find the best moment for the coup. Moving the attack plan from 26 to 23 took everyone by surprise, which helped Romania to succeed where Hungary and Italy failed.

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The King's gesture gives the Allies the power they need. In just a few days (24, 25, 26 August), Bucharest and its surroundings are "cleaned up" by the Germans (the Romanian army taking about 50,000 prisoners), and the Soviet army, in alliance with the Romanian, is advancing on the territory of the country, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

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Throne hall, after the proclamation of the King of August 23, 1944

The liberation of Romania proved to be a greater victory than Stalingrad, the Romanian and Soviet army taking 192,000 German prisoners from all over the country.

It is estimated that King Michael's courage has shortened the war for six months and saved tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives. Unfortunately, the historical truth about the events of that time was subsequently dressed in communist propaganda and transformed into an exclusive "success" of the Communist Party (which at the time did not even operate in law and had no more than 1,000 members in all the country).

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