In 1916, on this day Romania declared war on Austria Hungary, joining the side of Russia in the Third Balkan War, and opening up another important front.
Article continues from Part #1.
The Last Chance for Peace #2 By Steven FisherThe war had been raging for two years, and both Austria-Hungary and Russia continued to battle, with neither having a decisive victory. The Austrians had pursued a bleeding defense strategy against Russia, standing on the defensive in the East while they attempted to secure their flank by conquering Serbia. The battle had mainly been fought in the Hungarian province of Galicia, where the Dual Monarchy hinged its defenses on the San River. The Russians forced this river line, but were unable to make headway against the Austrian defenses in the Caprathian Mountains. With the failure to force the Austrian defenses, the Russians turned towards influencing Romania to join their side in the war, while the Austrians focused on Bulgaria.
The Russians knew that if they could have Romania join their side in the war, then they could outflank the Austrian defenses on the Carpathian Mountains and flood inner Hungary with troops. They could also use an overland route to reinforce their faltering Serbian ally, who was coming under increasing pressure fromn the Dual Monarchy. They promised the Romanians that they will recieve Translyvania from a defeated Austria-Hungary, and will recieve generous financial support from the Russians. Eventually, the Romanians agree to join the war on the side of Russia.
However, the war had marched on. Bulgaria had joined the war on the side of the Dual Monarcy, in an attempt to exact revenge on Serbia for their defeat in the Second Balkan War. With pressure from the Bulgarians and Austria-Hungary, Serbia had fallen. The Serbian Army had evacuated to Korfu, and had then joined the Russian troops in Galicia. When Romania joined the war, massed russian armies slammed into the unprepared Austrian defense lines. From this point onwards, the war would continually turn in Russia's favor, as the Austrians were stretched further and further. They also fell on economic hard times as they attempted to support thew war effort.
The war would last for one more year, as the Austrians desperately tried to stabilize the situation on the Romanian front. However, the death of Franz Joseph I and the continued defeats, destroyed the morale of the army, and under the pressure of a Russian offensive, it began dissolving around itself. Commanders were unable to stop it, and Austria-Hungary is forced to sue for peace in 1917. During this time, Turkey also declares war on Bulgaria in what is seen as an opportunistic move to gain territory.
The peace treaty will hurt Austria-Hungary hard. They will lose segments of territory to Russia, Romania, and will give up the northern territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will also be forced to pay Serbia for the damages that they dealt to her. It will be a cost that Austria-Hungary cannot bear. By the end of the year, the Dual Monarchy will have collapsed under civil unrest, military defeat in the war, and economic hardship.
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