In 1947, in the singular event that began the conflict that would become known as World War III, King Michael of Romania gave an international appeal to stop the Soviet takeover of his country.
King Michael Calls for AidThe closing days of World War II saw the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe swallowing up Poland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and East Germany. While the West had agreed to occupy until stability and then withdraw, the Soviets looked to stay and expand their power. Beyond occupation, the Soviets pressed remaining countries to join them by preying on them politically. In 1947, Hungary, having already abolished its monarchy, conducted a plebiscite manipulated by Soviets to bring about the People's Republic of Hungary. The same year, it looked as if Romania would be the next to fall.
A new story by Jeff ProvineKing Michael was unnerved by Soviet clout, but he had seen enough suffering from his people and gradually gave way in March 1945 when he appointed a government dominated by Soviet sympathizers. In 1947, he traveled to London to attend the wedding of his cousins Princess Elizabeth and Philip. There, rumors circulated that he did not wish to return to Romania, though Michael refused any offers of asylum. Seeing his plight, Winston Churchill encouraged Michael with, "above all things, a King must be courageous".
Michael returned to Romania and immediately felt the pressures of Soviet take-over. But, he was the same Michael that, at a mere 26 years old, had rallied with the pro-Allied leaders of Romania and overthrown the Nazi camp's stranglehold. The coup had invited in the Soviets, and now it was time for Michael to rebel again. He found his capitalist supporters, locked down the palace, and, on December 30, sent out by radio and telegram an appeal to the United Nations and individual governments of the United States, Britain, France, and others for support against what he called an invasion from the roots.
The diplomatic gamble would pay off as Stalinists overreacted. Prime Minister Groza had threatened to murder 1,000 students who had been arrested for speaking out against the Soviet Union. The massacre began and rallied the Romanian people against Soviet supporters. Declaring a state of unrest, the Prime Minister called for Soviet military aid, and an invasion began that sparked action from Western nations in early 1948. Dwight Eisenhower, again Supreme Commander in Europe, led his generals in the heaviest fighting in eastern Germany, then joining up with the Polish Resistance and sparking revolutions in the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Romania itself would be filled with guerrilla warfare against a vastly superior force until Allied tanks led the liberation of Bucharest in 1949. Michael, who had been spirited out of the country just after the Soviet invasion, returned from his government-in-exile in London shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, Italy invaded the Julian March in 1948, which was ceded by Yugoslavia, and Tito sued for a separate peace. Mao Zedong in China was defeated by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army, who made certain that Communism was stamped out in the East. Socialist upstarts in India had been put down by Britain's agreement of independence, though French Indochina would see much bloodshed before native Vietnamese were given self-rule.
The Allies pressed into Russia through liberating Ukraine. From experience, they knew Stalin would never give up, despite the use of atomic weapons on his bases. The Cold War portion continued as the stalemated Allies waited until Stalin was finally assassinated and Moscow fell into civil war. Russia was Balkanized, and the exhausted Allies fell into retirement, letting loose their colonies over the '50s and '60s and settling into a new era of capitalistic rule under the American superpower.