A few months after German troops pulled out from Romanian territory, the Romanian armed forces were operating alongside its new allies in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
On March 2nd 1945, G-ral Gheorghe Avramescu, in command
of the Romanian 4th Army Corps on the frontline in Czechoslovakia,
was arrested by the Soviet authorities. Since that day, the disappearance of
one of the most important commanders of the Romanian army has been the object of
guesswork and supposition.
Col. Sergiu Balanovici, PhD, historian and museographer with the
Botosani County Museum, told Radio Romania News and Current Affairs about G-ral
Avramescu's military career:
Sergiu Balanovici: "In 1913, he took
part in the Romanian campaign in Bulgaria. That same year, he started studying
at the Superior War College, but had to put that on hold in 1914, when WWI
broke out. Gheorghe Avramescu was part of the class that graduated in 1919.
During the war for the unification of Romania, he commanded first a company,
then a battalion in the south of Dobrogea, where he was wounded. In the summer
of 1917, Captain Avramescu fought at Marasesti. He was awarded the Order of the
Star of Romania for special merit, and in September 1917 he was exceptionally
granted the rank of major. In 1936 he was made a brigadier general, and in 1940
he was made division general. Every single commander, without exception,
appreciated his activity, and considered him an unsurpassed leader, from every
point of view."
On June 22nd 1941, Romania
joined Germany as an ally against the Soviet Union, and General Gheorghe
Avramescu continued to act impeccably on that front. Here with details is
Sergiu Balanovici: "He is the central
figure in the liberation of Bukovina. There was heavy fighting, including
around Hotin, but the mountain rangers had very good leadership. This unit was
well in advance of the troops in the rest of the Romanian frontline. The 3rd
Army Corps started the offensive towards Bug without any operating rest, and
reached the river by mid-August, when it took over the bridgehead captured by
German mechanized infantry, and the battle north of the Sea of Azov ended with
a decisive Romanian-German victory."
After August 23rd, 1944, the Soviets took over
unofficially command of Romanian troops. The Romanian army was an ally of the
dominant power, but the country was under virtual occupation. Here is Sergiu
Balanovici back at the microphone.
Sergiu Balanovici: "An old practice
was starting to become evident, one applied by the Germans on the Eastern Front
too, that of the more powerful ally imposing its supremacy. It soon got to the
point where Romanian interests were not just ignored, they were violated. On
September 7th 1944, Marshal Malinovski, commander of the Ukrainian
front, took over all Romanian operating units. In spite of good results on the
battlefield, tensions started emerging at command level, because of the way in
which the Soviets understood cooperation. An often-used strategy, which
Avramescu opposed, was that of presenting Romanian victories as successes
scored by Red Army troops. Avramescu correctly noted that this was about
politics, and that our contribution was being swept under the rug on purpose,
so that we could not reap the benefits of alliance."
On December 14th 1944, Avramescu, in no uncertain terms,
protested directly to Malinovski the fact that the Romanian 4th Army
Corps had not been quoted in any official press release. In fact, its very existence
was not even mentioned. General Avramescu's repeated protests, meant to defend
the honor and dignity of the Romanian army, soon turned him into a persona non
grata within the boundaries of the so-called cooperation with the Soviet
command, which seems to have led to his arrest. The Romanian army came to be
accused by the Soviets of operative inability, and even treason.
18 years after the arrest and disappearance of General Gheorghe
Avramescu, in 1963, the Soviet authorities answered his wife's inquiries
through the Red Cross. The letter said that the general had died on 3 March
1945 on Hungarian territory, in a German air raid. The letter was in line with
the official Soviet account issued on March 22nd 945, according to
which General Avramescu was killed in the back seat of the car where he sat
flanked by two of the three NKVD officers who had arrested him. On Hungarian
territory, the car had been allegedly strafed by German fighters, and the three
Soviet officers got away with their lives, the general being the only victim of
In spite of the fact that real reason for the arrest is still veiled
in mystery, General Avramescu's disappearance is still closely linked to the
political shifts occurring when Romania was taken over by the Soviet puppet
government led by Petru Groza, on 6 March 1945.