After having a considerable discussion today about Romanian forces in the Second World War, I had to admit to myself that I knew nearly nothing about them. Sure, I have heard (and seen a few documentaries) about the ’80’s Romania, and I’ve heard that it was a part of the Axis and all that. But, as it would appear, Romania was the third strongest Axis nation (Germany -> Italy -> Romania) in Europe (the world adds in Japan to our calculations), and by far more competent than Italy. While that itself does not display any sort of military ingenuity, then facing the war as it seems to have done must have been a considerable nation-wide effort. Also, the military forces and political will had to be considerable.
In any case, that led me to think — never in our school did we touch extensively upon Romania or Bulgaria or Hungary or those countries which were there and died with the rest. To be totally fair, we even ditched Italy to the winds of history, and spoke of the USSR, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Baltic countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and mentioned Japan somewhat in passing. How many other countries do the same? And yet, what is our right to do so? The Wikipedia entry (on Romania in WWII) said that the coup d’état by the King may have shortened the war by up to half a year.
Who else stand forgotten?
Too many, I’m afraid.
No one is likely to be forgotten locally. Finns know the prominence of Field Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, and at least some of that has carried over to people back home — not that many Estonians would know who he really was, but I’ve got the feeling that if one has been to Helsinki, you would know that name if anything. [Mannerheiminkatu is an epic street, and I like his statue as well. Should have a picture from one of my Helsinki visits somewhere on my computer. I’ll try taking a better one next time I’m around though //with snow!!!//].
Likewise, Estonians would know of Johan Laidoner and Konstantin Päts, and their decisions. The Romanians of Ion Antonescu. Hungarians of Miklós Horthy (who is an epic person ruling a Kingdom as a Regent while being of //Austro-Hungarian// naval background, which is something that I simply had to add, 🙂 ). Bulgarians will know of Boris III the Unifier. [I found the name of the Bulgarian Tsar from Wikipedia.]
I’ve left out tens of names from there. Tens of times, as well. World War I lies even deeper and further away in memories. However, I’m rather confident that all of these places and names could teach us something.
Does not all history repeat itself?
Would we not be better off knowing something more about that very same history?