The man who tricked Hitler and won the hearts of a nation
Last month I was deeply marked by the death of King Michael the First, the last king of Romania. Ever since he has gone to a better world, it made headline news, people have begun to learn about the king's tragic destiny and a new expression of regret has appeared on their faces.
Unfortunately, the whole story has not been known so far, people being misinformed. That's why many regret now that they lost a king, a true and righteous leader. It is a guilt of a nation, that has now come to a peak, to appreciate someone at their true value only after they've died. It has happened many times and it seems that we do not learn our lesson.
Unfortunately, most people limit their knowledge to what they see in the media. And because there wasn't a lot of buzz over the plot of the Communist Party's successors or the King's fight for the country, people have not sought to inform themselves on their own initiative. Perhaps because King Mihai was a humble man who did not attract much attention to him.
I've heard many people say "I did not know" with tears in their eyes, including my mother. She always says it with regret. Communists had no interest in letting people know.
From the point of view of a youngster, I sincerely say that I did not know either, nor did I gave interest to the subject. Being born after 1993, I was too little to understand or even pay attention when the king returned to Romania. I grew up knowing we had a king, but without paying attention. Well, now I know and I want to tell you too.
I want to tell you about a man who for some might seem like a hero in a comic book, but who was actually just a man in whom humility, courage and justice were heavily rooted.
During the time of King Carol II (the father of the king we are talking about today), Romania had become an economic power and a hopeful partner for the Western countries. But Romania was at the intersection between East and West, being trapped between Nazi Germany and communism in Russia. To fuel the war, Hitler wanted the oil reserve, while Stalin wanted to occupy Bucovina and Basarabia, two key areas for the West.
Failing to obtain protection from the Allies, Carol II turned his gaze to Hitler. But this time without success, as Hitler had an agreement with Stalin to share Eastern Europe and allowed Romania to be chopped, losing one third of its territory. The dissatisfied Romanians blamed Carol, who was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Michael I.
Although King Mihai had the crown, the true leader was Prime Minister Ion Antonescu, who forced the young king to meet Hitler, entered the war (WW2) without consulting and even changed the constitution, becoming a dictator in Romania.
However, the Romanians looked at the war in a positive way hoping that they would regain their lost territories. Hitler had much to win from the alliance with Romania. Besides the numerous army, one third of the oil that fed the war machine was provided by Romania.
Romania's first victory at Odessa was quickly overshadowed by the massacre of thousands of Jews. Because of Romania's alliance with Germany, massacres of countless Jews were allowed.
During this time, King Mihai was close to the Rabin with whom he often communicated, while the mother queen often showed her dissatisfaction with the Jewish situation. That's why Hitler suggested Antonescu to liquidate her. The mother of the King, Queen Elena, managed to save many Jews from Romania and sent trains with clothes and food to Jews from Transnistria. Thus, the queen mother received the title of The Righteous Among the Nations.
But the war was going badly for Romania because it did not receive enough support from Hitler, and the Western countries had focused their attention on it, bombarding the main territories, such as Bucharest or the oil refinery. Antonescu was still faithful to Germany, so the King, together with other politicians, started planning the breakup of Hitler. What followed was a series of secret meetings, discussions, negotiations and plannings to get out of the war. They contacted Cairo saying that Romania wanted to get out of the war, but Russia took over the situation and contacted Antonescu directly, who insisted on his blind trust in Germany, saying that he did not trust Russia.
Then the king understood that he must take the initiative himself, trusting that Romanian citizens would support him, who did not talk due to fear, but shared his beliefs. Meanwhile, Hitler is informed that a plot is being prepared in Bucharest, but he did not expect to be king Michael I. Such a plot was very difficult to realize given that Romania was crawling with the Nazis, and the ambassador German even says, "I find out even when a leaf falls in Romania," when he really did not know anything.
The king's action was viewed with great admiration. It took a lot of courage for a 23-year-old to give the signal of a coup in the conditions in which Hitler was banging on one shoulder, and on another was beating Antonescu who had captured all the power. He did not consider his own safety and risked everything.
From Greece, to Poland, the entire Nazi movement has fallen due to the blow in Romania. The Germans were forced to withdraw and so the war in Europe was shortened by two to three months.
He tried to withstand the greatest executioners in the history of the twentieth century, Hitler and Stalin. He managed, up to a point. Where he succumbed, no one else could do anything else for the country or the dynasty ...
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