Primary Documents - Romania's Declaration of War with Austria-Hungary, 28 August 1916

Rmania's Prime Minister Ion Bratianu Reproduced below is the official Romanian declaration of war with Austria-Hungary, delivered in a note by the Romanian Prime Minister, Ion Bratianu, to the Austrian ambassador in Romania on 28 August 1916.

Romania's entry into the war was as much opportunistic as defensive - she hoped to make territorial gains from an Allied victory, and she in any event held a long-standing enmity against Austria-Hungary.

In going to war against the Central Powers however Romania laid herself open to the charge - quickly made by Germany and Austria-Hungary - of betraying her own alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.

Romania's response was straightforward: she argued that the political conditions that applied when she undertook her former alliance (in the 1880s) no longer existed, not least because Italy herself had exited the alliance and joined the Allies fighting against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Click here to read former Romanian Prime Minister Take Jonescu's statement in support of the war effort; click here to read King Ferdinand's proclamation to the Romanian people; click here to read the King's proclamation to the Romanian Army issued the dame day; click here to read the reaction of the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg Click here to read the statement issued by the Romanian Ambassador to the U.S. in October 1917.  Click here to read a memoir of the invasion of Romania by Queen Marie.

Ion Bratianu's Declaration of War Delivered to the Austrian Minister in Romania on 28 August 1916

The alliance concluded between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, according to the statements of those Governments, had only a conservative and defensive character.  Its principal object was to guarantee the allied countries against attack from the outside and to consolidate the state of affairs created by previous treaties.

It was in accordance with these pacific tendencies that Rumania joined this alliance.

Devoted to the development of her internal affairs and faithful to her resolution to remain as an element of order and equilibrium on the lower Danube, Rumania never has ceased in her devotion to the maintenance of peace in the Balkans.  The last Balkan wars, by destroying the status quo, imposed upon her a new line of conduct, but her intervention gave peace and re-established the equilibrium.

For herself she was satisfied with the rectification of her borders which gave her the greatest security against aggression and repaired certain injustices of the Congress of Berlin, but in pursuit of this aim Rumania was disappointed by the failure of the Vienna Cabinet to take the attitude Rumania was entitled to expect.

When the present war broke out Rumania, like Italy, declined to associate herself with the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary, of which she had not been notified by the Vienna Cabinet.

In the spring of 1915 Italy declared war against Austria-Hungary.  The Triple Alliance no longer existed and the reasons which determined Rumania's adherence to this political system disappeared.

Rumania remained in the peace group of States, seeking to work in agreement in order to assure peace and to conserve the situation de facto and de jure created by treaties.  Rumania then found herself in the presence of powers making war for the sole purpose of transforming from top to bottom the old arrangements which had served as a basis for their treaty of alliance.

These changes were for Rumania proof that the object she pursued in joining the Triple Alliance no longer could be attained and that she must direct her efforts in new paths, especially as the work undertaken by Austria-Hungary threatened the interests of Rumania and her national aspirations.

Consequently Rumania resumed her liberty of action.

The neutrality which Rumania imposed upon herself in consequence of a declaration of war made independently of her will, and contrary to her interests, had been adopted as the results of the assurances that Austria-Hungary, in declaring war against Serbia, was not inspired by a spirit of conquest or of territorial gains.  These assurances have not been realized.

Today we are confronted by a situation de facto threatening great territorial transformations and political changes of a nature constituting a grave menace to the future of Rumania.  The work of peace which Rumania attempted to accomplish, in a spirit of faithfulness to the Triple Alliance, thus was rendered barren by the very powers called upon to defend it.

In adhering in 1883 to the group of Central Powers, Rumania was far from forgetting the bonds of blood constituting between them a pledge for her domestic tranquillity, as well as for the improvement of the lot of the Rumanians of Austria-Hungary.

In fact, Germany and Italy, who reconstituted their States on the basic principle of nationality, could not but recognize the legitimacy of the foundation upon which their own existence reposed.

As for Austria-Hungary, she found in the friendly relations established between her and Rumania assurances of tranquillity both in her interior and on our common frontiers, for she was bound to know to what extent the discontent of her Rumanian population found echo among us, threatening our good relations.

For a period of thirty years the Rumanians of Austria-Hungary not only never saw a reform introduced, but, instead, were treated as an inferior race and condemned to suffer the oppression of a foreign element which constitutes only a minority amid the diverse nationalities constituting the Austro-Hungarian States.

All the injustices our brothers thus were made to suffer maintained between our country and the monarchy a continual state of animosity.  At the outbreak of the war Austria-Hungary made no effort to ameliorate these conditions.  After two years of the war Austria-Hungary showed herself as prompt to sacrifice her peoples as powerless to defend them.

The war in which almost the whole of Europe is partaking raises the gravest problems affecting the national development and very existence of the States.

Rumania, from a desire to hasten the end of the conflict and to safeguard her racial interests, sees herself forced to enter into line by the side of those who are able to assure her realization of her national unity.  For these reasons Rumania considers herself, from this moment, in a state of war with Austria-Hungary.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

An 'Old Sweat' was slang to denote an experienced soldier.

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