Holy War: The Romanian Army, Motivation, and the Holocaust, 1941-1944
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This dissertation explores the motivation of Romanian soldiers in combat and committing atrocities against Romanian Jews and Soviet civilians. While there has been some investigation into the Romanian Army’s operations and its participation in the Holocaust the topic remains largely unexamined, despite Romania being the most important Nazi-allied army on the Eastern Front and the greatest independent perpetrator in the Holocaust after Nazi Germany. This dissertation argues that Romanian officers and soldiers were highly motivated in combat on the Eastern Front by nationalism, religion, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism. These things united Romanians of all classes to support a “holy war” to defend Romania from the alleged threat of “Judeo-Bolshevism.” The Romanian Army reinforced soldiers’ motivation through propaganda, coercion, and remuneration. Romanian soldiers were primarily motivated by intrinsic factors to fight, although extrinsic factors became more important to persuading soldiers to keep fighting as the war on the Eastern Front dragged on. The same factors motivated officers and soldiers to carry out atrocities, primarily against Jews, but also partisans, prisoners of war, and civilians in the Soviet Union. The Romanian Army was deeply complicit in Hitler’s war of annihilation. This dissertation fills an important gap because the current consensus, based primarily on German impressions and a highly sanitized nationalist narrative, claims that Romanian officers were Francophile, thus only reluctant allies of the Germans, and Romanian soldiers were simple peasants, therefore allegedly quickly demoralized due to insufficient motivation. Both assertions are propped up by a narrow approach focusing on the Romanian Army’s combat operations on the front line. In contrast, this dissertation examines Romanian interwar society that shaped the motivation of soldiers, while at the same time expanding the scope to include soldiers’ role in the Holocuast, to argue that the Romanian Army had much greater motivation to fight the Soviets and participate in Nazi anti-Semitic policies than previously believed. This dissertation does not forget to address the motivation of women providing military service as well as ethnic, religious, and racial minorities who fought in the Romanian Army during the Second World War.
Harward, Grant Thomas (2018). Holy War: The Romanian Army, Motivation, and the Holocaust, 1941-1944. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from