So you probably don’t know much about Romania’s involvement in World War II. Never fear, you’re about to know some of it!
Romania started out in the war as a neutral country; 1939, Britain and France were promising that they would protect Romania’s independence (same thing they promised Poland, by the way). As you might have guessed, when France fell and Britain retreated off of the continent, that left Romania in a pretty sticky situation.
On one side, the Soviet Union loomed, eager for more land, like a kid making grabby hands at someone else’s food. On the other, they had Nazi Allies, particularly Hungary. Just to note, Hungary and Romania have historically liked each other about as much as the average cat loves a bath.
The King of Romania tried to hold on to neutrality by giving up chunks of land to the countries around them (some to the Soviet Union, some to Bulgaria, some to Hungary), but that made him really unpopular. So a general overthrew him, and the Iron Guard took over.
You know how Italy was fascist during WWII? Well, now Romania was too. And the Iron Guard was merciless, particularly towards Jews.
So the guy in charge of Romania decided they had to choose a side, and they went with Nazi Germany, which made life even more horrible for the Jews in the country.
Funny thing about Nazi Germany: they tended to invade their allies. About 50,000 troops showed up in Romania, and now Romania was the breadbasket for the Nazi empire.
Another funny thing about Nazi Germany: they didn’t feel like paying for the food, oil, and other products, so they simply didn’t. Inflation soared in Romania, and conditions became fairly miserable.
And before you ask, yes, they did have concentration camps. On a sobering note, Romania has the second highest death toll for Jews among Nazi Germany and its allies: more than 200,000. Most of the Jews in Romania escaped death, however.
The relationship between Germany and Romania was cut off by the Soviet Union, which German and Romanian troops had both been fighting on the Eastern Front. Romania was invaded and Germany lost its supply of food and materials.