740.0011 European War 1939/3275: Telegram

The Minister in Rumania (Gunther) to the Secretary of State

226. The Military Attaché12 has ascertained that the Rumanian military authorities have learned that since May 1 Russia has changed the locations and disposition of troops in Russia proper in such a manner that now she has facing Rumania 26 to 30 divisions, 9 cavalry divisions, and 14 armored brigades. The troops are not actually on the Russian-Rumanian frontier, with the exception of some at Tiraspol but disposed in depth as far east at [as?] Kiev. Reports also [Page 467] have reached Bucharest from Moscow that a Russian move against Rumania is again quite possible. Though these reports are disturbing the situation however is not considered acute.

Of late unconfirmed rumors have reached us of a German concentration on the Slovakia border. It is quite possible that this may be a countermove and warning to Russia and designed to check any unauthorized advance upon Rumania of troops in Russian-occupied Poland. From remarks let fall by members of the Yugoslav Embassy one would judge that they have hopes now that Russia would seek to aid Yugoslavia in the event of Italian aggression.

The calling up of additional troops today at less than 24 hours’ notice should have taken place between March 1st and 5th in accordance with orders given one month previously. As I have already reported it was only partially carried out then possibly in deference to German insistence that the planting of crops should not be interfered with.

The French Military Attaché informs me that the additional troops have been distributed 50–50 on Hungarian and Russian frontiers.

In the opinion of our Military Attaché the additional mobilization here was ordered: (1) to deter Russia from action she may contemplate as feasible at an opportune moment; (2) to caution Hungary; (3) to be in the highest state of readiness for any eventuality in these times when the most unexpected is always possible. I concur and would add that it probably would have happened anyway. In opinion of the German Military Attaché, as stated to Major Ratay, the Hungarian Army is incapable of taking the western fortifications of Rumania.

In my own view, unless a joint move through Rumania towards the Dardanelles and/or Salonika has been decided upon by Germany and Russia, any unauthorized move on the part of Russia towards the mouths of the Danube is almost certain to encounter German armed resistance. This would probably also apply in case the U. S. S. R. endeavored to come to Yugoslavia’s aid against Italy. I gather that the Germans feel very confident that Russia can be held in check by diplomatic pressure and that it is not likely to embark upon any adventure at this time. As you are aware from many telegrams and despatches Germany has for a long time been consistently arming Rumania. Even though Germany had no other means of barter for supplies of oil and food it would be quite probable that it was reasoned in high German military circles that these arms might serve a useful purpose one day against Russia.

  1. Maj. John P. Ratay.