Romania's Holy War rights the widespread myth that Romania was a reluctant member of the Axis during World War II. In correcting this fallacy, Grant T. Harward shows that, of an estimated 300,000 Jews who perished in Romania and Romanian-occupied Ukraine, more than 64,000 were, in fact, killed by Romanian soldiers. Moreover, the Romanian Army conducted a brutal campaign in German-occupied Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, partisans, and civilians. Investigating why Romanian soldiers fought and committed such atrocities, Harward argues that strong ideology—a cocktail of nationalism, religion, antisemitism, and anticommunism—undergirded their motivation.
Romania's Holy War draws on official military records, wartime periodicals, soldiers' diaries and memoirs, subsequent war crimes investigations, and recent interviews with veterans to tell the full story. Harward integrates the Holocaust into the narrative of military operations to show that most soldiers fully supported the wartime dictator, General Ion Antonescu, and his regime's holy war against "Judeo-Bolshevism." The army perpetrated mass reprisals, targeting Jews in liberated Romanian territory; supported the deportation and concentration of Jews in camps or ghettos in Romanian-occupied Soviet territory; and played a key supporting role in SS efforts to exterminate Jews in German-occupied Soviet territory.
Harward proves that Romania became Nazi Germany's most important ally in the war against the USSR because its soldiers were highly motivated, thus overturning much of what we thought we knew about this theater of war. Romania's Holy War provides the first complete history of why Romanian soldiers fought on the Eastern Front.
1. Ideology of Holy War
2. Army Culture, Interwar Politics, and Neutrality
3. 1940–1941: From Neutral to Axis
4. 1941: Holy War and Holocaust
5. 1941–1942: Doubling Down on Holy War
6. 1942–1944: Holy War of Defense
7. Propaganda and Discipline
8. Women and Minorities
Grant T. Harward is a US Army Medical Department Historian, a former Fulbright Scholar, and a former Research Fellow at the Mandel Center of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Harward paints a particularly compelling picture of how events at the front line affected the treatment of Jews in occupied territory. Romania's Holy War, by combining military history with insight into the Romanian army's ideological motivation, is an important contribution to the field.
~LA Review of Books
Harward's book is the first one in English to recount in such detail the role of the Romanian Army in the Eastern Campaign. Romania's Holy War deserves to be read not only by the relatively small number of experts dealing with these issues, but by a broader audience as well.
~Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
Harward's writing is clear, concise, and free of jargon. The book is well-researched, making use of archival materials few historians have accessed as well as interviews. Valuable for researchers, scholars, graduate students, and general readers.
~Journal of Military History
Grant Harward's impressive debut monograph breaks important new ground by examining what motivated the conduct of Romanian army troops in this undertaking. Romania's Holy War is a valuable, pioneering and highly impressive addition to the literature. It successfully and innovatively integrates Holocaust history with an examination of Romanian troops' motives, and also benefits greatly from a highly engaging style and an effective use of visual sources.
~Second World War Research Group
Romania's Holy War presents an engaging overview of the Romanian army from its origins through World War II, including a useful sketch of its operational history.It's a stimulating and welcome addition to the scant body of English-language historiography on Hitler's Axis partners in Europe.
~Michigan War Studies Review
Grant Harward's monograph offers a provocative and detailed narrative that aims to correct misrepresentations of the actions undertaken by the Romanian army during World War II vis-à-vis the Jewish population they encountered. The book is an impressive synthesis of the Romanian army's actions toward the Jewish communities they encountered from Iaşi to Odessa and beyond. The evidence presented by the author leaves no doubt that antisemitism was a mainstream attitude in the army and that antisemitic propaganda was replete in the army. As such, the book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on this topic.
~Austrian History Yearbook
This is an important work for scholars on both the Second World War and the Holocaust. Based on rich archival holdings, oral interviews with veterans, contemporary periodicals and extensive printed primary research, Grant Harward's study demonstrates Romanian commitment to the Axis.
~Journal of European Studies
Barbara S. Jelavich Book Prize