A King Abdicates – January 4, 1948
King Michael I of Romania abdicated his throne on December 30, 1947, and was quickly taken over by a Communist-led regime who had forced his exit. The changing face of Europe was rapidly taking shape, particularly in the East where the ravages of war were particularly hard felt. These were countries fought over and liberated by the Red Army, and as a result, were expected to join the Soviet Union and form a bloc of nations aligned with Moscow against what was feared to be an expansion of Western european ideals. Hence, the tug of war of ideologies and politics and the face of old Europe would be changed forever.
But as much as Moscow feared a takeover from the West, the West feared a takeover from the East. The fear that Moscow couldn’t be a trusted ally led to a goodly degree of mistrust and provocation, which would lead to a decades-long Cold War.
And so, with the abdication of King Michael and the takeover of Romanian politics by the Communist Party, it signaled one more wedge in the ever-growing antagonism between East and West. Accounts of the abdication and takeover by the Communist party have been disputed over the years, with reports indicating King Michael was blackmailed into abdicating the throne and the Communist version was that the people of Romania no longer wanted a Monarchy, not after what they had gone through.
Whatever the real story was, on this January 4th in 1948, speculation was still rife over what happened, why it happened and what it meant for the rest of the world in this uncertain time. Romania was only the latest in a series of unstable situations taking place in Europe at the time. Over the coming months tensions would only increase. But for now, it was wondering which shoe was going to drop next.
Here is an episode of Story Behind The Headlines, with commentary by historian Cesar Searchinger, as it was broadcast on January 4, 1948.