Liveblogging World War I: January 25, 1916: Maurice Paeleologue

Maurice Paleologue: An Ambassador’s Memoirs:

I asked the Rumanian Minister, Diamandy, to lunch with me to-day, and once more laid before him the dangers of the equivocal attitude in which his friend Bratiano is taking refuge. ‘How can Monsieur Bratiano fail to see,’ I said:
“that by this attitude he is exposing himself to the worst disasters? In dealing with Russians you simply can’t be too practical, far-sighted and straightforward. When I think that at the present moment, faced as you are with a German ultimatum, you haven’t even sketched out a military convention with the Russian General Staff, your whole policy seems to me madness. You know how much M. Bratiano distrusts the Russians. He will only bind himself to them at the last moment, and he means to select that moment himself — no one else. But in a mighty crisis like this, no one is master of the moment!… Do you suppose that a plan of campaign, a supply base or a transport system can be improvised at the last minute? It seems to me that M. Bratiano’s distrust of the Russians is justified in one respect alone, I mean their lack of organizing ability. That’s another reason for settling on a practical scheme of co-operation at the first possible moment, and making secret preparations to carry it out. Wherever the Russian troops are to be sent, whether Moldavia or the Dobrudja, the problem of supply alone is a terrible puzzle, the solution of which may perhaps take several months. Don’t forget that the Russian and Rumanian railways are of different gauge, and their junction is confined to the Ungeny line, as the Kishinev-Reni line ends in the Danube delta. Until this problem has been solved, and the conditions precedent to Russo-Rumanian co-operation have been fulfilled, Rumania will be left to her own resources, and I’m very much afraid will find herself everywhere exposed to invasion.”
Diamandy was very much perturbed, and replied:
“Yes, our situation would be critical; with our 500,000 men we can’t protect five hundred kilometres of Danube and seven hundred kilometres of Carpathians at once. That’s why it is absolutely essential that the Russians shall cover us in the Dobrudja against a Bulgarian offensive.”
I don’t know what the Russian High Command will decide; but I have already heard from General Polivanov that in the present state of the railways it appears impossible to keep a Russian army south of the Danube supplied. During the last few days the Germans have been attacking in force in the Dvinsk region. The Russians are resisting well and have even obtained some advantage.

Originally published on