Prelude to Blitzkrieg

Prelude to Blitzkrieg

The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania
Michael B. Barrett
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/23/2013
Format: Hardback 32 b&w illus., 15 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-00865-7
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In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where least expected and advancing before the Romanians could react—even bombing their capital from a Zeppelin soon after war was declared—the Germans and Austrians poured over the formidable Transylvanian Alps onto the plains of Walachia, rolling up the Romanian army from west to east, and driving the shattered remnants into Russia. Prelude to Blitzkrieg tells the story of this largely ignored campaign to determine why it did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.

Author Bio

Michael B. Barrett was Professor of History at The Citadel for over thirty-five years, and is Brigadier General (ret.), U.S. Army Reserve. He is author of Operation Albion: The German Conquest of the Baltic Islands (IUP, 2008).


“The story of why this largely ignored campaign did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.”

“Michael Barrett’s Prelude to Blitzkrieg presents detailed descriptions of the various battles during the Romanian campaigns in the First World War. It is a well-written, thoroughly researched contribution to WWI historiography. His portrayal of the interactions of all the participants is particularly interesting. A highly recommended read for military historians in general, WWI aficionados and those interested in the Eastern and Balkan fronts.”
 — Graydon A. Tunstall, author of Blood on the Snow: The Carpathian Winter War of 1915

“Barrett's well-written and clearly argued book is traditional military history at its best. Aided by superb maps and consistent geographic terms, a reader will enjoy Barrett's analysis of the campaign and gain a fuller understanding of the swirling events on the Eastern Front.”
 — Robert A. Doughty, author of Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War

“Michael Barrett’s Prelude to Blitzkrieg is an important addition to First World War studies. Well researched and well written, Prelude to Blitzkrieg not only elucidates a thus far obscure First World War campaign, it also indicates the direction of tactics to come in the Second World War. Barrett effectively belies the traditional assumption that the First World War was slow and static and demonstrates that at least in the 1916 Romanian campaign it was a struggle of maneuver and speed. Utilizing sources from both sides of the conflict, Barrett skillfully covers the three main aspects of the Romanian campaign of 1916. These include the Romanian invasion of Transylvania, the Bulgarian-German-Ottoman invasion of Dobrogea, and the Austro-German invasion of Romania.”
 — Richard C. Hall, author of Balkan Breakthrough: The Battle of Dobro Pole 1918

“This is a well-researched book that very carefully explores the factors shaping command decisions and the consequences of those decisions on the battlefield.”
 — Austrian History Yearbook

“Historians have given the Romanian front of World War I little attention. Michael Barrett works to correct this gap, comprehensively describing Romania’s 1916 invasion of Hungary and the reaction of the Central Powers. ”
 — German Studies Review

“[Barrett's] treatment of the Central Powers is extensive, and his research in this regard can only be described as exhaustive. This work will stand as the definitive study of the Central Powers part of the campaign for some time to come.”
 — Journal of Military History

“Barnett's book is a valuable addition to the field. He writes well and with authority. He has been able to illuminate a little-known corner of the First World War and provide a state-of-the-art operational history combining detailed narrative with prescient analysis. It should be seen as a model for further research and one can only hope that it encourages other scholars to examine similar campaigns, particularly on the other lesser-known battlefields of the war in Russia, Poland, Turkey, and Armenia.”
 — American Historical Review

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
List of Selected Abbreviations
1. Romania Enters the War
2. The Central Powers Respond
3. The First Dobrogea Campaign
4. Clearing Transylvania
5. The Second Dobrogea Campaign
6. Stalemate in the Mountains
7. Moldavia: The Forgotten Front
8. The Drive across Walachia
9. The Fall of Bucharest and the End of the 1916 Campaign
10. Conclusion

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