military archives


The evolution of the military archival system


The Committee of Military Archives thanks Marius Cornelius Crotoru, our Romanian delegate within the CAM, for his committment and his contribution to this initiative

The reorganization of the Romanian Army, started in the 1830s, took place in the conditions of an ample effort of socio-economic regeneration of the society, of affirmation of the national ideal. The experience gained during the revolution of 1821, after which, a year later, he returned to earthly reigns, was an important source of education for the socio-political forces that initiated the process of building the military institution on a new, modern basis.

            The first regulations regarding the archives in Romania appeared starting with the Organic Regulation of 1831, implemented on May 1, 1831 in Wallachia and on January 1, 1832 in Moldavia.

            The organization of the Romanian Army after the Union of the Principalities from 1859 and the establishment of the General Staff on November 12/24 in the same year, by the High Order no. 83, determined the appearance of a structure that had the same attributions (of course adapted to the organizational needs determined by the socio-historical realities) with those of the Romanian National Military Archives, today.

            Throughout its existence, the Romanian National Military Archives bore the following names: Section II Historical Works (1867; 1870 – 1893), Office 3 Historic (1893 – 1896; 1897 – 1904), Office 1 (1896 – 1897 ), Office 4 (1904 – 1906), Office 3 History (1906 – 1907; 1918 – 1920), Office 6 Information (1907 – 1918), Section VI History (April 1, 1920 – 1922), Section VIII- of History (1922 – 1927), Section VII of History (1927 – January 30, 1928), Historical Service (January 30, 1928 – March 18, 1949), Section XI of History (March 18, 1949 – August 1, 1950), Section of History ( August 1, 1950 – April 1, 1959), Military History and Geography Section (April 1, 1959 – May 16, 1962), Historical Studies Section (May 16, 1962 – October 11, 1969), Military Archives Section (October 11, 1969 – April 1, 1973), Archives of the Ministry of National Defense (April 1, 1973 – January 25, 1984), Archives Section (January 24, 1984 – March 1, 1998), Romanian Military Archives (March 1, 1998 – December 1, 2000), Service July Military Archives and Documentation (April 1, 2002 – May 1, 2006), Army Historical Service (May 1, 2006 – July 31, 2017), Romanian National Military Archives (August 1, 2017 – present).             On March 17, 1867, by High Decree 380, within the Ministry of War, the General War Depot was established, as an independent directorate, composed of Section I – Map of Romania. Interior topographic works and Section II – Historical works. Military statistics and regimental works. The new structure had a very short existence, being abolished by the High Decree no. 1163 of August 11, 1867.

In 1870, by the High Decree no. 181 of February 3, King Carol I approved the “Regulations on the Service of Staff Officers”, which also provided for the re-establishment of the War Depot. According to art. 68 of the regulation, Section II – Historical works and military statistics had the main duties of classifying and preserving the archives regarding war operations, gathering all the necessary documents for the military history of Romania and foreign powers, the history of the regiments since their creation, preserving the library and archive of the warehouse. A subsequent regulation was to establish, in detail, the manner in which the activity of the warehouse would be regulated.

            In the content of the “Staff Regulations”, approved by High Decree no. 158 of January 17, 1884, which maintained the division of the General Staff into three sections, within Section I is found as a separate attribution “the diary and the historian in time of peace and war.”

            In 1893, the General Staff became a senior directorate in the composition of the Ministry of War, in accordance with the new “Staff Regulations” (High Decree No. 1170 of April 13, 1891), in Section I, Office 3 having as duties and “Statistical Issues and History.” In 1896, the History of the General Staff appeared in Bureau 1 of Section I Organization, mobilization and training of the army, and in 1897 in Bureau 3.

            In 1904, the issue of drawing up the Campaign History appeared in the attributions of Sub-office B, Office 4 within Section II, entitled “Stages. Means of military correspondence and regulations. The history of the campaigns”, and starting with July 5, 1904, Office 6 within Section II also had as responsibilities“ Historical, geographical and statistical studies  Library. The editorial office of the magazine ”Romania militară” (Military Romania).

            In 1906, the History of the Campaigns is the responsibility of Office 3 of Section I, which, since 1907, has become the Bureau of History and Library, structured on the departments of Historical Studies and Statistics, Historical Reports. Library, Accounting of the ”Military Romania” Library and Barracks.             On May 1, 1918, during the reorganization process of the General Staff, through the Order no. 36, within the Second Section, the 3rd Historical Bureau was established. The main task of the Bureau was to draw up a “history of the 1916-1918 campaign”.

Picture 2: Order no. 36 of May 1, 1918

After the First World War, by High Decree no. 3179 of October 28, 1918, within the Section II History and Stages, in the structure of which is also the Bureau 3 Historic, later its organization undergoing numerous changes, given by the new regulations and needs of the army, inspired by the organization of similar structures in the French army.             An important moment is the date of July 26, 1920, when, in addition to the 6th Historical Section of the General Staff, there is a historical archive deposit at Mogoșoaia (the forerunner of the current Central Archive Depot in Pitești), in which, initially, were collected and preserved the documents created by the structures of the Romanian Army during the War of Integration from 1916-1919 (Service note no. 4 of June 24, 1920 of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff).

Picture 3: Fort Mogoșoaia

After January 30, 1928, the Historical Section took over the National Military Museum and the Central Archive Depot of the Ministry of War, becoming the Historical Service of the General Staff.

            In 1931, the General Archive of the Ministry of War was moved from Mogoşoaia to Obor, next to the General Print Depot, and in December 1939 to the Otopeni fort.

Picture 4: Fort Otopeni

In 1933 the Historical Service of the General Staff drew up the “Regulations of the Army Archives”. It was promulgated by Royal Decree no. 1830 of June 20, 1933 and published on July 10, 1933. The “Regulation of the Army Archives” was the first normative act regulating the archival activity in the Romanian Army. The regulation provided for the procedures for the storage and preservation of the army archives, as well as the rules for the organization and operation of the Archive Deposit of the Ministry of National Defense and the Archive Deposit of the General Staff – Historical Service. At the same time, this regulation provided for the establishment of seven regional archive repositories in addition to the seven territorial commands. The purpose of these repositories was to receive and preserve the archive of all military structures within the respective territorial army corps.

The evolution of the military operations in 1944 forced the Historical Service of the General Staff to adopt a series of measures for the security of the archives, by evacuating and dispersing them in localities without military and industrial importance. However, on the night of April 15/16, following the British aerial bombardment of the city of Drobeta-Turnu Severin, many files created between 1921 and 1944 were destroyed, which are kept by the Historical Service.

            After August 23, 1944, in the difficult circumstances of the Soviet occupation, the Historical Service was forced to hand over to the Allied Control Commission (Soviet) numerous valuable historical documents, such as the archives of the Head of State’s office or the archives of the Moldovan Democratic Republic. The Soviet occupier also requested all the logs of operations of the Romanian army between June 22, 1941 and August 23, 1944. Secretly, the military archivists proceeded to copy these logs of operations before handing them over to the Soviets.

            Starting with July 15, 1947, regional archive repositories are established, according to the new territorial organization by military regions, each military region corresponding to a warehouse, located in Timisoara, for Region I, Bucharest, for Region II, Floresti/Cluj, for Region III and Bârlad, for Region IV, as well as a Central Depot of the Ministry of National Defense in Otopeni. These repositories centralized the archives of the commands, units and formations on the respective territory, and the archive of units and formations directly subordinated to the Ministry of National Defense, as well as of the aeronautical and naval units, was handed over to the Archive Depot of the Ministry of National Defense.

            On September 20, 1947, with Order no. 892900, the General Staff ordered the sorting of the archive and the removal from the files and the destruction of fascist and/or anti-Soviet documents until December 31, 1947, with an extension period of March 31, 1948, on the commands, units, army formations.

            After the war, the Historical Service of the General Staff underwent a series of changes, becoming on March 18, 1949 Section 11 History, and on March 15, 1954, the Archives Section was established separately, soon becoming the Archives Office within Section 11 History. Starting with April 1, 1959, the History Department changed its name to the Military History and Geography Department, being subordinated to the new Directorate of Studies and Scientific Research, within the General Staff.

            After the Archive Depot of the Ministry of the Armed Forces was moved from Otopeni to Pantelimon in the autumn of 1958, between June 15 and December 31, 1960, the regional archive depots and the Archive Depot of the Ministry of the Armed Forces merged into a only unit, the Archive Depot of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, located in the Râmnicu Sărat garrison.

            From May 15, 1961, the Department of Military History and Geography became an independent structure of the General Staff, following the abolition of the Directorate of Studies and Scientific Research, and on May 16, 1962 it was transformed into the Department of Historical Studies of the General Staff, with two new structures: Institute of Military History and Theory and Military Archives Section. As of September 1, 1969, the Military Archives Section became an independent structure within the General Staff.

            On July 18, 1962, an archive fire caused by an electric shock at one of the warehouses of the Râmnicu Sărat Archive Depot, resulting in the complete burning of 2 archive wagons and the partial burning of 2 other wagons led to significant losses of funds historical documentary of the Army.

          Between April 10, 1973 and January 16, 1974, the Archive Deposit of the Ministry of National Defense was moved from Râmnicu Sărat to the Piteşti garrison, where it is still today. As of June 1, 1984, the Archive Deposit of the Ministry of National Defense is called the Center for the Recovery and Preservation of Military Archives.

After the December 1989 Revolution, the Romanian National Military Archives, together with the Center for the Study and Preservation of Historical Military Archives (today’s Central Archive Depot), took over and preserved an impressive volume of archival material from various military units and institutions disbanded in the process of restructuring and modernization of the Romanian military body. Starting with 1998, due to the need to deposit and process a very large amount of archive from the disbanded units, three intermediate depots were created, at the level of the General Staff of the Land Forces (Pitești), the General Staff of the Naval Forces (Constanța). and the General Staff of the Air Force (Ploiești), and in 2000, following the exit from the Ministry of National Defense of the former armament and military equipment enterprises, a Technical Archive Depot (Clinceni) was also created.

In 1970, the microfilming of valuable documents from the archives of the Ministry of National Defense began, and starting with 2008, the computer system for ensuring the integrated management of military archives was implemented, meant to achieve the digitization and electronic archiving of archive funds and facilitate scientific research of the national military archival patrimony.

Romanian National Military Archives today

The Romanian National Military Archives are the structure of the General Staff that organizes, coordinates and controls the management of the military archival patrimony and elaborates the policies in the field of research, protection and administration of the archival fund of the Ministry of National Defense. The Romanian National Military Archives provides the organizational and methodological framework for the application of national legislation in the archival field in the Ministry of National Defense.

The Romanian National Military Archives have as areas of responsibility: elaboration of draft normative acts specific to archival activity in the Romanian Army, management, coordination and monitoring of archival activity at the central structures of the Ministry of National Defense and subordinate structures, planning and execution of controls in the field of archives, capitalization scientific research and making available to researchers archival documents, coordinating the resolution of requests addressed to military archival structures and researching complaints/ notifications in this field, coordinating the issue of computerization of archival activity and management of the program “Integrated Management of Military Archives”.

Currently, the Romanian National Military Archives manages the equivalent of 90,952 km of archives, consisting of 6,507 archive holdings, with a number of 4,051,557 archival units, which contain documents, some of them unique, orders, reports, summaries, statistical situations, registers of nominal control, transcripts, diaries of operations, letters, postcards, albums and collections of periodicals, documents that highlight the evolution of the military institution in Romania. Also, over 75,000 photos, more than 500,000 personal files of retired military personnel, 2800 historical and instructional films and over 38,000 microfilm rolls are preserved.

The archival documents kept by the Romanian National Military Archives constitute historical sources, an integral part of the National Archival Fund of Romania and can be used for scientific research, solving administrative or documentation works, cultural-educational activities.

Within the Romanian National Military Archives can be studied the historical documents from the archive funds opened for research, on microfilm, at the headquarters of the Romanian National Military Archives (Bucharest), or on paper, at the headquarters of the Central Archive Depot (Pitesti).

Archival funds open to research:

– Leadership structures: The military cabinet of the head of state (1941-1944); Cabinet of the Minister of War (1913-1950); (1947-1948); Office of the Chief of the General Staff (1917-1951); Royal Military House (1936-1947); Ministry of Air and Navy (1936-1938); Ministry of the Army (1938-1945); Undersecretariat of State for the Army (1940-1947); Undersecretariat of State for Air (1932-1946); Undersecretariat of State for the Navy (1940-1946); Air Staff (1940-1946); Navy General Staff (1940-1946); General Staff (1858-1960); General Headquarters (1913-1942); Weapons Inspectorate (1922-1949);

– Weapon Commands (1939-1945); Army Commands (1921-1971); Army Corps Commands (1919-1946); Division Commands (1932-1946); Military Regions Commands (1937-1945); Air Regions Commands (1942-1944); Military Command of the Capital (1939-1945); Odessa Military Command (1941-1942); Military Command of the Oil Region (1941); Military Command of the Nămoloasa-Brăila Fortification Zone (1941-1944); Military Command of the Focsani-Nămoloasa-Galaţi Fortification Zone (1911-1918); Territorial Circles (1942-1947); Recruitment circles (1921-1944); Military Colleges (1920-1945); Central Directorates: Superior Directorate of Control (MR) (1939-1945); Military Justice Directorate (1915-1952); Army Estates Directorate (1934-1941);

– Other military structures: Government of Bessarabia (1941-1944); Military Geographical Institute (1896-1951); Hydrographic Institute (1919-1947); 9th German Army Fund (1914-1918); Military high schools (1939-1945); Army Episcopate (1939-1945); Military Bodies of the Romanian Commission for the Application of the Peace Treaty (1942-1948); Statistical Service (1915-1948); Liquidation and Settlement Service with Allied Troops (1944-1947); Army Treasury Service (1916-1945); Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer Schools (1920-1945); Iasi Military Sons School (1885-1948); Field Hospitals (1941-1945); The Cult of Heroes (1927-1940); “Regina Maria” National Settlement (1940-1948); Society “Tombs of Fallen Heroes” (1919-1927); “Monitorul Oastei” (1833-1947).

– Volumes from the “Recent Library” containing volumes of military history, printed after 1989, the result of research undertaken by specialists from the Romanian National Military Archives;

– Volumes from the “Archival Library” at the headquarters of the Central Archive Depot – Pitești, which contains in particular regulations, instructions, general orders and other official documents elaborated over time in the army.

On the website of the Romanian National Military Archives (, in the section “Research domains” you will find information regarding all the archival funds held. Also, the efforts made by the specialists from the Romanian National Military Archives to capitalize scientifically on the archival patrimony of the Romanian Army materialized in the publication of numerous collections of documents. Many of these works can be read (and downloaded) by accessing the website, the section “Scientific activity”, at the same web address being, in PDF format, and the complete collection of the magazine “Document- Bulletin of the Romanian Military Archives”.

At the same time, the capitalization of the archive documents was carried out by participating in exhibitions organized by the National Archives of Romania, the National Museum of Romanian History, the Cotroceni National Museum, etc. or to many other cultural-scientific projects or events. In recent years, the merits of the personnel within the military archival system in the activity of conservation and capitalization of the archival patrimony of the Romanian Army have been recognized at the highest level. By Presidential Decree no. 302 of March 17, 2017, the President of Romania awarded to the Historical Service of the Army (from August 1, 2017 – Romanian National Military Archives) the Order “Cultural Merit” in the rank of Knight, Category “F – promoting Romanian culture”, for the remarkable results obtained by -within the time in preserving, researching and capitalizing on the historical treasure and military traditions of the Romanian Army”, and in 2019, he was awarded the Commemorative Medal “Centenary of the War for the Unification of the Nation”, for ”carrying out concrete and constant actions to promote significance The War for the Integration of the Nation, the creation and/or promotion of scientific, artistic, educational creations regarding the War for the Integration of the Nation, the collection, conservation, restoration and enhancement of documentary materials related to the War for the Integration of the Nation”.

Picture 16: Order “Cultural Merit” and Commemorative Medal “Centenary of the War for the Unification of the Nation”

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