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Battle of Tannenberg, 1914

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    Posted: 20 Oct 2009 at 23:58

I've noticed this board seems to be, much in the same vein as other dicussions on early 20th century history, focused on the second world war. I would like to bring up more discussions about the first world war as opposed to the(In my personal opinion,) droll and overdone discussions about the second, which have all taken place a thousand times before. It seems to me that this part of history is forgotten due to the later, comparatively larger scale war that was to take place only a few short decades afterwards. In my opinion, the First World War, or the "Great War" is a much more significant event than the second World War, though I know there are differing opinions on this particular subject, and in my opinion it is much more interesting to think, and of course speak about than the latter.

To that effect, I figure it'd be best to start a conversation about perhaps the most awe inspiring strategic work of all military history; the battle of Tannenberg, 1914, where the German 8th Army, under the command of Paul von Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff and, most importantly, Max Hoffmann, defeated both the russian 1st and 2nd armies, losing a grand total of approximately 5,000 men and inflicting 170,000 losses in prisoners and dead, as well as the capture of 500 guns, and permanently driving the russians from East Prussia for the rest of the war and, in fact, the rest of the second war, as russian troops never set foot on german territory until late in the second world war after the victory. It even resulted in the russian general Samsonov committing suicide rather than facing disgraceful return to the Tsar with the remnants of his army.

In my opinion, the most striking and innovative elements of Hoffmann's strategy lay in his use of rail lines to shift entire corps of men across vast distances, creating a constant and solid front despite having drastically less manpower, which was used along with the russians' poor cooperation, communication and supplies to completely annihilate the second army at Tannenberg, and then the first at the battle of Masurian Lakes. No other commander had before thought of using railways in that capacity, or at least hadn't voiced any such thoughts or put them to action, as they were essentially not considered in terms of tactical value, instead viewed in a more broad, strategic sense as arteries of supply for the badly outnumbered armies fighting at points on four simultaneous fronts.

Using his lateral thinking, Hoffman devised a plan to separate the first and second armies and also to thoroughly outmaneuver and, in some capacity, to trick the russians for the purpose of an ambush. The most important factor, however, was the russians' lack of proper communications equipment, which led to both armies having no option but to transmit their next days' marching orders en clair, without any encryption, something Hoffmann, Ludendorff and Hindenburg could not, at first, accept as genuine. In any event, this battle was a devastating victory, and was quite possibly the match to the revolutionary kindling that had been building in russia for nearly a century, of course the humiliating outcome of the Russo-Japanese war a decade earlier created much more of an impact on the populace, but nevertheless the propaganda value remains indisputable.

To get to my original idea, this battle was quite an incredible victory for the German Empire, and I certainly hope I haven't strangled the discussion out of the event with my sometimes-longwinded rambling and precariously balanced train of thought. Discuss away!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 00:26
Well, victories only really count if you win the war at the end, Pabbicus, and the real significance of Tannenberg (beside it being the last "classical military engagement" in history) simply underscored that the personal rivalries and emnities of the German command were far less grave than those of the Russian. Here's an interesting summary:
 
 
Besides, the real "hero" was Francois who stuck to his guns before the blustering Ludendorff--now that's one general who should have been an early casualty rather than lived on to muck the wheel of life...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 00:36

I hold to the opinion that Germany's defeat was not on the battlefield! Considering the lack of any decisive victories by the entente, and later allied forces. Considering the strategic brilliance and personal valor of so many german men in the face of nigh-insurmountable odds, and the stunning display of the Imperial German Navy, only built up at the continued insistence of Wilhelm II, in the face of odds quite similar, I consider the moral victory to go to the German Empire. The real reasons for the loss would be the betrayal by Italy and the lack of competence on the part of Austria-Hungary, requiring enormous amounts of resources to be diverted to lending Austria aid instead of to strengthen the western front.

Still, I'm quite confused as to your emboldening of my username. Is that an attempt to patronize me for realizing that weight of numbers winning a war does not make every brilliant maneuver by the "loser" completely worthless? By my estimation of your logic the only war is a total war and the military history of Europe from the fall of the roman empire to the rise of Napoleon does not count simply because nations werent conquered completely and crushed to the point of collapse in lieu of the European peace deals of the era.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 01:09
As a new participant, I can understand your confusion over "stylistic" matters, Pabbicus. Take a look at the "Author" column: Is it not in bold type? No one is patronizing you, far from it. That you are wrong is entirely irrelevant, and brilliant maneuvers seldom win wars in the end--as the career of Napoleon proved!
 
Now as for the "moral victory" of the German Empire..."revisionism" is one thing but the claim itself is preposterous specially if the name "Willy" Hohenzollern is uttered in the same breath! If there is a difference between 1870 and 1914, it can be summarized in one word: Bismarck. At least he was not delusional as aptly underscored by his creation of the Reptilienfonds.
 
By the way, are you not raising a new version of the "stab in the back" myth so as to assuage nationalistic sensitivities. You blame the Italians and the Austrians; Hitler blamed the Jews and the Communists. Hmmm...
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 21 Oct 2009 at 01:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 02:28
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

I hold to the opinion that Germany's defeat was not on the battlefield! Considering the lack of any decisive victories by the entente, and later allied forces. Considering the strategic brilliance and personal valor of so many german men in the face of nigh-insurmountable odds, and the stunning display of the Imperial German Navy,

??? The only battle at sea the Germans won was at Coronel in November 1914 and the odds there were immensely in their favour.
 
While I wouldn't want to take anything away from the personal valour on the German side, what makes you think it was any less on the Allied side?
 
Quote
only built up at the continued insistence of Wilhelm II, in the face of odds quite similar, I consider the moral victory to go to the German Empire. The real reasons for the loss would be the betrayal by Italy and the lack of competence on the part of Austria-Hungary, requiring enormous amounts of resources to be diverted to lending Austria aid instead of to strengthen the western front.

Still, I'm quite confused as to your emboldening of my username.

drgonzaga always puts the name of the person he's addressing in bold type.  It's actually quite a useful device, especially when you're not giving a direct quote. So read nothing into it.
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Is that an attempt to patronize me for realizing that weight of numbers winning a war does not make every brilliant maneuver by the "loser" completely worthless? By my estimation of your logic the only war is a total war and the military history of Europe from the fall of the roman empire to the rise of Napoleon does not count simply because nations werent conquered completely and crushed to the point of collapse in lieu of the European peace deals of the era.
Nope. You can't always tell who won or who lost or by how much or if it was a draw, but that doesn't mean it doesn't count. But in he case of WW1 it's about as decisive as anything can be that Germany lost, despite the 'betrayal' on the allied side of Russia which was a whole lot more significant than the 'betrayal' by Italy.
 
Basically Germany was beaten because it was weaker, poorer, and had fewer resources in general. 'Twas ever thus. Its big mistake was spreading the war in the first place.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 04:01
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

I hold to the opinion that Germany's defeat was not on the battlefield! Considering the lack of any decisive victories by the entente, and later allied forces. Considering the strategic brilliance and personal valor of so many german men in the face of nigh-insurmountable odds, and the stunning display of the Imperial German Navy, only built up at the continued insistence of Wilhelm II, in the face of odds quite similar, I consider the moral victory to go to the German Empire. The real reasons for the loss would be the betrayal by Italy and the lack of competence on the part of Austria-Hungary, requiring enormous amounts of resources to be diverted to lending Austria aid instead of to strengthen the western front.

 
If You would add Jews that would be exactly what Hitler and Nazis were saying. It is of course not exactly close to the truth. There were such battles like Marne, Verdun...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 04:15
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

To get to my original idea, this battle was quite an incredible victory for the German Empire
 
What's so incredible about a victory when you have acess to all your opponent's tactics and marching orders?
 
Incidentally, is this the first battle to be determined by the use of wireless interception? Japan used wireless effectively at Tsushima and elsewhere, butdidn't as far as I now intercept Russian commniations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 05:47

I apologize for overreacting to your stylistic preferences. At any rate, I enjoy an argument, though I tend to have to watch myself to avoid becoming overly passionate, I do find it enjoyable to have a friendly argument. At any rate, as for the speculations about my ideology, I find it laughable that a differing opinion causes one to imply that I am some kind of anti semitic radical. Now it is true that the Entente, and later the Allies, did gain ground on Germany later in the war, but you must also concede that German forces were, for their relatively few numbers, incredibly tenacious and also very brilliant in terms of tactical capability. I'm not claiming that Hindenburg achieved the successes of Friedrich the Great himself on the battlefield, but overall, it was not the allied forces that defeated the German Empire, but the rapidly growing dissent in the later stages of the war.

In response to the insults on Wilhelm II von Hohenzollern, they are hardly valid and certainly not called for. In my own opinion, he was a very capable leader in his own way, though I do concede that he was not very much a diplomat, or a talented military commander like many of his ancestors, he was nevertheless a well-educated man who filled his administration with as many capable and loyal ministers as possible. The loss of Bismarck was, of course, a very powerful blow to the Empire, though I must also remind any who claim his dismissal was a tragically foolish mistake, that Bismarck had his own designs, and they were especially focused on pushing Wilhelm to the back seat to be left there.

As far as proof of his administrative capability goes, take his reforms and consolidations of the rail system and the beginnings of the digging of a canal system, the most advanced canal system in the world at that point, in Germany to allow for easy, low cost transportation of freight. It was not finished before the outbreak of the war, though such a system could have extended the war many years had it been completed. While I could point out his many successes and virtues, he had more than his fair share of faults as well, and so it would be a back and forth with no progress on either side. This thread, however, is not about the achievements and setbacks during Wilhelm II's reign, it is about the battle of Tannenberg, 1914. And as for the value of the battle, it is not necessarily that it made use of incredibly innovative, never before seen doctrines and tactics, however it was a show of the cohesion, power and capability of the German Army in combining all the innovations in warfare and creating new ideas, such as the basis for trench warfare(Defense in depth,) in which Germany was a major innovator, creating vast trench networks in the muddy terrain of western europe and defending them with a great deal of competence(Battle of the Somme,) and Hutier's remarkable "infiltration" tactics, which contributed to the startling gains in the spring of 1918(Though, I will admit, at an equally remarkable cost in manpower.)

Although the German Empire did suffer several defeats in the war, the outcome of most battles of the war were leaning toward Germany, although the disadvantage in manpower and materiel became increasingly apparent as the war went on. With the United States' (In my opinion) self-architected entry to the war relieving the allies with badly needed raw materials and finally tipping the balance terminally against the central powers, or as they were infrequently known, the Quadruple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire.

As far as the talk of nationalist leanings, I will admit that I consider myself a Nationalist, though not by the definition I believe this forum to go by. My family fled the rapidly collapsing German Empire after the war, to get away from the civil turmoil and rapidly deteriorating economic situation, to live in the United States of America. Personally, I consider the Empire of Germany to be something that should be restored, and I do consider it my homeland in a much more vague sense than the term implies, as such I tend to try and defend it when possible. Still, I enjoy this discussion and, though I might initially feel put off by different viewpoints, I enjoy hearing them frequently.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 06:08
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

I As far as proof of his administrative capability goes, take his reforms and consolidations of the rail system and the beginnings of the digging of a canal system, the most advanced canal system in the world at that point, in Germany to allow for easy, low cost transportation of freight.

Just of course, at that moment of history when canals were beoming redundant. Not very farsighted.
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...however it was a show of the cohesion, power and capability of the German Army in combining all the innovations in warfare and creating new ideas, such as the basis for trench warfare(Defense in depth,) in which Germany was a major innovator, creating vast trench networks in the muddy terrain of western europe and defending them with a great deal of competence(Battle of the Somme,) and Hutier's remarkable "infiltration" tactics, which contributed to the startling gains in the spring of 1918(Though, I will admit, at an equally remarkable cost in manpower.)
The doom of trench warfare was indicated by the arrival of the tank. Not a German innovation as I recall. In fact trench warfare itself spelt the end of the line for Germany, since it could never win a war of attrition.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 06:18

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Just of course, at that moment of history when canals were beoming redundant. Not very farsighted.

Redundant in what fashion? As I recall, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in Schlesvig-Holstein was one of the most important developments in transportation in europe, and was one of the most strategically useful waterways of both world wars, allowing the current controller to easily navigate from the north sea to the baltic, and it proved it's worth during the naval campaigns of both world wars, allowing the german fleets to easily move to and from the baltic and north sea in much less time than previously required.

Even today, the Kaiser Wilhelm canal is the single most used artificial waterway in the world, with 43,000 ships passing through it in the year 2007 alone. Hardly redundant.

I will concede to you that the tank was a very important, non-german development that changed the war radically, though later German innovations in the realms of armor and it's various uses arguably placed them at the top of the pack during the separate conflict of World War II, your point does remain and I can't deny that.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 07:21
My word, the Kiel Canal, one might say that it had to be dug twice! The waterway inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm--Queen Victoria's Willy--in 1895 proved inadequate with regard to the increasing tonnage of military and commercial vessels. The original cost of construction (DM185 million) was more than duplicated between 1907-1914 (DM242 million) so as to correct this marked error in planning!
 
In all honesty if this thread is going to turn into a crowing match on how the German Empire really did not lose World War I, or worse, an apologia for the disatrous foreign policy pursued by Kaiser Wilhelm II after 1890, then we had best "turn off the lights"!
 
Only the most foolhardy would dare challenge this succinct summation:
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 07:40

Then I must find myself counted amongst the foolhardy demographic, as I find that essay to be quite ridiculous in it's thinly veiled anti-german bias. Blame for Germany on starting the Great War is as well placed as blame on Britain is for starting the second! In effect, the Serbian Government's refusal to accede to the demands of the Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum, due to their unwillingness to reveal their aid being lent to the Black Hand and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand would be the absolute spark which ignited the brushfire in the forest of European Diplomacy.

On the belief that Germany sought alliances that were more leaning towards a pro-war attitude, the same could be said easily for Great Britain, who signed a secret pact with France and America, on top of the Entente Cordial, for mutual reassurance in the event of a world war, thus aiming from the start to bring the weight of the United States against Germany, should the latter run out of options for avoiding the war. As I have said before I do realize that Wilhelm was very much a poor diplomat, but to shift all blame onto Germany, and more specifically to Wilhelm himself for the outbreak of the World War is near-lunacy!

As far as I am concerned the train of this topic is flying off the tracks, headed for a small village while several fires are springing up in the engine compartment mid-flight.



Edited by Pabbicus - 21 Oct 2009 at 07:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 15:10
I believe all the parties should be equally blamed for the start of the war and Germany was even a victim in some sense.
 
I also wanted to add some details about the battle, however. The combined Russian losses didn't exceed 125 thousand. Also Russian forces were not complitely driven out of East Prussia until March 1915. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant victory for Germans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 15:23
Well, my numbers are based on wikipedia's sources, which state 78,000 dead and wounded, with 92,000 prisoners of war.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 16:32
 There are different sources, of course, but the numbers given there aren't accurate.
 
Even the German article on Tannenberg there doesn't give such a high number.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2009 at 23:28
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Just of course, at that moment of history when canals were beoming redundant. Not very farsighted.

Redundant in what fashion?

Redundant as in being overtaken by the internal combustion engine and the truck. You referred to the canal 'system' not just the Kiel Canal.
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As I recall, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in Schlesvig-Holstein was one of the most important developments in transportation in europe, and was one of the most strategically useful waterways of both world wars, allowing the current controller to easily navigate from the north sea to the baltic, and it proved it's worth during the naval campaigns of both world wars, allowing the german fleets to easily move to and from the baltic and north sea in much less time than previously required.
There's so much wrong with that paragraph. The Kiel canal (once it's original shortcomings were corrected) served to allow the warships of the Baltic Fleet to enter the North Sea and vice versa without going aound Denmark. That's all, and that fact made absolutely no difference to the conduct of the war, in which there were only three fleet/squadron engagements of consequence, on in the Pacific, one in the South Atlantic and one in the North Sea, in the aftermath of which the Canal was of no use since it could only pass one dreadnouth at a time.
 
In the second world war of course it was useless because of its vulnerability to air attack. Gneisenhau for instance was knocked out of the war by the air attacks on Kiel by the RAF in February 1942.
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Even today, the Kaiser Wilhelm canal is the single most used artificial waterway in the world, with 43,000 ships passing through it in the year 2007 alone. Hardly redundant.
I think you'll find it's not the busiest in terms of tonnage: the Suez still is. And I'd guess the St Lawrence Seaway and the Panama Canal take much bigger vessels. Yes there is still room for canals that connect oceans and seas and cut off long circuitous sea trips. Even then Panama and Suez and even the St Lawrence bring much bigger advantages than Kiel.
 
Anyway I had more in mind the utility of canals for naval purposes.
[QUOTE]
I will concede to you that the tank was a very important, non-german development that changed the war radically, though later German innovations in the realms of armor and it's various uses arguably placed them at the top of the pack during the separate conflict of World War II, your point does remain and I can't deny that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheRedBaron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 00:42
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

No other commander had before thought of using railways in that capacity, or at least hadn't voiced any such thoughts or put them to action, as they were essentially not considered in terms of tactical value, instead viewed in a more broad, strategic sense as arteries of supply for the badly outnumbered armies fighting at points on four simultaneous fronts.

 
Well both sides in the ACW used railroads for both logistics and tactical movement of troops, so I dont think Hoffman was original in that sense.
 
The CSA were the first to build a railroad purely for military purpose, the Centreville Military Railroad, that was used to supply the defences along the Bull Run.
 
Longstreet moved troops from the Army of Northern Virginia to the Battle of Chickamauga and there was the movement of the Union's 11th and 12th Corps to reinforce the assault on Chattanooga.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 01:50
I believe the first railroad for military purposes was built in Crimea by British in 1854.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Majkes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 04:49
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

I do find it enjoyable to have a friendly argument. At any rate, as for the speculations about my ideology, I find it laughable that a differing opinion causes one to imply that I am some kind of anti semitic radical. Now it is true that the Entente, and later the Allies, did gain ground on Germany later in the war, but you must also concede that German forces were, for their relatively few numbers, incredibly tenacious and also very brilliant in terms of tactical capability. I'm not claiming that Hindenburg achieved the successes of Friedrich the Great himself on the battlefield, but overall, it was not the allied forces that defeated the German Empire, but the rapidly growing dissent in the later stages of the war.

 
I didn't want to accuse you for anything. I just stated the fact that Nazi were also claiming that the WWI was lost not on the front but as a result of betrayal.
The fact is that in WWI eastern front had similar importance to western front in WWII. In WWI important thing were going on in the West and there Germany lost the war. They just didn't have resources that could met joined forces of US, GB and France.
Germans had weak and not trustworthy allies as usually.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 05:03
I think likening the ww1 eastern front to the ww2 western front is only valid for the beginning of the two wars - i.e. the defeat of Russia made as little difference to the outcome of WW1 as the defeat of France did to WW2.
 
There was no ww1 eastern equivalent of D-Day (or even the attack on Italy) in ww2.
 
PS Picking weak and untrustworthy allies is not the mark of strategic genius.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 06:19
Are you guys joking?
 
The Eastern Front of WWI was much more important than the Western Front of WWII. Defeat of Russia made no difference? It's a huge joke, indeed.
 
I don't know what would happened with the Western Front if the US didn't join the Allies. One of the main reasons why Allies won was Russia was substituted by the American troops.
 
Russia took huge German blow in 1914 that saved the situation in France, in 1915 main Central Powers forces were on the Eastern Front, in 1916 Russia took a huge blow again and that eased pressure in the West.
 
In the end  the Eastern Front collapsed and for a little more than a year Germany had been facing only the Western Front, but by that time Germany was already very exhausted by the war on two Fronts and large chunk if its troops was contaminated by the communist propaganda; and besides,Russia was substituted by the fresh US troops.
 
By contrast in WWII from 1941 to 1944 there were no real analogies to the Eastern Front in the West at all !
 
During WWI until the end of 1917 roughly about 45 % of Central Powers forces were on the Eastern Front (including Austria-Hungarian forces). Of course, Germans had more divisions in the West than in the East. And there was a minimum Austrian present in the West.
 
But what if the whole Austro-Hungarian army got transferred to the West? It would be a disaster for the Allies.
 
Combined Austro-German losses on the Eastern Front were 5.5 million of (KIA, WIA and POWs) out of 16 million combined Central Powers casualties that is percent wise much bigger than the losses inflicted on Germany and its allies in Europe by the Western Allies in WWII.
 
 


Edited by Sarmat - 22 Oct 2009 at 06:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pabbicus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 07:18

Sarmat has a good point. The crushing defeats Germany presented to the Russian Army were the biggest recent contributors to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Russian Empire's inability to make a dent on Germany was what caused the mass discontent at home, or at least a lot of it. Another part was Imperial Russia's inability to properly administrate itself, and it's complete failure on their land reforms.

A note about the choice of allies, it is incredibly difficult to determine the effectiveness of a military in peacetime, especially from the outside. Before the First World War it was widely believed that the Russians alone could defeat Germany, and that was obviously proven false. Nobody knew the full extent of the state of affairs in the Russian and Austrian Militaries, and so it wasn't too unsound of a choice given the circumstances.



Edited by Pabbicus - 22 Oct 2009 at 07:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 09:05
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

A note about the choice of allies, it is incredibly difficult to determine the effectiveness of a military in peacetime, especially from the outside. Before the First World War it was widely believed that the Russians alone could defeat Germany, and that was obviously proven false. Nobody knew the full extent of the state of affairs in the Russian and Austrian Militaries, and so it wasn't too unsound of a choice given the circumstances.
 
Not sure whether the Russian army was expected to perform very well after the Russo-Japanese war, but definitely it had to be taken into account. Nevertheless, the speed on the Russian advance in August of 1914 and initial Russian successes in East Prussia, literally, had been a shocking experience for the Germans and they remained in the state of panic until Hindendburg arrived to the front.
 
There are a lot of misconceptions about the performance of the Russian army during the rest of the war and some myths, for example, about terrible shortage of equipment and ammunition, while, in fact, all the problems with the shortages were effectively solved by the beginning of 1916.
 
Also, WWI sets very interesting examples of totally different performances by different armed forces depending on particular circumstances.
 
At times some armies which are usually regarded as "weak" like Austrian, Italian or Turkish performed  quite brilliant.
 
I would say Austrian army was still an impressive force.  There are also some interesting cases, like that Turkish army that defeated British several times, but at the same time it was defeated by the Russians almost in every engagement. Such an example is interesting, because, apparently, it's believed that the British army was more effective the the Russian.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 10:11
The Turks were always at a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 disadvantage against the Russians in the Caucasus front and the fighting conditions for the turks were simply terrible, in sarikamis they were forced to march in -25C temperatures over 2500m above sea level against fortified Russian positions wearing summer clothes. Plus they were also fighting a massive Armenian insurgency (it alone had more men than the entire Ottoman Caucasian army group) from Van to Adana, two huge British armies (both combined were larger than the entire Orient army group which include the forces in the caucasus) threatening the only viable source of food left for the Ottomans then.
 
It took the Russians two years and tens of thousands of men to advance just 150 km from the prewar borders, if this says something it says alot about the Ottomans.
 
As for the Austrian army, well its performance against the serbs is enough to tell you how bad they were. Only after the german came did they turn their fortunes. The only bright spot is their performance against the Italians but hey, it was the Italian army.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 12:08
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The Turks were always at a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 disadvantage against the Russians in the Caucasus front and the fighting conditions for the turks were simply terrible, in sarikamis they were forced to march in -25C temperatures over 2500m above sea level against fortified Russian positions wearing summer clothes.
 
This is nonsense. Turkish army forces exceeded Russian in half of the battles, and in the cases were Russian exceeded Turkish it was maximum 2 to 1. About terrible condiction, do you presume that Russian were fighting under different conditions?  A little bit strange excuse.
 
 
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Plus they were also fighting a massive Armenian insurgency (it alone had more men than the entire Ottoman Caucasian army group) from Van to Adana, two huge British armies (both combined were larger than the entire Orient army group which include the forces in the caucasus) threatening the only viable source of food left for the Ottomans then.
 
Armenian irsugency was crushed in 1915 and the Russians continued to advance after that as well. 
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

It took the Russians two years and tens of thousands of men to advance just 150 km from the prewar borders, if this says something it says alot about the Ottomans.
 
The Russian army advanced for more than 250 km deep into the Ottoman territory by 1917 and captured 2 important cities Erzerum and Trabzon given that it was much easier to defend than attack in such a mountainous and difficult terrain as Eastern Anatolia (perfect it was the most difficult front in terms of terrain compare to the other fronts of the war) and that the Turks were very determined and brave soldiers fighting in their own territory. Despite of all that, Ottoman casualties were still larger than the Russian casualties, to the point that in some battles like Erzerum and Sarakamysh over 60% of the Turkish forces were wiped out.
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

As for the Austrian army, well its performance against the serbs is enough to tell you how bad they were. Only after the german came did they turn their fortunes. The only bright spot is their performance against the Italians but hey, it was the Italian army.
 
Austrian army had very good performance in some parts of the Eastern Front, against Serbs and Saloniki front besides the Italian front. As I said, it's very hard to make a generalization like that.
Almost all the armies in WWI had very bright and very embarassing moments.
 
The only example that stands out is, perhaps, the German army that peformed excellent IMHO.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 18:07
Hello Sarmat
 
when the war first began, the Caucasian front, the Russian unit fighting against the Turks, had 100k men plus 50-100k armenias, the Turks had only 80k of the third army (the only force in the Caucasus) that 70% of which died in the Sarikamis campain without firing a single shot. It was only in late 1915 when elements of the 1st and 2nd armies (withdrawn from Mesopotamia and the Balkans) reached the front to relieve the weak 3rd army. In 1916 The Turks had only 60k men under arms facing 200k Russian and Armenian volunteers. Despite that the two counter attacks went deep into Russian controlled territory only to stop beause of winter and British fresh attacks in the Iraq front.
 
Plus check your sources, Kars (then a Russian city) is only 150km from Erzurum.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 18:18
Originally posted by Pabbicus Pabbicus wrote:

I hold to the opinion that Germany's defeat was not on the battlefield! Considering the lack of any decisive victories by the entente, and later allied forces. Considering the strategic brilliance and personal valor of so many german men in the face of nigh-insurmountable odds, and the stunning display of the Imperial German Navy, only built up at the continued insistence of Wilhelm II, in the face of odds quite similar, I consider the moral victory to go to the German Empire. The real reasons for the loss would be the betrayal by Italy and the lack of competence on the part of Austria-Hungary, requiring enormous amounts of resources to be diverted to lending Austria aid instead of to strengthen the western front.

Pabbicus, that is simply untrue. Germany was defeated decisivly on the battlefields, indeed there are scarecly any other examples of a more impressive string of victories than the British in the 100 days. The German army was collapsing, the only success they had was in the American sector (and that was due to Pershing's determination to suffer the million dead everyone else had in the warLOL), elsewhere it was Auld Lang Syne for the Germans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2009 at 22:20
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

Are you guys joking?
 
The Eastern Front of WWI was much more important than the Western Front of WWII. Defeat of Russia made no difference? It's a huge joke, indeed.
 
Germany would have lost WW1 even if Russia had not been defeated. That's why the defeat was immaterial. I don't see how you can possibly claim that Germany would have won WW1 if it hadn't defeated Russia. Germany loses either way.
 
Similarly Germany would have lost WW2 if it had not defeated France in 1940. I don't see how anyone can argue otherwise. So the defeat of France made no difference to the outcome of the warL Germany loses either way.
 
So the defeat of France in WW2 is like the defeat of Russia in WW1. It made no difference to the outcome.
 
I don't think the rest of your post, while accurate enough, is to the point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Oct 2009 at 01:46
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello Sarmat
 
when the war first began, the Caucasian front, the Russian unit fighting against the Turks, had 100k men plus 50-100k armenias, the Turks had only 80k of the third army (the only force in the Caucasus) that 70% of which died in the Sarikamis campain without firing a single shot. It was only in late 1915 when elements of the 1st and 2nd armies (withdrawn from Mesopotamia and the Balkans) reached the front to relieve the weak 3rd army.
 
This information is simply incorrect. Russians had only 60 thousand in the beginning of the war in Caucasus all the Russian forces were on the Eastern Front, that's why Turks had the initiative until the battle of Sarakamysh. In the battle of Sarakamysh Turks had 90 thousand vs 60 thousand Russians, and Turks had all the chances to crush the whole Russian Caucasus army if not the incompetence of Enver pasha. Besides, even the number that you give is not 4 to 1 as you wrote in your previous post.
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

In 1916 The Turks had only 60k men under arms facing 200k Russian and Armenian volunteers. Despite that the two counter attacks went deep into Russian controlled territory only to stop beause of winter and British fresh attacks in the Iraq front.
 
According to my information Turks lost only in Erzerum 66 thousand men the armies ratio in the battle itself was 180 thousand Russians vs.135 thousand Turks, and their counterattacks were stopped because of high casualties. Besides, why aren't you calculating Kurdish and Turkish irregulars if you count Armenian volunteers?
 
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Plus check your sources, Kars (then a Russian city) is only 150km from Erzurum.
 
 
A town Ezidzhan that Russians reached in Eastern Anatolia is 3 times the distance from Kars to Erzerum.


Edited by Sarmat - 23 Oct 2009 at 02:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Oct 2009 at 01:49
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 
Germany would have lost WW1 even if Russia had not been defeated. That's why the defeat was immaterial. I don't see how you can possibly claim that Germany would have won WW1 if it hadn't defeated Russia. Germany loses either way.
 
Similarly Germany would have lost WW2 if it had not defeated France in 1940. I don't see how anyone can argue otherwise. So the defeat of France made no difference to the outcome of the warL Germany loses either way.
 
So the defeat of France in WW2 is like the defeat of Russia in WW1. It made no difference to the outcome.
 
I don't think the rest of your post, while accurate enough, is to the point.
Russia was substituted by the U.S. I believe German had chances if Russia wasn't substituted by the U.S. Russia was replaced by another strong player that's why its defeat didn't seal the fate of Germany.
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