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In historical literature and popular consciousness, the campaign for East Prussia unjustly overshadowed the simultaneous struggles between Austria -Hungary and Russia in Galicia. By comparison with East Prussia, the battles in Galicia in 1914 involved more Russians: four armies instead of two, and double the number of component corps. They fought against more troops of the Central Powers: at first three and then four Austrian armies, instead of one German. They fought a war that the Russian state actually wanted to fight for a concrete political objective—hegemony in the Balkans—long a Russian priority. The campaign ended in substantial Russian victory. By all standards aside from the attention paid by subsequent historians, the Galician battles loom far larger than those for East Prussia. Despite this, the Galician campaign has received substantially less attention . Tannenberg benefited from the retroactive efforts at self-promotion of three of its key participants on the German side: Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Hoffmann. The Galician campaign lacked any glorious victory and suffered from a dearth of those willing and able to promote their accomplishments to English-speaking audiences after the war. Galicia was also horrifically bloody. Rather than the brilliant maneuvers of East Prussia, Galicia degenerated into a grotesque slugging match. The campaign was a perfect storm of elements to create a slaughterhouse. The terrain was flat and open, allowing mass armies to maneuver and clash. Unlike East Prussia, where the Germans absorbed Russian offensives and then counterattacked to restore the status quo, both sides in Galicia 4 The Opening Campaigns: Galicia, 1914 81 Stone_The Russian Army in the Great War 5/19/15 9:43 AM Page 81 planned massive offensives into enemy territory, but had not yet learned how deadly it was for men to move in the open within range of modern artillery , machine guns, and rifles. Conrad was dazzled by his dream of a great drive north by his First and Fourth Armies to link up with the Germans (who had informed him on 3 August that they were not coming) to cut off Russia’s Polish salient. Blinded by visions of victory, he discounted the possibility of a Russian attack from the east smashing into the flank of any drive his armies made to the north. Nikolai Ivanov, commander of the Southwestern Front, planned a concentric attack on Austrian Galicia by four armies converging on L’viv. When the armies collided, at least a hundred thousand men died in a month of fighting, leaving the Russians badly bloodied but the Austrian army shattered. The Russian-Austrian frontier in Galicia formed a great arc from north to east, bowed toward Russia. While there was considerable high ground inside the Austrian frontier, the border itself lay on flat and relatively open terrain, leaving great scope for generals to plan vast maneuvers. Russian communications in the territory behind the frontier were relatively good; a series of major towns lay in a semicircle along a railroad that paralleled the frontier, stretching from Dęblin in the north around clockwise through Lublin, Chełm, Kovel, Lutsk, Rovno, and finally Kamyanets-Podilsky in the east. Austrian communications were not quite so good: the Carpathian mountains ran roughly east–west across the southern boundary of Galicia. As a result, Austrian railroads from Galicia ran west toward Krakow, not south through the mountains. The border itself was not well served by rail; upon debarking, both armies would have substantial marching to reach enemy territory. Conrad’s plans for the upcoming conflict in Galicia were both deceptive and deceived. The Austrians had initiated staff conversations with the Germans in 1909 to nail down the precise intentions of both sides, but the clearly divergent interests of the alliance partners meant that paper assurances were quite different from actual intent. From the German point of view, Austria’s Serbian enemy was at best a side show. Complete Austrian victory in Serbia meant nothing if it allowed Russian armies to march to Berlin. The German General Staff thus wanted a full Austrian commitment against Russia to relieve pressure on the German eastern border. Based in 82 CHAPTER FOUR Stone_The Russian Army in the Great War 5/19/15 9:43 AM Page 82 part on German assurances, Austria-Hungary by contrast anticipated a German offensive out of East Prussia to occupy the Russians, not merely an active defense. Both sides were duly disappointed; Conrad’s visceral hatred of the Serbs made Serbia a priority; Germany’s wholehearted commitment to an all-out drive...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780700621163
Related ISBN
9780700620951
MARC Record
OCLC
910382597
Pages
368
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-29
Language
English
Open Access
No
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