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The Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War imposed a split on available sources and, as a result, in the literature on the Eastern Front. Histories of the war written and published in the west relied on German and Austrian sources, supplemented by the writings of Russian exiles. The key figures on the Eastern Front were quick to write memoirs: notably Falkenhayn and Ludendorff in 1919, Hindenburg in 1920. In addition, the new Austrian state published a voluminous official history, Austria-Hungary’s Last War (Österreich-Ungarns letzter Krieg) 1914–1918, published 1930–1939. Its German equivalent was The World War (Der Weltkrieg) 1914–1918, published from 1925 through 1944. Memoirs on the Russian side were thinner for the high command: Tsar Nicholas kept a fairly pedestrian diary. He and both of his wartime chiefs of staff—Yanushkevich and Alekseev—died in 1918 without leaving memoirs. Grand Duke Nikolai, the first commander in chief, survived to escape into exile, but likewise did not write memoirs. Many émigrés did recount their experiences, of course, though they lacked access to documentary sources. Quartermaster-General Danilov published his account of the war in 1924, and Nikolai Golovin’s 1931 The Russian Army in World War I was particularly influential . Anton Kersnovskii, a young émigré, wrote a lengthy history of the Russian army that included a great deal on the First World War. Brusilov’s memoirs were published in 1929 in the Soviet Union and abroad, and quickly translated into English . British military attaché Alfred Knox also published his account of his time in Russia in 1921 as With the Russian Army: 1914–1917. Winston Churchill’s The Unknown War, published in 1931, used these sources extensively. A generation of English-language history, as a result, was written by eyewitnesses or based on eyewitness accounts, but without access to Russian archives. In Soviet Russia, by contrast, memoirs were much less prominent as tsarist officers who remained in the country were circumspect about their experiences. Though the new Soviet Russia that emerged from World War I saw itself as distinct A Note on Sources 345 Stone_The Russian Army in the Great War 5/19/15 9:44 AM Page 345 from the tsarist regime that fought the war, the Red Army recognized the need to understand military history in order to prepare for the next war. It systematically gathered materials in order to write the history of the Eastern Front. The result was the Strategic Outline of the War [Strategicheskii ocherk voiny], 1914–1918, published in seven volumes from 1920 to 1923. Relentlessly operational in its focus, the quality of the work is uniformly high, though it does not discuss the Caucasus Front. A. M. Zaionchkovskii, author of parts of the Strategic Outline, in 1923 also published The World War [Mirovaia voina], 1914–1918, a quite good stand-alone history of the war covering all combatants and all fronts. The authors of these works, generally high-ranking tsarist veterans of the war, enjoyed extensive access to original documents . While they were not averse to settling personal scores, the collective nature of the project and the Red Army’s urgent need for an objective evaluation of the war prevented the worst excesses of individual bias and political correctness. While Soviet accounts included boiler-plate commentary on the failings of the tsarist regime, they were quite accurate on the operational history of the war. This pattern continued into the 1930s. The Soviet military published a series of document collections, each hundreds of pages long and containing hundreds of documents, on key operations. These included major collections on the 1914 invasion of East Prussia (Vostochno-Prusskaia operatsiia, 1939), the battles in Central Poland (Varshavsko-Ivangorodskaia operatsiia, 1938), the fighting around Łódź (Lodzinskaia operatsiia, 1936), the 1915 Austro-German breakthrough at Gorlice-Tarnów (Gorlitskaia operatsiia, 1938), and the 1916 Brusilov offensive (Nastuplenie Iugozapadnogo fronta, 1940). This scholarly raw material was accompanied by dozens of narrower monographs on particular battles and campaigns, many of high quality , as the Red Army prepared for renewed war against Germany on the plains of Eastern Europe. After World War II, Russia’s experience in the First World War was generally a low priority for Soviet scholars. Certainly good work was done: K. F. Shatsillo and A. G. Kavtaradze wrote extensively about imperial Russian defense policy and the Russian army’s central organization. I. I. Rostunov, relying heavily on the Strategic Outline, wrote the standard Soviet history of the Eastern Front and a biography...

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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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