Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914- 1918

By Walther Hubatsch; Oswald P. Backus | Go to book overview

5. Success Against Russia, 1915

Political situation. Notwithstanding the urging by the chief of staff of the field army, the end of the mobile operations toward the close of 1914 did not convince the Reich government of the fact that the war could no longer be decided on the battlefields. It was shown clearly enough that time kept working steadily against the Central Powers and that they could not expect any additional allies. The desertion of the former partners in the Triple Alliance, Italy and Romania, which had been threatening since the beginning of the war, could happen at any moment; the German Foreign Office was incapable of blocking that desertion by diplomatic means. The decision depended on Austria-Hungary. Had she ceded territories to Italy and Romania, those states might have kept out of the war for the time being; yet this transfer would have been too much of an internal burden on the Dual Monarchy--only extreme necessity could force the government to yield to such requests. Thus the policy of Vienna was based on the hope of a decision by arms and the Austrians thought they were justified in requesting far-reaching assistance from Germany.

Intended operations; Winter battles in the west; Carpathian Mountains; Masuria. Falkenhayn was faced by the necessity of making important decisions. From a military point of view, he had to regard the western front as the main battlefield. In consequence, he was justified in trying again and again, until November, 1914, to revive the mobile war in Belgium. However, the idea of forcing a breakthrough at a later time in the general direction of Amiens, in order to regain freedom of operations, was rightly abandoned. The winter battles in the Champagne and at Neuve Chapelle in Flanders again showed the strength of the German defense and caused Anglo-French attacks to fail. Thus, the western front proved to be solid, and the German army reserve of 4 new army corps could be used elsewhere. Now, Falkenhayn decided to attack Serbia in order to improve Austria-Hungary's situation by a partial success and to intimidate Italy and Romania. In this, the chief of staff was in agreement with the government leaders who, furthermore, requested the opening of a safe land route to Turkey, which had entered the war in November and could pin down some Entente forces on her long land fronts. But it became evident immediately that securing Turkey made sense only if Russia could be

-46-

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Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914- 1918
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Prologue 1
  • 2 - World War I and Its Beginning 14
  • 3 - War on Two Fronts 26
  • 4 - The Central Powers at the End of 1914 40
  • 5 - Success Against Russia, 1915 46
  • 6 - The Fight for Position in The Mediterranean 52
  • 7 - The Climax, 1915 60
  • 8 - Battles of Materiel and Mass Attacks 1916 67
  • 9 - Internal Political Changes 77
  • 10 - War and Politics in 1917 89
  • 11 - From Brest-Litovsk to Compiegne 102
  • 12 - Concluding Observations 119
  • Notes 122
  • Index 125
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