Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

Synopsis

Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the battle for Galicia in August 1914--and the unprecedented carnage that resulted--effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the "foul peace" the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary's ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.

Excerpt

There were three great battles fought at the beginning of the Great War: the Marne near Paris; Tannenberg in what would today be northeast Poland; and Galicia, waged five hundred kilometers south of that, in the border region of present-day Poland and Ukraine. The first two battles have inspired voluminous literature practically since their conclusion, including recent quality monographs in English on both the Marne and Tannenberg. The significance of Germany’s defeat at the Marne was evident from the moment it happened, because it ensured that Berlin’s hope of a quick, decisive victory over France evaporated; the result was the conflict became protracted, leading to four more years of the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. The compensatory German victory at Tannenberg, which broke Russia’s invasion of East Prussia into pieces, was less significant militarily, but it was a much-needed boost to German propaganda as well as a painful humiliation for the defeated. Both battles became the stuff of nationalist mythmaking, which would take historians decades to unravel.

By contrast the epic defeat of Austria-Hungary in Galicia has been consistently ignored by scholars and popular writers alike. This book is the first work in English to focus solely on the campaign, which despite its historical significance has been nearly forgotten. Yet its import was immense. For the Russians, this victory offset their debacle at Tannenberg and ensured that, despite whatever the Germans had won in East Prussia, they now had to contend with an ally that was militarily on the . . .

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