The east Front in world War One is frequently largely unknown to many Westerners. The instance there was quite different to that on the west Front. Here, Rebecca Fachner complies with up on her articles on Royal household squabbles here and the spark that caused war to an episode here.

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The 100th anniversary the the very first summer of civilization War One rolls onward, and with that commemorations of battles the everyone in the Western people seems to recognize instinctively - the Marne, the Somme, Ypres… The battle on the west Front is really much lively in the western consciousness, yet what is so regularly forgotten is the it was in reality a two-front battle in Europe. Germany to be not just fighting in the West against the French and also British (and ultimately the Americans), but additionally in the East versus the Russian Empire.


Russian troops top top the move to the former line. Native National geographic magazine, volume 31. 1917.

as a fighting force, the Russian realm was exceptionally contradictory. They to be a formidable foe, yet at the exact same time a really worrying ally. Their one large advantage in warfare was the sheer number of troops the they had actually at your disposal. It to be truly a staggering amount of men, millions upon numerous Russian troops, a “mass of bodies all set to bleed” in the indigenous of one chronicler of the period.<1> The key disadvantage for the Russians was whatever else. The army had miserably poor leadership, to be woefully underfunded and was technologically backward. In the years prior to the war, the Allies, especially France, had actually spent massive sums that money make the efforts to enhance Russia’s technological capability.

Railroads had been a specific target, together the activity of troops come the prior as quickly as possible was of big importance. France knew the German battle plans hinged on Russia’s inability to mobilize their troops and so plan on attacking France first, then moving on come Russia only after the French had actually been defeated. Therefore, if Russia can respond an ext quickly, and force Germany to divert troops in their direction earlier, so much the much better for France. Their initiatives did carry out some good, however not enough, as was painfully prove in the opening days of the war. It took weeks for the Russians to assemble a fighting pressure along the German and also Austro-Hungarian borders.


Russia started the war by invading east Germany. It was able to do so together Poland was no an independent nation at this time meaning that Russia and also Germany were contiguous. The first major engagement the the war was the battle of Tannenberg, which was a resounding loss for the Russians. The following week at the fight of Masurian Lakes, the Russians to be pushed back further, and also would no fight top top German soil for the remainder that the war. Regardless of the inauspicious beginnings, the Russians did gain some success, an especially against Austria-Hungary in the fall of 1914. By 1915, however, the Germans had made the eastern Front their optimal priority and began come hurl troops at the Russians, managing to revolve the birds of the eastern battle permanently in their very own favor. Russia never again delighted in a significant advantage.

The location of the war in the eastern was an extremely different when contrasted to the west. Fairly than a compressed front line, the Russians and Germans were ultimately fighting over an area of much more than a thousand miles. This spread out the fighting, place a much larger burden on military supply chains 보다 in the west, and also making Russian transportation troubles an also bigger worry as they began to have supply problems soon after ~ war broke out. One small, watch trivial problem added to the frustration, namely that Russian railroads were, and still are, top top a different track gauge than parts of Europe more west. Railroad tracks in Europe (and nearly everywhere else) room 4 feet 8 inches apart from each other, yet in Russia the tracks room 5 feet apart. This means that trains indigenous Europe don’t work-related in Russia and vice versa; come this day, if you space travelling through railroad into Russia it causes delays in ~ the border. This produced all type of chaos for providing both armies and moving troops. Every told, it normally slowed down the war in the east. Additionally, because the prior line stretched over so big a territory, trench warfare, something the is therefore closely linked with the battle in the west, was not a variable in the east. There was no require for trenches, as the armies had so much much more room to maneuver.

Another far-ranging and often remarked upon difficulty for the Russians was the personality the the men making the crucial decisions. Tsar Nicholas was a weak and also largely ineffective leader, and enjoyed far too lot command authority because that a human being with restricted military experience. His two optimal commanders, Grand fight it out Nicholas and Minister that War basic Sukhomlinov, hated each other and also constantly tried to weaken the other, often to the detriment of your command. Among those commanders, it should be said, Grand fight it out Nicholas Nicholaievich, to be an extremely committed and able military commander, frustrated by the duplicity of his counterpart and also the ineptitude the his boss.

THE TSAR bring away CHARGE

This was not a recipe for success, and as the Russians ongoing to lose, blame to be shifted around and also around the command structure. Eventually the Tsar, frustrated and exasperated, decided to move to military headquarters come take personal command that the military. That hoped that his existence would accumulate both the troops and the command structure and also turn the tide of the war. On the challenge of it, this was no as negative a decision together it turned out to be, and also at least the Tsar’s heart remained in the ideal place, so to speak. Unfortunately, Nicholas’ presence had the opposite effect, and also he to be blamed by many for every solitary thing the went wrong with the battle from that allude on. This severely undermined his authority, not simply with his army but additionally with his people, who had previously thought that the Tsar was close come divine, and blamed every the army failures on his generals. With his an extremely visible visibility at the head of his army, Nicholas to be exposed as ineffective and weak, and the Russian people had no selection but to blame him because that the manifest fail of his strategy.

Compounding the Tsar’s image problem was that he had actually left his mam in manage in his absence. Empress Alexandra was dangerously unstable, and also extremely unpopular, partly due to her association with the monk Rasputin; it to be widely thought that she was under his direct control. Alexandra conveniently assumed countless of the governmental duties that her husband had left behind, which was an extremely unfortunate, as she had small political acumen and also no experience in government. What she did have was an unshakable belief in Rasputin, and also a stubborn refuse to grasp how widely he was mistrusted and also disliked. Alexandra careened native one destructive policy to another, dismissing knowledgeable ministers and replacing them with self-serving correctly men. Events ongoing to spiral out of control, and after year of war and shortages, bad management and also an ineffective monarchy, it is actually extraordinary the the revolution didn’t take place sooner.

The Russian Revolution, at the very least the first one, didn’t finish the war. The an initial Russian Revolution, in February 1917, deposed the Tsar yet the Provisional government that take it his location did not want to end the war. Alexsandr Kerensky, the leader of the Provisional Government, had actually the makings that a political genius, and also it is just one of the frustrating what-ifs of the Russian revolution to wonder what he might have achieved, yet he was will on continuing to prosecute the war. This showed to it is in the undoing of both the Provisional Government and Kerensky, as they underestimate just exactly how war weary Russia was, and suffered the consequences when the Bolsheviks launched the October Revolution, promising, amongst other things, to finish the war. The Bolsheviks sue for peace, and also the Germans compelled them to sign a humiliating treaty, finishing the war in the east.

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A clip around the 1916 battle of Lake Narocz ~ above the eastern Front is accessible here ~ above the site.