Know Everything about the Battle of Tannenberg

Battle of Tannenberg

The Battle of Tannenberg was fought between the German and Russian forces in the Prussian region of Germany. The Battle of Tannenberg date was 26th August till 30th August. The Battle of Tannenberg location was in the Prussian region covering Lake Masuri. The race to acquire colonies and related political issues were the primary reasons for World War I, which started on the 28th of July, 1914. The official beginning of the First World War was when the Austrian-Hungarian forces declared war on Serbia by bombing Belgrade. An alerted Russia issued a quick mobilization alert.

Germany, a vivid supporter of Austria, utilized this opportunity to wage war on Russia on the 1st of July. Eventually, Germany declared war on France on July 3rd and Belgium on July 4th. Following this, Great Britain declared war on Russia on July 4th. This was followed by the declaration of war by Austria on Germany. All these chains of events created the First World War. The Battle of Tannenberg was one of the initial battles fought during World War I. Being a part of the Triple Entente, France, Russia, and Britain was against Germany and its allies. 

The Battle of Tannenberg

Battle of Tannenberg

In the Battle of Tannenberg, With enemies on both the east and west sides, the Germans activated the Schlieffen plan created during Battle of Tannenberg the year 1905. Though the Russian soldiers were large in numbers, the Germans were well aware of the delay in the arrival of the Russian soldiers. Therefore, the first target of the Germans was to overthrow the French. Their plan was to attack France through Belgium and Netherlands. Following this, the Germans planned to attack the east. With their initial advancements towards France, the Germans received great defense from Belgium, which slowed down the German troops. 

In the East, the Russian forces under the leadership of Nikolai had begun their immobilization earlier and were able to reach East Prussia and Galicia very soon, even before the estimated time. The forces guarding the Prussian borders and the Galician borders were very weak, and the Russian forces greatly outnumbered the German forces. The Prussian army consisted of around 1,50,000 soldiers, but the approaching Russian army was around 2,50,000 in number. 

The region of East Prussia had geographical barriers that forced the Russian forces to divide into two corridors. The forests and the Masurian lakes split the region into fragments. The first Russian army attacked Prussia from the front, and the second Russian army attacked the corridor between the Masurian lakes. The Russians entered the Prussian borders on the 17th of August. The Russians faced many problems related to communication and internal conflicts while entering the foreign land. 

Role of Paul von Renincamp in Battle of Tannenberg

The first Russian army was commanded by Commander Paul von Renincamp, and the 8th German army was under General Maximillian von Prittwitz. With the initial advancement of the Russian forces, the Germans, still skeptical about the fight, took a withdrawal of their forces. But the German Commander Hermann von Francois attacked the Russians and defeated them and took 3,000 Russian soldiers as prisoners, and moved to the west side back to General Maximillian von Prittwitz. With the Russian army at a halt at Gambienn, the Germans attacked the Russians again on the 20th of August but were not able to hold the Russian forces and their heavy artillery attack.

Until now, the Germans were completely unaware of the advancement of the second Russian army from the southern part of Prussia. With confirmations from air scouts, the German General Maximillian von Prittwitz panicked. The second Russian army was led by Commander Samsonov. The army guarding the south was under the command of Friedrich von Schultz and his 20th corpse troops. 

General Maximillian von Prittwitz was willing to withdraw his forces but was critically acclaimed by his soldiers. This led to the relieving of Prittwitz on the 22nd of August. General Paul von Hindenberg became the replacement of Prittwitz, and Erich Ludendorff became the Deputy of Chief of Staff. The newly appointed officials planned to make an anti-clockwise attack on the Second Russian army in the South of Prussia. 

The advantage was on the German side as they had scouting airplanes and reconnaissance planes on an excellent foresight of the advancing army and wireless communication. Also, they were able to decrypt the majority of the messages transmitted between the Russian forces. With the Germans able to detect every move of the Russians, the gain was on their side.  

German’s Plan

The German plan was to send the Northern forces of the 1st corpse to reach the 20th corpse via the train line from Konigsberg. The rest of the troops were also instructed to be stationed near the 20th corpse. Only the garrison forces and a small portion of the cavalry were stationed against the first Russian forces. The Russian troops proceeded to move north to enter Prussia by defeating the 20th corpse soldiers.

The second Russian forces under Commander Samsonov started to march to the west, believing that the Germans were retreating and they were unaware of the advancing troops from the southwest direction. The first Russian army stationed earlier started to move towards Konigsberg instead of moving to the southwest to join the second Russian army.

By this time, the 20th corpse was reinforced by the first corpse from Koniksberg via the train line. The second Russian forces were completely unaware of the advancements and were running low on supplies. The communication barrier was also a major disadvantage for the Russians. The geographic terrain of swamplands and lakes was difficult for on-foot travel for the Russians. The second Russian army also didn’t receive any reinforcements from the first Russian army. This greatly affected their fighting spirit. Also, correspondence was made between the first and the second Russian armies with regard to their parting in separate ways. 

Significance of Battle of Tannenberg

The Germans were fully aware that the first and second Russian armies are never getting together. This made General Ludendorff send his 1st and 17th corpse forces to join the attack against Samsonov and his second Russian army. On August 25th, the first corpse of the German army and the first corpse of the Russian army faced, and the Germans defeated the Russians. The attack of the Russians on the 20th corpse was still going on, and the Russian army slowly advanced and reached Allenstein.

The reinforcements of the 1st corpse and the 17th corpse defeated the Russian 6th corpse and the Russian cavalry. This significantly weakened the Russian forces, and the Russian right flank was overthrown by the German forces. By 27th August, the German first corpse surrounded the Russian forces at Allenstein. The 17th corpses also joined the other corpses near Allenstein. In the Battle of TannenbergBy the 29th of August, the Russian troops at Allenstein were completely surrounded on all sides by the German forces. With enemies surrounding, the Russian army disintegrated, and Samsonov most of his soldiers as the majority of them started to flee the region.

With no way out of the forest and swamps, Commander Samsonov committed suicide. This marked the end of the Battle of Tannenberg. The casualties were heavy on the Russian side, with over 30,000 to 70,000 wounded and dead. Around 90,000 soldiers were taken as prisoners by the end of the Battle of Tannenberg. The Battle of Tannenberg marked the beginning stage of the upcoming battles of the First World War. 

By Tuesday Crowell

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