An Account of the Opening of the Battle of Gorlice-Tarnow, 2 May 1915 by General August von Mackensen
To the complete surprise of the enemy, large movements of troops into West Galicia had been completed by the end of April.
These troops, subject to the orders of General von Mackensen, had been assigned the task in conjunction with the neighbouring armies of our Austrian ally of breaking through the Russian front between the crest of the Carpathians and the middle Dunajec.
It was a new problem and no easy undertaking. The heavens granted our troops wonderful sunshine and dry roads. Thus flyers and artillery could come into full activity and the difficulties of the terrain, which here has the character of the approaches of the German Alps, or the Horsal hills in Thuringia, could be overcome.
At several points ammunition had to be transported amid the greatest hardships on pack animals and the marching columns and batteries had to be moved forward over corduroy roads.
All the accumulation of information and preparations necessary for breaking through the enemy’s line had been quietly and secretly accomplished. On the first of May in the afternoon the artillery began its fire on the Russian positions. These in some five months had been perfected according to all the rules of the art of fortification.
In stories they lay one over the other along the steep heights, whose slopes had been furnished with obstacles. At some points of special importance to the Russians they consisted of as many as seven rows of trenches, one behind the other. The works were very skilfully placed, and were adopted to flank one another.
The infantry of the allied [Note: Teutonic] troops in the nights preceding the attack had pushed forward closer to the enemy and had assumed positions in readiness for the forward rush. In the night from May 1st to 2nd the artillery fired in slow rhythm at the enemy’s positions. Pauses in the fire served the pioneers for cutting the wire entanglements.
On the 2nd of May at 6 a.m. an overwhelming artillery fire, including field guns and running up to the heaviest calibres was begun on the front many miles in extent selected for the effort to break through. This was maintained unbroken for four hours.
At 10 o’clock in the morning these hundreds of fire-spouting tubes suddenly ceased and the same moment the swarming lines and attacking columns of the assailants threw themselves upon the hostile positions.
The enemy had been so shaken by the heavy artillery fire that his resistance at many points was very slight. In headlong flight he left his defences, when the infantry of the [Teutonic] allies appeared before his trenches, throwing away rifles and cooking utensils and leaving immense quantities of infantry ammunition and dead.
At one point the Russians themselves cut the wire entanglements to surrender themselves to the Germans. Frequently the enemy made no further resistance in his second and third positions. On the other hand, at certain other points of the front he defended himself stubbornly, making an embittered fight and holding the neighbourhood.
With the Austrian troops, the Bavarian regiments attacked Mount Zameczyka, lying 250 metres above their positions, a veritable fortress. A Bavarian infantry regiment here won incomparable laurels.
To the left of the Bavarians Silesian regiments stormed the heights of Sekowa and Sakol. Young regiments tore from the enemy the desperately defended cemetery height of Gorlice and the persistently held railway embankment at Kennenitza.
Among the Austrian troops Galician battalions had stormed the steep heights of the Pustki Hill, Hungarian troops having taken in fierce fighting the Wiatrowka heights. Prussian guard regiments threw the enemy out of his elevated positions east of Biala and at Staszkowka stormed seven successive Russian lines which were stubbornly held.
Either kindled by the Russians or hit by a shell, a naphtha well behind Gorlice burst into flames. Higher than the houses the flames struck up into the sky and pillars of smoke rose to hundreds of yards.
On the evening of the 2nd of May, when the warm Spring sun had begun to yield to the coolness of night the first main position in its whole depth and extent, a distance of some sixteen kilometres, had been broken through and a gain of ground of some four kilometres had been attained.
At least 20,000 prisoners dozens of cannon and fifty machine guns remained in the hands of the allied troops that in the battle had competed with one another for the paten of victory. In addition, an amount of booty to be readily estimated, in the shape of war materials of all sorts, including great masses of rifles and ammunition, had been secured.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
(Source: firstworldwar.com, via radicalwhig-deactivated20130129)
9:38 am • 7 April 2012 • 10 notes
Via drakegoodman on Flickr
“Von württembergischen Regierungssoldaten gefangener Eisendreher Johann Lehner vor seiner Ermordung am 3. Mai 1919.”
Munich, 3rd May 1919, metal-worker Johann Lehner is photographed with Württemberg troops of the Freikorps. Suspected of being Communist leader he was summarily executed shortly afterwards.
Background courtesy of Wiki:
The Munich Soviet Republic (Münchner Räterepublik) was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in the form of a democratic workers’ council republic in the Free State of Bavaria. It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed Weimar Republic.
On the afternoon of 7 November 1918, the first anniversary of the Russian revolution, Kurt Eisner of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) addressed a crowd, estimated to have been about 60,000, on the Theresienwiese (current site of the Oktoberfest). He demanded an immediate peace, an 8 hour day, relief for the unemployed, abdication of the Bavarian king, King Ludwig III, and Emperor Wilhelm II, and proposed the formation of workers’ and soldiers’ councils. The crowd marched to the army barracks and won over most of the soldiers to the side of the revolution. That night, the King went into exile. The next day, Eisner declared Bavaria a “free state” – a declaration which overthrew the monarchy of the Wittelsbach dynasty which had ruled for over 700 years, and Eisner became Minister-President of Bavaria. Though he advocated a “socialist republic”, he distanced himself from the Russian Bolsheviks, declaring that his government would protect property rights. For a few days, the Munich economist Lujo Brentano served as People’s Commissar for Trade (Volkskommissar für Handel).
After Eisner’s USPD had lost the elections, he decided to resign from his office. On 21 February 1919, as he was on his way to parliament to announce his resignation, he was shot by the right-wing nationalist Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, who was rejected from membership in the Thule Society because of Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side. This assassination caused unrest and lawlessness in Bavaria, and the news of a soviet revolution in Hungary encouraged communists and anarchists to seize power.
On 6 April 1919, a Soviet Republic was formally proclaimed. Initially, it was ruled by USPD members such as Ernst Toller, and anarchists like Gustav Landauer, Silvio Gesell and Erich Mühsam. Toller, a playwright, described the revolution as the “Bavarian Revolution of Love”, but he was not a very effective politician, and his government did little to restore order in Munich.
His government members were also not always well-chosen. For instance, the Foreign Affairs Deputy Dr. Franz Lipp (who had been admitted several times to psychiatric hospitals), declared war on Switzerland over the Swiss refusal to lend 60 locomotives to the Soviet Republic. He also claimed to be well acquainted with Pope Benedict XV. He informed Vladimir Lenin via cable that the ousted former Minister-President Hoffmann had fled to Bamberg and taken the key to the ministry toilet with him.
On Palm Sunday, April 12, 1919, the Communist Party seized power, with Eugen Leviné as their leader. Leviné began to enact communist reforms, which included forming a “Red Army”, seizing cash and food supplies, expropriating luxurious apartments and giving them to the homeless and placing factories under the ownership and control of their workers. Leviné also had plans to abolish paper money and reform the education system, but never had time to implement them.
At the suggestion of Vladimir Lenin, Leviné took hostages from among the elite. When his troops refused to execute the hostages, Russian soldiers were sent to do it. On 30 April 1919, eight men, including the well-connected Prince Gustav of Thurn and Taxis, were accused as right-wing spies and executed. The Thule Society’s secretary, Countess Hella von Westarp, was also murdered.
Soon after, on 3 May 1919, remaining loyal elements of the German army (called the “White Guards of Capitalism” by the communists), with a force of 9,000, and Freikorps (such as the Freikorps Epp and the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt) with a force of about 30,000 men, entered Munich and defeated the communists after bitter street fighting in which over 1,000 supporters of the government were killed. About 700 men and women were arrested and summarily executed by the victorious Freikorps troops. Leviné was condemned to death for treason, and was shot by a firing squad in Stadelheim Prison.
1:12 pm • 31 March 2012 • 23 notes
Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler, and the Jews
Lately I’ve been studying nineteenth century German Jewry, and my studies made me wonder what exactly Kaiser Wilhelm II thought of Hitler. So I poked around a bit, and found that the Kaiser had written the following about the Jews in regards to the loss of the First World War: “[Germany had been] egged on and misled by the tribe of Judah. Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!…[The Jews are a] nuisance that humanity must get rid of some way or other. I believe the best would be gas!” He also wrote in 1941 that “We must drive Judah out of England just as he has been chased out of the Continent…the Jews [are] being thrust out of their nefarious positions in all countries, whom they have driven to hostility for centuries.”
Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne of Germany on November 9, 1918. He lived the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands. As the Nazi Party began to gain power in Germany, the former Kaiser was one of their initial supporters because he believed that the Party’s success would lead to the restoration of the monarchy. Hitler, however, never would have supported this endeavor as he did not think highly of the former Kaiser and blamed him (along with the Jews) for Germany’s loss of World War I.
In terms of Wilhelm’s former statements on Jews, it could be assumed that he would have approved of the Final Solution. However, he decried Kristallnacht, calling it mindless gang violence and going so far as to state that “For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German.”
Perhaps his approval grew as the Third Reich began to use gas as Wilhelm had suggested earlier, and as they generally began to carry out the Final Solution in a more streamlined manner, but that is simply conjecture. All we can know for sure is that, after Hitler’s initial successes in the outset of WWII, Wilhelm sent Hitler a telegram reading “Congratulations, you have won using my troops.”
Wilhelm died of an artery blockage a few weeks before the invasion of the Soviet Union.
ask historicity-was-already-taken a question
3:05 pm • 30 March 2012 • 58 notes