The Christmas Battles were offensive operations of the Russian army and Latvian units during World War I in the area of Jelgava, Latvia, by the Russian 12th Army of the Northern Front. They took place from December 23 until December 29, 1916 according to the calendar used in Russia at the time, The Army was commanded by Gen. Radko Dimitriev; the battles took place in Tīreļpurvs, between Lake Babīte and Jelgava. The main assault force was the VI Siberian Rifle Corps; the German 8th army's advance was stopped near Riga in October 1915. German forces started to fortify their positions. A huge, 30 km. long wall built out of sand and wood was constructed across Tīreļpurvs, separating both armies for more than a year. A railway line was constructed for the delivery of ammunition; the Russian 12th Army was divided into three groups. The main task force was Babīte group which consisted of 208 cannon. On the opposite side were 19 German battalions from the 6th Landwehr-Brigade; the core of the Babīte group was the VI Siberian corps.
Which included both Latvian Rifleman brigades. After the failure of the 1916 campaigns in Romania the Commander of the Russian Empire's 12th Army received an order to attack on the Riga front, its objective was to attract the German reserve forces, thus helping their allies to resist on the Verdun battlefield. In mid-December 1916 there was a deep fall in temperature with a heavy frost, making it possible to move through the now frozen bog and gain access to the German fortifications, it was decided to launch an attack at Christmas. The main objective being to the capture of Jelgava; the attack began early in the morning of the 23 December and surprised the Germans, who thought that the Russian troops would be celebrating Christmas. Latvian Riflemen were the advance guard in the attack, their main task being to capture the first German lines and clear the way for the main force following behind them. Wearing white winter camouflage uniforms and using the cover of a heavy snowstorm the Latvians cut passages through the German barbed wire barriers.
After this was done, the main forces of the two Latvian Riflemen brigades advanced through the breached wire using the element of surprise without any artillery support to prevent giving the German garrison forces an advanced warning of the ongoing operation. After crossing the German Wall they captured the first German battle line after a brief skirmish. Many of the soldiers could not make it to the wall and did not have a way to retreat without the Germans spotting them, thus these units chose to die from frostbite over betraying their fellow Latvian brothers; the battle continued over the next two days with varying success, as all the Latvian units became involved in heavy fighting within the breached position and the German defence stiffened as it received reinforcements from Jelgava. In further fighting the German second defensive line at Mangaļi homestead fell to the assaulting forces. At this point the attack was stopped as the Russian Commander-in-Chief had no reinforcements on hand to put into the action apart from 17th Siberian Regiment, which refused to go to battle, this mutiny was supported by several other units from the II and VI Siberian Army Corps, an augury of things to come in the Russian Revolution.
Whilst the mutiny by the Siberian units on the field caused a halt in the Russian battle-plan, the Germans were receiving substantial troop reinforcement from Jelgava, launched a counter-attack upon the Russian and Latvian positions in their breached defences. Fighting in a mid-winter temperature of -35 °C, the Latvian Riflemen units held back the German attacks for 48 hours. On 25 December Russian troops launched an attack on fortified sand dunes on the northern side of Tīreļpurvs. A central part of those fortifications was a fortified hill, named Ložmetējkalns. On Christmas morning the 3rd and 7th the Latvian Rifleman Regiments, together with the 53rd Siberian Regiment, after suffering heavy losses surrounded the German forces; the 2nd Latvian Rifleman Brigade attacked the position from the rear and thus broke the German resistance on Machine-gun Hill. Many German soldiers managed to retreat, around 1000 being taken prisoners, it was the biggest victory by the Russian forces on the Riga Front and the German Army lost one of its strongest fortifications.
Overall, a more than 7 km. wide gap was made in the German lines. However, the Commander of the 12th Russian Army was not in a position to exploit the opportunity and organize a pursuit because he had not anticipated the Latvian Rifle Brigade's victory. After their partial defeat in the Christmas battles, the German 8th Army organized a counterattack to conquer back their lost positions; the Germans received many fresh divisions were stationed in Jelgava. In the early morning of 23 January a massive artillery barrage started, soon followed by an infantry attack along the whole battle line; the main German forces consisted of the 1st. Reserve division and 2nd Infantry Division, they attacked across Tīrelis Swamp against the Russian positions. Latvian riflemen and the Siberians desperate
August von Mackensen
Anton Ludwig Friedrich August von Mackensen, born August Mackensen, was a German field marshal. He commanded with extreme success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire's most prominent and competent military leaders. After the Armistice, Mackensen was interned for a year, he was made a Prussian state councillor in 1933 by Hermann Göring. During the Nazi era, Mackensen remained a committed monarchist and sometimes appeared at official functions in his First World War uniform, he was suspected of disloyalty to the Third Reich. Mackensen was born in Haus Leipnitz, near the village of Dahlenberg in the Prussian Province of Saxony, to Ludwig and Marie Louise Mackensen, his father, an administrator of agricultural enterprises, sent him to a Realgymnasium in Halle in 1865 in the hope that his eldest son would follow him in his profession. Mackensen began his military service in 1869 as a volunteer with the Prussian 2nd Life Hussars Regiment. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 he was promoted to second lieutenant and won the Iron Cross Second Class for leading a charge while on a reconnaissance patrol north of Orleans.
After the war he left the service and studied at Halle University, but returned to the army in 1873 with his old regiment. He married Doris von Horn, the sister of a slain comrade, in 1879, her father Karl von Horn was the influential Oberpräsident of East Prussia. In 1891 Mackensen was appointed to the General Staff in Berlin, bypassing the usual three-year preparation in the War Academy, his chief, Helmuth von Moltke, found him a "lovable character" He was recalled from the regiment to serve as an adjutant to the next chief, Alfred von Schlieffen, whom he regarded as a great instructor on how to lead armies of millions. He impressed Kaiser Wilhelm II, who ordered that Mackensen be given command from 17 June 1893 of the 1st Life Hussars Regiment, to which he became à la suite when he left its command on 27 January 1898, so he wore the distinctive death's head uniform thereafter. Mackensen was surprised by his next posting, as an adjutant to Wilhelm II, because he was the first commoner to hold that position.
For the next three and a half years he shadowed the Kaiser, meeting the high and mighty of Germany, the rest of Europe, the Middle East. His sons shared gymnastics classes with the Kaiser's, he was ennobled on 27 January 1899, becoming August von Mackensen. Next he received the command of the newly created Life Hussar Brigade from 1901 to 1903, from 1903 to 1908 commanded the 36th Division in Danzig, he became a widower in 1905, two years married Leonie von der Osten, 22 years old. When Schlieffen retired in 1906, Mackensen was considered as a possible successor, but the job went to Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. In 1908 Mackensen was given command of the XVII Army Corps, headquartered in Danzig; the Crown Prince was placed under his command, the Kaiser asked Mackensen to keep an eye on the young man and to teach him to ride properly. Age 65 at the outbreak of war in 1914, Mackensen's XVII Army Corps became part of the German Eighth Army in East Prussia, under General Maximilian von Prittwitz and 21 days under General Paul von Hindenburg.
Mackensen had his corps moving out on a twenty-five kilometer march to the Rominte River within fifty minutes of receiving his orders on the afternoon of 19 August 1914 when the Imperial Russian Army invaded East Prussia. He led XVII Corps in the battles of Gumbinnen and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, which drove the invading Russians out from most of East Prussia. On 2 November 1914 Mackensen took over command of the Ninth Army from Hindenburg, who became Supreme Commander East. On 27 November 1914 Mackensen was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military order, for successful battles around Łódź and Warsaw. By April 1915 the Russians had conquered all of western Galicia, the Austro-Hungarian slice of partitioned Poland, were pushing toward Hungary. In response to desperate pleas the German supreme commander Erich von Falkenhayn agreed to an offensive against the Russian flank by an Austro-German Army under a German commander; the reluctant Austro-Hungarian supreme command agreed that the tactful Mackensen was the best choice for commanding the coalition army.
Army Group Mackensen was established containing a new German Eleventh Army under his command, the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army. As chief of staff he was assigned Hans von Seeckt, who described Mackensen as an amiable, "hands-on commander with the instincts of a hunter.” His army group, which had an overwhelming advantage in artillery, smashed through the Russian lines between Gorlice and Tarnow and continued eastward, never giving the Russians time to establish an effective defense, retaking most of eastern Galicia by recapturing Przemyśl and Lemberg. The joint operation was a great victory for the Central Powers. Mackensen was awarded oak leaves to his Pour le Mérite on 3 June 1915 and promoted to field marshal on 22 June, he received the Order of the Black Eagle, Prussia's highest-ranking order of knighthood, as well as numerous honors from other German states and Germany's allies, including the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, the highest military honor of the Kingdom of Bavaria, on 4 June 1915.
In October 1915, a new Army Gr
The German Empire known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918. It was founded in 1871 when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation. On 1 January 1871, the new constitution came into force that changed the name of the federal state and introduced the title of emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern. Berlin remained its capital, Otto von Bismarck remained Chancellor, the head of government; as these events occurred, the Prussian-led North German Confederation and its southern German allies were still engaged in the Franco-Prussian War. The German Empire consisted of 26 states, most of them ruled by royal families, they included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, one imperial territory. Although Prussia was one of several kingdoms in the realm, it contained about two thirds of Germany's population and territory.
Prussian dominance was established constitutionally. After 1850, the states of Germany had become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron and railways. In 1871, Germany had a population of 41 million people. A rural collection of states in 1815, the now united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire was an industrial and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country. By 1900, Germany was the largest economy in Europe, surpassing the United Kingdom, as well as the second-largest in the world, behind only the United States. From 1867 to 1878/9, Otto von Bismarck's tenure as the first and to this day longest reigning Chancellor was marked by relative liberalism, but it became more conservative afterwards. Broad reforms and the Kulturkampf marked his period in the office. Late in Bismarck's chancellorship and in spite of his personal opposition, Germany became involved in colonialism. Claiming much of the leftover territory, yet unclaimed in the Scramble for Africa, it managed to build the third-largest colonial empire after the British and the French ones.
As a colonial state, it sometimes clashed with other European powers the British Empire. Germany became a great power, boasting a developing rail network, the world's strongest army, a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade, its navy became second only to Britain's Royal Navy. After the removal of Otto von Bismarck by Wilhelm II in 1890, the Empire embarked on Weltpolitik – a bellicose new course that contributed to the outbreak of World War I. In addition, Bismarck's successors were incapable of maintaining their predecessor's complex and overlapping alliances which had kept Germany from being diplomatically isolated; this period was marked by various factors influencing the Emperor's decisions, which were perceived as contradictory or unpredictable by the public. In 1879, the German Empire consolidated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, followed by the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882, it retained strong diplomatic ties to the Ottoman Empire. When the great crisis of 1914 arrived, Italy left the alliance and the Ottoman Empire formally allied with Germany.
In the First World War, German plans to capture Paris in the autumn of 1914 failed. The war on the Western Front became a stalemate; the Allied naval blockade caused severe shortages of food. However, Imperial Germany had success on the Eastern Front; the German declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, contributed to bringing the United States into the war. The high command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff controlled the country, but in October after the failed offensive in spring 1918, the German armies were in retreat, allies Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, Bulgaria had surrendered; the Empire collapsed in the November 1918 Revolution with the abdications of its monarchs. This left a postwar federal republic and a devastated and unsatisfied populace, which led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism; the German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris.
German nationalism shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848, called Pan-Germanism, to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck's pragmatic Realpolitik. Bismarck sought to extend Hohenzollern hegemony throughout the German states, he envisioned a Prussian-dominated Germany. Three wars led to military successes and helped to persuade German people to do this: the Second Schleswig War against Denmark in 1864, the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, the Franco-Prussian War against France in 1870–71; the German Confederation ended as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 between the constituent Confederation entities of the Austrian Empire and its allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies on the other. The war resulted in the partial replacement of the Confederation in 1867 by a North German Confederation, comprising the 22 states north of the Main; the patriotic fervour generated by the Franco-Prussian War overwhelmed the remaining opposition to a unified Germany in the four stat
The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase, incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location; the commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Appointed at the last minute in August 1914, he played no part in formulating the military plans in use at the beginning of the war. Nikolai Yanushkevich was his chief of staff. In the summer of 1915 the Tsar himself took personal command, with Mikhail Alekseyev as his chief of staff. In the years 1915–1917 Stavka was based in Mogilev and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief; the Stavka was divided into several departments: Department of General-Quartermaster Department of General on Duty Department of military transportations Naval department Diplomatic chancery The Stavka was first established in Baranovichi.
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Stavka re-located to Mogilev. 19 July 1914 – 18 August 1915: Lieutenant-General Nikolai Yanushkevich 18 September 1915—01.04.1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 November 1916 – 17 February 1917: General of Cavalry Vasily Gurko 11 March 1917—05.04.1917: General of Infantry Vladislav Klembovsky 5 April 1917 – 31 May 1917: Lieutenant-General Anton Denikin 2 June 1917 – 30 August 1917: Lieutenant-General Alexander Lukomsky 30 August 1917 – 9 September 1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 October 1917—03.11.1917: Lieutenant-General Nikolay Dukhonin 3 November 1917—07.11.1917: Major General Mikhail Dieterichs 7 November 1917—02.1918: Major General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich The Stavka of the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II, or the headquarters of the "Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR", was established on 23 June 1941 by a top-secret decree signed by Joseph Stalin in his capacities both as the head of government and as the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to this decree Stavka was composed of the defence minister Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the head of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Marshal Semyon Budyonny and the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov. The same decree organized at Stavka "the institution of permanent counsellors of Stavka": Marshal Kulik, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Kirill Meretskov, head of the Air force Zhigarev, Nikolay Vatutin, head of Air Defence Voronov, Kaganovich, Lavrenty Beria, Zhdanov, Mekhlis. Soon afterwards, the deputy defence minister of the army, was arrested following false charges made by Beria and Merkulov. Meretskov was subsequently released from jail on the same day, at the end of the first week of September 1941, called for by Stalin. Stavka's Main Command was reorganized into the Stavka of the Supreme Command on 10 July 1941; this action occurred after Stalin was named Supreme Commander, replaced Timoshenko as head of Stavka.
On 8 August 1941 it was again reorganized into Stavka of the Supreme Main Command. On the same day Strategic Directions commands were instituted. A 17 February 1945 decree set out the membership of Stavka as Stalin, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Aleksei Antonov, Nikolai Bulganin and Kuznetsov. General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Creation of the Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of USSR
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929)
Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia was a Russian general in World War I. A grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, he was commander in chief of the Russian Imperial Army units on the main front in the first year of the war, was a successful commander-in-chief in the Caucasus region, he was recognized as Tsar, Emperor of Russia in 1922 in areas controlled by the White Armies movement in the Russian Far East. A tall man, named after his paternal grandfather the emperor, was born as the eldest son to Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaevich of Russia and Alexandra Petrovna of Oldenburg on 18 November 1856, his father was the sixth child and third son born to Nicholas I of Russia and his Empress consort Alexandra Fedorovna of Prussia. Alexandra Fedorovna was a daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Nicholas' mother, his father's first cousin's daughter, was a daughter of Duke Konstantin Peter of Oldenburg and Princess Therese of Nassau, his maternal grandfather was a son of Duke George of Oldenburg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, daughter of Paul I of Russia and Maria Fedorovna of Württemberg.
His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau and Princess Luise of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Duke of Nassau was a son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau and Burgravine Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg, his paternal grandparents were Duke Karl Christian of Carolina of Orange-Nassau. Carolina was a daughter of Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange. Anne was the eldest daughter of George II of Great Caroline of Ansbach. Grand Duke Nicholas was the first cousin once removed of Tsar Nicholas II. To distinguish between them the Grand Duke was known within the Imperial family as "Nikolasha". Grand Duke Nicholas was educated at the school of military engineers and received his commission in 1873. During the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78, he was on the staff of his father, commander in chief, he distinguished himself on two occasions in this war. He worked his way up through all the ranks until he was appointed commander of the Guard Hussar Regiment in 1884, he had a reputation as a tough commander, yet one respected by his troops.
His experience was more as a trainer of soldiers than a leader in battle. Nicholas was a religious man, praying in the morning and at night as well as before and after meals, he was happiest in the hunting or caring for his estates. By 1895, he was inspector-general of a post he held for 10 years, his tenure has been judged a success with reforms in training, cavalry schools, cavalry reserves and the remount services. He was not given an active command during the Russo-Japanese War because the Tsar did not wish to hazard the prestige of the Romanovs and because he wanted a loyal general in command at home in case of domestic disturbances. Thus, Nicholas did not have the opportunity to gain experience in battlefield command. Grand Duke Nicholas played a crucial role during the Revolution of 1905. With anarchy spreading and the future of the dynasty at stake, the Tsar had a choice of instituting the reforms suggested by Count Sergei Witte or imposing a military dictatorship; the only man with the prestige to keep the allegiance of the army in such a coup was the Grand Duke.
The Tsar asked him to assume the role of a military dictator. In an emotional scene at the palace, Nicholas refused, drew his pistol and threatened to shoot himself on the spot if the Tsar did not endorse Witte's plan; this act was decisive in forcing Nicholas II to agree to the reforms. From 1905 to the outbreak of World War I, he was commander-in-chief of the St. Petersburg Military District, he had the reputation there of appointing men of humble origins to positions of authority. The lessons of the Russo-Japanese War were drilled into his men. On 29 April 1907, Nicholas married Princess Anastasia of Montenegro, the daughter of King Nicholas I, sister of Princess Milica, who had married Nicholas's brother, Grand Duke Peter, they had no children. She had been married to George Maximilianovich, 6th Duke of Leuchtenberg, by whom she had two children, until their divorce in 1906. Since the Montenegrins were a fiercely Slavic, anti-Turkish people from the Balkans, Anastasia reinforced the Pan-Slavic tendencies of Nicholas.
Nicholas was a hunter. Ownership of borzoi hounds was restricted to members of the highest nobility, Nicholas's packs were well-known; as the Russian dogs perished in the Revolution of 1917–18, the borzoi of today are descended from gifts he made to European friends before World War I. In his lifetime and his dogs caught hundreds of wolves. A pair of borzoi were used, which caught the wolf, one on each side, while Nicholas dismounted and cut the wolf's throat with a knife. Hunting was his major recreation, he traveled in his private train across Russia with his horses and dogs, hunting while on his rounds of inspection; the Grand Duke had no part in the planning and preparations for World War I, that being the responsibility of General Vladimir Sukhomlinov and the general staff. On the eve of the outbreak of World War I, his first cousin once removed, the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, yielded to the entreaties of his ministers and appointed Grand Duke Nicholas to the supreme command, he was 57 years old and had never commanded armies in the field before, although he had
Siege of Przemyśl
The Siege of Przemyśl was the longest siege of the First World War, a crushing defeat for Austria-Hungary against the Russian attackers. Przemyśl was a fortress town on a Galician stronghold; the investment of Przemyśl began on September 16, 1914, was suspended on October 11 due to an Austro-Hungarian offensive. The siege resumed again on November 9 and the Austro-Hungarian garrison surrendered on March 22, 1915, after holding out for a total of 133 days. In August 1914 Russian armies moved against both German East Prussia and Austria-Hungary's largest province of Eastern Galicia, straddling the present-day Poland/Ukraine border, its advance into Germany was soon repulsed but its Galician campaign was more successful. General Nikolai Ivanov overwhelmed the Austro-Hungarian forces under Conrad von Hötzendorf during the Battle of Galicia, the whole Austrian front fell back over 160 kilometres to the Carpathian Mountains; the fortress at Przemyśl was the only Austrian post that held out and by September 28 was behind Russian lines.
The Russians were now in a position to threaten the German industrial region of Silesia, making the defense of Przemyśl of importance to the Germans as well as the Austro-Hungarians. 50 kilometres of new trenches were dug and 1,000 km of barbed wire were used to make seven new lines of defence around the perimeter of the town. Inside the fortress a military garrison of 127,000 as well as 18,000 civilians were surrounded by six Russian divisions. Przemyśl reflected the nature of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - orders of the day had to be issued in fifteen languages. Austrians, Poles and Ukrainians were together in the besieged town, hit with artillery fire, as the toll of dead and sick and wounded rose, starvation threatened, so did mutual distrust and racial tension. On September 24, General Radko Dimitriev, commander of the Russian Third Army began the siege of the fortress. Dimitriev was without sufficient siege artillery when he began the investment and instead of waiting for the Russian high command to send him the artillery pieces, Dimitriev ordered a full-scale assault on the fortress before an Austrian relief force could be sent.
For three days the Russians accomplished nothing at the cost of 40,000 casualties. While this was under way General Paul von Hindenburg launched an offensive against Warsaw in the north. In conjunction with the German attack on Warsaw, General Svetozar Boroevic von Bojna led a relief force towards Przemyśl. On October 11 Dimitriev withdrew across the San River. Conrad von Hötzendorf had hopes that a combined assault from Boroevic's army and the Przemyśl garrison would inflict a severe blow on the Russians. A month and a half on from the time when the Russians encircled the town, German troops helped the Habsburg troops to break the encirclement. Civilians were ordered to leave at once – in part to relieve the severe food shortage. By October 31, Hindenburg had been defeated at the Battle of the Vistula River and withdrew from his assault on Warsaw; this caused Boroevic to pull back from the River San line, abandon von Hötzendorf's proposed offensive against Russia. On November 9 the Russians resumed the siege of Przemyśl.
Radko Dimitriev's force was moved north. The Russian Eleventh Army under General Andrei Nikolaevich Selivanov took up the siege operations. Selivanov did not order any frontal assaults as Dimitriev had, instead settled to starve the garrison into submission. By mid-December 1914 the Russians were pounding the fortress with ceaseless artillery fire seeking to compel the town's surrender. During the winter 1914–1915 the Habsburg armies continued to fight their way to the fortress. Months of fighting resulted in great losses from frostbite and disease, but relieving forces failed to reach the garrison at Przemysl. In February, 1915 Boroevic led another relief effort towards Przemyśl. By the end of February all relief efforts having been defeated von Hötzendorf informed Hermann Kusmanek von Burgneustädten that no further efforts would be made. Selivanov was given sufficient artillery to reduce the fortress; the Russians overran the northern defenses on March 13. An improvised line of defense held up the Russian attacks long enough for Kusmanek to destroy anything left in the city that could be of use to the Russians once captured.
On March 19 Kusmanek ordered an attempt to break out but his sallies were repulsed and he was forced to retreat back into the city. With nothing useful left within the city, Kusmanek had no choice. On March 22 the remaining garrison of 117,000 surrendered to the Russians. Among the captured were nine generals, ninety-three senior staff officers, 2500 other officers. Diaries and notebooks kept by various people in the town have survived; the diary of Josef Tomann, an Austrian recruited into military service as a junior doctor, reveals the results of the activities of garrison officers: "The hospitals have been recruiting teenage girls as nurses. They get free meals, they are, with few exceptions, utterly useless. Their main job is to satisfy the lust of the gentlemen officers and, rather shamefully, of a number of doctors, too New officers are coming in daily with cases of syphilis and soft chancre; the poor girls and women feel so flattered when they get chatted up by one of these pestilent pigs in their spotless uniforms, with their shiny boots and buttons."
Other accounts reveal the pervasive presence of starvation and disease, including cholera, the diary of Helena Jablonska, a middle-aged, quite wealthy Polish woman, reveals class and anti-semitic and racial tensions in the town.
Romania during World War I
The Kingdom of Romania was neutral for the first two years of World War I, entering on the side of the Allied powers from 27 August 1916 until Central Power occupation led to the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, before reentering the war on 10 November 1918. It had the most significant oil fields in Europe, Germany eagerly bought its petroleum, as well as food exports. King Carol favored Germany but after his death in 1914, King Ferdinand and the nation's political elite favored the Entente. For Romania, the highest priority was taking Transylvania from Hungary, with its 3,000,000 Romanians; the Allies wanted Romania to join its side in order to cut the rail communications between Germany and Turkey, to cut off Germany's oil supplies. Britain made loans, France sent a military training mission, Russia promised modern munitions; the Allies promised at least 200,000 soldiers to defend Romania against Bulgaria to the south, help it invade Austria. The Romanian campaign was part of the Balkan theatre of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied with Britain and France against the Central Powers of Germany and Turkey.
Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917 across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time, as well as in southern Dobruja, part of Bulgaria. Despite initial successes, the Romanian forces suffered massive setbacks, by the end of 1916 only Moldavia remained. After several defensive victories in 1917, with Russia's withdrawal from the war following the October Revolution, Romania completely surrounded by the Central Powers, was forced to drop out of the war. On 10 November 1918, just one day before the German armistice and after all the other Central Powers had capitulated, Romania re-entered the war after the successful Allied advances on the Macedonian Front; the Kingdom of Romania was ruled by kings of the House of Hohenzollern from 1866. In 1883, the King of Romania, Carol I of Hohenzollern, signed a secret treaty with the Triple Alliance that stipulated Romania's obligation to go to war only in the event that Austro-Hungarian Empire was attacked.
While Carol wanted to enter World War I as an ally of the Central Powers, the Romanian public and the political parties were in favor of joining the Triple Entente. Romania remained neutral when the war started, arguing that Austria-Hungary itself had started the war and Romania was under no formal obligation to join it. At the same time, Germany started encouraging Austro-Hungary to make territorial concessions to Romania and Italy in order to keep both states neutral. In return for entering the war on Allied side, Romania demanded support for its territorial claims to parts of Hungarian Transylvania, those parts with a Romanian-speaking majority; the Romanians' greatest concerns in negotiations were the avoidance of a conflict that would have to be fought on two fronts and written guarantees of Romanian territorial gains after the war. They demanded an agreement not to make a separate peace with the Central Powers, equal status at the future peace conference, Russian military assistance against Bulgaria, an Allied offensive in the direction of Bulgaria, the regular shipment of Allied war supplies.
The military convention they signed with the Allies stipulated that France and Britain should start an offensive against Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire no than August 1916, that Russia would send troops into Dobruja, that the Romanian army would not be subordinated to Russian command. The Allies were to send 300 tons of provisions on a daily basis. According to the Romanian account, most of these clauses, with the exception of those imposed on Romania, failed to be respected; the Allies accepted the terms late in the summer of 1916. According to some American military historians, Russia delayed approval of Romanian demands out of worries about Romanian territorial designs on Bessarabia, claimed by nationalist circles as a Romanian land. According to British military historian John Keegan, before Romania entered the war, the Allies had secretly agreed not to honour the territorial expansion of Romania when the war ended. In 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Thomson, a fluent speaker of French, was sent to Bucharest as British military attaché on the initiative of Lord Kitchener to bring Romania into the war.
Once there, he formed the view that an unprepared and ill-armed Romania facing a war on two fronts would be a liability, not an asset, to the Allies. This view was brushed aside by Whitehall, Thomson signed a Military Convention with Romania on 13 August 1916. Within a few months, he had to alleviate the consequences of Romania’s setbacks and supervise the destruction of the Romanian oil wells to deny them to Germany; the Romanian government signed a treaty with the Allies on 17 August 1916 that pledged to declare war on Austria-Hungary by 28 August. The Romanian ambassador in Vienna transmitted the declaration of war on 27 August. Germany, caught by surprise, responded with a declaration of war on Romania the next day; the dates of the Bulgarian and Ottoman declarations of war are disputed. Ian Beckett says. Other sources place the declaration on 30 August or 1 September