Battle of Tannenberg
The Battle of Tannenberg was fought between Russia and Germany between the 26th and 30th of August 1914, the first month of World War I. The battle resulted in the complete destruction of the Russian Second Army and the suicide of its commanding general, Alexander Samsonov. A series of follow-up battles destroyed most of the First Army as well and kept the Russians off balance until the spring of 1915; the battle is notable for fast rail movements by the Germans, enabling them to concentrate against each of the two Russian armies in turn, for the failure of the Russians to encode their radio messages. It brought considerable prestige to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his rising staff-officer Erich Ludendorff. Although the battle took place near Allenstein, Hindenburg named it after Tannenberg, 30 km to the west, in order to avenge the defeat of the Teutonic Knights 500 years earlier at the Battle of Grunwald by Poland-Lithuania. Germany entered World War I following the Schlieffen Plan.
Devised a decade earlier in response to concerns about fighting a two-front war with Russia and France, the Plan depended on differences in the speed with which the different nations could mobilize their armies for war. The basic idea was for Germany to use its speed advantage to mobilize before the French could and defeat France before it mobilized, turn the German army around, send it east, defeat Russia, seen as being slower to mobilize than France. In short, Germany could deliver a devastating one-two punch before either of its adversaries was ready. Put another way, the Plan depended on Russia's slow entry into the war; the French army's Plan XVII at the outbreak of the war involved swift mobilization followed by an immediate attack to drive the Germans from Alsace and Lorraine. If the British Expeditionary Force joined in accordance with their Allied treaty, they would fill the left flank, their Russian allies in the East would have a massive army, more than 95 divisions, but their mobilization would be slower.
Getting their men to the front would itself take time because of their sparse and unreliable railway network (for example, three-quarters of the Russian railways were still single-tracked. Russia intended to have 27 divisions at the front by day 15 and 52 by day 23, but it would take 60 days before 90 divisions were in action. Despite their difficulties, the Russians promised the French that they would promptly engage the armies of Austria-Hungary in the south and on day 15 would invade German East Prussia. East Prussia was a vulnerable salient thrust into Russian territory, extending from the Vistula River in the west to the border with Lithuania in the east, a distance of 190 km. On the north on the south was the border with Poland. Somewhat east of the center of the province was the fortified peninsula on which its capital Königsberg was located; the Russians would rely on two of their three railways. The railways ended at the border, as Russian trains operated on a different rail gauge than Western Europe.
Its armies could be transported by rail only as far as the German border and could use Prussian railways only with captured locomotives and rolling stock. The First Army would use the line that ran from Vilnius, Lithuania, to the border 136 km southeast of Königsberg; the Second Army railway ran from Poland, to the border 165 km southwest of Königsberg. The two armies would take the Germans in a pincers; the Russian supply chains would be ungainly because—for defense—on their side of the border there were only a few sandy tracks rather than proper macadamized roads. Adding to their supply problems, the Russians deployed large numbers of cavalry and Cossacks; the First Army commander was Gen. Paul von Rennenkampf, who in the Russo-Japanese War had earned a reputation for "exceptional energy, determination and military capability." The Second Army, coming north from Warsaw, was under Gen. Alexander Samsonov, “… possessed of a brilliant mind, reinforced by an excellent military education”. Since commanding a division in the war with Japan he had been governor of Turkestan.
The two armies were directed by the military governor of Warsaw, who in wartime commanded the Northwest Military District, Gen. Yakov Zhilinsky, his duties in Manchuria had been more diplomatic than military. Before moving to Warsaw he had been Chief of the Russian General Staff for two years, he set up his headquarters in Volkovysk. About 410 km from Königsberg. Communications would be a daunting challenge; the Russian supply of cable was insufficient to run telephone or telegraph connections from the rear. Therefore, they relied on mobile wireless stations, which would link Zhilinskiy to his two army commanders and with all corps commanders; the Russians were aware that the Germans had broken their ciphers, but they continued to use them until war broke out. A new code was ready but they were still short of the code books. Zhilinskiy and Rennenkampf each had one. Hence, many messages were sent in the clear; the German Schlieffen Plan proposed to defeat France swiftly. Germany's armies would shift by train to the Eastern Front.
Therefore, East Prussia was garrisoned by a single army, the Eighth, c
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was united with the new Wehrmacht. At the end of World War I, the forces of the German Empire were disbanded, the men returning home individually or in small groups. Many of them joined the Freikorps, a collection of volunteer paramilitary units that were involved in suppressing the German Revolution and border clashes between 1918 and 1923; the Reichswehr was limited to a standing army of 100,000 men, a navy of 15,000. The establishment of a general staff was prohibited. Heavy weapons such as artillery above the calibre of 105 mm, armoured vehicles and capital ships were forbidden, as were aircraft of any kind. Compliance with these restrictions was monitored until 1927 by the Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control, it was conceded that the newly formed Weimar Republic did need a military, so on 6 March 1919 a decree established the Vorläufige Reichswehr, consisting of the Vorläufiges Reichsheer and Vorläufige Reichsmarine.
The Vorläufige Reichswehr was made up of 43 brigades. On 30 September 1919, the army was reorganised as the Übergangsheer, the force size was reduced to 20 brigades. About 400,000 men were left in the armed forces, in May 1920 it further was downsized to 200,000 men and restructured again, forming three cavalry divisions and seven infantry divisions. On 1 October 1920 the brigades were replaced by regiments and the manpower was now only 100,000 men as stipulated by the Treaty of Versailles; this lasted until 1 January 1921, when the Reichswehr was established according to the limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. The Reichswehr was a unified organisation composed of the following: The Reichsheer, an army consisted of: seven infantry divisions, three cavalry divisions. General Command 1 at Berlin supervised 1st Division, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, 4th Division as well as 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions. General Command 2 at Kassel supervised 5, 6, 7 and 3rd Cavalry divisions; the Reichsmarine, a navy with a limited number of certain types of ships and boats.
No submarines were allowed. Despite the limitations on its size, their analysis of the loss of World War I, research and development, secret testing abroad and planning for better times went on. In addition, although forbidden to have a General Staff, the army continued to conduct the typical functions of a general staff under the disguised name of Truppenamt. During this time, many of the future leaders of the Wehrmacht – such as Heinz Guderian – first formulated the ideas that they were to use so a few years later. In 1918, Wilhelm Groener, Quartermaster General of the German Army, had assured the government of the military's loyalty, but most military leaders refused to accept the democratic Weimar Republic as legitimate and instead the Reichswehr under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt became a state within the state that operated outside of the control of the politicians. Reflecting this position as a “state within the state”, the Reichswehr created the Ministeramt or Office of the Ministerial Affairs in 1928 under Kurt von Schleicher to lobby the politicians.
The German historian Eberhard Kolb wrote that …from the mid-1920s onwards the Army leaders had developed and propagated new social conceptions of a militarist kind, tending towards a fusion of the military and civilian sectors and a totalitarian military state. The biggest influence on the development of the Reichswehr was Hans von Seeckt, who served from 1920 to 1926 as Chef der Heeresleitung – succeeding Walther Reinhardt. After the Kapp Putsch, Hans von Seeckt took over this post. After Seeckt was forced to resign in 1926, Wilhelm Heye took the post. Heye was in 1930 succeeded by Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, who submitted his resignation on 27 December 1933; the forced reduction of strength of the German army from 4,500,000 in 1918 to 100,000 after Treaty of Versailles, enhanced the quality of the Reichsheer because only the best were permitted to join the army. However the changing face of warfare meant that the smaller army was impotent without mechanization and air support, no matter how much effort was put into modernising infantry tactics.
During 1933 and 1934, after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, the Reichswehr began a secret program of expansion. In December 1933, the army staff decided to increase the active strength to 300,000 men in 21 divisions. On 1 April 1934, between 50,000 and 60,000 new recruits entered and were assigned to special training battalions; the original seven infantry divisions of the Reichswehr were expanded to 21 infantry divisions, with Wehrkreis headquarters increased to the size of a corps HQ on 1 October 1934. These divisions used cover names to hide their divisional size, during October 1935, these were dropped. During October 1934, the officers, forced to retire in 1919 were recalled; the Nazi Party came to power in Germany in 1933. The Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party militia, played a prominent part in this change. Ernst Röhm and his SA colleagues thought of their force – at that time over three million strong – as the future army of Germany, replacing the smaller Reichswehr and
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of twenty Lutheran and United Protestant regional churches and denominations in Germany, which collectively encompasses the vast majority of Protestants in that country. In 2017, the EKD had 26.1 % of the German population. It constitutes one of the largest national Protestant bodies in the world. Church offices managing the federation are located in Lower Saxony. Many of its members consider; the first formal attempt to unify German Protestantism occurred during the Weimar Republic era in the form of the German Evangelical Church Confederation, which existed from 1922 until 1933. Earlier, there had been successful royal efforts at unity in various German states, beginning with Prussia and several minor German states in 1817; these unions resulted in the first united and uniting churches, a new development within Protestantism which spread to other parts of the world. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, his administration tried to reorganize the old confederation into a unified German Evangelical Church as Hitler wanted to use a single Protestant church to further his own ambitions.
This utterly failed, with the Confessing Church and the German Christians-led Reichskirche opposing each other. Other Protestant churches aligned themselves with one of these groups, or stayed neutral in this church strife; the postwar church council issued the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt on October 19, 1945, confessing guilt and declaring remorse for indifference and inaction of German Protestants in the face of atrocities committed by Hitler's regime as means to address the German collective guilt. In 1948, the Evangelical Church in Germany was organized in the aftermath of World War II to function as a new umbrella organization for German Protestant churches; as a result of tensions between West and East Germany, the regional churches in East Germany broke away from the EKD in 1969. In 1991, following German reunification, the East German churches rejoined the EKD; the member churches, while being independent and having their own theological and formal organisation, share full pulpit and altar fellowship, are united in the EKD synod, are individual members of the World Council of Churches and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.
Boundaries of EKD churches within Germany resemble those of the states of the Holy Roman Empire and successor forms of German statehood, due to the close relationship between individual German states and churches. As for church governance, the Lutheran churches practise an episcopal polity, while the Reformed and the United ones a mixture of presbyterian and congregationalist polities. Most member churches are led by a bishop. Only one member church, the Evangelical Reformed Church, is not restricted to a certain territory. In some ways, the other member churches resemble dioceses of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, from an organisational point of view; the German term evangelisch here more corresponds to the broad English term Protestant rather than to the narrower evangelical, although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England use the term in the same way as the German church. Evangelisch means "of the Gospel", denoting a Protestant Reformation emphasis on sola scriptura, "by scripture alone".
Dr. Martin Luther encouraged this term alongside Christian. From the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 to the end of the First World War and the collapse of the German Empire, some Protestant churches were state churches; each Landeskirche was the official church of one of the states of Germany, while the respective ruler was the church's formal head, similar to the British monarch's role as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This changed somewhat with growing religious freedom in the 19th century in the republican states of Bremen, Frankfurt, Lübeck, Hamburg; the greatest change came after the German Revolution, with the formation of the Weimar Republic and the abdication of the princes of the German states. The system of state churches disappeared with the Weimar Constitution, which brought about disestablishment by the separation of church and state, there was a desire for the Protestant churches to merge. In fact, a merger was permanently under discussion but never materialised due to strong regional self-confidence and traditions as well as the denominational fragmentation into Lutheran and United and uniting churches.
During the Revolution, when the old church governments lost power, the People's Church Union was formed and advocated unification without respect to theological tradition and increasing input from laymen. However, the People's Church Union split along territorial lines after the churches' relationship with the new governments improved, it was realised that one mainstream Protestant church for all of Germany was impossible and that any union would need a federal model. The churches met in Dresden in 1919 and created a plan for federation, this plan was adopted in 1921 at Stuttgart. In 1922 the 28 territorially defined Protestant churches founded the German Evangelical Church Confederation. At the time, the federation was the largest Protestant church feder
The Oberste Heeresleitung was the highest echelon of command of the army of the German Empire. In the latter part of World War I, the Third OHL assumed dictatorial powers and became the de facto political authority in the empire. After the formation of the German Empire in 1871, the Prussian Army, Royal Saxon Army, Army of Württemberg and the Bavarian Army were autonomous in peacetime, each kingdom maintaining a separate war ministry and general staff to administer their forces. On the outbreak of war, the Constitution of the German Empire made the Emperor Commander-in-Chief of the combined armies; the Emperor's role as Commander-in-Chief was ceremonial and authority lay with the Chief of the General Staff, who issued orders in the Emperor's name. The pre-war Chief of the General Staff was Colonel General Helmuth von Moltke and the Oberste Heeresleitung was the command staff led by Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the Army; the General Staff was formed into five divisions and two more were created during the war: Central Division - Administered the General Staff's internal affairs.
Operations Division - The heart of the General Staff, responsible for planning and orders Operations Division B - Oversaw the Macedonia and Turkish fronts. Split from the Operations Division on 15 August 1916. Operations Division II - Previously the heavy artillery section of the Operations Division, merged with the Field Munitions Service on 23 September 1916. Responsible for the war economy. Information Division - Responsible for the analysis of military intelligence. Renamed the Foreign Armies Division on 20 May 1917. Section IIIb - Responsible for espionage and counter espionage. Political Division - responsible for legal questions and liaison with the political authorities. In addition to the General Staff of the Field Army, the Supreme Army Command consisted of the Emperor's Military Cabinet, the Intendant General, senior advisers in various specialist fields and representatives from the four German War Ministries and representatives of the other Central Powers; the Emperor was Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial German Navy, led by the German Imperial Admiralty Staff and from August 1918 by the Seekriegsleitung.
Co-ordination was poor at the beginning of the war between OHL and SKL, the navy did not know about the Schlieffen Plan, an initial attack on France through Belgium. Upon mobilizing in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, the Großer Generalstab formed the core of the Supreme Army Command, becoming the General Staff of the Field Army. Colonel General Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the General Staff since 1906, continued in office, as did most of the Division heads; as a result of these longstanding working relationships, Moltke delegated substantial authority to his subordinates to the chiefs of the Operations Division, Colonel Gerhard Tappen, the Information Division, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hentsch. These officers were dispatched to subordinate headquarters to investigate and make decision on behalf of OHL. Although the German armies were victorious in the Battle of the Frontiers their advance was brought to a halt at First Battle of the Marne. Communications between OHL and the front line broke down and Hentsch was dispatched by Moltke to the Headquarters of the First and Second Armies to assess the situation.
After discovering the Armies were separated from each other by a gap of twenty-five miles and in danger of being encircled, Hentsch ordered a retreat to the Aisne. On hearing the news from the front, Moltke suffered a nervous breakdown on 9 September. Moltke was replaced by the Prussian Minister of War, Lieutenant General Erich von Falkenhayn, first informally in September and officially on 25 October 1914. Although Tappen was retained as head of the Operations Division, Falkenhayn brought in two of his own associates, Generals Adolf Wild von Hohenborn and Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven, into the OHL. Hohenborn served as Generalquartiermeister until January 1915 when he succeeded Falkenhayn as Prussian Minister of War. Freytag-Loringhoven replaced Hohenborn as Generalquartiermeister. Unlike his predecessor, Falkenhayn centralised decision making in his own hands and explained himself to his subordinates. After taking command Falkenhayn became engaged in the Race to the Sea as the German and Franco-British armies attempted to outflank each other to the north.
The campaign culminated at Ypres where both combatants launched major offensives that failed to achieve a breakthrough. Two strategic issues dominated the remainder Falkenhayn's tenure as Chief of the General Staff. First was the priority accorded to the western fronts. Victories at the Battle of Tannenberg and First Battle of the Masurian Lakes had made Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg a popular hero and contrasted starkly with the stalemate in the west. Hindenburg and his supporters sought to shift Germany's main effort to the eastern front in hopes of knocking Russia out of the war. Falkenhayn resisted this, believing that France and Great Britain were the true opponents and that a decisive victory against the Russians was impossible; the second concern was the Battle of the centrepeice of Falkenhayn's western strategy. Writing after the war, Falkenhayn stated that his intention was to draw the French
Western Front (World War I)
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium gaining military control of important industrial regions in France; the tide of the advance was turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918. Between 1915 and 1917 there were several offensives along this front; the attacks employed massive artillery massed infantry advances. Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made. Among the most costly of these offensives were the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, with a combined 700,000 casualties, the Battle of the Somme in 1916, with more than a million casualties, the Battle of Passchendaele, in 1917, with 487,000 casualties.
To break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides tried new military technology, including poison gas and tanks. The adoption of better tactics and the cumulative weakening of the armies in the west led to the return of mobility in 1918; the German Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war of the Central Powers against Russia and Romania on the Eastern Front. Using short, intense "hurricane" bombardments and infiltration tactics, the German armies moved nearly 100 kilometres to the west, the deepest advance by either side since 1914, but the result was indecisive; the inexorable advance of the Allied armies during the second half of 1918 caused a sudden collapse of the German armies and persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable. The German government surrendered in the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the terms of peace were settled by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. At the outbreak of the First World War, the German Army, with seven field armies in the west and one in the east, executed a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, moving through neutral Belgium to attack France, turning southwards to encircle the French Army and trap it on the German border.
The Western Front was the place where the most powerful military forces in Europe, the German and French armies and where the war was decided. Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain under the Treaty of London, 1839. Armies under German generals Alexander von Kluck and Karl von Bülow attacked Belgium on 4 August 1914. Luxembourg had been occupied without opposition on 2 August; the first battle in Belgium was the Siege of Liège. Liège was well surprised the German Army under Bülow with its level of resistance. German heavy artillery was able to demolish the main forts within a few days. Following the fall of Liège, most of the Belgian field army retreated to Antwerp, leaving the garrison of Namur isolated, with the Belgian capital, falling to the Germans on 20 August. Although the German army bypassed Antwerp, it remained a threat to their flank. Another siege followed at Namur; the French deployed five armies on the frontier. The French Plan XVII was intended to bring about the capture of Alsace-Lorraine.
On 7 August, the VII Corps attacked Alsace to capture Colmar. The main offensive was launched on 14 August with the First and Second Armies attacking toward Sarrebourg-Morhange in Lorraine. In keeping with the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans withdrew while inflicting severe losses upon the French; the French Third and Fourth Armies advanced toward the Saar River and attempted to capture Saarburg, attacking Briey and Neufchateau but were repulsed. The French VII Corps captured Mulhouse after a brief engagement on 7 August but German reserve forces engaged them in the Battle of Mulhouse and forced a French retreat; the German Army swept through Belgium, razing villages. The application of "collective responsibility" against a civilian population further galvanised the allies. Newspapers condemned the German invasion, violence against civilians and destruction of property, which became known as the "Rape of Belgium". After marching through Belgium and the Ardennes, the Germans advanced into northern France in late August, where they met the French Army, under Joseph Joffre, the divisions of the British Expeditionary Force under Field Marshal Sir John French.
A series of engagements known as the Battle of the Frontiers ensued, which included the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons. In the former battle the French Fifth Army was destroyed by the German 2nd and 3rd Armies and the latter delayed the German advance by a day. A general Allied retreat followed, resulting in more clashes at the Battle of Le Cateau, the Siege of Maubeuge and the Battle of St. Quentin; the German Army came within 70 km of Paris but at the First Battle of the Marne and British troops were able to force a German retreat by exploiting a gap which appeared between the 1st and 2nd Armies, ending the German advance into France. The German Army retreated north of the Aisne River and dug in there, establishing the beginnings of a static western front, to last for the next three years. Following this German retirement, the opposing forces made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres, known as the Race for the S
Austria the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2, a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion, it is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north and Slovakia to the east and Italy to the south, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is mountainous, lying within the Alps; the majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, Slovene. Austria played a central role in European History from the late 18th to the early 20th century, it emerged as a margraviate around 976 and developed into a duchy and archduchy. In the 16th century, Austria started serving as the heart of the Habsburg Monarchy and the junior branch of the House of Habsburg – one of the most influential royal houses in history.
As archduchy, it was a major component and administrative centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Following the Holy Roman Empire's dissolution, Austria founded its own empire in the 19th century, which became a great power and the leading force of the German Confederation. Subsequent to the Austro-Prussian War and the establishment of a union with Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was created. Austria was involved in both world wars. Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy with a President as head of state and a Chancellor as head of government. Major urban areas of Austria include Graz, Linz and Innsbruck. Austria is ranked as one of the richest countries in the world by per capita GDP terms; the country has developed a high standard of living and in 2018 was ranked 20th in the world for its Human Development Index. The republic declared its perpetual neutrality in foreign political affairs in 1955. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and joined the European Union in 1995.
It is a founding member of the OECD and Interpol. Austria signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, adopted the euro currency in 1999; the German name for Austria, Österreich, derives from the Old High German Ostarrîchi, which meant "eastern realm" and which first appeared in the "Ostarrîchi document" of 996. This word is a translation of Medieval Latin Marchia orientalis into a local dialect. Another theory says that this name comes from the local name of the mountain whose original Slovenian name is "Ostravica" - because it is steep on both sides. Austria was a prefecture of Bavaria created in 976; the word "Austria" was first recorded in the 12th century. At the time, the Danube basin of Austria was the easternmost extent of Bavaria; the Central European land, now Austria was settled in pre-Roman times by various Celtic tribes. The Celtic kingdom of Noricum was claimed by the Roman Empire and made a province. Present-day Petronell-Carnuntum in eastern Austria was an important army camp turned capital city in what became known as the Upper Pannonia province.
Carnuntum was home for 50,000 people for nearly 400 years. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was invaded by Bavarians and Avars. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, conquered the area in AD 788, encouraged colonization, introduced Christianity; as part of Eastern Francia, the core areas that now encompass Austria were bequeathed to the house of Babenberg. The area was known as the marchia Orientalis and was given to Leopold of Babenberg in 976; the first record showing the name Austria is from 996, where it is written as Ostarrîchi, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March. In 1156, the Privilegium Minus elevated Austria to the status of a duchy. In 1192, the Babenbergs acquired the Duchy of Styria. With the death of Frederick II in 1246, the line of the Babenbergs was extinguished; as a result, Ottokar II of Bohemia assumed control of the duchies of Austria and Carinthia. His reign came to an end with his defeat at Dürnkrut at the hands of Rudolph I of Germany in 1278. Thereafter, until World War I, Austria's history was that of its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Habsburgs began to accumulate other provinces in the vicinity of the Duchy of Austria. In 1438, Duke Albert V of Austria was chosen as the successor to his father-in-law, Emperor Sigismund. Although Albert himself only reigned for a year, henceforth every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg, with only one exception; the Habsburgs began to accumulate territory far from the hereditary lands. In 1477, Archduke Maximilian, only son of Emperor Frederick III, married the heiress Maria of Burgundy, thus acquiring most of the Netherlands for the family. In 1496, his son Philip the Fair married Joanna the Mad, the heiress of Castile and Aragon, thus acquiring Spain and its Italian and New World appendages for the Habsburgs. In 1526, following the Battle of Mohács, Bohemia and the part of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans came under Austrian rule. Ottoman expansion into Hungary led to frequent conflicts between the two empires evident in the Long War of 1593 to 1606.
The Turks made incursions into Styria nearly 20 times, of which some are c
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave labour force for the Axis war effort, to murder the rest, to acquire the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories. In the two years leading up to the invasion and the Soviet Union signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes; the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940, which Adolf Hitler authorized on 18 December 1940. Over the course of the operation, about three million personnel of the Axis powers – the largest invasion force in the history of warfare – invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer front. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht deployed some 600,000 motor vehicles, between 600,000 and 700,000 horses for non-combat operations.
The offensive marked an escalation of World War II, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition. Operationally, German forces achieved major victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union and inflicted, as well as sustained, heavy casualties. Despite these Axis successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow at the end of 1941, the subsequent Soviet winter counteroffensive pushed German troops back; the Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced the Germans into a war of attrition that they were unprepared for. The Wehrmacht never again mounted a simultaneous offensive along the entire Eastern front; the failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue in 1942 and Operation Citadel in 1943 – all of which failed. The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history.
The Eastern Front became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, highest World War II casualties, all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Red Army troops, who were denied the protection guaranteed by the Hague Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Convention. A majority of Red Army POWs never returned alive; the Nazis deliberately starved to death, or otherwise killed, 3.3 million prisoners of war, as well as a huge number of civilians. Einsatzgruppen death-squads and gassing operations murdered over a million Soviet Jews as part of the Holocaust; as early as 1925, Adolf Hitler vaguely declared in his political manifesto and autobiography Mein Kampf that he would invade the Soviet Union, asserting that the German people needed to secure Lebensraum to ensure the survival of Germany for generations to come. On 10 February 1939, Hitler told his army commanders that the next war would be "purely a war of Weltanschauungen... a people's war, a racial war".
On 23 November, once World War II had started, Hitler declared that "racial war has broken out and this war shall determine who shall govern Europe, with it, the world". The racial policy of Nazi Germany portrayed the Soviet Union as populated by non-Aryan Untermenschen, ruled by Jewish Bolshevik conspirators. Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Germany's destiny was to "turn to the East" as it did "six hundred years ago". Accordingly, it was stated Nazi policy to kill, deport, or enslave the majority of Russian and other Slavic populations and repopulate the land with Germanic peoples, under the Generalplan Ost; the Germans' belief in their ethnic superiority is evident in official German records and discernible in pseudoscientific articles in German periodicals at the time, which covered topics such as "how to deal with alien populations". While older histories tended to emphasize the notion of a "Clean Wehrmacht", the historian Jürgen Förster notes that "In fact, the military commanders were caught up in the ideological character of the conflict, involved in its implementation as willing participants."
Before and during the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops were indoctrinated with anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semitic, anti-Slavic ideology via movies, lectures and leaflets. Likening the Soviets to the forces of Genghis Khan, Hitler told Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the "Mongolian race" threatened Europe. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood", the "Red beast". Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans and the Jewish and Slavic Untermenschen. An'order from the Führer' stated that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute all Soviet functionaries who were "less valuable Asiatics and Jews". Six months into the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered in excess of 500,000 Soviet Jews, a figure greater than the number of Red Army soldiers killed in combat during that same time frame.
German army command