The Eastern Front in wwi 17. 08. 1914-03. 03. 1918

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The Eastern Front in WWI

  • 17.08.1914-03.03.1918


    • The Russian Empire (later the Russian Republic, Russian SFSR) and Romania (1916)

  • versus 


    • The German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.


    • Eastern Front around 1600km long, stretching from Saint Petersburg and the Baltic in the North to the Black Sea in the south.
    • Different warfare compared to the Western Front.
    • Opening battle the Battle of Stallupönen.
    • 1914-1918


  • There were numerous battles going on on the Eastern Front from 1914-1916. These include:

    • Battle of Stallupönen (first battle)
    • Battle of Tannenberg (significant)
    • Battle of Galicia 

Battle of Stallupönen (Present day Nesterov)

    • This is a significant battle because this was the first military action that was seen on the Eastern Front.
    • The battle was between Paul von Rennenkampf's men (Russia - 200,000 troops) and Hermann von Francais' men (Germany - 40,000 troops).
    • This battle ended in a minor victory for Germany and did not affect Russia as a strength significantly (yet).

The Battle of Tannenberg 1914

    • 23-30.08.1914
    • Complete defeat and demoralization of the Russians(~78,000 killed or wounded, whereas only 5,000 Germans killed).   
    • Early phases 23-26.08.
    • Main battle 26-30.08.
    • Demoralised the  Russian armies completely.

The Battle of Galicia (1914)

    • Russia invaded the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia.
    • They won, and ruled Galicia for almost a year.
    •  Contributed to the decision made by the Central Powers to concentrate on the Eastern Front starting in 1915.

1915: The Central Powers Attack

    • The Central Powers launched a major offensive in 1915 against the Russians. 
    • Russians retreated, more due to lack of sufficient weapons than lack of knowledge or numbers. 
    •  Russians pushed back hundreds of kilometers from Ger/Aus-Hun borders, advance was stopped as the threat from Russia was gone.
    • Front stayed more or less the same until 1917.

1916: Limited Russian Success

    • The Russians, having received more and newer weaponry, attacked.
    • Larger military concentration/population than Germany
    • June 1916: General Brusilov started an offensive that went 50-70km into Austria-Hungary, capturing hundreds of thousands of prisoners, and weaponry.
    • Ended in September due to reinforcements coming in from the west. 
    • Romanians successful at first, but then overthrown by superior weaponry and lack of support from Russians. 

The Eastern Front (Provisional Govt)

    • Following the February Revolution, the government of Alexander Kerensky needed a victory to raise support for the war.
    • The Kerensky offensive in July 1917.
    • Early successes, complete failure later due to lack of discipline and morale.
    • Complete halt by July 16th, followed by retreat.

The Eastern Front (Communist)

    • Despite wanting to end the war, Lenin did not want to accept the harsh German peace terms.
    • The Germans started marching across Ukraine more or less with impunity.
    • Lenin was in essence forced to agree to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
    • The war on the Eastern Front was over (3 March 1918 - signing of Brest-Litovsk).

Main Sources

  • BBC - History: World War One

  • First World - The Eastern Front   The War Times Journal - The Eastern Front 1914-1917  

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