Good morning, we will continue with World War I and World War II documentaries with a look back to World War I and the logistical nightmares faced by both sides of the war. At the start of World War I, there were no trenches. The fronts were interdependent. The Germans moved men fast over railroads. So the allies had to attack all sides to split German resources.
Logistics was the challenge. There were large distances to cover. There were mountains to cross. Communications were a challenge as well. On August 17, 1914, the Russian Army invaded Germany. This would be a mobile war. Scouts went on head to get the lay of the territory. The German Army fell back one hundred miles. Two German generals were placed in charge of each of the fronts and these two generals would become more powerful than the Kaiser.
The stakes were high for Germany because they were fighting to defend their native soil. Troops were brought from the western front to the eastern front by train. It would have been a baptism of fire for the soldiers who came from the Western front. The German Army stopped the Russians in their tracks and the generals were seen as the heroes of the nations. This raised the spirits of the German people.
In the meantime, Austria-Hungary was fighting for survival. The Russians had invaded and threatened the heart of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary would suffer defeat at this culturally important site. Many people were taken prisoners of war and were paraded in Moscow. The Germans decided to launch a major offensive against the Russians to push them back. Austrian-Hungarian soldiers were happy about the new German soldiers.
The Russians were surprised and they eventually retreated. The Russian army fled from the advance and scorched the earth behind them. The Russians blamed the Jews for the war losses. Despite their service to Russia, the Jews were still blamed for the Russian losses. Once the war was over, the Russians planned to send them to Siberia. Thousands were uprooted from their homes during the war. The Jews looked to the Germans for better treatment and German officers promised them liberation from the Russians.
The Germans continued to press on into the Russian empire. Poland and Lithuania were liberated. Germany repaired railways for Poland. However, the people saw these railroads as a way for Germany to collect war booty. The German army cataloged the people in conquered land and started disinfecting programs.
While the larger nations fought, the smaller nations watched like vultures circling their prey. Each of these small nations had scores to settle and land they wanted back. They wanted their piece of the pie at the end of the war. Which side would they join? Who would pay them what they wanted? The price of any alliance would be high. Italy declared neutrality at the start of the war. In 1914, Italy decided to act for its good and would join the side of the highest bidder. The price the Allies offered: was huge land swaths back out of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. They would have the harshest border to fight. The Austrians had the advantage on the high ground, so would the Italians claw their way up the mountain? Tune into this episode to find out!
This episode was a fascinating look at the start of the fighting. It was interesting to see that World War I did not start in trenches and that there was movement on the fronts. Another interesting tidbit was the fact that Italy was neutral and only joined up with the promise of returned lands. This would be on an episode I would consider for a classroom but if not then you can show clips because each of the chapters was divided.
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