This Day In History: Hindenburg Announces That The Warsaw Campain Was A Success (1914)

Scherl: Hindenburgs 70.Geburtstag. Hindenburg und Ludendorff b.[ei] d.[er] Feier im Großen Hauptquartier in Bad Kreuznach

On this date, in 1914, General Paul Hindenburg issues a proclamation congratulating his men on their successful Warsaw campaign. The campaign had not managed to secure the main objective which was Warsaw, the capital of the old Kingdom of Poland, but nevertheless, the campaign had delivered real successes for the German army. On November, the first, Hindenburg was appointed the commander of the German army on the Eastern Front. The new command had two goals one was to launch a massive counterattack in Poland and the second was to relieve the pressure on the German army on the western front. Hindenburg and his Chief of Staff Hindenburg had achieved a series of remarkable victories earlier in the Summer and Autumns. They had shattered two Russian armies that had invaded Eastern Prussia and had looked at one stage to be invincible. Later the Kaiser ordered Hindenburg to help the beleaguered Austro-Hungarian army on the Easter Front. An Austrian attack on Russian in modern Ukraine was repulsed. Some in Vienna had audaciously blamed the Germans for  a lack of support during their offensive for their defeat.

Hindenburg on the Eastern Front (1914)

In order to draw some Russian forces away from Austria-Hungary and to ensure that they did not launch a counter-attack on that Empire, the Germans decided to go on the offensive.  This was to prove successful. The German army inflicted several defeats on the Russian army that was still trying to recover from their defeats in the previous months. The Germans were able to secure many of their objectives without any reinforcements from the Western Front. The Germans achieved a notable success when they captured Lodz, one of the most important cities in Poland. The ultimate aim of the German attacks was the capture of Warsaw but the Russians were able to throw Hindenburg’s divisions back.  Warsaw remained in Russian hands, much to their relief.  If Warsaw had fallen, it seems likely that the rest of Poland would have been lost to the Germans and they would only have been less than two hundred miles for the Imperial capital of St Petersburg. The Germans, Warsaw campaign had killed or wounded several thousand Russian troops and managed to take almost 70,000 of them prisoner.  The Germans also managed to capture many artillery pieces and machine guns.

1935 Feier im Tannenberg Denkmal während der Rede des Führers
The opening of a monument to Hindenburg’s victory at Tannenberg (1914)

The Kaiser was pleased with the offensive and he promoted Hindenburg to the rank of Field Marshal.  Hindenburg along with his colleague Ludendorff proved to be very effective commanders on the Eastern Front and they were able to push back the much larger Russian army. They eventually did manage to capture Warsaw and later Riga. Their achievements were remarkable given the fact that the majority of the German army was stationed on the Western Front.