On today in 1914, the Russian 1st and 2nd Armies commence their advance into East Prussia, fulfilling Russia’s promise to its ally, France, to attack Germany from the east as fast as possible in order to divert German resources and relieve stress on France through the entire opening weeks of the First World War.
The Russian 1st Army, commanded by Pavel Rennenkampf, and the 2nd Army, led by Aleksandr Samsonov, advanced in a two-pronged formation-separated by the Masurian Lakes, which stretched a lot more than 100 kilometers-aiming to at some time meet and pin the German 8th Army between them. For the Germans, the Russian advance came considerably earlier than expected relying on Russia’s slow preparation in the east, that they had sent the fantastic almost all their forces west to handle France. By August 19, Rennenkampf’s 1st Army had sophisticated to Gumbinnen, where they faced the German 8th Army-commanded by General Maximilian von Prittwitz-in battle on the River Angerapp on August 20.
During the Battle of Gumbinnen, Prittwitz received an aerial reconnaissance report that Samsonov’s 2nd Russian Army had sophisticated to threaten the spot and its own capital city, Konigsberg (present-day Kaliningrad) as nicely. With his forces significantly outnumbered in your community, he panicked, ordering the 8th Army to fall back again to the Vistula River, contrary to the advice of his employees and contrary to the preceding orders of the principle of the German general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, who had told him “When the Russians come, not defense only, but offensive, offensive, offensive.” From his headquarters at Koblenz, Moltke consulted with Prittwitz’s corps commanders and subsequently dismissed the normal, replacing him with Paul von Hindenburg, a 67-year-old retired general of excellent stature. As Hindenburg’s chief of employees, he named Erich Ludendorff, the newly anointed hero of the capture of Belgium’s fortress city of Liege earlier that month.
Under this new leadership, and awaiting reinforcements summoned by Moltke from the Western Front, the German 8th Army ready to face off contrary to the Russians in East Prussia. Meanwhile, confusion reigned on the far side of the relative line, because the two advancing armies and their commanders, Rennenkampf and Samsonov, have already been reduce faraway from almost every other and struggling to coordinate their attacks successfully, regardless of enjoying numerical superiority on the Germans. This insufficient communication would prove pricey within the last week of August, once the Germans enveloped and devastated Samsonov’s 2nd Army, scoring what will be their greatest victory of the war on the Eastern Front in the Battle of Tannenberg. The battle elevated Hindenburg and Ludendorff to the status of national heroes in Germany. Their partnership, born in East Prussia in the opening weeks of the war, would at some time acquire mythic status, because the two men moved forward collectively in the centre of the German war effort, proper around the bitter finish in 1918.