The German Army's Achievements
By Major Ernest Moraht
[The New York Times/Current History, September 1915]
Major Ernest Moraht, the military correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt, reviewing the twelve months of the war for The Associated Press, said on July 31:
A year ago a coalition with a powerful numerical superiority declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany. The hostile countries have a far larger population than have the two central powers, and their combined armies originally outnumbered those of the latter. The Central States, however, have known how to improve this difficult situation by alternately taking the offensive and defensive on the western and eastern fronts.
In the west the German armies, in a rapid, triumphant advance, carried their standards to within fifty miles of Paris and have kept them flying there since mid-September. Even though the right and left wings of our wide-flung battle front in France and Belgium have been bent back since then, (because there was no other method for the time being of counteracting the numerical superiority of the British, French, and Belgians), still we hold the positions, fortified during the nine months, firmly in our hands, so that almost all of Belgium and the northeastern departments of France have been occupied by the troops of Germany.
In the east the Austro-German armies first held up the Russian millions on the Galician frontiers and then were forced to retire before a manifold numerical superiority, to intrench themselves on the crest of the Carpathians and to beat back until May 1 the Russian assaults with heavy losses. Meanwhile Field Marshal von Hindenburg, in East Prussia, was able to destroy several large Russian armies and free East Prussia; to occupy, conjointly with Austrian troops, Poland almost to the Vistula River, and in the northeast to carry the war into the Russian provinces.
While the positions in the war in the west continue to surge to and fro, and three great attempts made to break through our lines, in the Winter, Spring, and Summer, were repulsed with awful losses to our enemies, the German and Austro-Hungarian armies on May 1 launched a great offensive against the Russian main armies in Galicia.
In the series of battles and under constant pursuit the Russians were hunted out of 43,470 square miles of Galicia, their principal force was severed at several places, and they were driven eastward and northward.
The west bank of the Vistula in Poland has been cleared of Russian armies. The siege of Warsaw is about to begin and Field Marshal von Hindenburg, in the northward, has pressed forward against Riga and now has reached the vicinity of the city after numerous victories. The successes of the Germans have cost the Russian army millions in dead, wounded, and prisoners. The Russian Empire possesses only fragments of its mighty armies and no longer can supply these adequately with arms and munitions. Their fate will be decided very shortly. The Russian forces will be destroyed or forced to flee deep into the interior to the eastward.
The battles in the west have cut so deeply into the French strength that now 18-year-old lads must bear arms. Great Britain's original army has been destroyed and only enough substitutes can be raised to hold a forty-four mile front in Belgium. The British losses, particularly those of officers, have been very heavy. The army of 3,000,000 men which Lord Kitchener promised six months ago has not yet appeared, and our opponents in the west never again will be able to raise superior forces to expel the Germans from the country.
The action in the Dardanelles, which has been in progress for months against the Turks, shows results for the British and French only in great losses of men, ships, and war supplies of all kinds. The Turkish Army steadily is improving in numbers and quality. The Turkish fortifications are quite as strong as they were at the outset. The prospects of the attackers reaching Constantinople, therefore, have vanished, and since none of the Balkan States are willing to enter the Anglo-French service, and since the Russian army which should have participated from Odessa has been destroyed in Galicia, it is difficult to see any chances for France and Great Britain.
Should Italy send an army to the Dardanelles it will find a superior Turkish Army ready to receive her. Italy, after conducting mobilization secretly for nine months, entered the field against Austria-Hungary at the end of May. An Italian Army 1,000,000 men strong has been attempting for two months to sweep over the fortified Austrian passes and to cross the Isonzo River, behind which the Austro-Hungarian defensive army occupies strong positions. All the attempts of the Italians up to the present have been unsuccessful. The cost to the attackers has been hundreds of thousands in dead and wounded. Austria-Hungary grows stronger day by day, and although its valiant struggle is a difficult one against Italian superiority in numbers it will be able to bar the way to the coastland and to Trieste and Tyrol. Meanwhile Italy has lost her entire colony at Tripoli to the Arabs, and apparently is about to declare war on Turkey.
The Serbian Army, after great losses in the Winter, has undertaken no military operations, being content to guard the frontiers of its country, on which there no longer is an Austro-Hungarian army.
The other Balkan States are about to decide which side they will take in the war. Since Russia's forces have been driven back and badly beaten and a German and Austro-Hungarian Army has been arrayed near the frontier of Rumania, Bulgaria has come to an understanding with Turkey; and Greece remains the opponent of Italy; and an increase in the number of our enemies under control of the Entente Allies no longer is to be anticipated by Austria-Hungary.
The Germans have every reason, therefore, at the end of the first year of the war to consider their sacrifices in blood and treasure have been rewarded. We are well prepared for a continuance of the war. Our nation still possesses determination to conquer and to make the necessary sacrifices. Our supplies of war material are assured by efficient organization. Our finances are far from exhausted, and there is no lack of provisions. Our fleet, despite a few losses among the cruisers, is ready to be thrown into the struggle at the proper moment and in full strength, and our submarines in all the seas are the dread of our enemies. Thus their offensive has changed to a defensive, and the prospects of eventual victory for the central powers is materially increased.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
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