Perang Dunia Pertama : Desember 1916, Rusia Menyerah

Perang Dunia Pertama : Desember 1916, Rusia Menyerah

Perang Dunia Pertama: Peta Eropa pada bulan Desember 1917

Peta Eropa pada bulan Desember 1917. Dengan menyerahnya Rusia setelah revolusi Bolshevik, Blok Sentral dapat memusatkan upaya mereka di front barat, di mana bulan-bulan pertama tahun 1918 melihat mereka sangat dekat dengan kemenangan. Ini adalah titik terendah bagi Sekutu, namun kemenangan akhirnya sekutu kurang dari setahun lagi.

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Apakah Jerman Mencoba Berdamai pada tahun 1916?

Apakah ini benar? Pada tahun 1916, Jerman mencoba merundingkan perdamaian dengan Sekutu … yang menyebut diri mereka sebagai pemenang. Sekutu menolak.

Pada awal 8 Februari 1916, surat kabar menggambarkan upaya Kanselir Jerman Theobald von Bethmann-Holweg untuk membuat proposal perdamaian melalui Paus Benediktus XV. Usulannya dan ketentuannya dijelaskan lebih lanjut oleh Pangeran Julius Andrassy di Budapest pada bulan April, tetapi Sekutu menolaknya karena pada dasarnya menyerukan untuk kembali ke batas sebelum perang, hanya menyisakan nasib kepemilikan Jerman di luar negeri dalam sengketa. Pada bulan November Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, mengedarkan surat yang menyerukan perdamaian yang dinegosiasikan atas nama menyelamatkan peradaban, tetapi surat itu dikutuk oleh sebagian besar negarawan Inggris. Pada bulan yang sama, Herbert H. Asquith mengundurkan diri sebagai perdana menteri dan penggantinya, David Lloyd-George, menegaskan kembali tekad Inggris dan Prancis bahwa perdamaian yang dapat diterima hanya bisa datang dengan kekalahan langsung dari Jerman. Satu proposal lain mengikuti kematian Kaiser Franz Josef Austria pada 16 November 1916, ketika penggantinya, Kaiser Karl, mengusulkan perdamaian terpisah yang cukup menarik Presiden Amerika Woodrow Wilson untuk menunda menyatakan perang terhadap Austria-Hongaria sampai musim gugur 1917, ketika menjadi jelas bahwa Austria-Hongaria tidak akan melanggar komitmen aliansinya dengan Jerman. Pada akhirnya, semua menjadi sia-sia dan perang berlanjut.

Jon Guttman
Direktur Riset
Grup Sejarah Dunia
Lebih Banyak Pertanyaan di Tanya Mr. History

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Garis Waktu Revolusi Rusia Dari 1914 hingga 1916

Pada tahun 1914, Perang Dunia Pertama meletus di seluruh Eropa. Pada satu titik, pada hari-hari awal proses ini, Tsar Rusia dihadapkan pada keputusan: memobilisasi tentara dan membuat perang hampir tak terelakkan, atau mundur dan kehilangan muka besar. Dia diberitahu oleh beberapa penasihat bahwa untuk berpaling dan tidak melawan akan merusak dan menghancurkan tahtanya, dan oleh yang lain bahwa melawan akan menghancurkannya ketika tentara Rusia gagal. Dia tampaknya memiliki beberapa pilihan yang benar, dan dia pergi berperang. Kedua penasihat itu mungkin benar. Akibatnya, kerajaannya akan bertahan hingga 1917.

• Juni - Juli: Pemogokan Umum di St. Petersburg.
• 19 Juli: Jerman menyatakan perang terhadap Rusia, menyebabkan rasa persatuan patriotik di antara bangsa Rusia dan penurunan dalam pemogokan.
• 30 Juli: Persatuan Zemstvo Seluruh Rusia untuk Pertolongan Prajurit yang Sakit dan Terluka dibentuk dengan Lvov sebagai presiden.
• Agustus - November: Rusia menderita kekalahan besar dan kekurangan pasokan yang besar, termasuk makanan dan amunisi.
• 18 Agustus: St. Petersburg diganti namanya menjadi Petrograd karena nama 'Jermanik' diubah agar terdengar lebih Rusia, dan karenanya lebih patriotik.
• 5 November: Anggota Bolshevik dari Duma ditangkap, mereka kemudian diadili dan diasingkan ke Siberia.

• 19 Februari: Inggris Raya dan Prancis menerima klaim Rusia atas Istanbul dan tanah Turki lainnya.
• 5 Juni: Striker menembak korban di Kostromá.
• 9 Juli: Retret Besar dimulai, saat pasukan Rusia mundur ke Rusia.
• 9 Agustus: Partai-partai borjuis Duma membentuk 'blok Progresif' untuk mendorong pemerintahan yang lebih baik dan reformasi termasuk Kadets, kelompok Octobrist dan Nasionalis.
• 10 Agustus: Striker menembak korban di Ivánovo-Voznesénsk.
• 17-19 Agustus: Striker di Petrograd memprotes kematian di Ivánovo-Voznesénsk.
• 23 Agustus: Menanggapi kegagalan perang dan Duma yang bermusuhan, Tsar mengambil alih sebagai Panglima angkatan bersenjata, mengangkat Duma dan pindah ke markas militer di Mogilev. Pemerintah pusat mulai mengambil alih. Dengan mengasosiasikan tentara, dan kegagalannya, dengan dia secara pribadi, dan dengan menjauh dari pusat pemerintahan, dia menghancurkan dirinya sendiri. Dia benar-benar harus menang, tetapi tidak.

• Januari - Desember: Meskipun berhasil dalam serangan Brusilov, upaya perang Rusia masih ditandai dengan kekurangan, komando yang buruk, kematian dan desersi. Jauh dari depan, konflik menyebabkan kelaparan, inflasi dan arus pengungsi. Baik tentara maupun warga sipil menyalahkan ketidakmampuan Tsar dan pemerintahannya.
• 6 Februari: Duma berkumpul kembali.
• 29 Februari: Setelah sebulan pemogokan di Pabrik Putilov, pemerintah mewajibkan pekerja dan mengambil alih produksi. Pemogokan protes menyusul.
• 20 Juni: Duma keluar.
• Oktober: Pasukan dari Resimen 181 membantu pemogokan pekerja Renault Russkii melawan Polisi.
• 1 November: Miliukov memberikan 'Apakah ini kebodohan atau pengkhianatan?' pidato di Duma yang diadakan kembali.
• 17/18 Desember: Rasputin dibunuh oleh Pangeran Yusupov dia telah menyebabkan kekacauan di pemerintahan dan menghitamkan nama keluarga kerajaan.
• 30 Desember: Tsar diperingatkan bahwa pasukannya tidak akan mendukungnya melawan revolusi.


Pengunduran Diri Nicholas II Meninggalkan Rusia Tanpa Tsar untuk Pertama Kalinya dalam 300 Tahun

“Seorang berdaulat tidak boleh bersama tentara kecuali dia seorang jenderal!” kata Napoleon, jelas mengucapkan kata-kata ini sebagai tantangan langsung kepada Kaisar [Rusia]. Dia tahu bagaimana [Tsar] Alexander [saya] ingin menjadi komandan militer,”– Leo Tolstoy, Perang dan damai

Dari Cerita Ini

Tsar Terakhir: Nicholas II dan Revolusi Rusia

Terperangkap dalam Revolusi: Petrograd, Rusia, 1917 - Dunia di Tepian

Pemogokan buruh dan kerusuhan roti berkecamuk di ibu kota Kekaisaran Rusia, Saint Petersburg. Nicholas II, yang telah mengunjungi markas militer di Mogilev, lebih dari 400 mil jauhnya, memulai perjalanan pulang pada 13 Maret untuk menekan pemberontakan. Hanya dua hari kemudian, sebelum dia bahkan bisa mencapai ibu kota, dia turun tahta, meninggalkan Rusia tanpa kedaulatan untuk pertama kalinya sejak 1613, ketika Time of Troubles yang mendahului aksesi pendiri dinasti Romanov, Michael.

Pada saat Nicholas meninggalkan Mogliev, otoritasnya telah runtuh ketika resimen militer bergabung dengan demonstrasi. Pada hari yang sama, Duma, majelis perwakilan Rusia, menanggapi kerusuhan di Saint Petersburg dengan pengumuman, 'Mengingat situasi parah kekacauan internal, yang disebabkan oleh tindakan yang diambil oleh pemerintah lama, Komite Sementara Anggota Duma Negara telah mendapati dirinya berkewajiban untuk mengambil alih pemulihan negara dan ketertiban umum.” Dua perwakilan Duma melakukan perjalanan lebih dari 150 mil untuk menemui kereta Imperial Nicholas’ di Pskov dan menyampaikan pengumuman kepadanya . Nicholas, pada bagiannya, memiliki sedikit modal politik yang tersisa untuk melakukan apa pun selain menerima tuntutan Duma dan melepaskan posisinya.  Dia membuat perubahan pada draf dokumen yang diberikan oleh perwakilan Duma, namun, turun takhta atas nama dirinya sendiri tetapi juga putranya yang hemofilia berusia 12 tahun, Alexei. Nicholas takut bahwa dia akan dipisahkan dari putranya yang sakit dan bahwa anak itu akan digunakan sebagai boneka untuk melegitimasi pemerintahan baru. Pemerintahan Rusia yang baru, yang kemudian dikenal sebagai Pemerintahan Sementara, mulai terbentuk.

Sejak naik takhta pada tahun 1894, Nicholas telah mengalami banyak krisis dan tantangan terhadap otoritasnya, termasuk kekalahan dalam perang Rusia-Jepang tahun 1904 dan pergolakan politik yang mengikuti pembantaian Minggu Berdarah tahun 1905. Setiap kali Nicholas terlibat konflik dengan Duma , yang akan berulang kali dia lakukan, dia akan memberhentikan perwakilan dan menyerukan pemilihan baru. Namun kali ini, dia tidak bisa mengabaikan Duma. Tanpa dukungan militer, yang menderita kerugian medan perang besar-besaran ke Jerman sebagai bagian dari Perang Dunia I, kekuatan Nicholas terbatas. Militer telah mendukung para pemrotes di Saint Petersburg daripada menekan mereka atas perintah Tsar.  

Di Pskov, Nicholas menerima telegram dari para jenderalnya yang memintanya untuk turun tahta demi upaya perang. Ajudan Jenderal Aleksei Brusilov, yang memimpin serangan berturut-turut di front timur pada tahun 1916 mengirim pesan melalui telegraf, “Saat ini satu-satunya cara untuk menyelamatkan situasi dan menciptakan kemungkinan untuk terus memerangi musuh eksternal…adalah dengan turun takhta&# 8221 sementara Ajudan Jenderal Aleksei Evert mengirim telegram, “Mengandalkan tentara, yang saat ini dibentuk untuk menindas kekacauan internal adalah tidak mungkin…Tidak ada cara apa pun untuk menghentikan revolusi di ibu kota.”

Dari Pskov, tsar mengeluarkan sebuah manifesto yang mengumumkan pengunduran dirinya, dengan alasan kepentingan militer. Bunyinya, “Pada saat ini, momen yang sangat menentukan bagi keberadaan Rusia, hati nurani Kami meminta Kami untuk memfasilitasi penyatuan terdekat rakyat Kami dan organisasi semua kekuatan mereka untuk pencapaian kemenangan yang cepat. Untuk alasan itu Kami pikir itu benar – dan Duma Kekaisaran berbagi pandangan kami – untuk turun takhta mahkota negara Rusia dan mengundurkan diri dari kekuasaan tertinggi.”

Secara pribadi, Nicholas hancur karena para jenderalnya tidak lagi percaya padanya dan mencatat dalam buku hariannya, “Di sekelilingnya adalah pengkhianatan, pengecut, dan penipuan!”

Tsar memiliki alasan kuat lain untuk turun tahta atas perintah Pemerintahan Sementara yang baru: kerusuhan di Saint Petersburg mengancam keselamatan istrinya, Alexandra, dan lima anak mereka yang tinggal di Istana Alexander, sebuah kediaman Kekaisaran di luar kota. . Pada 13 Maret yang sama, Ketua Duma menyarankan keluarga Kekaisaran untuk meninggalkan istana secepat mungkin, tetapi Alexandra menolak karena anak-anaknya menderita campak dengan komplikasi yang dapat memburuk selama perjalanan. Listrik dan air berhenti berfungsi di istana di tengah kerusuhan. Alexandra menulis kepada Nicholas pada 15 Maret, “Anak-anak berbaring diam dalam kegelapan…lift tidak berfungsi, pipa pecah – Olga [usia dua puluh satu] 37,7, Tatiana [usia sembilan belas] 38,9 dan telinga mulai sakit & #8211 Anastasia [umur lima belas] 37.2 (karena obat yang mereka berikan untuk kepalanya) Bayi [Alexei] masih tidur.”

Alexandra dan satu putrinya yang sehat, Maria yang berusia 17 tahun, mengunjungi garnisun istana untuk memastikan mereka masih mendapat dukungan dari pasukan yang ditempatkan di sana. Terlepas dari upaya Czarina, pasukan segera meninggalkan istana, membuat istana rentan untuk dipecat oleh para pemrotes yang nakal. Maria juga terkena campak, yang berkembang menjadi pneumonia paru-paru ganda yang mengancam jiwa, memastikan bahwa keluarga tersebut tidak berniat meninggalkan rumah mereka. Desas-desus tentang massa bersenjata, bertekad untuk menyerbu istana, beredar di antara rumah tangga. Teman Alexandra, Lili Dehn, yang tinggal di istana selama pergolakan, mengenang dalam memoarnya. “Tembakan senjata yang terputus-putus terdengar.” Nicholas melihat pengunduran diri cepat sebagai cara untuk pulang secepat mungkin sehingga pemerintah baru dapat memerintahkan dukungan militer dan melindungi keluarganya dari kaum revolusioner yang kejam.

Untuk dewan deputi Buruh’ dan Prajurit, atau soviet, yang muncul sebagai penyeimbang utama bagi Duma yang lebih fokus pada kelas atas dan menengah Rusia,, pengunduran diri Nicholas adalah kesempatan untuk mengakhiri kekuasaan Tsar secara permanen. , Nicholas memasukkan ketentuan ke dalam manifesto turun tahta untuk menyerahkan tahta kepada adik laki-lakinya, Grand Duke Mikhail, tetapi soviet menuntut, “No more Romanovs! Kami menginginkan Republik!” Mikhail secara teknis menjadi Tsar selama sehari sebelum mengeluarkan manifesto turun tahtanya sendiri, yang menyatakan bahwa dia tidak akan naik takhta kecuali diundang untuk melakukannya oleh majelis perwakilan. Dinasti Romanov, yang telah memerintah Rusia selama lebih dari tiga abad, telah berakhir.

Setelah kembali sebentar ke markas militer Rusia di Mogliev untuk mengucapkan selamat tinggal terakhir kepada militer, Nicholas bergabung dengan keluarganya di Istana Alexander pada 22 Maret. Nicholas dan Alexandra mengharapkan waktu mereka di Istana Alexander hanya sementara, berharap untuk menghabiskan sisa waktu mereka. perang dengan kerabat kerajaan mereka di Inggris kemudian pensiun ke salah satu perkebunan mereka di Krimea. Di Saint Petersburg, gelombang optimisme menyambut pengunduran diri itu. Sepupu Nicholas, Maria Pavlovna, kemudian mencatat dalam memoarnya, “[Saint Petersburg] bersukacita. Para negarawan dari rezim sebelumnya terkunci di gedung-gedung negara atau di penjara, surat kabar menyanyikan lagu pujian untuk revolusi dan kebebasan dan mencerca masa lalu dengan kemarahan yang mencengangkan.”

Maria Pavlovna ingat bahwa antusiasme revolusioner ini tidak meluas ke pemeliharaan kota, “Jalan-jalan dibersihkan dengan sembarangan. Kerumunan tentara dan pelaut yang menganggur dan tidak bermoral berkeliaran terus-menerus, sementara orang-orang berpakaian bagus yang memiliki kereta dan mobil bersembunyi di rumah mereka. Polisi tidak terlihat. Segalanya berjalan dengan sendirinya, dan sangat buruk.” Rezim lama telah pergi dan Pemerintahan Sementara yang baru sekarang memiliki tugas berat untuk memulihkan ketertiban dan menyediakan pasokan makanan yang dapat diandalkan ke kota-kota.

Pada hari yang sama Nicholas bertemu kembali dengan keluarganya, Amerika Serikat menjadi pemerintah asing pertama yang mengakui Pemerintahan Sementara. Duta Besar Amerika untuk Rusia, David R. Francis, baru saja ditunjuk oleh Presiden Woodrow Wilson pada tahun 1916 dan tidak berbicara bahasa Rusia, tetapi dia melihat pengunduran diri Tsar sebagai kesempatan bagi Amerika Serikat, negara lain yang diciptakan melalui revolusi, untuk menjadi sekutu terpenting pemerintah baru dan menerima kontrak perdagangan yang lebih menguntungkan. Transformasi Rusia dari otokrasi menjadi republik juga berpotensi meningkatkan dukungan rakyat di Amerika Serikat untuk bergabung dalam Perang Dunia Pertama di pihak kekuatan sekutu. Francis mengirim telegram kepada Menteri Luar Negeri Robert Lansing, “Revolusi adalah realisasi praktis dari prinsip pemerintahan yang telah kami perjuangkan dan dukung, maksud saya pemerintahan dengan persetujuan yang diperintah.” Dua hari kemudian, Dunia Pertama Rusia Sekutu perang, Inggris Raya, Prancis dan Italia juga mengakui Pemerintahan Sementara.

Ratusan wartawan Eropa dan Amerika Utara, diplomat, pedagang dan staf medis terdampar di Saint Petersburg oleh pergolakan politik dan blokade U-boat Jerman di Laut Baltik. Bagi mereka, pengunduran diri Nicholas II tampak tiba-tiba dan tidak perlu. Seperti yang dijelaskan oleh sejarawan Helen Rappaport dalam bukunya yang terbaru tentang pengamat asing di Saint Petersburg pada tahun 1917, Terperangkap dalam Revolusi, para ekspatriat membandingkan otokrasi Rusia dengan tradisi politik mereka sendiri dan berspekulasi tentang bagaimana peristiwa bisa terjadi secara berbeda.

Jurnalis foto Amerika Donald Thompson berpikir bahwa jika Nicholas kembali ke Saint Petersburg lebih cepat, didorong ke jalan raya utama, “dan berdiri di belakang mobilnya dan berbicara, seperti yang akan dilakukan Teddy Roosevelt, dia akan tetap menjadi Tsar Rusia .”

Seratus tahun Revolusi Rusia telah membawa pengetahuan baru yang luar biasa tentang apa yang kita ketahui tentang peristiwa tahun 1917, termasuk buku Rappaport. Sejarawan Robert Service menjelaskan dalam buku terbarunya, Tsar Terakhir: Nicholas II dan Revolusi Rusia, bahwa Nicholas tidak pernah menyatakan penyesalan pribadi atas hilangnya kekuasaannya, dan sebaliknya berfokus pada harapan bahwa pemerintahan baru akan memimpin Rusia menuju kemenangan dalam perang.

Nicholas sudah kehilangan kebebasannya dan juga tahtanya. Pierre Gilliard, guru Prancis kelahiran Swiss untuk anak-anak Kekaisaran mengingat dalam memoarnya bahwa sehari sebelum Nicholas kembali, Alexandra 'memanggil saya dan memberi tahu saya bahwa Jenderal Kornilov telah dikirim oleh Pemerintah Sementara untuk memberi tahu dia bahwa Tsar dan dirinya ditahan dan bahwa mereka yang tidak ingin ditahan dalam kurungan harus meninggalkan istana sebelum pukul empat.” Penangkapan itu seolah-olah untuk melindungi pasangan Kekaisaran dari kerusuhan di Saint Petersburg. Anak-anak mereka dan lusinan anggota rumah tangga mereka memutuskan untuk tetap bersama mereka di bawah penjagaan di istana. Gilliard mengamati bahwa Nicholas “menerima semua pengekangan ini dengan ketenangan yang luar biasa,” pandangan yang dianut oleh anggota lain dari rumah tangganya dan pengawalnya. Dia menghabiskan waktu bersama keluarganya, berjalan-jalan di taman istana yang dijaga ketat dan membaca, menyelesaikan Tolstoy's'160Perang dan damai untuk pertama kalinya dalam beberapa bulan setelah pengunduran dirinya.

Jatuhnya dinasti Romanov pada Maret 1917 tidak memicu kekerasan atau kontra-revolusi – yang akan terjadi beberapa bulan kemudian ketika Bolshevik merebut kekuasaan pada November 1917. Sebaliknya, suasana di Saint Petersburg optimis, seperti jatuhnya Tsar. tampaknya menjadi kesempatan emas bagi Rusia untuk mengubah dirinya menjadi masyarakat yang lebih egaliter yang menangani masalah petani dan pekerja serta kelas menengah terpelajar. Pemerintah baru, bagaimanapun, akan menghadapi dua hambatan utama untuk mempertahankan kekuasaan: masalah yang sedang berlangsung mempertahankan partisipasi Rusia dalam perang dan kembalinya lama ditunggu-tunggu dari pengasingan Vladimir Lenin yang menjanjikan perdamaian, tanah dan roti.

Berikutnya: Pemerintahan Sementara dan kembalinya Lenin


Keruntuhan moral yang cukup besar yang terakhir dialami oleh Jerman di Front Barat.

Ketika Serangan Musim Semi gagal, begitu pula kesempatan terakhir mereka untuk menang. Kedatangan pasukan Amerika menyediakan cadangan tenaga kerja Sekutu yang sangat besar, sementara Jerman kehabisan orang dan persediaan. Didorong kembali oleh musuh, mereka bisa melihat tanah air mereka akan diserang.

Pada bulan September, Ludendorff menyadari bahwa moral akan runtuh sepenuhnya. Dia mengatakan kepada pemerintah bahwa mereka harus menuntut perdamaian. Tentara telah kehilangan keinginan untuk berperang. Jika mereka tidak bernegosiasi, mereka akan diserbu.

Dengan menyerahnya Jerman, perang berakhir.

Martin Marix Evans (2002), Over the Top: Pertempuran Hebat Perang Dunia Pertama

Richard Holmes, ed. (2001), Sahabat Oxford untuk Sejarah Militer


Perang Dunia Pertama sering dianggap sebagai perang gesekan, konflik di mana masing-masing pihak berusaha melemahkan pihak lain dengan membunuh sebanyak mungkin orangnya. Artikel ini mengeksplorasi realitas taktis, strategis, dan politik perang, sejauh mana perang itu memang ditandai dengan jalan buntu di parit dan kebuntuan strategis, dan mengapa karakterisasi ini ada dalam imajinasi populer.

Foto parit di garis depan

Bagaimana kebuntuan dimulai?

Ketika Jerman berperang pada Agustus 1914, ia bertaruh untuk menjatuhkan Prancis dari perang dalam enam minggu sebelum menyerang Rusia untuk menghindari perang dua front yang berlarut-larut. Ide Jerman, yang dikenal sebagai Rencana Schlieffen setelah jenderal yang pertama kali muncul pada tahun 1905, adalah untuk meluncurkan pasukannya di hook kanan raksasa melalui Belgia netral dan Prancis utara untuk mengepung dan menghancurkan tentara Prancis dan kemudian merebut Paris. Pertempuran Marne (6&ndash10 September 1914) menggagalkannya, dan Rencana Schlieffen gagal. Sebuah tentara Prancis yang sangat tangguh, menggunakan kereta apinya untuk efek yang brilian, mengerahkan kembali cadangannya untuk mengalahkan pasukan Jerman yang terlalu banyak, terkoordinasi dengan buruk, dan lelah. Di Marne, kemajuan Jerman tidak hanya dihentikan, tetapi mereka terpaksa mundur sekitar 40 mil ke utara. Dalam beberapa minggu Front Barat telah membatu menjadi labirin parit dan kawat berduri yang membentang dari Swiss ke laut. Selama sebagian besar dari tiga tahun berikutnya, Sekutu mencoba mengusir Jerman dari Prancis dan Belgia yang diduduki. Mereka melancarkan serangan demi serangan dalam pertempuran terkenal seperti Somme dan Third Ypres (Passchendaele), tetapi satu-satunya hasil nyata adalah memperpanjang daftar korban. Garis depan baru akan mulai bergerak lagi di tahun terakhir perang.

Pertempuran Somme, peta situasi pada bulan Desember 1916

Peta ini menunjukkan kebuntuan yang dialami selama Perang Dunia Pertama. Antara September dan November 1916, kemajuan Sekutu selama lima bulan hanya mencapai enam mil.

Peta yang menunjukkan area basah di depan Passchendaele

Demikian juga pada Pertempuran Ypres Ketiga, kondisi yang disebabkan oleh cuaca buruk dan kehancuran tanah oleh pemboman artileri yang intens membuat tidak ada kemajuan Inggris yang dapat terjadi.

Senapan mesin dan parit adalah ciri khas Perang Dunia Pertama, tetapi bukan keduanya yang membuat Front Barat statis. Artileri adalah pembunuh terbesar di medan perang Perang Dunia Pertama, dan artileri, bukan senapan mesin, yang harus dihindari tentara membangun parit. Tetapi parit-parit ini lebih merupakan gejala daripada penyebab imobilitas peperangan. Dengan begitu banyak pria bersenjata mematikan di ruang yang begitu kecil, menjadi terlalu berbahaya bagi tentara untuk bergerak di atas tanah di siang hari. Parit-parit menawarkan perlindungan, tetapi dalam waktu tidak terlalu lama, kedua belah pihak telah menemukan cara untuk menyerang melintasi Tanah Tak Berpenghuni, dengan biaya tinggi tetapi dapat ditanggung, dan merebut parit musuh. Artileri yang efektif adalah kuncinya. Ketika senjata dan infanteri bekerja sama dengan baik, lebih sering penyerang dapat menembus pertahanan musuh. Kedua pasukan mengintegrasikan berbagai metode dan teknologi baru, seperti tank dan pesawat terbang, ke dalam cara mereka berperang. Hasilnya adalah perlombaan ukuran/tindakan balasan yang sangat dinamis. Setiap kali penyerang mengira mereka telah memecahkan satu masalah, mereka menemukan bahwa para pembela telah mengajukan masalah lain kepada mereka.

'Memasang Senjata Hebat' oleh Muirhead Bone

Artileri adalah pembunuh terbesar di medan perang Perang Dunia Pertama.

Di tahun-tahun pertengahan perang, bagaimana mengubah keberhasilan taktis yang terbatas menjadi kemenangan yang lebih besar tidak dapat dipahami oleh kedua pasukan. Ada dua masalah mendasar. Pertama, bek mana pun bisa terburu-buru dalam bala bantuan untuk menutup celah lebih cepat daripada yang bisa dilakukan penyerang untuk mengubah pembobolan menjadi terobosan. Sementara pembela umumnya dapat mengandalkan jaringan transportasi yang utuh, persediaan penyerang dan pasukan baru selalu harus mengalir melintasi medan perang yang baru saja dihancurkan oleh senjata. Kedua, komunikasi medan perang Perang Dunia Pertama sangat tidak dapat diandalkan. Sinyal cahaya mudah dikacaukan dan kabel telepon sering terputus oleh tembakan artileri atau tank tanpa kabel masih dalam masa pertumbuhan dan semaphore adalah bunuh diri. Segera setelah pasukan penyerang melewati puncak, mereka menjauh dari jaringan telepon mereka dan dipaksa kembali pada teknologi komunikasi setua perang itu sendiri, seperti merpati dan pelari. Keduanya sering tersesat atau tertabrak. Perintah dan kontrol yang efektif dengan demikian menjadi paling sulit saat paling dibutuhkan. Salah satu ironi Perang Dunia Pertama adalah bahwa alat-alat yang memungkinkan masyarakat industri modern untuk mengerahkan dan menopang jutaan tentara & teknologi canggih seperti telegraf, telepon, dan kereta api & ndash juga membuat mereka tidak mungkin menggunakan pasukan itu. efektif dalam menyerang. Baru pada tahun 1918, ketika Sekutu meningkatkan taktik senjata gabungan mereka dan cadangan Jerman habis, perang menjadi bergerak sekali lagi.

Paus dan gajah

Kebuntuan tidak hanya taktis, namun. Itu juga strategis. Ada ketidaksesuaian antara kemampuan maritim Sekutu dan kekuatan kontinental Blok Sentral. Inggris dan Prancis, khususnya, karena mereka memiliki angkatan laut yang besar, memiliki tingkat mobilitas strategis dan jangkauan global yang hanya bisa diimpikan oleh Jerman, Austria-Hungry, dan Kekaisaran Ottoman. Hal ini memungkinkan Sekutu untuk memobilisasi sumber daya dari seluruh dunia untuk upaya perang dan untuk meluncurkan dan mempertahankan kampanye di Gallipoli, Salonika, Palestina, Mesopotamia, di seluruh Afrika, dan bahkan di Cina dan Pasifik. Pada kesempatan langka Jerman mencoba menggunakan angkatan lautnya sama sekali, seperti pada Pertempuran Jutlandia (1916), dan dengan kampanye U-boat tahun 1917&ndash18, itu hanya menggarisbawahi impotensinya. Namun, kerusakan yang dapat dilakukan kekuatan angkatan laut terhadap aliansi berbasis darat yang menguasai sumber daya dari separuh Eropa, bahkan dengan blokade seketat mungkin, terbatas. Perang Dunia Pertama, sebagian, adalah kisah pertempuran paus melawan gajah: masing-masing unggul dalam elemennya sendiri, tetapi tidak mampu mengalahkan yang lain.

Berpikir dalam istilah yang paling luas, mungkin tidak mengherankan bahwa sebagian besar Perang Dunia Pertama dihabiskan dengan jalan buntu. Di belakang, dari hari pertama perang, Sekutu memiliki keunggulan ekonomi, industri, keuangan dan militer sehingga hasil perang tidak pernah diragukan, tetapi Blok Sentral tidak begitu jauh di belakang. Pertarungan apa pun kemungkinan akan berlangsung lama. Hal ini terutama terjadi mengingat kedalaman perasaan dan tekad yang ditunjukkan kedua belah pihak. Sejak awal perang secara luas dilihat sebagai pertarungan sampai mati. Spiral kekerasan yang menanjak dan daftar korban tewas dan terluka yang terus bertambah hanya membudayakan sikap di kedua belah pihak dan membuat kompromi semakin tidak mungkin, sehingga memperpanjang perang. Mengingat keseimbangan kekuatan dan intensitas kebencian yang berkembang, orang bahkan mungkin berpendapat bahwa Perang Dunia Pertama berakhir dengan sangat cepat: empat tahun terlihat singkat dibandingkan dengan perang melawan Nazi Jerman (1939&ndash45) dan Revolusioner dan Napoleon Prancis (1792&ndash1815).

Bagaimana penggambaran strategi Perang Dunia Pertama kemudian membentuk kesan kita tentangnya?

Lalu, mengapa kita menganggap Perang Dunia Pertama sebagai kerja keras yang panjang dan sia-sia? Kita telah melihat bahwa ada inti kebenaran dari kepercayaan ini. Tapi itu tidak begitu sederhana. Politisi seperti David Lloyd George dan Winston Churchill, yang menghabiskan perang dengan berpikir mereka bisa melakukan pekerjaan yang lebih baik daripada jenderal mereka, menggambarkan perang dalam memoar mereka. Memoar ini, yang ditulis dengan kuat oleh dua ahli kata terbaik abad ini, dipenuhi dengan penghinaan terhadap pikiran militer yang tidak dapat membayangkan strategi yang lebih imajinatif daripada gesekan. Versi mereka tentang Perang Dunia Pertama menangkap imajinasi populer. Sejarawan profesional yang memang memahami realitas militer dan mungkin telah melawan mitos ini terlalu sibuk menulis sejarah resmi yang bertele-tele yang dirancang untuk mendidik perwira junior. Akibatnya, gagasan bahwa ada alternatif yang tidak terlalu berdarah untuk atrisi memperoleh landasan, meskipun kurangnya bukti untuk mendukungnya. Ini adalah konflik eksistensial antara dua blok aliansi yang sangat berkomitmen dan kuat, menggunakan jumlah senjata paling mematikan yang belum pernah ada sebelumnya. Kebanyakan orang sadar bahwa itu akan diselesaikan dengan pertumpahan darah yang mengerikan, tetapi tetap merasa perlu untuk melawan atau mendukung upaya perang. Akan tetapi, gesekan memiliki kritik pada saat itu, paling tidak dari seluruh untaian anti-perang atau bahkan perasaan pasifis langsung yang membantu membentuk persepsi populer tentang Perang Dunia Pertama, dan terus berlanjut hingga hari ini. Michael Morpurgo&rsquos Pribadi Damai dan Kuda perang, misalnya, membuat seruan yang kuat dan efektif untuk simpati kita, tetapi tidak berbuat banyak untuk terlibat dengan baik dengan kenyataan perang, atau memberi kita pemahaman menyeluruh tentang peristiwa 1914&ndash18 yang mungkin memungkinkan kita untuk berempati. Kita perlu melihat perang, dan orang-orang yang berperang, sebagaimana adanya, kutil dan semuanya.

  • Ditulis oleh Jonathan Boff
  • Dr Jonathan Boff adalah Dosen Senior dalam Studi Sejarah dan Perang di Universitas Birmingham, di mana ia mengajar kursus tentang konflik dari Homer hingga Helmand. Dia mengkhususkan diri dalam Perang Dunia Pertama. Musuh Haig: Putra Mahkota Rupprecht dan Perang Jerman di Front Barat, 1914-18 diterbitkan oleh Oxford University Press pada April 2018. Buku sebelumnya, Menang dan Kalah di Front Barat: Tentara Ketiga Inggris dan Kekalahan Jerman pada tahun 1918 (Cambridge University Press, 2012) terpilih untuk Medali Templer dan untuk penghargaan British Army Book of the Year. Dia dididik di Merton College, Oxford dan Departemen Studi Perang, King's College London, dan menghabiskan dua puluh tahun bekerja di bidang keuangan sebelum kembali ke dunia akademis. Dia melayani di dewan National Army Museum dan Army Records Society, telah bekerja sebagai konsultan sejarah dengan British Army dan BBC, dan merupakan Fellow dari Royal Historical Society.

Teks dalam artikel ini tersedia di bawah Lisensi Creative Commons.


Masa-masa sulit

Ketika meriam tidak terdengar lagi pada 11 November, sebagian besar orang Jerman dengan yakin membayangkan bahwa penyelesaian damai setelah gencatan senjata akan didasarkan pada interpretasi literal dari Empat Belas Poin Wilson.

Lloyd George, Clemenceau, dan Wilson tiba di Versailles untuk berunding © Mereka sedikit menyesali kemungkinan kehilangan Alsace-Lorraine dan beberapa provinsi Polandia, dan bahkan mendapat ilusi bahwa republik Austria yang baru, yang diproklamasikan pada 12 November, akan diizinkan untuk bergabung dengan Jerman yang lebih besar, sehingga menyelesaikan proses penyatuan Jerman.

Beberapa berpendapat bahwa semakin keras perdamaian, semakin baik.

Realis keras kepala di OHL dan rekan-rekan mereka tahu sebaliknya. Mereka telah merundingkan perdamaian kejam Brest-Litovsk, dengan Rusia, atas dasar penentuan nasib sendiri rakyat, dan penolakan ganti rugi dan reparasi, dan dengan demikian sangat menyadari bahwa Empat Belas Poin akan ditafsirkan sedemikian rupa sebagai berdarah Jerman putih.

Beberapa berpendapat bahwa semakin keras perdamaian, semakin baik. Natrium mengakhiri perang telah dialihkan ke partai-partai mayoritas dan mereka sekarang dapat menanggung kesalahan atas perdamaian yang keras dan dengan demikian benar-benar didiskreditkan.


Apa yang Harus Anda Ketahui Pertama untuk Memahami Revolusi Rusia

“Sekarang tahun-tahun subur dan makmur telah datang ke Rusia, hal terakhir yang dia butuhkan adalah perang mereka seharusnya hanya mengucapkan Misa Requiem untuk Archduke Franz Ferdinand, setelah itu tiga Kaisar Jerman, Austria dan Rusia harus minum segelas segelas vodka di bangun dan melupakan seluruh urusan.”

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Agustus 1914 

Peristiwa yang terjadi di Rusia dari musim gugur 1916 hingga musim gugur 1917, termasuk runtuhnya rezim tsar dan kebangkitan Bolshevisme, membengkokkan busur sejarah dengan cara yang tak terduga dan terus memengaruhi politik dan hubungan Rusia dengan Rusia. seluruh dunia saat ini. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of these world-shattering events, we begin today with a series of columns that will highlight how the Russian Empire, ruled by the Romanov dynasty for more than 300 years, transformed into the Communist Soviet Union.

By the fall of 1916, Russia had been at war with the Central Powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey)—for more than two years. In the 20 years he had been on the throne prior to World War I, Nicholas II had faced pressure to reform the absolute monarchy that he inherited from his father, Alexander III, in 1894. At the time of his accession, the 26 -year-old czar appeared to embrace progress and modernity. He granted permission for the Paris Pathé company to film his 1896 coronation procession and his subsequent state visits to European leaders with his wife, Empress Alexandra and baby daughter, Olga, became the first royal tour documented by newsreel cameras. Throughout his reign, Nicholas showed a concern for his image at home in leveraging the emergent mass media of the early 20th century. When the Romanov dynasty celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1913, Nicholas commissioned an authorized biography of himself and photographs of his family appeared on postcards.   

His domestic policy, however, betrayed Nicholas’ governing principle of maintaining autocratic rule. In an 1895 speech to representatives of the nobility and municipal officials, the czar declared “there have arisen the voices of people carried away by senseless dreams of taking part in the business of government. Let everyone know that I will retain the principles of autocracy as firmly and unbendingly as my unforgettable late father.” The speech shattered the hopes of elected municipal officials who hoped for a gradual transition to a system closer to a constitutional monarchy.

Nicholas was forced to adopt new reforms, including the creation of the representative assembly called the Duma, after defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and the massacre of workers demonstrating outside Saint Petersburg’s Winter Palace the following year. Despite the Duma’s creation, Nicholas still retained the title of autocrat, the ability to appoint his ministers and the right to veto motions proposed by the assembly. Nevertheless, reforms occurred gradually during that first decade of the 20th century. The Russian peasantry, which had been freed from serfdom by Nicholas’s grandfather, Alexander II, in 1861, began to receive individual landholdings, releasing them from the traditional peasant communes. These land reforms were designed to foster a conservative, monarchist peasantry than would serve as a counterweight to urban workers, who repeatedly demonstrated for better working conditions and compensation and were more likely to be drawn to Bolshevism.

The term Bolshevism came from the Russian word bolshinstvo, meaning majority. Adopted by a splinter faction of Russian revolutionaries advocating for a Marxist-inspired uprising of the working class, the Bolsheviks had their ideological roots in the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The group’s leader, Vladimir Lenin, found in his supporters a smaller, more disciplined party that was determined to transform the First World War --“an imperialist war”—into a broader class war with the workers fighting the “bourgeoisie” and aristocracy.

The Russian empire’s involvement in World War I began when Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum that threatened Serbian sovereignty in the aftermath of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne. Russia, as the traditional protector of other Slavic peoples, including the Serbs, mobilized its armies. The conflict in the Balkans expanded to encompass most of Europe as Russia’s allies in the Triple Entente—France and Great Britain—also went to war with the Central Powers.

The outbreak of the war prompted a burst of patriotism that initially reinforced the czar’s rule. Sixteen million soldiers were mobilized on the Eastern Front over the course of the conflict including 40 percent of all men between the ages of 20 and 50. Despite the enthusiasm and rapid mobilization, the Russian war effort was beset with problems from the start. The wages for workers in the munitions factories did not keep up with the increased cost of living, exacerbating the discontent that existed prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Industrial and transportation infrastructure was inadequate to the task of providing the necessary supplies for the troops.

Minister of War Vladimir Suklominov was accused of corruption and Nicholas ultimately removed him from office for failure to provide necessary munitions, sentencing him to prison for two years. (Suklominov’s actual culpability remains a matter of historical debate.) Russia suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in the first weeks of the war, resulting in 78,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded and 92,000 captured by the Germans. The next year, Nicholas assumed direct control of the army as Commander in Chief, placing himself personally responsible for subsequent defeats.

A chance to end the stalemate on the Eastern Front came in the summer of 1916. Representatives from Britain, France, Russia and Italy (which joined the war on the side of the Triple Entente in 1915) agreed at the Chantilly conferences of 1915 to undertake coordinated action against the Central Powers. Under the command of General Alexei Brusilov, units of Russian shock troops broke through Austria-Hungarian lines in what is now western Ukraine and prompted Germany to divert forces from Verdun on the Western front. The victories achieved by the Brusilov offensive came at a cost of a million Russian soldiers and ultimately came to an end in September 1916 because of persistent supply shortages in the Carpathian Mountains.

Just as Nicholas was experiencing military setbacks on the Eastern front, his wife, Alexandra, was overwhelmed by challenges on the home front. The importance of the railways for transporting military supplies to the front disrupted the transportation of food to the cities and, outside of sugar, no other goods were subject to a regimented rationing system. Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana, trained as nurses, endowed hospital trains and established committees to address the needs of war widows and orphans, and refugees. (In Boris Pasternak’s epic, Dokter Zhivago, Lara travels to the front in search of her husband as a nurse aboard a Tatiana hospital train). The philanthropy of the Imperial women, however, could not compensate for the absence of a coordinated government response to the needs of thousands of wounded soldiers, military families and displaced persons.

Nicholas and Alexandra also struggled with family challenges their most urgent concern was Alexei’s health. The heir to the throne suffered from hemophilia, a disease prevalent among the descendants of his great-grandmother, Britain’s Queen Victoria, which prevented his blood from clotting normally. In their 1916 correspondence, the royal couple expressed relief that Alexei had recovered from a life-threatening nosebleed. The czarina turned to faith healers, including a wandering holy man from Siberia named Grigori Rasputin, who became known as “the Mad Monk” though he never entered a holy order and was in fact married with three children. Before the war, Rasputin provided spiritual counsel for the Imperial couple and prayed for the recovery of the heir to the throne. During the war, however, Rasputin provided Nicholas and Alexandra with political advice. When Suklominov was released from prison after only six months, the Russian public blamed Rasputin’s influence.

Because Alexei’s hemophilia was kept secret, little could be done to quash the rumors swirling about Rasputin, who had a disreputable reputation because of his drunkenness and womanizing. Alexandra, in turn, became a deeply unpopular figure because of her familial relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (they were first cousins) and her perceived reliance on Rasputin.

In these conditions, the Duma assumed the role of critiquing the policies of the czarist regime and demanded even further reform. In November 1916, Vladimir Purishkevich, a reactionary deputy known for his militant anti-Bolshevism gave a speech in the Duma denouncing what he described as the “ministerial leapfrog” in which Nicholas, under the influence of Alexandra who was in turn influenced by Rasputin, removed competent ministers from office and replacde them with unqualified figures endorsed by Rasputin. Purishkevich concluded his speech with the words, “While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win.” Prince Felix Yusupov, the wealthiest man in Russia and the husband of Nicholas’s niece Irina was impressed by the speech and began plotting the murder of Rasputin.

(Editor’s Note: For purposes of these columns, we will use the Gregorian calendar dates, which we use today, but Russia only started using in February 1918. Hence, the Bolsheviks took power on November 7, 1917, even though it was called the October Revolution.)


Voices of the First World War: Winter 1916

After the close of the Battle of the Somme in November 1916, the men on the Western Front dug in for the coming winter. That year, it proved to be exceptionally cold. All those who lived through the winter of 1916-17 had memories of the bitterly freezing conditions. Basil Rackham served with the Royal Naval Division during the Battle of the Ancre.

Well of course, after that battle we had to go back behind the reserves and we got reinforcements and so on. Then we came back into the line again at the same place, at just above Beaucourt and this was in February, early February 1917. And the conditions there were the coldest winter we’d ever had – terrible. The conditions in the… well, there wasn’t really a front line, there wasn’t a continuous trench but these little holes that we had. You just couldn’t dig any more it was all hard as bricks.

The severe cold tested the troops’ morale, as Victor Fagence, a private in the Royal West Surrey Regiment, discovered.

The winter of 1916-17 was notoriously a very, very cold winter. And for my part, I think I almost in my own mind then tasted the depths of misery really, what with the cold and all that sort of thing, you see. We were forbidden to take our footwear off in the front line. Although, I myself disobeyed that on one occasion. I was so cold when I came off sentry go, and we had a bit of a dugout to shelter in, when I went in there – this was before leather jerkins were issued – there was an issue of sheepskin coats. And I took my gumboots off and wrapped my feet in the sheepskin coat to get a bit of extra, you know, to warm them up a bit.

The icy weather made life during the day miserable – but the drop in temperature at night was even worse. Near 40th Division’s forward Headquarters, British artillery officer Murray Rymer-Jones found an unusual way to cope with it.

Now, for our own comfort, to be in a tent with snow on the ground and the appalling cold was nobody’s business. You couldn’t have heating in the tents, you see. So the only thing I could do then was, we had a double loo heavily sandbagged all round in the entrance, you see, it was like little rooms. And although there was no connection between the two, you could talk to the chap next door! So Hammond, from another battery who came and joined us for a bit then, he and I used to sit in the loo most of the night – because it was so heavily sandbagged it kept it reasonably warm – and talked!

For the men who faced the winter in kilts, exposure to the bitter weather was unbearable. NCO J Reid served with the Gordon Highlanders.

We went up with these casuals and joined the battalion the 6th battalion again, joined the battalion at a place called… I can’t remember the name of the place now. The battalion was made up to strength, anyway. And a couple of days after, we was on the march. It was the month of January, dead cold. Oh, God it was cold. We were going up to Arras which was about 30 km – 30, 40 km – from this place. We marched and I always remember that. Our knees were even frozen up, you know, with the usual field bandages to wrap up our knees and all up our legs to keep the frost from biting into our legs, our bare legs.

It wasn’t just the cold that made winter on the Western Front so difficult to endure. Flooded trenches were also a feature of life there, something which Harold Moore of the Essex Regiment found out to his cost.

The communications trenches were half full of water and they had to have these duckboards on the side of the trench to walk up to the front line. You had to come up, file up in single line, single file. And as we was going up to the line there was a fellow in front of me, he was a machine-gunner and he’d got two buckets of these circular ammunition what he used for his Lewis gun. He stopped for a moment, you know, cos they were heavy! I said, ‘I want to get by cos I’ve got to get up to the front line.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you must wait I can’t go any further for the moment.’ Well then I tried to get round the side of him and, as I did so, he just gave a heave of this bucket and it knocked me in the shell holes full of water.

The waterlogged ground meant the men soon found themselves in extremely muddy conditions. Andrew Bain of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders described the dangers of such an environment.

Mud and cold. Oh, for weeks we were up to the thighs in mud. And if we were moving forward to the trenches, many of the shell holes were filled up with muddy clay. And if a man fell into that he couldn’t get out. And they were simply drowned in mud. There was nothing could be done about it.

Because of the abnormally cold conditions that swept the Western Front that winter, the ground froze solid. This turned out to be lucky for officer George Jameson, who was based near Aubers Ridge.

I had gone over to a position on the ridge where I could observe one day and, as I say, the ground was iron hard. I was walking back and a gun started to fire. I suddenly heard this swish and I could tell by the very sound of it I could tell it was coming fairly near to me. Suddenly, there was a burst away to my right and I thought, ‘Well thank goodness for that, plod on chaps.’ I kept going on and suddenly the gun fired again, another one it had changed its angle a bit and I heard this thing. It sounded as though it was coming extremely close. I hadn’t time to do anything. Just suddenly quite by my side there was this [noise] and, about 150 yards beyond me, the shell burst. What had happened, the ground was so hard that the shell had just glisséed on the surface, you see. It struck within about a yard to the right-hand side of me as I was walking and then went on and in the air, about 150 yards beyond, it burst. Now, if that had been soft I’d have had that. That’s the kind of thing that happened. Not me this time chaps, on, on!

The weather also affected the vehicles used along the Western Front. Antonia Gamwell worked as an ambulance driver with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

Of course in the winter it was bitter and we couldn’t keep the cars mobile, I mean they just froze of course if they were left to freeze. But we had to keep winding them up. We tried every other way, we tried putting hot bottles in the engines and under the bonnet and heavy bonnet covers and every device we could possibly imagine, but it was no use. We had to simply stay up, there were details. So many of us – six I think it was – used to be on duty and every twenty minutes we went up and wound up the whole lot.

The bitter cold also froze clothing, blankets, food and drink. For men serving in the front line, a warming cup of tea would have been very welcome – but, as NCO Clifford Lane explained, this wasn’t always forthcoming.

The coldest winter was 1916-17. The winter was so cold that I felt like crying. In fact the only time… I didn’t actually cry but I’d never felt like it before, not even under shell fire. We were in the Ypres Salient and, in the front line, I can remember we weren’t allowed to have a brazier because it weren’t far away from the enemy and therefore we couldn’t brew up tea. But we used to have tea sent up to us, up the communication trench. Well a communication trench can be as much as three quarters of a mile long. It used to start off in a huge dixie, two men would carry it with like a stretcher. It would start off boiling hot by the time it got to us in the front line, there was ice on the top it was so cold.

Serving with the Honourable Artillery Company in the Ancre sector, Bill Haine had similar problems with frozen water.

We were on a show there at a place called Baillescourt Farm. And we took this farm and we had to hold on to it. Nobody could get up to us and if they did get up to us with water it was no good because it was completely frozen stiff our water bottles were frozen stiff. And all we’d had for about three days was to suck ice, cut your water bottles and suck the ice out of it. The River Ancre was just on our right at that time and we went down to the Ancre every night with pick-axes to try and get through to the water, but we never succeeded.

For British sapper George Clayton, the simple task of shaving was made almost impossible by the sub-zero temperatures.

You could get a handful of snow and put it into one of them empty Capstan tins, you know we used to get tins of Capstan, had 60 cigarettes, it was just about like a milk thing. And you could warm your snow in there to get water underneath a candle then you had some warm water when the snow melted. Have a shave and by the time you were shaved – they issued us with cut throat razors there wasn’t any safeties in them days – but by the time you were shaved the water was frozen again to ice. And you had to melt the water that you’d left your lather brush in before you could get it out! It was a block of ice again! I know me I’ve had to do that more than once! Oh, aye.


Russian Revolution

The effects of World War I gave rise to the Russian Revolution. In February and March 1917, a popular revolution forced the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the rise of a provisional government. This government, which kept Russia in the war, was itself overthrown by radical socialists just eight months later.

Effects of war

By the end of 1916, two years of total war had placed enormous strain on all combatant nations. None felt this more severely than Russia, which had entered the war confident but in a precarious political, economic and social state.

The Russian economy had made great industrial advances in the two decades prior to 1914 – but it was still under-developed and ill-equipped to supply a prolonged war.

Russia’s government was still dominated by the tsarist autocracy, which claimed political authority that was divine rather than popular.

‘Unstable pillars’

The Russian people were already fractious, dissatisfied and eager for change. The Russian empire rested on what historian Orlando Figes called ‘unstable pillars’, and they were unable to sustain its involvement in one of the most intense wars in history.

At the epicentre of this turmoil was Nicholas II, Tsar of all the Russias. Most historians agree that Nicholas was not equipped for governing Russia through difficult times. He was the son of an overbearing autocrat and the grandson of a reformer – but was himself incapable of being either.

Nicholas was determined to cling to autocratic power but he was blind to the problems this created and the threats it posed to his throne. The Tsar professed to love the Russian people but he turned the other way when hungry workers were shot in St Petersburg (1905) or striking miners were machine-gunned in Siberia (1912).

The 1905 Revolution

Nicholas’ throne had already been challenged by a premature Russian revolution, a decade before the outbreak of World War I. A disastrous defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), coupled with a flagging economy, poor living conditions and the shooting of protestors in St Petersburg, led to a spontaneous but intense challenge to the tsarist rule.

The Tsar responded as he normally did and blamed Russia’s troubles on anarchists, universities and on Jews. Ultimately, however, he was forced to relent, agreeing to authorise a written constitution and allow the formation of an elected legislature (the Duma).

Nicholas failed to honour these promises, however, simply using them to buy time. The constitution was passed but it changed little. The Duma was elected but it was given little power. The Tsar, it seemed, was determined to continue his autocratic rule as before.

A war between cousins

The rapid descent into war in 1914 had caught the Tsar unaware. Nicholas knew the German Kaiser was ambitious and prone to rash decisions – but he did not think Wilhelm so treacherous that he would declare war on the empire of his own cousin.

Nicholas made the first of several blunders in July 1914 when he cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, as commander-in-chief of the army. Nikolaevich had military training as a cavalry officer but had never commanded an army in battle. He now found himself in charge of one of the world’s largest armies in the largest war in history.

The Prussian campaign

In August 1914, Nikolaevich and his generals – aware that most German forces would be occupied with the Schlieffen Plan in the west – planned an invasion of East Prussia.

It was a bold campaign that might have succeeded if not for poor planning and leadership. The two Russian field commanders, Alexander Samsonov and Pavel von Rennenkampf, were competent officers but were both over-confident and vainglorious. They were also bitter rivals who could barely stand the sight of one another.

Their inept decision-making and constant squabbling contributed to a disastrous Russian defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in late August 1914. Unable to face reporting the loss of 150,000 troops to the tsar, Samsonov took his own life.

Nicholas takes charge

In September 1915, after a year of fighting and several costly defeats, the exasperated Nicholas II decided to personally take command of the army. Against the advice of his ministers, he dismissed Nikolaevich and proceeded to the frontline.

The decision proved telling for two reasons. Nicholas’ distance from the Eastern Front in 1914 and early 1915 had buffered him from criticism. Instead, his generals had footed the blame for military disasters. Now, the tsar would be responsible for every defeat, shattering the divine infallibility that many superstitious Russians believed he had.

Secondly, Nicholas left the reins of domestic government with his wife rather than his prime minister. Tsarina Alexandra was utterly devoted to her husband but was even more politically naive than he. Worse, she was of German birth and now had secara de facto political power during a bitter war with Germany.

Rasputin the ‘mad monk’

There was also another sinister figure lingering on the periphery in 1916. Grigori Rasputin was a Siberian itinerant who had trekked his way to Saint Petersburg several years before. Once in the capital, he began to attract attention as an occultist, a fortune-teller and a faith-healer.

Despite his appalling manners and personal hygiene, the mysterious Rasputin found his way into the parlours – and in many cases, the bedrooms – of Saint Petersburg’s aristocratic and bourgeois ladies. He eventually received an invitation to the Winter Palace, where the deeply religious tsarina sought divine assistance for her young son Alexei, who was cursed with the genetic blood disorder haemophilia.

Rasputin’s ministrations comforted the boy – and his mother – and the Siberian mystic became a regular in the royal court. He prayed with the Romanovs and treated Alexei during the day, then at night crawled the seedier parts of the city, boozing and cavorting with gipsy prostitutes.

Rasputin came to exert some political sway over Alexandra, passing on ‘divine advice’ about ministerial appointments, domestic policy, even military matters. Though his influence has probably been overstated, Rasputin’s baleful presence revealed the anachronistic and corruptible nature of tsarism.

The road to revolution

In December 1916, a group of aristocrats attempted to ‘save’ the monarchy from Rasputin by murdering him. They succeeded in disposing of him but it proved too little, too late. The way to a Russian revolution had been cleared.

By February 1917, the situation in Russia’s cities had become critical. Shortages of food and fuel were dire: the capital city, since re-named Petrograd, needed 60 railway cars of food a day but often received barely one-third this amount. Inflation had been so severe through 1916 that the rouble had just a quarter of its pre-war buying power.

In February, when a women’s day march through Petrograd merged with angry bread queues, the unrest spilt over into revolution. Soldiers ordered to fire on the crowd refused and shot their officers instead. The tsarina’s response was dismissive, writing off the unrest as a “hooligan movement”.

Things eventually became so dire that the tsar set out to return from the front. He was halted along the way by striking railway workers. While waiting on train sidings in Pskov, Nicholas II was met by his generals and members of the Duma. All but one demanded he sign an instrument of abdication, which Nicholas eventually did.

With the swish of a pen in a stranded railway cart, the Russian Revolution had brought more than 300 years of Romanov rule to an inglorious end.

The Provisional Government

In different times, the departure of tsarism might have paved the way for a brighter future for Russia – but the war continued and so too did the problems it created.

The Provisional Government that replaced the tsarist regime introduced some liberal reforms, like freedoms of assembly and the press, and amnesties for political prisoners. Facing international pressure, however, it refused to end Russian involvement in the war.

The defeats, military follies, casualty lists and food shortages continued, and after six months the Provisional Government’s popularity had slumped.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks

In October 1917, a new political force, the socialist Bolshevik Party, emerged to seize control of the nation in October 1917. Led by Vladimir Ulyanov, or Lenin, the Bolsheviks promised ‘peace, bread and land’ – promises that resonated with Russian workers, soldiers and sailors.

Once in power, the Bolsheviks commenced peace negotiations with Germany. In March 1918, they signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, formally ending Russia’s involvement in the war. It was a costly peace: Russia had to surrender large amounts of territory, people and fertile farmland.

World War I had incited the Russian Revolution, killed off one of Europe’s oldest monarchies and delivered a new political phenomenon: socialist dictatorship. This would itself come to deliver its share of death, deprivation and human suffering.

“The declaration of war did bring a powerful if brief burst of patriotic support for the tsarist government. [But] within six months, the human and economic costs of the war badly eroded whatever political capital the tsar’s government had gained by declaring war… Among the civilian population it was the peasantry who felt the pains of the war most sharply. Army mobilisations dragged away nearly a third of all the men in the villages – about one million men per month were conscripted in 1914-15. Conscription brought tragedy for hundreds of thousands of families, altered life in the villages [and] created a shortage of labour that hampered Russia’s already inefficient agrarian system.”
Michael Hickey, historian

1. At the start of the war, Russia was a vast empire with a large army – but was politically and industrially backward.

2. Its leader, Tsar Nicholas II, adhered to principles of autocracy but was not competent to govern autocratically.

3. Russia’s disastrous 1914 campaigns saw Nicholas take personal command of the army, a politically dangerous step.

4. The tsar and his wife were also discredited by their involvement with the meddling faith healer Grigori Rasputin.

5. By the start of 1917, Russia’s domestic economy had collapsed and both food and fuel were critically scarce in Russian cities. This triggered the February Revolution, an uprising that led to the abdication of the tsar and, by the end of 1917, the rise of a socialist government in Russia.


War of the (Manufacturing) Machines, 1916

The Germans called the Great War &ldquoMaterialschlachte&rdquo&mdasha battle of materials. The armed struggle between industrially advanced European powers pitted their military forces and also their economic and industrial capacity against one another. The combatant countries took years trying to fully harness production capacity to build up supplies for the kind of warfare that evolved from 1914. The issue of Amerika ilmiah from 100 years ago today looks at the problem that the U.S.A. faced in mass-manufacturing an ever-greater quantity of artillery shells desperately needed on the battlefields of Europe:

&ldquoIn the early days of the great war the American public was dazzled and astounded by the public reports of the contracts for enormous quantities of munitions, at unheard-of prices, that were being placed with our manufacturers by the European allies, and it was regarded as quite natural and fitting that European countries, in their condition of unpreparedness and dire necessity, should turn to America, with its reputation for mechanical ingenuity and ability, and its great factories, for assistance. American manufacturing organization and ability was to be pitted against that of Germany, and the result was contemplated with complacency. American energy and efficiency was to show its superiority over the supposedly stereotyped routing of continental shops but the actual results have been a humiliating surprise, in many instances, both to the public and to many an optimistic contractor.&rdquo

Caption: A worker turns a six-inch shell on a lathe, shaving down the outside of it, in an American factory, 1916. Credit: Scientific American Supplement, 23 Desember 1916

&ldquoMany companies, attracted by the prospect of big profits, and relying on their shop equipment, undertook the manufacture of unfamiliar products, in the way of arms and ammunition, only to meet with failure. Of course, there are many companies whose regular work was the production of arms, and these, for the most part, have been successful in making the needed supplies of the desired quality, but even in these establishments there have been some that have been carried off their feet by the unprecedented demand, and their inability to handle the immensely increased factories that they have hurriedly erected for the purposes of these special contracts. But the actual gross results of all these loudly advertised ammunition contracts has been practically insignificant.&rdquo

Between 1914 and 1918 every country involved in the war as a participant or a supplier dramatically increased shell production. In Germany, shell production of all calibers increased from 343,000 a month in 1914 to 11,000,000 a month in 1918 (according to Salavrakos, below). In Britain in 1915, the &ldquoshell scandal&rdquo erupted after it became clear that the high rate of artillery fire on the battlefield could not be sustained by the limited production of shells back home. From 1914 to 1918, Germany and Austria-Hungary produced up to 680 million shells and the industries of the Allies France, Britain, Russia (to October 1917), Italy, the U.S. and Canada, produced up to 790 million shells (the statistics vary greatly). The U.S. produced between 30 million and 50 million of these shells.

Caption: Finished shell, six-inch caliber, painted and with nose cap in place, is carefully weighed before being packed away in a shipping crate. Kredit: Scientific American Supplement, 23 Desember 1916

Although the Central Powers produced&mdashmore or less&mdashas many shells as the Allies, the longer perspective from historians suggests that defects in the organization of armament industries within the context of the economic base of the country contributed to the downfall of Germany and Austria-Hungary. As the war progressed, the Central Powers countries were unable to properly harness their industrial base efficiently, leading to chronic and critical shortages in other industries and also for their civilian populations. That case is convincingly made by Alexander Watson of Goldsmiths, University of London, in his 2014 book Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I (Basic Books Watson won the prestigious Wolfson History Prize for the book). That argument is also statistically supported by Dr. Ioannis-Dionysios Salavrakos of the European Parliament, in his article &ldquo&Tauhe Defence Industry as an Explanatory Factor of the German Defeat During World War I: Lessons for Future Conflicts&rdquo in International Journal of History and Philosophical Research, Jil. 2, No. 1. pages 1&ndash34, March 2014 (www.ea-journals.org).

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Our full archive of the war, called Scientific American Chronicles: World War I, has many articles from 1914&ndash1918 on manufacturing during the First World War. It is available for purchase at www.scientificamerican.com/products/world-war-i/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Dan Schlenoff was a contributing editor at Amerika ilmiah and edited the 50, 100 and 150 Years Ago column for one seventh of the magazine's history.


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