The Battle of Tannenberg (the Beginning of World War I)
The Battle of Tannenberg (The Beginning of World War I)CW2 Jaime ManningsWOAC 02-11Instructor – CW4 Jim Lucas25 April 2011Scholars agree that in the 20th century, the greatest and most powerful militaries were Russia and Germany.  Many argue that this was the very battle that caused the outbreak of World War I (WWI), but others have a different say. Both armies would have to encounter in battle in the landscapes of Tannenberg, in August of 1914.  Both of these great forces, had been preparing for battle for nearly 40 years, and both were certain they would achieve victory.Nicholas II, the last emperor or Russia, and his Generals had planned on sending the First Russian army into East Prussia with the mission to draw German Forces to it; they would advance along the railroads. Then, they would occupy a heavily wooded area near Tannenberg where they were to await a movement to cut off the Germans. The Germans were surprised that this plan had initialized movement in such a short time and the Russians surprised the Germans in how quickly they were able to mobilize. It had only been two weeks from the outbreak of World War 1, and by early August of 1914, the Russian Empire had just begun invading East Prussia. General Samsonov was leading the second army into the south-western corner of East Prussia and General Rennenkampf was leading an advance into the north-east with the First army. The plan was to conduct a combined assault against General Prittwitz’s eighth army. General Rennenkampf’s army would lead the frontal attack, and General’s Samsonov would engulf General Prittwitz from the rear. This was a common maneuver that the Russians had successfully used in previous battles. The second Russian army crossed the border into East Prussia with a force of 150,000, and it alone was larger than all of the German forces in East Prussia. [pic 1]        General Prittwitz eighth army encountered the Russian second army in a brief battle that resulted in a Russian victory. This battle became known as “The Battle of Gumbinnen.” General Prittwitz became scared of another encounter with the advancing Russian army and retreated a few miles where he set up a Command Post and requested, almost begged for a withdrawal approval by his higher command. The German higher command was not happy with the recent news. Helmuth von Moltke, the German army Chief of Staff, recalled General Prittwitz and his deputy. He had had them come to Berlin where he was planning on firing them to replace them with a more deadly combination of men. He called on 67-year old Retired General Paul von Hindenburg, and Erich Ludendorff’s as his Chief of Staff to lead the battle that was sure to come.

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