Plans Are Doomed to Fail – The Battle of Galicia I THE GREAT WAR Week 6

Plans Are Doomed to Fail – The Battle of Galicia I THE GREAT WAR Week 6


September 4th 1914 After a month of fighting, the nations of
Europe now all knew that this was a new type of war, with carnage on a scale never before
seen, but the technology and logistics of modern warfare also brought with it a whole
slew of unforeseen problems, especially as the war was about to go global and truly become
a world war. I’m Indy Neidell and this is the Great War. Here’s how the war looked at the beginning
of the week: A Russian army had been spectacularly destroyed
by the Germans at Tannenberg. The British and French were retreating to regroup around
Paris, the Germans on their heels, and the whole world was now talking about tales of
German and Austrian executions of civilians in occupied territories. Traditional war had always had its fair share
of difficulties, right? Transportation, supplies, and communications always seem to go wrong,
and World War One was no exception, but we begin to see that almost anything could screw
up the best-laid plans on an extraordinary scale. Let’s look at the war in the east: The Russian army may have just suffered a
catastrophic defeat against Germany, but they were doing a lot better against Austria-Hungary.
The Russians outnumbered the Empire roughly 750,000 to 500,000 in troops and had an even
greater advantage in machine guns and artillery. Austria-Hungary had won two quick victories
over the Russians, but it was all downhill from there. Austrian Chief of Staff Conrad
von Hotzendorf was over-confident, and he had a complicated plan to let the Russians
in the south advance and then swing round them in the north. Hotzendorf was one of the
major Austrian war hawks, dreaming of a glorious empire that stretched down to Africa and even
to the Middle East, but in practical terms he was a terrible general. He sort of ignored
the fact that the Russians were heavily reinforcing in the north, and by September 1st they began
to bear down on Conrad with close to twice as many men as the Austrians had. Russia took
Lemberg- one of the largest cities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire- on September 3rd
and Austria was forced to retreat to the Carpathian foothills. So far this war, Austria-Hungary had been
in a constant state of disaster, partly because of overstretch and partly because of incompetence.
This wouldn’t change, but there were also totally unforeseen problems- chronic language
difficulties being a big one. The Austrian army had soldiers from all the many nations
of its empire, Hungarians, Czech, Bosnians,you name it, and troops from one region would
repeatedly attack others of its own army, mistaking them for Russians because of their
unfamiliar language. And the Slavic troops would simply desert at times because of being
made to fight other Slavs, and sometimes even join the Russian army. There were also the huge open spaces of eastern
Europe- units would become lost, sometimes for days, and just finding the enemy was a
daunting task. Russia had problems of its own, though- although
it had an endless supply of men, it could only afford to feed and clothe a fraction
of them in an army, so you could avoid the draft for a variety of reasons. Like if you
were the family’s main breadwinner. So in early August, for example, two million Russians
suddenly got married, which would be funny if the ones who went to war weren’t all
dying. The problems of modern warfare were also being
felt in the west, but in different ways. The Franco-British retreat had started. British
Commander John French was considering retreating beyond Paris, though, and when he learned
that the last Belgian fortress had fallen to the Germans, he thought of abandoning the
whole thing and retreating all the way to St. Nazaire, on the Atlantic Coast. Seriously.
He had nothing but disdain for his allies, especially his opposite number French General
Lanzerac. Commander French said that the French army was the sort of people that he did not
wish to continue fighting with… which is insane! They were at war! But the retreat was really well managed. No
big guns were captured and there was never any threat of being surrounded. Part of this
was that the French Army now had a huge advantage- the French railway system. They could move
around troops lots faster than the Germans could follow on foot. And follow on foot they often had to do. The
automobile was still a fairly new creation, and most of the thousands of German trucks
used broke down this month. The Belgians had, of course, sabotaged their own railways. It
would take weeks for the Germans to get them in order again. The Germans had problems not only with their
cars, but also big ones with their horses, which by this point were dropping dead on
the roadside from hunger and exhaustion, but were needed to haul the dreaded German guns. The German armies were following the sweep
of the Schlieffen Plan, but on September 2nd this changed. Instead of going to the west
of Paris, they were now diverted to head east of it. This was because of good defense. One
German army was stopped by Lanzerac at Guise and forced to head southeast, and the other
had faced strong British resistance the whole way and the sweep was abandoned. Lanzerac was a very cautious general, and
though he was repeatedly ordered by his superiors to counterattack during the retreat, he wouldn’t,
saying he wanted to wait until open ground to use his artillery. Eventually, even with
Lanzerac’s success stopping the German advance, he was removed from command for being too
cautious. British Commander French was happy when Lanzerac
was relieved of command, but he was far from happy when Lord Kitchener, British Secretary
of State for War himself, had arrived in full Field Marshall dress uniform at the end of
August to meet directly with French and tell him to damn well work together with his allies,
and not simply retreat to safety. The British remained near Paris. The Schlieffen Plan as it was conceived might
have been successful if Moltke hadn’t diverted so many of his troops away- he had pulled
away troops to fight the Russians, troops for Antwerp, for the fortress of Namur…
but that’s war, so as the armies neared Paris, the German armies were now reduced
in size to below that of the French and British and they were much lower in ammunition. You can see that this was a bed of roses for
nobody at all, and something else we start to see around now: this was now no longer
a European land war, but was becoming an actual world war on both land and sea. Japan and Britain had had an alliance since
1902, and in mid August Japan demanded Germany withdraw her warships from Chinese and Japanese
waters and hand over the port of Tsingtao. On August 23rd, Japan declared war on Germany.The
Japanese landed 23,000 troops beginning September 2nd for the siege of Tsingtao, which would
last all autumn. Kaiser Wilhelm said, “it would shame me more to surrender Tsingtao
to the Japanese than Berlin to the Russians.” He said a lot of stuff like that. New Zealand had its first engagement of the
war, occupying German Samoa on August 29th to take the radio station there, one of several
stations the Germans had in the Pacific. The occupation took place without fighting, but
it brought the war to the Pacific. This was not the first seizure of a German colony during
the war, though, Togo having surrendered to the British and French three days earlier. And for Britain on her home islands this was
a dangerous time. Since the entire professional army had been sent to Belgium, and Germany
had plenty of troops available to land in the east of England, there was a prospect
of invasion, and with a bit of luck an invading force might elude the Royal Navy, but on August
28th, at Heligoland, three German cruisers were destroyed by the British without a ship
sunk, ending the threat. This was the first real naval engagement of the war, and as you
all know, it was very far from the last. So now we have an actual world war on three
continents, which brings with it all of the new problems of modern warfare, and though
many of them are still connected with transportation, communication, supplies, and even language,
they’re on a scale like never before, and just as all problems in war cost lives, we’ll
see millions die as nations try to get a grip on 20th century warfare. We will see you next week. Click here to see last week’s episode and
if you like this show, please share our episodes on Facebook and Twitter and tell your friends
about us.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

100 thoughts on “Plans Are Doomed to Fail – The Battle of Galicia I THE GREAT WAR Week 6

  1. And you see before you are people who have minds of those in the lore of Fallout. You can check Game Theory if you do not think so since MatPat did make a theory about how there was a fault in brain function – logically. It is also why…

    Insert meme This is why aaliens don't visit us!

  2. This week on "Austria-Hungarian Embarassments- Week by Week": Austria-Hungarian forces attack each other.

  3. Lol, Commander French hated the French. Surprised he didn't try to change his name like the Tudor's did.
    Also it would be funny if it weren't so tragic that the reward competent commanders could expect was to get fired.

  4. Every time you think this war couldn't possibly get more messed up, something else happens. This war was so totally FUBAR.

  5. 5:58 DAMN WELL WORK TOGETHER

    I love how the host randomly bursts into excited rants. This channel is great, really well researched and informative.

  6. While I agree that Austria and Germany did commit war crimes in Belgium and Serbia I feel as if to an extent the executions were somewhat justified. If you pick up a rifle and fire at an opposing army, you are no longer a civilian.

  7. My WW1 history lessons in school:

    Austrian dude gets shot.
    Alliances.
    The Somme was terrible.
    War Poets.
    Tanks.
    Something happened at Gallipoli.

    That's about it.

    So glad I found this series.

  8. Wait isn't it on four continents? 'cause I'm pretty sure Tsingtao is in Asia, Togoland is in Africa, Samoa is in Australasia or whatever you wanna call it, and then there's Europe.

  9. Hi, Indy. I like the 50’s look of an Ed Murrow or Douglas Edwards you use. It gives the impression of public service, not the modern fluff that is part of the sales division of industry and commerce. WWI was one of the most nasty, devastating trials in human history. Great reporting!

  10. Drinking Game: Watch the full series and take a shot every time a general does something incredibly incompetent with catastrophic consequences that could have been easily avoided

  11. Indy, is there anyway you could receive an Academy Award for your four years of work on the "Great War", you deserve it. How could we make this happen?

  12. He said French general Lanzerac but wiki says Lanrezac? Error? if so its the first one I've seen in this show. Wonder quality.

  13. Absulutely fabulous. If you could, give me a call, because you absolutely mangle the names of the cities and generals :).

  14. These episodes are so haunting, I am at a loss for words. Will watch every single episode til we reach armistice in November 1918/2018 . I have four years to catch up with.

  15. Seen 100's of docs for 30 years about WW1 and my opinion of the idiocy of the last German Kaiser just grows and grows. Great job with this series. I'm enjoying it immensly

  16. I can't blame General French. I wouldn't want to fight next to a Frenchman, either. You just know they're going to get you killed with their incompetence.

  17. I can't blame General French. I wouldn't want to fight next to a Frenchman, either. You just know they're going to get you killed with their incompetence.

  18. John French according to Wikipedia was French had a considerable reputation as a womaniser throughout his life and his career nearly ended when he was cited in the divorce of a brother officer whilst in India in the early 1890s.

  19. 3:44
    Typical Britbong, wanting to abandon his allies and run away back to his island like the British already did in the 1795 Flanders campaign and again at Corunna in 1809 and once again at Dunkirk in 1940….

  20. Its so funny that this supposed actor who could not get a job to save his life all of sudden pops up in Germany and in this episode makes fun of the men and officers of a war that he has no connection starts to slant history to the ones funding this channel……..

  21. I am from and posting this text in the former German port and former Japanese port, former American port and now Chinese port, Tsingtao, presently known as Qingdao.

  22. "Austria-Hungary had been in a constant state of disaster. Partly because of overstrech, but partly because of incompetence. This would not change"
    I don't know why I found that so funny, but I laughed out loud

  23. The fact that the negative verdict on the ability of the French to fight is right, the Poles in 1939 had to learn. When the French cowardly hiding in bunkers instead of fighting. This betrayal of Poland cost them dearly. Incidentally, this was actually a European war like the 2nd, so called World War. The fights outside of Europe were insignificant!

  24. When we Serbians defeated Austro-Hungarian forces on mountain Cer, which we call "The Battle on Cer", that was actually the first Allied Victory in Great War, and we were alone in it, no friends, no Allies.

  25. Tbh I used to think the intro was meh, but it's grown on me. Something about the way the music accumulates into the logo is nice.

  26. Oh my Darwin did I miss the psychology on what caused this war.? Or should I just keep looking? I believe a historic review should include the mental health of those who choose to go to war

  27. Glad you finally mentioned the Belgian sabotage of their railroads. I was sure this contributed to the German animus towards the Belgian people but that didn't get mentioned in the previous episode. Thanks

  28. Makes you wonder why these inept leaders learned so little from the American Civil War, especially tactics and technology. Such senseless slaughter.

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