Back For Christmas? – The Illusion Of A Short War I THE GREAT WAR – Week 11

Back For Christmas? – The Illusion Of A Short War I THE GREAT WAR – Week 11


The war of rapid victories was over and the
continuous war in the filthy trenches had begun, ending the rush of optimism with which
the warring nations had begun the war and bringing in a heavy mood of disillusionment
that would crush the spirits of the millions of men fighting and dying. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week we saw the Germans laying siege
to Antwerp, the last bastion of Belgian resistance, while in the East the Russians were laying
siege to the Austrians at Przemsyl- the Austrian army now behind Russian lines. Another Russian
army was on an endless march through Poland, but at the Aisne, both sides were stuck in
the mud, losing thousands of men every day as the endless battle continued. And in Africa,
the Germans were tying down the South African troops, preventing them from joining the fight
in Europe. On the Western front, Kaiser Wilhelm himself
had visited his German troops at Chauny, telling them that they would indeed be home by Christmas,
and in Paris, after the battle of the Marne a few weeks ago, there had been matching hopes
for a French victory. However, in the French army, Commander in
Chief Joseph Joffre abandoned his hopes of outflanking the Germans and winning a spectacular
victory. He saw that his best hope now was just holding the line, preventing the Germans
from achieving their own encircling maneuvers, but the Germans under Prince Rupprecht were
coming on strong this week. Rupprecht was the crown prince of Bavaria,
the last one actually, and though he got his appointment as commander of the German 6th
army because of his title, he proved to be one of the best commanders in the entire German
army, remaining on the Western Front for the entire war and eventually reaching the rank
of Field Marshall. He nearly managed to surround the French at
Lille and Arras on October 4th. General Ferdinand Foch was in charge of dealing with this threat.
Foch’s main contribution turned out to be one of morale- his iron determination and
his absolute insistence that there be no retreat, soldiers must hold or die. Which they did,
and a major German push on Arras was knocked back. By the evening of the 6th, the French
line was stable. The Germans then turned their full attention
to the siege of Antwerp, Belgium, where they had been shelling the surrounding forts since
September 26th. Now, 8,000 British troops were sent to Antwerp
on October 4th and 5th, which sounds great, but many of these troops were raw recruits
and had never even held, let alone fired, a rifle. These men were merely a stopgap measure though,
for a further 22,000 British troops, a full professional division, was now on the way.
Once they got there, the Belgians, with 30,000 British troops to defend them, thought victory
had suddenly arrived, and the Germans were slowly pushed back. This was only an illusion,
though, for the French government suddenly decided not to send any French troops, as
they had promised, and this lack of support caused the British to hold back. This was
probably a good thing, as the British and Belgians had no realistic hope of defeating
the Germans at Antwerp without French help. On October 7th, the German army began pounding
the city of Antwerp itself, not just the surrounding forts, with 17-inch howitzers. The defenders,
quite literally, had no means of counter attack- their guns just couldn’t reach, and the
British would not move forward without the missing French support. On October 8th, the
British, began to evacuate, and on October 10th, the tired and battered
Belgians could take no more, and King Albert, who personally commanded the Belgian army,
was forced to flee the city. The long siege of Antwerp had dashed British
and Belgian hopes of breaking out and claiming victory. Disillusioned, they now only resolved
to hold back the Germans long enough to move troops from their posts north east of Paris
to the Channel ports and prevent the Germans from reaching the sea, which they did. In the east in Poland, disillusionment was
spreading as well on both sides, as the technicaly superior German forces faced the enormous
mass of the Russian army, now on the move in a seemingly endless spirit-crushing march
to positions along the Vistula River. On this day, October 9th 1914, the German
army captured the Russian order of battle from a Russian officer and they realized that
they had 18 divisions against what was now 60 Russian divisions in two armies in Poland,
and even superior arms were not going to give Germany a decisive victory, so the new German
battle plan for the moment was just to follow up the Russian columns. Really. That was it.
Nobody wants to attack somebody that’s more than three times as strong as them. You really
have to pick your battles. And picking his battles is just what German
General von Hindenburg did, winning a series of carefully chosen small victories during
these weeks, harassing the Russians throughout Poland, and very importantly keeping the Russian
army too busy to help out with what was going on further south in Galicia, where the Russians
were still laying siege to the Austrian army at the fortress of Przemsyl. When the siege had begun two weeks ago, the
Russians had been unable to bring in their heavy artillery because of the mud surrounding
the fortress, but they had made a full-scale assault anyway, hoping to win before the Austrians
could bring in reinforcements. It was futile and merely resulted in 40,000 Russian casualties. Now, the lands that these armies, whether
Austrian, German, or Russian were now fighting in were mostly inhabited by minority peoples
of the empires who were often unsatisfied with their status within their country. What
we see throughout the rest of the war is warring nations making promises and hints to disaffected
or dependent peoples to try to win exploit them in order to gain an advantage. The Russian provinces of Poland, which had
been annexed in the 1700s, were being overrun by the German army under Hindenburg and Ludendorff,and
many Poles in that region were beginning to ask the question, “Would the Germans grant
Poland autonomy?” Polish soldiers were also fighting alongside the Austrians, hoping that
an Austro-Hungarian victory would re-establish an independent Poland. The Empire encouraged
this belief and the Polish Legion, which became an independent part of the Imperial army,
was formed by Joseph Pilsudski in late August. Pilsudski, later Marshall Pilsudski, would
go on after the war to be the leader of an independent Poland in the 20s and 30s. the following moved from conclusion and edited:
Being a minority in 1914, much like today in many places, most often involved a history
of being hated and violently repressed for who you were, being invaded repeatedly over
the years or being murdered for your beliefs, and at best only having a token say in the
control of your lives and lands, but with the autumn war came a change, as the reality
of a seemingly endless war sank in among the powers,a reality that led them to grasp for
any advantage and to search for new allies in perhaps unlikely places. The promise of independence or even just citizenship
in exchange for your allegiance is a powerful one, and one that is still relevant today.
Many of the minority peoples asked to fight in 1914 had never even before had a glimmer
of hope of independence, and so they fought, based on the promises of a brighter future
for their people. Unfortunately, most of those promises turned out to be empty, hollow words
and millions more men would die for lies. So the Russians now encouraged all those Poles
in the Russian domains not crawling with Germans and Austrians to fight with the Russians,
also supposedly to further their nationalistic ambitions. Poles were now fighting against
Poles. Nearly two million Poles fought in the war on both sides, with some 450,000 of
them dying, mostly fighting to gain their independence. Britain was even trying to enlist the Sheik
of Mecca with the promise of future Arab control of chunks of the Ottoman Empire, but you also
see minorities encouraged in various other ways- Jews in Russia, for example, were now
allowed to rise to the ranks of officers in the army, to encourage them to join up and
fight, although they still did not receive full citizenship and, let’s face it, were
often murdered by Russian townspeople who needed a scapegoat for Russian military failures. And there certainly had been their share of
them, especially the colossal ones at Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes weeks ago. Actually, four
of the five major warring nations had now seen their share of both victory and defeat,
but the fifth, the Empire of Austria-Hungary had seen nothing but military failures riddled
with incompetence. And there the Austrians were at the end of
the week, still under siege in Przemsyl with the Russians pressing them. The
northern Russian armies were still on their endless march to positions on the Vistula,
and as for the Germans in Poland, after clever maneuvering, at the end of the week Hindenburg
was only 19 kilometers from Krakow. In the west, the last major Belgian town had
fallen and the 80,000 men remaining in the Belgian field army had retreated, but the
siege had given British and French troops time to move their positions and the final
possibility for the Germans to outflank them was disappearing. The war going to be long and bloody, and all
sides now knew it. There would be no encirclement in the west, no Russian colossus triumphant
in the east, no glory for the empire in the southeast. There would only be continuous
battles in the muddy trenches with thousands of new recruits dying each day, or endless
freezing marches with soldiers dying by the roadside in the mud and snow. This was modern
war. We’ll see you next week. If you’re just joining us, here’s a good
episode to watch next- when the German army had just reached Paris and the Austrians were
in dire straits against the Russians. One of the major turning points of the war. And
click subscribe to get each new episode. Tell all your friends about us. And your neighbors.

100 thoughts on “Back For Christmas? – The Illusion Of A Short War I THE GREAT WAR – Week 11

  1. "You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees".
    – Kaiser Wilhelm II

    So somber in hindsight 🙁

  2. Join the mobile infantry and save the world. Service Guarantees Citizenship. Would you like to know more?

  3. I love this channel as a long prelude for Finlands independence. I remember nothing about WW1 from history classes. In Finland, history classes mainly focused on our war with russians… Or thats the only thing I remember about history classes.

  4. Germany won the early campaigns of WW2 because its generals chose their battles carefully. They picked off one enemy after the other in relatively short, but nevertheless effective campaigns. The idiotic move by Adolf Hitler was forcing Germany into a long war of attrition against Russia, something which Germany never really had any prospects of winning.

    While Germany could technically match nations like France and Britain during WW1 in terms of long battles, it could never overcome the numerical superiority of those nations. And when the USA finally entered the war officially, the war was basically decided.

  5. I'm in love with this channel since I found it! The amount of information that you're giving is just enormous and the way you're delivering it is simply great. Know I know how little I knew about this war cause it was never covered good enough in school. Keep on with the good work!

  6. This guy is better than any history teacher I could have. School censors a lot of things and takes out less important information while he gives you everything

  7. this is one of best info channel on the tube. don't be disheartened by small like. I liked all these vidz but I watched them all in one go, forgotten to press like. will do so on pc

  8. binge-watching thee show, thanks for putting up professional work for free.hell, the quality is better than almost all documentaries on TV.

  9. Awsome series. But I grin every time the presenter pronouces Przemyśl (~pshemeesl), as Przemsyl (~pshemseel) 😛

  10. Germans – technical and modern
    British – professionals
    Russian -Millions and Millions
    Austro Hungarians – Fucking Idiots

  11. realty shows are killing history, the children of today are more consumed with TV trash than the history of the world we all live in. No one likes or wants war, but it happens and it's fascinating how the results almost always led to a future conflict or innovation

  12. I'm in love with your channel. You guys have actually inspired me to move my focus from WW2 to the great war when in comes to researching my ancestors in this particular war. I'm from Croatia so there are some problems with that since all the archives on Croatian soldiers are in Vienna. My question is where do you get the music for your channel. I've checked the description box but i don't see if your sound guys find it or something else. I'm interested in buying the song that starts on 00:25, so is it availible somewhere? Thank you and keep up the good work.

  13. What is great about this channel is that, while I do care for the victors and the entrene allied powers. I respect the knowledge of a story telling for a old world and new bouts of Independence. Thanks for focusing on smaller nations and the Central powers.

  14. To be fair, many new countries got their independence after the war. Finland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, etc. I am probably forgetting some.

  15. Just discovered the series. Fascinating and very professional and unbiased. The Great War was not gone through in great detail in school due to the Civil War going on at the time of the Great War in Finland. Though part of the Russian Revolution it might loosely be considered a part of the 1st World War. Anyhoo, thanks a lot for an awesome series, I have a bit of catching up to do!

  16. The Poles have long been strip of their independence. It was only shortly after WW1, they gained independence, but only to be taken again. 🙁 It is all just an illusion.

    But in all honesty, The Poles were really one of the few nations who have dedicated their lives for something they hoped to achieve. Resembles much like the colonial nations who have been conquered for so long. And in Europe, the Polish were ONE OF THE FEW nations who knew what it felt like; to be oppressed, discriminated, to be free by living in chains, and many more.

    But of course, there are the Balkan nations as well.

  17. 5:51 walking the maxim. Are most of these men are dead by now? Deep into 1917 would that maxim still be working? Did anybody survive the whole thing?

  18. Only just discovered this series. Absolutely brilliant, impartial and very well narrated. This should be on BBC1 at 5pm

  19. Hello Mr. Indi Neidell, thank you so much for the great documentary. Even though I will forget most of it pretty soon but still it's better than watching a cat playing piano.

  20. this needs millions of views. its sad how the views keep declining after the first video. people need to see this to know the horrors of war. all the war mongering politicians who've never faced any danger needs to see this. that draft dodger donald dump needs to see this

  21. Countries that took part in the partition of Poland in XVIII century (Austria, Prussia, Russia) are now fighting each other. And guess what? All of them will lose the WWI. That is quite miraculous. Greetings from Poland.

  22. There's a flaw in your map.. the Netherlands didn't build their 3 biggest 'polders' til the 1930's. So the country should be about 15% smaller. Doesn't matter for the story though.

  23. I really have to say that I admire the work that has gone into every episode that I have watched thus far. Also, Indy Nidel, IF that is your real name! You are meant for this, I know there is still quite some time before you finish WWI but are there any historical events that you have lined up once you're finished?

  24. Wow.
    Poles fighting Poles during WW2.
    I did NOT know this, nor how minority peoples were utilized, and in many cases lied to.

  25. Loving the series! Stumbled on the channel a couple years ago and watched a couple vids. I find myself marathoning the vids now almost exactly a hundred years since the end of the war and wishing I'd found you four years ago and followed things properly. Perhaps in a decade or two you could do a similar channel for WW2, though it does get more coverage, I'm betting you'd get a lot of viewers if you linked the two and showed how the first led to the second.

  26. Napoleonic warfare: "This is the dumbest way to conduct a battle ever. We just stand in lines in front of each other and shoot till one side flees."
    Trench warfare: "Hold my beer." *sends a wave of infantry against machine gun positions*

  27. Ha! Now the Germans will get to me a minority in their own country. While the Poles won’t be.

  28. What about Ukrainians? For instance https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A3%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D1%81%D1%8C%D0%BA%D1%96_%D1%81%D1%96%D1%87%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%96_%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D1%96%D0%BB%D1%8C%D1%86%D1%96

  29. Ukrainians also had similar things as Poles, they were fighting on both sides.

  30. My Lebanese great Grandfather was promised American citizenship if he fought in ww1 and he accepted. He did eventually get his citizenship but came back with a foot fungus, bad memories and a shrapnel wound to the neck (he survived but didn't have full mobility in his neck).

  31. Nothing quite like sending 8k British troops, FRESH AND RAW off of the training camps, directly to the meat grinding front lines…

  32. I am absolutely loving this series! My older brother was a history major in college and graduated with a teaching degree. Although he never taught and was a small business owner until he retired last year, he has been a student of history his entire adult life. He told me about this series and says it is, by far,  the most comprehensive and accurate documentary on the subject.  I think it is wonderful and exactly the kind of thing that YouTube was meant for. Kudos, Indiana Neidell and everyone involved in this project.

  33. I hope that later episodes will have M. Neidell pronouncing the last name of General Foch in the French way – "Fosh", rather than as if it were a German name, Fock.

  34. Shame yall didn't do a week-by-week (or occasionally anyway) count of the casualties of both sides… would have been interesting to see as it unfolded.

    Later! OL J R 🙂

  35. A-H´s incompetence is relative I think.
    Seen from today I guess it would be better to go a more cautious way. Attacking always costs more lives than defending (1:3 to 1:4 ratio. When defenders are entrenched even more of course). More troops should have been brought against Russia than against Serbia.
    I guess the idea was to take out Serbia as quickly as possible. Just that the Serbian army was well experienced in modern warfar because of the Balkan wars.
    Winning the first 2 battles against Russia was not enough. The second 1 was even a Pyrrhic victory and in the 3rd battle Russians outnumbered the Austrians already 2:1!
    They have been too optimistic, yes! But I think not totally incompetent and uncapable of anything.

    The track gauge of Austrian railways was btw not different in every crownland. It was normal European 1435mm. But there was also the Bosnian 760mm in use. I think this is because of the very mountainous terrain in Bosnia. And it was in use on other small railways. But that was it!
    Bosnian railways is far better developed than the Serbian one till today and every present Bosnian railway line was built in the 40 years it was part of A-H.

  36. It all makes me think, why did this keep going for so long, with so many people dying over nothing? You'd think that at some point, cooler heads would look at the casualty lists and just decide to stop.

  37. Germany every day: oh look, a slip of paper containing all the battle plans of the russians for the week.

  38. Is it just me, or does he always seem to say something rather depressing or shocking immediately before almost cheerfully bidding us adiue until next week?

  39. "Rupprecht? Rupprecht!? RUPPRECHT! That isn't how we say hello, now is it? You don't want me, to get the genital cuffs, do you? Now… how do you say you're sorry?"

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