Battle of Tannenberg (1914)
The Battle of Tannenberg was an engagement between the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 in the first days of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. It was fought by the Russian First and Second Armies against the German Eighth Army between 23 August and 30 August 1914. The battle resulted in the almost complete destruction of the Russian Second Army. A series of follow-up battles destroyed the majority of the First Army as well, and kept the Russians off-balance until the spring of 1915. The battle is notable particularly for a number of rapid movements of complete German corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 by train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

, allowing a single German army to concentrate forces against each Russian army in turn.

Although the battle actually took place close to Allenstein, General Erich Ludendorff's aide, Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Max Hoffmann
Max Hoffmann
Max Hoffmann was a German officer and military strategist during World War I. He is widely regarded as one of the finest staff officers of the imperial period....

, suggested naming it after Tannenberg
Stębark is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Grunwald, within Ostróda County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately south-east of Ostróda and south-west of the regional capital Olsztyn. The village has a population of 630...

, in the interest of Pan-German ideology, to counter the defeat of the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg)
Battle of Grunwald
The Battle of Grunwald or 1st Battle of Tannenberg was fought on 15 July 1410, during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Jogaila and Grand Duke Vytautas , decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, led...

 in 1410 by the Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

, Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

 and Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

. As pointed out by Christopher Clark
Christopher Clark
Christopher M. Clark is an Australian historian working in England. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School, the University of Sydney and the Freie Universität Berlin.-Life:...

, the actual Tannenberg is some 30 km (18.6 mi) to the west, and there was no intrinsic reason—other than the historical battle and its emotive resonance in the narrative of German and Slavic nationalism—to give its name to the 1914 battle.


The Allied battle plan prior to the war had been based on France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 halting the German armies in the West
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 while the huge Russian armies could be organized and brought to the Eastern front
Eastern Front (World War I)
The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

. The numbers were overwhelming; in perhaps as little as a month, the Russians could field around ten complete armies, more men than the Germans could muster on both fronts put together. However, at Tannenberg the actual ratio of Russian to German troops was closer to 16 to 9.

Frustrating this plan was the Russians' lack of a good quality railroad network. Additionally, Russian trains operated on a different rail gauge than the Germans, meaning that unless the Russians acquired German railroad engines and cars, their armies could only be transported by rail as far as the German border
With railways, a break-of-gauge occurs where a line of one gauge meets a line of a different gauge. Trains and rolling stock cannot run through without some form of conversion between gauges, and freight and passengers must otherwise be transloaded...

. The presence of the armies of Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 to the south as well as initially those of Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 to the east limited Russia's involvement in the beginning (however, Japan declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914). Nevertheless, the Russians considered the Germans to be their primary threat, and planned to use limited forces to quickly seize East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

The Germans likewise considered the Russians to be their primary threat. The entire Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

 was based on the idea of defeating France as quickly as possible, and then transporting their armies by train to the eastern front. This allowed the Germans to garrison Prussia fairly lightly with a single army, the Eighth, while the German Ninth Army was stationed in central Germany to reinforce either front. There was little allowance for anything other than a delaying action while the outcome in the west was decided. In order to delay the Russian forces as long as possible, the entire area around Königsberg
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

, near the Russian border, was heavily fortified with a long series of fieldworks
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...


Just prior to the opening of the war the situation developed largely as prewar planning had expected. The German Eighth Army was in place southwest of Königsberg, while the two available Russian armies were located to the east (First Army) and south (Second Army), the latter in what was known as the "Polish Salient". Russian battle plans called for an immediate advance westward by the Russian First Army under General Pavel von Rennenkampf
Paul von Rennenkampf
Paul von Rennenkampf was a Russian general who served in the Imperial Russian Army for over 40 years, including during World War I.-Early career:...

 into East Prussia, with Königsberg as the initial objective. The Russian Second Army under General Alexander Samsonov
Alexander Samsonov
Aleksandr Vassilievich Samsonov was a career officer in the cavalry of the Imperial Russian Army and a general served during the Russo-Japanese War and World War I.-Biography:...

 was to initially move westward around the Masurian Lakes and then swing north over a hilly area to cut off the Germans, who would by this point be forced into defending the area around Königsberg. If executed successfully, the Germans would be surrounded.


During the first weeks of the war the situation developed largely according to the German plan. The Germans had moved up about half of the units of the Eighth Army, reinforced by small groups of the Königsberg garrison, to positions east of Königsberg near the border. The Battle of Stallupönen
Battle of Stalluponen
The Battle of Stallupönen, fought between Russian and German armies on August 17, 1914, was the opening battle of World War I on the Eastern Front...

, a small engagement by the German I Corps
I Corps (German Empire)
The I Corps was a formation of the Imperial German Army. The headquarters of the corps were located in Königsberg. At the beginning of World War I, the corps was attached to the 8th Army and transferred to the Eastern Front....

 under Hermann von François
Hermann von François
Hermann von François was a German General der Infanterie during World War I, and is best known for his key role in several German victories on the Eastern Front in 1914.-Early life and military career:...

 was successful. Nevertheless, the German theater commander, General Maximilian von Prittwitz
Maximilian von Prittwitz
Maximillion Von Prittwitz was a German General.-Family:Prittwitz came from an extremely old aristocratic Silesian family in Bernstadt...

, ordered a withdrawal towards Gumbinnen. A counterattack planned for 20 August had a fair chance of succeeding but François attacked prematurely, before Mackensen's XVII Corps and Below's I Reserve Corps arrived at their positions. Thus alerted to German intentions the Russians moved up their heavy artillery and were able to turn the attack into a disordered retreat. The Battle of Gumbinnen
Battle of Gumbinnen
The Battle of Gumbinnen, initiated by forces of the German Empire on August 20, 1914, was the first major German offensive on the Eastern Front during the First World War...

, forced the Germans, in many cases via rail, to take positions south of Königsberg.

Concerned by the defeat at Gumbinnen and the continued advance of the Russian Second Army from the south, Prittwitz ordered a retreat to the Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

, effectively abandoning East Prussia. When he heard of this, Helmuth von Moltke
Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke , also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger...

, the German Army Chief of Staff, recalled Prittwitz and his deputy to Berlin. They were replaced by Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, called out of retirement, with Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 as his chief of staff.

Things were not quite as dire as they seemed to the German commanders in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. The two Russian commanders had disliked each other since Samsonov had publicly complained about Rennenkampf's behavior at the Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden
One of the largest land battles to be fought before World War I, the , the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, was fought from 20 February to 10 March 1905 between Japan and Russia near Mukden in Manchuria...

 in 1905. Although the common belief that the two generals had come to blows at a railway station has proved to be incorrect, Rennenkampf would not be inclined to help Samsonov except under dire circumstances. Additionally, Samsonov's Second Army was having serious problems moving forward due to poor supply
Military logistics
Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of military forces. In its most comprehensive sense, it is those aspects or military operations that deal with:...

 preparations, and unknown to him, Rennenkampf had decided to delay the First Army's advance to regroup after Gumbinnen, believing the Germans were preparing another attack.

Nevertheless, the scale of the forces deployed still meant the Russians had the upper hand. As they were currently deployed, the German Eighth Army could not even cover the front along Samsonov's line of march, leaving Samsonov's left wing free to advance without opposition. Unless troops from the Königsberg area (I, XVII and I Reserve Corps) could be moved to check this advance, the Germans were in serious danger of being cut off.

German consolidation of Eighth Army

Colonel Max Hoffmann
Max Hoffmann
Max Hoffmann was a German officer and military strategist during World War I. He is widely regarded as one of the finest staff officers of the imperial period....

, Prittwitz's deputy chief of operations, was well aware of the animosity between the Russian generals, and what it was likely to mean for their plans. Guessing that the Russian armies would continue to operate separately, Hoffmann proposed moving almost all German forces not already in Königsberg's eastern defense line to the southwest, moving I Corps by train to the left of Samsonov's line, a distance of over 160 km (99.4 mi). The XVII Corps and I Reserve Corps, at the time south of I Corps, would be readied for a move further south to face the Russian VI Corps on Samsonov's right flank. The German 1st Cavalry Division would remain as a screen just south of the eastern edge of the Königsberg defenses, facing Rennenkampf's First Army. The eastern portion of the Königsberg defenses was the only portion fully manned, while the approaches from the south were entirely open.

In theory, the plan was extremely risky. If the First Army turned to the southwest instead of advancing directly westward toward Königsberg, they would appear on the Eighth Army's extreme left flank, allowing for either a counterattack against the Eighth, or alternately turn north toward Königsberg from the undefended south. However, Hoffmann was convinced of the soundness of his plan, both because he was aware of the animosity between the Russian generals, and also because of the Russian habit of transmitting the next day's orders over unencrypted radio communications
Signals intelligence in modern history
SIGINT is a contraction of SIGnals INTelligence. Before the development of radar and other electronics techniques, signals intelligence and communications intelligence were essentially synonymous...

. It appears the Russians had outrun their secure telegraph
Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages via some form of signalling technology. Telegraphy requires messages to be converted to a code which is known to both sender and receiver...

 landlines, and were short of trained wireless telegraph operators and cryptographic
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties...

 equipment. This forced them to transmit their messages in the clear, and these were easily intercepted and translated by the Germans.

When Hindenburg and Ludendorff arrived on 23 August, they immediately stopped the retreat and put Hoffmann's plan into action. Since Prittwitz had already ordered the German troops to pull back via train, Ludendorff directed I Corps to alight near Deutsch-Eylau to cover the left flank of XX Corps, who had been in front of the Second Army since before the battle at Gumbinnen. Hoffmann had already issued similar orders, so little confusion resulted. The trap was being set.

Ludendorff also learned at this point that von Moltke had decided to take three corps and a cavalry division from the Western front and redeploy them to East Prussia. Ludendorff protested that they would arrive too late to have any effect, while at the same time weakening the German offensive through Belgium against France. However, von Moltke considered East Prussia too politically important to lose, and ignored Ludendorff's protests. Later, this movement of German forces would be seen as the final undoing of the Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

 that demanded a considerable preponderance of local forces in a rapid encirclement and destruction of the French armies east of Paris as they were driven into the German anvil on the Franco-German border.

Early phases of battle (23 August to 26 August)

Starting on 22 August, Samsonov's forces had met the Germans all along his front, and had successfully pushed them back in several places. On the 23rd, they attacked the German XX Corps, which retreated to the Orlau-Frankenau line that night. The Russians followed, and on the 24th they met them again at Orlau-Frankenau, where the now-entrenched XX Corps temporarily stopped the Russian advance. Once again XX Corps retreated in order to avoid possible encirclement by superior forces. Undeterred, Samsonov saw this as a wonderful opportunity to cut this unit off completely, because, as far as he was aware, both of his flanks were unopposed. He ordered most of his units to the northwest, toward the Vistula, leaving only his VI Corps to continue north towards their original objective of Seeburg
Jeziorany is a town in Olsztyn County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland, with 3,411 inhabitants ....


Concerned about this possible flanking maneuver, Ludendorff issued an order to François' now-deployed I Corps to initiate the attack on Samsonov's left wing at Usdau on 25 August. François rejected this direct order, stating there was no way to have the corps ready in time and that he wanted to wait until his artillery support was ready on 27 August. Ludendorff and Hoffmann would have none of this, and traveled to meet François to repeat the order in person. François agreed to commence the attack, but complained of a lack of artillery shells, telling his superiors that his troops would be obliged to charge with bayonets.

On the way back from the meeting, Hoffmann received new radio intercepts. Rennenkampf's most recent orders stated the next day's offensive would continue due west, ignoring Samsonov, just as Hoffmann had hoped. No matter the outcome of the impending battle in the south, the Russian First Army would not be a serious concern. A second intercept of Samsonov's own plans made it clear that he would continue his own march northwest, having concluded that the Germans would continue to retreat in front of Tannenberg.

Ludendorff and Hindenburg were skeptical that these intercepts were real, finding it difficult to believe that even one Russian commander would send his messages in the clear, let alone two. Nevertheless they were eventually convinced they were indeed real, and the plans were put into action. I Corps would open its attack on the Russian left flank on 25 August, while orders were sent to XVII Corps to move south and meet the Russian right flank as soon as possible.

Given the need for immediate action was no longer pressing, François once again demanded he be allowed to wait for his artillery supplies. Ludendorff and François began arguing, and eventually François delayed enough to allow the battle to open on 27 August as he had wished.

The main battle (26 August to 30 August)

The morning of the 26th opened with the First Russian Army
Russian First Army
The Russian First Army was a World War I Russian field army that fought on the Eastern Front for two years.The First Army, commanded by General Paul Rennenkampf, invaded East Prussia at the outbreak of war in 1914 along with the Second Army commanded by General Alexander Samsonov. After declaring...

 advancing west towards Königsberg, meeting little resistance. The troops that were formerly directly in front of them had moved to the south, facing the Second Army's right flank. There was still time to close the gap between the Russian armies and thereby threaten the German movements, which by this point were being reported back to Russian headquarters. Nevertheless, on the night of the 25th, the Russian field commander sent orders for the First Army to continue directly west to Königsberg, orders that were once again intercepted by the Germans.

Due to François' delays, XVII German Corps opened the battle proper. They met the two separated divisions of VI Russian Corps near Seeburg and Bischofstein, turning them both back toward the border in disarray. The right flank of the Second Russian Army was now open. In the meantime, the Russian advance toward Tannenberg continued to be blocked by XX German Corps
XX Corps (German Empire)
The XX Army Corps was a unit of the German Army that was stationed in Allenstein . At the beginning of World War I, the corps was transferred to the Eastern Front...

 in front of them. Their only successes were in the center, where XIII Russian Corps advanced toward Allenstein unopposed.

François opened his own attack on the Russian left on the 27th, held by I Russian Corps. His artillery proved to be decisive, and by the night the Russians were falling back. In order to help stabilize the line, Samsonov ordered the seemingly successful XIII Corps to abandon Allenstein and turn southwest to help break through at Tannenberg. By the time this maneuver was complete, the bulk of the Russian Second Army were all in the Tannenberg area, consisting of the newly-arrived XII, XV, and part of XXIII Corps.
By the evening of 28 August, the full extent of the danger to the Russians was evident. Their I Corps on the left and VI Corps on the right were both retreating. Meanwhile the center was having serious supply problems and could no longer hope to maintain an offensive. Samsonov had no option but to order a retreat to the southeast and attempt to reorganize near the border. Meanwhile, he asked Rennenkampf to ignore Königsberg and turn southwest to help.

It was too late. François by this time had advanced due east to form a line to the south of the Russians between Niedenburg and Willenburg, directly in their line of retreat. At the same time, XVII Corps in the north had moved southwest to meet him. The next day the Russian center met these troops on their way to regroup, and realized they were surrounded. A pocket formed east of Tannenberg, near Frogenau, and was pounded by artillery throughout 29 August.

Attempts by the Russian First Army to come to their aid were also far too late to help. The German cavalry screen proved effective at delaying them, and by the time the battle was already over their closest unit was still to the northwest of the initial contact between XVII German Corps and VI Russian Corps, perhaps as much as 70 km (43.5 mi) from the trapped Second Army. Other Russian units were scattered back along the line to Königsberg, leaving the First Army itself in a dangerously spread-out position.

By the time the battle ended on 30 August, Samsonov's Second Army was destroyed, with 92,000 Russian troops captured, another 78,000 killed or wounded, and only 10,000 (mostly from the retreating flanks) escaping. The Germans suffered fewer than 20,000 casualties and captured over 500 guns. Sixty trains were required to transport captured Russian equipment to Germany.

Rather than report the loss of his army to Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, Samsonov committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on 29 August 1914.


The German victory at Tannenberg set the stage for the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, where the reinforced German Eighth Army now faced only the Russian First Army and forced it back over the prewar border. Russian forces would not again march on German soil until the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Ludendorff sent the official dispatch from Tannenberg, and the battle was named Battle of Tannenberg at the direct request of Hindenburg. Hindenburg chose Tannenberg because of its historical significance; it was the location where the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 were defeated by the joint forces of the Kingdom of Poland
Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)
The Kingdom of Poland of the Jagiellons was the Polish state created by the accession of Jogaila , Grand Duke of Lithuania, to the Polish throne in 1386. The Union of Krewo or Krėva Act, united Poland and Lithuania under the rule of a single monarch...

 and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 at the Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald
The Battle of Grunwald or 1st Battle of Tannenberg was fought on 15 July 1410, during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Jogaila and Grand Duke Vytautas , decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, led...

 (referred to in German as Schlacht bei Tannenberg — "Battle of Tannenberg").

Hindenburg and Ludendorff were both hailed as heroes, although Hoffmann was generally ignored by the press. Apparently not pleased by this, Hoffmann later gave tours of the area noting, "This is where the Field Marshal slept before the battle, this is where he slept after the battle, and this is where he slept during the battle." However, Hindenburg countered by saying, "If the battle had gone badly, the name 'Hindenburg' would have been reviled from one end of Germany to the other."

Post-war legacy

The battle is at the center of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

's novel August 1914
August 1914
August 1914 is a novel by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about Imperial Russia's defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia. The novel was completed in 1970, first published in 1971, and an English translation was first published in 1972...


A German monument
Tannenberg Memorial
The Tannenberg Memorial commemorated fallen German soldiers of the second Battle of Tannenberg in 1914, which was named after the medieval Battle of Tannenberg...

 was completed in 1927. However, it was blown up by Germans during the retreat in January 1945.

Ludendorff would later revisit the battle site when naming his own political movement, the Tannenbergbund
The Tannenbergbund was a far right German political society founded by the German Army general Erich Ludendorff in 1925.-Founding:Ludendorff had been a leading member of the National Socialist German Workers Party in the early 1920s and ran for the party in the 1925 Presidential election during...

, formed in 1925.

The German film director Heinz Paul made a film about the battle, filmed in East Prussia in 1932.

Comparable historical battles

Hindenburg and Ludendorff's daring maneuvers to surprise and defeat in detail
Defeat in detail
Defeat in detail is a military phrase referring to the tactic of bringing a large portion of one's own force to bear on small enemy units in sequence, rather than engaging the bulk of the enemy force all at once...

 two enemy armies may be compared to classic examples like the Battle of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

 or the Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

. However, the disastrous consequences of failing to defeat each enemy force in turn can be seen at the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...


See also

  • Order of battle at Tannenberg (1914)
    Order of battle at Tannenberg (1914)
    This is the order of battle for both the Russian and German armies at the Battle of Tannenberg, August 17 to September 2, 1914.-First Army:General Paul von RennenkampfII Corps 26th Infantry Division...

  • Tannenberg Memorial
    Tannenberg Memorial
    The Tannenberg Memorial commemorated fallen German soldiers of the second Battle of Tannenberg in 1914, which was named after the medieval Battle of Tannenberg...

External links

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