The eastern Front in world War One is often largely unknown to numerous Westerners. The instance there was quite various to that on the western Front. Here, Rebecca Fachner complies with up top top her articles on Royal family squabbles here and also the spark that brought about war to an outbreak here.

You are watching: How was war on the western and eastern fronts different

The 100th anniversary of the an initial summer of human being War One roll onward, and with that commemorations that battles that everyone in the Western people seems to understand instinctively - the Marne, the Somme, Ypres… The war on the western Front is an extremely much lively in the west consciousness, however what is so frequently forgotten is that it was actually a two-front battle in Europe. Germany was not only fighting in the West versus the French and also British (and at some point the Americans), but also in the East versus the Russian Empire.


Russian troops top top the move to the prior line. From National geographic magazine, volume 31. 1917.

together a fighting force, the Russian empire was very contradictory. They were a formidable foe, yet at the very same time a really worrying ally. Your one substantial advantage in war was the sheer numbers of troops the they had at your disposal. It to be truly a staggering quantity of men, millions upon millions of Russian troops, a “mass of bodies all set to bleed” in the indigenous of one chronicler of the period.<1> The key disadvantage for the Russians was every little thing else. The army had miserably poor leadership, to be woefully underfunded and was technologically backward. In the years prior to the war, the Allies, especially France, had actually spent massive sums of money make the efforts to boost Russia’s technical capability.

Railroads had been a details target, as the movement of troops to the former as quickly as feasible was of big importance. France knew that German war plans hinged on Russia’s inability to mobilize their troops and so plan on attack France first, then moving on to Russia only after the French had been defeated. Therefore, if Russia can respond more quickly, and force Germany to divert troops in your direction earlier, so lot the much better for France. Their efforts did perform some good, however not enough, together was painfully demonstrated in the opening days the the war. It take it weeks for the Russians to rally a fighting force along the German and Austro-Hungarian borders.


Russia started the battle by invading east Germany. It was able to do so together Poland was no an independent country at this time meaning that Russia and Germany to be contiguous. The very first major engagement the the war was the fight of Tannenberg, which was a resounding defeat for the Russians. The next week at the battle of Masurian Lakes, the Russians were pushed back further, and would not fight ~ above German floor for the remainder of the war. In spite of the inauspicious beginnings, the Russians did enjoy some success, specifically against Austria-Hungary in the autumn of 1914. Through 1915, however, the Germans had actually made the east Front their optimal priority and began come hurl troops at the Russians, controlling to revolve the birds of the eastern war permanently in their own favor. Russia never ever again took pleasure in a far-reaching advantage.

The location of the war in the eastern was really different when contrasted to the west. Rather than a compressed former line, the Russians and Germans were ultimately fighting end an area of much more than a thousands miles. This spread the fighting, put a much bigger burden on army supply chains 보다 in the west, and making Russian transportation troubles an even bigger issue as they began to have supply troubles soon ~ war broke out. One small, seemingly trivial problem included to the frustration, namely the Russian railroads were, and also still are, top top a different track gauge than components of Europe further west. Railroad monitor in Europe (and practically everywhere else) room 4 feet 8 inches personal from each other, however in Russia the tracks are 5 feet apart. This way that trains indigenous Europe don’t job-related in Russia and also vice versa; to this day, if you room travelling through railroad right into Russia it reasons delays at the border. This produced all kinds of chaos for supplying both armies and moving troops. Every told, it usually slowed under the war in the east. Additionally, because the front line stretched over so huge a territory, trench warfare, something that is so closely associated with the war in the west, was not a element in the east. There was no require for trenches, together the militaries had therefore much more room come maneuver.

Another significant and frequently remarked upon trouble for the Russians to be the personality the the males making the vital decisions. Tsar Nicholas was a weak and also largely ineffective leader, and also enjoyed much too lot command authority because that a human being with restricted military experience. His two optimal commanders, Grand battle each other Nicholas and also Minister that War basic Sukhomlinov, hated every other and constantly tried to threaten the other, frequently to the hinderance of your command. Among those commanders, it must be said, Grand fight it out Nicholas Nicholaievich, to be an extremely devoted and able military commander, frustrated by the duplicity of his counterpart and also the ineptitude the his boss.

THE TSAR bring away CHARGE

This was not a recipe because that success, and also as the Russians continued to lose, blame to be shifted around and around the command structure. Ultimately the Tsar, frustrated and also exasperated, made decision to relocate to military headquarters to take an individual command of the military. That hoped that his visibility would inspire both the troops and the command structure and turn the birds of the war. Top top the confront of it, this was not as bad a decision together it turned out to be, and at least the Tsar’s heart was in the appropriate place, so come speak. Unfortunately, Nicholas’ presence had actually the opposite effect, and he to be blamed by numerous for every single thing that went wrong v the battle from that point on. This severely undermined his authority, not simply with his army but also with his people, who had actually previously thought that the Tsar was close come divine, and also blamed all the military failures top top his generals. Through his an extremely visible visibility at the head that his army, Nicholas to be exposed together ineffective and weak, and the Russian civilization had no an option but come blame him because that the manifest failures of his strategy.

Compounding the Tsar’s image problem was the he had left his mam in regulate in his absence. Empress Alexandra was dangerously unstable, and extremely unpopular, partly because of her association through the monk Rasputin; it was widely assumed that she was under his straight control. Alexandra quickly assumed countless of the governmental duties that her husband had actually left behind, which was very unfortunate, together she had small political acumen and no endure in government. What she did have actually was an unshakable confidence in Rasputin, and a stubborn refuse to grasp exactly how widely he to be mistrusted and disliked. Alexandra careened from one disastrous policy come another, dismissing proficient ministers and replacing them v self-serving correctly men. Events continued to spiral out of control, and also after year of war and also shortages, poor management and an ineffective monarchy, that is in reality extraordinary that the revolution didn’t occur sooner.

The Russian Revolution, at the very least the an initial one, didn’t finish the war. The an initial Russian Revolution, in February 1917, deposed the Tsar yet the Provisional government that took his ar did not desire to finish the war. Alexsandr Kerensky, the leader that the Provisional Government, had the makings that a political genius, and also it is among the frustrating what-ifs the the Russian transformation to wonder what he can have achieved, but he was will on continuing to prosecute the war. This verified to be the undoing the both the Provisional Government and Kerensky, together they underestimated just exactly how war weary Russia was, and suffered the after-effects when the Bolsheviks introduced the October Revolution, promising, among other things, to finish the war. The Bolsheviks sue for peace, and also the Germans compelled them to sign a humiliating treaty, ending the battle in the east.

See more: How Fast Will A 5 Hp Outboard Go ? (With Examples By Boat Size)

A clip about the 1916 fight of Lake Narocz top top the east Front is available here top top the site.