Hindenburg’s Cunning Plan – A 2nd Tannenberg I THE GREAT WAR Week 30


Solidarity. That’s the word, right? That’s
what we all know was a defining aspect of the First World War. In every warring nation.
The British were totally unified against the Germans; the Serbs were as one against Austria-Hungary, the Germans were a single machine against the French. Or were they? Perhaps at one point, but after six months of nothing but death and destruction, cracks were appearing around the world and this week we see the results.This week we see the first large scale mutiny in the ranks. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week we saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire
fighting the Russians in the freezing snows of the Carpathian Mountains, while further
north the Russians were being routed in East Prussia. In the Middle East the Ottoman army
was retreating from the Suez Canal, and in the West there was fighting in the Argonne. Actually, if we look over to the Western Front
we see that the back and forth is in no way diminished this week as the battles continued
from the trenches. On February 13th, the Germans took the village
of Norroy and attacked in the Lauch Valley, taking Sengern and Remsbach the following
day. A French counter attack at Norroy the 16th was repulsed, but they managed to successfully
re-take the village the 18th. There is also heavy fighting during the week in the Vosges
and northwest of Verdun. Now, this might sound like small potatoes
compared to some of the other things we discuss, but keep in mind something here; this was
a non-stop offensive by the French, and in February they would suffer nearly 100,000
casualties, according to Jack Sheldon in “The German Army on the Western Front, 1915”,
but according to the R.T. Foley, who wrote of the development of the war of attrition,
that figure is more like 250,000 for the month, so all of these little battles for a trench,
or a signal station, or a tiny village add up quickly. But the big battle news this week was not
in the west, but rather far to the northeast in East Prussia, where since February 7th,
when General von Hindenburg’s German offensive started, the Russians had been in big trouble. First, the Russian southern wing had been
pushed back 100km, then the Russian right flank had been pushed in and the Germans threatened
to encircle the Russians and inflict a military disaster on them on the scale of the Battle
of Tannenberg in August 1914 where Russia lost nearly an entire army. By Valentine’s Day, with the Russians in
complete disarray, the Germans took Lyck. East Prussia was now completely free of Russian
troops, as 5,000 Russians were taken prisoner that day alone, in addition to over 10,000
the week before. By the 16th, it really was looking like Tannenberg, but nobody reckoned
with the Russian XX Corps. While the rest of the entire Russian army
had been routed throughout the region, the XX Corps was holed up at Augustow Forest under
General Bulgakov, and eventually surrounded by the Germans. For two weeks they held out,
in one of the most heroic stands of the entire war, before finally surrendering February
21st. This was a high price to pay- 70,000 prisoners by some estimates- but their resistance
had given the rest of the Russian army a chance to escape and regroup. A day later, Russia
counter-attacked and stopped the German advance, ending Hindenburg’s plans for a drive that
would knock Russia out of the war. You have to wonder what might have happened
without the XX Corps heroism. Even the way it happened, the Second Battle of the Masurian
Lakes cost the Russians over 150,000 casualties, perhaps even 200,000. The Germans lost a fraction
of that. How far might they have pushed into Russia, without XX Corps to stop them? Without
really anyone to stop them. Food for thought. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had also launched
a winter offensive against Russia, which had so far been far less successful than that
of the Germans, and had resulted in over 100,000 casualties, many of them not from battle,
but soldiers frozen to death in the Carpathian Mountains. Things certainly had been looking very grim
for Austria, and here’s actually a newspaper quote from the Northern Advocate from February
16, 1915: “Fighting continues in Bukovina. The Russians,
reinforced, repulsed a series of attacks… Three Russian counter-attacks shattered the
Austro-German line at three points, compelling the enemy’s retirement. The temperature
is twenty below zero, and piercing, ice-laden winds make it difficult to distinguish friend
from foe at 100 yards. The Austro-Germans succumb to cold more quickly than the Siberians
do. Exposure is causing the wounded horrible sufferings. Thousands are enveloped in snowdrifts.
The Russians are fortifying Czernowitz.” Sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? And yet,
almost miraculously, the Austrians and Germans were keeping it going, and this week even
made gain after gain. On the 12th, they forced through the Jablonitsa pass and poured into
East Galicia and managed to take Czernowitz, despite it being fortified by the Russians,
on the 17th and had surprisingly driven the Russians from the Eastern slopes of the Carpathians. But it was only window dressing and it wouldn’t
last; they simply could not keep the offensive going, now matter how valiant they were, and
as the winter offensive came slowly to a halt, the Austro-Hungarian army could take stock
of its recent adventures: in spite of some successes in the field, they had failed to
free the 100,000 troops under siege in Przemysl, they had failed to hand the Russians a great
defeat to convince Italy and Romania not to join the war on the other side, and they had
suffered casualties of over 75%, most of them not from battle, but from illness, frostbite,
and exposure. We mentioned the other week the despair some
of the men felt in the Carpathians, that would lead them to commit suicide even, but despair
is felt in other ways, and one of those can be open rebellion. This week saw the first large-scale mutiny
of the war, as Indian soldiers in barracks in Singapore mutinied. The organizers had
planned it to be a part of a general Sikh uprising against British rule in India. Now,
this was encouraged by the Germans who really hoped that India was ready for revolution,
much as they’d hoped for a similar uprising in Egypt during the fighting over the Suez
Canal two weeks ago, but again, it was not to be. British soldiers carried out the executions
of the ringleaders of the uprising in Singapore, and 37 of them were shot. In India, where
the revolt was to be on a much larger scale, the whole plan had actually been betrayed
by a police spy before it could begin, and the people in charge were rounded up. 18 of
them were hanged. The British overseas possessions saw more
action this week, in the Sinai, where British and Egyptian troops secured Tor from Turkish
attacks and influence. Tor is a small port down the Red Sea Coast
from the Suez Canal, which the Ottoman Empire had failed to capture a couple weeks ago,
but Tor had been another objective of theirs, since from that tiny port, mines could be
floated out into the Red Sea to wreak havoc with Allied shipping coming to and from the
canal. Also this week, the German submarine blockade
began, on the 18th. And so that’s where we stand, with the Russians driven out of
East Prussia and the slopes of the Carpathians, but with the Germans and the Austrians finally
unable to advance and breaking off their offensives, while in the west the French continue their
policy of countless attacks against small strategic targets as the death toll rises
and rises. And a mutiny, of course; the first large-scale
one of the war. Far from Europe; heck, far from India even, at the edge of the British
Empire, but you have to think that things like this are to be expected, right? It would
continue over the years; we’d see it in the French army, the Australians, the German
navy, but you’d see it everywhere else in smaller form. For an organized mutiny is just
a group version of “I quit!” and that we see every single day of the war in every
single army as soldiers desert, or hide to wait out a battle, or walk into an enemy bullet
intentionally, or just shoot themselves. Just saying, “I quit. I am in a tiny metal tube
beneath the sea, and the only time I come to the surface it’s to kill a ship full
of sailors that aren’t even from the country I’m at war with. I quit. I’m from the
south of India and now I’m fighting in snow, which I’ve never even seen before. I’m
looked down on and belittled as sub-human by many of the men on my side, but I’m expected
to lay down my life for them as I’ve seen dozens of my mates do in the past week.”
Ten million stories of despair; this was modern war. A few weeks ago, on Christmas, soldiers from
both sides of the trenches decided to quit at least for the night. Brits and Germans
exchanged small gifts and for just one night there was a kind of peace. Click here to check
out our episode about the Christmas Truce. What do you think about those soldiers that
decided they cannot take it anymore? Let me know in the comments. If you like our show,
please subscribe to our channel. See you next week.

100 thoughts on “Hindenburg’s Cunning Plan – A 2nd Tannenberg I THE GREAT WAR Week 30

  1. I was tipped to this series last week. I greatly enjoy it and look forward to catching up.

    Regarding the request for comments on suicide etc. at the end of the video, I think one can simoultanesously empathize or conceptually understand that choice while stating that choice is wrong. I believe it is wrong in that it betrays your fellow soldier on the line and the social contract of the nation-state.

    I remember seeing a documentary on Stalingrad in which a German solier that had survived both the battle and the Russian POW camps was interviewed. He stated that those who deserted left a space that others had to fill and/or die trying to fill. Hotzendorf, no matter how wrong, was ordering offensives. Thousands of reluctant draftees were going to be involved. Why are you, Private Fritz, worthy of escaping the hardships while Private Schultz must endure untl his death in battle which, arguably, aids the interest of the empire when your suicide doesn't.

    War is hell. Life can be unfair. I have no idea how far I would have gone if put in the horrid sitations these men were. I'd like to think I'd do my duty but maybe I would not. Maybe I'd shoot myself to be rid of the misery. I'll never know. However, while one can cetainly give up and commit suicide or suicide by enemy machine gun, I do not believe suicide or effective suicide can be justified. Some other soul, as innocent as you, must take your place and possibly die in your stead.

  2. What i think about the one´s that sad i quit !!! proberbly those are the ones that had some sense and sanity left. Let´s face it noone in his right mind would go to war in the first place.

  3. Good episode but submarines didn't spend all their time underwater only surfacing to attack. They mostly cruised on the surface as their electric batteries required recharging via the diesel engines quite often. They mostly submerged for surprise attacks or for evasion. This was the case even during WW2 until the German Type XXI which was the first submarine able to operate underwater for extended periods of time. (Plus the development of the snorkel allowing more boats to operate their diesel engines whilst submerged, but that restricted performance)

  4. Who here would mutiny or desert after 30 weeks of Hell? I would- and I would make for Switzerland as soon as I could.

  5. 7:11 – I couldn't for my life identify the rifle of the soldier with the keffiyeh on the left. Did some research, pretty sure it's a Peabody-Martini, which would be very old for the time. The war may be moderns, but some implements aren't…

  6. With the history, events, and personalities of the great war having been abandoned by such outlets as the History channel in favor of mundane crap like American Pickers and Ice Road Truckers your excellent work is increasing in importance day by day. Thanks for your fine efforts and excellent presentations. Good work and Thanks

  7. ….When one considers the generally poor quality of leadership in WW-I and the willingness on the part of the various high commands to accept mass casualties as a matter of course I am surprised mutinies didn't happen more often.
    ….During the Gallipoli campaign one high ranking British officer was asked about the high rate of casualties and he replied with words to the effect 'What are casualties to me?' Guys like that should dance at the ends of ropes.

  8. I once read a poem from a WWI soldier and it said in it "Those I fight against I do not hate, those I fight for I do not love" I think that's a great way to explain the complicated and large scale of the war.

    Thanks for these videos! I am a newcomer and I can't wait to continue to the end!

  9. at 7:10 the Ottomans were using the primitive Martini-Henry rifles! being not well equipped one of the reasons they failed i guess

  10. Indian/Turk here, both sides of my family tree fought in the great war. I am honestly ashamed that my Indian forefathers fought for a people who didn't even treat them like humans. You can count on the fact that if I was asking back then, I no doubt would have rebelled against the British the first chance I got.

  11. it's hard to talk about deserters it's both justified and unjustified where yes they were slaughtered like cattle lived in tiny trenches spreading a whole country or shooting civilians and killing comrades who stole a piece of bread can you really blame them? but on the other side they hurt the pride of a country they hurt morale and encourage otheres to follow the same route ultimately leading to mutnies across a whole division or army which then let's the enemy hit them when they least excpect and make a break through there's no way to say complety what desertion is good or bad .

  12. i started watching this on Friday the 16th of December 2016, and i absolutely love it. It;s so informative and i'm learning so much about a period of history i knew very little about. I'm so happy to have so many episodes to catch up on but it's going to be tough to watch them once a week once I've caught up! this is really brilliant, keep up the good work.

  13. Thank you so much for acknowledging that the British treated us as sub-human. Seems to me that the Indian Army was the primary reason due to which the British managed to stay afloat in this war. We should have defected like the Slavs and conspired to make them lose. Might just have gotten freedom a tad bit earlier or at least avoided the partition!

  14. As a conscript, I truly empathize with the soldiers who said 'I quit', and did so in their ways.

    We are not warriors, not at heart, nor in practice. We are merely tools used by governments to further their goals, it matters not which nation we serve.

    When we swear allegiance, or rather are FORCED to swear allegiance, we are signing a blank cheque as to what we are giving of ourselves to the government we are ruled by.

  15. +The Great War Will there be a more in-depth episode focusing on mutinies and riots? So many seemed to have occurred throughout the war.

  16. Indians, Poles, Turks, Serbs, and every other nation… This war is just like a circus a mad man could run. It is more than enough to drive anyone insane. Yet, here we are. Constantly growing. Constantly changing. And constantly learning from our mistakes. ;P

    Then there are those salty people on the internet who dislike for no reason and have a personality similar to RiceGum, Leafy, and such xD Definitely enough to make people insane, except we still live. We choose to live in spite of the turmoil or ordeals. All because of hope…

  17. I would definitively have tried quitting if it was clear I was just being used as cannon fodder by some idiotic general. I would have stayed if my job was in the research labs to work on more intelligent methods to win the war.

  18. Indy, youre awesome. keep up the good work. battle of penang and indian soldier planned revolt is some of the less known events in my country and youve put it in. great!

  19. I don't understand why the Austrians had to attack the Carpathians in winter. Why couldn't they hold position and attack in Summer? Seems pretty dumb to me, especially when their troops weren't properly equipped.

  20. The worst part is the millions of men who wanted to quit, but couldn't because they would be executted

  21. The great war should be renamed the great calamity for that is what it was. Most of the issues we have today still hinge on decisions made before, during, and after the first world war.

  22. When I saw this title I began wondering how Baldrick could influence Hindenburg. Then I remembered the Turnip Winter and then realized Private Baldrick's pedigree. Suddenly it all began to make sense… in a Baldrick sort of way.

  23. I cannot blame any of the soldiers who wanted to quit or did quit. They were all fighting for months in terrible conditions in a war that would eventually last for years. If I was in a situation like that, I'd definitely be in despair

  24. I think those men that refuse to follow orders are just as much the hero as any man that follows his orders

  25. The below comments concerning the Brits treating troops from India as subhuman fighting a war not of their making overlooks a number of facts and contains a tad bit of irony. First, the Indian components were exclusively volunteers. Yes they were unaware of the realities they were volunteering for….but that makes them no different than some wide eyed farm boy going off to defend King and country. The irony is that many Indian troops volunteered in order to elevate themselves and family in the Indian caste system, which placed warriors next to the top well away from the subhuman lower castes. While it certainly varied from colony to colony, this irony played out throughout both World Wars and can be readily seen in today's military doctrines when using "native troops".

  26. Why is the execution of Belgium people post German occupation uprising present as an Atrocity yet the execution of Indian people post uprising against British occupation  is  not? This entire war is wealthy men fighting for power with the blood of poor men.

  27. i like the format, but it does get a little difficult to follow.  slow up a bit man  (like mentioning a city that the germans took, then flashing it briefly on the map with a russian flag, huh?)

  28. @8:24 "and the only time I come to the surface, it's to kill a ship full of sailors…" This is not true. In fact, it's just the opposite. Submarines of this time spent almost all of their time on the surface, and only dived below when ready to attack. So it's actually just the opposite of how you describe it.

    This was how it was even in WW2. Near the end of WW2, the German Type XXI came into production. This was the first submarine with good underwater capabilities (mostly by streamligning and huge increase of batteries). They didn't make a difference in the war because they were too little too late, and also had massive production defects thanks to a rush job, but virtually every submarine since then has been based on them since they allow good underwater performance.

    You don't get this impression from TV and movies, but it's true nonetheless. Submarines of WW1 and WW2 spent most of their time on the surface. The strange thing is, a Schnorkel was patented in 1916…by the British…who didn't use it.

  29. They'err heroes. The People just wanted an end to the war that not even the ruling class could see a better reason to fight other than "we're in this now and we wont accept defeat":

    I started watching this series tonight and i've already gone this far. I'm late to the party but I love it!

  30. Not sure if you covered it in September last year, but the Bull Ring Mutiny that happened in 1917 is an interesting story and might be worth covering.

  31. There would be no point in me killing someone. i couldn`t live with it and most likely would end up killing myself.

  32. Quitting is one way to term it. Another is having the courage to follow their own belief, even if it means being labelled a coward and a traitor.

  33. When u give a newspaper quote could u tell us which country it is from it could effect how we interpret the quote based on what biases they may have.

  34. Cant believe fighting for people I dont care if they live or die. Why do I care If the British prosper or suffer? Those Brits deserved all those casualies.

  35. I feel sorry for myself.
    1) Just found out about this awesome channel.
    2) I will do nothing else in my life till I watch all the episodes.
    3) I will not know what to do once the series is over.

  36. I love how he always stands up to show something on the map, you can't even see on it and then footage of the thing in question appear and he sits down again.

  37. Sincere congrads for this channel. It is obvious that what you do requires a lot of work and devotion. Brilliant work.

  38. It's easy to judge. But if I was in a war I'd be really scared too. Who knows what could happen? Who cares if one more man is killed? If one more light goes out in an ocean of stars; each one representing a unique life? I like to hope that I do.

  39. Hello Indy, can you please tell me where this "I quit" speech is quoted from, I am researching about India's position in World War I because you specifically mention "I am from South India" in the I quit speech

  40. The most distressing thing about this series isn't even the horrible suffering of all the men and the beasts, but knowing that war profiteers were rubbing their hands with glee the entire time as they amassed fortunes from this mass-insanity. This aspect of human behavior is the greatest threat to us all, and is on prominent display at the moment.

  41. Even tho I've been in combat, I've never been in an artillery barrage like those soldiers. I will not speak ill of those who couldn't bear it or ran

  42. 2:38 Um… Lyck (Luks, Łek, nowadays Ełk in Poland) was in Germany, not in Russia. Quite close to the border, though.
    Great material as always, still.

  43. It's funny how the "full screen icon" on YouTube in the bottom right corner of the screen, once enlarged is a German Iron Cross symbol. Lol… Just thought I'd share that. I found it funny.

  44. The total sum of wealth looted by the Brits from India is estimated at $45 trillion. India financed the British Industrial Revolution, and India at one time was the wealthiest nation on earth, having the world's highest GDP.

  45. I am a sikh and i know how bravely our ancestors fought in the both world wars . This was not a place to be fought because most indians are not used to live in European climate :/

  46. soilders being driven to siucide might be the most depressing part of an already depressing war.

  47. I’m sorry but I can’t help but make this parody

    “Don’t worry Kaiser Wilhelm, I have a cunning plan”

  48. I Bloody love this series.. Watched the "Great War" series which is amazing (look it up) to gain some insight I to what my great grandfather's went through, but this is something else… Superb

  49. The leaders of all these countries were soo stupid. The germans should have never even joined the war. Since Austria was just a liability. And even the ottomans never had a real victory the entire war besides not being invaded. Pathetic. Literally germany seemed to have the only professional army. That's why everyone blamed germany. Not their fault they werent retards even if arrogant.

  50. And today, who can think of an ignorant leader that has never served declaring a desire for war?
    Absolutely zero chance of any winners, just dead soldiers and civilians.

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