Page:EB1922 - Volume 30.djvu/938

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versa without much fear of flank attack in doing so; while, on the Russian side, the paucity of communications in the fore- ground of these central lakes seriously impedes liaison between the northern or Gumbinnen and the south-western or Soldau groups of the invaders. Such shifts of the centre of gravity are, moreover, facilitated by the dense railway system lying behind the lakes. The frontier railway, which runs from Thorn, by Soldau, Johannisburg and Lyck (junction of the Russian Bialy- stok-B rest-Li tovsk transversal), to Tilsit and Memel, lies outside all defensive barriers. But inside the barriers are some three other transversals, one being the Thorn-Insterburg-Wirballen section of the Berlin-Petrograd main line, and the others parts of a well-developed provincial system.

The military-geographical characteristics of the Lemberg region, the other potentially offensive base lying outside the Vistula-San-Dniester barrier, are less sharply marked and their influence is not so definite. Offensive possibilities lie in the direction of (a) Bessarabia, (b) Kiev, (c) Kovel, (d) the inner edge of the northern corridor, towards Brest-Litovsk. Of these, as in the case of E. Prussia, (a) is eccentric, except as a secondary element of (b) ; and (c) centres on a region which is ill-developed in communications, and therefore operations there are subsidiary to those on either flank. The important alternatives are there- fore, speaking broadly, (b) and (d). In (b) Dubno and Rovno play the same role as Kovno in the N., and the results to be expected from a successful operation of this character are similar to, but smaller in scale than, the corresponding enterprise on the Niemen. (d) The operation, twice carried out and several times contemplated, offered many results and many risks, and its usefulness varied according to a number of factors like that of the corresponding operation from the N., with which, in fact, it was logically combined.

Defensively, the conditions of the Lemberg region were similar in some respects to those of E. Prussia. Waterlines opposed invasion from the E., while from the N. Lemberg was open. But the real obstacle value of the E. Galician watercourses, Gnila Lipa, Zlota Lipa, Strypa, etc., whose names were to become historic, is small, and, though N. of the Styr system and the uppermost streams of the Bug (Styr) have wide marshy valleys and are serious barriers, the watershed itself (Dubno- Brody-Lemberg) is an open gate both for road and rail approach to the Galician capital.

The railway system of the Galicia theatre, though far inferior to that of Silesia and Prussia, included two complete laterals N. of the Carpathians, and at least one S. of them. From the interior of Hungary and Moravia, over the Carpathians, to the San-Dniester barrier there were eight approach railways between Teschen in the W. and Czernovitz in the E., and four of these pass the barrier at or near the Grodek gap, converging on Lem- berg and Rava Ruska. In the latter region itself the railways lie chiefly radially from Lemberg. It is to be noted that on the whole front N. of Lemberg the Russian frontier region is destitute of approach railways.

Finally, the Carpathians (of which Galicia to the San, to Lemberg and to the Dniester, is simply a glacis) are not as the sea is to E. Prussia, a definitive barrier, but rather a wall with many gates for the passage of an invader into Hungary and Austria. The mountains themselves are rather Vosgian than Alpine, and their main passes are low enough to be practicable for railways. At the W. and E. ends, the mountains broaden out into the Tatra and massifs, but in the centre the mountain zone is at its narrowest, and if is exactly in front of this that the Grodek gap breaks the forward barrier and allows these railway approach lines to make for the Hungarian plain. West of the Tatra massif, the Troppau gap opens Moravia to an invader who has mastered Upper Silesia. (C. F. A.)


The Russian Plan of Campaign. Two characteristics of the Russian Army were admitted on both sides as axiomatic, the relative slowness with which its total forces could be brought to bear and the numerically overpowering superiority of those

forces when assembled and ready. Both these were summed up in the popular phrase of 1914, which likened the Russian Army to a steam roller. The axioms were not, however, independent. Only by waiting could the overpowering strength be realized, and by temporarily forgoing this numerical advantage, it was possible for the Russians to act with partial forces and provisional objectives, almost if not quite as promptly as the armies of the Central Powers. Instead, therefore, of the usual stages of cou- verture and full-power action there would be, or might be, three couverture, rapid partial action, and delayed full-power action and the application of the geographical factors to strategy varied accordingly.

In all alternatives, the inclusion of the central salient, either in the couverture system or in the deployment for the main action, was impossible. In other words, it was militarily evac- uated from the outset. In the alternative of delayed full-power action, the couverture would guard the outer flanks of the two corridors and the Warsaw-Ivangorod-Lutsk front, while the main masses assembled further back. Flank-guard groups would prolong the defence of the corridors respectively in the Shavli region and to the S.E. of Dubno and Rovno. The line of detrainment for the main bodies would be, substantially, Kovno-Grodno-Bialystok-Brest, and (for the Southern armies) points behind Rovno. But the abandonment of so large a portion of Poland would only be necessary in the case of Ger- many's employing the major portion of her forces in the east. In that case, especially if it arose in winter, it was calculated that the Russian forces on the couverture line would have to retire fighting, giving up Warsaw and possibly Ivangorod, but holding firmly at all costs on the middle Niemen front and at Brest. If that case did not arise, then the couverture was strong enough to enable the main masses using the northern corridor to detrain further forward. In proportion as the arrangements for mobilization and concentration were improved in the years 1910-4, and in proportion also as it became more probable that Germany would elect to employ the bulk of her forces on her French front, not only this forward concentration but also preparatory offensives delivered from the couverture line came to be considered.

In all cases the main object which was to be sought when the forces were fully assembled was practically the same. It was the destruction of the Austrian armies in Galicia, the occupation of the Carpathian line, and eventually an advance into Moravia and Silesia by Troppau and the Oder head, turning Breslau. The exact form in which this ultimate offensive would be realized could not be foreseen until the Germans and Austrians had shown their hand; meantime, the problem before the Russian general staff was so to plan their couverture arrangements, their detrainments, and their now feasible preparatory offensives as to subserve this purpose.

Generally speaking, the couverture on the Narew-Bobr, that on the middle Niemen, and that in the Shavli region were dis- posed and directed to checking as long as possible any German attack on the flank of the northern corridor. It would be reen- forced in situ to the strength of two armies and an independent group. If powerful German attacks developed it would offer an elastic defence, on one line after another, to protect at all costs the region of Bialystok-Grodno-Vilna during the troop movements in that area. If not, it was to take the offensive and, by conquering E. Prussia to the Vistula, definitely to secure the right rear of the future main effort. This conquest was to be carried out from the S. by Mlava, turning the lake barrier, by one army while the other pressed up against the front of the lakes and the Angorapp, so as to occupy the Germans and at any rate to prevent a rush upon Kovno and Grodno. The independent group about Shavli was to deal with minor enter- prises of the enemy in its own area, and especially with landing threats on the Baltic coast as far as Riga. From that point inclusive, coast defence was entrusted to another army, with headquarters at Petrograd.

In the centre two armies, coming from the interior by the central and eastern railways of the corridor, were, if possible, to