Russian soldiers pulling their machine guns through a Galician town, 1915 © IWM (Q 53768)

100 Years Ago Today: Gorlice-Tarnów offensive starts against Russia

Posted on centenarynews.com on 02 May 2015
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German and Austro-Hungarian troops launched a joint offensive in Galicia (present-day Poland) on May 2nd 1915, achieving a major breakthrough against the Russian Army.

Russian troops were heavily outgunned in the assault between the towns of Gorlice and Tarnów, southeast of Krakow.

Their lines collapsed and within days, the Germans and Austrians were pushing forward rapidly. 140,000 Russians were taken prisoner.

The fortress of Przemyśl, scene of a humiliating Austro-Hungarian surrender in March, was recaptured on June 3rd.

The Battle of Gorlice-Tarnów marked the starting point for a series of First World War summer offensives on the Eastern Front, which resulted in the Russian high command ordering a strategic withdrawal, known as the Great Retreat. 

Warsaw, then a city in Russian-ruled Poland, surrendered to the Germans on August 4th.

Russia's aim in pulling back hundreds of miles along the Eastern Front was to prevent its forces being encircled.

The consequences included Tsar Nicholas II's decision to dismiss Grand Duke Nicholas as the army chief, and put himself in direct charge.

Sources: Wikipedia/various

Images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum (© IWM Q 53768)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News