Łodz in December 1914, after German occupation (Photo: courtesy of Wikimedia via German Federal Archive - Bundesarchiv)

100 years ago: Battle of Łodz on the Eastern Front

Posted on centenarynews.com on 24 November 2014
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German and Russian troops fought a prolonged battle near the Polish city of Łodz in November 1914 as winter was setting in on the Eastern Front.

The Germans aimed to counter the latest invasion threat from the Tsar's armies in Russian-ruled Poland.

Almost a month of fighting culminated in the German occupation of Łodz on December 6th. 

Since the outbreak of the First World War, Russian forces had faced those of the allied empires of Austria-Hungary and Germany across their common borders stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains.

The war on the Eastern Front was characterised by mass movements of armies across vast distances, poor communications, Russian supply shortages and German frustration at Austria-Hungary's weakness.

Casualties of this often overlooked struggle ran into millions.

Major battles in autumn 1914 included:

*Tannenberg August: Germany defeats Russian offensive in East Prussia, bringing the commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff to the fore. The two men were later to take charge of the entire German war effort.

*Galicia August/September: Russia captures Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine) and Austro-Hungarian army forced back more than 100 miles (160 kilometres).

*Warsaw October: the Germans failed in the first of a series of attempts to capture the Polish capital from the Russians. They were to succeed in August 1915. 

*Siege of Przemyśl November 1914-March 2015: the Austro-Hungarian fortress in southeastern Poland was cut off by Russian troops and despite repeated relief attempts, forced to surrender after a siege lasting four months.

Salient

Russian-ruled Poland, including the cities of Warsaw and Łodz, marked a huge salient on the Eastern Front.

It was bordered on the north and west by Germany and to the south by Austria-Hungary, where the former Polish capital, Kraków, was under Habsburg rule.

Unlike the Western Front, the fighting in eastern Europe swung back and forth across hundreds of miles of territory, now lying within the borders of present-day  Belarus, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.

Sources: Wikipedia/various

Image courtesy of Wikimedia via German Federal Archive  Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2007-0153 / Jakubowski / CC-BY-SA

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News