A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 179

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RUSSIA OCCUPIES THE PROVINCE


his army joined with his left column and marched south-west* ward in the direction of the Lower Vistula. Allenstein, the headquarters of the 20th German Army Corps, was occupied without resistance. It was an important station for the German Flying Corps, Before evacuating the place the garrison sent away the airship and aeroplanes stationed there, and burned the big Zeppelin airship shed. By the end of August the invaders had occupied nearly the whole of East Prussia. The inhabitants of farms and villages had taken to flight in panic at their approach, some of them going as far as Danzig, which was crowded with a quarter of a million fugitives. The rapid success.of the Russians led to the most exaggerated reports. It was said that they were advanc- ing in overwhelming numbers towards the Vistula, and were about to attack the fortresses of Graudenz and Thorn, aiid that Koiiigsberg h^id been completely iifvested. This last news was obviously untrue, for Kdnigsberg is linked with the Frisches Half and the sca-coast by its western forts, and could not be blockaded unless by an enemy who had command of the Baltic. All that the Russians had been able to do w'as to entrench them- selves before the eastern front. Rennenkampf, with the field army, had advanced a little towards Allenstein, but before he coiila reach the Vistula he would have to traverse a belt of difficult country, abounding in lakes, marshes and woods, round Osterode, Tanneriberg and Eylau. Though apparently he had swept all before him, his position was, in fact, becoming difficult, and his action in pushing so far could only be justified on the ground that the whole invasion of East Prussia was a demonstration in force, intended to alarm the Berlin General Staff into keeping back for the defence of the eastern frontier troops that would otherwise have been sent to France. Strictly speaking, the whole movement was a prema- ture enterprise, with a good deal of bluff about it. But the com- plete collapse of all resistance after the victory of Gumbinnen gave Rennenkampf the idea that he might safely push still farther forward—though he was too good a soldier to be in- fluenced by the current reports that the Russian army would bo able to make an almost unopposed march to Berlin, By the end of August the Germans were preparing for a very effective counter-stroke. Of the troops that had retired into Kdnigsberg, only enough were left in the place to stiffen the

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