A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 181

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HINDENBURG'S STRATEGY


military studies, with the result that Hindciiburg was given all the forces he required for his long-lhought out operations in the jVIasurian Lakes. Something like 2,000,000 Russian troops, operating far away on the southern reaches of the Vistula against the main eastern forces of Germany and Austria, depended for food and ammuni- tion chiefly on their railway-head at Warsaw. Warsaw in turn depended on its railway communication with Petrograd, and as the line to Petrograd ran close to Osoviec, and actually touched the River Bohr a few miles northward at the town of Grodno^ where the Bohr flows into the Niemen, there was good reason for the interest which the kaiser took in the attack of his armies upon Osoviec. Hindenburg was no mean strategist. Early in life he had seen that the Masurian Lakes system, which extends far into Jvussia to the banks of the Niemen and Bohr, was the key to Russian Poland, BycuttingtheRussianrailwayatOsoviecorGrodno he could win Warsaw, and throw the main Russian armies back from Silesia and Posen without a battle, h'or if the railways were cut, starvation and lack of ammunition would force all the Russian troops in the bend of the Vistula to retire towards the new railway-heads of Siedlce and Brest Litovsk. And even before they could withdraw, the Siedlce line, close to the Warsaw line, could also be cut. Without a general battle the main Russian forces could be thrown back on Biest Litovsk, nearly 240 miles from the German frontier. It will thus be seen that, in his attacks upon Samsonoff's army, Hindenburg aimed at more than freeing East Prussia from the invader. In concentrating his troops for the counter attack Hindenburg had the advantage of the perfect network of strategic railways onGermany’seasternfrontier. WithinafewdaysoftheRussian occupation of Allenstein Hindenburg had collected some 150,000 men from the Vistula and elsewhere ; the German command of Ihe Baltic made it possible to tranship the troops which had been driven into Kdnigsberg and add them to his forces. The Russians under Samsonoff were at least 200,000 strong. Hinden- burg took up his quarters at Marienberg on August 23 with Ludendorff as his chief of staff. The line held by the German troops was not a boldly marked position like that of Gumbinnen. Indeed, to an ordinary observer, there were no features to distinguish it from several similar tracts

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