August 30th 1914: Battle of Tannenberg ends
On this day in 1914 during World War One, the Germans defeated the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg after four days of fighting. The first major battle on the Eastern front, Tannenberg devastated the underprepared Russian army, who suffered 170,000 casualties to the Germans’ 12,000, thus eviscerating the Russian Second Army. The overwhelming victory of the German army made this battle one of the few decisive battles in a war characterised by stalemate and attritional warfare. The Germans thus successfully repelled the Russians from East Prussia, and their victory can partly be attributed to their superior tactics, including the use of large turning movements by train. One German leader for this battle was Paul von Hindenberg who went on to become President of Germany and saw the start of Nazi rule before his death in 1934. The Russian generals were largely incompetent due to their personal feud and one, Alexander Samsonov, committed suicide on August 30th after the Battle of Tannenberg rather than report the defeat to Tsar Nicholas II. The Russian First Army soon suffered the same fate as the Second and fell under German attack.
100 years ago today