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World War I The war to end all wars.

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  #1  
Old 20 Oct 10, 09:27
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Did Russia really fare so badly in WW1?

Popular media and general history books all state that the Russian army in WW1 was poorly equipped and lost much the battles they fought in WW1.

However I recently researched Russia's role on wikipedia. From what I read, initially the Russians were close to capturing Berlin. I also read that contrary to what popular media and general history books state, the Russians weren't poorly equipped throughout the entire war; I read that initially the Russian army was a proffessional army using standard modern weapontry at the time. I even read that the Russian artillery outranged the German artillery! I also learned that contrary to what popular media and general history books state, the Germans weren't exactly defeating the the Russians. Much of the encounters in WW1 were either stalemates or indecisive victorries. I learned that Russia actually won certain major battles agains the Germans in WW1!

Last but not least I learn that the Russians taking parts of Austria and defeating the Austrians in major battles!

But popular media and general history books all show the Russians as poorly equiped untrained soldiers that never won a major battle against the Germans! They also never mention Russia's victories in Austria!

Opinion WW1 specialists?
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  #2  
Old 20 Oct 10, 12:08
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IMO, order of qualilty of the armies were:

1. Germany, Great Britain
3. France
4. Russia
5. Austria-Hungary
6. Italy

Russia suffered from chronic training and leadership problems, reflective of its backwards economy. As importantly, it was geographically isolated from its allies, hence vulnerable to defeatism. Overall, a much better performance than in 1854 or 1904, but not up to the standards set later by the Soviet Union in WW2.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 12:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn239 View Post
IMO, order of qualilty of the armies were:

1. Germany, Great Britain
3. France
4. Russia
5. Austria-Hungary
6. Italy

Russia suffered from chronic training and leadership problems, reflective of its backwards economy. As importantly, it was geographically isolated from its allies, hence vulnerable to defeatism. Overall, a much better performance than in 1854 or 1904, but not up to the standards set later by the Soviet Union in WW2.
So Glen how come general history books and popular media makes it seem that the Russians were faring the worst in WW1 and were always losing every encounter with the Central Powers?

And how come general history books and popular media never mentions the successes the Russians were having in Austria?

Last edited by SegaSaturnGamer; 20 Oct 10 at 12:52..
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  #4  
Old 20 Oct 10, 13:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SegaSaturnGamer View Post
Popular media and general history books all state that the Russian army in WW1 was poorly equipped and lost much the battles they fought in WW1.
As a general statement, it might be true, but there's a lot of detail to it that has to be added to get an adequate picture.
Quote:
However I recently researched Russia's role on wikipedia. From what I read, initially the Russians were close to capturing Berlin.
That's pretty much a stretch, but I wonder if their sudden rush to East Prussia had not been a matter of urgency which foiled the initial plannig, but a pre-planned offensive.
Quote:
I also read that contrary to what popular media and general history books state, the Russians weren't poorly equipped throughout the entire war;
Well, they were, in 1915 artillery rounds shortage became horrendous. Russian guns weren't allowed to make more than something like 10 or 15 shots a day in order not to stay completely without any ammo. Needless to say it was one of the main factors of German victories that year. Artillery stocks were made in expectations of a short war, Russia's own industry did not allow for a sudden increase in production, and Allied contractors were almost always behind their schedules.

Quote:
I read that initially the Russian army was a proffessional army using standard modern weapontry at the time.
Maybe in the very beginning it was, but most of Russia's best lower and mid-level officers were knocked out in the early phase.

Quote:
I even read that the Russian artillery outranged the German artillery!
I seriously doubt it, but it depends on what type of artillery you're discussing. Russia's greatest problem and tragedy in this respect was that while it had good light field artillery, the ratio of heavy artillery pieces was 10:1 - and this was the decisive factor in the conditions of static trench warfare.

Quote:
I also learned that contrary to what popular media and general history books state, the Germans weren't exactly defeating the the Russians. Much of the encounters in WW1 were either stalemates or indecisive victorries.
There surely was no crushing defeat like in the case of Franco-Prussian war, and the sutuation somewhat stabilised by 1916, but Russia was still suffering huge casualties. And after the two revolutions it all went completely downhill, but that's a different story.

Quote:
I learned that Russia actually won certain major battles agains the Germans in WW1!
Well, if you count the battle of Gumbinnen a major engagement, it's true. Also there was a considerable number of Germans manning the trenches during the Brusilov offensive, no matter how some people try to present it as an exclusively Russian-Austrian affair.

Quote:
Last but not least I learn that the Russians taking parts of Austria and defeating the Austrians in major battles!
In 1916 Austria was all but knocked out of the war. Had a few things gone right, the war might have ended a bit earlier.

Quote:
But popular media and general history books all show the Russians as poorly equiped untrained soldiers that never won a major battle against the Germans! They also never mention Russia's victories in Austria!
That's a part of a much larger issue which is not exclusively confined to WWI. In WWII the Germans expected to face bear-mounted Cossacks with sticks and stones, and found T-34s and KVs.

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Opinion WW1 specialists?
I don't specialise in this period but hope it helped a bit
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  #5  
Old 20 Oct 10, 14:43
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What I found fascinating that the Russians had the first "heavy" bomber. But IMHO the Czarist government was just excessively ineffective, which hurt Russian military prowess as much as Stalin's purges 25 years later.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 14:49
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Originally Posted by Acheron View Post
What I found fascinating that the Russians had the first "heavy" bomber. But IMHO the Czarist government was just excessively ineffective, which hurt Russian military prowess as much as Stalin's purges 25 years later.
I think it was even worse - unlike Stalin, they lost the war and allowed the revolution to happen.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 16:24
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Although not a ww1 specialist or profesional i would like to add my opinion on this. I firmly believe that had Duke Nicholas not Czar Nicholas been in power Russia would have done a whole lot better. I have to disagree on most of SegaSaturnGamer's info though. I dont think Russia ever came close to Berlin and i would really question wether or not you got that info from wikipedia. Although Russia did beat Austria in the Battle of Lemberg it was really more of a bumbling match than anything else. Also Russia's guns in limited cases did outrange Ger. guns the Hun guns were much better handled and supplied with shells. I would also question shAA's info on Russ. Arty as in my gathered reading i have found that russia had some of the better howiters (incl. some of the heavier calibres) in the world at the time. Also the quality of the crews was rather high. Granted they had nothing like the Big Bertha guns these were not used on the eastern front. This is just my opinion and i will gladly change it should significant evidence be brought to light. that includes the books,site ect. were you got it so i can look it up too. =)
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Old 20 Oct 10, 16:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david&joushua View Post
Although not a ww1 specialist or profesional i would like to add my opinion on this. I firmly believe that had Duke Nicholas not Czar Nicholas been in power Russia would have done a whole lot better. I have to disagree on most of SegaSaturnGamer's info though. I dont think Russia ever came close to Berlin and i would really question wether or not you got that info from wikipedia. Although Russia did beat Austria in the Battle of Lemberg it was really more of a bumbling match than anything else. Also Russia's guns in limited cases did outrange Ger. guns the Hun guns were much better handled and supplied with shells. I would also question shAA's info on Russ. Arty as in my gathered reading i have found that russia had some of the better howiters (incl. some of the heavier calibres) in the world at the time. Also the quality of the crews was rather high. Granted they had nothing like the Big Bertha guns these were not used on the eastern front. This is just my opinion and i will gladly change it should significant evidence be brought to light. that includes the books,site ect. were you got it so i can look it up too. =)
Ever heard of the Battle of Tannenberg?
http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/tannenberg.htm
As the articles states Russian soldiers was already in East Prussia and was rapidly marching on to Berline. The German High Command was very nervous and reacted by sending troops to East Prussia at last minute.

As for Austria,Battle of Lemberg was not the only battle Russia won against Austria. Ever heard of the Siege of Przemysl?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Przemysl

Or Battle of Galicia?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Galicia

Or the Brusilove Offensive (in which the Austrian army had the aid of German soldiers)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brusilov_Offensive

Russia was not losing every battle like general history books and popular media show them to in World War 1.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 16:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SegaSaturnGamer View Post
So Glen how come general history books and popular media makes it seem that the Russians were faring the worst in WW1 and were always losing every encounter with the Central Powers?

And how come general history books and popular media never mentions the successes the Russians were having in Austria?
I think you need to take it easy on the "general history books and popular media", perhaps you should look at other sources for your information. All the general history books I have seen have mentioned the progress of the war from year to year, including Russian successes and losses. Though the successes they mentioned were costly.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 16:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SegaSaturnGamer View Post
Ever heard of the Battle of Tannenberg?
http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/tannenberg.htm
As the articles states Russian soldiers was already in East Prussia and was rapidly marching on to Berline. The German High Command was very nervous and reacted by sending troops to East Prussia at last minute.

As for Austria,Battle of Lemberg was not the only battle Russia won against Austria. Ever heard of the Siege of Przemysl?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Przemysl

Or Battle of Galicia?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Galicia

Or the Brusilove Offensive (in which the Austrian army had the aid of German soldiers)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brusilov_Offensive

Russia was not losing every battle like general history books and popular media show them to in World War 1.
Yeah and most of them were against AH, who were worse off than the Russians were in many ways. Plus, Russia took high casualties in many of their "victories".
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Old 20 Oct 10, 16:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Destroyer25 View Post
Yeah and most of them were against AH, who were worse off than the Russians were in many ways. Plus, Russia took high casualties in many of their "victories".
Still this proves Russians were not the militarily worst country in WW1 unlike what popular media and general history books states. Besides in the Brusilov offensive, a good portion of Central Powers troops were Germans supporting the Austrian army.

And Austria Hungary being worse off then Russia? Popular media and general history books always make Russia seem like the worst military power in the war!

Last edited by SegaSaturnGamer; 20 Oct 10 at 16:59..
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Old 20 Oct 10, 17:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Destroyer25 View Post
Yeah and most of them were against AH, who were worse off than the Russians were in many ways. Plus, Russia took high casualties in many of their "victories".
Defining victories by the casualties taken and not by reached objectives goes very well with your admiration of Wehrmacht

And what's your info on the "high" casualties?
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Old 20 Oct 10, 17:41
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Originally Posted by SegaSaturnGamer View Post
Popular media and general history books always make Russia seem like the worst military power in the war!
And you've immediately got to see their victims
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Old 20 Oct 10, 18:19
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Originally Posted by david&joushua View Post
I would also question shAA's info on Russ. Arty as in my gathered reading i have found that russia had some of the better howiters (incl. some of the heavier calibres) in the world at the time. Also the quality of the crews was rather high. Granted they had nothing like the Big Bertha guns these were not used on the eastern front. This is just my opinion and i will gladly change it should significant evidence be brought to light. that includes the books,site ect. were you got it so i can look it up too. =)
http://library.by/portalus/modules/e...t=7&category=7

Quote:
In 1915 one-third of the infantry force had no rifles. This rate ran even lower in some individual units. One general commanding a corps of seven divisions reported that only 12,000 of his men were armed. Shortages in shells were such that German artillery could--at least on one reported occasion--outfire the Russians by a factor of thirty to one. Russian gunners were ordered to fire no more than three artillery shells per day. Nor did Russian output compare favorably to that of its allies, despite a boom in Russian armaments production in 1915. For most of the war, Russia's output of munitions was merely a fraction of theirs. As Louise Erwin Heenan has documented, in 1916 Russia produced 7 heavy and 45 light artillery shells per one thousand soldiers, while France manufactured 38 and 137, and Britain made 83 and 170.
And this is about logistics

http://library.by/portalus/modules/e...t=7&category=7

Speaking of heavy artillery types, I tried looking for English sources, but to no avail. Here is a link to an exhaustive treatise on this topic, "Artillery of the Russian Army (1900-1917)" by E.Z. Barsukov.: http://militera.lib.ru/h/barsukov_ez2/07.html Use Google Translate, if you want. Basically in the chapter about heavy artillery the author sums up that it was quite inferior to Entente and especially Central Powers' types.
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Old 20 Oct 10, 21:23
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I think it was even worse - unlike Stalin, they lost the war and allowed the revolution to happen.
Had Czar treat his political opponents the way Stalin did,
there would not be anybody to launch revolution.
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