Over the past few months we ’ ve seen
battlefronts all over the world, we ’ ve seen triumphs
and disasters, but this week, as
the New Year rolls in, we see
something we haven ’ t seen, yet
the annihilation of an entire army.
I’m Indy Neidell;
welcome to the Great War
Last week we saw the fighting go quiet
on much of the western front as the soldiers
of both sides celebrated a spontaneous Christmastruce.
The rest of the week though, it was
business as usual as the French army ’
s newest offensive kicked into gear along a wide front.
On the Eastern Front it was mostly quiet;
you might be thinking “ too quiet ” and
你可能是对的 德军 俄军
you might be right as the German, Russian,
and Austrian armies regrouped for the new year.
And in the highlands of Northeastern Turkey and the Caucasus,
the Ottoman army was
marching through the freezing snows to meet the Russian juggernaut.
Here’s how it all went.
The French Army ’ s new offensive was
called the Champagne Offensive and it was now in
it’s second week. It would continue wellinto the New Year.
As much of the rest of the war was,
it was an exercise in futility.
The Allies attacking
points of tactical importance in concentrated bursts
along a wide front and taking trenches
and positions from the Germans,
and then the Germans days or hours later taking those same
points back from the Allies.
Back and forth, again and again,
thousands of men dying for temporary gains of only few
dozen meters. But French General
Joseph Joffre really needed this offensive- see, Germany
held a large chunk of the industrial heartland
of France and were only some 60 km from Paris.
To keep up morale,
he simply had to attack and couldn ’ t just adopt a defensive posture
and then wait and see what the Germans woulddo.
So the back and forth continued in frustration
and futility, as it would for weeks.
So 1915 begins on the trenches of the Western Front
with more of the same, but I ’ m going
to move away from death for a minute and talk
about some more general forces, like economics.
Specifically, the British blockade of German exports. Now,
in the past with British wars against,
what would happen is that the British navy would completely
cut off French trade with the rest of theworld, right?
The French would then have to
create substitute industries,
which were of inferior quality and took a lot of money,
and it would screw up the French economy
while the British overseas trade monopoly generated tons of money
with which the British would
pay the Russians and Austrians to do most
of the land fighting against the French. Thatwas 1814.
Britain figured that the same idea would workin 1914; that
stopping German exports would stop Germany,
but Britain could not have been more wrong,
and when exports were stopped,
there was nothing like the expected riots in Hamburg.
Instead, the colossus of German industry adapted
well to refitting for wartime production with no loss of quality and
actually, the German economy, with the blockade,
would do better than all of the other warring nations in 1915.
There was also a big side bonus for the Germans.
The blockade was a great excuse for any issues with food and
other supplies that may happen to become scarce,
so the British were hated
for scarcities that were not even of theirmaking.
And they didn ’ t stop any imports anyhow,
since these could go through neutral ports
like the Netherlands and International law prohibited blocking imports,
but the blockade on exports continued.
It certainly wasn ’ t the only blockade anyhow;
all of the seas around Europe were blocked
by one party or another in one way or another. Heck,
look at Russian shipping, for example-
the White Sea now frozen in the North
and the Black Sea a prison in the south, as they
were hemmed in by the Ottoman Empire.
And this week, actually,
things that had been building between the Russians and the Ottomans
finally came to a head. Okay,
上周 圣诞节时我们看到 奥匈帝国军队
last week at Christmas we saw the Ottoman Imperial Army,
nearly 150,000 strong including soldiers and staff,
well armed, but poorly equipped, suffering terribly
from exhaustion and hypothermia, marching
through the high mountain passes of northeastern Turkey toward
Sarikamis try to knock the Russians out ofthe Caucasus.
This Turkish offensive was the brainchild
of Enver Pasha, Turkish Minister of War;
a modernist who brought the Ottoman Empire
into the war pretty much single handedly and sought
to build a new Turkey with a new nationalidentity.
Pasha chose to undertake this specific
offensive for several reasons.
Its distancefrom the Eastern Front was important, of course;
it would be hard for Russia to reinforcethe Caucasus all the
way from Poland, and the Russian Caucasus army had been stripped
of a lot of men who ’ d been sent north
in the first place, but there was another big thing;
Pasha really believed this would have an emotional importance not only to
Turks, but other peoples as well.
Russian rule in the Caucasus had been imposed,
often brutally, for over 100 years
on the various peoples living there.
Pasha thoughtthat when he attacked they would rally to
他的举动 但问题是 在1915年前
his cause, but the problem was that by 1915
they were waking up to their own national identities.
Within the past 40 years a bunch
of nations had actually been liberated from
例如赛尔维亚 阿尔巴尼亚 罗马尼亚等
the Ottoman Empire- Serbia, Albania, Romania,
and so forth, and the Arabs and Kurds saw
this and had their own national agendas,
and actually Kurds in the Ottoman army sometimes
even deserted and joined the Russians,
having themselves been often brutally repressed by the Ottomans,
so thing weren ’ t at all in reality
as Pasha believed them to be.
And the scene of the battles is a
bad place to attack geographically in general, but Pasha
compounded this. He attacked in winter,
when temperatures can drop below -20 even at lower altitudes,
but during the campaign were farlower.
There was only a single railway and
the roads were covered in snow,
so his supply line was complete chaos
and most artillery couldn’t get through.
It also didn’t helpthat Enver Pasha though the Russians were
retreating to Kars. They weren’t. Still,
the Turks persevered and
the actual clash with the Russians at Sarikamis finally
took place December 29th.
两个军团 超过10000多人 发动攻势
Two army Corps,over 10,000 strong, attacked, but failed to
break into the city and lost about half theirnumbers.
Over the next week,
the Turks would keep pressing against Sarikamis to
no avail, even as the Russians brought in more troops
and began their counter attack.
Turkish units on their way to the battle, literally
melted into nothing as many soldiers froze to death.
Reinforcements were unable to arrive and one report has
a division losing 40 % of its troops in a snowstorm.
Pasha himself got information
that the Russians were attempting to surround the Turks, but
continued the attack anyway.
By January 2nd, Pasha ’ s field leaders said
they were too weak to continue the assaults.
Pasha insisted they do so anyhow,
but the Russians now had the Turks in a semi-circle
and were closing the net.
An entire Turkishcorps surrendered and by January 4th, the
Turkish army was in retreat toward Erzurum,
with the Russians now on their heels.
The retreat and counter attack would continue
for another two weeks but I ’ m going to go
ahead and throw some numbers at you rightnow.
According to John Keegan, by mid January
only 18,000 of the 95,000 Turks who actually
fought the campaign survived, but it may have been even worse.
Pasha’s hands-on offensivehad been a complete disaster, and his army
was totally, totally destroyed,
but his failures were so obvious- I mean, how many thousands
of his men- more than half- weren ’ t
even killed by the enemy, but froze to death in
the snows long before they’d even gottento the battle?
Such a colossal waste.
So that’s where we stand as 1915 begins. Constant,
never-ending attacks and counter attacks on the western front,
the Russians moving into positions to attack the passes
in the Carpathian Mountains in the East,
and an entire army destroyed, needlessly wasted-
poorly supplied, marched to exhaustion,
and finally freezing to death far from home in
the snows of eastern turkey and the Caucasus.
Pasha never led in the field again after Sarikamis,
but he did retain his position.
We’ve spoken before of Enver Pasha,
and his dreams for a modern Turkey, but we ’ ve never seen the
staggering scale of his incompetence,
or his willingness to sacrifice huge numbers of his
countrymen to achieve his nebulous goals. Actually,
the deviousness with which he brought the Ottoman Empire into the war
in the first place should have sent off warning signals
that this man was capable of anything, but only now,
as the new year begins, do we begin to see the results.
It ’ s not going to get better
and I ’ m going to end this episode with one more statistic:
thanks in large part to Enver Pasha,
during the first world war,
one quarter of the entire population of Turkeywould die.
If you ’ d like to see more about Enver Pasha
and how he brought the Ottoman Empire into the war in
the first place, you can check out that episode right here.
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See you next week.