Górlitz Breakthrough of 1915

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Górlitz Breakthrough of 1915

 

an operation carried out by German and Austrian troops on Apr. 19–22 (May 2–5), 1915, against the Russian Southwestern Front during World War I (1914–18).

In 1915 the German command decided to deliver a crushing blow to Russia and force it to leave the war. The Görlitz breakthrough was the beginning of this offensive plan. General A. Mackensen’s German Eleventh Army (ten infantry divisions and one cavalry division) and Archduke Joseph Ferdinand’s Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army (six infantry divisions and one cavalry division), under the overall command of Mackensen, were set the task of breaking through the Russian Southwestern Front (General N. I. Ivanov) at the Gorlitz-Gromnik sector, encircling and destroying General D. R. Radko-Dmitriev’s Russian Third Army (more than 18 infantry and about six cavalry divisions), and then developing an offensive on Przemysl and L’vov. On the 35-km long sector of the breakthrough, the German and Austrian forces consisted of ten infantry divisions and one cavalry division (126,000 men), with 457 light guns, 159 heavy guns, and 96 mortars, against more than five Russian divisions (60,000 men), with 141 light and four heavy guns. The Russian troops were severely understaffed and were short of ammunition. On April 19–22 (May 2–5) the Russian defense was breached and by April 25 (May 8) the German-Austrian troops advanced 40 km. The Russian Headquarters and the command of the Southwestern Front were unable to organize a counterblow, and the reinforcements were committed piecemeal to combat. With great losses the Russian troops retreated by May 2 (15) to the No we Miasto-Sandomierz-Przemysl-Stryj line. Subsequently the operation developed as part of strategic “pincers” that closed from the north (from East Prussia) and from the south (from the Carpathians), aiming at destroying the Russian army in Galicia and Poland. The German and Austrian troops occupied Przemysl on May 21 (June 3) and L’vov on June 9 (22) and forced the Russian forces, who had lost 500,000 men as prisoners and 344 guns, to leave Galicia.

REFERENCES

Gorlitskaia operatsiia: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1941.
Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918. vol. I. Moscow, 1938.
Bonch-Bruevich, M. D. Potería Galitsii ν 1915. part 2. Moscow, 1926.