Lódz Operation of 1914

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Łódź Operation of 1914

 

an offensive operation of German forces around Łódź on October 29-November 11 (November 11–24) on the Russian-German front in World War I (1914–18).

After the successful completion of the Warsaw-1vangorod Operation of 1914, Russian headquarters began preparing a general offensive inside Germany, planning to start it on November 1 (14). The German command, which knew about the impending offensive of the Russian troops from intercepted radiograms, moved the Ninth Army (commanded by General A. von Mackensen) from the Czestochowa-Kalisz region north toward Thorn (Toruń) in order to deliver a surprise blow at the flank and rear of the Russian Second and Fifth armies and encircle them. The German III Cavalry Corps, the Breslau and Posen Corps, General R. von Woyrsch’s group of forces, and the Austro-Hungarian Second Army were to paralyze the Russian armies from the front with aggressive actions. The striking group of the Ninth Army had 155,000 infantrymen and cavalrymen and 960 guns, and the auxiliary group (not counting Woyrsch’s group and the Austro-Hungarian Second Army) had 124,000 infantrymen and cavalrymen and 480 guns. The Russian First, Second, and Fifth armies had 367,000 infantrymen and cavalrymen and 1,260 guns. The German troops enjoyed great superiority in men and artillery along the axis of the main blow.

On October 29 (November 11) the striking group of the Ninth Army passed to the offensive, striking the blow from the Thorn region to Kutno at the junction between the Russian First and Second armies. In the course of the fighting in the regions of Włocł awek and Kutno the German troops could not defeat the two Russian flank corps, which, fighting stubbornly, retreated eastward. General S. M. Sheideman, the commander of the Second Army, moved the corps of the army to the north and organized a defense north of Łódź. On November 2 (15), General N. V. Ruzskii, the commander of the Northwestern front, began regrouping the Second and Fifth armies to the north. Mackensen sent General Scheffer’s striking group (three infantry and two cavalry divisions) to encircle Łódź from the east and the south. On November 5–6 (18–19) this group gained the Russian Second Army’s rear east of Łódź but was stopped there by the troops of the Fifth Army (commander General P. A. Pieve), which had moved up from the south. The frontal offensive of the German troops southwest and west of Łódź was repulsed.

The Łowicz group of forces (about two corps) of the Russian First Army (commander General P. K. Rennenkampf) made contact with the Second Army’s right flank east of Łódź at Brzeziny, and Scheffer’s group was itself encircled. Because of Rennenkampf’s poor maneuvering of his troops, the lines of retreat of the encircled enemy were barred by only one division, which was not supported by neighboring units. Thanks to this, the remnants of Scheffer’s group, which had suffered great losses, succeeded on November 11 (24) in breaking through across Brzeziny to the northeast. The German plan of encircling the Russian Second and Fifth armies failed, but the Russian offensive was also foiled. By the middle of December the front stabilized.

REFERENCES

Kolenkovskii, A. K. Manevrennyi period pervoi mirovoi imperialisticheskoi voiny 1914 g. Moscow, 1940.
Rybin, D. I. Lodzinskaia operatsiia na russkom fronte mirovoi voiny ν 1914 g. Moscow, 1938.

S. A. ZALESSKII