Warsaw-Ivangorod Operation of 1914

Warsaw-Ivangorod Operation of 1914


a defensive-attack operation conducted by the Russian forces of the Southwestern and Northwestern fronts against the German and Austrian armies on September 15 (28) to October 26 (November 8), during World War I. After routing the Austrian forces in the battle of Galicia of 1914, the Russian armies threatened to make an incursion into Silesia and the Poznan region. To counter this incursion, the German command intended to strike at Ivangorod and Warsaw from the region Kraków and Piotrków with the forces of the Austrian First Army and of the re-formed German Ninth Army (more than 290,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, and 1,600 guns). The task was to outflank and rout the northern flank of the Southwestern Front. The Russian command was planning an incursion deep into Germany, and it was decided to regroup the Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth armies of the Southwestern Front from the San River to the Vistula and the Second Army of the Northwestern Front toward Warsaw. All these armies together comprised about 470,000 infantry, 50,000 cavalry, and 2,400 guns; but the troops approached and entered the battle in sections. As a result, before October 2 (15) the enemy had the upper hand. Regrouping—lateral troop movement along the right bank of the Vistula—was carried out from September 10 (23) to October 1 (14).

The Austro-German forces started their advance on September 15 (28), and by about September 25 (October 9) they reached the Vistula at the Sandomierz-Ivangorod section, where they came upon the newly re-formed front of the Fourth and Ninth armies. Then the German command created the group of General A. von Mackensen, which was sent from the Radom-Kalisz front to Warsaw. On September 26 (October 10) the Russian command began to send the Fourth and Fifth armies across the Vistula and to move the Second Army further west of Warsaw. This led to stubborn fighting near Ivangorod and Warsaw, which the German forces reached on September 28 (October 12). The attacks of Mackensen’s group on Warsaw were repulsed, and the Russian forces maintained a bridgehead at Kozienice, near Ivangorod. From October 5 (18) to 10 (23) the Russian Army began to move to the attack, threatening to surround the German Ninth Army, which was compelled to begin a hasty retreat. The Austrian First Army, which tried from October 8 (21) to 13 (26) to advance on Ivangorod, sustained heavy losses and was unsuccessful. On October 14 (27) the Austro-German forces began a general retreat to their original positions. Mainly because of the unpreparedness of their rear, the Russian troops pursued the enemy slowly; as a result, the German forces, even with their heavy losses, managed to escape complete annihilation. By October 26 (November 8) the Russian armies grouped on the front line running through Umiejów, Lask, Przedbórz, Miechów, and Koszyce. At this point the operation ended, as the rear of the Russian forces lagged behind by more than 150 km, disrupting the supply of ammunition and food.

The Warsaw-Ivangorod operation of 1914 was one of the largest operations of World War I, and as a strategic operation of two fronts it represented a new phenomenon in military tactics. Its significance in the campaign of 1914 was to disrupt the plans of the German command on the Eastern Front and to weaken the German forces in the west since, in view of the threat to Silesia, the German command was forced at the end of 1914 to transfer new troops from the west to the east.


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