Battle of Tannenberg (1914)

For the 1410 battle at the same location, see Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Tannenberg
ConflictWorld War I
DateAugust 17 to September 2, 1914
PlaceNear Tannenberg
ResultDecisive German victory
GermanyRussian Empire
Paul von HindenburgPavel Rennenkampf
Alexander Samsonov
20,00030,000 killed or wounded; 95,000 captured

The Battle of Tannenberg of 1914 was a decisive conflict between Russia and Germany in the first days of World War I. The Russian 1st and 2nd Armies and the German 8th Army fought from August 17 to September 2, 1914.

The Russian army used radio to transmit their attack plan, but they did not encrypt the messages, thinking that the enemy wouldn't have a Russian translator. The Germans easily intercepted the transmissions, and were expecting the Russians' every move at Tannenberg.

The Russian armies crossed into East Prussia with Knigsberg as their goal. At first, the battle appeared to go well for the Russians, with the first German counterattack repulsed on August 20. The German theatre commander, General Maximilian von Prittwitz, was sacked when he attempted to completely abandon East Prussia to the Russians.

While replacements were in route taken from the western front, the 8th Army's Chief of Operations, Max Hoffmann, redeployed the army. Hoffmann's plan left a screening force to delay the Russian 1st Army (under General Paul von Rennenkampf) which was approaching from the east, and set a trap for the Russian 2nd Army (under General Alexander Samsonov) which was moving up from the south.

The German field commander, General Hermann von Francois, allowed the 2nd Army to advance, and then cut them off from their already tenuous supply route. This forced massive surrenders, and saw the almost complete destruction of the 2nd Army near Frogenau. However, General Erich Ludendorff, the chief of staff for new theatre commander Field-Marshal Paul von Hindenburg dated the official dispatch reporting the victory from the nearby village of Tannenberg (Stębark), and the battle is thus known to history.

Rather than report the loss of his army to the Tsar, Samsonov committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on August 29, 1914

The German victory compelled Rennenkampf to withdraw his army from East Prussia, and thus cleared German territory of invaders. The Russians remained on the defensive along the German front for the rest of the war.

Ironically, in 1410, an ancestor of Hindenburg had fallen in an earlier battle near Tannenberg.

Battle of Tannenbergda:Slaget ved Tannenberg (1914) de:Schlacht bei Tannenberg (1914) he:קרב טננברג fr:Seconde bataille de Tannenberg ja:タンネンベルクの戦い (1914年) no:Slaget ved Tannenberg (1914) pl:Bitwa pod Tannenbergiem zh:坦南堡戰役


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