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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Schlieffen Plan


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Just noticed this thread.

RE: Russian mobilization. Russian mobilization was slower for three reasons.

1) Unlike other countries, the reserves needed to complete active units came from several military districts other than the one in which the active unit was stationed. For example, the three western military districts (Warsaw, Vilnius, and Kiev) mobilized 16 Corps in 1909 while the remainder of Russia only added 15 more (Menning pg. 222). This meant a significant percentage of reservists traveled significant distances to join their units.

2) The adoption of Mobilization Schedule 18 actually moved units further from the border. This was done for two reasons; first to reduce the operational vulnerability of the forward deployed elements of the army. The Russian GS decide that the Polish Bulge couldn’t be defended (because of the time to mobilize) and it was better to pull the mobilization areas eastwards to prevent an enemy from attacking before they were ready. Second it moved units closer to their recruiting areas. It was decided that it was better to shorten the distances the individual reservists needed to travel to join their units as this simplified the rail schedules.

3) The vast distances covered to fully tap the manpower of the Empire. The bulk of the population was further away from the borders than in other countries. It simply took more time to move the number of individuals over the road and rail network. Many reservists had to walk several days to reach the nearest rail line, which increased in time as you moved further eastward. Counting the units from Siberia and the Maritime Province, the last units arrived in the west at M+85 (Golovine pg. 50). A majority of the reserve divisions weren’t available until M+40.

While it has been stated that Russia executed a partial mobilization on 25 July, it was actually a ‘Period Preparatory to War’ (Fronmkin pg. 198; Golovine pgs. 4-5). This authorized active units to recall personnel off leave, to prepare equipment and load war stocks of ammunition and rations, border posts on alert, etc. It didn’t mobilize reservists. It also sent warnings to the military districts to prepare for mobilization. Partial mobilization was initially ordered on 29 July (for Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, and Kazan: Golovine pg. 16) but rescinded. It was changed to general mobilization on 30 July

As other have stated, Russian mobilization wasn’t faster. Russia had promised to start their offensive no later than M+15. This meant that the armies began to move forward whether they were ready or not. In all cases, the reserve divisions had yet to complete mobilization. The active cavalry divisions were designated as the army cavalry and to form the cavalry corps; the reserve cavalry was to provide the divisional cavalry. At M+15, none of the reserve cavalry had finished mobilization. When the Russians advanced, the divisions lack their reconnaissance capability. The logistical trains were incomplete. So Russian hadn’t mobilized faster, they took greater risks to support France.

There was no plan for the attack against Russia after the successful completion of the offensive against France by Germany. There were too many variables that could happen during the six weeks needed to defeat France. The German GS would begin to plan the operation as they started to move units to the east. They would take the current situation and plan from that set. If you want and idea of what such an attack might look like, you can read Staabs ‘Aufmarsch nach zwei fronten: auf Grund der operationspläne von 1871-1914’. Here Staabs discusses the plan for the war against Russia. This was the plan that, starting in 1913, was no longer updated each year.

The only Russian units kept at near war strength were the active cavalry regiments. These units were to cover the mobilization of the army. The Russians didn’t have any special border units or the like.

In August 1914, the Russian armies actually had a 2-4 day approach march to cross the border. This was especially true of the 2nd Army, which also only had one rail line to support its advance. No large formations were close to the border in 1914.

Mobilization Schedule 18 had been updated in 1912 with Schedule 19. It was this schedule that introduced variants ‘A’ and ‘G’. Normal mobilization was ‘A’ against Austria-Hungary. ‘G’ was to be used if Germany didn’t initially focus on France but massed against Russia. In August 1914, ‘A’ was used. The Russians modified the plan during the first two weeks as units mobilized. The modification created the 9th Army. This later created problems.

This is only a quick overview and a small attempt to address the questions. I can provide significantly more detail if needed.


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