TimelineMaps

Follow us through the World War I centennial on Follow wwitoday on Twitter

The Battle of Gumbinnen

An illustration of captured Russians, led by an officer, laying down their arms under the eyes of German lancers. A Russian victory, the Battle of Gumbinnen, fought on August 20, 1914, was the second encounter between the Russian invaders and the German defenders of East Prussia.
Text:
Die Gefangennahme von 8000 Russen bei Gumbinnen.
The Capture of 8,000 Russians in Gumbinnen.
Curt Schultz Steglitz
Reverse:
Message dated January 20, 1917 and postmarked the same day.
Karl Voegels, Berlin O. 27, Blumenstr.  75 (11)

An illustrated postcard of captured Russians, led by an officer, laying down their arms under the eyes of German lancers. A Russian victory, the Battle of Gumbinnen, fought on August 20, 1914, was the second encounter between the Russian invaders and the German defenders of East Prussia.

Image text

Die Gefangennahme von 8000 Russen bei Gumbinnen.



The Capture of 8,000 Russians in Gumbinnen.

Curt Schultz Steglitz



Reverse:

Message dated January 20, 1917 and postmarked the same day.



Karl Voegels, Berlin O. 27, Blumenstr. 75 (11)

Other views: Larger, Back

Commanding the German Eighth Army in East Prussia, General von Prittwitz was aware of the two Russian armies threatening him: the Russian First Army to the east, and Second to the south. With the Masurian Lakes and Prussian forests providing natural defenses to the south, and slowing an attack from that direction, it was likely the First Army would be upon him before the Second. But if he aggressively attacked the First Army close to the eastern border, he was in danger of the Second Army falling upon his rear, and of being crushed between the two Russian Armies.

To minimize the chance of this, he planned to let the Russian First Army advance well into Prussia, before engaging in battle at a site of his choosing. There he would defeat the First Russian Army, then turn to deal with the Second. The Germans had identified and prepared Gumbinnen as the battle site.

Of three German army corps going into battle against the Russian First Army, General François was the first to arrive, and suffered heavy casualties against the Russian artillery. The second corps under von Mackensen had struggled through the night against refugees fleeing the Russian advance. Going into battle, his men were met with concentrated artillery followed by a Russian counterattack. The Germans broke and fell back. A third corps of reservists arrived only in time to suffer further casualties before breaking off.

The German Eighth Army suffered 14,607 casualties. Von Mackensen lost 8,000 men.

Although a Russian victory, the Russians were about to retreat when the Germans did.

1914-08-20