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The Eastern Front

1916 Eastern Front war zone map showing the borders between Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary from the Baltic Sea to Romania.

1916 Eastern Front war zone map showing the borders between Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary from the Baltic Sea to Romania.

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War Area of Eastern Europe

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June 28, 1914 to December 31, 1918

Eastern Front

Going to War

After defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 and the revolution that followed, and after Russia failed to respond to Austria-Hungary's occupation and annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, many Russian leaders believed that the country would need to take decisive action when it faced its next crisis if it were to remain an unquestioned Great Power. The assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand and his wife, the July Crisis of 1914, and the attack by Austria-Hungary on Serbia was that crisis.

War Plans

The German war plan, its only plan, was to fight a two-front war against France and Russia, but, by taking advantage of slow Russian mobilization and achieving a quick German victory over France, to turn it into two sequential single-front wars.

The war against France was to be over in weeks, after which Germany would transport its forces by rail to face, and defeat, a Russia that had finally mobilized. Under the plan, Germany would accept temporary losses of German territory both in Alsace-Lorraine and east Prussia, secure in the knowledge that both would be regained from Germany's defeated enemies.

Russia's economy and preparation for war had improved since 1905, in part due to French financial assistance. Its railways had been extended in Poland, and could move more quickly. It planned for simultaneous war against both Germany and Austria-Hungary, with its primary focus on one or the other. In 1914, it executed war plan Variant A in an assault against Austria-Hungary with four armies totaling 45 divisions. Two armies with 29 divisions faced Germany and two armies were held in reserve. Variant A began on July 30, 1914 with over 1,300,000 men mobilized.

Austria-Hungary’s plans — those of Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf — addressed war against Russia and Serbia but rapidly came to grief. Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia on July 28, 1914 even though its forces could not be mobilized until August 12. Conrad ignored ample evidence that Russia would mobilize. Germany mobilized on July 31. Conrad had troops in transit to Serbia that were redeployed in the opposite direction to Russia. The army had one-fifth of the trains it expected even as some of its troops shuttled from one front to the other. After forced marches of almost 20 miles a day from August 19 to 26, the Austro-Hungarian army reached the Russian border and Lemberg.

German and Austro-Hungarian staffs each held expectations of the other, but exchange little information. A German notion of a war in which the Teutonic states would defeat those of the Slavs had little resonance in the Austro-Hungarian Empire where nearly half the population was Slavic.

1914: Germany's and Russia's Initial Battles

As seven of its eight armies tried to quickly defeat France, Germany held its eastern border with the Eighth Army deployed in East Prussia. Knowing two Russian armies faced them, the Germans planned to defeat each in turn. Russia mobilized more quickly than Germany had expected and, encouraged by the French, went on the offensive, invading Germany and defeating German forces at Gumbinnen on August 20. The battle both brought the war into Germany, and panicked Maximilian von Prittwitz, commander of German forces in the east which faced a second Russian army to the south. Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke replaced him with General Paul von Hindenburg, who was brought from retirement, and assigned General Erich Ludendorff as his chief of staff. These two men would eventually command all German forces. Moltke also dispatched two army corps from the Western to the Eastern front, weakening his invasion forces in France.

German General Paul von Hindenburg luring a Russian army into the Masurian Lakes. In the Battle of Tannenberg, the Germans destroyed the Russian Second Army, killing 50,000 and taking 90,000 prisoners. The Russian First Army managed to escape the same fate in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes.

The Russians continued their advance into East Prussia, the First Army under Paul von Rennenkampf from the east, and the Second under Alexander Samsanov from the south. After Gumbinnen, Rennenkampf advanced cautiously, and the Germans turned to face the army threatening them from the south. The Russians did not coordinate their movements, and communicated by telephone and wireless in clear text or codes known to the Germans. In prewar maneuvers, Samsanov had always been slow, but now moved more quickly than Rennenkampf (who moved more slowly), advancing into an area broken by many lakes which dispersed his army. When his forces encountered German forces on August 26, Samsanov’s right (which should have been covered by Rennenkampf), was thrown back. On the 27th, his left wing collapsed. Rather than falling back to defend his forces, he continued to advance. By August 29, the Germans had encircled most of the Russian Second Army, and taken 90,000 prisoners in the Battle of Tannenberg.

The Germans next tried to destroy the First Army, but in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes von Rennenkampf was able to hold most of his army together, though suffering very heavy casualties, and retreat to the Russian border.

1914: Austria-Hungary and Russia

After Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, Commander-in-Chief Conrad began to execute his war plan that called for a defensive posture against Russia with three armies while launching an offensive against Serbia with three, including its reserve army. With seven of its eight armies attacking France, Germany requested support from its ally and an offensive against Russia. On August 6, Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia, and redeployed its Second Army, then bound for Serbia, to the Russian Front.

With only two of its planned three armies, Austria-Hungary crossed the Danube into Serbia on August 11, only to be driven out of the country. Before the year was out, Serbia had raided Austria-Hungary, and Austria-Hungary had invaded Serbia twice more, in September and November, taking then losing its capital Belgrade. Serbia defeated the three 1914 invasions, and ended the year controlling the capital.

The white Russian bear, dyed red with Austro-Hungarian blood, triumphs over the Habsburg Eagle. Russian was victorious in Galicia in 1914 and early 1915. A postcard by Bianchi.

Conrad hoped for a German-Austro-Hungarian attack on Russian Poland, but Germany was executing its own plans and requested an offensive against Russia. Conrad obliged by attacking Russia on August 20 from Lemberg in Galicia, northeastern Austria-Hungary, on the Russian side of the Carpathian Mountains and collided with the advancing Russians. In four battles between August 23 and September 11, the Austro-Hungarians initially drove back the Russians, but were finally outmaneuvered and overwhelmed. The Russians repeatedly transmitted unencrypted messages, which saved some of the Austrian army, but by the end of October, Conrad had lost Galicia, much of Austria-Hungary's rolling stock, and 350,000 of his 900,000 men.

The Russian Eighth Army under Alexsei Brusilov besieged the great Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemyśl. Conrad’s forces reached the city on October 7, and lifted the siege after 3 days. Brusilov lost 10,000 men. Conrad continued to the San River but was driven back and the Russians again besieged Przemyśl after 15,000 wounded were evacuated. The Austrian First Army lost 40,000 to 50,000 men.

Uniting Against Russia: the Battles of Ivangorod and Lodz

In mid-September, newly-appointed Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn transferred four army corps from East Prussia to Conrad’s northern flank near Cracow creating a new Ninth Army facing the Russian Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Armies. Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander in Chief of the Russian army, planned an advance through Poland on Berlin with seven armies, but Ludendorff and Hoffman moved armies towards Lodz and broke the Russian advance. On September 28, Hindenburg’s Ninth Army attacked west of the Vistula. Three days later four Austro-Hungarian armies attacked from the south. In the Battle of Ivangorod, 60 Russian divisions counter-attacked 18 German divisions. Ludendorff skillfully retreated.

In the Battles of Ivangorod and Lodz, fought from the end of September to early December, German and Austro-Hungarian forces swept eastward in Polish Russia and Galicia, taking and retaking territory before being driven back by a now fully-mobilized Russian army. As the Russians paused before resuming their drive, the German Ninth Army under August von Mackensen struck the Russian right between its First and Second Armies on November 11. Mackensen nearly destroyed the First, still led by Rennenkampf who was soon relieved of his command. Although the Russians managed to escape, they ceded much of western Poland in retreating to the east. In the Battle of Lodz the Germans took 136,000 prisoners. Additional Russians casualties were 90,000 as the Germans lost 35,000.

To the South, Austro-Hungarian Generals Svetozar Boroević and Karl Pflanzer-Baltin pushed back in Galicia and the Bukovina but the Russians opened a 70-mile gap between their armies. Only with German assistance, and after the loss of 70,000 to 80,000 Austro-Hungarians, was the Russian advance into the Carpathians stopped.

Losses were high. In the November and December battles, the Germans lost 100,000, the Russians 530,000. The Russians captured over 60,000 Austro-Hungarian prisoners. The Austrian First Army alone lost 40,000 to 50,000 men. Austro-Hungarian losses in Galicia alone between September and December 1914 were as high as 1,000,000.


Falkenhayn disagreed with Hindenburg and Ludendorff on the deployment of forces on the Western and Eastern fronts, and was skeptical of the results that could be obtained against Russia. A new Tenth German Army, formed at the end of 1914, was sent east over Falkenhayn’s objections after Hindenburg and Ludendorff appealed to Kaiser Wilhelm, the Supreme War Lord. The Generals used the army in launching the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes on February 7 in bitter weather, continuing an advance that was finally stopped by a Russian counter attack on February 22. Russia suffered 200,000 casualties including 92,000 prisoners. German forces suffered 30% casualties, most from exposure

On January 31, 1915, in the Battle of Bolimow, German forces first used poison gas — xylyl bromide. Due to the cold, the gas had limited effect. The Russians did not report the use of gas to their Allies who would face it in Ypres in April. In fighting that extended through February 2, the Russians lost 40,000 men.

A hold-to-light postcard of the German and Austro-Hungarian victory (shortlived) over the Russians in the Uzroker Pass in the Carpathians on January 28, 1915. Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, launched an offensive with three armies on January 23 including the new Austro-Hungarian Seventh Army under General Karl von Pflanzer-Baltin.

From Poland, the Russians pressed south against the Austrians in early 1915, continuing their siege of the great Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemyśl. The city, which lay northeast of the Carpathian Mountains, held 127,800 soldiers, 18,000 civilians, 1,000 Russian POWs, and 14,500 horses. To relieve the seige, the Austro-Hungarians had to attack through the mountains, but were unprepared to do so. Conrad launched a Carpathian offensive with the Second, Third, and Fourth Armies in January 1915. In deep snow, with temperatures falling to –25 Celsius, many — hundreds daily — froze to death. The Russians rolled barrels of explosives down on the attackers. There was no cover and it was impossible to dig. Life expectancy for men of the Austro-Hungarian relief force was five to six weeks. The Third Army lost half its strength — 89,000 casualties, killed, captured, severely wounded, dead by suicide, eaten by wolves.

Another attempt in fog and snow to lift the siege of Przemyśl on March 1 cost the Second Army 51,000 casualties. On March 6, although there were thaws by day, the temperature reached –20 degrees Celsius at night. On March 19, the commander in Przemyśl (Hermann Kusmanek) burnt 700,000 paper Kronen for fuel. The next day, in near blizzard conditions, he had horses butchered for food. On March 22, he ordered the destruction of anything that might benefit the Russians besieging the city, demolishing train installations, destroying artillery shells, blowing up guns, destroying defensive works, and burning supplies. On March 23, 1915, he surrendered. The Russian took Przemyśl and its 117,000 men, 2,500 officers, and 93 senior staff officers as prisoners. The victory gave the Russians access to the Carpathians passes beyond which lay the Hungarian plain.

Austria-Hungary suffered 800,000 casualties in early 1915. In nine months, on his two fronts, Conrad has destroyed the Austro-Hungary cadre of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers.

The Russians continued advancing. Some Austro-Hungarian Czech regiments surrendered to the Russians, after which other Czech regiments were broken up with men reassigned to Austrian regiments. Austria-Hungary lost officers at a far higher rate than any other country, something credited to uniforms that made them readily identifiable to Russian sharpshooters, but also to suicidal frontal assaults.

The Russian Eighth Army and part of the Third attempted to break through the Carpathian passes to reach the Hungarian plain. The offensive was suspended due to lack of ammunition and supplies. It was never resumed.

Germany to Austria-Hungary's Defense

With the Russian conquest of Przemyśl and Austria-Hungary's increasingly desperate struggle to prevent the Russians from breaking through the Carpathian passes to the Hungarian plain, Falkenhayn turned from his plans for an offensive in France to aiding Austria-Hungary, and agreed to Conrad’s plan for an attack on the Russian flank along a front from Gorlice to Tarnow. He withdrew troops from the Western Front in March and April, sending one of four infantry regiments and two of six artillery to Russia. His offensive and gas attack in the Second Battle of Ypres was in part intended to forestall an Allied offensive against his weakened line.

General von Mackensen commanding the new Eleventh German Army and an Austrian army launched his Gorlice-Tarnow campaign on May 3, 1915 along a 30-mile front after a four hour hurricane bombardment. By May 4, the Russian Third Army was shattered and Mackensen's army created a breakthrough too wide and deep for the Russians too close. The Russians abandoned Galicia and most of Poland, and lost 210,000 men including 140,000 prisoners. By 14 May, the German/Austrian allies reached the San River, capturing an additional 250,000 Russians. The German and Austro-Hungarian forces retook the Carpathian passes. On June 3, they regained the fortress city of Przemyśl. They retook Lemberg on June 22, and Kaiser Franz Josef promoted Conrad to the new rank of colonel-general. With Galicia secure, they moved north into Russian Poland and took Warsaw on August 4. On August 10, they besieged the great Russian fortress at Novo-Georgievsk with its garrison of 90,000 men. The Russian commander surrendered ten days later on August 20.

A Russian Cossack riding among refugees fleeing before a Central Power advance. The Russians adopted a scorched-earth policy in the months-long retreat before the German-Austro-Hungarian Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive of the spring, summer, and fall 1915, with Cossacks accused of burning homes and crops to deny them to the advancing enemy, and to prevent civilians from remaining behind and providing intelligence to the invader.

The Russians were pushed back to the Bug River. Kovno fell on August 17. On August 25 and 26 they lost Brest-Litovsk as the Central Powers continued the campaign.

By the end of August, Russia had been pushed back 300 miles, and had lost territory the size of France. An estimated 10,000,000 refugees — most of them not ethnic Russians — had fled the battlezone and the Central Powers had captured 750,000 Russians in the campaign. Germany and Austria-Hungary held nearly 1,750,000 prisoners of war, 1,425,000 of them Russian.

The Russians continued to fight, but the soldiers did not have adequate weapons, rifles, or boots, and autumn rains make the roads impassable. Some Russian army units reported that Bolshevik anti-war propaganda was being distributed.

Falkenhayn renewed his call for separate peace with Russia. Commanding his depleted Austro-Hungarian army, Conrad agreed, but German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg refused. It is likely Tsar Nicholas would not have abandoned his allies in any event.

Without German support, Conrad resumed his attack on August 26 and took Grodno and Lutsk. In counterattacks, the Russians drove Conrad back and retook Lutsk on September 23. Yet again the Germans rescued their ally which lost 231,000 men, 100,000 of them prisoners, in the campaign. The Fourth Austrian army lost a third of its officers.

By August 1915, after one year of war, Austria-Hungary had lost 2,500,000 men and 57,000 officers killed or wounded. One in eight officers were dead, and one in ten men. 730,000 men were missing or prisoners of war, and 928,000 were seriously wounded.

On September 9, 1915, Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, and Falkenhayn turned to removing Serbia as a threat to Austria-Hungary. Despite this, Ludendorff and Conrad separately tried to extend their success against Russia. Ludendorff attacked at Vilna on September 9, but the Russians held. In October, Conrad continued his campaign with no German support, and lost almost 250,000 men. The Russians had stabilized their front, but did not again threaten Germany. A Russian offensive from December 13 to 27 failed and 6,000 Russians were taken prisoner.

In 1915, Russia suffered approximately 2,000,000 casualties with nearly 1,740,000 taken prisoner by November.

Between August 1914 and the end of 1915, Autria-Hungary had suffered nearly 3,200,000 casualties: 74,755 officers and 3,115,203 men with 377,022 men and 10,238 officers killed. One million officers and men were missing or prisoners of war. Nearly the same number had returned to the fighting: 1,000,000 men and 37,000 officers.


At the beginning of 1916, Russia had strengthened in many ways, with a shorter front line, improved communications, and a more well-equipped army. But hunger was mounting, and there were strikes. In response, the Tsar used Cossacks and police against his people.

Russia planned a July offensive in 1916, but the French called for one to draw strength from the German siege of Verdun that began February 21. The Russian responded with a two-pronged offensive east of Vilna and north of Minsk that began on March 18. Russia's preliminary artillery bombardment did little damage to German defensives, and the infantry assault failed. The offensive was suspended March 30 after the Russians had suffered as many as 110,000 casualties, the Germans 20,000.

With Austria-Hungary's Asiago Offensive into northern Italy added to the ongoing action at Verdun, calls for Russia's summer offensive increased. General Alexei Brusilov was the only Russian commander prepared to respond. His offensive began June 4 across a broad front against the Austro-Hungarians who begged for German support. Brusilov's campaign was one of the most successful of the war, and effectively broke the independent Habsburg army which officially lost 464,382 men and 10,756 officers. Some estimates put the loss as high as 750,000 soldiers including 380,00 prisoners and deserters.

But Brusilov continued the battle too long with attacks that resembled earlier ones with human waves attacking entrenched defenders. By the end of the battle in September, Russian losses had mounted to 1,000,000 men.


At the beginning of 1917, the Russian army was better equipped than it had been, but discipline was breaking down. Transport failed to meet military or civilian needs, leaving major cities short of food during the winter. Food riots and strikes led to mass demonstrations in Petrograd on March 8 (February 23 Old Style) and 9, and to a three-day general strike the next day. After 60 marchers were killed by soldiers on March 10, the Volinsk Regiment came out in favor of the demonstrators. Nearly all Petrograd garrisons soon joined the revolt, which grew from 660 soldiers on March 11 to 170,000 on the 14th. Seeking leadership, demonstrators and soldiers marched to the Duma, the Russian Parliament, which formed a provisional government. Tsar Nicholas abdicated on March 15. The February Revolution removed the Tsar from power, restored the Duma, and brought a government that included moderates and liberals to power, but a government committed to keeping Russia in the war. Simultaneously, Socialists, Social Democrats, Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and Bolsheviks followed the model of the 1905 Revolution and formed a Soviet, asking factories and barracks to send representatives. Duma and Soviet had an uneasy power-sharing in the coming months.

Russia had planned a spring offensive, but the turmoil of the revolution brought activity on the front to a standstill. The overthrow of the Tsar freed up German troops for redeployment from Russia to Italy and France.

A moderate Socialist, member of the Petrograd Soviet, and Justice Minister in the Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky took the post of Minister of War in May, and encouraged a Russian offensive which began in Galicia, in northeastern Austria-Hungary in June. Commanded by Alexsei Brusilov who had commanded Russia's great offensive of 1916, the attack began well, but the army was disintegrating. Orders were countermanded by votes of committees that included soldiers and political commissars. Orders to advance were delayed to allow for debate and votes that sometimes affirmed the advance and sometimes countermanded it. Votes to advance were reopened for discussion and new votes to advance or retreat. Some soldiers simply left the front. By early July the offensive had failed disastrously, with over 200,000 Russian casualties including 40,000 dead. It was the last major Russian military initiative of the war, and led to demonstrations and work stoppages with workers refusing to produce munitions or run trains. The Government and the generals blamed the Bolsheviks and would soon turn against them.

Romania Fights On

By early 1917, Central Power forces had conquered most of Romania, and confined what remained of the Romanian Army to Moldavia, Romania's northeast region, where Romanians and Russians held a line extending to the Black Sea.

German postcard map of the Romanian theater of war, with map labels in Bulgarian added in red. From north to south the labels are Russia, the Austro-Hungarian regions of Galicia and Bukovina, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and, along the Black Sea, the Romania region of Dobruja. Romania

Even as Kerensky's Offensive was failing, what remained of Romania's army and the Russians launched an offensive in Moldavia against the German Ninth Army. The Battle of Mărăşti began on July 24. Although the Romanians captured Mărăşti, the Russians were driven back to their north. The Romanians suspended operations on August 1.

One week later, on August 8, the German Ninth Army struck back in the the Battle of Mărăşeşti, on the Sereth River. With the Russians retreating to the north, the Romanian First Army took their place in the line. On August 10, the Romanians and Russians counterattacked. On August 19, the Germans attacked again, the Romanians counterattacked, and the Germans retreated in disorder. The Battle of Mărăşeşti was the greatest Romanian battle and victory of the war. In the battle, the Romanians suffered 27,410 casualties, of which 5,125 died, 12,467 were wounded, and 9,818 were missing in action. Central Power casualties were 65,000.

Launched the same day as the Battle of Mărăşeşti, on August 8, the Battle of Oituz was a Central Power offensive to take heights along the rivers of Moldavia. The General Gerock Group — consisting of German and Austro-Hungarian divisions — attacked units of the Romanian Second Army and Russians. The Romanians held. On August 19, the Austro-Hungarians resumed the attack.

Romania's fate was sealed by events in Russia, first on the battlefield, where Russians increasingly concluded local ceasefires, and in Petrograd, where a new Russian government took power in November. Romania concluded an armistice on December 9. The peace treaty — the Treaty of Bucharest — was signed on May 7, 1918, but by a new government, not by King Ferdinand of Romania.

Russia's Bolshevik Revolution

After Kerensky's failed offensive, Germany continued to advance into Russia. Many blamed the Bolsheviks for the disintegration of the army and accused the party of being in the pay of Germany. The Russian people were both anti-German and anti-war, and the most consistent voice calling for an end to the war was Vladimir Lenin of the Bolsheviks who had returned to Russia from exile in neutral Switzerland. Workers and soldiers marched to the headquarters of the party demanding action against the government, but the Bolsheviks were unprepared for a revolution. The marchers disbanded and in the coming days the government turned on the party, imprisoning members as Lenin and others went into hiding, in Finland in Lenin's case.

German forces continued advancing, taking Riga on September 1 and threatening the capital. Russian Commander-in-Chief General Lavr Kornilov, who had been a commander in the summer offensive, attempted to rally troops to overthrow the government even while negotiating with Kerensky. Fearful of a coup, the government released the imprisoned Bolsheviks and armed them to defend Petrograd. Kornilov's scheme came to nothing. The Bolsheviks remained free and their Red Guard armed.

As the government prepared for a constituent assembly to form an elected government, the Bolsheviks called for the transfer of power to the Soviets, in which the party was increasing its representation. When the government moved against the Bolsheviks on November 6 New Style, it was already too late, as the Bolsheviks controlled bridges, railway and power stations, and the telephone exchange. On November 7, Red Guards seized the Winter Palace and arrested members of the Provisional Government. On November 8, the Second Soviet Congress met, and Lenin proclaimed an end to the war, an action formalized with the signing of a ceasefire on December 15. The first phase of the Bolshevik Revolution had ended. The Russian Civil War would soon begin.

Beginning in November 1917, the Germans transferred 30 divisions to the Western Front adding to the 150 already there. Another 20 would ultimately go not only to the Western but also for the Italian front.


Red Army troops attacking German troops in the snow, Pskov, 1918. %+%Person%m%2%n%Tsar Nicholas%-% signed his abdication papers in Pschov in March of the previous year.

Under a ceasefire signed on December 15, 1917, representatives of the Central Powers and the new Bolshevik Russian government met in the Russian city of Brest-Litovsk for peace talks that continued into the new year. Most of the new government including chief negotiator Leon Trotsky called for peace with no annexations, disagreeing with Lenin's demand for immediate peace with Germany even if it retained the territory it had taken. After multiple deadlines had passed, Trotsky declared "no war, no peace," and left the negotiations on February 10,1918. Unwilling to consider this a proper resolution to the situation, the Germans advanced over great swaths of Russia with little opposition. An attack across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki threatened the Russian capital of Petrograd leading the Bolsheviks to move the government seat to Moscow. Lenin had been right, and, having lost even more territory, Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers — Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria — on March 3, 1918.

Despite the enormous German advance, there were few ethnic Russians in the occupied land. Fearful of the Bolsheviks, the Allies encouraged anti-Bolshevik sentiment. In part fearful of the Red Army, the German army maintained a large force in the east.

The Russian Civil War

The new Russian government was able to secure and transport much of the war materiel the Allies had delivered to Archangel on the White Sea. It was ruthless in imposing its vision of Russia. The opposition — the Whites to the Bolshevik Reds — included Socialists and other left-wing parties, nationalists seeking independence, monarchists and other right-wing groups. They did not form a unified opposition to the Bolshevik government. Some fled abroad hoping for eventual return.

Russia's former Allies, Britain, France, and the United States (which had welcomed the February revolution that removed the autocratic Tsar) opposed the Bolsheviks, and made military efforts to oppose them. American and British troops landed in Murmansk, a river port near Russia's northern border with Norway and Finland. The Czech Legion, 45,000 strong, composed of former Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war who had fought with the Russians, made their way across Russia to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. At first the Bolsheviks allowed them free passage, but, after German objections, resisted their continued passage across the vast country. As former Imperial Russian generals including Kornilov and Alexeiev formed a White Army in Ukraine, the Cossacks formed their own force. The Czechs returned westward joined by Russian White forces. In the Ural Mountains their journey brought the Legion near Ekaterinburg where the former Russian imperial family were held. The government in Moscow delegated to the Ural Soviet the decision on the fate of the Tsar and his family. After an assessment that Ekaterinburg could fall to the White forces in three days, local authorities decided to eliminate them all. At midnight the night of July 16–17, 1918, the Romanovs were gathered and murdered.



Events contemporaneous with The Eastern Front

Start Date End Date View
1915-03-23 Russian Conquest of Przemyśl
1914-06-28 1914-06-28 Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
1914-07-28 1914-07-28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
1914-08-01 1914-08-01 Germany declares war on Russia
1914-08-02 1914-11-11 Turkey Enters the War
1914-08-03 1914-08-03 Germany invades Luxemburg
1914-08-03 1914-08-03 Germany declares war on France
1914-08-03 1914-08-04 German forces enter neutral Belgium
1914-08-04 1914-08-04 Great Britain declares war on Germany
1914-08-04 1914-11-24 Germany Conquers Belgium