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Battle of Tannenberg - 1914

August 26 – August 30, 1914

East Prussia – Eastern Front

Russian First Army (commanded by Paul von Rennenkampf), Russian Second Army (commanded by Alexander Samsonov) and German Eighth Army (led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff)

In August 1914, with France under attack on the Western Front, Russia agreed to engage Germany on the Eastern Front by
invading the German territory of East Prussia. Prior to the battle, the Russian First Army, led by Paul von Rennenkampf, had defeated eight divisions of the German army. Upon taking charge of the German Eighth Army, General von Hindenburg instructed Erich Ludendorff to launch an attack on the Russian Second Army, led by Alexander Samsonov. Having tapped a Russian message, Ludendorff centered all his might on the Russian Second Army. The attack commenced on August 26, 1914, and saw the Russians retreat to Neidenburg. The German troops pursued and captured thousands of Russian soldiers. By August 29, 1914, Germany had won one of the most decisive victories won by the Central Powers in World War I.

The Battle of Tannenberg ended in a crushing defeat for the Russian army. Most of the Russian Second Army was killed and over 92,000 Russians were taken prisoner by Germany. General Alexander Samsonov who had commanded the Russian Second Army committed suicide. The German Army displayed remarkable mobility and excellent strategy. The battle displayed Germany's strength in moving troops by train to the war front. The Battle of Tannenberg resulted in further battles between Germany and Russia on the Eastern Front in September 1914. More damage was inflicted on Russia, and the Russian First Army suffered huge damages. The campaign’s only success from the Allied standpoint was the distraction it caused Germany from the battles on the Western Front.

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