To Arms! – The Deployment of Troops I THE GREAT WAR – Week 3


In the last two episodes we’ve seen how
the mobilization for war really got going and the usual political intrigue and today
we’re going to see a little bit of fighting. I’d like to now direct your attention
to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria was now ready for war with Serbia,
and on August 12th, 1914, the Austrian army invaded, having already bombarded
Belgrade for a couple of weeks. A couple of things to think about, though:
Austria-Hungary went to war to punish, destroy, or annex Serbia, but it’s really funny when
you think how little she seemed to realize that she had a much larger, much more
dangerous enemy at this point – Russia! And a lot of the early Austrian maneuvers in World
War I are a textbook case in how NOT to run a war. See, one part of the problem was that war
against Serbia was really popular in Vienna, so Army Chief of Staff Conrad sent a lot more
troops down to Serbia than you would expect, and a lot fewer to fight Russia than you would expect. And here’s something else he did, which really
pissed of Austria’s ally the German Empire. In order to send an even larger army down
to Serbia, he actually arranged for troops that were heading to Russia to sort of secretly head
to Serbia instead, without telling the Germans, so when they found out they were really angry because
Russia had like a bajillion men and Serbia… did not. Now, the Germans, understandably, asked if the
troops could be re-routed back to the Russian frontier and here is where you get an idea of some of
the problems facing Austria-Hungary in this war. Austria-Hungary was multi-multi national and
had a crazy railway system that reflected this. In different parts of the empire the railways were
different gauges so trains couldn’t go through, and in some places the train lines would just end when
they got to an internal border and you’d have to get off and carry stuff or else go the long way
around because Hungary or Bosnia didn’t want certain trade to happen with certain
people. So when Germany asked Austria if she could re-route her trains and turn
the troops around, the answer was no. They couldn’t re-route single track railways
in the middle of total army mobilization, so the troops would have to go all the way to
the Balkans before they could be turned around and then sent back to the Russian front. On top of this was a huge fear of railroad
mismanagement. Now, this was a justified fear, I suppose, because all nations knew that a country that
could move her troops around quickly would have a big advantage over one who couldn’t.
So here’s what Austria did: to avoid railroad problems, all of the trains
were required to move at the speed of the slowest train on the slowest line for maximum
coordination. And that speed was ten miles per hour. 16 kilometers per hour. That’s how fast bicycles go. So the Austrian army invaded
Serbia at the speed of a bicycle. But eventually they got two armies into Bosnia,
about 110 kilometers apart from each other, under the command of General Oskar Potiorek, who
had never actually seen any military action before. Now, his army was poorly trained and equipped, and
of course the Slavs in the army were a little hesitant about fighting other Slavs, and Potiorek was also
willfully ignorant of the modern aspects of warfare. Serbia, by contrast, knew all about modern warfare,
having been in two wars in the past two years. The Serbs were also going to be fighting
on their home territory, in the mountains, and managed to mobilize half a million people out of a population of only around 4 million. Pretty impressive. Of course, a lot of these people didn’t
have any rifles or any ammunition, but they certainly had confidence. Which is odd,
really, considering that there were four million of them and 45 million of the opposition, but Serbia
really believed they were going to win. So the Austrians began crossing the
Drina River to engage the Serbs, and we’ll see how that went next week. In the west, the French mounted their first offensive
of the war, occupying Mulhouse in Alsace on August the 8th. The German army counter
attacked on August the 9th at Cernay and forced the French out of Mulhouse on the 10th.
The French retreated to Belfort and then, on August the 12th mounted a new offensive under
General Paul Pau. Once again, we’ll see how that went next week when France and Germany clash for real. Here’s what was happening this week in Britain. On August 7th, Lord Kitchener called for 100,000 volunteers, Kitchener being one of the few who thought that this
was going to be a long war, although, by the 10th, the Kaiser himself admitted some worries about
it being a long war once Britain was involved. Now, Britain had no troops at all in mainland Europe,
but she was the only country that had a purely professional army. It was small but it was
very highly trained and totaled six divisions. Four divisions were to be sent to France, and on August
12th the first troops of the British Expeditionary Force crossed the English Channel. In ten days they
moved 120,000 men without a single loss. Also on August 12th, France and Britain declare
war on Austria-Hungary. It’s interesting, actually, that England and Austria had been on
very friendly terms earlier, and Britain certainly had no commitment to Serbia or anything,
but if you look ahead through the August weeks, Britain became the vocal defender
of the rights of the Slavic minorities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Especially the Czechs. On August the 10th in the south, two German warships
managed to elude the British and enter the Dardanelles. The Turkish Minster of War, the pro-German
Enver Pasha, let them enter and said that if the British followed they would be fired upon.
But the Ottoman Empire was still neutral, so the ships were “sold” to the Turks, given
new Turkish names, and raised Turkish flags. On August 12th two naval blockades were established;
one to prevent cargo from reaching German ports on the North Sea, and the other was a French
blockade to cut off the Austrian ports on the Adriatic. In the North Sea, submarine U-15 was rammed
and sunk by the British, the first of nearly 200 U-boat losses Germany would suffer in
the war, and in central Africa, on Lake Nyasa, a British gunboat captured a German gunboat. The German captain was not aware that
he was at war with the British. True story. And just because there had been no right time to
mention this before, I’m going to mention it now: back on July 25th, the Kiel canal was
finally opened so that Germany could safely and quickly send ships between
the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Now, let’s think about something here, now
that we have a full European war starting, though not yet a world war – okay, yeah, we
did have gunboats in central Africa, but still… We actually have a bunch of totally different
wars at this moment, caused by different forces that make one big general war. Now, we’ve talked about this in earlier
episodes, but let’s briefly go over it again. Austria wants to go to war against the little guy
Serbia because of guys like Chief of Staff Conrad, who have big imperialistic dreams.
The Russians don’t think that it’s necessary for an entire Slav state to be destroyed because
of an assassin, or the Black Hand, or whoever, especially when it’s their only ally in a
sensitive region. The British didn’t much care about Serbia’s fate; they were concerned
with Belgium and German hegemony in Europe. The Germans want to take on Russia now because
they fear that in a few years Russia will be too powerful, but to do that they also have
to deal with Russia’s ally France, who wants revenge on Germany for the last war. See, these are all different wars, happening at
the same time, but for different reasons. Just thought I’d point that out. This is
where I’m going to leave you today, with German forces 80 kilometers from Warsaw, but come
back next week when the carnage really begins. If you want to know what happened in the last episode. Click right here. And let me know how you liked it too. If you have any questions you can put them in the comments below. And if you follow us on other social media platforms
like Facebook and Twitter you can learn more about The Great War. We have behind the scenes footage
and all kinds of background information for you. We really do.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. 😖Yikes.
    I feel a little sorry for the German gun boat captain in Africa who was captured, and had NO CLUE there was a war going on.
    Hope he and his crew were not harmed and treated fairly.

  2. @7:30. France got involved on the side of Russia because French banks were propping up the Czarist regime in St. Petersburg

  3. Wt a great affords u made to prepare these episodes..i Hv been searching WW1 for the last few months n finally i got u ..thxxx dear for giving a bunch of episodes with details. hope u would provide these series in Hindi Language.

  4. how to explain WW1 to someone who doesnt know anything about it in 20sec.Bunch of stupid and arrogant people went to war vs another set of stupid and arrogant people every single one of them with their own reasons.Which result in milions dead

  5. Your channel makes war sound interesting ! Sadly, its aftermath isn't so great for everyone involved

  6. The British were not worried about Belgium. They were worried about the huge German Fleet that challenged the naval supremacy of Great Britain. That British naval supremacy was indispensable to keep the British Empire.
    Belgium was just a mere excuse to get Great Britain into the war.
    That excuse served the purpose of portraying the Germans as the evil agressors of a small nation as Belgium, while portraying themselves (the British) as the noble defenders of the Belgian independence before the British and the international public opinion. The British pretended to be so noble that they were willing to go to war against a great power like Germany, not for their own interest, but in defence of a small and innocent nation.
    An English classic book of philosophy, "Utopia", written centuries before by Thomas Moro, describes perfectly how a nation have to present its actions in order to get maximun public support.
    Perfect propagandistic maneuver.

  7. German world war ally ratings
    Italy WW 1- Ally for a month then enemy
    Austria WW 1- Incompetent doesn’t listen drags u into conflict
    Ottomans WW 1- Failed to invade Russia miserably but otherwise weren’t terrible
    Japan WW 2- Drags u into war with US and is barely your ally
    Italy WW 2- In the words of Winston Churchill “Europe’s soft underbelly”

  8. I wish I would have discouverd you earlier, but it's nice now that I can binge your videos because it'd drive me crazy having to wait a week.

  9. I read that thanks to centuries of English soldiers coming South and wrecking the place, the French locals were told that they were all Scottish.

  10. "The Slavs in the army were a little hesitant about fighting other Slavs." Hmmm, very interesting. It seems some things do change after all

  11. Is Belgium's significance simply just being between France and Germany? How about all the territories King Leopold controls in Africa? Invading Belgium also meant accessing Africa, no?

  12. So informative. Especially about the motivations for each state, which few today know anything about, in our simplistic way of looking at it now.

  13. Wish I'd been here 4 years ago but sadly just found this channel while looking for anything about Armistice Day. Oh well, it'll make winter go much quicker.

    Btw (again wish I'd been here 4 years ago) Potiorek is pronounced "Po-chor-ek"… the Atlanta Braves had a player in the '70s-'80s with the same spelling. Hard to figure out how and why Slavic names are pronounced, as Przemysl is pronounced Cher-missile.

  14. If you would slow down, take a breath and let your points have a second to soak in…you would have more views…you go way to fast with little to no inflection with your voice and your points are lost

  15. I know Im late to this, but your channel is truly awesome. I came here because of Battlefield 1, but damned this is so interesting I cant Stop watching it

  16. this guy declares war on this guy, then this guy declares war with this guy, then this guy has to declare war on this guy……its fracking Animaniacs

  17. Interesting to find a series with your approach, sequential pieces with analysis and political rationales.
    I have subscribed because of your two-way "television" conversation with Ian and Karl which enticed me to watch one of your episodes. I will be watching the entire series with rapt fascination. You are going to be a constantly open tab on my machine which basically is never powered down. I will indulge regularly as I do with Ian's show. Thank you very much for this.

  18. During A-H mobilization trains needed to go firstly towards Serbia and immediately after towards Russia because Austrians planned on mobilization only against one enemy at the time… they didnt have plans for mobilizazion both for serbia and russia…
    1.) They mobilize against serbia and sent troops there
    2.)they realize they need to mobilize against russia as well but troops are on their way to serbia so…
    3.) They turn those trains back
    This was banalized, but something similiar happened

  19. When an austrian gets killed by a serbian in bosnia, so now you, an englishman, must fight the germans in france

  20. Wish I had this back when I was in HS and college!!

    Love these series, granted I'm just getting through this immensely detailed videos!

  21. @5:30– The British Gov. supplied ships to the Ottomans. Turks bought & paid for 2ships by funds donated by the Turkish people. These ships had 12”-13” guns. Within the hour of the last payment, Churchill(Lord of the Admiralty) confiscated the 2-Dreadnaught’s and the British shipyards kept the money. This is why Germany gave those ships to the Turks. Bc of Churchill’s dumbass decision ensured Turkeys alignment with Germany. the Bosporus strait, Russia’s only access to foreign shipping during the war was closed thus keeping Brit from supplying Russia. The Gallipoli campaign, headed by the drunk idiot Churchill was an attempt defeat the Turks take Istanbul and open the shipping lanes to Russia. So Churchill is responsible of ovr 300,000 casualties, ovr 160,000 Brits killed, bc of Churchill.

  22. In hindsight, the best bet for Germany would've been to simply dig in and guard against the French while attacking Russia with the majority of their forces. Respecting Belgian neutrality would've kept the British out of the war, and refusing to take offensive action against France would've made the French appear to be the more bloodthirsty of the two.

    Of course, the only RIGHT thing to do was to withdraw support from Austria-Hungary once the Serbs had agreed to 14 of the 15 terms issued to them, thus eliminating the perceived need for war.

    "Sorry guys, you're on your own if you persist in this reckless endeavor."

  23. Basically Germany always attacks Russia because they fear that Russia is getting too strong to come by a few years later, but forget that the UK and France wont go down as easy as they think. Noice

  24. The gunboat incident was a minor action compared to Britain'sfirst land action. A detachment of soldiers from the Gold Coast (now Ghana) was sent to attack the German Atlantic fleet radio communication station based in their then West African colony of Togoland ( now Togo). The attack was successful and that was the first British land action of WW1. The soldier who fired the first shot in that action was Sergeant Alhaji Grunshi, who should be considered the first British soldier to fire a shot in WW1. However, due to the social situation in those times, Africans did not get recognition for anything they did then.

  25. so basically Austria, which was as large as Germany prior, started the war out of stupid imperalistic grandiosity. And Germany is to blame alone. WTF

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