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World War I
The Russian Defeat at Tannenberg



The Russian Defeat at Tannenberg
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.09

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    humiliation, contend, mobilize, ally, suicide, resistance, commander, fatal, successful, retreat, defeat, attack, attempt, ensure, remain, effect
     content words:    Schlieffen Plan, General Alexander Samsonov, East Prussia, General Maximilian Prittwitz, General Samsonov, Marne River, Great Britain


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The Russian Defeat at Tannenberg
By Jane Runyon
  

1     When the Germans decided to attack much of Europe to begin a world war, they really didn't think they would have much trouble with Russia. According to the Schlieffen Plan, if the Germans were to take control of France quickly, the British and Russians would not be very willing to continue a battle. They believed that if they were to attack France, it would take six weeks before Russia would be able to mobilize an army to put up any resistance. The plan made a lot of sense on paper. Putting the plan into action would be another story.
 
2     The Russian army was mobilized a lot faster than the Germans had expected. The Germans were quite correct, however, in how long it took the Russians to go anywhere. The man who took charge of the Russian army was General Alexander Samsonov. He planned to march his men into East Prussia in order to meet and defeat the Germans. When the German commander, General Maximilian Prittwitz, saw that the large Russian army was ready for battle much sooner than they expected, he called for an immediate retreat. He was replaced by two German generals for making such a decision. The German and Russian forces met on August 22, 1914, near Tannenberg. The Russians outnumbered the Germans and were able to win a few skirmishes in the first couple of days. After six days of fighting, the Germans were able to completely surround the Russian army.
 
3     General Samsonov attempted to retreat from the Germans, but he was not successful. The German army destroyed the Russian army. Of the 150,000 Russian soldiers who began the battle, only 10,000 were able to escape. The Germans captured 92,000 Russians and killed almost 50,000 more. Rather than face the humiliation of such a devastating defeat, General Samsonov committed suicide. This part of the Schlieffen Plan was working well for the Germans.

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