The Battle of Tannenberg


What Happened in the Battle of Tannenberg and what is the History of the Name?

The German Eighth Army was 80,000 men out manned by the Russians Second Army. But they were not going to surrender during the days of the battle (26-30 August, 1914). The Russian First and Second Armies were attempting a pincer attack around the Masurian Lakes to attack the German Eighth Army. The German Eighth, 150,000 men strong, riskily went straight South to attack the Russian Second Army, numbering 230,000 . This movement led to the confrontation near Allenstein, East Prussia (today it is know as Olysztyn, Poland).

The German generals still named the battle after the town, Tannenberg (30 kilometers to the West) to avenge the defeat of the German Teutonic Knights who were defeated in a battle of the same title in 1410.

What was a Crucial Flaw of the Russians had that was a Strength for the Germans?

Alekesander Vasilevich Samsonov (Second Army General) and Pavel Karlovitch Rennenkampf (First Army General) disliked each other for personal reasons. This led to poor communication and coordination prior to and during the battle. Samsonov took the continuing onslaught by the Germans personally as the Eighth Army chased down the Second Army to almost extinction. While this was occurring, Samsonov took his own life. Samsonov's suicide may have been prevented if he and Rennenkampf were able to work out their dispute.

For the Germans, it was totally opposite with the Eighth generals; Paul von Hindenberg, Erich Lundendorff, and Max Hoffman who debated and discussed any suggested order.

What was the Outcome of the Battle?

The fatalities for the Germans were 12,000 men killed or wounded, and 4,700 men missing in action. For the Russians, it turned out much worse with 78,000 men killed or wounded and 92,000 soldiers became POW's (Prisoners of War). If you do the math, there was a total of 160,000 Russian casualties compared to the Germans 16,700 casualties. A devastating defeat for the Russian nation.