No Peace For The Wicked I THE GREAT WAR Week 129

No Peace For The Wicked I THE GREAT WAR Week 129

Food shortages, strikes, assassinations, covert
attempts to end the war, covert attempts to expand the war, the situation in Russia by
now was dangerously unstable. It wouldn’t get any better this week, though
as there was yet another political shakeup in Petrograd. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week, the New Year rolled in, and with
it, the Central Powers forces continued rolling in Romania. In neutral Greece, the Allies listed humiliating
demands that the Greeks must accept before the Allied blockade would end, and both sides
had for weeks been issuing “peace notes” and responses, none of which seemed like they
had any chance to stop the war. There was more of that this week, too. On the 10th, came the Allied reply to US President
Woodrow Wilson’s peace note. It stated that the allied war aims are “necessarily
and first of all, the restoration of Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro, with the compensation
due to them; the evacuation of the invaded territories in France, in Russia, in Romania,
with due reparation”. It went on to demand a reorganized Europe
based on respect for nationalities, the liberation of Italians, Czechs, Slovaks, other Slavs,
and Romanians from foreign domination, and turning the Ottomans completely out of Europe. Germany responded that the Allied concern
for small states is pretty hypocritical and pointed out the Irish and the Boers as British
examples, the subjugation of North Africa by France, Britain, and Italy, the suppression
of foreign nationalities in Russia, and “the oppression of Greece, which is unexampled
in history”. There was a lot more to the notes from both
sides, about international rights, but you get the general idea. Each side claimed to be the noble one and
the injured party, but this was all going to become totally academic soon, anyhow. On January 9th, 1917, Kaiser Wilhelm held
a crown council that would finally address the question of unrestricted submarine warfare. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Henning
von Holtzendorff, told him that by bringing it back Britain would be forced to sue for
peace within six months. He had actually written that in a memo last
month, but he reaffirmed those words. The Kaiser wondered what the Americans would
think of this, and Holtzendorff replied, “I will give your Majesty my word as an officer
that not one American will land on the continent.” German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
had always been against the move, as he still was, since he believed it would in fact bring
America into the war, but with all the military against him he withdrew his opposition. The Kaiser gave the green light – submarine
warfare against all shipping, whatever flag it flew, whatever cargo it carried aboard,
would begin February 1st. Gotta point out here that the reason this
discussion was coming now and not last fall was Denmark. Yep, Denmark, remember them? Germany had been stretched so thin with sending
so many troops to Romania that if they had begun unrestricted submarine warfare in October
or November and had sunk a bunch of neutral Danish ships, the Danish army could’ve taken
Berlin in an afternoon or two with little or no opposition. It was only now that Romania had been dealt
with that the issue could be again raised. And speaking of Romania being dealt with;
that campaign was still in its later stages. Cossack cavalry and Romanian infantry were
fiercely fighting off the German Alpenkorps and Austrian mountain brigades this week as
they slowly advanced, 1000m high on the Magura Odobesti Massif, west of Foscani. On the 6th, the Erwin Rommel detachment took
Height 617, which proved to be the key to taking the massif. They carried heavy machine guns up the heights
on their backs, since pack animals couldn’t make it. To the southeast, the Central powers advanced
on the Putna and Sereth Rivers. The Russians attacked, though, on the 6th,
opening a gap southeast of Foscani. The next day, the Germans not only plugged
that hole, but drove the Russians back across the Sereth. By January 10th, with his men on one side
of the Putna-Sereth River line and the Russians on the other, German General Erich von Falkenhayn
issued orders to adopt a static defense. The Romanian campaign had come to an end for
now. This winter, there were three Russian armies,
numbering 40 divisions, in Romania. These troops took over most of the front lines
and had their own static defense opposite the Germans. This allowed the French military mission to
Romania to make plans to re-equip and re-train the Romanian army over the spring of 1917. Romania could maybe make up a force of 15
divisions, but it would take months to put them together, and of course some of them
had to remain on the front lines. So 6 divisions, under General Alexandru Averescu
would stay in the Eastern Carpathians and carry out operations there, while the other
9 would either train in Romanian Moldavia or provide relief for Averescu. This was a pretty good setup for the Romanians,
and it may result in them continuing the fight, but it left the Russians with the lion’s
share of the defenses of unoccupied Romania. Russian Army Chief of Staff Mikhail Alexeev
had said five months ago that Romania’s entry into the war would prove a liability
for Russia, and for the moment, he appeared to be right. Since August, the Romanians had lost over
73,000 men killed, 147,000 captured, and around 90,000 missing in action; I’m not really
sure of the number wounded. The campaign that many had believed would
re-start the Brusilov Offensive and bring down the Central Powers had pretty much the
opposite effect. Russia had been forced to send so many troops
down to Romania to guard the Russian flank that all Russian offensive movement on the
Eastern Front had stopped. The Central Powers had gained over 2 million
tons of Romanian grain, 250,000 head of livestock, 200,000 tons of timber, and Romania’s oil
output, which was around a million tons a year (Brusilov). Considering that this winter was the worst
of the war, known in Germany as the turnip winter since the potato harvest had failed,
and many people in Central Europe were actually starving to death, there are sources that
question whether Germany and Austria-Hungary would have been able to even continue the
war without this bounty. They’d also need the will to continue it,
of course, and morale was dropping everywhere. Like on the Western Front this week, which
had been fairly quiet since the end of the Battle of Verdun last month. But on the 10th, British troops attacked the
German lines north of Beaumont-Hamel. Now, rain and sleet had been falling for days
and the battlefield was made up pretty much of swamps and tiny lakes. The British penetrated the German positions
half a kilometer, taking 120 cold, wet, miserable German prisoners, a larger number than the
British raiding party itself. The next day, in snow up to their knees, the
British took another trench there and the majority of the Germans there did not even
put up a fight, but surrendered at once. Around another 180 prisoners were taken. You could see how morale was by this point
in winter. But over in Russia, there was a bit of hope. Rasputin had been murdered only days ago and
there was hope that his machinations would die with him. But Interior Minister Alexander Protopopov
simply stepped into Rasputin’s place. (Story of the Great War) “He maintained
his hold over the Tsar by means of spiritualistic séances in which he pretended to have communication
with the spirit of the dead monk.” Yeah, that’s not going to end well. All Russia was against Protopopov. In fact, at the palace’s New Year reception,
Rodzianko, the President of the Duma, refused to shake Protopopov’s hand and turned his
back on him, which caused a sensation in the press. Also, when Protopopov entered the rooms of
his club in Petrograd, all of the members stood up and walked out. Alexander Trepov, the Prime Minister, who
was – like everybody but the Tsar and Tsarina – against Protopopov, resigned this week and
replaced by Prince Nikolai Golitsyn. Golitsyn too insisted on Protopopov’s resignation,
but the Tsar refused. Minister of War Dmitri Shuvayev was also removed,
and replaced with General Mikhail Belyaev. And here are a couple of notes to end the
week. On the 9th, the Allies sent an ultimatum to
Greece demanding they accept last week’s conditions for lifting the blockade. That same day, the British took Ottoman positions
at Rafah, and 1,600 prisoners. The Whole Sinai peninsula was now under British
control. And the week ends, and with it the Romanian
Campaign. Minor actions in the west reveal German despair,
while there is yet another government shakeup is Russia. In September 1915, Tsar Nicholas had taken
over personal command of the Russian armies. After that, the Tsarina had assumed more and
more control of internal affairs in Russia. In the nearly 16 months of what some call
the “Tsarina’s Rule”, there have been four Prime Ministers, three Foreign Ministers,
three Ministers of War, and five Ministers of the Interior. People called this “ministerial leapfrog”. It repeatedly removed competent men from power,
and didn’t give anyone a chance to really master their job. The internal disorganization that had resulted
by this time was staggering, and it was being intentionally fanned by the one man who kept
his job, Alexander Protopopov. Dark times lay ahead.

62 Replies to “No Peace For The Wicked I THE GREAT WAR Week 129

  1. I found it funny that the allies wanted to liberate countries but on the other side supressing africa and asia..

  2. Hi The Great War,
    First of all let me congratulate you for your show. I am following you daily i really enjoy watching your show right before playing Battlefield 1.
    I have a question for you guys!

    Can you please tell me if you have already talked about or planning to talk about the implication of Canada in the great war.

    Best regards

  3. Why did the Russians not assassinate Protopopov or send embassies to the Tsar showing him beyond doubt that Popov was a traitor, I am shure that the tsar would listen to them he was a reasonable man?

  4. It's kind of amusing to hear the UK talk about "freedom from foreign domination" when at this time they still have the largest empire on earth.

  5. Focsani, it's ok to correct a mispronunciation but pleeeaase try to make the audio more similar for the edit. Or heck just say "ops, I dun messed up" or something. Or, maybe I shouldn't even mention this since I'm quite certain that I'm a minority in this case. 4:15 and 3:57 and. Oh well!

  6. Indy are you going to do a program on the Empress Alexandra? I must point out Nicholas was the one who hired and fired all these ministers he often ignored the advise of Alexandra and Rasputin. One must point out Nicholas was desperatly trying to find ministers who were loyal to him and could do the job.

    see the books:
    The Last Tsar SS Oldenberg
    The Last Tsar Rededsky
    Nicholas II Dominic Lieven

  7. Hi chaps, good stuff as ever. I have been trying to read around the subject by googling Protopopov: As yet I can find no evidence to substantiate the claim that he was deliberately trying to foment revolution to bolster autocratic rule. What are your sources?

  8. Anyone know what Denmark did to keep it neutral come on see where it is from that you could sent trops in land at north Germany. Also did Denmark got a their army og navy ready for war?

  9. Hi Indy, Flo and team! A question that perhaps Flo can answer here: Why was german moral so low in January 1917 if they had held the onslaught in both the Somme and the Verdun counterattack and had conquered Romania in a few weeks?

  10. no way that kid bottom left is over 12, and it looks like the guys beside him are only 16 . shame to see such young people guarding the front.

  11. 2:37 — 1917 — Unleash unrestricted submarine warfare on the Americans: "Don't worry about them."
    1941 — Hitler declares war on the Americans: "Don't worry about them."
    Moral: If you have a horde of enemies already, don't add to them.

  12. 10:00 I really don't think that "Best" should be used to describe anyone in power in the context of world war one. "Least worst" is a more appropriate term.

  13. I can't help but wonder if footage of things like livestock is actual footage of military-appropriated livestock, or just stock footage from around that era of cinematography.

  14. On a trip to Berlin last year, in a train a young GERMAN man told me "We started two wars, and lost both. We are making sure we don't start a third one!!"

  15. Solder's thoughts: War will be win by Christmas, they Sayed. It will be fun, they sayed.

  16. Love this channel.
    World war one was so much more complex than the 2nd world war.
    Ww2 was much more black and white. Not fully black and white, but much more.

  17. at 8:00 coukd that be a Repuiblican elephant trying to interfear in Russian politics? No wonder 100 years later Russia hacked the election. joke

  18. Romania has entered the war

    Britain: oh no.

    Germany (crosses fingers): please don't be on our side.

    Russia (crosses fingers): please don't be on our side)

    Romania: duck, duck, duck, I choose the allies!

    Russia: damn it!

    Germany: yes! halting all offensive operation on all other fronts, this is gonna be sweet!

    Austria-Hungary : this will be a bonanza for our people!

    France: what do we do now? I can't get there in time!

    Britain: Someone's got to defend them!

    Russia (sighs): I guess that leaves me.

    Britain: Please Russia, they don't have any ability to defend themselves.

    Russia – sends in 40 divisions: That's all I can spare, I swear.

    France: We will do our best to keep the Bulgarians occupied.

    Russia: Great, that just leaves me to take care of Germany And Austria on a front that's now hundreds of miles longer! Fantastic.

    Germany: Look how much cattle and grain and oil I got!

    Romania: No fair, I thought you guys would defend me!

    Russia: Believe me bud, we are doing our best.

  19. Great video! You guys are the best on You Tube with respect to your topic. It is presented in a manner that's quite exciting and is never boring. I am curious though, and I am wondering as what do you know about the Black Tom Incident? It plays a part in World War One history and I'm puzzled as to why it failed to bring the United States into the war earlier than it did. Was it because to expose this the Allied Powers were afraid exposing the United States as an early partner in the war? Or by admission to would show just how unsecured U.S. infrastructure was and thereby open to any type of attack? The Black Tom Incident occurred on a dock on the Jersey side of New York City close to the Statue of Liberty. There was a railyard there where trains from U.S. munition plants would offload their cargo bound for the European continent. Quite often loaded railcars would wait for ships It could have been that due to the submarine warfare ships were in short supply, but for reasons unknown there were more railcars there loaded with munitions. It's believed that German spies sabotaged the railyard blowing it up and the explosion was so great that it damaged the Statue of Liberty effectively closing it to the public. The blast was so great it permanently closed the observation deck on Liberty's torch. I know there's information on it because this was covered once by a New York City history podcast called the Bowery Boys, but I don't think they made all the connections. They just related it to how it effected NYC history.

    Thanks Mike

  20. one of the still photos of starving german civilians (at 6:33) is actually from an east-german propaganda movie about ernst thälmann (leader of the german communists in the weimar republic) from 1954. why do i even recognize this >_>

  21. Protopopov seems bad enough, what's going to happen when they're done with the experimental phase and roll out the completed Popov?

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