Is /k/ interested in military strategy and tactics?
In case you are that sort of Anon, I've got something here that might interest you. I've translated Prof. Dr. Herfried Münkler's talk on "Lernen im Krieg - Aus dem Krieg" (Learning during war - learning from [after] war). Herfried Münkler is professor of Political Science at the Humbold University of Berlin and definitely one of the brightest minds in matters of warfare in Germany (which may or may not mean a lot these days - but that's a different topic). What makes Münkler always enlightening is his almost autistic passion for this rather emotional and some might say horrible topic, which he neutrally and unemotionally disects like a natural scientist, without letting his mind get clouded by anti-militarism or militaristic romanticism. He is a scholar with an interest in the process that is warfare and the rules which govern it, but he is no moral judge.
Topic of the talk, as the title might imply is learning in the context of war. It is exemplified in tactics, strategy and politics - mostly focussing on the German side in WW1, since there, due to being on the losing side, a lot of learning happened during war, in order to achieve a victory or at least prevent a defeat. It also discusses why Germany hadn't learned much after war and how it could be connected to having learned much during war.
The talk is aimed at an educated audience; it is not popular science. And it will result in huge walls of texts. In order to make things a bit less dry I'll add a few pictures though, and of course people are free to discuss or comment.
This thread will probably be a huge failure because nobody cares, but I'll just pretend that people are just too interested in the topic at hand to interrupt the flow with their commentary and as long as a single Anon is interested I'll consider it a success.
I'll use a tripcode so the long posts are easier to filter in case (possibly unrelated) discussion arises.
Here it goes...
A question just came up, "Can one learn from wars?"
It is a question I would answer naturally with "Yes". I would of course answer it with "yes". And I would connect it to the observation that learning also happens during war; which is a much more difficult and less evaluative form of learning. I shall exemplify this using the example of the first world war. I might add that I didn't just choose this war because I wrote a book about it and thus am rather familiar with the way it went, but also because it is the "key-war" to understanding the 20th century - without this war, the 20th century would have certainly went differently on an elementary level; neither Mussolini nor Hitler, neither Lenin nor Stalin would have probably gained power - ergo the second world war would have not happened in this form - at least in Europe, how things would have turned out in Asia is another question.
Second, I also think that this war is particularly interesting because it is a contraction of time. In many regards it begins with tactical and strategic models but also supply and equipment resembling the war of 1870-71, and by its end - not only in terms of iconography but also in terms of strategy - the constellation of 1939-40 is reached. Thus this war is an example of learning.
In the following I will distinguish between learning during war and learning from war. During war, one learns under time pressure and for the purpose of optimisation of actions and maximisation of actions. The goal of learning is victory, or rather - prevention of loss. Learning from war on the other hand follows an evaluation of cost and gain, and it provides at least the possibility to take a look at the purpose of war itself.
As you see, I made an analytical difference, akin to the disguised intellectual General von Clausewitz, as he distinguished between goal and purpose. Goal of war is what we want to achieve during war, purpose of war is what we want to achieve through war.
When learning from war, it is possible to estimate the value of a victory, which means to ask the question whether it was possible to convert a military victory into a political success.
This is not a matter of course. Very often the military victor is not the political victor.
In general, the principle applies that one learns from defeat more and better than from victories. The victor, due to his victory, is under the impression that he has done everything right. The political scientist, Karl Deutsch has put it wonderfully into words, saying: "Might is the licence for not having to learn."; of course he also had in mind that this might change at some point and if one has had power long enough but refused to learn, then one is in danger of becoming powerless in the future. The losers on the other hand reach, due to their defeat, the conclusion that they did all kinds of things wrong and have to change those.
The remarkable thing of WW1 - and that is the third reason why one should take a look at it when considering the initial question - is that what I just said does not apply to the German side. It did not consider the general framework of peace and war, at least not in-depth and to a point where it would affect political actions after 1918-19, but it - at least when it came to results - focussed on increasing the active military capabilities, in order to reach the goal it failed to reach in 1918.
This paradox has to be explained. And the explanation I propose is that the German side had learned during war - out of all participants - possibly the fastest and the most effective.
Wenn du Deutsch sprichst brauchst du ja meine Übersetzung nicht sonder kannst dich direkt auf youtube an der Quelle bedienen. Generell würde ich vom Münkler so ziemlich alles empfehlen.
What doomed German history, if one sharply formulated things, is that the officer corps learned during war with exceptional effectiveness and that this effective learning prevented a proper evaluation of the war with political consequences - a learning from the war. This was only the case after 1945.
The analytical question I want to ask and answer in the following is: why did the learning processes only happen after 1945 and not already after 1918-19?
I will clarify it using three points - three examples of strategy, tactics and politics - as it should be custom when one talks about war. But before that I will remark on learning before war.
One cannot say that the chief of the Generalstab, Count Schlieffen, who was responsible for this fatal plan, was an uneducated man - on the very opposite - like almost no other chief of the general staff he researched the history of warfare. He had close contact to the leading military historian of the Friedrich-Wilhelm University (today's Humbold University), Hans Dellbrück, and he studied his voluminous, monumental and to this day in many regards unsurpassed work "Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte" (History of the art of warfare in regards to political history) very attentively.
The initial state is clear to Schlieffen: a war of exhaustion [Dellbrück, in regards to Clausewitz, uses the term of "Ermattungsstrategie" (strategy of exhaustion)], is unaffordable to Europe. If a war is to be fought then it has to be fought as a fast war of overpowerment ["Niederwerfungsstrategie" (strategy of overpowerment)].
This in principle is known to all general staffs in Europe, which is why all of them plan offensively. It is one of the surprising and remarkable premises of this war, which gave Raymond Aron for his great work on Clausewitz a lot of food for thought, the question why the general staffs on either sides did not plan a defensive war but an offensive one.
This wasn't just a case on the German side with Count Schlieffen and his successor, the younger Moltke. But it also applies for the Russians with Plan 19 [the Arabic numerals are intentional], which first attempts to take the far positions in Galicia (around today's Lemberg/Lviv) and East Prussia, and then march in a fast push through the Silesian industrial areas towards Berlin and Vienna. This also applies to the Austro-Hungarian plans, the offensives against Servia, but also in East-Galicia against the Russians. And most of all it applies to the French Plans XVIb and XVII [now with Roman numerals], developed by General Joffre, which attempts to push from Lorraine parallel to the Moselle towards the Rhine in order to cross it into the Ruhr Area in order to cut out the industrial heart of Germany.
And Schlieffen of course has the idea that such a war cannot be fought by operating against the French defensive system where a lot of time is spent in siege warfare, but it has to be circumvented. The French armies have to be attacked from behind and thrown against their own system of fortifications so the war in the west can be decided between the 36th and 42th day after mobilisation. But how is this possible?
The initial premise of all general staffs is clear: it is imperative to push towards a decisive battle as fast as possible in order to avoid a war that bites deeply into the socio-economic structures because it is well apparent to them that the vulnerability of their societies is way too high to afford a lengthy war.
Schlieffen researches and researches on until he finds in Dellbrück's work a description of the Battle of Cannae, Hannibals success against the Roman Legions, where his centre managed to take the Roman push, followed by an extension of his wings in order to enclose the Romans and destroy them. Schlieffen's obsession to fight a battle like Cannae was the template for the development of his planning, the fast advance, the strong right wing through Belgium, the encirclement of the French and the destruction of the French forces in the rear of their defences. One can say "Schlieffen has learned". And if one has taken a look at Schlieffen's writings - which probably not many have - then one will find that Schlieffen describes the Battle of Cannae as the solved mystery of the operation against such forces. But through that he also steps in opposition against his strongest adversaries - intellectually of course - Napoleon and Clausewitz. Both said: with inferior numbers one cannot encircle. To Schlieffen, Hannibal is the example that this is indeed possible. As you all know, Schlieffen's plan fails. Why it fails is hard to tell. It could be due to logistic mistakes. It could be that General-Oberst von Bülow, chief of the second army, loses his nerves, that Moltke is incapable of leading.
But it is also possible that the Bavarians who provided the sixth army fought way too courageously, actually bringing the French push in the Frontier Battles to a halt instead of leading them into the sack, so that Joffre has the ability to move his second and third army on the railroad system around Paris during the decisive moments of the Battle of the Marne and amass them on his left wing - had the Bavarians fallen back, this probably would have not been possible.
If one wanted to sharply formulate things one could say: Schlieffen's plan fails due to the German federal system - the Bavarians would not allow the Prussians to push from the right and win the war while they were on the retreat all the time. Understandably so. But all other offensive plans failed as well. The Russians failed in East Prussia, losing their first and second army. The Austrians failed in Galicia and Serbia. The French failed in Lorraine, suffering some of the heaviest losses in French military history. In the Ardennes, where the German steep angle artillery proved infinitely superior to the French flat angle artillery and on a single day - unique to French military history - 40,000 men lost their lives. All plans have failed.
At this point I might mention - when I say all plans have failed this isn't entirely true, and you certainly have noticed. I am of course talking about the British. Those have a very different military planning. Typical for the military disposition of a sea power, their plans are made with a lengthy war in mind. And Kitchener, minister of war, remarks that there is a definite interest in a lengthy war, having both enemies and allies batter each other as long as possible, for in Kitchener's mind the winner of a lengthy war will most certainly be the Empire. After all, not only Germany is a British rival, but also the French who only shortly before clashed with British interests, and of course the Russians whom the British played the "Great Game" with and ended it just a while ago. So Kitchener's idea is that this war should take time, and the longer this war takes the easier it will be for the British, given the slow growth of their military - they only had a professional army after all, and just six operational divisions - to become the decisive force.
Following these events, the German general staff, which means the second OHL (Obere Heeresleitung = supreme army command), learns strategically. Strategic learning means in this case that General von Falkenhayn has to analyse how it is possible under the given circumstances to bring this war to a successful end. He remarks in November 1914 to Bethmann-Hollweg (German Chancellor): "The best we can do is a draw - there's nothing more we can do. But if we can lead this to a draw, then we have de-facto won". It takes a surprisingly cool-headed and analytical mind to reach this conclusion in November 1914. His solution is the concentration of the forces against Russia in order to force Russia through a devastating blow in 1915 towards a separate peace agreement. The devastating blow succeeds, the separate peace agreement does not. The devastating blow succeeds because the Schlieffen doctrine is abandoned, one practices what before has been impossible: the breakthrough battle (Durchbruchsschlacht). This is done in the Battle of Gorlice-Tarnów, where the Russian front is successfully rolled up. The Russian losses sum up to over a million men, the Russian front is pushed back up to 500km. 1915 was in principle the most successful year of the central powers. The problem is: the Tsar doesn't agree to a separate peace, he feels that he has to honour the treaty of London where the Entente agreed that no party would engage in separate peace talks.
This is an interesting topic, which I sadly cannot elaborate on too much, the aspect of distrust among allies. We use to think that enmity is the true problem in a war - but that's quite naive. The real problem are the allies. For ones allies might have quite different interests from oneself and they might want to begin or end a war when it is beneficial to them which might not coincide with ones own terms.
And the resulting distrust was present among both the Central Powers and the Entente. The Tsar refused the separate peace and lost the throne and the lives of his family as a consequence - had he agreed, perhaps he could have retained his position - but he does not and he pays the price. Falkenhayn however has not reached his goal. The calculation didn't add up. He achieved a strategic success but he can't convert it politically. His next step is to repeat the whole thing in the West, where he comes to the conclusion that France would be the actor that would be easiest to attack. His reasoning is based on the fact that up to this point the French losses were roughly twice as high as the German and that French society is more vulnerable to losses due to a difference in demographics. The French had at this point about two children per family, while Germany had three. The whole strategy of Verdun, Falkenhayn uses terms such as "bleeding out" or "blood pump" (Blutpumpe), is based on the assumption that French society would not accept all too high losses and collapse. He deliberately chose Verdun, the place where the Frankish Empire divided into East and West, a place where the French couldn't back down but which they'd have to hold, so that they couldn't avoid the estimated losses which would be twice as high as the German losses leading to the collapse of French society.
This calculation too didn't add up. General Petain develops a system where the psychological stress on the French troops is decreased by rotating them constantly. On the German side, the fifth army just keeps attacking. A Prussian army under the command of the Crown Prince. This has far reaching consequences, for the Prussian Crown Prince, known as the "Butcher of Verdun", had thus been invalidated as a candidate to the throne after his father steps down.
tue ich, ausserdem,
muss gerade pausieren, da ich unbedingt Haber zitieren muss.
"im frieden für die menschheit, im kriege für das vaterland"
in tragig und größe, mein liebstes zitat
Haber ist in der Tat eine sehr tragische Figur. Im speziellen da er Jude war und somit trotz allem nach dem Krieg noch doppelt stigmatisiert war. Dabei war - rein statistisch gesehen - das Gas als Waffe gnädiger als alles andere was man zu dem Zeitpunkt hatte. Die Verluste durch Gas waren viel geringer, Soldaten wurden oftmals nur temporär geblendet oder ergriffen die Flucht. Die konventionelle Artillerie war viel zerstörerischer. Hatte in der Regel Verstümmelungen und Tod zufolge.
Aber das ist eine Sichtweise die eine eher kühle Rationalität erfordert. Gefühlt wurde das Gas ja stets als grausamer empfunden - auch wenn es das von der Faktenlage her nicht war.
On the strategic level, all cards have been played, and one might say that strategically the war has been over in 1916.
Now to the tactical level. At this point we might consider three types of soldiers which I'll name using antique-mythological terms taken from the Iliad. First, there's the Odysseus and the Achilles. The Achilles wants to fight in order to accumulate honour. Ernst Jünger would possibly be such a character. Odysseus on the other hand is very differently minded. He constantly considers the constraints of warfare and wants to change them. As it is known, Odysseus enters Troy through the canalisation and takes the Palladium of Athene out of the city. Later he scores the coup with the horse, mixing war and peace to the point where the Trojans don't know what is happening any more and perish. Odysseus is the intellectual who redefines the constraints of warfare. As a third I would name Archimedes, the mathematician and engineer who angered the Romans in the defence of a South Italian city by setting their ships on fire with mirrors and destroying them with cranes. The Achilleses aren't too interesting at this point. Archimedes should be obvious - that's Fritz Haber. The man who came up with the idea that the environment of the enemy forces could be changed to a degree where it would become lethal to them, using poisonous gas.
Odysseus however is the Oberst Fritz von Loßberg, whom you probably don't know yet, but who you'll get to know soon. Loßberg is the intellectual of Ludendorff. He's always sent where the British or the French achieved a victory in order for him to analyse it. And the problem Loßberg tactically faces is that at this point the material superiority of the Entente takes its toll on the - admittedly well built - German trench systems. Due to an increase in artillery numbers and calibre it became possible to barrage the trenches to a degree where really nobody is alive in there any more. The British didn't manage to do this at the Somme, suffering heavy losses, but in the Battle of Flanders they were close to achieving this. Loßberg knows this. And he also knows that among German soldiers the confidence in victory has been broken. He has to change this. To express this analytically: the term of sacrifice has been transformed into a victimised component. This means that the soldier does not believe in his role as an active sacrifice to perform a saving deed but he merely sees the possibility of his death as a stochastic problem, sitting in his trench and waiting to be hit at some point. Survival becomes a matter of chance. Under such conditions one doesn't find courageous soldiers. They might endure, but they're deeply melancholic and pessimistic. The tactical tasks at hand are two: first of all, the material superiority of the enemy needs to be counteracted, second the disposition of the soldiers needs to become that of a saving sacrifice again rather than that of a victim.
And this problem is solved by Loßberg by getting rid of the trenches, blowing up the deep bunkers in Champagne, and thus invents what is later called "Tiefe elastische Verteidigung" (deep elastic defence / defence in depth doctrine). Instead of static trenches there is now a dynamic defensive strip of 10 - 15km in depth. The utmost front lines fight from lightly veiled defensive fighting positions. The result is that the British artillery fire, over a time period of two weeks, with about 2000 units, covering an area of 12 - 14km front line depth, loses severely in effectiveness. Against a static trench system with a depth of 2 - 3km, it was extremely effective - after all, both the reserves and the fighting forces were sitting there. Now a lot of ammunition is spent, but the effect of it is more and more reduced since the utmost frontal lines aren't constantly held but the fighting forces withdraw and relocate under fire. And when the British attack reaches its point of culmination, when the artillery is moved forward and thus unable to be used, then the German counter-attack begins. The result is that despite the enormous difference in resources, the front can be held. And due to the soldiers now being allowed to move and relocate their position, their mindset changes from that of a victim to that of a saving sacrifice again. Statistically, it can even be calculated that the likelihood of survival of a courageously fighting soldier is higher than that of a melancholic one. Whether Loßberg had an understanding of this statistic I don't know, one cannot tell from his notes, but he most likely had a feeling for it. And through such aspects of learning it became possible, despite the British forces doubling the concentration of their artillery, that their overall effectiveness was reduced by a factor of 2.5.
Through this the German officers gained the impression: "We can do this", "This can be done". I could cite more examples, for example the artillery tactics of Oberst Bruchmüller, nicknamed "Durchbruchmüller" (Durchbruch = Breakthrough): Buntschießen (shooting colours), a very specific mixture of a variety of gas grenades and explosive shells, which allowed to break through the Russian front at Dünaburg and break through the lines during the Isonzo Battles, specifically during the seventh Battle of the Isonzo. And of course during the March offensives, where it became first possible to actually push far into the enemy territory. But I think it is enough of that for now, it should be possible to see how extraordinarily effective the learning was from a tactical point of view.
One problem remains however: one can learn tactically as much as one wants - but how does one actually attempt to win the war?
Thus we get to the learning at the political level. Here was learned what I call the "politics of revolutionary infection". The first idea is to tackle the religious component. The Kaiser from the very beginning, but also Generalfeldmarschall Colmar von der Golz, the adventurer and intellectual Max von Oppenheim, son of the famous banker, and the journalist Ernst Jäckh hold the opinion that France and the UK are vulnerable when it comes to their Islamic soldiers. And that's why they have the Sultan call for a Holy War in December 1914. Generalfeldmarschall von der Golz also held the opinion that the 20th century wouldn't be the white man's century but that of the coloured man, he was a rather progressive thinker in regards to his time. They all hold the opinion that the French and British colonial empires can be destroyed by playing the card of Islamism. And that's what they do. However, it doesn't have much of a consequence. Still, it is a first step towards revolutionary infection policies.
The second card they play is that of nationalism. The support for the Irish Easter-Revolt. The Germans land and punctually supply the Irish with weaponry for their uprising. The Irish not so punctually take them up and attempt a revolt that fails in the end - but it kept English troops busy. Much greater consequences has this policy in the East. A national Finnish sharp shooter battalion is raised and supplied (Finland at this point was a part of Russia), Baltic independence movements receive support, General von Beseler calls out an independent, sovereign Polish state in the Castle of Warsaw, Ukraine independence movements are supported as well. All for the purpose of bringing Russia to its knees after peace talks were refused. Woodrow Wilson reacts in his 14 points and the later address regarding national sovereignty to this German policy of destruction of multi-national Empires. This is quite successful, tackling things from the imperial dimension, but it doesn't have the needed short-term effects.
That is why the general staff, together with the foreign ministry and the German social democratic party in particular, through their agent Alexander Parvus (Israil Lasarewitsch Helphand), contacts a group in Zürich, surrounding a man named Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov called Lenin, in order to mobilise them. They bring them with a train to Sassnitz, from there with ferry to Sweden - most importantly: handing him millions of Reichsmark in gold, so he could turn his separatist small-scale journal Pravda into a leading newspaper. And this has consequences indeed. A major intervention in history that is impossible to overlook.
That is why when talking about WW1 it is most important to talk about the year 1917. First bourgeois-, then socialist revolution in Russia. Entry of the USA into war. Rise of the US to their current Globocop position, replacing the British as the law maker in global politics.
As a final remark: the great German successes between 1915 to 1917-18 in Russia have far reaching consequences, turning out to be the German doom. Because due to those the German military vastly underestimated the Russian, or rather Soviet, potential in 1940-41.
And we're done.
As I suspected, the interest hasn't been that great - but maybe it was still somewhat entertaining to a few Anons who remained silent.
>>Haber ist in der Tat eine sehr tragische Figur...
ja, sehr. ist mir auch sehr bewusst.
ich bewundere seine überzeugung nicht aus historischem kontext, sondern allein wegen der selbstvernichtenden aufopferung für die eigene überzeugung. (auch in seinem persönlichen lebensweg)
wenn ich ein wenig nüchterner wäre, würde ich mich mit einigen inhalten (der lesung) kritisch auseinander setzen. aber ich kann die konzepte nicht lange genug in meinem geist beisammen halten.
mir fehlt der zivile sektor in der ansprache, und der effekt der unvorhersehbarkeit.
der naturwissenschaftliche anspruch ist erkennbar, aber der geisteswissenschaftliche ursprung, und eine geringe naivität dessen, ebenso.
ich kann leider nichtmal bewerten ob es im deutschen raum am wahrscheinlichsten ist, ob der fehlenden nationalistischen ader, objektivität in kriegswissenschaftlichen thematiken zu erreichen, oder ob das gegenteil der fall ist.
wie auch immer. ich finde es sehr traurig das militärische forschung, egal ob in der großkriegsführung oder im individuellen oder im gruppenmaßstab, so wenig diskutiert wird.
in der gesselschaft, per se.
>wie auch immer. ich finde es sehr traurig das militärische forschung, egal ob in der großkriegsführung oder im individuellen oder im gruppenmaßstab, so wenig diskutiert wird.
Ja, das ist sehr schade. In meinen Augen schneidet man sich dadurch ins eigene Fleisch, dass man aus einem demonstrativen Pazifismus heraus jegliche Diskussion der Sachverhalte abblockt; eine Verweigerung blendet ja leider die Realität aus, dass weltweit Kriege geführt werden und wohl auch in der Zukunft noch geführt werden.
Sinnvoller ist es doch zu versuchen sich dem ganzen Neutral zu nähern und möglichst unemotional zu schauen welche Prozesse am Werke sind. Nur dann kann man ja versuchen das ganze zu vermeiden oder soweit möglich in "menschliche" Bahnen lenken um einer Verselbstständigung weitestgehend entgegenzuwirken.
>i hope your vast effort in translation will get the rest of k into a discussion on the topic
I doubt it. But as I said earlier: I got at least one person to reply, so I'm going to consider this thread a success. And there might be someone in here who reads it but doesn't feel like commenting, so that's a possibility too.
Fantastic reading anon
I live in Berlin myself as well, whats the department of history like at Humbolt?
Also, Im of the opinion that there were two prime opportunities for victory for the Germans. One at the beginning and one near the end.
The 60 year old Schlieffen Plan would have worked like a charm if they followed it completely through and the Spring Offensive very nearly broke French resolve but the Germans just got bogged down too much.
Would you say this is so?
also, i find the dispartment into three types of "warriors" rather interesting.
i would transcript müklers comparisons accordingly
achilles: the propagated warrior, i.e the glorified foot soldier
odysseus: the strategist
archimedes: the scientist
but i find cathegories for the unwilling and/or deluded (very derogatory terms, i apologize) missing. whom in my opinion, made up a crucial factor of the fighting masses.
with the terms i try to relate to the uneducated, those, who had not had a chance to objectively evaluate the approaching conflict in which they would join.
i know, a part of them cut with achilles type of character. (although i believe the "diversion into three" was meant on a scale of leadership)
bear in mind that i am a mere dilettante(in the original sense), considering war philosophy.
>I live in Berlin myself as well, whats the department of history like at Humbolt?
I can't really tell you since I didn't study there, but if you get to attend Münkler's lectures it can't be boring - if you hold an interest in warfare at least.
>there were two prime opportunities for victory for the Germans. One at the beginning and one near the end.
Had the Tsar decided differently, perhaps there could have been the "successful" draw, Falkenhayn was talking about.
>The 60 year old Schlieffen Plan would have worked like a charm if they followed it completely through and the Spring Offensive very nearly broke French resolve but the Germans just got bogged down too much.
I'd argue that it was simply too tight regarding the schedules. Everything had to be perfect - yet in warfare, one always has to account for the fog of war. In that regard, it was a very un-Clausewitzian plan.
It could have worked, but "could" is sadly, not enough in matters of warfare.
>i believe the "diversion into three" was meant on a scale of leadership
I think so too, he was probably mostly referring to officers. Also, I don't think he meant that the three were supposed to be representatives of all types of soldiers but that there were other types of soldiers as well.
Here's a picture for whoever wants one of this text.
Also OP whenever in the future you can do something similar, know that atleast I, along with some others I assume, will be there to enjoy it.
In case some German speaking Anons (or Anons trying to practice their German) are interested in the source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO1tf9MLuks
OP, if you do stuff like this regularly, try to do threads similar to this:
Archive link to previous threads and a brief summary in the OP, followed by all of the content afterwards.
This thread was great.
In the context of WW1, this was a strategic genius move
Minimal investment and enough to kick Russia out of the war, free up 1 million fresh German troops and occupation of the Ukranian grain supplies. It was necessary to keep up with the American involvement.
Well, their political involvements in the East resulted in Russia being finally thrown out of the war. In that regard it was a major success. In hindsight, it was of course a major fuckup, which severely affected the course of history, and was a major reason for the German defeat in WW2.