Russian Roulette – Germany Helps The Bolsheviks I THE GREAT WAR Week 53


This war, which was supposed to be over by
last Christmas, celebrates its first birthday this week. In just 12 months we’ve seen
the advent or weapons of horror like the flamethrower and poison gas, we’ve seen submarines intentionally
torpedo civilians, and we’ve seen new fronts spring up pretty much every month, and now
it seems, the people at home have had enough, for there were stirrings of revolution in
the air. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week in Poland the Germans beat back
the Russians on two sides of Warsaw, and the great Russian retreat both there and between
the Bug and Vistula rivers had led to a scorched earth policy that would create millions of
refugees. The Western Front was static, the Italians tried again and failed to break through
the Austrian lines at the Isonzo River and at Gallipoli disease was becoming a major
issue. Something that also happened last week, but
was happening every week was the ongoing Armenian Genocide in Eastern Anatolia. Now, on the 27th, the Ottoman Imperial Army
forced the Russians back near Mush, but Mush had been in the headlines all month, since
throughout the month thousands of Armenians had been massacred in the region, but though
news of these massacres caused great indignation among the Allies, it was becoming obvious
by now that all restraints were easing on all sides. For Britain was preparing to use
poison gas in its next offensive, and the Kaiser took back his earlier orders not to
bomb residential areas of London. As impossible as it seems; the war was getting even uglier. Look at what was happening on the Western
Front this week and you’ll see it even more. One of the micro battles that happened basically
everyday on the stalemate of the Western Front was this week at Hooge. This was a battle
for a mine crater, which had been created during an earlier British assault on the German
trenches. Mine craters were big prizes because they gave shelter to whoever captured them
and a pretty well protected place from which to fire on the enemy. The attack began on the 29th and the Germans
used their heavy mortar shells, the minenwerfer, later known as the Minnie’s by the British.
These shells not only blew people to pieces, but the power of the explosions was so terrific
that several men of the attacking battalion were sent back behind the lines in a state
of gibbering helplessness. Well, that was on the 29th, on the 30th the Germans used
flamethrowers on the British. Way back in February the Germans had experimented with
flamethrowers in battle, though ineffectively, but at Hooge, the burning jets of gasoline
were devastating. Lieutenant G.V. Carey wrote, “There was a sudden hissing sound and a
bright crimson glare over the crater turned the whole scene red. As I looked I saw three
or four jets of flame- like a line of powerful fire-hoses spraying fire instead of water-
shoot across my fire trench. The men caught in the blast of the fire were never seen again.” That was the morning attack. In the afternoon
the British attacked again, going over the top at three o’clock and being cut to pieces
by the machine guns that they hadn’t had time to locate. It was a complete, agonizing
failure. And all for a hole in the ground. But while the action in the West might be
micro, it was certainly macro in the East. In fear of possible invasion, Russia evacuated
the factories in both Riga and Warsaw on the 25th. On the 27th, Warsaw was attacked on
three sides. On the 28th, the German army crossed the Vistula between Warsaw and Ivangorod.
On the 29th, the Lyublin-Chelm railway, vital for the Russians, was finally cut by Austro-German
forces, and on the 30th the Russians fell back along the entire line, as the evacuation
of Warsaw continued and the Austro-Hungarian army occupied Ljublin. The Russians had steadily been losing territory
for three solid months since German General August von Mackensen kicked off the Gorlice-Tarnow
Offensive and now that a second offensive was beginning far to the north, it seemed
like it would only get worse. And just imagine the effect it had on the
morale of the hopelessly out gunned and out equipped soldiers. There were certainly those
willing to step in and take advantage of the situation. This week, the Russian General staff gave
out to all Russian commanders a secret report about Bolshevik anti-war propaganda that was
apparently being hidden in gifts sent from home. At this point, one Russian report said
that super human efforts were required to keep the men in their trenches, and on the
30th in Petrograd, General Polivanov, the new Minister of War warned that “Demoralization,
surrender, and desertion are assuming huge proportions”. Actually, on the 27th, James W. Gerard, the
American Ambassador in Berlin, told Washington that Germans were, “picking out the revolutionists
and liberals from the many Russian prisoners of war, furnishing them with money and false
passports and papers, and sending them back to Russia to stir up a revolution.” But
the idea of governmental change was not only Russian; British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward
Grey had even said back on the 15th, “the continuation of the war must result in the
overthrow of all existing forms of government.” That’s the Foreign Secretary saying that. And this week in Berlin, the New Fatherland
League supported a declaration by 91 German intellectuals, including Albert Einstein,
that pushed for a compromise peace with no annexed territories. When the league then
did a mail out of an anthology of statements by British pacifists like George Bernard Shaw
and Bertrand Russell, the league’s offices were raided and it was forced to cease all
publications. Eventually, the League’s existence was banned. But you could see the huge discontent
that was spreading in the countries that had been at war the longest. This wasn’t quite the case with Italy, though,
who had only been at war for a couple of months and hadn’t yet had the time to suffer a
million casualties or so. This week went well for the Italians, as they
advanced on the Lower Isonzo the 25th, occupied crests in the Julian Alps the 26th, captured
the island of Pelagosa in the Adriatic that same day, and at the end of the week were
making offensives in the Venetian Alps and Trentino. Also in the Adriatic this week, the French
d estroyed an Austrian submarine supply station at Lagosta. It was an active week for subs. The American Steamer Leelanaw was torpedoed
on the 25th. This was a cargo ship and there were fortunately no casualties, but on the
30th the Leyland liner Iberian was torpedoed and an American citizen was killed, but since
it had disregarded an order to stop and tried to escape, the American state department said
it would take no action. And here are a few notes to round out the
week: On the 25th, South Africa officially annexed
German Southwest Africa. That same day in the Middle East, Nasiriya was shelled, attacked,
and occupied by British forces under General Gorringe, and the following day Nejd in North
Eastern Arabia which I’m probably pronouncing wrong announced its independence from the
Ottoman Empire and put the garrison there to flight. And at the end of the week, 45
French planes bomb Freiburg and Pfalzburg as the war in the air continues to grow. So that’s what was happening. The Germans
closing in on Warsaw and Ivangorod as the Russians evacuate; the British being stopped
from taking a hole in the ground by flamethrowers and high explosives; the Italians on the move,
and revolution in the air. But it had to come to that, right? Dreams
of revolution. Especially for Russia, who had already had one revolution in the past
decade. Think if you were in that army, an educated officer, watching hundreds of thousands
of your comrades throw themselves against Austrian and German artillery again and again
armed only with bayonets. Or clubs. The lucky ones having a rifle. And all for what? Why
were you fighting the Germans again? Because a Serb shot an Austrian a year ago? Did that
make any sense to you? Did you still support your government? Your absolute ruler who sent
you to fight? More and more often, the answer was no, as despair grew and grew. The war
was exactly a year old, with no end in sight, you were reduced to torching your own country
just to survive, and all you had left were your dreams of a future were you finally had
control of your own destiny. Happy Birthday, Great War. If you are new to our show or want to catch
up on the events of the past 12 months, you can watch our playlist of special recap episodes
right here. Now 12 months of war of course mean that our
channel and this show also celebrate their birthday with this episode. We’ve come a
long way and couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for your ongoing support. You
are a great community
and we are looking forward to the next 12 months with you. Don’t forget to subscribe and tell your
friends all about us!




Comments
  1. I always wanted to know what was importance of Muslims in armies of British , French and mainly Russians ,,, I wanted to know what was the percentage of central asians the STANS and Caucasians in Russian army in ww1 and ww2

  2. Unfortunately this is ALL POINTLESS DRIVEL. the war ought not to have happened. The bolsheviks re-ignited the great game, national socialism adopted, would have saved us fr om the mess we currently live without a soul being hurt. But it is counter to jewish supremacism.

  3. "Happy birthday great war". The venom and sarcasm in that sentence!

    Great content. Very representative and neutral. Do consider WW2 spinoff.

  4. At the risk of sounding stupid, I will ask why the British didn't simply dig their own hole, rather than sacrificing thousands of men for the hole the Germans were guarding with flamethrowers and machine guns? I'm sure there was a justification, but that just seems insane to me.

  5. Love your new map animations by the way, adding names to these little icons really helps us getting a better picture of the scale and progress of the war.

  6. Love this series! Only just started but been catching up from the beginning! Great job in animated maps this episode!

  7. Just when I think the little amount of territory gained in battles for all the death was absurd, you tell me the Brits and Germans killed each other for a shell hole…

  8. Hats off, gentlemen! What a fantastic job you are doing. I hardly can imagine anything which would honour the memories of fallen better than making a channel so illustrative, so humane, so passionate. Entire school classes of history should be replaced with this channel.

  9. Can't believe I only found this chanel recently. awesome show and idea to do a week by week of the war, or shall I say Great War. lol funny that I found this channel through History Buffs lol

  10. Didn't the British have a mortar that when it exploded could literally disrobe a soldier in its vicinity. The Germans called it a trench mortar I think or toffee apples? I can't imagine any of those weapons being nice to play with. I know of one the British used that could just as dangerous to them as it was for the Germans.

  11. Dammit, Indy shouldn't have complimented the comments. On the prior episodes, I saw so many legitimately calm and respectful conversations. On this one, I see a lot of people insulting one another over contemporaneous politics while using WWI as their justification.

    It pretty much awakened toxic people and discussions like the current governments of the USA, Russia and all sorts of polemic subjects. Which is quite sad for me. I enjoyed reading all the calm and sensible threads almost as much as I enjoyed watching the episodes. I now feel like he unfortunately threw bait for all those who enjoy chaos.

  12. what an amazing project/idea this is and fantastic job executing it. you guys have done a great service here. Brovo!

  13. Not only were they sending hundreds of thousands of their own men to their death, they were also killing hundreds of thousands of "enemy" combatants…for no reason.

  14. Pretty happy I found this when I did. Late enough to binge but early enough to still get new episodes.

  15. indi plese make a video on major thakur dalpat singh and captain aman singh jodha of jodhpur lancers the heroes of haifa they liberated haifa on there horses from ottoman machine guns capturing many and liberating haifa from ottoman rule

  16. The look Indy gives when saying happy birthday great war perfectly encapsulates my feelings. Sometimes I just have to stop watching for a bit because it all gets a bit much when you start thinking about it. There isn´t an episode without some tragic story that brings tears to the eyes. And when you start imagining the casualty numbers as nearby towns wiped out it really starts to hit you.

  17. You know, when one thinks about it… the fact that we are gonna keep seeing you guys on YouTube for a while is really sad… cause… it shows just how much carnage there was on this war, that you actually have material to work with for years to come.

  18. Does anyone see the irony when the British were to fight for a hole in the ground? It was figurative for me, since they would be soon in a hole in the ground. Tragic honestly… for a hole in the ground you would soon be in one too.

  19. Just HAVE to give you guys on this channel a very huge shout. Thanks Indie, Flo and the whole crew.

  20. Good to see the behind-the-scenes faces. Thanks to all of you for such a good educational channel.

  21. Sending Lenin to Russia and stirring up a Socialist revolution. Kind of like unleashing biological warfare and hoping the germs will stop at the border.

  22. Reading many of the comments, and talking and thinking about Russia……. Anyone ever notice that, not too long after most revolutions, the leaders of the revolution are stood against a wall, or otherwise disposed of? Trotsky was killed, Lenin may have been poisoned, etc. Then there were Stalin's purges starting a few years later. Lots of good Communists and skilled military officers were killed in those. France had its reign of terror for awhile with the guillotine. The US is one of the few nations that did not descend into mayhem and violence after its revolution ended. Oh, we ran out the few remaining Tories, maybe tarred and feathered a few, but by and large they were allowed to leave the country peacefully. I wonder if that is because ours was more truly a movement of the people. By contrast, many others seem to be at the behest of ruling elites. Probably because of that, they tend to just substitute one ruling elite for another (France and Russia again, and others as well- Vietnam, Cambodia, et al). In fact, in Communist revolutions, the everyday farmer seems to often be worse off. Under the old regime, he could at least sell his crop. Under Commies, most of his crop was taken without compensation, and he was forced to continue to work hard to produce, and forced to meet unrealistic production goals, with no benefit for him or his family. Think about it, you will see that it's true.

  23. I've been following this show for 2 days now and I'm confuse, i remember like, early in ww1, i believe week 10 or so, you mentioned that Germans were attacked by poison gas near "wipers", and then when the Germans used the chlorine gas you mentioned it being the first time, and i assumed you meant, first time by Germans, and now you said it was time for Britain to use it, so I'm really confuse now, who was the first one to use it, and, did Germans just stopped using it? because you've not mention it's use for a while, maybe a recount of what weapons are being used and where would be nice

  24. Little too late, but i must say this series is sooo great 🙂 i never be so interest about WW1 before see your videos on Videacesky.cz . And its truly educative, impresive and nice work you guys do. Thank you all very much

  25. Mr. Neidell you are an exceptional narrator. I would urge you to become a historical writter and publish books upon certain less discussed issues of WW1. I would most definitely buy them! Keep up the excellent work!!!!

  26. Great War Channel marathon for the last week , This channel is like a drug .History Channel shoud be ashame for the crap they put on TV , thats history .Thank you guys

  27. Indy summed up the causes of the revolution in 1917 in the end of the episode. The people demanded land peace and an end to the war. The mensheviks continued the war. So people turned to the bolsheviks who were true till the end. Just a question although i know the answer… How could germans recognize bolsheviks? How come that the generals or high command of the russian army didn't kill them or send them in pow camps if there were regocnizable…? It's just stupid and it's just another "historical fact" that many people eat like crap. Think people think… Great show Indy I really love it. Although I would like it if you checked a bit further about lenin and the germans and the supposed "help" they gave to the bolsheviks.

  28. I know it's stupid but all I can think of when I see the guy in the thumbnail all I think of is that picture of Winnie the Pooh with teeth

  29. Watching in sequence after stumbling across this great channel! I have thoroughly enjoyed this first year's episodes, and will continue to catch up.

  30. Anyone else notice that the pale of settlements roughly corresponds to the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?

  31. A really interesting channel which has completely changed my conceptions of WW1. Keep up the amazing work.

  32. Before this series I'd never even heard of mining under the enemy to bomb them. The idea of then battling over these mine craters boggles the mind.

  33. I never knew how severe the eastern front of WW1 was still watching this series. So many documentaries including relatively high-quality ones such as Apocalypse WW1 and WW1 in colour so generally bias towards the eastern theatre of conflict. In many ways, the eastern front was as significant if not more so than the western front due to the cruelty of the fighting the revolutions etc. Without WW1 the Bolsheviks may have never gained power, therefore, pose a threat to the west. THanks for openign up these things 'great war.'

  34. Backing Bolsheviks was successful strategic move made by Germans which helped a lot their war effort. But as we see in 1918 American economic power and British Navy power finally strangled the will of Germans to continue meaningless bloody war.

  35. i cant believe im just hearing about this, my entire family wraps around our smart TV and watches a couple episodes every evening.

  36. Great channel, thank you for making all of this. I've watched some of the episodes before, but now I started watching all episodes from the beginning. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I understood Germany declared a war to Russia because they wanted a war before Russia gets too strong (as they thought it would be in 1917). So Killing of Austria-Hungarian emperor actually had nothing to do with German declaring the war. What should Russia do when someone declares a war to Russia? It's logical to defend your territory. And Russians blame they own government for going to war, and they make revolution with people paid from Germans? Wow. I do understand that in that time these information were not transparent as now, and people didn't know about all the games played by countries, they just wanted for war to be over.

  37. Did Germany intentionally fund the Bolsheviks or what exactly? All of the leaders and founders of Bolshevism were Jewish lol

  38. Things you don’t want to think about: The hard part isn’t dying. Dying is easy. The hard part is living for days on end in the torture of the war as everyone else dies. Even if it ends. Those that are left alive are permanently disabled, scarred, maimed, and changed for the worst. And every waking moment from that war until death is filled with pain and the remembrance of the horror.

  39. Revolutions doesn't always give the people what they think they need.

    And while there are exceptions, it is not the rule

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