About the significance of the battle of Gorlice
|„Żołnierze niemieccy na tle Gorlic przygotowują się do pościgu za Rosjanami”, „Ilustrowany Kurier Wojenny”, 20.06.1915, domena publiczna|
One of the most important battles of the World War I took place near Gorlice.
“If I were to state which days in my professional life were the most important to me, these were the 2nd and 3rd of May 1915, when from atop the hills west of Gorlice I saw defeated Russian troops in retreat.” These are the words of the then Chief of General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, Field Marshal Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf.
It is the beginning of 1915. The Great War is being waged between the Entente countries in Europe (incl. Russia, Great Britain, France) and central states (among others Prussia, Austro-Hungary). The goal of each country is to strengthen its influence in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the eastern front, which is the front line for direct clashes between Russia and Prussia and Austro-Hungary, moves to the west. The Russians, after capturing Przemyśl and Tarnów, approach Gorlice. Now they have only one goal: to attack and defeat the Austro-Hungarian enemy.
The commanders of the Austrian staffs descend into panic. How to check the inevitable assault of the Russian troops, having such limited strength after previous battles? The Prussian ally, who also wants to strengthen the southern section of the front, comes to the rescue.
As a result, the 217,000-strong Austrian-Prussian army under the command of general Mackensen is pitted against the 80,000-strong Russian army commanded by General Radko Dimitriev, dubbed the small Napoleon. Holding such numerical superiority, the combined troops of the central states decide to launch a retaliatory attack. On Sunday, 2 May, this leads to a direct clash between the combatants. By the end of the day, after a fierce struggle, shifting advantages and enormous losses on both sides, the Austrian-German armies succeeds in defeating the so far invincible Russian opponent. The front line moves 6-10 kilometres to the east. Over the next two days, the central states overcome the second Russian defence line. Russian army is forced to retreat during the following weeks. Decimated, without weapons, ammunition and food depots, they flee from their positions. Gen. Radko-Dimitriev is then deprived of command.
The exact course of the battle of Gorlice is presented by the model located in the Gorlice museum. On our website we present three exhibits related to the event in question, whose significance is considered by historians to be ground-breaking:
Commemorative cartridge made of shell
Commemorative plaque “Pustki Hill”
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