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Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler

Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler


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Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler

Fall of the Double Eagle - The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary, John R. Schindler

Of all the fronts of 1914, the Eastern Front between Russia and Austria-Hungary is the least studied, and yet it was the site of some of the largest and most costly battles of the year. These battles saw the ill-prepared and badly led Hapsburg army suffer a series of disastrous defeats that forced them to retreat from Galicia and withdraw to the Carpathian Mountains, destroyed the pre-war Hapsburg army, and with it one of the strongest props of the ancient Hapsburg realm.

Before the First World War the Hapsburg Empire was an increasingly troubled entity, made up of a patchwork of nationalities, many agitating for independence or more autonomy. The Army was seen as one of the few unifying factors in the Empire, and even the army had problems, with three desperate forces – the unified main army, and separate Hungarian and Austrian national armies, limited funding, and a great deal of distrust of many of the Empire's nationalities at higher levels (in particular the Czechs and Serbs).

In 1914 the army would prove to be enthusiastic and loyal, but as the author demonstrates that army was wasted, partly in Serbia, where a series attacks were repulsed at great cost, but mainly in Galicia and Russian occupied Poland, where the Austrian commander, Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, implemented an unrealistic plan that left the right wing of his armies on the Eastern Front exposed to attack and defeat by much strong Russian forces.

Schindler begins with a brief history of Austria-Hungary during the Nineteenth and early Twentieth century, looking at the political changes in the Empire and the development of the three armies. We then move on to an examination of the immediate pre-war period, the clashes between Conrad and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the development of Conrad's war plans, and the build up to conflict. We then move onto the military campaign itself, looking at the two Austro-Hungarian campaigns of 1914 – the failed invasions of Serbia and the disaster in Galicia.

One minor flaw with this book is a lack of maps – not only are there no detailed battle maps, there is also no overall map of Galicia to give some idea of the campaign area. There is also comparatively little on pre-war Russia, the Russian army or Russian plans – this is very much written from the Austro-Hungarian point of view, but these are both minor quibbles.

This is an excellent book, covering one of the most significant campaigns on the Eastern Front, but one that is rarely covered in any detail. The account of the fighting is compelling, taking us to the heart of these disastrous battles that played a major part in the eventual collapse of the Hapsburg Empire.

Chapters
1 - AEIOU
2 - The Most Powerful Pillar
3 - War Plans
4 - July Crisis
5 - Disaster on the Drina
6 - To Warsaw!
7 - Meeting the Steamroller
8 - Lemberg-Rawa Ruska
9 - From Defeat to Catastrophe
10 - Aftermaths

Author: John R. Schindler
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 358
Publisher: Potomac Books
Year: 2015



ISBN 13: 9781612347653

Schindler, John R.

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the battle for Galicia in August 1914𠅊nd the unprecedented carnage that resulted�tively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the 𠇏oul peace” the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary’s ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

John R. Schindler is a strategist, military historian, and security consultant whose work focuses on strategy, intelligence, and terrorism. Previously he was an intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency and a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He is the author of Isonzo: The Forgotten Sacrifice of the Great War and Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad and the coauthor of The Terrorist Perspectives Project: Strategic and Operational Views of Al-Qaida and Associated Movements.

"[A] must-read for students of history and historians alike."—Washington Book Review (Washington Book Review 2016-02-11)

"The Fall of the Double Eagle is an excellent examination of one of the most important battles of World War I."—John Fahey, Military Review (John Fahey Military Review)

"Fall of the Double Eagle can be read and appreciated by interested general readers as well as all students and scholars of the Great War."—Jesse Kauffman, Michigan War Studies Review (Jesse Kauffman Michigan War Studies Review 2016-08-05)

𠇊mong the recent books on the Great War’s long-neglected Eastern Front, this stands with the best. . . . Schindler’s comprehensive research and measured judgment combine in an admirably balanced account of the disaster that foreshadowed the end of the Habsburg Empire.”�nnis Showalter, professor of history at Colorado College and author of Hitler’s Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare (Dennis Showalter 2015-05-12)

“With a great deal of detail and even greater empathy, Schindler brings both the heroism and blunders of the Dual Monarchy’s doomed war effort to life. Both amateur World War I enthusiasts and specialists are forever in his debt for restoring the battle of Galicia to its proper place.”𠅊vi Woolf, English editor of MIDA.org.il and blogger for the Times of Israel

“Schindler has written a most exciting account not just of the Galician campaign of 1914 but of its significance for the collapse of Austria-Hungary during the First World War. . . . The reader comes away from this book astonished by the bravery of millions of men of a dozen nationalities, all betrayed by an ignorance of strategy, tactics, and logistics at the very top of the imperial army.”𠅊lan Sked, professor of international history at the London School of Economics and author of Radetzky: Imperial Victor and Military Genius (Alan Sked 2015-05-12)

“This excellent account of Austria-Hungary’s fateful role at the outset of the First World War highlights the insoluble dilemma of a two-front war against Serbia and Russia. . . . John Schindler has done a superb job in reconstructing one of the least known military debacles of a century ago.”—György Schöpflin, member of the European Parliament for Hungary and author of Politics, Illusions, Fallacies (György Schöpflin 2015-05-12)


Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary.

Armies rarely withstand close scrutiny. They vaunt their heroes and glory, but their everyday existence in times of peace is dull, plodding, bureaucratic, and invidious. Factions form and feud budgets are raided to puff up already overstaffed offices and service chiefs oversee these minor scandals without protest.

John R. Schindler has written a penetrating study of Austro-Hungarian military decadence in the first year of the First World War. He is wrong to assert that his is "the first work in English to focus on the campaign," for this reviewer published a book on the very same subject in 2014 (A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire), which Schindler, perhaps because his book was already in production, cites neither in notes nor bibliography.

The book is very well done in some respects, and less well in others. The chief defect of the book is the absence of maps or images. A book that focuses on war plans, synchronized campaigns, and vast battles involving hundreds of thousands of troops must have maps. There is no other way for the reader to follow the action. A book that studies relatively obscure statesmen and generals should have photos so that the reader may put faces to the names. Schindler's descriptions of the battles in Galicia and Serbia can have a somewhat rote feel to them, as if drawn from official or regimental histories. Readers wanting to know what these battles felt like to Austro-Hungarian (or Russian or Serbian) troops and officers will not feel it here. The author also neglects at times to fill in the feuding and carping between Austrian generals, who fought each other nearly as violently as they fought the Russians and Serbs.

Schindler has a very good ear and feel for Viennese politics and chicanery. He brings this skill to bear in this book. The chief failing of the Habsburg army was its poverty and lack of drive. The old monarch had proclaimed himself an "Emperor of Peace" after his defeat in 1866. As such, he tolerated a military establishment that degenerated from quite respectable in the Austro-Prussian War to contemptible in 1914. The reasons were many: thrifty parliaments in Vienna and Budapest, Hungarian hatred of the Kaiserlich und Konigliche Army, a second-rate economy, a bloated civil service, and the emperor's own failure to guide the army into the modern age. He preferred "sunset" platforms like cavalry to the arms of the future. Worst of all, the emperor failed to tailor his imperial ambitions to his diminished military capability. By 1914, Austria-Hungary was the weakest of the great powers, its neglected peacetime army little larger than Serbia's. Franz Joseph's foolhardy decision to ignite the world war in 1914 spelled the end of the Habsburg Empire.

The author shows how this happened, in various ways, but chiefly because the "professionals" who should have curbed the emperor were themselves pompous, distracted, blindly ambitious men, like Generals Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf and Oskar Potiorek. These two soldiers, dwarves in their profession, passed for giants in Vienna, chiefly because they had learned to manipulate the court and general staff apparatus. Their management of that fatal first year of the Great War--Conrad in Galicia, Potiorek in Serbia--effectively destroyed the professional Habsburg army (such as it was) and made eventual defeat nearly inevitable. John Schindler brings the reader along for the ride, charting the army's decline in the prewar years, and its tragic immolation in 1914.


When war came the Austro-Hungarian Chief-of-Staff Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf planned to launch an offensive into Russian Poland with his northern armies (the 1st and 4th). The Russians would far outnumber the Central Powers in the east (especially the Austro-Hungarian armies, which were Russia's primary target), Conrad believed that their best option was an early advance into southern Poland where the Russians would be concentrating their newly mobilized units. [1]

Conrad knew that his German allies were committed to an offensive in the West to defeat the French in the first ten weeks of the war. Only the German 8th army would be in the East, where they would stand on the defensive in East Prussia. However, their alliance with the French obliged the Russians to attack the Germans promptly, so substantial Russian forces would be sent to invade East Prussia. The 1st and 4th Austro-Hungarian Armies would advance into Poland without direct German support. By 23 August 1914 Conrad's 1st, 3rd, and 4th Armies were concentrated in Galicia along a front of 280 km (170 mi).

On 2 August Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, a second cousin of Emperor Nicholas II who had made his career in the army, was made Commander-in-Chief. He had an excellent reputation for training troops, but had never commanded a field army and was staggered by his unexpected elevation. The Russian 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th Armies were assigned to Galicia. The Russian war plan called for Nikolai Ivanov, the Russian commander of the Southwest Front, to counter an anticipated Austro-Hungarian offensive thrusting eastward from Lemberg. The 3rd and 8th Armies would mount an offensive into eastern Galicia. The Russians could bring 260 trains a day to their front, compared to the Austro-Hungarian's 152.

The Austro-Hungarian 1st Army under Viktor Dankl was moving in the north towards Lublin. Dankl struck and drove back Baron Zaltsa's Russian Fourth Army in what would be known as the Battle of Kraśnik. Dankl's army was able to capture 6,000 prisoners.

To the right of Dankl the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army, aiming at Cholm, drove back the Russian Fifth Army under Pavel Plehve in the Battle of Komarów, capturing 20,000 prisoners and inflicting heavy casualties. However, a planned Austrian enveloping movement around the Russian army failed.

As the Russians were being driven back along the northern front, the Austrian 3rd Army and Army Group Kovess made a simultaneous advance against Ivanov's left wing. Along the southern front, Ivanov had the Russian Third Army under Nikolai Ruzsky and the Russian Eighth Army under Aleksei Brusilov. Brusilov and Ruszky routed the Austro-Hungarians so thoroughly that even though poor roads necessitated that the Russians halt for two days, the Austrians could not regroup to halt the Russian drive. This attack became known as the Battle of Gnila Lipa.

With the entire 3rd Army and Kovess Group in full retreat, Conrad pulled forces away from the northern front which he believed had been sufficiently defeated. In fact, the Russians north of Lemberg were still a potential threat. Ivanov ordered Plehve's Fifth Army to attack and drove the Austrians back as they began to shift forces to the south in an engagement known as the Battle of Rava Ruska. The Austrian Second Army was quickly recalled from Serbia, but it was too late and the entire Austrian front collapsed in Galicia, and the Russians took control of Lemberg.

Holger Herwig estimates Austro-Hungarian losses of 100,000 dead, 220,000 wounded and 100,000 captured. [2] According to Prit Buttar, the Austro-Hungarian army lost 324,000 men in Galicia, including 130,000 as prisoners, while the Russians lost 225,000 men, of which 40,000 were captured. [3] Other authors estimate 400,000 Austro-Hungarian losses, [4] [5] [6] [7] or "one-third of the Austro-Hungarian Army's combat effectives", [7] and 250,000 for the Russians. [4] [5]

The Russians had pushed the front 100 miles (160 kilometers) into the Carpathian Mountains, completely surrounded the Austrian fortress of Przemyśl and started a Siege of Przemyśl which lasted for over a hundred days. The battle severely damaged the Austro-Hungarian Army, destroyed a large portion of its trained officers, and crippled Austria-Hungary. Though the Russians had been utterly crushed at the Battle of Tannenberg, their victory at Lemberg prevented that defeat from fully taking its toll on Russian public opinion.

Russian forces Edit

Russian South-Western front. Commander-in-chief – Nikolai Ivanov, Chief of Staff – Mikhail Alekseyev


Fall of the Double Eagle : The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

Despite the renewed interest in the First World War, the opening campaigns that decided the course of the global conflict remain under-examined this is especially true for the Battle for Galicia in August 1914. Not only was Galicia, a historical region located in today's southern Poland and western Ukraine, the site of the bloodiest battle of the conflict, but the impulses that precipitated the engagement and the unprecedented carnage that resulted also effectively doomed the Austria-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In "The Fall of the Double Eagle," John R. Schindler draws on extensive archival research, memoirs, and diverse secondary sources in a dozen languages to explain how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the inevitable consequences, consciously chose war in 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite General Staff, Schindler shows how even a war Vienna would likely lose appeared a preferable option to the "foul peace" the top generals loathed. The study considers how the polyglot empire was outgunned and unable to subdue Serbia, resulting in a humiliating defeat that generals sought to cover up. Worse was to come, when Austro-Hungarian divisions launched an offensive into Russian Poland in hopes of defeating the numerically superior enemy. By the time the Russians were halted at the gates of Cracow, over 400,000 Austro-Hungarian troops had been lost in just three weeks, a figure equal to the prewar standing army and a loss from which the empire would never recover. While Austria-Hungary's ultimate defeat and dissolution was postponed until the autumn of 1918, its fate was preordained in in the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia.

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LibraryThing Review

To a large degree I'm going to second the existing review of this book on all points. What I'd further add is that the author, having been a one-time serving military intelligence officer, does bring . Читать весь отзыв

LibraryThing Review

A very good analysis of the shortcomings of the Austro-Hungarian army in WW I, and the fateful consequences this had for the Empire. Although no army in 1914 was really ready to face modern warfare . Читать весь отзыв


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This is the first account in English of a much-overlooked, but important, First World War battlefront located in the mountains astride the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not well known in the West, the battles of Isonzo were nevertheless ferocious, and compiled a record of bloodletting that totaled over 1.75 million for both sides. In sharp contrast to claims that neither the Italian nor the Austrian armies were viable fighting forces, Schindler aims to bring the terrible sacrifices endured by both armies back to their rightful place in the history of 20th century Europe. The Habsburg Empire, he contends, lost the war for military and economic reasons rather than for political or ethnic ones.

Schindler's account includes references to remarkable personalities such as Mussolini Tito Hemingway Rommel, and the great maestro Toscanini. This Alpine war had profound historical consequences that included the creation of the Yugoslav state, the problem of a rump Austrian state looking to Germany for leadership, and the traumatic effects on a generation of young Italian men who swelled the ranks of the fascists. After nearly a century, Isonzo can assume its proper place in the ranks of the tragic Great War clashes, alongside Verdun, the Somme, and Passchendaele.

Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the battle for Galicia in August 1914—and the unprecedented carnage that resulted—effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the “foul peace” the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary’s ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.


Fall of the Double Eagle

Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the battle for Galicia in August 1914—and the unprecedented carnage that resulted—effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war.

In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the “foul peace” the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary’s ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate.


Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

This book covers a subject which , until recently, seems to have been largely ignored by historians. We are fortunate in that there have been a number of books covering this little known part of World War One published during the hundredth anniversary of the war. I have read three of the books which cover the disaster that was the Austro-Hungarian Empire's effort in World War One, "A Mad Catastrophe " by Wawro, "Collisions of Empires" by Buttar, and this book. In my opinion, "Fall of the Double Eagle " the best of the group for the reader like myself who is not very knowledgeable about the history of the Hapsburg Empire. .

Each of the thee books have their virtues, but Mr. Schindler's book presents the clearest , most understandable description of what took place and why in the shattering of an Empire that had survived for centuries. I thought the author did an excellent job of briefly covering the problems of nationalism and the self destructive politics of the Empire, the strengths and the self inflicted weakness of the Army, the deeply flawed personalities who dominated the Empire's war effort, and the strengths and weakness of the Empire's one ally, Germany, and its many enemies.

His description of the ins and outs of the campaign in Galicia are far superior to that of the other authors though Mr. Schinder rarely goes below Corp level in his descriptions of the battle. There are very few accounts of what the war was like for the common soldier. Because of that and the absence of usable maps of the battles- at least in the Kindle version I purchased - I gave the author four instead of five stars. The maps were far too small to read, and, common to most military history books, the place the author cites in the text is rarely shown on the map. However, this is a failing common to all three books. Fortunately, his clear descriptions of the course of the battles helped to make up somewhat for that failing.

I enjoyed reading " Fall of the Double Eagle". The problems of the military leaders of the Hapsburg Empire were similar in most ways to those of the leaders on the Western front. they were all trying to fight a war with 20th century weapons - machine guns and fast firing artillery- and 19th century means of mobility - foot, horse, train- and command and control- messengers and field telephones when stationary. No army did very well at this in 1914. But the Austro- Hungarian responses were terrible even by 1914 standards. By their unique ability to collectively ignore inconvenient facts, The military High Command of Austro-Hungary threw away so many lives for so little return that they managed to destroy the morale of their Army in a mere six weeks of war in 1914. It took French , Russian, and Italian generals years to accomplish the same thing. . I would say that the book has some lessons for us today in its account of how self delusional group think by a nation's political and military leadership can lead to unimaginable disaster.


Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary

"Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the Battle for Galicia in August 1914 -- and the unprecedented carnage that resulted -- effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war. In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close . Read More

"Although southern Poland and western Ukraine are not often thought of in terms of decisive battles in World War I, the impulses that precipitated the Battle for Galicia in August 1914 -- and the unprecedented carnage that resulted -- effectively doomed the Austro-Hungarian Empire just six weeks into the war. In Fall of the Double Eagle, John R. Schindler explains how Austria-Hungary, despite military weakness and the foreseeable ill consequences, consciously chose war in that fateful summer of 1914. Through close examination of the Austro-Hungarian military, especially its elite general staff, Schindler shows how even a war that Vienna would likely lose appeared preferable to the 'foul peace' the senior generals loathed. After Serbia outgunned the polyglot empire in a humiliating defeat, and the offensive into Russian Poland ended in the massacre of more than four hundred thousand Austro-Hungarians in just three weeks, the empire never recovered. While Austria-Hungary's ultimate defeat and dissolution were postponed until the autumn of 1918, the late summer of 1914 on the plains and hills of Galicia sealed its fate"-- Read Less

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Customer Reviews

Good accessible read

It's a good solid read. Schindler is sympathetic, but unflinching in his primary focus on the Austro-Hungarian army, or better the unusually appropriate k.u.k. (kaiserlich und königlich/Imperial and Royal) army. He does a fine job outlining how poorly prepared the army was for war in 1914, in terms of training, funding, equipment, doctrine, and leadership. Like the French, they banked on elan to carry the day, which as all sides learned, had limitations against machine guns, and artillery. While he doesn't touch on Russian sources much, he credits the Russian army with having learned a lot during the Russo-Japanese War in coordination of artillery on infantry combat.

There's a unflattering portrait of General Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Chief of the General Staff at the time, who bears a lot of the blame, especially for repeated attacks that only created more casualties. The operation against Serbia is portrayed as an even more depressing prelude, overseen with even less ability by Conrad's rival, General Potiorek.


TGW011 - Nicolai Eberholst About The Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1

Additional Reading about the Austro-Hungarian Empire in WW1:
English Litterature:
- Manfried Rauchensteiner - The First World War and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1914-1918
- John R. Schindler - Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary
- John R. Schindler - Isonzo: The Forgotten Sacrifice of the Great War
- Geoffrey Wawro - A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire
- Gunther Rothenberg - Army of Francis Joseph
- Graydon A. Tunstall - Written in Blood: The Battles for Fortress Przemyl in WWI
- John A. Dredger - Tactics and Procurement in the Habsburg Military, 1866-1918: Offensive Spending
- Norman Stone - The Eastern Front 1914-1917

First hand accounts:
- Pal Kelemen - Hussar's picture book: From the diary of a Hungarian cavalry officer in World War I
- Joseph Gal - In Death's Fortress
- Fritz Kreisler - Four Weeks in the Trenches
- Avigdor Hameiri - The Great Madness


Watch the video: Roy Clark Under The Double Eagle LIVE early 90s (May 2022).