Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19th, 1914

- Flanders sees the first serious snowfall of the year, adding to the misery of the soldiers dug in along the front line.  Though German shelling continues, Entente commanders notice a sharp decline in the frequency and intensity of German infantry assaults.

- Today the French XI Corps of 2nd Army, on the front near the Somme River, attacks the German line in an effort to pin enemy reserves to this sector and demonstrate the continued vitality of the French army.  The operation accomplishes absolutely nothing.

- Desperate fighting has continued along the front in Serbia since the 17th, as the Austro-Hungarians seek to break the Serbian defensive line.  They achieve their first success today, forcing the Serbian 1st Army backwards and taking high ground on the opposite bank of the Kolubara River.  General Potiorek's plan is for his 6th Army to occupy the Serbian forces while 5th Army drives on and enters Belgrade to the north.

- On November 8th the Prime Minister of Hungary published correspondence between himself and Romanian religious figures, in which he pledged a series of concessions to the Romanian population of the Hungarian portion of Austria-Hungary, including language rights and electoral reform.  These reforms were designed not only to mollify the Romanian population within Hungary, but also the Romanian government, whose neutrality the Hungarian Prime Minister was eager to maintain.  Given the multiethnic composition of the Empire, however, concessions to one group are eagerly highlighted by other groups - today the newspaper of the Slovak committee of the Social Democratic Party publishes a call for the same concessions to be extended to the Slovak population of Hungary.  This highlights the possible lethality of any effort to reform Austria-Hungary - concessions to one group lead other groups to demand the same, a vicious circle that has the potential to destroy the Empire itself.  And yet, in a war for survival in which each ethnic group is represented among the soldiers of the Habsburg army, is a policy of repression, not reform, any more viable?

- The German East Asiatic Squadron today sails into the Gulf of Penas on the Chilean coast three hundred miles north of the Straits of Magellan, and anchors in Bahía San Quintín.  Here they coal once again, while Admiral Spee names and congratulates three hundred of his officers and men who have been awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class by the Kaiser, ecstatic at their victory at Coronel (the medals themselves await the recipients in Germany).

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