Thursday, February 05, 2015

February 5th, 1915

- This morning the following declaration is published in Germany:
The waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland including the whole of the English Channel are hereby declared to be a military area.  From 18 February onwards, all enemy merchant ships in these waters will be destroyed, irrespective of the impossibility of avoiding in all cases danger to the passengers and crew.
The public announcement of unrestricted submarine warfare catches many admirals by surprise, so quickly had Pohl moved to capitalize on the consent of the Chancellor and the Kaiser in recent days.  Criticism of Pohl's action focus on the unpreparedness of the German navy to actually implement unrestricted submarine warfare.  Whereas a prewar study had suggested more than two hundred submarines would be required to maintain permanent patrols around the British Isles, only thirty are available as of today.  Nevertheless, the criticisms are sent against a backdrop of general approval for striking a blow against Britain.

- After several hours of combat the battered remnants of the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Division, reduced to a thousand soldiers, pulls out of Mezölaborcz, ceding control of the town to the Russians.  The fall of Mezölaborcz cuts the railway supplying the east wing of 3rd Army, while the army as a whole has lost, over the past fourteen days, almost 89 000 men, over 50% of its strength.  In addition to combat losses, thousands die of exposure each night, while the wounded freeze before they can be evacuated.  Conrad's Carpathian offensive to relieve Przemysl has completely fallen apart, tens of thousands of lives thrown away for nothing.  Conrad for his part places blame on the commander of 3rd Army, believing that he has failed to impose a firm will on his soldiers, when the reality is that expecting the infantry to not only hold on but advance in such conditions shows that Conrad has no idea what is actually happening on the front line.  The only positive note in the fighting is that the Russians, themselves exhausted from advancing through the ice and snow, fail to press their advantage after capturing Mezölaborcz.

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