Thursday, April 02, 2015

April 2nd, 1915

- The German liaison officer at Austro-Hungarian army headquarters forwards a report to Falkenhayn today regarding the views of Conrad on the overall strategic and political situation.  In addition to reemphasizing Conrad's opposition to Italian concessions, he notes that the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff believes that if Italy enters the war, the best course of action might be a peace settlement with Russia in order to concentrate on the Italian foe.  In part this reflects Conrad's desire to punish Italy for their perceived treachery during the July Crisis, but it also signals the first time Conrad has publicly mused about peace with Russia.  Given the ongoing disaster in the Carpathians, the report is deeply troubling to Falkenhayn, as it appears to raise the possibility of Austria-Hungary signing a separate peace with Russia, regardless of the views of Germany, if it feels such a move is the only means of avoiding the disintegration of the Dual Monarchy.  Whatever the fighting quality of the Austro-Hungarian army, Germany can ill-afford to have its only ally to abandon the war against Russia.

- Meanwhile in the Carpathians themselves, the retreat of the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army has also forced the eastern wing of 3rd Army back, lest a gap open between the two.  The German commander of Südarmee adds his voice to the criticism of 2nd Army commander, who in turn offers to resign.  Conrad refuses the offer, perhaps recognizing (even if only subconsciously) the extent to which he has contributed to the predictament 2nd Army finds itself in.

Behind the eastern wing of 3rd Army, however, the lead elements of the German Beskid Corps - two regiments of 50th Reserve Brigade of 25th Reserve Division - begin to arrive.  General Georg von der Marwitz, commander of Beskid Corps and formerly a cavalry commander on the Western Front in 1914, confers with the head of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army, and it is decided to use the German formation to counterattack the advancing Russians, with whatever assistance the battered Austro-Hungarian X Corps can provide.

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