Page 3488


with military expediency; and, though

the sending of fresh troops to East Prussia

resulted in a great victory, it was but a

poor exchange for what was lost in the


As for the Russians, they would have

done well had they pushed onward with

less confidence and greater caution. They

had already accomplished their main

object-that of effecting a diversion helpful

to their hard pressed western ally. As

it was, their precipitancy led them into

a great disaster.

German generalship in East Prussia

had been decidedly weak, and it was necessary to find a new leader. The choice

of the Imperial General Staff and of the

Kaiser fell upon General Paul von Hindenburg, who was quickly to become the most

prominent figure among all the German

leaders. This officer was then about 67

years of age and was a veteran of the

Austro-Prussian and of the Franco-Prussian wars. He had been slightly wounded

at Sadowa, and took part in the famous

storming of St. Privat. For some years

he was a professor in the War Academy,

and in 1903 reached the rank of a commanding general. In 1911, he retired,

and was living on his pension in Hanover,

being engaged in writing his memoirs.

He had given the subject of the defense

of Germany against Russia a great deal

of study, and, according to widely circulated stories, knew the labyrinth of the

Masurian Lakes as well as he knew his

own street. He was of an outspoken

disposition, and, it is said, the Kaiser

was loth to appoint him because, a few

years before, he had been most caustic

in his criticism of the management by

the Kaiser of an army engaged in maneuvers. In appearance he filled the ideal

of a soldier, being over six feet tall, broad

of body and shoulders, and fierce and

grim of countenance.

Von Hindenburg received news of his

appointment to command the eastern army

on the 22d of August. A special train carried him and his Chief of Staff, General

von Ludendorff, who was likewise to make

the world resound with his name, to the

Eastern Front. Hindenburg said afterward:

"I had time only to get together the most

necessary articles of clothing and have

my old uniform put in condition for service." Arrived at the front, he lost no time

in inaction.

Army corps snatched from the Western

Front were transported with astonishing

speed over the superb system of strategic

railways, other troops were withdrawn

from western Poland, and still others were

brought up from the interior of Germany

or by sea from Konigsberg. In an incredibly short time von Hindenburg managed to assemble in front of Samsonoff

an army of about two hundred thousand

men, and in the very country of the

Masurian Lakes, where he had so often

rehearsed the drama that was now being

acted out in .reality.

The Russians were poorly served by

their intelligence department, were comparatively weak in artillery, and were

ignorant of the labyrinth in which they

fought. For three days von Hindenburg