Page 3489


contented himself with the defensive,

but, on the 26th of August, he began to

execute a cleverly conceived offensive.

His plan resembled that of Hannibal at

Cannae. First he concentrated on his

right near Soldau a great mass of men

and guns and pushed the unsupported

Russian left wing backwards. Then, leaving a comparatively weak force here to

hold the defeated forces from making a

new advance, he hurried many of his men

and guns by railroad and motor cars to

his own left wing near Allenstein, and,

on the 27th, repeated the same tactics

against the Russian right. The Russian

army had now assumed the form of a

crescent, with the horns turned from the

enemy. Pressure was continued during

the next two days, during which the

Russians were battered by the German

artillery. Finally the Russians attempted

to retreat, but they were so badly involved

in the labyrinth that they were unable

to withdraw in anything approaching

good order. Two army corps, of about

eighty thousand men, were caught in the

swamps about Tannenberg, and practically

all were either shot down or captured.

Many who called for quarter were denied

it. The slaughter was so terrible that

even some Germans were sickened by it.

A private soldier, wounded in the battle,

wrote anonymously to Ambassador Gerard

the following letter of protest:

"It was frightful, heart-rending, as

these masses of human beings were driven

to destruction. Above the terrible thunder

of the cannon could be heard the heartrending cries of the Russians: '0 Prussians!

0 Prussians!'-but there was no mercy.

Our Captain had ordered: 'The whole

lot must die; so rapid fire.' As I have

heard, five men and one officer on our side

went mad from those heart-rending cries.

But most of my comrades and the officers

joked as the unarmed and helpless Russians

shrieked for mercy while they were being

suffocated in the swamps and shot down.

The order was: Close up and at it harder!'

For days afterwards those heart-rending

yells followed me, and I dare not think

of them or I shall go mad. There is no

God, there is no morality and no ethics

any more. There are no human beings

any more, but only beasts. Down with


As. a result of the Russian defeat, the

siege of Konigsberg had to be raised

by Rennenkampf's army, and practically

all of East Prussia was freed from the

invader. The great news was given to

the German public in a series of official

dispatches culminating in the following,

issued September 3d:

"The troops of Colonel-General von

Hindenburg in the east are garnering

further fruits of their victory. The number of prisoners is growing daily; it has

already reached 90,000. It is impossible

to determine how many cannons and

trophies are still concealed in the Prussian

forests and swamps. Apparently not two,

but three, Russian commanding generals

have been captured."

By the Germans the victory of Tannenberg was proclaimed another Sedan, and

in the numbers captured it was upon a

scale not inferior to that battle, upon

whose anniversary the tidings of victory

reached Berlin. All of Germany was