The Battle of Masurian Lakes took place at the start of World War One, in September 1914. The battle marked the second defeat for the Russian Army at the hands of the Germans, following the Second Army’s near destruction and subsequent loss (from suicide) of Alexander Samsonov at the Battle of Tannenberg.
After defeating the Second Army, Ludendorff and Hindenburg wanted to complete their plans in East Prussia by defeating Russia’s First Army, commanded by Rennenkampf. The idea was that taking out this force would ensure the eastern border of Germany was safe from attack so German troops could be transferred to the Western Front.
Unlike Tannenberg, the Battle of Masurian Lakes was not one sided. However, when the Germans began their attack on 7th September 1914 Rennenkampf was immediately outnumbered 3 to 1. Two days later, Rennenkampf ordered a withdrawal and two divisions were left behind to slow the Germans advances.
By 13th September, Rennenkampf had achieved his withdrawal with much of his army still in tact - unlike in the Battle of Tannenberg before it - but Russia had now withdrawn all troops from East Prussia.
The Battle of Masurian Lakes cost Russia’s First Army 125,000 men and 150 artillery guns in total, with the Germans losing just 40,000 men.
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