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buried in the mass of the German armies of the West, and if Serbia has succeeded in maintaining until then her hold on the Austrians, the strategic and political object of the war will have been attained.

These lines expose very clearly the germ of the theory of the main front afterward developed by Colonel Repington. According to his idea, the Franco-British armies must 'operate in France,' Russia playing the part of 'steam-roller,' moving forward slowly but surely in such wise as to reach Berlin in two months. It is evident from these words that Colonel Repington is the inventor of the phrase, 'Russia, the steam-roller.' Events have shown the value of this metaphor. The passage quoted proves in addition the error of Colonel Repington as to what military Russia really was, as to the condition of the Russian fortresses in 1914, and as to the very different condition of the German armies and fortresses at that same time.1

As the 'steam-roller' had not arrived at Berlin in November, 1914, according to his forecast, Colonel Repington gave the final touch to his theory of the main front by publishing the following in the middle of 1915, when the question arose of sending Franco-British troops to Serbia:

What we must do is kill Germans until the German losses mount up to ten thousand daily. If we accomplish our task, we shall make final victory inevitable. What

1 I deem myself justified in these reflections because, on page 414 of my book, Le Monde et la Guerre Russo-Japonaise, published in 1906, eight years before the war, I wrote after much investigation in Russia and the Far East: 'Will Russia become again a great military power? First of all, is the Russian people bent upon it? Nothing is less certain. Putting the best face on affairs, and recalling what happened in France after 1870, we must nevertheless conclude that she will not within ten or fifteen years have become again a great military power, in condition, for example, to take part in really effective fashion in a war against Germany.'

we must avoid are adventures which might give Germany an opportunity to secure important strategic successes, as at Ulm and Sedan.

The war of attrition, in the trenches, on both fronts, is extremely burdensome; there is nothing inspiring about it, but it must kill Germany in the end if it is kept up.2

The Allies having followed Colonel Repington's advice and sent no troops to the Danube, the attack on Serbia was begun in October, 1915. At that time energetic action on the part of the Allies in the way of sending to Serbia, by way of Saloniki and by the Santi Quarante route, sufficient reinforcements might still have saved the greater part of Serbia and thus have maintained the Allies in a position to recover the Danube front. Thereupon Colonel Repington reiterated with singular vigor his theory of the main front as opposed to the dispatch of Allied troops to the rescue of Serbia.

No new units [he said] have made their appearance in the East or the West for several months. It may well be true, therefore, that Germany has not the necessary men to create such units. Under these conditions our manifest duty is to persevere on the main front, that is, in France and Flanders. That is where the final decision will be had, and nothing on earth would justify us in withdrawing troops from there. We must send thither all the men and all the munitions at our disposal, in order to kill the greatest possible number of Germans.

The Germans are still capable of holding out against Russia, and of massing more troops against us. What a plight we should find ourselves in if, at such a time, our forces in the Western theatre had been reduced! The responsibility would fall, not on the army, which has fought so superbly, but on those who have the supreme management of the war.3

These vigorous arguments had a tremendous influence on British public 2 See Le Matin, June 18, 1915.

3 Le Petit Parisien, October 15, 1915.

opinion, and Serbia was abandoned to her fate. Furthermore, still as a result of his theory of the main front, Colonel Repington afterwards, whenever he had a chance, made the bitterest opposition to the dispatch of the Allied expeditionary force to the Balkans. As he found important supporters in France, the army at Saloniki is still without sufficient means of action.

However that may be, Colonel Repington's campaign in support of his disastrous theory that the Western front is the most important one has produced such far-reaching effects that it has influenced men occupying very high official positions. For example, early in October, 1917, General Smuts, a Boer officer, unquestionably of great valor, but, by reason of his foreign birth, having never been in a position to study the vast complexities of the European war, in a speech at a luncheon given by the President of the Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom, a speech of special importance because of his membership in the British War Cabinet, declared:

"The Central allies are beaten everywhere, are retreating everywhere, except in Russia. . . . To whip Germany we need not go as far as the Rhine. To effect this purpose one strip of land is as good as another, so long as the Germans choose to occupy it; and, take my word for it, long before we have reached the Rhine, Germany will sue for peace. . . . Our military superiority on the Western front is no longer open to the slightest question. . . . If we turn to the Italian front, can we entertain any doubt, after the great victories of the Italian army, that our Allies on that front have obtained a complete preponderance over the Germans?'

A few days later events proved the value of these assertions. As General Smuts had several times announced that Germany was virtually whipped,

the Weekly Dispatch did not hesitate to make the following truly stupefying comment on these statements:

'When so circumspect a soldier and statesman as General Smuts declares that we have won the war, we can assume that there are good and sufficient reasons why so bold an assertion proves that we have won it.'

Comments of this description unfortunately do not stand alone. For three years and a half a number of Allied newspapers have reproduced declarations of men of more or less prominence, about as valuable as those of General Smuts, as being undeniable truths. As a result, very great harm has been done, for Allied public opinion has been misled by men of unquestionable sincerity, who are, nevertheless, incapable of forming an accurate judgment of the situation because they have never been trained for it, and because they do not know a hundredth part of what it is necessary to know in order to make a prophecy of any value.

It is because of these divagations that a forest of false ideas has been nurtured among the Allies like a carefully tended garden, until in December last the majority of newspapers proclaimed the victory of the Entente at the precise moment when the Pangermanist schemes were on the point of fulfillment.

Be that as it may, the aberration caused in numerous controlling councils of the Allies by the theory of the Western as the principal front has gone so far that, even after the Italian catastrophe, when Germany was already master of three fourths of Europe, Major Sir Philip Sassoon, M.P., private secretary to Sir Douglas Haig, in a letter to his constituents, reiterated this theory, declaring that the outstanding facts of the war are not the momentary collapse of Russia and the invasion of Italy, but the steady, in

exorable advance of the British armies in Flanders, which neither the enemy nor the weather conditions can check. At that time Major Sassoon believed that the British advance on Cambrai would prove to be irresistible and continuous. A few days later, the German counter-attack, and the serious British losses which resulted from it, gave the lie once more to forecasts of this sort.

On the occasion of Major Sassoon's amazing letter the Socialist journal L'Humanité, which often indulges in Utopian conceits, published so accurate a summary of the doctrine of the principal front at the end of 1917, that I deem it my duty to quote it.

'Don't be alarmed,' say the partisans of Occidentalism, or Repingtonians, 'by the confusion and backsliding of Russia. Don't ascribe too much importance to the invasion of Northern Italy, Serbia, Roumania

there is no use in stopping to talk about them. All this is of no account. The absolute definitive victory we shall win on the Western front, or, more precisely, on the British front. The irresistible advance of the British army in Flanders will give it to us. The occupation by the enemy of Poland, Lithuania, and Courland, of Wallachia and Venetia; Riga captured, Venice within cannon-shot of the Austro-German

lines — all this is of no account in comparison with the taking of Passchendaele (a small village in Flanders). Why unify the conduct of operations, when there is but one operation of any importance?'-Such is the doctrine. It has never varied.1

CRITICISM OF THE THEORY OF THE

PRINCIPAL FRONT

As for the reasons given to justify this theory of the principal front by its partisans, they are all summed up in this statement, which, however, has never been supported by any technical evidence. "This is a war of attrition. As the resources of the Allies are in1 L'Humanité, November 17, 1917.

exhaustible, they can certainly hold out much longer than the Germans, who are the besieged party. We have only to establish ourselves more and more strongly on the Western front. As the Germans cannot remain in a state of war indefinitely, they will be compelled to attack us. Consequently the Kaiser's troops will have, perforce, to come and be killed on the Western front. It is a mathematical certainty, therefore, that a time will come when we shall have inflicted upon Germany losses in manpower so prodigious, that, finding herself to be bled white, she will sue for a peace every condition of which we shall be in a position to impose upon her. At that moment we shall be completely victorious without having been compelled to cross the Rhine, as we have many times declared.'

Such is, in reality, incredible as it may appear, the ominously puerile and prodigiously rudimentary reasoning which has been the sole basis of the management by the Allies of this complex, world-embracing war; whereas the Germans in carrying it on act consistently according to some plan or other, but always one that has been studied in every part of the Universe theory by which the Western front is without exception. In truth, this regarded as the principal one does not deserve even to be considered as a strategic plan at all, for it rests upon an accumulation of such gigantic blunders that it would seem impossible that they could have been committed, were we not constrained to admit their reality by facts that are only too manifest.

Let us remark first of all that this theory is strictly opposed to the fundamental principle of warfare as established by military history from its most distant origins. This immutable principle may be stated thus: While supporting one's allies to the utmost, to carry the war into the enemy's country, at

the weakest spot, with superior forces. Now, the theory that we are considering has had the following results:

1. It has prevented the Allies from carrying the war into the enemy's country, and has confined the most frightful struggle in history to the richest and most densely populated territory of Belgium and France.

2. It has compelled the Allies to abandon the hope of striking their enemy at his weakest point, which was beyond question the southern line of Hungary.

3. It has led the Allies to concentrate their most powerful forces against the strongest portions of the German front, where the German Staff could most easily manage the most stubborn defense, by virtue of the vast network of railways that it controls in the West.

4. It has abandoned successively to the Pangermanist Moloch such admirable, gallant, and loyal allies as the unhappy Serbs and Roumanians. Such abandonment not only was an unpardonable moral error on the part of the Allied leaders, but also consummated the substantial strategic blunder of the Entente. For, by an extraordinary chance, the territories of Montenegro, Serbia, and Roumania were, and still are, strategically considered, the key of the world-war, because they form the natural Danube front, the mere possession of which by the Allies deprived Austro-Germany of the aid of the Bulgarian and Turkish effectives, and of the resources of the Orient, without which it could not have continued the war. Therefore, by supporting with vigor their small Balkan allies, the great Allies would not only have fulfilled their moral duty, but would also have forwarded their essential strategic interests, and the war would long since have ended victoriously.

Now, the sole obstacle to this logical development of the military efforts of

the Allies has been the theory that the Western front is the principal front. Consider the huge blunders, even of a strictly military description, which have resulted from this disastrous theory, and one can readily understand that it makes no account of the strategy of the political sciences, the existence of which is not suspected even at the present moment by the supporters of that theory. Let us note once more that it is based by them upon a long succession of material misconceptions. Events have proved that Colonel Repington's reckoning of the German reserves was erroneous. Furthermore, in his calculation of the enemy's forces, Colonel Repington has never dealt seriously with the AustroHungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkish effectives, which, however, do exist and whose support enables Austro-Germany to keep the field.

Failing to take into the account the total military effectives of Pan-Germany, Colonel Repington has neglected also to consider the resources in supplies and raw material of this vast territory. But these resources, because of the effect of the submarine campaign, are to all intent greater for the Boches-or. at all events, more readily accessible and transportable-than the resources of the Western Allies, who cannot live now without America and Australia, that is to say, without articles of prime necessity brought from a great distance by slow, infinitely burdensome, and uncertain means of transport.

Lastly, if it had been true that Austro-Germany, blockaded by land, — the Allies being on the Danube front,would have been in effect a besieged fortress inevitably doomed to capitulate by reason of the insufficiency of food-supplies, because, in fact, the resources of Austro-Germany alone would have been insufficient for its population, on the other hand, it

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was utterly absurd to regard AustroGermany augmented by the Balkans and Turkey (that is to say, Pan-Germany) as a fortress susceptible of being reduced by starvation. Pan-Germany to-day is in very truth a fortress, in the sense that it is encircled by continuous fortified fronts; but it is nonsense to liken Pan-Germany to a fortress having necessarily to surrender because of famine, when, by virtue of its geographic immensity, including the vast exploitable territories of the Balkans and Turkey, it affords the most diverse products of the soil. And the latent resources of Pan-Germany are immeasurably increased now that the whole of European and Asiatic Russia is open to it.

To sum up the theory that the Western front is the principal one is the capital strategic blunder of all the Allied leaders, and it explains all their other blunders. The facts are at hand to prove that it was impossible to conceive of any general plan for the conduct of the war by the Allies which would have made it easier for the German General Staff to carry out the Pangermanist scheme. For, from this point of view, the theory has had the following further results:

1. It has allowed Germany to lay hold freely of the territories necessary for the creation of Pan-Germany.

2. It has given her all the time that she required so to organize Pan-Germany that its military strength should bring about one of its first effects the collapse of Russia.

3. It has confirmed Germany in the possession of all the sources of troops, supplies, and raw materials existing in the Balkans and Asiatic Turkey.

4. On the other hand, it has deprived the Allies of the sources of strategic strength and of effectives represented by the Balkans and Russia, and has compelled them to seek beyond the

Atlantic those things which are indispensable for their subsistence.

5. It has enabled the German General Staff to concentrate all the disposable effectives of Pan-Germany on the Western front, which concentration was impossible so long as the Allies were formidable enough in the East.

Doubtless it is no longer possible to deny to the Western front the title of principal front; but only because there is practically no other now. Clearly it is the principal one for the Germans, because they can beyond question bring about a definitive decision there. But it is of the first importance for. Americans to realize fully that the Allies cannot possibly indulge the same certainty. Henceforth the Western front is assuredly not the principal one for the Allies, except so far as it is a question, first of all, of not being hopelessly defeated there.

Thus the first effort of the Allies must be to do their utmost not to be crushed in the West. But will all the successes that they may be able to win in the West suffice to give them the victory the victory that is to say, to force Germany to abandon her grip on Central Europe and the Balkans, in other words, on the instruments of universal domination? Of course, no one could undertake to say absolutely that it will not be so, but the chances of such a result are exceedingly slender. The facts developed by the war, and the concordant precedents of all military history, enable one easily to convince one's self that it cannot be so. In fact, Germany not only is proceeding with the organization of Pan-Germany, but she proposes also to exploit Russia, whence she will obtain immense supplemental resources. The means of resistance of the Germans on the Western front must be regarded therefore as augmented in at least as great a measure as the means of offensive action

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