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Prelude to Blitzkrieg: The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania

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In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where least expected and advancing before the Romanians could react--even bombing their capital from a Zeppelin soon after war was declared--the Germans and Austrians poured over the formidable Transylvanian Alps onto the plains of Walachia, rolling up the Romanian army from west to east, and driving the shattered remnants into Russia. Prelude to Blitzkrieg tells the story of this largely ignored campaign to determine why it did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.


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In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where least expected and advancing before the Romanians could react--even bombing their capital from a Zeppelin soon after war was declared--the Germans and Austrians poured over the formidable Transylvanian Alps onto the plains of Walachia, rolling up the Romanian army from west to east, and driving the shattered remnants into Russia. Prelude to Blitzkrieg tells the story of this largely ignored campaign to determine why it did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.

49 review for Prelude to Blitzkrieg: The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

    The quality of this study is unquestionable. The operational narrative is simply comme il faut , with a solid grasp on the vagaries of weather and soil in a high-altitude environment. The quality of the editor is superb. The layout eliminates the need for 99% of my customary pencil markings and each chapter is rounded off by a crisp conclusion. The supply of maps is plentiful and they are easy on the eyes. It fully earns the endorsements by Peers who have earned their spurs writing about the ea The quality of this study is unquestionable. The operational narrative is simply comme il faut , with a solid grasp on the vagaries of weather and soil in a high-altitude environment. The quality of the editor is superb. The layout eliminates the need for 99% of my customary pencil markings and each chapter is rounded off by a crisp conclusion. The supply of maps is plentiful and they are easy on the eyes. It fully earns the endorsements by Peers who have earned their spurs writing about the eastern fronts of the Great War: Richard C Hall, Graydon A. Tunstall and foremost Glenn E. Torrey The battle-hardened professionalism of the German Army is evident when setting up a flow of men, horses and supplies down treacherous passes between cliff and stream. Similarly impressive is the tenacious ingenuity of the mountain troops as they battle their way from peak to peak in brutal close combat. To counter the illusion of infallibility, the nefarious effect of the (sometimes petty) arguments within the Austro-German command is a constant theme. Von Falkenhayn was unable to regain the position of influence within the High Command which he held prior to the stalemate at Verdun. The ambition of Archduke Karl, following his coronation in the midst of the Romanian campaign, to recalibrate the junior position of his armed forces within the Central Powers, proved equally illusionary. On the other side of the mountain, the military misfortune of the Romanian armed forces get a fairer share of attention than the title would suggest. The crux of their strategy of liberating the Ruthenian lands under Hungarian overlordship. The three armies tasked with the initial drive into Transylvania represented 75% of their manpower, but a premeditated retreat by Habsburg border units caused them to disperse too widely in an area where the benefit of interior supply lines (read: railways) passed to the enemy. The most interesting secondary theater, in my opinion, is the Dobrogea. This recently annexed province shows the classic shape of the salient. Its isolated, degraded fortifications were an easy prey for vengeful Bulgarian troops. Once the valued presence of their German allies under the redoubtable Von Mackensen cured their hydrophobia, they staged a series of amphibious operations that rank among the most colourful of the war, with an Austrian monitor flotilla prohibiting the intervention of the Romanian detachment upriver as they provided devastating naval fire support. With 15 passes to defend, a successful breach in the barrier of the Carpathians was inevitable; the process of elimination from the side of the Central Powers serves to illustrate the invisible headaches that plague the adversary even as your strategic situation deteriorates into a two-front invasion (aggravated by the customary rivalries within the High Command). Regarding the final phase, the fall of Bucharest and the retreat onto Iasi, the belated contribution of Russian troops to hold the line as the French military mission set out to revive the shattered Romanian forces is a dimension of note, since again, no author is obliged to include the friction between chief-of-staff Dumitru Iliescu and his passive Tsarist ally into the “Austro-German Campaign”. So why do I only rate it 3 stars? It’s not business, it’s personal. The comparison with The Romanian Battlefront in World War I rears its head. It had more politics and more Romania to give it flavour, to make it fun. The exhaustive level of detail here is… exhausting. Notwithstanding the clarity of the maps, a fluid reading requires a detailed familiarity with Romanian geography which I sadly lack. On a minor note, the bibliography is very light on Romanian sources compared to Glenn Torrey. In a perfect world, these two fine books would exist as one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    james flaherty

    Detailed history of Romanian battles Very detailed book difficult to understand without thorough history of Romania Bulgaria and Eastern Europe on Kindle maps are very difficult if not impossible to read

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gio Theunissen

    Excellent book can highly recommend it. It is a part of WW1 that is not so known and this book gives you the information about the the war but also the politics

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    An excellent book about an often overlooked campaign, "Prelude to Blitzkrieg" is a marvelous account of the Romanian campaign in World War I. Barrett does an exceptional job of shedding light to a campaign that usually receives scant attention in general histories of the war. He also manages to tell a balanced story that gives the Romanians more credit for their fighting abilities than is normally the case, while praising the Central Powers for their swift victory in a brutal environment. I high An excellent book about an often overlooked campaign, "Prelude to Blitzkrieg" is a marvelous account of the Romanian campaign in World War I. Barrett does an exceptional job of shedding light to a campaign that usually receives scant attention in general histories of the war. He also manages to tell a balanced story that gives the Romanians more credit for their fighting abilities than is normally the case, while praising the Central Powers for their swift victory in a brutal environment. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in WWI in general and "forgotten history" in particular.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Short

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ifor

  8. 5 out of 5

    Celso Ferreira

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mihai Zodian

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  11. 4 out of 5

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  12. 4 out of 5

    Rui Valente

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Keaffaber

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shrike58

  15. 4 out of 5

    Radu Butiulca

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Papalia

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Smith

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aung Z.

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    Chris Buckham

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt Bowden

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    John Richards

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bmarshall

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    Michael Davis

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    Indiana University Press

  32. 5 out of 5

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    Jerome

  34. 5 out of 5

    Michael Neiberg

  35. 4 out of 5

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  36. 5 out of 5

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  48. 4 out of 5

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  49. 4 out of 5

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