5/8/1915 As Warsaw falls, Russian military failures beget political tension

In Poland, Russian forces have accepted the inevitable, retreating from Warsaw before the Germans cut off their lines of communication. German forces arrive in the Polish capital today as the Russians pull back to the east. The withdrawal is undertaken in relatively good order but this is still a terrible failure for Russian arms.
The ongoing military failures are exacerbating political tensions in Russia. The Tsar has agreed to reconvene the Duma, Russia’s parliament, in the hope that this will revivify popular support for the war. But the parliamentarians are unruly. They fear that military defeat and the authoritarian rule of the Tsar are leading the country towards revolutionary chaos. In an effort to forestall this, liberals and the more moderate and flexible of the conservatives and radicals form a Progressive Bloc to press for political reforms. They argue that Russia needs a government with popular support to successfully prosecute the war and dampen revolutionary sentiment. They are careful not to go so far as to argue for a government responsible to the Duma (of the kind seen in France or Britain), knowing that this would be anathema to the Tsar.
The Progressive Bloc’s demands for reform find a surprisingly receptive audience in the Tsar’s own Council of Ministers. But the Tsar himself is hostile. He sees it as his divine mission to rule Russia as an absolute monarch, in the manner of the great Tsars of yore. He has no intention of compromise.

image sources:

German cavalry arrive in Warsaw (Wikipedia)

German marching band in Warsaw (The Illustrated First World War)

Retreating Russians (The Illustrated First World War)

(I particularly recommend following those links to the First World War, which reproduce articles from the Illustrated London News of 1915)

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