The Brusilov Offensive is over. In its early days, it brought the Austro-Hungarians close to collapse. Their line was only stabilised by the commitment of significant quantities of German reinforcements. The price of this aid has been the German take-over of the Austro-Hungarian army. The ancient Habsburg Empire is now little more than a client state of the arriviste Germans.
Brusilov’s offensive was meant to have been followed by another against the Germans to the north by Evert, with the rolling offensives denying the Central Powers the option of concentrating against any one threat. Unfortunately Evert’s offensive was still-born, thanks to his use of unimaginative human wave assaults. With Evert’s failure the Russians sent more reinforcements to Brusilov, but in an increasingly attritional battle the superior transport links and armaments of the Germans swung the battle in their favour. The offensive’s failure embitters Brusilov, who feels that he has been let down by his fellow officers.
The scale of blood-letting in the fighting is almost unimaginable. Russian casualties are variously estimated as being in the range of 500,000 to 1,000,000, with similar losses for the Austro-Hungarians and Germans. The bloodbath has effectively brought an end to Austro-Hungarian independence, but the offensive’s failure now threatens the credibility of the Tsarist regime in Russia.
Soldiers (Metro Postcard)