Jacob Lee Hamric
Victory: Falkenhayn’s Campaign in
Romania, 1916 [M.A. Thesis: Eastern
Michigan University, 2004]
Romania declared war on the Central Powers on August 27, 1916.
The news shocked the German High Command, particularly General Erich
von Falkenhayn, chief of the General Staff. He had predicted that if
Romania did enter the war, it would only do so after the September
harvest. Most German officers agreed. However, the team directing
the armies in the east, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and
General Erich Ludendorff, had for two years been fighting
Falkenhayn’s emphasis on the western front and also privately
expressing their displeasure with Falkenhayn to German Kaiser
Wilhelm II. Wilhelm liked Falkenhayn personally and was himself
surprised by Romania’s belligerence. However, he now believed the
army was losing faith in its commander, and thus agreed to
Hindenburg’s and Ludendorff’s demands for Falkenhayn’s dismissal.
Wilhelm appointed Hindenburg as Supreme Commander of the German High
Command, with Ludendorff as his Chief of Staff.
Falkenhayn accepted a command post as chief of the General Staff on
the Romanian front.
Once the German High Command recovered from its
surprise, the army responded extremely well on the new Romanian
front. Although Romania’s offensive into Transylvania had initial
success, it quickly stalled as Romanian military leaders became
increasingly worried about Bulgarian forces on their southern front.
This “operational pause” gave Falkenhayn plenty of time to rush in
German reinforcements and consolidate the Central Powers’ position
in Transylvania. In doing so, he also gave the Austro-Hungarian
army, which had been driven back by Romanian forces, time to
recuperate. Over the next three months, with help from the newly
created “Army of the Danube,” under the leadership of General August
von Mackensen, Falkenhayn led the German 9th Army in a brilliant
operational campaign against Romania. By the end of 1916, Germany
controlled two-thirds of Romania, including the capital, Bucharest,
and had inflicted astonishing casualties on the Romanian army.
Falkenhayn himself later observed, “In the entire
history of war one cannot find many campaigns where the actual
course of events deviated so little from the operational plan that
had been conceived of earlier.”
Of course, this was an exaggeration. Moments of uncertainty
punctuated the campaign, including several failed attempts by
Falkenhayn to break through the Carpathian mountain passes after
impressive victories over the Romanian forces in Transylvania. As
the weeks dragged by, without a breakthrough into Romania proper,
many German officers were preparing for the onset of winter.
Nevertheless, Falkenhayn’s Romanian campaign was a
remarkable operation, perhaps even a masterpiece. Although the
Romanians at times offered stubborn resistance, the Germans did
cross the Carpathians into Wallachia by November, thus accomplishing
their first objective. By the time Bucharest fell in December, the
Romanian army was largely destroyed and could no longer carry out
In the context of military operations from 1914 to
1916, the Romanian campaign was one of a small number of rapid
operational victories by either side. German strategy at the outset
of the war relied on the Schlieffen Plan, formulated by the deceased
General Graf von Schlieffen, to solve Germany’s problem of a
two-front war against Russia and France.
However, the 1914 campaign ultimately failed to knock France out of
the war. German leaders had underestimated French resistance, not
expected the vacillation of their own Supreme Commander, and failed
to solve the difficulty of supplying, commanding, and controlling
mass armies. Over the next two years, numerous operations by both
the Triple Entente and the Central Powers failed miserably, as the
western front developed into trench warfare and neither side came
closer to winning the war.
A notable exception to this stalemate was Romania.
This thesis will examine Falkenhayn’s 1916 military
campaign against Romania. There are many reasons to study this
operation. The major focus will be the Romanian campaign as an
example of Bewegungskrieg, or “war of movement” on the operational
level, a mobile campaign in the midst of World War I trench warfare.
Another theme is Falkenhayn’s redemption after his failures as chief
of the General Staff. Falkenhayn’s western strategy as German
military leader did not break the stalemate on the western front. In
particular, his strategy of attrition at Verdun strained German
Therefore, historians tend to view his military career as a
disaster. However, this ignores Falkenhayn’s tremendous ability as a
In order to discuss German operations in the Romanian
campaign, some background of German military doctrine is necessary.
Consequently, this work will trace the development of German
operational doctrine before World War I. General Helmuth von Moltke
(the elder) was the great figure of nineteenth-century German
military history. During his thirty-year career as chief of the
Prussian General Staff, Moltke and a small group of staff officers
enacted radical reforms within the Prussian military. More than any
other figure during the nineteenth century, Moltke balanced the new
technology and mass armies with the unchanging characteristics of
As a result, Prussia won wars against Denmark (1864), Austria
(1866), and France (1870-71) in the so-called German Wars of
Unification. In doing so, Moltke created the model for German
operations during World War I.
German operations during the first half of the war
were largely unsuccessful. While Moltke had developed a successful
operational doctrine, faulty implementation of his doctrine resulted
in a German defeat on the Marne,
and the armies descended into trench warfare along the western
front. Although the Germans drove back the Russians on the eastern
front, they did not knock them out of the war. Therefore, this work
will provide an overview of German strategy during World War I. Why
did the Germans fail to achieve decisive victories such as the ones
the great Moltke had accomplished a half century earlier? How did
German military leaders attempt to break the stalemate?
While much has been written on the western theater of
war, the eastern theater has been relatively neglected.
Military campaigns in Romania, Serbia, Hungary, and southeastern
Europe in general deserve more attention. Romania is important
because it illustrates a successful German operation amid the
contemporaneous stalemate of trench warfare on the western front.
Moreover, this work will demonstrate that German military leaders
did learn something from Helmuth von Moltke. Although it did not win
the war, the German army showed great skill under Falkenhayn,
winning astonishing victories and restoring mobility to the
battlefield. Nowhere was this more evident than in Romania.
A TALE OF TWO MOLTKES
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Helmuth von Moltke was the crucial figure in late
nineteenth-century European warfare. Following the French
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), vast growth in
technology, such as the telegraph, railroads, and new weaponry,
complicated military operations. In particular, offensives became
increasingly difficult, as experienced in the Crimean War (1854-56)
and the American Civil War (1861-65). This new technology coincided
with the dramatic rise of mass armies.
More than any other individual, Moltke balanced the new technology
and mass armies with the unchanging characteristics of war.
He guided Prussia to victories over Denmark (1864), Austria (1866),
and France (1870-71), and Prussia became the leader of a new,
unified German Empire. His art of war was not based on a strict set
of rules but rather followed general outlines which allowed for
Moltke was a follower of Carl Maria von Clausewitz,
one of the most influential military writers of the modern age.
Clausewitz argued war was too unpredictable to be explained by
specific theories. In On War, he stated that “everything in war is
very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult,” and “no other
human activity is so continuously or universally bound up with
chance.” He went on to declare “war is thus an act of force to
compel our enemy to do our will.”
Moltke believed that war was too uncertain to be guided by a strict
set of rules. He also followed Clausewitz’s belief that
probabilities would determine each encounter while an army adapted
to each circumstance as it arose.
Moltke served as chief of the Prussian General Staff
from 1857 to 1888. He almost immediately expanded the General
Staff’s influence, developing it into a permanent, peacetime war
planning organization. To achieve this, he divided the General Staff
into several planning divisions. These departments included a
Geographical-Statistical Section, a Military History Section, and a
Mobilization Section. The Geographical-Statistical Section estimated
numerous aspects of specific theaters of war. Some items analyzed
included cartography, weather charts, and opposing armies.
The Military History Section studied past campaigns, such as the
Seven Years’ War (1756-63) and the Franco-Austrian War (1859),
distilling important lessons of operational combat.
Perhaps the most important department was the Mobilization Section,
which organized detailed plans for initial deployments of the
military in future conflicts.
Within this section, a Railway Section was created, which prepared
timetables for the quick mobilization of troops towards the
frontlines via railroads. Moltke’s consistent use of rapid
mobilization was a key ingredient of his art of war.
Besides reorganizing the General Staff, Moltke issued
a series of rules and regulations for its training, the Instructions
for Large Unit Commanders (1869).
He organized these teachings into maneuvers and war games.
Maneuvers, which often included entire divisions, involved simulated
war exercises on realistic terrain; war games primarily featured
theoretical war situations in huge sandboxes. The most important
exercise was the annual staff ride. It included both maneuvers and
war games and involved intimate contact between the chief umpire
and a small group of officers chosen for combat. These games often
resulted in promotions and provided strategy for future wars.
Since the purpose of maneuvers, war games, and staff rides was to
form leaders of one mind, these exercises were taken very seriously.
A unique characteristic of warfare quickly developed. The Prussian
General Staff was the first organization to formulate a “common body
of military doctrine.”
Beyond the vast Prussian military reforms, Moltke is
historically significant for his great accomplishments as a field
commander. Although a Clausewitz disciple, he exhibited definite
beliefs on military strategy, operations, and tactics. He balanced
the strategic offensive with the rise of technology, which usually
favored the tactical defensive. Moltke’s art of war can be organized
into three distinct characteristics: the importance of the Aufmarsch
(initial deployment); a preference for the Kesselschlacht (cauldron
or envelopment battle); and the use of Auftragstaktik (mission
Moltke’s first constant in war was the Aufmarsch, the
initial deployment of the army. Efficient orders via the telegraph,
as well as proper assemblage of troops, would result in a rapid
mobilization of forces. He emphasized that if these demands were not
strictly adhered to, the entire campaign could be ruined:
Even the first deployment of the army--assembling the fighting
means in readiness--cannot be planned without a previous plan of
operations, at least in a very general sketch. One must consider in
advance what one intends in the defense, just as for the attack. The
first deployment of the army is inseparably connected with the
operations themselves.... If the views shaping original deployment
are incorrect, the work is completely without value. Even a single
error in the original assembly of the armies can hardly ever be made
good again during the entire course of the campaign.
Moltke’s second constant in war was the
Kesselschlacht, the envelopment of the enemy army. Here, he applied
his doctrine that preached the strategic offensive and the tactical
Utilizing this formula, one army pinned the enemy in place while
another army hit him in the flank and rear:
Another means is to fix the enemy’s front with part of our
strength and to envelop his flank with the other part. In that case
it is necessary for us to remain strong enough opposite the hostile
front so as not to be overpowered before the flank attack can become
effective. We must also be very active in his front to prevent the
opponent from throwing himself with superior numbers on our flank
He stressed that the goal of Kesselschlacht was the
complete destruction of the enemy army:
Victory alone breaks the will of the enemy and forces him to
submit to our will. Neither the possession of a tract of land nor
the conquest of a fortified position will suffice. On the contrary,
only the destruction of the enemy’s fighting power will, as a rule,
be decisive. This is therefore the foremost object of operations.
Moltke’s third constant in war was the use of
Auftragstaktik, mission tactics for army officers. The supreme
commander gave his subordinate commanders a general mission. Then,
the application of these orders was left to the field officers. In
other words, Moltke’s officers carried out his plan, as general
headquarters played a secondary role. He devised a simple plan, then
trusted his General Staff, which had undergone vast reforms, and
placed a staff officer along side the large unit commanders.
He also stressed that orders must be direct, clear, and concise.
Otherwise, the main objective might be misunderstood or even
Moltke stated “strategy is a system of expedients”
and “no plan survives contact with the enemy’s main body.”
As Clausewitz had already stated, Moltke understood that war was
completely unpredictable. Therefore, planning the entire campaign in
immense detail was senseless:
One does well to order no more than is absolutely necessary and
to avoid planning beyond the situations one can foresee. These
change very rapidly in war. Seldom will orders that anticipate far
in advance and in detail succeed completely to execution. This
shakes the confidence of the subordinate commander and it gives the
units a feeling of uncertainty when things develop differently than
what the high command’s order had presumed. Moreover, it must be
pointed out that if one orders much, then the important thing that
needs to be carried out unconditionally will be carried out only
incidentally or not at all because it is obscured by the mass of
secondary things and those which are valid only under the
The 1866 Campaign
The classic example of Moltke’s art of war was Prussia’s 1866
campaign versus Austria. The Austro-Prussian War began in June, and
Moltke was eager to mobilize the Prussian army as soon as possible.
However, Prussian King Wilhelm I delayed mobilization orders.
Wilhelm finally unleashed Moltke on June 2, empowering him with
complete control of Prussian forces.
But he was already behind the Austrians, who began troop deployment
weeks earlier. Fortunately, he had already finished Prussian
mobilization plans. Austria had only one railroad leading into
Bohemia, the main theater of war, as opposed to Prussia’s five.
Consequently, Prussia mobilized in three weeks, while Austria took
twice as long.
On June 22, Moltke ordered the concentric advance of
two Prussian armies into Bohemia:
2nd Army was commanded by the Crown Prince; 1st Army was led by
Friedrich Karl (the “Red Prince”). Thus began the initial stage of
Moltke’s planned Kesselschlacht. His armies, widely separated by
several days’ marches, were to converge near the town of Sadowa and
only link up during battle. One army, whichever was closest to the
Austrians, would pin the enemy in place, while the other was to
attack from the flank and rear. In the next two weeks, Prussian
armies won a series of engagements and were within a day’s march of
each other on July 2. Even though Moltke thought the Austrians had
retreated east across the Elbe river,
his armies were in solid position to attempt a Kesselschlacht.
On the same day, Prussian reconnaissance detected
Austrian forces west of the Elbe. The Red Prince decided to execute
a frontal assault the next morning.
He sent the Crown Prince a message asking for a corps to attack the
Austrian flank. Only after issuing orders to his subordinates did
Friedrich Karl inform Moltke, who immediately realized that a golden
chance for a Kesselschlacht was on the horizon. At 11 p.m., he gave
the Prussian 2nd Army the following orders:
According to reports received by the 1st Army the enemy in about
the strength of three corps, which, however, may be still further
reinforced, has advanced to and beyond the line formed by the
Bistritz at Sadowa and an encounter there with the 1st Army,
according to orders, will be tomorrow morning, July 3rd at 2 a.m.,
with two divisions at Horitz, with one at Milowitz, with one at
Gustwasser. Your Royal Highness will be good enough immediately to
make the necessary arrangements to be able to advance with all your
forces in support of the 1st Army against the right flank of the
enemy’s probable advance, and in so doing to come into action as
soon as possible. The directions given from here this afternoon in
other conditions are now no longer valid.
Moltke also sent a response to the Red Prince, ordering him to
attack earlier in the morning and pin the Austrians in place.
On the morning of July 3, a rain and thick mist enveloped the
upcoming battlefield. As a result, 1st Army was able to execute its
movements without attracting enemy attention.
Wilhelm I and general headquarters arrived around 8
a.m. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck asked Moltke the number of
Austrians facing the Red Prince. In typical Moltke fashion, he
responded, “We don't know exactly; only that it is at least three
corps, and that it is perhaps the whole Austrian Army.”
Shortly after 8 a.m. on July 3, Friedrich Karl ordered a general
attack. The Red Prince now understood the battle would be won on the
flanks. He followed his orders despite dissatisfaction with what he
considered a secondary role.
Prussian 7th Division (Fransecky), under heavy
artillery fire, sought cover in Swiepwald forest.
The Austrians immediately concentrated their artillery fire on this
location. At this point, Austrian IV Corps,
under the command of Count Festetics, moved into Swiepwald forest.
In order to stay in line with Festetics, Austrian II Corps leader
Count Thun had his men follow close behind.
By 11 a.m., 7th Division’s situation had become drastic. Its center
had broken, its wings were becoming isolated, and the division was
nearly surrounded. Fransecky requested assistance from the Red
Prince. However, Moltke intervened and convinced Wilhelm not to give
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Austrian artillery fire pinned down 1st
Army. During this time, Friedrich Karl had ordered 5th and 6th
Divisions to help near Sadowa. Once again, Moltke stopped the flow
of reserves to the front.
He knew it was essential to keep Prussian reserves available for a
counterattack near Sadowa upon the Crown Prince’s arrival.
Consequently, by noon Prussian headquarters became
increasingly worried. Prussian 1st Army was slowly being driven
backwards, troop morale was low, and the Crown Prince had not
encountered the main enemy force. An anxious King Wilhelm exclaimed
“Moltke, Moltke, we are losing the battle!”
Moltke supposedly responded by telling his master “Your majesty will
today win not only the battle, but the campaign.”
Wilhelm was not relieved. A short time later he almost issued an
order to retreat, until Moltke told him, “Here there will be no
retreat. Here we are fighting for the very existence of Prussia.”
It was clear Moltke alone had complete faith in the success of his
Kesselschlacht. His belief proved prophetic as early as 3 p.m., when
1st Army spotted 2nd Army forces on the slopes north of Chlum.
Austrian Field Marshall Ludwig Benedek knew that 2nd
Army was approaching the battlefield. He was not worried, as he had
ordered Festetics and Thun to move their men back to protect
Austria's exposed right flank. Therefore, he was all the more
stunned when Festetic’s chief of staff arrived to argue against
evacuating Swiepwald forest.
Not until 12:30 p.m. did II and IV Corps leave the Swiepwald.
However, they underwent heavy fire from 2nd Army forces approaching
The tide quickly turned towards Prussia’s side.
Attacking Chlum simultaneously from the south, east, and north, the
Prussians took it without a major struggle. By 3 p.m., 2nd Army
controlled the central Austrian position, as Moltke’s Kesselschlacht
became reality. The Austrian retreat quickly became a rout.
The 1866 campaign effectively illustrated Moltke’s
art of war. He solved the problems of mass armies and new technology
by formulating a simple yet well constructed plan. In achieving
this, he enacted his Kesselschlacht doctrine, the ultimate goal of
the Prussian army. When the 1866 operations began, Moltke’s
Aufmarsch gave Prussia a tremendous advantage over Austria.
Furthermore, he utilized Auftragstaktik, allowing his subordinates
to carry out his general orders. Most important, his consistent use
of flexibility saved the Prussian army from several possible
disasters. When all else failed, his iron will thrived amid great
The best way to summarize Moltke’s art of war is
Clausewitz’s famous dictum, “what genius does is the best rule.”
Although he emphasized war’s uncertainty, Clausewitz believed great
commanders could rise above this “fog of war.” The past is filled
with striking examples, from Alexander in ancient Greece to Napoleon
in revolutionary France. Whether Moltke belongs in this tiny, elite
group of military geniuses is open to question. In any case, he
undoubtedly placed his mark on the modern German army. However, it
remained to be seen if Moltke’s successors could duplicate his
The 1914 Campaign in the West
World War I opened in August 1914 with the great powers carrying
out huge offensives, all of which failed miserably. Austria-Hungary
invaded Serbia and attacked the Russians via Galicia. Russia
launched an offensive into East Prussia to take some pressure away
from the German campaign against France. As mentioned above, Germany
opened the war by implementing the Schlieffen Plan, that Graf von
Schlieffen, chief of the General Staff from 1891 to 1905, had
dedicated his career to. In fact, ever since Helmuth von Moltke (the
elder) retired in 1888, German strategists had pondered how to solve
Germany’s dilemma of a possible two-front war. The use of war games
and maneuvers, started under Moltke, continued right up to the
opening of the 1914 campaign. Schlieffen believed he had solved
Germany’s problem by formulating a strategy for quick, decisive
Schlieffen drew up the operations for the western
The Schwerpunkt, or main point of emphasis, would be on the German
right wing. Three armies, consisting of fifty-three divisions, would
break through the Netherlands and Belgium, invade France, circle
around the west of Paris, then come up from the rear and encircle
the entire French army in a huge Kesselschlacht. Meanwhile, the
German left wing would deliberately be much weaker. Noticing this,
the French would be enticed to launch a large-scale offensive into
relatively strong defensive positions in the province of Lorraine,
playing right into the German hands, by creating a larger area of
Undoubtedly, it was an extremely aggressive, risky
plan. If French forces broke through at Lorraine, Schlieffen’s plan
might result in a decisive victory--for France. In addition, the
strong right wing had to advance adhering to a strict timetable, not
easily done in war. Supplying and commanding this force would become
increasingly difficult to manage. However, all military commanders
have been taught that, although concentration of forces in certain
places involves risk by leaving other areas weaker, it offers the
best possibility of crushing the enemy. This was certainly the case
for Germany in 1914.
The chief of the German General Staff in 1914 was
Helmuth von Moltke,
nephew of the nineteenth-century Moltke. Unlike his uncle, Moltke
“the younger” was not a gambler. He removed the Netherlands from the
operation, refusing to violate its neutrality. As a result, the
German right wing would have to pass through the Belgian fortress of
Perhaps even more important, he placed six out of nine new divisions
on the German left wing, thus ignoring an opportunity to strengthen
Consequently, when the Schlieffen Plan failed to knock France out of
the war, much of the blame centered on Moltke.
As for France, its plan was much simpler. French
strategy centered on Plan XVII, an all-out offensive into Lorraine.
This scheme was predicated on the Franco-Prussian War, when France
lost the Alsace-Lorraine provinces during a hasty retreat. French
tactics relied on the doctrine of the offensive, a widely-held
belief among military generals and theorists prior to the war.
General Louis de Grandmaison, chief of the Third Bureau of French
General Headquarters, established a “virtual cult of offensive
operations” in the French Army.
His Regulations for the Conduct of Major Formations stated “The
French Army, returning to its traditions, recognizes no law save
that of the offensive,”
and, as one soldier recalled, declared, “Success depends far more
upon forcefulness and tenacity than upon tactical skill. Attacks
should always be pressed home with the firm intention of engaging
the enemy at the point of the bayonet.”
Furthermore, the French proved to be outgunned, as they principally
relied on the 75-mm field gun, much less powerful than the 105-mm
light field howitzer and the 150-mm heavy field howitzer used by the
On August 16, German 1st Army (General Alexander von
Kluck) and 2nd Army (General Bernard von Bülow) invaded Belgium. The
German forces met minimal resistance from the Belgian army under
King Albert. Moltke had already ordered forward units to seize the
fortress of Liège. This task force, led by General Erich Ludendorff,
bombed the fort with heavy artillery and captured it in a few days,
well before the major German invasion. However, when Moltke
originally issued this order, he had been overruled by Kaiser
Wilhelm II. Even though he soon recanted his own ruling, Wilhelm’s
actions deeply affected Moltke’s already shaken confidence.
Moreover, King Albert and the Belgians retreated to Antwerp, forcing
the Germans to leave a corps to guard Kluck’s flank. There were no
reserve troops available, since Moltke had placed them behind the
German left wing. Therefore, Kluck had to utilize one of his own
Nevertheless, 1st and 2nd Army had occupied Belgium on schedule.
At this point, the “Battle of the Frontiers” began.
On August 14, French 1st Army (General Auguste DuBail) and 2nd Army
(General Noël de Castelnau) invaded Lorraine. On August 20, the
French armies engaged the Germans at Sarrebourg and Morhange, where
they were driven back by artillery and machine gun fire. The French
commander, General Joseph Joffre, now ordered French 3rd and 4th
Armies into eastern Belgium via the Ardennes forest. On August 22,
they crashed into German 4th and 5th Armies, the center of Germany’s
advance into France. The French retreated after several hours of
fighting in a thick fog. Sensing activity to his right, General
Lanrezac, commander of French 5th Army, advanced his men towards
Namur. Here, German 2nd and 3rd Armies approached the French flanks
and forced them to withdraw. By this time, the British Expeditionary
Force (BEF), consisting of 100,000 men under Sir John French, had
arrived on the west coast of France. On August 23 it collided with
German 1st Army at Mons. Superior German numbers resulted in a
British retreat. Soon after, France’s military was retreating
On August 23, the German army was exactly where it was supposed to
be according to the Schlieffen Plan--at the French border. It
appeared Germany’s daring strategy might succeed.
But Germany did not knock France out of the war.
Unfortunately for the Germans, numerous actions threw the Schlieffen
Plan completely off-balance. First, after defeating French armies in
Lorraine, German 6th and 7th Armies launched a counterattack near
Nancy; 5th Army followed suit toward Verdun. Adopting the elder
Moltke’s practice of Auftragstaktik, the army commanders neglected
to inform Moltke beforehand. They did convince him to provide the
counterattack with reinforcements previously allotted for the German
Although the attack failed, an even larger issue loomed. Schlieffen
had expected, even hoped for, France to attack Lorraine. He wanted
the German left wing to remain on the defensive. Otherwise, a French
retreat from this region could result in a much stronger garrison to
defend Paris. In any case, Moltke’s willingness to implement an
offensive along his left wing displayed his obtuseness regarding the
Second, Russian 1st and 2nd Armies invaded East
Prussia on August 12, well ahead of the Schlieffen’s prediction. On
August 20, General Max von Prittwitz, commander of German 8th Army
defending East Prussia, urgently requested reinforcements from
Moltke, who immediately agreed to send two corps from the western
front. Not only did he again transfer troops from the vital right
wing, but the troops arrived after the Germans had won the battle of
Tannenberg, thus ending the Russian offensive.
Moltke had wasted approximately 100,000 men.
Third, German 1st and 2nd Armies faced increasing
resistance as they marched towards Paris. In particular, French 5th
Army counterattacked German 1st Army at Guise.
Although 2nd Army hit Lanrezac’s men in the flank and inflicted
heavy losses, Kluck was shaken. He decided to stick close to Bülow
by directing his army northeast, not west, of Paris.
Even though a climactic battle had not occurred, Kluck’s maneuver
brought the Schlieffen Plan to an end.
The climax of the 1914 western campaign took place in
early September, as French forces stopped their retreat and made
preparations along the Marne River. Joffre, unlike Moltke, remained
calm despite France’s precarious situation. He sacked incompetent
and unwilling commanders, shifted troops to weakened areas, and, in
general, provided his men with an unwavering confidence. He also
formed two new armies: the 6th Army led by General Michel Maunoury
and the 9th Army under General Ferdinand Foch. Sixth Army protected
Paris while 9th Army filled a gap between French 4th and 5th Armies.
Perhaps most important, Joffre insisted Paris be held, placing it
under the direction of General Joseph Galliéni.
During the battle of the Marne (September 6-9),
Moltke lost his nerve. French 6th Army engaged the right wing of
Kluck’s 1st Army, which swung around and faced west in response.
This left a gaping, twenty mile hole between German 1st and 2nd
Army, which the BEF gradually exploited.
Meanwhile, Moltke sat back at general headquarters at Koblenz, more
than 100 miles from the fighting and left clueless about the
situation. On September 8, he sent an aide, Colonel Hentsch, to the
front to order a withdrawal if he deemed it necessary.
After visiting Bülow, who insisted that Kluck should retreat, riding
behind the German line, and conferring with Kluck’s chief of staff,
Hentsch received news that Bülow had ordered a retreat. Hentsch
ordered a general withdrawal of the five German armies along the
The Germans moved towards the Aisne River while the French breathed
a sigh of relief.
Analyzing the Schlieffen Plan
Historians have provided various explanations for the Schlieffen
Many blame ineffective German preparations to take Paris. In
particular, German leaders neglected the French railroad network
surrounding the city, which carried a huge quantity of French
reserve units and supplies.
Other scholars have blamed Schlieffen himself, claiming:
The great Schlieffen Plan was never a sound formula for victory.
It was a daring, indeed an over-daring, gamble whose success
depended on many lucky accidents. A formula for victory needs a
surplus of reasonable chances of success if it is to inspire
confidence--a surplus which tends quickly to be used up by
“frictions” in the day-to-day conduct of war.
Moltke has received far more criticism than anyone
else for Germany’s inability to defeat France in 1914.
Indeed, Moltke himself expressed doubts about the plan, thus lacking
the aggressive attitude required to carry out Schlieffen’s doctrine.
Furthermore, he lost control over his subordinate generals. Of
course, he believed he was following in his uncle’s footsteps by
utilizing Auftragstaktik, giving his army commanders a mission and
then letting them implement the plan. However, he was not entirely
correct. The elder Moltke was much more involved during the
Königgrätz campaign, joining the Prussian armies on the morning of
the battle to exert his command. On the contrary, the younger Moltke
received seemingly endless, conflicting reports at Koblenz. He
consequently had little idea what was going on, and lost control
over the German forces.
However, a larger issue than Moltke was present in
1914. The vast growth of new technology made commanding, supplying,
and controlling mass armies extraordinarily difficult.
By 1914, armies of the great European powers contained more than a
million men, a far greater number than ever before. Railroads
enabled these forces to cover huge distances quickly. Therefore,
military leaders had to not only implement pre-war planning but also
display adequate leadership in order to maintain control over their
men. Few generals were able to follow the elder Moltke’s example. In
addition, advancements in artillery, coupled with the prevalence of
the machine gun, made battles of envelopment nearly impossible.
Although German troops inflicted enormous casualties on the French
and British during the 1914 campaign, they were never able to
encircle the French army and thus did not achieve a decisive
ROMANIA ENTERS THE WAR
Following the defeat at the Marne, German operations were largely
unsuccessful from 1914 to 1916. The western front quickly changed
from a Bewegungskrieg (war of movement) into a Stellungskrieg (war
and although the Germans drove back the Russians on the eastern
front, they did not knock them out of the war. One way Germany and
the other great powers tried to break the stalemate was to recruit
allies. When the war began, Germany certainly did not expect to be
fighting Romania. However, Turkey (Nov 1914), Italy (May 1915), and
Bulgaria (Oct 1915) all chose sides before the end of 1915.
Both the Triple Entente and the Central Powers placed increasing
pressure on Romania to join the conflict. Despite being ruled by the
Hohenzollern dynasty, Romanian public opinion favored an alliance
with the Entente. The vast majority of Romanians desired the
Habsburg province of Transylvania, which contained an irredentist
Romanian majority. When the Central Powers’ military situation
seemed dubious during the summer of 1916, Romania formed an alliance
with the Triple Entente and invaded Transylvania.
On September 14, 1914, less than a week after Moltke approved the
German retreat from the Marne, Wilhelm II replaced him as chief of
the General Staff with General Erich von Falkenhayn.
The next day, Falkenhayn ordered a flanking maneuver along the
British and French left wing. Allied forces responded with flanking
attempts of their own, until a general “race to the sea” was in full
Within weeks, these counter movements resulted in a front line that
extended from the Belgian coast to Switzerland. Well before the end
of 1914, both sides had erected a series of trenches and barbed
wire, bolstered by machine guns and artillery. Thus began the well
known period of trench warfare, huge artillery battles in which the
attacking infantry were ground to pieces by artillery shells and
machine gun fire.
Faced with this Stellungskrieg, Falkenhayn had to reassess Germany’s
During his two years as supreme commander, Falkenhayn
believed Germany could only defeat the western allies through a war
of attrition. Using an Ermattungsstrategie (strategy of exhaustion),
“he hoped that a series of limited operations, aimed at tactical
objectives, would gradually weaken the enemy and force the Entente
to sue for peace.”
His attrition strategy culminated in the 1916 Verdun campaign.
In February 1916, the German army launched its greatest offensive
since the battle of the Marne. Unlike previous German military
operations, which had been conceived to achieve battles of
envelopment, Operation Gericht, as the offensive was named, “was
intended from the start as an exercise in attrition, not as a
Falkenhayn did not want to take Verdun, but rather to place enough
pressure on the fortress city that the French would send in reserves
to defend it. Although French soldiers became susceptible to German
artillery, Falkenhayn soon lost control of the battle. As the French
enacted a series of counterattacks, his plan for an attack along a
narrow front quickly expanded into a general offensive encompassing
the entire Verdun region. Consequently, both the French and the
Germans suffered high casualties, as Falkenhayn’s strategy of
While the western front degraded into a stalemate,
the German army gained the upper hand on the eastern front. In the
summer of 1914, utilizing its superior rail network as well as the
concept of Auftragstaktik, German 8th Army crushed Russian 1st and
2nd Armies in the Tannenberg campaign.
In May 1915, the newly created German 11th Army, commanded by
General August von Mackensen, spearheaded a grand offensive into the
Polish salient. By September, German and Austrian forces had
advanced 300 miles, captured thousands of Russian guns, and
inflicted two million casualties.
Of course, Germany did encounter problems on the eastern front, in
large part because of the inferiority of the Austro-Hungarian Army.
In marked contrast to the Germans, Austria-Hungary
could not achieve decisive victories without help from its allies.
When the war began, Habsburg forces confronted four Russian armies
in Galicia and two in Serbia. The Austrian supreme commander, Field
Marshall Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, had divided his armies into
A-Staffel, three armies opposite Russia; Minimalgruppe Balkan, two
armies against Serbia; and B-Staffel, one army as a “strategic
After initially deploying B-Staffel in Serbia, Conrad changed his
mind and ordered its transfer to Galicia upon Russia’s declaration
of war. Unfortunately for the Central Powers, the army arrived too
late and the outnumbered Austrians were routed.
Furthermore, the Serbs defeated Minimalgruppe Balkan, driving
Habsburg 5th and 6th Armies out of Serbia.
Austria-Hungary’s humiliating defeats in 1914 strained
German-Austrian relations, as Conrad became increasingly reliant on
Falkenhayn for reinforcements.
Much worse for Falkenhayn, however, was his tumultuous relationship
with Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff,
the two German commanders on the eastern front.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff disagreed with Falkenhayn’s
emphasis on the western front.
Moreover, they outwardly criticized his policy of attrition.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff were convinced a Kesselschlacht could be
won against the Russian army. Hindenburg stated that the eastern
strategy was essential:
West or East? That was the great question, and on the answer to
it our fate depended.... Even to me the decisive battle in the West,
a battle which would have meant final victory, was the ultima ratio,
but an ultima ratio which could only be reached over the body of a
Russia stricken to the ground. Should we ever be able to strike
Russia to the ground? Fate answered this question in the
affirmative, but only two years later, when, as was to be made
clear, it was too late.
However, Falkenhayn remained undeterred even though
the Russian army gave ground in 1915 while the Stellungskrieg
continued in the West:
This argument paid no heed either to the true character of the
struggle for existence, in the most exact sense of the word, in
which our enemies were engaged no less than we, nor to their
strength of will. It was a grave mistake to believe that our Western
enemies would give way, if and because Russia was beaten. No
decision in the East, even though it were as thorough as was
possible to imagine, could spare us from fighting to a conclusion in
By the summer of 1916, neither the Central Powers nor
the Triple Entente had broken the stalemate along the western front.
Even the entrance of three new powers-- Turkey, Italy, and
Bulgaria--did not seem to give either side the upper hand.
Nevertheless, many observers on both sides felt neutral Romania was
strategically important and thus could turn the tide.
On August 3, 1914, Romania shocked the Central Powers by
declaring its neutrality.
Many German and Austrian politicians had believed not only that
Romania would declare war on the Entente, but that it was obligated
to do so. On the one hand, Romania was ruled by a member of the
Hohenzollern dynasty, King Carol I, who naturally favored the
Central Powers. Moreover, Romania joined the Triple Alliance in 1883
and had renewed its membership most recently in 1913. On the other
hand, Carol was not an absolute monarch, but rather held powers
secondary to the Romanian parliament. Many Romanian political
leaders noted that the military agreement was defensive in nature
and claimed that Austria-Hungary was the belligerent power.
It soon became apparent, however, that Romanian public opinion
favored an alliance with the Entente.
Romania’s relations with the Triple Entente improved
rapidly before World War I. Following the Balkan Wars (1912-13),
Romania gained territory from Bulgaria, which had been supported by
In addition, Romanians were displeased with the increasing
“magyarization” of Transylvania. Despite continuous pressure by
Germany and Austria, Count Stephen Tisza, the Hungarian premier,
granted only limited reforms to the Romanians living in the
As a result, disgruntled Romanians began clamoring for national
Irredentism was an integral feature of Romania’s
attitude during the war. In 1914, millions of Romanians were living
under foreign rule: “approximately one million in Bessarabia under
Russian rule; two hundred fifty thousand in the Bukovina under
Austria; about two million, five hundred thousand in Transylvania,
the Crisana, the Banat of Temesvar, and Maramaros under Hungary; and
more than a half million scattered in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia,
and the Ukraine.”
Before 1913, Romanian irredentism focused on southern Bessarabia,
which had been annexed by Russia in 1878. However, Austria’s
friendship with Bulgaria during the Balkan Wars and Hungary’s
“magyarization” policy shifted Romania’s orientation. By 1914,
Romanian leaders sought a rapprochment with Russia, and Transylvania
became the centerpiece of irredentist agitation.
After the war began, Romanian foreign policy passed
almost exclusively into the hands of Ion Bratianu, prime minister
and leader of the National Liberal Party. Bratianu was a
practitioner of Realpolitik,
a policy of realism in which diplomacy is decided by the way things
are, not the way they should be. In other words, he based his
decisions on self-interest rather than moral considerations.
Bratianu knew public opinion favored the Entente, as Romanian
irredentism turned towards Transylvania. However, he realized that
Romania, which had a comparatively weak army and bordered the
Central Powers on three sides, should not intervene until the most
favorable opportunity arrived. Therefore, he negotiated with both
sides, gradually increasing Romania’s demands from 1914 to 1916.
Although many political opponents criticized his political strategy,
Bratianu’s diplomatic brilliance gained Romania several concessions
from the Entente, with which he had intended to sign an agreement
from the very start of the war.
In the first few months of the war, Bratianu
established closer relations with the Entente. On September 23,
1914, Romania signed a friendly agreement with Italy, which also had
irredentist claims against Austria-Hungary.
Less than two weeks later, in early October, Romania signed a
friendship treaty with Russia. According to the agreement, Russia
recognized Romania’s claim for Transylvania and southern Bucovina in
return for benevolent neutrality.
The only tangible gain for the Entente was Romania’s denial of
munitions shipments from Berlin to Constantinople.
On October 10, 1914, another blow to Romania’s relations with the
Central Powers occurred when King Carol died. Ferdinand, Carol’s
nephew and successor, stated that he would not honor his German
background. More important, Ferdinand was not a charismatic figure,
and Bratianu established firm control of Romanian diplomacy.
By the spring of 1915, it appeared Romania would join the Entente.
Bratianu considered entering the war after Italy
signed the Treaty of London (April 1915) and joined the Triple
At this point, however, he stiffened his terms, demanding not only
Transylvania and the southern Bucovina, but also “northern Bucovina,
populated mainly by Ukrainians, Hungarian regions along the Tisza
River, and the primarily Serbian Banat.”
Shocked, Russian foreign minister Sergei Sazonov initially rejected
Bratianu’s claims. In the summer of 1915, Sazonov’s position
softened after the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive pushed Russian forces
back hundreds of miles. After Sazonov accepted Romania’s stiff
demands, however, Bratianu still refused to join the Entente,
claiming that his colleagues would not allow him to sign.
This was certainly not the case. Other Romanian politicians and
public opinion alike favored entering the war. Nevertheless,
Bratianu stayed undeterred, convinced that Romania could not afford
to join the Entente while the Russians were on the defensive. The
ensuing stalemate in diplomacy between Bratianu and Sazonov did not
end until the summer of 1916.
The turning point in Romania’s status occurred in the summer of
1916. Bratianu had made two specific demands from the Entente for
Romania to enter the war. He expected the Allies to supply munitions
for its war effort, as well as “unconditional security” against an
attack from Bulgaria.
Unknown to the Entente, Bratianu also waited for a favorable
opportunity to intervene. The “Brusilov Offensive” gave him this
In June 1916, four armies, led by Southwest Front commander Alexei
Brusilov, launched Russia’s largest offensive of the war. The
assault drove the Austro-Hungarian armies back well over one hundred
miles in one month.
On July 4, 1916, Bratianu told Jean-Camille Blondel, the French
foreign minister, “I am ready to sign immediately a military
convention whose details need to be discussed....”
To ensure against a Bulgarian attack, Bratianu demanded the Allies
launch an offensive from Salonika, reinforce the Dobrudja with
200,000 Russian troops, and continue attacking in Galicia, Verdun,
and the Somme.
By this time, however, Bratianu’s bargaining position was slipping.
He realized the Allied statesmen’s patience was running out. In
addition, there was talk of peace throughout Europe as neither side
appeared close to victory.
If the war ended without Romanian intervention, irredentist claims
would still exist, and Bratianu’s political career would be ruined.
Consequently, after six weeks of haggling, he signed a treaty with
On August 17, 1916, Romania joined the Triple
Entente. The Allies promised Romania Transylvania, the Banat, and
Bucovina, weapons and ammunition, Russian support in the Dobrudja, a
Russian attack in Galicia, an Anglo-French assault from Salonika,
and equal status at peace negotiations. In return, Romania declared
war on Austria-Hungary and attacked the Central Powers.
On August 27, King Ferdinand summoned a crown council, which
resulted in Romania’s declaration of war.
Romania’s intervention shocked the Central Powers,
especially the German High Command. Although Falkenhayn noted that
Romanian sympathy did not lie with Germany, he stated
It was thought that Rumania’s entry into the war need not be
expected until the end of the harvest, and then only if Austria’s
position grew still worse in the meantime. Otherwise the very
cunning politicians in Bukarest would find it difficult with
Bulgaria in the rear to throw for such high stakes.
Further complicating matters were Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who
had for several months demanded his dismissal over his emphasis of
the western front.
Consequently, Romania’s intervention was the final straw for many
disgruntled German officers. On August 28, 1916, Kaiser Wilhelm II,
albeit reluctantly, dismissed Falkenhayn;
Hindenburg replaced him as Supreme Commander and Ludendorff became
his Chief of Staff.
While Germany prepared to send troops to help Austria-Hungary and
Bulgaria, Romania invaded Transylvania.
The Romanian Offensive
Romania’s strategic position for a war against the Central Powers
was dubious. It formed an elongated L, which contained Wallachia
stretching west to east, and Moldavia to the east and north. Along
the northwest border stood the Carpathian Alps, a forbidding
mountain region. Furthermore, Romania was surrounded by enemies on
three sides: Austria-Hungary to the north and west; Bulgaria to the
south. Therefore, it had to defend about 1,400 kilometers while
facing a war on two fronts.
As a result, the Allies naturally wanted Romania to attack the
comparatively weaker Bulgarian army and remain on the defensive
against Austria-Hungary. Unfortunately, Romania’s military strategy
was based on its irredentism.
The strategy Romanian leaders developed to resolve
their military dilemma was Hypothesis Z:
Hypothesis Z foresees the undertaking of a war on two operation
fronts, namely: a) On the North-North-West front, against the
Central Powers; b) On the Southern front, against Bulgaria. The
general purpose of the war which we will undertake is the
realization of our national ideal, that is to say the integration of
the fatherland. The conquest of the territory inhabited by Romanians
which today is found included in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy must
be the fruit of the war. In order to achieve this aim, the majority
of our forces, Armies I, II, and North will operate offensively in
Transylvania, Banat, and Hungary, attacking in the general direction
of Budapest. The Southern Army (III) will assure liberty of action
for the major forces, defending the national territory and repulsing
attacks which the Bulgarians should undertake from the South.
According to Hypothesis Z, Romanian 1st, 2nd, and 4th (North)
Armies, which contained approximately 360,000 men and 60,000
reserves, would advance to the Mures River in Central Transylvania,
repel Austro-Hungarian resistance, then march on Budapest.
Simultaneously, 3rd Army, which consisted of about 143,000 men,
would remain on the defensive for ten days while Russian
reinforcements arrived. Thereafter, the southern forces would attack
from the Dobrudja into Bulgaria and establish a tenable position,
thus providing the northern armies operational freedom.
On August 27, Romanian 1st, 2nd, and 4th Armies
invaded Transylvania. Facing them was Austro-Hungarian 1st Army,
commanded by Arz von Straussenburg. Romanian forces brushed aside
the token Austrian force of 34,000 men, and were ten kilometers
inside Hungary by the beginning of September.
However, mountainous roads and supply problems hampered the advance.
Many Romanian officers feared not only outmarching their supply
lines, but also the prospect of encountering German reinforcements.
On September 6, upon learning that the Central Powers were advancing
in the Dobrudja, Romania set in motion the transfer of a division
from the northern front to the south.
Romania’s offensive failed largely because of its own
ineptitude. After shrewdly waiting for the best opportunity to
intervene in July 1916, Bratianu then waited six weeks to sign an
alliance. By then, the Russian offensive had broken down, and
Germany could send plenty of reserves to Transylvania. Furthermore,
Romania attacked Austria-Hungary instead of Bulgaria, much to the
chagrin of the Allies.
Of course, Romanian leaders had expected the British and French to
launch an offensive against Bulgaria from Salonika. Bulgaria
anticipated this, however, and attacked Salonika first, delaying any
possible Allied response until mid-September. Despite this setback,
it was clear Romania’s strategic position favored an offensive into
Bulgaria. This would enable Russian reinforcements to strengthen
Romanian defenses for the upcoming German attack. By early
September, Romania was on the defensive in both the north and south,
as Germany prepared its counterthrust.
FALKENHAYN CROSSES THE CARPATHIANS
Germany Prepares Its Counterthrust
Romania’s offensive into Transylvania initially surprised the
Central Powers. In fact, several German leaders later claimed that
Romania missed a golden opportunity to knock Austria-Hungary out of
the war. Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, the new German
supreme commanders, criticized Romanian operations. Ludendorff
The Rumanians were to open the Carpathian passes for the Russians
from the rear, by a vigorous irruption into our concentration area.
They did the opposite. Unaccustomed to war on a large scale, they
made no use of the chances offered them again and again of forcing
our divisions up against the Dniester and the Carpathians. They
advanced extraordinarily slowly and lost time. Every day was a day
gained to us!.... Rumania's participation in the whole campaign
followed no definite plan. No common scheme of operations had been
Hindenburg attached a great historical significance to Romania’s
It is certain that so relatively small a state as Rumania had
never before been given a role so important, and, indeed, so
decisive for the history of the world at so favorable a moment.
Never before had two great Powers like Germany and Austria found
themselves so much at the mercy of the military resources of a
country which had scarcely one twentieth of the population of the
two great states. Judging by the military situation, it was to be
expected that Rumania had only to advance where she wished to decide
the world war in favor of those Powers which had been hurling
themselves at us in vain for years. Thus everything seemed to depend
on whether Rumania was ready to make any sort of use of her
Whether or not the Central Powers were actually susceptible to
annihilation, the German High Command believed a serious Romanian
Romania’s war entry and advance into Transylvania
confronted the German army with a challenging task. In early
September, three Romanian armies were approximately ten miles inside
Transylvania: 1st Army (General Culcer) stood in the region of
Hermannstadt; 2nd Army (General Crainiceanu) had advanced to
Kronstadt; and 4th Army (General Presan) had penetrated eastern
Transylvania through the Gyimes and Oituz Passes. The Romanian
forces held strong defensive positions at the numerous mountain
passes that connected to Wallachia and Moldavia. The Carpathian
further inhibited a German offensive, as did the primitive railroads
and road conditions throughout the region.
In addition, the Romanian 3rd Army (General Averescu) stood in the
By mid-September the German High Command assembled
its forces for two theaters of war. In the south, Hindenburg and
Ludendorff established an army group, often referred to as the “Army
of the Danube,” under the command of Field Marshall August von
Stationed in northern Bulgaria, Army Group Mackensen consisted of
the Bulgarian 3rd Army, which included mostly Bulgarian troops
(roughly four divisions) and two German-Austrian detachments.
In the north, German-Austrian forces formed an army group led
officially by Charles, the Habsburg Archduke. However, he only held
nominal control, as Hindenburg and Ludendorff asserted themselves as
supreme commanders of the entire campaign. They sent reinforcements
to bolster the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army (General Arz), which was on
the verge of collapse after Romania implemented its notorious war
strategy, Hypothesis Z.
Even though the German High Command ordered Arz to crush the
Romanian North Army and force it back into Moldavia, the most
important assignment was left to a newly formed German army.
The new German 9th Army had the pivotal task of
defeating the Romanian 1st and 2nd Armies. The German High Command
appointed General Erich von Falkenhayn as its field commander.
Falkenhayn, who had just been relieved as chief of the General
Staff, thus had an opportunity to achieve some degree of redemption
against Romania. Even Ludendorff, one of his greatest rivals
throughout the war, noted the importance of Falkenhayn’s new role.
He stated, “In this most important sector General von Falkenhayn had
an opportunity of giving practical proof of his military ability as
a leader of troops in the service of his country,” and claimed “the
9th Army was capable of an offensive, and it was the centre of
gravity of the whole operation.”
Falkenhayn’s 9th Army contained German and Austro-Hungarian troops
divided into two main groups, the XXXIX Reserve Corps, commanded by
General von Staabs, and the Schmettow Corps, named after its leader.
The German Supreme Command instructed Falkenhayn to break through
the southwest Carpathians (Transylvanian Alps) and invade the
Wallachian plain, in the process trapping the Romanians in a
Kesselschlacht. Once inside Wallachia, the 9th Army was supposed to
move east towards Bucharest and defeat the remaining enemy troops.
Disagreements emerged among Central Powers leaders,
however, about the method of German operations against Romania. The
first debate occurred over how the German 9th Army should coordinate
its offensive with the Army of the Danube. On the one hand, Conrad,
the Austrian Supreme Commander, believed Mackensen’s army group
should cross the Danube quickly to draw Romanian forces from
On the other hand, Hindenburg and Ludendorff believed this maneuver
would isolate the Danube Army from Falkenhayn’s 9th Army. The German
High Command thus counteracted Conrad’s intentions and gave
Mackensen the following directive: “For the present the execution of
the Danube crossing has to be given up. The first task of the army
group will be to draw to itself enemy forces and to beat them, by
breaking into the Dobrudja while securing the Danube line.”
Hindenburg and Ludendorff stated the Danube crossing would only
occur after Mackensen had secured his right flank in the Dobrudja
simultaneously with a breakthrough by Falkenhayn’s 9th Army over the
The second debate pertained to German operational
planning in Transylvania. How would Falkenhayn’s 9th Army cross the
Carpathians and invade Wallachia? Of course, Hindenburg and
Ludendorff viewed the Romanian campaign with particular interest,
after having served as the command team on the eastern front the
previous two years. However, General Falkenhayn was the field
commander of German forces in Transylvania, the main theater of war
against Romania. Therefore, Hindenburg and Ludendorff implemented
Auftragstaktik, and permitted Falkenhayn to conduct his own
The former chief of the General Staff immediately began to organize
the German counteroffensive. Before his troops could invade
Wallachia, however, Falkenhayn had to lead an attack to expel the
Romanians from Transylvania.
The Liberation of Transylvania
By the time Falkenhayn arrived at main headquarters on September
18, Romanian 1st, 2nd, and 4th Armies temporarily slowed their
advance inside Transylvania. The Romanian High Command panicked
after Mackensen’s army group invaded the Dobrudja earlier that
month, and thus rethought its war strategy.
While Falkenhayn prepared the German counterattack, minor skirmishes
occurred. Both the XXXIX Reserve Corps and Schmettow’s Corps
stiffened their resistance against attacks by the Romanian 1st and
By September 19, Romania’s offensive had failed, and Falkenhayn’s
9th Army had been formed.
The 9th Army was a combined German/Austro-Hungarian
force consisting of approximately five divisions. On its left wing
and center, Schmettow’s Corps comprised the German 3rd Cavalry
Division, and the Austro-Hungarian 1st Cavalry and 51st Infantry
This group stood north of Hermannstadt, facing most of Romanian 1st
Army and the left wing of 2nd Army. The Romanians were especially
fearful of Schmettow’s Corps because of its proximity to Bucharest,
and consequently placed strong forces in that region. Falkenhayn,
for his part, realized Schmettow’s Corps was the pivot linking 9th
Army and the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army on its left. The right wing
of the 9th Army comprised the XXXIX Reserve Corps (Staabs), which
included the German 76th Reserve Division and 187th Infantry
Brigade, the Austro-Hungarian 145th Infantry Brigade, and the Alpine
Staabs’ Corps stood northwest of Schmettow’s Corps, north of
Petroseny, and west of Orsova, opposed by the left wing of Romanian
The Alpine Corps played an important role in the 9th
Army. Created by German military leaders in the spring of 1915, this
elite unit consisted of a Bavarian and Prussian Jäger infantry,
contained cavalry and artillery forces, and was spearheaded by
Bavarian light infantry. These troops fought in Italy, Serbia, and
France before being transferred to Hungary; they were prepared and
equipped for mountain warfare.
Falkenhayn understood that the Alpine Corps, commanded by General
Krafft von Dellmensingen, amounted to a mobile unit amid the
obstacles posed by the Transylvanian Alps: “The Transylvanian
campaign could not have been led the way it had been without the
To drive the Romanians out of Transylvania,
Falkenhayn surmised, the 9th Army had at least to gain a foothold in
the mountain passes that connected Hungary and Wallachia,
threatening the enemy rear and forcing a retreat. The Szurduk and
Vulcan Passes south of Petroseny, the Red Tower Pass south of
Hermannstadt, and the Predeal, Tömöser, and Törzburger Passes south
of Kronstadt immediately became critical targets of German
Falkenhayn stressed the importance of the 9th Army linking up with
Army Group Mackensen in western Wallachia. The Szurduk and Vulcan
Passes, near Mackensen’s crossing site at the Danube River, offered
the best opportunity for success: “the first attack could only be
led against the enemy force that was approaching over the Vulcan and
On September 19, six battalions of the 187th Infantry Brigade and
three of the Alpine Corps captured Petroseny and the Szurduk Pass;
the Vulcan Pass fell three days later. However, these achievements
were short-lived, as a reinforced Romanian group of twenty-two
battalions reclaimed the entire region on September 25.
While the first German attack began in the Szurduk
Pass, Falkenhayn planned a much larger offensive in the direction of
Hermannstadt. On September 19, he ordered that the Alpine Corps be
transferred east to outflank Romanian forces and endanger their
supply lines. Meanwhile, the XXXIX Reserve Corps would execute a
frontal assault while the Schmettow Corps guarded its left flank.
Falkenhayn received reports that the Romanian 1st Army doubled the
size of the attackers, and thus did not expect a Kesselschlacht.
Ludendorff disagreed, and gave Falkenhayn orders for a double
outflanking. In a plea for Auftragstaktik, Falkenhayn pointedly
wired the Supreme Command:
A quick and possibly destructive attack against the enemy forces
at Hermannstadt had already been in preparation before the arrival
of the directive. Because it depends on the behavior of the opponent
and the result of reconnaissance of the terrain, I ask the grouping
of forces for that purpose and the execution of it be left up to me.
Hindenburg allowed Falkenhayn to conduct the operation, which
“has to adapt to the behavior of the opponent and the terrain.”
On September 20 Falkenhayn met with Generals
Dellmensingen, Staabs, and Schmettow and issued directives that
outlined German operations for the upcoming offensive. Staabs’ Corps
had the thankless task of directly attacking the Romanian 1st Army.
Staabs’ men would utilize superior artillery to pin the Romanians in
place, while to the west the Alpine Corps crossed the Sibin
pivoted east, and occupied the Red Tower Pass. Moreover, Falkenhayn
stipulated that Schmettow’s Corps cover Staabs’ left flank east of
Hermannstadt. He asked for help from Conrad, who obliged by
supporting the transfer of the German 89th Infantry Division from
the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army to Schmettow’s left wing.
The attack against Hermannstadt occurred as scheduled
on September 26.
Staabs’ Corps employed its artillery to pin down the Romanian 1st
Army. In a stunning display of Bewegungskrieg, the Alpine Corps
marched fifty-five miles in three days across the Sibin Mountains
and established a foothold in the Red Tower Pass.
Romanian military leaders ordered reinforcements to Hermannstadt
from Kronstadt, but Schmettow’s Corps, greatly bolstered by the 89th
Division, hindered their rescue mission. On September 28, with its
supply line threatened and no immediate help imminent, Romanian 1st
Army began its retreat. Later that day, Staabs’ Corps occupied
The 9th Army had won its first major victory of the Romanian
The 9th Army displayed shrewd use of Bewegungskrieg
against the Romanian 1st Army. Although Falkenhayn’s forces failed
to trap the Romanians, and the two Romanian divisions that protected
Hermannstadt escaped without significant casualties, he had not
expected a Kesselschlacht since his forces were too weak for that.
But the troops did achieve his stated objectives: outflank the
Romanian 1st Army, threaten its supply lines, and liberate
Hermannstadt. Perhaps more fruitful in the long term, speed of
movement had forced the Romanians to react to German maneuvers. For
the second time in approximately ten days, the Romanian High Command
ordered the transfer of entire divisions from other mountain passes
along the Carpathians.
The loss of Hermannstadt compelled Romanian 2nd Army to move further
south to align with 1st Army. Falkenhayn had gained the initiative,
which he sought to maintain via a new offensive.
Falkenhayn changed the 9th Army’s focus to the east
against Kronstadt. First, he sought to reinforce the 89th and
Austro-Hungarian 71st Divisions (right wing of Austro-Hungarian 1st
Army), both of which faced heavy attacks from the majority of
Crainiceanu’s 2nd Army.
He acquired Conrad’s agreement to move the 89th and 71st Divisions,
commanded by General Morgen, from the Austro-Hungarian 1st to the
9th Army. Once rescued and placed under Falkenhayn’s control, Group
Morgen could be a valuable asset. Staabs’ Corps, which comprised the
187th, 76th Reserve, and Austro-Hungarian 51st Divisions, quickly
marched east from Hermannstadt to engage Crainiceanu’s 2nd Army.
By October 2, the Romanian advance against Group Morgen had been
stifled, and 2nd Army retreated southeast towards Kronstadt.
Second, Falkenhayn ordered an offensive against the
2nd Army at Kronstadt. He did not expect to succeed in a
breakthrough across the Kronstadt Passes. Because of its operational
value in regards to Bucharest, he expected the Romanians to fortify
this region. He did, however, expect larger enemy casualties. A
telegram sent by Kaiser Wilhelm II embodied the wishes of the
Supreme Command: “His majesty expresses his expectation, that the
allied troops will follow the retreating enemy troops restlessly so
that the Romanians will only be able to leave Transylvania
Staabs’ Corps marched towards Kronstadt while both Group Morgen and
Schmettow’s Cavalry Corps covered its left flank. On October 4, the
9th Army reached the outskirts of the Geisterwald, a wooded mountain
area northwest of Kronstadt. Falkenhayn wired Supreme Headquarters
in Pless, “the Romanian 2nd Army is in a retreat in a southeast
direction. Whether it will show resistance on the west and southwest
slopes of the Geisterwald, will be decided on October 5.”
The battle for the Geisterwald came to fruition when
the Romanian 2nd Army halted its retreat.
The 76th Reserve and Austro-Hungarian 51st Divisions utilized heavy
artillery in a frontal barrage against Craininescu’s troops. When
the 187th Division turned the right flank of 2nd Army, it withdrew
from the region. In the evening, reconnaissance planes observed
“that the roads leading to the east were covered with marching
Morgen’s 71st and 89th Divisions, as well as Schmettow’s Cavalry
Corps, advanced southeast alongside Staabs’ Corps. Once the 9th Army
occupied the Geisterwald, it prepared its pursuit march towards
The next day the 9th Army opened its offensive at
Fighting lasted three days on a much wider front than in the
Geisterwald. The situation was serious for Romania. If Kronstadt
fell into German hands, Romanian 2nd Army would be knocked out of
Transylvania. The Schwerpunkt remained on the right side of 9th Army
with Staabs’ Corps. Furthermore, the course of the fighting closely
resembled the 9th Army’s previous engagements. Staabs’ Corps entered
the city and traded artillery fire with 2nd Army as Group Morgen and
Schmettow’s Corps outflanked the opponent’s right wing. On October
9, Craininescu’s men abandoned Kronstadt and retreated into the
mountain passes along the Transylvanian-Wallachian border.
The 9th Army had liberated Transylvania.
Falkenhayn viewed the seizure of Kronstadt with
cautious optimism. Certainly, he was disappointed the 9th Army had
not destroyed Romanian 2nd Army. The Germans had taken roughly 1,200
prisoners, far short of their own expectations. Ninth Army had
advanced over fifty miles from Hermannstadt and thus was reaching
the limits of its supply lines. However, Falkenhayn’s troops did
gain much needed weapons, trucks, and supplies at Kronstadt, and
after Romanian 2nd Army retreated south to Campolung,
1st and 4th Armies also withdrew from Transylvania. The Romanians
had transferred troops in the direction of Kronstadt, as they had
for Petroseny and Hermannstadt. Most of these Divisions arrived late
or missed the action altogether. The Romanian High Command was, at
best, uncertain where the Germans’ next strike would be. Falkenhayn
had firmly seized the initiative not only for the 9th Army, but also
for Army Group Mackensen.
The Struggle in the Dobrudja
The Army of the Danube invaded the Dobrudja before Romania could
execute the second part of Hypothesis Z. According to its war
strategy, Romanian 3rd Army would not march into Bulgaria until the
Russian XLVII Corps, commanded by General Zaionchkovsky, had
arrived. Even though this Russian-Serbian force fortified Romania’s
position in the Dobrudja before September, cooperation between the
Russians and Romanians was horrendous.
Ziaonchkovsky claimed that “to make the Romanian army fight a modern
war was asking a donkey to perform a minuet.”
This lack of coordination made Mackensen’s offensive even more
effective. While one Bulgarian division and a German detachment
secured its left flank along northern Bulgaria, most of Mackensen’s
army group stormed the fortresses of Tutrakan and Silistria in the
first week of September. On September 6, the Romanian garrison at
Tutrakan surrendered and consequently lost 27,000 men as prisoners,
about one-fourth the force assigned to the Dobrudja.
Two days later, the Bulgarian 3rd Army pushed the Romanians out of
Mackensen now ordered his troops to pursue the enemy, who began a
hasty retreat northeast.
In response to these events in the southern theater,
Romanian military leaders held a war council on September 15,
agreeing to dispose of Hypothesis Z and change the focus of
offensive operations from Transylvania to the Dobrudja-Danube front.
Consequently, multiple divisions from 1st, 2nd, and 4th Armies were
ordered to stop their advance, turn around, and march south to the
This “operational pause” undoubtedly aided the Central Powers in
Transylvania, although the Romania advance had already lost most of
its momentum. At the very least, it gave Falkenhayn breathing space
to finish preparations for the 9th Army’s counterthrust. Meanwhile,
General Averescu received command over a newly formed 3rd Army and
devised a counterpunch of his own.
For the next couple weeks, Averescu procured troops
for the “Flamanda Maneuver,” which began on September 30.
Romanian 3rd Army attempted to cross the Danube directly south of
Bucharest near Flamanda. The Romanian-Russian “Army of the
Dobrudja,” which had halted the Bulgarian 3rd Army’s advance
southwest of Constanza, launched a counterstrike. The Dobrudja army
made little progress, however, and Romanian 3rd Army’s river
crossing failed due to “Austrian gunboats and floating mines.” In
addition, “a heavy and prolonged wind and rain storm turned the
terrain and its primitive roads into a quagmire and twice broke up
the pontoon bridge.”
Romania’s revolving war strategy was a huge blunder. By October 5,
when the Flamanda offensive ended, Falkenhayn’s 9th Army had taken
Hermannstadt and pursued Romanian 2nd Army in the direction of
Kronstadt. The Romanian High Command thus altered its war plan yet
again and transferred whole divisions back to the northern theater
Although Romania hoped to stabilize a defensive position in the
Dobrudja-Danube region, Mackensen realized that his opponent’s shift
of focus had given him a vital opportunity.
On October 19, Mackensen ordered a forward march
intended to knock Entente forces out of the Dobrudja. Though
resistance by the enemy was minimal, the advance was not easy.
General Tappen, Mackensen’s Chief of Staff, later noted: “Bad roads.
Large herds of water buffalo, oxen, horses. Many buzzards. Dust,
heat. Then tropical rains.”
Nevertheless, on October 23 the Army of the Danube captured
Constanza, the vital Black Sea port that contained vast supplies of
oil and grain.
By the end of October, Mackensen’s army group had also taken
possession of the Constanza-Cernavoda railroad and had driven the
Romanians and the Russians out of the Dobrudja altogether.
Although it was the secondary theater of the Romanian campaign,
events in the Dobrudja aided operations for Falkenhayn, whose next
objective was to break through the Carpathians.
A sense of urgency pervaded within the German High Command over
where the Schwerpunkt in the Transylvanian Alps should be placed.
German leaders surmised the only way to destroy the Romanian armies
completely and ultimately win the campaign was in the vast
Wallachian plain. Only here could the 9th Army and the Army of the
Danube coordinate operations in an open flat terrain to trap
Romanian forces in a decisive Kesselschlacht. The 9th Army also had
to cross the western Carpathians before the winter season arrived,
or Romania would retain a capable field army into the following
Falkenhayn seemingly had several options: the Szurduk and Vulcan
Passes, the Red Tower Pass south of Hermannstadt, and the Kronstadt
Complicating matters considerably, however, was Falkenhayn’s
disagreement with Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Conrad about which
location was best suited for the breakthrough.
The Austrian Supreme Commander, Conrad, suggested to
Hindenburg and Ludendorff that the Schwerpunkt should be Kronstadt,
where the bulk of 9th Army was stationed. The duo agreed with
Conrad, who predicted “a decisive success in the operational
direction Kronstadt-Bucharest will open the western breakthrough
lines across the Red Tower and Szurduk Passes automatically, free
our forces there, and bring Wallachia into our hands.”
Hindenburg and Ludendorff wired Falkenhayn orders to concentrate a
large-scale attack against the Kronstadt Passes.
Unlike his superiors, Falkenhayn believed the Szurduk
and Vulcan Passes were the appropriate paths for a decisive German
offensive. Undeterred, he responded with several sharply worded
telegrams to Hindenburg and Ludendorff,
stressing the increasing supply difficulties that confronted the 9th
Army. The distance from Hermannstadt, the southernmost supply base
in Transylvania, to the Kronstadt Passes was approximately 100 km
and a six-day march. Falkenhayn also noted the Szurduk and Vulcan
Passes were narrower and shorter than the Kronstadt Passes and thus
less suitable for the defensive. Perhaps most important, he knew the
Romanians would position most of their forces in Kronstadt because
of its proximity to Bucharest.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff, to their credit, soon changed their minds
and supported Falkenhayn’s position.
Although Falkenhayn now had the freedom to carry out
his plan, he sought to confuse the Romanian High Command about his
true objective. For the next few weeks, beginning in mid-October,
Falkenhayn’s 9th Army executed a number of small-scale offensives
throughout the Carpathian border passes. The Alpine Corps instigated
skirmishes with the Romanians guarding the exit to the Red Tower
Pass. Further east, Staabs’ Corps drew 2nd Army’s attention via
numerous artillery bombardments on the north side of the Kronstadt
Passes. Even the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army, which had largely
remained stagnant against Romanian 4th Army, launched spirited
offensives against the Oituz Pass defenders.
Falkenhayn, who had also ordered an attack into the Szurduk and
remained confident even though the 9th Army had not advanced into
the Wallachian plain before November. In fact, he had accomplished
his initial task, namely to disorient the Romanian war leadership.
In early November, Falkenhayn made detailed
preparations for another advance into the Szurduk and Vulcan Passes.
He assigned General Kühne four infantry divisions (41st, 109th,
301st, and 11th Bavarian) and Schmettow’s Corps. By November 10,
“Group Kühne” had received plentiful mountain equipment, motorized
vehicles, and heavy artillery.
On that day, Falkenhayn declared the 9th Army ready “for the
decisive attack that was to open the invasion gates of Romania.”
He then issued orders for a general offensive in front of the
Carpathian border passes, which figured to provide Group Kühne
breathing space to advance.
On November 11 Group Kühne entered the Szurduk and
Vulcan Passes. Facing it were only two Romanian divisions (1st and
11th), as the 9th Army’s feints in other border passes had
successfully occupied the enemy’s main forces. Group Kühne, which
consequently enjoyed a remarkable superiority in both men and
employed its artillery and shattered the Romanian defenders. During
the course of that day, the 41st and 109th Divisions cleared the
pass exits, and the 301st and 11th Bavarian, as well as Schmettow’s
Cavalry Corps, followed close behind.
Roughly 60,000 soldiers and 30,000 horses had advanced through the
40 km pass.
By November 14, Group Kühne had established a strong position south
of the Szurduk and Vulcan Passes near Targu Jiu.
The floodgates were opened.
TOWARDS THE ARGES: BATTLES IN WALLACHIA
“Group Kühne” broke through the western Carpathians just in time.
On November 11, its four infantry divisions (41st, 109th, 301st, and
11th Bavarian) crossed the Szurduk and Vulcan Passes, with
Schmettow’s Corps (6th and 7th Cavalry Divisions) close behind. Over
the next few days, these units of the German 9th Army established a
strong foothold near Targu Jiu. While it seemed that the worst was
over for the Germans, a sudden change in the weather came to
Romania’s aid. Huge snowfalls transformed already shoddy roads into
sloppy, muddy quagmires. Group Kühne had no choice but to halt its
advance. Utilizing this breathing space, the Romanian command
ordered the 17th Division to the region to support 1st and 11th
The Germans had accomplished a major feat by breaking through the
mountain passes before winter. However, 9th Army commander Erich von
Falkenhayn realized that much work remained unfinished, as the
Romanians still possessed a capable field army. He ordered his right
wing to continue its march through the Wallachian plain. In doing
so, Group Kühne would flatten the Romanian army’s left flank and
thus draw enemy forces from the Red Tower and Kronstadt Passes. Once
the bulk of 9th Army reached the relatively flat terrain in
Wallachia, Falkenhayn knew that he could trap the Romanians in a
From Targu Jiu to the Alt River
Group Kühne attacked Romanian 1st and 11th Divisions in front of
Targu Jiu on November 15.
The assault was a complete success. The 41st Division reached Targu
Jiu while the 301st guarded its left flank; the 109th and 11th
Bavarian advanced approximately ten kilometers to the east.
Schmettow’s Corps covered the most territory, fifteen kilometers,
until it was southwest of Targu Jiu.
The Romanians withdrew southeast in the direction of Petresti, where
the 17th Division had already begun to arrive. Falkenhayn ordered
Kühne to push his troops forward for another offensive.
Kühne’s forces gave the Romanians little time to rest
with a spirited assault the very next day. Once again, the 41st,
109th, and 11th Bavarian Divisions attacked the Romanians frontally,
while the 301st and Schmettow’s Corps marched on their flanks.
However, more heavy snowfall hampered the attackers’ vision and
lessened their effectiveness. General Hans von Seeckt, chief of the
General Staff for the eastern front, arrived at Targu Jiu that
afternoon and reported his assessment of the situation to
headquarters in Pless:
The change in weather, with strong, thawed snow, will slow down
the fighting actions; the roads are only useful to a degree,
especially in the east and southeast directions. The early winning
of the railway Orsova-Craiova was necessary for further operations.
Therefore, the advance march should be strongest initially to the
Falkenhayn agreed, and had Kühne alter his attack
formation. Kühne ordered Schmettow’s Corps to cease its assault on
the Romanian left wing and instead march west, where the enemy could
not spot it. This time the harsh weather aided the 9th Army, as the
thick snowfall screened the movements of Schmettow’s Corps as it
broke contact with the enemy. The next day, November 17, 41st and
109th Divisions punched a hole in the Romanian center. The three
Romanian divisions suffered huge losses, having lost about 8,500 men
from November 11 to 17.
Moreover, Romanian leaders realized Schmettow’s Corps was in the
midst of a 45-km-march to the south, and consequently ordered a
hasty retreat to the southeast.
Group Kühne began a rapid pursuit of the left wing of
the Romanian 1st Army. By November 18, these 9th Army units were on
the open plain of Wallachia, and thus could march much more
efficiently than two months previously. The Romanian 1st, 11th, and
17th Divisions were in no shape for counterattacks. On November 21,
parts of the 6th Cavalry and 41st Divisions entered Craiova.
The front General Seeckt sought had been won. Falkenhayn
acknowledged Group Kühne’s accomplishment, stating “considerable
marching distances were covered despite soaked roads.”
Yet Kühne’s men were not finished, as they continued to pursue the
Romanians toward the Alt River. From left to right, the 301st
Division pushed east to Dragasani; the 41st and 11th Bavarian
Divisions advanced in the direction of Slatina; and Schmettow’s
Corps and the 109th Division pressed southeast to Stoenesti.
By November 23, Group Kühne approached all of these locations and
reached the western shore of the Alt.
Group Kühne’s mobility placed Romania in a precarious
strategic position. Ninth Army’s right wing stood south of the
Romanian 1st Army right wing, which was defending the Red Tower
Pass, and posed an imminent danger to Bucharest. First Army had been
pummeled so severely, that the Romanian command had to “double
number” its divisions. For example, the 1st and 17th Divisions
merged and the new unit became the 1/17 Division. Further
reinforcements were necessary to stop Group Kühne from simply
marching into Bucharest. Two divisions were pulled from Romanian 4th
Army in Moldavia to solidify the Red Tower and Kronstadt Passes.
The Romanians combined their reserves into four divisions, the 2/5,
9/19, 10th, and 21st. The latter three were responsible for
protecting the capital while the 2/5 Division was assigned to the
Alt River near Dragasani.
Despite these efforts, the 9th Army broke through at
the Red Tower and Kronstadt Passes. In early November Falkenhayn
created “Group Krafft,” which consisted from west to east of the
Goiginger Division (named after its leader), the 216th Infantry
Division, and the Alpine Corps. He installed Krafft von
Dellmensingen, already commander of the Alpine Corps, as the leader
of this new German corps, a large force containing 33 battalions and
Group Krafft struck repeatedly at the Romanian 1st Army right wing
defending the Red Tower Pass. Although he initially failed to crush
Romanian resistance, Krafft drew additional Romanian forces to him
and thus eased the successful breakthrough attempt of Group Kühne at
the Szurduk and Vulcan Passes on November 11. Over the next two
weeks, Kühne’s troops returned the favor by advancing into the heart
of the Wallachian plain, thus once again switching Romania’s focus.
By November 23, Krafft’s troops stood well inside Wallachia and
controlled the cities of Curtea de Arges and Ramnicu-Valcea. During
these two weeks of heavy fighting, Group Krafft captured more than
6,000 prisoners and twelve artillery pieces.
Meanwhile, Groups Morgen and Staabs were engaged in
fierce battles with Romanian 2nd Army at the Kronstadt Passes. Here
the Romanians resisted on the southern side of the mountain passes
with nearly 100,000 soldiers.
Once Group Krafft advanced into the Wallachia plain, however, 2nd
Army’s left flank became exposed. The Romanians withdrew the bulk of
their forces south and established a concentric position northwest
Groups Morgen and Staabs reached Campolung and Sinaia by November
25. The Romanians had abandoned every major mountain pass along the
Transylvanian Alps. Falkenhayn’s feints the previous month, as well
as the skillful use of Group Kühne to endanger the Romanian left
wing, had borne fruit as the entire 9th Army stood inside Wallachia
in late November.
Still, all was not perfect with the German
dispositions. On the one hand, Schmettow’s Corps and the 109th
Division crossed the Alt River and threatened the Romanian 1st
Army’s left wing.
Groups Staabs, Morgen, and Krafft linked up and positioned
themselves along the line Pitesti-Sinaia.
On the other hand, neither the 41st and 11th Bavarian Divisions near
Slatina nor the 301st at Dragasani had crossed the Alt. As a result,
a gaping hole had opened in Group Kühne’s center. Before the
Romanians could capitalize on this opportunity, German troops
executed another bold operation to enhance their chances of a
Mackensen Crosses the Danube
Since early November, the German High Command had accelerated
plans for Army Group Mackensen to execute a Danube river crossing.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff expected the Danube Army to enter
Wallachia and link up with the 9th Army before the onset of winter.
Even though Falkenhayn’s troops had liberated Transylvania and
broken through the Carpathians by mid-November, a sense of urgency
prevailed in German headquarters. Mackensen needed to reach the
Wallachian plain in order to form the right wing of an offensive
against Bucharest. General Kosch and other German staff officers
selected Sistova as the crossing site after careful reconnaissance.
One notable advantage Sistova offered was that its higher southern
shore would better enable artillery support.
In addition, its location west of the Dobrudja in northern Bulgaria
placed Army Group Mackensen nearly as close as the 9th Army to
Bucharest. During the first half of November, Mackensen transferred
most of his army group from the Dobrudja to the Sistova region.
By November 20, the Army of the Danube had completed
its movement to Sistova and outnumbered the Romanian 3rd Army
defending the region. Mackensen had under his command five
divisions, the 217th, “Division Goltz” (named after its leader), the
Turkish 26th, and the Bulgarian 1st and 12th Divisions, as well as
the Austro-Hungarian Danube flotilla and pioneer forces that
specialized in bridge construction. The Romanian defenders consisted
of only two full divisions, the 18th Infantry and 2nd Cavalry, and
individual battalions as border troops.
The Romanian High Command had understandably diverted most of its
soldiers back to the northern front. Consequently, 3rd Army’s
manpower was woefully inadequate, as “there were only eighteen
battalions to forty, and forty-eight guns to 188 when the Germans
Army Group Mackensen’s attack began on November 23.
A thick fog hindered German artillery observations but disguised
(and thus aided) troop movements.
Additional Central Powers units enacted numerous diversionary
assaults along the Danube, which confused the Romanian defenders
about the Germans’ intentions. By late afternoon, seventeen
battalions from the five divisions around Sistova had established a
strong foothold on the northern shore, and two days later, Army
Group Mackensen was positioned firmly in southern Wallachia.
The Romanians were in trouble. First Army’s forward units
guarding the Alt River scrambled back towards the capital, having no
choice but to permit Kühne’s center and left wing to push forward.
The careful planning and splendid operations of the Danube Army not
only resulted in another example of Bewegungskrieg, but also helped
Falkenhayn execute his much more dazzling maneuvers in the northern
Army Group Mackensen was apparently on the verge of forming the
right wing of a huge Kesselschlacht. At this point, Romania
attempted a last, desperate counterattack.
The Arges: the Battle for Bucharest
By November 29, the 9th Army and Army Group Mackensen had
advanced within thirty miles of Bucharest. Falkenhayn’s forces stood
in a concentric line west-northwest of the capital.
Group Staabs, which formed its left wing east of Sinaia, was to
engage Romanian 2nd Army and prevent it from rescuing 1st Army west
of Bucharest. Falkenhayn ordered Groups Krafft and Kühne to attack
1st Army head on and Group Morgen to outflank its right wing.
For the upcoming assault, the 9th Army enjoyed a crucial edge in
manpower, nearly 250,000 men versus approximately 150,000 Romanians.
Mackensen’s forces had simultaneously made stunning progress--they
stood within twelve miles of Bucharest.
Despite Romania’s calamitous strategic position, its leaders
spotted one last opportunity: a gaping, twenty-mile hole between
Army Group Mackensen and Group Kühne. A French military mission to
Romania had formulated a last minute plan, drawn up by French
General Henri Berthelot. Berthelot had been General Joseph Joffre’s
Chief of Staff during the battle of the Marne. He now attempted a
“Balkan Marne: a flank-attack on the Germans as they approached
Bucharest, crossing the Arges River.”
The Romanian command followed Berthelot’s advice, dragooning
thousands of peasants into a hastily trained final reserve.
General Presan, formerly commander of 4th Army in Moldavia, was
given control over the capital’s defenses. He immediately ordered
seven divisions to converge against Mackensen’s Danube Army. The
18th and 21st Divisions opened a frontal assault; the 2/5, 9/19, and
2nd Cavalry Divisions attacked Mackensen’s exposed left flank; and
two newly arrived Russian divisions, the 8th Cavalry and 40th,
marched against his right flank.
Thus the struggle for Bucharest began in earnest on November 30.
For a couple days General Presan’s offensive
“threatened danger to Mackensen’s force and almost enveloped his
Ludendorff believed the situation was serious:
On December 1st the left wing of the Danube Army was very heavily
attacked south-west of Bucharest and pushed back. The German troops
who had already crossed the Nejlov were cut off. The situation was
certainly very critical.
Romanian forces took thousands of German prisoners, as well as
various weapons and supplies during their eleventh-hour
However, the Turkish 26th Division on Mackensen’s vital left wing
managed to prevent the attempted encirclement, giving the Germans
time to turn the tide.
The 9th Army intervened and saved Mackensen on
December 2. A few days earlier, two Romanian staff officers stumbled
upon a German encampment and were taken prisoner. The soldiers
carried plans for the upcoming counterattack, which was now in
Falkenhayn’s capable hands.
He realized that Group Kühne was within striking distance of
Presan’s right wing, which he immediately ordered Kühne’s 11th
Bavarian and the recently created 115th Division to attack. These
troops not only parried the Romanian advance against Mackensen, but
also turned Presan’s right flank. Moreover, Group Staabs blocked 2nd
Army’s route to the capital while Morgen and Krafft’s troops crushed
1st Army, whose remnants fled north to link up with their comrades.
The road to Bucharest was open.
The German Supreme Command was shocked to discover
that Romania’s army had abandoned the capital. Hindenburg stated
It must be admitted that we had imagined the capture of the
Rumanian capital as a rather more military affair. We had thought
Bucharest was a powerful fortress, brought up our heaviest siege
artillery to reduce it, and now the famous place d’armes had turned
out to be no more than an open town.
Ludendorff had likewise been concerned that the Romanians would
defend their capital:
No sooner had this crisis been surmounted than we found ourselves
faced with another. Would Bucharest be defended as a fortress or
not? Such a defence would have been very awkward for us, for it
would have prolonged the campaign in Rumania considerably.
In fact, Ludendorff and Hindenburg were not entirely
correct. Romanian troops did not flee the capital without a fight.
They had launched a counterblow against Mackensen along the Arges
River which, albeit briefly, appeared ominous to German leaders.
However, once the 9th Army arrived on the scene, the Romanian army’s
destruction was inevitable. No longer capable of offensive
operations, the Romanian High Command ordered a complete withdrawal
from Wallachia north to the Sereth River.
On December 6, Mackensen entered Bucharest.
The Germans’ capture of Bucharest on December 6 was the
culmination of the 1916 campaign. During the first week of December
alone, Romania suffered tremendous casualties: 60,000 soldiers, 85
artillery pieces, and 115 machine guns fell into German hands.
Ninth Army pursued the Romanians northeast into Moldavia. By January
1917, the Central Powers had possession of Wallachia and advanced to
the Sereth River, where the depleted Romanians had fortified a
defensive position. At this point, the German advance came to a
halt. Bad weather, pummeled roads, and exhausted troops--factors
that occur frequently in campaigns--contributed to a newly
established stalemate on the Romanian front.
Much more problematic for the Germans, however, were the
difficulties of controlling, commanding, and supplying its mass
armies. Roughly 400,000 troops had covered significant distances in
a brief period and simply outmarched their supply lines. Germany had
won an enormous victory against the opposing field army; it had not
knocked Romania out of the war.
Several historians have therefore noted that
Germany’s victory was incomplete. By the end of the 1916 campaign,
the eastern front had been extended approximately 250 miles, which
the Germans had to man with dwindling numbers. The Central Powers’
strategic situation, many scholars claim, deteriorated as a result.
In addition, Romania not only remained in the war, it even executed
limited offensives against Germany in the summer of 1917.
Romania finally capitulated in early 1918, signing the Treaty of
Bucharest in May.
But its prolonged resistance thwarted German intentions of a quick,
However, this traditional argument does not stand up
to deeper analysis. First, the strategic problems of a wider front
were commensurate with Germany’s gains. By taking control of
Wallachia, the Germans earned the spoils of Romanian oil fields and
abundance of wheat.
Second, Romania’s frontline stabilized in January 1917 only because
the Russians spearheaded its defense by sending vast reinforcements
to southern Moldavia.
In doing so, the Russians inherited the same extended front as the
Germans. It is difficult to comprehend, therefore, why historians
have stated that the Romanian campaign damaged Germany’s strategic
position without noticing a similar liability for the Entente.
On the operational level, General Erich von
Falkenhayn’s Romanian campaign was a masterpiece. He orchestrated a
series of feints that disoriented Romanian forces and allowed 9th
Army to break through the Carpathian Mountains before the onset of
winter. Once inside Romania proper, Falkenhayn’s forces easily
trapped the Romanians inside a huge Kesselschlacht and captured
Bucharest in the process. Romanian losses in 1916 were catastrophic:
“Casualties numbered at least 250,000, including 100,000 dead or
missing, 50,000 wounded, and 100,000 prisoners. Of the remaining
250,000 who had gone to the front so enthusiastically just a few
months before, less than 100,000 remained in recognizable units.”
German military commanders and thinkers alike believed that
Falkenhayn’s campaign provided crucial lessons for war on the
operational level. As a result, they spilt a plethora of ink
covering the 1916 triumph. Falkenhayn, August von Mackensen, Paul
von Hindenburg, and Erich Ludendorff each included a detailed
analysis of the Romanian operation in his memoirs.
The Militär-Wochenblatt, the German interwar journal, featured
numerous articles that stressed the importance of the Romanian
campaign as a lesson for future operations. Topics ranged from Group
Kühne’s advance through the Vulcan and Szurduk Passes to German
tactics in Orsova.
During the First World War, military commanders attempted to
break the stalemate of trench warfare and restore mobility to the
modern battlefield. For Germany, this meant a rebirth of the
operational art embodied in the great nineteenth-century field
commander Helmuth von Moltke. More often than not, however, German
generals failed to implement Moltke’s doctrine properly, as the
western front remained deadlocked until 1918 and Russia presented a
viable threat for much of the war. One notable exception was
Falkenhayn, who utilized Moltke’s art of war to win a decisive
victory against Romania. German military thinkers of the interwar
period looked back precisely to his campaign as an archetype of
operational art, an art fully exploited in the opening years of
World War II.
 Robert Asprey, The German High Command at War:
Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I (New York: William
Morrow, 1991), 243-52.
 Two major sources pertain to Falkenhayn’s
Romanian campaign: Germany, Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg,
1914-1918, Vol. XI, Die Kriegführung im Herbst 1916 und im
Winter 1916/17 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1938) and Erich von
Falkenhayn, Der Feldzug der 9. Armee gegen die Rumänen u. Russen
1916/17, 2 Vols. (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1921).
 Falkenhayn, Der Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 8.
All English translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
 Glen Torrey, Romania and World War I: A
Collection of Studies (Portland, OR: Center for Romanian
Studies, 1999). Torrey, the leading historian on the Romanian
military during World War I, has produced an immense amount of
scholarship in his field, including the enormous impact of the
 Gerhard Ritter, The Schlieffen Plan: Critique
of a Myth (London: Oswald Wolff, 1958). The plan called for a
six week campaign against France by most of the German military,
followed with a calculated attack to the east against Russia. It
was based on the premise that Russia would not be fully
mobilized for ten weeks, thus giving Germany a short but
supposedly attainable amount of time to defeat the French.
 There are seemingly endless works on World War
I. Some general accounts include Basil Henry Liddell Hart,
History of the First World War (London: Cassell, 1970); James
Stokesbury, A Short History of World War I (New York: William
Morrow, 1981); Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete
History (New York: Henry Holt, 1994); and John Keegan, The First
World War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).
 For a detailed account of the Verdun disaster,
see Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (New York:
 Robert Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory:
From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 2002), 18-19.
 Keegan and Gilbert, for example, largely
ignore the eastern front. A good starting point is Norman Stone,
The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,
 Geoffrey Wawro, The Austro-Prussian War:
Austria’s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996), 17-19.
 Robert Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory:
From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 2002), 18-19.
 Walter Goerlitz, History of the German
General Staff 1657-1945, trans. Brian Battershaw (New York:
Praeger, 1966), 83.
 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans.
Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1984), “everything in war...,” 119; “no other
human activity...,” 85; “war is thus an act of force...,” 75.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 19.
 Lieut-Col. F.E. Whitton, Moltke (London:
Constable, 1921), 73-75.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 19.
 All maneuvers, war games, and exercises were
supervised by a high ranking officer, called an umpire.
 Arden Bucholz, Moltke, Schlieffen, and
Prussian War Planning (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991),
 Goerlitz, German General Staff, 76.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 19-21.
 Martin van Creveld, Command in War
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 107-09. Creveld
cautions readers that while the telegraph was essential for the
initial deployment of forces, it was not very helpful for combat
operations. The relevant example is the Austro-Prussian War of
1866, the Prussian campaign into Bohemia.
 Daniel Hughes, ed., Moltke on the Art of War:
Selected Writings (Novato, CA: Presidio, 1993), 91.
 Larry Addington, The Blitzkrieg Era and the
German General Staff, 1865-1941 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers
University Press, 1971), 4.
 Hughes, Moltke on the Art of War, 56.
 Creveld, Command in War, 119, 121-22.
 Hughes, Moltke on the Art of War, 156-57.
 Quoted in Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory,
 Hughes, Moltke on the Art of War, 184-85.
 Helmuth von Moltke, Strategy; Its Theory and
Application: The Wars for German Unification, 1866-1871
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971), 25, No. 79-80.
 Dennis Showalter, Railroads and Rifles:
Soldiers, Technology, and the Unification of Germany (Hamden,
CT: Archon, 1975), 58-59.
 Moltke, Strategy, 47, No. 135.
 Creveld, Command in War, 132.
 Gordon Craig, The Battle of Königgrätz:
Prussia’s Victory over Austria, 1866 (Philadelphia: Lippincott,
 Moltke, Strategy, 55, No. 152.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 23.
 Quoted in Craig, Battle of Königgrätz, 96.
 At this time Austria used corps as its
largest combat unit.
 Wawro, Austro-Prussian War, 221-22.
 Craig, Battle of Königgrätz, 109.
 Creveld, Command in War, 137.
 Quoted in ibid., 137-38.
 Quoted in Craig, Battle of Königgrätz, 111.
 Quoted in ibid., 111.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 24.
 Craig, Battle of Königgrätz, 166. The
Prussians lost about 9,000 men, while the Austrians suffered
approximately 45,000 casualties. No longer able to launch an
offensive, the Austrians asked for an armistice, thus ending the
 Clausewitz, On War, 136.
 Gerhard Ritter, The Schlieffen Plan: Critique
of a Myth (London: Oswald Wolff, 1958), 129-64.
 For an excellent view of German operations in
1914, with an emphasis on Moltke as supreme commander, see
Correlli Barnett, The Swordbearers: Supreme Command in the First
World War (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1963),
 Ritter, Schlieffen Plan, 165-67. These three
pages provide a useful, brief view of the Schlieffen Plan
according to Moltke the Younger. See also Robert Asprey, The
First Battle of the Marne (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962),
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 146.
 For an adequate overview of Plan XVII and the
French Army, see Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 18-31;
Barnett, Swordbearers, 39-40; and C.R.M.F. Crutwell, A History
of the Great War 1914-1918 (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1991),
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 147.
 Quoted in Michael Howard, “Men Against Fire:
The Doctrine of the Offensive in 1914,” in Makers of Modern
Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), 520. For a
concise discussion of the doctrine of the French offensive, see
Georges Blond, The Marne (London: Macdonald, 1965), 18-25.
 Quoted in Blond, Marne, 21.
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 17-21; Asprey,
Battle of the Marne, 34.
 Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 44-45.
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 36-37.
 Two excellent reviews of these battles are
found in Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 35-61 and Citino,
Quest for Decisive Victory, 149-51.
 James Stokesbury, A Short History of World
War I (New York: William Morrow, 1981), 40-44; Basil Henry
Liddell Hart, History of the First World War (London: Cassell,
1970), 78-84; J.F.C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western
World, Vol. 3, From the American Civil War to the End of World
War II (New York: Da Capo, 1956), 197-201; John Keegan, The
First World War (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1999), 89-100.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 150-51;
Barnett, Swordbearers, 58-62.
 Dennis Showalter, Tannenberg: Clash of
Empires (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1991), especially pages 193-96,
which discuss Moltke’s decision to reinforce East Prussia.
 Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 74-79.
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 71-74.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 151;
Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 126-29, 140-41.
 Two standard works on the Battle of the Marne
are Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, and Blond, Marne.
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 90-92.
 Much has been written about this still
controversial topic. Cyril Falls, The Great War (New York:
Capricorn, 1959), 68-69; Fuller, Military History of the Western
World, 3:225-227; and Keegan, First World War, 120-23, are good
 Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 142-53;
Barnett, Swordbearers, 94-101.
 There has been an amazing amount of
scholarship critiquing the plan. For a few representative
examples, see Ritter, Schlieffen Plan; Bucholz, Moltke,
Schlieffen, and Prussian War Planning, 158-213; Holger Herwig,
The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918
(London: Arnold, 1997), 56-62; and Creveld, Command in War,
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 82-86, 103-04.
Although Barnett states Moltke deserves some blame, he
emphasizes that Germany should have concentrated on cutting off
French supplies by seizing and destroying the railroads around
Paris. Also consult Ritter, Schlieffen Plan, 60-62.
 Ritter, Schlieffen Plan, 66.
 Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 164-73.
Asprey indicts Moltke and rebuts Ritter’s blame for Schlieffen
by countering two objections he made to the plan. First, Asprey
states that Ritter’s argument that the BEF and Lanrezac’s 5th
Army would never have put themselves in a vulnerable position if
they had known of the German advance is invalid. He claims the
German attack simply did what it was supposed to do--achieve
complete surprise. The French and British never expected the
scale of the German right wing offensive. Second, Asprey admits
the Germans overran their supplies as their advance progressed,
but counters that many campaigns have been won without adequate
 Barnett, Swordbearers, 33-35.
 Asprey, First Battle of the Marne, 15-17;
Barnett, Swordbearers, 53-55.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 152-54.
 Robert Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory:
From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (Lawrence:
University Press of Kansas, 2002), xvi.
 Glen Torrey, Romania and World War I: A
Collection of Studies (Portland, OR: Center for Romanian
Studies, 1999), 138.
 For an excellent account of the political and
military situation during the summer of 1916, which led to
Romania’s alliance with the Entente, see ibid., 95-120.
 Erich von Falkenhayn, The German General
Staff and Its Decisions, 1914-1916 (New York: Dodd, Mead, and
Company, 1920), 1-9; Correlli Barnett, The Swordbearers: Supreme
Command in the First World War (Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press, 1963), 102.
 Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian
Army, 1640-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), 301;
Jehuda Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The
Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and their Impact on the
German Conduct of the Two World Wars (Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1986), 128-32. Both authors claim that Falkenhayn’s
abandoning of a general, mobile offensive against the French and
the British was a turning point of the war. Craig states the
move was a “momentous change in strategy and the effect it was
certain to have on the duration of the war...was not appreciated
by the German public.” Both men quote Herbert Rosinski, an
expert of German military strategy. See Herbert Rosinski, The
German Army (New York: Praeger, 1966) for details.
 Much has been written about trench warfare
and its origins. Wallach, Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation,
160-64, on the one hand, provides a traditional argument: that
western armies simply were familiar with offensive warfare and
were consequently unprepared to exploit a breakthrough along the
trenches. On the other hand, Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory,
162-67, states “it was the inadequacies of the mass army that
rendered a decisive victory impossible,” and notes that there
had been wars fought in the trenches in which the attacking
armies won huge victories. See, for example, his chapter on the
Russo-Japanese War, 65-99. Perhaps the best evocation of the
horrors of trench warfare is Erich Marie Remarque’s All Quiet on
the Western Front, trans. A.W. Wheen (New York: Fawcett Crest,
 Martin Kitchen, The Silent Dictatorship: The
Politics of the German High Command under Hindenburg and
Ludendorff, 1916-1918 (London: Croom Helm, 1976), 19.
 Falkenhayn, German General Staff, 255-75. The
general’s memoirs focus on the German offensive; for an easily
readable account, see Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory: Verdun
1916 (New York: Penguin, 1993); Holger Herwig, The First World
War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (London: Arnold,
1997), 183-98, is an adequate, scholarly work.
 Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory, 164.
 Falkenhayn has been sharply criticized for
his Verdun strategy. A few representative works include Wallach,
Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation, 170-79; Craig, Politics of
the Prussian Army, 305-06; and Citino, Quest for Decisive
Victory, 164-67. While placing some blame on “Falkenhayn’s
ill-conceived plan,” Citino notes how the problem of commanding
large armies affected the course of the campaign, and provides
grim casualty statistics—542,000 French and 434,000 Germans.
 Dennis Showalter, Tannenberg: Clash of
Empires (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1991), is still the best account.
For an in-depth analysis of Auftragstaktik during the Tannenberg
campaign, consult Randy Talbot, “General Hermann von Francois
and Corps-Level Operations During the Tannenberg Campaign,
August 1914” (master’s thesis, Eastern Michigan University,
 Falkenhayn, German General Staff, 96-100;
James Stokesbury, A Short History of World War I (New York:
William Morrow, 1981), 131-34.
 If Russia remained neutral, as Conrad
believed it would, then B-Staffel would join Minimalgruppe
Balkan in a large-scale assault against Serbia while A-Staffel
remained on the defensive in Galicia. In contrast, if Russia
declared war on the Central Powers, then B-Staffel would link up
with A-Staffel and carry out a general offensive against Russia
while Minimalgruppe Balkan committed only limited attacks
against Serbia. For further details of Austria’s strategy in
1914, see Norman Stone, “Moltke and Conrad: Relations Between
the Austro-Hungarian and German General Staffs, 1909-1914,” The
Historical Journal 9, no. 2, 1966, pp. 201-228, and Holger
Herwig, “Disjointed Allies: Coalition Warfare in Berlin and
Vienna, 1914,” Journal of Military History 54, no. 3, July 1990,
 For the 1914 Galicia campaign, see
Stokesbury, Short History of World War I, 69-71; Herwig,
and Austria-Hungary, 89-95; Winston Churchill, The Unknown War:
The Eastern Front (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1931),
144-73; Norman Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 70-91; and Citino, Quest for
Decisive Victory, 160-62.
 For the Austrian campaign against Serbia, see
Gunther Rothenberg, “The Austro-Hungarian Campaign Against
Serbia in 1914,” Journal of Military History 53, no. 2, April
1989, pp. 127-146, and Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory,
 Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Reputations Ten
Years After (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1968), 59-60;
Horne, Price of Glory, 277-83; and Gordon Craig, “The World War
I Alliance of the Central Powers in Retrospect: The Military
Cohesion of the Alliance,” Journal of Military History 37, no.
3, Sept. 1965, pp. 336-344. Each of these writers demonstrates
the unpleasant relationship between Falkenhayn and Conrad. There
are contrasting views of Conrad’s ability as a military
commander: Gunther Rothenberg, The Army of Franz Joseph (West
Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1976), 178, argues that
Conrad followed a grand doctrine but lacked an army capable of
Napoleonic victories. Robert Citino, Quest for Decisive Victory,
158, counters that “the description begs the question of what to
call a general who designs plans too complex for his own men to
 Many historians have debated whether Germany
would have won the war if its forces had concentrated against
Russia. For an introduction to the west vs. east strategy,
consult Craig, Politics of the Prussian Army, 302-04; Wallach,
Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation, 163; Liddell Hart,
Reputations, 58-59; and Kitchen, Silent Dictatorship, 18-23.
 Paul von Hindenburg, Out of My Life, Vol. I,
trans. F.A. Holt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927), 161-63.
For a full reading of the quote and a more detailed explanation
of Hindenburg’s analysis, see 161-66.
 Falkenhayn, German General Staff, 61.
 Kurt Treptow, ed., A History of Romania
(Iasi: Center for Romanian Studies, 1996), 366-67; Torrey,
Romania and World War I, 9-10.
 A good starting point for Romanian political
history before and during World War I is Marie, Queen of
Romania, The Story of My Life, Vol. 1 (New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1934), 549-96. For a brief discussion of King
Carol’s declining influence, consult Torrey, Romania and World
War I, 46-48. As for the deterioration of Romania with the
Triple Alliance, see Barbara Jelavich, “Romania in the First
World War: The Pre-War Crisis, 1912-1914,” The International
History Review 14, no. 3, ed. Edward Ingram, 1992, pp. 441-42,
and V.N. Vinogradov, “Romania in the First World War: The Years
of Neutrality, 1914-1916,” The International History Review 14,
no. 3, ed. Edward Ingram, 1992, pp. 453-54.
 Jelavich, “Romania in the First World War,”
450-51; Torrey, Romania and World War I, 9-10.
 R.W. Seton-Watson, A History of the
Roumanians (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1963), 486; Torrey,
Romania and World War I, 14, 40-41.
 Sherman Spector, Rumania at the Paris Peace
Conference: A Study of the Diplomacy of Ioan I.C. Bratianu (New
York: Bookman, 1962), 16.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 9-10,
29-34; Vinogradov, “Years of Neutrality,” 452-53.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 48-50.
 Ibid., 10-11; Treptow, History of Romania,
368-70; Vinogradov, “Years of Neutrality,” 452-53.
 Torrey, 75-94; Treptow, History of Romania,
372. Italy demanded Trentino and Trieste.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 15-16,
48-50; Treptow, History of Romania, 370-72; Vinogradov, “Years
of Neutrality,” 453-55.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 19.
 Ibid., 17, 64-65. While Ferdinand was not a
powerful figure, his wife, Queen Marie, was charismatic,
influential, and pro-Entente. See Marie, Queen of Romania, Story
of My Life, 2 Vols.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 20-21.
 Vinogradov, “Years of Neutrality,” 456.
 Ibid., 455-57; Treptow, History of Romania,
373-74; Spector, Rumania at the Paris Peace Conference, 26-29.
 Vinogradov, “Years of Neutrality,” 457-58;
Treptow, History of Romania, 374; Spector, Rumania at the Paris
Peace Conference, 29-32.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 25.
 Two works that emphasize the importance of
the Brusilov offensive are ibid., 25, and Vinogradov, “Years of
 For respectable accounts of the Brusilov
offensive, see Stokesbury, Short History of World War I, 159-64;
Stone, Eastern Front, 232-63; Churchill, Unknown War, 358-70;
and John Keegan, The First World War (New York: Alfred Knopf,
 Quoted in Torrey, Romania and World War I,
 Ibid., 26-27, 118-20.
 The full text of the agreement is located in
Charles Clark, United Roumania (New York: Arno Press, 1971),
134-40. Other works that discuss the treaty include ibid., 26;
Spector, Rumania at the Paris Peace Conference, 35-37; Treptow,
History of Romania, 375; and Seton-Watson, History of the
 Clark, United Roumania, 130-34, and Spector,
Rumania at the Paris Peace Conference, 37-39, both give detailed
descriptions of the crown council.
 Falkenhayn, German General Staff, 292.
 Kitchen, Silent Dictatorship, 26-41.
 Falkenhayn, German General Staff, 323-24;
Hans von Zwehl, Erich von Falkenhayn, General der Infanterie.
Eine biographische Studie (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1926),
 Officially, Ludendorff invented his own
title, First Quartermaster General. For the appointment of
Hindenburg and Ludendorff, see Robert Asprey, The German High
Command at War: Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I
(New York: William Morrow, 1991), 251-52.
 Several historians have noted Romania’s
precarious geographical position. See Torrey, Romania and World
War I, 139-40; Stone, Eastern Front, 274; C.R.M.F. Cruttwell,
History of the Great War 1914-1918 (Chicago: Academy Chicago,
1991), 293-94; Basil Henry Liddell Hart, History of the First
World War (London: Cassell, 1970), 276; Hanson Baldwin, World
War I; An Outline History (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 83;
and Cyril Falls, The Great War (New York: Capricorn, 1959), 228.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 141;
Cruttwell, History of the Great War, 294.
 Quoted in Torrey, Romania and World War I,
 Ibid., 141-42; Germany, Reichsarchiv, Der
Weltkrieg, 1914-1918, Vol. XI, Die Kriegführung im Herbst 1916
und im Winter 1916/17 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1938),
190-93; Herwig, Germany and Austria-Hungary, 218.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 192, 217. This
work gives a wonderfully detailed breakdown of Romania’s army
organization in 1916. Also consult Stone, Eastern Front, 274,
and Seton-Watson, History of the Roumanians, 496.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 190; Stone,
Eastern Front, 274-75.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 159-60.
 Stokesbury, Short History of World War I,
 Erich Ludendorff, My War Memories, Vol. I
(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919), 281-82.
 Paul von Hindenburg, Out of My Life, Vol. I,
trans. F.A. Holt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927), 243.
 Although the Carpathian mountains extend
throughout the entire northern theater of war, the name
“Transylvanian Alps” is often used to describe the mountain
region in northern Wallachia and southern Transylvania.
 Erich von Falkenhayn, Der Feldzug der 9.
Armee gegen die Rumänen u. Russen 1916/17, Vol. I (Berlin: E.S.
Mittler & Sohn, 1921), 25-28.
 Mackensen served in various command posts
along the eastern front during World War I. His war experiences
are portrayed in August von Mackensen, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen
des General Feldmarschalls aus Krieg und Frieden (Leipzig:
Bibliographisches Institut AG, 1938). His outlook on the
Romanian campaign is on pages 280-321.
 Germany, Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg,
1914-1918, Vol. XI, Die Kriegführung im Herbst 1916 und im
Winter 1916/17 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1938), 202.
 See, for example, Glen Torrey, Romania and
World War I: A Collection of Studies (Portland, OR: Center for
Romanian Studies, 1999), 183-84; Gerard Silberstein, The
Troubled Alliance: German-Austrian Relations 1914 to 1917
(Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1970), 329-30; and
Ilie Ceausescu, “The Romanian Army in World War I,” War and
Society in East Central Europe, Vol. XIX, East Central European
Society in World War I, ed. Bela Kiraly, Nandor Dreisziger, and
Albert Nofi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), pp.
 Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 9;
Holger Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary,
1914-1918 (London: Arnold, 1997), 218; C.R.M.F. Cruttwell,
History of the Great War 1914-1918 (Chicago: Academy Chicago,
1991), 295; and Cyril Falls, The Great War (New York: Capricorn,
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, “in this most
important sector...,” 280; “the 9th Army was capable...,” 282.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 220.
 Ibid., 200-01; Ludendorff, My War Memories,
249; Torrey, Romania and World War I, 165.
 Quoted in Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 201.
 Ibid., 201; Ludendorff, My War Memories,
 Robert Asprey disagrees, stating “perhaps
avenging the frustrations of two years, Ludendorff attempted to
direct the offensive from Pless by streams of telegrams that
Falkenhayn found ‘equally superfluous and annoying.’” See
Asprey, The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and
Ludendorff Conduct World War I (New York: William Morrow, 1991),
274. Indeed, Ludendorff sent numerous messages to Falkenhayn.
However, that does not mean Falkenhayn did not have a fair
amount of independence conducting operations against Romania. As
explained above, Ludendorff admitted Falkenhayn had an
opportunity to demonstrate his ability as a field commander.
Even though he notes Ludendorff’s involvement in his memoirs,
Falkenhayn’s writings indicate he exhibited firm control over
his own troops, the 9th Army forces. See Falkenhayn, Feldzug der
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 281; Norman
Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 277. The Dobrudja-Danube theater is
described later in this chapter.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 220-21.
 Ibid., 220; Falls, Great War, 229.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 220.
 Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 17-18.
 Ibid., 17. Historians also have emphasized
the Alpine Corps’ crucial role. See Herwig, Germany and
Austria-Hungary, 217-27, who bases much of his research for the
Romanian campaign on diaries of Bavarian soldiers within the
Alpine Corps. Also General Waldemar Erfurth, “Surprise,” Roots
of Strategy, vol. 3 (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1991),
458-59; Basil Henry Liddell Hart, History of the First World War
(London: Cassell, 1970), 348; and Cruttwell, History of the
Great War, 295.
 The Predeal, Tömöser, and Törzburger Passes
are often named collectively as the Kronstadt Passes.
 Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 14.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 222, 227.
 Ibid., 223; Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9.
Armee, I, 29.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 225; Erfurth,
“Surprise,” 458. Battle statistics in fact show an almost even
number of troops, about 35 battalions on each side. Details are
provided in Reichsarchiv, 232.
 Quoted in Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg,
 Quoted in ibid., 224.
 The Sibin mountains, one of many mountain
areas within the Transylvanian Alps, are situated west of the
Red Tower Pass.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 224-26;
Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 28-29; Erfurth, “Strategy,”
 For excellent accounts on the “battle of
Hermannstadt” (September 26-29), including preparations, the
course of the fighting, and analysis, see Reichsarchiv, Der
Weltkrieg, 221-33; Falkenhayn, Der Feldzug der 9. Armee, I,
30-61; Ludendorff, My War Memories, 283-84; and Erfurth,
 Liddell Hart, History of the First World
War, 348; Asprey, German High Command, 274; Cruttwell,
of the Great War, 295.
 Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 247; Liddell
Hart, History of the First World War, 348; Herwig, Germany and
Austria-Hungary, 219; Stone, Eastern Front, 278; Cruttwell,
History of the Great War, 295; Kurt Treptow, ed., A History of
Romania (Iasi: Center for Romanian Studies, 1996), 375.
 See Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 232, and
Erfurth, “Strategy,” 460-61.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 231-32.
 The Alpine Corps remained in the Red Tower
Pass to protect against an advance by Romanian 1st Army. See
Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 64-65, and Ludendorff,
War Memories, 284.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 234-37.
 Quoted in ibid., 240.
 Quoted in ibid., 239.
 The “battle for the Geisterwald” (October 5)
deserves attention. A couple brief accounts are ibid., 239-40,
and Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, I, 78-83.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 240.
 The “battle of Kronstadt” (October 6-9) is
examined adequately in ibid., 240-42, and Falkenhayn, Feldzug
der 9. Armee, I, 61-96.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 285;
Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 247-48; Herwig, Germany and
Austria-Hungary, 219; Stone, Eastern Front, 278; Falls,
War, 229; Liddell Hart, History of the First World War, 349;
Treptow, History of Romania, 375.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 285-86.
 The Russian war leadership complained that
Romania’s troops were poorly trained and prone to surrendering
to Russians, having mistaken them for Bulgarians; the Romanian
High Command protested Russian looting of Romanian supply
depots. For a thorough analysis of Russo-Romanian relations
during the 1916 campaign, see Torrey, Romania and World War I,
 Quoted in Stone, Eastern Front, 277. Herwig
also refers to Ziaonchkovsky’s comment in Germany and
 Herwig, Germany and Austria-Hungary, 218-19.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 158-59,
163-64; Mackensen, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen, 285-87;
Ludendorff, My War Memories, 286; Hindenburg, Out of My Life,
245-46; Stone, Eastern Front, 276-77; Treptow, History of
Romania, 375; Ceausescu, “Romanian Army,” 516.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 164-65;
Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 246; Stone, Eastern Front, 277;
Liddell Hart, History of the First World War, 348.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 164-65,
 The “Flamanda Maneuver” (Sept 30-Oct 5) is
given acceptable treatment in Mackensen, Briefe und
Aufzeichnungen, 290-92; Ludendorff, My War Memories, 286-87;
Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 246-47; Torrey, Romania and World
War I, 167; Stone, Eastern Front, 277-78; and Ceausescu,
“Romanian Army,” 517.
 Torrey, Romania and World War I, 167.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 243. Nearly all
of these troops arrived too late to save Kronstadt.
 Quoted in Herwig, Germany and
 Ibid., 219; Ludendorff, My War Memories,
295; Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 249; Cruttwell, History of the
Great War, 295-96.
 Mackensen, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen,
293-96; Torrey, Romania and World War I, 239-40; Stone,
Front, 278-79; Asprey, German High Command, 275.
 Cruttwell, History of the Great War, 296.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 296.
 Quoted in Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 250.
 Ibid., 251-52; Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9.
Armee, II, 40-41.
 Lieutenant-Major Ponath, “Aus großer Zeit
vor zwanzig Jahren. Der Einbruch in die rumänische Ebene,”
Militär-Wochenblatt 121, no. 2 (December 4, 1936), 1101;
Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 248-52; and Cruttwell, History of
the Great War, 296.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 252;
Ludendorff, My War Memories, 296-97.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 296; Liddell
Hart, History of the First World War, 348; Treptow, History of
 Ponath, “Aus großer Zeit,” 1102; Ludendorff,
My War Memories, 297; Liddell Hart, History of the First World
 Historians have praised Falkenhayn’s feints.
Cyril Falls states “Falkenhayn probed one pass after another and
by marching and countermarching bewildered the defense,” and
Norman Stone explains “the Central Powers’ action here was more
important for the troops that it pinned than for the ground it
gained.” See Falls, Great War, 229, and Stone, Eastern Front,
 Ponath, “Aus großer Zeit,” 1103; Asprey,
German High Command, 275.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 264.
 Ibid., 264-65; Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9.
Armee, II, 41.
 The Germans had 33 Battalions and 43
Batteries; the Romanians utilized 18 Battalions and 16
Batteries. See Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 266, for details.
 Ibid., 266; Ponath, “Aus großer Zeit,”
 Ponath, “Aus großer Zeit,” 1103; Herwig,
Germany and Austria-Hungary, 219, 221.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 266.
 Germany, Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg,
1914-1918, Vol. XI, Die Kriegführung im Herbst 1916 und im
Winter 1916/17 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1938), 267-68.
 Cyril Falls, The Great War (New York:
Capricorn, 1959), 229; Basil Henry Liddell Hart, History of the
First World War (London: Cassell, 1970), 349.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 267.
 Quoted in ibid., 268.
 The “battle of Targu Jiu” (November 11-17)
receives fair treatment by Erich von Falkenhayn in Der Feldzug
der 9. Armee gegen die Rumänen u. Russen 1916/17, Vol. II (E.S.
Mittler & Sohn, 1921), 46-56, and in ibid., 266-70. Battle
statistics, showing the Germans suffered roughly 800 casualties,
are on page 269.
 For the Romanian retreat following its
defeat at Targu Jiu, consult Charles Clark, United Roumania (New
York: Arno Press, 1971), 151, and Ilie Ceausescu, “The Romanian
Army in World War I,” War and Society in East Central Europe,
Vol. XIX, East Central European Society in World War I, ed. Bela
Kiraly, Nandor Dreisziger, and Albert Nofi (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1985), pp. 518.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 269; Robert
Asprey, The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and
Ludendorff Conduct World War I (New York: William Morrow, 1991),
 Quoted in Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 269.
 Asprey, German High Command, 275-76; Clark,
United Roumania, 151; Liddell Hart, History of the First World
 The Russians replaced these troops in
Moldavia with their own forces and also sent units to the
endangered Dobrudja theater.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 271-73.
 Ibid., 270; Erich Ludendorff, My War
Memories, Vol. I (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919),
 Clark, United Roumania, 151.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 299.
 Norman Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917
(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 279; Falls, Great
 For a detailed account of the struggle at
the Alt river, see Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, II, 56-76.
Holger Herwig mentions the Alt crossing very briefly. See The
First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (London:
Arnold, 1997), 221.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 276-77;
Ludendorff, My War Memories, 299.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 277-78.
 Paul von Hindenburg, Out of My Life, Vol. I,
trans. F.A. Holt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927), 249;
Ludendorff, My War Memories, 296; C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, A History
of the Great War 1914-1918 (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1991),
296; Liddell Hart, History of the First World War, 349.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 280-81.
 Stone, Eastern Front, 279-80.
 For a firsthand and detailed analysis of the
Danube operation, see August von Mackensen, Briefe und
Aufzeichnungen des General Feldmarschalls aus Krieg und Frieden
(Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut AG, 1938), 296-302.
 Many sources note the weather along the
Danube. For example, see Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 282;
Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 249; and Cruttwell, History of the
Great War, 296.
 Mackensen, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen,
299-301; Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 249-50; Asprey, German High
Command, 276; Clark, United Roumania, 152; Herwig, Germany and
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 298.
 Some scholars disagree in their assessment
of whether Mackensen or Falkenhayn deserves more credit for the
Germans’ apt use of Bewegungskrieg. Gerard Silberstein believes
Mackensen’s army was pivotal to the campaign. In The Troubled
Alliance: German-Austrian Relations 1914 to 1917 (Lexington, KY:
University Press of Kentucky, 1970), 331-32, he claims that
“once the (Danube) crossing was accomplished the Central Powers
were on their way to a smashing victory. The Rumanians pulled
back large numbers of their armies in the north to defend their
capital city. Once this happened, Falkenhayn could successfully
thread his way through the mountain passes of the Transylvanian
Alps leading to the Rumanian plain. He had probed those passes
earlier but they were two to three thousand feet deep and very
difficult to take when defended by the Rumanian armies at their
full strength. Once reduced to take care of Mackensen’s attack
in the south, the Rumanian forces could not hold against
Falkenhayn, who plunged through the Vulcan Pass, a real gateway,
to link up with Mackensen’s group.” Silberstein errs in several
ways. First, Mackensen did not cross the Danube until after
Falkenhayn’s 9th Army broke through at the Vulcan and Szurduk
Passes and entered Wallachia. Second, Romania’s main focus in
November was the Transylvanian Alps rather than the
Dobrudja-Danube theater. Romania had transferred troops to the
Dobrudja in September after Tutrakan and Silistria fell into
German hands, but moved even more forces back to face the 9th
Army when it approached the Carpathian mountain passes in
October. Norman Stone, Eastern Front, 279, notes correctly that
“on 23rd November the Germano-Bulgarian force crossed the
Danube, and found the task easy enough, since the Romanians had
now diverted most of their forces back to the Carpathian front.”
A third point of view is given by Hajo Holborn, who states in A
History of Modern Germany 1840-1945 (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1969), 442 that “in a campaign that was a
masterpiece of military skill,…the major credit for this success
must go to Falkenhayn, who led one of the two armies which
forced their way into Rumania from Tansylvania, and to
Field-Marshal von Mackensen, who managed to cross the Danube
with his army from Bulgaria.” Although Mackensen definitely
deserves some credit, three of the four Romanian armies were
placed in the northern front, two of which opposed 9th Army.
Falkenhayn’s task was not only the Schwerpunkt (point of main
emphasis) of the campaign, but also included the crossing of the
forbidding Carpathian Alps.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 284-89, offers
a detailed explanation of both Falkenhayn’s and Mackensen’s
progress in late November. Also consult Clark, United Roumania,
 In addition, Falkenhayn assigned Schmettow’s
Corps to join the center of Group Kühne and screen its advance.
 See Clark, United Roumania, 151-52.
 Stone, Eastern Front, 280.
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 298; Cruttwell,
History of the Great War, 297-98; Ceausescu, “Romanian Army,”
 The battle for Bucharest, more commonly
known as the “battle of the Arges” (November 30-December 3),
receives significant attention from both historians and
contemporaries. See Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 290-301;
Falkenhayn, Feldzug der 9. Armee, II, 77-87; Mackensen,
und Aufzeichnungen, 302-308; Ludendorff, My War Memories,
299-300; General Waldemar Erfurth, “Surprise,” Roots of
Strategy, vol. 3 (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1991),
454-58; and Glen Torrey, Romania and World War I: A Collection
of Studies (Portland, OR: Center for Romanian Studies, 1999),
especially pages 246-50.
 Liddell Hart, History of the First World
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 299-300.
 Clark, United Roumania, 154.
 The Turkish 26th Division receives
well-earned praise from Ludendorff, My War Memories, 300, and
Asprey, German High Command, 276.
 There is dispute about who was captured by
the Germans. The fact remains, however, that Falkenhayn gained
knowledge of Romania’s strategy. For more information about this
fiasco, check Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 288, and Erfurth,
 Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg, 291-301; Stone,
Eastern Front, 280; Ceausescu, “Romanian Army,” 518.
 Hindenburg, Out of My Life, 250.
 Ludendorff, My War Memories, 300.
 Ibid., 301-04; Asprey, German High Command,
276-77; Cruttwell, History of the Great War, 297; Falls,
War, 229; Silberstein, Troubled Alliance, 332.
 See Germany, Reichsarchiv, Der Weltkrieg,
1914-1918, Vol. XI, Die Kriegführung im Herbst 1916 und im
Winter 1916/17 (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1938), 306.
 C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, A History of the Great
War 1914-1918 (Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1991), 297; Norman
Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 280.
 Advocates of this view are Cruttwell,
History of the Great War, 298, and Hanson Baldwin, World War I;
An Outline History (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 85.
 Consult Glen Torrey, Romania and World War
I: A Collection of Studies (Portland, OR: Center for Romanian
Studies, 1999), 269-90; Charles Clark, United Roumania (New
York: Arno Press, 1971), 157-70; and Ilie Ceausescu, “The
Romanian Army in World War I,” War and Society in East Central
Europe, Vol. XIX, East Central European Society in World War I,
ed. Bela Kiraly, Nandor Dreisziger, and Albert Nofi (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1985), pp. 518-23.
 For terms of the treaty, check Martin
Kitchen, The Silent Dictatorship: The Politics of the German
High Command under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916-1918 (London:
Croom Helm, 1976), 189-207; Holger Herwig, The First World War:
Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (London: Arnold, 1997),
384; Clark, United Roumania, 175-77; and Cruttwell, History
of the Great War, 484-85.
 See Basil Henry Liddell Hart, History of the
First World War (London: Cassell, 1970), 350, and Cruttwell,
History of the Great War, 297.
 Torrey notes that in January 1917, “a mere
30,000 Romanian troops were at the front, with only 23,000 in
the line.” See Torrey, Romania and World War I, 270.
 Falkenhayn wrote two volumes on the Romanian
campaign. See Erich von Falkenhayn, Der Feldzug der 9. Armee
gegen die Rumänen u. Russen 1916/17, 2 Vols. (Berlin: E.S.
Mittler & Sohn, 1921). No less valuable are August von
Mackensen, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen des General Feldmarschalls
aus Krieg und Frieden (Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut AG,
1938); Paul von Hindenburg, Out of My Life, Vol. I, trans. F.A.
Holt (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927); and Erich Ludendorff,
My War Memories, Vol. I (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,
 The engagement at Orsova provided German
troops with an opportunity to outmaneuver a much larger Romanian
unit and destroy it with superior firepower. See Erich von
Falkenhayn, “Truppen-kriegsgeschichte. Beispiel 9. Turnu Severin
1916,” Teile I and II, Militär-Wochenblatt 123, no. 17 (October
21, 1938), 1078-81, and no. 18 (October 28, 1938), 1146-50, and
Lieutenant-Major Ponath, “Feuerüberfälle gegen lohnende
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