Posted 03 August 2011 - 10:47 am
Refreshed by Trajan's encouragement, I will, as promised, look in the relevant volume of the official history series Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918, Zweiter Band (The World War 1914 to 1918, Second Volume). This series of 14 standard volumes and a few specialized volumes, such as one on the railroads and one on the economy, covers the entire war, although Volumes 13 and 14, covering 1917 and 1918 (the latter "published" in 1944!) are almost unobtainable. Volume One covers the opening of the war on the Western Front. The Second Volume is entitled "The Liberation of East Prussia".
There are two or three other series of "official histories" covering WW I from the German side, but they generally cover individual battles in much greater detail, but due to this they do not come close to covering the entire war. As you might expect from this, Der Weltkrieg mentions Kalisz, but only briefly.
On page 44 there is "sketch-map 1", showing the East Front from the Baltic States to Romania on a map of about 6" by 4", so the map is quite large scale. (This term is commonly and perhaps usually mis-used; a map of 1:25,000 is "small-scale", a map of 1:250,000 is "large-scale", or at least it was in the US Army in the 1960s.) The map shows the situation as of August 10, 1914. It indicates few towns, but "Kalisch" is shown, roughly 10 km from the border. In this sector the bulk of the Russian Army is shown to be over 100 miles to the east. The map indicated that Kalisz was garrisoned, but no unit was indicated. (All that I know of was the Dragoon regiment which moved out and whose caserne was occupied by a MG company from IR 155.) The closest Russian unit indicated was the Russian 14th Cavalry Division, over 50 km to the SSE, whose symbol was about 40 km from the border. The map does not indicate a German advance into Russia/Poland at the sector of our interest. (This sector forms a salient into German and A-H territory, and if the Russians had placed major forces close to the border they would be in peril of an enveloping attack from the north-west and the south-east.)
Pages 47-48 states: "The protection of the Upper Silesian indistrial zone was now to be brought forward onto Russian soil. On August 3rd Tschenstochau (RGL note: a border town over 50 km to the south-south-east, about 15 km from the border) and Kalisch were occupied by the VI. and V. Army Corps for defense of the border. The troops to be used for doing this that were determined to be deployed in the West were quickly replaced by part of the Landwehr Corps." IR 155 was part of the V. Army Corps. What this means is that the initial limited advance into Russia, for the purpose of taking up defensive positions on favorable terrain within Russia, and to occupy the transportation nodes of Kalisz and the other occupied town, to limit the Russian ability to manuver in this sector, perhaps for an attack. In all of the description of these events in several sources I have seen no mention of the other formations of V. Army Corps; perhaps they were on their way to France, and within a day of 7th Company entering Kalisz (and being attacked, according to the history of IR 155), formations of Landwehr Regiment Nr. 7 entered Kalisz on their heels, and (supposedly) being attacked in turn.
At a higher strategic level the Germans knew that, due to the so-called Schlieffen Plan, the bulk of the German forces, including almost all first-rate units, were attacking in the west to attain a quick victory, and that relatively weak forces, mostly second- and third-rate units, were in place to defend the eastern border, and that it was understood that the Russians were going to mount a major attack against East Prussia. In the sector of our interest, it made no sense for either the Germans or the Russians to mount an offensive in this sector.
Final mention of Kalisz on page 49, bottom. "On the other hand, in Tschenstochau and to a greater extent in Kalisch there occurred heavy-casualty causing attacks of the inhabitants -- possibly induced by Russian agents -- on German Landwehr troops. Strong measures were the consequence."
The unit history of IR 155 mentioned that the Russians widely publicised the fighting and losses in Kalisz, and in fact that when a German officer with the same name as the Major Prushker (I think I have his name wrong - the CO of II. Battalion, IR 155) was captured elsewhere, crowds appeared calling out for the "murderer of Kalisz". As Russian policy was, and had been for at least 100 years (as in Napoleon's invasion of Russia), to force the population to flee and to destroy infrastructure such as housing, and engineering such an event and publicizing the damage and casualties would be a useful assist to the efforts of the Cossacks to this end. Viewed in the (speculative) light, this "incident" was much more useful to the Russians than it was to the Germans.
My grand-father, shortly before or after the end of the war, in Berlin, was visited by a friend he had made in Russian Poland or possibly western Russia in 1915 during the invasion. Once rich, he was penny-less, and my grand-father took him in and gave him a room in his house. Some months later, still in winter, there was a knock at the door, and there was a man standing there, looking like a beggar or something, dressed in a wild-looking bulky leather coat, asking for the Russian/Polish gentleman. He was the overseer of the Pole's (?) estate, and when the revolution came he buried the man's jewels and pretended to be a communist. The crazy coat was sable, three layers thick, turned inside-out, with the skins showing. The overseer went into my grandfather's poolroom and took out a leather pouch, and poured a heap of jems on the pool table, and suddenly the Pole/Russian was very rich. The overseer had bribed his way west by breakng off the gold and platinum settings and exchanging them for transportation and safety, retaining the stones. Thje man offered my grand-father his pick of the jems, for taking him in, when he was penny-less. My grand-father refused, but finally accepted a giant natural pearl, which he had made into a stick-pin for his tie. He wore it in alternate days with a stick-pin with a small cultivated pearl; a cynic, he delighted in how people verbally admired the small artificial pearl pin, but never mentioned the giant natural pearl, which they assumed was a piece of plastic or some other junk.