LITHUANIA DURING WORLD WAR I


For Russia World War I began on 1 august 1914 with the declaration of war on Russia.
Russia started with an invasion of Eastern Prussia, but in August There was only one German army (the 8th) in the east and after German reverses Paul von Hindenburg get the supreme command of the eastern front. The greatest part of the 8th Army was transformed to a new 9th Army, from September 17 under command of Hindenburg. On 1 November 1914 he became "Oberbefehlshabers der gesamten deutschen Streitkräfte im Osten" (Ober-befehlshaber Ost) (Supreme Commander East). General-major Erich Ludendorff became his General-Chief of staff.
Now the eastern front had a separate command, that could start operations at the eastern front independently. On November 11 a offensive is started, but in western Poland the front get stuck. In the winter of 1914/1915 the front line runs here. On the end of January 1915 Hindenburg get at his disposal four new army corpses: three new formed reserve corpses and a fourth (21 th) corps consisting of Alsatians and soldiers from Lorraine.

'Conquered artillery in Kaunas', card sent in 1917 as fieldpost.

Original print size of this image: 14,156 x 9,127 cm
(is something more as the postal item).
This picture and all pictures below on this page, if not mentioned otherwise: scanned about 300 dpi.
Then set right and cut out - noted the actual print size-, resized 25 % of this image and saved as jpg .



The new 10 th Army (under General-Oberst Hermann von Eichhorn) came north of the railway line Königsberg-Insterburg-Eydtkuhnen. South of this line the troops stay by the 8th Army. A spring-offensive started under leadership of the German chef of the general staff, Erich von Falkenhayn.
Mid-1915, the Russians had been expelled from Russian Poland.
After the danger was averted in the east, the function of the 'Oberbefehlshaber Ost' (Supreme Commander East) was stripped more and more: no longer the supreme command of the eastern front, only of the Njemen-Armee, the 10 th Army and the 12 th Army. From 24 August the greatest part of 'Russian Poland' did not fall under the Oberbefehlshaber Ost and became the Generalgouvernement Warschau. Nevertheless there were successes: on August 18, 1915, Hindenburg's 10 th Army conquered Kaunas.
At the end of 1915 German advance in the Baltic was stopped on the line Riga–Jakobstadt–Dünaburg. Riga is occupied 3 September 1917.

After resizing in the computer you can see in the upper side of the postmark 'Deutsche Feldpost' . From 15 February 1917 is decided to give the fieldpostoffices new postmarks and numbers, to use for purposes as registered post .
Also the old postmarks -used for the private post of the army- were cut: only 'Kais. Deutsche Feldpost' or 'K.D. Feldpost' or 'D. Feldpost' or 'Feldpost', and the date.
From beginning 1917 new postmarks were introduced in the fieldpost-offices as above: at the top 'Deutsche Feldpost' and date, sometimes 1-3 stars and a character.


Literature:

  • Paštai Kaune 1915-1918 metais ./ Vytautas Doniela In: LPS 2005 ; no. 1 & 2 (234). - p. 50-61. - [About: Kaunas post 1915-1918, German occupation and first Lithuanian stamps, article in Lithuanian]






Card, sent 13 oktober 1915 from Hungary.
After the fall of Kaunas the 10th Army prepared the attack on Vilnius. The 10th Army was composed of four army-corpses: 1th, 3th Reserve, 21th corps and 40th reserve-corpse.
Vilnius was defended also by the 10th army, the Russian 10th Army. The Russians were afraid to be surrounded and give up the position Vilnius. So the city is occupied without any resistance: on 18 september the 46th Landwehrbrigade, part of the 14th Landwehrdivision, marched into Vilnius under command of count Pfeil.
The 14th Landwehrdivision, the 79th reserve-dividion, the 76th reserve division and the 3th reserve-division formed together the 40th Reserve-corps, under command of general Litzmann.
On 18 September 1915 Vilnius was captured by the Germans and the Headquarters of 10 th Army moved also to Vilnius, but went next moth further to another place.

From 4 November the area between Poland and the front line is designated administratively as Land OberOst.

More about the fall of Vilnius:

  • De val van Vilnius in September 1915 / Vytautas Doniela. - In: Het Baltische Gebied 2000 ; 36. - p. 20-32. - Transl. in Dutch from the Lithuanian. - Original title: Vilniaus kritimas 1915 metais. - In: Paštas ir Filatelija Lietuvoje 1999 ; 43. - p. 79-90



Following the track of the armies also an administration was set up. By the 'Etappeninspektionen' (staff of the armies) they were putting on 'Verwaltungschefs' (Verwaltung=bestuur) in in the summer of 1915, with under them 'Kreishauptleute'. So the different 'Etappenverwaltungen' came into being:

  • Kurland (Etappe Njemenarmy and 8e Army) on 16-8-1915, seat in Mitau
  • Bialystok (Etappe 9e) on 29-9-1915, seat in Bialystok
  • Suwalki (Etappe 10e) on 18-6-1915 in Suwalki
  • Wilna (Etappe 10e Army) on 23-11-1915, seat in Wilna (Vilnius)
  • Litauen (Etappe Njemen/8e) on 18-8-1915, seat in Tilsit, later in Kaunas
  • Grodno (etappe 12) on 29-9-1915, in Grodno



The Russian State Post and Fieldpost

Before the conquering by the German Army the regular Russian State post functioned of course in Lithuania, but there were also Russian fieldpost-offices in the Lithuanian area. In Vilnius a head-fieldpost-office was opened (July 1914 to September 1915). Also there was established a fieldpost-office of the headquarters 1 th Army (July 1914), and of the headquarters of the 10 th Army, of the Garde-Corps, 26 th Army-Corps, and 3 th Sibir. Army-Corps (August-September 1915). Further the 2 th Army-Corps (april 1915), the 5 th and 23 th Army-Corps (August 1915) and 34 th Army-Corps (May-July 1915) were in Vilnius temporarely.