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aptured by the Austro-Hungarians. In the north Field Marshal on Hindenburg's efforts to divert the Russian activities in the south by a general offensive along the Dvina line had not developed beyond increased artillery bombardments which apparently exerted no influence on the movements of the Russian armies in Volhynia, Galicia and the Bukowina.
The only hopeful sign for the fate of the threatened AustroHungarian armies was the fact that the daily number of prisoners taken by the Russians gradually seemed to decrease, indicating that the Austrians found it possible by now, if not to withstand the Russian onslaught, at least to save the largest part of their armies. Even at that the Russian General Staff claimed to have captured by June 12, 1916, a total of 1,700 officers and 114,000 men. Inasmuch as it was estimated that the total Austrian forces on the southwestern front at the beginning of the operations were 670,000, of which, according to Russian claims, the losses cannot be less than 200,000, including an estimated 80,000 killed and wounded, the total losses now constituted 30 per cent of the enemy's effectives.
How the news of the continued Russian successes was received in the empire's capital and what, at that time, was expected as the immediate results of this remarkable drive, secondary only to the Austro-German drive of the summer and fall of 1915, are vividly described in the following letter, written from Petrograd on June 13, 1916, by a special correspondent of the London <Times”:
"As the successive bulletins recording our unprecedented victories on the southwestern fronts come to hand, the pride and joy of the Russian people are becoming too great for adequate expression. There is an utter absence of noisy demonstrations. The whole nation realizes that the victory is the result of the combined efforts of all classes, which have given the soldiers abundant munitions, and of an admirable organization.
“The remarkable progress in training the reserves since the beginning of this year was primarily responsible for the enormous increase in the efficiency of our armies and the heightening of their morale. The strategy of our southwestern offensive has been seconded by a remarkable improvement in the railways and communications. Last, but not least, it must be noted that the Russian high command long ago recognized that the essential condition of the overthrow of the Austro-German league, so far as this front is concerned, was the completion of the work of disintegration in the Austrian armies, in which Russia has already achieved such wonderful results. At the rate at which they are at present being exterminated it would require many weeks completely to exhaust the military resources of the Dual Empire and to turn the flank of the German position in Poland.
"The consensus of military opinion is inclined to the belief that the Germans will not venture to transfer large reenforcements to the Galician front, as it would require too much time and give the Allies a distinct advantage in other theaters. But as the Germans were obviously bound to do something to save the Austrian army, they are endeavoring to create a diversion north of the Pripet in various directions. The points selected for these efforts are almost equidistant on the right flank of the Riga front, near Jacobstadt, and south of Lake Drisviaty, where the enemy's maximum activity synchronized with General Lechitsky's greatest successes on the southern front. ...
"On the southwestern front all eyes are now focused on General Lechitsky's rapid advance on Zaleszcyky and Czernowitz. As the official reports show, the Austrians have already blown up a bridge across the Pruth at Mahala, thus indicating that they entertain scant hope of being able to hold Czernowitz, and they may even now be evacuating the city. General Lechitsky's gallant army, which some months ago stormed the important stronghold of Uscieszko on the Dniester, has performed prodigies of valor in its advance during the last few days. The precipitous banks of the Dniester had been converted into one continuous stronghold which appeared impregnable and last December defied all our efforts to overcome the enemy's resistance. In the first few days of the offensive we took one of the principal positions between Okna and Dobronowce, southeast of Zaleszcyky. Dobronowce and the surrounding mountains, which are thickly covered with forests, were regarded by the enemy as a reliable protection against any advance on Czernowitz. The country beyond offers no such opportunities for defense.
"General Brussilov's operations on the flanks of the AustroGerman army under Von Linsingen are proceeding with wonderful rapidity. All the efforts of German reenforcements to drive in a counterwedge at Kolki, Rozhishshe and Targowica, at the wings and apex of our Rovno salient, proved ineffectual. On the other hand, we have scored most important successes west of Dubno, capturing the highly important point of Demidovka, marking an advance of twenty miles to the west. Demidovka places us in command of the important forest region of Dubno, which, as its name indicates, is famous for its oak trees. These forests form a natural stronghold, of which the Ikva and the Styr may be compared to immense moats protecting it on two sides. The possession of this valuable base will enable General Brussilov to checkmate any further effort on the part of the enemy to counter our offensive at Targowica, which is situated fifteen miles to the north.
"The valiant troops of our Eighth Army, who have altogether advanced nearly thirty miles into the enemy's position in the direction of Kovel, will doubtless be in a position powerfully to assist the thrust of the troops beyond Tarnopol and join hands with them in the possible event of an advance on Lemberg."
On June 13, 1914, the progress of the Russian armies continued along the entire 250-mile front from the Pripet River to the Rumanian border. The capture of twenty officers, 6,000 men, six cannon, and ten machine guns brought the total, captured by the Russian troops, up to about 120,000 men, 1,720 officers, 130 cannon and 260 machine guns, besides immense quantities of material and munitions.
South of Kovel the Austrians, reenforced by German troops, offered the most determined resistance near the village of Zaturzi halfway between Lutsk and Vladimir-Volynski. Southwest of Dubno, in the direction of Brody and Lemberg, Kozin was stormed by the Russians, who were now only ten miles from the Galician border. To the north of Buczacz, on the right bank of the Strypa, a strong counterattack launched by the Austrians could
not prevent the Russians from occupying the western heights in the region of Gaivivonka and Bobulintze, where only two days before the Austrians had been able to drive back their opponents. But the most furious battle of all raged for the possession of Czernowitz. A serious blow was struck to the Austro-Hungarian defenders when the Russians captured the town of Sniatyn, on the Pruth, about twenty miles northwest of Czernowitz, on the Czernowitz-Kolomea-Lemberg railway. This seriously threatened the brave garrison which held the capital of the Bukowina, as it put the Russians in a position where they could sweep southward and cut off the defenders of Czernowitz, if they should hold out to the last. In fact the entire Austro-Hungarian army in the Bukowina was now facing this peril.
The first massed attack against Von Hindenburg's lines since the offensive in the south began was delivered on June 13, 1916, when, after a systematic artillery preparation by the heaviest guns at the Russians' disposal, troops in dense formation launched a furious assault against the Austro-German positions north of Baranovitchy. The attack was repeated six times, but each broke down under the Teuton fire with serious losses to the attackers, who in their retreat were placed under the fire of their own artillery.
Baranovitchy is an important railway intersection of great strategical value and saw some of the fiercest fighting during the Russian retreat in the fall of 1915. It is the converging point of the Brest-Litovsk-Moscow and Vilna-Rovno railways. Sixty-one miles to the west lies Lida, one of the commanding points of the entire railway systems of western Russia.
Again, on June 14, 1916, the number of prisoners in the hands of the Russians was increased by 100 officers and 14,000 men, bringing the grand total up to over 150,000. All along the entire front the Russians pressed their advance, gaining considerable ground, without, however, achieving any success of great importance.
Closer and closer the lines were drawn about Czernowitz, though on June 16, 1916, the city was still reported as held by the Austrians. On that day furious fighting also took place south of Buczacz, where the Russians in vain attempted to cross the Dniester in order to join hands with their forces which were advancing from the north against Czernowitz with Horodenka, on the south bank of the Dniester as a base. To the west of Lutsk in the direction toward Kovel, now apparently the main objective of General Brussilov, the Austro-Hungarians had received strong German reenforcements under General von Linsingen and successfully denied to the Russians a crossing over the Stokhod and Styr Rivers.
June 17, 1916, was a banner day in the calendar of the Russian troops. It brought them once more into possession of the Bukowinian capital, Czernowitz.
Czernowitz is one of the towns whose people have suffered most severely from the fluctuating tide of war.
Its cosmopolitan population, the greater part of whom are Germans, have seen it change hands no less than five times in twenty-one months. The first sweep of the Russian offensive in September, 1914, carried beyond it, but they had to capture it again two months later, when they proceeded to drive the Austrians out of the whole of the Bukowina. By the following February, however, the Austrians, with German troops to help them, were again at its gates, and they forced the Russians to retire beyond the Pruth. For a week the battle raged about the small town of Sudagora, opposite Czernowitz, the seat of a famous dynasty of miracle-working rabbis, but the forces of the Central Powers were in overwhelming numbers, and with the loss of Kolomea—the railway junction forty-five miles to the west, which the Russians were again rapidly approachingthe whole region became untenable and the Russians retired to the frontier.
Czernowitz is a clean and pleasant town of recent date. А century ago it was an insignificant village of 5,000 people. Today it has several fine buildings, the most conspicuous of which is the Episcopal Palace, with a magnificent reception hall. In one of the squares stands the monument erected in 1875 to commemorate the Austrian occupation of the Bukowina.