Peace In The East – The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk I THE GREAT WAR Week 189

Peace In The East – The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk I THE GREAT WAR Week 189


It was a momentous occasion. 43 months after the war began, the first one
of the major players was leaving it for good. This week, Russia signed a peace treaty with
the Central Powers. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Ottomans advanced toward the
Caucasus and the Germans advanced along the whole Eastern Front. The Russians were desperate to finally sign
a peace treaty, and German Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff was making plans to break
the Allies in the west. A lot of that stuff was really linked together. For example, the German advance would not
stop until a peace treaty with Russia was actually signed. On the 2nd, the Germans entered Kiev, which
the Bolsheviks had taken a month ago. They also occupied Narva, the most easterly
Estonian city, some 130 km from Petrograd. In under two weeks, the Germans had taken
63,000 prisoners, 2,600 artillery pieces, and 5,000 machine guns. Bolshevik leaders Lenin and Trotsky had no
choice but to tell their delegates to sign whatever was offered, and on March 3rd, the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, officially ending the war for Russia. The economic terms were actually quite moderate. The 1904 commercial treaty was reaffirmed
and Russia agreed to stay out of any postwar economic boycott of Germany. Nor did Russia have to pay any reparations,
and both sides would reimburse each other for taking care of prisoners of war. Okay, Germany won pretty big on that particular
point, and the Bolsheviks also agreed to return 630,000 Austrian prisoners of war. The big damage to Russia was in terms of land. Russia had to give up a third of its population,
some 55 million people. Most of these were ethnically non-Russian,
but they sure weren’t German either. Russia also had to give up a lot of its heavy
industry, 90% of its coal production, and a lot of its best agricultural land. They had to recognize the Ukrainian Rada as
the legitimate Ukrainian government and evacuate their armed forces from Ukraine. They had to give up the Caucasus districts
of Kars, Batum, and Ardahan. They had to evacuate Finland, though they’d
already agreed to that. In fact, they had to give up any sovereignty
west of the Riga- Brest-Litovsk line and let Germany and Austria-Hungary decide the fate
of Poland, Lithuania, and Courland. Even east of this, though, the Germans would
occupy Estonia and Livonia until they could set up sympathetic national institutions. The Russian Black Sea fleet was to be disarmed
and all Russian bases in the Baltic except Kronstadt were taken away. Still, though, the treaty did not contain
any official annexations, and kind of did embody the Kuhlmann-Czernin plan of expanding
Central Powers influence under the guise of “self determination” that we talked about
a few weeks ago. Because of this lack of annexations, the German
Reichstag pretty easily ratified it. Russia’s post-revolutionary politics had
really failed here. Well, had failed for a few months. (1914-1918) “The Bolshevik regime sought
an immediate general peace, but by signing the armistice it broke up its army, thus depriving
itself of all bargaining leverage and being forced to conclude a separate settlement. Naturally, Lenin had no intention of abiding
by it any longer than he had to, but nor had OHL (German High Command), and Brest-Litovsk
failed to halt military operations in the east. On the contrary, German expansion into former
Tsarist territory was only just beginning, while the treaty accelerated the drift of
Russian internal conflict towards mass terror and civil war.” Germany had sent 70,000 troops to Finland,
which was a good source of nickel, and Kaiser Wilhelm had designs for putting one of his
sons on the Finnish throne. A “friendship” treaty with Finland would
ensure that Finland could make no alliances without German consent, could not raise tariffs
on German imports, and had to provide military and naval bases for German use. Ludendorff had said to Austrian Foreign Minister
Count Czernin during the peace process, “If Germany makes peace without profit then Germany
has lost the war.” Hindenburg had told the Kaiser that any peace
must give Germany such formidable borders that no enemy would dare start another conflict
with them. Belgium, for example, was indispensible to
this idea of security. It would serve as a permanent deployment base
that could close off Calais to British deployment and could easily threaten Paris. That’s how you’d deter the Allies in future. Hindenburg had even written to Chancellor
Georg von Hertling back in December that Germany should renew its claim to a 99-year lease
on the Belgian coastline and keep the Liege area in any peace (1914-1918), keeping Belgium
under military control. But Germany holding any of Belgium was a total
deal breaker for the Allies, so negotiations were not possible. And so was the option of remaining on the
defensive. Unrestricted submarine warfare had brought
the US into the war without knocking Britain out of it, and U-Boat construction was experiencing
some difficulties. Ludendorff doubted the subs could prevent
US troops from arriving en masse, and once they were there it would lead to a gradual
state of exhaustion for the German armies if they just held their ground. Both he and Hindenburg, thought – probably
correctly – that the men dreaded long defensive battles like Passchendaele more than offensive
action. Reserves were running low, production was
shrinking, and Germany’s allies did not have the staying power of the Entente forces. If there was no hope of victory, then why
continue? On the other hand, even a failed offensive
would encourage the army to try again in the next war. Yep. Ludendorff told the Reichstag he was willing
to lose a million men in the effort. So an offensive it was to be – a huge huge
offensive before the US troops could arrive in force. Thing is, eastward expansion now after Brest-Litovsk
might starve the western armies of men needed for the offensive. Still, according to the German official history,
between November 1, 1917, and March 21, 1918, Eastern Front divisions dropped from 85 to
47 and Western front ones rose from 147 to 191. Eight German divisions were also moved from
Italy to the western front, smaller numbers from Macedonia, and even a small Austro-Hungarian
force was moved to France for the first time in the war. And let’s be clear, the forces transported
from east to west were the best ones from there, and those left behind lost most of
their men under 35 and fell below strength. They also had to give up a lot of horses. And the conscript class of 1899 came into
the lines the first few months of this year. In fact, by the middle of March, the Western
armies had over 3.4 million men and over 700,000 horses. The eastern armies had fewer than a third
the number of men and well under half the horses. But most of the movement westward happened
before Brest-Litovsk, and it now began to slow down since Germany was going to have
to pacify and control the new territory. Romania also signed a treaty with the Central
Powers this week, which gave southern Dobrogea to Bulgaria. It did allow for Romania to take Bessarabia,
but only if the Romanians could extract it from Bolshevik rule. And to the southeast there were even more
hops of a peace being signed. The Transcaucasian Diet was still awaiting
the opening of peace negotiations with the Ottoman government at Trabzon when the Brest-Litovsk
Treaty was signed. As I said, that treaty made the Russians give
up the Batum, Ardahan, and Kars districts. What would happen there would be a plebiscite
where the locals could determine their own future. The Transcaucasian delegates, in a state of pretty high anxiety, arrived in
Trabzon the 8th as the week ended. The Ottoman delegation had yet to arrive. And as we’ve seen, there was already fighting
in the area. The Ottoman vanguard was approaching Erzurum
already last week, and by now, elements of the Turkish 36th Division and the 5th and
11th Caucasian Divisions had appeared along the road from Bayburt. But the Ottomans were going to be stymied
in Palestine. British commander Edmund Allenby’s Hejaz
railway sabotage plans would prevent Ottoman troops from Medina from reaching the front
lines north of Amman, and also prevent troops from Damascus from a surprise attack behind
Allenby’s lines. There was still, though, a decent threat on
British supply lines from the Turkish garrison at Maan, so it was decided last week that
the Arab Revolt forces- Allenby’s allies- should attack Maan at the same time the British
occupy Salt, some 60km northeast of Jerusalem, in the hills east of the River Jordan. Salt would be the springboard for the British
attack on the railway at Amman, 25km to the east. And we come to the end of another week of
the war. The renewed German advance stops as the Russians
sign what can only be described as a humiliating peace. The Romanians sign peace as well, the Transcaucasian
Federation wants it, even as the Ottomans are on the march, and we get closer and closer
to the new German offensive on the Western Front. Does it seem greedy to you? German demands from Russia? I mean, a third of the population and 90%
of the coal? Okay, Russia was beaten; Germany could’ve
marched straight to Petrograd and Moscow. They could take as much land as they wanted,
but I wonder if it’s a good idea. Because you then have to leave soldiers there
to control the local populations that don’t want you there. And maybe those soldiers would come in handy
for your offensive in the west. Well, either way, in the east or in the west,
for many of those troops it’s going to be the same 1918- there will be blood.

100 thoughts on “Peace In The East – The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk I THE GREAT WAR Week 189

  1. That was 1918, the race in 2018 is to see if The Great War can get to a million subscribers and earn a Golden Play Button before the deadline on 11 November. … (Whoops, that date may be a spoiler!)

  2. Hi Indy! Love the show but i have a few questions possibly for Out of the trenches. Are you going to do a similar show with ww2 since this weekly baisis is really effective

  3. You said: "According to the official German history"
    So my question is: What is the German official history?

  4. Will you guys continuing after ending The Great War? I want to know what happened after. I'm too lazy to search it on the internet or books.

  5. I think it was a smart move of Germany to do that if it had done right. Propaganda! Here the Germans could have created under the falsehood of liberation to other nations like Finland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland giving them their independence but under the German influence. That will make it easier to seek the support of other minorities under the colonial rule of the Entente by promising them freedom and independency. Plus i don't believe that it would cost that much soldier since they would start to build their own army and build a nation for themselves. The only thread they need to guard at that time would be Russian returning to take back the land which I don't think possible at that time.

  6. Brest-Litovsk may have been intended as a pseudo land grab, but in practice it opened up the path of self-rule for many in Eastern Europe, for which a lot of people are also grateful, my own family members included. Versailles did no such thing, it just took German land with German people and gave it to foreign nations, furthering the rise of fascism.

  7. Seems like Germany won. GG, WP. Although, kind of a waste of manpower to occupy so much Russian land. In the short term, "no war, no peace" was probably mutually benefitial. Oh, well… They won't need those men, I am of it.

  8. the treaty seem OK imo, there wasn't meany monetary hits and the territory lost was't exactly Russian, you mess up a war you lose the empire game, this peace seem's very EU4 XD

  9. Given that Belgium was the chief cause of was with Britain, and the submarine war was the cause of war with USA, withdrawing from belguim after signing a peace would still be a German victory if they could keep their new protectorates in the east, especially Poland , the Ukraine and the Baltic’s coast

  10. Some sloppy research on this one.
    Germans did not really land in continental Finland until April 3rd. They only deployed naval units to Aland waters in March.
    And what nickel ? Petsamo mine was not discovered until 1921 and Finland did not get a hold on that territory until 1920 anyway.

  11. Thanks for another great and exiting episode! Sometimes it is said that the Brest-Litovsk treaty was kind of a blueprint for the treaty of Versailles to justify the harsh conditions of the Versailles treaty. You pointed out that the Russian-German peace was very tough in terms of annexation but therefore was quite reasonable regarding the economic side. In my eyes this is quite the opposite for Versailles which took away a moderate amount of land but was devastating in economic terms for Germany. What is your opinion about? Can you somehow compare the two treaties? Maybe this could be worth a special or the mighty chair of wisdom is willing to share his thoughts on this through the mouth of its willing servant Indy when the time arrives.

  12. A question for Out of the Trenches (if it does not get covered in regular episodes or in a special): what happened in Romania as Russia signed peace? Did they had any plan? Were they counting on the support of the other Allies?

  13. Were the austro-hungarian prisoners of war, upon returning used for combat again? 650,000 seems like a formidable amount. I however, understand that rearming them, retraining them and the overall logisitics of getting them prepared for war, would be hard due to the capabilities of the empires industries and food shortages. Although the central powers did take control of Ukraine so that would have provided food for a while. I don't know if all Russian troops were returned, from the video I take it is at least a portion of them were, but that would have fixed some of the food problem surely.

  14. Why didn't the Germans take the population of the occupied lands that were previously soldiers anyways and March them to the west and keep the normal Germans to occupy and take possibly 1/3 of the army and send them west plus have the Austrian soldiers sent to the west and have Romania as a buffer if the Russians would try anything

  15. Indy the Austro-Hungarian army had 152 heavy artillery pieces sent to the Western front to support the upcoming German offensives. This is from Austria-Hungary's Last War 1914-1918 Vol 7 it's online www.conroestudies.com/StanHanna.

    The Austrians sent a few heavy 30.5 cm guns to the Western front in 1914 for attacking the Belgium forts

  16. Did Germany really need over 1 million men in the Eastern territories just prior to Kaiserschlacht? Imagine what the extra weight of numbers could have done on the Western front.

  17. Hello, please make a video about Ukraine’s Nestor Mahno. He and his army are controversial and unique because they were some of the first military anarchists in the world and to this day there are people in Ukraine and Russia who either absolutely hate Mahno or try to make him their national hero. Thanks

  18. 4:40 This is the most important aspect of the entire Great War (see also "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann). Germany was convinced it was going to be attacked by nations that had no intention of doing so. Germany then, was amazingly similar to North Korea today.

  19. I have a bit of a META question for OOTT: What will happen when the War ends? Will you keep making specials and, “Who did whats”, or will you make a new channel about WW2 and call it, “It Happened Again”?

  20. Hi I have a question for out of the trenches what happened to civilians who were still living in a war zones such as shown in call of duty ww2

  21. I had a lecturer at university who I asked about the Treaty of Versailles. He made the point that if you look at the terms that were usually handed out around this period, Versailles wasn't uniquely harsh. Russia got absolutely duped with B-L though.

  22. Actually, the peace treaty signed with Romania this week was only preliminary. The final peace treaty will be signed on 7 May 1918.

  23. Victory! Central Powers have achieved victory. Now, on to the Western front to push back the French, Brits and Yanks. Those Yanks will be a pushover, I'm sure of it. Once Paris falls, so to does the war end.

  24. Nearly there, I see the end coming and hundreds of thousands of us gathered in random places celebrating what ended 100 years ago

  25. Germany should have been on defense in the West from day one – Take out Russia, use the land and then turn on the West … much better chance to win.

  26. http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.encyclop.data.image.w/w438953a.jpg
    Austro-Hungarian soldiers advancing on the Eastern Front. The caption says Ukraine but does not mention a year (another source for the same photo said it was Poland in 1915). It could also be 1917 or early 1918. It seems to be spring or autumn, or a winter day not cold enough to freeze the mud. It is a typical dirt road in the region that would make advances rather slow and difficult in wet conditions.

  27. You did ignore the fact that the russian territories were to be "liberated" as a sort of puppet states and not annexed (which would mean a large occupying force would be necessary). Also the treaty of Brest-Litowsk had no reparations included and didnt blame one side for the outbreak of the war, so it was more than fair compaired to Versailles.

  28. Question for out of trenches: Did the "harsh" treatment of "reparations" the germans demanded from the Russians set the precedent for the Entente harsh, if not impossible to meet demands of the Germans when they lost the war? Was there any citing or justification provided by the Entente powers/League of Nations to justify such high reparations from Germany? Just curious if there is any correlation at all between the two.

  29. Guys, ww1 ended on November 11th, 1918. We’re almost at the 100 year anniversary of the end of ww1. What will the channel do then?

  30. Hey Indy I have a question for you about That peace treaty , I know Germany was keen on Belgium however with all the land that they got from Russia and with all the nations except for US exhausted from the war and that all their old and new allies (Poland ,Lithuania,etc ) would most likely back them up in another war why wouldn’t they just let Belgium go ?

  31. I lied that pic of Blankebergh. 've always been fascinated by what the coast (the end of the front line) must hae looked like. Does anyone got good sources on this (book/website/pictures?)

  32. Did you know that Poles protested against this treaty? Because of "independence" of Ukraine. Chunk of Ukraine's territory historically was part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Poles didn't want to give it to the Ukrainians.

  33. The harsh terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk do put the terms of the Treaty of Versailles into perspective. Had Germany won the war, Britain and France would've had to to sign an equally punishing treaty, if not an even more punishing one.
    The war was far beyond either side looking to rebuild somewhat stable post-war relationships. Four years of war had embittered all sides to the point of "an eye for an eye". The seeds of WW2 were sown when the treaties to end WW1 were signed.

  34. If the Germans gave the states independence, but they recognised Wilhelm as their king and had to come to arms when called upon. That would mean that the Germans would be able to spare 1,100,000 soldiers and those 350,000 horses. Wouldn't that mean they would have made a successful finishing push into France?

  35. Wait… Germany WANTED to install a king in Finland? But… we offered the position and were rejected. I feel so confused right now.

  36. It’s only a third of the population because that’s where a third live. Russia was seriously(and still is) underpopulated for the landmass they control. The buffer land between Germany and Russia has 2 main objectives 1. To be a buffer as you stated a so formidable to attack. And 2. To provide the materiel so desperately needed. All that Ukrainian arable land would provide the food needed back in heartland Germany.

  37. And Wehraboos say the Treaty if Versailles was bad. Nothing compared to what the Germans would have done to the Allies if they had won.

  38. I don’t know about you guys, but it seems like the Germans have it in the bag. They just need to capitulate France quickly

  39. The German army should never have been allowed to march intact back into Germany. This pushed the feeling that the army was stabbed in the back by communist civilians back home. The reality was the German army supplies were finished, it was defeated. Admittedly If The USA had its way the war would have continued, more men, sadly, would have died.
    My worry is that Germany is again trying to recreate a sort of new Holy Roman Empire through the EU. With an EU army no country will be allowed to leave.

  40. Eastern front summary:
    AuH means Austria Hungary
    AuH: Why did you do that Serbia?
    Serbia: Hehehehe… heh… heh… uh oh…
    AuH: I’ll give you an ultimatum. Delete all propaganda against me.
    AuH: Also allow my police to investigate on your land.
    Serbia: I’ll do the former.
    AuH: Not the latter?
    Serbia: Nope
    AuH: This means war!
    Russia: I’m friends with Serbia!
    Germany: I’m friends with Austria! Please don’t mobilize.
    Russia: I’m mobilizing anyways.
    Germany: I’ll declare war on you!
    (a while of fighting later)
    Russia: Ha! I took Galicia from Austri- oh…
    Germany: Got too distracted, huh? I took the rest of Poland.
    Russia: No I will keep fighting!
    (one stalemate later)
    Russian Republic is abbreviated RR
    Bolsheviks is shortened to SR (Soviet Russia)
    Back to the story.
    RR: We hate the Tsar! Down with the monarchy! We will do a better job at this!
    Russia: Fine…
    RR: Yay!
    SR: We want communism! Food for the people!
    RR: Nope there’s already been 1 revolution, we don’t want you.
    SR: If you can’t do that then I will invade you
    RR: Pfff you puny little thing, you cannot kill me!
    SR: Let’s see about that… (grows big over couple days)
    RR: Yep. I deserve to lose.
    Britain: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO WE WANT RR BACK!!!
    SR: Peace?
    Germany: Yep
    (the end)

  41. Russia should have more defense against german and offense to Austria cause if i see that german had already under siege and this whole plan is to divert Austria sight from Serbia so Serbia can keep standing. Use geography, thin out their line

  42. Treaty of Paris 1871 and Treaty of Brest Litovsk show how caring an non expansionist Germany was… and how Germany was the real victim of WW1 with the "spiteful Treaty of Versailles …

  43. On your last point Indy, I'm just gonna hazard a guess and say I think the occupation of the territories taken in the Treaty of B-L would be pretty easy considering it was something like self determination. Like if there's already a government in Ukraine that's pretty great.

  44. But anyway there was still German 47 divisions in Eastern Front in late March 1918 and 30 divisions in role to confirm Brest-Litovsk Treaty. And Germans were not unable to used them in Kaiserschlacht.

  45. German military losses in 1914 were higher in Eastern Front than in Western Front and after that only slightly more than half of their all losses came from Western Front.

  46. 11.09.1914
    >It was also this week that saw the Pact of London, when France, Britain and Russia that none of them would make a seperate peace with Germany or Austria-Hungary. They would fight to the end

    08.03.1918
    This week, Russia signed a peace treaty with the Central Powers

    >que "curb your enthusiasm" theme

  47. Very interesting video. I am from Brest in Belarus, the former Brest-Litovsk, I highly recommend visiting, a city that is incredibly beautiful.

  48. For the first time in 189 episodes I disagree – the Germans didn't actually need to leave troops in Russia to control the newly acquired land/population. They could simply have made those areas independent states. The only areas they needed to control with troops were the resources (coal, crops, and oil).

  49. And Starlin punished Russians for this peace with a iron hand And set out to wit them into shape A force that would never turn and leave their Country behind again

  50. I don't feel bad for Russia on them losing all this land, 'cuz it's all independent countries at the moment, people who have distinctly not-russia national identities.

  51. People who say that Brest.Litovsk was unfair make it sound like its Germanys fault that one third of the Russian empires population werent Russians and that 90% of the Russian coal was in Ukraine.

  52. Why are there so many awful commercials on your channel? Seriously, there are more minutes of commercials than minutes of content and they are the bottom of the barrel for YouTube commercials. Its sickening I try to listen as I work but have to stop every few minutes to skip multiple adds as they continue to play forever if not skipped. I let it play and it played 6 adds in a row and did not stop until I skipped then two minutes later it is back to playing adds. To you advertisers, I will never, ever, buy an iPhone, a Volkswagen, an iPhone case, watch a lame soap opera, or sponsor Tom Steyer in his campaign so please stop advertising this garbage to me.

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