In The Trenches on the Eastern Front
By the close of 1914 the German Army found itself facing it’s worst nightmare – a war on two fronts; facing the Allies in the West and the Russians in the East. The Eastern Front during the Great War tied up millions of German troops between 1914 and 1918 and a huge amount of resources that would have clearly given Germany an advantage if it had been available in France and Flanders. Although combat was not as brutal as it would be a generation later, but by the close of fighting there was an estimated 2 million battlefield casualties.
From an album owned by a German Gunner this photograph shows the album’s owner, Leo Rosenthal (left, with binoculars), in a forward Observation Post close to the Russian lines. The soldier with the optics is a fellow German, but the other two are members of the Austro-Hungarian Army. Their involvement in the campaign in Russia is almost forgotten. Leo served with an Field Artillery Regiment in the 48th (Reserve) Division. He joined them from his home in Cologne in 1915 and served for three years in Russia before he was killed in France in 1918.
The photo gives a good insight into the trenches used by the Germans in Russia, almost identical to those on the Western Front.