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Lake Naroch Offensive
Part of the Eastern Front during World War I
DateMarch 18 – April 1916
LocationLake Narach, present-day Belarus
Result German victory
Russian Empire Russian Empire German Empire German Empire
Commanders and leaders
Alexei Kuropatkin
Alexei Evert
Hermann von Eichhorn
Second Army
350,000 men
1,000 guns[1]
Tenth Army
75,000 men
400 guns[1]
Casualties and losses
100,000[2] 20,000[2]

The Lake Naroch Offensive was a battle mainly fought in March 1916.


Under the terms of the Chantilly Agreement of December 1915 Russia, France, Britain and Italy were committed to simultaneous attacks against the Central Powers in the summer of 1916. Russia felt the need to lend troops to fight in France and Salonika (against her own wishes), and to attack on the Eastern Front, in the hope of obtaining munitions from Britain and France.[3]

The Lake Naroch Offensive was launched at the request of the French General Joffre, in the hope that the Germans would transfer more units to the East after their attack on Verdun.[4] Nicholas II acceded to the French request, choosing the Lake Narach area in the Vilno area in Belarus because there 350,000 Russians (parts of two army groups) faced just 75,000 Germans (X Army under General Eichhorn).


The Russian initial artillery bombardment was quite long (it lasted two days), but inaccurate, leaving most of the German artillery intact, and the Russian troops, who made the mistake of crossing no man's land in groups rather than scattered about, were easy targets for German machine guns. The attackers gained a few kilometers, but did not inflict any serious damage to the German defenses — which were well organized and fortified — although the Russians greatly outnumbered their adversaries.

The Russian offensive petered out in April 1916. All gained territory by the Russians was lost to subsequent German counterattacks. A secondary attack mounted near Riga on March 21 had no better luck.


The whole operation was an utter failure, as it abated the Russians' morale without providing any help to the French.


  • John Keegan: Der erste Weltkrieg. Eine europäische Tragödie. Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-499-61194-5
  • Norman Stone: The Eastern Front 1914–1917. Penguin Books Ltd., London 1998, ISBN 0-14-026725-5
  • Christian Zentner: Der erste Weltkrieg. Daten, Fakten, Kommentare. Moewig, Rastatt 2000, ISBN 3-8118-1652-7


  1. 1.0 1.1 Saturday, 22 August 2009 Michael Duffy (2009-08-22). "The Battle of Lake Naroch, 1916". Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Saturday, 22 August 2009 Michael Duffy (2009-08-22). "Battles - The Battle of Lake Naroch, 1916". First World Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  3. Stone, 1998, p221, 252
  4. Keegan 2001, p325

External links

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