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8th Army (German Empire)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

8. Armee
8th Army
Stab eines Armeeoberkommandos.svg
Flag of the Staff of an Armee Oberkommando (1871–1918)
Active 2 August 1914 – 29 September 1915
30 December 1915 – 21 January 1919
Country  German Empire
Type Army

World War I

The 8th Army (German: 8. Armee / Armeeoberkommando 8 / A.O.K. 8) was an army level command of the German Army in World War I. It was formed on mobilization in August 1914 from the I Army Inspectorate.[1] The army was dissolved on 29 September 1915, but reformed on 30 December 1915.[2] It was finally disbanded in 1919 during demobilization after the war.

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  • Epic History: World War One - 1918
  • The World at War - The Ottoman Empire Enters The Stage I THE GREAT WAR Week 15


1918. After three and a half years of war, the Allies are in crisis. Russia has been rocked by Revolution, and its new Bolshevik government has signed an armistice with the Central Powers. Thousands of German troops will be freed up to fight on the Western Front, where the carnage of trench warfare has already claimed more than a million lives. But Germany is also desperate. Britain's long naval blockade has led to shortages and social unrest at home... While America's entry into the war brings fresh manpower and vast resources to the Allied cause. Germany faces inevitable defeat, unless it can win a quick victory on the Western Front. US President Wilson announces his 'Fourteen Points'. They outline his vision for a post-war world, including an end to secret treaties, a reduction in the size of armed forces, self-determination for the people of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and an international organisation to settle future disputes. But most European leaders dismiss his ideas as wishful thinking. At Brest-Litovsk, Bolshevik Russia signs a peace treaty with the Central Powers. Russia gives up vast amounts of territory in exchange for peace. Half a million German troops can now be redeployed from the East to the Western Front, where German General Erich Ludendorff plans an all-out, last-ditch offensive to win the war. Ludendorff's Spring Offensive catches the Allies off-guard. German stormtroopers, using new infiltration tactics, help to overwhelm the British 5th Army, which is soon in full retreat. The German advance threatens to split the British and French armies, with disastrous consequences. So French General Ferdinand Foch is appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, to co-ordinate strategy. Outside Amiens, British and Australian troops improvise a defence, and finally halt the German advance. The German offensive switches to the north, targeting the Channel ports. But the British inflict heavy losses on the Germans, and prevent a breakthrough. Above the trenches, the first air war continues to escalate. Each side now has more than 3,000 aircraft in service on the Western Front. But by 1918 the Allies have won air superiority, thanks to greater resources. On 21st April, Germany's most famous pilot, Manfred von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron', is shot down and killed near Amiens. With 80 victories, he's the war's highest-scoring ace, and is buried by the Allies with full military honours. Britain's new 'Independent Bombing Force', launches a daylight raid against Cologne. It marks the beginning of Britain's own strategic bombing campaign. On the ground, Ludendorff's offensive switches south, targeting the French. German troops advance 30 miles, but are halted at the River Marne, just as fresh American divisions enter the line. The US 1st Division is the first to see combat, at the Battle of Cantigny. Three days later the US 2nd Division wins victory at the Battle of Belleau Wood. By now there are nearly a million American soldiers in France, with 10,000 more arriving every day. The fourth phase of the German Offensive leads to a 9 mile advance, but is finally halted by a French counterattack. In Italy, Austria-Hungary launches an attack at Asiago and the Piave River, to support Ludendorff's offensive in France. But it's repulsed with heavy losses, and morale amongst the Austro-Hungarian army collapses. British and French troops land at Murmansk in northern Russia. It's the beginning of Allied intervention in Russia's Civil War, on the side of so-called 'White', or anti-Bolshevik, forces. On the Western Front, the Germans' final attack is defeated in the Second Battle of the Marne. Ludendorff's Offensive has cost the Germans more than 600,000 casualties, and has failed to make a decisive breakthrough. Germany's final gamble has failed. The Allies now go on the attack. At the Battle of Amiens, British, Australian, Canadian and French troops, supported by tanks and aircraft, advance 7 miles in a single day. General Ludendorff calls 8th August 'the Black Day of the German army'. German troops are exhausted, hungry and demoralised, and begin to surrender in their thousands. The Battle of Amiens begins the Allies' 'Hundred Days Offensive': trench warfare is over; the Germans are in full retreat. In the Balkans, a new Allied offensive at Dobro Pole breaks through Bulgarian positions. The overstretched Bulgarian army collapses, and two weeks later Bulgaria signs an armistice. In the Middle East, British-led forces defeat the Turks at the Battle of Megiddo, taking 25,000 prisoners. Allied troops soon occupy Damascus and Aleppo. On the Western Front, Marshal Foch orders a general attack. British, French and American armies reach the Hindenburg Line, a line of reinforced German defences, and break through. Ludendorff informs the Kaiser that the military situation is hopeless, and that Germany must seek an armistice. Germany sends a request to US President Woodrow Wilson, who, in return, demands German withdrawal from all occupied territory, and the Kaiser's abdication. On the Italian Front, the Allies deliver the final blow to Austria-Hungary at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The Austro-Hungarian army disintegrates, and 300,000 prisoners are taken. With the Central Powers facing collapse, the Ottoman Empire signs an armistice with the Allies at Mudros. Four days later, Austria-Hungary signs an armistice with the Allies at Villa Giusti. At Kiel, the German High Seas Fleet is ordered to make a suicidal attack on the British navy, but instead, it mutinies. Revolution spreads through Germany. The Kaiser abdicates and a German republic is proclaimed. On 11th November 1918, a German delegation signs an armistice with the Allies, inside Marshal Foch's railway carriage at Compiègne. It comes into force at 11am, but fighting continues until the last moment. American private Henry Gunther is killed charging a German machinegun at 10.59. He is thought to be the last soldier killed during World War One. Three days later, in East Africa, German General Von Lettow-Vorbeck surrenders his army on the Chambezi River. For four years he has tied down huge numbers of Allied troops, remaining undefeated, while cut-off from home. He is still considered one of history's greatest guerrilla leaders. The Paris Peace Conference opens at the Palace of Versailles, just outside the French capital. Delegates accept a proposal to create a 'League of Nations', to settle future international disputes. The Versailles Treaty, signed in June, imposes harsh terms on Germany: its military is restricted in size, it must pay war reparations to the Allies, it loses territory to its neighbours, and its colonies are seized by the victors. Germany must also accept responsibility for the war in a 'war guilt' clause – a source of lasting resentment in Germany. The boundaries of Europe are redrawn: Poland re-emerges after a hundred years of foreign rule. While Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and an enlarged Romania emerge from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Ottoman Empire is dismantled. New states, most under European control, are created in the Middle East. Here, as in Europe, the seeds of future conflict are sown. While in the Far East, former German possessions in China are handed to Japan, to China's outrage. World War One claimed the lives of nine and a half million soldiers, 1 in 8 of those who fought. 21 million more were wounded. 7 million civilians also lost their lives. Huge areas of Europe were left devastated. Old empires vanished; new states were born; lives across the world were transformed. The world was never the same again. If you enjoyed this video, please remember to like it and subscribe to the channel, and find out how you can help us make more videos at our Patreon page.



On mobilisation in August 1914, the 8th Army Headquarters was formed in Posen to command troops stationed in East Prussia to defend against the expected Russian attack, Plan XIX. Initially, the Army commanded the following formations:[3]

Concerned by the defeat at Gumbinnen and the continued advance of the Russian Second Army from the south, Prittwitz ordered a retreat to the Vistula, effectively abandoning East Prussia. When he heard of this, Helmuth von Moltke, the German Army Chief of Staff, recalled Prittwitz and his deputy to Berlin. They were replaced by Paul von Hindenburg, called out of retirement, with Erich Ludendorff as his chief of staff. Under its new command, the Army was responsible for the victories at the Battles of Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes.

Dissolved and reformed

The Army of the Niemen was formed on 26 May 1915 to control the troops in Courland.[5] The commander of the 8th Army, General der Infanterie Otto von Below, along with his Chief of Staff, Generalmajor von Böckmann, assumed command. In the meantime, the 8th Army got a deputy commander, General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz, who was simultaneously commander of XX Corps. 8th Army was dissolved on 29 September 1915.[6] On 30 December 1915 the Army of the Niemen was renamed as the 8th Army with von Below still in command.[7]


The original 8th Army had the following commanders from mobilisation until it was dissolved 29 September 1915.[8]

8th Army
From Commander Previously Subsequently,
2 August 1914 Generaloberst Maximilian von Prittwitz I Army Inspectorate (I. Armee-Inspektion) Retired
23 August 1914 Generaloberst Paul von Hindenburg Brought out of retirement 9th Army
18 September 1914 General der Artillerie Richard von Schubert XIV Reserve Corps XXVII Reserve Corps
from 27 October 1914
9 October 1914 General der Infanterie Hermann von François I Corps XXXXI Reserve Corps
from 24 December 1914
7 November 1914 General der Infanterie Otto von Below I Reserve Corps Army of the Niemen
26 May 1915 General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz Simultaneously commander of XX Corps XX Corps

A "new" 8th Army was formed by renaming the Army of the Niemen on 30 December 1915. It was dissolved after the end of the war on 21 January 1919.

"New" 8th Army
From Commander Previously Subsequently,
30 December 1915 General der Infanterie Otto von Below Army of the Niemen Heeresgruppe Below
5 October 1916 General der Infanterie Max von Fabeck 12th Army Died 16 December 1916
22 October 1916 General der Infanterie Bruno von Mudra XVI Corps Armee-Abteilung A
2 January 1917 General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz Armee-Abteilung Scholtz Heeresgruppe Scholtz
22 April 1917 General der Infanterie Oskar von Hutier Armee-Abteilung D 18th Army
from 27 December 1917
12 December 1917 General der Infanterie Günther Graf von Kirchbach Armee-Abteilung D Heeresgruppe Kiev
27 January 1918 Generaloberst Günther Graf von Kirchbach
31 July 1918 General der Infanterie Hugo von Kathen XXIII Reserve Corps Commander of German troops in Lithuania and Estonia


  • Armee-Abteilung or Army Detachment in the sense of "something detached from an Army". It is not under the command of an Army so is in itself a small Army.[9]
  • Armee-Gruppe or Army Group in the sense of a group within an Army and under its command, generally formed as a temporary measure for a specific task.
  • Heeresgruppe or Army Group in the sense of a number of armies under a single commander.

See also


  1. ^ Cron 2002, p. 395
  2. ^ Cron 2002, p. 80
  3. ^ Cron 2002, pp. 322–326
  4. ^ Cron 2002, p. 52 Detached in Silesia. On 4 September 1914 came under the command of 1st Austro-Hungarian Army. Joined 9th Army on 24 September 1914.
  5. ^ Cron 2002, pp. 82–83
  6. ^ Cron 2002, p. 80
  7. ^ Cron 2002, pp. 395–396
  8. ^ Cron 2002, p. 395
  9. ^ Cron 2002, p. 84


  • Cron, Hermann (2002). Imperial German Army 1914–18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle [first published: 1937]. Helion & Co. ISBN 1-874622-70-1.
This page was last edited on 25 June 2018, at 15:38
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