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Bulletins from the Front I (1914)

Newspapers were an important medium for propaganda during the Great War. Written under the watchful eye of the military censor, these reports from the German front lines were invariably positive – despite major setbacks, stalemate, and staggering human costs. By casting the course of the war in such an unrealistic light, reports like the ones below made it difficult for many Germans to accept defeat.

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I. The Battle of the Marne

1. Freiburger Tagblatt, No. 201, September 1, 1914:

Berlin, September 1, 4:00 am. (W.T.B.) [Wolff Telegraph Service] The army of Colonel General von Kluck used a corps to beat back an attempted flank attack by weak French forces in the area around Combles.

Despite being outnumbered, the army of Colonel General von Bülow completely defeated a French army near St. Quentin, having previously captured an English infantry battalion during its advance.

The army of Colonel General von Hausen has pushed back the enemy to Aisne near Rathel.

Continuing its crossing over the Maas, the army of Duke Albrecht of Württemberg initially overran the enemy with vanguards, but in the course of its advance had to partially retreat behind the Maas because enemy forces were stronger. The army then retook the Maas crossings and is now advancing toward Aisne. Fort Les Ayvelles, which lies behind this army, has fallen.

The army of the German crown prince continues its advance towards and across the Maas after taking the commander of Montmedy and the complete garrison of the fort prisoner during a sortie. The fortress has fallen.

The armies of the Bavarian crown prince and Colonel General von Heeringen continue to fight in French Lorraine.

W.T.B. [Wolff Telegraph Service] Berlin, September 1. The previously reported victory of the army of General von Hindenburg on the eastern border is of much greater significance than was realized at first. Although new enemy forces intervened via Neidenburg, the enemy’s defeat is now complete. Three army corps have been destroyed! Sixty thousand prisoners (including two commanding generals), as well as lots of heavy artillery and banners have fallen into our hands. The Russian troops remaining in the northeast of East Prussia have begun retreating.

2. Freiburger Tagblatt, No. 204, September 4, 1914:

WTB [Wolff Telegraph Service]. Berlin, September 4, 12:50 am. An attack directed towards Reims has begun. General von Kluck’s cavalry is already on the outskirts of Paris. Our army in the West has crossed the Aisne line and continues its advance toward the Marne. Some of its vanguards have already reached it. The enemy is retreating in front of the armies of General von Kluck, von Bülow, von Hausen, and Duke Albrecht of Württemberg to and behind the Marne.

The enemy offered resistance to the army of the German crown prince subsequent to Verdun; the enemy is now being pushed back to the south. The armies of the crown prince of Bavaria and of Colonel General von Heeringen are still fighting against a strong enemy with reinforced positions in French Lorraine.

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