Times: Doors open at 09:00 for a 09:45 start. Ends about 16:30.
'"We have all been blind" - Erich von Falkenhayn on late 1914' by Prof Holger Afflerbach
I will start with Falkenhayn's statement from autumn 1914 that "we were all blind" because we had not understood the lessons offered by the Russo-Japanese war. I will then go in two directions: I will first look back and ask: was Falkenhayn correct? Did they not understand modern war in the years before 1914? This will be asked for the military world in Germany before 1914 and for Falkenhayn as an individual, using prewar sources. Then I will change the question from technical understanding of new weaponry and their consequences on the battlefield towards attitudes towards war, presenting Falkenhayn as an example of extremist war enthusiasm, and how that one changed in the first months of the war. Lastly I will demonstrate the role of pragmatism: Falkenhayn learning and adapting to the new style of warfare and coming up with something we may call "Falkenhayn doctrine", looking then forward to the rest of his tenure until August 1916.
'Innovation and learning in the Russian army 1913-15' by Sofya Anisimova
Unlike the Western front, that was locked down in a trench stalemate by December 1914, the Eastern front saw manoeuvre warfare for longer. It was not until autumn 1915, after the devastating Austro-German offensive at Gorlice-Tarnovo and a thousand-kilometre retreat of the Russian army, that the Eastern front stabilised and began to resemble France and Flanders. Thus, in the first year of the war the Russian Army was fighting the war that it was preparing for in years preceding August 1914. This talk explores in detail how the Russian army fought in 1914-1915, what it has learned and how adapted to the trench warfare in autumn 1915. It argues that the decentralised command system adopted by the Russian Army at the outbreak of the war and the lack of initiative on behalf of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich’s Headquarters made enforcing any uniform warfare guidance in the Russian army difficult and eventually hampered a quick adaptation to the trench warfare in 1915.
'Anticipating the unexpected? France and Britain go to war' by Prof William Phillpott
'Between two wars: Italy in 1913' by Dr Vanda Wilcox
In September 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire and embarked on the conquest of Libya, using innovative technologies such as the use of aircraft and radio in warfare. But in the aftermath of their colonial victory, Italy was left with severely depleted military forces. This talk examines how, in 1913 and 1914, the Italian armed forces set about analysing and learning lessons from this war, and preparing their strategic and tactical thinking for future conflict. Allied with Austria-Hungary and Germany since 1882, what kind of war had Italy prepared to fight in the run up to August 1914 - and exactly where did they expect to do their fighting?
Entry: £35 including buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea/coffee. Special diets can be catered for (please ask). [Price the same as 2022).
Free parking at the venue.
Please use this link to the Shop > 11th President's Conference
Phone: The WFA Office: 0207 118 1914