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Mass German withdrawal

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March 01, 2017

Russia: In 1917, revolution is only days away.

Revolution: A photo showing the 1917 Russian anti-Tsarist pro Bread demonstrations.

This week, in 1917, the Germans began die Alberich Bewegung, the Alberich Manoeuvre.

This was a planned mass withdrawal to the Hindenberg Line.

The Germans left a wasteland behind.

Discovering the German withdrawal, the British and French moved their lines northward.

Eleven villages were thus liberated and more than 2000 German stragglers were captured.

The Hindenberg Line were previously built fortifications, kilometres in width, erected closer to the German border.

This shorter line enabled the Germans to defend with fewer men against an anticipated summer assault.

The fortifications and reverse slopes of the line promised fewer casualties and freed entire divisions for a counterattack on Franco-British positions.

This week, four Americans drowned when the Cunard liner RMS Laconia was torpedoed off the British coast.

A Chicago Tribune reporter was on board and published a vivid account of the attack.

The deaths gave the Americans and President Wilson an overtly hostile act that was considered necessary to declare war on Germany.

That, and an announcement this week by the German Chancellor breaking Germany’s agreement for neutrality with the US, ensured war hysteria in America.

Meanwhile, this week in Russia the Duma re-opened.

Disturbances and anti-Tsarist feelings had not dissipated during the month that its opening had been postponed.

Thousands of workers now flooded the streets of St Petersburg to show their dissatisfaction with the Tsar and with bread shortages.

These protests and strikes would continue.

Like King Louis XVI in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution, Tsar Nicholas seemed utterly oblivious to the complaints.

Meanwhile in Benalla, the State Recruiting Committee announced that it would be showing more than three hours of films throughout the North East.

Why Britain went to War, The Atrocities in Belgium and The King’s Visit to the Trenches were three of the titles.

The films were to boost dwindling recruitment.

Another indication of dwindling recruitment was a government announcement in all newspapers that any person enlisting who forged his parent’s consent, stated that he had no parents or gave a wrong age or name would no longer be discharged from the army if it were later found that he was a minor or over 45 years of age.

Previously, soldiers who gave false details were brought home from the front and discharged if underage or over-age.

Several Benalla men, sent home and so discharged, attained old age for this reason.

A health inspector’s report on Goorambat’s typhoid outbreak was published this week.

It was damning.

It found that grossly unsanitary disposal of nightsoil was the cause of the outbreak and that typhoid had been spread via milk delivered to neighbours by a resident who kept a cow.

All those households receiving the milk had been infected with typhoid.

—John Barry, Anzac Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI Heroes

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