Antecedents of the Gorlice Breakthrough

The breakthrough of the joined Austro-Hugarian and German forces on the front of Galicia was the opening operation of the spring campaign of the Central Powers.

To execute the operation planned by general Franz Konrad von Hotzendorf the German 11th Army was organized from eight German divisions transported from the Western front and three Hungarian ones. The new army was put under the command of col. general Mackensen. The Austro-Hungarian 4th Army commanded by the archduke Josef Ferdinand Salvatore also was subordinated to Mackensen. On the given section of the frontline the allies concentrated 357 000 men, 1 700 guns and trench-mortars.

Opposite to them the Russian 3rd Army was in defence position with 219 000 men and 679 guns under the command of the Bulgarian Radko Dimitrijev.

The aim of the offensive was to repulse the Russian troops of the Carpathian line and to deter Italy and Romania from entering into the war on the side of the Entente Powers.

According to the strategic plan the German 11th Army, after having broken through the Russian frontline between Malastow and Gromnik was to capture Jaroslaw. The Austro-Hungarian 4th Army had to attack towards Tarnow-Debica.

On the right wing of the 11th Army, the 3rd Army of the Monarchy led by general Svetozar Boroevic was designated for recapturing Przemysl. The development of the Mackensen's army group occurred between 21st and 27th of April, 1915. The offensive started with a four hours artillery preparation in the morning on the 2nd of May the infantry launched the attack at 10.a.m. by the evening on the 2nd of May the breakthrough was a success between Malastow and Gromnik. On this 40 km line the allied troops captured the first Russian positions in a 4-5 km depths of Russian's defence line.

The breakthrough was completed by the capture of the third Russian positions on the 3rd and 4th of May.