A research study of the Heritage of The First World War

Valdas Rakutis, Titas Tamkvaitis

Zarasai, 2021

Valdas Rakutis, Titas Tamkvaitis

A research study of the Heritage of The First World War:

1915-1917 Fortifications of the German Eastern Front of the German Empire in the Zarasai – Daugavpils section.

Introduction. Literature and Source Analysis.

The First World War strongly affected the territory of Lithuania, its economics, economy and population. Having been occupied by the Russian Empire for a long time, Lithuania did not have the conditions to develop fully, either economically or culturally. The lack of large cities, an inefficient agricultural system, still managed manors of an extensive nature, low literacy of the population and the weakness of local structures did not create conditions for the country’s prosperity, Lithuanian lands lagged far behind neighboring Latvian, Estonian and Finnish lands. The land of Lithuania was particularly hard hit by the press ban. Although the manors themselves looked better, they met European living standards, the villagers lived in very poor conditions, and the country’s infrastructure satisfied only the military needs of the Russian Empire. Only Vilnius, Kaunas and Gardinas (Grodno) could be considered as cities. Latgale, its main city is Daugavpils, looked similar, having recently lost the status of a fortress and turned into a warehouse, or more precisely, a fortress – a warehouse.

            In the 1915 campaign, the German army carried out several offensive operations, occupying practically all of ethnographic Lithuania. The military community, which had great spiritual, technological and military advantages, entered the country and was very different from the Russian Empire that had ruled the country until then. This army consisted mainly of the Prussian territorial army[1]– the Landver, as well as the reserve and auxiliary units, so the country became dominated mainly by East Prussian regional – cultural provisions, which were based on several essential principles. These were mainly representatives of a monarchist, landlord and conservative, militaristic society, accustomed to a largely classical way of commanding, far from democracy. Even the soldiers, who did not belong to any Prussian elite, oriented more to provisions of a conservative nature, the Lutheran and other Protestant churches and the community played a significant role. Of course, there was another community, more inclined to the Western way of life, from the southern lands of the Empire – Alsace, Lorraine, Bavaria, but it was not dominant. It must be said that the success of the Germans on the Eastern Front, greatly enhanced by well-organized propaganda machines, created a cult of heroes. Paul von Hindenburg, who was directly in charge of the 8th Army and later the Eastern Front in 1915-1916, was especially adored. In 1915, the German army was embroiled in a real wave of enthusiasm, loyalty, and self-confidence: an army of large mobilized East Prussians defended the country from invading Russian army, expelled the hated Cossacks, and relocated hostilities to enemy territory[2]. In the territory of the enemy itself, there was no pity or respect for the property of the locals, for the traditions of the Russian national minorities who had been taken prisoner during the fighting or who had fallen behind their military units, except for the respect inherent in the Germans for well-fought enemy soldiers. The Germans, in a sense, respected the Russians, felt a certain solidarity of the ruling nation, while the “other” inhabitants of the empire were unimportant to them. This special military ethos and mood strongly influenced the attitudes of the German army, the forms of the occupation regime and the mindset of the soldiers. Over time, as the history and culture of the country became better known, this situation changed, but certain attitudes remained.

Before the end of the war, questions of nationality also arose. As a large number of Polish, Jewish soldiers fled the Russian trenches to the German side, the German military leadership estimated that similar processes could take place on their own, sending the Poles to the Western Front and sending Alsatians and others with possible sympathy for France German citizens – to the Eastern Front[3].

1915 in the summer and early autumn, the logic of the war brought the fronts of the Great War to the remote areas of north-eastern Lithuania, and the ethnic Latvian lands were divided into German-ruled Curonia and Russian-ruled Vidzeme and Latgale. This initially temporary situation turned into winter camps, but after the decision to carry out the main German attack on the West Front in the direction of Verden at the end of 1915, it acquired the character of a long-standing defensive position until September 1917 and in the Daugavpils area until February 1918. y. two or two and a half years, leaving many artifacts in the landscape and memories in mind. It should be noted, however, that these events were overshadowed by more memorable and agile events, by the collapse of the German and Russian empires, by the emergence of new states in these lands. After the outbreak of World War II, the entire World War I was a thing of the past, and in this way the very recent events were practically forgotten. The situation began to change only with the weakening of the Soviet Union, when individual researchers and local historians, confronted with military cemeteries and other material monuments, began conducting field research and publishing information in articles for professionals [4]. Started to take care of the bunkers, the cultural heritage system, Zarasai and Daugavpils municipalities, enthusiasts and, of course, black archaeologists. As a result of this movement, interest in military heritage grew. In 2003, one of the authors of this study accidentally spotted concrete structures.

The following year an expedition of Vytautas Magnus University students was organized in the Adutiškis and Didžiasalis districts, after closer ties with Zarasai Region Museum were established in 2005, more information emerged during the informal expedition, and the objects were inspected during a reconnaissance expedition by Valdas Rakutis and Vladimir Orlov with the participation of local enthusiasts. In 2007, Zarasai Region Museum organized a conference, as a result of which, with the support of a member of Zarasai District Municipal Council, it was planned to organize a research and to prepare material for the creation of Zarasai Military -Historical Park. Such an expedition was organized in the same year 2007. Due to the changed situation in the municipality, no further progress was made, but however, the collected material served for the inclusion of some World War I fortifications in the lists of protected cultural heritage objects organized by the Lithuanian Department of Cultural Heritage. The media was also interested in the activity, having published several special films, including the show ” Požiūris ” (the View). Interest began to spread faster, unfortunately also stimulating the activities of black archaeologists. The first publications presenting the problem in a complex way also appeared. Some of the fortifications have been included in the lists of protected cultural heritage sites. Of particular note is Vladimir Orlov’s article on these fortifications in his book, „XX  Century. fortification ”, in which the documents[5] of the First Army of the Russian Army were widely used. Also in 2015, when organizing a conference dedicated to the beginning of World War I at the General Jonas Žemaitis Lithuanian Military Academy, an external meeting was organized in Zarasai region museum, where the said author presented his latest insights into the fortifications under study. The 2015 conference itself was largely used to conduct further research into World War I. It should be noted that the public of Zarasai region welcomed the ongoing research and publications by periodically updating thematic research. In 2019, with the great help of the Region museum, was born the film Operation Zarasai 1919[6].

Thanks to the efforts of Zarasai municipality, the Tourism Information Center and the Region Museum, with the help of Ramūnas Keršis, Kęstas Vasilevskis and other enthusiasts, this studio was born.

The project promoters set the following tasks for the study authors:

  1. The study should examine the study of the fortification of the German eastern border in 1915–1917, including field guides, rules for engineers, and practical advice for field soldiers. Information sets on the fortification of the enemy (Russia).
  2. The study should explore artillery, infantry positions for defense. Official regulations for aviation, logistical support and other unit-level units (insofar as they relate to the area).
  3. The study should explore sources in the German archives and the Museum of Military History with local maps, descriptions, workforce, information about hospitals, staff buildings, evaluation of prepared positions, daily life, activities in Daugavpils district (Mėdumė / Dagda sen.) and Zarasai district.
  4. There must be information on the military leadership operating here: commanders, officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers, military and civilian cooperation. Sources of communication with local authorities (as far as the territory is concerned) are provided.
  5. All material must be suitable for use in publications, as well as in museum exhibitions, stands on Internet and Internet pages, reconstruction models and reconstruction positions, in particular in relation to certain outdoor areas and accessible to tourists. Such material can be used for modern forms of reconstruction, adapted for local museum expositions.
  6. To provide visual information with its assessments and descriptions from archives or museums in Germany (insofar as they relate to the site).
  7. To collect and evaluate the historical material of the German division operating here: 77th Reserve Division (German Empire). A map of its area of ​​operation is attached. * Description of the front line (who was here, what are the main events, the purpose of the fortifications or infrastructure, schemes of the fortifications, to supplement with visual information).
  8. To collect and evaluate the historical material of the German division operating here: the 88th Infantry Division (German Empire). Determine the exact area of ​​operation, supplement it with military maps, if any are (what was here, what are the main events, the purpose of the fortifications or infrastructure, schemes of the fortifications, add visual information).
  9. To determine the exact purpose of the objects located in the zone of the International Tourist Route (Zarasai eldership, Turmantas eldership, Medume and Dagda elderships), to describe them so that the material could be used in information stands. If possible, to provide pictures of these objects. To analyze the data in the archives, to provide diagrams of these devices, layout. The list of objects is attached as a separate document.
  10. To evaluate and to analyze the sources in the German History Museum:, also in the German Digital Library – the information gathered there about the military operations and the infrastructure being developed in the area of ​​the International Tourist Route (Zarasai district, Turmantas eldership, Daugavpils district), as well as the photo archive of General Sigismund von Förster and other information that could be useful for full disclosure and development of this international route.
  11. To evaluate the historical sources describing the territories of our country during the First World War “Der Fürst von Gudotischki” – Band 5: Pionier vor Dünaburg – Riga und die Besetzung der Ostseeinseln (Ein Soldatenleben in 10 Bänden 1910 – 1923) (German Edition) and to supplement the Study with relevant information there (insofar as they relate to the said territory).
  12. To provide summaries, conclusions, suggestions, insights.
  13. To provide a list of sources and literature on the basis of which this Study was created.

The identification of objects is the most difficult and at the same time the most important work of this study, because to say, for whom one or another building was intended one hundred percent is difficult, in the absence of direct archival data and clear site-specific plans or large-scale plans, especially from the 88 division of responsibility area. At this stage of the study, all the necessary plans and maps could not be obtained, however, there has been substantial progress in research, making it possible to identify most of the fortifications by defining their purpose and functions, especially defensive objects. More difficult it is to determine the purpose of economic-logistical military objects, especially in Division 88. The available maps are intended to describe the situation of 1917, therefore, it is not always clear whether the function to which the objects served this year was also attributed to them in previous years.

            The structure of the study work is also chosen according to the research tasks. The first chapter provides an overview of the historical context of the defense line formation by linking the links between the relevant issues and the specific work line, linked to this time.

The second chapter is designed to review the theoretical development of defensive systems in Germany, thus supplementing Vladimir Orlov’s research based on the Russian archival material. The third chapter reviews the theater of the military action, influencing the characteristics that allowed the local features of the system to be distinguished. The fourth chapter intended for the purposes of subunits and units of the German Armed Forces, for description of those involved in combat operations throughout this period, in the context of the complex assignment of one or another compound and in response to the task of the study on units and commands.The fifth chapter  focuses on the evolution of the defensive system, mostly based on According to chief Lieutenant Hans Triobst, a very valuable part of the study, with a high degree of reliability, explaining how, what and why it was done.The sixth chapter will try to link specific known objects and their function. The study will be supplemented by appendices, which will provide material for the localization and identification of objects, lists of literature and archival sources used in this work.

The study source base consisted of published sources. In the first place, mention should be made of the former commander of the 77th Reserve Division Pioneer Memoirs of chief lieutenant  Hans Triobst, richly supplemented with photographic material, maps, drawings and diagrams.  Whereas pioneers have carried out the majority of our investigated objects by installing both the fortifications and infrastructure, these memoirs are essentially responsible for the number of issues raised in the study, why, what and how the German army did in Zarasai districts, which belonged to the 77th reserve division liability zone throughout the study period. It is important to note that the author not only taught dry technical material, but also paid a lot of attention to everyday life, presented provisions describing the worldview of German soldiers, described the internal life of the army and relations with the locals. It should be noted that the text is written quite openly, without avoiding sharp questions, such as relations with prisoners, requisitions and thefts, existing provisions for circumvention of law and etc., thus presenting a complete “inside” view of German soldiers. This extremely useful source and rich iconographic material is a gift from Zarasai region patriot and project organizer Ramūnas Keršys to the authors of the study. The authors of the study also put effort to gather a base of military instructions and other sources. The second main source for this study was the Instruction for the Construction of Field Positions of the German Army issued in June 1916, which provided general features for the development of the system and detailed sample drawings of specific objects. The instruction is based mainly on the experience of the Western Front in the period from the end of 1914 to 1915. As stated in the introduction to the instructions, these are only general instructions, leaving the decision to the fortifier himself, therefore, it is not necessary to look at the instruction as an immovable dogma, however, the terminology and general principles set out in the manual deserve trust, and allows the researcher of the 21st century to understand the engineering logic that existed in the middle of World War I. Material has also been collected on the fortifications of the Russian army, which can be used in further work.

The memories of Erich Ludendorf, who presented the principles of creating this part of the front at the strategic level, were very useful for the research[7].

            As for the literature used in the study, would like to highlight two works prepared in Lithuania – the already mentioned article by Vladimir Orlov “Fortification during the First World War 1914-1918” and Marius Pečiulis’ article “Actions of the First World War in the Territory of Lithuania in 1915 at the end of August and in September “[8].

Both authors relied on archival sources in their works, Vladimir Orlov of the First Army of the Russian Empire, Marius Pečiulis of the German Army, therefore, these texts have significantly facilitated the work of the authors of the study. The advantage of Vladimir Orlov’s article is not only the use of original sources, but a broad cognitive context that allowed the author to form valuable generalizations and other profound conclusions. Marius Pečiulis extensively examined military actions in the territory of Lithuania, therefore, it was possible to assess the units of the German army, their experience, the nature of their operation and their qualitative characteristics more quickly and reliably.

            An important source of information about units and divisions of the German army, as well as commanders, is available through the wikipedia system. Although historians are skeptical about this source, the sources mentioned in the articles are not in doubt, therefore, in the absence of the possibility to find information directly in the archives in the conditions of the pandemic, secondary literature had to be satisfied. A lot of important information has been found in publications published between the world wars on specific military units.

At this stage of the study, the stories of 2 regiments of 151 infantry from Warmia and 33 regiments of Count Ron (East Prussia) Fusillers were obtained and evaluated[9].The information contained in these publications is gathered from archives and the memories of soldiers, therefore, its level of reliability is lower than the publications listed above, however, they significantly supplement the source base with authentic material, photographs and diagrams.

A monograph by the Polish researcher Robert Trab, dedicated to the specifics of the East Prussian region in the first half of the 20th century, was very useful for understanding the forms of thought and behavior of the Prussian inhabitants[10].

The literature describing the German occupation regime was useful for the work. First of all, it is a monograph by Gabrielius Liulevičius dedicated to the mentioned regime.

Especially many books about World War I have been published in Germany, however, the Eastern Front cannot boast of such attention, this is especially noticeable in the post-World War II period. Would like to single out the collection of articles “The Forgotten Front” prepared by the German Military History Research Board, designed to define the specifics of the Eastern Front, it was very useful in detailing the occupation regime, relations with the locals, and other issues.

  1. Historical context
  1. The 1915 campaign and the occupation of way out positions

The outbreak of World War I, which began in the summer of 1914, fundamentally changed the political, economic and worldview situation in Europe after the 19th century early wars. Lasting peace has allowed empires to emerge and establish themselves, which has left their logistical systems, shaped the landscape, attitudes, spiritual and material culture. The state of Lithuania, deleted from the map in the second half  of 18th century, after the divisions became a battleground for empires, suffered many losses, but at the same time, new opportunities appeared, through which it was able to restore its statehood. The following processes were significantly influenced by the actions of World War I: maneuvering in 1914-1915 and positional 1916-1918 periods.

The German-Russian War, as an integral part of World War I, took place in a large area of ​​the Western Eastern European Plain in the Vistula, Nemunas and Daugava basins. In the early 1914-1915, this fight took place mainly for East Prussia. The Russian attack ended in the Tannenberg disaster: Germans fighting on two fronts manage to defend themselves and repel Russian forces close to starting positions. During the winter, active combat actions were hindered by natural conditions, however, at the end of the winter, a strategic initiative was taken over by Germany, which developed an attack in the direction of Samogitia (lith. Žemaitija) – Curonian (lith. Kuršas). An unprecedented cavalry force was formed to have catastrophic consequences for the Russian army, similar to the 1941 campaign; however, this did not happen because the Russians also had a lot of cavalry and were able to defend themselves successfully on the Dubysa line, in the Battle of Šiauliai and in the stopping battles in Aukštaitija. During this time, the Daugava defensive line was prepared, in which the decisive role was played by anti-bridge fortifications near the Riga and Daugavpils fortresses, Kaunas fortress, and the position of Širvintos – Maišiagala – Galvė lake was formed for the defense of Vilnius. In July 1915, the XXXX – Corps began preparing for the assault on Kaunas Fortress, and on August 8-18, Kaunas Fortress was taken over. After this victory, the Germans successfully completed the Battle of the Nemunas, occupying the anti-bridge fortification (fortress) of Alytus, ariergard fighting to the east of Kaunas took place. In early September, the Germans managed to occupy the Grodno Fortress, and in the south to occupy Lutsk. The battle for Vilnius did not yield the expected results for the Germans; therefore, it was decided to carry out a strategic breakthrough of the cavalry near by Švenčionys. The invasion forced Russia to hand over Vilnius to the Germans, however, plans had to be abandoned to crush the Russian army and move in defense in the main direction. Taking advantage of the last warm weeks, an attempt was made to occupy Daugavpils fortress. As part of this operation, the anti-bridgehead position near Alūksta was fought. In early November, the front stabilized. Despite some successfully organized defensive actions, in the summer of 1915, Russia suffered a painful defeat called the “Great Retreat.”

  1. Situation on the front in the autumn and winter of 1915 in the direction of Zarasai – Daugavpils

In the middle of September 1915, the German army reached the accesses to Daugava, Daugavpils Fortress and the lakes of Aukštaitija (Lithuania).

The attempt to occupy an important Maladecina railway junction was only partially successful; the operation of the so-called Švenčionys breakthrough handed over the Vilnius and railway section to Turmantas into German hands, leaving the Daugavpils-Polotsk-Vileika-Maladecna railway to the Russians. Meanwhile, the fighting in the direction of Zarasai took place in the following order: The Russian army first tried to adhere to the Luodis – Samavas – Ausla – Avilys – Čičirys lake line, as the front rises north to the entrances to Eglaine railway station, from which the front already turns northeast, leaving Ludwigov in German hands to the estuary of the swampy Brezauka River.

Russian positions took advantage of the opportunities offered by nature and left in their hands the bridge over the Daugava near Aluksta (Bolsheviks held a similar position in June-August 1919). However, the Russians failed to maintain this position, they had to retreat to Turmantas – Smėlynė – Stelmužė (Steinensee)- Suviekas Lake, abandon the Jelowka railway station, but basically withstand the northern front bar. Particularly important fighting took place near the Obeliai-Daugavpils railway, where the Russians had installed at least a few lines of defense, in addition, in late October and early November they organized a counterattack in the district of the 36th German Reserve Division, which the Germans managed to withstand by sending the 37th Infantry Division in the reserve of the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Eastern Front[11].

The reserve units were concentrated in the Subbat (Ger. Subbat) district in November, from where it had to march along the Lithuanian-Curonian border to Stelmužė-Johannenghof (Ger: Johannenhof), and then turn towards Lake Ilze (German: Ilzensee). The front line ran through Mikuliškis village, reserve stopped in the forest north of Abeliškės (Latvian Ābeliški). With the establishment of the regiment, units of 36 reserve divisions were withdrawn. On the afternoon of November 4, the regiment had to withstand the greatest pressure, but the position was endured by maintaining contact with 150 regiments on the right and 41 regiments on the left[12].

      In these autumn battles of 1915, the 1st Reserve Corps fought mainly, near Ludwigov 2nd Cavalry Division and 78th Reserve Division, near Aviliai B Division, near Degučiai Bavarian Cavalry Division, behind which the 88th Reserve Division marched. In the end, the front settled down, the reserves were exhausted by both sides; the Germans could not reach any more that year. As it turned out later, until the end of the summer of 1917, and at the Daugavpils Fortress access until February 18, 1918. The German Eastern Front has reached the same state as the German Western Front a year earlier. After the Battle of Marna and the so-called “Running towards the Sea”, the German and Allied armies exhausted their offensive potential, the manoeuvre war has grown into a positional. The main line of defense in the north became the middle-downstream riverbed of the Daugava River with three bridges on the left bank – at the entrances to Riga and in the swampy district of the Lielupe delta, in Jekabpils district and Daugavpils accesses, the front continued to settle in the positions of Lithuanian lakes[13].

  1. 1916 Attack of Narutis Lake and related operations

On December 6-8, 1915, at the Military Conference Shantil of the Antante Command, was planned to launch an offensive in the spring-summer period, forcing Germany to fight on two fronts at the same time. The synchronization of the land forces and naval forces was to allow the Allies to reach their quantitative potential, and to deprive the opportunity for Germans to redeploy compounds from one front to another. However, the German attack on Verdun in February 1916 forced a review of the plans. At the request of the French army chief, Joseph Joffre, and Russian diplomats, Military Command of the Russian Empire (Ставкa Верховного главнокомандующего), led by Emperor Nicholas II after the catastrophe of 1915, decided carry out a defensive attack on the eastern front without waiting for more favorable conditions for the attack.

      1916 in January, General A. E. Evert drew up a preliminary counterattack plan, more commonly called an idea. It was thought that the Allies would try to reclaim the lost lands during 1916. The general noted that it was very important to carry out the attack until the beginning of spring, when the swamps and lakes were covered in ice. However, the impetus for the counterattack was not the ideas of Russian strategists, but France’s request for help. Russian Emperor and Commander in Chief of the Army Nicholas II, in response to a request from the Commander-in-Chief of the French Armed Forces, Joffre, to distract the Germans from their attack on Verden, ordered the Russian army to launch an offensive against the German army established in Lithuania, Žiemgala and Sėla. The main task of the attack, the target result was considered the line connecting Jelgava (ger. Mitau, pol. Mitawa) – – Bauska (German: Bowsk) – Ukmergė (Old Lithuanian: Vilkmergė, German: Wilkomir) – Vilnius (German: Wilno). Zarasai (Novoalexandrowsk) – Švenčionys – Dūkštas line was considered as intermediate points of attack. A real meeting on the topic of the operation took place on February 24. It was decided to attack immediately as soon as possible, so in March when this place in the plains of Eastern Europe is still cold.

      This decision affected two major unfavorable circumstances for Russia: the attack took place in adverse weather conditions, army logisticians failed to supply the artillery with the required amount of artillery shells. The weather conditions were simply impossible, during the day, the air thawed, it began to rain, the ice that wrestles the lakes and swamps melted, and at night it began to snow and cool down a little again, in this way, the soldiers could not successfully overcome the water obstacles and quickly escape the firing zone, and were trapped in the attack and left to die from freezing and humidity. There was a particular shortage of artillery shells: according to the standards provided, 107 mm cannons and 152 mm howitzers were to have only 50 projectiles per day, 122 mm cannons – 100, 76.2 mm – 200 each, but in reality had only half the target. The Russian army was missing and rifles. The main 2nd Army lacked more than 23,000 units[14].

      In addition to the attack in the Lake Narutis area, other attacks were carried out, focusing on deterrence operations affecting the German defense system in other parts of the Eastern Front. The Northern Front of the Russian Empire had to attack Bauska with the forces of the 12th Army (Commander Gorbatovsky (В. Н. Горбатовск)), 10th Army of the Western Front (Commander E. A. Radkevičius – (Е. А. Радкевич)) – towards Vilnius, and the 1st Army of the same front (Commander of the Cavalry General A. I. Litvinov (А. И. Иитвинов)) – in the direction of Vilnius. The total ratio of forces in the data of the Russian army was 1:2 in favor of Russia. In the direction of the main attack, the Russians managed to break up to 9 kilometers, overcome wire barriers and overcome two lines of defense. However, what they managed to do on the German front was not enough to carry out a major breakthrough, although the number of casualties was one of the highest in the entire period of 1916-1917, there are about 100,000 deaths, of which about 12 percent were frozen[15]. The figures for this “win” of dubious value are clearly catastrophic. Rejecting all the above arguments unfavorable to the Russians, there are very important conclusions for this study. In particular, the Russians underestimated the German ability to install a positional defense and a second line of defense, the presence of unaffected artillery fire, entered the fire zones of concentrated artillery, projectile and frontal rifles, causing great damage. The Germans also realized that a concentrated attack could damage the defense, especially if the attack were made at a more timely time and with more artillery ammunition. Germany’s defenses have been greatly strengthened by all measures, not only in terms of ditches, wire barriers and fire-fighting systems, but also in terms of paving roads and sections of wide and narrow-gauge railways, which have led to the rapid transfer of reserves. The Russians also underestimated the ability of the Germans to hold only a third of the troops in the lead positions, which prevented the artillery fire from affecting the main mass of the troops. Interestingly, the Russians never understood the reason for their defeat, blaming the weather, logistics, rushing commanders or allied pressure. The Germans suffered extremely small losses thanks to a serious, one might say scientific approach to the organization of defense. But at the same time, it was understood that further improvement of the system was needed, including in the direction of Daugavpils.

      It should be noted that the largest attack in the section of the front under study was developed in the Lake Drūkšiai area, where the Kurpatkin Corps, part of the Northern Front, attacked, the counterattack of the Richthofen Cavalry Corps was stopped. The 8th Army was also attacked near Jakobstatd (germ. Jakobstatd, latv. Jekabpils)  and Daugavpils, where the Scholz army group was defending itself. Hutier’s corps was adequately reinforced in the 107th and 118th Infantry Divisions and the 80th Reserve Division during the Great Depression[16].

  1. Positional battles in 1916-1917

The Russian attack in March 1916 showed the inability of the Russian army to organize offensive operations, but at the same time the shortcomings of the German defense became apparent. Focusing on front positions was appropriate in terms of daily routine, but the Russians were better at organizing their attacks, by choosing the right time and at least some synchronization of the arms interaction, it was to be expected that the front lines would be significantly destroyed and that more serious resistance could not be organized. Therefore, it was necessary to pay more attention to the second battle line instead of the reserve line, organizing the equipment behind the reserve line in the most vulnerable places. It was also clear that in the case of the partial success of the Russians, the importance of flank fire increases, therefore it is important to reorganize the defensive line into a position consisting of several lines, forming combat centers that can defend not only from the front but also from the flank. In this way, the further strengthening of the defense of the German army took place by modernizing the already established positions by creating separate combat units (Gefechtsstände, abbreviated as Gef. St. Or G.S., they had fixed numbers, the first showing the serial number and the second the number of the infantry regiment), individual positions were reinforced by additional lines[17]. Batteries were similarly labeled. The real picture, however, was significantly different from the principled scheme, as the advantages of the lakes and wetland district were creatively used. Full depth of defense was developed only in places suitable for attack. In this way, an efficient system was created, and the markings and names were made so that one could navigate that maze of irregular shape. The defensive positions of the Russian army were easier to read, they consisted of separate overlapping defensive units, usually located on hills, each consisting of several defensive lines. Regularity has hardly been an advantage here, as it has helped enemy artillery to successfully attack the chosen defensive position.

  1. Defensive fortifications in 1917-1918.

After the revolution of February 1917, the Russian emperor Nicholas II resigned and handed over power to his young son, however, his decision did not lead to the normalization of the situation in the country, but led to a fundamental change of government – Russia ceased to be an empire, its rule passed into the hands of the caretaker government led by Count Georgi Lvov, and in fact into the hands of Alexander Kerensky. Moreover, the de facto government of the left-wing councils under the influence of the left parties retained effective power. Such dichotomy soon affected the Russian army, which remained active in the war, however, there was also a dichotomy in which the military leadership had to coordinate its actions with the councils of soldiers and sailors (sailors). This situation has made it possible to take care of the troops and, for some time, it has seemed possible to strengthen the army from within and below, in reality, however, the processes of anarchy and coping with dissent have emerged in the army, especially in Russia, where any indulgence is seen as a weakness. Russia was still able to hold the front, and various reorganization processes had potential. One such solution was the creation of national units in the Russian army. In addition to the former Latvian units, units of Poles, Lithuanians and other nations appeared, whose motivation and dutifulness was high. Such units caused trouble for the German army, especially in the case of Poland, where the mood was not very favorable to the Germans. In order to raise the military’s interest, Russia needed to revive the front movement, as meaningless sitting in the trenches finally demoralized the army and served the growth of revolutionary dissatisfaction. Russia was also under strong pressure from the Allies to survive the crisis following the particularly unsuccessful Battle of Soma in November 1916, which demonstrated the Exhaustion and Despair of the Entente’s inability to carry out offensive operations. There was a clear danger that the Allies would turn to separate negotiations, which would be a complete victory for Germany. Attempts to start peace talks, offered by the pope and Germany were not supported because the Entente’s negotiating position seemed poor. In this way, there was still a chance that Russia would try to break the front.

      The situation on the Russian front began to deteriorate even more when Vladimir Lenin, who was transported to Russia with German money in April, began to mobilize radical forces more plannedly. The atmosphere created by Russia’s dual rule has fundamentally destroyed the military, with chaos and uncertainty ensuing in it. Already during the summer, it was clear that the Russian army had no potential to attack, and the process of internal disintegration allowed to expect weak resistance. The German army began preparing for offensive operations near the Daugava. As the history[18] of the 33rd Infantry Regiment shows, preparations for the transition to the attack were planned by accumulating reserves and strengthening the divisions “sitting” in the defense of the front. These operations began on September 1, 1917, with the actions of the German navy in the Gulf of Riga. The actions of the seafarers soon took action on land as well, on the same day after the artillery training, the Germans forced the Daugava near Ikškilė and built a serious bridgehead and a secondary blow from Jelgava (Mitau) finally broke the defense of Riga. In this way, the defense of the Daugava line, which had existed for three years, was broken, and the high number of prisoners and cases of sabotage have shown that a similar fate awaits the entire Russian army. The generals no longer thought about defense, but about fighting chaos, so the German offensive spread to the islands of Moonzund (western Estonian archipelago) (Operation Albion). All these actions and the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd led to the 1917 December peace talks. The Germans wanted to keep the lands they de facto already owned, however, Russia’s negotiator Leon Trotsky has refused to sign a peace agreement, adopting a vague stance of “neither peace nor war”, because it was hoped that a revolution would soon ensue in Germany itself. Such unilateral statements did not satisfy the Germans, so they decided to extend the war and fundamentally to change the post-war map, turning Russia into a small, perhaps dependent state. On February 8, an agreement was signed with the puppet Republic of Ukraine. Germany has once again carried out a force drop and shortly after the Council of Lithuania signed the declaration of 16 February, it launched an attack on 18 February, which ended in the occupation of a large area – Operation Faustschlag (Unternehmen Faustschlag).  The war actions reached Daugavpils on the first day of the attack. The Germans could attack not only from the south and southwest, but also from sides of Riga and Jekabpils. It is said that there was no defense, the city was occupied by arrival by train. A northern German group of 16 divisions attacked a weak Russian, Red Russian (newly formed Red Guards) and Red Latvian rifle forces. The fortress was taken for the first day, later the war operations covered the whole of Latgale, later it moved to Pskov and Narva[19].In this way, the system of fortifications created by Germany, which could become the eastern border of the new Empire, similar to the Roman fortifications of the Roman Empire – the limes, lost its meaning and the wall moved considerably to the north and east.

  1. Defensive fortifications during the Battles of Independence in 1919-1921

The defensive positions created in 1915-1917 had an indirect influence on the actions of war in 1918-1921. At the end of the war in the west, when the German army was in a revolutionary mood, the army of the former empire was forced to retreat. Although experience from military wisdom required a return to the positions of 1915-1918, the 10th German Army had no real chance, it was therefore decided to retreat to the Nemunas-Dubysa line covering the Prussian border, while maintaining control of the main railways. The fortresses of Grodno, Alytus and Kaunas remained in the hands of the Germans, and it was decided to defend them until the army was reorganized into new units formed on the basis of freicorps[20].Daugavpils Fortress fell into the hands of the Soviet Russian army without a battle and quickly became an operational base on the Latvian-Lithuanian front. Only a small part of Soviet Lithuania was ruled from occupied Vilnius. The rule of the Bolsheviks is not the task of this study, but there were a number of officers from the 1st Army in the Bolshevik army who held a defensive position in the area important for the investigation during World War I. Naturally, when the Soviet army withdrew in May-June 1919, a situation similar to the autumn of 1915 was created. It is noteworthy that the Soviets managed to organize a defense in much further accesses, keeping Zarasai in own hands (defense between Daugailiai and Degučiai) and east of Obeliai and only due to the operation of Zarasai at the end of August 1919 and the parallel offensive of the Polish army was the defense broken. It is noteworthy that although the Soviets hoped to maintain their old positions, they did not succeed and the attack reached the very entrances to Daugavpils, near the Gryva fort. However, even in this case, the front stopped and positional fighting lasted until January 1920, when the agreed Latvian and Polish forces removed the Lithuanians from the attack, and a few days later the Polish army occupied the Daugavpils fortress. For political reasons, this fortress was handed over to the Latvians. During the years of independent Latvia, the Latgale division was deployed in the fortress.

  • Theoretical foundations and development of German engineering defense lines of the Great War.

The defense strategy of the German army on the East Front envisages the use of a system of rivers and lakes in East Prussia reinforced for defense by means of sustainable fortification (Klaipėda, Königsberg, Boyen Fortress Giżycko (germ. Lötzen, pol. Giżycko,)) whose efficiency is due to a well-developed rail and road network. If necessary, the German army could retreat beyond the Vistula, where a separate network of fortresses was built (Torun (germ. Torn, pol. Toruń), Graudenz (germ. Graudenz, pol. Grudziądz), Gdansk (germ. Danzig, pol. Gdańsk). This system was tested in the autumn of 1914, when the Russian army tried to occupy East Prussia with the forces of the 1st and 2nd Armies without waiting for the end of mobilization. This attack was thwarted by logistical problems (railways of different widths) and internal problems of the Russian 1st and 2nd Armies itself, therefore, the trapped army was crushed in the so-called Battle of Tannenberg: the 2nd army was surrounded, the 1st was expelled with enormous losses. In this way, the predominantly defensive concept of Prussian defense was confirmed and it could be applied to the newly occupied territories in 1915. There was some planning already during the operation to occupy the Daugava line and the Lithuanian (Aukštaitija) lake district, reaching important administrative centers (Riga, Daugavpils) and railway junctions (Maladečnas), thus ensuring both defensive positions and bridgeheads for further attack if needed. Although not all objectives have been achieved, the new defensive position has largely satisfied German strategists: The lower reaches of the largest river on the eastern Baltic coast, lakes and wetlands provided favorable conditions for defense, but with limited resources it was necessary to establish more important directions by field fortifications, redesign the railway network and ensure convenient retreat positions in case of retreat. The Nemunas and Dubysa lines, which covered the entrances to East Prussia, to which the Kaunas fortress stood, the entire territory occupied in 1915 and was far enough from the front and close to German infrastructure, and the Grodno fortress, which covered the Warsaw-Vilnius direction, were very suitable for this purpose. The Brest Fortress reliably guarded the Minsk-Warsaw route, behind which the Vistula positions were still located, but the likelihood of needing such a deep retreat was minimal. In this way, German strategists successfully took over the system of fortresses in the western part of Russia, built in 1879-1914, which was to be covered by field fortifications on the Daugava-Lithuanian lake line.

On this line, it was possible to defend successfully using medium- and low-combat units consisting of the Landver Reserve and the Auxiliary Mobilization Reserve (Erzatz) by investing in engineering capabilities. The current situation also partially satisfied the Russian army, as it stabilized the western direction, enabling recovery after the losses and losses suffered, keeping in its hands the system of fortresses of Moonzund (West Estonian Islands), important cities – Riga and Daugavpils. The weakest link in Russia’s defense under the new conditions was the Minsk and Polotsk directions, which were not covered by any means of nature and sustainable fortification, so it was important for Russia to expel the Germans from the Lithuanian lake line.

Vladimir Orlov distinguishes three stages in the development of a field fortification, although he acknowledges the conditionality of such a division. The first period covered the period 1914-1915, when pre-war concepts dominated, and the German and Russian fortifications did not differ substantially. The second period consisted of the fortifications of 1915-1916, when it was decided to switch to defense on the Eastern Front, and the practice showed the shortcomings of the concepts of the first period. The third period consisted of fortifications from 1916 to 1917, in which the fortification system was perfected down to the last detail, using more durable elements, especially with the widespread use of concrete fortifications[21].

Tactically, in 1914-1916, the field fortification of the German army improved significantly. Extensive experience has been gained during the first two years. After all, already at the end of 1914, the wars in most parts of the Western Front took on a positional character.

When the intermediate positions were reached during the maneuvering war, the armies turned to protect their troops from enemy infantry fire. Paradoxically, infantry fire was most effective in the context of World War I as it targeted a specific adversary. The form of the excavations was formed with the help of the experience of previous wars: During the Crimean War, the massive use of rifles increased the range and accuracy of the rifles, and the soldiers were no longer protected by the old ditch and embankment fortifications (reductions, deafness, star and bastion fortifications). The Prussian-Austrian-Danish war of 1864 showed that such fortifications were ineffective against artillery fire, so it was necessary to build shelters to protect them from projectiles falling from above, and during the US-Spanish war, wire barriers proved their worth. However, most of the experience was gained from the Russia-Japan war, in which the defending Russian army used much of the experience of previous wars, especially in defending the vast land front. Even then, it became clear that the defense needed to be organized deep into the depths (the defense of Mukden’s position), a well-equipped shelter is needed as a main support point in place of the old forts, enabling soldiers to wait safely before the main enemy infantry attack (Port Arthur’s semi-permanent position on the Liaodun Peninsula). Machine guns demonstrated their capabilities in this war. Still, the Japanese maneuvers were still yielding results at the time. Therefore, field fortifications were expected to have a limited impact and traditional methods of attack (artillery training and infantry attack, concentrated cavalry blows and breakthroughs) would still be effective, although the attack on Napoleon’s time (tyralier, line, and battalion attack on the columns) had already been irreversibly replaced by the use of woolen attacks during Italian-Prussian independence (at the Battle of Solferino in 1859).

In 1914, and especially during the 1915 campaign, it was noticed that with the increase in the effectiveness of weapons, it was useful to use the excavation not only in defense, but also in attack, because the army moving on the battlefield could have become an easy target for enemy artillery, shooters or machine guns. In this way, the attacking army, having encountered the resistance, rushed to dig itself at least a little. As Chief Lieutenant Triobst writes, shovels that had been carelessly tossed by infantry until then, gained the value of gold. Already in the summer of 1915, when the front stopped for a short time near Dubysa (Battle of Šiauliai), the armies set up positions on both sides, all the more so after reaching the temporary stabilization line near Daugavpils Fortress. The front line was formed as the manoeuvring war escalated into a positional one and appeared in the autumn of 1915, immediately after the major battles. As the defense developed, the depth of defense increased and the front line gradually lost the function of the main line. This was because the enemy could easily destroy it with artillery fire, but it was important because it allowed the area to be controlled, especially if it was located in a nature rezerve. In exceptional cases, it could also be strengthened by fortifications, but more to protect against cold and rain, shrapnel than from direct hitting. In the conditions of a serious battle, this line could be briefly given to the enemy, so that after accumulating reserves it was possible to recapture. It should not be forgotten that the first line was in the enemy’s zone of view, so the working soldiers were in the firing zone of rifles and machine guns.

An important element in the defense of defensive positions were obstacle courses consisting of old obstacles, the so-called “Spanish riders” and barbed wire barriers carved on the stakes buried in the ground. During the first year, the Germans noticed that the obstacles installed near the enemy’s positions were ineffective, damaged by artillery fire directed at them, so it was clear that the obstacle was better installed behind the front line, at the right distance from the enemy, so that he could not see the obstacles[22].It soon became clear that the entire main battle line should be installed behind the front lines to maintain its structure until the start of the main battle. Such a vision required a redesign of the entire structure of the defensive position. It is noteworthy that the Allies reached these conclusions only at the very end of the war.

Attitudes towards hideouts have also changed. Deep-set small hideouts for up to 20 people have been found to provide the best protection against permanent, prolonged and recurrent artillery fire. Entrances to such hideouts had to be well-disguised and easy to use, there had to be more than one. There was also a need for well-armored observation posts so that even in the conditions of the highest fire, observers could monitor the firing ranges and report on the attack of enemy infantry in a timely manner. Such observation posts had to be installed not only in the front line but also in deeper positions.

It has been observed that in a small firing zone it is appropriate to concentrate the concentration of all weapons, doing as much damage as possible to the enemy, it is particularly important to combine frontal fire with flanking, including the obstacle course. This could be done from the line itself or from specially equipped flanking positions[23]. Such positions could include both concrete fire points in the highlands and high-speed gunshots. For artillery positions, it is essential that observers are protected by infantry positions and have the opportunity to withdraw if necessary. The batteries themselves should be placed at a distance that can help infantry, but the cannons themselves should not be within the reach of the enemy artillery firing on the front positions. The cannons themselves had to be placed in comfortable shooting positions, well-covered ammunition hideouts, with shelters[24].  The artillery reserve would have access roads.

            Commanders of battalions and regiments had to have command posts that would allow direct monitoring of the protected section. The senior management higher command was to have headquarters close to the front, but to avoid mass fire, it had to have lines of communication with observers and commanders, all subordinate commanders should have been aware of the location of the headquarters in order to inform the management and send the necessary assistance.

            Hideouts and supply  units had to be located in the 2nd or 3rd position.

Traverses (Schulterwehr) were to be installed in the excavation line every 8-10 meters to protect soldiers from longitudinal fire or fragmentation, and flanking ditches protruding beyond the defensive line by a few meters had to be installed in suitable places. Such flanking trenches had to be well masked and covered from the back of the embankment, leaving the opportunity for the visiting officer to bypass this position[25].

  • Peculiarities of the War Theater in Daugavpils – Zarasai section.

The most important strategic object in the Daugavpils-Zarasai section was the Daugavpils fortress and bridges across the Daugava, which were controlled by the Russians. In the absence of sufficient forces to occupy the Daugavpils fortress, the Germans had to settle for the lakes in the eastern part of Sėla, which formed the northernmost part of the Lithuanian lake district. In this barren, wooded area, it was possible to defend successfully, but there was a great lack of normal living conditions that could be provided by a larger city and its infrastructure. In the absence of any alternatives, the possibilities of Novoaleksandrovsk (Zarasai) and larger manors had to be satisfied by strengthening them in ways accessible to the army during the war. Roads were also a big problem. Only three roads were more important – the Vilnius-Daugavpils railway (the last stop on the German side was Turmantas), the Panevėžys-Obeliai-Daugavpils and St. Petersburg-Tsarist tract, whose armies could move in two directions at the same time. All other roads were local in nature and could only be used for small military movements and logistics. In this way, it was these two roads that were vigilantly guarded by the army on both sides, satisfying the general field fortifications in the other bars, based on the straits of lakes, rivers, streams and swamps. The area was very suitable for defense, but completely unsuitable for attack, all the more so as Lithuanian railways were rebuilt quickly enough to European standards. Naturally, armored trains, armored vehicles, cavalry had limited opportunities to operate here, while aviation was of great importance: under favorable weather conditions, it was possible to easily fly through all natural and man-made obstacles. But the real hosts of this theater of war were artillery, engineers and infantry.

It must be acknowledged that the Russian army had better conditions in this area, and was able to easily deploy forces using the peacetime railway system connecting both the front with the rear and Riga and Daugavpils, the Daugava River was more controlled by the Russians than by the Germans, including the bridges over the Daugava, but knowing the qualitative characteristics of the armies, these advantages could turn into disadvantages, as the land direction towards St. Petersburg had no natural or fortification obstacles. This was the case in the autumn of 1917, when Bolshevik-ruled Russia was forced to capitulate as the Germans approached the immediate vicinity of the then Russian capital. Naturally, maintaining the Daugava line was a particularly important task for the Russian army, and the only means to do so was to push the Germans as far away from the critical infrastructure as possible during the war.

            The sympathies and antipathies of the locals also became an important element of defense. The Germans could count on (and usually received) the support of the German landowners and the Germans themselves, Lithuanians and Jews were not hostile to the German army, associating certain expectations with their arrival, although dissatisfied with the very heavy occupation, which impoverished the villagers and recklessly felled forests, requisitioned horses, pigs, took everything they could to use their homes and otherwise not too wealthy the rural population[26].  The situation was similar in cities, where the army recklessly occupied buildings, equipped hospitals, barracks, staffs and other facilities, and dissatisfied people simply had no one to complain to. According to Chief Lieutenant H. Triobst, who openly wrote about the behavior of the army towards the locals, Lithuania experienced the same in 1915-1918 as Germany did during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Memoirs collected during the Republic of Lithuania and published in the pages of the Military Archive, which was launched in 1925, also testify to the reckless behavior of German soldiers in the territory of Oberost.

Despite the real loss of the occupation, the population viewed German soldiers a little differently. The real Russians had the opportunity to withdraw they felt a natural hostility towards the Germans. Russian Old Believers were more neutral in this regard, Lithuanian landowners, who mostly associated themselves with Polish culture, could be named in a similar way, there were more Russian Orthodox only near the border, the most hostile to the Germans were the Latvians, whose anti-land provisions were very much in line with the national ones, and the Russian favor allowed them to form national Latvian units, which contributed a lot to the defense of the Daugava position. In this way, the struggles took place not only in the specific conditions of nature, but also in the conditions of civilization and culture. The closest to the German army leadership were the manors, whose living conditions were closest to their normal way of life, while the single farms, villages, small towns looked poor, were accepted as a foreign, barbaric land. In order to feel better in this landscape, the Germans did not spare time to create underground towns, hiding places and other building complexes reminiscent of at least houses, longing not only for houses but also for the simplest civilization. The soldiers in particular suffered from lice, humidity, dirt, and to a lesser extent from the famine typical of the entire German army. However, this was only the case in the first months.

  • Units and subunits of the German army in the Daugavpils – Zarasai section.

The organization of the German army had a commonly agreed structure. The supreme command of the army belonged to the emperor and the chief of the General Staff, who commanded the general staff and forces of the German army. This highest level of government, in coordination with the civilian government of the German Empire, the subjects of the empire, and its allies, has shaped policy. The General Staff planned and led major operations, combining political and military challenges (strategic level). The Land Army was commanded by the main command of the Land Army (Oberkommando Heer, abbreviated as O. K. H.), which was the main organizational, administrative and logistical center of the army.

Most of the affairs of the Eastern Front were handled by the newly created Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the East, which oversaw not only the armies operating on the front but also the civil affairs of the occupied lands. For this purpose, the country was divided into districts, administrative and judicial power was assigned, but military affairs remained a key priority. Subsequent operational military command took place at the headquarters of the armies and army groups, and separate tasks were assigned to corps brigades and divisions. The post of chief pioneer (Komandeur der Pioniere) was established under the command of the corps, and the position of chief pioneer (Ältester Pionier-Offizier der Division) was held in the division headquarters. Tactical command took place in regiments, battalions and companies, which were divided into units and divisions to carry out their tasks. The regiment of the German army consisted of the headquarters (commander of the regiment, adjutant, officer in charge of the assignment – ordonance, chief of supply, lieutenant officer and doctor of regiment). There were three battalions in the regiment. The battalion consisted of a headquarters (battalion commander, adjutant, supply chief, battalion doctor with an assistant and clerk-accountant) and 4 companies. There were 5-7 officers in the company. It should be noted that the battalion was commanded by captains and the companies by lieutenants, so the ranks of soldiers were a degree lower than in peacetime, but this is normal wartime practice. In total, the Infantry Regiment had about 100 officers and 3,000 to 3,700 non-commissioned officers and soldiers living and fighting in 12 companies. The battalion could also have 3 companies in the reserve regiments.

      At the beginning of World War I, the 8th Army was deployed in Prussia, which organized the defense of East Prussia and other subsequent actions. Its headquarters were in Poznan in peacetime, and at the beginning of the war it was moved closer to the defended East Prussian capital, Marienburg (Polish: Małbork). During the mobilization, 9 armies operating in the southern wing of the Eastern Front in Poland were separated from the 8th Army. In the summer of 1915, after a successful attack in the direction of Samogitia – Curonia, a Lauenstein group was separated from the 8th Army and was directly subordinated to the Chief Eastern Commander to strengthen operational control. Following the successful attack on Lauenstein in Samogitia and Curonia, more and more units were assigned to the group until it reached army size. Thus, on May 26, 1915, the Nemunas Army appeared in the German army. Otto von Belov, the former commander of the 8th Army, and Böckmann, Chief of Staff, have been appointed commander. The 8th Army, which still existed at the time and consisted mainly of the 20th Corps, was commanded by Artillery General Friedrich von Scholtz and Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel Adolf von Schwerin. At that time the headquarters were in Lykk (vol Lyck, Polish Ełk). The 8th Army was abolished on September 29, 1915, but in December the Nemunas Army was renamed the 8th Army, leaving the same General Belov as commander[27]. The headquarters of this army operated in Šiauliai. On April 1, 1916, the headquarters of the army was transferred to Jelgava (German: Mitau). When General Belov was assigned to Macedonia, both the army headquarters and the name itself went together, therefore, on October 9, 1916, the headquarters of the then disbanded 12th Army (Armeeoberkommando 12, abbreviated A.O.K. 12, deployed in Lida in 1915-1916), later logically called the 8th Army Headquarters, was appointed to command the units. Following the successful execution of the 1917 attack, the headquarters was relocated to Riga.

In 1917-1918, the 8th Army controlled the so-called Baltic provinces and the Kuršas Spit (Baltische Staaten, Herzogtum Kurland und Semigalien) – the future territories of Estonia and Latvia, which also included Pskov[28]. At the end of the war, the 10th Army controlled German Lithuania (the Kingdom of Lithuania).

How confusing the history of army names in the second half of 1915 had little to do with real life. Dependence on the army was closely related to logistics. The Nemunas (8th) army was supplied via the Karaliaučius-Šiauliai railway and the Karaliaučiai-Riga land road, with branches towards Liepaja, Riga and Daugavpils. The latter road from Šiauliai led to Radviliškis, Panevėžys, Kupiškis, Obeliai towards Alūksta and Daugavpils, so the units that attacked Daugavpils along this railway belonged to the Nemunas Army, and those that attacked from Kaunas and Vilnius belonged to the 10th Army.

The 10th Army consisted of three corps: XXI, XXXIX, and XXXVIII.

The XXI Corps was transferred to the Eastern Front in mid-January 1915. Led by General Oscar von Hutier [29](since April), the corps took part in the battles in East Prussia, near the Lithuanian Suwalki border, and together with the XXXX Litzman corps took part in the battles for Kaunas Fortress and near Vilnius. At the end of the active fighting, the corps occupied defensive positions between Tverečius – Smurgainiai – Lake Narutis – Krėva, where they had to withstand the biggest blows during the Russian attack in March 1916. In March 1916, the corps consisted of the 31st, 42nd, and 115th divisions, with the 107th Infantry Division in rezerve. During the essential years of the fighting, the 80th Reserve and 3rd Cavalry Divisions joined the so-called Hutier Corps Combat Group. The XXXVIII reserve corps was formed in December 1914, began battles in East Prussia in January 1915 with other 10th Army units, participated in the battles near Suwalki and Augustów, but was later relegated to the southern wing of the German army and fought in the Lviv (Lemberg) area, where it acquired the name of the Beskids Corps. 1916 Fighted mainly in Eastern Poland, especially important battles took place over the Lithuanian Brasta Fortress, in the summer they fought near Baranovičiai, thus in the southern army flank.

The XXXIX Reserve Corps was newly formed in East Prussia in December 1914 and fought in March 1915 in an army group of Otto von Lauenstein, which initially operated on the Prussian-Lithuanian Suwalki border section, later moved to Samogitia, where it took part in the Battle of Šiauliai, together with the Marines stormed the Liepaja Fortress, defended against the Russian counterattack on Jelgava (Mitau), defended in the position of Dubysa, later held positions in Curonia (lith. Kuršiai), near Jelgava. At that time, the corps consisted of the 6th, 36th, and 78th reserve divisions. After some regrouping, the newly formed 88th Infantry Division, the Combined Beckmann Division Group and the Provisional Reserve Corps of Kurt von Mogen (Morgen) were assigned to the corps. These forces took part in the attack in the direction of Daugavpils in mid-September. In mid-1916, the corps commander Otto von Lauenstein handed over his duties to General von Staabs due to illness, and the corps was transferred to the Romanian front [30]. Our investigative 77th Reserve and 88th Divisions also belonged to this corps. The headquarters of the corps was located in Utena.

In the summer and autumn of 1915, the Nemunas (8th) Army owned several old and several new compounds. From the old 8th Army remained the 20th Army Corps, the 1st Reserve Corps, the 3rd Reserve Division. The new army was assigned to the 2nd Division.

XX Army Corps, commanded by Friedrich von Scholz, 1914 fought in the Battle of Tanenberg, and in subsequent battles in Poland, was assigned to the newly created 9th Army. Adolf von Schwerin was appointed Chief of Staff of the Corps on January 15, 1915. He was returned to the 8th Army in the beginning of 1915, then fought in Podlasie, from where he entered the Samogitian-Curonian attack (headquarters in Tilžė). On the basis of the corps from October 8, 1915 a group of Scholz armies[31] operated, later, as it was already written, it briefly formed the entire basis of the 8th Army, with the creation of the Nemunas Army. This group took part in the fighting near Grodno, but after achieving the expected result, it was moved to Daugavpils. At that time, the group had three corps: the Eben, Lauenstein and Richthofen cavalry. This group organization lasted until the beginning of 1917, when it was renamed the “D” group. This group took part in the occupation of Daugavpils, after the break of peace talks with the Bolsheviks, later guarded the Dysna-Daugava ranks, captured Polotsk and ended the war in Kiev.

The 1st Army Corps, which was part of the 8th Army in peacetime, took part in defensive battles on the Lithuanian border (Stalupėnai, Gumbinė battles), winter battles near the Masurian lakes, then mainly in Podlasie and Suwalki. During the war, the corps’s affiliation changed, assigning it to the 8th, the 10th, then the 12th Army, but retained its dependence on the aforementioned Eben Corps (Army I Corps with assigned units). In September 1915, the corps took part in the outburst of Švenčionys, captured Vilnius, and in October it was assigned to the Scholz army group, where it later guarded positions near Daugava.

The battles in the direction of Daugavpils in the 8th Army were led by the 1st Reserve Corps (I. Reserve-Korps), which had participated in all the battles of 1915 in Lithuania since April 26. The corps already had experience of positional warfare from the battles in Poland and near Dubysa, as well as in the great battles near Šiauliai, where it spent all phases of the battle from June 15 to July 25, then occupied Panevėžys, fought near Kupiškis. It  had been briefly attached to Šventoji and Jara, and had been fighting near Daugavpils since September 9. The battles against the fortification of the Daugavpils anti-bridge from September 13 to November 11 are noteworthy. After these battles, it remained on the passive front until the end of 1916. Some of the soldiers under the Corps took part in the fighting near Riga, where they remained until the end of the summer of 1917. The Corps consisted of two reserve divisions, the 1st Reserve Division and the 36th Reserve Division with several divisions under the Corps, mainly for logistical purposes. For the corps from 12 November 1914. Until 1918, Lieutenant General Kurt von Morgen was in charge of his Chief of Staff from 3 May 1915. Lieutenant Colonel Walter von Haxthausen, apparently temporarily replaced by Major Oscar von Hahnke, and since 1916 Colonel Erich Kunhardt von Schmidt[32].

The corps usually consisted of two divisions, and they remained little changed throughout the history of the unit. The history of this corps was somewhat different, so we will not find the corps of the divisions mentioned at the beginning of its formation in 1915-1916, while we will meet completely different compounds.

In the battles near Daugavpils, the 2nd Division arrived from other sections of the front. Its very name suggests that it is one of the oldest compounds in the Prussian army. In peacetime, it was deployed in Įsrūtė, so it is likely that it contained many Lithuanians. In the 1915 campaign, the division fought mainly in Podlaskie and the Brest area, but during the Battle of the Nemunas it was included (August 28 – September 8, 1916) in the 10th Army and fought near Širvintos and in the battle for Vilnius (September 09-27), which took place at the position established at Maišiagala. From here the division was redeployed to Kosjany, Miadsiolka and Drūkšiai, took part in the battle of Daugavpils and Daugavpils fortification (September 29 – November 1), during which it held three positions: 1. in the Drukšiai-Meduma Lake Strait we are exploring (from October 1 to 31); 2. Grenzthal and Gateni (October 11-17) and 3. Schoßberg and Aluksta (October 16-31). The division remained in Daugavpils positions until the end of November 1917, although its units took part in the famous New Year’s attack on the river Aa in 1917, was in the reserve of the Eichorn Group (10th Army and its assigned units) from June 17 to July 6, 1917. Part of the division was transferred to the Supreme Army Command Reserve (Oberste Heeresleitung, O. H. L) in February 1917 and entered the Western Front. The remaining units near Daugavpils are mentioned on April 12-24, 1916 and May 8 – June 11, 1916. in the battles at Gorbunovka (Lat.Garbunowka,) and Dviete Manor (germ. Dweten)[33].

In the battles of 1915, the 78th reserve division was distinguished, fighting at the accesses to the Alūksta bridge. The division appeared in Lithuania in April, took part in the March through Samogitia and Curonia in April-May, took part in the battles near Dubysa, in the battle of Šiauliai on June 14-25, in the battle of Kupiškis in early August, later in the Battle of Pandėlis-Schymancai. The Battle of the Holy Lake and the Jara, and from September 9 to November 20 – in the Battle of Daugavpils, from which the most intense fighting took place from September 13 to November 1[34].

The Beckman Division, renamed the 108th Division in November 1915, also took part in the battles. This compound was formed only in May 1915 and began its battle in the battle of Dubysa, from where it joined the battle of Šiauliai via Raseiniai, Girkalnis (Girtakol), Tytuvėnai, Ilgius, from where it participated in the battles in Aukštaitija together with the units of the 1st Reserve Corps. From September 9 the regiment fights near Daugavpils, at the beginning of November joins the positional defense where it spends the rest of 1915 and stays in positions until June 7, 1916, from where the reserve of the Government’s Eastern leadership is transferred. Major General Max Karl Gottlob Beckmann has been in charge of the division throughout the important period for us. On October 3, 1915, the division consisted of the 5th Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 97th Infantry Regiment of the Upper Rhine (Oberrheinisches infanterie-regiment No. 97), and the 137th Infantry Regiment of Lower Alsace (Unter-Elsässisches Infanterie-regimant No. 137). 265th Reserve Infantry Regiment, 1st Reserve Dragoon Regiment, 243rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Reserve Pioneer Battalion 1st Regiment, 275th Lighting Regiment (Scheinwerferzug No. 275), and 108th Interpreting Regiment ( Fernsprech-Doppelzug No 108)[35].

The 3rd Reserve Division of the 10th Army appeared at the Lithuanian-Curonian War Theater during the Battle of the Nemunas. Prior to that, it had to take part in the battles over the Osoviec and Lomza fortresses on the Beaver River. The division took part in the battles for Vilnius, after which it established itself in the vicinity of Krėva – Smurgainiai-Narutis – Tverečius, where it remained until May 1917, when it was redeployed to the Western Front. The division had to withstand the main blow of the Battle of Narutis, participating in the Winter Battles near Riga in 1917[36].  The division was headed by Major General Paul Weinschenck from 1916 to February 1, 1917.

The 77th Reserve and the 88th Division belonging to the XXXIX Corps, which had long been established in the vicinity of Zarasai and Daugavpils, had the greatest significance for our research topic. All newly created units[37], subdivisions[38], and subunits[39] at the beginning of the war were called reserves. In the right wing of the 88th Division, positions were occupied by the 225th Infantry Division[40], in the left by the 37th Infantry Division (belonging to the Scholz Army Group, later the 8th Army).

The 77th Reserve Infantry Division was formed in late 1914[41]  (according to other data in early 1915[42]), was part of the 10th Army until February 2, 1915, fought at the Masurian Lakes and in Suwalki. For a long time, several spring-summer months, it took a defensive position near Seinai, between Augustów, Marijampolė and Pilviškiai. July 21 – 7 August fought in the approaches of Kaunas Fortress to Veiveriai and Jiesia, took part in the assault of Kaunas Fortress on August 8-18, after which he also took part in the Battle of the Nemunas. August 20 – 8 September adhered to Šventoji and Jara, later took part in the battle for Vilnius, during which he reached the positions of Krėva, Smurgainiai, Narutis, Tverečius, it remained there until October 9, from where it was transferred to the strait connecting the lakes of Meduma and Drūkšiai, where it took a part in the battles for the anti-bridge position of Daugavpils and Daugavpils, separate units were deployed between Gatena, Januliškės and Ilzen lakes. From November 1, the division started a long-term positional war, in which it remained until August 1917, participating in the subsequent battles near Daugavpils and Riga. It is noteworthy that the history of the division mentions several activations of the front: March 19-28, 1916, called the “March Battles against Daugavpils” (Märzkämpfe vor Dűnaburg) and July 18-25, 1917 “Daugavpils defensive battles” (Abwehrschlacht bei Dűnaburg).

During our research period, the division was established between Lake Sventes and a group of lakes northwest of Medume, the largest of which was Lake Meduma, as well as on land from Meduma to the east to the Vilnius – Daugavpils railway. The second defensive line in the inter-lake at the current Lithuanian-Latvian border, at the Kampiniškės-Laukesa lakes and further along the border. On the main road Zarasai-Daugavpils it was in an Egypt cemetery. The third line went on the other side of Laukesa, in Smėlynė, from where it was possible to perfectly support the defense of the main line. The plans show the contours leading far southwest to the Smalva – Samanavas lake group, but they were only in the plans of the battalions’ areas of responsibility. The main center of the division is the town of Zarasai (Novoaleksandrovsko, abbreviated Novo). The main logistic communication line is Kaunas – Daugavpils (tsarist) tract. The division’s headquarters were located in a manor called Lautzensee. The division was headed by Major General Karl Brosius from the beginning of its formation until September 22, 1915, from September 23, 1915 to May 1917, (thus most of our research period) the division was headed by Lieutenant General Sigismund von Förster. On 18 January 1917, Major General Franz Adam[43] took over and headed the division until its dissolution.

As Lieutenant General Sigismund von Förster (1856-1934) is an important figure in our study, more information about it will be provided. He was an elderly general with extensive experience, invited from the reserve at the beginning of the war. While still a fanenjunker[44], he delved into the pioneer sciences, leading the pioneer units, graduated from the School of Joint Artillery Engineering in 1875, was assigned to the railway units, lectured at the University of Technology in Berlin from 1881 to 1883, commanded the Hessen Pioneer Battalion in Mainz, and later in the Balloon Division. In the late 19th century he was appointed commander of the infantry battalion in the Prussian army. From 1900 he worked in the Far East War Theater, serving in the crackdown on the Boxer Revolution in China, where he was involved in the storm of the Chinese fortress of Tse King Kuan. He received the Order of the Emperor “Pour le Mérite” for the Chinese campaign. These military marches turned Fiorster’s career in a very positive direction, and upon his return to Germany, the major was appointed commander of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Prussian Guards Regiment. With the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Fiorster was appointed a German observer in the Japanese army, a highly responsible official in the military world[45] at the time, after his return from the war, he was appointed commander of the 5th Brandenburg Regiment (Kiustryn Fortress at Oder, now polish Kostrzyn) and received the rank of colonel. It must be said that his military career was particularly successful, especially in 1910 with the post of Commander of the 68th Brigade at the Fortress of Metz[46] and the rank of Major General. In 1913, Sigismund Fiorster was appointed Commander of the 6th Division of Brandenburg and received the rank of Lieutenant General. Immediately before the outbreak of World War I, he was released from the reserve (zur Disposition) for unknown reasons and awarded a particularly high empire award (Stern zum  Roten Adlerorden II. Klasse mit Eichenlaub). Still, this “on-demand” status meant a failed general career turn for the general in the flowering force, due to conflict or unbelievability to a certain dominant group of officers.[47] When the war broke out, the general was appointed commander of the 1st Reserve Corps, leading the fighting in Poland, and from September 23, 1915 was appointed Commander of the 77th Division[48]. In fact, such people already had to lead the army, not the division. In 1915, the general was 59 years old, so the division had a particularly experienced commander with a degree in military engineering and extensive practice. This man ruled an area of ​​220 square kilometers under the rights of the lord. The soldiers could equate him with the status of chief of the Roman border, the fort of Limes. The general not only guarded the external border of Germany, but also served as a carrier of culture in this region of Lithuania. The commander was very human, his favorite phrase was “all because of a simple warrior”. This commander did not take the position of “gentleman”, but “first among the levels” (Primus inter Pares). By 1915, Sigismund von Fiorster had been wounded four times[49].

The division consisted of the 255th, 256th, and 257th Reserve Infantry Regiments, the 59th and 60th Reserve Artillery Regiments, the Heavy Reserve Artillery, and assigned units: sound measuring unit (Schallmesstruppe), artillery measuring unit, planning unit, pilots, balloon unit, car column, outdoor meteorological station, Jaeger cycling company, food supply column, squadron, outdoor gendarmerie, searchlight squad, minesweeper hospitals, a field recruitment depot, the 78th Pioneer Company, and other units. At the beginning of the formation of the division, it also owned the 79th Reserve Pioneer Company. By the end of 1915, the division was already covering a smaller but very responsible bar. This position was not very convenient, the land area was too large, therefore a new long-term position was installed in place of the second defensive line, the division on the southern bank of Laukesa basically defended the area between Kaunas – Daugavpils highway and Vilnius – Daugavpils railway inclusive.

The 77th Reserve Division remained in the Zarasai area from the beginning of November 1915 until the end of August 1917[50].

The 88th Division was formed from the “Menges Division” formed in the beginning of 1915, which took part in the battles near the town of Pilica between April and May 1915. In July, this division, between Pilica and the Vistula River, took part in an attack on Russian forces. At the end of August, as the front moved east, the Menges Division reached the Vilnius area, and in September it approached Daugavpils, where it took positions at Lake Drūkšiai. After reaching the surroundings of Lake Drūkšiai and stabilizing the front, the division was transformed into the 88th Infantry Division. The 88th Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Menges, reports to the XX Corps, which formed the right wing of the Nemunas Army (later the 8th). The 88th Division guarded a small stretch of the front running southeast from the railway to a group of small lakes in Bruges (Briģenes ezers, orig. On German map Demmes), Demenes (Latvian: Demenes, orig. On the German map Deglaiku) and further south to Lake Drūkšiai:Akmenka, Darzo (latv. Dārza, orig. On German map Gatenu), Skirno (orig. On german map Skirno), including the fortifications around Tilžė. The third line was based on the Strait of Drūkšiai – Smalva lakes. The main logistic administrative center is Turmantas railway station and town. The main logistic communication line is Vilnius-Daugavpils railway. The two divisions under study could easily support each other, as there was only a distance of 15 kilometers between the main centers. About midway between the two centers was the town of Smalvos.

In 1915 the 88th Division was formed: of three infantry brigades, two infantry regiments in each. The division was called the Landver Division because it consisted of the territorial army – Landver units and divisions.

175. Landver Infantry Brigade (from 2 August 1915 until then it was called the Landver Auxiliary Infantry Brigade (Landwehr-Ersatz-Infanterie-Brigade 1)): From October 4, 1915, the brigade was led by Commander-in-Chief Major General Otto Frantz. The brigade consisted of the 349th and 350th Landver Infantry Regiments.

176. Landver Infantry Brigade (August 2, 1915 – February 1917, formerly Budenbrock Brigade, Commander Gen. Alfred Freiherr von Buddenbrock).

177. Infantry Brigade, Commander Gen. Klemens Ullrich. The brigade consisted of the 353rd and 354th Infantry Regiments.

The division also included the 88th Cavalry Regiment, the 88th and 223rd Field Artillery Regiments, the 6th Landver Pedestrian Artillery Battalion, and the 6th Landver Pioneer Battalion.

Between 1916 and 1917, the composition of the 88th Division changed. The 88th Infantry Division stayed at the positions of Lake Drūkšiai for exactly two years – from September 1915 to September 1917[51].

Pioneer companies were assigned to infantry regiments. Hans Tröbst, a senior lieutenant in the Pioneers’ Memories, served in the 78th Reserve Pioneer Company of the 147th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Reserve Division. The pioneers of the 77th Division were based in the village of Gudotiškės. At the end of 1915, it was the only division of the pioneers in the division[52]. One group (Zug) of pioneers was assigned to each infantry regiment, and the company commander also served as the division’s chief engineer officer. Of course, such capabilities only allowed the pioneers to perform the duties of advisors and instructors, all the reinforcement work was done by the infantry itself or by assigned units.

The builders belonging to the so-called mobile regiments (Reiseregiment), which consisted of units – two support battalions (Armierungsbattalion) of 1,000 people each, separate support battalions, battalions of the Landscape and Prisoners of War. This force was the “workforce” of pioneer officers.

Reserve units made up of reservists had certain characteristics that distinguish them from regular army units. Regular units of the army, especially officers and non-commissioned officers of the professional army, deliberately chose the army as a profession, so even during the war they felt “in their sleighs”. During the war, it was possible to make a career faster and put one’s knowledge into practice, and military routine was a routine activity, only in somewhat unconventional conditions. Professional service officers were able to access the safe and comfortable headquarters more quickly. Reserve soldiers were pulled out of their usual environment, quitting their studies, pulling out of business, married soldiers – from their families. Everything was clear at first, but as soon as the war took on the character of a war of endurance, and especially in the largely meaningless trench warfare, the soldiers became unhappy, deceived, and manifestly dissatisfied with their situation. Reservist officers did not have a bigger career, so they were also excluded, usually being sent to more difficult positions. This divide clearly began to dominate in mid-1916, when Romania entered the war on the Entente side, all hopes for a quick end to the war were dashed and the distance between professionals and mobilized began to widen – expectations differed[53].

  • Evolution of the defense system

In October-November 1915, during the fighting and defending against the Russian counterattack, the soldiers clung to a simple trench with traverses, which did not have any drainage system, so a large part was flooded with rainwater. Hideouts were excavated in no great order, often using pits dug by artillery fire. The reserve units quickly dug pits, covered five rows of logs on site (mostly demolished by artillery) and covered them with earth. 2/3 of the soldiers held the defense, only 1/3 could work. Auxiliary units rescued. It was not until the middle of November, 1915, that a more decent amount of settlements could already be established by setting up winter camps[54].It was important to create the conditions for people and horses to survive in cold and humid conditions. Nature has become a greater enemy than the enemy itself. Fortunately, the Russians had the same problems. A positional war broke out (ger. Stellungskrieg).

In the long run, it became clear that the so-called winter camps were gradually becoming a long-term position, so other lines were set up. As the names vary, we will try to provide a table to explain the chronology of the installation of defensive positions.

1915 10 – 1915 12Front (line I)Backup line 
1915 12 – 1916 03Front (line I)II line 
1916 04 – 1918 02I positionII positionIII position

The German army usually set up three defensive positions (Stellung, sometimes called the line Linie, later separated and had a separate, subordinate meaning – the position could be made up of several lines), in front of which observation posts or barriers called the front line were installed, position. The front position, called the first army, was installed within 400-500 meters of the enemy, consisting of ditches, very rarely equipped with larger hiding places, unless the front had stabilized for a very long time. The leading position was used to intercept enemy reconnaissance and withstand the initial attack, to assess the extent of the enemy’s attack. In the winter of 1915-1916, it was the only one, as hostilities were expected to resume in the spring. It consisted of a continuous trench for a standing soldier without an obstacle course, a rear-facing junction trench (Annäherungsweg), which, after leaving the enemy’s field of inspection, switched to a simple open road. These roads were created to protect soldiers going to eat from accidental bullets fired by Russian soldiers on a regular basis, targeting anyone moving in an open area. When the ammunition ran out, German soldiers installed obstacles. However, the Russians soon began to use shrapnel, and shelters had to be built to protect against this danger from above. Axes, shovels, which were initially thrown by the infantry as unnecessary ballast, quickly became worth their weight in gold.

  • 1915 end (early) period

At an early stage, a reserve line was built a few kilometers from the front line, where soldiers lived and warehouses were set up. For such purposes, the slopes descending towards Laukesa lakes towards the Lakes of Laukesa, which were turned to the southwest and west, near the egyptian (Wilkomjest) area, where the Germans installed “caves” – shelters, trenches were installed above the fuel, and are still visible today in the cemetery near the Egyptian church. At the same time, reserve positions in Smėlynė were also installed in the cemetery[55].

            This period of improvised defense lasted until January 1916, when the maneuverable nature of war automatically shifted to positional. At that time, the German army produced new maps at a scale of 1: 25,000, in which tactical information was marked and subsequently adjusted. The officers of the corps staff, accompanied by an engineer, then determined the second position (Zweite Stellung), which was to be installed within 5 to 10 kilometers of the first. The position was determined by a special management team, which toured the area during the winter and marked the most important direction of the fortifications. After completing the work and receiving answers to the questions, the division’s pioneer commander received an order to carry out the work. In the area of ​​responsibility of the 77th Division, he was assigned the 1046th Regiment (I. R. 1046), the 40th and 65th Support Battalions, the 23rd Landslide Company and the 42nd Prisoner of War Battalion[56].

The first position during this period consisted of the main battle line (Hauptkampflinie) and was therefore installed with the utmost care, using as durable materials as possible. As evidenced by contemporaries, the installation of this line began in the winter of 1915-1916, under the supervision of pioneer specialists. The officer divided the entire planned division into five parts, appointing the senior ones – one lieutenant and the senior non-commissioned officers. The line ran near the Turmantas – Zarasai road. This was a very favorable circumstance for the builders, as there was less need to work in off-road conditions. The newly arranged road and bridge were very useful. The ground was frozen, so a bonfire was created in the beginning, warming the ground and making the job easier. The work was slow, and every building that was started, under construction, and planned had to be marked on maps. Red indicated the work was completed, blue for work in progress and brown for work in progress. The division had a special section of plans and maps that did this important work. An apparatus (Lichtpausapparat) was also used, which greatly facilitated the work. The work was supervised by the division’s pioneer commander and his deputy. The clothes of the German army were not suitable for work, so the men took care of the clothes of the Russian army, which consisted of officers’ papaya and sheepskin coat, which they bought in Vilnius. At the same time, work was being done on the road along the front line (about a kilometer from the strengthening of the front line to support the attacking defenders before the start of the thaw). During the winter, 12 bridges called Fiorster or Zender bridges were built. Support points were also being set up to withstand the Russian attack in the first hours until reserves arrive. The soldiers worked more on these constructions, and the logs prepared by the prisoners of war were delivered by the division’s timber supplier using artillery horses.

 Defensive positions were developed and improved throughout the Army’s stand, so it changed all the time, repairing and remodeling existing fortifications, building bridges, roads, narrow gauges, houses, building shelters, hideouts, bunkers, obstacles, communication, lighting, communications, and more.

In the winter of 1915-1916, the front line ((ger. Vordere Linie), also known as line 1, later became the first line), consisted of a firing field (Schutzfeld) with an obstacle course, behind it a continuous trench of several tens of meters, behind which a shelter of more than a few tens of meters was installed, connected to the main trench. The main trench was connected to the back by recessed traffic routes[57].  It was thought that the firing field should be a kilometer or even smaller so that the shooters could cause more trouble to the enemy, at the same time, however, enemy observers had greater opportunities to reconnaissance defensive positions and inflict more damage on them with the help of artillery.

Work in these positions was particularly dangerous, and the corps of pioneer engineers suffered heavy losses. At the end of 1915, the pioneer company was led by Vice-FieldFebel Koch, who took a course for reserve officers. German artillery who lived in the area did not know what the original farmhouse was originally called, so they named the area after Willi, the commander of the artillery battery, adding the local suffix “-ishki” to Wilischki.

The broken line of the front trenches, which supplemented the previous front trenches, was started to be installed at the end of 1915 near the hill near Staro Dvorišče, with a pioneer company under the command of Captain Christ. The concept was taken from the Russian defense system, which paid due attention to the flanking of the obstacle course (germ. Flankierung von Hindernissen). These fortifications were also demonstrated, as an example, by a group of military attachés from neutral countries, which included military diplomats from Norway, Sweden, Chile, China and Romania[58].

The second line, also known as the inner line (Hintere Linie, Rűckwartige Linie), was provisionally installed as a backup in case the first one was broken, as a possible defensive position during the retreat. Sometimes the name “reserve”.The second line had to be at such a distance from the front that they could not successfully destroy the enemy’s artillery fire, but at the same time not too far so that the second line could come first to the rescue[59].The quality of their installation depended on the situation, but was often more serious only in strategically dangerous places, near roads, intersections or in places that were particularly convenient to defend. In the case of the Eastern Front, they were not given much attention because the Russian attacks were small, tactical in nature.

This position had several advantages and disadvantages: the position was installed at a distance of 4765 meters from enemy batteries, thus protecting soldiers from direct impact by mines. However, the enemy could easily predict the logic of walking the line, and as the artillery projectile continued to explode, the fragments flew along the trench, destroying everything in its path. As a result, a new concept of the defensive line was created, based on the logic of the fortifications of the Russian soldiers when the ditch was built in a zigzag, or simply a square line, to flank each meter, as was done in the first line. This made it harder to predict the logic of the fortifications, to avoid large losses during longitudinal shooting, and it was easier to fight when the enemy occupied part of the fortifications. Such anchoring made particularly good use of the possibilities of heavy machine guns, covering obstacle courses, leaving several shooters armed with rifles to protect the machine gun. In this way, it was possible to plant constantly fewer soldiers in the positions, reducing the losses due to the firing of enemy artillery. However, it took more time to redesign the entire position, and the right conditions for this type of equipment were not available everywhere.

There was a church, several buildings and a cemetery on Smėlynė Hill before the war. As Smėlynė was right next to the Lithuanian-Curonian border, by the main road, travelers occasionally stayed here. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was also known to have stayed here on his way to St. Petersburg. The hill was badly damaged by the fire of the German 277th (?) Mortar battery during the maneuvering war, when the Russians defended themselves on the hill[60].The houses were without roofs, in order to settle in them, a lot of work had to be done. While working on the church’s adaptation to life, a random projectile hit the building, killing a number of German pioneers. After this incident, the Germans no longer took an interest in the church building, focusing on the parish house (Pfarrhaus). The construction of shelters on the Smėlynė hill (Unterstände) required the excavation of 3.8 meters of land, which was hard work during the winter, but the recent frost made it easier to dig, all the more so as the land was easy to dig. The work was entrusted to the Darmstadt Landscape Battalion, which consisted of three companies. It should be noted that not only the functional ceilings and entrances were taken care of, but also the aesthetic appearance, using the surviving elements of the church and decorative logs and poles, from which the exterior details were made, gazebos, fences, front gates and missing furniture. The architecture of such buildings was simple: the walls were made of birch or some simpler wood, the ceiling consisted of three rows of found perpendicular to each other, on which half a meter of earth was poured. The boxes and all the niches were laid with moss, and the furnace gave this creation heat and reduced humidity. One shelter was dedicated to the ward – 8 people.

At the beginning of 1916, the position of Smėlynė was established by the Reserve Infantry Battalion. In a small village, due to his position, the whole city was settled: the division’s artillery chief Lieutenant fon Reitzenstein (Freiherr von Reitzenstein), the headquarters of the infantry brigade, kept his headquarters. Further installation of the so-called second line in winter conditions worked the entire maneuvering regiment (Reiseregiment). The work was discouraging, the positions were not motivated by the soldiers, most of the soldiers in the elderly. Road-strengthening and logging work was entrusted to Russian prisoners, the 42nd Battalion of War Prisoners brought from Heilsberg. There were rumors in the battalion that working in a position achievable by the Russian artillery violated the conventions of the prisoners and an uprising broke out, almost ending the execution of the prisoners, but after that it was decided to divide the battalion into small groups and work began.

Another group of pioneers was located in the homestead of Staro-Dvorišče (currently a non-existent area on the Lithuanian-Latvian border between Lakes Grendzia and Kampotys, directly on the former Lithuanian-Polish demarcation line). Initially, the pioneer depot was made up of unfinished buildings, so the roofs were completed first, as far as simplifying the roof structures to gable, the most walkable paths were paved with raised plank floors to move without getting dirty. The entire farm and infrastructure have begun to be adapted to the needs of the front: residential houses and sheds are being built, and tools are being built for the installation of the front positions and the main position. The decision to settle here was determined by geography: the village was further from the front positions, and the ground allowed to build a narrow-gauge railway to Turmantas, so the local roads connecting the back road, Smėlynė, Gudotiškės, Turmantas and the front positions were located here.

It was very important for the Germans to have a decent home in which they could live. Of course, the living standards of the locals and the Germans differed significantly, all the more so as the number of soldiers was much higher than that of the locals. The Germans usually rebuilt or at least patched up the roofs, adapting the so-called floor to life, tidying up the windows and doors, digging the foundations and the bottom of the walls to the ground in order to provide heat, adding annexes if necessary. In the first winter, they used the old buildings, laying people on their bare donkeys, laying some reeds or hay, and later, during the warmer part of the year, they started building buildings that were lifted off the ground, thus avoiding humidity and cold. There was a lack of simple kerosene lamps, so people were forced to live in the dark.

Roads to move towards the centers and along the front were also important. The local roads were mostly the simplest dirt roads winding through the fields. Not only the road surface but also the bridges over the streams and swamps were needed to have more convenient communications. The winter was very suitable for such works, because it was possible to forge piles through the ice, to deliver logs prepared by prisoners of war to the army in wet places. The Germans were not used to such a deep freeze, so it was necessary to modernize the polyhedrons by fixing the polyhedra with metal frames. In the first winter, the wire needed for the construction was delivered by horses, so the logistics were inefficient and the horses fell “like pilots”, especially as the feed rations were scarce[61].

Artillery occupied positions on the hills where homesteads usually stood. The batteries were usually hidden in the homesteads themselves, or in positions near them, disguised as sheds and barns. The problem was the roads – they did not exist at that time, the peasants simply drove their cars through the fields in barely visible tracks with wheels or sledges, but the artillery did not like such “roads”, especially during the spring or autumn ice time.

For a long time before the railway was converted from wide to narrow, the main supply was through the tsarist tract. The town of Zarasai was a real paradise for the division, connected to the rear by two important roads. Communication cables were also laid to allow the division’s management to communicate with all divisions.

People in the post-war war were exposed to difficult household and routine, the weaker ones did not survive, choosing suicide or completely incomprehensible behavior. The gephreiter Bonhomme of the 4th Company (Division 77) of the 255th Infantry Regiment, sent to observe the enemies, decided to flee to the side of the enemy quite unexpectedly, indicating the more precise locations of his comrades, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of the Russian fire. Obviously, there would have been no such disaster if officers had focused more on the soldiers and had more to do. On the other hand, there was a need to identify ways for front-line soldiers to rest and recover to avoid fatigue and nervous crisis. The general principle was two-thirds in the service, one in the reserve. As each regiment had its own bar of responsibility, two regimental battalions had occupied positions, one based in the reserve. Each battalion on the front kept three companies on the front line, one company in its rezerve. Each company kept two units in the front line, one in the company rezerve. In the general classification, only one third (12 squads) were directly on the front, the other 24 were in one or another reserve. As this procedure became the basis of the routine, the following division of units was also reflected in the installation of positions: if two detachments were deployed directly in the front trenches, the third was located in a shelter behind a hill, a forest, a ditch, immediately close to the line, but already allowing to warm up, dry, eat or fall asleep. Such a cover was directly linked to the front line and the battalion in the reserve. The simplest fortifications (trenches with a gravel on the enemy’s side with a small “shelf” (in the language of engineers) for weapons and ammunition or a foot to resist during a counterattack) were installed by the soldiers with simple shovels, using material from the woods just behind. Naturally, such woods evaporated after only a few days. The soldiers worked with dedication, in principle, as they relied, so asleep, as they were scheduled to hold the position for at least half a year, until next spring. The supply service in the German army was carried out by requisites – sent cunning soldiers who received permission from the silent commanders to simply rob the inhabitants, covering them from the persecution of the gendarmerie. Such a custom has been dictated by the need to improve one’s livelihood and disregard for the local inhabitants. It should be noted that when the Germans arrived, there were no authorities in the country, so the new occupiers were able to deal with it as appropriate. In the memories of Lithuanians, the robbing Germans are mentioned en masse, contrary to the image of the officers – gentlemen and the order of World War II, where Lithuanians were considered somewhat important and certain rules were followed. In this way, the longer-deployed army provided windows, livestock, poultry and other property. The senior commanders and staffs lived best, leaving the lower ones in remnants. However, the situation was improved by friendships and acquaintances.

  • Winter works of 1916.

The winter in January finally turned the earth and made it possible to work where it was difficult to access or approach at another time. The time has come to improve the logistics network. Turmantas railway station has become a particularly important object. Railways and bridges were repaired and remodeled by both military units and private companies. It took 6 hours to reach the leadership of the 1st Army based in Vilnius by rail. In four weeks, Turmantas became a city. There was working landscaping units, railway companies, prisoners of war battalions, reinforcement units (Armierungstruppe), built ramps, built rails, built sheds, tent and warehouses. Mountains of forest material and railway construction tools were poured. Along with Turmantas station, a more serious road was built from Turmantas to Zarasai, from here to Utena (germ.Vokjany), where the XXXIX Corps headquarters (together with the Oberost territorial unit) were located, a total of 40 kilometers from Turmantas, according to Triobst. In fact, it was 49 kilometers from Utena to Zarasai. However, the fact that Utena was accessible from Vilnius via Turmantas shows the difference between the railway and the road at that time. It is noteworthy that in a few months the tsarist tract was completely destroyed by the military supply means, so it had to be substantially renewed.

A narrow-gauge line was also prepared to unite Turmantas with leading and main positions. The construction of the railway with the leading positions allowed the use of the embankment of the wide railway, so the work went fast, while the construction of the railway from Turmantas to Staro-Dvoreliče required more work due to the need to build bridges and crossings. The latter work was supervised by Lieutenant Schulte. The narrow-gauge road ran from Rušiškės to the north-west, overtook Lake Kumpuitis and divided into two branches: one headed towards Staras Dvoriščė and Zarasai, the other turned north towards the front positions, where it merged with the branch leading from the main wide railway embankment. In this way, the narrow passage allowed the front line to move along the front and second lines, and connected the two lines every few kilometers, covering artillery positions and other important objects. With the construction of the main lines, locomotives and wagons were brought in and the transport system became operational. A narrow-gauge railway station was installed in Turmantas to control the expanded network. It was led by Schindewolf, an officer from the Triobst Company, and the transports were carried out by two drivers. It was the 77th Division rail system that ensured the supply of engineers regardless of weather conditions.

The highest concentration of engineering work in the 79th Reserve Pioneer Company was at the Staro Dvorišče Depot. Already in the beginning of 1916, after the construction of the narrow-gauge railway to Turmantas, this platoon began to build a depot – a storage facility for engineering equipment, which provided all the construction work on the front and second lines. It can be said that the single farm turned into a real pioneer park in a few winter months (Pionierpark I), it was not only equipped with comfortable wooden buildings, but also with concrete shelters to protect personnel from artillery fire. This pioneer base was home to a platoon of 100 soldiers and specialists with their own horses and railroads. Already in February, the soldiers settled in the magnificent new barracks, built of flat boards, with glass windows and full furnishings. In the Kingdom of Pioneers, a non-commissioned house with a living room was later built. This time the Germans managed to revive the fachwerk style, and later a canteen was built.

Smėlynė was headed by Lieutenant Schwartzkopf, where there was also a pioneer depot in the early 1916s, which had no such communication as Staro Dvorišče, it was only possible to bring everything on the reserve line road with bridges built in the early period. The depot is located where the border post is located today and there is a large lot. General Reitzelnas ruled the parish house in Smėlynė itself.

Smėlynė was serviced by a car colony and carriages moving along a tidy public road, the headquarters of Gudotiškės and the subdivisions were connected by telephone. The arrangement of logistics has substantially improved the working conditions of engineers[62].  Horses of Lithuanian farmers, thousands died in the first months, began to recover and perform their duties in accordance with their nature.

Despite the pace of significant work, it was carried out in a planned manner, recording the work done and planning the next ones, with full accountability, under the control of the division’s management. The pioneers had close contact with Dūkštas former army pioneer park through the division’s headquarters.

The 8th Army made great efforts to improve its connections with Germany by building a new railway connecting Tilsit with Šiauliai and Jelgava (vok. Mitau), where it was planned to set up an army headquarters. The biggest challenge of this line was the Dubysa Valley, through which the Hindenburg Wooden Bridge, now known as the Lyduvėnai (germ.pol. Lidowiany) bridge, was started to built in 1915 and built in 1916. At the time, it was the longest wooden bridge in Europe, 42 meters above Dubysa. By providing logistics in this way, it was possible to reach Obeliai (germ. Abele) from East Prussia. In order to combine these two branches of the wide railway, it was decided to build a new railway Turmantas – Obeliai via Zarasai, entrusting the works to the prisoners of war. Several stations were planned to be installed in this section, from which intermediate depots could already be reached by narrow gauge railway, from which it was already possible to reach the front line with the help of horses. Such work made it possible to ensure the stability of the front, the supply and the rapid arrival of reserves. However, it was not enough days to complete it, it took many weeks and months[63].

The landscape has changed beyond recognition: instead of slums on the hills just below, frame houses have been built with various modifications, such as lifting them off the ground on concrete piles, installing artesian wells, hospitals, sports and playgrounds, bathing areas for each company, stables. Fifteen or more new settlements emerged that feared neither humidity nor cold.

The division’s artillery was deployed initially between the front and reserve lines, building narrow-gauge lines, they were extended to the artillery in the second phase, when the main railway lines along the lines of defense had already been completed.

Areas of responsibility have been allocated to the divisions: Smėlynė depot provided a section of the Rhine front on both sides of the Daugavpils road, Staro Dvorišče – the division between Smėlynė and Turmantas belonging to the 77th Division, divided into sections of Hesse and Westphalia.

The front positions have also changed. At night, wire barriers were built, forming 10-30 meter wide strips with passages. During the day, Spanish riders were produced – mobile engineering barriers, erected in selected places against the Russians, fastened to the ground with stakes. These obstacles were made in segments of 3-4 meters long and 1-1.5 meters high-width made of wood and barbed wire.

During that time, the trenches themselves had already been tidied up, lined with wood, provided with protective roofs (Schutzenauftritt), niches for grenades and ammunition. The drainage system was especially refined, turning the water accumulated in the trenches to the Russian positions below. The excavation system consisted not only of grooves but also of hand pumps, tables, panels and sandbags protecting the heads to protect vulnerable parts of the system. The trenches were usually empty, with only one observer every three traverse spaces observing the actions of the enemy through a periscope (ger. Grabenspiegel). From this ditch, many different “crossroads” led to the enemy’s side and back, forming a real maze. Trenches leading to the enemy’s side were marked in black and red in the back for orientation. In the trenches, the boundaries of the squads and companies were marked on the panels, with signs indicating where there was any hiding place or other important object for orientation. Every 50 meters there was a special alarm bell, the loudest one was designed to announce the danger of gas. Most of the trenches leading to the back led very close, to the source or toilet, but the most important led to the second line. By comparison, in the area of ​​responsibility of the 151st Infantry Regiment near Lake Šventas, the drainage system was not installed everywhere in the spring of 1916, and trenches and shelters turned into lakes and rivers during the ice melting time, and trenches not supported by a wooden structure simply collapsed[64].

It is noteworthy that both front lines did not carry out many hostile attacks because they had the task of keeping the front. Only artillery fired at an unexpected soldier. Machine gun slots were installed at a certain distance from the trench line. Such a building consisted of a niche 75 centimeters high and half a meter wide, covered with a curb and a ceiling 1.5 meters high, consisting of three rows of crossed beams: the upper held the upper ground, the second flanked the upper row with the lower, the lower held the vault. The gaps between the rows of beams were also filled with earth. Ambrasure was aimed at the enemy. This is the entire kaleidoscope of the architecture of the first winter trenches. Soldiers hid in shelters set up under the cover of hills and woods just outside the line. Such hiding places consisted of small “mouse caves”: a pit, a pillar structure, on the basis of which walls and supports were built, which were protected from the ground by thick boards laid horizontally, and from the top three rows of wooden beams covered with earth with slopes – here is the whole hiding place. Such a floor was poorly protected from rain and could not be protected from grenades called “Dicke Brummer”. Such a hiding place could have been affected by both an explosion falling directly on the roof and an explosion falling directly on the ground against the wall. In the first case, everything was collapsed by the floor, in the second case, only the land with the remains of the wall collapsed inwards, but the result was basically the same, so when the opportunity arose, it was replaced with the concrete floor. Still, the winter of 1915-1916 was dominated by old-type hiding places because the enemy’s attack was neither targeted nor active.

Although the front line was strengthened, it had many shortcomings. It first appeared where a soldier stopped during a maneuvering war, therefore, the place for a more serious defense did not fit or had many shortcomings, for example, a very narrow firing field, limited visibility or an inappropriate position for cover-up. Therefore, it was ordered to dig the first line (Erste Linie, Hauptverteidigungslinie), which was systematically prepared and reinforced with various structures, within 50-75 meters from the frontline, so as not to see the artillery observers in the front positions of the enemies. While some part of soldiers were digging trenches, others, under the supervision of pioneers, were building barbed wire fences. This first line no longer had a straight line like the leading one, but a broken line using the principle of radial fortification. Such a line had the possibility of flank support everywhere, which was intended not only for rifles but also for other fire support measures.

 Behind the second line, about 50 meters behind, a wider road was built to allow safe movement of the horse supply line (Feld Pferdebahn), supplying all the materials needed for construction. A little further behind it, the battalion’s line of hiding places has already been laid out – it is the headquarters of a battalion or other unit. The Smėlynė headquarters could serve as such a command post: residential buildings for adjutants, ordonances, doctor and commander – everything is equipped not only comfortably, but even luxuriously, with silver and porcelain dishes, paintings, furniture from the city and wine cellar – like in a French castle[65].

Just at the time when winter reached its peak in the cold, which usually happens in Lithuania in late January – early February, the pioneers received an order to install concrete bunkers on the second line. The order indicated that the positions were likely to remain significantly longer than planned and that the position would acquire the characteristics of a long-term position. Reference was made to the experience of the Western Front, which was not fully applicable in the current context. The task was very difficult because the completely frozen land could only be mined with the help of blasting, leaving the soldiers only the opportunity to complete the work. In this way, the pioneers had a lot of work that could not be delegated to anyone else. The first step was to walk around the entire line, assess the situation and explain to infantry commanders what will be done and how. After that, the preparation of the concreting pit began: holes were drilled in the ground, into which gunpowder cartridges and explosives were later inserted. The blasting work was accompanied by infantry embellishments until the required depth and shape of the pit was reached. During the execution of these works, fir boards were already being prepared for prisoners of war, which were again stacked at the depot sites. At that time, drawings of hiding places were being prepared, according to which infantry had to set up their hiding places. The entire publishing process was launched for this purpose, and two more “posts” appeared in the “technical office” of the engineering company. The supply work was well organized, as they were supervised by Stamm, who served as assistant construction manager during peacetime. The instructions and drawings sent by the higher staff, called „Stopi“, were marked with questions and suggestions, answered or taken into account, and improved. At that time, sheds were being prepared to cover the concreting work and maintain the temperature required for setting. To prepare them, 20-30 carpenters were found from the infantry for each pioneer park, who did everything from 30 cm wide spruce boards according to drawings and technology, connected them together and went back to their units.

At that time, methodological material was being prepared for concreting works. The lieutenant general Triobst himself prepared the “Concreting Manual (Anleitung zum Betonieren)”, and each company received a description with drawings.

There were problems with gravel. Gravel machines preparing materials for road repairs were unable to arrive within four weeks, so it was decided to use the prisoners of war the stones to break. It took time, so the number of sent cements increased, and fortunately the shelters for storing cement were already prepared. It was not possible to pour concrete bunkers on the front lines, so it was decided to produce concrete slabs, or more precisely blocks, from which it was later possible to “build” the structures. For this purpose, a “concrete slab factory” has been set up of Staro Dvorišče, which has started operating in a new annex next to the kitchen to maintain the required temperature. The blocks had to be of such a weight that one or two soldiers could lift them, so they were 15 centimeters thick and 60×60 centimeters in size. In the “factory” were made forms in which 25 panels could be poured at one time. Inside them were placed thin iron rods, cross-tied with wire. After making this form, it traveled to a special warehouse where it was filled with a mixture of cement and sand. The panels got so neat that it was possible to pave the streets. The pioneers were so proud of their production that they left a mark on each plate: “R. Pi.K. 78 ”, which is translated by Reserve Pionier-Kompanie 78.

But making the plate meant nothing yet, the soldiers were skeptical of the innovation, finding a variety of excuses for doing nothing. It was necessary to set an example for them by recording in the order of the division commander the need to monitor innovation. The first 25 panels entered the test phase.

The division’s reserve consisted of a small cavalry squadron and a Jaeger battalion, which could be supplemented if necessary by a “flying regiment” – a special tactical regiment assigned by the leadership to the problem bar.

Service in such a regiment was considered the most dangerous and inconvenient on the Eastern Front, as such a unit did not have permanent living conditions, constantly changed its location, and was where there was the greatest chance of being killed. The following flying regiment was also temporarily assigned to the 77th Reserve Division: 585 Reserve-Erzatz-regiment 585: arrived for three months, barely managed to settle in reserve positions in two weeks, when it was suddenly relocated to a new base location. Such regiments were also forgotten in the awarding of thanks or awards, for no division commander felt obligated to care for them, had no understanding of the misery the unit had experienced in previous positions of service.

At a time when a lot could not be done for various reasons, the pioneers organized a shop: fter investing 5,000 marks, bought various goods in Germany and with the addition of 5 percent for “own” and 10-15 percent for “strangers” in Staro Dvorišče organized the sale of various goods, which allowed to accumulate quite good capital. This process was organized by Krausberg, a former accountant, whose activities were controlled by a purchasing commission headed by Non-Commissioned Officer Evers. In the warehouse, which was officially called “78 Reserve Pioneer Company Store (Kantine)”. It was possible to buy beer, Christmas presents and other goods there. The store quickly set up its branch in Smėlynė, near the main road.

As the weather was not suitable for concreting, a “meteorological station” was set up to monitor it, simulating air observation by firing balloons (Feldwetterwartestation). Everyone was waiting for favorable weather to start concreting work on the second line. However, at that time it was necessary to answer the simple question of how to protect the already built shelters from “throughshooting” (Unterschießen). According to the proposed technology, the concrete base had to be poured first and the wooden scaffolding had to be concreted in it, so the scaffolding had to be built like on a plate. This solution seemed quite complicated, it was much easier to build the whole hiding place out of wood and to put a concrete cover on top (Betondach, Beton-Haube). Fortunately, the Germans had time to discuss the form of concreting, as nature still did not allow the transition to execution. More information was asked about the experience of the Western Front.

The connection was very important. Wires were used first, they were routed between all divisions, the division had a full mile of them, but they were very vulnerable, especially in the firing zone, thus providing a connection of 25 to 75 percent… Pigeons were also used. The reliability of this transport was 99 percent. There were also light signals, especially for use in artillery, but when using a candle flame, it all depended on the wind and other circumstances. In this way, he often had to rely on messengers about whom legends[66] were told. Knowing the cost of such messages, the safest was the telephone system, which not only allowed messages to be received and sent, but also provided the least amount of message that was transmitted in front of the officers. The artillery had its own separate network.

The commander of the artillery of the 77th Reserve Division was Colonel Ratzenstein, as already mentioned, who resided in Smėlynė, commanded two reserve artillery regiments, each regiment had 6 artillery batteries of four cannons, a total of 48 field cannons and 12 heavy field howitzers. The artillery also had its works. First, once the front was established, a defense plan was needed that was aligned with the infantry’s plans. This required good intelligence, which was best ensured with the help of aviation. This was done, so the artillery knew perfectly well where and what cannons the enemy had. In this way, engineers could easily calculate the distance at which enemy fire could be dangerous and effective.

The artillery had to rely on a raised observation balloon, sound and artillery measurement data, information provided by the pilot and, in very rare cases, data from the terrain itself[67].Measurements were made based on the calculation of the speed of sound, calculating the difference between the video and audio data according to the tables.

The division had its own plane Fokker D.II, no. 1532. Its purpose was to correct artillery fire until the enemy’s battery was destroyed using a radiogram. Of course, the Russian soldiers also knew they would get a response soon, so when they felt that they were hooked, they hurried to change their position. German artillery clearly outperformed the Russians in their ability to exploit technical advantage, but had very limited human resources 1: 4. Still, that was enough to keep the balance. However, the artillery had to fight not only the enemy artillery (counter-fire) but also the enemy infantry. There were two functions for this: the blokingfire (Sperrfeuer) and the distroyingfire (Vernichtungsfeuer). These two functions required interaction with infantry[68].  The Germans rarely fired into infantry positions, more so that the enemy would not feel too relaxed. Meanwhile, the destructive fire was scheduled to be launched when the enemy would concentrate its forces in the ditches before the attack, used between its own and enemy lines, forming a force concentration in selected areas. Barrier fire was used when the enemy was already moving in the firing zone. In this case, it all depended on a telephone connection that guaranteed interoperability and combined the actions of artillery and infantry to the nearest second. Russian soldiers used to attack at night when nothing could be seen. Colored missiles were used for this purpose. Upon receiving a red alarm, the artillery fired without a command, at full battery capacity for 5 to 10 seconds, otherwise the enemy could escape the barrage.

The leading infantry positions on the front of the 77th Reserve Division were divided into three sectors named after Hesse, Rhineland and Westphalia. Enemy positions, each of their branches were named, as well as forests, hills, islands, etc., to understand about what is talking. The commander of the German infantry company knew the Russian soldiers in front of him no worse than his own – photographs were constantly updated in his hands. Enlarged schemes were available to all soldiers, some even hanging in the trenches.

When information was received that the Russians might attack at night, the positions announced a state of increased readiness: this meant reinforcements for both infantry and “on-call” artillery.

The use of reserves was associated with the magnitude of the risk. If it is planned to attack only the front of responsibility of one or two divisions, the main reserves will not be used, the forces already on the front or the allocation of the corps reserve will be sufficient, using the batteries assigned to the adjacent divisions. This order greatly impoverished the division and made it very vulnerable at the time[69].

With the arrival of spring, the mood of waiting for “something” prevailed in the positions. The number of leadership visits increased, the Commander of the Army arrived, and a new assigned flying regiment appeared in Zarasai. The focus is on the rear positions, which means that a Russian attack is being prepared. There was a revival in supplies – many innovations of the Western Front reached the front, and the wood of the Białowieża Forest came to the fore.

In the spring of 1916, the mistakes of the initial period were corrected: direct corridors to mouse caves were replaced by traverses, individual entrances were duplicated so that one could slip through another. The activation mood of the front encouraged people to work with double ignition. The time has come when concreting could be undertaken. Strengthening of observation posts was undertaken first, as these positions were easily fired. After all, at the time the enemy’s artillery began mass bombing, most of the soldiers were hiding in their hiding places, only the observers had to stay in the posts so as not to miss the moment when the enemy’s fire would “be less” and the enemy’s infantry would appear. The observer had to briefly inform the artillery by telephone and correct the fire. Even his own artillery was able to fire the first shots “too close”, so the observer could receive fire from the front and “from behind”, so his position had to be protected as much as possible. In such cases, the battalion commander was the real lord, as the top management was left to monitor the situation.

Concrete type B “sights” were installed in trenches with ready-made sockets for cables and alarm signals. The field infirmary also prepared for the attack, sending all the lightly wounded and sick behind. Staffs, shelters on standby. It is ready for „Their“  coming. It is time for intelligence to determine when the attack will begin. It is not in vain to call intelligence officers of knowledge (Nachrichtenofficiere) – drawing their conclusions from the vast body of knowledge gained from surveillance, both in the testimonies of prisoners and of refugees, and in other ways. Most often, Poles and Jews ran over. And finally, the mass attraction of reserves, which was impossible not to notice, was witnessed by the planned attack, which was impossible not to notice. The preparation for the attack was completed by a document – a memoir (Denkschrift),            in which all the necessary services were assembled for the orderly and efficient functioning of the defense system[70]. 

In order to properly distribute responsibilities, the territory of the front was divided into divisions, each of them separated into lines of defense – I and II. Only far behind was the boundary set beyond which the rear area prevailed (Etappen-Gebiet). In this way, the division had its own territory in which it was free to act as it pleased without much interference from the leadership, as a satrapy in the Persian Empire. Line I was completely ruled by war, it was called a combat area (Gefechtsbezirk), no civilians lived here. A defense plan was developed in this area, which considered all possible forms of Russian attack, how on a basketball court, and discussed the enemy’s actions and response. The 77th Reserve Division, for example, had predicted 6 possible scenarios. Of course, it was never possible to predict everything, but such preparation made it possible to better prepare for a possible attack and improve the defensive positions thanks to these staff games. The pioneers, for example, analyzed the scenario in which the entire first line was lost and how to organize the defense of the second line, how to provide it, where to approach it, how to redeploy artillery, and so on. The first line was expected to last for four weeks, during which time a second position had to be finalized to answer all important military questions[71].

Meanwhile, life was already going on behind the second line, including Zarasai itself. This territory was directly controlled by the commandant (ger. Ortskommandatur) operating in Zarasai. This land was divided into smaller districts under the command of the Lieutenant Commander of the 77th Reserve Division (Wirschaftsofficier dr 77. Reserve-Division). All assets were requisitioned and held jointly, repaired and issued centrally, so that the entire economy of the frontier was at the disposal of the division. These tools have also been used by military units who have planned to “do” something at their location. After all, food rations for the army and horses were funny, so taking care of yourself was not a luxury, but a necessity. All the more so because the order quickly came to essentially abandon the supply of food and feed from Germany, relying only on local resources. In the spring, the supply, however limited, was still going on. One soldier was given 100 grams of meat a day, and that was only on “meat days”, as there were “fish days”.Of course, the company’s farm was supervised and controlled, what the company earned on its farm, the commission deducted less food from the ration and gave it food, thus encouraging the cunning of keeping the animals in more remote places. The meat of fallen and sick horses was fed to prisoners of war, everything that was suitable for the production of fat: rats, mice, (including the dead enemy soldiers) were boiled, and the corresponding lubrication products were made from the resulting mass. A hunting officer was also appointed, who organized hunting in the surviving forests and waitresses, their products tasted the table of soldiers. Of course, the soldiers also hunted, although they were caught by the field police: during the war it was not so strict and it was easier to bribe.

The sanitary part of the division was arranged in an exemplary manner, as it corresponded to the priorities of the division commander. Its care enabled the soldiers to recover – a holiday home was set up with a strong focus on food requisitioned from local farmers; failure to deliver eggs and other necessary restorative products was penalized. In general, the Germans cared only for themselves and for German interests. General Paul von Hindenburg even issued several orders in 1916 condemning those who held the interests of the local people above their own. The homeland and the army are the only good. He called it the Economic Fight (Wirtchaftskampf)[72]. The locals were forcibly cultured.

Soldiers were provided with rest facilities, a reading room, writing and games rooms, a large cinema, a brothel and even a real theater. In terms of architecture, it has retained the form of Orthodox wooden architecture, but done with love and taste[73].However, the whole complex operated according to the mechanisms of coercion – soldiers had to go to Zarasai, visit various institutions, including Mass. Novoalexadrovsk, or as the Germans used to call it NOVO (Nowo), has changed beyond recognition – there have been many different institutions with signs. Sports festivals were organized, and in winter a skating rink. Regattas in the lake and shooting competitions were organized, various organizations and clubs of officers and soldiers were active. The outgoing holiday soldiers were able to get everything they needed to go home in one day. It was believed that the soldier must feel pride and the joy of life. The losses in the division were not large – 10 people a month rarely crossed, so in a few months the division became a big close family[74].

A training section (Feldrekrutendepot) was organized for the training of newcomers, led by Major Erdmann, which recruited for the service for two to three months. Training batteries and training companies were formed, a shooting range (for infantry and artillery), gas attack training, a mortar course, field exercises, and various training classes were set up to develop weapons interactions.

The Germans built a wood-fired power plant to supply lighting spotlights, transformers. They were serviced by special officers. Later, electricity reached all the buildings and hiding places[75].

German soldiers paid a lot of attention to the care of horses and steeds. In the first months, the horses that fell en masse were housed in excellent stables, the equine veterinary service was functioning, their losses were small, and the herds recovered quickly, especially when the sun warmed up. Most of the stallions were castrated, so the mares produced only offspring from the best stallions left for the breed.

The soldiers did all the farm work during the summer, as at home, because they had to get feed. It was also fished, mostly with the help of hand grenades.

Although it was forbidden, there was no one in control, so it was treated barbarically, under the guise of, of course, fighting an enemy entrenched in the lakeside.

Even the collection of waste was organized in such a way that all possible waste, especially paper and metal, could be recycled due to a severe shortage.

  • The period 1916-1918

The further development of defensive positions took place by improving them. In this way, the term line was no longer taken for granted and was replaced by the term I position (I Stellung). There could have been several lines in the position, most notably the 1st (front) and 2nd (auxiliary) lines, which housed platoon soldiers in hiding places immediately close to the front line. The front line, as has already been written, evolved with the construction of a more defensive system with zigzag trenches, thus, position I consisted of 2-3 lines, and sometimes even another intermediate line (germ. Zwischenlinie). Such deep echeloned fortifications were installed only at the site of a particularly likely attack, called the latch position (germ. Riegelposition): the soldiers who chose such a place for defense could only do so during a particularly dangerous attack. A similar evolution occurred in the second position, which was designed to stop the breakthrough. It could also consist of two lines. The logic of the defense was that if the enemy pressed hard, the lines of the first position would pause the enemy for a while until he reached the second position tired. However, this does not mean that the first position is lost, it is important to be ready to attack the enemy from the flanks of the first position when you receive reinforcement. In this way, the leading position had to be adapted for defense not only from the front, but also from the flanks, creating semi-autonomous combat units (germ.Gefechtstelle), which became flange positions in the event of a breakout. At the same time, it was important to start preparing or anticipating the place of the third position, which should quickly become the second position in the event of a prolonged attack. This somewhat confusing idea was based on combat experience from the great battles and was used to establish long-standing defensive positions during World War II as well. Interestingly, such a theory seemed even more confusing in practice, as the theoretically calculated lines were still taught in terms of terrain, lakes and wetlands, access roads and visibility[76].

Several new objects have added to this confusing maze. In addition to the already mentioned headquarters, well-fortified sightings appeared in the system, the “eyes” of artillery adjusters were especially important, and their shooting efficiency depended on their ability.

In the spring of 1916, when the ground dried up, a war of mines broke out on both sides. The initiative belonged to senior management. It was conceived that the Russians would be intimidated by digging under all the “nobody’s land” under the Russian positions and setting up a mine to blow up the front-line soldiers. Particularly great success awaited when it was possible to dig under the trench in several places. Soon the mine war became the main entertainment. Success depended on who first heard the enemy digging, as well as on the soil and water. A special listening device (germ. Abchorchapparat) was very useful, which made it possible to listen to what the enemies were saying[77]. The information was translated into German and further shared with anyone who needed to know.

Although things went well, the fighting spirit of the division began to be weakened by the military leadership’s fears of soldier loyalty. Not only the Slavs but also the Alsatians suffered, including Alsace-Lorraine soldiers whose letters were ordered to be inspected by commanders in 1916, and Swiss border soldiers banned from vacationing – fears that they would flee to neutral Switzerland[78].The same thing happened in early 1917 with the Schleswick-Holstein Danes, who served in the German Empire’s army[79].

  • Identification and functional purpose of the fortifications located in the Daugavpils-Zarasai section.

As already mentioned in the introduction, at this stage, object identification can only be performed in a part of objects. Still, their location allows for a more measured identification of what it is and for what it is intended.

The main heritage of World War I consists of 1. fortification facilities, 2. residential, command and logistics buildings 3. communication infrastructure.

  • Fortification structures

Fortification equipment means – trenches, fortification structures and obstacles.

Trenches are the most common, the fastest to install, but the least surviving part of the fortification equipment, which consists of ditches dug in the ground and poured embankments, covering soldiers from the sight of the enemy and the effects of fire. Trenches can be used for combat and communication. The trenches for combat form defensive lines and positions. They can be distinguished by the embankments directed towards the enemy – brustvers and two levels – the level of cover from which one is walked and the banquet from which the fight is fought. The trenches may be parallel to the defensive line, but may have a variety of shapes to make better use of the terrain or occupy flank positions. In order to avoid longitudinal firing, a protrusion every few meters installed or the trench itself changes may form a protruding projection for flanged firing, which usually accommodates machine guns. Long-lasting trench is reinforced with a shell consisting of wooden rents, sandbags and other means to increase resistance to fire and slip. If there is a high risk of being shot from above, covers shall be provided.

Trench brackets for communication are designed to link the position and the back, different positions and lines, other important objects. They stand out at a shallower depth, do not have a banquet, and usually do not have traverses, although they necessarily change the direction of movement to avoid longitudinal shooting.

Fortification structures are separate but self-contained structures connected to trenches with increased resistance to firing. They can be active and passive. Passive structures are not designed for active defense. These are shelters, covers, command posts, and so on. It is the main form of fortification that provides protection for soldiers and systems from destruction by artillery fire. Active structures are designed for firefighting, surveillance and lighting to perform their work in firing conditions. Active structures usually have observation and firing openings – embrasures. They can be designed for frontal, twisted trajectory and flanged fire. Passive structures are shelters for temporary shelter of soldiers, usually a unit of 9 people – a division, battalion and regiment headquarters, ammunition depots, toilets, wells, etc. The headquarters differ from the hiding places for soldiers in observation posts (domes), several rooms.

            Buildings can also be used for infantry and artillery. Everyone needs observation posts, permanently operating buildings, installed in front positions, often on hills, to increase the observation area. It is very important for infantry to have flanking or frontal machine gun nests that can protect infantry from mass attack. Flanking fire, working in conjunction with frontal rifle fire, forms a particularly effective udder cover system, especially in areas covered by obstacles. The artillery was designed to run on stationary and shunting batteries. A stationary battery is usually installed in the dominant hills. Its advantage is the possibility to install well-protected ammunition depots, fill barbets of the required height, protect cannons with embankments and concrete panels. Disadvantage – The enemy usually quickly learns about the presence of the battery and can concentrate his fire here. A mobile battery can easily change its location, but is highly vulnerable to enemy firefighting, so positional defense and attack conditions are dominated by a durable battery or a combination of both. Deceptive batteries can also be installed to attract the attention of the enemy.

Obstacles were installed at the entrances to the ditches to prevent enemy soldiers from overcoming them quickly.

  • Daily life

The army, living in the conditions of inactive positional warfare, does not have much loss, so boredom, longing for homes, and the fatigue of war become the main enemy of soldiers.

Humor and the ability to build their own civilization in military deployments has become a distinctive feature of the German military. The name of the villages and positions derived from the names of the areas where the soldiers came from, the names of the commanders of the units and units, various hilarious daily cultures of the soldiers and other means made the soldiers feel much more comfortable on the front than expected. This contrasted sharply with the daily lives of Russians and locals, which were full of pain, injustice, oppression and poverty. Together with specific household embellishments, constant work, manifestations of democracy, cultural means, and their own advantage, German soldiers made their living and fighting conditions much more acceptable than in the case of Russian soldiers, and allowed the Germans to survive in positional warfare longer and better than their opponents on the opposite side of the front. In the photos, it is obvious that people who are not in their environment are not completely happy, especially when it comes to cemeteries, hospitals, cold, but you can often see cheerful and untwisted faces in it. Despite the losses, the Germans have shown a great deal of innovation, specific skills, technological innovation and civilizational standards. In the end, they left a lot of photos illustrating the life of the country.

The life of the Germans was greatly clarified by the newspaper of the 10th Army, which went daily and formed unanimous opinions among the soldiers. In addition to important topical issues of the service, it contained a lot of information about the local history and customs. As early as the beginning of 1916, service on the front took on the character of a pleasant routine, little different from the time of peace, if we do not mention the air, the roads and the possibilities beyond the confines of own position walls.

However, after the enthusiasm caused by the successful campaign of 1915 and the stress caused by wintering in the slums of the locals, which were largely unsuitable for the field, the warfare and other spiritual troubles began to affect the soldiers. People did not expect the war to last that long. The previous wars of 1864-1871 lasted less than a year, so the same was expected now. Well, another year. But as the third summer of the war came to an end, the situation deteriorated significantly. Although the conditions for German soldiers were better, the climate was less toxic than in Russia, the Germans were affected by the same processes, people needed hope or something to replace it, so the most coveted thing was a vacation[80].

The soldiers suffered from lice. Person suffered regardless of his duties, so “liceexterminate” measures were organized. This was done with particular care with outgoing holidays – without a special certificate it was not possible to leave on holiday.

Soldiers traveled “at the expense of the empire”, indicating only the final destination, so it was possible to arrange the itinerary freely, and many took advantage of it[81].Poor-looking soldiers were re-dressed to look decent, so the soldiers, knowing this, tried to dress in the worst clothes[82].

Two types of literature were sent to the soldiers: the cheerful adventures of the soldiers and patriotic literature. Both forms of this work did not “stick” for the soldiers, as some works were written by people who did not see the front, others by writers who tried to establish certain stereotypes, whose texts were difficult to convince the reader, because they did not answer the main questions – “when the war will end” and “why it doesn’t end”[83].  The long war destroyed many important values ​​and authorities. People no longer believed in the Kaiser or the noble dukes, they had little faith in the church, etc. Their daily routine showed the opposite of what the state propaganda machine wanted, and the daily routine won. Even Masses, which are essentially designed to strengthen the spirit, have often served the opposite purpose, depriving soldiers of the opportunity to distance themselves from the war, to write letters, simply to rest. Forced prayer was unfortunately not effective.

Military motivations – awards have not always worked as well. Iron crosses were of great importance to soldiers. The Class II Iron Cross was obtained in the normal way, more were given, but the Class I Iron Cross was already close to the name of the Hero, so it was very difficult to choose who should get it after receiving one in company. The war did not like bureaucratization and schematization very much, and that is exactly the order on the Eastern Front. As the bureaucratic machine turned, people were killed, the wounded were sent to hospitals, and the commander from whom the award was given the greatest satisfaction was killed or transferred, and the new commander did not know the people. The cross had to be given when it was needed, but it was as it was, so often the reward was more painful than motivating. That was the price of a mass war[84].


  1. The limit reached by the German Empire in 1915, which met the minimum requirements for stability on both sides of the struggle, became a civilizational limit within a few years, determined by logistical, cultural and military factors. Influenced by the civilization of Western Europe, Europe has shifted several hundred kilometers to the east and northeast, paving the way for the emergence of a new type of cultural area, Central Eastern Europe. This change created the conditions for the emergence of a pro-Western (pro-german) Lithuania. This change also affected the formation of a military civilization that dates back to 1953, and is traced to this day after the 1988-1993 revolution.
  2. The transformation of the Ober Osto railway into a narrow (European) track must be described as a fundamental change with a residual value.
  3.  This new situation had two military poles: Eastern (Russian) Daugavpils and Western (German) Kaunas. The Wars for Independence (1918-1921) took place between these two poles.

Poland understood the meaning of governing this line, but failed to transcend the interests of the nation-state, did not become an empire, and did not embody the strategic idea of ​​the Germans that emerged in 1915 (1916) – 1919.

  • The defense equipment of the German army was built in accordance with the general requirements and instructions of the leadership, general instructions, but specific decisions were made more by the decision of the local leadership of the pioneers or during the discussion. In this way, specific structures are unique in the area of responsibility of each division and cannot be identified solely on the basis of general instructions.
  • In the conditions of post-war warfare, the success of the army is determined not so much by the defense system, fortification or knowledge of the art of war, but by the ability of the leadership to maintain the motivation and living conditions of its army. Living in conditions of limited comfort, it is especially important to organize activities that diversify everyday life, to create conditions for soldiers to rest. Holidays and combat awards, 2nd and especially 1st degree iron crosses have been a particularly important motivator since 1916. Particularly strong motivators could become particularly strong demotivators if they were distributed in a non-transparent, bureaucratic, or highly delayed manner.


  1. The collected material allows to state that the remaining military heritage in the vicinity of Zarasai – Daugavpils districts in 1915-1918 is a unique, well-preserved complex with a high cognitive and cultural load, for which it is expedient to create a World War I Eastern Front military historical park, in which, given the traditions, the geopolitical situation, the historical distance and the attractiveness, the German wording of this front should dominate OSTFRONT. The park should include Zarasai, Smėlynė, Turmantas, Medumi and important objects included in the lists of cultural values.
  2. This park should cover the territory of two states, museums and other organizations operating in Kaunas and Daugavpils fortresses should be included in its scope, and routes related to World War I should be built from Kaunas to Daugavpils, including more important battle sites, military cemeteries, technical monuments, and larger military deployments and sites of the War of Independence. The main centers of attraction of such a route should be the Kaunas Fortress of the Russian Empire (Vytautas the Great War Museum, Fort IX Museum, Kaunas Fortress Park), German work on the adaptation of the fortress to the headquarters of the Eastern Front in the eastern approaches of Kaunas (Narėpai), Tsar’s tract (Jonava – Ukmergė), Širvintos – Giedraičiai Military Historical Park, Vilnius defensive position near Maišiagala, Utena, Daugailiai, Bolshevik fortifications near Zarasai lakes, Zarasai city with regional museum, tourist route towards Tilžė and Drūkšiai lakes, Turmantas with a museum, from there moving to Latvia, inspecting the Russian fortifications to Medumi, tsar’s tract towards Daugavpils, Daugavpils Fortress and Tourism Information Center, Daugavpils Museum. It is necessary to involve the Latvian War Museum in Riga in the project. This route must be adapted for both local and international tourism in Latvian, Lithuanian, English, German and Russian – the big route.
  3. On the small route, it is important to make the most important concrete objects and surviving trench systems available. It is also important to make a presentation of the former systems in 3D. For this, screens and modelling tools in museums can be used, revealing the most important moments and engineering solutions, as well as culture and attitudes. Stories of the unity of contradictions, contrasting German and Russian decisions (intrigue) are very appropriate. If the Turmantas Museum were more dedicated to the German army, than Russian and Latvian sides of Medumi.
  4. After evaluating the information found in the sources, it is necessary to translate the memoirs of Chief Lieutenant Hans Triobst into Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian and English, starting with Volume 5, dedicated to these areas. A scientific commentary on the text would be very useful. It would also be good to hold conferences for World War I at least once every two years. The list of organizers could be extended to include the museums and organizations mentioned in the text, but visits to military sites could also be an integral part of the presentation of this research. Such a procedure for organizing a conference would enable to organize the activities of the park in a more targeted manner, to enrich knowledge and to update the heritage.
  5. It is necessary to continue the search for sources, supplementing the existing base with new maps, instructions, technical descriptions and openings of everyday life, publishing part of the found material in the form of publications, atlases and individual maps.
  6. The creation of the park should not only use the original objects, arrange their accesses and build the necessary information signs, but also be used in the names and design of catering establishments, hotels and other establishments providing services, like this actualizing Zarasai region as a city of military heritage, increasing the tourist value of the region. Annual or biennial military history festivals would be very useful for this purpose.
  7. The possibility of running a narrow-gauge railway in the park on both the Lithuanian and Latvian sides should be reconsidered, based on historical roads as far as possible, which would make it easier for tourists to reach both Zarasai and Medumi and give the Turmantas railway station its character as a tourist center. This would not only create conditions to attract more visitors to the exposition organized in Turmantas, but also encourage more people to visit Zarasai, Daugavpils region by trains, both broadband and narrow. Of course, such a project comes at a price, but in the long run it can bring more benefits than imagined, especially for Zarasai. It is also expedient to think about an aerodrome adapted for passenger planes in Daugavpils, then it would be possible to attract more tourists from Germany, Russia, Belarus and other countries. The construction of a camper base in Zarasai, Turmantas and Tilžė is also being considered.

List of Literature

1.         Anhang zum Teil Ia ,,Der Stellungsbau”. (Stellungsbau im Karst, Hoch-und Waldgebirge.) Oktober 1917. The place of publication of the publication is not specified, 1917.

2.         BRADLEY, D., WEGNER, G.  Stellenbesetzung der Deutschen Heere 1815–1939. Band 1: Die Höheren Kommandostellen 1815–1939. Osnabrück, 1990.

3.         CRON, H.  Imperial German Army 1914-18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle. Helion & Co, 2002.

4.         CRON, H., ROGERS, D. Imperial German Army 1914-18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle.  Helion & Company, 2006.

5.         Der Erste Weltkrieg. Chronik 1914-1918. Weltgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Otus Verlag, St. Galen, 2004.

6.         Geschichte des Reserve-Infanterie-Regimants Nr. 57 im Weltkriege 1914-18. Herausgegeben von der Officiervereinigung und der  regimentsvereinigungen des Reserve-Infanterie-Regiments Nr. 57. Scholl, 1934.

7.         GROß, Gerhard P. Im Schatten des Westens. Die deutsche Kriegführung an der Ostfront bis Ende 1915. In: Die vergessene Front. Der Osten 1914/15. Ereignis, Wirkung, Nachwirkung (Zeitalter der Weltkriege, Bd. 1). Hg. G. P. Groß. Paderborn, München, Wien, Zürich: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2006.

8.         HILDEBRAND, K. F.,  ZWENG, C.  Die Ritter des Ordens Pour le Mérite des I. Weltkriegs. Band 1. Osnabrück 1999.

9.         Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919.

10.       Kultūros paminklai, II t. Vilnius, 1998. (Cultural monuments, II vol.)

11.       LIEBIKE (Prof.) Das Fűsilier – Regiment Graf Roon (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 33 im Weltkriege 1914/1918. Deutche Tat im Welkrieg 1914/1918. Geschichten der Kämpfe deutschen Truppen. Bearbeitet auf Grund der amtlichen Unterlagen des Reichsarchivs und persönlicher Aufzeichnungen von Mitkämpfern. Band. 26. Verlag Bernard und Gaefe, Berlin, 1935.

12.       Militär-Wochenblatt. Nr. 31 vom 3. März 1914.

13.       MÖLLER, H.  Die Geschichte der Ritter des Ordens „pour le merite“ im Weltkrieg 1914-1918. Band 2.  Berlin 1935, S. 491–492. Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918. Band VII. Berlin, 1931. S. 253.

14.       ORLOV, V. Fortifikacija  Pirmojo pasaulinio karo metais (1914 – 1918). In XX a. fortifikacija Lietuvoje. Kaunas, 2008, p. 7-46. (ORLOV, V. Fortification during the First World War (1914 – 1918). In the XX century. fortification in Lithuania.)

15.       PAWLY, R. The Kaiser’s Warlords– German Commanders of World War I. Osprey Publishing, 2003.

16.       PEČIULIS, M. Pirmojo Pasaulinio karo veiksmai Lietuvos teritorijoje 1915 m. rugpjūčio pabaigoje – rugsėjo mėnesį. Karo archyvas, 2010, Nr. XXV. (PEČIULIS, M. Actions of the First World War in the Territory of Lithuania in 1915 in late August to September. War archives)

17.       PLICKERT, H.  Das 2. Ermländische Infanterie Regiment Nr. 151. Erinerugsblätter deutscher Regimenter. Die Anteilnahme der Truppenteile der ehemaligen deutschen Armee am Weltkriege bearbaitet unter Benutzung der amtlichen Kriegstagebűcher. Truppenteile ehemaligenpreußischen Kontingents. Der Schriftfolge 263. Band: Infanterie regiment Nr. 151. Odenburg i. O./Berlin 1929.

18.       TRABA, R. „Wschodniopruskość“.  Tożsamość regionalna i narodowa w kulturze politycznej Niemiec. Borussia, Olsztyn, 2007.

19.       Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927.


21.       TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben in 10 Bānden 1910-1923. Der Fűrst von Gudotischki. Pionier vor Riga und Besetzung der Ostseeinseln. Hamburg, 2014.

22.       Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg fűr alle Waffen. Teil 1. Stellungsbau. Vom 20 Juni 1916. Herausgegeben vom Kriegsministerium. Berlin, 1916.

23.       БЕЛЯВИНА, В. Н.  Беларусь в годы Первой Мировой войны. Минск, „Беларусь“, 2013.

24.       БУЙНИЦКИЙ, Н., ГОЛЕНКИН, Ф., ЯКОВЛЕВ, В., Современное состояние долговременной и временной фортификации. С.-Петербург, 1913.

25.       ЛЮДЕНДОРФ, Э. Ф. В.  Тотальная война, Москва, 2015.

26.       ЛЮДЕНДОРФ, Э. Мои воспоминания о войне 1914-1918 гг. Москва, 2014. 

27.       МІЦКЕВІЧ, В., КРУЦЫНА, Д. Пазіцыі германскіх дывізій у Беларусі. Сектар Крэва-Смаргонь-Занарач. Мінск, 2021.

28.       МІЦКЕВІЧ, В., БАГДАНАЎ, У. Пазіцыі германскіх дывізій у Беларусі. Сектар Сэрвач-Вішнева. Мінск, 2017.

29.       МІЦКЕВІЧ, В., ДРУПАЎ, A.  Пазіцыі германскіх дывізій у Беларусі. Сектар Вішнева-Крэва. Мінск, 2016.

30.       Наставленіе для борьбы за укрѣпленныя полосы. Типо-Литографія Штаба Особой Арміи, Типографія Штаба Особой Арміи, 1916/1917.

31.       Наставленіе по войсковому инженерному дѣлу для офицеровь всѣех родовь войскь. С.-Петербургь, 1910.

32.       Наставленіе по войсковому инженерному дѣлу для офицеровь всѣех родовь войскь. С.-Петербургь, 1911.

33.       Наставленіе по самоокапыванію артиллеріи. С.-Петербургь, 1909.

34.       Наставленіе по самоокапыванію пѣхоты. С.-Петербургь, 1909.

35.       Наставленіе по самоокапыванію пѣхоты. С.-Петербургь, 1910.

36.       Наставленіе по самоокапыванію пѣхоты.  Петроградь, 1915.

37.       ПОДОРОЖНЫЙ, Н. Е. Нарочская операция в марте 1916 г. Москва, 1938.

38.       Указанія по укрѣпленію позицій. Штабь Верховнaго главнокомандующaго. –. Петроградь: Военная типографія Императрицы Екатерины Великой, 1916.

Online resources

  1. Schlacht am Naratsch-See. In.
  4. Нарочская операция . In

6. Attachments

1. List of objects recorded during the World War II expedition in Zarasai district on July 29, 2020

Expeditions for the search of objects of the First World War period in Zarasai district on July 29, 2020
Object numberObjekto typeCoordinates
1Smėlynė village cemetery is surrounded by trenches of the FWW period55°44’32.53″N 26°18’32.33″E
2Egyptian (Lat. Ēģipte) rural cemetery with the ruins of a Lutheran church. The quarter separated in the cemetery is dedicated to the graves of the soldiers of the FWW German Empire55°44’50.65″N 26°18’40.99″E
3Bunker (headquarters?)55°44’47.76″N 26°18’37.14″E
4The building where the headquarters of the artillery unit (number not specified) was located55°45’18.19 “N 26°18’26.52″E
5Bunker (without roof)55°45’58.28″N 26°18’4.10″E
6Zarasai Aerodrome55°45’8.85″N 26°15’44.94″E
7German Empire Cemetery (Raudondvaris Village Area)55°45’40.78″N 26°15’49.44″E
8Liaudiškės-Laukesa mound. The mound is dug by FWW trenches55°45’39.75″N 26°16’40. 66″E
9Monitoring post-bunker55°45’41.82″N 26°16’38.98″E
10Monitoring post-bunker55°45’46.27″N 26°16’32.44″E
11Cemetery of the 88th Infantry Division of the German Empire in the village of Bartkiškės I.55°41’23.78″N 26°27’2.34″E
12Bunker (near the house)55°42’14.04″N 26°28’8.81″E
13Bunker (during the expedition the idea was raised that this building may be of Polish origin)55°42’16.21″N 26°28’6.80″E
14Battery projectile storage55°42’16.62″N 26°27’37.75″E
15Battery bunker (command point?)55°42’16.89″N 26°27’37.21″E
16Cannon position55°42’17.01″N 26°27’36.63″E
17Bunker projectile warehouse (?)55°42’16.77″N 26°27’36.28″E
18Cannon position55°42’16.72″N 26°27’38.06″E
19Cannon position55°42’16.65″N 26°27’38.97″E
20Bunker (long-term fire point)55°41’47.46″N 26°27’55.11″E
21Bunker warehouse55°41’15.23″N 26°28’1.48″E
22Old Bogdoniškės village cemetery (a soldier of the 13th Vilnius Ulon Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Poland during the period of independence wars is buried in the cemetery)55°41’16.04″N 26°28’9.90″E  
23Bunker55°41’5.71″N 26°29’9.54″E
24Bunker55°41’7.95″N 26°29’14.13″E
25Cannon position55°41’8.35″N 26°29’13.40″E
26Wooden bunker/cannon position(?)55°41’9.09″N 26°29’10.41″E
27Cannon position/wooden bunker (?)55°41’8.89″N 26°29’11.08″E
28Cannon position/wooden bunker (?)55°41’8.59″N 26°29’12.20″E
29Cannon position/wooden bunker (?)55°41’8.39″N 26°29’12.79″E
30Bunker55°39’47.12″N 26°32’46.77″E
31Bunker55°39’46.94″N 26°32’46.78″E
32Bunker55°39’46.57″N 26°32’47.82″E
33Bunker55°39’46.46″N 26°32’48.29″E
34Wooden bunker with concrete overlay55°39’45.71″N 26°32’46.04″E
35Bunker55°39’47.18″N 26°32’46.61″E
36Bunker55°39’47.33″N 26°32’46.06″E
37Bunker55°39’47.55″N 26°32’45.60″E
38Bunker55°39’47.61″N 26°32’45.20″E
39Headquarters (?) bunker55°39’34.28″N 26°33’13.80″E
40Bunker55°39’37.02″N 26°33’57.34″E
41Bunker55°39’37.15″N 26°33’57.88″E
42Warehouse-Icehouse-Refrigerator55°38’19.73″N 26°33’12.06″E
43Bunker- shelter-warehouse55°38’7.25″N 26°33’9.75″E
44Toilet (?)55°38’7.35″N 26°33’9.89″E
45Bunker with wooden roof55°38’7.18″N 26°33’9.40″E
46Bunker food warehouse55°38’6.84″N 26°33’9.39″E
47Bunker55°38’9.55″N 26°33’14.30″E

2. Description of the objects captured during the expedition on July 29, 2020

Object no. 1 – Smėlynė village cemetery. Smėlynė village church was built in 1854 but has not survived to this day. The cemetery is located at a low height, the object is practically dug in the trenches of the First World War period from all sides. There is a rumor among the locals that the church of Smėlynė was connected to the trenches by a tunnel. If this story is correct it was probably the same ordinary trench only it was covered with boards and a layer of soil. In the village of Smėlynė, the Germans set up a reserve position with the headquarters of the 77th Reserve Division Artillery Commander and the Infantry Brigade and a pioneer depot that managed the open-air engineering reserves in the area of ​​the current parking lot. The territory of the church was not used after the fall of the ceiling, the parish houses were used to perform the functions of the staff. At the end of 1915, several wooden hiding places were installed on the southern slope of the Smėlynė cemetery, which housed soldiers who had defended the 2nd position.

Object no.2-Egypt (lat. Ēģipte, germ. Wilkomiesto) a village cemetery with the ruins of a Lutheran church. The object is located in the territory of the Republic of Latvia. There are also graves of German Empire soldiers in the cemetery (a total of 16-20 German Empire soldiers[85] are buried in the cemetery) and one unknown soldier of the Russian Empire is also buried among the soldiers of this army. Next to the graves of soldiers of the German Empire, there is a heavily damaged monument dedicated to the soldiers who died. The tomb, which belongs to the parents of Jacobine von Dunten, the wife of Baron Carl Friedrich von Münchhausen, has also survived in that Egyptian cemetery.

Inscriptions of tombstones recorded in the cemetery of German soldiers:

  1. Kan.[86]  W. Sturenbeck. (Belonged to) – 4. R. A. R. 65. Died 1915-11-04.
  2. Fahrer[87].  Wilhelm Eube. (Belonged to) 2 FELD. ART. RGT. 24.  Died 1916-05-08.
  3. Unbekannter Russe (Unknown soldier of the Russian Empire).

No more inscriptions on the tombstones were recorded in the Egyptian (germ. Wilkumiest) cemetery.

The area came into use in 1915 with the construction of a reserve line on the shores of Lake Laukesa, which was used to excavate many wooden earthworks where soldiers lived. Shortly afterwards, in the winter of 1915-1916, a 2nd position was excavated around the Egyptian cemetery, covering not only the underground but also the 77th Reserve Division Commander’s palace on the other shore of Lake Laukesa (germ. Lauzensee).

Object No.3– Bunker (headquarters?). The object is located in the territory of the Republic of Latvia. The building is built of concrete and embedded on a slope. Unlike most structures of this type, the latter object has a porch in which windows are imitated. During the construction of the roof of the building’s entrance, a small amount of reinforcement was used (it may be a small amount of reinforcement was used to build the entire roof of the building) the rest of the object is built using concrete. Two metal hooks (brackets for insulators) can be seen next to the entrance to the building, so the building was supplied with electricity. The inside of the object is bleached using lime.

Object No.4 – The building where (according to the guide Ramūnas Keršys) was the headquarters of the artillery unit (number not specified). The object is located in the territory of the Republic of Latvia.

Object No.5 – The bunker (the object is located in the territory of the Republic of Latvia) is all made of concrete, but has no roof, during the inspection there are no signs that the object has not been completed. The roof of the bunker appears to have been made of wood logs and covered with soil. A ventilation hole was noticed inside the premises of the structure.

Object No.6 – Zarasai aerodrome, from which the plane took off, after conducting reconnaissance and correcting artillery fire. Judging by the photos, Fokker D.II type aircraft No. 1532[88] was used for this feature.It is the most widely used single-seater biplane in 1916, with a 75 kW air-cooled rotary engine armed with a single 7.92 mm machine gun synchronized with a traction propeller.  Ejected of Albatros type fighters. Maximum speed 150 km / h, flight distance 200 km. A total of 177 such aircraft were produced[89].

Object No. 7- German Empire Cemetery (Raudondvaris village area).

Object No. 8 – Liaudiškės-Laukesa mound. The mound is dug by I World War trenches.

     Object No. 9 –  Monitoring bunker. The object is incorporated on the Mound of Liaudiškės-Laukesa. The whole building is made of concrete, ,,I“  shaped slats were used for the roof construction. The minimum amount of reinforcement was also used during the construction. The building is oriented to the northwest. There is a rectangular hole in the roof of the object for lifting the periscope. Judging by the front (northwest) wall of the building, where the seams are visible, it can be concluded that the construction work was carried out intermittently. The concrete was quite poorly crushed.

Object No. 10 – Monitoring bunker. The object is incorporated on the Mound of Liaudiškės-Laukesa. The minimum amount of reinforcement was also used during the construction. The building is oriented to the northwest. There is a rectangular hole in the roof of the object for lifting the periscope. The building is analogous to Object no. 9.

Object No. 11 – Cemetery of the 88th Infantry Division of the German Empire in the village of Bartkiškės I. The monument was built during the First World War, during which time the inscriptions “88 INF DIV”, “1915-1916” were inscribed on it. During the Period of the Soviet Union, the cemetery was leveled, and tombstones and crosses were dedicated to the destruction of the fallen soldiers of the German Empire. In 1967, German inscriptions were removed from the main monument of the cemetery, while an inscription in Lithuanian-Russian was erected on the opposite side of the monument “In these areas in 1944 Soviet soldiers fought for the liberation of Zarasai region “[90].  Nevertheless, next to the main monument remained one tombstone of the period of the German Empire cemetery (made of an irregularly shaped field stone). There is an inscription on it ,,Fem der Heimat / fielen im Kamnie / für das Vaterland / am. 21. Juni 1916 / die. Unterofiziere / Herm Kleinert / Josef…“

Object No. 12 – Bunker. The building stands in the village of Matkunci near the homestead, located 60 m east of the Vilnius-Daugavpils railway. The object is embedded in a small hill. The entire building is made of concrete, but reinforcement and rails were also used in part during the construction. The bunker is currently used as a basement. There are also more individual fortification-related elements in the building environment.

The steps of the house next door are made of concrete blocks made in the units of the 88th Infantry Division (they are imprinted with “88 I D”[91]). Similar blocks (60x60x15 cm), only with the badges of the 77th Reserve Division pioneers, were produced at the Staro Dvorelišė Pioneer Depot. Semicircular corrugated sheets can also be seen in the surroundings of the homestead (these sheets are used in the construction of bunkers during the First World War and in later periods).

Object No. 13- Bunker standing 8.6 m east of the Vilnius-Daugavpils railway line. Of all the objects inspected during the expedition, this building was the only one completely made of reinforced concrete. In the rear (southern) part of the building there is a cavity (oriented to the south – the side of the Republic of Lithuania) resembling an ambrasure or a window. For these reasons, during the expedition, it was assumed that the building may not be of German but Polish origin. Comparing the maps, it can be seen that although in the period 1920-1939 the town of Turmantas was occupied by the Polish military, the Polish army did not cross and annex the Latvian border. In this case, only one conclusion can be drawn – that the building is of German origin[92].

Object No. 14- Bunker (artillery battery projectile depot). The building is all made of concrete, and a small amount of reinforcement was used during the construction. The object has no roof, most likely it was made of logs and covered with a layer of soil. There is a partition in the only room of the building.

Object No. 15- Bunker command point. The building is all made of concrete, but has no roof. The roof was probably made of logs and covered with a layer of soil. A small amount of reinforcement was used to build the walls of the facility. Judging by the joints of the building, the concreting works of this bunker were stopped and started again 4-6 times.

Object No. 16- Cannon position. The object is partially submerged in the ground, but is still quite visible.

Object No. 17- Bunker warehouse. The whole building is made of concrete. Unlike the vast majority of the buildings inspected during the expedition, there are no seams in the walls of the bunker – the concrete was well crushed. The bunker does not currently have a roof, but it is likely that part of it can be seen inside this facility. It is not entirely known how the roof of the bunker appeared inside the bunker, the idea that the roof collapsed itself (due to its weak construction) should be rejected, meanwhile, if the ammunition remaining after the wars had been utilized at the facility, the roof of the building would not have been “spilled” over the top of the building, the side walls would have been damaged after the explosions. In this case, it is most likely that During the Period of the Soviet Union, an attempt was made to adapt the building to agricultural needs.

Object No. 18- Field Cannon position. The object is partially flooded and overgrown with inferior plants, but is still quite visible

Object No. 19- FieldCannon position. The object is partially flooded and overgrown with inferior plants, but is still quite visible.

Object No. 20- Bunker-Long lasting firing point[93].The object is located 85 m east of the Vilnius-Daugavpils railway line. The whole building is made of concrete. In the northern part (facing the Latvian side) of the object there are two shooting ambrasives (one of them is concreted using bricks, their parts and field stones). Slaters were used for the construction of the bunker roof. Judging by the seams visible on the upper part of the bunker (roof), it can be concluded that during the formation of this part of the bunker the work was intermittent (the work was stopped and started again 4-5 times). It should be noted that the concrete quality of the roof of the bunker is inferior to that of its walls.

Inside the building, you can see an inventory note in Polish stating that the building is a military property that must not be demolished or dismantled (,,2489 Wlasnosc Wojska Rozbierac Nie wolno“). Decorative elements can also be found in the object – a table made of concrete is hung above the entrance to the object, part of the former inscription on the table is already broken, while the letter “… elburg”[94] is visible on the remaining part. Both cavities at the rear of the building near the roof are concreted, and one of these openings is lined with a block of concrete from the 88th Infantry Division (the block is imprinted with “88 I D” and the number “20” turned on the sides)[95].

Object No. 21- Bunker-warehouse. The building is built of concrete. A very minimal amount of reinforcement was used during the construction of the building. When the object was completed, it was covered with a layer of soil. Corrugated sheet metal may have been used on the inside of the building during construction, but no traces of it were identified inside the building during the expedition.

Object No. 22- Old Bogdoniškės village cemetery. A volunteer (pol. ochotnik) from the 13th Vilnius Ulons Regiment (Polish 13 Pułk Ułanów Wileńskich) is buried in this cemetery, Czesław Prewysz-Kwinto (born 1897-01-04)  died Lahoiske (pol. Łohojsk) 1919-12-20.

Object No. 23- Bunker-hiding place, the structural course of this building is reflected in the log marks that have survived in its upper part (lower part of the roof). These marks help to substantially reconstruct the entire construction process of the facility. At the first stage of construction, the walls of the bunker were built. During the second stage, logs were placed on these walls, and during the third stage, a layer of concrete was poured on top of this layer of logs. Currently, the logs in the building are rotten, their presence is evidenced only by the imprints of the logs in the concrete.

Object No. 24-Bunker. The entire building was built of concrete, rails were used during construction, and slats were used for roof construction. According to the seams of the walls, it can be seen that the concreting works took place intermittently. It is one of the largest and most complex constructions of the First World War period in Zarasai district. The latter object is entered in the register of cultural heritage – (unique code 31250). Judging by the adjacent positions, it is very similar to be an artillery battery structure.

Object No. 25- Field Cannon position. The object is not very flooded or overgrown with inferior plants (still well visible).

Object No. 26- Wooden bunker or field cannon position. Most of the pit of this object is covered with earth, but is still sufficiently visible.

Object No. 27- Wooden bunker or field cannon position. The shape of the building is well visible, not overgrown with inferior plants.

Object No. 28- Wooden bunker or field cannon position. The object is damaged by erosion and heavily overgrown with grass.

Object No. 29- Wooden bunker or field cannon position. The shape of the building is well visible, not overgrown with inferior plants.

Object No. 30- Bunker,the entire remaining part of the building structure is built using concrete, this object does not have a roof (it is possible that the concrete roof collapsed due to the weakness of the structure or it simply did not exist), it cannot be ruled out that the latter object was built using wooden logs, and the concrete structure (built in a later period) served as an additional element for reinforcing the walls of the building. Slats, rails and fittings were not used during the construction of the building. Outdoor stones were used during the construction, and the concrete was considered to be of low quality.

Object No. 31- Bunker, the object is semicircular not quite regular “D” shape. No reinforcement or other metal structures were used during the construction. The concrete is of very poor quality and seems to have not even been crushed. The outdoor stones used during construction can be seen in the concrete layer. It appears that the still liquid concrete was simply poured on a small (burial-shaped) hill, natural or artificially poured, leaving room for the entrance, while the concrete was waiting to solidify and no other work was carried out. When the concrete solidified, a layer of soil beneath it was excavated, creating space. The construction of the building is of such a low category that it could only be used as a warehouse for food or ammunition. Upon completion of the construction of the facility, the upper part of the building was covered with a small layer of earth.

Object No. 32- Bunker, the entire remaining part of the building structure is built using concrete, this object does not have a roof (it is possible that the concrete roof collapsed due to the weakness of the structure or it simply did not exist), it cannot be ruled out that the latter object was built using wooden logs, and the concrete structure (built in a later period) served as an additional element for reinforcing the walls of the building. The building does not currently have a concrete roof, it seems that in the case of this object there was not even a concrete roof. Looks like object no. 32 is identical to object no. 30.

Object No. 33- Bunker identical to object no. 31. Building is semicircular not quite regular “D” shape. No reinforcement or other metal structures were used during the construction. The concrete is of very poor quality and seems to have not even been crushed. The outdoor stones used during construction can be seen in the concrete layer. It appears that the still liquid concrete was simply poured on a small (burial-shaped) hill, natural or artificially poured, leaving room for the entrance, while the concrete was waiting to solidify and no other work was carried out. When the concrete solidified, a layer of soil beneath it was excavated, creating space. The construction of the building is of such a low category that it could only be used as a warehouse for food or ammunition. Upon completion of the construction of the facility, the upper part of the building was covered with a small layer of earth.

Object No. 34- Bunker appears to be identical to objects no. 32 and no. 30. As in the case of the latter two structures, all the remaining part of the structure is made of concrete, this object does not have a roof (it is possible that it was not built or was installed using logs) It cannot be ruled out that this object was built using wooden logs, and the concrete structure (built in a later period) served as an additional element for reinforcing the walls of the building.

Object No. 35- Bunker, the structure of its upper part resembles objects no. 31 and no. 33, however, unlike these bunkers, smooth walls were formed in the latter object using board formwork. It seems that an attempt was made to align the top of the building as well. Concrete in the case of Object No. 35 is of better quality than in objects No. 31 and No. 33.

Object No. 36- Bunker, the whole building is built using concrete. Unlike some of the buildings described above, there is no doubt that the bunker had a concrete roof. The edges of the roof round off and join the walls. The concrete was crushed well enough, judging by the seam the roof of the bunker was being built in the second phase of construction.

Object No. 37- Bunker, a building built of concrete, and resembling objects no. 30, no. 32, no. 34[96]. It looks like this bunker could have had a concrete roof as well. It cannot be ruled out that, as in the case of the buildings already mentioned, this bunker could have been built using wooden logs, and the concrete structure (built in a later period) served as an additional element for reinforcing the walls of the building. In the case of object No. 37, the roof of the bunker also appears to have been reinforced with concrete.

Object No. 38- Bunker depots / ammunition depots (?). The latter object consists of three concrete bunkers. The latter buildings are rectangular in shape. The concrete itself was crashed, the outer walls of the objects were smooth, which would indicate that board formwork was used in the outer part of the buildings. In the inner part of the buildings, small tree logs and field stones were used during construction. All three buildings are next to each other. Judging by their layout and internal layout, it looks like it could have been ammunition depots.

Object No. 39- Bunker, the building is massive and is the largest bunker captured during the expedition. The building is built taking advantage of the relief irregularities and is embedded in a small ravine. The concrete (compared to other objects during the expedition) is sufficiently well crushed. Markings on the formwork of the boards can be seen on the outer wall of the building. Protruding reinforcement can be seen in the corners and inside of the object (compared to other structures recorded during the expedition, it can be concluded that without object No. 13 the largest amount of reinforcement was used during construction), for this reason the latter object should be named as reinforced concrete. Slats can be seen in the roof structure. Wall whitening marks can be seen inside the object. Inside the building there is also an inventory inscription of the Polish army “Wlasnosc Wojska Rozbierac Nie wolno” (number not visible). The latter object is entered in the Register of Cultural Heritage (Unique object code 31249). The information in the Cultural Heritage Register that the bunker has five firing holes is not accurate, the latter holes are identifiable as windows.

Object No. 40- Bunker, the entire building is built using concrete. Judging by the visible seams, the concreting of the static roof took place in eight stages. A small amount of reinforcement can also be seen in the construction of the roof of the building. The concrete is of poor quality and poorly crushed. During the inspection it was noticed that the inner part of the roof of the building is made using slats and concrete blocks made in the units of the 88th Infantry Division (the inscriptions “88.J.D.T.” are embossed in the blocks, and the numbers “12” and “3” are also side-by-side). The latter object is entered in the Register of Cultural Heritage (Unique object code 31258).

Object No. 41– Bunker, the building is built using concrete and slats. The concrete is of poor quality and poorly crushed. Judging by the visible seams, the concreting of the static roof took place in approximately seven stages. There is no doubt that this building was built at the same time as object No. 40. The latter object is entered in the Register of Cultural Heritage (Unique object code 31257).

Object No. 42- Warehouse-Icehouse-Refrigerator (?).The entrance to the building is made of concrete which is of good quality and well crushed. There is a window on the left side of the entrance. From the entrance there is a slope leading to the inside of the building (as if to the basement).

Upon entering the inside of the building, you can see the concrete walls (the plan and scope of the building itself is not completely clear, however, it can be said that the building is large, perhaps even the largest of all the objects captured during the expedition). The cavities of the windows can be seen in the walls, the roof of the building was built using wood-logs.

Object No. 43- Bunker- shelter-warehouse (?).The building was built of concrete, judging by the seams, the concreting works were carried out in several (about ten) stages.

The upper part of the building entrance is staircase. Outdoor stones were also used during the construction, some of the time stones built into the walls are broken. There is one room inside the object, there are no windows or any other cavities without an entrance.

Object No. 44- Toilet (?).The building was built of concrete. Inside the object there are two rooms which are divided by one wall with a passage. The building has no concrete roof, it looks like it was made of logs. This object is located right next to object no. 43.

Object No. 45- Bunkeris (with wooden roof). The building is built of concrete, the seams in the walls testify to the fact that the concreting works were carried out in several stages. The concrete was crushed fairly well during the construction, it seems that at least the formwork of the wooden planks was used inside the building. The facility has no roof, most likely it was built using tree logs and ground.

Object No. 46- Bunker food warehouse (?).The building is built of concrete and has a concrete roof. During the construction, the concrete was crushed rather poorly, it seems that at the initial stage of construction, the crushing was not carried out at all – about four rows of field stones can be seen in the walls, which were connected by concrete layers,

meanwhile, a concrete structure with significantly fewer field stones was already built on this structure. There is only one blind room inside the building.

Object No. 47- Bunker. The building is built of concrete. The concrete itself is well crushed, the walls and roof of the building were built at different stages. Reinforcement was used during the construction, and slats were used in the roof construction. The walls of the object inside the building are bleached. The surviving inventory of the Polish army “2466 Wlasnosc Wojska Rozbierac Nie wolno”[97] is also quite visible.

  • Attachments: Photofixing material collected during the expedition on July 29, 2020

Object No.1

Object No.1(2)

Object No. 2

Object No. 2 (2)

Object No. 3

Object No. 4

Expedition to search for objects of the First World War period in Zarasai district (ant nuotraukos parašyta)

Object No. 5

Object No. 6

Object No. 7

Object No. 8

Object No. 9

Object No. 10

Object No. 11

Object No. 12

Object No. 12(2)

Object No. 13

Object No. 13(2)

Object No. 14

Object No. 15

Object No. 15(2)

Object No. 16

Object No. 17

Object No. 18

Object No. 19

Object No. 20

Object No. 20 (2)

Object No. 20 (3)

Object No. 21

Object No. 22

Object No. 23

Object No. 23 (306)

Object No. 24

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Object No. 27

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Object No. 29

Object No. 30

Object No. 31

Object No. 32

Object No. 33

Object No. 34

Object No. 35

Object No. 36

Object No. 37

Object No. 38

Object No. 38 (2)

Object No. 39

Object No. 40

Object No. 40 (2)

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Object No. 42

Object No. 42 (2)

Object No. 43

Object No. 43 (2)

Object No. 44

Object No. 45

Object No. 46

Object No. 46 (2)

Object No. 47


Map No. 1

Maps No. 2-3

Maps No. 4-5

Maps No. 6-7

Maps No. 8-9

Maps No. 10-11

Maps No. 12-13

  • Maps showing the situation on the Latvian-Polish border between the wars

1932 Map of the General Staff of the Polish Army

Access through internet:

Red indicates the side of the Polish border, cherry indicates the Latvian border, green indicates the border of the Republic of Lithuania. According to the 1932 map of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, objects No. 12 and No. 13 in the village of Matkunci entered the territory of Latvia between the wars. For this reason, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Object No. 13 was not built by the Polish army during the interwar period, but by the German army during the First World War.

  • Fortified objects of the First World War period in the territory of Lithuania that were not visited but known during the expedition on July 29, 2020.
The bunkers / objects of the First World War in the territory of Lithuania have not been visited on July 29, 2020
Tilžė village areas
1Artillery Position[98] of the Kimbartiškės German Army during the First World War (Artillery Battery) (Code 31259)55°38’53.86″N 26°32’16.12″E
2World War I German Army Kimbartiškės Artillery Tracking and Shelter Bunker (Code 31255)55°38’57.92″N 26°32’35.14″E
3Bunker III of the Tilžė Defense Line of the German Army during the First World War (Code 31254)55°39’47.87″N 26°33’59.06″E
4Bunker II of the Tilžė Defense Line of the German Army during the First World War (Code 31253)  55°39’50.89″N 26°33’53.97″E
5Bunker of the Tilžė Defense Line of the German Army during the First World War (Code 31252)[99]55°39’58.96″N 26°33’57.07″E
6Bunker of the German Army Bartkiškės during the First World War (Code 31251)55°41’10.91″N 26°27’26.01″E
Raščiūnai (Ignalina district)
7Bunker[100]55°14’42.09″N 26°34’44.79″E
8Bunker55°14’41.81″N 26°34’40.79″E
9Bunker (long-lasting fire point?)55°14’28.07″N 26°34’30.52″E
10Bunker55°14’23.74″N 26°34’27.28″E
11Group of bunkers ?55°14’59.34″N 26°35’20.79″E[101]
Katinautiškės village
12Group of bunkers55°16’9.84″N 26°37’26.94″E
Adutiškis forests
13Bunker ?55°15’11.02″N 26°38’2.57″E (?)[102]
14Bunker ?55°14’48.91″N 26°39’29.53″E (?)[103]
Ažubalis forest
15Artillery battery (Ažubalis forest)55°15’55.72″N 26°34’20.13″E (The coordinates of the forest, not the building, are given)
16Bunker55°17’37.07″N 26°36’15.37″E
17Bunker55°18’48.79″N 26°35’44.59″E

  • Photos of famous fortification objects of the First World War period in the territory of Lithuania that were not visited  but known during the expedition on July 29, 2020

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Object No. 2


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Object No. 5


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Object No. 9


Object No. 10

Source: Google Earth Pro (Titas Tamkvaitis)

Object No. 11 (1)


Object No. 11 (2)

Source: (It is possible that the photos of this building were taken elsewhere).

Object No.12


Object No.13

Object No.14

Object No.15


Object No.16


  • During the expedition on July 29, 2020, the fortification objects of the First World War period in the territory of Lithuania were not visited

Maps No. 1-2

(Legendų vertimas)

1. Objects inspected on 29/07/2020

2. The known bunkers in the territory of Lithuania but have not been inspected on 29/07/2020

3. Bunkers in the territory of Belarus

Maps No. 3-4

Map No.5

[1] Formally, the German Empire was made up of various smaller kingdoms, duchies, and other formations, so the army consisted of four armies with their own separate numbering and traditions. However, during the war the units operated together, the regular units were easily redeployed regardless of their affiliation. Meanwhile, the reserve and other units formed during the war were more concerned with their assembly sites for natural logistical reasons.

[2] For more information on East Prussian culture, see. TRABA, R. „Wschodniopruskość“.  Tożsamość regionalna i narodowa w kulturze politycznej Niemiec. Borussia, Olsztyn, 2007, p. 27-38.

[3] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben in 10 Bānden 1910-1923. Der Fűrst von Gudotischki. Pionier vor Riga und Besetzung der Ostseeinseln. Hamburg, 2014, S. 282.

[4] Kultūros paminklai, II t. (Cultural monuments, II vol.)

[5]   ORLOV, V. Fortifikacija Pirmojo pasaulinio karo metais (1914 – 1918). In XX a. fortifikacija Lietuvoje. Kaunas, 2008, p. 7-46. (ORLOV, V. Fortification during the First World War (1914 – 1918). In the XX a fortification in Lithuania. Kaunas, 2008, pp. 7-46).

[6] Zarasai Operation 1919 director Valdas Rakutis, creators Saulius Novikas and Rita Bruževičienė.

[7] Эрих Фридрих Вилгельм Людендорф. Мои воспоминания о войне 1914-18 годов. In: ЛЮДЕНДОРФ, Э. Ф. В.  Тотальная война, Москва, 2015 c. 115-439. 

[8] PEČIULIS, M. Pirmojo Pasaulinio karo veiksmai Lietuvos teritorijoje 1915 m. rugpjūčio pabaigoje – rugsėjo mėnesį. Karo archyvas, 2010, Nr. XXV, p. 29-97, 392-393. (PEČIULIS, M. Actions of the First World War in the Territory of Lithuania at the End of August – September 1915. War Archives, 2010, no. XXV, p. 29-97, 392-393).

[9] PLICKERT, H.  Das 2. Ermländische Infanterie Regiment Nr. 151. Erinerugsblätter deutscher Regimenter. Die Anteilnahme der Truppenteile der ehemaligen deutschen Armee am Weltkriege bearbaitet unter Benutzung der amtlichen Kriegstagebűcher. Truppenteile ehemaligenpreußischen Kontingents. Der Schriftfolge 263. Band: Infanterie regiment Nr. 151. Odenburg i. O./Berlin 1929. Prof. LIEBIKE. Das Fűsilier – Regiment Graf Roon (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 33 im Weltkriege 1914/1918. Deutche Tat im Welkrieg 1914/1918. Geschichten der Kämpfe deutschen Truppen. Bearbeitet auf Grund der amtlichen Unterlagen des Reichsarchivs und persönlicher Aufzeichnungen von Mitkämpfern. Band. 26. Verlag Bernard und Gaefe, Berlin, 1935.

[10] TRABA, R.  „Wschodniopruskość“.  Tożsamość regionalna i narodowa w kulturze politycznej Niemiec. Borussia, Olsztyn, 2007, s. 27-38.

[11] PLICKERT, H. Das 2. Ermländische … S. 166.

[12] PLICKERT. H. Das 2. Ermländische … S. 167.

[13] In Lithuanian geography, these lakes are called the Lake District of Eastern Lithuania, Poland and Germany – simply the Lake District of Lithuania, including the region of Podlaskie Voivodeship.

[14] ПОДОРОЖНЫЙ, Н. Е.  Нарочская операция в марте 1916 г. Москва, 1938, с. 25-26.

[15] The death toll varies, from 20,000 to 110,000 in Russia and close to 20,000 in Germany.

[16] Access through internet: Viewed 2021 12-14.

[17] Of particular importance is the position scheme (Stellungs-Schema) placed in the chief. ltn. On page 260 of H. Triobst’s book TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 260.

[18] Prof. LIEBIKE. Das Fűsilier – Regiment Graf Roon (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 33 im Weltkriege 1914/1918. Deutche Tat im Welkrieg 1914/1918. Geschichten der Kämpfe deutschen Truppen. Bearbeitet auf Grund der amtlichen Unterlagen des Reichsarchivs und persönlicher Aufzeichnungen von Mitkämpfern. Band. 26. Verlag Bernard und Gaefe, Berlin 1935, S. 307-313.

[19] Операция Фаустшлаг; ШИЛИНЬШ, Я. Что и почему нужно знать о переходе Латвии под власть Германии (Viewed 2021-12-19).

[20] Freicorp  (germ. Freikorps, Freiwillige Korps)- Units of volunteers created during the Austrian succession and the Seven Years’ War, consisting of soldiers of various types and qualities for the needs of the little wars, often to protect the population. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the volunteer units formed in the Prussian army were characterized by a high level of awareness and national self-awareness in Prussia’s transition from a monarchist to a nation-state concept. This concept was used in the development of German defense after World War I in 1918-1919.

[21] ORLOV, V. Fortifikacija … p. 7-12. (ORLOV, V. Fortification … p. 7-12)

[22] Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg fűr alle Waffen. Teil 1. Stellungsbau. Vom 20 Juni 1916. Herausgegeben vom Kriegsministerium. Berlin, 1916. Gedruckt in der Reichsdruckerei. Algemeines űber Stellungsbau, Nr. 6, S. 5.

[23] Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg … . Algemeines űber Stellungsbau, Nr. 11-12, S. 7-8.

[24] Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg … . Algemeines űber Stellungsbau, Nr. 13, S. 8-9.

[25] Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg … . Einzelheiten des Stellungsbaues, Nr. 3-11, S. 15-18.

[26] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 90-94.

[27] CRON, H., ROGERS, D. Imperial German Army 1914-18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle.  Helion & Company, 2006 [first published: 1937]., p. 52, 53, 80, 82.

[28] Deployment of the German army in the summer of 1918. Access through internet: (Viewed 2021 12 26). CRON, H., ROGERS, D. Imperial German Army 1914-18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle.  Helion & Company, 2006 [first published: 1937]., p. 52-54, 65, 80, 82.

[29] PAWLY, R. The Kaiser’s Warlords– German Commanders of World War I. Osprey Publishing, 2003, p. 47-48.

[30] HILDEBRAND, K. F.,  ZWENG, C.  Die Ritter des Ordens Pour le Mérite des I. Weltkriegs. Band 1. Osnabrück 1999. S. 539–541. BRADLEY, D., WEGNER, G.  Stellenbesetzung der Deutschen Heere 1815–1939. Band 1: Die Höheren Kommandostellen 1815–1939. Osnabrück, 1990, S. 626.

[31] Army Group (Armeegruppe) – an army-level operational unit connecting corps, divisions, and units under the command of an army group, reporting directly to the army or the Commander-in-Chief of the East. Not to be confused with the name of the Army groups used in later times to unite several armies (equivalent of the Russian front).

[32] BRADLEY, D., WEGNER, G.  Stellenbesetzung der Deutschen Heere 1815–1939. Band 1: Die Höheren Kommandostellen 1815–1939. Osnabrück, 1990, S. 626. MÖLLER, H.  Die Geschichte der Ritter des Ordens „pour le merite“ im Weltkrieg 1914-1918. Band 2.  Berlin 1935, S. 491–492. Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918. Band VII. Berlin, 1931. S. 253. Access through internet: Viewed 2021 12 29. 

[33] Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 59-61. Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927, S. 60, 86.

[34] ЛЮДЕНДОРФ, Э. Мои воспоминания о войне 1914-1918 гг. Москва, 2014, с. 127-128.  Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 59-61.

[35] Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927, S. 73. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 59-61.

[36] Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927, S. 61, 90–91. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 83-85.

[37] Military units- an operational unit that performs independent operational functions, assigning armies, corps, and divisions.

[38] Organizational units are called subdivisions, brigades, regiments and equivalent units operating within a unit but having their own permanent organization, administration, logistics, usually living in separate settlements in peacetime. Nowadays, such functions are assigned to battalions.

[39] Subunits are subdivided into smaller tactical units that perform assigned tasks.

[40] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 193.

[41] Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927, S. 72, 149.

[42] Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 531-533.

[43] Ruhmeshalle unserer Alten Armee. Berlin, 1927, S. 72, 149. Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 531-533.

[44] Fanenjunker (ger. Fahnenjunker) – a cadet, a student of a military school, treated as a sergeant in the army of that time, (pol. Podchrąży).

[45] The Japanese Army followed whether it could be said to have copied the German military system, so it was possible to assess how individual provisions or decisions work in practice.

[46] The German-owned Meco Fortress in Lorraine was at that time one of the largest and best equipped fortresses in the world, covering a strategic corridor in the Arden Mountains.

[47] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 114.

[48] HILDEBRAND, K. F.,  ZWENG, C.  Die Ritter des Ordens Pour le Mérite des I. Weltkriegs. Band 1. Osnabrück 1999. S. 410-411. Militär-Wochenblatt. Nr. 31 vom 3. März 1914, S. 637.

[49] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 118-119.

[50] Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 531-533. 

[51] Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army Which Participated in the War (1914-1918). Chaumont, 1919, p. 565-568.

[52] TRÖBST H. Ein Soldatenleben in 10 Bānden 1910-1923. Der Fűrst von Gudotischki. Pionier vor Riga und Besetzung der Ostseeinseln. B. 5. Hamburg, 2014, S. 16.

[53] TRÖBST H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 278.

[54] PLICKERT, H. Das 2. Ermländische … S. 169-171.

[55] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 81-83.

[56] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 123-124.

[57] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 123-124.

[58] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 279-281.

[59] Vorschriften fűr den Stellungskrieg fűr alle Waffen. Teil 1. Stellungsbau. Vom 20 Juni 1916. Herausgegeben vom Kriegsministerium. Berlin, 1916. Gedruckt in der Reichsdruckerei, S. 3-4.

[60] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 64.

[61] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 27.

[62] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 139-141.

[63] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 141-142.

[64] PLICKERT, H.  Das 2. Ermländische … S. 174-175.

[65] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 153-154.

[66] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 168-170.

[67] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 177.

[68] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 181.

[69] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 184-185.

[70] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 192-193.

[71] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 217.

[72] Order No. 6958 of 16 June 1916 by the Chief Eastern Commander, Hindenburg, published by TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben … s. 210-212.

[73] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 212-213.

[74] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 215-216.

[75] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 215-216.

[76] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 259-260.

[77] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 274-275.

[78] 30 August 1916 Secret Order No. 12938 of Chapter III of the 10th Army Published in Tröbst H. Ein Soldatenleben … s. 285-286.

[79] February 9, 1917 Ministry of War No. 668/17. Published in TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben … p. 287.

[80] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 287.

[81] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 290-291.

[82] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 293.

[83] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 293.

[84] TRÖBST, H. Ein Soldatenleben… S. 297-298.

[85] Access through internet: Viewed 2020-10-09.

[86] Canoner (artillery).

[87] Driver.

[88] Tröbst H. Ein Soldatenleben… s. 179.

[89] Access through internet: Viewed 2021 12 21.

[90] Access through internet: Viewed 2020-10-09.

[91] The meaning of the abbreviation is 88 Infantry Division. It appears that these blocks were used in the construction of bunkers and for the excavation of trenches. About the production of blocks in the winter of 1915-1916 at the depot of the 77th Reserve Division look Tröbst H. Ein Soldatenleben… s.

[92] See attachment: 5. Maps showing the situation on the Latvian-Polish border between the wars.

[93] Rus. ,,ДОТ“.

[94] Before the rest of the inscription, one heavily crumbled part of the letter may be visible, which could be “L”, “B”, or “D”.

[95] According to Vladimir Orlov, there were almost no active structures in the section of the front in question or they did not survive. The only exception is an artillery battery for two cannons, located just west of Lake Šakiai. All other structures are passive – hiding places, warehouses, small observation or command points. ORLOV, V. Fortification during the First World War (1914-1918). In the XX century. fortification in Lithuania. Kaunas, 2008, p. 43. Field research carried out on 29-07-2020 proved that the artillery battery for two cannons is not the only active fortification object that has survived in the territory of Lithuania (in the defense section of the 88th Infantry Division in Zarasai district).

[96] According to Валер Міцкевіч, these objects could perform the function of artillery positions.

[97] Bunker no. 20 The long-lasting fire point is marked with the inventory number 2489 of the Polish army. (So ​​23 units difference). The distance between these objects is 8.76 km. Thus, among these objects should be another 23 bunkers inventoried by the Polish army. One of these buildings is Object no. 39, but its inventory number did not remain. (A total of three bunkers with Polish Army inventory numbers were recorded during the expedition- Object no. 20 (number 2489), Object no. 39 (number not prominent, but the inscription in Polish “Wlasnosc Wojska Rozbierac Nie wolno” is), Object no. 47 (number 2466).

[98] The names of the objects entered in the Register of Cultural Heritage shall be indicated as they were recorded in the Register. The Cultural Heritage Register states that the “position of the Kimbartiškės artillery of the German army during the First World War” consists of seven separate objects.

[99] The ceiling of the bunker shows that the roof of the building is made using slats and concrete blocks made in the units of the 88th Infantry Division.

[100] CRD buildings no. 7, 8, 9 are referred to simply as “Fortifications”, a unique code (10844). However, only object No. 7 is marked as a cultural heritage site.

[101] It cannot be ruled out that only one building will be indicated by coordinates, while other objects will be located in the vicinity.

[102] Coordinates are given by: It cannot be ruled out that one of these objects may be the object no. 11 (2).

[103] Coordinates are given by: It cannot be ruled out that one of these objects may be the object no. 11 (2).

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