Chemical Weapons & WWI

Ollie Garchy

Active member
Question: Did chemical weapons play a large role in the German defeat of Russia (1917)?

German chemical weapons caused about 500,000 Russian casualties during WWI. Did the Russian lack of countermeasures (masks or the ability to strike back) seriously erode the already low Russian morale and lead to German victory at the negotiating table?

If the chemical weapons idea is a good one, does this mean that Germany should have concentrated on the war in the east, knocked out Russia, and only then have turned against the French? [In this scenario, there is no German invasion of Belgium. Would Britain have become involved under these conditions?]
The whole of the Russian Military Organisation was a mess, there were soldiers with out rifles or ammunition, it was shambles from top too bottom and it was the last straw that brought about the Revolution
CanadianCombat said:
The Germans never really defeated the Russians, the Russians dropped out of the war because of the Russian Revolution.

Oh really? Ok. I guess the war in the east just ended when the Russians decided to quit and have a revolution in 1917 [First Kerensky's and then Lenin's revolution]. What do you think happened to the war? Just sort of fizzled out? The Germans went home for some schnitzel and sausages?

The Germans, with a minimal commitment, pounded the Russians year after very bloody year. The disastrous conditions on the eastern front led to Russian military defections and then to revolution. My point: a greater German effort against the Russians might have forced a Russian exit in 1915 or 1916. More gas...more suffering...more revolution. If it is true that chemical weapons played a much larger role in the east, helping to cover German manpower shortages, one could "rehabilitate" chemical weapons and negate the old argument that they achieved nothing during WWI. (which is true in the west).

[A similar thing happened to the western German armies in 1918. Military reverses led to a disintegration of fighting cohesion. While it is correct that the Russians might have continued the fight under different conditions, LeEnfield's comments are correct.]
Last edited: