Posts Tagged ‘April 5’

How To Lose a Battle in a Spectacular Way

Posted in General, On This Day on April 5th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 4 Comments

April 5th

NevskyFirst, invade Russia during the winter.  (Keep in mind that Russian winters last from October to May.)

Second, arrange for your army to be surrounded by a Russian horde that outnumbers you at least 2 to 1.  Since you and your comrades are German knights renowned for your policies of extermination and enslavement, expect the Russians to be somewhat vindictive.

Third, allow your beleaguered force to be pushed onto a frozen lake.  The date being April 5, 1242 (Happy Anniversary in medieval German to you.) the lake is just starting to thaw.  The ton of horse, armor and you could prove a strain on the ice.  Oops.  You are about to learn that your armor is not waterproof or particularly buoyant.  Neither are you.

Fourth, the site of your dramatic if humiliating demise is Lake Peipus.  Worse, in your own German, it is Peipussee.  You now will be sniggered at by generations of British public school boys (at least the heterosexual ones). You only avoid similar derision from American teenagers because they have never heard of the 13th century.

Finally, your defeat will be immortalized in the 1938 film named for the Russian victor.  Had your side won,  the film would have been called “Herman von Dorpat” instead of “Alexander Nevsky.”  If it is any consolation, your side definitely is more fashionably dressed and has better coiffures.  Of course, from the Soviet perspective, that only proves how decadent you are.  (Stalin had edited Pravda, not Vogue.)

And, for a belated introduction, the Germans belong to a crusading order known as the Teutonic Knights.  These knights felt that they had a sacred duty to conquer, convert and enslave the Baltic and Russian peoples.  If you are going to work your serfs to death, at least offer them the spiritual solace of Catholicism instead of paganism or that heretical Russian Orthodoxy.  In 1242, most of Russia had been overrun and devastated by the Mongols.  However, northwestern Russia was inconveniently located, so the Horde had spared it–in return for tribute.  The Teutonic Knights had already conquered the lands we’d recognize as Latvia and Estonia. (Lithuania proved too tough and remained pagan for another century!)  The German crusaders thought that the surviving Russian principalities would be a pushover.  They were wrong.