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German Army Camp in Wishnew (Vishneva), Eastern Front, 1915-16
Wishnew (Vish’-nev) is the German name for a small town on the Olshanka River that was on the front line of combat operations on the Eastern Front in 1915-16. At that time, it was part of Lithuania. It has been part of several countries and has gone by several Lithuanian, Russian, and Yiddish names including Wiszniew, Vishnev, Vishnevo, and Vishnive. It is now part of Minsk Oblast, Belorussia. The proper transliteration of its current name is Vishneva, which will be used for the remainder of this article except where the German “Wishnew” appears in photo captions.
Vishneva was settled by the 14th Century. In 1897, it had 2650 inhabitants of whom 1465 were Jewish. War came to the town in summer 1915 with the entry of Russian troops. Jewish and Gentile residents alike fled to the nearby forest and to other villages. The German army advanced in September 1915 and combat operations reportedly took place in the town itself until March 1916. Trenches were dug in the center of town and in the forest; many houses were destroyed.
|The heavy black line is the 1916 front line trace of German and Austro-Hungarian forces. Vishneva was located just behind it.||The village of Vishneva was located in the middle of a forest between the Olshanka and Beresina Rivers. Several marshy areas were interspersed with forests.|
Active combat in the Vishneva area largely ceased after the failure of a Russian offensive in March 1916. The area became a backwater as Russian army units grew increasingly unreliable during the Bolshevik Revolution. German forces remained in the town until they were withdrawn after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918 marked the end of hostilities between the Central Powers and Russia.Stereoviews privately made by a German officer show the town and its German occupiers during the lull in fighting in 1916-17. The numbers on the cards suggest there were originally almost 100 stereoviews. Titles were written on the back of each card in old-fashioned German script. Of the three dozen cards extant, about 20 are shown on this page. The photographer is unknown, but it may have been Lt. Clemen or Lt. Schmeyer, both of whom appear in multiple photos.
Kompagniestellung der Königlich 5te (Company position of the Royal 5th)Lt. Wallstein Adjutant
Example of German Script Title on Stereoview
Schützengraben im Beresina Walde
Trenches in the Beresina Forest
Im Schleierwald ein selbstkonstruierter Hebekrahnen um die spanischen Reiter vor den Kampfaufbau zu werfen
In the Schleierwald (Misty Forest) a self-designed lifting barrier to be thrown for the chevaux-de-frise in front of the fortifications
Knüppeldamm im Sumpfwalde
Corduroy road in Sumpfwalde (Swampy Forest)
|Weg im ausgeholzten Beresina Walde|
Road in the thinned-out Beresina Forest
|Brücke über eine Sumpfstelle im Beresina Walde|
Bridge over a swampy area in the Beresina Forest
|Blockhaus im Beresina Walde|
Blockhouse in the Beresina Forest
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