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Events Leading Up to the Armistice, 1918
Transcript of Events Leading Up to the Armistice, 1918
Failure of the Schlieffen Plan
It could be argued at the source of Germany's defeat occurred during the first three month of the war when the Shlieffen Plan failed. Instead of knocking France out of the war in six weeks, which was the plan, the war on the Western Front began. Germany would then be free to take Russia to the east. Germany was burdened with fighting on a two-front war. This meant that it was never able to bear its full military strength on the Western Front. The Schlieffen Plan was a gamble that failed. German resources were stretched throughout the war to fight across the whole continent.
Allied Economic and Military Resources
Germany's ability to keep going was achieved by good control on the home front, government cols and exploitation of occupied territories resources. In 1914, The Allies imposed a tight blockade on Germany. The lack of key imports put severe limits on the ability of the German economy to supply its armies and placed enormous strains on the home front.
Strains on the German Homefront
Queuing became a way of life, inflation was rampant, there were shortages of essentials and evidence of inequality existed. These factors, as well as increasing casualty rates created disillusionment and war-weariness. Major strikes occurred, war production was weakened and domestic morale was dropping, People suffered more on the German home front than on any of the home fronts of the Western Allies.
Entry of the United States into the War
Food, ammunition and munitions coming from the United States and Canada had been essential in Sustaining the Allied war effort. Ludendorff believed that if this crucial lifeline could be broken, then Britain would soon be on its knees. France would be dealt with quickly and it was seen that Russia was about to collapse. However, the submarine campaign brought the United States into the war on the side of the Allies. Allied morale lifted while German morale fell. American naval policies began to have a serious impact on the German effort to continue fighting, American military forces played a major role in the Allied counteroffensive of August-November 1918.
Exhaustion of the German Army
Ludendorff's Spring Offensive took more territory than the Allies had managed in three and a half years. Gaps appeared in the Allied lines and Paris was under serious threat. The German Army, without the injection of new enthusiasm as the Allies had with the entry of the USA, were literally exhausted.
By 1918 many of the Allies poor-performing generals had been removed and junior officers who had gained their experiences in the field replaced them. These men combined what they knew of battle tactics with logistical planning and technological advances. As time had gone on, the generals had learned how to use tanks to their advantage to break through trench lines. Ludendorff noted that Germany did not have the technological, industrial or military expertise to use tanks effectively.
Ludendorrf's Role in the Defeat
Ludendorff's failure to usedevelop tank warfare was not his only error. It is thought that he simply lacked 'after plans' - he also had no contingency should the initial plan fail. Foch argued that Ludendorff had no large-scale strategic plan. Foch likened it to a blindly charging buffalo that struck out wildly in one place. This buffalo was too strong to be defeated all at once, but could be defeated as after time it became exhausted.
Allied and German strength was evenly matched during most of the war. At one stage the Allies were able to call on the combined economic and military strength of the British Empire, the French Empire, Russia, Italy and the United states, plus a number of minor powers. Germany only had its own resources.
The Schlieffen Plan
The Central and Allied Powers
"War loans help the guardians of your happiness"
German workers strikes during World War One
American propaganda poster
Australian General John Monash