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LUDENDORFF: "The Great War"

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Percy Toplis

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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Feb 2010 23:55    Onderwerp: LUDENDORFF: "The Great War" Reageer met quote

The Great War from the Siege of Liege to the Signing of the Armistice as viewed from the Grand Headquarters of the German Army

By ERICH VON LUDENDORFF, Quartermaster-General of the German Army

''The Withdrawal to the Siegfried Line—The Reasons for Defensive Tactics in the West—The Russian Revolution—America's Declaration of War—The Battle of Arras, and the Twin Battles of the Aisne and Champagne—Battles of the Wytschaete Salient and Local German Attacks—Battles in the East—Chancellor von Bethmann and Count Czernin—A Change of Chancellors and the Peace Resolution—Patriotic Instruction and Propaganda—The Questions of Lithuania, Greater Poland, and Alsace-Lorraine''


As far as human judgment could foresee, everything pointed to the Western front as the scene of our chief defensive fighting in 1917, although a severe struggle was also going on in the East. Direct cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian High Command was not so necessary as it had been during the campaign against Rumania, after the command on the Eastern front had been reorganized in a less complicated form. The supreme importance of the Western theater of war now demanded the presence there of the Commander-in-chief. I suggested Spa or Kreuznach as the new headquarters. Spa was rejected; Kreuznach was particularly suitable, as many of the cables to the front passed near the town, and it had suitable hotel and other accommodation. Orders were accordingly given for General Headquarters to be established at Kreuznach, Munster am Stein, and Bingen, and the second fortnight of February was contemplated as the time when the transfer should take place. Meanwhile, the possibility of having to return to Pless had to be kept in view.

The Austro-Hungarian High Command was transferred to Baden, near Vienna.

The submarine-cruiser campaign opened on February 1, 1917, and as soon as it became evident that the troops that had been concentrated on the frontiers of Holland and Denmark to meet a possible attack from these quarters would not be required, these forces and their staffs, which had been held in reserve for this purpose, were liberated for use on the Western front.

In the West a continuation of the British attack on the Somme, perhaps extending to the north, had to be reckoned with. It was possible that this would be accompanied by a French offensive between Roye and Noyon, but the probabilities were that France would choose our Soissons-Rheims-Argonne front for attack, as she had done in the autumn of 1015. The Entente would thus have gained a strategic advantage by pressing on both flanks of the salient we had pushed into French territory. It was impossible to foresee which part of the front the French would select. They might cause a diversion at Roye, and reports also pointed to the possibility of an offensive on the Lorraine front and Sundgau, where we had made very little progress toward I the consolidation of our lines. We had always been conscious of a certain weakness in this sector, as local engagements were to be expected here, and it was only with difficulty that we could bring up reinforcements. Verdun was also occasionally mentioned, as the French were always in a position to open an attack at this point. Lastly, an extension of the British offensive toward the north was indicated. Consequently we had to be prepared to offer a stubborn resistance at any point along our whole front. It was impossible to tell what was going to happen.

There was no doubt about the continuation of the struggle on the Isonzo front. Trieste was Italy's goal. Attacks were more than likely in Macedonia and on the Vardar, and certain in Turkey, Palestine, and Bagdad.

In the East I anticipated an attack upon the Austro-Hungarian troops in the southern section of the front. A sudden Russian advance in the direction of Mitau at the end of January alarmed both ourselves and the Commander-in-chief on the Eastern front. It was, however, stemmed by reserves which were rapidly brought up.

It was not yet possible to foresee when the great offensive would take place. On the Eastern front it was scarcely to be expected before April. The big Russian advance in the spring of 1916 began in March and was considerably hampered by the bad weather and the condition of the ground. It was unlikely that the Russians would repeat this attempt so early in the year. It was also possible that the Entente would accordingly postpone its offensive in the West. The situation on the Somme, however, was so tense that we had to be prepared for an earlier attack.

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"A grand canyon has opened up in our world, the fissure, the crack, grows wider every day. Neither on each side can hear a word that the other shrieks and nor do they want to."
-Stephen Fry on political correctness.
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