** World War I -- German critical decision

World War I: German Critical Decision (1917)

Figure 1.--Most Americans wanted to stay out of World War I. The Germans decided that unrestructed submarune warfare after the Russian Revolution could help them win the War. And that America with its diverse population and lack of martial tradition could not only not build an effective army, but also could not trandportt t to War. Despite the reluctance to enter the war, an explosion of patriotic furor swept America, And gen the Germans launched their war wunning Spring Offensive. A large and growing if poorly trained American army was rushed to the front.

The Germans after over 2 years of bitter War and a detriorating home froint thought they finally had a real chance of winning the War. They experiencd a series of major successes. A revolution in Russia deposed the Tsaris regime (February 1917). French Army mutinies left the French Army, the backbone of the Western Front, incapable of offensive oprations (April 1917). The British War Cabinet was disgusted with Field Marshall Haig's strategy of attrition and were not prepared to authorize major new levies. The Battle of Capretto redered the Italian Arny ineffective (Septemer 1917). The Bolshevik Revolution in brought to power a regime determined to make peace (October 1917). This also forced Romania out of the War. Fortunately, the German peace demands were so onerous that a pece treaty was not signed with the Russias for some time. All of this could have been a game changer for the Allies on the British and French. For much of the War the Germans had about 250 divisions, 150 on the Western Front and 100 divusions on the Eastern Font. The collapse of the Eastern Front meant that the Germans were in a positions to throw a substantial portion of their 100 Eastern divisions and the artillery in the East at the Allies on the Western Front which were not in a position to raise any significant number of new divisions. The Allies British and French were desperate. Fortunately for the Allies, the Germans had made a critical mistake. Frustrated with the deteriorating situation on he Home Front, the Germans were unwilling to continue restricting their U-boats. They wanted the British to suffer like their people. As a result, the resumed unrestricted submarine warfare (Februrary 1917). This brought America into the War (April 1917). The Germans anticipated this, but did no see the United States as real country. And knew that it would America had only a tiny army, not to taken seriously. In addition the German admirals assured the Kaiser that the Americans even if the fielded an army, the U-boats would prevent transport to France. The Germn generals were convinced that no country could build a serious army in a year basically from scratch, certainly not the Americans with a diverse population and no martial tradition. (Another German government two decades later would reach the same conclusion.) The German launched their Western offensive -- Operation Michael (March 1918). It was enormouslhy successful, gaining more ground in a few weeks.than the Allies had in 3 years. More onminously, it was stratehic areas toward the Channel Ports and Paris. It is at this point that Marshall Foch ordered the still poorly trained American Expeditionary Force (AEF) into the line--a force that the Germans were convinmced could not reach France or be an effectiuve combat force.


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Created: 11:02 AM 11/7/2021
Last updated: 11:02 AM 11/7/2021