The beginning of the year and peace seemed to be
on the horizon. President Wilson had announced his 14 Points. In Brest
Litowsk the Soviets were discussing peace terms with the Germans and
their allies when the cry for help from the Ukraine came. The Germans
and allies attacked taking and occupying large areas of Russian soil
and the Ukraine, which she needed to feed the population back in
Germany. In Finland the Germans fought to free the country from the Red
Guard. In spite of the peace treaty signed with the Russians, the
German High Command found it prudent to leave 40 divisions on the
Eastern Front to assure the peace.
The outcome of the war was
going to be found on the Western Front, it was here that the Germans
counted on finally breaking through.
It happened with three armies at
the beginning of Spring between the Scarpe and the Oise. Initially the
breakthrough achieved more than the Germans could have hoped for. The
fate of the allies seemed to be assured, but then they succeeded in
stopping the attackers before they reached Amiens, whose possession was
of great importance to the success of the offensive. Arras had also
proved to be too tough a nut to crack. The March offensive "The Kaiserschlacht" came to an
end. It had failed to achieve its goals although it had badly battered
the British Army.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff tried once again to
beat the British Army by attacking again, this time in Flanders. Once
again exciting initial successes including the capture of the famous
Kemmelberg, but once again also a failure as the breakthrough to the
sea was not achieved.
The offensive at Soissons and Rheims was
intended to be a diversion. It suprised the French and British
defenders on the Chemin des Dames who had incorrectly assumed it could
not be taken. The Germans not only took it, but their centre pushed
forward to the Marne. Only on the flanks did their offensive bog down.
Germans prepared for a second offensive in the Champagne in mid July, a
final breakthrough. It was a dismal failure and was followed a few days
later by a successful Allied counter-offensive in the Soissons region.
From here on lady luck turned her back on the Germans. The pressure and
sacrifice of four years of war had had an effect on the soldiers. When
the Allied tank squadrons attacked at Amiens on the 8th of August the
German defenders were no longer able to fight and hold. The high
command managed to plug the gap with reserves but already the allies
were rupturing the German front at other points; by Noyon and Soissons,
between Bapaume and Albert. The German front began to crumble and pull
back into the Siegfried Line. The St Mihiel pocket then fell to the
The Turks and Bulgarians lost heart when they saw the
stuation on the Western Front and the German troops in the Middle East
and Serbia began to make their way home.
In the Siegfried Line
the Germans fought to gain time but they had to give ground during
Foch's offensive, pulling back further. At this time peace feelers were
already out. After the collapse of Austria the German Army was left
fighting for its honour, nothing more. (At this point the
"Kriegskalender" has a paragraph about the treachery of the politicians
and the dishonour forced on the German people at Versailles.... the
interest of this site ends in the trenches, the politics are for other
people to discuss).
Operation Michael, otherwise known as the "Kaiserschlacht" or "The big battle for France".