Why did the German Spring Offensive of 1918 fail?

Westfront, Stellungskrieg
German troops take an allied trench in 1918

The German Spring Offensive of 1918 was one of the last great offensives of the First World War. The offensive ultimately failed and the allies were able to beat back the German attacks. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 was the last effort by Germany to win the war and its failure meant that the Central Powers had effectively lost. If the Spring Offensive had succeeded the outcome of the war and the course of history in the Twentieth Century would have been very different. The German Spring Offensive stalled for a variety of reasons including inadequate supplies, stubborn Allied defensive tactics, an over reliance on German Stormtroopers, and the German military overestimation of their offensive capabilities.

The German army was under the direction of General Erich Ludendorff, by this stage in the war, his old collaborator Field Marshall von Hindenburg was only nominally German Chief of Staff. He was the mastermind of the Spring offensive in 1918, which is often referred to as the “Ludendorff Offensive.”[1] On the face of it, Germany and the Central Powers were in a strong position in early 1918. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Russians had withdrawn from the war and the Germans had secured new territory in the east. Romania had been defeated and Italy and Greece were no longer a threat. By 1918, it was clear that the Great War would be decided on the western front.[2] The German command knew that after America joined the war they could potentially tip the balance in favour of the allies. By early 1918, the Americans had already begun to make a difference on the western front. Germany was concerned that if they were allowed to build up their strength the allies could inflict a decisive defeat on Imperial Germany.

Furthermore, as a result of the allied naval blockade, Germany was on the brink of starvation. Unrest and labor strikes had become common in German cities.[3]. Ludendorff was in a race against time. Germany had to defeat Britain and France or they faced almost certain defeat, Ludendorff believed that they had only one last chance to strike a decisive blow against the allies before it was too late. Ludendorff was a realist and knew that the situation was grave for Germany.[4] The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk allowed the German Army to transfer some 50 divisions from the eastern to western front, in early 1918. Ludendorff decided to use these divisions in his last offensive and force the Allies to sue for peace.[5]

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When did Men Start Wearing Pants?

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Scythian archer wearing pants from 500 BCE

Why did humans start wearing pants? To answer this question it’s important to understand two things – first, what were the earliest forms of clothing and how did they evolve into pants and secondly, why did a need for pants develop? It is also helpful to define what is meant by pants – specifically a bifurcated garment for the bottom half of the body which covers from waist to the lower leg. This definition helps to differentiate from the earlier leggings which were often pieces of cloth or skins which were wrapped around the legs and then tied on with straps. Leggings were comprised of two separate garments. Ötzil the Ice Man, perhaps the most famous archaeological find of prehistoric human remains from the northern regions, was found wearing leggings.

From archaeological evidence, it is known that the earliest types of clothing were wrap skirts or aprons for both genders. The oldest known woven example is a fragment made from woven reeds found in Armenia and dating from approximately 2900 BCE. While this is just a fragment the construction hints to what the complete style would have looked like with a waistband woven in the opposite direction from the skirt. This is likely stylistically based off of earlier versions made from hides which do not survive to the modern day. Even earlier examples were of so-called string skirts which were comprised of a waistband with strings or pieces of grass hanging down – these skirts often tied like an apron and depictions can be found in art dating back nearly 20,000 years. In the present day this style is still seen in southeast Asian and other countries, for example, the sarong, a traditionally unisex garment. In colder climates, these could be paired with the previously mentioned leggings and a T-shaped tunic. These are all very simple garment that requires limited construction and materials. [1]

The development of pants came alongside the domestication of horses and served as an indicator of class and profession. People who rode horses needed to have a way of protecting their legs and remaining clothed as a simple wrap garment would not remain on the body. Some early variants involved using the same single pieces of cloth and tying it through the legs to create trousers. Horses were initially domesticated in Central Asia sometime between 3500 and 3000 BCE. Horses were a signifier of prestige, and in many cultures horses and the equipment used in riding them or in using them to drive chariots were included in the tombs of the elite. In these earliest horse riding cultures then trousers, as a form of clothing connected to horses, also served as a sign of prestige. [2]

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What Mistakes did the Allies make during Operation Overlord on D-Day?

Landscape
Storming the beach on D-Day from a Higgins Boat

June 6, 1944 was arguably the most pivotal day of World War II. Operation Overlord was set to be launched and if successful, was to open a second front in Europe so as to attack Germany from all sides. Stalin’s Soviet Army had been battling the German Army since late 1942 in Stalingrad, Leningrad, and Moscow. Germany was unable to force the Soviets into surrender and Stalin’s troops slowly pushed the Germans back from Russia. The Soviet soldiers defended their motherland honorably; however, they needed a reprieve from the German armor and killing squads sent east to execute and imprison Russian Jews and political prisoners. The Western front Stalin had been insisting upon was finally coming into the realm of reality.

The invasion named Operation Overlord was planned to unfold in three parts; the break-in, the buildup, and the breakout. The first stage was the most dangerous and challenging as the Allied troops were tasked with attacking and holding the beaches of Normandy in the face of an open German assault. The elements of nature seemed to conspire against the Allies and the German defenses, although not optimal, were solid and treacherous. The ultimate detriments to the Allied strategy of the break-in phase; however, were the mistakes made by the Allies themselves.

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When was Mesothelioma First Diagnosed?

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Anthophyllite Asbestos viewed by an Election Microscope

The history of Mesothelioma is complicated. Medicine struggled to establish its existence and understand what caused it. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms on the “tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen.”[1] Mesothelioma is typically tied to the exposure of people to asbestos in either their environment or workplace.[2] If asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma it is extraordinarily serious, because it is an incurable and typically fatal type of cancer.

Asbestos has been widely used by humans because it was extraordinary fire resistance and could be woven in fabrics. Unforunately, this has put humans into close contact with asbestos for over two millennia. Asbestos is comprised of fibrous silicates that are resistant “to thermal and chemical breakdown, tensile strength, and fibrous habit” that makes it possible to be “woven into textiles.” It is not clear when humans first began using asbestos, but it has been used for at 2000 years.[3]

While it took a long time for mesothelioma to be connected to asbestos exposure, it was well known that people could develop asbestosis. Asbestosis was caused by the scaring of the lungs by asbestos fibers. Asbestosis was caused by long-term exposure and while incurable it can in many cases be treated. Unlike mesothelioma, it was not necessarily fatal. Still in severe cases, patients may need lung transplants. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is almost always fatal.[4]

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What was the Borgias contribution to Renaissance Italy?

cesare-borgia
Cesare Borgia

 

The House of Borgia was an Italo-Spanish noble family, who became one of the most prominent and powerful families of the Italian Renaissance. They were very active in the ecclesiastical and the political affairs in Italy in the late 16th century. The family produced two Popes and Cesare Borgia, one of the most infamous figures of the Renaissance. The family was suspected of many crimes and they have become legendary figures. This article will attempt to disentangle fact from fiction and evaluate the contribution of the Borgia Family to the Italian Renaissance and the Papacy. Ultimately, the family played a very important part in the evolution of the Papacy. Their ambitions also destabilized Renaissance Italy and Cesare Borgia efforts to create a principality for himself out of the Papal States wreaked havoc on Italy.

The family originated from Valencia in modern Spain, then in the Kingdom of Aragon. There have been claims that the family was of Jewish origin. The first prominent Borgia was Alfonse de Borja (1372-1458) who was a distinguished law professor who later worked in the Curia, (Papal bureaucracy) and became a cardinal. He eventually became Pope Calixtus II, at an advanced age, but he only reigned as Pope for less than three years.[1] He did not achieve much as Pope apart from appointing his nephew to the Curia. Rodrigo Borgia (1451-1503) was a brilliant and charismatic man who was a gifted canon lawyer and able diplomat. He was made a cardinal and proved an able administrator. Rodrigo was elected Pope in 1492 and became Alexander VI. Like many other clerics, at the time, he had illicit relationships with women and he had four children with the beautiful Giula Farnese.

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