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 After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Russians had withdrawn from the war and the Germans had secured new territory in the east.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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What Mistakes did the Allies make during Operation Overlord on D-Day?

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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What Was the Importance of Bill Mauldin to WWII Infantrymen?

Comic by Bill Mauldin from World War Two

Bill Mauldin once said that the infantryman “gives more and gets less than anybody else.”[1]He knew this from his experience on the front lines with K Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, of the 45th Division. Mauldin went through basic training as an infantryman and stayed with his regiment throughout the invasion of Sicily and the Allied campaign up the boot of Italy. The talented cartoonist succeeded in ruffling the feathers of the “brass” all the way up to General George Patton. In a time when American news outlets were sanitizing World War II for the folks on the home front, Bill Mauldin depicted the grim reality of war. Through the use of meticulous detail, keen observations, and sardonic wit, this baby-faced young man spoke for the masses of ordinary soldiers who had no voice of their own within the massive military machine of the United States.

William Henry Mauldin was born October 29, 1921 in the New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains in a town named, Mountain Park. He survived a nomadic and impoverished childhood as a sickly child with a young mother and frequently unemployed father. He and his older brother Sid were frequently left alone for days at a time while their mother, Katrina, went on harsh drinking binges. When their parents permanently separated in July 1936, Bill and Sid left the family home for Phoenix, Arizona. While in the Valley of the Sun, Bill attended Phoenix Union High School where he promptly joined the ROTC.[2]

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How Was Hitler Responsible for the German Defeat in World War II?

Frankreich, Hans Günther v. Kluge, Adolf Hitler
Adolph Hitler and Field Marshall Gunther von Kluge in 1940

There were a plethora of factors that went into deciding the outcome of World War II. Political ideologies and national opinions were vastly different for the combatants, even amongst allied countries such as the United States and the Soviet Union. The industrial might of the United States was unmatched and Russia was the largest state in the world. Germany boasted brilliant generals and early in the conflict made great use of their innovative Lightning War, the Blitzkrieg.

Belligerents on each side had great strengths; however, it was the military leadership of Adolph Hitler that proved to be the greatest liability to Germany and ultimately cause its defeat. For Germany, the three greatest military mistakes made by Hitler concerned Dunkirk, Operation Barbarossa, and the Allied invasion of Normandy. The imprudent command decisions made by the Führer resulted in the Allied victory in Europe.

Hitler came to power in January 1933. Two months hence, on March 23, the Enabling Act was passed through the Reichstag. This legislation essentially voided the Weimar Constitution and created a legal dictatorship, under which Hitler no longer needed approval from the Reichstag to enact any new laws. Further, on July 14, he declared that the Nazi Party was to be the only legitimately recognized party in the nation. Through a tremendous propaganda campaign, he appeared as Germany’s Messiah and established a massive following. As his popularity grew, he deemed the time appropriate for Germany to annex European lands that housed ethnically German people.[1]

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Why did Napoleon win the Battle of Austerlitz?

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Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz by Francois Gerard.

The Battle of Austerlitz also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors was one of the most important battles in European History. It was also Napoleon’s greatest victory. At the battle, Napoleon’s employed a brilliant strategy to defeat the combined forces of the Russian and the Austrian Empires. The victory of the French stunned Europe and meant that they were masters of Europe, for a brief period of time. This article will discuss the reasons for the French victory, this will include Napoleon’s military genius, the superiority of the French army and poor Allied decision-making.

After a string of brilliant victories, Napoleon crowned  himself Emperor of the France. By 1805, his armies had proven victorious in Germany, Spain, and Italy and he was the most powerful man in Europe. This prompted the other powers in Europe to form the Third Coalition in order to defeat the French. This Coalition included England, Russia, Prussia and Austria. The formation of this alliance caught Napoleon off guard. He had been planning for the invasion of England and had amassed a large army in northern France, known as the Army of England. However, he learned that Austria, Prussia, and the Russians were mobilizing and planned to attack the French and their allies. Napoleon abandoned his plans to invade England and decided to attack his enemies in the east before they could unite their forces. This was typical of Napoleon who was always willing to go on the attack and believed that the key to success was to never let the enemy to settle and attack them before they were in a position to attack the French.[1]

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Why did Germany lose the Battle of Stalingrad?

Soviet soldiers attack in the heart of Stalingrad in February 1943, by RIA Novosti Archive – Public Domain

The Battle of Stalingrad, between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, is considered not only the most important in World War II, but one of the most important in military history. The battle proved to be decisive for the Soviet Union and fundamentally changed altered the course of the war. Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad not only lead to catastrophic German losses, but put the Nazi war machine was on the defensive for he rest of the war. Why were the Germans defeated at the Battle of Stalingrad and what lead to the Soviet victory? The German was hobbled by Hitler’s micromanaging and tactics, his personal intransigence, and poor German battlefield leadership. The Soviet’s benefitted from superior Soviet leadership, numbers, and tactics.

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Why did the Gallipoli Landings fail in WWI?

British and Australian Troops Ashore on “V Beach” at Camp Helles

The Gallipoli campaign was an amphibious landing in the Dardanelles Strait in modern Turkey, that sought to knock the Ottoman Empire out of WW I. The landings were exceptionally daring for the time, but they failed to achieve their objectives. The Gallipoli campaign lasted from April 1915 to January 1918, it cost tens of thousands of lives and it was was regarded as a complete failure for the allies. Why did the allies fail to achieve their objectives? The Gallipoli campaign was hampered by poor planning, inadequate intelligence and stubborn Turkish resistance.

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