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 After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Russians had withdrawn from the war and the Germans had secured new territory in the east.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?

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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Media History Top Ten Booklist

democratic-sound-1
The Democratic Sound by Fred Turner 

Historians have always had a tough time writing about media. The danger of technological determinism tends to loom over any discussion of technologies such as television or the Internet—the risk of arguing that a particular medium or device causes people to behave or think a certain way. That fear has been present since the earliest days of media studies, when the War of the Worlds and the pioneering audience research of Paul Lazarsfeld and the Bureau of Applied Social Research in the 1930s raised questions about the “effects” that mass media had on people, both as individuals and groups. Meanwhile, the power of Hitler’s megaphone implied that people as a mass were pliant, susceptible to a sort of top-down manipulation that sits uneasily with most historians, with their concern for contingency, complexity, and agency in the past.

See the list at DailyHistory.org. 

Nature’s Path: Interview with Susan E. Cayleff

NaturesPath

Before 1870, medicine in the United States was completely unregulated. The lack of regulation and the limited effectiveness of 19th century regular medicine encouraged the development of multiple competing medical sects during the century. The three largest medical sects were regulars(traditional physicians), homeopaths, and eclectics. Even though these three sects were the most prominent, numerous other medical systems were created and survived on the margins. Eclecticism, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, and hydrotherapy are just a few of the medical sects born during this era of United States history. At the very end of the 19th Century, a new medical system called naturopathy was created by Benedict and Louisa Stroebel Lust. Unlike many of the 19th Century medical sects created, naturopathy has persevered to this day. Naturopathic healing was founded and based on number of influences including botanics, hydrotherapy, eclecticism, temperance and vegetarianism.

John Hopkins University Press has published a new book by Susan E. Cayleff about the history of naturopathic healing entitled Nature’s Path: A History of Naturopathic Healing in America. Her book is a comprehensive account of both the origins of the naturopathy and examination of the controversial views by held naturopathic practitioners such as anti-vivisection, anti-vaccination, and the dangers of processed foods, pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins. Interestingly, women played a role not just in the creation of naturopathy, but were critical to its development and survival into 21st century. Cayleff’s book is an intriguing addition to the medical and social history of the United States.

Susan E. Cayleff is a professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. She has written Wash and Be Healed: the Water Cure Movement and Women’s Health, Wings of Gauze: Women of Color and he Experience of Health and Illness, Babe: The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharis, and co-authored with Susan Stamberg – Babe Didrikson: The Greatest All-Sport Athlete of All Time.

Read the rest of the interview at DailyHistory.org.