Feature Articles - Deceit Used by the High Command: An Unexpected Peace
Some historians postulate that the First World War would have ended several months earlier if it were not for the successful strategy and deception employed by Hindenburg and Ludendorff of the German High Command.
It is believed that both Hindenburg and Ludendorff realized as early as 8 August 1918 that victory was not possible, however neither could conceive of accepting defeat. Therefore, in late September 1918, a carefully planned 'revolution from above' resulted in the High Command being placed under government control which gave Hindenburg and Ludendorff the opportunity to shift the responsibility of seeking an armistice and military defeat from the High Command to the civilian government and the Reichstag.
This article will focus on what led the High Command to seek an armistice and how the High Command transferred the blame of seeking an armistice (and losing the war) to the civilian government. The following four significant events that occurred between July and October 1918 will be described and analyzed:
The military situation leading up to the armistice
The Spa conferences that occurred on August 14th and September 29th
The High Command's manipulation of the new government
Ludendorff's state of mind during this period
In order to better understand these events, some background on the life of Hindenburg and Ludendorff will first be presented.
Background: Hindenburg and Ludendorff
Paul von Hindenburg was born into a Prussian military class family in Poznan, Prussia in 1847. Hindenburg was appointed to the General Staff in 1878, reaching rank of (full) General in 1905. Although he retired in 1911, the outbreak of the First World War led to his recall in August 1914.
Hindenburg was sent to the eastern front as Commander of the East Prussian forces. In 1914, Hindenburg was promoted to Field Marshal, and became the Army Chief of Staff on 29 August 1916, succeeding Erich Falkenhayn. After reaching this position, Hindenburg appointed Ludendorff his First Quartermaster General and second in command. The success Ludendorff and Hindenburg had on the eastern front made them folk heroes in Germany.
Erich Ludendorff was born near Poznan, Prussia in 1865. Unlike Hindenburg, Ludendorff was born into a middle class family and felt that he had to work especially hard to reach his high position.
Ludendorff was commissioned into the infantry in 1883 and was a member of the General Staff by 1904. Ludendorff was extremely militaristic and believed the nation's primary duty was to provide the means to conduct war. Before the First World War, Ludendorff assisted with the invasion strategy for France, the Schlieffen Plan.
On the eastern front, Ludendorff took credit for successful battles at Masurian Lakes, and Tannenberg. While Ludendorff held the 'second in command' position to Hindenburg in the High Command, he emerged as the decision maker and strategist.
The High Command was formed at the beginning of the war and served as a central body for the direction of military operations. The High Command was led by the Kaiser who served as the Supreme Warlord and by the Chief of the Prussian General Staff.
Under the provisions of the imperial constitution, the Chief of the General Staff was given command and operational orders for the entire German army. The civilian government and Reichstag were weak and suffered from structural problems. Martin Kitchen, in his book The Silent Dictatorship argued "The relative weakness of the [civilian] political leadership and the strength of the military led to a serious imbalance [in power]..."
To balance this, it was the constitutional duty of the Kaiser to ensure that the civilian and military authorities would work together. While Georg Michaelis was Chancellor (1917), there were attempts to overcome the differences between the political and military organizations by improving communications between the two organizations, however the High Command was unwilling to cooperate.
Shortly after becoming the Chief of General Staff of the High Command, Hindenburg, with Ludendorff created what was effectively a military dictatorship in Germany. In September 1916 Ludendorff demanded that he and Hindenburg must have the 'greater voice' over the civilian government. The Reichstag reluctantly agreed to this and now "the Chancellor would have to base his decisions largely upon those of the General Headquarters (High Command)."
This shift in power had enormous implications. Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg stated that the "...Reichstag had surrendered political power to the military commanders." In the final two years of the war, the High Command enjoyed "...unprecedented power and influence." This meant that the High Command had the power to make military and political decisions, as it saw fit.
In this 'military dictatorship', Kaiser Wilhelm II was pushed to a peripheral role. This meant, "The OHL (High Command) did not bear the responsibility of the decisions it made." Chancellors Michaelis, Bethmann Hollweg, and Hertling believed that Hindenburg and Ludendorff were interfering in civilian politics.
However, the Kaiser would always decide in the favour of the High Command in any disputes between the civilian government and High Command. Hindenburg and Ludendorff "...regarded themselves as standing outside the provisions of the constitution". This allowed Ludendorff and Hindenburg to have carte blanche in their military decisions and to withhold vital military information from the civilian government.
This section will describe and analyze the German military situation leading up to the 14 August 1918 Spa Conference.
The Spring Offensive was launched on 21 March 1918 and was seen by many German officers as the High Command's last effort to defeat the Allied forces before American forces could significantly impact the course of the war.
Roger Parkinson in his book, Tormented Warrior describes that this "...offensive represented a critical part of Ludendorff's career. Upon this battle rested the hopes of a victorious conclusion to the war. The alternative for both Germany and Ludendorff was too frightening to contemplate."
The Spring Offensive began with initial success, pushing the Allies back 40 miles and within three marching days of Paris. However, the operation was not as successful as the High Command hoped in that the British had not been driven from France, and the French Army had not collapsed. Ludendorff reported in May that thus far, the operation was indecisive.
The turning point of the war in favour of the Entente was 18 July 1918 when French and American forces successfully counterattacked the German forces at Villers-Cotterets. The attack consisted of 24 French and American divisions, 2000 guns, 500 tanks, and more then 1200 aircraft. Allied tanks led the offensive behind the cover of a creeping barrage.
The Germans were not prepared for an attack; especially an attack led by this number of tanks. The Allies punctured the German lines, and a general retreat was ordered within 48 hours of the Allied and American breakthrough. From July 18th onwards, the German army was in retreat.
General Fritz von Lossberg who was sent to inspect the condition and morale of the Seventh and Ninth German armies following the defeat of July 18th stated, "...July 18, 1918 was the precise turning point in the conduct of the war. The OHL's (High Command) failure to understand that the combat strength of the German army was already severely shattered in July 1918 [and] required systematic rebuilding."
At this point, the German army was incapable of an offensive campaign for several reasons. By July 1918, American troops were arriving in Europe at a rate of 120,000 a month and had begun to sway the balance of power in favour of the Allies. Morale was low among the German troops. During the July 18th battle, there were accounts of large groups of German soldiers surrendering to a single enemy soldier.
Martin Kitchen in his book entitled The Silent Dictatorship argued that after the military defeat of July 18th "an increasing number of officers in the OHL were convinced that the war could no longer be won." However, Ludendorff noted in his war memoirs that he believed the defeat on July 18 was only a temporary setback, "...regrettable, but far from irremediable."
Despite this major defeat, Ludendorff expected that the German forces would resume the offensive after the troops had recuperated. Ludendorff was overly optimistic about the situation and the ability to launch a new offensive operation.
The High Command remained optimistic until 8 August 1918. On the morning of 8 August 1918 the Allied forces mounted a surprise attack on the German forces along a 20-mile front east of Amiens. The Allies went straight for the German forces and skipped their artillery bombardment, which would have pre-warned the German forces that an attack was coming.
Spearheading the attack were 360 heavy tanks and 96 whippet tanks that were invisible behind the fog and Allied smokescreen. The Allied forces were nearly successful at breaking through the German lines on 8 August 1918. The attack marked a devastating defeat for the German Army.
This near-breakthrough led the High Command to accept that the German army was no longer capable of conducting offensive military operations and that the army would be limited to defensive measures and evasions.
Historian Michel Geyer in his article Insurrectionary Warfare: The German Debate about a Levee en Masse in October 1918 stated that this was an overly wishful assessment of the situation and it was clear that the war had been lost for Germany as of 8 August 1918.
Ludendorff did not remain under the illusion that Germany would soon defeat the enemy for long. He described 8 August 1918 as "The black day of the German army," and stated "...success was easy for the enemy." General von Lossberg described the battle that occurred on 8 August 1918 as "The worst defeat that a [single] army had ever suffered in war."
For Ludendorff, the dream of obtaining huge pieces of France, Belgium, and Poland at an eventual peace conference held by Germany was gone. Ludendorff stated that "August 8 put the decline of fighting power beyond all doubt... I had no hope of finding a strategic expedient whereby to turn the situation to our advantage."
Finally Ludendorff concluded that "Leadership now assumed...the character of an irresponsible game of chance, a thing I have always considered fatal. The fate of the German people was too high a stake. The war must be ended."
However, shortly after, Ludendorff showed a different attitude towards the defeat of August 8th to Chancellor Hertling. Previous statements made by Ludendorff indicated that Germany had all but lost the war. However, Ludendorff led Hertling to believe that Germany was still capable of winning the war. Ludendorff stated to Chancellor Hertling, "In the course of the war I have been compelled five times before to withdraw troops but only in the end to beat the enemy. Why should I not succeed in doing that a sixth time?"
On 13 August 1918, one day before the fateful Spa Conference, Ludendorff spoke confidentially to Foreign Secretary von Hintze. In this conversation, Hintze reported that Ludendorff "...admitted... that although he had told me in July he had been certain of breaking the enemy's fighting mettle and of compelling him to accept peace...he was no longer sure of it."
When Hintze asked Ludendorff what the further conduct of the war should be, Ludendorff replied "a strategic defensive could weaken the enemy and gradually bring him to our terms." This statement by Ludendorff was very optimistic considering the severe military defeat that Germany had just suffered and the condition of its army.
These statements reveal some obvious contradictions. Ludendorff believed that Germany was no longer capable of winning the war. However, Ludendorff led the civilian authorities to believe that it was still possible to defeat the enemy. This was just the beginning of the High Command's deception. The deception continued in the 14 August and 29 September 1918 Spa Conferences that will be described and analyzed in the next section.
This section will analyze the Spa Conferences that occurred on 14 August 1918 and 29 September 1918 and will examine the High Command's deception of the military situation at these conferences to the civilian government and the Kaiser.
The Spa Conference on August 14 was important because it was here that the High Command admitted that the war could not be won. The Spa Conference commenced on 14 August 1918 with the meeting of the Crown Council.
At the conference, Hintze used the information that Ludendorff had given him the previous day to exhibit the German military's poor condition. Hintze explained to the Crown Council that the Allies were becoming increasingly powerful, confident, and that time was working in favour of Germany's enemies.
The following events at the conference were very important and have been the centre of debate between historians for many years. Hintze accurately portrayed the information that Ludendorff gave him the previous day. However, the High Command reported that if the German army could hold their position the difficulties that France and Britain were facing would force them to seek peace with Germany immediately.
Hindenburg used careful wording and informed the Kaiser that since the army could no longer defeat the Allied and American forces, it would cripple the enemy forces through a strategic defensive. Hindenburg also told the Kaiser that the army could remain on French soil and would "...impose their will on the enemy."
This created an embarrassing situation for Hintze, who was singled out as the only pessimist. Ludendorff and Hindenburg explained to the Crown Council the military situation with great confidence, and stated that the High Command believed that the enemy would soon seek peace with Germany.
The High Command's fraudulent optimism allowed the conference to conclude without the Crown Council believing that the military situation was serious enough to call for immediate diplomatic measures to end the war.
Hintze, who had heard the true military situation from Ludendorff, found it impossible to share the High Command's optimism and believed that it was necessary to immediately take diplomatic steps that would lead towards peace. However, the Kaiser who was blinded by the High Command's optimism ordered Hintze to refrain from making a direct peace offer to the Allied and American powers until "...the time was right."
By early September, the enemy had recaptured all the territory that Germany had gained in the Spring Offensive. Through September the military situation continued to deteriorate. Germany was facing total defeat and it was doubtful that the army would be able to hold out for the eventual peace negotiations.
Over 20 divisions had been redeployed in order to reinforce other divisions and many battalions were at only fifty percent strength. Asprey argued, "It was doubtful whether 750,000 troops remained at the front." While the number of German troops declined, the Allies had 120,000 fresh American troops arriving monthly. The morale on the front was horrible and Germany was at the verge of collapse.
However, Ludendorff still refused to make any attempts at peace. Perhaps Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim summed up Ludendorff best when he wrote in his diary that Ludendorff was "...still desperate enough to continue the fight, but lacks the courage to put it to an end."
On the night of September 25-26, the High Command was informed that Germany's ally, Bulgaria, wanted a separate peace. With Bulgaria out of the war there was an exposed flank in the southeast and the Danube River would be blocked. Combined with the prospect of Rumania re-entering the war, and the loss of the Rumanian oil fields proved too much for Ludendorff to handle. After hearing of Bulgaria's intention for a separate peace, Ludendorff stated to General Kuhl, "We can't stand up to all that; we can't fight the whole world."
Historian Gerhard Ritter in his book The Sword and the Scepter: The Problem of Militarism in Germany argued "The suddenness of this disaster had an important bearing on Ludendorff's decisions." Geyer argued that the breakdown of the Balkan front, "...more than anything else, was the straw that broke the camel's back according to Ludendorff."
However, most historians believe that it was the situation in Western Europe that led to Ludendorff admitting defeat. On the night of September 28th, Hindenburg and Ludendorff both finally agreed that an armistice should be sought immediately. However, neither wanted to accept the blame for seeking an armistice.
A major conference occurred in Spa on 29 September 1918. Ludendorff, Hindenburg, Hintze, and Colonel Heye, Chief of the Operations Bureau were present at this conference. Ludendorff and Hindenburg made no effort to continue to disguise the situation or show any more hopeless optimism.
After describing the situation both Hindenburg and Ludendorff concluded that an immediate armistice was necessary. The High Command was in a desperate situation. It had promised the war weary country victory over the enemy just months before.
Despite the dismal state of the German military, the German people believed that Germany would win the war due to the High Command's fraudulent optimism and propaganda.
While Ludendorff refrained from saying that the German army was facing a catastrophe, this was the impression Hintze got after his discussion with Ludendorff. Although Hintze never believed Ludendorff's optimism, he was concerned why the High Command's opinion changed from optimism to desperation for an immediate armistice within weeks.
Between 11 and 12 o'clock on 29 September 1918, another meeting occurred between Ludendorff, Hindenburg, Hintze, and the Kaiser. Hintze warned that due to the situation the High Command was in, a 'revolution from below' might occur. Hintze was aware that if Germany sought an armistice it could possibly prompt a revolution given that the German people had been promised victory by Ludendorff just months ago.
The collapse of the military could have also meant a collapse of the bourgeoisie way of life in Germany, prompting revolution. Ralph Lutz in his book, German Revolutions 1918-1919 argued "The failure of the German Army leaders to gain the promised victory would bring about a military revolution that was clear to all."
Hintze warned that a 'revolution from below' (the people) could be stopped by a 'revolution from above' (governmental change), by organizing the government on a broader basis. Also, with a reform in the civil government, it would convince the Entente and President Wilson that Germany was in transition to a more democratic state. Ludendorff, Hindenburg, and the Kaiser agreed that a new government had to be formed in order to begin negotiations with the enemy and to prevent a revolution in Germany.
Following the Spa conference, on September 30th, Major Erich von dem Busche was sent as a representative of the High Command to Berlin in order to inform the parliamentary representatives about the urgent need for an armistice.
Busche gave the parliamentary representatives the outdated military situation of August 13 rather than the assessment of September 29. It is presumed that the High Command had instructed Busche to lie to the parliamentary representatives about the seriousness of the situation.
However, the High Command also ordered Busche to make the situation look desperate enough so that the civilians would not procrastinate in forming a new government and would immediately issue an armistice. Geyer argues that "Busche's eagerness backfired because they left the Berliners with the very impression that Ludendorff had wanted to conceal from them - that the survival of the army depended on getting an armistice in a matter not merely of days, but of hours."
Transfer of Blame
This section will examine how the responsibility for seeking an armistice was transferred to the new civilian government.
On October 1st, after careful planning between Hintze, and the Kaiser, a new government formed. Ludendorff and Hindenburg supported this transfer of power to the civilian government. This is not because they desired to lose their power, but because according to Hindenburg and Ludendorff "...it seemed only just that the socialists... should be smeared with the blame for the immanent disaster."
The socialist party formed the majority of the new government. Prince Max von Baden was declared the new Chancellor replacing Hertling. Prince Max had liberal war aims and was an advocate for better treatment of prisoners of war on both sides. Due to this, he was an ideal choice to commence negotiations with President Wilson and the Allies. The High Command who had been operating separately from the civilian government was placed under the control of this new government.
Ludendorff's actions in the final stages of the war "...were designed to shape the final representation of the war" against the civilian government. Martin Kitchen in his book, A Military History of Germany argues that scapegoats for the High Command were not hard to find. Ludendorff believed that the socialists were to blame for the collapse of the army because they had undermined the morale of the army from the beginning of the war. Regarding the formation of the new government, Ludendorff stated to the High Command:
I have asked the majesty to bring those people into government who are largely responsible for things turning out the way they have. We shall therefore see these gentlemen in our ministries, and they must make the peace, which has to be made. They must eat the soup that has been served to us.
The High Command and the socialists had never been on good terms, especially in the final months of war when the socialists undermined the army. However, nowhere does Ludendorff mention the failure of the High Command to secure the victory that it promised just months before. General Lossberg latter wrote, "...the real fault lay in his (Ludendorff) own defective general-ship."
Within hours of the formation of the new government, Ludendorff demanded that the new Chancellor, Prince Max, send the armistice offer immediately. However, Prince Max believed it would be best to wait until the government was fully formed before rushing into any peace offer.
Prince Max also rightly believed that the enemy might be suspicious if an armistice offer was sent immediately after the formation of a new government in Germany.
However, Ludendorff proved to be persuasive. Ludendorff called the office of Prince Max every hour on October 3rd warning the Chancellor that the fate of the German Army rested in Prince Max initiating negotiations with President Wilson. Prince Max capitulated to Ludendorff's demand on the night of 3 October 1918 and sent the armistice request to President Wilson through neutral Switzerland.
Historians have been puzzled as to why Ludendorff was suddenly desperate for peace. The situation of the military was not significantly worse than when Ludendorff was expressing optimism about the military situation. However, since July, the High Command had been looking for a scapegoat for seeking an armistice with the enemy.
Ludendorff and Hindenburg had carefully guided the newly formed civilian government into this position. By transferring the High Command's power to the parliamentary government and Reichstag, it appeared that the decision for an armistice had been the new civilian government's intention.
Harry Rudin, in his book Armistice 1918 argued that the German civilian government made two grave errors. First, it let itself be "stampeded into the decision by Ludendorff and Hindenburg without questioning the judgment of the two Generals and without asking for any postponement of the decision in order to study the matter more thoroughly." Secondly, it let it appear that the "new government was responsible for the decision and not the High Command." As a result, the sole responsibility for this decision appeared to be the civilian government and not with the High Command where it belonged.
A major problem with the events following 29 September 1918 is that while the High Command demanded an armistice, it had still not admitted total defeat. Ludendorff had a primitive and optimistic idea of the armistice. He believed that when negotiations commenced with President Wilson, the German forces would retreat and regroup behind the German border.
If peace terms were not to Germany's liking, the German Army would be in a better position than before and would be capable of reopening war. This "...led to the suspicion among historians, but first articulated among the Allies, that the peace offer was a deceit from the start."
Ludendorff and Hindenburg were not prepared to accept responsibility for many of the terms that President Wilson would ask of Germany. When Ludendorff was asked about Wilson's second peace note, he replied "the enemy should win such terms by fighting for them."
Also, Ludendorff told the government that he believed that Germany was now capable of beating the enemy because he believed he could muster another 600,000 troops. In reply to President Wilson's second note, Hindenburg and Ludendorff released a general statement to the German troops stating the High Command took no responsibility for future negotiations with Wilson.
This was an outright violation of the new constitution, and put the civilian government in a difficult position because it appeared that the High Command no longer supported peace. However, Prince Max believed that Germany would never be in a better situation to negotiate an armistice, and continued negotiations without Ludendorff and Hindenburg's support. Due to this, it appeared that the civilian government had been the one seeking an armistice.
Ludendorff's State of Mind
In this final section, Ludendorff's state of mind in the months leading up to the end of the war will be analyzed.
Following the defeat of 18 July 1918 many officers believed that the war could no longer be won. However, Ludendorff continued to be optimistic that Germany could defeats its enemies. There is evidence that Ludendorff would work 19 to 23 hours a day over a period of weeks in 1918. By the final months of the war, Ludendorff was exhausted. By July, officers such as General Lossberg believed that as a result of being overworked and overstressed, Ludendorff was making serious tactical mistakes.
By August, Ludendorff had become increasingly irritable and difficult to work with. By late August, Ludendorff "fell into a deep nervous depression." Many officers in the High Command believed at this point that Germany would lose the war, and Ludendorff's false optimism made them feel very uncomfortable and worried about the state of the military.
This divided the High Command. Some officers remained loyal to Ludendorff, while others such as Major Neimann, Colonel Bauer, and General Lossberg were critical of Ludendorff's decision-making capabilities. Many officers in the High Command were worried that Ludendorff would never admit defeat. General Kuhl wrote, "Ludendorff is frightfully excited... everyone else is to blame.... He will not give up his prestige for anything in the world and will bet his last chip on it".
There is some evidence that Ludendorff might actually have been losing his mind by the end of the war. Asprey argues "There is some evidence that at this point (28 September 1918) Ludendorff suffered a genuine fit, foaming at the mouth and collapsing on his office floor."
There are also numerous accounts that Ludendorff was suffering from illness in the last three quarters of 1918. However, it is hard to tell whether Ludendorff was actually losing his mind or was just severely overworked and nervous about the military situation.
Regardless, through September and October 1918 an increasing number of officers lost faith in him. While the plan to transfer blame to the civilian government for seeking an armistice may have been successful, Ludendorff would not emerge from the war with the prestige that he desperately sought. After countless confrontations with the new civilian government, Ludendorff was relieved of his position on the night of 26 October 1918.
Following the war, Ludendorff wrote several books that argued that the civilian government and the German population were responsible for the defeat of Germany. Ludendorff would blame everyone from soldiers, to socialists, to the civilian government for Germany's defeat.
After the war Ludendorff declared that the German government and people were no longer worthy of their warrior ancestors. Regarding these claims, General Malcolm asked Ludendorff "Are you endeavouring to tell me General (Ludendorff) that you were stabbed in the back?" Ludendorff, who was thrilled with the phrase replied, "That's it!... They gave me a stab in the back - a stab in the back!"
In conclusion, the High Command was successful in deceiving the civilian government into believing that Germany's military position was stronger than it actually was in August and September 1918.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff possibly felt compelled to present an overly optimistic position given that a few months earlier they had promised that Germany would be victorious against its enemies. On 29 September 1918, the High Command revealed the true military situation to Hintze and the Kaiser.
Given all that Germany had invested into the war, it was feared by some that Germany could possibly face a revolution if defeated. To avoid this situation, a new democratic government was formed in early October 1918 under a Chancellor that had liberal war aims.
The new civilian government fell into Ludendorff and Hindenburg's trap and was persuaded to seek an armistice immediately. As a result, it appeared that it was the civilian government who wanted to end the war where in fact in had been the High Command. This fuelled the notorious and rightist theory that the Germany Army was stabbed in the back by the civilian government in October and November 1918.
Asprey, Robert, B., The German High Command at War: Hindenburg and Ludendorff Conduct World War I (New York: William Morrow and Company Inc., 1991)
This book analyzes the actions of the High Command throughout the First World War. It provides in depth detail on the High Command and analyzes how Ludendorff deceived the civilian government and made it appear the new government wanted peace. The final chapters analyze the decisions the High Command faced at the end of the war. I found this book useful in understanding the chronology of the High Command's deception to the civilian government.
Chickering, Roger, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
This book is a general history of Imperial Germany during the First World War. The author relies on secondary sources and the book reads like a textbook. However, this book helped me understand Ludendorff and Hindenburg's position in the High Command and provided an excellent biography of Hindenburg.
Essame, H., The Battle for Europe 1918 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1972)
This book analyzes the military situation in the final year of the war. The author argues that it was the quality and number of Allied and American troops that led the German Spring Offensive to fail. This book was useful because it described in detail the battles that took place 18 July 1918 and 8 August 1918.
Geyer, Insurrectionary Warfare: The German Debate about a Levee en Masse in October 1918 in The Journal of Modern History, LXXIII/3 (September 2001), 459-527
This article examines the debate over the possibility of Levee en Mass in October 1918. Most of this article deals with events after the period I looked at. However, the author provides excellent detail of Ludendorff's false optimism near the end of the war. There are numerous primary quotations from German officers concerning Ludendorff's optimism. I found this book useful because the author also analyzes the Spa Conferences and Ludendorff's optimism throughout August and September 1918.
Goerlitz, Walter, History of the German General Staff; Translated by Brian Bathershaw (New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, 1953)
This is a general study of the German general staff. It covers the period from 1800 to the Second World War. This author uses many primary sources and quotations. This book was useful because it provided quotations of Ludendorff blaming the civilian government and German people of betraying the army in October 1918.
Kitchen, Martin, The Silent Dictatorship (London: Croom Helm Limited, 1976)
This book provides an excellent background on the High Command. The author examines the power the High Command had over the civilian government. In addition the book has an extensive section on the High Command's decisions in the final months of war and reveals that the High Command was split between those loyal to Ludendorff and those against. The author also examines Ludendorff's state of mind in the final months of the war. This book was useful in understanding the power the High Command had, and the transfer of blame for ending the war to the civilian government.
Kitchen Martin, A Military History of Germany (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1975)
This book is a general history of the military of Germany. However, there is a significant portion dedicated to the First World War. The author analyzes the politics behind the formation of the new government in October 1918 and the High Command's hatred of the socialists. This book was useful in understanding how and why Ludendorff manoeuvred the civilian government to take the blame for the armistice.
Lowry, Bullet, Armistice 1918 (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1996)
This book is an excellent study of the armistice. However, the author concentrates on the events after 3 October 1918. The author analyzes the negotiations between President Wilson and Germany. The author also analyzes the negotiations between the Allies and Americans over the armistice terms for Germany. The book briefly covers the area this paper covered, and was useful in obtaining information on the 8 August 1918 battle.
Ludendorff, General Erich von, Ludendorff's Own Story (Freeport, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1920)
Ludendorff wrote this book in 1920 after he was dismissed from his position. In this book Ludendorff defends his actions during the war. However, the book is a biased account. I found this book useful for obtaining quotations from Ludendorff and because it demonstrates Ludendorff's attitude toward the civilian government.
Ludendorff, General Erich von, My War Memories, 1914-1918 (London: Hutchinson, 1919)
This book describes the military, administrative, and political sides of the war as seen by Ludendorff. The book was useful in obtaining quotations from Ludendorff.
Lutz, Ralph Haswell, The German Revolution 1918-1919 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1922)
This book is a study of the German revolutions resulting from the end of the war in 1918 and 1919. This book was useful in understanding that the military collapse led to revolution in Germany. This book was useful in understanding why Hintze believed a revolution would occur in Germany following the military defeat.
Parkinson, Roger, Tormented Warrior, Ludendorff and the Supreme Command (New York: Stein and Day Publishers, 1979)
This book analyzes Ludendorff from the time he was commissioned into the army until his death. The author has a different view of Ludendorff then most historians. Parkinson believes that Ludendorff was an exceptionally strong man and was a German patriot. While I disagree with the author, the book was useful in obtaining background information on Ludendorff.
Ritter, Gerhard, The Sword and the Scepter: The Problem of Militarism in Germany. Volume IV: The Reign of German Militarism and the Disaster of 1918 (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1969)
This book is the fourth and final volume of a classic history of German militarism. This book relies on primary research and examines the period from July 1917 to the armistice in November 1918. The author chronologically analyzes Ludendorff's actions and deceit. The author defends the civilian government and the Chancellor(s) and portrays Ludendorff as a villain. I found this helpful in understanding Ludendorff's deceit and plan to pin the blame for an armistice on the civilian government.
Rudin, Harry R., Armistice 1918 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1944)
This book is "the classic study of the events leading to the armistice." The book covers from July 1918 to the signing of the armistice. This book provides the minutes to the August and September 1918 Spa Conferences. The author provides extensive analysis based on primary research on many events studied in this paper. This book was very helpful in understanding the Spa Conferences, Hintze's 'revolution from above', the military situation, and the High Command's transfer of blame for ending the war to the civilian government.
Toland, John, No Man's Land: 1918, The Last Year of the Great War (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1980)
This book analyzes the military events in 1918. The author believes that there was a shift from stalemate to Allied victory because of the intervention of the United States. This is a good book for someone studying the military situation, however it does not provide significant political detail. However, the book was useful because it stated the number of troops the United States supplied in 1918.
Tschuppik, Karl, Ludendorff: the Tragedy of a Specialist; trans. W.H. Johnson (London, 1935)
This book is an analysis of Ludendorff. The author demonstrates the power the High Command had over the Chancellor and Kaiser. The book was useful in understanding the High Command's power and for obtaining quotations regarding the High Command's power.
A 'Baby's Head' was a meat pudding which comprised part of the British Army field ration.
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