Primary Documents - German Government Statement on the Champagne Offensive, 4 October 1915

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg Reproduced below is the official German government statement issued following the commencement of the resumed French Champagne Offensive in September 1915.

Regarded as the major Allied undertaking of 1915 the offensive quickly became bogged down in the face of determined German opposition.  It was eventually called off for relatively little material advance.  Nevertheless the French government made much of those gains that were achieved (click here).

Click here to read German Army Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn's account of the Champagne Offensive.

German Government Statement on the Battle of Champagne, September 1915

October 4th

The object of the attack was to drive the Germans out of France.  The result achieved is that the Germans on a front of about 840 kilometres, at one place 23 kilometres, and at another 12 kilometres wide (and at this latter not by any soldierly qualities of the English attack, but by a successful surprise by gas attack), have been pressed back from the first line of their system of defence into their second line, which is not their last.

After a careful computation the French losses in killed and wounded and prisoners are at least 130,000, those of the English 60,000, and the German losses are not one-fifth of this number.

Whether the enemy has still the idea of attaining his object need not be considered.  Anyway, such a success fought with a superiority of 6 or 7 to 1 and prepared for after many months of work on war material in the factories of half the world, including those of America, cannot be styled a "brilliant victory."

Still less can it be said that the attack has compelled us to do anything which was not in our plans, and especially to direct our advance against the Russian army toward him.  Apart from the fact that a certain division which was to have been transported away from the western front when the offensive started was held back, and that another division was sent away in its stead to the place where the former should have gone, the attack did not cause the German chief army administration to use a single soldier anywhere where they had not previously intended to use him, arrangements having long before been settled.

Moreover, the attack has not been carried out without respite day and night; neither has our defence been pushed back at any point beyond our second line.  Neither has the enemy hindered us from removing our reserve troops as safely and effectively as we were able to do during the May offensive to the north of Arras.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

'Bantam' was a term to describe members of battalions between 5ft 1in and 5ft 4in.

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