The Impending Doom of Germany
[The Independent, August 3, 1918]
Germany knows that her cause is lost. That is the supreme objective attained by Foch’s victory of the Marne. There is consternation in Berlin. The Kaiser knows, the Crown Prince knows, the German Military Staff knows, that neither guns nor gas, neither assassins of the sea, nor assassins of the air, nor faith in a devil god can save them now. There will be no Mittel Europa. There will be no Pan-German world, nor any Lord of All the Earth.
Another thing, too, they know, and the certainty fills them with a more shuddering dread than military disaster. The German people cannot much longer be fed on lies.
German arrogance and German military power to back it up were at their height in the first days of March, 1918. Treason, treachery and imbecility in Russia had released the German armies of the eastern front for service in the west. Submarines were still destroying shipping faster than it could be replaced. The army divisions had been reorganized.
In humiliating and perilous contrast the Entente Allies, were conscious of depleted strength. Russia had collapsed, Italy, it seemed, had well nigh failed.
America, after a year of being at war, was not yet in the fight. The councils of the nations were divided. There was no unity of command.
Clearly, Berlin saw, the hour for decision had arrived. In one resistless drive the Channel ports could be reached. In another Paris could be seized and destroyed. Then the remnants of the Allied armies could be crushed and a conquered civilization would accept a German peace.
Such was the reasoning and the dream. With every detail of perfection perfected the offensive began in Flanders on March 21. The scale was tremendous, the impact terrific. British resistance was heroic but unavailing, and’ soon the British army had its back to the wall. France was called upon for aid and gave it, thinning out her perilously attenuated line. The drive was checked and the situation saved.
No one knew it then, the Allies were too spent and too full of foreboding to realize it: but in that hour the tide of the war had turned. The offensive had been lost. For in that hour Great Britain, France and America admitted what already they had seen, that every consideration of pride and prestige must go by the board, that one council must be instituted, one army created and one supreme command set up. That decision spelled Germany’s doom.
It is understood that President Wilson’s insistence was a factor in this determination. America, in turn, promptly responded to the call “of France and Great Britain for men, and the transportation of troops across the Atlantic was hastened; New courage and resolution were awakened in France and in England. A second German drive, this time against the French lines, was met and checked. Italy, meanwhile, had pulled herself together and in one of the most sensational achievements of the war smashed the Austrian advance and turned it back in disaster.
Germany of course knew that she was checked. Anxiety began to mix itself with confidence. The situation in Austria was alarming. An important U-boat base had been put out of business, .and the submarines were being .sunk at least faster than they could be built, and ships were being launched faster than Germany could sink them. A longer time was taken now than before to make everything ready for one more drive. This one should succeed. It should be “the peace offensive” at least. Rheims should be pinched off, the Marne be crost, and the line be straightened from Soissons to Chalôns. The way to Paris would lie open.
But Foch was ready. His army, reorganized, was ready. The Americans were ready. The shock was terrific, but it was not the Allied line that broke. July 15 was a day of fate. With the swiftness of a whirlwind resistance was developed into counter-offensive. Blow followed blow. Germany fell back.
The moral effect of this substantial victory already is stupendous and it will be cumulative. Germany cannot recover. The American fighting force reinforcing and reinvigorating the superbly organized and disciplined armies of France and Great Britain, flanked by victorious Italy, will press the advantage and drive it home. There will be no boastful rejoicing, no indulgence in delusion that the war is won, but there will be no relenting. The German army will be smashed. The Allies are going east. There will be no “negotiation” with an empire of liars and murderers. The liars and murderers will unconditionally surrender. A peace of civilization will be signed in Potsdam.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
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THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald