Mortuo leoni et lepores insultant.
[even the rabbits jump on a dead lion]
As the father of a Nobel-prize winning “American” microbiologist Max Delbruck, historical truth-seeker and great German patriot Hans Delbruck noted:
“France and Russia entered the war with more than 5 million men, but Germany and Austria had not quite 3.5 million. The unsurpassed work capacity of the German army has obscured this truth for many Germans.”
To which one ought to add millions from Britain and her Empire [Lawrence James “The Rise & Fall of the British Empire”] AND 1,390,000 American combat soldiers out of 4,791,172 mobilized and serving in the US armed forces in WW1 [Harper & Brothers ‘’Encyclopedia of American History” 1953] to realize the incredible manpower odds stacked against Germany.
It is no accident that in April 1917 the peak success-time of Imperial German submarine warfare was occurring when America declare war on Germany. I read that as a sign that yet again an economic concern that contributed to the US commitment to war, despite Wilson’s genuine albeit misguided political idealism. Apart from FDR and Reagan I cannot find another American president who more sincerely expressed political idealism. IN the realm of politics the intention itself is not the measure of good or harm done by the subsequent action, one can have a perfectly well-intended aim and yet create a harrowing disaster.
During the war 1,319,000 American soldiers took part in active combat (organized in 42 infantry divisions out of which were committed 29 divisions with 1,000 officers and 27,000 men per division all of whom came out of 32 built-to-order training camps with facilities for 2,000,000 men total). In the second half of 1918 the American dependency on foreign shipping of supplies and men was finally overcome when 4,400,00 tons of war-related cargo arrived directly from the American Industrial Heartland Base to France unimpeded b(thanks to US Admiral Sims’ effective job by joining forces with the British fleet). The gentleman-general John “Blackjack” Pershing was assigned the command of US forces in Europe. His orders were “[US forces] were a distinct and separate component of the combined forces, the identity of which must be preserved.” The Allies did not appreciate that and insisted the Americans fit under the Franco-British command. A dichotomy ensued where certain things Pershing insisted on and certain ideas of the High Allied Command were accepted.
When in July 1918 the millionth American soldier arrived in France right in the middle of the 2nd Battle of the Marne in which 85,000 American soldiers participated, just in time to buttress the Allied counter-offensive launched by Foch between Aisne and Marne with additional 185,000 soldiers. This successful offensive destroyed the German Aisne salient.
The German-held St Mihiel salient was chosen for the US Army's first own offensive. Pershing and US 300,000 troops assembled at this sector in early September. The German High Command, aware the attack was coming, ordered a partial withdrawal of troops.
The withdrawal was still in progress when the US Army attacked on 12th September. A secondary assault, by 110,000 French troops, took place three hours later. Over 1,400 aircraft under the command of General William Mitchell, supported the advancing US and French troops. By 16th September, the entire St Mihiel salient was under Allied control.
In this engagement and during the German offensive of 1918 the U.S. Third Division earned its motto "Rock of the Marne", which some propagandically claim turned the “tide” on the Germans in WWI – but there was no longer a German military “tide” in the 2nd half of 1918 – just Lee’s lines at Petersburg with more potential for a defence-in-depth (Germany was on the ropes because of years of financial-industrial, propaganda, manpower and economic blockade pressure from the rival British and American industrial bases). Formed in 1917 at Camp Greene, North Carolina, the Third Division suffered minor casualties in six campaigns in six months of combat during WWI but earned fame in WW2 under General Patton’s leadership.
Following the successful Amiens and Albert offensives Marshal Ferdinand Foch decided to order an attack at Meuse-Argonne in an attempt to cut-off the entire German Second Army. General John Pershing was given overall command of the operation and American Expeditionary Force was given the main attacking role. Colonel George Marshall (the future head of the US armed forces in WW2), had the difficult task of bringing 400,000 troops from the successful St Mihiel campaign to take part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive on 26th September, 1918.
The US First Army, led by General Hunter Liggett, used more than 300 tanks in the offensive. The advance was supported by General William Mitchell and 500 aircraft from the United States Air Service. Two-thirds of the soldiers involved in the advance had just arrived from St Mihiel and the exhausted troops only advanced 3km along a 64km front on the first day. Progress remained slow and the offensive eventually came to a halt on 30th September.
The Meuse-Argonne offensive was resumed on 4th October. The German Army, with soldiers on 1000 calories a day and suffering from the influenza epidemic (which would soon claim millions around the world), held on until 4th November when they began to retreat. Fresh US troops were moved to the front and had advanced 32km when the Armistice was announced.
The fact that according to Historian Russel Weigley the German home-front was collapsing in relation to the war-front testifies to the strong national bond that made Germany in WW1 impressive in the eyes of History because no nation in history withstood so many assaults by so many different hosts from so many different directions at the same time (within a few short years) due to so many different schemes of conquest that were behind these assaults on the Austro-German position in Europe. Everyone ganged-up on Germany thinking it would be an easy mark. The inevitable Western world war however need not have assumed this form. There were plenty of opportunities for a different outcome and a different correlation of “allied” and “central powers.” To claim that Germany had to be the center of the world-storm is to misunderstand the history of those late years of a long peace (early 20th century). At every step of the way there were international crises brewing, the Moroccan of 1908 one being just one in a series. Also the Austrian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina being another. The scandalous “Plan of San Diego” involving Japan and Mexico against the USA represented another potential focus for a coming world war. Be that as it may, the war accidentally started in the old Balkan flashpoint of the world. Just as in the Thirty Years’ War [when its statehood was aborted], Germany ended up fighting that war for its life and against every great-power corruption scheme of the world. It should have been a shame for the French to still demand satisfaction for such untold embarrassments and tragedies of WW1 in territorial acquisitions and it was no credit to Wilson that he included some avid imperialistic claims among his well-intended 14 points.
In that sense, Imperial Germany, the only Western country in which Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat found a working MODUS VIVENDI for the sake of the common national good, carried a moral victory over the unsuspecting Allies whose world-headaches were just beginning in 1919 when cocktails were served in the smoke-filled parlours of the “triumphant” political salons of the so-called 'Allies'….
"Avidis, avidis Natura parum est." - Seneca
[The world itself is too small for the covetous natures.]