Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The End Again.

So, really.  How does Germany lose the war?  WWI turns into trench warfare that is horrible and terrible and any offensive always just appears to be a waste and a slaughter.  So how does Germany lose. 

The problem with a war of attrition is it is hard to gauge which side is winning.  With battles you can see ground lost and gained, casualties taken and meted out.  With attrition it is harder to know.  Are my demoralized soldiers and homefront more demoralized than the enemies?  Are my people hungrier because of the U-Boat blockade or are their hungrier because of our traditional blockade?  Is our side more encouraged because of the fresh blood from the American's entering the fray or is their side boosted by the reinforcements coming from the now defunct Eastern Front?

Another thing...  Turning turtle and going on pure defense in the trenches might be the best strategy to conserve resources might be the best strategy in hindsight.  But it overlooks the fact that that cedes the initiative to the enemy.   Just because the lines are static now doesn't mean one side or the other might not prevail in a penetration and open up the whole front.  Plus, if you cede the initiative and their side IS winning on the attrition ledger you are making a mistake, and might as well surrender sooner than later. 

But this is what happened to Germany.  They lost of the war of attrition.  A desperate last offensive in the Spring of '18 with new infantry tactics (shock troops) before the Americans were built up and able to contribute failed.  Good intel on the Entente side was able to blunt a very capable push by the Germans.  And then the initiative turned and the Germans never got it back after there was a counter offensive.

German soldiers started to figure out they were losing the war of attrition significantly in later battles due to their offensives.  They'd take some territory and notice the Tommy's and Frog's and Amis' trenches were well supplied compared to their own meager rations.  This information would filter back to the homefront which had experienced a "turnip winter."  None of this depravation helped their morale.  Seeing more and more Americans coming in as reinforcements would also be despairing coming after the failure of their own reinforcement to turn the tide.  By Autumn, Germany realized their position was untenable.  Giving up and suing for peace is better than seeing the enemy parade march through Berlin after a complete surrender.

If there HAD been a complete surrender, maybe the Germans wouldn't have had a notion they had not lost the War and WWII might have been less necessary to press that fact home and spared the world that.  I've always been a fan of U S Grant's unconditional surrender policy for other reasons, but it was called for here.


Old NFO said...

Concur, it WOULD have been better to force the unconditional surrender...

LCB said...

I think in the far future it will all be considered THE World War with a 20 year cease fire in the middle.

Geodkyt said...

Well, one can readily make the point that the Seven Years War (French & Indian War here) was a true World War, with the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars being Phase 2, just as WWII (in Europe) was Phase 2 of WWI.