The Kaiser's Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany during the Machine Age, 1870-1918

By Eric Dorn Brose | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
DENOUEMENT

GENERAL KARL VON EINEM, commander of the German Third Army, left his headquarters northeast of Rheims and drove to the front. The exhilarating, hope-filled days of 1914, when he had led the Seventh Corps under Bülow, were a distant memory in the midst of Europe's Great War. The artillery, especially the bigger guns, was master now, so it was fitting that Einem mounted the battery commander's observation tower and peered south over his troops. The battle-hardened general and former minister of war was not surprised by what he saw, but somehow it saddened him. Empty and desolate, the unplanted fields were criss-crossed by trenchworks whose makeshift tin roofs glistened white in the summer sun. Nothing stirred. No human being could be seen, but hidden away in their cavelike quarters was the “strength of Germany.” No one saw this infantry force unless it had to attack or defend. “I, and all of the staffers in the rear, have it good,” Einemthought to himself. “We sure have it better than those who have to spend their lives in this desert of trenches out here.” 1

Sixty kilometers northeast of Einem's tower lay Villa Belleaire. Kaiser WilliamII moved to this exquisite residence in 1915, forcing the locals to pay for the ostentatious landscaping and furnishings for this “jewel chest” 2 of a mansion. While Einem's men huddled in their trenches in that summer of 1916, the monarch took 80 soldiers away fromthe hay harvest to build a riding path. When not trotting around on it, Williamtook excursions to the region's castles,

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