Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914- 1918

By Walther Hubatsch; Oswald P. Backus | Go to book overview

4. The Central Powers at the End of 1914

No decision. At the beginning of winter, no decision had been reached on any front. The Central Powers had not even come close to victory. The adversaries' expectations of beating the Central Powers in a quick onslaught had also been thwarted. Germany and Austria- Hungary had maintained their position in the field and would go on fighting.

Casualties. Nevertheless, the change to trench warfare revealed that both sides were exhausted. In the Russo-Japanese War, the high efficiency of modern weapons had already shown that trenches and field fortifications saved strength and forces. Toward the end of 1914, casualties of the German field army totalled 840,000 men including 150,000 killed in action. The heaviest casualties had been suffered by the regulars. The Austro-Hungarian Army lost 274,000 men in Serbia and 350,000 men (including those missing in action and taken prisoners of war) in Galicia. The adversaries had suffered even higher losses, losses which, however, could be replaced with relative ease. The reserve personnel situation in the German and Austro-Hungarian armies was badly strained. Moreover, both suffered from a conspicuous lack of artillery ammunition. The Austro-Hungarian army was completely exhausted, materially and morally, and troops could be replaced only with difficulty. Germany, however, was succeeding in the task of raising a small reserve of 9 splendidly trained divisions for the middle of January.

Falkenhayn demands separate peace. General von Falkenhayn took a critical view of the military situation of the Central Powers. Beginning in the middle of November, he repeatedly asked the Reich Chancellor to attempt the immediate conclusion of a separate peace with Russia on the basis of the status quo ante bellum. If France favored peace, she could take part on the same basis. With this plan, the chief of staff urged the political leaders of the Reich to conclude a peace; in view of the Kaiser's speech and his declaration of internal armistice on August 4, 1914, the announcement of such a peace could have been exploited on a large-scale with far-reaching internal consequences. The Foreign Office, however, doubted that the Entente wanted peace and instead proposed military measures--especially a quick defeat of Serbia. Bethmann Hollweg concluded that Falkenhayn was not suited to his

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Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914- 1918
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Prologue 1
  • 2 - World War I and Its Beginning 14
  • 3 - War on Two Fronts 26
  • 4 - The Central Powers at the End of 1914 40
  • 5 - Success Against Russia, 1915 46
  • 6 - The Fight for Position in The Mediterranean 52
  • 7 - The Climax, 1915 60
  • 8 - Battles of Materiel and Mass Attacks 1916 67
  • 9 - Internal Political Changes 77
  • 10 - War and Politics in 1917 89
  • 11 - From Brest-Litovsk to Compiegne 102
  • 12 - Concluding Observations 119
  • Notes 122
  • Index 125
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