A History of the Great War, 1914-1918

By C. R. M. F. Cruttwell | Go to book overview

XXXIV TOUT LE MONDE A LA BATAILLE1

I

THE stage was now set for the greatest of all battles. Events moved with an inexorable swiftness seldom recorded in history. Within three weeks Germany's two eastern confederates were utterly overthrown, and she herself received a blow recognized by her commanders as virtually mortal. The true relation between Germany and her allies became manifest. They were not her 'props', as Lloyd George used to affirm; for as long as she stood secure they stood also through her strength. But when her weakness was displayed, a mere push would overturn them. And with their submission the great fortress of 'Mittel-Europa' could be turned from the rear, so that the doom of Germany herself was certain. The Emperor Karl was expressing the feeling of all his allies when he said with pathetic naïveté that the 8th of August had caused far more alarm and despondency in Austria than the defeat of his own troops on the Piave in June, because the latter had been expected. His own despair was made manifest by a futile peace-manifesto on September 14th, independently of Germany, which the Entente neglected with a scornful satisfaction. Though neither Bulgaria nor Turkey had actually concluded an armistice before the supreme struggle began in the West (September 26), they had been so shattered that the issue was immediately certain. The story of Allenby's triumph in Palestine is told elsewhere. The collapse of Bulgaria was due to an utter listlessness and war-weariness which allowed an attack of no overwhelming strength2 to develop into an overpowering blow.

We do not yet know in detail how the ground had been

____________________
1
Foch's motto.
2
The German estimate of fighting strength is: Allies 180,000, Bulgars 160,000 to 170,000.

-561-

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