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

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

9. Internal Political Changes

The 3rd Supreme Command. Romania's entry into the war had brought about decisive changes in the command of the Central Powers. When, on August 29, 1916, Marshal von Hindenburg was appointed chief of staff of the field army and the Kaiser made General Ludendorff first quartermaster general, this change had been welcomed by the army and the civilian population. Since the battle of Tannenberg, Hindenburg, along with his close associate Ludendorff, had been looked upon as if they alone were the only genuine leaders of armies in battle. Bethmann Hollweg said, "The people would have felt themselves deceived as regards their strongest force if our military destiny had not been entrusted to him." Ludendorff requested that the smooth cooperation between Hindenburg and himself should now receive open expression by his being made fully coresponsible for all decisions and measures. This was an unusual solution, which was against every tradition of the general staff; it was also contrary to the normal practice of clearly assigning the responsibility which the commander and not his advisor had to bear. Ludendorff's request was particularly strange, for one would think that his desire to participate in military glory would have been limited by the extremely difficult military and political situation of the Central Powers, which held out little hope for a victorious end to the war. It cannot be denied that the 3rd Supreme Command made very energetic efforts at maintaining and strengthening the fighting power of the army and the capacity of the civilian population to hold out. Nonetheless, several measures had already been planned or prepared by its predecessors.

Supreme Command of the Central Powers. Another significant change consisted of a series of steps leading toward the unification of the command of the Central Powers. On the western front, in addition to the 4th Army under Duke Albrecht of Wurttemberg, and the Army Groups of Crown Prince Rupprecht and the German Crown Prince, a commander in chief of the Coastal Defenses and of the Frontier Guards on the Dutch border was established. On the eastern front, Field Marshal Prince Leopold of Bavaria and Colonel Max Hoffman had replaced Hindenburg and Ludendorff. Their area of command extended to the Carpathian Mountains and included the Austro- Hungarian units in that area. Further to the south, there was the

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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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