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By 1918, Germany had defeated the Russians, Serbians, and Romanians, and had inflicting a heavy defeat on the Italians. Despite having achieved all her territorial and economic was aims in the East and South, Germany still needed to force France and Britain to accept peace, in order to end the war on terms favorable to Germany.

This meant Germany must defeat the Allies on the western front.

With Russia out of the war, and Austria temporarily secure, the Germans were able to transfer one million soldiers to France, thus giving the Germans a numerical advantage in the West for the first time since 1914.

The German objective was to inflict a heavy defeat on the Allies, forcing them to give up and sue for peace. The French and British knew the German offensive was coming, but they were also keenly aware that the balance of forces would tip irrevocably to their favor as American troops began arriving in France at a rate of 300.000 per month by May 1918.

The German plan was to drive a wedge between the British and French, forcing the British back to their supply bases on the English Channel, while the French could be counted on to defend Paris at all costs.

The initial German attacks in March, April, and May 1918 were tactical successes, breaking the Allied lines for the first time in 4 years of fighting. Both sides suffered enormous casualties. The difference was, German causalities were among irreplaceable assault units, while Allied losses could be made good by fresh American troops.

It soon became apparent that, while the Germans could break the Allied line, their advances quickly bogged down due to logistical limitations. The Allies gave up ground, but did not seek an armistice. They determined to hold on until the Germans were worn out.

The German's predicament is famously illustrated by a question posed to General Erich Ludendorf (the defacto ruler of Germany by this time) - what is the overall plan to win the war? To which he replied: "we chop a hole, the rest follows".

By July 1918, the Germans were exhausted, the Allies launched their counter offensive, and the Germans were gradually pushed back into Belgium. Germany, starving and deserted by her own allies, requested an armistice on 11 November 1918.

In summary, it was Germany's lack of a viable strategy, Allied determination to hang on, and the arrival of 2 million fresh American troops, that caused the failure of the German Spring offensive.

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โˆ™ 2010-04-17 07:31:52
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Q: Why did the German Spring Offensive in 1918 fail?
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