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I believe you are referring to the decline in the power of Germany during WWI? Is so I will attempt to offer highlights.

Germany entered WWI the most prepared for war of any nation on earth, and arguably of any nation on earth for many centuries.

The standing German army of about 550,000 was supplemented with millions of well trained reserves. The equipment was excellent in all regards (perhaps the lone exception being the field artillery, which had a considerably slower rate of fire than the French). The nations economy, second in size only to the USA, was primed to assist in the war effort. The transportation system was the worlds finest, especially in rails. The German navy was top notch, second only to that of Britain. Overall Germany was the #1 military power on earth.

Germany was allied with the Austrian empire that controlled most of the Balkans. Additionally the German rail network was connected to that of Turkey (Ottoman Empire) which enabled it to have communications all the way to the Persian Gulf.

German plans had always been to strike a quick blow against the west (France) and then to fight a more draw out war in the east with Russia. Due to improper placement of troops, the French knockout did not occur in 1914. Instead Germany got drawn into a long war, a war of attrition.

Nonetheless, German military/industrial power was such that even though vastly outnumbered in men/materials/territory by the combined imperial empires of England, France, and Russia, no victory could be obtained by the Allies. The war of attrition continued through 1914 and into 1915. In 1916 Germany devised an excellent plan to knock the French out of the war - Verdun. Unfortunately early victories encouraged the Germans to enter into field combat rather than relying on their superior artillery positions. Additionally an entirely lucky shot from a French gun destroyed some two million rounds of German artillery shells, crippling the early bombardment. By the end of 1916, Germany had expended vast amounts of ammunition and manpower without gain. The stalemate continued.

Finally, in 1917, German military superiority appeared to be on the brink of victory. The Russian government collapsed and about 100 divisions of German troops were released to fight in the west. At this point, Germany could probably have secured a reasonable end to the fight in the west as long as they confined their annexations to the east. However, more than three years of war, a partial victory was no longer politically satisfactory.

Meanwhile, the English had been enforcing a blockade on Germany, the main effect of which was to starve the civilian population. Germany was not wholely self sufficient in agriculture and a wet winter in 1914-15 caused widespread crop failures, exaccerbating the situation.

By 1917 the German civilian population was suffering. Babies were dying. Children were developing rickets. A near crisis was brewing.

Thus, late 1917 saw Germany at the brink. They had achieved great success in the west by holding off vastly superior forces for three years. In the east they had crushed Russia. But at home, the population was nearing the end of tolerance. The blockade was also affecting industrial production and by some accounts, heavy industry was producing only about 35% of pre-war output, due to shortages of critical inputs. Dramatic action was called for.

Thus the Germans embarked in late 1917 on an increase in submarine attacks on merchant marine shipping in the north Atlantic. These attacks were not acceptable to the USA and that nation declared war as a result. The entry of yet another great power into the game would finish a weakening Germany, it was felt. Thus one final set of offensives was planned for the spring of 1918. The plan was to use infiltration troops (storm troopers) to break through the links between French and English forces. For the first time since 1914 on either side, great progress was made, but at bloody cost. When the third phase of these offensives was ground to a halt, the German situation was dire.

The combined armies of the USA, France and England broke the German lines during the summer of 1918. Although the German army rallied and stabilized the front near the German border, civil unrest at home finally broke the German ability to continue the fight. With her people starving, children dying, industrial and farm production a fraction of normal output, the Germans decided to sue for peace. At armistice, or end of shooting, occurred in Nov. 1918. It took another year to iron out the details of a peace treaty, during which the English kept up their blockade, resulting in the deaths of approximately another 1,000,000 German babies under age two.

The treaty of Versailles 1919 was draconian by any measure. Germany, arguably the most civilized nation on earth in 1914, was required to accept full responsiblity for starting the war - a ridiculous requirement by France and Britain that was not only false but required a proud nation to humiliate herself. (in truth the war was started by a terrorist state, Serbia and expanded by Russia, the first to militarily mobilize). The great German army and navy were ordered disbanded and scuttled respectively. Submarines and aircraft were banned entirely. 100% of German overseas possessions were stripped away (even in her wildest fantasies, the German leadership had never considered stripping their enemies ENTIRELY of their colonies). Huge amounts of European territory were stripped away and given to competitors, leaving large German minorites behind foreign borders. Economically the Allies demanded the largest reparations settlement in the history of the world. Finally, to further crush the German economy, Germany was required to give up 100% of her patents (Germany being the world leader in chemistry and physics, this was a major blow). In no time in recent history had vanquished nation been so harshly treated. Only the victims of Ghengis Khan or Rome over Carthage would compare in cruelty.

What is amazing in retrospect about Germany during WWI is that she was able to last so long against such vastly larger powers. Britain itself had only a slightly smaller economy than Germany and combined with France was much larger in population and industry. To this the military power of Russia was added. These three powers all controlled huge empires consisting of India, Australia, Ukraine, 90% of Africa, Canada, and Central and Southeast Asia. German support was miniscule by comparison coming from her ethnic cousins in Austria and from the Ottoman Turks. On top of this, in 1915, the Italians joined the Allies and in 1917 so did the USA. Nonetheless the Germans fought them all to a standstill for four years and came within a breath two or three times of outright victory. In fact, German victory in WWI was a much closer thing than it was in WWII.

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βˆ™ 2013-03-27 15:52:09
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