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Old January 2nd, 2016, 12:40 AM   #121
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In 1944-45 the German Army having been evicted precipitously from France and its attempt to reverse course at the Bulge a failure, on one hand and on the other the Russians steamrolling across the entire Eastern front; still continued to fight and fight well until the last 2 German soldiers in the army stood back to back at the Elbe and finally surrendered. And they did this in support of a cause a billion times less worthy than their counterparts of 1918.

Compare this to the situation in the 100 days offensive. Having suffered probably its greatest defeat in the war (although it could be argued that distinction should belong to the Brusilov offensive) with its army in full retreat along the entire length of the Western front, it was not a rout. As you yourself posit it was a fighting retreat. Furthermore as you state in that same time frame the Br/Fr suffered well over half a million casualties. As a percentage were the American losses in the Argonne significantly higher even with their "outdated" tactics and inexperience.

I reiterate the 100 days offensive was a great tactical achievement. I would even go so far as to call it a great operational achievement. But strategically it was no more significant than the German 1917 offenses. Both gobbled up territory. But in 1917 supposing the Germans had broken completely through, where could they have gone to exploit their victory. Forces north of the breach could have withdrawn into coastal enclaves while the line to the south could have been filled out with newly arriving American forces. End result a long salient vulnerable to counterattack from multiple points. In 1918 the German Army had not been defeated and even total withdrawal to the Rhine would not have forced them to surrender. In '45 the Rhine was a formidable obstacle with German forces tremendously inferior to those in 1918. Short of a coup de main forcing the Rhine at that time may well have been impossible.

You can't have it both ways. Either the German Army had been routed or they were conducting a fighting retreat. If it was the former then regardless of events anywhere else in the war, there was no option but surrender. If the latter is the case then the opening of the Salonika front or as I suggest the success in the Ardennes was determinative. And if so the Allies defeated not the German Army but the German General Staff.

In this light it didn't matter whether the axis of the American attack was toward Metz or Sedan or Marseilles or Buenos Aires. Since day one of the war the German Staff considered Metz as a linchpin of the entire German position in the same way that the French staff looked at Verdun. If you have a sore thumb and someone swings a hammer in its general direction, you flinch automatically.

Regarding the halt order in 1914, I have over the years repeatedly come across references to the decision. The whole point of the German General Staff system was to have objective outsiders evaluate the actual progress of the forces in the field vis a vis the goals established by the planners. In this case the Lt Col (whose name I sincerely regret not being able to recall) toured the entire front, noted that the stated goals of the offensive had not been met, noted further stiffing French resistance and the potential full involvement of the BEF and issued a general halt order for the front.

He did not issue the order because the French had forced a stalemate. Nor had the German Army been defeated. Nor that they could not have continued the offensive and broken through the French lines. He issued the order because the timetable was considered sacrosanct. The German Army had a limited time in the west before it absolutely had to be stripped to stop the Russian advance from the east. The entire rationale of the Schlieffen plan was to defeat the enemy in the West so that they could turn on the more dangerous enemy in the east. There would be no point in taking Paris if the Russians were running amok in Berlin.

Indicative of how severely the German army had been checked at the Marne. Less than 2 weeks later they pivoted 90 degrees and began the race to the sea. An army which had supposedly been severely damaged, had been heavily engaged for 2 months, had outstretched its supply lines faced the BEF which at the start of hostilities had been considered to be the single finest fighting unit in the world, was at full strength and fully rested; raced it to the sea and despite having to travel 2 miles in repeated flanking maneuvers for every mile their opponent had to travel; came within an eyelash of beating it to the coast.

Alternatively had he not ordered a halt. Then the very next day there would have been a breakthrough at Vitry le Francoise. The French units defending the town had broken and the messenger sent to request reinforcements was told there were none. Given that German officers at every level were expected to act on their own initiative when faced with opportunity, there would have been a glorious opportunity to maintain a mobile war and not sink into the war of the trenches.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 01:47 PM   #122

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In 1944-45 the German Army having been evicted precipitously from France and its attempt to reverse course at the Bulge a failure, on one hand and on the other the Russians steamrolling across the entire Eastern front; still continued to fight and fight well until the last 2 German soldiers in the army stood back to back at the Elbe and finally surrendered. And they did this in support of a cause a billion times less worthy than their counterparts of 1918.
Germany lost World War II in the defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk in 1943. One devastated the German army and made it incapable of sustaining a real offensive and the second consumed nearly all of 1943's economic production in a defeat that cost Germany even the ability to stall the Red Army. By that point... there is NO way that Germany could have won World War II.

The only reason Germany didn't call it quits was because of Hitler and the Nazi Party's fanaticism. They kept Germany fighting when the situation was hopeless with no chance of victory of any type. And Allied decisions to force complete surrender in WWII helped keep the German people willing to accept Nazi fanaticism.

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Compare this to the situation in the 100 days offensive. Having suffered probably its greatest defeat in the war (although it could be argued that distinction should belong to the Brusilov offensive) with its army in full retreat along the entire length of the Western front, it was not a rout. As you yourself posit it was a fighting retreat. Furthermore as you state in that same time frame the Br/Fr suffered well over half a million casualties. As a percentage were the American losses in the Argonne significantly higher even with their "outdated" tactics and inexperience.
The Brusilov Offensive was more an Austrian defeat than a German one. The Germans after the successes of the 1915 Gorlice Tarnow Offensive had written the Russians off as an effective force and not far from surrendering. They thus began transferring troops to the Argonne sector of their lines to get ready to try and take the city of Verdun in 1916. The Austrians were left man the lines on the Eastern Front. When the Russians attacked, the Battle of Verdun had been raging with the Germans making little real gain toward the city beyond some of their initial successes... and had to transfer troops from the Western Front BACK to the Eastern Front. Once they arrived there, they pretty much reversed all the gains that Brusilov had made against the Austrians.

And it wasn't quite a fighting retreat everywhere. At Amiens when the offensive began, and after the Germans had been pushed back to the Hindenburg Line, the Germans DID try to make a stand. After all, think back to the fighting in 1917... While the British made penetrations of the Hindenburg Line at Arras, Messines, Vimy, and Cambrai and Petain made penetrations of the line in places near Verdun toward the fall of that year, these penetrations were all small and lead to only localized gains, and in the case of Cambrai, the gains were only temporary. And in the Nivelle Offensive, the Hindenburg Line proved extremely successful in that while the French DID gain ground, it was only a few yards of territory and they suffered such heavy losses for the ground gained that the army mutinied. Once the Germans were behind the Hindenburg Line again, it was hoped that the fortified positions would finally stop the Allied push...

But by this time, the French and British had BOTH learned from what worked and didn't work in 1917. They had the tanks and guns to do it, and they devastated the Hindenburg Line completely. With the line broken, the Germans were forced to retreat again and began looking for some place to make a stand... but weren't able to, which lead to the fighting retreat... The German army may not have been destroyed, but it WAS beaten and couldn't reverse the advances being made.

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I reiterate the 100 days offensive was a great tactical achievement. I would even go so far as to call it a great operational achievement. But strategically it was no more significant than the German 1917 offenses.
Germany launched no offensive on the Western Front in 1917. In fact, after the attritional battles on the Somme and at Verdun in 1916, the Germans actually withdrew to what would become known as the Hindenburg Line in 1917. The only "offensives" the Germans launched in 1917 were on the Eastern Front to try and force the Bolsheviks to accept the German peace terms...

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In 1918 the German Army had not been defeated and even total withdrawal to the Rhine would not have forced them to surrender. In '45 the Rhine was a formidable obstacle with German forces tremendously inferior to those in 1918. Short of a coup de main forcing the Rhine at that time may well have been impossible.
The Germans WERE defeated in the 100 Days Offensive. Their army was shattered in its initial defenses near Amiens and devastated the Hindenburg Line when they got there and forced the Germans back into a fighting retreat as they desperately looked for a place to make a stand. And much of it relates to the battles that had raged on the Western Front for four years...

Authors like Mosier tend to make it seem like Germany won the attrition battle on the Western Front, and in his book on Verdun makes that argument by citing the flaws in the methods the French used to calculate German casualties. The problem in that line of thinking... is that if the Germans were winning the war of attrition by the margin that Mosier claimed, Germany would NOT have been desperate to the point where... they would further a Communist Revolution in Russia to free up troops from the Eastern Front to come West and they wouldn't feel the desperate need to attack in the Spring of 1918 before substantial American forces arrived...

Germany did suffer lighter casualties than the Allies, BUT the Allies could afford the loses they took. The fact that Britain and France each took over 200,000 casualties in the 100 Days Offensive and had the intention of continuing the offensive had the Germans not called it quits demonstrates that the Germans weren't winning the attrition campaign. They suffered lighter casualties, but their casualty rate was still more than they could afford, while the Allied casualty rate was affordable to them.

The Rhine would have indeed been the next real line of defense that the Germans could fall back to that the Allies couldn't easily shell into submission had the war continued, but it wasn't an unconquerable one. The German army was running out of men and material and the Allies would have the artillery to force a crossing.

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You can't have it both ways. Either the German Army had been routed or they were conducting a fighting retreat. If it was the former then regardless of events anywhere else in the war, there was no option but surrender. If the latter is the case then the opening of the Salonika front or as I suggest the success in the Ardennes was determinative. And if so the Allies defeated not the German Army but the German General Staff.
In a way it was a mix of both. The Germans were beaten and beaten in the field, but they had not been destroyed and the American offensive in the Argonne, which began around the same time that the British and French began their offensive near Amiens, had not been rapid or large enough to force the German armies in the region into a position where they had only the options of annihilation or surrender. This allowed for a fighting retreat when their initial defense lines had been broken.

In that way the German army, ground down by years of attritional warfare that they weren't winning, was defeated. They may not have been destroyed, but they were beaten. And as the 100 Days Offensive progressed, even Ludendorf knew this. Ludendorf would be known for being the first to argue that Germany had actually won the war, but was "stabbed in the back," but in 1918, he DID recognize that Germany was beaten, as did Hindenburg. The Germans knew it and unlike the leaders of a generation later, decided that fighting on until the bitter end at all costs was not worth it...

There is nothing to indicate that the Germans could have reversed their situation in 1918 or later had they fought on. They would have had to move troops into Austria to prevent the Salonika and Italian Fronts becoming one "Southern Front" close to the German border and that would have surely weakened their defenses on the Western Front further and would have given the Allies on the Western Front the opportunity to face weaker Rhine defenses than they would have if the Salonika front wasn't there. And breaking either position would have involved artillery, and given how the French and British shelled the Hindenburg Line to point where it couldn't stop the Allied attack... imagine what they would do to German cities if war went on?

I'd image you'd see a lot of German cities, particularly those in the Rhineland and along the river Rhine looking like they did in WWII when the Nazis insisted on fighting until the bitter end... and potential with armies from the Western Front or from the Salonika Front threatening Berlin...

The Germans knew they were beaten in 1918. What differs the decisions of Hindenburg and Germany's other generals, after Ludendorf was dismissed, was that unlike Hitler, they knew they were beaten and weren't going to make Germany take what the French and Belgians had endured for Four Years.

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In this light it didn't matter whether the axis of the American attack was toward Metz or Sedan or Marseilles or Buenos Aires. Since day one of the war the German Staff considered Metz as a linchpin of the entire German position in the same way that the French staff looked at Verdun. If you have a sore thumb and someone swings a hammer in its general direction, you flinch automatically.
Metz is to the northeast of Verdun. The Argonne region and Sedan are directly north of Verdun... maybe slightly northwest. And in fact when the Argonne offensive ended, the units that reached Sedan were probably farther from Metz than the units that were still near Verdun and St. Mihel were.

The American offensive in the Argonne Forest was not in any way an attack in the general direction of Metz.

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Regarding the halt order in 1914, I have over the years repeatedly come across references to the decision. The whole point of the German General Staff system was to have objective outsiders evaluate the actual progress of the forces in the field vis a vis the goals established by the planners. In this case the Lt Col (whose name I sincerely regret not being able to recall) toured the entire front, noted that the stated goals of the offensive had not been met, noted further stiffing French resistance and the potential full involvement of the BEF and issued a general halt order for the front.

He did not issue the order because the French had forced a stalemate. Nor had the German Army been defeated. Nor that they could not have continued the offensive and broken through the French lines. He issued the order because the timetable was considered sacrosanct. The German Army had a limited time in the west before it absolutely had to be stripped to stop the Russian advance from the east. The entire rationale of the Schlieffen plan was to defeat the enemy in the West so that they could turn on the more dangerous enemy in the east. There would be no point in taking Paris if the Russians were running amok in Berlin.
The Battle of Tannanberg was fought and won before the German units even approached the Marne. There was no serious threat of a Russian army in Berlin when the Battle of the Marne began. And the fact that not only did the Germans fail to take Paris but failed to destroy the French army was a strategic defeat for Germany.

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Indicative of how severely the German army had been checked at the Marne. Less than 2 weeks later they pivoted 90 degrees and began the race to the sea. An army which had supposedly been severely damaged, had been heavily engaged for 2 months, had outstretched its supply lines faced the BEF which at the start of hostilities had been considered to be the single finest fighting unit in the world, was at full strength and fully rested; raced it to the sea and despite having to travel 2 miles in repeated flanking maneuvers for every mile their opponent had to travel; came within an eyelash of beating it to the coast.
The Marne had checked the German attack, but that was about all it did. Similar to the fighting in front of Moscow in 1941. The Soviets were able to throw the Germans back from the gates of Moscow... but at that time they weren't strong enough to drive them out of the Soviet Union. That's about what the Marne was...

And while man for man the British were the best trained and most skilled of any of the combatants on the Western Front, their force was tiny and had pretty much been ground to dust by the end of 1914. In fact French units under the command of Ferdinand Foch played a crucial role in the Allied victory in the race to the sea in the sense that the Allies were able to prevent the Germans from getting around their flank when the fighting ended in the First Battle of Ypres and the flooding of various Belgian canals to the north of the region...

Though again... like the Marne, these victories didn't destroy the German army and the Allies didn't win them without a scratch. It really only secured the stalemated positions that the trenches would largely be for the remainder of the war.

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Alternatively had he not ordered a halt. Then the very next day there would have been a breakthrough at Vitry le Francoise. The French units defending the town had broken and the messenger sent to request reinforcements was told there were none. Given that German officers at every level were expected to act on their own initiative when faced with opportunity, there would have been a glorious opportunity to maintain a mobile war and not sink into the war of the trenches.
But could they have sustained such a penetration? If the Germans could have kept the drive going and protected the flanks of that unit... it might have presented an opportunity... but if not, all it would be is a temporary setback for the French. Sure they might lose ground, but eventually the German progress would snap back on itself due to poor logistics or to counter-attacks on its flanks.
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Old January 2nd, 2016, 11:19 PM   #123
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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I have already severely punished my right pointer finger for hitting the 7key instead of the 8key when I tried to type 1918.
Specifically I was tying to refer to the Spring 1918 offensives where the Germans enjoyed tremendous tactical successes, but even a total breakthrough...a complete rupture of the Allied lines would not have conferred any strategic advantage. In the same light I do not see the 100 days as a DECISIVE strategic defeat. Eventual defeat was certainly almost inevitable, but the ability to shape the terms of the defeat was well within the power of the German military.

If they had ordered the entire German military back across the Rhine and at the same time had issued a call for an armistice accompanied by preliminary acceptance of the 14 Points on condition of lifting the Allied blockade, they would have neatly mousetrapped the Allies. Politically in any of the major Allied powers such a call would have been almost irresistible.

But more importantly militarily I do not think the Rhine in 1918 was a penetrable barrier. Tanks, the new wonder weapon would have been irrelevant. The tiny air arms of the day would have been mere pinpricks. And lastly, as far as artillery shelling them into submission, German artillery was from beginning to end vastly superior to their opponents. I simply do not believe that given the technology of the day, it would have been possible for any power to have force a crossing of the Rhine.

If you don't like Mosier try Dennis Showalter's "Hitler's Panzers". He observes that like the 88's of WWII, the Germans had the weapons to take out the new Allied tanks--the 13mm anti-tank rifle, the TuF machine gun (essentially a German version of the Browning .50) and even the 77mm canon readily available).

One last thought. Maybe I simply cannot make my thoughts plain. My comparison of the actions by the German military in the 2 WW's were simply this, that compared to WWII the German soldier/military in WWI was fighting on the side of the angels. Yet at the first sign of adversity they broke. I know that the Wehrmacht destroyed itself at Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, and....But it still fought hard and well, achieving successes (be they ever so small and localized) until the last days and hours before the surrender. This contrast to me is almost inconceivable. You would expect the exact opposite.

The only thing which justifies this conundrum is that the German General Staff defeated itself. A system which was supposed to promote independent thought and initiative allowed itself to become perverted into an enforcer of arbitrary rules. The plan must be followed without fail, if x happens disaster is inevitable. If mile marker 111 is not reached on day 34, then the Schlieffen plan is a failure and a halt must be called. If another front is opened (in Salonika) then we must surrender immediately.

On this I suggest we must agree to disagree. After 40 years of reading and study I have come to a conclusion which differs from yours. I assume you have spent a like period of time reaching a different conclusion. Maybe one day we will be able to consult the Eternal Encyclopedia and get the definitive answer.
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Old January 3rd, 2016, 12:39 AM   #124

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. Maybe one day we will be able to consult the Eternal Encyclopedia and get the definitive answer.
Luckily for guys like me, that will not happen. So I will still enjoy a debate that brings me the pleasure of learning new things.

Thank You, guys !
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Old January 3rd, 2016, 01:01 PM   #125

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Specifically I was tying to refer to the Spring 1918 offensives where the Germans enjoyed tremendous tactical successes, but even a total breakthrough...a complete rupture of the Allied lines would not have conferred any strategic advantage. In the same light I do not see the 100 days as a DECISIVE strategic defeat. Eventual defeat was certainly almost inevitable, but the ability to shape the terms of the defeat was well within the power of the German military.
The Germans did gain great tactical successes in the Spring Offensive, but its underlying problems rapidly showed as the German army itself slowed the offensive to raid British trenches for food and other luxury items. It betrayed how much the British blockade was affecting Germany. That stalled the offensive and gave the Allies time to move their strategic reserve to Amiens that ultimately stopped that drive...

Then when Ludendorf turned south, the attack ended up lacking the logistics to really threaten Paris... and Paris was never even an objective of the attack. Ludendorf wanted to make the French think he was attacking Paris, and thus remove the French reserves which had bolstered British defenses at Amiens to reinforce the units in the south. Foch sensed that the move was a ruse and largely left the French units that were there to hold the line, judging that the Germans would likely run out of steam on their own before becoming a real threat. American units would join the trenches for the first time... but to a great extent the German attack south had run out of steam, and since the Germans never attacked two key rail centers, even if they did intend to take Paris, they lacked the logistical capacity to supply such a drive. Which would mean at some point, the Germans would be so extended that they couldn't hold their positions against counter attack...

The end defeat in the Spring Offensive ended up breaking the German army's ability to really affect things on the Western Front in 1918. The army, even with units from the Eastern Front, was running out of men and material. And the defeat cost them any ability to make a strong defense in France, and essentially set up the successes in the 100 Days Offensive for the Allies.

And the rapid advance that pushed the Germans largely out of France in 1918 was a major strategic and operation victory... The German army may not have been destroyed, but they wouldn't have had more material after November 1918 than they would have had before it, and with the Allied armies completing a massive advance in the West and with Germany's allies breaking and surrendering, the Allies were more then set up to make a push into Germany had they fought on.

And that's ultimately what makes of the very attritional fighting that made World War I what it was. Because outside of the opening moves of 1914 and the last moves of 1918... the war, particularly on the Western Front was a very grinding sort of campaign, and one which Germany could not afford to fight. Sure, in many cases they suffered lighter casualties than the Allies, but it was not at a rate that Germany could afford. And with the blockade cutting the Germans off from everything they needed to import, economically they couldn't support a long war before they'd begin to run out of material to fight and food to feed the army or population...

We tend to think of battles like the Somme as disastrous failures because of the lives lost in the offensive, particularly on the first day, and looking at the ground gained in the end. Yet, one can very much regard the Somme as a British victory in that while it didn't make the massive penetration of the German lines, it did grind down on the German army and drew attention away from Verdun. In fact, much of the decision to withdraw to the Hindenburg Line in 1917 is likely the result of fighting on the Somme in 1916. And there was some commentary from German officers after the Somme that they couldn't afford another battle like it... and if the British had forced it... they might have either punched through or ground the Germans down...

We tend to think of Verdun as a grinding bloodbath that the French barely survived... but in many ways, despite the initial gains the Germans made and the losses the French ultimately took in the 1916 battle... the battle was NOT the intended attrition battle that it is often attributed to be. Much of the "bleed France white" commentary was made AFTER the war to justify failing to take the city. Much of Falkenhayn's intention at Verdun was much like Haig's on the Somme... the German army was to rapidly penetrate the French lines, take Verdun and its forts and then establish a defensive line around them. The French would suffer such a psychological shock that they'd surrender or would commit suicidal offensives to try and retake the city. And in that sense the German army failed in its primary objective and set up a major internal argument between the Crown Prince who rapidly saw the need to stop the German attacks at Verdun and Falkenhayn who was ordering the attacks. And in the end the offensives by the French at the end of the battle did work for them.

And in that sense, while the Somme and Verdun in 1916 were bloody attrition battles, they were both to the advantage of the Allied powers in the long term. The Allies could replace their losses and the Germans really couldn't. Which by the time you get to 1918 and the Allied 100 Days Offensive... even though it didn't destroy the German army entirely... Germany by that point was so ground down that they weren't going to be able to affect much...

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If they had ordered the entire German military back across the Rhine and at the same time had issued a call for an armistice accompanied by preliminary acceptance of the 14 Points on condition of lifting the Allied blockade, they would have neatly mousetrapped the Allies. Politically in any of the major Allied powers such a call would have been almost irresistible.
Perhaps, but the British weren't going to stop the blockade. In fact in history, they kept it going until the Versailles Treaty was signed. And if the Germans decided to fight on because of that... they'd still be looking at defeat in the end...

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But more importantly militarily I do not think the Rhine in 1918 was a penetrable barrier.
But it would have been. Even if the Allies don't come across a bridge that hadn't been blown, as was found at Remagen in 1945 and lead to the easiest crossing of the Rhine in WW2, the Germans were not in a position to block any major thrust... For if the war continued, there certainly would have been fighting in Ardennes, in northern Belgium, on some level in Alsace and Lorraine, and along the German/Belgian border before the Allies even reach the Rhine.

As such, you'd likely see casualties inflicted on the Germans that would be on par with those suffered in the 100 Days Offensive and lowering the German forces available to defend the Rhine River... and likely with the rest of the Central Powers falling in the fall of 1918 you'd see the Germans pulling troops away from the west to stem Italian, French, Serbian, and likely British advances in the Balkans and Italy.

And such a move would further stretch Germany's reserves to a point where they wouldn't have much to stop any Allied Offensive. Even if the Rhine proves "impenetrable," the Germans don't have the men or resources to keep extending their lines of defense and be able to stop the attacks on them.

That's sort of the nature of attritional victories... The side that can take the punishment will eventually break through, and when that happens that side that can't will have nothing to stop the side that can. It's what happened to the Germans in the 100 Days Offensive in WWI and in a way it's what happened to the Germans in Normandy after Operation Cobra broke through the German lines.

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Tanks, the new wonder weapon would have been irrelevant. The tiny air arms of the day would have been mere pinpricks.
Unless they find a bridge that hadn't been blown, the tanks of the day likely wouldn't have been able to cross the Rhine on their own until the river was bridged... BUT the heavier tanks could have certainly provided close support as could the air forces of the time in terms of providing cover for the engineers to place pontoon bridges...

And it isn't as though it's guaranteed the Germans would be able to blow all the bridges. In theory they tried that in WWII and the Americans found the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen in tact... So if a bridge is found in tact... the tanks would prove quite useful...

And I'd even argue that the possibility of finding a bridge in tact would be likely given that the Germans would likely be facing not only having to blow all the bridges on the Rhine but the Danube as well. Given Germany's dwindling resources... it's not likely that they would have able to blow them all.

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And lastly, as far as artillery shelling them into submission, German artillery was from beginning to end vastly superior to their opponents.
The Germans had better siege guns at the start of the war, but the French had a better field gun in the 75mm. The Germans were best prepared to deal with forts, as seen at Liege, but the French were better prepared to deal with troops in the open. What gave Germany an artillery edge early in the war was that their economy and manufacturing capacity was capable of replenishing their stores of shells and guns at the rate they were expended. The Allies, early on, couldn't do that and troops were left to improvise.

But as the war went on and the Allies updated their methods of production and the Germans were ground down through attrition, the advantages Germany had began to disappear. I've seen somewhere that the British replaced the guns and shells lost when the Germans attacked in the Spring of 1918 by the time the 100 Days Offensive began and the French had even MORE guns than the British did. That demonstrates that by that time, the Allies had an advantage in numbers at least...

And if the Germans have to defend the southern lines as well as the western front, the Allied numerical advantage would grow.

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I simply do not believe that given the technology of the day, it would have been possible for any power to have force a crossing of the Rhine.
That depends on the Germans maintaining forces strong enough to stop the Allies on all fronts... and after 4 years of naval blockade and attritional fighting, particularly on the Western Front, I don't see the Germans having the strength to really do so.

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If you don't like Mosier try Dennis Showalter's "Hitler's Panzers". He observes that like the 88's of WWII, the Germans had the weapons to take out the new Allied tanks--the 13mm anti-tank rifle, the TuF machine gun (essentially a German version of the Browning .50) and even the 77mm canon readily available).
Why would a book dealing with Germany's confronting Allied tanks in WWI be called "Hitler's Panzers?" If it's a book on WWII, while it may make note of the Germans developing weapons that could counter the Allied tanks... I find it doubtful that it goes into enough detail to say whether or not they could have truly STOPPED the Allies completely.

My issue with Mosier is that his book on Verdun is essentially the "French and British were dumb and suicidal attackers who didn't know how to do anything. The Germans won EVERY battle and only suffered around 70 thousand CASUALTIES by August 1916 and were winning the attrition battle easily. It was only when the Americans came in when the Americans won..." Yet the argument Mosier rests his entire argument on is from a quote from Hindenburg citing the Americans using the exact same tactics Mosier spent the book criticizing when the French or British used them... Which, logically, if the Germans were winning the attrition battles to the level that Mosier claimed... the Americans should have been slaughtered using the same tactics that he claimed were winning the war for Germany earlier...

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One last thought. Maybe I simply cannot make my thoughts plain. My comparison of the actions by the German military in the 2 WW's were simply this, that compared to WWII the German soldier/military in WWI was fighting on the side of the angels. Yet at the first sign of adversity they broke. I know that the Wehrmacht destroyed itself at Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, and....But it still fought hard and well, achieving successes (be they ever so small and localized) until the last days and hours before the surrender. This contrast to me is almost inconceivable. You would expect the exact opposite.

The only thing which justifies this conundrum is that the German General Staff defeated itself. A system which was supposed to promote independent thought and initiative allowed itself to become perverted into an enforcer of arbitrary rules. The plan must be followed without fail, if x happens disaster is inevitable. If mile marker 111 is not reached on day 34, then the Schlieffen plan is a failure and a halt must be called. If another front is opened (in Salonika) then we must surrender immediately.
Much of this comes about because of the attrition losses that the Germans took in World War I and the attitudes that differed between Hindenburg and Hitler...

The Germans were ground down in 4 years of war in WWI. In much the same way the Germans were ground down in 6 years of war in WWII...

However, Hindenburg and the German General staff in WWI weren't fanatics and realized that if they kept fighting, they would be ground down down to nothing eventually. If not in 1918 then surely by 1920... Hitler and the Nazis, by contrast were fanatics who KEPT Germany fighting until they were completely destroyed.

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On this I suggest we must agree to disagree. After 40 years of reading and study I have come to a conclusion which differs from yours. I assume you have spent a like period of time reaching a different conclusion. Maybe one day we will be able to consult the Eternal Encyclopedia and get the definitive answer.
I suppose so. Much of what I've read on World War I and World War II with regard to Germany was that they really weren't the "supermen" they've so commonly been made out to be...

Which means in WWI the British and French, and particularly the French weren't the fools and weaklings they have been made out to be... and in WWII that in the end the Allies on all sides weren't the weaklings that they're made out to be.
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Old January 4th, 2016, 02:46 AM   #126
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Also when you consider the fact that it took the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Spain, Sweden, Portugal and other minor states to defeat Napoleonic France it really puts things into perspective.
Even then there was 3 coalitions
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Old January 4th, 2016, 02:48 AM   #127
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In my parts Italians are a military joke, not French.

One joke goes:

"What is the shortest book in the world? A list of italian war heroes."
What? what about the Romans?!
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Old December 28th, 2016, 01:26 AM   #128
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Ok it if you want to go back to Charlemagne and the 100 Years War maybe you've got a point.

But in the myriad wars of the 1700's France ultimately loses. In the Wars vs Napoleon France ultimately loses. In 1870 France loses. In WWI and II France only wins because of the involvement of the UK and ultimately the US. If they don't get in the war France is now a province of greater Germany, imperial or Nazi take your pick.

Read Alaistair Hornes's great trilogy spanning Sedan to Verdun to the blitz in 1940. I may be misinterpreting him but essentially his premise is that France is a sick society that deserved to be trampled on by Prussian and German militarism.
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Old December 28th, 2016, 08:35 AM   #129
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Ok it if you want to go back to Charlemagne and the 100 Years War maybe you've got a point.

But in the myriad wars of the 1700's France ultimately loses. In the Wars vs Napoleon France ultimately loses. In 1870 France loses. In WWI and II France only wins because of the involvement of the UK and ultimately the US. If they don't get in the war France is now a province of greater Germany, imperial or Nazi take your pick.
So, they still won when they won, and when they lost, it took the better part of Europe to ensure it.

Somehow the Germans have the exact same development, and yet everyone is more or less gaga over their military prowess. Why the different metrics for the French and the Germans? (That's to say, it's pretty "Anglosaxon" metric the Germans don't have these ideas about the French as fighters, but then the Germans are the ones who got to actually fight them.) Britain and US are generally bad for comparison as well too much water involved in protecting them to make for a good one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Th'AnchoriticSybarite View Post
Read Alaistair Hornes's great trilogy spanning Sedan to Verdun to the blitz in 1940. I may be misinterpreting him but essentially his premise is that France is a sick society that deserved to be trampled on by Prussian and German militarism.
Bit of an idiot then?
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Old December 28th, 2016, 08:58 AM   #130

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This the french military is the worst or why the french are eating frogs is coming back every month.

What about why are french woman so good looking?
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