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11-08-2015, 16:23

THE FINAL GERMAN OFFENSIVE

The victory over Russia allowed Ludendorff to take the offensive on the western front in spring 1918. The failure of the submarine offensive and the imminent arrival of a huge American army made such an effort seem imperative. Using novel tactics such as brief, precisely targeted barrages and swift infiltration, the German effort got off to a brilliant beginning. But as spring turned to summer, the cost of the offensive became unbearable. Allied defenses hardened, and both the French and British deepened their defensive lines to absorb and repel enemy attacks. Between July 15 and August 2, as Ludendorff's troops faced Allied counterattacks on the Mame, the Germans lost 1 10,000. Allied losses were 1 60,000. The Allies, of course, could easily replace such losses as American reinforcements arrived, while the Germans were quickly running out of fighting men. Thus, the answer to the stalemate was to do what had been done beforeóbut more imaginatively and with greater resources. The twin bloodbaths show how decisively technology had come to favor the defensive sideóand how the need to win nonetheless pushed generals and politicians to attempt to break through the limits of technology and terrain.

 

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