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  1. About this Product
  2. Seller information
  3. The German Army in World War I (2) - Osprey Publishing
  4. The German Army in World War I (3)
  5. History of Germany during World War I

About this Product

Next are some notes on organization of the army and some facts and figures on manpower, types of units, etc. A piece on Conscription and Mobilization follows, with details of the German conscription system and training system, a sketch of the organization of German military districts, and finally a thumbnail glance at the various components of the German military - infantry, artillery all the major types are described, with numbers of batteries given , assault detachments, cavalry, machine gun units, pioneers, air service, signals service, transport and communications service, medical and finally veterinary service.

These thumbnails give an approximate idea of their duties, roles and numerical strength and give a good picture of First World War logistics. The photos in the text complement the information given, and are of a generally high standard. Finally are the captions to the colour plates. Embleton is one of the best artists in the Osprey stable; clear and interesting figures are rendered.

The final plate - featured on the cover - manages to convey without words the absolute horror and misery of life in the trenches through the effective placing of the dead men, the look of fatigue on the man who has just killed an Allied soldier with a now-blood-covered shovel, the look of urgency on the face of the NCO, and the tremendous explosion in the background. Perhaps the finest depiction of First World War combat ever rendered - quite a lot to say about a simple colour plate in a history primer.

Sidebars include tables of piping colours for uniforms, though these are incomplete in some cases - reference is made to Guards uniforms wearing piping in the full dress colour but don't say what these colours are, and which regiments wore them. A detailed list of regiments would have been a nice addition had there been room to include it. There is a nice listing of ranks but no idea given of the corresponding responsibilities of men holding those ranks in the various types of unit - infantry company, artillery battery, cavalry squadron, etc.

Very little is said of German tanks and the air service information is properly the subject of a separate book and a bit of a waste of space. Also no guide to uniform rank insignia, which would have complemented the rank information, which has text descriptions of the insignia but no corresponding picture, and only for enlisted men and not officers.

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Overall a good intro but would have benefitted from being about twice as long and containing more complete info on all the topics raised. Another shortcoming is no detailed description of regiment, battalion, company, and platoon organization of the various arms. Nathaniel rated it it was amazing Nov 19, Goran rated it liked it Oct 18, Maggie Bryngelson rated it liked it Feb 12, James Dalziel rated it liked it Mar 24, Rikard rated it liked it Oct 01, Matt Bowden rated it really liked it May 14, Thomas Dorman rated it really liked it May 25, Mike Barbour rated it really liked it May 29, Themirso rated it really liked it Apr 06, Mhatchett added it Jan 29, Dbx added it Jan 12, Robert added it Feb 13, Zachary Newkirk added it Jul 20, Jur marked it as to-read Jan 23, Bsg77 marked it as to-read Jul 26, Ichi marked it as to-read Feb 16, Josh Brace marked it as to-read Jul 16, Annelisa marked it as to-read Jan 18, Rob Bekkers added it Mar 26, John Somers marked it as to-read Jun 07, Jonathan marked it as to-read Sep 08, Kyle Cisco marked it as to-read Oct 12, BAC marked it as to-read Nov 01, Michael Ryzy added it Nov 02, Julio Campos added it Apr 19, Gokmen marked it as to-read Nov 05, Rollspelaren marked it as to-read Feb 03, Nathan added it Sep 11, Danny Claerman added it Dec 26, Robert marked it as to-read Jan 29, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

At the end of the war, Germany's defeat and widespread popular discontent triggered the German Revolution of —19 which overthrew the monarchy and established the Weimar Republic.

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The German population responded to the outbreak of war in with a complex mix of emotions, in a similar way to the populations in other countries of Europe; notions of overt enthusiasm known as the Spirit of have been challenged by more recent scholarship. The Kaiser and the German establishment hoped the war would unite the public behind the monarchy, and lessen the threat posed by the dramatic growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been the most vocal critic of the Kaiser in the Reichstag before the war.

Despite its membership in the Second International , the Social Democratic Party of Germany ended its differences with the Imperial government and abandoned its principles of internationalism to support the war effort.

The German Army in World War I (2) - Osprey Publishing

It soon became apparent that Germany was not prepared for a war lasting more than a few months. At first, little was done to regulate the economy for a wartime footing, and the German war economy would remain badly organized throughout the war. Germany depended on imports of food and raw materials, which were stopped by the British blockade of Germany.

Food prices were first limited, then rationing was introduced. In five million pigs were massacred in the so-called Schweinemord to both make food and preserve grain. During the war from August to mid, the excess deaths over peacetime caused by malnutrition and high rates of exhaustion and disease and despair came to about , civilians. The German army opened the war on the Western Front with a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan , designed to quickly attack France through neutral Belgium before turning southwards to encircle the French army on the German border.

The Belgians fought back, and sabotaged their rail system to delay the Germans. The Germans did not expect this and were delayed, and responded with systematic reprisals on civilians, killing nearly 6, Belgian noncombatants, including women and children, and burning 25, houses and buildings.

The last days of this battle signified the end of mobile warfare in the west. The French offensive into Germany launched on 7 August with the Battle of Mulhouse had limited success. In the east, only one Field Army defended East Prussia and when Russia attacked in this region it diverted German forces intended for the Western Front. The Central Powers were thereby denied a quick victory and forced to fight a war on two fronts. The German army had fought its way into a good defensive position inside France and had permanently incapacitated , more French and British troops than it had lost itself.

Despite this, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance of obtaining an early victory. They each lasted most of the year, achieved minimal gains, and drained away the best soldiers of both sides. Verdun became the iconic symbol of the murderous power of modern defensive weapons, with , German casualties, and , French. At the Somme, there were over , German casualties, against over , Allied casualties.

At Verdun, the Germans attacked what they considered to be a weak French salient which nevertheless the French would defend for reasons of national pride. The Somme was part of a multinational plan of the Allies to attack on different fronts simultaneously.

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  7. German experts are divided in their interpretation of the Somme. Some say it was a standoff, but most see it as a British victory and argue it marked the point at which German morale began a permanent decline and the strategic initiative was lost, along with irreplaceable veterans and confidence. This happened as the enthusiasm for war faded with the enormous numbers of casualties, the dwindling supply of manpower, the mounting difficulties on the homefront, and the never-ending flow of casualty reports.

    A grimmer and grimmer attitude began to prevail amongst the general population. The highlight only was the first use of mustard gas in warfare, in the Battle of Ypres. After, morale was helped by victories against Serbia, Greece, Italy, and Russia which made great gains for the Central Powers. Morale was at its greatest since at the end of and beginning of with the defeat of Russia following her rise into revolution, and the German people braced for what Ludendorff said would be the "Peace Offensive" in the west.

    In spring , Germany realized that time was running out. It prepared for the decisive strike with new armies and new tactics, hoping to win the war on the Western front before millions of American soldiers appeared in battle. General Erich Ludendorff and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg had full control of the army, they had a large supply of reinforcements moved from the Eastern front, and they trained storm troopers with new tactics to race through the trenches and attack the enemy's command and communications centers.

    The new tactics would indeed restore mobility to the Western front, but the German army was too optimistic. During the winter of it was "quiet" on the Western Front—British casualties averaged "only" 3, a week. Serious attacks were impossible in the winter because of the deep caramel-thick mud. Quietly the Germans brought in their best soldiers from the eastern front, selected elite storm troops, and trained them all winter in the new tactics. With stopwatch timing, the German artillery would lay down a sudden, fearsome barrage just ahead of its advancing infantry. Moving in small units, firing light machine guns, the storm troopers would bypass enemy strongpoints, and head directly for critical bridges, command posts, supply dumps and, above all, artillery batteries.

    By cutting enemy communications they would paralyze response in the critical first half hour. By silencing the artillery they would break the enemy's firepower. Rigid schedules sent in two more waves of infantry to mop up the strong points that had been bypassed. The shock troops frightened and disoriented the first line of defenders, who would flee in panic.


    In one instance an easy-going Allied regiment broke and fled; reinforcements rushed in on bicycles. The panicky men seized the bikes and beat an even faster retreat. The stormtrooper tactics provided mobility, but not increased firepower. Eventually—in and —the formula would be perfected with the aid of dive bombers and tanks, but in the Germans lacked both. Ludendorff erred by attacking the British first in , instead of the French.

    He mistakenly thought the British to be too uninspired to respond rapidly to the new tactics. The exhausted, dispirited French perhaps might have folded.

    The German Army in World War I (3)

    The German assaults on the British were ferocious—the largest of the entire war. At the Somme River in March, 63 divisions attacked in a blinding fog. No matter, the German lieutenants had memorized their maps and their orders. The British lost , men, fell back 40 miles, and then held.

    They quickly learned how to handle the new German tactics: fall back, abandon the trenches, let the attackers overextend themselves, and then counterattack. They gained an advantage in firepower from their artillery and from tanks used as mobile pillboxes that could retreat and counterattack at will.

    In April Ludendorff hit the British again, inflicting , casualties—but he lacked the reserves to follow up. Ludendorff launched five great attacks between March and July, inflicting a million British and French casualties. The Western Front now had opened up—the trenches were still there but the importance of mobility now reasserted itself.

    History of Germany during World War I

    The Allies held. The Germans suffered as many casualties as they inflicted, including most of their precious stormtroopers. The new German replacements were under-aged youth or embittered middle-aged family men in poor condition. They were not inspired by the elan of , nor thrilled with battle—they hated it, and some began talking of revolution. Ludendorff could not replace his losses, nor could he devise a new brainstorm that might somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The British likewise were bringing in boys and men aged 50, but since their home front was in good condition, and since they could see the Americans arriving steadily, their morale was higher.

    The great German spring offensive was a race against time, for everyone could see the Americans were training millions of fresh young men who would eventually arrive on the Western Front. The attrition warfare now caught up to both sides. Germany had used up all the best soldiers they had, and still had not conquered much territory. The British were out of fresh manpower, the French nearly so.

    Berlin had calculated it would take months for the Americans to ship all their men and supplies—but the U. Berlin also assumed that Americans were fat, undisciplined and unaccustomed to hardship and severe fighting. They soon realized their mistake. The Germans reported that "The qualities of the [Americans] individually may be described as remarkable. They are physically well set up, their attitude is good They lack at present only training and experience to make formidable adversaries.

    The men are in fine spirits and are filled with naive assurance. By September , the Central Powers were exhausted from fighting, and the American forces were pouring into France at a rate of 10, a day. Although German armies were still on enemy soil as the war ended, the generals, the civilian leadership—and indeed the soldiers and the people—knew all was hopeless.

    They started looking for scapegoats. The hunger and popular dissatisfaction with the war precipitated revolution throughout Germany.