The German Home Front, 1917: An Actual Revolutionary Situation

John Terraine describes how, in 1917, there was little to sustain German morale at home.

From the moment when Field-Marshal von Hindenburg became Chief of Staff, and General Erich Ludendorff became First Quartermaster-General of the German Armies, both German strategy and German policy began to undergo drastic change. The two eminent generals, full of the renown of their Eastern Front victories, took up their lofty appointments on August 20th, 1916, and on September 5th they paid their first visit to the Western Front. What they found shocked them deeply.

The Battle of Verdun had begun in February; on July 11th, ten days after the opening of the Battle of the Somme, Hindenburg’s predecessor, General von Falkenhayn, had tried to terminate the Verdun commitment, now at its 141st day. But just as it takes two sides to make a battle, so it takes two sides to end one. ‘Verdun’, says Ludendorff, ‘remained an open, wasting sore.’

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