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British were not yet familiar with their ground, and a
heavy mist enabled the enemy to surprise them. Shells
from the great guns fell far behind the front lines, while
light cannon and countless machine guns were brought up
by the attackers. The British were beaten as never be-
fore during the war, and for the first time on the west-
ern front fortified lines were broken completely. The
German plan had been to separate the French from the
British, and drive the British back upon the Channel where
they could have been destroyed; but to the north, about
Arras, the British lines held so that this was by no means
accomplished. None the less, the Germans had broken
clear through, and when at last their advance was arrested,
they had gone more than thirty miles, up to the out-
skirts of the all-important railroad center, Amiens.
Scarcely had the fighting died down when another fearful
blow was struck farther north. The lines were raked
with shells and every position drenched with gases. In
Armentieres the streets ran with the liquid of the mustard
gas. An overwhelming force was thrown against the
British again, and they were driven back so far that Sir
Douglas Haig, their commander, told them they were
fighting with "backs to the wall." But they fought as the
British usually do fight, and, with some aid from the French,
held on and barred the way to the Channel. This was in
April. In May came the third phase of the German



offensive, this time against the French lines. In one
great rush they went through the position of Chemin des
Dames, and piercing far through the hnes, rushed on until
once more they came to the Marne. It was evident that
the crisis of the war had come. If the CJermans could,
from the positions they had taken, strike out again with
the same success, they might next time get as far as
Paris. Under stress of the fearful peril all the Allied
armies were at last put under one command, under the
great French general Foch, and cries went out to the
United States to hasten her succor.

The Americans had made giant strides in their vast
preparations, but the best judges abroad did not expect
them to be ready yet. Now, however, the need was so
pressing that they were asked to send across troops only
partly trained. This was done. The British furnished
most of the shipping, from their own diminished stock, and,
protected by warships from the submarines, there now
began across the ocean a movement of men such as had
never been seen before in the w^orld. Early in July there
were a million American soldiers in France, and they were
now coming at the rate of more than a quarter of a million
each month. And more than that, as they were tried, at
first in very small operations, they bore themselves so well
as to give much hope for the future. Evidently there was
not much more time for the Germans to get the decision
before the weight of America was felt. Twice again did
the Germans strike, with less success than before. Then
July 14 their last offensive was undertaken. Between
Rheims and Chateau-Thierry the attack was delivered and
an effort made to cross the Marne and open the road to
Paris. But the German plans had become known, and the
French, giving ground a little, smothered the abandoned
positions in a whirlwind of hre, and after terrible losses
the Germans were brought completely to a stand.

Four days later, July 18, Marshal Foch began a great

answers the

Last effort
of the Ger-
Second Bat-
tle of the



of the Allied

Great as-
sault on the

Allied offensive. The assistance from the United States
had enabled him to establish a reserve and again assemble
an "army of maneuver." The Germans had driven
three salients into his line, and in these salients they had
the inner position and the short lines, but between the
two greater salients, in the region from Montdidier to
Soissons, the Allies had the same advantage. Accordingly
it was from this part of the line that the Allied offensive
began. A sudden attack by French troops and some
Americans nearly captured Soissons, and threatened with
gravest peril the German forces under the Crown Prince.
After many days of desperate fighting these forces were
extricated, but with heavy losses and after abandoning
what they had taken in the successful stroke that had
brought them down to the Marne. Meanwhile, August
8, the British struck out at Montdidier, at the side of the
salient to the north, and, capturing many prisoners and
many important places, retook what they had lost in the
disaster of March. During the same time the Germans
abandoned without fighting the blood-soaked positions
captured at such terrible cost when they tried to break
through to the Channel. By the end of August, there-
fore, the great danger was past, and the Germans had
definitively lost the offensive.

The question now was whether it would be better to
wait until the following year, or press hard upon the de-
feated Germans and try to end the war shortly. Great
as was the assistance of America, it would not be until
1919 that she could exert her full force. Then she could
have millions of soldiers fully equipped, a vast number of
airplanes, and an incredible supply of artillery. German
spies carried news of the colossal preparations to their
country, and it was reported that a far more deadly gas
than any used hitherto was being made in quantities
larger than gases were made in all the other warring
countries combined. Next year all this could be used.



But Marshal Foch, understanding the situation more
clearly, resolved to continue the attack, and the fighting
went on without any cessation.

September 13, in their first large operation, the Amer-
icans wiped out the St. Mihiel salient which the Germans
had driven to the south of Verdun in the early weeks of
the war. Later on now it would be possible to attack the
great German fortress of ^letz. A fortnight later a
large American army began fighting to clear the Argonne
Forest, which was the great buttress of the German lines
in the south, and which protected one of their all-
important lines of railroad communication. In the center
the French did not press the attack upon the impregnal>le
positions about Laon, but in the north the British with
some Americans and some Belgians tried to smash
through the Hindenburg Line in one place and in another
break do^vn into Flanders. It was the Germans who
were now with their backs to the wall.

The failing German fortunes were accompanied by col-
lapse everywhere else. The Allied army which in October,
1915, had landed at Salonica had never accomplished
anything, largely because it could not be strongly rein-
forced and because the submarines constantly harassed
its communication line. But now, in September, 1918,
it suddenly fell upon the Bulgars, and broke through their
positions. In a few days the Serbs were back once more
in their country, and the Allies were threatening the
Bulgarian plain. By the end of the month Bulgaria had
signed an armistice agreement equivalent to complete
surrender. Turkey, long since exliausted, and just
defeated in Asia by the British, was now in a hopeless
position, and her surrender soon followed. This brought
to an end the German dream of domination in the Balkans
and of founding a great "^Middle Europe." In October,
the Austrians, urged on by the Germans, but with almost
no power left, attacked the Italians, failed completely,

The Ameri-
cans and
the British
go forward


allies sur-

The Italians



The Ger-
mans com-

The British
break the

The German
armies in
danger of

and then, struck by the Itahan armies, suffered the
greatest disaster of the war. The entire Austrian forces
surrendered or fled as disorganized rabble, abandoning
their stores and cannon. In a few days the Itahans were
through the mountains at last, at Trieste, in the Trentino,
and on the march for Vienna. November 4, Austria-
Hungary surrendered. The Germans now fought alone.
While these disasters were ruining the German cause,
they were fighting the last of their fight. Steadily through
the tangled thickets, the rocks, and the mazes of barbed
wire of the Argonne, the new American army was fighting
against the inferior German force; and though their losses
were very heavy, they advanced steadily, capturing posi-
tions deemed impregnable hitherto, and presently getting
the main railway line, the vital line of German communica-
tions in the south, under the fire of their long-range guns.
If this line were cut, a large part of the German army
might be forced to surrender. To the north the British
and their comrades, with as splendid dash as was ever
seen during the war, broke at last all through the Hinden-
burg Line, with its wide trenches, its deep underground
fortifications, its labyrinths of barbed wire, and its thou-
sands of machine-gun emplacements. Here the courage
of the British soldier was aided by the "tanks'* or small
moving fortresses, which the British had first used in the
Somme offensive of 1916, and which at last solved the
problem of smashing the systems of entrenchments.
Moreover, they now broke through in Belgium and oc-
cupied the coast with its submarine bases. Then, turning
south, they began to threaten the other great artery of
German rail communications, the trunk line from Paris
to Berlin, which goes through the valley of the Meuse, by
Namur and Liege. If this should be cut, and if the Ameri-
cans cut the other line in the south, then the Germans
might be forced to surrender on the field or else save them-
selves only by a flight like that of the Austrian armies.



The German soldiers, so wonderful in the days of suc-
cess, began to waver now, and disaffection and despair
increased among the German people. They had been
slowly starved by the blockade, and, after staking all they
had, they had lost. Widespread discontent was abetted
by bolshevist propaganda from the east, ever insidiously
crossing the frontier. The men of the navy, ordered to
dash out for a last effort, mutinied. The end was at
hand. The authorities asked for an armistice, but Presi-
dent Wilson, answering for the Allies, replied in effect
that the Germans could not be trusted, and that the only
conditions to be granted would be such that if the Ger-
mans should later on wish to resume the war they would
not be able to do so. When the conditions were an-
nounced, they were terrible enough: not only must the
Germans at once evacuate France, Belgium, and their
other conquests, but they must abandon Alsace-Lorraine
and withdraw behind the Rhine, leaving the bridgehead
fortresses to the Allies, and giving up their richest indus-
trial district. They must surrender their fleet and their
submarines, disband their army, and give up most of
their military equipment. It was evident at once that
the acceptance of such terms w^ould mean the end of the
war. Revolution and disturbances now arose in various
parts of the Reich. November 9, the German emperor
abdicated and fled to Holland. Two days later, November
11, German emissaries signed the armistice terms. The
most terrible of all wars had ended.

The Ger-
man Em-
pire sur-

of the armis-
tice granted


General accounts: for brief narratives — S. B. Harding, A
Syllabus of the Great War (1918); C. J. H. Hayes, A Brief History
of the Great War (1920) ; A. F. Pollard, A Short History of the
Great War (1920); also F. A. Marcii, History of the World War
(1918); D. W. Johnson, Topography and Strategy in the War
(1917); longer accounts are John Buchan, Nelsons History of


the War (1915-); F. H. Simonds, The Great War, 5 volumes
(1914-20), perhaps the best of the longer, non-technical ac-
counts. Several periodical histories were undertaken by great
metropolitan journals : London Times History of the War, Man-
chester Guardian History of the War, New York Times Current
History of the War, voluminous and discursive, but with a vast
amount of interesting information. Of the longer histories
the most important are the British History of the Great War
Based on Ojfficial Documents (1920-); Guerre de 19H: Docu-
ments Officiels, Textes Legislatifs et Reglementaires (1914—),
official publication of the French Government; Der Grosse
Krieg in Einzeldarstellungen, which appeared in parts from time
to time, published by the German Great General Staff (now
disbanded). Many excellent and interesting histories have al-
ready appeared abroad: C. H. Baer, Der Volkerkrieg (1915—);
G. Hanotaux, Histoire Ulustree de la Guerre de 1914,' H. F. Hel-
molt, Der Weltkrieg (1915-); F. M. Kircheisen, Das Volker-
ringen, iyiJf-15 (1915-); Hermann Stegemann, Geschichte des
Krieges, volumes I-III (1917-19), excellent.

Accounts by principal commanders: General Erich von Fal-
kenhayn, trans. General Headquarters, 1914-1916, and Its
Critical Decisions (1919); Field Marshal Viscount French, 1914
(1919) ; General Basil Gourko, Memories and Impressions of War
and Revolution in Russia, 1914-1917 (1918); Sir Douglas Haig's
Despatches {December, 1915-April, 1919), edited by Lieut.-Col.
J. H. Boraston (1919); General Erich Ludendorff, My War
Memories, 1914-1918, 2 vols. (1919), excellent comments on
strategy and great events in the conflict.

Particular episodes or campaigns: Von Auffenberg-Komarow,
Aus Osterreich-Ungarns Theilnahme am Weltkriege (1920), by
one of the Austrian commanders; General-Major Baumgarten-
Crusius, Die Marneschlacht (1919), very important, based on
German official documents; General Berthaut, "L'Erreur^'
de 1914, Reponse aux Critiques (1919); E. Bircher, Die Schlacht
an der Marne (1918), major in the General Staff of the Ger-
man army; John Buchan, The Battle of the Somme (1917); Gen-
eral Luigi Capello, Note di Guerra (1920), for Italy's part;
Memoires de General Gallieni, Defense de Paris (1920); Louis
Gillet, La Bataille de Verdun (1920); Sidney Low, Italy in the
War (1917); Louis Madelin, La Victoire de la Marne (1916),
trans., perhaps the best account for the general reader; John
Masefield, Gallipoli (1916); Major-General Sir F. Maurice,


Forty Days in 19U (1910); IT. W. Nevinson. The Dardanelles
Campaign (1918); [luionymoiis], Po^irquoi VAllernagne a Capi-
tuU le 11 Novembre 1918 (1919), evidently bused on documents
in possession of the French General Headquarters; G. Prezzolini
Caporetto (1919); Raymond Recouly, Foch; le Vainqueur de la
Guerre (1919); Lieut. -Col. Rousset, La Bataille de VAime
{Avril-Mai, 1917) (1919), for the Nivelle offensive; D. Sanco-
vici. La Paix de Bucharest (1919); Lieut.-Col. de Thomasson,
Le Revers de 19 H et Ses Causes (1919).

The war on the sea: Charles Domville-Fife, Submarines and
Sea Pouier (1919), excellent; Admiral Lord Jellicoc, The Grmid
Fleet, 19U-1916 (1918), a very important book, The Crisis of
the Naval War (1920); J. Leyland, The Rmjal Navy (1914);
Captain L. Persius, Der Seekrieg (1919); Rear- Admiral W. S.
Sims, The Victory at Sea (1920); Grand Admiral von Tirpitz,
trans. My Memoirs, 2 vols. (1919).

The war in the air: Major Charles C. Turner, The Struggle in
the Air, 19U-1918 (1919).

America and the war: Lindsay Rogers, Americans Case Against
Germany (1917), a good brief account; Diplomatic Correspondence
Between the United States and Germany, August 1, 19H-April 6,
1917, edited by J. B. Scott (1919); Lieut.-Col. de Chambrun
and Captain de Marenches, UArmee Americaine dans le Conflit
EuropSen (1919), excellent.

The Allied soldiers, and especially the British, in the war:
Philip Gibbs, Nmv It Can Be Told (1920), a book that deserves
the widest possible reading.

German practices in the war: Die Deutsche Kriegsfuhrung
und das Volkerrecht (1919), a German official publication at-
tempting justification; Hugh Gibson, A Journal Jrom Our
Legation in Belgium (1917); S. S. McClure, Obstacles to Peace
(1917); Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthaus Story
(1918); A. J. Toynbee, The German Terror in Belgium (1917),
The German Terror in France (1917); Brand Whitlock, Belgium:
a Personal Narrative, 2 vols. (1919), excellent.

The neutrals: Luis Bello, Espana durante la Guerra (1919).

Peace proposals: G. L. Dickinson, Documents and Statements
Relating to Peace Proposals and War Aims (December, 191G-
November, 1918) (1919).


The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be
planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.

Address of President Wilson to the Congress of the United
States, April 2, 1917.

The idea that action should be taken after this war to secure an
enduring peace in the future. . . .
Viscount Bryce, Essays and Addresses in War Time (1918), p.

We know that the 'power of the German arms is broken. We
know the extent of the hatred which we encounter here.
But we deny that Germany and its people were alone guilty.
Count Brockdorff-Rantzau to the Plenipotentiaries at Ver-
sailles, May 7, 1919.

Not since Rome punished Carthage for Punic faith has such a treaty
been written.

New York Tribune, May 8, 1919.

The settle- When the Germans, with weariness and despair at home

ment after and their armies crumbhng under the blows of the AUies
^® '^^ at the front, surrendered by accepting the armistice, it

was evident that an old era in the history of the western
world had come to an end, and that the leaders of the na-
tions must assemble and settle the affairs of the age which
had been and prepare for the new order that was com-
ing. Several times had this happened before in the his-
tory of Europe. In 1648, at the end of the dreadful
Thirty Years War, a general settlement was made, of
which the arrangement lasted for a long time thereafter.
In 1713 and 1714 the powers which had fought out the
War of the Spanish Succession arranged the division of



the Spanish inheritance and checked tlie encroachment
of the monarchs of France. More important still, in 1814
and 1815 the powers that had overthrown Napoleon as-
sembled at Vienna to undo his work and the results of
the French Revolution, reestablish legitimate princes,
and divide Europe as seemed to them best. And so now
in 1919 the greatest of all the peace conferences was
opened in Paris.

Never had a peace congress assembled in the midst of
such general interest, or in the midst of such great and
unreasoning expectations. In 1648 and 1712 the great
mass of the people had no voice in government and little
interest in what governments did. So it was in 1814,
though then many people believed that a new and better
era was at hand. But in 1919 the people of those states
which had brought the Great War to victorious conclusion
had considerable control of their governments; most of the
populations could read and write, and had followed the
events of the struggle witli enormous interest. Moreover,
whatever the original aims of the contestants may have
been, as the war progressed and became a contest of
endurance and exliaustion, so that it was necessary to
have the fullest support of the body of the people, such
appeals were uttered and such promises made, that pres-
ently to the people in Great Britain, Italy, France, and the
United States the struggle seemed more and more a
contest between militarism and autocracy on the one
hand, and democracy and peaceful ci\alization on the
other. Men were asked to throw themselves into the
fighting now so that the world might be made "safe for
democracy," and so that war with all its horrors might
be brought to an end. Everywhere tlie masses of the
people, the simple minded, the liberal, the idealists,
yearned for these things and believed that they would
shortly come to pass, and that a new and a better world
was about to be brought into being.

Public inter-
est and ex-






The Presi-
dent of the


At the head of these people in all of the Allied countries,
and to some extent even among the enemy, was President
"SVilson of the United States, the greatest idealist of his
time. There was difference of opinion about the wisdom
of his course before America entered the war, whether
he should not have led the United States to take part in it
long before she finally entered; and also about the pro-
priety of some things which he afterward did; but there
could be no doubt about the loftiness and purity of his
motives, or that he had the good of mankind at heart.
His speeches and his communications seemed to great
numbers of people in the Allied countries, and perhaps
even in Germany and Austria, to express the yearnings of
their hearts for better things. So it came about that at
the end of the war he had for a short while unparalleled
influence among multitudes of people who trusted with
pathetic confidence that he would in some way bring
about the great reforms he had spoken of so finely,
and which they believed would at once make the world
far better than it ever had been in the past. Many of
the people who spoke so confidently of the immense im-
provements now suddenly to be made had thought little
about the difficulty of achieving them, and knew not that
some of these things were old problems which had baffled
mankind for ages.

In January, 1918, just before the last crisis of the struggle.
President Wilson, in an address to Congress, had outlined
the "Fourteen Conditions" of what he regarded as proper
peace. Here, in addition to saying that Russia should
be evacuated, Belgium, France, Rumania, Servia, and
Montenegro evacuated and restored, that Alsace-Lorraine
should be returned to France, that the Italian frontier
should be rectified, that a free Poland should be estab-
lished, and that the subject peoples of Turkey and of
Austria-Hungary should be given opportunity for autono-
mous development, he declared that there must be an

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Pi Sx






:^ §









to sa


impartial adjustment of colonial claims with consideration
of the populations involved. He then entered upon wide
and more difficult questions in saying that there nmst be
"open covenants of peace, openly arrived at," and no
more private international understanding's; "absolute
freedom of navigation upon the seas"; removal of eco-
nomic barriers; guarantees for the reduction of arma-
ments; and "a general association of nations" under
specific covenants for the purpose of maintaining peace.
Some of these provisions were at once criticized as vague
or liable to eviaent objection, or impossible of fulfillment,
but they were immediately accepted by multitudes who
believed them to be practicable and necessary for the good
of the world.

Some of the matters here proclaimed did present
enormous difficulty. To make treaties openly, or to bring
diplomacy within the control of the representatives of the
people, had been much desired by reformers for a long
time and many efforts had been made to obtain it; but
these efforts had failed for reasons well understood by
some people. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
the English House of Commons had made repeated ef-
forts to take control of foreign affairs, and when the first
American government was instituted such control was
given to Congress; but in both countries it was presently
obvious to those who studied the matter that, conditions
being what they were, secrecy was necessary for the
proper conduct of foreign relations, which was impossible
if they were communicated to a large legislative as-
sembly; and that such business could only be transacted
effectively if left to the management of a small number of
experienced and expert men.

More immediately troublesome was the question of the
"freedom of the seas." This was a cry which had been
raised by the Germans during the war, and from them
taken up by pacifists and idealists everywhere, who believed

For an



Control of



of the Seas"

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 41 of 49)