With the failure at Ypres, Falkenhayn is no longer so confident of eventual German victory in this war. The German commander suggests that Germany should abandon aspirations towards total victory. Instead, a negotiated peace with Russia should immediately be pursued, allowing the nation’s forces to be concentrated against Britain and France. After all, why should the two conservative empires be fighting each other and not the liberal democracies in the west?
When Bethmann Hollweg receives Falkenhayn’s suggestion he is aghast. The Chancellor finds it unthinkable that Germany could open negotiations with Russia, as this would be an admission of weakness. If German forces were to win a decisive victory against the Russians then perhaps peace overtures could then be made, but for now there is no question that the war must go on.