The pace of conflict on the Western Front has temporarily slowed. The Germans are withdrawing to the Hindenburg Line while logistical problems are making it hard for the Allies to pursue them with all necessary vigour as they are now marching further and further from their bases of supply. The blasted landscape Allied troops are moving through was cleared of anything useful by the Germans last year during their previous withdrawal, with even wells poisoned or filled in, making it impossible to live off the land. The Germans are also making prodigious use of poison gas to slow the Allies, shelling broad areas to deny them to the enemy.
The Germans have their own logistic problems. While their men are moving towards their bases, the German army is suffering from an acute shortage of horses, which makes it difficult to move supplies to where they are needed. The German army’s crisis of morale is also seeing incidents whereby stores are looted before supplies can be despatched to where they are most needed.
The Germans hope that the Hindenburg Line will hold back the Allies and that after unsuccessful attempts to breach it they will agree to end the war. But what if the Hindenburg Line fails? At German army headquarters today, Ludendorff proposes the creation of a second line behind it. However he rejects suggestions that the German army could greatly shorten its line by abandoning most of the gains of 1914; he deems this an unacceptable admission of defeat. Ludendorff also blames the recent reverses on the poor performance of the men at the front. This shocks his fellow officers, who feel that he should be more appreciative of the sufferings of the frontline troops. They note also that he in no way sees the current situation as resulting from his own poor decisions.
Map showing German retreats (The Long, Long Trail: The Battles of the Hindenburg Line)
The Hindenburg Line is shown by the name the Germans used for it: the Siegfried Line.