July 1918

Germany’s last offensive fails. The Tsar and his family are murdered. The Allies prepare to attack.


1/7/1918 Writing on the wall for Austria-Hungary as France declares support for an independent Czechoslovakia

3/7/1918 “Wholesale jollification”: Lettow-Vorbeck’s victory at Nhamacurra

3/7/1918 The death of Mehmed V of Turkey

4/7/1918 Hamel: a local victory for the Australians and a worrying portent for the Germans

6/7/1918 The Left SR uprising: a deadly threat to the Bolsheviks at the heart of their power

7/7/1918 The Bolshevik regime secure once more as the Left SR uprising fizzles out

9/7/1918 The dangerous folly of low level acrobatics

15/7/1918 Round Five: Ludendorff’s Peace Offensive

17/7/1918 The sinking of the Carpathia

17/7/1918 The Tsar and his family killed

18/7/1918 2nd Marne: the French strike back

22/7/1918 Ludendorff shaken as French troops advance across the Marne

24/7/1918 Foch meets the Allied commanders, calls for them to go on the attack

26/7/1918 The last flight of Mick Mannock, Britain’s highest scoring fighter ace

29/7/1918 Trotsky drafts the Tsar’s officers

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

June 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

images

German prisoners, July 1918 (Wikipedia Commons)

1926 depiction of the Tsar’s murder (History: Why Czar Nicholas II and the Romanovs Were Murdered)

June 1918

German offensives on the Western Front blocked. The cold grip of influenza. More and more Americans. Austria-Hungary’s disastrous attack across the Piave. More turmoil in Russia.

1/6/1918 Beethoven comes to Japan

1/6/1918 Roderic Dallas is promoted too late

4/6/1918 Pemberton Billing wins “Cult of the Clitoris” libel trial

4/6/1918 Trotsky: “Long Live Civil War!”

6/6/1918 US troops halt one German offensive as Ludendorff prepares another

7/6/1918 Influenza spreads its tentacles

8/6/1918 The Komuch: an anti-Bolshevik government in Siberia, supported by the Czechoslovaks

9/6/1918 Round four: Ludendorff unleashes Operation Gneisenau

10/6/1918 Austria-Hungary’s failed naval breakout

10/6/1918 Vorontsovka: Germany and Turkey come to blows

11/6/1918 French counterattack blocks Germany’s latest offensive

13/6/1918 An inconvenient Grand Duke meets his end

15/6/1918 Austria-Hungary attacks across the Piave

16/6/1918 Failure on the Piave for Austria-Hungary

17/6/1918 Ludendorff prepares for Round Five

19/6/1918 Italy strikes back on the Piave river

19/6/1918 Francesco Baracca’s last patrol over the Piave

20/6/1918 Arthur Griffith wins East Cavan by-election from his English prison cell

21/6/1918 Austria-Hungary retreats across the Piave

23/6/1918 Piave: for Italy a triumph, for Austria-Hungary disaster

25/6/1918 US Marines clear the Germans from Belleau Wood

28/6/1918 In response to industrial unrest the Bolsheviks nationalise industry

29/6/1918 Vladivostok falls to the Czechoslovak Legion

30/6/1918 Time begins to run out for the Germans

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

May 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

image sources:

German machine gunners advance (German History in Documents and Image – Advance of a German Machine Gun Unit on the Western Front (June 1918))

Ludendorff’s first four offensives (100 Years Ago Today, @CenturyAgoToday on Twitter)

US Marines attacking in Belleau Wood (War on the Rocks: The importance of the Battle of Belleau Wood)

Europe and the Near East, June 1918 (Mental Floss WW1 Centennial: Austria Hungary’s last gasp)

May 1918

Civil war escalates in Russia but comes to an end in Finland. British forces round up malcontents accused of preparing for German invasion of Ireland. After a lull, Ludendorff’s third offensive smashes the French. And American troops receive their baptism of fire.

4/5/1918 Turkey in the ascendant as the British retreat across the Jordan

6/5/1918 Ludendorff ponders his next move

7/5/1918 Romania agrees to harsh peace terms with Germany

9/5/1918 Britain raids Ostend again

9/5/1918 Bolshevik problems: sulky workers and stingy peasants

11/5/1918 Emperor Karl takes his punishment

12/5/1918 Alienated Cossacks revolt against the Bolsheviks

14/5/1918 The Chelyabinsk Incident: violence breaks out between the Czechoslovak Legion and the Bolsheviks

14/5/1918 Diaz reforms the Italian army but angers Foch by refusing to attack

16/5/1918 Finland’s Whites celebrate victory as the civil war comes to an end

17/5/1918 Sinn Féin leaders arrested as Britain strikes against “German plot”

19/5/1918 The last Gotha bombing raid on London

19/5/1918 Gervais Lufbery’s fatal fall

21/5/1918 Ludendorff’s gaze turns to India

23/5/1918 The former Tsar and Tsarina are joined in Ekaterinburg by their children

25/5/1918 Trotsky orders the Czechoslovak Legion’s suppression

26/5/1918 Georgia exits the Transcaucasian Federation

27/5/1918 Blücher-Yorck: German stormtroopers smash the French

28/5/1918 Hubert Rees meets the Kaiser

28/5/1918 Cantigny: US troops have their baptism of fire

31/5/1918 A new French tank

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

April 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

image sources:

German stormtroopers advance (CWGC: Operation Blücher-Yorck)

map (Mental Floss – Erik Sass’s WWI Centennial: America’s Fighting Debut)

Dark Corners: “Westfront 1918” (1930)

Over on my other blog I wrote about a German film from 1930 set in 1918 as the tide begins to turn in favour of the Allies.

Secret Panda

Nearly three years ago the Irish Film Institute hosted the Dark Corners season of films from the Weimar Republic. I wrote about them in the pages of popular journal Frank’s APA and now at last I am sharing my thoughts on these films with you, starting with this one. Popular films like Cabaret have fixed Weimar in the public mind as a period of decadent excess that almost deserved to be swept away by the Nazis. Weimar cinema meanwhile is usually associated with expressionism (funny camera angles, strange sets, fantastic plots), but the programming of this season attempted to present a broader picture of the films produced in that era. Old favourites like Dr Mabuse, Caligari, Nosferatu and Metropolis were avoided in favour of other types of picture, particularly ones showcasing the New Objectivity style of the 1920s, though they did still show expressionist classic Der Golem (which…

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Whither Great War Live?

Readers will have noticed that I stopped updating this blog on 28 June 2019, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. That was always the end point I had in mind for this project, even though much at that point still remained unresolved – notably the future shape of Turkey, the fate of Russia, the status of Ireland (my own country) and indeed whether the United States would join the League of Nations. I could have continued the blog further but the Treaty’s signing on the anniversary of Franz Ferdinand’s murder was too convenient a stopping point, and any continuation beyond that point would have meant a dissipation of focus away from the First World War itself.

So is that the end of this blog? Basically, yes. I had hoped to occasionally treat readers to reviews of Great War related books, but other demands on my time have left these hopes unrealised. I have also failed to produce short notes on some general Great War topics (whose fault was the war, why did the Allies win, could the war have turned out differently, and so on). These may yet appear though if they do it will be a pleasant surprise.

One thing however I am going to do is complete the posts I had been doing compiling each month’s worth of posts in one place (you can see links to these for the years 1914 to 1916 here and 1917 here). Pressure of time in the early summer of 2018 forced me to abandon these, with the April 1918 post being the last one on the blog. I was never that clear whether anyone read these (which is true of posts on the blog generally), but as a completist I feel the need to finish these off, so I am going to post the remaining ones of these month by month from the end of May this year to June 2021. I have created a page for links to these monthly summary posts for 1918 here, should readers wish to catch up on what was going on in the spring of 1918 (summary: Germany was trying to win the war before the arrival of American troops irrevocably turned the tide in the Allies’ favour).

If you are interested, I also have another blog, on which I post occasionally about books and films and music and stuff.

images all from Giant Military Cats on Twitter, which I recommend to anyone who likes both cats and military things.

28/6/1919 The German peace treaty signed in Versailles

Seven weeks ago the Allies presented their peace terms to the Germans. Five days ago the German government finally agreed to accept the terms rather than face an Allied invasion. Today their plenipotentiaries, Herman Müller of the Social Democrats and Johannes Bell of the Centre Party, arrive in Versailles to sign the treaty.

The Allies have decided that the peace treaty will be signed in the Hall of Mirrors in the former royal palace, where in 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. Proceedings are opened by Clemenceau, the French premier. He calls on the Germans to sign the treaty, thereby signifying that their country will abide by the peace terms. Müller and Bell do so, making no speech and offering no protest, to everyone’s relief. The various Allied delegations then sign: first Wilson and the Americans, then Lloyd George and the British Empire delegations, then the French, Italian and Japanese delegations, who are in turn followed by representatives of the smaller powers. The whole affair is a piece of diplomatic theatre, so much so that Paul Cambon, France’s ambassador to Britain, feels that the occasion lacked only music and dancing girls.

The treaty contains many provisions that the Germans find distasteful. They are obliged to shoulder the responsibility for starting the war and they must also pay substantial reparations to the Allies. Large swathes of Germany territory is being ceded to Poland, whose corridor to the sea separates East Prussia from the rest of Germany; Danzig meanwhile is to become a free city, effectively a port for Poland. Germany is also losing territory to France (the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, captured in 1871), Belgium and Denmark (which has managed to expand its frontiers despite being neutral in the war). Germany is also to lose all its colonies, which will be divided out among the Allies as mandates, to be run for the benefit of their inhabitants. Meanwhile Germany’s union with Austria is forbidden and it will have to accept a long occupation of the Rhineland.

The treaty also imposes irksome restriction on Germany’s internal organisation. The country’s armed forces are to be limited in size to just 100,000 troops, who are to be long-serving volunteers rather than conscripts. Tanks and aircraft are forbidden to the German armed forces, as are chemical weapons. The navy is to be severely restricted in size and prohibited from possessing U-boats.

The German delegates consider these terms harsh. Some on the Allied side agree with them, with Lloyd George and Wilson in particular worrying that the treaty’s terms are laying the grounds for future wars, as one day a resentful Germany will seek its vengeance. But others, notably Clemenceau and especially Marshal Foch fear that the terms are too lenient, leaving France vulnerable to future attack by a resurgent Germany.

Wilson’s fears regarding the treaty’s harshness are assuaged by the foundation of a new League of Nations. The covenant of this international body has been included in the treaty, whose signatories are to be founding members (apart from Germany, which will only be allowed to join when it has demonstrated its reformed character). Wilson hopes that the League will allow the nations of the world to settle their disputes peacefully, without recourse to war.

The signing of the treaty does not bring an end to the work of the Paris Conference. Peace treaties with Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey remain to be drafted. But Germany was the Allies’ main enemy and with the German peace treaty signed there is a general sense that the conference is moving on to less important matters. Lloyd George and Wilson prepare to leave Paris and return home, with Wilson in particular knowing that selling the treaty domestically will not be easy.
And so in a sense the First World War comes to an end, five years to the day after a Serbian nationalist shot and killed an Austrian archduke.

images:

The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, by William Orpen (Wikipedia)

Clemenceau, Wilson, and Lloyd George leaving the Versailles palace after signing the treaty (Century Ireland: Germany signs the Peace Treaty in Versailles)

23/6/1919 Germany caves and accepts the Allied peace terms

In Paris Allied leaders are waiting to see whether Germany will accept the peace terms. Today is the final deadline for Germany’s decision: by 7.00 pm today the war will have started once again or the world will be on the road to peace. Rejection is considered likely, so Foch, the Allied generalissimo, is ready for an immediate invasion of Germany.

In Germany itself however the hardliners who oppose the peace have developed cold feet. The army signals that it supports accepting the terms, with army commanders knowing that it would not be possible to resist an Allied invasion. This seems to be enough to get the peace terms through the National Assembly, with even the right-wingers there supporting a resolution accepting the patriotic credentials of those who support the terms.

The Germans’ note signalling their acceptance arrives in Paris at 5.40 pm. The news is greeted with jubilation. Clemenceau races off to order Foch to call off his advance. The guns of Paris are fired, to let the population now that the war is definitely over and has ended in victory.

Now all that remains is to arrange the ceremony at which the peace treaty will be formally signed.

image:

The New York Times (The New York Times OTD, Twitter)

22/6/1919 Germany struggles with the Allied peace terms

The Allies have issued an ultimatum to the Germans: accept the proposed peace terms by tomorrow or face the renewal of war. This has caused a convulsion in the German body politic, where the terms are seen as dishonourable (in particular the requirement that Germany accept responsibility for starting the war) and harsh (notably the reparations that will have to be paid to the Allies). Groener, the army’s quartermaster general, has warned that renewal of the war would be a disaster and that Germany’s total defeat would be inevitable, but Hindenburg, the chief of staff, states that he would prefer “honourable defeat to a disgraceful peace”. Right-wingers and elements within the army’s officer corps support Hindenburg, some even fantasising that it might be possible to prevail over an Allied invasion. Brockdorff-Rantzau, the German foreign minister, meanwhile believes that if Germany stands firm then the Allies’ unity will break and they will be forced to moderate the their terms.

Erzberger is the main advocate for accepting the Allies’ terms. He was the head of the delegation that signed the armistice in November and since then has been Germany’s representative on the commission overseeing the armistice’s operations. Erzberger accepts that the proposed terms are invidious, but he argues that if they are accepted then Germany will be able to put the war behind it and start rebuilding its economy. If the terms are rejected then Germany faces ruin and will end up either being partitioned or succumbing to Bolshevik revolution.

The government is split. President Ebert himself comes close to resigning but is persuaded that duty requires him to stay in place and accept responsibility for the grave decision that must be made. His government falls but today he manages to put a new cabinet together (without Brockdorff-Rantzau). The national assembly authorises him to accept the Allied terms, but with the proviso that Germany rejects responsibility for starting the war. But the Allies are firm. Germany must accept the peace terms by tomorrow, in full and without reservation. If they fail to do so then the war will begin again.

image:

Matthias Erzberger (Wikipedia)

17/6/1919 The Epsom riots: rampage of the Canadians

Following the armistice last November, the Allies were able to demobilise many of their soldiers, but they still have large numbers of men under arms. The armistice was only a pause in the fighting and large Allied armies need to be maintained in case the war needed to be renewed. This has however led to a certain sulkiness on the part of the men who have not been demobilised, as they mostly want to return to civilian life as soon as possible.

This sulkiness on the part of the servicemen can sometimes cross over into unruliness, leading to a breakdown in discipline. Canadian soldiers based at Epsom in Surrey, near to London, are among those who are fed up of still being in uniform and have taken to increasingly loutish behaviour. Two Canadian soldiers are arrested after a brawl, but their comrades decide to free them. Today several hundred soldiers attack the police station in which the two are held. They secure the release of the two soldiers, serving up a thrashing to the greatly outnumbered policemen. The Canadians then rampage through the town, smashing windows and destroying property.

One of the policemen, Sergeant Thomas Green, is beaten with an iron bar. He falls into unconsciousness and later dies of his wounds.

images:

Epsom police station after the riots (Wikipedia)

Thomas Green (Surrey Live – The Epsom Riot: The story of one of Britain’s forgotten police tragedies)

16/6/1919 An ultimatum to Germany: sign the peace treaty or face renewed war

It is now nearly six weeks since the Germans were presented with the Allied peace terms. Since then there has been grave disquiet in Germany, with many feeling that their country is being roughly treated. The draft treaty’s provision that Germany bears the responsibility for starting the war is particularly galling, as are the reparation payments being demanded. Some in Germany have talked of rejecting the Allied terms and resuming the armed struggle, but wiser voices (including Groener, the army’s chief of staff) have pointed out that this would be a recipe for disaster. Since the armistice the German army has fallen into a parlous state while the Allies now occupy bridgeheads across the Rhine; in the event of the war’s resumption then the Germans would be unable to stop an Allied advance into the heart of their country.

Nevertheless, the Germans still have not signalled that they are willing to sign the peace treaty. On the Allied side it is starting to look as though the Germans are playing for time. And Allied leaders fear that time is not on their side, that if the final peace is delayed much longer they will not be able to restart the war. Much of the victorious Allied armies of last year have now been demobilised, with only 39 divisions of the 198 from November remaining on the Western Front. The remaining soldiers are understandably keen to return home as soon as possible, and war-weariness is increasingly gripping the home fronts, where people want their menfolk returned and a reduction of the wartime tax burden.

The Allies therefore decide to push the issue while they still can. Brockdorff-Rantzau and the rest of the German delegation are summoned to be informed that Germany has three days to agree to the Allied terms. If the Germans do not accept then the Allies will renew the war.

It is thought likely that the Germans will follow Brockdorff-Rantzau’s urgings and reject the treaty. But the Allies are ready for this eventuality. The British are ready to renew their naval blockade in all its harshness. And Foch, the supreme Allied commander, has made plans for an invasion of the German heartland.

image source:

Marshal Ferdinand Foch (Wikipedia)