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Germany’s Western Front

Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, 1915

Mark Osborne Humphries

Publication Year: 2010

This multi-volume series in seven parts is the first English-language translation of Der Weltkrieg, the German official history of the First World War. Originally produced between 1925 and 1944 using classified archival records that were destroyed in the aftermath of the Second World War, Der Weltkrieg is the untold story of Germany’s experience on the Western front, in the words of its official historians, making it vital to the study of the war and official memory in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Although exciting new sources have recently been uncovered in former Soviet archives, this work remains the basis of future scholarship. It is essential reading for any scholar, graduate student, or enthusiast of the Great War.

This volume, the first of the series to appear in print, focuses on 1915, the first year of trench warfare. For the first time in the history of warfare, poison gas was used against French and Canadian troops at Ypres. Meanwhile, conflict raged in the German High Command over the political and military direction of the war. The year 1915 also set the stage for the bloodbath at Verdun and sealed the fate of the German Supreme Commander, Erich von Falkenhayn. This is the official version of that story.

Foreword by Hew Strachan

Co-published with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

list of maps, sketches,and figures

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xx

War is a reactive business, a competition whose outcome is dependent not on some sort of absolute standard of excellence on the part of one side, but on the relative superiority of one side over another. It is this relationship—the dynamic between two opponents as each struggles to impose its will on the other...

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pp. xxi-xxiv

This volume of germany’s western front, the first to be published in the series, is the work of many hands. This book—and series—began in 2006 with a search for existing translations of scattered German-language sources in Ottawa, Pennsylvania,Washington,Kansas, and London. In Ottawa,Owen Cooke...

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pp. xxv-xxxviii

On 14 April 1945, a British bomber dropped several five-ton bombs over the Bauhausberg in Potsdam. They pierced the roof of the German National Archive’s warehouse and fell through seven floors of documents, exploding in the basement. The combination of incendiary devices and high explosives melted...

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a note on the translationand sources

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pp. xxxix-xli

This volume of germany’s western front is divided into three parts, each consisting of translated material from a different volume of Der Weltkrieg. “Part I:Winter and Spring” is taken from Volume VII, Die Operationen des Jahres 1915: Die Ereignisse im Winter und Frühjahr1 (originally published in 493 pages) and...


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pp. xlii-xliv


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1. The Question of the War’s Centre of Gravity in January

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pp. 3-20

At the beginning of 1915, the war in the east was not going well for Germany or Austria-Hungary. Despite victories under Paul von Hindenburg and his Chief of Staff Erich Ludendorff at Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes in August and September, the situation was far from stable. To...

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2. The Western Front to the Middle of April

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pp. 21-80

In the last days of 1914, when the deployment of the corps that had been newly formed in Germany was still undecided, Falkenhayn hoped that the Eastern Army would be able to supplement the newly activated four and a half corps—which were still intended for the West—to a total of six. The question was: Could a successful...

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3. The Change in Falkenhayn’s Plans

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pp. 81-130

Fortunes slowly changed in the east during the winter of 1915. The joint operation in the Carpathians, which had caused so much controversy between OberOst and the OHL earlier in the month, was launched on 23 January. Conrad’s plan called for the new Südarmee to seize passes through the centre of the mountains...


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4. The General Situation of the Central Powers in May

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pp. 133-154

General von Falkenhayn may have been a westerner at heart, but he understood that the weight of operations had to be shifted to the East to support Germany’s beleaguered ally as well as to influence the neutral powers’ decision making. On 2 May,Mackensen’s new Eleventh Army launched a large-scale attack into...

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5. The Western Front from the Middle of April to the Beginning of August

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pp. 155-218

During the early months of 1915 the German forces on the Western Front had been involved in heavy defensive engagements, which culminated in the winter battle in the Champagne. Despite the commitment of their strongest forces and the bitter month-long fighting, the French did not manage to break through the front

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6. Overview of the Multi-Front War during the Summer

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pp. 219-234

Italy’s entry into the war had dominated much of the strategic debate during the first half of the year. However, Italy proved to be a less formidable adversary than either Falkenhayn or Conrad feared. Operations on the Italian Front began soon after Italy’s declaration of war with the first of twelve Italian offensives...


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7. Overview of the Military Situation to the Middle of September

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pp. 237-240

The first year of war failed to produce a military decision anywhere. None of the enemies surrounding the Central Powers had been defeated. Turkey’s entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers in the fall of 1914, as well as Bulgaria’s alignment in the late summer of 1915, represented political achievements...

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8. The Western Front from Mid-Augustto the Beginning of theAutumn Offensive

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pp. 241-274

Operations in the spring of 1915 had convinced Joffre that, even with sufficient forces and materiel, a breakthrough of the German lines could only succeed if the initial attack itself was successful. Since these conditions had not been met, the French Supreme Commander terminated the attack launched by Tenth Army...

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9. The Autumn Offensive in the Artois and Champagne

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pp. 275-340

The enemy began actively preparing for the attack in early August. In Tenth Army’s sector the main thrust was centred on the area of Angres–Roclincourt, where the objective was the ridge back and to the west of Vimy, a mere 800 to 1,200 metres from the front line. At the same time, Foch assigned special significance...

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10. The Western Front to the End of the Year

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pp. 341-366

During the Entente’s great fall offensive, even the German armies on the Western Front that had not been directly attacked were affected to one degree or another by other enemy actions, by increased firing activity, or by the dispatching of troops.
In Fourth Army’s sector, the Belgians threatened the reinforced 4th Ersatz Division with an attack on 25 September. British warships pounded Zeebrugge...

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11. The Central Powers’ Situationat the End of 1915

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pp. 367-378

While the fighting raged in the champagne and the artois, the central Powers met with success on other fronts. On 6 September a new alliance between the Central Powers and Bulgaria was concluded for the campaign against Serbia. On 7 October a combined German and Austro-Hungarian offensive struck Serbia...


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pp. 379-388

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 389-396


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pp. 397-413

E-ISBN-13: 9781554588268
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580514
Print-ISBN-10: 155458051X

Page Count: 462
Publication Year: 2010