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The Great War
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The March Offensive - Germany Holds its Breath
Jay Winter
"There is an extraordinary moment in Germany when a society that has suffered very severe shortages collectively holds its breath.

"This is March 1918. A month before, two months before, massive strikes in Berlin, major unrest, political movements calling for compromise peace, something to justify all the sufferings that had gone on. And right then and there is the moment when virtually the entire nation stopped, suspended judgment, suspended disbelief, and waited for the army to deliver the victory that they promised. That's the twenty-first of March 1918.

"Over four months in 1918 the German army launched five major assaults at different parts of the allied line. Initially the plan worked. The British Fifth Army collapsed. The allies gave ground. But for every allied trench captured, there was always another for the Germans to take. Soon the elite German storm troopers were a spent force. In desperation Ludendorff resorted to the old and murderous tactic of mass assault.

"Ludendorff thought that by an act of will he could break the resistance of the British and the French. Not by an act of power, but by an act of will. And that's what a gambler does. It's not rational. It's supernatural."

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