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Word count: Date: 29/09/2011

Li Chun Ho (Alvin) IB History HL

Essay Question: Why did Germany sign an armistice with the Allies in November 1918? (Nov 2008) With over two million military deaths from the World War One that began in 1914, Germany asked to sign an armistice directly to America, not the Allies to end the war of attrition in November 1918. Many reasons attributed to the surrender. Most notably were the failed mobilization plans Germany carried out, best known as the Schlieffen Plan to avoid a war on two fronts, causing German troops to be widely worn out. This was because of underestimating the Allies and overrating their own military capacity, such as the U-boats matter and instigating mutiny. Because Germanys military were switched to offensive, there were little defense, making Germany vulnerable to the foreign blockade which starved the major German population. Germanys position was worsened by the early defeat of a few Central Powers, Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria. These factors, along with Wilsons attractive 14 points, which Germany interpreted as surrender conditions, influenced Germany in seeking an armistice with the Allies. Germanys mobilization plans, particularly the Schlieffen Plan failed since it did not account for British involvement. Attempting to use 90% of Germanys army to defeat France and Russia, the plan assumed German troops would be able to defeat France within the 6 weeks expected for Russia to arrive. This was proven false, as the blitzkrieg tactics were met with Bulgarian and unexpected British resistance, along fast arriving Russian army through East Prussia. This allowed a war on two fronts to happen, with Serbia and Russia on the East, and Britain and France on the West. These factors systematically worn out the German army. The armys morale reduced. Furthermore, the army was not truly unified as they used to be collections of small kingdoms from the Bismarck era. Germanys undiscriminating policy of sinking all ships with U-boats in Allied waters starting from February 1917 instigated American participation after the sinking of three American ships by torpedoing. Just when Hindenburg and Ludendorff realized war was over, American participation with the Allies significantly reduced Germanys position. American participation was in the form of an associate power where US troops were directed by American commanders. The Germany economy was weakened by its massive participation and concentration in the war. The financial position of the government was weakened on providing necessities, thus introducing rationing with bread in 1915, that covered all food by 1916. The German government failed to tax the higher classes, such as the Elites and Junkers to increase food production in the fear it would upset them. Tax revenues only covered 16% of war costs. Dealing with a serious war of attrition, they were further devastated by the British naval blockade that blocked necessities and industrial goods from reaching Germany, including oil, metals and mercury. The Russian revolution and the abdication of the Tsar also played an effect in Germanys surrender. One and a half million German soldiers were tied down to the Eastern Front in an attempt to gain territory. The Russian revolution in a way delayed German surrender. When the Communist government came into power, Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany that gave much land to Germany. Although that land was confiscated later by the Treaty of Versailles, if the Eastern Front need not be open, the one and a half million German soldiers could have fought against the Allies and hence did not need to push back when the Allies reorganized and advanced with Operation Michael.

Word count: Date: 29/09/2011

Li Chun Ho (Alvin) IB History HL

Essay Question: Why did Germany sign an armistice with the Allies in November 1918? (Nov 2008) Externally, the defeat of Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria influenced Germany to surrender. With Bulgaria accepting the armistice in September 1918, the war had similar effects on Bulgaria as it did on Germany, with a disintegrated economy, serious supply shortages and a rebellion in the army. The factors influencing Austro-Hungary to surrender in November involved similar tactical plans that were overly optimistic and had no plans for a continental war. Worsened by an ineffective high military command, a weakening economic situation and divergence of the army, Austro-Hungary was in no further position to continue fighting. Germany specifically surrendered to America. Although America supported and fought along the Allies, they were not strictly Allies as they termed themselves as associate powers. This meant they followed American orders and was not actually a formal ally with Britain and France. A possible reason for Germanys choice was a misinterpretation of American President Woodrow Wilsons 14 points speech that was made in January 1918 in Congress, which Germany mistook as conditions for surrender. In fact, it was mainly Americas view point and did not necessarily reflect those of the Allies, including Britain and France. These points in general appealed to Germany because of the low punishments imposed on Germany. Germany, for example, was to return Alsace-Lorraine to France, German troops should leave Belgium and all countries should have the right to national-self determination, where its people were allowed to choose their own governments. This positive impression of the consequences in surrendering largely influenced German wartime leaders to surrender. The fact it was a war of attrition mainly affected Germanys military stance, with shortages of soldiers in the west front, shortages of food and industrial materials at home, and the decline of the countrys economy. The fact Germany was unwilling to tax its wealthy classes more subsequently resulted in a worse local economic situation. These factors, along with unprecedented participation by British forces interfering with the Schlieffen Plan and Americas entry into the war in 1917 further weakened German army strength. At a time when Germanys main allies, Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria surrendering, this exerted more stress on the German military might. Therefore, the 14 points proposal by the United States appealed to Germany, who mistakenly interpreted it as a collective basis for surrendering, however it was only limited to Americas interests, in an effort to promote democracy. These reasons seem to be the most significant ones in bringing Germany to surrender its part in the Great War.