went to war against France
& Great Britain
in August 1914, in a flurry of patriotic fervour. After early successes in France & Russia, the fighting became deadlocked in a mass of trenches
on both fronts. Germany went on the defensive in the west for the next three-&-a-half years, only attacking at Verdun in 1916
& the war was going in its favor by the end of 1917. Although the US
had entered the war on the Allied side
in April 1917, the armies of France & Great Britain were exhausted. Russia had also surrendered in March 1918, under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
, allowing Germany to move large numbers of troops to the Western Front
. Victory was in sight but it had to be accomplished before large numbers of American troops reached France. Ludendorff
made three successive attacks on the Western Front in the spring of 1918 but the Allied line held each time; the attacks exhausted Germany’s reserves.
The German army fell back across France in the autumn, in the face of relentless Allied attacks. The German people were suffering from food shortages, leading to riots across the country, & Berlin was in a state of revolution by November 1918. After the Kaiser had been forced to abdicate, the new government accepted the Allied armistice terms.
Although the guns fell silent across the Western Front on November 11th, 1918, rioting increased across Germany. The Allies were now looking for revenge for the war & it was going to cost the people of Germany dearly. There were troubled times ahead & the nationalists placed the blame for Germany’s problems firmly on the shoulders of the men who had signed the Armistice, the men they called the November Criminals.