The German 1918 Offensives
A Case Study in The Operational Level of War
Routledge – 2006 – 436 pages
Series: Strategy and History
This is the first study of the Ludendorff Offensives of 1918 based extensively on key German records presumed to be lost forever after Potsdam was bombed in 1944.
In 1997, David T. Zabecki discovered translated copies of these files in a collection of old instructional material at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He presents his findings here for the first time, with a thorough review of the surviving original operational plans and orders, to offer a wealth of fresh insights to the German Offensives of 1918.
David T. Zabecki clearly demonstrates how the German failure to exploit the vulnerabilities in the BEF’s rail system led to the failure of the first two offensives, and how inadequacies in the German rail system determined the outcome of the last three offensives. This is a window into the mind of the German General Staff of World War I, with thorough analysis of the German planning and decision making processes during the execution of battles. This is also the first study in English or in German to analyze the specifics of the aborted Operation HAGEN plan. This is also the first study of the 1918 Offensives to focus on the ‘operational level of war’ and on the body of military activity known as ‘the operational art’, rather than on the conventional tactical or strategic levels.
This book will be of great interest to all students of World War I, the German Army and of strategic studies and military theory in general.
1. Why do we Still Bother with World War I? 2. The Operational Art 3. The Tactical Realities of 1918 4. The Strategic Reality 5. The Operational Decision: 11 November 1917 to 21 January 1918 6. Operations MICHAEL and MARS 7. Operation GEORGETTE 8. Operations BLÜCHER, GOERZ, and YORCK 9. Operations GNEISSENAU and HAMMERSCHLAG 10. Operation MARNESCHUTZ-REIMS 11. Operations HAGEN and KURFÜRST 12. Conclusions
David T. Zabecki has been Commanding General of the U.S. Southern European Task Force (Rear) and has served as the U.S. Department of Defense Executive Director for all World War II 60th anniversary commemoration events in Europe. In 2003 he was the Senior Security Advisor on the U.S. Coordinating and Monitoring Mission in Israel. The Editor of Vietnam Magazine, he has a PhD in Military Science from the Royal Military College of Science.