Hi, South,South wrote:The discussion question, until Terry introduced the broader phrase, was with a pure military flavor.
If we stuck to purely military terms, it is very simple, 'the German people will prove not strong enough for the task they have chosen to undertake' or words to that effect was the verdict of Schlieffen on the subject of a two-front war or to put it another way there are simply not enough Germans when compared to their enemies. Clemenceau may well have been right when he said that 'the problem with the Germans was that there were 20 million too many of them' when the subject is viewed from a purely French position, but when you add in the populations available to Britain and Russia, even when Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire are added to the Germans there is no real way the far smaller Central Powers can win unless they can come up with bulletproof soldiers. Even with the Entente taking the offensive role for most of the war and the higher casualties this entailed, it was still the Central Powers that were closest to running out of men by 1917. We do not have people like Ludendorf saying the Germans cannot take any more Somme type battles for no reason, they knew they were running out of men.
The only realistic chance of victory was if France or Russia could be knocked out of the war before Britain would have time to raise a continental style army, something impossible if the French did not commit to a decisive battle in the opening weeks of the war. By the time of the Marne Kluck had managed to get 1st Army totally out of position, to borrow a phrase from a discussion with Zuber he 'completely screwed the pooch' when his intended flank attack landed in the air. From that point onwards the Central Powers only real hope was that the Entente would hand them victory or become tired of the war and try to negotiate a settlement. Look at the attempts to get a negotiated settlement of some form, in 1915 the Germans try to get Russia to abandon its allies, in 1916/17 the Austrians try to negotiate a separate peace through the French, whilst even in the supposed low point of the war in 1917 the Entente and Allied Powers would only even think of a negotiated settlement on the terms they stuck to from the start of the war - the Germans to abandon all occupied territory, with the French wanting this to include Alsace-Lorraine too.