America’s participation, however, will upset Hindenburg’s war plans. American intervention can put a stop to the Kaiser’s juggling with his people’s minds by helping the Allies defeat Germany. Only a big military defeat will shake the confidence of the Germans in the Kaiser, Hindenburg and their organised might. The people are beginning to think now, but they will do a great deal more thinking if they are beaten.
So the answer to the question: “How long can Germany hold out?” is really answered by saying that Germany can keep on until she is decisively defeated militarily.
THE PEACE DRIVE OF DECEMBER 12TH
Disturbed by internal political dissension and tormented by lack of food the German ship of state was sailing troubled waters by November, 1916. Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg’s speech to the Reichstag on September 28th satisfied no one. After he had spoken the only thing people could recall were his words:
“The mighty tasks which await us in all the domains of public, social, economic, and political life need all the strength of the people for their fulfilment. It is a necessity of state which will triumph over all obstacles to utilise to the utmost those forces which have been forged in the fire and which clamour for work and creation. A free path for all who are capable—that must be our watch-word. If we carry it out freely, without prejudice, then our empire goes to a healthy future.”
The press interpreted this as meaning that the Chancellor might some day change his mind about the advisability of a ruthless submarine warfare. Early in November when it appeared that the Allies would not succeed in breaking through at the Somme peace forces were again mobilised. But when various neutral countries sounded Germany as to possible terms they discovered that Germany was the self-appointed “victor” and would consider only a peace which recognised Germany as the dominant power in Europe. The confidence of the army in the victory was so great that the following article was printed in all the German newspapers:
“FAITH IN VICTORY”
“Great Headquarters sends us the following:
“Since the beginning of the war, when enemies arose on all sides and millions of troops proceeded from all directions—since then more than two long years have brought no more eventful days than those of the present. The unity of the front—our enemies have prepared it for a long time past with great care and proclaimed it in loud tones. Again and again our unexpected attacks have disturbed this boldly thought out plan in its development, destroying its force, but now at last something has been accomplished that realises at least part of the intentions of our enemies and all their strength is being concentrated for a simultaneous attack. The victory which was withheld from them on all the theatres of war is to be accomplished by an elaborate attack against the defensive walls of our best blood. The masses of iron supplied them by half the world are poured on our gallant troops day and night with the object of weakening their will and then the mass attacks of white, yellow, brown and black come on.