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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

german surrender paradox


Guest rein

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Germany lost the war cause of the British sea blockade; they lack of food, supply and raw material.

But what i cant understand, in march 1918 they sign the treaty of Brest Litovsk, which give them a huge agricultural area like Ukrain, as raw materials and oil.

July/August is the harvest month, so there should be plenty food.......

Why could gemany not take advantage from the land gained in the East?

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Possibly because the need to transport their Armies from the Eastern Front so as to smash through the Western Front and knock France and possibly England out of the War over rode the need for food supplies being sent in those same wagons?

They needed to move swiftly before the Americans were ready to attack.

It nearly succeeded and if so, the German populace might have accepted the need to go hungry for a few months for the "fat" years to come.

By July 1918, the Germans were facing overwhelming pressure and starting to collapse, so any harvest was too late.

I'm sure someone more expert will come along soon, but hope this helps.

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Possibly because the need to transport their Armies from the Eastern Front so as to smash through the Western Front and knock France and possibly England out of the War over rode the need for food supplies being sent in those same wagons?

They needed to move swiftly before the Americans were ready to attack.

It nearly succeeded and if so, the German populace might have accepted the need to go hungry for a few months for the "fat" years to come.

By July 1918, the Germans were facing overwhelming pressure and starting to collapse, so any harvest was too late.

I'm sure someone more expert will come along soon, but hope this helps.

I doubt if this is right.

The traveltime from East too West was around 1-2 days.

The german army could dispose of 4000 trains.

Transfering a whole army from East to West would be a matter of weeks, as seen below.

The treaty of Brest Litovsk was signed on march 3, nearly three weeks later the germans started there final offensive at the West front on march 21.

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1, German distribution systems were in tatters with insufficient railway stock and locomotives and a huge short fall in lorries. and a poor organisation - they couldn't even move what they'd got in Germany effectively so that for example Alsce Lorraine had a surplus and other parts starved. Distribution of food was organised on a devolved basis at lower that individual state level.

2. The German army was one of the least mechanised of the major players in WW1. There weren't enough lorries for purely military purposes. In 1918 the German Army had 25,000 trucks compared to Britain alone which had over 68,000 and France had so many that in 1917 it began to sell off old surplus stock. What production capacity Germany had was directed by Ludendorff into artillery tractors.

3. Land needs people to farm it and bring in the harvest and there was a massive shortage of agricultural labour because of the war and other disturbances. There was also a massive shortage of tractors and horses to work the land

4. Brest Litovsk merely recognised much of what was the de facto situation. Much of the landed ceded was already under German control for some time so it wasn't a whole new souce of resources and the Germans had already been desperately trying to wrest resources out of it but many of the factors mentioned above mitigated against this.

5 German agricultural output dropped by 50% between 1914 and 1918 and this extra land wasn't able to make up the shortfall, especiall since productivity had dropped there also.

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Besides the above reasons bad german occupation policies caused a revolt to break out in the Ukaraine. It's sort of hard to gather up food when the country is in chaos and people are shooting at you. It should also be pointed out that pre-WW I a lot of agricultural work in Germany was done by about 400,000 (?) migrant farm workers from the Russian Empire. When WW I began they lost this source and German agriculture lost a good part of it's labor force.

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If you are interested in a comprehensive discussion about why the war ended when it did, read David Stevenson's recent With Our Backs to the Wall. Despite the title, about 60% is concerned with factors such as manpower, morale, submarines, shipping, money, armaments and food etc in all the belligerent nations. It is by no means a light read, but it certainly is enlightening.

Jack

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I have read (World War One: An Agricultural Interpretation maybe?) that after Brest Litovsk the German-occupied Ukraine was in such disarray, and the German recquisitioning procedures so ill-thought out, that the food stuffs gathered were little more than sufficient to feed the occupying German troops (almost all 2nd line Landwehr).

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