VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > B. World War I, 1914–1918 > 17. Operations in the West, 1918
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See July 31–Nov. 10) (See Aug. 1)
17. Operations in the West, 1918
The tremendous gains made by the Germans in the east did not serve to improve the situation with respect to the Western powers. On the contrary, it was generally felt that the terms imposed on Russia and Romania were irrefutable proof of Germany's expansionist aims. In the West the demands for peace died away and the allied governments were able to take a stronger line than ever.  1
1917, Nov. 27
The Supreme War Council had been established, consisting of the leading statesmen, with their military advisers (first Sir Henry Wilson, Foch, Cadorna, and Bliss). Even this new board was unable to establish harmony.  2
The Germans, now disillusioned about the submarine campaign, fully cognizant of the war-weariness of their allies, and feeling acutely the pinch of the blockade, decided to stake everything on a decision in the west, which it was hoped could be reached before the Americans arrived in great force. Ludendorff planned a series of crushing blows to be delivered against the British on a 60-mile front south of Arras, by which he hoped to break through, roll up the opposing forces, and drive them westward to the sea.  3
The British expected an attack but not along the southern part of their front, so that the fifth army (Gen. Sir Hubert Gough) was left holding an extensive front with relatively few forces.  4
1918, Jan. 5
Lloyd George, in an address to the Trades Unions Congress, formulated the British war aims. These included the restoration of Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and the occupied parts of France, Italy, and Romania. In addition, a “reconsideration” of the great wrong done to France in 1871; the establishment of an independent Poland “comprising all those genuinely Polish elements who desire to form part of it”; genuine self-government of the nationalities in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy; satisfaction of the Italian national claims, and of Romanian aspirations; and “recognition of the separate national conditions” of Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. Lloyd George envisaged further some future organization to limit armaments and prevent war.  5
Jan. 8
In an address to Congress President Wilson outlined a peace program consisting of Fourteen Points, as follows: (1) Open covenants openly arrived at. (2) Absolute freedom of navigation alike in peace and war, except as the seas might be closed by international action to enforce international covenants. (3) The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers. (4) Adequate guaranties that armaments would be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety. (5) An impartial adjustment of all colonial claims on the principle that the interests of the population must have equal weight with the claims of the government. (6) The evacuation of Russian territory and the free determination of its own political and national policy. (7) Evacuation and restoration of Belgium. (8) Evacuation and restoration of French territory and righting of the wrong done to France in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine. (9) Readjustment of the frontiers of Italy along clearly recognizable lines of nationality. (10) Opportunity for autonomous development for the peoples of Austria-Hungary. (11) Evacuation and restoration of Romanian, Serbian, and Montenegrin territory, together with access to the sea for Serbia. (12) The Turkish parts of the Ottoman Empire to be given a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities to be given an opportunity for autonomous development, and the Dardanelles to be permanently opened to the ships of all nations under international guaranties. (13) An independent Poland, to include territories indisputably Polish, with free and secure access to the sea. (14) A general association of nations to be formed to afford mutual guaranties of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.  6
The Allied war aims could be realized only through military victory, and prospects for this were not very good at a time when the Germans were able to transfer troops from the east to the west and when the American forces were not yet numerous enough to make much difference. Some efforts had been made, however, to establish greater coordination of effort among the Allies.  7
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.