In March 1918, Germany launched a massive offensive on the Western Front – her bid to win the war before the Americans arrived. The master was General Erich Ludendorff – a genius, but unstable. Within days the British Fifth Army was in retreat, Paris was under shell-fire and some Allies feared defeat. But Germany’s allies, Ottoman Turkey and Austria-Hungary, were starving and demoralised and the war-weary German Home Front was infected with dangerous socialist ideas. Then Ludendorff’s great offensive ran out of steam, having stormed ahead without strategic aims or supplies. German soldiers slowed, exhausted and hungry. And then the Americans started pouring in.
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