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Germans on march again as divisions over war policy come to surface
German stormtroopers advancing through clouds of smoke towards enemy position during the German offensive in 1918. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Germans on march again as divisions over war policy come to surface

Rheims, 16 July 1918 - Yesterday morning German troops launched a new offensive in France across a front spanning 50 miles; Berlin sources are claiming that French positions have been penetrated to the south-west and east of Rheims.

The scope of the attack is certainly impressive and could only have been achieved by a great concentration of guns and trench mortars, with the assistance of tanks.

There is speculation that the purpose of the attack is to use up French reserves and draw them down from the north in advance of an attack on the Amiens front or possibly further north.

Prof. John Horne, in conversation with RTÉ's David McCullagh, explains how the First World War was fought

The German advances however have not been without setback. At some points, they are reported to have been driven back across the Marne by American troops who took 1,000 prisoners.

The fresh attack is also being read by some commentators as indicative of the ascendancy, for the time being at least, of General von Ludendorff – the ‘man who really runs Germany’ according to the socialist newspaper Vorwarts. He represents a German approach that seeks ‘peace by victory’ rather than ‘peace by negotiation’.

Divisions over German strategy have surfaced in recent weeks, most notably with the resignation of Foreign Minister, Richard von Kühlmann, just weeks after he stated in the Reichstag that Germany could not expect to win the war by military means alone; diplomatic negotiation would also be required.

This speech aroused considerable anger among pan-Germans and militarists.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.