Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War

Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great WarGermany’s Western Front: 1914, Part 1: The Battle of the Frontiers and Pursuit to the Marne, by Mark Osborne HumphriesJohn Maker
ISBN: 9781554583942
Published by Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press on October 31, 2013
Genres: History, Military, World War I, Europe, Germany, Strategy
Pages: 580

 

 

Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great WarGermany’s Western Front by Mark Osborne HumphriesJohn Maker
ISBN: 9781554588268
Published by Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press on June 30, 2010
Genres: History, Europe, Germany, Military, World War I, Strategy
Pages: 462

This multi-volume series in six (perhaps seven) parts is the first English-language translation of Der Weltkrieg, the German official history of the First World War. It was originally produced between 1925 and 1944 using classified archival records that were destroyed by aerial bombing in April 1945 at the end of the Second World War. This series presents the inside story of Germany’s experience on the Western Front. Hopefully, future volumes will cover other fronts.

This account by official historians is fundamental to the study of the Great War and official memory in Weimar and Nazi Germany. Although some new document sources have been found in former Soviet archives, the original Der Weltkrieg work remains one of the most important resources on Germany in WW1. This translation makes it accessible to English readers.

Confusingly, the 1915 volume was released initially. It has the official explanation of the first use of poison gas against French and Canadian troops at Ypres. It also explains the conflict raging in the German High Command over the political and military direction of the war, setting the stage for Verdun that sealed the fate of the German Supreme Commander, Erich von Falkenhayn.

The 1914 volume is part one of that year, covering the outbreak of war in July–August, the German invasion of Belgium, the Battles of the Frontiers, and the pursuit to the Marne in early September. The first month of war was critical for the German army and, as the official history makes clear, the German war plan was a gamble that seemed to present the only solution to the riddle of the two-front war. But as the Moltke-Schlieffen Plan was gradually jettisoned through a combination of intentional command decisions and confused communications, Germany’s hopes for a quick and victorious campaign evaporated.

The English editors’ extensive footnotes are outstanding and a treasure for researchers. They include explanations of German terminology, other countries’ perspectives on events, as well as current debates and controversies such as the argument by author Terrence Zuber that the Schlieffen Plan was a myth propagated in the 1920s (see WWOI issue #3, page 10).

The second part of 1914 is due next, but sadly no dates for it or future volumes could be obtained from the publisher.

Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI

I Was a Spy! The Classic Account of Behind-the-Lines Espionage in the First World War

I Was a Spy! The Classic Account of Behind-the-Lines Espionage in the First World WarI Was a Spy! by Marthe McKennaWinston Churchill
ISBN: 9781910860052
Published by Pool of London Press on September 19, 2015
Genres: History, Military, World War I, Europe, Germany, True Crime, Espionage, Political Science, Intelligence & Espionage, Social History
Pages: 288

The author and her family were overrun in Belgium at the outbreak of the war. Instead of completing her medical studies to become a physician, Marthe became a nurse in a hospital run by the Germans. She also fed information to the British who had set up an underground network as they retreated. Marthe proved to be intelligent, fast thinking, reliable and cautious.

An excellent nurse, she was honored with others for their efforts by the King of Württemberg. As the war continued the Germans were able to staff and monitor the occupied areas with troops whose job was to suppress resistance and locate spies. When she was finally captured for her participation in sabotage the Germans wanted to shoot her. However, her former supervisors at the hospital vouched for her work and reminded the review board that it would look awfully bad to be killing heroines with German medals. She escaped the firing squad, spending the remainder of the war in prison.

Well-written, the reader comes to appreciate the stress that accumulates back when communications were much slower than today.

Reviewed by Anne Merritt

The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I

The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War IThe Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I by Larry Zuckerman
ISBN: 0814797040
Published by New York University Press on February 1st 2004
Genres: Belgium, France, Germany, Military
Pages: 339

Len's Summary: A candidate for the 2004 WFA Annual Book Award in which the author finds the seeds of WWII Nazi occupation policies in Belgium of 1914-1918. Covers the same ground as the award-winning A History of Denial (Yale University Press), but is less scholarly in approach and is more readable narrative. Lacks maps.

German War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and Interpretations

German War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and InterpretationsGerman War Planning, 1891-1914: Sources and Interpretations by Terence Zuber
ISBN: 1843831082
Published by Boydell Press on November 30th 2004
Genres: Germany, Military, Strategy
Pages: 324

Len's Summary: Consists mainly of translations of German planning documents upon which Zuber's book Inventing the Schlieffen Plan: German War Planning 1871-1914 (Oxford, 2003) and related articles are based. The author, a retired American army officer, asserts the controversial and much contested thesis that the Schlieffen Plan never really existed.

Tannenberg: Erich Ludendorff and the Defense of the Eastern German Border in 1914

Tannenberg: Erich Ludendorff and the Defense of the Eastern German Border in 1914Tannenberg: Erich Ludendorff and the Defense of the Eastern German Border in 1914 by Perry Pierik
ISBN: 9059111060
Published by Aspekt on October 1st 2003
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 102

Len's Summary: A new look at Germany's most famous victory in WWI. The best analysis of this battle was written by Dennis Showalter.

All the Kaiser’s Men: The Imperial Army on the Western Front 1914-1918

All the Kaiser’s Men: The Imperial Army on the Western Front 1914-1918All the Kaiser's Men: The Imperial Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 by Ian Passingham
ISBN: 0752459503
Published by The History Press on June 1st 2011
Genres: Germany, Strategy
Pages: 304

Len's Summary: An analysis of German strategy, tactics, and leadership as well as that leadership's limited ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Reviewed in the January 2005 edition of Stand To!

Britain’s Economic Blockade of Germany, 1914-1919

Britain’s Economic Blockade of Germany, 1914-1919Britain's Economic Blockade of Germany, 1914-1919 by Eric W. Osborne
ISBN: 0415646170
Published by Routledge on October 31st 2013
Genres: Germany, Great Britain, Naval
Pages: 215

Len's Summary: An examination of British policy on blockade, and its evolution and execution in light of shifting international law and advances in weaponry.

Germany and the Causes of the First World War

Germany and the Causes of the First World WarGermany and the Causes of the First World War by Mark Hewitson
ISBN: 1859738702
Published by Bloomsbury Academic on January 1st 2005
Genres: Germany
Pages: 224

Len's Summary: A response to revisionist historians who have allegedly attempted to refute Fritz Fischer's arguments, assertions and analyses that Imperial Germany's leaders were convinced they could win a continental war. Assumes a thorough knowledge of the historiography of WWI. Not for general readers.

Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918

Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 by Roger Chickering
ISBN: 0521547806
Published by Cambridge University Press on May 6th 2004
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 248

Len's Summary: Revised edition of an excellent analytical treatment by an established WWI historian who teaches at Georgetown University.

The Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry Officer

The Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry OfficerThe Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry Officer by Walter Bloem
ISBN: 1907677046
Published by Helion & Company on October 1st 2011
Genres: Germany, Military, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 128

Len's Summary: The memoir of a German reserve officer, a company commander, tracing his service from mobilization to the Marne and retreat to the Aisne. Recommended by WFA member Tom Jones.

The U-boat Century: German Submarine Warfare, 1906-2006

The U-boat Century: German Submarine Warfare, 1906-2006The U-boat Century: German Submarine Warfare, 1906-2006 by Jak P. Mallmann Showell
ISBN: 1591148928
Published by Naval Institute Press on October 10th 2006
Genres: Germany, Military, Naval

Len's Summary: A selection of the History Book Club. In 1915, U-Boats sank 555 Entente merchant vessels; in 1916, the number climbed to 1.300; and, in 1917 over 3,000 Allied vessels were sent to the bottom by U-Boats. These losses were never replicated, even in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War Two, as is pointed out by the author.

German Army on the Somme, 1914-1916

German Army on the Somme, 1914-1916German Army on the Somme, 1914-1916 by Jack Sheldon
ISBN: 1844152693
Published by Pen & Sword Books on October 1st 2005
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 432

Len's Summary: Unusual in that the author draws on German sources and tells the story of the Somme battles from that point of view.

The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany’s Gentleman Pirate

The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany’s Gentleman PirateThe Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany's Gentleman Pirate by Blaine Lee Pardoe
ISBN: 1592286941
Published by The Lyons Press on April 1st 2005
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Germany, Naval
Pages: 295

Len's Summary: The most recent of several books concentrating on German maritime raiders of WWI. These include Kaisers Pirates: German Surface Raiders in World War One and Emden-Ayseha Adventure: German Raiders in the South Seas and Beyond, 1914, both published by the Naval Institute Press. Germany employed surface raiders, both armed merchantmen and war ships of up to large cruiser size, in both World Wars.

The Warlords: Hindenburg And Ludendorff

The Warlords: Hindenburg And LudendorffThe Warlords: Hindenburg And Ludendorff by John Lee
ISBN: 0297846752
Published by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson on April 1st 2005
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 207

Len's Summary: The dictatorship of the duumvirate and their impact on German society, economy and politics from 1916 to 1918 and beyond.

Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany

Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial GermanyAbsolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany by Isabel V. Hull
ISBN: 9780801472930
Published by Cornell University Press on January 12th 2006
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 400

Len's Summary: An institution's descent from administrative murder into genocide - unchecked by civilian control -- traced from German Southwest Africa into Belgium and France to Armenia, and the final Western Front battles of World War I.

German Strategy and the Path to Verdun

German Strategy and the Path to VerdunGerman Strategy and the Path to Verdun by Robert T. Foley
ISBN: 0521044367
Published by Cambridge University Press on November 19th 2007
Genres: France, Germany, Military, Strategy
Pages: 316

Len's Summary: Did Falkenhayn actually plan to wage a battle of attrition at Verdun? Draws on previously unavailable German documents held in Russian archives since WWII. Look for a full review in Camaraderie.

Mimi and Toutou’s Big Adventure: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika

Mimi and Toutou’s Big Adventure: The Bizarre Battle of Lake TanganyikaMimi and Toutou's Big Adventure: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika by Giles Foden
ISBN: 1400075262
Published by Vintage on March 14th 2006
Genres: Africa, Germany, Great Britain
Pages: 272

Len's Summary: The Royal Navy attacks Germany in Central Africa, the events that inspired C. S. Forester's The African Queen.

Loos 1915: The Unwanted Battle

Loos 1915: The Unwanted BattleLoos 1915: The Unwanted Battle by Gordon Corrigan
ISBN: 1862272395
Published by Spellmount on November 2005
Genres: Germany, Great Britain, Military
Pages: 262

Len's Summary: Story of an unsuccessful British attack that finished off many of the few remaining "Old Contemptibles"and provided lessons for future BEF commander Douglas Haig. Corrigan is the author of Sepoys in the Trenches about the experience of the British Indian Army Corps on the Western Front in 1914-1915, also from Spellmont.

The Great War and Urban Life in Germany: Freiburg, 1914-1918

The Great War and Urban Life in Germany: Freiburg, 1914-1918The Great War and Urban Life in Germany: Freiburg, 1914-1918 by Roger Chickering, Paul Kennedy, Jay Murray Winter
ISBN: 0521852560
Published by Cambridge University Press on February 26th 2007
Genres: Germany, Social History
Pages: 646

Len's Summary: A social history by a distinguished historian of World War I and professor at Georgetown University.

Most Unfavourable Ground: The Battle of Loos, 1915

Most Unfavourable Ground: The Battle of Loos, 1915Most Unfavourable Ground: The Battle of Loos, 1915 by Niall Cherry
ISBN: 1874622035
Published by Helion & Company on June 1st 2005
Genres: Germany, Great Britain, Military
Pages: 366

Len's Summary: A 90th anniversary reexamination of the unsuccessful culmination of the badly depleted BEF's 1915 Western Front campaign.

The German Revolution, 1917-1923

The German Revolution, 1917-1923The German Revolution, 1917-1923 by Pierre Broué, Brian Pearce, Ian Birchall, Eric D. Weitz
ISBN: 1931859329
Published by Historical Materialism on May 1st 2006
Genres: Germany
Pages: 980

Len's Summary: New translation of a work first published in 1971 as La Revolution ne Allemagne, 1917-1923.

Spies of the Kaiser: German Covert Operations in Great Britain during the First World War Era

Spies of the Kaiser: German Covert Operations in Great Britain during the First World War EraSpies of the Kaiser: German Covert Operations in Great Britain during the First World War Era by Thomas Boghardt
ISBN: 9781403932488
Published by Palgrave Macmillan on January 15th 2005
Genres: Espionage, Germany, Great Britain, International Relations
Pages: 248

Len's Summary: Written by a historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. He begins his survey with a look at the pre-war period of Anglo-German naval rivalry finding that German espionage before and during the conflict produced few tangible results and practically nothing on the British Expeditionary Force.

German Disarmament After World War I: The Diplomacy of International Arms Inspection 1920-1931

German Disarmament After World War I: The Diplomacy of International Arms Inspection 1920-1931German Disarmament After World War I: The Diplomacy of International Arms Inspection 1920-1931 by Richard J. Shuster
ISBN: 9780415654951
Published by Routledge on September 10th 2012
Genres: Germany, Military, Strategy
Pages: 272

Len's Summary: Germany was able to renegotiate the reparations terms of Versailles, but not the treaty's military strictures. This is the story of enforcing the Versailles arms limitations clauses; an early attempt at arms limitation and control.

The German Right, 1860-1920: Political Limits of the Authoritarian Imagination

The German Right, 1860-1920: Political Limits of the Authoritarian ImaginationThe German Right, 1860-1920: Political Limits of the Authoritarian Imagination by James Retallack
ISBN: 9781442659186
Published by University of Toronto Press on February 1st 2015
Genres: Germany, Pre-War
Pages: 416

Len's Summary: One of a number of new academic studies of the evolution of the German political system before and during WWI.

Through German Eyes: The British & The Somme, 1916

Through German Eyes: The British & The Somme, 1916Through German Eyes: The British & The Somme, 1916 by Christopher Duffy
ISBN: 0753822024
Published by Phoenix on September 1st 2007
Genres: Germany, Great Britain, Military
Pages: 384

Len's Summary: One of several new studies of the Somme published to coincide with the 90th anniversary of that battle. Also available in the US from Casemate Publishing. Duffy is a prolific British military historian.

The Imperial German Army, 1914-1918: Organization, Structure, Orders of Battle

The Imperial German Army, 1914-1918: Organization, Structure, Orders of BattleThe Imperial German Army, 1914-1918: Organization, Structure, Orders of Battle by Herrman Cron
ISBN: 1874622299
Published by Helion & Company on December 1st 2006
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 414

Len's Summary: Detailed orders of battle, lists of army commanders and chiefs of staff, the organization of army field branches, the home front and occupation forces. Available in the US from Casemate.

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and OperationsGerman Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations by Gary Staff, Marsden Samuel
ISBN: 1591141915
Published by Naval Institute Press on December 15th 2014
Genres: Germany, Military, Naval, Technology & Engineering
Pages: 320

Len's Summary: Rare book in English detailing a major Imperial German ship type.

Invasion 1914: The Schelieffen Plan to the Battle of the Marne: Before the trenches – the first battles of World War I

Invasion 1914: The Schelieffen Plan to the Battle of the Marne: Before the trenches – the first battles of World War IInvasion 1914: The Schelieffen Plan to the Battle of the Marne: Before the trenches - the first battles of World War I by Ian Senior
ISBN: 9781472803351
Published by Osprey Publishing on August 20th 2014
Genres: Germany, Technology & Engineering, Military Science, Military
Pages: 456

Len's Summary: A narrative history. Both Holger Herwig band Michael Neiberg have written better analyses of the First Marne battle.

The Kaiser’s Captive: In the Claws of the German Eagle

The Kaiser’s Captive: In the Claws of the German EagleThe Kaiser's Captive: In the Claws of the German Eagle by Albert Rhys Williams
ISBN: 9781783463084
Published by Pen & Sword Books on August 30th 2014
Genres: Germany, Military
Pages: 144

Len's Summary: American journalist captured in 1914 on suspicion of being a spy.

Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I

Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War IRing of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson
ISBN: 9780465018727
Published by Basic Books on October 7th 2014
Genres: Germany, Military, Austria & Hungary
Pages: 787

Len's Summary: A dysfunctional and eventually disastrous alliance detailed. See also the Tomlinson prize-winning work by Holger Herwig The First World War: Germany and Austria Hungary, 1914-1918 (Edward Arnold, 1999).

Kaiser Bill!: A New Look at Imperial Germany’s Last Emperor, Wilhelm II 1859-1941

Kaiser Bill!: A New Look at Imperial Germany’s Last Emperor, Wilhelm II 1859-1941Kaiser Bill!: A New Look at Imperial Germany's Last Emperor, Wilhelm II 1859-1941 by Blaine Taylor
ISBN: 9781781550014
Published by Fonthill Media on November 19th 2014
Genres: Royalty, Germany
Pages: 224

Len's Summary: Germany’s third and last Emperor, a cautionary tale...

The German Army in the Spring Offensives 1917: Arras, Aisne and Champagne

The German Army in the Spring Offensives 1917: Arras, Aisne and ChampagneThe German Army in the Spring Offensives 1917: Arras, Aisne and Champagne by Jack Sheldon
ISBN: 9781783463459
Published by Pen & Sword Books on January 30th 2015
Genres: Great Britain, Military, Germany
Pages: 352

Len's Summary: Battle from the British perspective.

The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915-1916

The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915-1916The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915-1916 by Wolfgang Gust
ISBN: 9781782381433
Published by Berghahn Books on January 15th 2013
Genres: Germany, Political Science, Turkey & Ottoman Empire
Pages: 786

Len's Summary: In translation from the original German published just in time for the centenary of the 1915 Armenian massacres.

The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I

The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War IThe Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I by Hans Ehlert, Michael Epkenhans, Gerhard P. Groß, David T. Zabecki
ISBN: 0813147468
Published by University Press of Kentucky on October 7th 2014
Genres: Germany, Military, Strategy
Pages: 592

Len's Summary: A centennial reassessment of Schlieffen’s work with abstracts of German deployment plans from 1893 sand comparative summaries of Austro-Hungarian. French, British, Belgian and Russian planning. Excellent detailed maps.

Feldluftschiffer – German Balloon Corps and Aerial Reconnaissance

Feldluftschiffer – German Balloon Corps and Aerial ReconnaissanceFeldluftschiffer – German Balloon Corps and Aerial Reconnaissance, by Oliver Richter
ISBN: 3936519358
Published by Tankograd Publishing on 2013
Genres: Aviation, Germany
Pages: 96

Len's Summary: A ubiquitous, but often ignored observation platform along the Western Front.