The morale maze : the German Army in late 1918

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The state of the German Army’s morale in 1918 is central to our understanding not only of the outcome of World War I, but also of the German Revolution and, indeed, through the pernicious ‘stab-in-the-back-myth’, on Weimar politics and the rise of the Nazis, too. This article presents new evidence from the German archives, blended with statistical analysis, to show that the morale of some units held up better than previously thought almost to the end, and thus to suggest three things. First, it proposes that some historians have placed too much reliance on English-language sources alone, such as British Army intelligence reports, which have various flaws as evidence. Second, it argues that, while historians have increasingly moved away from generalisations about German morale, this process has further to run. Third, it suggests that no single tipping point can be identified, and that morale alone does not provide a sufficient explanation for battlefield defeat. Indeed, much of the data can only be explained if the tactical realities of the war in late 1918 are clearly understood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-878
JournalThe Journal of Strategic Studies
Issue number6-7
Early online date22 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Morale
  • German Army
  • Western Front
  • Surrender
  • 1918
  • Kaiser
  • Armistice
  • Prisoner of War


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