Re: “The turn of a coin in the Great War”, Opinion, August 8.
Wow, what an article! If ever an Academy Award were given for article of the year, this surely would be it! It contains many enlightening facts that seasoned historians have never shared with us. This is must reading for anyone interested in history.
Firstly, I never knew it was the contributions of the Aussies and Canadians that were pivotal in ending the First World War. Apparently the British and French troops were so exhausted and overextended that it took the guile of the New World countries to win the war.
For the first time in the war, the Germans retreated at Amiens on August 8, 1918, and then the Canadians and Aussies spearheaded the “Hundred Days” offensive, which led to the end of war, Mr Dyer brilliantly shows.
History is written from the perspective of the victors, with the victor in this case being primarily the US. The Americans act as if they were the ones who won the war, when in fact they only joined in 1917 after German submarines attacked their ships bringing supplies to Britain.
Mr Dyer makes clear that the Germans knew it was futile to continue the war after August 1918, since the Americans were bringing in 10,000 fresh troops per day and would eventually overpower them if the contributions of the other Allies were not enough.
However, the Americans never really fought much. And if the Russians had withdrawn a few months earlier than they did in 1917, the Germans would never had felt compelled to attack the Americans in January 1917 and the war than would have ended in a draw. Or the Germans would have actually won a partial victory, since they and the Allies were both utterly exhausted in 1918, Mr Dyer makes clear.
And if this were the case, World War II would never have started, and millions of Jews and others would never have been exterminated. The fact remains that it was the stringent war reparations imposed on Germany by the League of Nations, especially by America, that led to the rise of Hitler in Germany and the start of the Second World War.
So it was the Americans who benefited most from both wars and suffered just about the least in terms of casualties. That is quite a trade-off, if you ask me. Western Europe was basically destroyed by the wars, as its best men died and the economy was in shambles, especially in Britain. In contrast, the American economy boomed for at least 30 years after 1945 because they made the depleted Western Europeans dependent upon them, a condition that exists even today.