August 13, 1918 – Kaiser Calls Emergency War Council at Spa
Pictured – The Kaiser and all his men.
Five days after the “black day of the German army,” the Kaiser called an emergency council of his military and political leaders at the High Command in Spa. The emperor and his men met to assess the war effort, and salvage any chance of victory after their offensive had been thrown back and with the Allies on the advance.
The day before, a downcast Ludendorff had told his generals that “There is no more hope for the offensive. The generals have lost their
foothold.” The next day at Spa he recommended peace with the Allies immediately, while Germany still had a military and while it had occupied parts of France and Belgium to give up on the negotiating table. Ingeniously, however, he blamed defeat on “anti-war sentiments at home,” thrusting responsibility onto the civilian government. Here was born the “stab in the back myth” that dominated the German right after World War One and led to the rise of the Nazis.
The truth was that the German army was disintegrating before the eyes of its leaders. Crown Prince Rupprecht in Flanders wrote that he could not hold out much longer: “Our military situation has deteriorated so rapidly that I no longer
believe we can hold out over the winter; it is even possible that a
catastrophe will come earlier….The Americans are multiplying in a way we
never dreamed of….At the present time there are already thirty-one
American divisions in France.” Ultimately, however, the conference resulted in the continuation of the war, with Foreign Minister Paul von Hintze assuring his Kaiser that “There was no reason to doubt ultimate victory. We shall be vanquished only when we doubt that we shall win.”