1918 The First World War in Photographs
Series: The First World War in Photographs
15th March 2015
1918 was the fifth and final year of the Great War. With thousands of fresh American troops heading across the Atlantic to fight on the side of the Allies, Germany’s High Command knew it had to strike a decisive blow to turn the course of the war in its favour. With revolution in Russia a peace treaty was agreed on the Eastern Front, enabling General Ludendorff to transfer seventy divisions to the west for a Spring Offensive that was intended to drive the French back to Paris and the British to the Channel ports. The Allied counter-offensive on the Marne began in July and, with the Americans joining the fighting, the Germans were forced back to the Hindenburg Line. Starved of food and supplies, Germany faced inevitable defeat and sought terms for a peace settlement. The Kaiser abdicated on 11 November 1918 and the guns become silent with the signing of the Armistice. In defeat Germany was humiliated and economically paralysed by the demand for war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in June the following year. But for both sides the real cost of the war was measured in human lives. Twenty million were killed and the participating European nations all but bankrupted. The political map was irrevocably changed and the so-called ‘war to end all wars’ was the harbinger of an even greater conflict yet to come.
John Christopher and Campbell McCutcheon tell the story of 1918, the final year of fighting, and also the immediate post-war period, using many rare and often unpublished images.