Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch


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Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) var en vigtig fransk militærkommandør under 1. verdenskrig. Han sluttede sig til infanteriet under den fransk-preussiske krig og blev til sidst chef for krigskollegiet. Foch blev udnævnt til chef for XX Army Corps ved udbruddet af første verdenskrig og hjalp med at sikre sejren i det første slag ved Marne. Med de franske og engelske hære i fare for splittelse overtog Foch kommandoen over de allierede styrker i marts 1918 og modstod Ludendorff -offensiven. Senere samme sommer lettede hans sejr i det andet slag ved Marne kampens afslutning. Blandt sine efterkrigstidens anerkendelser blev Foch udnævnt til en britisk feltmarskal og marskal i Polen.

Ferdinand Foch var den mest inspirerede af vestfrontens generaler i første verdenskrig, nogle gange til skade for ham. Han kunne være næsten mystisk hensynsløs med liv, starte angreb, når tilbageholdenhed ville have tjent ham bedre eller forlænge offensiver ud over alt håb om succes. Hans egne udtalelser havde en tendens til at indhente ham. Heldigvis for sit permanente ry vil han blive husket mere for sin præsiderende rolle i sejren i 1918 end for sin sanktion over de forgæves hekatomber i 1915 og 1916.

Han blev født i 1851, søn af en embedsmand. I sommeren 1870, under den fransk-preussiske krig, meldte han sig som menig i det franske infanteri, men kæmpede aldrig. (Men han opnåede berømmelse i fredstid for at massere 100.000 mænd ved en anmeldelse i et rektangel på 120 x 100 meter.) Han steg støt i rang og blev i 1885 professor ved [Eacute] cole Sup [eacute] rieure de Guerre, den kommandoskole i Paris, som han til sidst ville lede. Han var nu i sit element, og hans udtalelser ville påvirke en generation af franske officerer samt åbningsbegivenhederne i 1914. Foch skrev to meget læste paeans til offensiven, Krigens principper (1903) og Krigsførelsen (1905). "Et tabt slag," erklærede han, "er en kamp, ​​som man mener tabt [ellipsis4] Et vundet slag er en kamp, ​​vi ikke vil erkende at være tabt [ellipsis4] Viljen til at erobre fejer alt før det [ellipsis4] Store resultater i krig skyldes kommandanten. ” I argumentet havde Foch en tendens til at vinde ved intimidering og bevidst arrogance - måske uimodståelig, fordi han aldrig indrømmede tvivl.

August 1914 fandt han kommandoen over et revne, to-divisions korps ved grænsen til Lorraine. Mens hans disciple katastrofalt pressede forseelse [agrave] outrance, angrebets apostel befandt sig hurtigt i defensiven. Ved Morhange den 20. august hjalp hans tyvende korps rocklignende stand med at afværge en fransk katastrofe. Det kan have været den eneste gang i hans liv-han manglede kun treogtres-at han så handling. Med ansvaret for den franske niende hær under slaget ved Marne blokerede han den tyske fremrykning ved marskerne i St.-Gond. "Min højre er kørt ind, mit center giver efter, situationen er fremragende, jeg angriber," skulle han have sagt. Han sagde sandsynligvis aldrig disse legendariske ord, men han ville sikkert have gjort det, hvis han havde tænkt på dem.

Foch tog derefter ansvaret for de franske hære i nord; han koordinerede nu træk med de britiske og belgiske hære under det såkaldte "kapløb til havet". Hvis det ikke lykkedes ham at gå i offensiven, hjalp han med at kontrollere det tyske drive for de sidste sande præmier i 1914, Channel -havnene. Flere gange blev han tvunget til at styrke den nervøse britiske kommandør, Sir John French, med hvad hans biograf, B. H. Liddell Hart, kalder "en indsprøjtning af Fochian serum." Men da tyskerne sprængte linjen ved Anden Ypres i 1915, gav Fochs insisteren på kontraangreb kun unødvendige allierede tab. Døden i endnu større skala var det mest synlige resultat af Fochs Artois -offensiver i foråret og det tidlige efterår af året; tilskadekomne nærmede sig 150.000. Efter Artois the [eacute] lan af den franske soldat, som han satte så stor pris på, ville aldrig være den samme.

I 1916 ledede han den franske del af den 141 dage lange offensiv i slaget ved Somme. Han fik mere territorium og mistede færre mænd end hans britiske modstander, general Sir Douglas Haig, men den dyre mangel på en beslutning syntes at have permanent ødelagt hans karriere. Foch blev fritaget for kommandoen. Han bød sin tid, en perfervid Phoenix, der ventede på at svæve fra asken, og arbejdede gradvist tilbage til en indflydelsesposition. Han havde den lykke ikke at have spillet en rolle i de allieredes katastrofer i 1917.

Den 21. marts 1918 brød Erich Ludendorffs tyske hære igennem på vestfronten (se Ludendorff -offensiven) og virkede klar til at splitte de franske og britiske hære i stykker. Desperate udsigter krævede desperate foranstaltninger - og den 26. marts gjorde de allierede ledere, hvad de skulle have gjort længe før: de udnævnte en øverstkommanderende. Deres valg var Foch. Hans reaktion var karakteristisk. ”Materielt set kan jeg ikke se, at sejr er mulig. Moralsk er jeg sikker på, at vi får det. ” Fochs optimisme var smitsom. Han lånte uselvisk ud franske tropper til de belejrede briter, og de allierede forvitrede Ludendorffs utrættelige forårsstorm, indtil amerikanske tropper begyndte at ankomme i betydeligt antal. Ved midsommer var den værste tyske trussel forbi. Fremover, som Liddell Hart skriver: "Foch slog en tatovering på den tyske front, en række hurtige slag på forskellige punkter, hver afbrudt, så snart dets første fremdrift aftog."

I slutningen af ​​efteråret var den tyske hær ved at gå i opløsning. Foch følte, at krigen var gået længe nok. Den 8.-11. November 1918 i en jernbanevogn ved et skovbeklædning nær Compi [egrave] gne dikterede han personligt vilkår for våbenhvile til en tysk delegation. Endelig, men ikke for sent, havde han lært, hvornår han skulle stoppe.

ROBERT COWLEY

Læserens ledsager til militærhistorie. Redigeret af Robert Cowley og Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 af Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Alle rettigheder forbeholdes.


Første verdenskrig: marskal Ferdinand Foch

Marskal Ferdinand Foch var en kendt fransk kommandør under første verdenskrig. Efter at have indtastet den franske hær under den fransk-preussiske krig, forblev han i tjenesten efter det franske nederlag og blev identificeret som et af landets bedste militære sind. Med begyndelsen af ​​første verdenskrig spillede han en central rolle i det første slag ved Marne og steg hurtigt til hærens kommando. Foch demonstrerede en evne til at arbejde med kræfterne fra andre allierede nationer og viste sig at være et effektivt valg til at fungere som overordnet kommandant på vestfronten i marts 1918. Fra denne position ledede han nederlaget for de tyske forårsoffensiver og den række allierede offensiver, der i sidste ende førte til slutningen af ​​konflikten.


Ferdinand Foch Information


Fødested: Tarbes, Frankrig
Dødssted: Paris, Frankrig
Troskab: Frankrig
Service/gren: Fransk hær
Tjenesteår: 1871-1923
Placering: Marchal de France
Slag/krige: Battle of the Frontiers,
Forårets offensiv,
Meuse-Argonne offensiv
Priser: Marshal of France (1918)
Britisk feltmarskal (1919)
Marshal af Polen (1920)
Storkorset i Légion d'honneur
M daille militaire
Croix de guerre 1914-1918
Fortjenstorden (Storbritannien)
Virtuti Militari (1. klasse)
Distinguished Service Medal (USA)

Ferdinand Foch (OM GCB (2. oktober 1851 - 20. marts 1929) var en fransk soldat, militærteoretiker og skribent krediteret for at have "det mest originale og subtile sind i den franske hær" i begyndelsen af ​​det 20. århundrede. Han tjente som general i den franske hær under første verdenskrig og blev udnævnt til marskalk af Frankrig i sit sidste år: 1918. Kort efter starten på forårsoffensiven, Tysklands sidste forsøg på at vinde krigen, blev Foch valgt som øverstkommanderende for de allierede hære, en position at han holdt indtil den 11. november 1918, da han accepterede den tyske anmodning om våbenhvile. I 1923 blev han udnævnt til marskalk af Polen.

Han gik ind for fredsvilkår, der ville gøre Tyskland ude af stand til at udgøre en trussel mod Frankrig nogensinde igen. Hans ord efter Versailles -traktaten, "Dette er ikke en fred. Det er en våbenhvile i tyve år" ville vise sig at profetisk Anden Verdenskrig startede tyve år og femogtres dage senere.

Foch blev født i Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées som søn af en embedsmand fra Comminges. Han gik i skole i Tarbes, Rodez og Jesuit College i St. Etienne. Hans bror var senere jesuit, og dette kan i første omgang have forhindret Fochs fremgang gennem den franske hærs rækker (siden den republikanske regering i Frankrig var anti-gejstlig).

Foch meldte sig ind i det franske 4. infanteriregiment i 1870 under den fransk-preussiske krig og besluttede at blive i hæren efter krigen. I 1871 trådte Foch ind i x cole Polytechnique og modtog sin kommission som løjtnant i det 24. artilleriregiment i 1873, på trods af at han ikke havde tid til at afslutte sit kursus på grund af manglen på juniorofficerer. Han steg gennem rækkerne og nåede til sidst til kaptajnen, inden han kom ind på Staff College i 1885. I 1895 skulle han vende tilbage til kollegiet som instruktør, og det var for sit arbejde her, at han senere blev anerkendt som "den mest originale militær tænker i sin generation ". Foch blev inspireret af historien og blev kendt for sine kritiske analyser af de fransk-preussiske og Napoleons kampagner og deres relevans for forfølgelsen af ​​militære operationer i det nye århundrede. Hans fornyede undersøgelse af Frankrigs smertefulde nederlag i 1870 var blandt de første af slagsen.

I sin karriere som instruktør skabte Foch fornyet interesse for fransk militærhistorie, inspirerede tillid til en ny klasse franske officerer og skabte "den intellektuelle og moralske genopbygning af den franske hær". Hans tankegang om militærlære blev formet af den urokkelige tro, der dengang var ualmindelig, at "viljen til at erobre er den første sejrsbetingelse." Samlinger af hans foredrag, der genindførte begrebet offensiv til fransk militærteori, blev udgivet i bindene "Des Principes de la Guerre" ("Om krigens principper") i 1903 og "De la Conduite de la Guerre" ("Om krigsførelse") i 1904. Desværre, mens Foch rådede til "kvalifikation og skelnen" i militær strategi og advarede om, at "hensynsløshed i angreb kunne føre til uoverkommelige tab og ultimativ fiasko", hans koncept, forvrænget og misforstået af samtidige , blev forbundet med de perverse offensive doktriner (l'offensive x outrance) fra hans efterfølgere. Til Fochs fortrydelse kom kulten i offensiven til at dominere militærkredse, og Fochs bøger blev endda citeret i udviklingen af ​​Plan XVII, den katastrofale franske strategi for krig med Tyskland, der bragte Frankrig så tæt på at ødelægge i 1914.

Foch fortsatte sin oprindeligt langsomme stigning gennem rækkerne og blev forfremmet til oberstløjtnant i 1898. Derefter accelererede hans karriere, og han vendte tilbage til kommandoen i 1901, da han blev sendt til et regiment. Han blev forfremmet til at blive oberst i 1903, derefter brigadegeneral (General de Brigade) i 1907 og vendte tilbage til Staff College som kommandant fra 1907-1911. I 1911 blev han forfremmet generalmajor (General de Division) og derefter generalløjtnant (General de Corps d'Armée) i 1913 og tog kommandoen over XX Corps i Nancy.

Billede - Foch med General Pershing (c. 1918).

Ved krigens udbrud havde Foch kommandoen over XX Corps, en del af den anden hær af general de Castelnau. Den 14. august avancerede korpset mod Sarrebourg-Morhange-linjen og tog store tab i slaget ved grænserne. Nederlaget for XV Corps til højre tvang Foch til at trække sig tilbage. Foch frikendte sig godt og dækkede tilbagetrækningen til Nancy og Charmes-hullet, inden han satte i gang et modangreb, der forhindrede tyskerne i at krydse Meurthe.

Han blev derefter valgt til at kommandere over den nyoprettede niende hær, som han skulle kommandere under det første slag ved Marne og kapløbet mod havet. Med sin stabschef Maxime Weygand formåede Foch at gøre dette, mens hele den franske hær var på fuld tilbagetog. Kun en uge efter at have taget kommandoen over 9. hær, blev han tvunget til at bekæmpe en række defensive aktioner for at forhindre et tysk gennembrud. Det var dengang, han talte de berømte ord: "Hårdt presset på min højre side. Mit center giver efter. Umuligt at manøvrere. Fremragende situation. Jeg angriber." Hans modangreb var en implementering af de teorier, han havde udviklet i løbet af sine personaledage, og det lykkedes at stoppe det tyske fremskridt. Foch modtog yderligere forstærkninger fra den femte hær og, efter endnu et angreb på hans styrker, modangreb igen på Marne. Tyskerne gravede ind, inden de til sidst trak sig tilbage. Den 12. september genvandt Foch Marne ved Chx lons og befriede byen. Befolkningen i Chx lons hilste som en helt den mand, der bredt menes at have været medvirkende til at stoppe det store tilbagetog og stabilisere den allieredes position. Foch modtog tak fra biskoppen i Chx lons og svarede Foch fromt: "non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam." (Ikke til os, o Herre, ikke til os, men til dit navn give ære, Salme 115: 1)

Fochs succeser gav ham en yderligere forfremmelse den 4. oktober, da han blev udnævnt til assisterende øverstkommanderende med ansvar for at koordinere aktiviteterne i de nordfranske hære og have kontakt med de britiske styrker. Dette var en vigtig udnævnelse, da det såkaldte "Race til havet" derefter var i gang. Joffre havde også ønsket at udpege Foch som hans efterfølger "i tilfælde af ulykke" for at sikre, at jobbet ikke ville blive givet til Gallini, men den franske regering ville ikke acceptere dette. Da tyskerne angreb den 13. oktober, undlod de snævert at bryde igennem de britiske og franske linjer. De forsøgte igen i slutningen af ​​måneden under det første slag ved Ypres denne gang og led frygtelige tab. Det var igen lykkedes Foch at koordinere et forsvar og vinde mod oddsene. Den 2. december 1914 udnævnte kong George V af Det Forenede Kongerige ham til et æresridder Grand Cross af Bath Order. I 1915 krystalliserede hans ansvar nu kommandoen over den nordlige hærgruppe, han ledede Artois -offensiven og i 1916 den franske del af Slaget ved Somme. Han blev stærkt kritiseret for sin taktik og de store tab, som de allierede hære led under disse kampe, og i december 1916 blev han fjernet fra kommandoen af ​​general Joffre og sendt til kommando i Italien Joffre blev selv fyret dage efter.

Bare et par måneder senere, efter general Nivelles fiasko, blev general P tain udnævnt til chef for generalstaben Foch håbede at efterfølge P tain under kommandoen over Army Group Center, men dette job blev i stedet givet til general Fayolle. Den følgende måned blev general P tain udnævnt til øverstkommanderende i stedet for Nivelle, og Foch blev tilbagekaldt og forfremmet til chefen for generalstaben.

Den 26. marts 1918, på Doullens-konferencen, blev Foch udnævnt til øverstkommanderende for de allierede hære med titlen Génralissime ("øverste general") med opgaven at koordinere aktiviteterne i de allierede hære og danne en fælles reserve og brug af disse divisioner til at bevogte krydset mellem de franske og britiske hære og til at stoppe den potentielt dødelige kløft, der ville have fulgt et tysk gennembrud i den britiske femte hærsektor. På trods af at de blev overrasket over den tyske offensiv på Chemin des Dames, holdt de allierede hære under Fochs kommando i sidste ende de tyske styrkers fremrykning under den store forårsoffensiv i 1918 og ved det andet slag ved Marne i juli 1918. Den berømte sætning, " Jeg vil kæmpe foran Paris, jeg vil kæmpe i Paris, jeg vil kæmpe bag Paris, "tilskrives både Foch og Clemenceau, illustrerede Génalissimens beslutning om at holde de allierede hære intakte, selv med risiko for at miste kapital. Den 6. august 1918 blev Foch udnævnt til marskalk af Frankrig.

Sammen med den britiske kommandant feltmarskal Haig planlagde Foch storoffensiven, der åbnede den 26. september 1918, hvilket førte til Tysklands nederlag. Efter krigen hævdede han at have besejret Tyskland ved at ryge hans pibe. Foch accepterede det tyske ophør af fjendtlighederne i november, hvorefter han nægtede at give den tyske underskriver hånd. På dagen for våbenhvilen blev han valgt til Acad mie des Sciences. Ti dage senere blev han enstemmigt valgt til Acad mie franx aise. Den 30. november 1918 blev han tildelt den højeste portugisiske udsmykning Tårn- og sværdordenen, 1. klasse (Storkors).

Billede - monumentet til Ferdinand Foch i hans hjemland Tarbes.

I januar 1919 fremlagde Foch på fredskonferencen i Paris et memorandum til de allierede befuldmægtigede, hvori han udtalte:

Fremover burde Rhinen være de vestlige militærgrænser for de tyske lande. Fremover burde Tyskland fratages al indgang og samlingsplads, det vil sige al territorial suverænitet på flodens venstre bred, det vil sige alle faciliteter til hurtigt at invadere, som i 1914, Belgien, Luxembourg, for at nå kysten af Nordsøen og truer Det Forenede Kongerige for at have flankeret det naturlige forsvar i Frankrig, Rhinen, Meuse, erobre de nordlige provinser og komme ind i det parisiske område.

I et efterfølgende memorandum hævdede Foch, at de allierede skulle drage fuld fordel af deres sejr ved permanent at svække den tyske magt for at forhindre hende i at true Frankrig igen:

Det tyske folk frygter mest er en fornyelse af fjendtlighederne, da Tyskland denne gang ville være slagmarken og scenen for den deraf følgende ødelæggelse. Dette gør det umuligt for den endnu ustabile tyske regering at afvise ethvert krav fra vores side, hvis det er klart formuleret. Entente kan i sin nuværende gunstige militære situation opnå accept af alle de fredsbetingelser, den måtte stille, forudsat at de præsenteres uden særlig forsinkelse. Det eneste, det skal gøre, er at beslutte, hvad de skal være.

Den britiske premierminister David Lloyd George og den amerikanske præsident Wilson gjorde imidlertid indsigelse mod løsrivelsen af ​​Rheinland fra Tyskland, men indvilligede i den allieredes militære besættelse i femten år, hvilket Foch mente var utilstrækkeligt til at beskytte Frankrig.

Foch anså Versailles -traktaten for at være "en kapitulation, en forræderi", fordi han mente, at kun permanent besættelse af Rheinland ville give Frankrig tilstrækkelig sikkerhed mod en genoplivning af tysk aggression. Da traktaten blev undertegnet, sagde Foch: "Dette er ikke fred. Det er en våbenhvile i 20 år".

Billede - Ferdinand Fochs grav i Les Invalides.

Foch blev udnævnt til britisk feltmarskal i 1919, og for hans råd under den polsk-bolsjevikiske krig i 1920 samt sit pres på Tyskland under Storpolsoprøret blev han tildelt titlen som marskalk af Polen i 1923.

Den 1. november 1921 var Foch i Kansas City for at deltage i den banebrydende ceremoni for Liberty Memorial, der blev bygget der. Også til stede den dag var generalløjtnant Baron Jacques fra Belgien, admiral David Beatty fra Storbritannien, general Armando Diaz fra Italien og general John J. Pershing fra USA. En af hovedtalerne var vicepræsident Calvin Coolidge i USA. I 1935 blev basrelieffer af Foch, Jacques, Diaz og Pershing af billedhuggeren Walker Hancock føjet til mindesmærket.

Foch døde den 20. marts 1929 og blev begravet i Les Invalides, ved siden af ​​Napoleon og mange andre berømte franske soldater og officerer.

En statue af Foch blev opsat på Compix gne Armistice -stedet, da området blev omdannet til et nationalt mindesmærke. Denne statue var den eneste genstand, der blev forstyrret af tyskerne efter deres nederlag mod Frankrig i juni 1940. Efter underskrivelsen af ​​Frankrigs overgivelse den 21. juni hærgede tyskerne området omkring jernbanevognen, hvor både overgivelserne fra 1918 og 1940 havde taget placere. Statuen blev stående for ikke at se andet end et ødemark. Våbenstilstandsstedet blev restaureret af tysk krigsfangerarbejde efter 2. verdenskrig, med dets mindesmærker og monumenter enten restaureret eller samlet igen.

Billede - statue, i, Foch, nær, Victoria, togstation, London, UK

En tung krydser og et hangarskib blev navngivet til hans ære, samt et tidligt distrikt i Gdynia, Polen. Sidstnævnte blev dog omdøbt af den kommunistiske regering efter Anden Verdenskrig. Ikke desto mindre holder en af ​​de store veje i byen Bydgoszcz, der dengang lå i den polske korridor, sit navn som tegn på taknemmelighed for at kæmpe for et uafhængigt Polen. Avenue Foch, en gade i Paris, blev opkaldt efter ham. Flere andre gader er blevet navngivet til hans ære i Lyon, Krakx w, Chrzanx w, Grenoble, Quito, Beirut, New Orleans, Leuven, Cambridge, Williston Park, Milltown og Foch Road i Singapore. Fochville i Sydafrika blev også navngivet til hans ære. En statue af Foch står nær Victoria station i London. Foch har også en druekultur opkaldt efter sig.

Ridder - 9. juli 1892
Officer - 11. juli 1908
Kommandør - 31. december 1913
Overofficer - 18. september 1914
Storkors - 8. oktober 1915.

Ridder - 9. juli 1892
Officer - 11. juli 1908
Kommandør - 31. december 1913
Overofficer - 18. september 1914
Storkors - 8. oktober 1915.

Medaille Militaire - 21. december 1916.
Croix de Guerre 1914-1918
Minde om krigsmedalje 1870-1871
Officer for offentlig undervisning.

Fortjenstorden (Storbritannien)
Ridder Storkors af Badens Orden (Storbritannien)
Distinguished Service Order (Storbritannien)
Hvidørns orden (Polen) (15. april 1923)
Storkors af Order of Virtuti Militari (15. april 1923, Polen)
Storkors af Order of Polonia Restituta (Polen)
Storkors af Leopolds Orden (Belgien)
Storkors af Ouissam Alaouite -ordenen (Marokko)
Distinguished Service Medal (USA)
Order of Lāčplēsis 3rd Class (Letland)
Order of Saint George Second Class (1916, russisk imperium)

Foch modtog titlen Doctor honoris causa fra Jagiellonian University i Krakow i 1918.

Les Principes de la guerre. Conférence faites x l'Ecole sup rieure de guerre (On the Principles of War), Berger-Levrault, (1903)
La Conduite de la guerre, Berger-Levrault, 1905
M moire pour servir x l’histoire de la guerre 1914-1918 (The Memoirs of Marshal Foch, Posthumous), Plon, 1931.
Porte, R my og F Cochet. Ferdinand Foch, 1851-1929: Apprenez x Penser: Actes Du Colloque International, x cole Militaire, Paris, 6-7. November 2008. Paris: Soteca, 2010. ISBN 9782916385433

Doughty, Robert A. Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War (Harvard U.P. 2005)
Greenhalgh, Elizabeth. "Kommando i en koalitionskrig: revurdering af marskal Ferdinand Foch" fransk historie og civilisation. Papirer fra George Rud Seminar. Bind 2 (2009) s. 91-100 online
Neiberg, Michael S. Foch: Supreme Allied Commander in the Great War (Brassey's Inc., 2003), kort populær biografi

Hærmanøvrer fra 1912
Foch Line
Marshal Foch Professor i fransk litteratur, en stol ved University of Oxford oprettet til Fochs ære i 1918

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Hvorfor den første verdenskrig ikke sluttede i 1918

Mange konflikter forblev uløste indtil år efter.

Centralt punkt: Virkningerne af WWI lever videre til denne dag.

I hvert fald tilsyneladende sluttede første verdenskrig først med ophør af væbnede fjendtligheder mellem de stridende magter i den berømte "11. time på den 11. dag i den 11. måned", det vil sige den 11. november 1918. Den officielle eller diplomatiske afslutning på Første verdenskrig kom senere ved Versailles -traktaten, 28. juni 1919.

Konflikt raser videre i Rusland

Imidlertid betød de konflikter, der forblev uløste med våbenhvilen fra 1918 eller traktaten fra 1919, at Første Verdenskrig først sluttede noget tid senere. Den politiske og ideologiske omvæltning, der greb Rusland i mindst et årti før Første Verdenskrig, ophørte ikke, da den nye bolsjevikiske regering i denne nation sluttede en separat fred med Tyskland, underskrev traktaten Brest-Litovsk i marts 1918 og forlod krig.

Tyskland havde gjort det lettere for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, den bolsjevikiske revolutionsleder, at vende tilbage til Rusland for at opbygge uroligheder og slå Rusland ud af 1. verdenskrig. Selvom den tyske taktik lykkedes, begyndte den russiske revolution i slutningen af ​​1917 og i hælene på bolsjevikkernes magtovertagelse i landet en borgerkrig var i gang. Den russiske borgerkrig sluttede først i 1922.

Slutningen på det tyske kolonirige

Efter afslutningen på fjendtlighederne i 1918 blev det tyske kolonirige også splittet. I det sydlige Stillehav, Tysk Ny -Guinea, Bismarck -skærgården og Nauru kom under australsk mandat, mens tysk Samoa blev afstået til New Zealand. Af primær betydning overtog Japan kontrollen over øgrupperne Marshall, Caroline, Mariana og Palau og opmuntrede til japanske imperialistiske og territoriale ambitioner i regionen. Japanerne etablerede permanente installationer og militære befæstninger på en række af disse øer, som blev scener for voldelige kampe med amerikanske styrker under Anden Verdenskrig.

Hvad traktaten og Versailles betød for Tyskland

På samme tid lagde betingelserne i Versailles -traktaten skylden for Første Verdenskrigs ankomst helt og holdent på Tyskland, fratog landet europæisk territorium, der var rigt på naturressourcer, og satte tyske begrænsninger alvorlige, mens de tvang svage tyske regering til at betale millioner af dollars i krigserstatning. I løbet af 1920'erne og 1930'erne blev Tyskland ødelagt af civil og politisk uro. Nazistpartiet og dets karismatiske leder, Adolf Hitler, greb den opfattede uretfærdighed i Versailles -traktaten for at galvanisere tysk nationalistisk glød. Med generel støtte fra det tyske folk førte Hitler nationen ind i Anden Verdenskrig, eller som nogle måske hævder, en fortsættelse af den store krig. I betragtning af denne række begivenheder uundgåelige på grund af uløste spørgsmål mellem verdens nationer, er det sandsynligt, at Første Verdenskrig først sluttede i 1945, da Hitler og nazisterne blev besejret i Europa, og kejserlige Japan blev dæmpet i Stillehavet.

”Dette er ikke fred. Det er en våbenhvile i 20 år. ”

Den franske marskal Ferdinand Foch karakteriserede det politiske miljø, der herskede med Versailles -traktaten, ved at sige: ”Dette er ikke fred. Det er en våbenhvile i 20 år. ” Foch savnede sin forudsigelse med kun to måneder. Tyske kampvogne og tropper strømmede over den polske grænse og antændte Anden Verdenskrig den 1. september 1939, cirka nitten år og ti måneder efter, at traktaten blev underskrevet.

Gennem historiens linse er et udvidet perspektiv faktisk provokerende. I 1945 blev Tyskland delt, og forholdet mellem de tidligere allierede nationer blev brudt og polariseret, hvilket gav anledning til den halve århundredes lange kolde krig, en æra med hidtil uset politisk og ideologisk rivalisering mellem USA og Storbritannien på den ene side og Sovjetunionen på den anden side, der sandsynligvis var i gang, før kanonerne blev tavse under anden verdenskrig. De rivaliserende nationer førte proxy -krige og udøvede enorm global indflydelse i perioden.

Endelig var en af ​​de primære faktorer, der påvirkede det kejserlige Ruslands indtræden i første verdenskrig, dets langvarige ønske om en varm vandhavn, fri for is året rundt for at lette handelen. I 2014 indledte pro-russiske separatister konflikt på Krim-halvøen ved Sortehavet, område tilhørende den suveræne nation Ukraine. Efterfølgende meddelte den russiske regering sin annektering af Krim. Hvornår sluttede 1. verdenskrig?

Denne artikel af Mike Haskew dukkede oprindeligt op på Warfare History Network.


Marskal Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch blev øverste chef for de allierede styrker i første verdenskrig. Foch blev sammen med Joseph Joffre og Philippe Pétain en af ​​de tre mest fremtrædende franske militærofficerer i krigen.

Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch blev født i 1851 i Tarbes i Hautes-Pyrenees. Foch kæmpede i den fransk-preussiske krig 1870-71 og blev artillerispecialist. I 1907 blev han udnævnt til chef for École de Guerre, en stilling, han havde indtil 1911.

Da krigen brød ud i august 1914, ledede Foch den franske anden hær. Denne hær stoppede det tyske fremskridt mod Nancy. Som et resultat af denne succes fik Foch kommandoen over den franske niende hær, der kæmpede i slaget ved Marne - slaget, der stoppede det tyske fremrykning i Paris. Efter denne kamp tjente han i Flandern og blev kommandant for den franske hærgruppe, der kæmpede i slaget ved Somme.

I 1916 trak han sig tilbage, men vendte tilbage til tjeneste i maj 1917, da han blev udnævnt til stabschef for marskalk Pétain. Til en vis grad bar Pétain en vis grad af bagage, da han var blevet erstattet af Joffre i Verdun og erstattet af Nivelle. Dem i en magtposition i det allierede militær mente, at Foch tilbød et mere dynamisk ledelsespotentiale end Pétain. I april 1918 blev Foch udnævnt til øverste generalissimo for de allierede styrker på vestfronten - en position, der gav ham den øverste kommando over alle allierede styrker på vestfronten. I juli 1918 satte Foch i drift en vellykket modoffensiv mod tyskerne langs Marne-floden. I august 1918 fulgte Foch dette op med en række operationer, der førte til, at tyskerne søgte våbenhvile i november 1918. Af denne grund blev Foch krediteret med at have bestyret sejren over Tyskland.

Foch spillede derefter en fremtrædende rolle i tiden op til Versailles -traktaten, hvor han forsøgte at få Georges Clemenceau til at pålægge tyskerne langt hårdere vilkår, så tyskerne aldrig kunne udgøre en anden militær trussel mod Europa igen. Efter underskrivelsen af ​​traktaten trak Foch sig tilbage fra det offentlige liv.

Hans statur i den franske militærhistorie var sikret. Foch er den eneste franske militærkommandør, der er blevet gjort til æresfeltmarskal i den britiske hær, og hans status blev sikret ved at placere en statue af ham i det centrale London.


Efteråret 1918

Det er fald igen i La Belle France: Efteråret 1918:

Midt i vragresterne i det nordlige Frankrig spiller søgelys. Tre limousiner kryber ind i glimten af ​​den strålende blænding, og da de nærmer sig, ses hvide flag flagre fra deres kroppe. Indeni er tyskere-tyskere på tværs-de søger våbenhvile.
Overtræderne på Frankrigs jord mødes med høflig omtanke.

Franske officerer møder dem, smiler sødt, går ind i deres biler og guider dem over de mørke veje, indtil Château Frankfort er nået. Det er i den dybe skov i Compiègne, og der stoppes her for natten.

Tyskerne snorker højt. De lader ikke nederlaget bekymre sig.

Den næste dag hele motoren til Senlis, hvor i en jernbanevogn sidder den samme betjent, der var ved kapitulationen af ​​Sedan, nu en grizzled mand. Han er generalissimo-chef for de allierede hære.

Tyskerne kommer ind i bilen, hatte i hænderne, og han rejser sig for at møde dem.

Hans stemme er anspændt, rolig, klar.

"Hvad vil du, mine herrer?"

"Vi er kommet, marskal, for at arrangere vilkårene for en våbenhvile," sagde en af ​​deres nummer. “We accept President Wilson’s fourteen points. Germany is beaten.”

We do not know what the gallant Field-Marshal said, but we imagine that it was something like this:

“The terms, gentlemen, will be severe, owing to the barbarous manner in which your people have waged this war. They are as follows:”

Then he read to them the program already agreed upon by the Allies, and no more crushing ultimatum had ever been delivered to a beaten power.

The keen-eyed Marshal had no tone of sneering or of overburdening triumph in his voice as he read. Yet — away back in his mind — he had the scene of another surrender indelibly engraved upon his memory — that of Sedan, when his Emperor was humiliated. And, as he read on, the great Generalissimo of the French and Allied armies, smiled — not leeringly, but good- naturedly — into the stolid eyes of the crestfallen German emissaries.

What had the Marshal to do with the final triumph?

This is well expressed by the words of Premier Clemenceau, who, when approached by several Senators with the words:

“You are the savior of France,” replied: “Gentlemen, I thank vou. I did not deserve the honor which you have done me. Let me tell you that I am proudest that you have associated my name with that of Marshal Foch, that great soldier, who, in the darkest hours, never doubted the destiny of his country. He has inspired everyone with courage, and we owe him an infinite debt.”

SO, THREE TIMES THREE FOR GENERAL FOCH!

He is the man who never lost his cheerfulness in spite of the fact that the soldiers of his country — bleeding and distressed — have been fighting a grueling war and struggling for a long time against terrific odds.

The signing of the armistice terms, submitted by the Allies, practically brought to an end the greatest war in the history of the human race — a war which brought suffering and misery to the people of every land: which cost $224,303,205,000 in treasure, and nearly 4,500,000 lives.

The end of hostilities 1,556 days after the first shot was fired, tendered to civilization the assurance that never again shall people be threatened with the slavery of a despotically autocratic rule.

Cheerful when things were blackest, cheerful when events were brightest, let history record with truthful significance, that here — at least — has been one soldier who is the living personification of that ancient doctrine:

“When things look darkest: SMILE! SMILE! SMILE!”

Charles H. L. Johnston, Famous Generals of the Great War Who Let the United States and Her Allies to a Glorious Victory, Boston: The Page Company, 1919, pp. 87-108.


Ferdinand Foch

(Tarbes, Hautes Pyrenees, 1851-Paris, 1929) French military.After studying with the Jesuits and at the Polytechnic School, he pursued his military career spurred by the national humiliation suffered in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).He became a brilliant artillery officer and immediately a professor at the War School (1885), of which he was commander from 1907 contributed to elaborate the military doctrine that France would follow in the First World War (1914-18), expressed in his works as Principles of war (1903) or Conduct of war (1904).

When the war broke out, he assumed command of an army corps in Lorraine, which participated in the unsuccessful initial French offensive on German territory.Later he helped to stop the advance of the Germans towards Paris (Battle of the Marne, 1914) and towards the sea (Battle of the Yser, 1914) and led the counteroffensive of 1915, which failed to break the enemy front.

Faced with the stagnation of the "war of positions", in 1917 there were changes in the French military leadership, which led Foch to be appointed head of the High General Staff and military adviser to the government With the eastern front disappearing due to the Russian withdrawal as a consequence of the Bolshevik Revolution, Foch dedicated himself especially to strengthening the coordination of the war effort of the allies on the western front, with the institution of an Anglo-Franco-Italian Supreme Council (1917).


‘Foch’s Grand Offensive’: the biggest battle you’ve never heard of

Between 26 September and 9 October 1918, the biggest battle ever fought in western Europe took place. Involving more than twice as many men as would fight at Normandy in 1944, the bloody series of concentric attacks on the German lines in France known as ‘Foch’s Grand Offensive’ was decisive in the outcome of the First World War, says historian Jonathan Boff. Skriver for Historie ekstra, he explores the events of the Allied offensive and how it pointed the way towards modern warfare…

Denne konkurrence er nu lukket

Published: September 26, 2018 at 8:44 am

One hundred years ago, the Allied armies* in France and Flanders unleashed the biggest battle ever fought in western Europe. It’s a battle of which few of us may ever have heard, but it (and the Hundred Days Offensive of August and November 1918, of which it was a part) helped decide the outcome of the First World War. Over the course of five days, nearly two million American, Belgian, British and French soldiers climbed out of their trenches and, picking their way between shell bursts and clouds of poison gas, overran German trenches from the River Meuse to the English Channel.

Within just 48 hours at Ypres, which had long been the site of terrible fighting, the British captured ground that had taken nearly four months of mud-bound agony to seize the previous year. Further south, the Allies stormed the vaunted defences of the Hindenburg Line [the final line of German defences on the western front], shocking the German high command so deeply that it decided to demand an armistice without delay. Peace took another six weeks to come, but its foundations were laid in the fighting known as Foch’s Grand Offensive, which took place between 26 September and 9 October 1918. Yet this battle remains unknown to all bar the most keen of military historians.

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1918, the German army, desperate to end the war before the US Army arrived in strength, had launched repeated hammer blows at the British and French forces on the western front. The Allied line had buckled and been forced back, but crucially it hadn’t broken. The weakened German army was poorly equipped to resist the Allied counterattack which followed. This began on the Marne in July, continued at Amiens on 8 August, and extended across the old battlefields of 1916 and 1917 along much of the front later that month. In heavy and bloody fighting, the Allies pushed the Germans back.

Allied leaders, led by the pugnacious French general Ferdinand Foch, had stumbled across a new and effective operational method: instead of trying to break through enemy lines and drive deep into the rear – an approach which had not succeeded in four years of trying – they now suspended even successful operations after a few days and shifted the point of attack to somewhere else on the line. This saved the attackers’ energy, while sucking in and chewing up German reserves. Under the relentless pressure of this ‘rolling attrition’, in early September the German high command, led by Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg, ordered their men to fall back to the positions they had occupied at the beginning of the year, in the formidable defences of the so-called Hindenburg Line. Here, they hoped to hold out until winter forced a pause in the fighting.

Breaching the German lines was going to be no pushover: their positions, perfected by years of siege warfare, were deep and strong. Carefully sited fortifications with overlapping fields of fire, built around concrete pillboxes and dug-outs and protected by belts of barbed wire, stretched back in line after line of defences, often several miles deep. German units might have been starting to run low on infantrymen, but they still had plenty of machine guns and artillery, and the troops’ morale had recovered from the toughhit in the summer. The Allies had every reason to believe that they faced a very tough challenge.

Nonetheless, Foch was determined to give the Germans no respite. Together with the national contingent commanders – Philippe Pétain for France, John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing for the United States, and Sir Douglas Haig for Britain and its empire – Foch began putting together a grand offensive to bounce the Germans out of their defences and liberate France and Belgium. They spent most of September repairing the shattered roads and railways leading up to the new Allied positions, stockpiling matériel, and moving up the men and machines they would need. Foch intended to unleash a flurry of rapid blows up and down 350 kilometres of the western front, from Verdun almost to the English Channel.

Operating on such a broad front had the political advantage of balancing out the contribution of each ally, as Eisenhower would find in a later war. Militarily, it also created multiple threats at once, which might both overstretch German reserves and overload the capacity of Ludendorff and his generals to react. In all, on the active front from the River Meuse to the sea, the Allies mustered 171 divisions – probably around 1,750,000 fighting men – supported by artillery guns, tanks and aircraft in their thousands, against about 1,250,000 Germans in 165 divisions.

The western front ablaze

The ‘Grand Offensive’ opened just before dawn on 26 September 1918 with a powerful Franco-American force driving into the Argonne forest and along the left bank of the Meuse in France. The next day, the British Third and First armies crossed the Canal du Nord and drove through the thickest part of the Hindenburg Line toward Cambrai. On Saturday 28 September, French, Belgian and British forces attacked at Ypres. The spotlight returned to the centre on 29 September, where the British Fourth and French First armies stormed over the St Quentin Canal and penetrated deep into the Hindenburg Line, while the River Aisne was the site of a further major French attack on 30 September.

Within five days, Foch had set the western front ablaze. The German defenders fought hard: not one of the attacks opened a clean break in the German lines, and progress was often slow. General Pershing suspended his offensive in the Argonne Forest after just three days, for instance, having lost 45,000 men and advanced at best only 12 kilometres, while the British attack on Cambrai stalled. It took several days of bitter fighting to clear the defenders from the Hindenburg Line in the St Quentin area. Only at Ypres did the defence collapse, but even here the Allied advance soon ground to a halt: it was simply too great a task to move supplies across the shattered ground of the salient [a part of battlefield which juts out or bulges into enemy territory].

The beauty of Foch’s plan, however, was that it didn’t depend on achieving a breakthrough at any one point, much less all of them. Instead, it relied on cumulative effect, and it proved spectacularly successful. The evident inability of the German army to hold its ground, even in the strongest trench defences ever constructed, raised alarm throughout the ranks. A captured German non-commissioned officer admitted that “Germany is defeated, and the sooner we recognise it, the better”.

Likewise, Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, the field marshal commanding the defence in northern France, wrote in his diary on 29 September: “We must absolutely make peace: there’s nothing else for it”.

Rupprecht could not yet know it, but at six o’clock the previous night, Ludendorff and Hindenburg had already come to the same conclusion. In his memoirs Ludendorff pretended that it was news of the imminent collapse of Bulgaria, rather than the military situation in the west, which provoked their decision. This was a transparent lie, told to deflect blame away from himself: at the time he told his staff officers that he wanted to save the army from total collapse in case it was needed to suppress a Bolshevik uprising back home. The generals told the Kaiser it was time to approach US president Woodrow Wilson and request a ceasefire. Within a week, a peace note was on its way to Washington. So began a process that soon ran out of the German high command’s control, with far-reaching and disastrous consequences: by the middle of November, the army had disintegrated, an armistice had been signed, and revolutions had swept crowned heads from thrones all over Germany and central Europe.

In the meantime, the offensive ground bloodily on. By about 8 October, the German army was falling back once more. It was soon fighting a semi-mobile war in much more open country, without trench lines to rally on, improvising defences where it could, in one desperate rear-guard action after another. This kind of combat was far from the trench warfare of earlier years, and the German army began to crumble under the pressure. By 5 November it was thoroughly beaten and retreating towards the German frontier as fast as it could march.

The impact of the battle

Casualties during the last phase of the war are hard to calculate, not least because record-keeping was poor. In the ‘Grand Offensive’ itself, British and empire forces alone probably lost nearly 100,000 men, though the total could easily have been as high as a quarter of a million for each side.

The Allied victory was built on weight of numbers, especially in manpower, artillery, tanks and aircraft, as well as on old-fashioned human virtues such as guts and determination. A major contribution, however, was made by the Allies’ ability to out-think their enemy. They had better learnt the lessons of previous years. Experienced commanders now led formations capable of integrating new technologies into combined arms tactics and operational approaches far advanced from those of even 18 months previously. The Germans, quite simply, ran out of responses as their command system seized up under the pressure Foch was exerting.

Foch’s ‘Grand Offensive’ was much more than the battle which, more than any other, doomed Germany to defeat in the First World War. It was also the biggest battle ever fought in western Europe, involving more than twice as many men, and twice as bloody, as, say, the battle for Normandy in 1944. More importantly still, together with the other operations of autumn 1918, it pointed the way to the future of modern warfare. When British and American generals sat down to plan the artillery-intensive, combined arms set-piece attacks of the Second World War, they took their inspiration from the battles they had fought as subalterns in 1918. The ‘Grand Offensive’, along with the other battles of the so-called Hundred Days campaign, established a template that survives today. It is no coincidence that in autumn 2018, officers from the American, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, French, German and New Zealand armies will once again meet on the battlefields of 1918, this time as friends, to see what lessons modern armies can learn from the events of 100 years ago.

Why, then, is this battle so little known? A combination of factors are at work. Even at the time, these events were not well reported: partly because self-censoring journalists were being purposely vague about details, and partly because the appetite for military news was waning after four years of war. More recent neglect is perhaps due to the failure of this phase of the war to conform to ‘mud, blood and futility’ stereotypes, a fascination with remembering those who died even at the expense of those who made their sacrifice in other ways and survived, or a desire to avoid anything that might look like celebration, rather than commemoration. We can all agree that there is no place for triumphalism in our history of the First World War. But we should remember the war as it was. The Allied victory won as a result of Foch’s ‘Grand Offensive’ was an important part of that war, and it deserves to be better known.

Dr Jonathan Boff is a senior lecturer in history at the University of Birmingham. Hans bøger inkluderer Winning and Losing on the Western Front (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Haig’s Enemy: Crown Prince Rupprecht and the German Army on the Western Front(Oxford University Press, April 2018).

*Technically, the United States was an Associated Power, rather than an Ally, of Belgium, Britain and France, but for convenience they will all be referred to here as ‘the Allies’.


Modern War for Romantics: Ferdinand Foch and the Principles of War

There are three reasons Americans should study French military strategy. The first is that the French military has an intellectual tradition that stretches back at least to the 18th century, and more than a few French military theorists draw on that tradition and are enriched by it. Their work is sophisticated, and they write well. Second, the disastrous losses that Americans too often associate with the French military and that encourage them to dismiss the French should do the opposite the failures make the French worth reading. Every generation of French officers since the catastrophe of the Franco-Prussian War has had to grapple with failure and think hard about the challenges of modern warfare. Third, relatedly, the French view everything from the perspective of scarcity, meaning they assume they have to compensate for a lack of resources with smarts and courage, and by making the most of what they have.

All three factors were apparent in June of last year, when the French army’s doctrine center, the Centre de doctrine et d’enseignement du commandement, organized a conference on the “Principles of War in 2035.” The focus of the conference obviously was on the future, but one could not talk about the future without drawing on the wisdom of the past, even if only for conversation’s sake. The conference location made it hard to do otherwise: The center is located on the 18th-century campus known as the École Militaire, in central Paris near Les Invalides (the site of Napoleon’s tomb and the army’s excellent history museum). The École Militaire is also home to France’s École de Guerre, where generations of rising French officers have come to study (and where Capt. Alfred Dreyfus was stripped of his rank and had his sword ceremonially broken, but more on him later). Engaging with the French military’s intellectual tradition, however, was also part of the point of the conference. The giveaway is the title, for when the French talk about the “Principles of War,” they are referencing a line of thinking that stretches back to a specific book and the man who wrote it.

Bogen er On the Principles of War, first published in 1903. It is the touchstone of modern French military doctrine, a primary reference for the French army’s most recent high-level doctrinal publication, Future Land Action (2016), and the beginning of French conversations about strategy regardless of whether or not readers agree with the book or like it. Indeed, some of the book’s influence is due less to its intrinsic qualities than to the prestige of its author, Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851–1929). Foch was the Supreme Allied Commander in 1918, making him France’s most accomplished general of the past century and the man who led France to victory at the end of its bloodiest war. He is France’s Eisenhower and Grant rolled into one. He also had intellectual predilections: He served as a professor at the École de Guerre, and later was its director (his office when he was director currently is occupied by the commanding general of the Centre de doctrine et d’enseignement du commandement). For those of us who wish to understand French military thinking, the place to start is with Foch.

Foch’s reputation in France is not without blemish, owing mostly to his association with Carl von Clausewitz’s Romantic vision of total war as well as his contribution to the “offensive à outrance” (offensive at all costs) school of thinking. These are often blamed for the carnage of the Western Front, especially the foolhardy campaigns of 1914 and 1915, which took place before many commanders on all sides, Foch among them, revised their methods and solved the tactical challenges that caused the stalemate. Foch’s most recent French biographer, Jean-Christophe Notin, quipped that “his teachings at the École de Guerre did more to lead to defeat than prepare for victory.”

Marshal Ferdinand Foch. (Library of Congress)

There is some truth to this, especially with regard to his belief in aggressive infantry assaults despite the strong evidence that the firepower of modern weapons greatly favored the defense. However, Notin’s view undervalues the extent to which Foch revised his own ideas about conducting offensive operations. By 1916 he had, for example, embraced Marshal Philippe Pétain’s (1856–1951) mantra, le feu tue (fire kills), and became a devotee of the methodical use of heavy artillery. He also renounced the Clausewitzian search for a decisive battle in favor of an operational approach that consisted of hammering the front at multiple points and obtaining, through the aggregate effect of many limited victories, the desired strategic effect, namely breaking the enemy’s will to fight. Foch, however, never abandoned his faith in the offensive, which distinguished him from the cautious, defensively minded Pétain. If we expand our scope to include France’s greatest military tragedy, 1940, we see that the problem was not Foch’s influence but rather the lack of it. As both Robert Doughty and Michel Goya have noted, it was the longer-lived Pétain, and not Foch, who had the greatest influence over military thinking on the eve of World War II. More specifically, it was the dour Pétain’s interpretation of the lessons of World War I that encouraged the French army to shelter behind the Maginot Line and renounce offensive capabilities. In Doughty’s words, “one only has to read the minutes of the Superior Council of War’s meetings in the interwar years to weigh the different effects of the two men and to consider how different things could have been had Foch wielded the most influence.” After 1940, the parts of the French army that reassembled themselves under the Free French flag restored the connection to Foch, with thinkers like Gen. André Beaufre (1902–1975) serving as a bridge.

Clausewitz and the Romantic Critique of the Franco-Prussian War

It is true that at the heart of Foch’s thinking about war is a Romantic interpretation of “modern” warfare that owes a lot to Clausewitz as well as ambient French Romanticism, which encouraged rejection of materialist or positivist philosophies and valorized spirit and will. Foch was no partisan of the French Revolution’s social-democratic and anti-clerical agenda. On the contrary he was a conservative Catholic who lost his first teaching job at the École de Guerre as part of an anti-clerical purge, and he was almost certainly anti-Dreyfus. (France at the turn of the 20th century split over belief in the guilt or innocence of Dreyfus, who was Jewish, accused of leaking military secrets to the German government. The dividing line, however, reflected a cultural war, as Jews in post-1789 France served as a stand in for modernism, capitalism, positivism, and the republic to be anti-Dreyfus was to be some combination of anti-Semitic, anti-liberal, and anti-modern.)

“The traitor: Degradation of Alfred Dreyfus, in the Morland Court of the École Militaire in Paris,” Henri Meyer. (Billede med tilladelse til Bibliothèque nationale de France)

But like many conservative Catholics he nonetheless saw in the revolution an important world-historical event, which he celebrated in his Principper as a triumph of the spirit. It was the birth of France as a nation, which he conceived of in terms of a spiritual community in a manner akin to the Romantic Johann Gottlieb Fichte, as opposed to the more rationalist and positivist Ernest Renan. The revolution was also, to borrow a late 20th-century term, a revolution in military affairs. The nation at arms, supercharged by spirit, swept aside the professional armies of the old monarchical regimes of the 18th century. Foch cited Clausewitz, who summed up matters in the following terms:

The French Revolution, through the force and the energy of its principles, through the enthusiasm to which it brought the people, threw the entire weight of the people and all its forces into the balance, where before only reduced arms and the limited revenues of the state had been felt.

Foch, like his peers, identified the root cause of France’s defeat in 1870 as a spiritual failing that translated into passivity and the lack of will to fight. Citing the conservative Catholic philosopher Joseph de Maistre, Foch wrote, “A lost battle is a battle one believes one has lost, for […] a battle is not materially lost.” For Foch, the opposite was also true: “A battle won is a battle in which one does not admit defeat.”

Wars for Foch were contests between wills the most obstinate wins. But they were also fundamentally about aggression. If you want to push your enemy back, “hit him, otherwise nothing is done, and to that end there is only one means: battle.” Foch, Clausewitz student that he was, declared the objective of battle to be destroying the enemy’s forces. “Modern warfare cannot understand arguments other than those that led to the destruction of the [enemy’s] army: the battle, the toppling by force.” With profound admiration he cited Clausewitz’s appreciation of Napoleon:

Bonaparte always marched straight to his goal without worrying about the enemy’s strategic plan. Knowing that everything depended on the tactical results and never doubting achieving them, he ceaselessly and always sought opportunities to fight.

The Principles of War

Notwithstanding Foch’s apparent endorsement of the “never mind maneuvers, always go straight at ‘em” approach so dear to Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, Foch believed that strategy boiled down to maneuver. But the maneuvering had to be for the sake of setting up the decisive attack. This was an important distinction for him, given his condescending view of pre-1789 commanders, whom he compared to fencers who maneuvered to score points rather than kill. In contrast, Napoleon maneuvered to kill. Foch believed he could teach the art of maneuvering to kill by studying not formulae for victory but rather fundamental “principles of war” that he believed should guide commanders’ analysis of how to proceed. Foch’s catchphrase was said to have been “De quoi s’agit-il?” meaning “What’s it all about?” The idea is to think and adapt rather than do anything mechanically, an imperative that gave commanders full license, for example, to abandon the disastrous tactics of 1914 and try something else.

Contemporary French military treatments of Foch associate him with three principles, which probably are what most French officers would say if quizzed about Foch: economy of force, concentration of efforts, and liberty of action.

This is a distillation of Foch’s 1903 work, in which he identified several more and hinted at the existence of others. Foch was, it must be said, a poor writer, and his work invites simplification. What he actually wrote is this: economy of force, intellectual discipline, liberty of action, security, strategic surprise, and the decisive attack.

Let us review these principles briefly.

Economy of Force

Foch explained “economy of force” with what he said was a Latin aphorism that “one does not hunt two hares at the same time.” Elaborating on the idea, he defined economy of force as the “art of [dispersing one’s efforts] [ in a profitable manner, of getting the greatest possible benefit out of the resources one has.” One must also be mindful of the corollary principle, which Foch never in fact names but discusses at length: concentration of efforts. He explained:

The principle of economy of force, it is […] the art of spending all of one’s resources at a certain moment at a certain point of applying [to that point] all of one’s troops, and, for this to be possible, of keeping them always in communication with one another instead of compartmentalizing them or affecting them to a fixed and invariable destination then, once a result is obtained, to have them once again converge and act against a new unique objective.

This approach also held the secret to taking down a larger opponent: One only needs superior numbers at a specific point and can keep targeting points where one has the advantage. He cited Napoleon:

When, with fewer forces, I was in the presence of a large army that threatened to overwhelm mine, I fell like thunder on one of its wings and I knocked it over. I then profited from the disorder that this maneuver never failed to create in the enemy’s army, to attack another part, always with all of my force. I fought him piece by piece, and the victory that resulted, was always, as you see, the victory of the larger number over the smaller.

Scaled up to the operational level, this form of martelage (hammering) describes Foch’s approach to breaking the Germans after turning the tide in August 1918.

Intellectual Discipline and Liberty of Action

Foch argued for what later would be referred to by Americans as mission command, and, in the French army, the principle of “subsidiarity,” which boils down to the idea that an officer should communicate his general intent to his subordinate officers, but leave to them the authority and autonomy to figure out the best way to fulfill it. For this to work, commanders have to be capable of “active discipline” as compared to “passive obedience.” Foch saw this as essential for maintaining “liberty of action.” Otherwise, commanders too often would be incapable of fulfilling the will of their superiors because of the circumstances in which they find themselves, or because of the actions of the enemy. They also needed to have the discipline not to think they knew better, or to take it upon themselves to attempt to achieve an objective other than what had been communicated to them.

Just as when one walks through a dark house one extends one’s arm in front to guard against walking into obstacles, Foch wrote, an army must deploy a force ahead as well as to the sides and rear. The objective is to protect the major portion of the force, the gros, from being forced to react and thereby losing its liberty of action. One “constantly has to seek to create events, and not be subject to them.” If and when the avant-garde encounters an enemy force, it should be able to determine the nature of that force and thus the best response to it: Attack? Ignore? Block? Det avant-garde needs to encounter the enemy far enough away to offer the gros time to react as the commander wishes. Any closer and the gros might be forced to react. Too far away and dispersed elements might not be able to concentrate, if desired.

Foch’s discussions of the avant-garde show the importance of his arguments about intellectual discipline. Detachment commanders needed to understand fully their role and how it contributed to the larger mission. Otherwise they risked straying too far, or too close, or mistaking their duty: resisting when they should maneuver or attacking when they should hold their ground. Foch himself made that mistake on Aug. 20, 1914, when he disobeyed orders and attacked German positions at Morhange, when he had been told to hold.

Strategic Surprise and Decisive Attack

Strategic surprise and decisive attack are closely related. Though Foch spoke of the need for decisive battles with language that evoked the physical destruction of the adversary’s armies, he was really interested in imposing upon the enemy a psychological effect that was analogous to the effect ideally brought about by a surprise: namely, a combination of terror and paralysis. You do not actually have to kill the enemy you do not even literally have to surprise them. You only have to make the enemy feel powerless in a way analogous to being surprised.

Foch envisioned a kind of warfare denoted by the term “battle-maneuver.” It combined his vision of striking at the right point with the principle of economy of force, and the idea of dividing up the forces to ensure that the gros is ready, in reserve, to provide the commander with a hammer to strike at the right place and right time. “In the battle-maneuver, the reserve is the mass prepared, organized, reserved and carefully maintained to execute the one act of the battle from which one expects a result, the decisive attack,” Foch wrote. His vision of “battle-maneuver” featured small units advancing under cover, protected by fires, supporting one another, and always working to preserve their liberty of action while denying it to the enemy, and organizing “…above all the [decisive] attack, with the rest becoming subordinate and only considered from the perspective of the advantage they would offer the attack.” The first rule, however, was to keep attacking. The worst thing to do would be doing nothing: “Of all mistakes one alone is infamous, inaction,” he repeated.

Foch at War

Using Elizabeth Greenhalgh’s masterful biography Foch in Command as our guide, we find that Foch, like World War I’s other successful commanders on both sides, adapted his methods over the course of the war as he learned to overcome its many tactical challenges (Michel Goya’s work on the French army from 1914 to 1918 also is highly instructive in this regard.) Foch backed away from the more enthusiastic arguments in Principper regarding offensive operations and especially his article of faith that modern weapons gave the attacker an advantage over the defender. Though, to be fair, elsewhere in Principper he acknowledges that because of modern weapons infantry could not attack as they had before. They had to eschew close formations and make use of all available cover their path, moreover, had to be prepared by artillery. The difference lay in his estimation of precisely how much firepower this required: As he himself came to realize in 1914 and 1915, he had been off by an order of magnitude at least. Meanwhile, in 1918 he made deft use of economy of force and concentration of force (thanks in large part to logistical capabilities that facilitated the quick movement of divisions by rail and truck up and down the front) to deny the Germans liberty of action. In the process he did not destroy the German army he convinced its commanders further resistance was futile.

Foch’s tomb at Les Invalides. (Photo by Guilhem Vellut)

Foch Today: Plus Ça Change?

Warfare obviously has changed a lot since 1918, not to speak of 1903, when Foch penned Principper. In the preface to the fifth edition, dated September 1918, Foch looked back on all the innovations he had witnessed. So much had changed. And yet, nothing had:

The fundamental truths that govern the [art of war] remain immutable, just as the principles of mechanics always govern architecture, regardless of whether one is building with wood, stone, iron, or reinforced concrete just as the principles of harmony govern music whatever the genre might be. It is therefore still necessary to establish the principles of war.

The French army is inclined to agree, by affirming Foch’s premise that there are in fact principles of war and continuing to enshrine Foch’s. It places Foch’s principles at the heart of its doctrine, or rather at the pinnacle of its “hierarchy of norms” as spelled out in the 2016 Future Land Action. More specifically, the French army today recognizes five principles of war. The first three are straight Foch: liberty of action, economy of means, and concentration of efforts. To these the French have added two more, reportedly derived from the 1992 book on strategy by Adm. Guy Labouérie (1933–2016). These are “uncertainty” and foudroyance.

Uncertainty quite simply is something one most go to great lengths to cultivate among one’s adversaries: uncertainty about what one is doing and going to do, where, when, and why. Foudroyance, derived from the word for thunder (foudre), means a sudden crippling shock. In truth, it amounts to a rephrasing of Foch’s principle of strategic surprise. To cite Labouérie (who mentions Foch but does not take up his principles specifically):

The principle of foudroyance has as its goal not destroying everything, which is without interest in any conflict, but breaking the rhythm or rhythms of the Other in its diverse activities, in such a way as to keep it from pulling itself together and to keep it a step behind the action.

To do that, one must strike at the right moment, at just the right place, where the effect would be to block the enemy’s attempt to retake the advantage or restore cohesion.

At the 2019 “Principles of War in 2035” conference, participants discussed whether or not new technologies, new forms of conflict, and new contextual realities (such as new political landscapes, the role of the media, and the much smaller size of most militaries) had changed or would in the foreseeable future change warfare so significantly as to make Foch finally useless. In essence, the answer was no, although participants agreed that commanders today and in the near future would have to change how they applied Foch’s principles. To some extent, the old terms mean different things or imply different courses of action. Liberty of action, for example, now requires access to information and protection of information networks. It also requires political legitimacy, especially since often it is public opinion at home that limits commanders’ choices and confines their liberty of action. Indeed, politics weighs far more heavily on military operations now than in Foch’s day. Also, modern forces are smaller and more likely to be dispersed to a far greater extent than Foch had in mind, giving new importance to economy of means and concentration of efforts. Information networks can facilitate both, though they will challenge command-and-control practices while also becoming a potential vulnerability (Gen. Guy Hubin’s 2003 Perspectives Tactiques stands in the French army as the most influential vision of how networked technology will affect ground operations). Concentration of efforts must also take into account the fact that more often than not military operations are conducted by coalitions. Conference-goers also suggested that recent evolutions oblige the adoption of new principles. Proposed examples include agility, comprehension, proportionality, and resilience. Similarly, French army doctrine itself evokes “legitimacy of action” and “reversibility of action.”

Beaufre perhaps said it best when he wrote that Foch’s principles have the advantage of being sufficiently abstract as to remain universally valid, though he complained that they were too abstract to have any practical application. Nonetheless his own work reflects a strong influence by Foch, and it seems that today the French army at least has inherited a measure of Foch’s aggressiveness. France’s 2013 intervention in Mali, for example, featured a rapid series of aggressive maneuvers that demonstrated a will to deny the enemy liberty of action and, in effect, cripple it through sheer relentlessness and speed. In that sense, the Mali war bore a remarkable resemblance to Foch’s vision of future combat in 1903 and the great counter-offensive of the autumn of 1918. Foch’s principles also make particular sense given the French army’s lack of resources, compared not just to the U.S. military but even the French army of Foch’s day. Economy of means when means are limited is not a thought exercise. Foch above all counseled fighting smart, and trying always to answer “de quoi s’agit-il?” even if this amounts to nothing more than the imperative to take a moment and think through what one is trying to achieve. This seems self-evident, but recent American military history suggests civilian and military leaders could benefit from the reminder.

Michael Shurkin is a senior political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.


Se videoen: French military leader Ferdinand Foch is greeted by Raymond Poincare in France. HD Stock Footage


Kommentarer:

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