“Schwarzer Tag des deutschen Heeres”, the Black Day of the German Army – this is how Erich Ludendorff, (one of) the supreme leader(s) of the empire characterised 8 August 1918. And this day was only the beginning of the series of attacks called Hundred Days Offensive in German military history launched by the Entente that decided the First World War between August 8 and November 11 in 1918. This latter day was the date of signing the capitulation in Compiègne and of the end of the war.
It all started like a bar fight by Jenő Rejtő: the other hit back. In April 1918, the Foreign Minister of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy came into a debate confuting each other with the French Prime Minister, Clemenceau, which made it clear that Czernin had made a fatal mistake. He accused France of sticking to Alsace-Lorraine and refusing to accept peace for this reason.
Central powers signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia on March 3, 1918. Russia lost 780 thousand square kilometres of land and 56 million inhabitants, but made peace temporarily. This supported the consolidation of Bolshevik rule. The Germans won in the short term, but the Bolsheviks strengthened in the long run – for a price though: Brest-Litovsk could also be a symbol of breaking up with the West, the Entente.
Gerhard Ritter, the doyen of German historians, a First World War veteran, burst out as cited in the title, when Fischer Fritz presented his thesis stressing the responsibility of Germany in the First World War, harshly criticizing the foreign policy of the Second Empire in the 1964 Congress of West German historians.
In the spring of 1917, a new continent joined the Great War, so the world of the world war was complete. The USA tried to remain neutral in the first years of the war, however, anti-German sentiments of the American public came to the fore by 1917. The administration led by President Wilson even considered that a real say in the new world order could be achieved by participating in the war.
In Pesti Napló‘s issue of January 23, 1917, a brief statement reported that in early February a three-member delegation would travel to Bucharest to represent the “centre of interest in Romania” to discuss the representation of Hungarian “economic interests” with the competent authorities. The Romanian capital was occupied by the central powers in December 9, 1916, the occupying authorities started their operation at the end of the year, thereby the travel seemed to happen at the right time. In fact, however, the occupation of Romania clearly demonstrated the different weight of Germany and Austria-Hungary.