The Final Battle: Soldiers of the Western Front and the German Revolution of 1918

In many ways the German soldiers who marched back from the Western Front at the end of World War I held the key to the future of the newly-created republic that replaced the Kaiser’s collapsed monarchy. To the radical Left, the orderly columns of front line troops appeared to be the forces of the counterrevolution while to the conservative elements of society they seemed to be the Fatherland’s salvation. However in their efforts to get home as soon as possible, most soldiers were indifferent to the political struggles within the Reich, while the remnant that remained under arms proved powerless to defend the republic from its enemies. This book considers why these soldiers’ response to the revolution was so different from the rest of the army and the implications this would have for the course of the German Revolution and, ultimately, for the fate of the Weimar Republic itself.

• Contributes to studies of the political failure of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis, by analysing the army’s role in the early history of the German republic • Provides insights into the way the old officer corps retained control of the front-line army • Examination of the response of German soldiers in defeat and revolution overthrows common assumptions about soldiering and revolution