The effect of these words on the listeners was indescribable! While Ludendorff was speaking one could hear a soft groaning and crying. Many, probably most of us, had tears running down our cheeks, involuntarily. I stood to the left of General Director General von Eisenhart. Involuntarily we held each other’s hands. I almost squashed his.
After Ludendorff had spoken his last words, he slowly bowed his head, turned around and went in his adjacent room.
As I was to report to him afterwards in any event, I immediately followed him and – having known him for so long – grasped his upper arm with both of my hands, which I normally would not have dared to do, and said: “Excellency, is this then the truth? Is this the last word? Am I awake or am I dreaming? This is far too terrible! What is going to happen now?!”
I was completely beside myself. He remained completely calm and quiet, and said to me with a deeply sad smile, “Unfortunately it is so, and I see no other way out.”
Source: Albrecht von Thaer, Generalstabdienst an der Front und in der O.H.L. Aus Briefen und Tagebuchaufzeichnungen 1915-1919 [General Staff Service on the Front and in the Supreme Army Command from Letters and Journal Entries], edited by Siegfried A. Kaehler. Göttingen, 1958.
Original German text reprinted on http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/~ohherde/thaer.htm
Translation: Jeffrey Verhey