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The Third Supreme Army Command and German War Aims (May 11, 1918)

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Field Marshall von Hindenburg explains that he is not in favor of too close a military alliance, because he does not trust Austro-Hungarian policy. He is skeptical about exchanging officers. One can hardly expect German officers to spend several years of their lives in Galicia, in social conditions that are not very pleasant.

General Ludendorff explains in this connection that Germany has suffered from the lack of a military alliance with Austria-Hungary. As a consequence, the German side has avoided pressing for an improvement of the Austro-Hungarian army. It is well known that the armaments of the allied army have been insufficient, particularly in artillery. Germany has made the great sacrifices; Austria-Hungary by contrast only minor sacrifices. Thus, the alliance has eased the burdens on Austria-Hungary but created additional burdens on Germany. Given this fact, a military alliance is necessary. The most important demands appear to him to be: the reorganization of the Austro-Hungarian army, introduction of standardized armaments, uniform tactical and strategic training, and (as the General later added) standardization in building the railroad network and in providing and distributing equipment. The fact that that the Austro-Hungarians cannot be relied on to keep the most essential military secrets is highly objectionable. Certain well-known cases have revealed that there are traitors in the Austro-Hungarian army. Close military co-operation between two empires is only possible if each is informed about the deployment of the other’s forces. Until now, this has not been the case in our relationship with Austria-Hungary; it must, however, be the goal. The military alliance will therefore have to cover this matter. But one must of course also be certain that the other party is nationally secure. Here the question is how the Austro-Hungarian army will be organized. Will the Austrian and Hungarian contingents be separated? Will one have to conclude agreements with Austria-Hungary or with Austria and Hungary?

Field Marshall von Hindenburg remarks that he does not believe the upcoming meeting of the monarchs will get into the specifics. It will probably be limited to establishing general principles.

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