[ . . . ]
In midsummer of 1918, oppressive sultriness lay over the front. At home there was fighting. For what? In the different detachments of the field army all sorts of things were being said: that the war was now hopeless and only fools could believe in victory. That not the people but only capital and the monarchy had an interest in holding out any longer — all this came from the homeland and was discussed even at the front.
At first the front reacted very little. What did we care about universal suffrage? Had we fought four years for that? It was vile banditry to steal the war aim of the dead heroes from their very graves. The young regiments had not gone to their death in Flanders crying: ‘Long live universal suffrage and the secret ballot,’ but crying: ‘Deutschland über Alles in der Welt.’ A small, yet not entirely insignificant, difference. But most of those who cried out for suffrage hadn’t ever been in the place where they now wanted to fight for it. The front was unknown to the whole political party rabble. Only a small fraction of the Parliamentarian gentlemen could be seen where all decent Germans with sound limbs left were sojourning at that time.
And so the old personnel at the front was not very receptive to this new war aim of Messrs. Ebert, Scheidemann, Barth, Liebnitz, etc. They couldn’t for the life of them see why suddenly the slackers should have the right to arrogate to themselves control of the state over the heads of the army.
My personal attitude was established from the very start. I hated the whole gang of miserable party scoundrels and betrayers of the people in the extreme. It had long been clear to me that this whole gang was not really concerned with the welfare of the nation, but with filling empty pockets. For this they were ready to sacrifice the whole nation, and if necessary to let Germany be destroyed; and in my eyes this made them ripe for hanging. To take consideration of their wishes was to sacrifice the interests of the working people for the benefit of a few pickpockets; these wishes could only be fulfilled by giving up Germany.
And the great majority of the embattled army still thought the same. Only the reinforcements coming from home rapidly grew worse and worse, so that their arrival meant, not a reinforcement but a weakening of our fighting strength. Especially the young reinforcements were mostly worthless. It was often hard to believe that these were sons of the same nation which had once sent its youth out to the battle for Ypres.
In August and September, the symptoms of disorganization increased more and more rapidly, although the effect of the enemy attack was not to be compared with the terror of our former defensive battles. The past Battle of Flanders and the Battle of the Somme had been awesome by comparison.
At the end of September, my division arrived for the third time at the positions which as young volunteer regiments we had once stormed.