At the beginning of 1918 the peoples of Europe were weary of war. Among the Central Powers, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey were near collapse. Among the Allies the Russians and Romanians were out of the war and the Italians had been saved from collapse only by emergency reserves of French and British troops after the disaster at Caporetto in 1917.

Germany, Great Britain, and France were still as determined as ever to win, but suffering was widespread in all three countries. In January, President Wilson proposed a peace plan known as the Fourteen Points. However, after such a huge investment in men and matriel, the European powers were unwilling to settle for anything less than total victory.

World War IWorld War I soldiers faced many new battlefield threats.

By 1918, the German High Command realized that the submarine campaign had been a disastrous failure; Germany had lost the gamble that Britain would collapse before the United States could make its efforts felt.

An immediate and decisive victory in the west became imperative for Germany. Opposition to the war in Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey was growing. A victory would help bolster sagging German prestige in those countries. Also, Ludendorff realized that German resistance in the west would probably collapse if the current defensive strategy was continued, especially with the steadily increasing number of United States troops arriving in France. With the war on the Eastern Front ended, Germany had additional manpower with which to launch a major attack.