The Great Unravelling

As September came to a close the Central Powers began to disintegrate. Bulgaria, the weakest, was the first. On the 25th September 1918 British forces finally entered Bulgaria and two days later a revolutionary Bulgarian Republic was proclaimed. Loyalist forces defeated the rebel republic in a few days but it was clear that the country could no longer resist and an armistice was signed on 30th September.

The Austro Hungarian Empire was next. Never the most stable of regimes the various groups within the Empire were clamouring for change and the removal of the by now much hated Hapsburg monarchy, and by 1918, in the face of the final Allied offensives, these stresses could no longer be contained. A wave of declarations of independence swept over the country, Czechoslovakia on the 18th October, on the 29th the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs declared their own state, and in November the state of Hungary was formed. The last Hapsburg monarch, Karl I, renounced participation in affairs of state and fled to Switzerland as the empire fell apart in bloody chaos.

Imperial Germany lasted a little longer, but it was clear that they could now barely conduct an effective defence let alone regain the initiative. Increasingly outnumbered, what soldiers they had were either too young or too old to be effective, and they began to pushed back into Belgium despite desperate rearguard actions. Ludendorff recommended to senior German officers that there were now two ways out of the war - annihilation, or armistice.

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