Was the German army stabbed in the back?

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On 11 November 1918 Germany found itself without a monarch. It had serious economic and social problems, and there was open political fighting for control.

Two generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, led the military which had controlled Germany during the war. They asked the politicians to start peace negotiations with the allies. Hindenburg and Ludendorff were keen to avoid being blamed for losing the war.

All the political parties blamed each other. The generals pointed to the fact that at the start of their last big push to win the war, they had been successful. This argument was used to persuade people that the German army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by politicians just as they were about to defeat the Allies. This became known as the 'Dolchloss Legende'.

The very soldiers who had felt victory was close now came home to Germany unsure as to how defeat had come so suddenly, further supporting the “Dolchloss Legende”. Germany was trying to build a new government and many of the new political leaders who came to power were Jews. This meant that Germans believing in the Dolchloss Legende often blamed Jews for Germany’s defeat. In reality, in 1914, the Jewish population of Germany was under 1 per cent. During the First World War 100,000 Jews served in the German army during the First World War, and were very patriotic.