The end of the war (1914-1918) came as a shock to many Germans. The Government had concealed casualties from the public, minimised the effect of the American intervention and exaggerated the extent of Germany’s resources, so that the news of Germany’s surrender was difficult to believe. Many Germans, feeling tricked and betrayed, tried to rationalise what had happened. Philip Gibbs (a war correspondent for Britain) noticed it:
‘I became aware of a myth which persisted in the minds of most Germans, and which nothing would alter. “Our armies, of course, were never defeated in the field,” I heard. “It was a stab in the back which betrayed them. Revolution from behind by communists and Jews…”‘
By 1919, when the peace conference assembled at Versailles, this legend, on which the Nazis were to flourish, had become intertwined with German policy. Germany was not going to forget the betrayal; the Fatherland would rise from shame.
– Philip Knightley in “The First Casualty” (1975) John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore