World War 1

1. War on the Western Front - Reasons for stalemate on W.Front • Failure of Schlieffen plan. Assumption regarding Germany’s speed, underestimation regarding Belgium and British resistance. Inflexible and unrealistic. German army not familiar with defensive warfare. Invasion of Belgium involved British forces, strong. • Failure of plan XVII, British and French soldiers not trained similarly, communication issues. French focussing on offensive not defensive, stalemate. Poor officer training. • Rail movement restricted and open to sabotage. Movement dependent on horse & foot, slow, cavalry ceased. Soldier exhaustion from required speed of travel. Learnt to avoid throwing full force attack at prepared opposition. • High command far away from front lines. Officers couldn’t organise successful offensive, could successfully counter-attack defend. • Remember: After the battle of the Marne and Aisne in 1914, both sides dug in. Both sides expected temporary trench lines, assumption war based on movement rather than defence. - Nature of trench warfare • German trenches semi-permanents. British discouraged settlement, temporary muddy trenches. • Weather conditions unpredictable in France and Belgium. Trench foot and trench fever prevalent. • Given little warning before battle, reduce nervousness. Many didn’t remember battle, slept for 24 hours after fighting, could get shellshock. • Technological advances, modern warfare. Rifle, machine gun, gas bombs, tank. Machine gun airplanes. Initially fearful of these advances, but developed ways to avoid (gas masks, target tanks) - Strategies to break the stalemate • Weapons attempt to turn into war of movement – gas and tanks. • Verdun NOV 1916 – battle of attrition. No desirable geographical advance for either side, chosen by Germans because of French significance. German’s came close to taking Verdun, but failed and the just defending. Raged from February to November. 500 000 French casualties, 400 000 german casualties. • Somme NOV 1916 – bomb entire german front lines, then walk over unarmed and claim ground. German bunkers sheltered, didn’t wipe out front lines, resumed position and waited. Failure, raged for five months. Haig claimed it to be attrition not offensive. Tactical error, huge costs, no advantage. • Passchendaele JUL-NOV 1917 – artillery bombardment then advance. Haig told to wait for US support, ignored request. German skilfully withdrew; reduced frontline. British trouble claiming new ground, muddy craters, time consuming. 300 000 casualties, 8km. - changing attitudes of soldiers over time

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BRITAIN – initially overwhelming support, ignorance of modern warfare. Unemployment, yearn to impress, promise of adventure, propaganda fuelled this support. Soon patriotism disappeared, new soldiers not enthused. Trench life main obstacle to positive outlook. Wasn’t worth losses, mutinies, distain for officers away from front line. What was war all about? However, resentment not as out of control as European armies. FRENCH – high casualties, low pay, cancellation of leave resulted in desertion, 27 000 men. Managed to keep secret from enemy, introduced better meals, longer rests, and home leaves convinced mutinied soldiers to return. GERMANY – widespread enthusiasm, conscription already introduced, needed propaganda to justify reason. Food shortages prompted massive strikes, lead to revolution, signing of armistice in 1918 , peace. Relief more than excitement.

2. Home fronts Britain/ Germany - Total war and it’s impact GERMANY • Planned total war from beginning, prepared to make total use of resources. • Importance of women in workforce grew. Discontent rose because standard of living fell, workers strikes escalated and Keiser forced to abdicate. • Imported good restricted, rationing introduced 1916. • Externally trade dependent, not good for a long war, Allied blockade restricted trade. Heavy dependence on good crops, very risky, 1915 rains spelled doom for German people • Large loans taken out to fuel war effort, Germany in debt BRITAIN • Total war not enforced until 1915. social structure mean total war semiopposed, free press and strong union movement, total war not going to go unnoticed. Misconception of war movement, wouldn’t affect them, very wrong. • Government aimed to keep workers happy and reduce strike. Poor harvest/ german submarine campaign led to rationing. • Conscription introduced in 1916. • Anti-german feeling grew, leisure activities declines, importance of women increased, given the vote 1918, class barriers lifted. - Recruitment, conscription, censorship, propaganda GERMANY • Already introduced. Many promised war to be over by Christmas 1914. no idea the nature of modern warfare. • German propaganda didn’t have to promote recruitment. Very anti-British, had tricky job of justifying invasion of Belgium/ Paris. • Strict censorship covered losses, banned press about protests, didn’t know about troop morale and casualties. BRITAIN • Initial enthusiasm, high physical standards, dropped these, increased age bracket. Propaganda designed to shame men into enlistment.

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1916 introduced conscription, regardless of marital status or ethnicity. Conscientious objectors, absolutists, hated. Beginning, propaganda glorifying war, Germany barbaric, sympathise for Belgium. Post 1916, propaganda encouraged national pride in the face of war weariness. Promote subscription to war loans, information gathering, promote rationing.

- Impact of the war on British women • Never shortage of women in munitions industry, responsible for armament output. Working conditions were tough, but pay tree times better than domestic work. • First women work volunteers, buffet for servicemen. Nursing, transport. Iron and steel off-limits. • Armed forces, police to control crowds. Took up non-combatant rolls freeing up men. • War simulated women’s consciousness of their value. Unions to for granted that women would desert jobs easily after the war. Unions feared unskilled women would shame the factory status. • Suffragette activism ceased during the war. 1918, inclusive women given vote, only householders or wives over 30. • War improved women’s social position, end of war made women restless, enjoyed freedom and pay while men were away. 3. Turning points - US entry and Russian withdrawal • America remained neutral, funding both sides but evidently favoured allies. Allied naval blockade caused tension but German u-boat campaign threatened lifeblood, US entered was siding with Allies. Unrestricted submarine warfare. • Sinking of Lusitania (May 1915) outrages US, German’s seen as barbaric. • Wilson’s 14 points for democratic world order • Conscription in 1917, forces quite small but fresh soldiers boosted trench morale. Helped turn the tide at crucial stage of war, broke stalemate. • Russian fighting method outdated, too many men, not enough order, continuous defeats, Nicolas appointed general, with more defeats everyone blaming him. Too costly and they withdrew in 1917. - Ludendorff’s spring offensive and allied response • Ludendorff planned to use freed troops (from Russian withdrawal) and fight hard into France, the negotiate peace in order to re-join divided France. • Allied knew possibility of significant german attack, use front line as bait to lure in and the repel forces. • German initial success, but hard to claim muddy land, very slow. Then US arrived and after 16 days Ludendorff accepted no chance of breakthrough. Three more offensive attempts, initial success and advance followed by allied repel. 4. Allied Victory - events leading to armistice

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2 Oct, Ludendorff declared a win was impossible. 3 Oct, Germany sought armistice Wilson notified. Germany to be constitutional monarchy and democratic. 6 Nov, Wilsons points to be basis for peace negotiations. 9th Nov, Tsar forced to abdicate. 11 Nov, armistice signed with severe terms for Germany, naval power handed over, withdraw from Belgium and France, POW’s to be handed over, allies maintained naval blockade.

- reasons for Allied victory and german collapse • Germany relied on mobility, not fighting on numerous fronts. Invaded Belgium which brought British into war. • Unrestricted submarine warfare brought US into war. British control of seas resulted in mass german starvation. • Home front unity strong with allies, weak with german. - roles/goals of Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson (Versailles) • Leaders met up Jan 1919 to work out peace treaties of all defeated countries. • Wilson wanted world democracy and peace • Clemenceau wanted revenge; squeeze everything out of Germany and securing France from any future attack. • Lloyd George publically wanted revenge but knew this would be unwise as Germany was only barrier between communist Russia • What was included – german army reduced to 100 000, no tanks, heavy artillery or air force, forced to pay entire cost of war, never ending supply of coal to France.

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