Popular in World War I
Popular in History
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HIST 388 Midterm Review A The Last Spark of Europe Funeral of King Edward VII The sudden death of King Edward VII and his subsequent funeral marked the beginning of the end of the Old World de ned by monarchy empire and royalty when approximately 70 nations represented by their leaders traveled to England and attended the deceased King s funeral The promenade of the rulers of Germany France Spain Russia Austria Hungary the Ottoman Empire Bulgaria Rumania Egypt and many other prominent nations of Eurasia represented the end of such an era when absolute authority was not questioned in the East nor in the West and where the narrative of dying in war for the glory was a badge of honor for eager young men of all European nations In The Guns of August Barbara Tuchman discusses the symbolism of King Edward s funeral and its relation to the rising political tensions between the European powers that had been building since the unification of Germany under Otto von Bismarck in 1871 B The Long Fuse Europe in the 19th Century The end of Napoleon s European regime after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 marked the beginning of a time of relative peace in Europe with only a handful of smallscale con icts consisting of one entity fighting another ie AustroPrussian War of 1866 FrancoPrussian War of 187071 that lasted mere months 0 Despite being informed of more largescale con icts ie American Civil War 186165 and less so RussoJapanese War of 190405 that exemplified the technological advancements in weaponry transportation and communication that characterized modern warfare was on the whole ignored by many of the prestigious generals of the European powers who would march their respective armies into slaughter during the first months of the Great War Yet this period of peace in Europe did not involve absolute trust of other nations Strings were added to a fuse that would slowly burn from the inception of modernday Germany and its associated con icts from the mid19th century right up to the summer of 1914 0 EXAMPLE Bismarck s process of using Prussia s industrialized military to conquer the Germanic regions of Central Europe resulted in the taking of AlsaceLorraine during the FrancoPrussian War of 187071 France s defeat in this con ict stirred much resentment against France and this certainly in uenced one of the focal points of French strategy when the Great War broke out Plan XVII which aimed to regain AlsaceLorraine in anticipation of Germany launching their offensive into France from AlsaceLorraine Yet the head French generalship in August of 1914 ignored the possibility and inevitability of Germany anking France s left by means of marching through Belgium o The major powers of Europe most prominently Great Britain France Germany and Russia exemplify the major transformations and subsequent instabilities outlined below that occurred throughout much of Europe during the 19th century 0 A population boom occurred in Europe going from appx 50 million in 1800 to more than 300 million in 1914 advances in medicine and medical practices during the 19th century resulted in a decline in Europe s death rate allowing more people to mature and produce offspring thus skyrocketing the population The technological advances during the 1800s that characterized the Industrial Revolution exponentially increased the number of goods and services that were being produced and greatly expanded the industrial job sector progressive social education in Europe such as the expanding of inexpensive public education paved the way for what was meant to be equal distribution of wealth amongst members of all socioeconomic classes Yet despite the production rate being more than the birth rate and such legislation being enacted poverty remained a constant throughout the 1800s leading many lower and workingclass Europeans to become frustrated and having a desire to explain why they supposedly were not getting their fair share The foundation was laid during the latter part of the 19th century for multiple ideologies to spring up ie Marxism socialism communism anarchism in order to explain the wealth inequality across Europe and provide solutions to it The most potent of all the new ideologies was that of nationalism as more and more people particularly amongst the lower and middleclasses identified with their country and their people as a whole rather than their class or local origins that dominated the 18th century such potency was captured both on regional and continental scales as the message of nationalism spread by means of mass media ie political cartoons and the nations of Europe started to compete for belonging going so far as to ostracize minority groups that were deemed unfit of upholding the national image of the premier citizen Through nationalism the state system was solidified in the minds of most Europeans as the most effective way of remaining intact as a society and as a culture this added to the growing threat of imperialism by Great Britain France Germany and the Ottoman Empire as well as other European countries in mostly Africa but also Southeast Asia and Oceania by the end of the 19th century Simply put the nations of Europe felt they had a right to assert themselves as more powerful than all the other nations and made becoming a strong and durable empire as their method of assertion o Tied in with increasing European imperialism and a direct result of rising sentiments of nationalism was militarism Prominent military theorists of the time having studied con icts from the end of 1815 up to the Russo Japanese war of 1905 concluded that the most important tool to mobilize in order to gain the military advantage over your opponent was that of your soldiers the army with the more men had a much better chance at victory Despite the con ict between Russia and Japan in the early 1900s was a smallscale warning of what the Great War would being characterized by trench warfare and hundreds of troops being mowed down by machine gun fire and mangled by barbed wire the states of Europe were illprepared in 1914 for the crutches of modern war 0 Another important aspect of militarism at that time was the popular narrative of just war which entailed the glori cation of war as honorable and a speedy effective alternative to diplomacy Leading up to 1914 young men endorsed the idea of going off to war to bring honor and glory to their nation this is partly explained by the fact that Europe had not experienced a major regional war since the end of the Napoleonic era in 1815 thus such horrors of war had been lost from vivid memory by the time the generation of the Great War would rise up and volunteer for what they anticipated to be a short and decisive con ict 0 An additional antagonist for war was the emerging system of alliances that began following Bismarck s uni cation of Germany in 1871 Having ruined the potential for any friendship with France due to ending France s threecentury domination of continental Europe Bismarck looked to Russia and AustriaHungary to ally Germany with While allying with AustriaHungary went quite smoothly complications arose with Russia when Germany began focusing more so on strengthening relations with AustriaHungary signing a Dual Alliance in 1882 which later included Italy thus creating the Triple Alliance of the Great War and hopes of allying with the Tsar ended abruptly in 1888 when Kaiser Wilhelm II replaced Bismarck 0 Meanwhile France was aware of its necessity for continental allies against Germany whose newfound unification was seen as a threat Positive diplomacy began between French and Russia that subsequently solidified an alliance between the two powers by 1893 Great Britain remained quite isolated from continental affairs focusing on its own interests This attitude changed by 1900 due very much to its declining global reputation following its war in South Africa against the Boer republics Striking out with the United States who consistently preferred to keep out of European affairs Britain secured an alliance with France and Russia by 1907 Thus the sides for the upcoming Great War in Europe had been drawn C Unification of Germany 19th Century o The major player in the uni cation of Germany was that of Prussia an army with a kingdom whose meager 2 millionperson population grew into the largest state in norther Germany by the mid19th century 0 Otto von Bismarck utilized the powerful army and growing industry of Prussia blood and iron as a means to unify all of the Germanic societies during the 1860s by instigating wars throughout the Germanic states in order to gain control over them for Prussia By 1871 Bismarck managed to succeed in unifying all the states of Central Europe excluding Austria into a centralized state Germany 0 Under this new government Bismarck serves as the Chancellor of Germany under Wilhelm I the first Kaiser of Germany Bismarck had no further ambitions regarding creating a colonial empire outside of Europe he only wants to secure a peaceful Germany but furthermore a peaceful Europe D Alliance System 18731914 0 Bismarck s theory behind peace in Europe and a powerful Germany post unification was based on the anticipating of France invading Germany if they were allied with one of the great European powers Thus he made haste instigating his plan for peace 0 League of the Three Emperors 1873 alliance between Germany Kaiser Bismarck AustriaHungary Emperor Franz Josef I and Russia Tsar Alexander 11 spearheaded by Otto von Bismarck in the interest of preventing the newly united Germany from being invaded by what were considered two of the three most powerful regimes of mainland Europe at the time the third being France This alliance dissolved temporarily by 1878 0 Dual Alliance 1879 defensive alliance between Germany and Austria Hungary in which each vowed to assist the other were either of them attacked by Russia as well as pledged benevolent neutrality if the other were attacked by another European country particularly France ended in 1918 with the defeats of both Germany and AustriaHungary in WW1 0 Three Emperors Alliance 1881 renewal of the League of the Three Emperors between Germany AustriaHungary and Russia that lasted until 1887 due to con ict of interests 0 Triple Alliance 1882 agreement between Germany Italy and Austria Hungary to assists one another if any of them were attacked by one of the great powers particularly France of Europe lasted until the outbreak of WWI in 1914 when Italy claiming that Germany and AustriaHungary went on the offensive rather than sticking to defense declared neutrality that would last 1915 o Bismarck s motivation to secure peace in Europe out of fear of an invasion by France and allies was a mutual feeling in France by the closing of the 19th century Thus they respond by establishing their own system of alliances o FrancoRussian Alliance 1894 alliance between France and Russia that ended up ceasing French diplomatic isolation giving Russia its most potent military political and economic ally during WWI as well as undermining German diplomatic superiority within the system of alliances being created during that time ended in 1917 following the Russian Revolution and Russia exiting from the war 0 Entente Cordiale 1904 agreement between France and Great Britain which ended nearly one millennium of intermittent con ict between the two European powers settled several controversies regarding colonial territory but more importantly signified a direct counter to the alliance system established by Germany would soon become part of the Triple Entente between Britain France and Russia in 1907 o AngloRussian Convention 1907 settlement between Great Britain and Russia that ceased longstanding land disputes and established shaky relations between the two powers along with the Entente Cordiale of 1904 and the FrancoRussian Alliance of 1894 it would become part of the Triple Entente between Britain France and Russia that had a major impact on the start to WWI In an attempt to prevent open hostilities between their respective nations both Germany and France unintentionally spearheaded the drawing of the sides for the eventual con ict that would involve the most powerful militarily and politically nations of Europe E The Five Powers of Europe Great Britain the hegemonic power of Europe Despite its relatively small population compared to France amp Germany about 40 million and limited access to native resources Britain control apr 25 of the Earth s land mass through empire and is able to utilize the resources from its colonies for the war effort remains to be the naval power of the world although Germany is competing for that status going into 1914 France a strong political and economic power of Europe with apr 45 million the cultural center of Europe Formidable military that was reformed following its defeat by Prussia in 1871 Germany the stronghold of Central Europe following unification in 1871 Developed some of the best facets of any European society at the time ie education transportation amp communication economy as well as the largest and best trained European army and the second most powerful European navy by 1914 a force not to be reckoned with Russia the most autocratic society in Europe at the time Russia had one of the largest populations of the powers and managed to rapidly industrialize though not as rapidly as Germany had remained a formidable force at the outbreak of WWI AustriaHungary an empire that included a plethora of antagonistic ethnic groups ie Austrians Hungarians Serbs Bosnians Poles Czechs Slavs Croatians loosely united under a regime strung together primarily by dynastic marriages had been gradually weakening since the mid19th century and certainly the most fragile of the five great powers of Europe F Other European Powers of WWI Ottoman Empire the sick man of Europe the Ottoman Empire had been in decline since the Siege of Vienna in 1653 Despite an effort to reform politically by the Young Turks in 1908 remained militarily weak until allying itself with Germany in 1915 Italy a relatively weak European state having only been unified for less than fifty years a minor player in WW1 G Spark of the Powder Keg Archduke Franz Ferdinand the heir to the AustroHungarian throne was the potent outcast within the European royal family this quite strongly emphasizes the irony in how critical his death was in the tumofevents during the summer of 1914 that led to war The Baltic States at the time were a hotbed of PanSlavism and Yugoslavic nationalism that culminated into violence and terrorism by organizations such as the Black Hand Ferdinand desired to visit Sarajevo Bosnia for vacation with his wife despite strong suggestions from his advisors to not go there By no coincidence Ferdinand decided to visit Sarajevo on June 25th a day of celebration for Serbian nationalism which despised the AustroHungarian throne for in their minds oppressing the ethnic Baltic peoples and preventing them from creating an independent Serbia Gavrilo Princip an ethnic Bosnian Serb and a Yugoslav nationalist joined the Black Hand after being rejected from the Serbian army for being physically too small Upon being informed of Ferdinand s anticipated visit to Sarajevo the Black Hand enlisted a handful of nationalists including Princip to take the Archduke 5 life On June 28th the third day of Ferdinand s visit in Sarajevo he and his wife were in their touring car on the streets of the city when one of the Black Hand terrorists threw a bomb at the car Ferdinand and his wife were not injured as they were the second car in the promenade but some of his escorts in the first car were severely injured and sent to the hospital After a ceremony welcoming Ferdinand to Sarajevo Ferdinand decided that it was time to leave Sarajevo but wanted to visit those who were injured at the hospital before heading to the train station The majority of the Black Hand assassins had failed in their attempts on Ferdinand s life and had either committed suicide or been caught by police Princip having failed at his attempt made his way to a local shop where Ferdinand s motorcade was trying to back up as the driver had made a wrong turn towards the hospital Upon realizing who Ferdinand was he fired two shots from his pistol supplied by the Black Hand and ended up killing both Ferdinand and his wife He was sentenced to twenty years in prison and died in 1918 from tuberculosis H War Breaks Out The AustroHungarian government blamed Serbia for Ferdinand s assassination and issued an ultimatum to Serbia on July 23rd listing demands that were intentionally made to be impossible to be accepted by the Serbian government so as to provoke Serbia to go to war As expected Serbia rejected ultimatum and so AustriaHungary declared war on Serbia on July 28th setting off a chain reaction within the web of alliances in Europe Being allied with Serbia Russia began the process of mobilization against both AustriaHungary and Germany Germany allied with AustriaHungary is obligated to support them in their effort On August 1 Germany declared war on Russia Being allied with Russia France declared war on Germany the favor was returned by Germany on August 3rd Having violated Belgian neutrality in its commencement of the Schlieffen Plan Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th In less than two weeks the great powers of Europe were at war with each other 1 Plans for War in Europe Germany Schlieffen Plan 0 Alfred von Schlieffen Chief of the General Staff for the German Army was responsible for concocting a military solution to a diplomatic problem Facing enemies on both sides by 1900 Russia to the East France to the West Schlieffen needed to design a military strategy that could decisively adapt to such problematic conditions 0 What became known as the Schlieffen Plan went about solving this problem by putting approximately threefourths of the Germany Army against France to accomplish the Army would make a hard swing right marching through Belgium and striking central France and heading to Paris thereby effectively anking virtually all of France s forces who had positioned along northeastern France at the Maginot Line anticipating a German invasion from the north 0 Helmuth von Moltke Schlieffen s replacement altered the original strategy by moving some of the reserve forces on Germany s right ank that would act as the swinging door through Belgium into France in order to fortify the German position on the East to defend from a possible Russian invasion France Plan XVII 0 Joseph J offre Chief of the General Staff for the French Army oriented the French strategy around retaking AlsaceLorraine the slice of territory that France had lost to Germany during the FrancoPrussian War 1 8707 1 0 Plan XVII focused on putting virtually all of France s armed forces along the Maginot Line fortified position along the northeastern border of France in order to repel the anticipated German offensive from the north and push back as the start to France s campaign to take back Alsace Lorraine from Germany This plan in theory was in exible to react to a German offensive from anywhere besides from the north Consequently that is what J offre ended up having to do by the 26th of August Britain 0 Being relatively isolationist with European affairs up to the outbreak of war in 1914 Britain s war strategy was largely reactionary during the rst months Feeling obligated to assist France out of both respect for the Entente Cordiale of 1904 as well as protecting its own interests if Germany managed to defeat France Britain commences a blockade of Germany almost immediately after they declare war Despite the blockade being violation of international law the British were preventing not only military contraband but consumer goods such as food from entering Germany Germany can do little to stop it during the start of the war In addition to a blockade Britain sends in an Expeditionary Force BEF of about 100000 troops under the command of Sir John French into Belgium to stop the German advance Russia The Steam Roller o The Russian Army by 1914 was illtrained underequipped and poorly led but it was also the largest standing army in the world at the time with approximately 14 million troops Their strategic approach to war with Germany was outdated putting too much emphasis on the bravery of the Russian soldier and not enough emphasis on modern weaponry or regimented training this resulted in the Czar Nicholas II s approach to a potential war as using Russian as a steam roller to simply throw more troops at the Germany Army than it could handle The major issue in this strategy was Russia s inability to mobilize quickly due to its relatively poor infrastructure with regards to transportation and communication that was necessary for such a mass movement of soldiers into East Prussia J Outbreak of War in the West Germany invaded Belgium with 80 of its army and made haste in marching into France not anticipating but being prepared for Belgian resistance The height of Germany s presence in Belgium occurred during the Army s offensive against Liege where many believed existed the best fortifications the world has ever seen Despite a formidable defense by the Belgians Germany utilized its immensely unique 42cm artillery pieces known as Big Bertha Defeating all of Liege s forts by August 16th Germany captured Brussels the capital by August 20th With a successful and onschedule campaign in Belgium the Germans began making their way to the French border Despite experiencing an unfavorable cost in casualties when forcing the BEF to retreat at the Battle of Mons Germany managed to continue their trek towards Paris in order to end the con ict in the Western Front Meanwhile J offre s forces on the Maginot Line were holding back German advances while Charles Lanrezac General of the French Fifth Army positioned in northern France opposite the Ardennes Forest By August 11th Lanrezac was severely concerned about the significant amount of German troop movement in Belgium and pleaded with J offre about his suspicion that the overwhelming majority of the German army would invade France from Belgium Despite realizing this J offre still believed that Liege was holding out on August 20th at which point Belgium had surrendered and Germany was making its way south towards France Soon he would realize that this was the case and responded by swiftly moving up the Maginot Line taking any available French divisions possible with him and sending them on trains heading north to support Lanrezac s defensive against the Germans At the First Battle of the Marne September 6th12th with support from the BEF France managed to push Germany back into their own boundaries Thus within less than two months of combat the aspirations of both France s and Germany s respective military strategies had failed to achieve their shortterm goals Germany came within 43 miles of Paris but was unable to push through AngloFrench defensive losing their chance at taking France out of the war and being forced on the defensive while France managed to keep Germany at bay but not in the manner nor at the location they had hoped This resulted in the beginning of the stalemate on the Western Front that would last until the armistice in November of 1918 K Outbreak of War in the East Having significantly fewer soldiers in Prussia than in Belgium Germany ordered their armies in the East to simply hold ground until the victory against France in the West had been achieved The Russians did not wait although not anticipated by Germany s Schlieffen Plan Russian sent its First and Second Armies commanded by Alexsandr Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf respectively to invade East Prussia Aforementioned Germany was quite thrown off by this but managed to fend off the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg August 26th30th resulting in the total annihilation of Samsonov s First Army the suicide of Samsonov himself and the diverting of pressure on Germany from Russia in the East In the months to follow Russia would wage a comparatively successful campaign against AustriaHungary this coerced the Germans having secured stalemate with France and Britain in the West to send military support to AustriaHungary in the fall and winter of 1914 L Mobility to Attrition Within two months from Germany s invasion of Belgium in early August the war on both fronts had effectively come to a stalemate Both sides unable to carry out their strategical intentions dug into the Earth and began creating their respective system of trenches that generally remained immobile for the next three years Attempts to end the stalemate by both extending the front in France and Russia and bringing the war to Italy Turkey the Middle East North Africa and Asia would only deepen the stalemate By the end of 1914 the popular opinion amongst the Europeans that the war would be over by Christmas of 1914 had disappeared For the citizenries the governments and the military officers were well aware that the war they intended to fight in August of 1914 was not going to be the war they would fight going forward M Widening the War 1915 Within the first few months of the war European governments of both the Allied and Central Powers realized that in order to keep fighting while maintaining popular and logistical support for the war the fronts needed to be widened so that more nations joined the fighting Ottoman Empire 0 At the time of the outbreak of the war the Ottoman Empire was notoriously known as the sick man of Europe Since Turkey s invasion of the Balkans in 1683 and its subsequent military defeat and detrimental loss of territory in 1699 the Empire had been gradually declining both in prestige on the world stage and formidability against potential aggressors from Europe Africa and Asia 0 From the 1700s to the 1900s Russia and AustriaHungary had taken large chunks of Ottoman territory threatening their dominance in the Middle Eastern region rather than allow Russian or Austrian dominance in the region the European powers continued to support Turkey financially and militarily allowing the Empire to keep its head above water by the outbreak of war in 1914 0 Political strife was a contributor to the decline in Turkey s centralization of power as attempts by the Young Turks and other groups for power brought further dissolution to the former glory and dominance of the Ottomans o By the time proGerman politician Enver Pasha began his reign over Turkey in 1913 via a coup d e39tat Turkey was on the decline the Empire needed some sort of stimulating effort as a last full measure to hold on to what little global power and prestige it had left 0 Despite British efforts to keep Turkey out of the war Germany s persuasion prevailed as early as August 1914 when Germany offered to negotiate an alliance treaty with the Turkish government an offer that was accepted bringing Turkey formerly into the war against Russia by November of that year 0 Italy 0 Many nations on the world stage considered Italy to be the weakest of all the European powers including in the mix AustriaHungary and Turkey in 1914 despite having a population only slightly less than that of France the country was relatively impoverished lacking the important aspects of a modern industrialized state and remaining fairly politically fragile having been unified as a country only since 1866 o Italy s aspirations for territorial expansion Adriatic Sea territory and empire North Africa were also shut down by surrounding European powers such as France and AustriaHungary 0 Despite signing a defensive alliance with Germany and AustriaHungary in 1882 Italy claimed neutrality when war broke out since no nations acted aggressive towards them there was also political strife when Germany beckoned to Italy to enter the war when the Italian government made territorial claims to Trentino that was held at the time by Austria Hungary and the Hapsburg Empire refused to cooperate as their entire reason for going to war was to prevent the collapse of their empire 0 Although Italy and AustriaHungary had reached a concession by March of 1915 Britain and France had already taken the opportunity to pay for Italy s entrance into the war by promising disputed territorial claims in North Africa and the Mediterranean in addition to previous demands for the Hapsburg Empire to cede to Italy 0 When Italian Prime Minister Antonio Salandra attempted to resign to get out of the public circle due to increased tensions in Italy about entering the war on the Allied side former King Victor Emmanuel III refused his resignation returned to power and took Italy into the war in May of 1915 0 United States 0 When the war began in 1914 the United States was in a fairly productive and peaceful state of being having defeated Spain in 1898 and subsequently gaining territory as well as being an industrial powerhouse of the world in both manufacturing and exporting goods the US had no special interests in getting involved in European affairs following the isolationist ideology inspired by the Monroe Doctrine issued in 1823 o Attempts by the Allied and Central Powers to bring the United States into the war were made as early as the end of 1914 despite President Woodrow Wilson declaring neutrality when the war broke out 0 Being neutral however did not exclude the United States from profiting from the war effort for the first three years by selling arms and munitions to the Allied Powers 0 Germany instigating submarine warfare in 1915 against the Allies primarily Britain represented the first major step for the United States going to war when the Canadian cruise liner Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine Uboat in the summer of 1915 resulting in the killing of 128 Americans Despite events such as these early on in the war American interests remained in favor of staying neutral for another two years N Total War in WW1 From a War of Movement to a War of Attrition 0 Within a year of war European strategies of warfare that reminded the world of how war had been conducted for the past few centuries became utterly outdated This was due to the advances in technology that were being utilized for maximum effectiveness against the enemy and ultimate defense of your army s own line ie machine guns boltaction ri es mortars barbed wire This strategy dominated both side by early 1915 forcing men into dugin trenches that stretched the entire Western Front from southwestern Germany and eastern France all the way to the French bank of the English Channel Life in the Trenches 0 Life as a soldier in the trenches can be defined as insurmountable squalor due to a number of factors 1 Most men lived in very tight spaces with minimal overhead protection from mortar and artillery strikes 2 They were constantly endangered by health risks caused by lack of insightful sanitary conditions ie the latrine being in close proximity to living quarters and the makeshift infirmaries of the trenches as well as the presence of rats and lice in icting disease onto the soldiers 3 The everpresent threat from bodies never too far from the trench line decomposing in No Man s Land also added to the pain in icted by disease 4 Something significant but not so popularly discussed today is the dangers posed by extreme weather ie the 191617 winter in France is the coldest on current record The trenches also ooded when it rained often to average waist height These conditions proved disastrous for the soldiers as they were almost always exposed and subsequently endured maladies such as frostbite and trench foot a disease caused by a soldier s feet being constantly wet and contained by boots that wasted away esh and effectively crippled many soldiers 5 The lack of constant combat throughout much of the war fronts caused soldiers to be subjected to seemingly endless boredom Much time on the front lines was spent doing tedious and exhausting physical labor to manage the condition of the trenches Though men were supposed to spend only a period of four days in the actual trenches before cycling out for eight days split up onto time in the reserve line and rest conditions of war and of Mother Nature did not favor such prospects What little leisure time soldiers had in the trenches was spent participating in things such as card games Particularly with British forces men would take time in the reserves and during periods of supposed rest to play football and boxing some British soldiers who were members of tank crews even held tank races on occasion 0 Combat in the Trenches 1 As mentioned earlier troops in the trenches were constantly exposed to both the elements but also to enemy fire Even when they were not in active combat the threat of mortar and artillery strikes machine gun and sniper fire and later on in the war aerial bombing as well as poison gas attacks always loomed overhead Types of combat carried out by soldiers on the front lines was more often nighttime raids on enemy trenches in order to gain intelligence of numbers and equipment or to capture prisoners for interrogation It was much less frequent that troops actually committed full frontal assaults on the enemy s trenches But when these were done it was an intensely demanding task Carrying their ri es and heavy equipment men were ordered to go over the top climb over the trenches onto No Man s Land and simply put sprint headon into enemy resistance Fighting elements such as artillery craters and barbed wire slowed down offensives along the way The essential objective of the attacking force was to catch the enemy offguard and use ri es and bayonets to root out the defense in order to achieve victory However such objective was often unsuccessful and more often debilitated the offensive more so than the defensive it was quite rare for the defending force to suffer more casualties than the attacking force 0 Conscription of European Armies 0 Prior to 19151916 most of the European armies had no problem being supplied by willing volunteers searching for the glory of war in the case of Britain they were also supported by veteran soldiers who had gained field experience in colonial con icts years earlier including the Boer War 18991902 But as the war dragged on less and less ablebodied men fit to join the various European armies gradually lost any prospect for glory and honor to their respective countries At this point however the governments and militaries of those countries figured this out and in response began enacting national conscription in order to continue supplying their armies and continue fighting in the war By the time Britain enacted conscription in January of 1916 approximately 26 million men had volunteered for the armed forces already 0 Government CensorshipPropaganda 0 Being a total war governments needed the civilian work force on their side in order to continue winning the war and two tools of maintaining popular support as well as preventing any dissent amongst the civilian populations 1 Censorship many governments implemented laws that punished the media if it insulting the government andor the military or were deemed detracting from the nationalist fervor of the country 2 Propaganda notorious propaganda campaigns aimed to convince young men and women to volunteer for the armed forces as well as dehumanize the enemy were utilized in all the European powers and later the United States Britain s famous Pals Battalions propaganda campaign attempted to recruit young me to the Army by convincing them that they would fight alongside their friends neighbors and pals Films also became more and more useful being used in Britain specifically to criticize the United States for its neutrality early on in the war 0 Women in WI 0 0 As men marched off to the trenches in the West the mountains in Italy the front lines in the East and the ship decks on the seas an in ux of women took over the industrial labor force of the warring nations Women played an important role in manufacturing weapons and ammunition especially artillery shells but also taking over daily services such as delivering mail shipping etc The First World War exemplified a significant sociocultural shift in traditional gender roles never before seen in modern history as women during the war made up the majority of the work force back home while the men fought in the armed forces on the war front 0 War on Civilians 0 With the implementation of total war in Europe brought a change in the rules of engagement in wartime as civilians now become an acceptable and effective target of enemy militaries o The earliest facet of this war on civilians was the unrestricted submarine warfare of the Germany Navy the threat being most potent in 191415 and 1917 when it was reinstated as an official German offensive strategy A counter to Britain s naval blockade German submarines known as U boats antagonized civilian merchant vessels as well as passenger liners most famously the Lusitania in 1915 0 Another famous offensive against civilians during the war was the zeppelin raids bombing runs by the German Army Air Services against Britain s homeland o Armenian Genocide A horrific consequence of total war came about in the form of genocide in 1915 the Turkish government forced the Armenian Christian population in the Ottoman Empire on death marches in order to relocate resulting in the death of apr 5000001 million Armenian casualties O Prelude to Verdun amp the Somme 19141916 By the end of 1914 Germany s war plan to defeat France in two months is beyond wasted manpower and resources as a united AngloFrench front stopped the swinging arm of the Schlieffen Plan was halted at the Battle of the Marne and trudge right up to the west coast near the English Channel At this point over a million men on both sides have been killed and the warring nations had realized that it would not be a splendid little war as both lines dug in thereby sparking the prolonged three years of trench warfare that dominated France Following the failure of the Schlieffen Plan Helmuth von Moltke Alfred von Schlieffen s replacement in 1906 was red by the Kaiser and replaced by Erich von Falkenhayn whose sole motivation behind his strategic thinking was to win the war by any means necessary Falkenhayn s vengeful and ruthless character culminates into his planning of Operation Judgment in which he plans to strike the illarmed illequipped and illmanned French town of Verdun in order to attract the attention of French General Sir Joseph J offre whom he anticipates will bring the French army into Verdun At that point Falkenhayn s troops will withdraw from Verdun and over 2000 pieces of German artillery will bombard Verdun in order to eliminate J offre s forces It was supposed to be a swift battle of attrition aimed to gain revenge for France s resistance to German maneuvers to win the war over a year earlier Falkenhayn meets with Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst crowned prince of Germanyeldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II and commander of the 5th Army to explain to him the workings Operation Judgment and met some resistance from Prince Wilhelm but he did convince him to comply with the plan with half of the men 350000 than Wilhelm requested P Battle of Verdun 21 February 18 December 1916 When the plan commenced in February Prince Wilhelm seemed to forget part of the plan as he ignored explicit instructions to NOT take the whole town and only focus his attack on a handful of the many forts surrounding Verdun Once Wilhelm had taken the town a prolonged battle of attrition began as the French moved in and the Germans now with a foothold in Verdun were unable to use artillery to the extent Falkenhayn wanted but did so nonetheless resulting in approximately 425000 French casualties and 360000 Germany casualties over the course of ten months As Alistair Horne argues in The Price of Glory Verdun 1916 Verdun was the First War in microcosm an intensification of all its horrors and glories courage and futility Home 327 His argument is inspired by the fact that Verdun involved an intertwined relationship of attrition and trench warfare that included headon assaults against modern forts artillery bombardment and the first instance of aerial combat colloquially known as dog ghting in human history Q Battle of the Somme 1 July 18 November 1916 At the end of 1915 General Sir Douglas Haig who had commanded one of the two corps of the BEF upon its landing into France in 1914 replaced his former superior General French as CommanderinChief While planning the AngloFrench war strategy in 1915 Haig called for a British offensive at Flanders in an attempt to push the German Army back from the Belgian coast and end the threat of German submarine Uboat warfare being pursued against Belgium Marshal Joseph J offre CommanderinChief of the French Army at the time agreed with Haig by January 1916 and decided the next month to meet the British along the Somme River before marching to Flanders One week after J offre s decision however the Germans launched an offensive against the French at Verdun and J offre was forced to divert much of the French forces promised to the offensive at the Somme to hold the line at Verdun leaving thirteen divisions to support the twentyone British divisions who were waiting at the Somme By the end of May with the Battle of Verdun raging on hopes for the Anglo French offensive of Flanders that would leave from the Somme regressed from an ambitious end to German dominance in Belgium to a relief effort of French forces in Verdun by engaging in a battle of attrition against the Germans With a break in the fighting at Verdun in July both Germany and France sent support troops to Picardy and the Somme respectively they both aimed to divert the intense fighting at Verdun and temporarily weaken their respective enemy in order to gain any advantage at Verdun The Battle of the Somme in icted more than 1000000 total casualties appx 800000 FrenchBritish and 500000 German over the course of four months and introduced a significant facet of modern warfare to the battlefield the tank Despite the British amp French gaining the most ground since the Battle of the Marne in 1914 the impact of the battle are inconclusive amongst historians today R The Toll of Total War Impact of Battles of Verdun amp the Somme The end of 1916 the end of Verdun amp the Somme proved to both the Allies and Germany that they could not go on fighting a war in which months resulted in millions dead purely based on logistics Britain France Germany and Russia would simply not be able to provide the manpower and produce the resources necessary to continue engaging in total war Luckily for these powers two major events in 1917 would turn the tide of the war initially in the favor of the Germans Russian Revolution amp subsequently the withdrawal of Russia from the war but would eventually bring the advantage to the Allies entrance of the United States into the war S Notable Figures in Guns of August Wilhelm II 18591941 King of Prussia and Kaiser of Germany in WW1 Theobald von BethmannHollweg 18561921 Chancellor of Germany 1909 1917 Nicholas II 18681918 Tsar of Russia in WW1 Franz Josef I 18301916 King of Hungary and Emperor of Austria in WW1 Franz Ferdinand 18631914 Archduke of the Hapsburg Empire Austria Hungary 18751914 Raymond Poincar 18601934 President of France 19131920 George Clemenceau 18411929 Prime Minister of France 19061909 and 19171920 David Lloyd George 18631945 Prime Minister of Britain 19161922 Sir Edward Grey 18621933 Foreign Secretary of Britain 19051916 Winston Churchill 18741965 First Lord of the Admiralty of Britain 1911 1915 General Max von Hausen 18461922 Commander of the 3rd Army of Germany 19101920 General Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke 18481916 Chief of the German General Staff 19061914 General Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg 1847 1934 Commander of the 8th Army of Germany 1914 Chief of the German General Staff 19161919 General Alexander von Kluck 18461934 Commander of the 1St Army 1914 1916 General Erich Ludendorff 18651937 First General Quartermaster of Germany 19161918 Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz 18491930 Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office 18971916 Grand Duke Nicholas Romanov 18561929 CommanderinChief of the Russian Armies 19141915 General Paul von Rennenkampf 18541918 Commander of the First Russian Army 19141915 General Alexsandr Samsonov 18591914 Commander of the Second Russian Army 1914 Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf 18521925 Chief of the General Staff of the Army and Navy of Austria Hungary 1906 1917 Joseph Gallieni 18491916 Minister of War for France 19151916 Marshal Joseph J offre 18521931 CommanderinChief of the French Armies on the Western Front 19141916 General No l Castelnau 18511944 Chief of Staff to Gen Joseph J offre 1912 1914 General of the 2nd Army 1914 1916 Marshal Ferdinand Foch 18511921 Commander of the French 9th Army 1914 and of Army Group North 19151916 Maurice Pal ologue 18591944 French historian of WWI Minister Plenipotentiary for France in Russia 1914 1917 Field Marshal Douglas Haig 18611928 CommanderinChief of the British Expeditionary Force BEF 19151918 Field Marshal Sir John French 18521925 CommanderinChief of the British Expeditionary Force BEF 19141915 General Sir Horace SmithDorrien 18581930 Commander of the 2nd British Army at Battle of Ypres 1915 Gavrilo Princip 18941918 BosnianSerb and Yugoslav nationalist member of the PanSerbian organization Black Hand Who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914
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