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For over three years, from the end of 1914 to early 1918, the Western Front never moved more than a mile or so one way or the other. Then, in 1918, there was considerable movement as first Germany advanced then the Allies. Why did these changes happen so

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For over three years, from the end of 1914 to early 1918, the Western Front never moved more than a mile or so one way or the other. Then, in 1918, there was considerable movement as first Germany advanced then the Allies. Why did these changes happen so quickly? For three years, the Allied forces and German for had dug themselves into trenches all along the Western Front. This was a new type of warfare, on that neither side was accustomed to. Obviously, such a radical change in the way wars were fought brought about mangy other changes which changed war forever such as tanks, gas and aeroplanes. When the Schlieffen plan was implemented, the Germans were not prepared to cope with the unexpected ability to muster troops and the bravery the Allies showed. The Schlieffen plan was somewhat of a disaster, and resulted in both sides being entrenched in costly and devastating battles all across the Western Front, in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers died simply to gain a few miles of land. However, this did affect the end of the war, and the way subsequent wars were fought. There were gradual changes all the 1915, 1916 and 1917; the introduction of tanks was at first a complete disaster with their unreliability making them virtually useless in the trench warfare. However, because the technology was steadily improved as time went on, they were effective enough in 1918 to be decisive in the Allies winning the war. ...read more.


The Americans had become incredibly rich through the exportation of their massive natural resources. They realised that a lot of the nation wealth lay in the ability to export to Britain and Western Europe but that they couldn't do this because of the effectiveness of the German U-Boats. So they realised that they had to protect their investments. This was the longer-term cause. Shorter-term causes or trigger was the ability of the U-boats to arbitrarily attack and vessel they suspected of trading with the Allies. During the attacks, thousands of Americans were killed. Also, the Germans had stepped up the activity of their agents in America, and were in fact planning to use the Mexicans to invade America, which they knew would occupy American troops and slow down their inevitable arrival. The USA realised that if it did not enter the war, it would soon be dragged in anyway. So in April 1917 the USA announced it was entering the war on the side of the Allies. This was not the German's only problem though. There was severe social unrest at home, with the naval blockade of Germany's ports they were also unable to import the food and goods the people wanted. The people were hungry and were disenchanted with the government, and were calling for an end to the war. This, coupled with the entry of the Americans, made the Germans realise that although they had a numerical advantage, they had to capitalise on that advantage before the Americans could effectively enter and negate their advantage. ...read more.


In 1917, there was indeed considerable change on the Western Front. So considerable was this change that it affected the course of the to such and extent that it brought about the end of it. However, these changes were not the result of single actions or single people. These changes were the result of years of stalemate, of two years of U-boat campaigns, of growing civil, political and social unrest in Russia, and of the growing technological arsenals that both sides were beginning to wield. In fact, the technological advances should not be downplayed as to their role in changing to course of the war. The Great War was the first war to truly affect all aspects of life. The first war where two armies didn't meet on a big field and charge each other every week for a year. No one knew how to cope with this type of warfare, so they had to find ways to deal with new threats; the Germans introduced gas, the Allies introduced gas masks; the Allies introduced the creeping barrage, the Germans built reinforced trenches. There were constant technological advantages throughout the war. However, I don't mean to imply that the relatively rapid changes were expected or predicted by either side. Quite the contrary in fact; the Allied commanders were planning their 1919 campaign in 1917. Or perhaps someone in the German or Allied command realised that the way they were fighting the war was just losing them hundreds of thousands of men. Unlikely I think. Joel Cottrell 02/11/01 ...read more.

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