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The First World War - The Stalemate on the Western Front - Source based questions

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Introduction

The First World War The Stalemate on the Western Front Question 1: Source A at first glance doesn't appear to tell us very much about why the war went on for as long as it did. It appears to be poem about two soldiers who met the general and shows at the end how he was responsible for their deaths in his plan of attack. The only reason it seems to show is that the generals should have been defending when they should have been defending because as it says, many men were going to die in the attack which when we look back at it, we see they only gained minimal amounts of land for thousands of lives. This, although it is a good reason for the protracted length of the war, it is not the only one stated in the poem. Looking closely at it you can see that the men had to walk up to the front line. This is another reason as it shows us how hard it was for both sides to move supplies up to the front as no vehicles or trains could get there because firstly of the muddy ground which no vehicles could get through including tanks. ...read more.

Middle

it was impossible to make anything more than a "slaughter-house" or salient as it was properly known as when one side created a bulge in the line that was usually fired upon from 3 sides until the attackers fell back. Falkenhayn doesn't openly blame himself and his colleagues for the slaughters but rather tries to pass the blame off to conditions. This may have been true as when he wrote the book, he had the benefit of hindsight. The two points of view in source E are generally blaming the weather and mud for the harsh conditions they were put through. The mud being was blamed for stopping the tanks advance and the flooded landscape for creating disease and cold. It could be seen another way though as it might be the men blaming the Generals for putting their men through such demoralizing conditions. Source E also shows us how the Germans had it just as badly as the Allies. The advantage of these sources is that they are first-hand accounts (primary sources). Source F show George admitting that the Generals weren't very good at fighting this new kind of war but also that they were the best men at the time to try. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is basically a French version of something you would see in a Punch magazine. People mocking the way the leaders of their government run the country. The final Source, M, is an aerial photograph of part of the trench line on the western front. It shows lots of shell holes and a detailed view of the layout of the trenches. In the middle, there is a big white area, this could have been an explosion but it is more probably the chalk that used to be under the mud but has now been uncovered by the intensity of the explosions. This source doesn't really relate to the Generals in any way but it does give an indication of the extent of the conditions along the line. Overall, looking through the sources, we can see that although the Generals may have been to blame for the failure to breakthrough the western front, there were a lot of other reasons that contributed. These included elements such as the weather and the bogginess of the ground, the amount of arms and supplies available to both sides because of the introduction of mass production in the factories. Overall though to gain a clearer picture, we would need to have a lot more sources which covered a whole range of things, photos from all along the line, and accounts from many people through the line and all through the war. ...read more.

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