• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Account for the development of stalemate on the Western Front by the end of 1914

Extracts from this document...


Sarah Whiteway Account for the development of stalemate on the Western Front by the end of 1914 The First World War began with precision, acting like clockwork against plans that had been projected up to almost a decade before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the subsequent declaration of war on Germany by Britain. Yet by December 1914 the Western Front had reached stalemate, the exact opposite of what each army had set out to achieve. The question still remains as to how the ultimate attack transformed to stalemate in such a small time period. The scenario is paradoxical in that such exactitude and precision planned years before the outbreak of war, resulted in massive failure by all parties involved. The war plans of the Great Powers, most significantly Germany's Schlieffen Plan and France's Plan XVII tailored this exactitude and thus led to the development of stalemate. Several other factors accounted for the development of stalemate, including lack of communications, training and tactics and the size of the armies. Individuals that played a key part in both advantaging and disadvantaging the armies of their nations exacerbated these factors. France's Joseph Joffre and Germany's Helmuth von Moltke are clear examples of individuals who heightened the events leading to the development of stalemate on the Western Front. The Schlieffen Plan has been both praised and criticised by Historians. It has been called "a conception of Napoleonic boldness", yet reprimanded for failing to consider the development of railways. ...read more.


Had it not been for German modifications to the Schlieffen Plan at this stage, the French would have faced near certain annihilation. Joffre was by far a more tactical and level-headed leader than Moltke and he was able to redeem himself in September. At this point he was able to regroup French forces and take the initiative against the Germans at the Battle of the Marne, achieving numerical superiority by placing 27 allied divisions against 13 German divisions. Yet this was after abandoning Plan XVII. Communications played a key role in the offensive war, deterring the strategies and thus eventually leading to stalemate. On both sides the High Commands were located several kilometres behind the fighting. This resulted in confusion between the soldiers and the High Commands, as by the time information was passed back and forth it was often obsolete. During the Battle of the Marne, Moltke directed the whole campaign from headquarters that were too far behind the fast moving German front lines. By being stationed in Luxembourg, he was not able to obtain a clear picture of the events as he relied too much on the optimistic reports of the armies. This gave the Allied forces more of an opportunity to bring up reserves and shift troops from the Lorraine front to Joffre's left wing, without being matched by the German troops. The German army had a complicated chain of command where at no time was a soldier ever free from supervision by a superior officer. ...read more.


The battle had extreme significance for the British, with 58,000 officers killed, lowering morale greatly. Even in such an intense battle, the size of each army managed to still be so mighty that problems attributed to the sheer size of the divisions still remained. In a war which began with such force and veracity, where the Germans believed they would be victorious by Christmas time, many factors emerged that seemed to hinder both sides from achieving what they had set out to do. Like with any war, the devastation from the unnecessary deaths can never be consoled by the victory of one side. What is perhaps worse is to have no victory at all, but rather an ongoing battle of attrition, eating away at each side until there is no hope and no reason left. The embodiment of this downfall was the stalemate that developed by the end of 1914 until 1918, as a result of the failure of the Schlieffen Plan and Plan XVII, communication problems, training and tactics, and the size of armies, on top of the inadequacy of Commanders such as Helmuth von Moltke and Joseph Joffre. These factors can be attributed to the development of the stalemate on the Western Front by the end of 1914 that led to the horror of trench warfare for thousands of German and Allied troops, including Officer Rudolph Binding from the BEF who wrote, "When one sees the...corpses, and corpses, streams of wounded one after another, then everything becomes senseless...so that one feels that all human beings are doomed in this war". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Explain how the Schlieffen Plan was meant to work?

    The American troops also had an advantage; they were fit and healthy because, they had just only joined the war. The American entry in the war proved significant because they Allies had more soldiers and better technology at their disposal.

  2. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    * Many Americans were unsure about the League, for example, how would decisions be enforced since the League had no army? * The League infringed on the Monroe Doctrine. This was a policy that said that America would not interfere in European affairs as long as European countries did not interfere in American affairs.

  1. To what extent did the failure of the Schlieffen Plan cause Germany's defeat on ...

    they were left with no support from their beaten allies, a demand at home for an end to war and a depleted army with declining morale. There are similarities between the Ludendorff Offensive and the Schlieffen Plan as they both were very risky plans that would have won the war

  2. Analyse and Discuss the Reasons Behind the Breakdown in the Relationship Between the United States a

    In order to respond to recent events the Soviet Union convened the Communist Information Bureau, known as Cominform in Szklarska Poreba in Poland, which composed of representatives of the communist parties of the Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, and Yugoslavia.The Cominform launched an ideological attack on the Marshall Plan and the Trumann Doctrine.

  1. The failure of the Schlieffen Plan - Stalemate.

    * British courts-marshal dealt with more than 300,000 offences. Average of 160 per day. On average, one man per week faced firing-squad Overwhelming majority of 1190 men executed for desertion ? Machine guns, Mortars and hand grenades * Machine gun was most destructive weapon with its high rate of fire of up to 600 rounds per minute.

  2. By the end of 1914 a stalemate had developed on the Western Front, Discuss ...

    The aim was to starve civilians, thus causing the Germans to surrender. The Germans retaliated and began sinking ships that were supplying Britain. However, this alone did not cause the stalemate to end but lead to the American entry into the war.

  1. How important was Haig's tactics on the Western Front in bringing an end to ...

    The Allies themselves, obviously had different tactics. Haig's Tactics One of the most controversial tactics used by the Allied forces was those of General Haig, fighting on the Western Front. Even though he was on the victorious side in World War One, there still to this day is a debate

  2. How Stable Was the Tsarist Autocracy in 1914?

    The Revisionists also disagree with the Soviets. They do not equate social tensions with economic or political processes at the heart of the Marxist interpretation. As the rate of progress and the level of the standard of living increases, then the Revisionists point out that it becomes exceedingly hard for

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work