• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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 a stalemate occur on the Western Front?

    The Battle of Marne saw more critical changes being made to the plan by Moltke. Not only did this battle halt the German advance, it also saved Paris from attack. Moltke made the fatal mistake of ordering his troops to swing east of Paris, which proved not only devastating but also was not effective to the plan.

  1. The First World War - questions and answers on the Schlieffen plan, and the ...

    Other weapons were grenades, mines, the tank from 1916, the machine gun and aircraft development for reconnaissance and attack. In addition, British Officers were specialised in Cavalry, of whom kept a large quantity of cavalry in the reserve trenches; these tactics failed against the modern technology.

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

    - Public opinion in Britain and French aims forced him to accept harsher terms for Germany than he would have liked Why did Germans resent the Treaty? In November 1918 Germany had surrendered unconditionally. This meant that they had no right to take part in any of the discussions at the peace conference.

  1. Why did a stalemate develop on the Western Front

    The First Battle Of Ypres The key battle of the race to the sea was the first battle of Ypres; Ypres was a medieval town in Belgium which was taken by the German Army at the beginning of the war. However, by early October, 1914, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF)

  2. What Broke the Stalemate Stalemate is the word used to describe the situation on ...

    months to get mobilised and to arrive so by the time they had arrived at the battle scene most of the important fighting had been done, therefore this means that they weren't that influential, which suggests that they didn't have that much importance in the war being won as battles are the main things that win wars.

  1. WAS THE FAILURE OF THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN THE CAUSE OF THE GERMAN DEFEAT ON ...

    They attacked a strongly defended sector at Bellicourt with tanks, artillery, and aircraft working in concert. Advances were made, but it was a struggle between the two forces. The fighting lasted four days and resulted in heavy losses but the British came out on top.

  2. To what extent did the failure of the Schlieffen Plan lead to Germany's defeat ...

    The Austrians, however, were not going so well. They were defeated due to a lack of coordination between the Austrian and German armies, the first of which had no idea about the Schlieffen plan or the Germans intentions to invade France.

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