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

The First World War

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

a) The Schlieffen plan was meant to work by; The main objectives of the Schlieffen plan were to march through Belgium and then capture Paris and the ports in the north of France and Belgium in six weeks. The key aim was to have a knock - out blow against France and so avoid the risk of war on two fronts. The plan was named after the German Field Marshall, Schlieffen who devised it originally in 1905 and then altered it in 1911. General Schlieffen believed that if he could capture Paris by marching through Belgium it would mean that he could avoid the French forts such as Nancy and Verdun. Another key part of the plan was to capture the channel ports such as Ostend, Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne. The Germans had to defeat the French and stop the British landing by capturing these main channel ports in order to avoid a war on two fronts. In order to achieve this there was a need for speed and surprise. Speed and surprise would be achieved by overwhelming the Belgian and French troops in the north by weight of numbers. At this time Belgium was a neutral country so the Germans did not expect to meet resistance from the Belgians and expected little if any resistance from the north of France. It was very important that the Germans completed their objectives in the west and blocked off the British Expeditionary force (consisting of 100,000 well armed, well trained soldiers). This objective of capturing the channel ports was essential to the Germans. If the Germans did not achieve this objective they were in serious danger of creating a war on two fronts as France had an alliance with Russia. If the Germans had to fight a war on two fronts it would be very difficult for them to win. It would mean they would have to devote half of their men to the western front and the other half to the eastern front. ...read more.

Middle

New technology like the tank helped to break the deadlock. In October 1914 a proposal was presented to the British government. The plan sketched what mechanised warfare would be like. The tanks were armoured machines on caterpillar tracks which would be brought into position at night. This was because the tanks would be very visible because of their size. German reconnaissance planes may also be able to spot them from the sky and then they could direct artillery towards the tank positions. The advantages of the tank were that bullets from rifles and machine guns were completely ineffective against them because the tanks had very thick armour. The fact that they were bullet proof also meant that troops could run behind the tanks and they would be safe from the bullets. The tanks could use the guns on each side to clear trenches and to give infantry the covering fire they needed. The tanks could advance on the enemy because they could smash obstructions out of the way and roll over barbed wire. There were also disadvantages with the tanks because they were so heavy, they often got stuck in no man's land. No man's land was a very poor environment for any type of vehicle let alone a tank. The tank had been tested on normal grass but no man's land was usually not normal grass because artillery had churned up all the earth so it was always muddy and the tanks often got stuck. The design of the tank was always quite poor even up to the closing months of the war. The tracks of the tank would often fall off because the Germans dug holes which the tanks would get stuck in or the tracks would fall off and then the tank would be stuck. If the tanks got stuck in no man's land all of the crew operating the tank and any infantry behind the tank would be slaughtered be machine gun and rifle fire. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Germans then withdrew to the Hindenburg line; this was a line of concrete bunkers and heavy defences. The Germans could have made a strong stand here but other events were taking hand. On their advance, the Germans had taken heavy casualties because the advantage was always with the defender in the First World War. General Ludendorff exhausted his troops (or what were left of them) after the attack had ended. This made it very difficult for the German troops to retreat and when they did reach the Hindenburg line the troops would have been too exhausted to defend the line from the overwhelming numbers of allied troops on the western front. I believe that this was the most important reason why the deadlock was broken as the Germans lost many soldiers and a great many were wounded. They had no chance of victory even at the heavily fortified Hindenburg line. To conclude, I do not entirely agree that new technology such as the tank, the American entry into the war, the blockading of German ports and the German offensive in March 1918 were equally important. I believe that the German offensive in March 1918 overstretched the German army and gave the allies the chance for a successful counterattack. However the other reasons were also important, the blockade of German ports led to the Germans being forced to attack. The American entry into the war further strengthened the allied forces and the tank gave the allies an advantage when the allies had to attack the German trenches. In 1918 all of these factors really came together. The tanks were getting better and there were more of them. The arrival of American troops seriously damaged German morale and provided fresh reinforcements for the allies. The British naval blockade of German ports starved the German people on the home front and German people had strikes and riots. The German offensive in 1918 exhausted the German troops and they took heavy casualties. All of these factors came together and the Germans had no choice but to surrender. ...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?

    It put the decline of our fighting power beyond all doubt... The war must be ended." He informed Germany's political chiefs that peace negotiations should be opened before the situation became worse. Other new weapons used during the war were heavy artillery which could fire shells, which exploded into metal splinters called shrapnel over a distance of 13 km.

  2. It is debatable whether there was actually a complete breakthrough and whether the stalemate ...

    This counter attack was in fact successful and pushed the Germans back more than what they had advanced. This attack was made more successful by America pushing troops in and reinforcing the line. * Since the Germans put everything into this attack, they were unable to sustain this war.

  1. Many peoples have contributed to the development of the United States of America, a ...

    invitation by the legislature or the executive of that state, could bring in troops to insure "a republican form of government." A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES with powers much like those of the British king, except that the office would be elective, was created.

  2. In What Ways Did The First World War Affect The Lives Of People At ...

    This cartoon was published in "Punch" magazine in April 1915 just before Lloyd George was appointed Minister of Munitions. This cartoon was published in 1915 and so there for is obviously under DORA, Defence Of the Realm Act, this enables the government to sensor the press for negative stories on

  1. The home front (source based work) 1914 - 1918.

    It states that 'Women can satisfactorily handle...heavier pieces of metal.' The word 'satisfactorily' suggests that the women can do the job, but the skilled male workers that have now gone of to war better did it. It also suggests that the women had to attend a crash course on how

  2. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    Roosevelt noted, "and each knew that the other could not force things to an issue." But the contradiction between the stated idealistic aims of the war effort and such realpolitik would come back to haunt the prospect for postwar collaboration, particularly in the areas of Poland and other east European countries.

  1. Was the USA's entry into the war, the British blockade, Tanks and the German ...

    The 'Little Willie' was notably restricted in that it was unable to cross trenches. However, the British army officer Colonel Swinton remained enthusiastic about the tanks, and gradually the tanks kept improving until they were used to their full advantage a few years later.

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

    He did this so to increase his authority when he actually met his men. Soldiers would therefore feel that meeting their Commander was a rarity, hence would feel respected and honoured. In light of this, he never visited his frontline in any of the battles he was involved in.

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