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

Why was the First World War not "over by Christmas"?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Why Was WW1 Not ?Over By Christmas?? There are many reasons why the First World War was not over by Christmas, as most people at the time predicted, and instead dragged on for another four years. Arguably the biggest factor in the length of the War was the failure of the German army to carry out the Schlieffen plan successfully. Every other European war up until this point had been a quick war of movement, with victory within 3 ? 4 months at the latest. There was no reason for this to be any different, so the Germans stuck with the plan that they had prepared in 1905. The plan was to avoid a war on two fronts by knocking France out of the war with nearly their whole force, before Russia had mobilised (which they estimated would take 6 weeks). The aim was to travel through Belgium to France, therefore bypassing the French army, which was poised to attack Alsace and Lorraine. The armies would split up, with some going to engage the French, whilst two armies looped round Paris and cut off the capital, and the government, to force France into submission. ...read more.


The Schlieffen plan was relying on a Russia that was as weak as it was in 1905, a backward nation still recovering from a rebellion. The fact was that Russia had spent the best part of 10 years rebuilding its army, upgrading infrastructure, and building a sizeable arsenal of weapons and artillery. Instead of the estimated six weeks to mobilize, two Russian armies were advancing into Germany within 10 days! The major reason that all the nations were able to mobilize much quicker than in previous wars, and something that the Germans counted on the Russians to be lacking in, was a well-connected rail network. This allowed the vast conscript armies to congregate within weeks, rather than waiting months as people trickled into the cities. Because the Germans were held up much more than expected, the French government were able to escape to Bordeaux in the south and continue the war effort. This prevented a quick surrender and meant the war was prolonged. Having realised the Schlieffen plan had been a complete disaster the German commander, General Von Moltke knew the only chance was to outflank the British and the French by travelling northwest towards the coast. ...read more.


To protect themselves from these dangers, the commanders simply ordered the armies to stay put and fortify and expand the trenches, making bunkers and a network of interlinking tunnels and open trenches. The trenches now stretched the length and breadth of France, and the no man?s land in between meant that any assault on the other would be suicidal. In truth, the failure of the Schlieffen plan, the Belgian and British war efforts and new weaponry alone would not have caused such a long war. They, combined with other reasons, led to the digging of the trenches. Arguably, if both armies had not dug in and created trenches, the war would never have slowed, and the mobile battles of the 19th Century would have remained the norm. The main reason for the prolonging of the war was the instinct to dig in to prevent deaths. This changed the war from a quick war of movement to a stagnated stalemate in which neither side could deliver a knockout blow. As Crown Prince Wilhelm said after the Germans had dug in, ?The war is lost. It will go on for a very long time, but it is already lost?. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1900-1939 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 GCSE International relations 1900-1939 essays

  1. Questions on World War One.

    It was not simply with this (and such provocations as the support for Austria during the Bosnian Crisis) that Germany lost the sympathy of the Powers - it appeared to them that she was quite indifferent to their attitude. 7.

  2. WW1-planning for war, major battles. War at sea and in the air.

    General Plumer inflicted a severe, surprise defeat on the Germans on the Messines Ridge. Haig had a few factors against him: * Haig had shelled the Germans giving them warning of attack so they developed strong fallback possisions. * Because of the heavy shelling and rain, the ground had turned

  1. To what extent did nationalism within the Austria-Hungarian Empire contribute to the outbreak of ...

    Over Morocco the Kaiser was anxious to prove that no serious issue in world politics could be decided without him. This was a recurring pattern. In each case there was something to be said for German demands. For instance, what gain had Germany to compare with the most recent French acquisitions of Tunis and Morocco?

  2. Dear Diary, It was the start of the Christmas month and I was ready ...

    It was just the right size for a person to stand and fire with there gun pointed out from the fire-step upwards to the edge of the trench. Underneath the duckboard there is a small hole, like a mini trench but very small, and this is used for drainage when it rains.

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