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

Why did World War I last so long?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Why did World War I last so long? When World War I broke out in August 1914, both the Central Powers and the Allied Forces believed that it would be over by Christmas of that year. Four years later, there was still terrible bloodshed and suffering on the battlefields and hardships on the home front. Why did World War I last so much longer than predicted? The answer is no doubt a multifaceted one, with most historians attributing the length of the war to, inter alia, the failure of the Schlieffen plan, new types of warfare, technological developments, incompetent generals and the similar strength of the two sides. One of the most important reasons that the First World War lasted so long was the failure of the Schlieffen Plan. The famous German war plan aimed at avoiding fighting a war at two fronts by attacking France from the north, encircling Paris, quickly defeating the French, and then moving towards the eastern front to face the Russians who would not have been able to mobilize in time to help their ally. This plan, however, entailed the German troops passing through Belgium to reach France and consequently violating the London Treaty of 1839 that guaranteed Belgium neutrality. ...read more.


None of the forces, however, were successful and the result of this tactic was the establishment of a long line of trenches that ran all the way from the Channel coast up to the Alps. There were a few attempts made to break through the trench lines in 1914, most notably the battle of Ypres in November and the battles of Artois and Champagne in December, but again neither side was successful. Due to the creation of trenches and technological advances the defensive became a lot easier than the offensive, which of course guaranteed that there would be no swift victory by either side. The trenches were surrounded by barbed wire, the soldiers armed with machine guns and grenades, and the ground in front of the trenches was bombarded by heavy artillery, making attacks very hard to be carried out. Also the development of extensive railroads made it easy for reserves to be brought into battle at short notice. This meant that by the end of 1914 there was a military stalemate in the western front, since as previously mentioned it was very difficult to break through the trenches and even if an offensive was successful the aggressor usually only won a few kilometers. ...read more.


On the one hand the Allies collectively had more troops, since Russia possessed the biggest army in Europe and Britain and France recruited men from their colonies to fight in the war. On the other hand, Germany?s army, though not quite as large as Russia?s, was the best trained and most technologically advanced in Europe. Moreover, the British volunteer army would not be ready to enter the war until 1916. Britain did have a slight advantage over Germany in the sea because she had the largest navy in the world, whereas the latter was the second largest naval power. Both the Germans and the British, however, feared the potential consequences of great naval battles; the destruction of their navy and their starvation respectively. Consequently, naval battles weren?t common place during WWI and in fact many consider the failure of either side to gain command of the sea to be one of the reasons that the war lasted so long. The aforementioned factors are definitely not the only ones but are in my opinion the most important ones to consider when trying to understand why a war that was expected to last a few months lasted four whole years and constitutes to date, as described by Ernest Hemingway, one of the ?most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butcheries that has ever taken place on earth?. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History 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 International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. Why were the central powers defeated in the First World War

    and they could send a liberty ship every day. Moreover, US troops were "fresh", young, fit and optimistic, they were trained efficiently and well equipped and thus could fight more effectively. The US joining the war also elevated the morale of British and French fighting soldiers.

  2. What Effect Did World War II have on Eastern Europe?

    What was seen as unexpected by the Polish people was Pope John Paul II's appointment as leader of the Catholic Church. As archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and later as Pope, John Paul II was instrumental in ending communism in Poland and Europe.

  1. Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired. To what extent ...

    Russia immediately gave strong support to Serbia by mobilizing its army on 29 July 1914. This Russian mobilization alarmed Germany, thus Germany had to act rapidly to deal with France before the Russian machine was fully operative. This led to the activation of the Schlieffen plan.

  2. Letter from the Trenches

    I remember our battalion banding together with our allies the night before the attack. The order to advance was given. We were told nothing about the enemy, I had no idea what to expect. We were forced to make a blind charge over open ground to attack the Wood, it was suicide.

  1. The cold war - the conferences and the start of the cCold War

    The original six members of the European Economic Union (EEC) were France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. In 1957 this grouping was strengthened by the signature of the Treaty of Rome 4)

  2. Interwar Years: 1919-39

    * By this time many British politicians were arguing that the Versailles Treaty had been too harsh and that revisions should be made. Revisions of the Versailles Treaty (1935-36) 1. Reunion with the Saar (January 1935) - In January, the inhabitants of the Saar, run by the League of Nations

  1. Creative writing. Letters from the trenches.

    After coming back home and working on the farm for a couple of month, I started to think about the time I spent fighting in the war and realise now that war is such curl and evil thing and now that I reflect now at it , it felt completely useless to fight in that war.

  2. Notes on the History and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

    The ultimate aim was self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state." Israeli response - The Israeli response to the continuing Intifada protests was uncompromising both under the Likud government of Shamir and the Labour government of Rabin. - Initially they were not sure how to oppose the massive

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