• 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...

Introduction

´╗┐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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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. Letter from the Trenches

    Armed with our unreliable Ross rifles we fought of the Germans armed with poison gas and machine guns. We suffered heavy losses, but we were able to capture Kitcheners' Wood. We thought we captured Kitcheners' Wood, but we were sadly mistaken.

  2. Creative writing. Letters from the trenches.

    It was dirty, it was terrifying, and you can never imagine the number of people that you would see die right before your eyes.

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

    The Germans were sinking a lot of ships. However in May 1915 the Germans sank a ship call Lusitania were 115 American citizens were killed. After the sinking of Lusitania, the Germans had to end submarine warfare in order to prevent America from entering the war and fighting against Germany.

  2. 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.

  1. The last day of troy

    Cassandra and Paris suggested that the wooden horse should be burnt. No one listened, not even the king. So the wooden horse was brought into the city. The Trojans held a celebration of their victory that night. Most of the Trojans were asleep or drunk that night.

  2. Comparing Trench Warfare and Blitzkrieg

    In order to these, there needs to be large number of army and vehicles. Also the pace should be fast, with no delays neither slugging. Compare Trench and blitzkrieg are both excellent tactics during their period, WW I and II.

  1. To what extent were economic conditions the predominant factor in the proliferation and manifestation ...

    millions of workers desperately searching for an alternative to the prevalent destitution. It is common view of many historians, including William Shirer, that the Great Depression boosted the Nazi party so immensely because it enabled the party to finally enter the vast urban worker milieu that had previously been unattainable.

  2. Why has Afghanistan become such an important issue in the last 10 years?

    to severely attack Afghanistan and cause harm and destruction to the people in its country all over the fact it wanted to drive out The Taliban. Reference from ?New America Newspaper? explain that the reason the US are in Afghanistan is to prevent the Taliban from coming back into Afghanistan and imposing their radical Islamic dictatorship over that country?s population.

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