Why Did Stalemate Develop On The Western Front?

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Assignment 1.2 Why Did Stalemate Develop On The Western Front?

Stalemate in war is when there is a deadlock and neither side can win.  There are many reasons for the stalemate of World War 1.  Was the stalemate because the Germans knockout blow failed, the nature of weapons as both sides were at the same technology level or was it too ambitious?  In fact it was all of these reasons.  There wasn’t just one.  The plan was also based on too many assumptions: 1. Russia would take 6 weeks to mobilise even though she had been building railways for the last 10 years, railways and transport was crucial for fast mobilisation 2.  The men of the 1st and 2nd Armies could easily walk the large arc in the middle of summer with the heat and other conditions 3. Soldiers would get all the food they needed off the land, they would “Live off the land” 4.  They thought that the Belgium’s and BEF (British Expeditionary Force) would be a pushover if they resisted.  These are only a summary though.

        I am now going to through the plan and point out which bits made the stalemate occur.  On the 4th August Germany put the Schlieffen Plan into action and attacked Belgium.  The first resistance they came up against was the fortress town of Liege.  The Germans tried to capture the 12 fortress’ surrounding Liege which controlled the entire railway and main routes the Germans needed.  The first German assaults were beaten off with heavy losses.  After six days the Germans brought up their siege guns on trains and smashed the fortresses within four days.  The importance of this event is that they slowed the German advance down by a few days and it gave the British and French time to see what the Germans were doing.  Also all the heavy bombardment damaged the railways slightly which slowed the Germans down a little.  The Belgian army retreated to Antwerp and so the Germans needed to mask them off and same with the Germans which took up valuable men.

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        As planned the French put there Plan 17 into action which lasted 10-28th August.  The French charged straight into Germany and came up against Armies 6 and 7.  In 12 days the French lost 211,000 men, including 10% of all their officers.  The French lost a lot of men because of the nature of modern weapons such as the machine gun and artillery which I have explained about in a later section.  This battle was also the first example of massive attack = massive failure and the defenders had the advantage.  Schlieffen intended armies 6 and 7 to make a controlled ...

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The author clearly has a very detailed knowledge of the early stages of the war on the Western Front and of the key weapons that were used. However, not all of this information is useful in explaining why the trenches developed; the essay would be greatly improved if the author had linked back to the question more. 3 out of 5 stars.