By the end of 1914 the war had reached stalemate. This was due to the failure of both the Germans Schlieffen Plan and the French Plan Seventeen. Both these plans were said by each side to end the war ‘by Christmas’ and neither side had perceived the idea of stalemate. So as the next few years came both sides had to produce new ways to end stalemate and win the war. Both sides found ways, which they thought would win the war. I will explain how far they actually went to break the stalemate.
During the year of 1916 there were two important battles, Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. Both of these battles inflicted major causalities on both the Allied and German troops. They to some were just a pointless exercise which gave both sides nothing but very large causality lists. The Battle of the Somme was a battle caused the most number of deaths in a single day of fighting, and Verdun where the Germans planned to cause major causalities on the French may have done this but ended up with just as many as the French. Also during 1917 there were also two battles which did not help either side in breaking stalemate, Battle of Passchendaele and the Battle of Cambrai. It was at Cambrai where the tank was first used but this did not help the effort. So with these battles and many other ones did not help to break stalemate. They only helped to cause more deaths and in some cases the attacking side gained only a few miles and lost thousands of men. They, however, could have helped it as they may have helped wear down the Germans and this may have helped break stalemate.
During the course of the war both the Allies and the Germans created new weapons; like the artillery, aircraft’s, the use of gas and tanks. They had to create new and better weapons to suit the new type of warfare that was taking place. The machine gun, which was not new but the quantities used was, was said to be the most effective weapon on the Western Front. This was because it helped to create stalemate and was so effective when used as a form of defence, against on coming soldiers, and created a great numbers of causalities that both sides decided to stay in their trenches. Another weapon that was first used in the war was the tank. When first brought out it was supposed to be a great machine that would help the soldiers a great deal. The tank was however brought out before it was perfected and did not prove a great help in creating causalities. They were however a great moral booster for the soldiers at the front line. When artillery was thought of by the generals to be the most effective weapon. Often however it did nothing more than churn up the ground and make no-mans land harder to cross. Gas was also used but only really served as a ‘frightener’. It added a great deal to the misery of trench life but did not really have a great effect in breaking stalemate. New weaponry did not really help break stalemate but did help in creating more suffering to an already miserable situation. In theory, it should have been a new, marvellous weapon which broke stalemate and inevitably won the war but in this war it did not happen.
THE WAR AT SEA
The most used tactic at sea was blockades, this helped stop supplies getting to the opposition and should have helped surrender. The blockades did not prove to be the most important of the tactics used in breaking stalemate but was a vital sapping factor in wearing down the Central Powers. There were not many battles fought much at sea but there was one major battle at sea, the Battle of Jutland. This was fought out by the two big navys of the time the Germans and the British. At the end of this battle both of the sides claimed victory, even though neither side actually completed there initial plan. The Germans were the side who went back to harbour and did not come back but the British were the side who lost the most amount of ships and men. Also heavy fighting only lasted a few minutes. It is because that the war at sea was so brief that it had little effect on the stalemate or even on the whole war. It was nevertheless a route which had many possibilities and could have, if used right, won the war. But neither side used it as both sides were quite equal and not much could have been done to the other sides.
Other than the Western Front it was the Eastern Front which proved to be very important in the war. It was Russia’s valiant effort in holding the German’s up and keeping quite a few of their soldiers at the Eastern Front which helped to lift off pressure on the Allied soldiers on the Western Front. However because the Russians had retreated so far back their man power and supplies were decreasing all the time. So by the 1917 the Russian’s had had enough and many troops left in huge numbers.
The Eastern Front did hold great promise up until the beginning of 1917, the Allies did not however move upon it and so the Russians never really gained back up. Therefore they had no way of beating the Germans.
During the course of the war there were many new allies entered the war, Japan, Turkey, Italy and the USA. The main new ally during the war was the Americans. They entered the war mainly because of the sinking of the Lusitania and because of a telegram, against the U.S., form the Germans to the Mexicans promising them some states of America in exchange for help in the war. Even though they came very late in the war, 1917 only a year before the end, it is said it was them who actually ended the war. Not only did they bring more soldiers but they also brought money, supplies and gave the Allies a moral booster. It can also be said that they did not actually bring any change to the war that the war would have ended without them.
All the factors above helped in part to break stalemate but not one, in whole, stopped it. If only one was used the stalemate would not have been broken but I think that because they were used together they broke stalemate and in turn ended the war. I also feel it was the entering of new allies, mainly the U.S, which helped the most in breaking stalemate. Then it was ‘new weaponry’ and then ‘frontal assault’. The two least factors, which I think did not really help the breaking of stalemate, were ‘the war at sea’ and ‘other fronts’. It is because the new allies brought in new supplies and more men which enabled the Allies to give a good counter-attack on the German offensive. I think without the new allies the Allied force would not have been strong enough to break stalemate and then win the war. However without the ‘new weaponry’ and the ‘frontal assaults’ they could not have held the stalemate. The other two factors I feel had no major impact and without them the war would have been no different.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTED TO BREAKING THE DEADLOCK ON THE WESTERN FRONT:
(A) FRONTAL ASSUALT
(B) NEW WEAPONARY
(C) THE WAR AT SEA
(D) OTHER FRONTS
(E) NEW ALLIES
HOW FAR DO THESE EXPLAIN ENDING THE STALEMATE BY 1918?