In this essay I will be looking on 4 factors and whether or not they had help to break the stalemate during the First World War. The Schlieffen plan was created by Count Alfred von Schlieffen, who was the Chief of the General staff in the German army. There are a number of different aspects of the Schlieffen plan, but all were aimed at defeating France as quick as possible, preferable in under 6 weeks. The Germans believed this was possible because they defeated France in Alsace and Lorraine in the 1870’s.
The first aspect of the Schlieffen plan was to reduce risk of war on two fronts. The Chief of General Staff thought it would be possible to defeat France and then turn onto Russia as Russia would take a long to get itself ready for war as it is such a big country. So the Staff wanted a quick and easy victory in France so they could turn their attentions east towards Russia. The Plan had failed because of the fact that Germany was seriously slowed down by Belgium’s army couple of days later backed by BEF heroic opposition.
However this wouldn’t be as bad if Germany hadn’t underestimated Russia so highly, Russia to the great surprise of Germans had gotten ready in just 10 days This all contributed to the failure of the Schlieffen Plan which in affect had ended with a disaster. Germany was in serious troubles as they had left only 10% of troops on Eastern Front with Russia and now had to transport many of its troops to Germany, over 100,000 soldiers was send over to protect the country.
This had seriously weakened German’s position. Now Germany was in troubles the war on two fronts that the plan was meant to avoid had just broken out. At that point it was certain that battle plan had failed. The failure of the Schlieffen Plan was not only a problem for Germans. It had also contributed to a much bigger problem which was the development of stalemate, which had in effect, affected the whole war. The stalemate is a stop in fighting during a war.
Enemies are usually unable to advance. It occurs when trenches are build, which in the case of World War One they had been build because of advanced technology, and failure of battle plan(The battle plans that had failed where mainly Plan 17- French plan to attack Germany through Alsace- Lorraine and German’s Schlieffen Plan which was supposed to knock France out of the war by attacking it through Belgium and Luxemburg.
To make matter worse there was new advanced technology introduced during this war such as Machine Guns, Aircrafts, Gases ; Chlorine, Mustard Gas, Hand Grenades, Lee Enfield Rifle, Artillery( Heavy Guns) as well as Tanks. All this new technology had put strain on the soldiers, who for their own protection had build trenches, which lead to stalemate because of which there was more war at sea taking place. More mines were place beneath the water surface as well as much more u-boats form Germany’s side was being spot on the sea.
The stalemate on the Western Front lasted for so long because it was much easier to defend the trenches than to attack them for the following reasons: 1. The weapons in the First World War were much better for defending than for attacking. As attacking soldiers charged across ‘No Man’s Land’ they were simply mowed down by machine gun fire or blown up by land mines. The defenders in the trenches were better protected. 2. ‘No Man’s Land’ was often deep mud and covered with barbed wire.
This made it very difficult for men and horses to charge quickly. 3. Both sides had large reinforcements of men and guns that could easily be brought up to support trenches under attack. 4. The generals were not used to fighting this type of warfare. They could not think of any tactic other than to keep sending men across ‘No Man’s Land’. 5. Before an attack the enemy trenches were always bombarded with heavy artillery to ‘soften them up’. However, this simply warned the enemy that an attack was coming and took away the element of surprise. After the long and trying months in the trenches the stalemate was finally broken.
It had happened in 1918 because as many people believe couple equally important reasons. The first one was the creation of new more advanced technology like tanks. Tanks were originally British idea, founded by head of the navy Winston Churchill. They were used at battle of the Somme during which they had advanced ahead of infantry, crushing all barbed-wire defences. They went through scaring Germans and bringing British morale up. Even though they might sound all perfect on the start they weren’t as good as you might think.
They were unreliable, used to move slowly and break really quickly. They had helped in breaking the stalemate as because of their size they had absolutely terrified Germans as well as made the soldier’s way through no-man’s land much easier. The other reason that is believed to contribute to breaking stalemate is the blockade of German ports which was put into operation in September 1914. This idea was meant to stop all the food and artillery supplies from getting into the German ports.
This meant that Germany would be easier to defeat as the nation and soldiers would slowly die of starvation. However in the process the people would start to rebel against the German power and cause problems within Germany. German soldiers would also be getting hungry the artillery supplies won’t come through and because of that Germany would have to officially call themselves declared, or in last resort attack the French and British Trench, which would put a stop to the Stalemate.
Another reason that had definitely contributed to the end of the stalemate was America finally joining the war, which had also triggered another important event that had put a definite ending to the stalemate. America had only joined the war in 6th April 1917. Before she tightly hold to isosialism policy, which meant that they thought that the war was international but did not apply to the, however America had still been sending France and Britain the supplies needed for war.
Than in 1917 America finally decided to join the war. Slowly she became to send troops over to French Trenches , and quickly she was able to send up to 50,000 per month. They brought new, even more advanced technology which German soldiers had never seen before. America’s massive help had scared the Germans and pushed them into doing something towards breaking the stalemate. That is how the Spring Offensive in 1918 which led to the end of the First World War had been triggered.
By the fear of the soldiers and powers of Germany , German Commander had organised and delivered massive bombardment and gas attacks on the enemy, however instead of the usual “wave” of infantry general had surprised everyone and he followed up with attack by smaller bands of lightly equipped and well trained troops called “storm troops”. Because of Germany’s attack everyone had to move so that’s how the stalemate got broken. As Germany broke through the Allies lines in many places the enemy had to act quickly as well. So everyone was on the move and everyone was fighting.
There was no more waiting in the trenches, so the stalemate was officially broken. I personally think that all those events are closely linked together and all of them are equally important in breaking the stalemate. In my opinion America joining the war was the final trigger but if there was non of the ones above than Germany wouldn’t feel so pressed against the wall. New technology wouldn’t be brought into the war if America had not joined in. Without the new technology the British Soldiers would have very poor morale and low chances of moving and actually breaking the stalemate and winning the war.
If America had not joined the war, there would have been no new technology and German soldiers would see no point in moving. If the Blockade of German Ports would have been not put into operation than German soldiers would have normal food supplies and would have quickly re-fuel themselves and win the war. The Spring Offensive was German reaction to America moving in, to the Port Blockade and the New technology as all this made Germany feel so pressed against the wall that they had to do something.