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Modern History Study Notes

Autarky: Self-sufficiency
Autocracy: System of government in which supreme power is placed on an individual.
Absolute Monarchy: System of government where a single royal leader has supreme power of a nation.
Bureaucracy: A system in which there is many facets of hierarchy in administration.
Capitalism: System of economy in which private ownership and business compete to result in profit.
Communism: A system of economy where the people work for the collective improvement of the nation,
unable to have private ownership.
Decolonisation: Where an imperialist nation removes or is removed from the nation they invaded.
Democracy: A system of government where the nations people have freedom of speech and a right to
Feminism: An ethical movement for the empowerment of women.
Globalisation: The spread of foreign concepts, markets and culture around the world.
Imperialism: The conquest of foreign territory and controlling it through a mother country.
Industrialisation: The increase of mass production through mechanic means.
Internationalism: A belief of better relations with foreign countries.
Liberalism: A philosophy based around equality.
Monarchy: A system of government where a royal family have control of a country.
Nationalism: Patriotism
Racism: An ethical stance which includes ideologies of racial supremacy, discrimination and stereotypes.
Revolution: A movement of people where the primary objective is to overthrow a group, person or
situation causing mass uprising.
Sectarianism: A type of hatred between two or more divisions of a group, such as Irish Catholics and
Self-determination: The belief that an individual or group have the ability to make their own decisions
for their best interests.
Socialism: A political philosophy in which advocates the empowerment of the people to control their
economy, rather than elite groups.
Terrorism: An act of intellectual or physical torment in order to invoke fear or a message to the inflicted.
Totalitarianism: A political system where the government controls every aspect of life without any
democratic justification.

Magonet line
French plans to break stalemate

Part 1: World War One 1914-1919

In investigating to the source-based study, students shall develop knowledge and skills
to respond to different types of sources and relevant historiographical issues related to
World War 1.

1. War on the Western Front

The reasons for the stalemate on the Western Front

There are a myriad of reasons as to why there was a stalemate between German forces, French
forces and French allied forces such as Britain
One of the main reasons for the stalemate was the failure of the Schlieffen Plan.
The failure of the Schlieffen Plan resulted in an elongated trench war.
The Schlieffen Plan
Context and basics of the plan
In 1879, a German leader called Moltke created plans for a future war.
His plans detailed the river flowing through Germany; the Rhine could be utilised as
potential blockade for barrier against invading forces, defending their country.
Most of the left side of the Rhine was gained through the Franco-Prussian War in 1874 and
not as vital to defend compared to the rest of Germany.
In 1891, Count Von Schlieffen became General of the German forces and wanted to employ
a two front war, one in Belgium to France and one in Poland against Russia.
In 1905, Schlieffen introduced his plans of attacking France through Belgium and Holland,
flanking the French forces and take Paris.
The German right wing would move across Holland and Belgium to the sea at Dunkirk.
Defences at Verdun and Dunkirk were estimated defeat in 6 weeks by the 35 th army
Schlieffen assumed that Russian forces would take 6 weeks to 8 weeks to mobilise
forces. In this time, France would be defeated and forces could be transferred.
The Right wing would create a circular swing to the North of Paris. The French troops would
have to flee Paris and counter attack fortifications in Stratsbourg and Metz, being defeated
by advancing German lines.
The revised Schlieffen Plans implications
In 1906, Von Moltke, related to the Moltke who devised the original plan, became Chief of
General Staff. He believed the original Schlieffen plan was not well planned and changed
for, in his mind, a higher chance of success.
The revision scrapped an invasion through Holland and the Netherlands would suit as
easy trade due to its neutrality.
Armies and Alcaise and Lorrain were boosted, almost doubling the combined forces in
Meltz and South Meltz.
The Eastern fronts would be lightly guarded to ensure more troops in France/Belgium.
The decision not to invade Holland created longer times for advancing German troops to
travel through Belgiums narrow and treacherous conditions, hindered by mountains, snow,
the cold, blizzards, lack of roads, etc.
Due to more troops in Lorraine, the flank to Paris was much too slow and weak; taking Paris
was abandoned.
Due to little forces in East Germany, Russia was already mobilised and quickly invaded East
Prussia and rapidly Germany.
The plan forced French soldiers to Verdun which was extremely fortified.
Due to the advancing of Russia, Germany needed to quickly attack France, attacking the so
called neutral city of Liege, in Belgium.
Neither Russia could win against Germany nor Germany against France. Germany was
forced into digging trenches to maintain the territory they had fought for, and the same
went for the Russians and the French. All nations involved in the war were forced into trench
warfare, causing no consistent advancements but idolness of defending troops.
The failure of the Schlieffen Plan resulted in trench warfare in turn formed the stalemate.
Reasons for the plans failure
Molkes revised Schlieffens plan did not allow measures against supply problems when
moving through Belgium, Holland and then France.
The French had a rail network that could deploy supplies and troops faster than Germans
ever thought.
The amount of flanking and lack of railway for the German forces caused the men to travel
in terrible conditions.
The Germans did not predict that Britain would become involved in the war.
Britain was prepared to go to war over Belgium
Schlieffen did not prepare of think that the Russian forces would attack into eastern Prussia
so quickly.

The revised plan forced troops to travel through much more treacherous conditions than if
they moved through Holland.
Armies and Alcaise and Lorrain were boosted by removing troops from the flanking groups,
weakening the flanking arms which ultimately ruined any chance of a swift takeover.
The Eastern fronts would be lightly guarded to ensure more troops in France/Belgium. This
weakened the defences of Germany and when Russia invaded Prussia, Germany had to
scramble to move troops to Prussia from France, both sides needed urgent reinforcements.
The two main reasons for the failure of the plan were:
Assumptions and preconceptions:
1. Germany would win, there was no doubt. This was unrealistic.
2. Lack of thought concerning Russia and France. Both sides were quite strong.
3. Generalised ideas such as Russia would take 6-8 weeks to mobilise.
1. Removal of Holland as a pathway to France to save military battles caused longer
times to move into France.
2. Strengthening of defence in Alcaise and Lorraine, rather than bolstering flanking
and Eastern front forces lead to a failure in taking Paris.
Example answer
What were the reasons for the Plans failure and what were the results?
There were many reasons for the plans failure and most of them would have the same
characteristic of assumption. Schlieffen and Moltke did not anticipate Russias quick
mobilisation. With Molkes change in the plan and little troops in the West, Russia easily
mobilised and started to advance and attack Germany.
The plan was forged around the idea of extremely rapid defeat of France which was the
other main failure of the plan. Schlieffen wanted victory in six weeks against a nation
that was underestimated, under attacked by Germany, assumed that it would attack
certain areas and that it didnt have alleys. Britain was allied with Belgium and became
involved, using its navy channel ports to help the Belgium.
By not moving through Holland, troops became extremely fatigued. This caused more
supplies to be used and very quickly they ran out. The plan did not create different
options to use if supplies were depleted, if Russia attacked quicker than expected and
that they didnt fake Paris. The whole plan was made on the assumption of quick victory.
The lack of forces to flank Paris due to Molkes bolster of Lorraine revision in 1911
caused a weaker flank, leading to the entire collapse of the plan. Also due to this, Russia
was dawning, so troops were rushed to the Western front. Both fronts were being fought
at the time in Trench warfare.
French soldiers were quickly moved through France, using railway networks, which were
also not planned by Moltke and Schlieffen This caused great problems for the invading
Germans, fighting the French who had much more ready supplies than they did, as well
fighting them at much sooner times than expected.
Lieges downfall in Belgium took 3 days which added to the slowness of German troops
as well as depleting their supplies. This battle wasted precious time, supplies and men
who were desperately needed for the strong right wing.
France, Germany and Russia ended up in a stalemate battle. Germany was entrenched in
the Western and eastern fronts causing neither a victory in France, a counter attack
against Russia or France, or the ability to stop Russian advancement. This stalemate
caused over 250,000 soldier deaths and constant slow movement for the entire war. The
failure of this plan basically affected the result of the entire war.

The nature of trench warfare and life in the trenches dealing with
experiences of Allied and German Soldiers
Reasons for Trenches
Trenches were new in the 20th century in Europe.

Most battles previous to WW1 were fought on foot, charging

with melee weapons as well as using mainstream rifles.
Trenches are concave enclosures dug in the ground that offer
protection from enemy fire as well as vision by enemies.
Trenches can be defended effectively compared to out in the
open positions with little protection.
Trenches offer soldiers areas to sleep and attack the enemy
from a longer distance.
Trenches can be dug anywhere, its size and ease of creation
depending on the soil condition, soldiers fatigue/equipment and
enemy position.
The main purpose of a trench was to shelter from enemy fire.
Due to the Schlieffen Plan failing, German soldiers dug in in trenches around France and in
some parts of Lorraine. French troops also dug trenches for defence. Both sides did not want the
other to invade or push forward so they dug trenches of slow down the enemys movement.
Structure of the Trenches
They were deep enough for men to stand without being exposed to the enemy.
Some trenches were lined with sandbags to offer protection and strength of the trench.
Trenches usually had parapets, made by sandbags for soldiers to rest their weapons on.
Some trenches had fire steps and elbow rests to allow soldiers to fire their weapons more
comfortably than standing on uneven dirt.
Duckboards prevented soldiers from standing/walking in mud, due to
water moving down the trenches into the greatest depression which
is the middle area of a trench.
Barbed Wire was common in many well established
trenches, preventing enemy soldiers from entering
the trench easily compared to without it.
Most trenches were in a zig zag pattern to allow
greater defence then defending a straight line. The
zig zag created corners in the trench that solders
could defend separately if necessary
Dugouts are ditches and rooms dig out of the walls of the trench to create sleeping cabins for
soldiers and officers.

German Trenches

The German tactic of war was

reliance of machine guns and
fortified positions.
German trenches were the first to
have reinforced concrete trenches, to
construct deep, shell-proof and
ventilated dugouts.
Germans made sure their trenches
were of high quality to resist enemy
German forces did have non-concrete
trenches and they were used as
concreted trenches which were
treated as a strategic strongpoint.
Germans developed the concept of
defence in depth, where the front
line zone was hundreds of yards deep
and contained a series of tunnels
rather than a continuous trench.

British and French trenches

The British tactic of war was very pragmatic,

often making troops charge at German
machine gun trenches.
The French relied on artillery as well as surprise
attacks, more subtly than the British.
The British and French trenches had three
types of trenches in a major fortified area. The
front line trench was closest to no mans land
and was often lightly garrisoned, often used as
a look out post. Then a communication post
would run between the front line trench and
the support trench, used for communication.
The support trench was the most garrisoned
trench, waiting for enemy attacks.
Often the French would have an artillery trench
behind the support trench to fire on enemy
invaders or apply a distraction for allied
British trenches were often very ill constructed
compared to the German, British trenches
often were not reinforced by concrete and were
much more susceptible to rain and enemy fire.

Trench Systems
Trenches varied greatly in size
and quality. German Trenches
were often 300-500 meters
Most trench systems consisted
from a front line trench, a
support trench behind it and a
reserve trench behind that, about
200 meters in distance between.
All trenches were subject to
rain and mud was a huge
issue in trenches. Conditions
in trenches were horrendous and due to the level of moisture, many airborne and
waterborne diseases spread.
Life in the Trenches
Four days in the front line trench
Four days in the support trench
Eight days in the reserve trench
Remainder in other positions
Standing for an hour and a half before daylight waiting
on the fire step.
Stood down at dawn.
Breakfast was scarce and consisted on rations.
Officers inspection
1/3 of men given maintenance jobs.
Removing water
Digging latrines (in ground toilet areas)
Filling and moving sandbags.
Securing trench walls.
Adding to barbed wire.
Moving fresh water from the artillery to the in need
1/3 of men sent for rations
1/3 given sentry duty.
Majority of time:
Watching and waiting for enemies.
Writing letters and diary entries. (Diary entries were actually illegal in British army life)
Bonding with soldiers.
Most men would work for one hour hard or light labour, one hour rest during the day and
one hour of sentry duty every three hours. This was a typical day that didnt consist of
enemy charges.
Most activity occurred during the night.
Most of the dangerous trench maintenance (outside or above the trenches) occurred during
the night.
Patrols were sent into no mans land to try and listen for enemy movements.
Pairs of soldiers were sent to check on the enemy trenches at night.
Trench raids occurred in nights, volunteers would raid the enemy trench to capture
individual enemy soldiers to invoke fear in their enemies as well as gain intelligence on the
enemys situation.
Most men received less than half of the allocated calories per day.

Food was often stolen in the ranks. Butter and milk were a rarity and never met with the
common soldiers.
Hot food was unheard of until 1916.
Rations were so poor that teeth were recorded to be broken by army biscuits.
Germans suffered greater trouble with food as the Allied Blockade blocked all transit of
A rum ration was given to British soldiers at the standing for and hour and a half or stand
to as well as before going over the top (over the trenches to charge).
French and German soldiers had wine rations as well.
Food parcels from soldiers friends/family supplied majority of good food.
Officers ate far more nutritious and tasty meals than common soldiers.
Disease in the Trenches
Combination of the cold, wet, vermin and poor diet led to sickness in the trenches.
Trench fever was a common disease that effect 1/3 of the British Forces, 1/5 of German and
many French troops suffered this disease. It is caused by lices faeces in wounds causing
infections and eventually fever. A strong fever usually lasted for 5 days and causes pain in
the legs and knees of soldiers for a month or two.
Scabies is a disease where itch mites lay eggs underneath the skin of a soldier causing skin
irritation and rashes.
Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to wet, unsanitary and cold
conditions. It causes the foot to become numb due to the shoes worn by soldiers being too
small, worn or exposed, reducing blood flow to the foot and eventually causing gangrene.
Trench foot also can cause blisters and fungi.
Shell shock is the shock soldiers felt when an explosion occurred, causing hearing, visual
or mental incapability. Men were punished if they experienced this and discontinued fighting
until 1916.
Venereal disease (Sexually Transmitted infections) was illegal and punishable.
In trenches, men experienced horrendous conditions, mentally and physically and over
55,000 British soldiers were freed of service due to mental issues.
Main Issues in Trenches
Soldiers were kept in close proximity with each other caused transference of diseases at an
extremely fast pace and a large scale.
Trenches were depressions in the ground, therefore rain would flood trenches and if the
trench was in an area with a slope, water would flow from the land into the depression.
Soldiers would have minimal energy due to lack of proper nutrition. Lack of nutrition causes
fatigue and fatigue caused the bodys immune system to slow down allowing faster
infections/diseases and longer and worse onsets of diseases like trench fever and flus.
Close proximity allows fleas, ticks and mites to travel easily.
Soldiers would be in an enclosed space for long periods of time, especially if the trench they
are in is not in a trench system. This caused many issues for soldiers which included mental

Overview of strategies and tactics to break the stalemate including key

battles: Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele.

Weapons of the War

Rifles (1914)
Basic weapon at start of war
Issued to all soldiers
Used to pick off individual men in enemy trenches
Machine Guns (1914)
intended to stop infantry breaking through trench lines
caused about 1/3 of battle casualties
Trench Mortars (1914)
used in every battle by infantry
very accurate
killed soldiers in enemy front line trenches without exposing attacker
result- shell shock
The Big Guns (1914- used form start of war)
intended to break barbed wire and open trench line to allow attackers to advance

achieved very little leading to military victory

Aeroplanes (1914)
used form start of war but only gradually as attacking weapon)
intended use for above observations of enemy lines and bombing of storage shelters
as result air warfare increased
Barbed Wire (1914- used once trench warfare began)
intended to hamper enemy movements towards trench lines
responsible for about 1/3 of causalities
first used on French by Germans on 22 April 1915 at Ypres
intended to clear enemy trenches before advance into enemy lines
between 1916 and 1918 accounted for about 1/8 of casualties
gas masks introduced
Zeppelins (1915)
intended for observing an bombing
bombing raids very successful
1915- raids over London
Flamethrower (1915)
intended to clear away enemy troops
uncertain aim and high fuel consumption
Grenades (1915)
Germans used stick grenade potato masher
Less than 2% casualties were a result of bombs of grenades
Effective within confines of trenches
Tanks (1916)
First used by British against Germans at the Somme
intended to break enemy line with fire, leaving a gap for advance
mechanically unreliable- not all made it to battle field
broke down or bogged
scared opposition- astonished and fled
Concepts of the War
Trench Warfare
Opposite to a War of Movement due to failure of Schlieffen Plan
Defensive War Machine Guns and barbed wire
Over the top Troopers ordered to go outside their trenches and lead an advancement into
no mans land.
Diseases like trench foot.
Disillusionment with War
Many friends died
Many friends wounded
Miserable cold conditions
Lack of food and warmth
Lack of a winning side.
War of Attrition
A concept of not trying to decisively win a battle but to demoralise and hinder the enemy.
Tactics of the War
Going over the top

Soldiers are ordered to advance across no mans land, with the result of great numbers of
casualties and wounded. Majority of these attacks were led by Allied forces, mainly British,
to drive out the entrenched German forces.
An artillery bombardment would often precede an attack. It can last for hours even days, in
the hope of distracting or destroying the enemy troops in no mans land and beyond. This
was extremely difficult as until 1917, artillery fire was quite inaccurate due to a slow
development of technology to improve its accuracy.
Artillery was responsible for 75% of the wars casualties.
Chlorine Gas was used first; it was visible to the eye and caused the lungs to produce large
amounts of mucus.
Mustard Gas was introduced by the Germans around 1917.It was odourless and caused
respiratory problems and blisters.
Phosgene Gas was not visible to the eye and caused large fatalities. It often took men who
breathed it in, days to die.
Prussic Acid Gas was developed by the French, it would leave people incapacitated.
The only protection against Gas was bicarbonate soda and urine soaked cloth. Masks
werent predominate until 1917.
Strategies to break the stalemate
The Battle of Verdun: 1916
Before the battle
Germany needed something to bring about the flanking of French troops to Paris and end
the stalemate.
Germany understood their position in the war as the aggressors as well as the fact that
they were unable to advance consistently.
Germany began to use the controversial tactic of fight a war of attrition.
War of attrition is a military tactic of fighting where a side does not enter a battle in
knowledge of victory by defeat of the enemy physically, but defeating the enemy
through defeat in moral and sprit through prolonged fighting, slowly but frequently
hindering the enemys progress.
Through attrition, both sides would face many losses but one side would be hopeful that
their enemy would become weak in moral, might and fatigued to weaken the enemy.
This was believed to work and German troops could then defeat the whole French and
British forces easier than battles fought for a decisive victory.
Aim for the Germans
Devastate the city of Verdun which has great historical and cultural significance.
To pave the way for the invasion in Paris. By defeating the French at Verdun, Germans
could weaken French and move to Paris.
General Falkenhayn (Chief of German Staff) wanted Britain out of France, through a
major victory or prolonged hardship, Britain would be forced out.
Eventually it was attrition, to bleed the French white Falkenhayn.
Significance of Verdun
Citizens left the city. The city was not occupied with civilians at the time.
It was a gateway to Paris as it was only 200 KM NE of Paris.
It was used as a fortress town due to its large buildings, which made it a major city for
Cultural significance as the city has many churches and old monuments.
The city was a salient to the German lines. It was protruding closer to German lines,
isolating itself from French support.
The battle began on the 21st of February, 1916.
French reinforced the trenches before the battle began as the French knew of an
impending attack.
February- It took 3 days for the Germans to fight their way 8kms from the city.
The battle in February witnessed an unprecedented amount of artillery and munitions
used by both sides.

By May, the Germans had devastated the French Forces but did not utilise the position as
effectively as possible. The British capitalised and engaged a battle against the Germans
near the River Somme.
The artillery shelling was a wakeup call of the conditions of modern war for the British
and indeed all sides. The British entered the war with a large import of horses for
Calvary fighting yet this tactic often failed dramatically due to the German use of
machine guns.
French troops used a road called the sacred way, which was untouched by the
Germans, allowing thousands of men and supplies to move into the city each day.
Gas was used through the battle.
It was the longest battle of the War, lasting over a year.

German Tactics

Verdun protected by a series of forts and a salient of the French army

Early in the war both sides realised the importance of heavy artillery

1915- Verdun stripped of majority of guns and was unable to defend itself from Germany

Using small group infiltration, Germany captured fort Douaumont on 25 Feb (this was
considered the cornerstone of the Verdun defence system)

The aim changed to one of attrition- bleed French white.

French Response

Initial French reaction was not to defend.

If French withdrew from Paris, their trenches would have been shortened and
straightened, and thus strengthened- didnt withdraw because it was a symbol of pride.

Initial attack postponed because of blizzards, rains, and gales- gave French a chance to
bring two extra divisions as reinforcement.


11 July Falkenhayen ordered a halt to German attacks because of the allied attack on the

Germanys early gains were lost

Fort Douaumont was recaptured for the French

Town of Verdun destroyed

700 000 losses (French and German together)

Germans did not break French resistance


In their eyes, the battle was a defence of their women, their wives, the children, the
French religion, the French soil Stephane Rouzeau

Its a form of attrition to yield a victory after a mountain of corpses was produced. Its a
new kind of war. Jay Winter

Its like a giant funnel, into which are poured the huge armaments and men of two of
the largest and most advanced nations of the time Jay Winter

Battle of the Somme: 1916

Before the battle

The city of Verdun was being destroyed by the Germans and the French were in need of

Britain wanted to relieve pressure off the French and create a distraction through an


Led by Sir Douglas Haig, the British forces wanted to launch a 14 day offensive which
would open up German lines, flanking them, then cutting the Germans off from supply
lines and force a German surrender. It was like rounding up sheep.


The battle after it was finished, became the symbol for the entire war, immense
casualties and loss of youth.


British launched a massive artillery barrage before the battle began, trying to destroy
German frontline trenches.

The German frontline trenches were destroyed yet most underground trenches and
bunkers survived and after the barrage, the troops were able to set up machine guns to
surprise the advancing British.

As the British advanced, German machine gunners slaughtered over 20,000 troops in
one day, with over 40,000 wounded. It was a complete failure.

The French however gained all of their objectives with a loss of 7,000 troops.

After a few weeks, German troops ceased fire on Verdun and concentrated all might to
the Somme.

German Tactics

Germany was aware of an attack, strengthening their positions.

They built underground shelters to be immune from shell fire.

Germans were well supplied with machine guns.

British Tactics

British infantry and artillery were completely inadequate.

Infantry were made to advance in a linear manor, without any training of formation or

There were many junior officers who were inexperienced in war, which in turn led to miss
management and a great loss of lives.

British gunners were untrained.

They did not have nearly enough large artillery guns, having 1 per 50 m compared to
one every 18 meters.


British forces lost around 600,000 troops.

French lost around 195,000.

German forces lost around 450,000.

Oddly enough, the French had similar troops in the battle as the British and faced
simular numbers of enemy forces yet lost 2/3 less than the British. This suggests the
British forces were highly inefficient and lacking experience or good commanders.

General Haig blamed an inexperience in troops yet there were various other reasons as
to why the British lost so many lives:

Many of the supply roads for the British werent maintained.

Any frontal assaults were suicidal but went ahead.

Lack of infantry training.

Artillery after the initial bombardment was inadequate.

Calvary was used against machine guns and artillery. This concept of cavalry attacks
was outdated.

Tanks were misused due to lack of experience.

It took 141 days till it was finished, rather than Haigs prediction of 14 days.

Both Verdun and Somme weakened the German army.

Haig refused to change his tactics and was supported by the King of England.

Originally, Haig wanted the offensive to force a German surrender through a complete
restriction of supplies yet he changed his objective after the battle, advocating the idea
of attrition.

Battle of PasschendaeleL 1917

Before the battle

Germany was using sea ports such as Ostend and Zeebrugge in Belgium, to run an
unrestricted submarine warfare campaign against the British.

The British were almost forced out of the war by the Germans sinking a quarter of supply
ships coming from Britain to France.

Aims for the British

To break the German line and capture the two sea ports in Belgium and cease the
amount of sinking of British ships.


Battle began with a 10 day artillery strike. Heavy rain aided the initial bombardment to
destroy German drainage systems, turning the German line into a manmade swamp.

Tanks were unable to be used due to the thick mud.

British failed to break the front line due to the Germans use of concrete reienforced
bunkers which allowed the troops to move above ground and begin firing machine gun
turrets like in the Battle of the Somme.

The battle raged on in appaling conditions, many soldiers died by drowning in large
holes filled with mud.

The battle was called off a few days after the city of Passchendaele was totally


British forces lost around 240,000 troops and the Germans lost around 260,000 troops.

The battle was regarded as the battle with the most horrific conditions.

Haig failed to capture Ostend and Zeebrugge. Less than 10km of land was gained.


Haig had sent the British troops to death in the Battle of the Somme and in Passchendaele
he tipped the soldiers into the slough of despond. John Keegan

John Keegan suggests that the British army was mismanaged through Haig as Haig had
send over half of the British forces into the battle against 1/3 of the German army, who were
also fighting in the Eastern Front against the Russians, and still lost.

Changing attitudes of Allied and German soldiers to the war over time

Early attitudes
Excitement, patriotic fervour, value of noble self sacrifice
At beginning of war, there were some pacifist groups who maintained their political, socialist
and humanist views of society.
However, Generally people put aside their politics, overwhelmed by nationalism and patriotism
many women were reluctant in wanting the men to go to war- this was accompanied with
feelings of pride that their brothers, sons and husbands were fighting for their nation
Poets such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke, many war songs, news reports expressed these
Latter attitudes
Changed as a result of 1916-17 huge casualties, no gains and horror of trench warfare
People became disillusioned and cynical- new recruits were not as fit and healthy (as
stereotypical soldier types) and lacked enthusiasm (physiological)
British people still had some enthusiasm as they had not experienced the total devastations of
war, because it was not being fought on their front
Many people in Russia and Germany became disillusioned and dissatisfied with war because of
As the war progressed and women became more involved in total war, they began to develop a
sense of independence
Anti war poets and painters included Sassoon, Owen and Nash. Diaries and memoirs of
thousands of soldiers corroborate this change in attitude

2. The Home fronts in Britain and Germany

Total War and its social and economic impact on civilians in Britain and

What was total war and why was it introduced?

Total war- the situation where every available person and resource in put towards the war effort
It became the job of the civilian population to produce masses of equipment, weapons,
ammunition, transport and food necessary to continue the military struggle
Success or failure of the home front was crucial to the outcome of the war- the British with their
naval blockade and the Germans with their submarine campaign attempted to disrupt their
enemys economy
Development of Total War
Total war was developed in response to the breakdown of the war of movement and
establishment of the war of attrition.
To meet the demands of war (recruitment, production of weaponry etc,), all resources were
diverted to the war effort from 1915 onwards.
Effects of total war
Increased importance of civilians
Use of Govt propaganda aimed at civilians
Increased powers of Govts over civilians, which limited civil liberties and freedom
Economic difficulties, particularly inflation
Shortages of food, fuel and consumer goods
By 1917 development of war weariness


Change in public opinion and conditions on home front


27 Nov 1914 the Govt passed the Defence of Realm Act (DORA):

Nationalised coal mines

Gave govt control of railways

Introduced censorship in newspapers, books and letters

Introduced day light saving

Introduced restrictions on alcohol consumption

A curfew was introduced- lights out at 10pm


Even before the outbreak of war, Germany had been an authoritarian society

Conscription gave the govt immediate control over the military aged population- this control
was gradually increased over the whole population

1916 the National service law introduced as part of Hindenburg plan- gave the govt power to
control all adult males and direct them into any part of the military or economy.

The Economy

Total war created shortages in other areas, which had to be managed by rationing

Govts also attempted to control prices, wages and trade union


The war lead to food shortages and price increases- this was the biggest cause of complaint for
ordinary people and created controversy about price controls and rationing

The board of agriculture was authorised to use unoccupied land, commons and parks for
growing food

Rationing was introduced in early 1918

Income tax was increased during the war


1916 Hindenburg program gave govt increased control of labour- many more men were being
taken out of agriculture and transferred to war industries or the military

The efficient production of war materials caused relative neglect to the consumer sector and
food production- this made worse the shortages that had been created by the British blockade
and Germanys lack of support from allies

Poor harvests made the food situation worse- coal essential for cooking and heating was also in
permanent short supply

The Govt introduced mobile soup kitchens

By 1918 there was famine

Historiography- Total War

A. Pickard- four problems that dominated the home front in Britain- the production of munitions,
food supply, the labour shortage and political changes- each brought significant changes to
peoples lives

Recruitment, conscription, censorship and propaganda in Britain and

Recruitment and Conscription
the enlisting of new soldiers for an army in order to increase or restore its fighting capacity
Reasons for recruitment
Introduced conscription in 1871 and was still in force when war broke out- as a result

In the beginning Germany had large reserves of man power but this situation changed as
the war progressed


campaigns to increase voluntary recruitment were not necessary.

Had a small standing army at beginning of 1914- previously relied on navy for its defence
Recruitment to armed forced continued to be voluntary until 1916
To make sure all man of military age enlisted, 1916 the Govt introduced compulsory military
service- first for unmarried men between twenty and forty one, then for all men between
eighteen and forty one
5 Aug 1914 Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary of state for War
conscription created a new group in British society- conscientious objectors- these were men
who were pacifists or who for personal or religious reasons were opposed to war
provision was made for special exemptions were tribunals judged conscientious objectors
to be genuine

Reasons Soldiers enlisted

Patriotism, jingoism, nationalism
Seen as a holiday
Economic downturn
Escape from family life
Appeal to manhood


Reasons for Propaganda During the First World War

To encourage recruitment into the army
To boost the morale of civilians and troops
To encourage hatred of the enemy
To encourage financial investment into the war effort
To encourage acceptance and support of various restrictions, including rationing
To encourage active participation in the war effort
To attack those opposed to the war, or those not supporting the war effort
To promote or oppose conscription for military service
To promote of oppose industrial action by workers

Types of Propaganda

Reports of heroism and endurance of those in the fighting line

Condemned enemy soldiers as barbarians
Editorials urged men to join the army by appealing to a number of emotions
Illustrations stressed the courage of soldiers in battle and the excitement of dangerencouraged recruits and maintained morale on home front

Designed to appeal directly to emotions, not the intellect

Encouraged women to put pressure on male relatives to enlist and show their manliness.


Scenes of carnage and misery and reference to heavy casualties were avoided


Intention to present an appearance of sound organisation, valuable work and mateship of

army life



Teachers believed it was their patriotic duty to encourage children to support the war and to
pressure male relative of fighting age to enlist.
Lessons on the wickedness of the enemy, and the heroism of their countrys soldiers were


Simple lyrics made strong emotional appeal

Songs sung by women, but addressed to men encouraged enlistment
Military bands dressed in uniform played at open air gatherings- excitement and glamour of
army encouraged confidence, high morale and enlistment


to ensure Govt propaganda was not undermined, censorship was introduced


Images of the dead or severely wounded were excluded from photographs and paintings


Tighter control over information than Britain

Good news, such as victories, were highlighted

Misinformation (incorrect) was fed to the people

Prevented the expression of opposition views

The variety of attitudes to the war and how they changed over time in
Britain and Germany
Changing Attitudes
many peoples believed the war would be over before Christmas 1914
for many young men there was a fear that the war would be over before they had a chance to
be involved

the Battle of the Somme, bought hoem the realities of mechanized warfare
enthusiasm had largely disappeared
civilians faced economic hardship
very few gains were made


Early Response to War

Govt had little difficulty encouraging men to enlist

Only early opposition from committed socialists, such as, Keir Hardie and Ramsay McDonald

1916-17 men in trenches and home front population beginning to express their frustrations
lack of compassion shown by Generals did not help
At home, growing war weariness developing as casualty lists in newspapers lengthened,
shortages increased and greater demands were being made on the work force
Zeppelin raids and attacks on eastern coastal cities lowered morale on the home front

The Growth of Opposition

Majority of British people welcomed the war

The Emergence of Opposition

Workers socialist foundation- concerned that workers were being redirected to war industries
or the military
Union of Democratic Control- concerned with the world after the war and aimed to prevent
another war breaking out- accused of being organised by German agents- attacked by press
and mobs
No Conscription Fellowship- included socialists, religious dissenters such as the Quakers and
feminists such as Sylvia Pankhurst- sought to assist those men who refused to serve in the


Early Response to war

In 1914 opposition to the war was limited and mute- due to majority of peoples support for
war and authoritarian nature of Govt
Middle class German peace society- suffered repression and quickly disappeared

Like many socialists in the rest of Europe, most German socialists dropped their pre-war
pacifist views and joined the patriotic rush to support the Govt

The Growth of Opposition

Religious and intellectual opposition, such as Georgo Grosz, who opposed conscription, but
opponents to the war soon ended up in prison

German home front suffered more than British, and war weariness was quicker to develop
Decreased Standard of living- shortages, inflation, deterioration of working conditions
Despite growing war weariness and increasing casualties, large scale opposition did not emerge
until the second half of 1918

Peace Movements

International Womens movement

1915 International socialist conference in Switzeland called for peace without annexations
and indemnities
President Wilson (US president) at start of war promoting idea of peace without victoryFourteen points:

No secret agreements between nations

Freedom of the seas
Removal of economic barriers
Impartial adjustment of colonial claims
Evacuation of all Russian territory
Evacuation of all Belgian territory
Evacuation of French territory and restoration of Alsace and Lorraine
Adjustment of Italys borders
Opportunity for various people of Austria-Hungary to seek autonomy (Freedom)
Serbia given access to the sea and issues in Balkans resolved
Autonomy for different nationalities within the Ottoman Turkish empire
An independent Poland
The formation of a general association of nations to ensure all nations had protection
against aggression

What led to armistice

Oct 1918 German high Command requested that politicians seek an armistice and peace
negotiations based on Wilsons proposal
Nov Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and a new provisional Govt was formed with Social
democrat Freidrich Ebert as leader- had task of negotiating peace terms and signing the

The impact of war on womens live and experiences in Britain.

New Roles
While there were working class women, they had always been restricted, especially to domestic
duties in the homes of the wealthy

Because of total war, women were given the opportunity to take on traditional male roles

Nurses, ambulance drivers, police women, fire fighters, milk deliverers, railway cleaners,
window cleaners, ticket collectors

First organised attempts by women to do war work were rejected

The absence of men began to impact numerous industries and the increasing need for was
supplies created demand

Impact on Womens lives

Young working class women largely who took on traditional male roles- impacted social and
economic independence

Middle and upper class women tended to do more volunteer work- this gave them a war
experience but had little impact on their place in society

Women had independence and money to make decisions about their social activities

For practicality in the workplace, skirts became shorter, women wore trousers, and shortages of
fabric lead to changes in fashion

New responsibilities of war work and financial independence redefined ideas about acceptable
behaviour for women- women no longer needed escorts to maintain their reputation, and
smoked in public

3. Turning points
Impacts of the entry of the USA and the Russian withdrawal

United States entry into the war, April 1917

German Submarine Campaign

Zimmerman Telegram

Telegram sent by German Govt encouraging Mexico to invade US, and offered Mexico the return
of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico if the invasion was successful
It was hoped such an invasion distracted US from the European war

Mexican Govt was uninterested

British code breakers ensured that the US Govt and newspapers received a copy of the
7 April 1917 Congress voted to declare war on Germany

it took a year for the US to draft, train and transport a large army to Europe

Americas entry to the war added increased urgency for Germany to drive Britain out of the warSubmarine campaign failed to starve Britain out of the war- sailed in a zigzag pattern making it
hard for submarines to aim their torpedos

Ludendorff began to prepare for the last attack on the Western front before the American troops

Under international law the US was free to trade with both sides- Britain imposed a blockade on
all merchant ships trading with Germany and Germany responded with a submarine campaign
against ships trading with Britain
President Wilson protested against the British naval blockade and the German submarine
campaign- British used some flexibility by stopping ships rather than sinking them, German
submarine campaign was more confrontational
Passenger liner Lusitania sunk on 31 May 1915 by German u-boat- American passengers
amongst the 1200 killed
Conspiracy theory-American Govt took involvement in sinking the Lusitania so that the nation
would support the Govt in entering the war
Faced with a trade imbalance (Britain and France receiving more from America than Germany),
the effectiveness of the British blockade and a need for a strategy to break the stalemate, Jan
1917 German Govt (campaign endorsed by Hindenburg and Ludendorff) announced it was
reintroducing unrestricted submarine warfare (all merchant vessels heading for Britain would
be sunk without warning)
If Germans sunk an American ship the American would be likely to enter the war on the allies
side- if German u-boat succeeded at sinking most vessels heading for Britain then Britain would
be faced with food shortages and be forced to withdraw from the war- if this happened then the
war would be won before America had time to send troops to Europe
On 15 March three American vessels were sunk

The Russian Revolution

March 1917 anarchy broke out- land being seized by villagers, villager declaring power

Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate

5 Dec the Bolsheviks had achieved an armistice with Germany- Russians unable to achieve goal
of no exchange of land or reparations

End of fighting on Eastern front allowed Ludendorff to use these soldiers for his great offensivesome soldiers remained on Eastern border for protection and to maintain control

Ludendorffs spring offensive and the allied response

The First Offensive

21 March Germans attacked on 96km front using gas, smoke shells and field guns
forced British back to Amiens
Germans advanced towards Paris in south

Foch appointed commander in chief if allied armies in France

30 March Ludendorff called off offensive
The Second Offensive
9 April Germans attacked in Flanders on a smaller scale than first intended
British position was desperate
End of April 300 000 US troops arrived
Germans failed to break through

Ludendorff called off offensive because troops were tired

The Third Offensive

26 May German bombardment in Chemin des Dames sector

met no resistance

30 May reached Marne- causing panic in Paris

The Fourth Offensive

9 April: attempt to eliminate failed and German advance was halted

German flanks exposed to counter-attack

The advance outstripped supplies

The Fifth Offensive

15 July Germans launched attack in Champagne region

French halted the advance

Offensive had failed

The Allied Counter Attack

18 July- under leadership of Foch- counter attacked Herman salients (exposed territory) across
the Marne

The death of most elite storm troopers reduced German fighting capacity

German morale was deteriorating- soldiers surrendering without a fight

8 Aug- British, French, Canadian and Aust troops made surprise attacks

Germany fell back to Hindenburg line

26 Sept final allied attack

29 Sept Ludendorff demanded the Chancellor, Prince Max, to sue (try reach an agreement while
still in the position to negotiate) for an armistice

3 Oct Germany sure for peace

Reasons for the failure of Germanys last

Mechanical apparatus for supplying advanced troops was ineffective

Strong British defence

German troops exhausted, ran out of reserves, and supplies were very low because of blockade

Morale disappeared

4. Allied Victory
Events leading to the Armistice, 1918
By Sept 1918 German army forced to retreat beyond Hindenburg lin
Germanys allies had collapsed and the German home front could no longer maintain the war

4 Oct 1918 German Govt applied to President Wilson (US) for an armistice and peace
negotiations based on Wilsons fourteen points
Discussion between allies took place before armistice was signed- Europeans delegates
opposed to basing peace on fourteen points
Wilsons confidante (Colonel House) threatened to make a separate peace with Germany

Allied agreed to make peace based on the fourteen points with two limitations:
Allies reserved complete discretion over the seas
That occupied territories be restored and that compensation to the civilian population by the
aggression of Germany be paid for by Germany

By Nov Germany was in Chaos- Kaiser forced to abdicate

Revolutionary groups forming all over Germany demanding major political and economic reform
German Govt had no choice but to accept the terms of the armistice
Signed on train outside Paris

Treaty of Versailles
18 Jan 1919 the council of Ten (Great Britain, USA, France, Italy, Japan, Aust, New Zealand,
India, Canada, South Africa) convened in the Great hall at Versailles

end of march reduced to council of four- made negotiations more effective

War Guilt and Reparations

Late may it was decided

the war guilt clause (article 231)should be included for moral

justification for reparations

France insisted on full repayment- USA wanted to link payments to Germanys capacity to pay
Help Germany responsible for loss and damage caused by the war
British efforts to limit the extent of reparations opposed by Wilson and Clemenceau

The League of Nations

Wilson wanted a system that would permanently preserve peace in Europe
Wanted the league to be an integral (essential) part of the treaties

England and France doubted how effective it could be

Germany was refused admission
Russia was forbidden to join- due to western fears of communism
Failure to disarm- Germany was the only nation to disarm
Approved on 28 April and written into the treaty of Versailles
The treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919 in the hall of mirrors

Reasons for the allied victory and German collapse

USA entry into war
Russia withdrawal- lack of support from allies
failure of spring offensive
Low moral- on trenches and home front

Poor conditions on home front- economic problems, food shortages

The roles and differing goals of Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson in
creating the treaty of Versailles
Clemenceau (French)
Disliked Wilson
Wanted to punish Germany for aggression of WWI and revenge for Franco- Prussian war
Foch and French nationalists condemned Clemenceau as too liberal

Guarantees for French security

Restoration of Alsace- Lorrain

Lloyd George (Britain)


Disarmament of Germany

Keeping faith with British public which wanted to see Germany punished
Recommencement of trade and economy
How to increase British colonial power

Woodrow Wilson (USA)


Wilsons fourteens points intended to preserve peace and status quo in Europe

Thought Germany should retain most of its pre war territory- with exception of Alsace and
Reparations- Germany should pay little or no reparations- all nations involved bore some
responsibility to the outbreak of war.
League of nations- to preserve peace throughout Europe