L3: The Early Battles of World War One • Agenda • Objective: • To understand… • The attitude of Europeans at the outbreak of war • The early battles of WWI • The emergence of trench warfare • Schedule: • The attitudes of Europeans at the outbreak of war. • The early battles • The emergence of trench warfare • Homework • Imperialism Final Paper Due: Fri 1/10 OR Mon 1/13 • World World One Writing Process Portfolio Writing Goals Due: Mon 1/3 • Read “Technology and the Trenches” Due Mon 1/3
The Outbreak of War • Based on your viewing of Explosion, how would you describe the lead up to and outbreak of war in Europe?
The Outbreak of War • The outbreak of war was greeted with great popular enthusiasm throughout Europe. • Crowds gathered in the streets singing their national anthems. • Men lined up to volunteer to serve in their nation’s armies. • Troops marched to war with flowers in the muzzles of their rifles, and their wives, mothers, and girlfriends waving handkerchiefs at them. • “August Days” • “The vision everywhere was…of a war of movement, heroism, and quick decision. Railways would get men to the front promptly; machine guns would be used in the attack; mighty ships and mighty artillery would overwhelm the enemy in short order.” • From: Eksteins, Modris. Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Modern Age. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1989.
Troops Mobilize • The armies of 1914 remained largely unchanged since the Napoleonic Wars of the late 1790s. • Most troops were cavalry brigades. • Main weapon of war was the rifle or a bayonet. • Most troops also dressed the way they had for war in the late 1790s, with bright colors designed so that you could see your fellow troops and your enemies among cannon smoke.
The German Army Modernizes • The only army to have made notable improvement in its uniform and weaponry was the German Army • Big Bertha • In 1909 Germany had developed a heavily artillery weapon known as “Big Bertha” • It was able to penetrate concrete and could be broken down and transported via wagon • The Machine Gun • Though invented by the British, the Germans had about 12,000 machine guns while the British and the French had only a few hundred in 1914.
Schlieffen Plan • As part of their domestic defense strategy, Germany had war plans on the books since 1906. • Germany’s military plan that they believed would secure victory in a two-front war against France and Russia. • The plan took advantage of the expected differences in the two country’s speed in preparing for war. • Germany’s plan was to avoid a two-front war by…
The Schlieffen Plan 1. Western Front: Concentrate troops in the west and quickly defeat the French. • Germany had defeated France in a few weeks back in the Franco-Prussian war, so they thought they would be able to easily defeat the French quickly. • 91% of German troops would first be sent to France. • German troops would march into France by marching through Belgium and Luxembourg disregarding these countries’ neutrality and avoiding French troops along the German border. • Plan scheduled 39 days for the fall of Paris & 42 days for the fall of France. 2. Eastern Front: After defeating France, take on Russia. • Rush troops from the western front by rail to Russia to join the other 9% of French troops. • While Russia had an extremely powerful military, it was slow to mobilize due to its poor railway system. Therefore the Germans believed that if they quickly defeated the French they would still have ample time to get to Russia before the “Russian steamroller” was effectively mobilized.
The Schlieffen Plan Begins: The Germans Invade Belgium • After Germany declares war on Russia and France it immediately begins the Schlieffen Plan and starts to march through Belgium (August 5, 1914) • Although the Belgian army was only 1/10th the size of the German army, the Germans got tied up in fighting Belgium for 1 month due to the strength of Belgian concrete fortifications. • Great Britain is outraged by Germany’s actions and joins the war. • With Britain in the war, the first phase of fighting in World War One began: The Race to the Sea…
The Race to the Sea • The Race to the Sea (August to November 1914) • Early period of fighting in World War One • Mobile fighting on the Western Front • Fighting is along the French/Belgium border • Involves France/Britain against Germany in a series of battles • Two major battles: • Battle of the Frontier • Battle of Marne
The Battle of the Frontiers • Just as the Germans had the Schlieffen Plan, the French also had their own domestic defense strategy on the books: Plan XVII (1913) • Objective of Plan XVII: Recapture Alsace and Lorraine • Military Strategy of Plan XVII: Offensive attack on the Germans through Alsace and Lorraine • The battlefront chosen by the French high command was the same as that of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. • The line of advancement, battle plans, and military uniforms were all the same as 1870.
The Battle of the Frontiers • Following Plan XVII, the French began to invade Germany via Alsace and Lorraine. • When the French meet the Germans, they line up in an 19th century formation and advance in full view. • Artillery shells start to rain down on the French. • There were 27,000 French killed in one day (the bloodiest day in French military history); 40,000 killed over 4 days. • The French army begins to retreat. • French generals warn that Paris is likely to fall within 12 days; people begin to the flee the city.
The Race to the Sea, Advantage Germany • Following the defeat of France at the Battle of the Frontiers, the Germans continue to advance toward the sea, winning a series of battles against the French. • The Schlieffen Plan is progressing like clockwork.
Meanwhile, The Eastern Front Opens Up… Battle of Tannenberg (August 1914) • Unexpectedly, Russia’s offense proved surprisingly speedy. • Russians pushed 350,000 troops toward Germany. • Germany was forced to withdraw troops from the Western Front during the Race to the Sea and send them to the Eastern Front. • Germany was victorious, killing or capturing 1/3rd of the Russian army who fell easily to Germany’s machine guns. • This was Germany’s greatest victory of the war. • However, despite win, the Battle of Tannenberg actually hurt the German army. • Germany had to divert troops to Russia, which weakened their efforts in France and allowed a beleaguered French army a bit of a “rest” from intensive fighting.
Back to the Race to the Sea…The Battle of the Marne (September 1914) • Following the Battle of the Frontiers and other German victories in Battle along the Western Front, the German troops were now only 30 miles from Paris • The French capital prepared itself for a siege. • Now joined by the British, France sent over 1 million French and British forces to the Marne River near Paris. • The French bring all of the men they have; transporting many to the front using taxi cabs. • Germans matched this, and marched in 1 million of their own soldiers. • After much fighting the German troops were encircled by the French and British, who exploited a gap in the German advance discovered by French reconnaissance planes (their first successful use). • The Germans began to retreat. • Battle ends the month long German offensive, that had successfully put the Germans within miles of capturing France. • The Schlieffen Plan had failed.
The Beginning of Trench Warfare • After 40 miles, the German troops ceased their retreat. • Because the Schlieffen Plan had no provisions for what to do in the event of a retreat, the German troops decide they would dig a set of trenches and from there plan their next move. • Meanwhile, the British/French also begin to dig trenches in an effort to avoid the destruction of new modern weaponry. • Little did they know, but these trenches would dominate the war for several years. • The war of movement now settled into a war of position.