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Reasons for the Stalemate in WW1
Transcript of Reasons for the Stalemate in WW1
Failure of the Schlieffen Plan
The Original Plan
Take Paris in 6 weeks and demoralize the French.
Sweep through Belgium.
After taking France, turn against Russia.
The Modified Plan
Germans would concentrate attack on Liege in Belgium to slow enemy advance.
Armies near Loraine were strengthened weakening the attack on Paris which was a key element.
Some complications which arouse in executing the Schiefflin Plan were:
Attack on Liege took a fortnight.
BEF reacted faster than anticipated with a large number.
Loss of momentum due to the weariness of men.
German advance halted towards Paris.
Germans started to panic as this was meant to be an offensive plan with no consideration or defense and their supplies were running out.
German troops started to dig trenches on the Anise.
Germans tried to flank the Allies but were unsuccessful and trenches to shelter troops from the winter which was a result as the plan had not been followed as scheduled.
Allies followed through with digging trenches.
Final result was a system of trench ware.
Neither side were successful in breaking through the defense of the other and resulting in a stalemate.
Birth of the Trench Warfare.
Trench warfare emerged due the failure of the Schliffen Plan. It was a new system of warfare which was a direct cause of the stalemate, and this is why.
It was a system of defense not offense.
Neither the Allies nor Germany were gaining any ground. They were just stuck there.
Barbed wire made it impossible for troops to advance and thus diminishing the idea of offensive action.
When troops attempted to advance they had to cross 500 meters of open land and were often killed due to the power of defensive weapons such as the machine gun. Again, there was no ground being covered.
Bad Leadership of the Generals
The Generals, especially General Sir Douglas Haig, showed signs of bad leadership in the war which resulted in the stalemate.
Commanders and generals showed NO knowledge on how to attack. They were not used to that idea and choose a defensive option.
Kept sending troops "over" despite the fact that these were having no results. The only results these achieved were loss of men.
Generals were fighting with some old tactics and the code of honor and pride. This involved cavalry charges and attacks. However the power of modern warfare weapons such as the machine gun were able to make these old practices redundant and the generals did not realize that.
Due to the generals not bearing much knowledge about the nature of modern warfare, they were not able to effectively use modern weapons such as the tank, and this prolonged the stalemate.
Generals relaxed in comfort while giving the same suicidal order to troops. "Go over the top".
Bad tactics drawn by Generals. This includes how the Schlieffen Plan required a lot of guessing and was highly likely to fail, as well as in the Battle of the Somme how they used the wrong type of shells during the bombardment.
There were two types of issues with weapons: the wrong and ineffective use of weapons, and mechanical issues.
Wrong and Ineffective Use of Weapons.
The production of the machine gun increased dramatically. However the machine gun was a defensive weapon in World War One as it was an immobile weapon. It was one of the most powerful weapons and was responsible for the majority of deaths at key battles such as the Somme. It was another reason as to why the stalemate was prolonged for so long.
Offensive weapons such as tanks were misused at crucial battles such as the Battle of the Somme. They were first tested at the Battle of the Somme but were not effectively used as an offensive weapon but more as a tool to scare the enemy with.
Barbed wire was used to trap soldiers making them easy targets for the machine gun. It was difficult for advancing troops to
get passed their own barbed wire
get passed the enemy barbed wire defensive line
This slowed down many offensive action and was another key reason as to why many crucial battles were a void. It was a key element adding to the long age of trench warfare.
Tanks were new to era of modern warfare and had many technical faults. They would break down or get stuck in the mud. Despite them being a formidable offensive weapon they contained many mechanical faults slowing the offensive action and making the stalemate stretch for a long period of time.