The Western Front At the beginning of the war the Germans came up with the Schlieffen Plan in which they would rush to France on the western front for a quick victory, then move on to the eastern front. As you’re aware this didn’t happen. The first battle of the Marne was a loss for Germany, which foiled the Schlieffen Plan. By this time the Russian forces in the east were already invading Germany. Germany had no choice but to split their army and fight a war on two fronts.
Trench Warfare By early 1915 the Allies and Central Powers had dug miles of parallel trenches along the western front. This was known as trench warfare, soldiers remained in the trenches for long periods of time and fought from in them. There were often many casualties and little land gains.
Life in the Trenches Life in the trenches was completely miserable. The men would be stuck there for long periods of time. They essentially lived their lives in the mud. The trenches were often infested with rats and other vermin. Many men got diseases and died because of the unsanitary conditions. Even in the trenches they weren’t necessarily safe from enemy fire.
The Eastern Front At the beginning of the war Russia had launched an attack on both Austria and Germany. For a while Germany was occupied with France so Russia was able to push Austria back quite a bit. Eventually Germany returned and pushed the Russians out of Austria.
Russia Struggles Unlike most of Europe Russia had not yet industrialized. This meant Russia couldn’t produce supplies as rapidly and was always short on things such as food, clothing, and weapons. Germans were able to effectively block Russia’s ports so the Allies had difficulty shipping goods to them. Russia’s one advantage was their large numbers. They lost 2 million soldiers by 1915 and were able to keep going.
Machine Guns –Since the machine gun could wipe out waves out attackers it just contributed to the stalemate. Poison Gas – The Germans introduced poison gas but it was used by both sides. New Technology in World War I
Airplanes –WWI was the first time in history planes were used in combat. They quickly became a stable of combat. Submarines – Germans introduced submarines (U-boats). Their main tactic was to torpedo ships. New Technology in World War I
Tanks –They were first introduced by the British in 1916. At first they were awkward and clumsy, but over time they helped the Allies out. New Technology in World War I
The Total War Hits Home World War I was a total war which meant it touched every aspect of life. The whole government was devoted to winning the war. In a total war the government controls the economy to benefit the war effort. Factories were converted to make supplies for the war. Every able bodied person was called upon to help the war effort. People were even recruited from other countries to come help in the war effort. Germans forced people from France and Belgium to work in their factories. The French and British recruited people from China, India and Africa to work in their factories.
Rationing Since many goods were in short supply governments turned to rationing which is when people could only buy small amounts of certain goods that were needed for the war effort. People were encouraged to have their own gardens so they’d take less food away from the soldiers.
Censoring and Propaganda Governments attempted to suppress anti – war activity to keep morale high. Leaders also censored news about the war so people only heard the positive news. Governments also used propaganda – one sided information designed to persuade someone. War posters portraying the enemy in a negative light became very popular.