• On the Western Front, troops dug a network of trenches that stretched from the English Channel to the Swiss border. The space between the opposing trenches was known as no man’s land. To break through enemy lines, both sides began with massive artillery barrages. Then bayonet wielding solders would run out of their trenches, and race across no man’s land and throw grenades into the other trench. The results were devastating. Hundreds of thousands of men were killed.
• Symbol for the futility of war Trench warfare has become a powerful symbol of the futility of war. Its image is of young men going "over the top" (over the parapet of the trench, to attack the enemy trench line) into a maelstrom of fire leading to certain death, typified by the first day of the Somme (on which the British suffered 57,000 casualties) or the grinding slaughter in the mud of Passchendaele. To the French, the equivalent is the attrition of the Battle of Verdun in which they suffered 380,000 casualties.
New Technology• Machine Gun– Good for defense—600 bullets a minute—could stop an advance but heavy machine guns required teams of up to eight men to move them, maintain them, and keep them supplied with ammunition. This made them impractical for offensive maneuvers, contributing to the stalemate on the Western Front.
Chemical WarfareChlorine -A large enough dose could kill, but thegas was easy to detect by scent and sight.Phosgene- first used in December 1915, was theultimate killing gas of World War I—it was 18times more powerful than chlorine and muchmore difficult to detect.Mustard gas -- hard to detect and lingered on thesurface of the battlefield and so could inflictcasualties over a long period. The burns itproduced were so horrific that a casualtyresulting from mustard gas exposure was unlikelyto be fit to fight again.
Tanks• First were very slow and cumbersome, mechanically unreliable and fairly easy to destroy. But they could roll over barbed wire and trenches. The British improved them and improved tanks and tactics allowed them to break through enemy lines to become a significant element of warfare.
The Flame Thrower• New and improved- smaller, lightweight- a single person could carry and spray burning fuel on the victims. Effective in attacks on nearby trenches but could not be fires long distance.
Airplanes• Brought war into the sky. First used to scout out enemy lines, then improved for fighting and bombing. In time, a device that times the firing of a machine gun with the rotation of a planes propeller. The Germans created a high flying, gas filled airship called Zeppelins. Not very precise and slow moving
Great films over WWI• The Lost Battalion• http://youtu.be/RTED0RSS8T8• All Quiet on the Western Front• http://youtu.be/DX1PW2n8POg• Sergeant York• http://youtu.be/JyF9KKUeds8• Merry Christmas• http://youtu.be/2Mso-MkU1oI
Russia Leaves the War• In 1917 riots broke out in Russia over the government’s handling of the war and the scarcity of food and fuel. Czar Nicholas II abdicated his throne. The Bolsheviks, a group of communists, soon came to power. First thing the leader, Vladimir Lenin did was pull Russia out of the war. With the Eastern Front settled, Germany was now free to concentrate its forces in the west.
End of the War• In March of 1918, the Germans launched a massive attack along the Western Front. By June they were less than 40 miles from Paris. American troops played an important role in containing the German offensive. The French and American forces held them back.
• With the German drive stalled, the Allied forces ordered massive counter attacks all along the front. American troops drove back German forces at the battle of Saint-Michael. Then in the Argonne Forest, the Allied forces under the command of General Black Jack Pershing assembled over 600,000 American troops, some 40,000 tones of supplies and roughly 4,000 artillery pieces for the most massive attack in American history. Slowly one German position after another began to fall.
• Heavy casualites on both sides. But by early November of 1918, German defenses had been shattered.• At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, Germany signed an armistice or cease fire, that ended the war.
Treaty of Versailles• In January 1919, a peace conference began in Paris to try to resolve the complicated issues arising from WWI.• All leaders of the countries involved were present except Germany.• The Big Four-US, Britain, France and Italy
Fourteen Points• President Wilson wanted a fair peace policy. His plan became know as the Fourteen Points—Wilson’s plan for lasting peace• --end to secret agreements (alliances)• --freedom of the seas• --reduction of armaments• --self determination for ethnic groups
League of Nations• The most important part of his plan was a peacekeeping organization called A League of Nations.• Everyone else at the peace talks thought that Wilson’s plan was too easy on Germany—they wanted Germany to paid reparations—war damages—because they said it had started the war. The Treaty of Versailles was written without many of Wilson’s hopes. In the end the US did not ratify the treaty. Congress did not like the League of Nations idea
WWI Results• Dissolution of 4 empires—Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, German Empire and Austria- Hungary.• 9 new countries were formed out of these— Yugoslavia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia