Explain Why There Was a Stalemate on the Western Front by the End of 1914 Essay

Germany was prepared for the war in August, 1914. The Schlieffen Plan was a huge plan of attack to be used in the event of a war which was announced by Count Von Schlieffen on the 31st of December, 1905 (9 years before the war started). The European powers (allies) heard about this plan in 1914 before the outbreak of the war.

The idea was that the Germans would sweep across Holland and Belgium to the sea at Dunkirk, the area between forts at Verdun and the Dunkirk coast would be attacked by 35 army corps and France was thought to of been defeated in about 6 weeks. These are only examples of results that Germany would get after using their plan of attack ‘The Schlieffen Plan’. This was until unforeseen problems occurred.

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This included the unexpected supply problems created by the rapid advance through Belgium and France, The Germans not realising the strength of French armies and how they would be able to switch troops using the rail network, German rail transport ended at the Belgian border meaning that from there soldiers would need to walk making them exhausted, Germans did not account the strategic importance of the royal Navy and it’s control of the English Channel, Germans did plan for unexpected attacks such as the Russian attack on them into East Prussia. These immediate unexpected difficulties that German ran into caused the stalemate.

The 1914 stalemate was partly due to the inexperience of many of the German commanders, such as Von Molthe, who were trained in defensive rather than offensive military maneuverers. The role of commanders Haig and Smith-Dorrien also played a vital role in stopping the Germans and bringing in the stalemate. The German military commanders were often referred to as “donkeys” and the soldiers as “lions” because the commanders did not empathise with the soldiers whatsoever and were quite happy to sit back within the safeguard of the trenches whilst the soldiers fought on the battlefield.

Problems in communications with artillery also contributed towards the 1914 stalemate. The delay and confusion of the battlefield made it hard to make an objective perspective of battle. Messages between French and British allies were often misread or were out of date by the time they reached the intended reader, thus resulting in many casualties and misfires. Many tactical and strategic problems were yet another contributing factor for the 1914 stalemate. The tactical and strategic problems that arose during this stage included things such as transportation difficulties as a result of poor French roads and nfrastructure. as well as due to the invention and implementation of the machine gun, armies could no longer rely on their cavalry forces as they were often slow, inefficient and easy targets. The moral of the soldiers was also greatly impacted by the introduction of the machine gun into warfare. Machine gun attacks were greatly underestimated and enormous casualties would often result. This was most apparent in the failure of plan XV11 where the French believed that they would be able to cover 50 metres in a 20 second charge before the Germans were able to draw their rifles.

This plan obviously did not succeed with the majority of French troops being killed within the first 10 seconds. The French were also ignorant to the fact that the Germans were planning on marching through Belgium which eventually resulted in a lack of allied troops on the eastern French front. However despite this the Belgians held back the German forces by destroying the railways used to transport German forces. Countless Belgian lives were lost in German counter attacks as too much attention was paid to the offensive front as well as having poorly trained officers leading the battle.

Modern warfare technology far surpassed the outdated French military tactics of Napoleon Bonaparte. The failure of the Schlieffen plan was yet another contributing factor to the 1914 stalemate. The failure of this plan meant that important deadlines could not be met as a result of strong resistance from opposing forces and the poor French transport systems. Many of the leading Military commanders, such as Molthe, proved to be superficial and hungry for recognition and glory.

Ultimately the invasion of Belgium led to the involvement of Britain which helped suppress German forces. Germans reserve troops were badly prepared and trained which led to increased confusion on the battlefield. A lack of troops on the West German front also contributed to German degradation as many troops were called over to the Eastern Front to fight against Prussia. There was a stalemate on the Western Front in World War One, 1914, for many reasons and difficulties which were contributed from the Germans and the Allies.

This included the inexperience of many German commanders, problems in communications with artillery, tactical and strategic problems that occurred the failure of the Schlieffen Plan and the invasion of Belgium leading to the involvement of Britain. Both sides had high expectations for themselves, planning ahead as if both opposing forces set high expectations for their military. They believed that their army was inferior and would win without struggle. It was this attitude that created unexpected difficulties and altered the plan of World War One.