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World War I

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  1. World War I Lsn 18

  2. ID & SIG: • attempts to break the stalemate, central position, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Marne, militarism, Schlieffen Plan, tanks, Tanneberg, technological advances of WWI, trench warfare, Triple Alliance, Triple Entende

  3. World War I: The Belligerents • The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria, and Italy • It was counter-balanced by the Triple Entente of France, Russia, and Britain. • As a result, by 1907 Europe was divided into two armed and rather fearful camps.

  4. World War I: Militarism • One of the reasons WWI erupted so quickly was the advanced state of militarism • World War I was the first war in which the opponents went to war with detailed and precise plans that had been written years before the outbreak of hostilities • “Mobilization means war” (German ambassador to the Russians) • War Plans • Austria: Attack Russia, Italy, or the Balkans (Variants R, I, and B) • Russia: Attack Austria-Hungary (Plan A) or defend against Germany (Plan G) • Germany: Attack France before Russia could mobilize (Schlieffen Plan) • France: Attack Germany (Plan XVII) • Great Britain: Deploy BEF

  5. The Western Front: The Plans • French Plan XVII disregarded the Belgian frontier (thought the Germans wouldn’t violate Belgian neutrality) • In reality, the German Schlieffen Plan had its main effort through Belgium

  6. The Western Front: Schlieffen Plan • The Schlieffen plan sent a powerful right wing through western Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France in a gigantic wheeling movement • The idea was to destroy France before Russia could mount an effective offensive against the weak German forces in the east and thus avoid fighting a two-front war Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913), chief of the German general staff

  7. Moltke’s Modifications to the Schlieffen Plan • Helmuth von Moltke replaced Schlieffen as chief of the general staff in 1906 and modified Schlieffen’s original plan • Weakened the right wing and strengthened the left • Moved four and a half corps from the west to the east to protect East Prussia • Modified sweep of right wing so that Germans would not violate the Netherlands’ neutrality • Added a counterattack mission to the left wing • Violated Schlieffen’s dying words to “Keep the right wing strong”

  8. Problems with the German Plan • Became inflexible “war by timetable” • Required enormous logistical effort to move men and equipment from Aachen to around Paris in a little more than five weeks • Committed Germany to a two front war • Necessitated attacking before Russia or France could seize the initiative (even if Germany wasn’t ready)

  9. The Western Front: Miracle of the Marne • The Schlieffen Plan worked initially but stalled due to logistical demands • “Amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics.” • The French commander General Joseph Joffre finally realized the German intentions and abandoned his hope of defending along the frontiers and instead attempted to establish a second defensive line deeper in France • British and French forces combined to halt the Germans in the battle of the Marne in September 1914

  10. The Western Front: Result

  11. The Eastern Front Tannenberg, August 1914

  12. The Eastern Front: Prittwitz • The goal of the German strategy in the east was to avoid defeat and to maintain as stable a front as possible • Principle of war? • General Max von Prittwitz commanded the Eighth Army and had the mission of delaying the Russian advance

  13. The Eastern Front: Prittwitz • On August 20, Prittwitz attacked at Gumbinnen and the Russians got an early advantage • Prittwitz’s initial response was to withdraw more than 125 miles across the Vistula River which would have abandoned East Prussia to the Russians

  14. The Eastern Front: Prittwitz • Prittwitz’s staff eventually convinced him to use his superior lateral communications to concentrate the bulk of his forces against the slowly advancing Russian Second Army to the south and leave only a small force behind in the north to block the Russian First Army • These decisions set up the battle of Tannenberg Central Position

  15. The Eastern Front: Hindenburg and Ludendorff • Moltke however was disturbed by Prittwitz’s initial plan to abandon East Prussia and replaced him with the more aggressive command team of Hindenburg and Ludendorff Hindenburg (left) and Ludendorff

  16. The Eastern Front: Hindenburg and Ludendorff • Paul Hindenburg was a 66 year old retired general who Moltke recalled to active duty after he became dissatisfied with Prittwitz • Hindenburg was assigned as commander of the Eighth Army on the Eastern Front • Major General Erich Ludendorff had done well at the battle of Liege in August 1914 and was appointed Hindenburg’s chief of staff

  17. The Eastern Front: Tannenberg • Hindenburg reversed Prittwitz’s retreat and implemented the plan Prittwitz’s staff was already working on • Ludendorff rushed four corps to the south and the Germans attacked on August 26 • In a double envelopment, the Germans encircled the Russians and destroyed two corps Sample double envelopment

  18. Eastern Front: After Tannenberg • Tannenberg was an operational rather than a strategic victory • After the battle, Hindenburg turned the Eighth Army north to try to repeat his success against the Russian First Army • However the Russians recognized the danger and pulled back across the Russian border • On September 25, the Russians counterattacked and drove the Germans back to the frontier of East Prussia

  19. World War I • The Schlieffen Plan had failed to defeat the French before the Germans were committed to a two-front war against the Russians • The Germans’ failure to achieve strategic success after Tannenberg had also led to a stalemate in the east

  20. Trench Warfare

  21. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Gas • Various efforts were made to break the stalemate • The Germans first used gas against the Russians on Jan 13, 1915 with little effect • They were more successful at Ypres on Aug 15 Even German dogs were outfitted with gas masks

  22. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Peripheral Operations • The Ottoman Empire entered war on the side of the Central Powers on Oct 31, 1914 • Seen, especially by the British, as a new theater that offered an alternative to the deadlock on the Western Front • The end result was a series of operations on the periphery of Europe • “Strategy of the Indirect Approach” (Hart) • “Strategy of Evasion” (Fuller)

  23. Peripheral Operations • British defended Egypt against a Turkish invasion and fighting gradually moved into Palestine • Allenby and T. E. Lawrence • Dardanelles Campaign • Gallipoli • Tigris River • Salonika

  24. Peripheral Operations: Gallipoli

  25. Peripheral Operations: Gallipoli • On April 25, 1915, the Allies launched the Gallipoli campaign. • Mustafa Kemal told the Turkish defenders, “I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place.” • On January 16, 1916, the Allies admitted defeat and withdrew. ANZAC Forces on Gallipoli

  26. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Frontal Attacks • On Feb 21, 1916, the Germans launched a massive attack on Verdun which was preceded by a 12-hour bombardment • Fighting continued until December 19 and caused over an estimated 700,000 dead, wounded and missing • The battlefield was smaller than ten square kilometers

  27. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Frontal Assaults • On July 1, the British launched an offensive along the Somme River to try to divert German troops from Verdun • On the first day, 60,000 British soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured. • When the attack halted in November, the Allies and the Germans had each suffered more than 600,000 casualties. German casualties at the Battle of the Somme

  28. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Hutier Tactics • Short, violent artillery prep as storm troops advance to assault positions • Storm troops infiltrate through main defenses to objectives in the rear • Artillery shifts to fix enemy • Follow on forces reduce bypassed pockets of resistance

  29. Infiltration vs Frontal Attack Hutier tactics worked locally, but could not be repeated on a larger scale

  30. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Tanks • The British began developing tanks in 1914 and used them in small numbers at the Somme on Sept 15, 1916 • Achieved little in this initial employment • The Battle of Cambrai on Nov 20, 1917 marked the first large scale use of tanks with 474 British Mark I tank of the type used during the Battle of the Somme

  31. Attempts to Break the Stalemate: Tanks • At Cambrai, the British gained initial surprise and advanced three miles by the end of the first day • Deepest penetration into German lines on the Western Front since the beginning of trench warfare • On the second day, the British continued to advance but the Germans brought up four more divisions • On the third day, the British began losing what ground they had gained

  32. The industrialization of society in the 19th Century would generate many military applications of new technology In 1915 British Admiral Jacky Fisher wrote, “The war is going to be won by inventions.” Example of war becoming more total Machine gun Rapid fire artillery Airplanes Internal combustion engine Tanks Zeppelins Gas Flamethrowers Technological Advances from World War I

  33. World War I Airplanes 148th American Aero Squadron Petite Sythe, France. (August 6, 1918) Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, was credited with 80 confirmed kills

  34. World War I Vehicles T. E. Lawrence used a fleet of nine Rolls-Royce armored cars and tenders specially adapted for desert warfare.

  35. World War I Zeppelin

  36. World War I Flamethrower

  37. Next • World War I (continued)