In this essay I will write about why the First World War was not over by Chrismas 1914. I will talk about the Schlieffen Plan, how there was a stalemate, also about the trenches in the First World War.
The reason why the First World War started was that Austria-Hungary’s heir to the throne who was called Archduke Franz Ferdinand was going into Bosnia because Austria-Hungary had just recently concurred it. The Archduke was
driving down a narrow road and this road got smaller and smaller and soon the driver had to stop because if he did not the car would scrape on the sides of the wall and when the driver did stop a Serbian shot him and his wife This was on the 28th of June 1914. A few days later Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the capital Belgrade was shelled. Russia was the ally of Serbia and they began to prepare for war so the clock was ticking for the Germans and they had to put the Schlieffen Plan in to practice.
The Schlieffen Plan was Germany’s only plan for war. The idea was very simple and the Germans thought that it would work. The plan was that the Germans would declare war on Russia and the Russians would take six weeks to get their army ready. So the Germans thought that they had six weeks to go through Belgium to avoid the heavy French forces on the border of France and Germany. Then they would go through France and surround Paris and the Germans thought that without Paris the French would surrender and then the rest of the Germans would go to the Russians and fight them.
But what really happened? There were four different divisions marching all different routes in to Belgium. When they got there the Belgians decided that they were not just going to let the Germans just march straight through their country. The Germans thought that the British would not come in to this and that the contract which the British drew up with Belgium some 80 years earlier, would just not matter, but it did. The British sent in the British expeditionary force over the channel to fight the Germans. The Germans were slowed down and time was not on their side because the Russians were already preparing their army. Also the Germans thought that the Russians would wait until the whole of their army was ready but they did not they just sent in the divisions that were ready. The Germans had to send back one of the their divisions to fight the Russians. The Russians did not have machine guns so the Russians with horses and swords were no match for the Germans and the Russians were quickly driven back and for the rest of the war a lot of Russia was controlled by the Germans.
As this was going on the other divisions were still fighting the British, French and Belgians and by this time the French had already surrounded Paris. One of the German leaders telegrammed to the head Quarters that he was concerned that the French, the BEF and the Belgians would go between the divisions and cut them off, so the Germans grouped closer together so the risk was minimised. Then the Germans decided to go to one side of Paris and the French followed and the Germans were stopped 20km outside Paris. So the Germans dug in
The Germans decided to dig trenches. They started off just being a hole in the ground but later on they began to get very complex. The Germans had better trenches than the BEF and the French because the British and French did not want to stay there they wanted to move forward but the Germans on the other hand had put concrete on the roof and on the walls they had their HQs and hospitals and everything in them. The Germans knew that is they stayed there they would have won the war because they had taken a lot of France and a lot of Belgium. The war had become a stalemate. Neither side could move forward, this was due to the weapons that were used.
Lee Enfield Rifle: this rifle had a good range of about 250 meters it was used in both attacking and defending.
Shells artillery: also these had a good range some further than others used in both attacking and defence.
Machine gun: machine guns were probably the most effective weapon of the First World War they could fire 600 bullets. That is 10 every second and they had a very good range. But defensive use only.
Hand grenade: these weapons could only be thrown so not very good range and were used in both attacking and defending.
Barbed wire: this was also one of he most effective weapons of the First World War because if you got caught in it you got stuck and you did not want to get stuck in “no mans land” because a machinegun or a shell would scatter you into little pieces. It slowed down attacks and so was only defensive.
Gas: gas was an attacking weapon and was quite effective if the wind was blowing in the right direction. Soldiers were not issued with gas masks so the soldiers used a handkerchief saturated in urine to put over their mouth to protect them.
The reason why the war was so slow and was in stalemate was that the most effective of all the weapons was the machine gun and the barbed wire and the thing that you notice with them that they are both only defensive weapons.
As a result of the above the war was over by Christmas 1914.