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WW1 – Reasons for stalemate

Reasons for stalemate in Ww1 including information about the schlieffen plan

On August 3rd 1914, Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium. Trying to follow the Schlieffen plan (which demanded victory in six weeks) the Germans ran into immediate difficulties which caused the stalemate. There are a few reasons why stalemate developed on the western front in 1914. Among these reasons are the roles the commanders had, communication problems, tactical and strategic problems, the failure of plan XVII and also the failure of the Schlieffen plan.

One of the reasons for stalemate was down to the role of commanders none of them really knew how to attack well most only knew how to defend which had less skill and a simple dependence on manpower. The role of commanders Haig and Smith-Dorrien also played a vital role in stopping the Germans and bringing in the stalemate. Also Jaffre’s confidence was a key factor in stemming the German tide and bringing stalemate into play. Other commanders such as Von Molthe also were not effective leaders and helped contribute to the stalemate of 1914. The commanders were often called “donkeys” and the soldiers “lions” because the commanders did not care for the soldiers at all. They sat in the trench while they sent the troops over the barbed wire to get pelted at by machine guns. The only reason the troops listened to them was because they’d get shot otherwise.

Problems in communications also contributed towards the stalemate because the communications between artillery was very poor. The delay and confusion of the battlefield made it hard to make an objective perspective of battle. The different nationalities such as the French and British allies found it hard translating one another. The messages taken from the commanders to the front line were often out of date by the time they reached the front line soldiers because of the messengers took too long and sometimes became casualties.

The tactical and strategic problems were another reason for stalemate because the advance was difficult in areas without trains and railways because the French roads were poor. The reliance on cavalry was outdated in this war because they could easily be shot with the new machine guns sometimes the cavalry slowed up the movement of the forces especially in the winter when it was muddy. The pace of the timetables set out was too tiring and often could not be met because the men were too mentally and physically exhausted. This meant the generals had to rest the soldiers so they were more effective in battle. Also the outdated reliance of morale and honour failed to equal modern technology with belief that crowding men together could concentrate their rifle fire and improve morale. The ability of machine guns and artillery to stop attacks was also greatly underestimated.

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