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Investigating Why the Open War of Movement Became a Stationary War in the Trenches by November 1914

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Investigating Why the Open War of Movement Became a Stationary War in the Trenches by November 1914

World War 1 had begun in August with both sides certain that their

sudden attacks with cavalry and infantry would create a war of rapid

movement, which would bring them a swift victory. The ending of this

possibility and build up towards a stationary war of fixed

entrenchment was not only due to the failure of the Schlieffen Plan

and Plan XVII, but the problems in communications, problems faced

through tactics and strategies and the role of the commanders

throughout the planning and progression of the war. The possibility of

further outflanking movements was gone. The initially hastily

constructed trenches of the allied forcers took on a more permanent

look as two massive armies consisting of over 4 million men faced each

other over 800 kilometres of continuous trench lines from the coast of

Belgium to the Swiss border. For the next four years, the rival

commanders struggled and blundered in an attempt to find a way to

break the stalemate, which had emerged by the end of 1914.

In order to break the stalemate there were two major offensives

remembered from 1916, which both failed but were attempts none the

less. Both sides had become aware that it was easier to hold a

defensive position than it was to launch an offensive. However, this

did not stop them, launching repeated disastrous offensives, relying

on weight of men, artillery and supplies to crumble the opposition

through attrition and each side endeavored to weaken the other.

The generals decided only a 'big push' would be able to break through

the enemy lines and restart the war of rapid movement. This was not

achieved until the attrition of 1915-18 finally weakened the German

lines in mid-1918.

The Schlieffen Plan, originally devised by Alfred von Schlieffen, the

then German Army Chief of Staff, in 1905, was the German Plan which

would they would implement to avoid a war on two fronts. Schlieffen

argued that France had to be defeated as soon as possible in the event
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