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World war I began in the Balkans, which was the same place many small war took place.
The assassination of the Archduke
Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the heir of the throne of Austria-Hungary; he hoped that his sympathy for the Slavs would ease the tension between Austria-Hungary and the Balkans.
He and his wife had arranged to tour Bosnia. As the couple rode through Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, an Asian by the name of Gavrillo Principe jumped on their car and fired two shots. Francis and Sophie, did almost instantly, Gavirle Principe, was linked to a Serbian terrorist group called the Block hand.
The Assignation gave Austria-Hungary a good reason to crush Serbia, a lay time emerge in the Balkans. But first they gained Germanys promise to support them in any action they took against Serbia. Then they sent Serbia a list of Humiliating demands on July 23. Serbia accepted most of the demands and offered to have the rest settled by an international conference. Austria-Hungary rejected the offer and declared war on Serbia on July 28 1914. It was expected to be a quick victory.
The western front
Germany had a war plan witch had been prepared by Alfred von Schliffer in 1905. Schliffen was the chief of the German General staff; witch was a group of officials who provided advice on military operations. The plan assumed Germany would have to fight both France and Russia a quick defeat of France while Russia was slowly mobilizing. After they defeated France they would have to deal with Russia. If war came Germany would have to strike first. After the plan was put in motion, the system of military alliances almost assured a general European war.
The plan said that there was suppose to be 2 wing of the German army to come in and crush the French arm in a pinchers move. The left wing would be smaller to defeat Germany along side of France. The larger right wing was supposed to invade French in through Belgium, encircle and capture the capitol of France and then move east. This plan relied on a big right wing.
The Belgin army was fighting tough and holding up the Germans but only for a short time. By Aug. 16, 1914 the right wing of the German army could begin its pincher move. They drove back the French and a small British force in southern Belgium.
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The first battle of the Marne began September sixth and by the ninth the German forces began to withdraw. This battle was a big victory for the Allies. After this victory the Germans lost hope of defeating France quickly. Moltke the chief of the German general staff was replaced by Eric von falkenhyan.
The German army stopped its retreat by the Aisne River. It was from there where the Germans and the Allies fought a series of battles at it was then known as the race to the sea. The Germans wanted to seize ports on the English Channel to cut off the vital supply lines between France and Britain. But at the first battle Ypres in Belgium the Allies stopped the Allies from advancing to the sea. The Battle lasted from mid oct. to mid Nov. in late Nov. 1914 the war came to a deadlock. Along the Western front nobody was moving. The battlefront extended across Belgium and northeaster France more than 450 miles to the border of Switzerland. This deadlock lasted for more that 3 and a half years.
The Eastern front
The Russian mobilization on the eastern front moved faster than Germany expected. Two Russian armies had gone deeply into the German territory of East Prussia, by late Aug. 1914 they learned that the two armies had become separated and they prepared a battle plan. Aug. 31 German forces had encircled one Russian army in the battle of Tammenberg. In the battle of Masurian Lakes they chased the Russian army out. About 250,000 came out of just these two battles. Paul von Hindenburg and Eric Lindendorff were mad heroes by these victories.
Austria-Hungary didn’t have any success on the eastern front. By the end of 1914 their forces had been attacked three times by Serbia and Russia had captured most of the Austria-Hungarian province of Galicia by early Oct. the humiliated Austria-Hungarian army had retreated back to there own territory.
Deadlock on the Western front
By 1915 the opposing sides had dug them selves into I system of trenches along the western front. They attacked from these trenches and defended their sides they were deadlocked until 1918.
The trenches were normally 6 to 8 feet deep and only wide enough for 2 men to pass. There were dugouts in the side of the trenches to protect men while the enemy was firing at them. There was another trench behind the firing trench called the Cover Trench. Then the support trench and the reserve trench came behind those. The men lived in dugouts in the support trenches while they weren’t in the front. They were communication trenches going in between all the big ones to go back and forth. The men usually served at the front for three days to a week, then rotated to the back. Barbed wire helped protect the front line from surprise attacks. Fire artillery was set up behind the support trenches.
In between enemy lines was called no mans land. It ranged anywhere from thirty yards to a mile wide. Over time artillery tore up the land in between the trenches, which made it hard, to cross no mans land during an attack. Life in the trenches was miserable with the smell of dead bodies and the rats were a big problem. It was hard to keep dry especially when the trenches were filled with water in the waterlogged areas of Belgium. Life was a dull routine besides during an attack. Some soldiers stood guard while others repaired trenches; they kept the phone lines in order brought food in and other little jobs. At night they fixed barbed wire and tried to get information about the enemy.
Although artillery and machine guns kept the enemy in their trenches. The allies tried to blast a gap in German lines. They never made it in. They hurled grenades while trying to cross no mans land. But the enemies machine guns wiped out the wave infantry even if they made it though the front line they never made it through the second line.
Both sides were devolving new weapons that they hoped would break the dead lock. In April of 1915, the Germans first released poison gas over allied lines in the second battle of Ypes. The fumes raised vomiting and suffocation. German commanders had little faith and the gas and they didn’t launch a major attack. The allies short after began to use the gas, so gas masks became a necessity in the trenches. They also produced a flamethrower.
The Battle of Verdun
In 1916, Falkenhyen chief of the German general staff decided to concentrate on killing of enemy solders. So they would lack troops and not be able to continue the war. He chose to attack the French city Verdun. Fierce Barbebement began on February 21.
The French commander Joffre thought the loss Verdun would severely damage French morale. The French kept pouring men and held the Germans off through the spring and summer. It was taking just as many Germans so Falkenhyen stopped the battle.
The two German heroes Heindeburg and Lundendarff took over the Western front. Heindeburg became chief of the general staff. And Lundendarff was his top aid. And they planned the German strategy.
General Henry Petatnl was the one that organized the defense of Verdun so France considered him a hero. This battle became a symbol of mass destructiveness of modern war. The French causalities about 305,000 and the Germans causalities were about 280,000. The city was almost completely destroyed.
The Battle of Somme
The allies planned a major offensive in 1916 near the Somme River in France. The battle of Verdun had drained Frances men. So the Somme offensive became mainly the responsibility of the British under General Douglas Haig.
The allies attacked on July 1, 1916 within hours British had suffered nearly 60,000 casualties its worse loss in one day of battle. Fighting went on into the fall. In September Britain brought in the first primitive tanks but they didn’t make much difference because they were too unreliable and they didn’t have enough. The attack was stopped in November by Haig because it was useless. The allies had gained about seven miles and the battle caused more than one million casualties, 600,000 Germans, 400,000 British, 200,000 French. Even with the losses at Verdum and Somme the Western front stood as solid as ever at the end of 1916.