First World War - 1914



  • 1914 - Expectation - There will be a war of movement - BUT what had changed since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 - Range of armiments - Quick firing artilery, magazine rifles and machine guns - Although armies have been able to other wars - Still strong belief that you can only win wars by conducting attacks, going on the offensive - This will cause large amounts of casulaties - But if you want to win a war fast a quickly you'll have to accept you will take casulaties 
  • Eastern Front - Przemysl - Core problem here that the Eastern Front is full of far away places which we know little - British bias as Britian fought on the Western Front in the First World War - Interconnectedness of the various fronts 
  • British view of the War (Propoganda)
    • Turkish slukan has two German war ships in the Black Sea 
    • Italy has its pistol cocked and ready pointed at the Central Powers 
    • British bulldog is bigger than the French poodle on the Western Front (Inaccurate representation of the War in 1914)
    • The Russian steamroller is causing considerable distress to the Austro-Hungarian dogs but NOT necessarily to the German one 
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Western Field Armies

  • Respresents - Balance of power
  • Figures are a little bit problematic - But you get the general idea 
    • German: 1.7 M
    • French: 2 M
    • Belgian: 0.1 M
    • British: 0.1 M
  • Basic logic of Pre War alliance system - France + Russia is greater than Germany - Two of them together outnumber the Germans - Similarly, Austro-Hungary are somewhat weaker than Germany (In terms of avaliable resources) - As the Central Powers are concerned, it will be Germany that is carrying the war effort for the Central Powers
  • Western powers - Differences in power highlighted between the French and British
  • German field army in the West does not have a numerical advantage over the Allies - If they are going to win they are going to have to fight clever 
  • Germany has lots of men - But due to their pre-war conscription process not all of them have had military training
    • German men (20-35) - About 10 million of them there - Only half of them had recieved Military Training - Population and demographics is the big issue
    • Germany has a lot more men than the French, but the French have the Russians and the British
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Western Field Armies - Part Two

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Germany's Western Front

  • Innocence of the war is highlighted by the French wearing Red Trousers - Not very good camoflaugh
  • German - Lack of steel helmets - No protection to shrapnel balls exploding in the air 
  • German -  The 1905 - Schlieffen Plan 
  • French - Plan 17 (War Plan)
  • Key Points:
    • Originally the Germans intented to violate small bit of the Netherlands - By Maastrict - March across that - Will bring the Netherlands in to the war - Helmuth Von Moltke the younger makes decision to not violate Dutch terrioty so the Netherlands can continue to trade with the world and act as a windpipe for the Germany - For the war if it is not a short one 
      • Suddenly the Belgium fortress of Leige - Becomes significant - Have to get through that very quickly - Railway hub 
    • German plan to push through Belgium and outflank the Belgium army requires a very swift movement 
    • French plan to push on into German terriroty - Potentially going to assist with the German plans with springing this trap - Way in which the Germans - Without a numerical advtange in the West, plan to win this war
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Germany's Western Front - Part Two

    • OHL (Oberste Heeresleitung) - German main headquarters
      • First OHL - Commanded by Von Moltke 
      • Second OHL - Commanded by Falkenhayn
      • Third OHL - Commanded by Hindenburg 
  • German war plan - Belgium speedbump you need to get over - Belgium is a wealthy country but has not spent hugely on its military - Relying on policy of neutrality - And having just enough in terms in Fotresses to deter anyone - Belgians build three fortresses (Antwerp, Namur and Liege) facing in three directions 
    • Fortress in Liege - Meant to deter the Germans 
    • Fortress of Antwerp - Meant to deter the British 
    • Fortree of Namur - Meant to deter the French 
  • Beligum have a scratty war plan - Small army - No steel helmets - Curiousity - Get dog carts to pull their ammunition
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Germany's Western Front - Liege

  • Liege - Crucial for the German war plan - If the Germans are held back in taking Liege they are delayed and therefore can't suprise the French 
  • 6th August - First European city to be bombed from the Air in Liege
  • 7th August - German's begin their concentrated attack on Liege - Coordenated by Ludendorff - High flyer within the German general staff - Codefined the war plan - Therefore he understands the significance of capturing Liege quickly 
    • Pre War - Dragged wife on holidays to Liege so he is familiar with the area 
  • Belgians - Surrounded Liege with various throughts - Also at the beginning of the war they push a lot of infantry to hold the gaps between the forts - They choose to remove the infantry - This allows the Germans to infaltrate in between the gaps of the forts - Liege is captured, but the forts around Liege are still held by the Beligians - Ludendorff goes up to the Citadel door with his sword, and takes the surrendor of the city of Liege 
  • Germans then bring up artiliery - Germans have idenfitied the requirement to have super heavy artilery - Howarders - Shells that are 43 CM across - They only have 5 of those artilliery - They borrow from the Austro-Hungarians - Fire shells of about 30 CM across (The new artilery)
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Germany's Western Front - Liege - Part Two

  • Germans bring up heavy artilery - Bombard the fortresses one by one - Some corners have been cut with the construction of the Fortresses for whatever reason - Famously Fort De Loncin takes a direct hit - Penetrates the fortress - Goes down into Ammunition magazine - Fort explodes and kills the 300 soliders inside 
  • Other forts quickly start to surrender - Key of lessons learned - Forts were a waste of money - Easily distroyed - FALSE LESSON
  • Once you break through the bottle neck, at Liege, fan out across Belgium - Small unsupported (Belgium) - Not supported by the French and British - Retreat back to Fort Antwerp in the North - Germans flood across Belgium and quickly bump into the British and the French - Battle of Monze - Part of wider engagement 
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The Allied Retreat (26-30 August 1914)

  • The Germans are successful in opening engagements - Causes near panic on parts of commanders - Including the British Commander
  • French Army is commanded by Marshel Joffre - Known for complete serine calmness - Very composed - Helps with the Allied repsonse 
  • French armies are pushed back, south of the river Marne
  • Fortress of Verdun - Commander is told to abandon and retreat - Disobeys orders and hold onto it 
  • German's pushing forward - Losing their momentum 
  • Joffre - Recognised the damange - Moved forces to the Paris Area
  • Moment at which the German's reach their high tide moment - French order counter attack and push the German's back
    • Germans are pretty much exhausted - Logistic system is close to breaking down from breaking though the Belgium railway system
  • At this point, von Moltke the younger sufferes a massive mental breakdown - Removed quietly - Von Falkenhayn replaces him from Mid-September - Second OHL
  • Both sides are exhausted - Lots of open territory in the North of France 
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Race to the Sea (18th September to 19th October 19

  • Both sides - Try to move forces to out flank the other in the North
  • British expliditionary force is redeployed to the area around the Belgium town of Ypres in order to stem the German tide 
  • Belgium army - Moved to Antwerp - Besiged by the Germans - Ineffective British assistance - Belgiums withdraw from the Fortress of Antwerp - Head to around the town of Newport - Open floodgates - Let the sea in - Create a mote - Cling onto till the end of the war 
  • Big battle in Ypres - Defensive Battle fought by the British - In 1914 - If Verdun comes enscrined in French propoganda of resistance - Propogandisation of the British holding onto Ypres - Factor in later military operations
  • Campaign - Stressful - Reveals problems between the British and the French in terms of their cooperation - Not helped by the character of the British Commander, Sir John French, who not only speaks terrible French but is prone to moodswings - Tensions at the highest level
  • King Albert of the Beligum's takes personal control during this period of the army 
  • Key thing - Campaign in the West - Burden of the Allies is carried by the West - British participation is minimal - The French Army by the end of 1914 has sustained over 3/4 of a million casualties - 1/4 of a million dead - French pay a high price to stop the Germans carrying out their attacks 
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Germany's Eastern Front - August 1914

  • German's deploy only 10% of their army to hold the east - Not their best troops either 
  • Commanded by Von Prittwitz - Told to defend 
  • First battles don't go so well for the Germans - Prittwitz decides to pull back - Abandon territory to get behind the line of the River Vistula (Poland) and then hold off the Russians - Politically not acceptable - Prittwitz is fired and replaced by Hindenburg, who is brought out of retirement unexpectedly to take charge in the East - Given Ludendorff as his Chief of Staff - Seen as national hero for capturing Liege 
  • Hoffman - Cheif of Operations - Comes up with cunning plan in order to defeat the Russians 
    • Problem that the Russians have is that they have two armies converging on the Germans - Two Russian army commanders don't get along with one another - Communication through wireless and the communications are unclear so the Germans are able to work out that they can withdraw their forces from facing one Russian army in the North and can concentrate all their forces on the Russian army on the South - They do this by moving very quickly and they are then able to surround the Russian Army in the South - Destroy this Russian Army - Huge casulaties taken by the Russians - Commander shoots himself as the shame
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Germany's Eastern Front - August 1914 - Part Two

  • Germans - They call it the Battle of Tannenburg - Tookplace in the area where the Teutonic Knights had been defeated in 1810 - Amazing victory as it is portrayed to the German people
  • Hidenburg and Ludendorff become national heros - Saviours of Germany - Held of the Russians from the East
  • Major blow to the Russians - But they have a large amount of resources which they can still utilise - Push the Russians back from German territory - Pause and regroup 
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Austro-Hungarian Fronts

  • Austro-Hungarians - Core Problems - Province of Galicia in the North East - Vunerable to Russia Attack - Also contained the Galician oil fields which are a critical resource to the Central Powers
  • Franz Conrad Voc Hotzendorf is in command of Austro-Hungarian armies - He is very much focused on the Italian threat - Great believer in conducting major attacks in order to win wars - Grand schemes for battles of eniliation for the Russians  
    • Problems he has - Disfunctional relationship with the Germans - Not coordinating their military operations - Decree of secrecy as they are not sharing all their information with one another - Such as their intention for what they wish to do 
    • Also has the problem that he might have to fight the Italians, Russians and Serbs simultaneously - Great deal of order, counter order and disorder during the July crisis and August as to where the Austro-Hungarian army are going to go - Everything starts to go badly from the beginning and unravels 
  • Serbian Front:
    • Serbs - Small country with a small army - Not fighting the whole of the Austro-Hungarian army - Have certain amount of military experience due to The Balkan Wars - The Austro-Hungarian army are unable to make headway against the Serbs
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  • Fortress City of Przemysl 
  • Huge battles - Campaigns that are occuring on a similar scale to the ones on the Western Front
  • Austro-Hungarians deploy half a million troops into Galicia and the Russians are deploying 3/4 of a million troops into Galicia 
  • Russia's take a 1/4 of a million casulalities - Through wait of number and Austro-Hungarian incompitence - There able to push the Austro-Hungarians back to the mountain part of the Carpathians - Russians overun the province of Galicia - Serious threat to the Austro-Hungarian empire - If the Russians are able to push on through the Carpathian mountains - They will get into the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - Game over 
  • The Austro-Hungarians are throwing everything they can at it 
  • Fortress of Przemysl becomes a little island in the Russian sea - Tries to hold out 
  • Key - This fighting against the Russians causes loses to the Austro-Hungarian army - Take over 400,000 casulaties in the opening battles - By the end of 1914 the Austro-Hungarian armies have taken 1/4 million casulaties - Destroyed as an offensive force - Places greater burdens on the Germans
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Przemysl - Part Two

  • Fortress of Przemysl becomes this island in the midst of Galicia - Austro-Hungarians expend huge amounts of resources trying to releave the Fotress of Przemysl - Things ebb and flow - Eventually the Fortress is forced to surrender in early 1915 - Huge blow to the Austro-Hungarian empire 
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  • End of 1914 - Effectively in a stalemate - Fought themselves to exhaustion - Used up all there resources that they have immediatly avaliable - Looking to try and find a way to win the war in 1915
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  • End of 1914 - Effectively in a stalemate - Fought themselves to exhaustion - Used up all there resources that they have immediatly avaliable - Looking to try and find a way to win the war in 1915
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