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Why Did Germany Lose The First World War History Essay

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The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was a trigger to World War One, but according to many historians, they claim that Germany is responsible for the war. Prior to the war, tension built up among nations. With the race for superiority a war was bound to happen. Most European countries made alliances with each other, thus pulling Germany with its' allies: Austria Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire into the war. By the end of the war, Germany's economy was bankrupted. Germany and its' allies lost the war with the Treaty of Versailles, by signing it on June 28, 1919. Given that Germany was the cause of the war, it was more at risk of losing the war. Germany failed to succeed in World War One because of three main reasons, the failure of the Schlieffen plan, nationalism, and the allies' effective use of attrition warfare.

The failure of the Schlieffen plan caused Germanys plan to fight a two front war almost impossible. The Schlieffen plan was thought of by Alfred Von Schlieffen, and modified by von Moltke (who was in charge of this operation), and it was a strategic plan for victory while fighting two fronts. Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II fought a two-front war against French, British, Belgian, and Americans on the Western Front and at the same time Germany was fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front, until Russia's participation in the war ended on March 3, 1918 with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Germany did not have a sufficient amount of troops to be sent to both fronts, and food was limited. Another factor that caused the failure of the Schlieffen plan was Belgian resistance and the entrance of Britain into the war. One August 4th 1914, Britain declared war on France when they invaded Belgium. Germany did not expect Britain, the great empire to join and therefore were worried. Moreover the speed of Russian mobilization was unexpected and they gained land in Eastern Prussia sooner than planned. At the beginning of the war, Russia was not a huge threat to Germany and its allies because of their humiliation at the failure of the Russo-Japanese war. However, Russia gained territory quickly and moved closer towards Berlin.

Before World War One, Germany believed that they were a great power, and therefore nationalism was at its highest point, however between 1916 and 1917, nationalistic views were starting to take a downturn. In these two years, a lot of lives were lost and the term "stalemate" was present. The Battle of Jutland was the largest sea battle of the entire war. It occurred in 1916 and it was one of Germany's only chance to weaken Great Britain's royal navy, hence the wars' nickname; the "Battle of Lost Opportunities." The German counterattack failed because their plans were discovered by Russians, thus this battle was a disaster for the Germans, which caused their fleet to not leave the German ports until 1918, as a result giving the British navy domination of the seas. This disappointed the Germans, and lowered German nationalism. Another battle in 1916 named the Battle of Verdun was a disastrous battle fought by the Germans. A win after this battle was impossible after a loss of 430,000 soldiers. In this battle, the French effectively sent the Germans back to their starting point. The French were delighted from their success while German nationalism continually decreased. In 1917, the third battle of Ypres was a huge success for the Germans, despite this success the German self-confidence was already low, and the accomplishment did not increase nationalism significantly. Furthermore, the fact that Germany sent the Zimmerman note to Mexico in 1917, created a strong enemy for Germany and its allies. The telegram stated that if Germany and the United States were to go to war, Mexico would ally with Germany and as a result of this alliance Germany would aid Mexico into regaining the territories of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. While some historians thought it was intended for America to join the war others thought of it as a method to distract America. As soon as the people realized that Germany lured America into joining the war, German morale vanished.

The allies' effective use of attrition warfare throughout the war wore out German troops which forced them to surrender. The term "attrition warfare" "is a strategic concept that to win a war, one's enemy must be worn down to the point of collapse by continuous losses in personnel and materiel." [1] One method of wearing out the enemy that the British used was The British Naval Blockade. The blockade of German ports starting in 1914 soon resulted in shortages of food, oil, rubber, and fertilizers. This restricted maritime supply of raw materials and foodstuffs to Germany and its allies. Starvation was a key issue for the Germans during the Great War, soldiers and people in Germany starved and possibly died. This continued to the point until strikes were made in German industries in the winter of 1918 which pressured the government to break the blockade or end the war. After the war, claims are made by historians that the North Sea naval blockade "was a primary factor in the collapse of the Central Powers." [2] Furthermore the Ludendorff Offensive of 1918 was Germany's final chance for victory, but failed because Germany and its allies were too worn out to continue. This offensive was a series of attacks along the Western Front. The Ludendorff Offensive marked The United States' entrance into World War One. Each month, America sent in new troops to face the central powers. After a length of time Germany was unable to fight back because, unlike the Americans it could not send a new group of soldiers to Paris. Consequently, Germany and its' allies were too worn out to continue the war because of the British naval blockade, and the new supply of Americans every month.

In conclusion, three factors affected the downfall of Germany during the Great War, the Schlieffen plan, nationalism, and the use of attrition warfare. The Germans were not able to fight on two fronts, and therefore could not fully participate during the rest of the war because of their stoppage in the beginning of the war. As battles were lost, the people of the Central Powers were disappointed and worried which contradicted their views from the beginning of the war. This lowered nationalism, especially in Germany greatly. Lastly, Germany could not handle the blockade and the entrance of the U.S.A. This tired German troops to the extent that they were incapable of continuing. If these factors had not been present it could have been possible for Germany and its' allies to win the Great War.


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