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Godfrey (Tyler Freitas)

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1 Godfrey (Tyler Freitas)
German Stormtroopers Godfrey (Tyler Freitas)

2 WWI was the product of escalating tensions in Europe violently exploding when Austrian-Hungary Archduke Franz Ferdinand was murdered by a Serbian Nationalists group, called the Black Hand, on June 28, By July 28 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Europe, through closely intertwined treaties and alliances was dragged into one of the most horrific conflicts of all time. WWI The “Great war”

3 Basic Facts WWI was fought from July 28, 1914 till November 11, The two opposing collection of forces are known as the Allies, which comprised of Russia, France, Britain, Italy, The United States, Japan, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, and Montenegro, while The Central powers containing German, Austria-Hungarian, Turkish and Bulgarian forces. There were a total of 37,508,686 casualties.

4 The German’s Original Plan
The German's were the principle fighting force of the Central powers during WWI. They sought to bring a swift and decisive victory to the Central powers by following the Schlieffen Plan which was formed to deal with a war on two fronts, the Western against France and the Eastern against Russia. The Schlieffen plan called for a swift victory over France. This, Schlieffen believed, would cause both Great Britain and Russia to be unwilling to continue to fight.

5 The Beginning of the Trenches
The initial Germans assault on France was very successful. The Germans captured a large amount of territory, and advanced to within 30 miles of Paris. On September 6 the weary and wounded Allies launched a counter-offense which would be known as the battle, or miracle, of Marne. By September 12 they drove the Germans back and the long trench war began.

6 Life in the Trenches This failure, to quickly defeat the French, led to a type of warfare that had never before been experienced and who's terror still lingers, trench warfare. Trenches spanned over 475 miles of European soil with vast stretches of "no man's land" in between. In deplorable conditions, deprived soldiers were in constant danger from poison gas, artillery, enemy raids, machine gun fire, grenades, air attacks, sniper fire and diseases from all manner of pests that infested the trenches. Life in the trenches was made even worse by the mud, lack of sleep, at times semi-starvation, filth, corpses, the stench, immense boredom, as well as the ever present lice, rats, nits and other pests.

7 The British Solution to Trench Warfare
Even though soldiers fought and died through these terrible conditions little progress was made and commanders on both sides tried many tactics and utilized revolutionary technology to break the stale-mate which had developed. The French lacked ideas to break the stalemate not wanting to risk their fortified positions with an assault. The British however, in late invented a machine which they hoped would conquer the trenches, the tank. Tanks were used with nominal affect throughout much of the Western front, however with temporary display of success tanks were used in the battle of Cambrai in November of 1917 when 476 British tanks back by infantry broke through the Hidenburg line and pushed the Germans back to Flesquieres. However 10 days later the German's had recaptured all they had lost, using their own trench warfare invention, the Strumtruppen.

8 Formation On March 2nd, 1915 the OHL, the German high command, authorized the creation of the Sturmbattalion in order to test an experimental light artillery cannon, the Sturmkannone. Manufactured by Krupp, it was offered as a solution to the problem of machine guns, which were all but impervious to heavy artillery. In addition they were to test ballistic armor, various gear, M1916 Stahlhelm helmets and tactics to break the deadlock cause by trench warfare.

9 Trial by Fire After three months of special training the Sturmbattalion was divided into several detachments and deployed across the front lines of the Western Front with their experimental gear under the leadership of Major Kaslow of the 18th Pioneer battalion.

10 Bleak Outlook The initial level of success the Sturmbattalion was dismal at best. They suffered over 30% casualties under Major Kaslow. The Sturmkannone was heavy, hard to maneuver and ineffective. The prototype armor was very heavy, restrictive and a failure. The only part of the whole project which seemed to be worthwhile were the M1915 Stahlhelms.

11 Transformation In August of 1915, Major Kaslow was replaced by Cpt. Willy Ernst Rohr a career soldier from the Garde-Schutzen. Under his skillful leadership the Sturmbattalion was transformed. Gone were the experimental armor and the failed Sturmkannone and in their place were revolutionary tactics which were designed to penetrate the entrenched Allied force's defenses.

12 Deserved Recognition In October of 1915 the Sturmbattalion under the command of Cpt. Rohr led a successful assault on a French position in the Vosges Mountains. This victory gave proof to the effectiveness of Rohr's tactics. In February of 1916 the Sturmbattalion was transferred to a major offensive against the French fortifications at Verdun. Their level of success led them to be expanded to battalion strength on April 1, of that year. In May German command, OHL, ordered all armies on the western front to send two officers and NCOs, non-commissioned officers, to be trained by Rohr in his new tactics before returning to their units. Thus what had started as an unit testing experimental gear had transformed into an instructional unit.

13 Expansion of a Solution
The Sturmbattalion's tactics had proven to be very effective and on October 23rd, 1916 all German armies in the west were ordered by General Lundendorff to form a battalion of stormtroops. By the end of the year all German armies fighting on the Western front had formed a battalion of Stormtroopers. Many of the armies had assault troops units which had formed among the divisions, developing tactics and techniques learned on the front lines since the mid part of 1915. These units were merged together and received better equipment and support, some even received extra training. They called themselves a variety of names from Sturmtrupp, assault troop, to Jagdkommando, hunting commando. However the most popular by far was Stosstruppen, stormtroops, many units adopted this name after Captain Reddemann's flamethrower units.

14 Clothing and Gear The Stosstruppen, in accordance with their more elite status, received better gear. Their uniforms consisted of Steingrau trousers, the Bluse replaced earlier tunics with it's loser cut and slightly more practical style. The elbows and knee's on a stormtrooper's uniform was usually reinforced with leather to help provide protection while crawling. The M1916 Stahlhelm, the only piece of armor kept from the original Sturmbattalion trials, became a distinguishing feature of the Strosstruppen and would later become the standard issue through WWII. Stormtroopers also used makeshift assault packs made from their greatcoats and tents in place of the cumbersome M1895 knapsack. However many did use a small leather shoulder bag to carry grenades when assaulting.

15 Weapons The primary weapon of the Stosstruppen was the cut down, 5 round magazine fed, K.98AZs chambered for the 8x57mm rimless round. This shorter, handier rifle was easier to maneuver in the close confines of the trenches and was almost as accurate as it's full size counterpart. They also relied on a variety pistols of the Luger P08 and Mauser C96 varieties. But in such close combat and when trying to remain silent melee weapons were necessary. They used everything from the mundane to the makeshift, a wide variety of weapons were used from bayonets and knifes to sharpened shovels. The Stormtroopers were also issued the first practical sub-machine gun, the MP-18, which was chambered for the 9mm parabellum.

16 Grenades But by far the most valuable and terrifying part of a stormtroopers arsenal was the grenade. In particular the M1915 Stielhandgranate, or stick grenade. Grenades had been used before but the skill and precision which the Stosstruppen wielded them was never before seen. They were the principle weapon of the assault units, soldiers sometimes carried over a dozen while attacking, their rifles slung in order to keep their hands free to lob grenades at the hapless defenders. The Stosstruppen, after a heavy artillery barrage, would attack an enemy position lobbing grenade after grenade in the trenches before entering and eliminating any remaining threats. Both the Stielhandgranate and the Eierhandgranate, egg grenade, relied on explosive force not fragmentation so the stormtroopers had to be more precise when tossing grenades, which they certainly were.

17 Training Some members of the stormtrooper units did receive a more formal training where they underwent vigorous and difficult training, honing the techniques and strategies of trench combat. In addition to the obvious shooting and grenade throwing exercises the men were taught a variety of skills from melee combat to repair and operation of machine guns both their own, their allies and even their enemies' weapons. They were trained strictly with live ammunition and real grenades making casualties during training something that was not unheard of. Others used tactics they had learned on the front lines and from their comrades, relying on the skills they've honed in real combat and lessons they learned from personal experience. All men however had at least one thing in common they were all expert marksman with the rifle, carbine, pistol as well the hand grenade.

18 Tactics The Stosstruppen tactics relied heavily on both speed and ferocity. A severe artillery barrage would usually proceed the attack. After the enemy had been bombarded, the Assault troops under the cover of machine gun fire, would then charge across the no man's land firing at any visible enemy and lobbing grenades into the enemies trenches. Specialty units; machine gunners, mortar crews, flamethrower units, would help provide support and help protect the flanks after the assaulting group had penetrated far into enemy trenches. and were subsequently out of range for the German heavy artillery. The regular troops would follow the Stosstruppen and fortify the captured trenches.

19 Support The Stormtroopers, due to rapid pace of their advance, would often out pace their artillery and thus leave their flanks open to attack or they would also sometimes encounter machine gun nests or fortifications which they could not handle with their normal weapons. This gap in the strategy was filled by a number of specialty units which included flamethrowers, mortar teams, grenade launchers, light machine gun units, and machine gun detachments. The issued MG08 required a team of 6 men and while they provided good support they weren't very maneuverable and thus could not always provide the cover fire needed. Light machine guns, such as the Musketen-Bataillone, helped fill the void left by artillery and machine guns as they were maneuverable and could provide necessary support almost anywhere. Grenade launchers were used frequently from 1916 on, when the Granatenwerfer was introduced, reaching ranges up to 350M two men could quickly release an impressive salvo upon the enemy. The mortar however, would become the deadliest weapon on the western front where a single round could collapse entire sections of a trench. Mortars could fire up to a ten pound explosive out over meters. But perhaps the most intriguing support was the flame thrower units. Two versions were utilized the Kleines Flammenwerfer which was a man-pack version and a fixed position version known as the Grosses Flammenwerfe which could project flames up to 40 meters.

20 Verdun The Stosstruppen fought in many battles and countless skirmishes throughout WWI, Verdun was one of their first major battles. The battle of Verdun where in February of 1916 a German force led by Wilhelm Falkenhayn launched a major offensive, attacking Verdun a French stronghold and major physiological key. During the initial attacks the Stormtroopers, supported by heavy artillery, led the assault and performed admirably capturing the front line trenches and eventually the secondary as well as the surrounding fortifications over the months.

21 CambraI On November 20, 1917 at 6 am, 476 British tanks poured across the "no man's land“ at Cambrai, their sound covered by low flying British aircraft. The tanks supported by a large infantry force surprised the Second German army and drove them back almost 8km. The British captured 100 guns and 8,000 prisoners on the first day. This was the first large scale use of tanks and the biggest push through enemy lines since trench warfare began. However the German's mounted a counter attack 10 days afterwards. The Stosstruppen spearheaded the attack, the Stormtroopers were so successful they won back not just the land the British had taken but actually some of the enemies territory as well. Advancing over 5 miles. They accomplished this without any tanks or any vehicles.

22 Kaiser’s Battle The largest offense the Stosstruppen were used for was the Kaiser's Battle which began on March 21, of 1918. It was the German's final great offense, their all-or-nothing move. General Ludendorff focused on the stormtroopers, he commanded them to push forward at all costs, stopping at nothing, ignoring all that goes on about their flanks or behind them and merely continuing attacking and pushing onwards. This brought the Stosstruppen past the range of their artillery and they even out paced their heavy weapon support. They achieved a great deal but paid a heavy price, suffering extremely high casualties and wearing themselves almost completely out within the following battles.

23 Fascinating Notes The Sturmtruppen under the leadership of Cpt. Rohr became the most famous, however it was not the first and it did not hold a monopoly on tactics. One the most intriguing aspects of the Stosstruppen was how they almost simultaneous appeared across the western front. Cpt. Rohr’s Sturmtruppen, however, brought the importance and success of the Stormtrooper tactics to the attention of high command. This allowed the Stosstruppen to be better outfitted, receive extra training, get better food, spend less time on the front, and participate in assaults and become one of the principle weapons of the German army in WWI. The tactics the Stormtroopers used were extremely revolutionary and their “gun group, assault group” configuration has been used throughout WWI and was used for the next century. Some countries took to the middle of WWI to adopt these “gun group, assault group” tactics.

24 Failure with the Elite The German army surrendered and were forced to sign an armistice on November 11, 1918. The Stosstruppen and their tactics however were not the cause for this failure and succeed in not only pioneering new combat techniques but also penetrating enemy trenches beyond what was previously hoped. However due to lack of support and government bureaucracy the Stormtroops were doomed from the beginning. The German government held out for unreasonable terms and focused not on tactics and but on the overview of the war, which sentenced the German cause to death.

25 Bibliography German Stormtrooper by Ian Drury Encyclopedia Britannica

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