The War Begins – 1914 June 28: Franz Ferdinand assassinated July 28: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia July 31: Russia mobilizes army August 1: Germany declares war on Russia August 3: Germany declares war on France
The Schlieffen Plan in Theory Drawn up in 1897; enacted in 1914 Germany’s plan to avoid a two-front war Key assumptions: Russia was strong but slow to mobilize France was weak and could be defeated quickly France would have to be outflanked Britain would stay neutral Step 1: invade France through Belgium Step 2: move troops back east to defeat Russia
The Schlieffen Plan in Practice: What Germany Got Wrong August 3: Germany declares war on France August 4: Germany invades neutral Belgium Belgium resists the invasion, slowing down Germany; Britain comes to Belgium’s aid France resists the invasion Russia mobilizes in ten days Sparks the “Race to the Sea”“Race to the Sea”
Questions to ponder If you were a solider in the trenches on the Western Front, what’s the last thing you’d want to be ordered to do? Why on earth would officers order frontal charges?
From a British trench warfare manual The attack on such a, system of defenses as has been described demands in all ranks dash and gallantry of a very high order, and in the subordinate leader, clown to the lowest grades, a quick perception, rapid decision, and intelligent initiative. It is more than ever' the case that success depends upon qualities of leadership in subordinate commanders, upon rapid appreciation and readiness to accept responsibility on the part of the man on the spot. Much can be done in peace training to foster these qualities and to impress on even the most subordinate leaders the necessity for acting, in cases of urgency, on their own responsibility.
Result: a stalemate 1914-1918 Situation on the Western Front in which neither side could win, since the defense was stronger than the offense Led to enormous casualties Battle of Gallipoli (1916): 250,000 casualties Battle of Verdun (1916): 975,000 casualties Battle of the Somme (1916): 1,250,000 casualties