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Lecture 7

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University of Guelph
HIST 2040
William Cormack

History Assignment: recognize and see the difference between a primary and secondary source. Have it explicitly stated in the assignment in whatever way it may arise. John Keegan’s book is secondary (scholarly work based on Keegan’s own research using primary sources). The course reader is a primary source (evidence upon which historical items are based). Introductory paragraph with a single sentence with a clear argument (thesis). Something like ‘both these books support the nature of trench warfare is like such and such’ when using the 2 readings on the Great War. Great War, 1914-1918 I THE WAR BEGINS • War as Celebration  Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo (28 June 1914) set off chain reaction resulting in outbreak of war  Europeans’ enthusiasm for war showed power of nationalism  Expected short, decisive conflict • Failure of the Schlieffen Plan  German strategy called for advance through Belgium to knock out French army  But as German invasion slowed, French troops escaped trap & redeployed east of Paris  Battle of Marne (Sept. 1914) halted advance & saved Paris • Stalemate  French & British troops pursued retreating Germans, who dug in & turned on pursuers  Entente powers also forced to dig in  By November 1914 parallel lines of trenches stretched from Switzerland to North Sea  Russian defeat at Tannenburg ended hopes that two-front war would bring quick victory  If Schlieffen Plan’s failure II TECHNOLOGY & MODERN WARFARE • War of Attrition on the Western Front  Lethality of modern weapons – artillery & machine guns – drove soldiers underground into trenches & dug-outs  Tactics reduced to suicidal infantry assaults  Variations included specialized artillery barrages  Consumption of ammunition required massive industrial output  By spring 1915 Germans decided to wage war of attrition  First used poison gas at First Battle of Ypres (April 1915)  Gas had minimal strategic effect, but was most hated weapon of the war  German strategy of attrition culminated in attack on Verdun (February 1916): battle lasted over 300 days, caused over 1 million casualties  British launched major offensive on the Somme (June 1916): battle caused even higher casualties but failed to achieve breakthrough – lasted 140 days, around 600,000 lost both sides • Search for New Weapons  Tanks first used in 1916, but didn’t demonstrate potential until 1918 during allied counterattack  Airplane was third new weapon: employed for reconnaissance & to direct artillery fire  Fighter aircraft, or “scouts”, developed to attack or defend reconnaissance flights • The War at Sea  Battle of Jutland (1916) was inconclusive: British lost more ships, but retained command of sea  British economic blockade slowly strangled German industry & starved population  Germany used new weapon for commerce raiding: submarine (German U-
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