Week 5 Grenville notes

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31 Dec 2010
1. The Great War I: war without decision, 1914 – 16
war ended in four years not by the defeat of armies in the field alone, but with the breakdown of the political and economic structure of
the defeated, their societies weakened or shattered
on the eastern war-front in August 1914 two Russian armies assigned to invade East Prussia were badly led—at the battle of Tannenberg
on 28 and 29 August one Russian army was practically destroyed; the other was mauled in a subsequent engagement (the battle of the
Masurian Lakes) but was able to withdraw to Russia in good order
the pursuing German army of the second Russian army was, in its turn, thrown back by the Russians
end result of the year’s fighting was heavy casualties on both sides and neither a German nor a Russian decisive victory but a stalemate
farther south, the Russians more than balanced their defeat in Prussia by proving their military superiority over the Habsburg armies
the ‘forgotten war in the east for three long years from 1915 to 1917 sapped Germanys military armies between the two major fronts,
east and west; Germany victory in the east came too late to save it
another military campaign which is forgotten, though it cost France 300 000 casualties, was the 1914 French offensive into Lorraine
by end of Nov. 1914, machine gun, trenches and barbed wire finally proved strength of defensive as western front was now deadlocked
the war in the west would from now on would not be won by superior strategy, nor by movement and rapid encirclement, but by the slow
process of attrition; the Great War had turned into the first ‘industrial war’ to be won as decisively on the home front producing ever
vaster quantities of guns and munitions, as in the field
during years of war British individual lost many rights as hope of a quick victory vanished; in accepting state direction, organized labour
cooperated with national government, and a political “truce” was proclaimed in Britain as in other belligerent countries
due in no small measure to Lloyd George’s skill, dominant style was that of cooperation rather than coercion, of preserving constitutional
parliamentary government rather than resorting to authoritarian rule
for France, invaded and losing large tracts of the country right at the beginning of the war, it could not be ‘business as usual’—the
inappropriate words of calm coined by Winston Churchill across the Channel—because from the start France was in imminent danger of
defeat; which is why the French were the first to establish a government of national unity representing all parties from left to right
although the war was fought on French soil, and the loss of industrial north-western France was serious, the French improvised war
production and relied on financial and material aid from Britain and the US; shortages of food and of necessities sent prices soaring;
increasingly authoritarian control of production, allocation of labour and distribution had to be undertaken by the state
first of the belligerents to organize their production and manpower were the Germans
after Hindenburg and Ludendorff had been appointed to the high command, they demanded in 1917 the dismissal of the Chancellor
Bethmann Hollweg, who was too independenthis successors were nonentities and Germany practically fell under a Hindenburg-
Ludendorff military dictatorship during the last year and a half of the war
Austro-Hungarian army was a unique multinational force, but in one respect it was not unique: the incompetence of its leadership
new weapons killed in new ways: attacks from Zeppelins from the air and poison gas on land; however, far more serious in its effect of
spreading war to non-combatants was the conflict on the ocean
in 1915 Germany attempted to break effects of the British-imposed blockade by ordering its submarines to sink all belligerent and neutral
ships which entered ‘war zonearound British Isles; and to avoid capture submarines torpedoed, without warning, boats bound for Britain
submarine campaign failed completely in its objective: it failed to cut off vital supplies from reaching France and Britain and it failed to
frighten the neutral countries from continuing to expand their trade with the Allies
much to the embarrassment of the generals on both sides, the German and Allied troops on the western fronts spontaneously stopped
fighting on the Christmas Day 1914, exchanged gifts and even played football between the trenches; there was little hatred, even a good
deal of fellow feeling—the soldiers knew that there was no way out of the war except through death or injury or victory
WWI differed from WWII in 1 very important respect: no planned atrocities committed by military on prisoners of war or on civilians
both among Belgians and in occupied Russian Poland, Germans and Austrians attempted to win over population to their cause—Poles
were promised independent state at least in form, though in practice such an independent Poland would have become a German satellite
Poles of Prussia and of Habsburg Monarchy fought with much loyalty for Germany and Habsburgs, seeing tsarist Russia as oppressor
the five great nations of Europe went to war in 1914 not for any specific territorial gains; instead the war was a gigantic contest between
them to determine their power in Europe and the wider world
for two small nations there was no choice: Serbia was guilty of provoking Austria-Hungary and then in 1914, when faced with Austrian
ultimatum, fought for its independence; Belgians’ misfortune was their strategic position between France and Germany
in Balkans another small nation, Greece, was finally brought into the war in 1917 by France and Britain against the wishes of the king of
Greece; Britain and France sent a military expedition to coerce the pro-German King Constantine into war on the Allied side; although
not as blatant as German aggression in Belgium, it was another violation of the rights of a small nation
a number of European countries chose and were able to remain neutral throughout war, though their sympathies between the contestants
were divided: the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and Spain
some industries in neutral countries experienced great boom, but in the last 2 years of the war, while the farmers and some industrialists
continued to do well, the standard of living of the mass of the workers in the neutral countries of Europe fell due to soaring food prices
US was by far most important and powerful of neutrals from 1914 to 1917, the only great power in the world not at war
in 1914 US claimed neutrality; Allied and German propaganda sought to persuade Americans that right and justice were on their side
at same time, Americans saw no reason why they should not profit from the huge increase of trade brought about by the war
as Allies used up their capital to purchase from the US, America itself replaced Britain as the principal source of capital to other nations
response to Allied needs meant that US economic strength was thrown behind Allied cause long before it formally abandoned neutrality
when the first two months of the war did not lead to the expected decision, France, Britain, Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary hoped
to strengthen their position by winning new allies and opening up new war-fronts to threaten their enemies
in each of the belligerent countries there were some politicians who, after the failure to win war in 1914, looked towards the conclusion of
a compromise peace, but the generals and governments conceived only of a pace ended on the victor’s terms
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