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Lecture 5

Week 5 Grenville notes

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Neville Panthaki

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 ledat 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 years 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 Georges 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 usualthe inappropriate words of calm coined by Winston Churchill across the Channelbecause 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 su
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