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33 HIS103Y Lecture Feb 8th.doc

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

HIS103Y Lecture 33 February 8th. The Great War 1914-18 Part I • First world war fought over important issues; international law and order defence of sovereign borders and survival of actors in international system • Defence of organized international relations that allowed for cooperating o Triple Entente vs. Germany – went to war to rescue itself from the cumulative diplomatic blunders that had allied former enemies and isolated itself • Germany secretly drafted a program named September Memorandum – Bethmann-Hollweg – war aims: the purpose of the war was ‘Security for the German Empire to the West and East for the considerable future . . . to this end France must be so weakened it can never rise again as a great power and Russia must be pushed back from the German frontier as far as possible and its rule over the non-Russian subject people broken.’ • Germany must try to secure a European Empire, and harness and secure the European resources so that Germany would be able to dominate Europe in the future war • War was over the survival of the international system • French went to war with a battle plan. Gen Joffre best defence is offense French go into Alsace- Lorraine, allow Germany to circumvent through Belgium. Joffre conceals Alsace-Lorraine offensive and focuses on defence of gateways to Paris • 5 -10 Allies defeat Germany on Battle of the Marne • Germany entrenches and fortifies. Race to the sea ensues trying to outflank each other • Entrenchment extends to channel coast • How to account for such a stalemate • Sheer congestion – millions and millions of troops blocking open country, Artois, Joffre attacks with 1000 artillery pieces and 13 divisions. Germany only had 4 divisions yet easily repulsed attack – front was to narrow • Firepower – ‘mobility in a resisted medium’ – firepower in a limited space inhibited mobility – machine guns, heavy artillery • Champagne and Artois German artillery overcomes much greater numbers • Battle of Verdun, highest casualties of world war one, 1916, 15 miles wide, 700,000 deaths in 10 months. Von Falkenhayn thought French failure at Artois due to lack of heavy guns • So attacked Verdun with heavy guns. Falkenhayn attempted to bleed Franc dry. Didn’t work • Verdun was murdered earth • July of 1916 Great Britain lunches Battle of the Somme. British suffer 50,000 casualties on day 1. Haig keeps attacking until Nov • Powers look to other fronts to out flank each other. Germany on Eastern Front defeated Russian at Tannenberg. Russians send and encoded message on the radio • Fall 1915 Russia 2 million casualties – German victory looked longer to take effect because Eastern Front bigger space, smaller armies • Allies controlled the sea, use naval domination to out manoeuvre Germans in Eastern Mediterranean • Italy joins allies May 1915, Turkey late in 1914 joins Germany, Churchill saw a nethfront to open up in the Mediterranean to help supply Russia • 25 April 1915 – Gallipoli – afflicted losses on Turks, but ended up being a bloody fiasco for the Allies • Another attempt to open new front – bail out Serbia from two front offensive by Bulgaria and Germany – Allies throw large force in Balkans at Salonika in 1915 but couldn’t break through Bulgaria defence of mountain passes •
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