Academic Master


What factors were behind the lengthy stalemate on the Western Front during the First World War, and why was it so difficult for the combatant armies to achieve a decisive victory?

Stalemate during World War I on the Western front was developed because no action was taken and no progress was made at the line of trenches that were stretched from the Swiss Alps. Those trenches were built all the way across France to Belgium which along with the developments in weaponry were the factors that contributed to the stalemate on the western front. The race for the mechanized weapons for the warfare by Germany and its allies and Britain with its allies led both sides to be evenly matched on the battlefield as the military officials from both sides were aged and could not understand the mechanism to operate the machinery and weapons as their knowledge of modern weapons and machinery was limited. The aged military generals in an attempt to indulge in modern warfare could not make up for their outdated methods. Although modern mechanized weapons were available on the Southern front lack of knowledge to use them effectively made them useless as modern warfare was all about machines against machines which failed due to the limited knowledge of modern weapons. Meanwhile, another factor that contributed to the stalemate on the Western front was the poor communication between the artillery, the front line, and the commanders present in the trenches on the Western front. The reason why the military could not effectively communicate with each other was that generals were stationed many miles away from the front line and they could not get an objective perspective regarding what was going on amongst the troops in the trenches. Sometimes the troops from different nationalities on the battlefield such as German and French found it hard to communicate and coordinate with each other which resulted in the delayed messages and information when it reached trenches that made it difficult to pass on orders (Lawrence, 2005).

Another factor that significantly contributed to the stalemate was the failure of the Schlieffen Plan as in the beginning, Russian army mobilized much faster than General Alfred Von Schlieffen supposed it would. The miscalculation of General Schlieffen and General Moltke in this regard made Germany redeploy millions of its troops to the eastern front to fight Russia which was supposed to defeat France as Germany could not withstand fighting on the two fronts, Russia and France. Resultantly, German forces stopped themselves from being pushed back as they lost their manpower to break the French lines at the French-German border. Meanwhile, German forces were stopped by Belgium and Britain declared war on Germany by its guarantee of neutrality which gave enough time for France and Russia to prepare for the fight. Lastly, the outcomes of the Battle of Marne made German troops lose the element of the surprise attack on Russia and France as one of the most significant causes of stalemate which made German forces quit their arcing motion to fight French forces at the river of Marne. After the Battle of Marne, German forces tried to get behind the enemy as the Schlieffen Plan was destroyed and the Germans’ so-called war of movement was ended resulting in the no-action on the Western front as no force was able to break the lines of the other country (Showalter et al., 2019). Therefore, this lack of progress and action resulted in developing the route for the stalemate on the Western front in 1914. Thus, a stalemate developed because of the overwhelming superiority of the defense as neither alliance was able to achieve the decisive victory upon the attack that could restart the warfare or the war of movement as planned by Germany.



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