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WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGE Lesson Three: Life in the Trenches

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Page 1: WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGEalessandramontagner.weebly.com/.../lesson_3_pdf_ppt_.pdfBattle of Verdun 1916—Verdun was an old French fortress town, Germans want to trick French

WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGE

Lesson Three: Life in the Trenches

Page 2: WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGEalessandramontagner.weebly.com/.../lesson_3_pdf_ppt_.pdfBattle of Verdun 1916—Verdun was an old French fortress town, Germans want to trick French

Context for Trench Warfare ■ Germany’s Schlieffen Plan■ By 1905, Germany was getting scared of a two-front

war; Russia on one side and France on the other. ■ There is the thought that Russia is a much more

serious problem than France because its sheer size. ■ There is also the widespread belief that it would be

quick and easy to take our France. If Germany is able to attack Paris, France will fall.

■ The plan calls for a large number of German troops to be sent through Belgium, sweeping around Paris, and chopping off the political head at the capital.

■ Germans would let France push toward Lorraine while they took down Paris and then a second wave of German troops would trap French soldiers in Lorraine.

■ Belgium is very flat and easy to move through, so it should be easy to overtake.

■ HOWEVER, Belgium has a friend…Britain.

Page 3: WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGEalessandramontagner.weebly.com/.../lesson_3_pdf_ppt_.pdfBattle of Verdun 1916—Verdun was an old French fortress town, Germans want to trick French

The Birth of Trench Warfare

■ At the onset of war, the Germans initiated the Schlieffen Plan .

■ The original plan was modified; Lorraine was not allowed to be taken.

■ Therefore, Paris was never encircled.■ Russians were good at getting troops mobilized

relatively quickly. ■ The plain fails at main goal of trapping French troops

in Lorraine.■ Battle of the Marne, September 5-12, 1914■ French put a stop to the German advance toward

Paris. Schlieffen Plan fails altogether. ■ Deep into French territory, Germans dig a deep hole,

and trench warfare ensues.

Page 4: WORLD WAR I: ON THE GLOBAL STAGEalessandramontagner.weebly.com/.../lesson_3_pdf_ppt_.pdfBattle of Verdun 1916—Verdun was an old French fortress town, Germans want to trick French

The Western Front■ “Race to the Sea”—Who will build the most trenches to the sea? Armies

try to outflank each other. Trenches go from the English channel to Switzerland.

■ A series of battles

■ German trenches much bigger, French Trenches much smaller, less advanced.

■ Both sides dug trenches miles long that faced each other.

■ Young soldiers get thrown over the walls of the trenches into “No Man’s Land,” the area in between the trenches, where they will die by machine guns, poison gas, etc.

■ Artillery is aimed at the opposing side, the goal is to try and infiltrate their trench by getting across No Man’s Land and bombarding the trench, seizing land.

■ Once bombardment stops, troops climb over the trenches and start shooting each other.

■ Mass casualties ensue.

■ Stalemate: each side launched attacks and counterattacks but gained very little territory. Battle lines in France would remain almost unchanged for four years.

■ Main strategy: Generals trying to achieve “break through,” so they keep sending more young boys to fill up a larger human wave. Never ending cycle; trench warfare becomes industrialized mass murder.

■ Who suffers the most? Foot soldiers and lieutenants.

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The Eastern Front

■ Russians get moving fast, troops move into East Prussia.

■ Two major battles on the Eastern Front, Tannenbergand Masurian Lakes.

■ Germans learn Russia is not prepared for warfare due to lack of industrialization.

■ Russian army begins to collapse: poorly commanded and poorly supplied.

■ Russia exits the war just as the U.S is entering in 1917.

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Inside of the Trenches■ Nothing was glamourous about trench life.■ WWI trenches were filthy, muddy, had horrific stenches,

and a breeding ground for diseases and rats.■ Contaminated water accumulated in the trenches,

resulting in cholera and trench foot. ■ Health problems took much more men out of combat than

direct fire. ■ Boredom plagued the trenches. Day to day monotony of

being trapped in a very small space, waiting for a battle to start.

■ WWI soldiers were living in constant fear of enemy attack, many developed the belief that it was certain they would die in the trench.

■ Those who survived the trenches usually went home with “shell shock,” a phrase coined during WWI to describe the type of PTSD that soldiers experienced during and after the war (before PTSD was a term).

■ YouTube Clip

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Major Battles of WWI■ Battle of the Marne-September 1914—marks the

beginning of trench warfare

■ Battle of Ypres-there were two, the first in 1914 included around 100,000 casualties and the second in 1915 included the first use of poison gas, introduced by the Germans, used on the French.

■ Very quickly after this, poison gas was being used by both sides. Gas caused blinding, blisters, damage to lungs, choking and death. Blow back of gas often harmed the side that was using it.

■ Battle of Verdun 1916—Verdun was an old French fortress town, Germans want to trick French to fight for symbolic value. Not so much of a strategic move, but the Germans wanted to get the French to employ as many troops possible.

■ Battle of the Somme 1916—a British and French operation against the Germany. First day of fighting, 60,000 men killed. In total, half a a million Germans, 400,000 British, and 200,000 French soldiers perished.

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In Conclusion

■ Trench warfare had devastating effects on the mental and physical health of all those who fought in them.

■ The carnage of trench warfare exposed a barbaric side of Europe, which greatly undermined Europe’s prestige.

■ Trench warfare was so destructive that participating countries in WWI vowed to never employ this tactic again.