Senior Modern History- Syllabus Dotpoint 1 Summary

Syllabus dot point 1: the reasons for the stalemate on the western front
Stalemate: two positions can’t move/ both sides won’t give in.
Expectations of war
• “...had led me to anticipate a war of positions...”
• “...all my possible alternatives of action, were concentrated upon a war of movement and manoeuvre” – (Sir John French outlines the thinking of the time: ‘the first world war’, history Broadsheet).
• Military leaders were aware of the possible magnitude of future warfare. They knew that European war would involve millions of men, and the movement of them. The reality of the scale of modern warfare merely reinforced the idea of the need to get in first and achieve the ‘knockout blow’.
• The key to success of mobilisation was a nation’s railway network ‘war by timetable’.
• English historian ‘AJP Taylor’ has argued that war came in 1914 because European political leaders lost control of events. He states that once the railway timetables were put into action they could not be halted= why there was a mistake.

The Schlieffen plan-Was the German strategic plan that was to be put into action if there was a war against France and Russia
• Otto von Bismarck- (the German empire’s chancellor-1871-1890) saw the possibility of having enemies on both sides of Germany as a nightmare to be avoided at all costs.
• One of his prime objectives in foreign affairs had been to maintain a diplomatic isolation of France to prevent a Franco-Russian military alliance. He maintained to succeed in that.
• Following Bismarks resignation in 1890 foreign policy came under Kaiser Wilhelm II who was far less experienced and within the three years that Bismarck departure from power France and Russia had formed a military alliance
• The Franco-Russian alliance of 1893 stated that if either France or Russia were attacked by Germany, the other would assist it.
• Germany knew that it faced a two-front war.
• Relations with Britain steadily deteriorated leading up to 1914 and...