Assess the reasons why the First World War was not 'over by Christmas' 1914.

The First World War was not over by Christmas 1914 because of the following reasons:

  • The Schlieffen Plan of the Germans was to pass through Belgium (considered as neutral) and attack France. But the Germans faced unexpected resistance from Belgium that took Germans more than 2 weeks to capture Belgium’s capital and were failed to capture channel ports due to strong resistance. 2 weeks were enough for British forces to mobilise and come to help Belgium. As the German forces advanced toward Paris, their impetus slowed down because of slow supply of food and ammunition. In the heat of August 1914, the German troops were getting exhausted more quickly in long marches.
  • In September, the French attacked Germans in the Battle of the Marne. This was ruined the Schlieffen Plan and the possibility of defeating France in six weeks was wiped out. The Germans had to face full scale war on two fronts; this was not expected by the Germans.
  • Both the sides dug trenches which ran from the Alps to the Channel coast. This started the trench warfare and the difficulties of this type of warfare increased the time of the war.

Thus, the failure of the Schlieffen Plan, the use of trench warfare and entering of new nations in the war started with the entry of Turkey then USA and so on were some of the reasons.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Assess the reasons why the First World War was not 'over by Christmas' 1914.

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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