Essay on”the Road to Ypres: the Beginnings of Gas Warfare in World War I

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MODULE 4 PAPER
ESSAY ON”THE ROAD TO YPRES: THE BEGINNINGS OF GAS WARFARE IN WORLD WAR I

Robin L. Wallace
U.S. History II: 1865 to Present
April 7, 2013

ESSAY ON”THE ROAD TO YPRES: THE BEGINNINGS OF GAS WARFARE IN WORLD WAR I

Introduction

For a number of years, one of the main things that comes to mind when Americans think of World War I is the image that has been burned into our consciousness is the image of the gas attacks conducted by the Germans against allied troops. The general idea is that the use of these gases was very widespread, causing a huge number of casualties among allied troops. In his essay “The Road to Ypres: the beginnings of gas warfare in World War I,” Ulrich Trumpener, of the University of Alberta has been able to re-examine the question of when and how the Germans began the use of gas warfare. Through the use of papers existing in sources not usually considered by historians, Trumpener was able to take a new book at the issue not colored by the over estimations of the casualties produced at the time. Trumpener’s Conclusions

Trumpener had access to a number of sources both in the form of actual interviews with those who were there, and certain documents that have become declassified from French military historical sources. Despite what certain Western historians would like us to believe, it was not the Germans, but the French who actually began the use of chemical irritants with their introduction of gas-carrying grenades known as “cartouches suffocantes” as early as 1914. After careful consideration of the facts, Trumpener’s analysis of these documents shows that the first use of gas was originally considered to be repugnant to many of the generals involved on the German side. It wasn’t until later on in the war that more toxic combinations were used against the Allied troops. Moreover, Germany’s initial use of these substances could only...
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