History 395 Mid-term
World War I lasted four years and produced almost forty deaths with ten million of them being civilian casualties. Both sides felt that the Great War would be over quickly, especially Kaiser Wilhelm II when he proclaimed “I will have Paris for lunch, and St. Petersburg for dinner.” It only took a few months for both sides to discover that this war would not be fought and won quickly or cheaply.” It was the long term impact of the industrial revolution that separated WWI from any other previous war. A century of industrialization meant that Germans, French, and the British could keep their men armed, clothed, fed and free from lethal epidemics on the fronts all year long. Military tactics during WWI had failed to keep pace with advances in technology and it showed with faulty planning which resulted in countless dead bodies. New ways to kill emerged out of the First World War – barbed wire along with machine guns made crossing open ground very difficult. Poison gas was introduced by the Germans, while it was never proved decisive in a battle; it did lead to a very slow and painful death. Most leaders in 1914 had no real idea of the War machine they were putting into motion. Many believed they would be home by Christmas; obviously that was not the case.
Some of the most appalling battles in human history took place on the western front. Some consider the battle of Verdun the greatest, most critical and bloodiest battle ever fought. Never before had a lengthy battle (Feb.21-Dec.19) been fought on such minimal land (ten kilometers) and resulted in an estimated 700,000 deaths. Alfred Joubaire, a French soldier, writes in his diary of the horrors at the battle of Verdun “They must be crazy to do what they are doing now: what a bloodbath, what horrid images, and what a slaughter. I just cannot find the words to express my feelings. Hell cannot be this dreadful. People are insane!