Chemical Weapons In World War One

Powerful Essays
Topics: World War I
World War One, which is often referred to as The Great War, began July 28th, 1914, and ended on June 28th, 1919. The Great War, originating in Europe, was the first conflict labeled as total war in the world’s history, and it involved over 32 different nations around the globe. The Great War was unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, as well as the combatants involved. Not only soldiers, but civilians and regular working people were deeply involved in World War One. From manufacturing munitions to raising animals for food rations, the daily lives of people everywhere were affected by the Great War. The final result of the war included a staggering total of 38 million casualties – both soldiers and civilians.
World War One was fought between
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In order to stop the seemingly endless barrage of Germans attacking through Belgium and northeast France, the French implemented tear gas grenades into their arsenal, which were used to disrupt and irritate German soldiers. Before being faced with British tear gas grenades, the German army had toyed with the idea of chemical weapons and gases, and experiencing the brutal effects of these weapons provoked them into spending more time and energy to develop these munitions. In October of 1914, after spending a few months developing the weapon, German forces “fired shells with an irritant gas in the Neuve Chapelle sector, but without apparent effect.” In late January of 1915, the Germans fired 18,000 gas shells against the Russians at Bolimov; however, the freezing cold temperatures froze the gas, sinking it into the snow. Twice, the Germans implemented chemical weapons into their strategy, and it twice these weapons did not hold up to expectations. However, German perseverance and continued development of poisons and lab-made weapons allowed them to be the leader in producing chemical weapons during the war. As chemical weapons gained popularity during the war, it quickly established itself as the most inhumane and deadly of all new weapons developed during World War …show more content…
At the beginning of the war, the Germans simply released “gas from cylinders and [allowed] it to drift with the wind in the direction of enemy soldiers, thus chasing them from their positions.” This method was relatively simple, and the large amounts of gas being deployed at a time were able to overwhelm the elementary gas masks created during the war, potentially killing those who were engulfed in the cloud. The heavier weight of gas, chlorine and phosgene specifically, when compared to air meant that the gas was able to roll along the ground, “seeking out and filling all the low places, including trenches, dugouts, and shell holes.” Although this did not require large-scale deployment of artillery to fire the gases, using wind as a vehicle for the gas clouds was inconsistent and sometimes ineffective. If the wind was too weak or changed direction, friendly casualties could occur. The use of cylinders meant that poison gas was “an unpredictable weapon that was likely to kill as many friends as foes.” Also, the gas cylinders had to be positioned on the front lines in order to be able to make it to the enemy lines. A cylinder seen on the enemy lines moving towards the front was a surefire target for artillery, and a direct hit on a gas cylinder from the enemy could end in death for those around

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