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The most important turning points in WW1 Essay

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1) Select and explain the most important turning points in WW1 between March 1918 and November 1918.

I believe that there are three important turning points between March and November 1918 in the end of the war.

I think the first turning point is Ludendorff’s Offensive. This is because the main aim of the war was to gain territory and the war had been in a stalemate since December 1914. And because America was moving 50,000 troops into France per month, Ludendorff decided that Germany needed a quick victory and launched the spring offensive. At first this seemed to be a winning formula as the Germans had broke through the allied defence and advanced 65Km and so were only 5Km from Paris.

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However making this breakthrough caused 400,000 German losses and they had no reserves. Many of the planned German attacks were held up because of bad food supplies and so on the 18th July the allied counter attack at the Marne left the Germans with nothing except a destroyed army.

This therefore meant that the German army had lost everything that they had spent 4 years fighting for and sent the German morale plummeting, to make things worse this led to Ludendorff losing his nerve and resigning which meant that Prince of Max Baden became the chancellor. Prince Max of Baden was a reformer and was well known to surrender especially as he was married to and English woman.

Therefore when orders were given on 27th October for the navy to battle Britain they refused in an open revolt because they knew that even the chancellor had given up in the war and they didn’t see why they should go out on almost a suicide mission just to fight a war which was almost over.

This therefore led to citizens demanding a democratic government, which start a revolution spreading throughout Germany, in which the navy, army and workers became in open revolt leading to the collapse of the country and end of the war.

2) Explain the part played by internal pressures (e.g. economic shortages and political upheaval) in the defeat of Germany.

I believe there are three internal pressures that Germany had, which contributed to the defeat of Germany.

I think the first internal pressure was political incompetence. This is because the politicians let the generals in the military run the country which meant that the country would be run insufficiently. For example there was never any specified national income tax, which limited revenue. And no ceiling was imposed on war profits by businesses, nor were these even taxed before 1916, which meant that only 16% of the money needed to fund the war came through taxes.

Because of the military not only trying to fight a war but run the country as well it meant that the military went into the war with out considering what would happen if the war lasted a long time, therefore all the military plans like the Schlieffen plan weren’t effective because they didn’t account for a long war. And so the military decided to call in more and more men, this meant that the jobs which these men did couldn’t be accounted for which led to the country to be under great economic strain.

Because of this and Germany’s incompetence to defend her port, the allies blocked all of Germany’s ports in 1915, which meant that Germany couldn’t export any goods to make profits which intern meant that the economy would be on the brink of collapse and so wouldn’t be able to fund any more money for artillery for the military. And also Germany couldn’t import and food for civilians and soldiers which meant that the diet was poor and so meant that disease started spreading and by 1918 750,000 men died of starvation and influenza.

All these three factors linked together contributed to the defeat of Germany. For example because of the political incompetence it led to the military running the country which meant that the economy suffered which meant that the military couldn’t afford machinery and artillery which led to Germany’s defeat.

3) What was more important in the defeat of Germany: the failure of the spring offensive or the intervention of the USA? Explain your answer.

Although I think that the spring offensive was a very important factor in the failure of Germany I consider the intervention of the USA to be more important.

I think that the spring offensive was a very important factor in the defeat of Germany because it was the spring offensive which allowed the war of attrition to be broken, and for the allies to gain a major break through. However this could only be done with the help of the America’s. Because it was the America’s who had loaned the allies money all the way through the war, and this money supplied the machinery and artillery to fight against the Germans.

But more importantly the America’s boosted the morale and supplied men because the French and British had lost 800,000 men as a result of the spring offensive. This gave the allies’ the confidence to push the German’s all the way back. However the spring offensive wasn’t a disaster for the German’s just because of the America’s, it had a lot to do with the economic pressures in Germany at that time. In 1914 the trade in German was $5.9billion and because of the blockade it was reduced to $0.8billion in 1918. This had massive affects on the food supplies and ammunition for the army, and it was because of this too that the spring offensive failed.

However the reason why the spring offensive was adopted in the first place and the war of attrition didn’t carry on was because Ludendorff saw America’s potential threat, that not only would the German’s be fighting the French and British but the America’s too, and Ludendorff knew that the German army just couldn’t cope with that, as the army wasn’t as good as it was in 1914. Which is why he decided that Germany was in a do or die situation and needed a quick victory and so launched the spring offensive.

So overall I believe that the spring offensive was in effect the reason why the Germans were defeated in WW1 in the short term. However, I consider the America’s role to be the reason why the German’s were defeated in the long term. This is because the America’s were the reason why the spring offensive was launched but had also contributed to the war in the allies favour by loaning them lots of money over long periods of time, boosting morale and supplying them with men needed to counter attack the spring offensive in order to defeat Germany.

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