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The Great War


The Great War World War I August 1914-November 1918 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Great War

The Great War
  • World War I
  • August 1914-November 1918

The Beginning
  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in
    Sarajevo, Bosnia (June 28, 1914) was the spark
    that ignited the European powder keg.

The Beginning
  • The assassination immediately triggered an
    interlocking series of European alliances.
    Germany immediately backed Austria-Hungary, who
    threatened to attack Serbia. Serbia appealed to
    her ally Russia for help.

Resources of the Combatants
  • On paper, the Allies had an overwhelming
    advantage in people and resources.
  • The Central Powers had a population of about 150
    million people.
  • The Allies had nearly double that number over
    325 million people in their colonies (like India).

French Soldiers
Resources of the Combatants
  • The winner of this conflict would be the side
    with the most men and material, the one able to
    win through wearing the other side down
  • But the Central Powers had some important
    advantages the Allies did not possess.

Resources of the Central Powers
  • Germany and Austria were adjoined to one another
    and had interior lines of communication, which
    enabled them to transfer troops from one spot to
    another quickly and efficiently.
  • The Germans and the Austrians spoke the same
    language and had for many years been firmly
    allied with each other.
  • Most importantly, Germany was READY for war, with
    a well organized military machine and a good
    stock of munitions.

German Soldiers
Resources of the Central Powers
  • When food supplies ran low, German scientists
    created ersatz, or artificial food substitutes,
    because their chemical industry was superior to
    that of the Allies.
  • The German people were united in their support of
    the war, and they had the psychological advantage
    of being on the offensive (or taking the war to
    the enemy).
  • No important part of the war was fought on German
    soil, and when the war ended, the German army was
    still intact and Germany had not been invaded.

The Central Powers
Resources of the Allies
  • In contrast to the advantages of Germany and
    Austria, geography and language separated the
    western Allies from each other and Russia.
  • German control of the Baltic Sea and Ottoman
    control of the Dardanelles made communication
    between Russia and her allies very difficult.

Resources of the Allies
  • For the Allies, transferring troops between the
    Western and Eastern Fronts was militarily
    impossible, creating a major weakness.
  • Russia, Britain, and France had only recently
    come together, and not as close allies. Each had
    problems with the others.

Resources of the Allies
  • The Allies had little experience in mutual
    cooperation with each other and no common
  • France and Britain were democracies, and Russia
    was autocratic.
  • Of the three great Allies in 1914, only France
    was prepared for war. But Frances 39 million
    people were against Germanys 65 million, making
    France the weakest in manpower.

Resources of the Allies
  • Britain was well prepared on the sea, but the
    British navy was not going to be much use against
    the German army.
  • Russia had a large army, but it was the least
    industrialized country and it was riddled with
    inefficiency and corruption.

Russian Soldiers
Position of the United States
  • The United States remained neutral. When war
    broke out, the U.S. was determined to avoid being
    dragged into the conflict.
  • American wartime xenophobia British (and then
    American) propaganda showed the Germans to be

Position of the United States
  • The 1910 U.S. census revealed that one in three
    Americans was foreign born or had foreign born
  • Over 10 million Americans came from Germany or
  • Many more millions were Irish (who hated the
    British). So American feelings about the war
    were mixed.

Position of the United States
  • But the majority of Americans strongly supported
    the Allies.
  • Germany had an international reputation for
    aggressive, militaristic, autocratic behavior.
  • In the U.S., many colleges stopped offering
    German as a language. German street names were
    Americanized. Children no longer got the German
    measles, they had liberty measles. The family
    Dachshund became the liberty dog.

Position of the United States
  • Prior to 1917, even though the U.S. was
    officially neutral, many young Americans formed
    fighting units such as the Lafayette Escadrille,
    who volunteered for service in France.

The Beginning of the Great War
  • Fearing a battle with Russia in the east and
    France in the west, Germany stormed through
    neutral Belgium to attack France, hoping that a
    quick strike would eliminate them from the war
    (the von Schlieffen Plan).

The Beginning of the Great War
  • The Germans wanted to quickly eliminate the
    French so they could concentrate on the Eastern
    Front with Russia.
  • When the Germans went through Belgium, Britain
    feared a possible invasion and set up a naval
    blockade of the English Channel, blocking German
    trade (mainly with the U.S.).

The Beginning of the Great War
  • The Germans retaliated by attacking British
    shipping and the war quickly escalated.
  • By August 6, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared
    war on Russia, all the members of the Triple
    Alliance and all the Triple Entente had entered
    the war, with the exception of Italy (and the
    United States which had declared neutrality).

The Great War (the Combatants)
  • The Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary
    stood against the AlliesBritain, France, Russia,
    and Serbia.
  • Turkey (The Ottoman Empire) joined the Central
    Powers in November.
  • Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915, and
    Portugal and Romania on the side of the Allies in

The Great War (the Combatants)
  • Japan, wanting to be recognized as a major power
    and hoping to remove Germany from Far Eastern
    possessions, came in on the side of the Allies in
    late August.
  • Italy received competing territorial offers from
    both sides and decided to leave the Central
    Powers and join the Allies in May 1915.

The Great War (the Combatants)
  • The United States officially entered in April
    1917 but didnt have a sizable troop presence
    until June 1918.
  • By the time the war ended in 1918, there were
    fifty-six declarations of war, making this the
    first truly global, or world war.

The Great War
  • In August 1914 Kaiser Wilhelm II promised his
    troops you will be home before the leaves have
    fallen from the trees reflecting the universal
    feeling that this was going to be a quick and
    glorious war.

The Great War
  • The French were able to stop the first German
    land push in September 1914 (First Battle of the
    Marne). As the Germans retreated, they didnt
    want to give up French/Belgian territory already
    captured so they dug in. The French and British
    did the same thing, and fighting soon ground into
    trench warfare.
  • The war quickly became anything but glamorous.

The Great War
  • The French behind a ditch at the Battle of the

The Great War
  • In saving Paris from capture by pushing the
    Germans back some 45 miles, the First Battle of
    the Marne was a great strategic victory, because
    it enabled the French to continue the war.
  • However, the Germans succeeded in capturing a
    large part of the industrial north east of
    France, which was a serious blow.

The Trenches on the Western Front
  • Trench warfare ground the war to a stalemate. At
    first the trenches were just quickly dug ditches,
    but as the stalemate continued, huge networks of
    defensive fortifications were built, stretching
    nearly 400 miles from the English Channel to the
    Swiss border.

Trench Warfare on the Western Front
  • Trenches went from being simple ditches (early in
    the war) to elaborate fortifications.
  • Trench builders designed parapets, machine gun
    nests, and an elaborate network of approach
    trenches. Soon, the entire Western Front was one
    giant fortification.
  • Thousands of local actions in four years shifted
    the lines here and there, but on the whole, the
    lines held.

The Trench System
The Trench System
  • Front line trenches
  • These were usually about seven feet deep and
    about six feet wide. The Allies were forced to
    dig their trenches in lower ground so they were
    often waterlogged.
  • British soldiers called them suicide ditches.

The Trench System
  • Trenches had a zigzag pattern to prevent the
    enemy from shooting straight down the line.
    Sandbags were put on both sides of the top of the
    trench to absorb enemy bullets. Lines of barbed
    wire protected the frontline trench from any
    enemy attacks.

Front Line Trenches
The Trench System
  • Fire stepThis was cut into the side of the
    trench and allowed the soldiers to peer over the
    side of the trench towards the enemy.
  • It was where the sentries or the whole unit stood
    when they were on 'standing-to' duty which meant
    that they were waiting for a possible enemy

The Trench System
  • Communications trenchesLinking the front-line
    trench to the support and reserve trenches. They
    allowed the movement of men, equipment and
    supplies and were also used to take the wounded
    back to the Casualty Clearing Stations.

Communications Trench
The Trench System
  • No-Man's LandThe land that separated the Allied
    and the German trenches was a wasteland of barbed
    wire, shell craters, blackened tree stumps and
    the occasional shell of a building.
  • It was normally around 250 yards but could vary
    between 7 yards at Zonnebeke (Belgium) to 500
    yards at Cambrai (Northern France).

No-Man's Land
No-Man's Land
Life in the Trenches
  • Life in the trenches was a series of horrors as
    men had to deal with the cold, rain, heat, rats
    bloated from chewing on corpses, lice crawling
    all over their skin, noise from artillery shells,
    snipers, the stench of raw sewage and rotting
    flesh, and mud.

The Trench System
  • As one soldier recalled, The men slept in mud,
    washed in mud, ate mud, and dreamed mud.
  • The anxiety of being in a front line trench was
    so great, armies were constantly rotating
    soldiers from the reserve trenches in order to
    reduce mental burnout.

Trench Warfare
  • And a new psychological disorder was documented
    shell shock, which rendered some men blind, some
    deaf, and some totally paralyzed.

Life in the Trenches
  • Soldiers were fairly well protected in the
    trenches, but unfortunately both sides insisted
    on periodically sending their armies over the
    top into no mans land to assault enemy
  • These were often little more than suicide
    missions as soldiers got caught on the barbed
    wire, hit land mines, or were cut down by machine
    gun fire. Often where you fell became your final
    resting place.

Life in the Trenches
  • Going over the top.

The Christmas Truce (1914)
  • Freezing rain in November and December 1914 left
    both sides struggling with flooded trenches and
    appalling conditions.
  • This led to a live and let live arrangement
    along much of the northern sector of the Western
    Front, especially between British and German

The Christmas Truce
  • December 24 brought a frost, hardening the ground
    (and temporarily stopping the smell of
    decomposing bodies).
  • The Germans placed lighted Christmas trees along
    their trenches and soldiers on both sides sang
    carols to each other.
  • Christmas morning when the fog lifted, the
    frost-covered trees glistened in the sunlight.

The Christmas Truce
The Christmas Truce
  • German troops during the Christmas Truce.

The Christmas Truce
  • All firing stopped. Men moved into No Mans
    Land. Gifts were exchanged (chocolate, tobacco,
    and cigarettes) and both sides buried their dead.
  • Soldiers played soccertheir hostility
    temporarily forgotten.
  • Allied commanders insisted that such an event
    should never recur.
  • In the future, orders were given to shoot anyone
    caught trying to fraternize with the enemy.

The Christmas Truce
Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Poison Gas
  • Flamethrowers
  • Zeppelins
  • Airplanes
  • Tanks
  • Cannons
  • Machine Guns
  • Submarines

Poison Gas
  • It is generally believed that the Germans were
    the first to use gas in World War I, but it was
    actually the French (in August 1914).
  • They threw tear gas grenades to try to slow the
    German advancenot deadly, but an irritant.

Poison Gas
  • In October 1914 the Germans fired gas shells at
    the French that caused violent sneezing fits.
  • The gas wasnt designed to kill, it was supposed
    to incapacitate the enemy so they couldnt hold
    their positions.

Poison Gas
  • Once both sides had literally dug into the trench
    system, they looked for a way to bring movement
    back to their campaigns.
  • Both sides wanted to develop a weapon so
    appalling that it would not only destroy the
    enemy front line, but also the will to maintain
    troops on that frontline.
  • It was thought poison gas might even provoke a
    mutiny on the enemy frontline causing it to

Poison Gas
  • While trying to break the stalemate (Second
    Battle of Ypres in April 1915), Germany
    introduced poison gas (chlorine) against the
    French and their Algerian comrades.
  • When French sentries saw the yellow-green gas
    they thought the Germans had created a
    smokescreen to hide their troop movement.
  • The French were ordered to the firing line of
    their trenchthe exact path of the chlorine gas.

Poison Gas
  • When the gas hit the French line, the men fled in
    terror gasping for air (it burned the throat and
    lungs and you could die of asphyxiation) and the
    Germans had an easy time capturing territory.
  • Now other nations that had a petrochemical
    industry could make poison gases and blame the
    Germans for starting it.
  • Soon gas warfare was used by both sides.

Poison Gas
  • A German Medic prepared for a gas attack.
  • A German messenger dog.

Poison Gas
  • In September 1915, responding to the first German
    gas attack in April, the British formed Special
    Gas Companies that also used chlorine gas.
  • British soldiers werent allowed to call it
    gasit was referred to as an accessory.
  • They launched their canisters at the German lines
    but the wind shifted causing 2,000 British
    casualties and 7 deaths.

Poison Gas
Poison Gas
  • Phosgene and mustard gas quickly followed.
    Military technicians quickly countered with the
    improved gas masks.

Poison Gas
  • Phosgene gas (18 times more powerful than
    chlorine) had little immediate effect on
    soldiers, but within 24-48 hours, you would be
  • It also caused a painful death from asphyxiation.

Poison Gas
  • The most lethal was mustard gas (it smelled like
    mustard), which blistered the body inside and out
    and mucous membranes were stripped off the
    bronchial tubes.
  • The Germans first used it against the Russians in
    September 1917.
  • The pain was almost unendurable and could last
    for five weeks.
  • If you survived, your body was forever scarred
    and you were often blinded.

Poison Gas
  • In one ten day period, the Germans fired over
    1,000,000 shells containing over 2,500 tons of
    mustard gas at the Allies.
  • The British would use mustard gas at the end of
    the war (Hitler was temporarily blinded by a
    mustard gas attack less than a month before the

Poison Gas
  • Victims of mustard gas.

Poison Gas and Chemical War
  • While gas masks cut down on the casualties from
    gas attacks, gas was another sign that modern
    warfare had become an increasingly inhumane
  • Gas also added a new element of fear to warfare.
  • By the end of the war, 91,000 men had been killed
    and 1.3 million had been wounded by gas.

A Gas Attack
Aftermath of a Gas Attack
The Flamethrower
  • Another German chemical innovation was the
    flamethrower. It could send a stream of flames
    25-30 yards and incinerate anything in its path.

The Flamethrower
  • The Germans had been developing flamethrowers
    (Flammenwefer) since 1900 and had three
    specialist battalions since 1911.
  • Initially used against the French, then the
    British, 6-man teams would clear forward
    defenders at the start of a German attack.
  • There were 650 known German attacks with
    flamethrowers but it is unknown how many soldiers
    were killed by this weapon.

Troops using a flamethrower
  • The insignia of German soldiers who used
    flamethrowers. They were despised and never
    taken prisoner.

  • World War I saw the beginning of air warfare.
  • Nearly all combatants had some form of
    airshipessentially powered balloons.
  • Most were used for surveillance and

  • German dirigibles (known as Zeppelins) were the
    best (and most famous).
  • They could quickly climb to an altitude beyond
    most fighters (over 10,000 ft), and their bomb
    carrying capacity was greater than any airplane.

  • Zeppelins raided London and the English coastline
    52 times, starting in January 1915.
  • Over a two year period, more than 500 people were
    killed by the bombs dropped by the Zeppelins.

  • Overall, they didnt do much damage but they
    scared a lot of people.
  • They had a rigid steel frame and were filled with
    highly flammable hydrogen gas (an obvious problem
    for a slow-moving target).

Aircraft of World War I
  • Airplanes also made their debut in World War I.
  • Less than twelve years after their invention,
    planes were used mainly to scout enemy positions,
    especially artillery positions.

Aircraft of World War I
  • Initially, pilots had to shoot at enemy airplanes
    with hand pistols or rifles because engineers
    hadnt figured out how to mount and shoot a
    machine gun without ripping up the planes

Aircraft of World War I
  • Once that was figured out, machine guns were
    mounted in front of the pilot. In some two-seat
    planes, guns were also mounted at the rear.
  • During the war, the average life expectancy for a
    pilot was about two months. Many went into
    battle with less than 18 hours of flight time
    under their belts.
  • By 1917, the life expectancy for a British pilot
    was down to 11 days.

Aircraft of World War I
  • This is the British B.E. 2 called The Quirk
    because it was hard to maneuver. This plane
    carried most of the burden of photographing
    German trenches for the first two years of the
    war. Max speed 72mph.

Aircraft of World War I
  • This is the German Aviatik C.1. Starting in 1915,
    it became the principal German plane for air
    reconnaissance. Max speed 89mph.

Aircraft of World War I
  • This is one of the most famous planes of WWI the
    British Sopwith Camel.
  • The Sopwith Camel shot down the most enemy
    aircraft for the Allies. Top speed 113 mph.

Aircraft of World War I
  • The German Fokker. Germanys best plane in a
    dogfight. Flown by the Red Baron and his
    Flying Circus squadron, they had over 300
    Allied kills.

The Red Baron
  • Baron Manfred von Richthofen (the infamous Red
    Baron) had over 80 kills before being shot down
    (April 1918). He was the most successful fighter
    pilot of the war (and Snoopys arch-enemy) .

Aircraft of World War I
  • Because the Zeppelin raids hadnt changed the
    course of the war, the Germans began using the
    Staaken as a long-range bomber of civilian
    targets. They could carry over 4,000 lbs. of

Aircraft of World War I
  • The British counterpart to the Staaken was the
    Hadley Page 0/400. Top speed 97 mph. It could
    carry 2,000 lbs. of bombs.

Aircraft of World War I
  • Airplanes did not alter the course of the war,
    but they did lay the groundwork for the
    development of a modern air force, as most
    military strategists realized their future

Varieties of WWI Aircraft
The Tank
  • Unlike the airplane, another new weapon, an
    armored land battleship called the tank, came
    closer to decisive success. Invented by the
    British (1916), the tank was rushed into battle
    too soon, in small numbers, and before mechanical
    tests could be completed.

The Tank
  • Tanks were known as Land Battleships and The
    Chariots of God.
  • At first, they were giant blocks of metal that
    could only carry 1-2 men and travel at about 4
    miles per hour.

  • Although these beasts were powerful, they were
    not very reliable. Most broke down and a good
    example is the battle of Amiens. The British sent
    525 tanks, and after four days, only 25 were left
    in working order.

  • By 1917, Allied tanks had been improved to the
    point where 300 broke through the German lines at
    the Battle of Cambrai (in northern France).

  • But scientists and engineers kept making new and
    improved tanks and by 1918 the Anglo-American
    Mark VIII Liberty could carry 8-12 men, fire
    208 shells and up to 13,000 bullets. It remained
    in service until 1934. Top speed 6.5 mph.

  • The Renault (French) tankthe first to have a gun
  • The German A7V7 (Germanys only WWI tank entered
    the war Spring 1918).

Field Artillery
  • Never in the history of humankind, were there so
    many pieces of artillery used in one war. Between
    1914-1918, the British alone fired over 170
    million shells.

Field Artillery
  • For years, German scientists were busy developing
    the biggest artillery pieces ever known.
  • The biggest was called the Paris Gun.
  • The Paris Gun was so powerful, it could fire at
    the heart of Paris from over 75 miles away
    (Coriolis effect).

Field Artillery
  • The Paris Gun fired a 210 lbs shell from its 92
    ft. barrel.
  • The shell could go 81 miles and hit an altitude
    of 25 miles (the greatest height a human-made
    projectile reached until the V rockets of

Field Artillery
  • The Germans used it towards the end of the war
    (March-August 1918).
  • A total of approx 350 shells were fired (no more
    than 20 a day), killing about 250 people and
    wounding about 620.
  • It was more a psychological weapon than a
    tactical one.

Field Artillery
  • The German Big Bertha was the worlds largest
    and most powerful siege gun.
  • Only four were ever produced, but all four saw
    action in the war.
  • They were used to destroy forts and bombard

Field Artillery
  • Transported by railroad flat cars or by
    Daimler-Benz tractors, it took a 200-man crew
    over six hours to re-assemble the Big Bertha on
  • The Big Bertha could fire a shell weighing 2200
    lbs almost 10 miles.

Field Artillery
  • The Austrian Skoda Howitzer was designed to be
  • It took a crew of 12, and could be assembled on
    site in as little as 40 minutes.
  • It fired an 850 lbs shell about 7.5 miles.

Field Artillery
  • Artillery was not only thing that had been
    improved. The shells were upgraded as well.
    Instead of ordinary shells, new high-explosive
    shells were developed.
  • The shells were thin casings and were filled with
    tiny lead pellets. This was so effective, that
    artillery fire killed hundreds of thousands of

Machine Guns
  • During World War I the effectiveness of the
    machine gun reached frightening new levels.
  • Firing up to 600 bullets a minute (the equivalent
    of 250 men with rifles), machine guns were then
    deemed to be weapons of mass destruction.

Machine Guns
  • When the war began, the Germans had over 12,000
    machine guns (it ballooned to over 100,000), the
    Allies only a few hundred.
  • Machine guns were responsible for the most
    military deaths in WWI.

Submarine warfare
  • The war at sea proved to be as indecisive as the
    stalemate on the Western Front.
  • Confident in Britains superior naval power, the
    Allies blockaded German ports.
  • What was the strategy?
  • The Germans responded by setting a blockade
    perimeter around the British Isles and France,
    based on submarines.
  • Neutral shipping became a target as well.

Unterseeboot (U-Boats)
  • The German submarine (or undersea boat
  • U-boat) gave the German navy an alternative to
    conventional naval warfare.
  • Submarines could hide from the large British navy
    by staying underwater. They could sneak up on
    their victims, launch torpedo attacks, and slide
    silently into the safety of the ocean depths.

Unterseeboot (U-Boats)
  • Germany entered the war with 28 submarines, and
    built one, on average, every four days.
  • Germany had 370 U-boats terrorizing the seas by
    the end of WWI.

German U-Boats
  • 274 U-boats had kills, and by the end of the war,
    nearly 6,600 ships (including 13,000,000 tons of
    cargo) had been sunk by U-boats (including 349
    British naval warships).

German U-Boats
  • But there was a problem with submarine warfare.
    U-boat commanders had a hard time determining if
    the ship under attack was Allied or of a neutral
    country (like the U.S.).
  • This was a serious problem because submarines
    gave no warning of attack, and passengers and
    crew, whether neutral or Allied, were often
    unable to abandon ship before it sank.

British Q-Ships
  • The obvious solution to the submarine problem,
    the Germans argued, was to have the subs surface
    to check the targets nationality and give the
    crews a chance to abandon ship.
  • This worked for a few months until early 1915
    when the British began sending out Q-ships.

British Q-Ships
  • Designed to look like merchant ships (i.e. decoys
    designed to fake the Germans out), Q- ships were
    heavily armed. So when U-boats surfaced to give
    warning, Q-ships suddenly opened fire.
  • There were 366 Q-ships (61 were lost) but they
    sunk 14 U-boats and damaged 60.

Gun on a Q-ship
  • To safeguard against sinking neutral ships, the
    Germans declared a war zone around Britain and
    Ireland, declaring all ships in that zone would
    be considered enemy vessels and sunk.
  • After nearly 18 months, Germany decided to resume
    U-boat attacks without warning (unrestricted
    submarine warfare). This greatly angered the U.S.

Battle of Jutland
  • The only major naval battle of the war occurred
    in May 1916 and was in the North Sea off the
    coast of Denmark.
  • Neither side scored a knock-out, so for all of
    their posturing before the war, the naval arms
    race did not have an effect on the wars outcome.

Gallipoli (Dardanelles Campaign)
  • When Turkey (Ottoman Empire) entered the war in
    November 1914, the British, under orders from
    Winston Churchill, wanted to find a way to knock
    the Turks out plus find a way to supply the
    Russians through the Black Sea.
  • In February 1915, the British tried to crush the
    Turks. But the Turks showed fierce and effective
    resistance. HMS Irresistible
    sinking and abandoned at Gallipoli.

Gallipoli (Dardanelles Campaign)
  • The ensuing battles which lasted until January
    1916 (known as Gallipoli), cost the British
    nearly 500,000 casualties (almost 50,000 dead),
    and the British had to withdraw without gaining
  • This crushed Allied morale and almost cost
    Winston Churchill his political career.

  • Trying to break the stalemate and crush French
    morale, the Germans (led by Crown Prince William)
    in February 1916 attacked the French fortified
    city of Verdun (125 miles east of Paris near the
    German border).
  • Both France and Germany considered Verdun
    strategically important.

  • The Battle of Verdun became the longest,
    bloodiest battle of the war.

  • The Germans used their Big Bertha guns to pound
    the city.
  • At one point, the Germans fired as many as one
    million shells a day into Verdun.

  • While it looked like the Germans would win, the
    French put up a good fight (They shall not
    pass!) and the battle became another drawn out
    stalemate. French resolve here became legendary.
  • In 10 months of fierce fighting, the French lost
    over 350,000 men and the Germans lost over

The Somme
  • While Verdun raged throughout most of 1916, the
    Allies opened a massive front designed to break
    the stalemate and the German lines at the Somme .
  • Despite a weeklong artillery bombardment, the
    British lost 60,000 men the first day (nearly
    20,000 killed). This was the worst single day in
    British military history.

The Somme
  • In one week, the British had advanced only one
    mile along a six mile front.
  • In a month, the British had advanced less than
    three miles.

The Somme
  • In the three months the battle was fought,
    Britain gained less than seven miles at a cost of
    over 400,000 men, the French lost 200,000, and
    the Germans lost nearly 500,000 men.

The German Potato Famine
  • The German potato crop of 1915 was three times
    the norm. The surplus was so large that farmers
    had to scramble for places to store it.
  • Because of the war effort, most of the warehouses
    were full of war material or ammunition.

The German Potato Famine
  • The German government then decided to store
    potatoes in the warm basements of public
    buildings, including schools.
  • After all available space was filled, there were
    still too many potatoes. Farmers fed them to
    cattle. Distillers made more schnapps. Many
    went to waste.

The German Potato Famine
  • After two-three months, students and teachers
    noticed a terrible smell coming from the
    basements below them.
  • It was discovered that the potatoes were rotting.
    By the spring of 1916, schools had to close for
    stench vacations.

The German Potato Famine
  • People thought the potatoes rotted because of the
    warm buildings. In actuality, it was because of
    the infection of a fungus. Most of the surplus
    was ruined.
  • The fungus spores were in the soil, so next
    years potato crop was almost totally destroyed.

The German Potato Famine
  • This could have been easily prevented by the use
    of copper fungicides, which protect the potato
    from fungus.
  • But all German copper was used to make brass
    ammunition for the war.
  • So by the fall of 1917, Germans were waiting in
    line for turnips or whatever food was available
    (this became known as the Turnip Winter).

The German Potato Famine
  • The few potatoes unaffected by the blight were
    sent to feed the troops.
  • More than 700,000 German civilians died of
    starvation or due to disease related to
    starvation between 1916 and 1917.
  • The deaths of loved ones at home weakened the
    German Armys morale. Several historians
    consider this famine and the resulting low morale
    a major contributing factor in the collapse of
    Germanys army in the late Fall of 1918.