The impacts of the entry of the USA and the Russian Withdrawal

American entrance into the War
  • Background: Woodrow Wilson maintained the fact that the US would stay out of the war and maintain good relations with both sides.
    • However Sinking of the Lusitania in May, 1915 128 Americans dead
    • Product of unrestricted submarine warfare
    • Zimmerman telegram 1917
  • Woodrow Wilson gains overwhelming cabinet support for war
  • America enters the war on Allies side and declares war against Germany on 6th April, 1917
    • Although the US had no tanks, little modern artillery and few aircraft, their navy was strong so they joined the british fleet.
    • Meant nearly endless supply of troops from across pacific due to the large numbers of their army.
    • Convoy system
    • Economic advantages à Trade with US of A, aid attrition
    • Boosted Allied morale greatly- Had adverse effect on German men.
  • Prime Minister Lloyd George, 1918:
  • “British and French Morale is boosted greatly with the knowledge that the USA will neglect no effort which can hasten its troops to Europe”
    • Influenced the genesis of the Spring Offensives
  • Ludendorff
  • “We must strike at the earliest moment before the Americans can throw strong forces into the scale”
external image prod_712.jpgWoodrow Wilson Declares war on Germany

Impact of the Russian withdrawal

·Bolshevik Revolution
¡1.7 million deaths, food shortages
¡Slogan – “Land, peace and bread!”
§Led to Armistice Dec 1917 and peace with Germany on 1st March, 1918
·Impacted on Germany à Huge morale boost
¡No longer fighting a war on two fronts
·Encouraged major powers to end the war decisively before similar anti-war socialist movements could gain a hold
¡J. M. Winter
Fear of a Bolshevik-style revolution prompted major powers to seek a quick end to war.

The Spring Offensive: (Plan Michael)
  • Direct result of the collapse of the Eastern front
    • 900,000 extra men + captured Russian guns transferred from the East to the West
    • The frail condition of the German homefront (lack of food and supplies, socialist uprisings + worker strikes) ruled out a prolonged defensive war- a quick, decisive blow was needed- "the German army thought with horror of fresh defensive battles, and longed for a war of movement"- Ludenorff
  • The objective was to take Paris (and thus, France) quickly, before the US could bear its full strength against Germany
  • The German military commanders were not in agreement on where to attack
    • One party favoured a 'pincer' attack on Verdun, collapsing the French Front
    • Ludenorff settled for the michael offensive (to separate the British and French line), despite numerous German staff arguing that Germany did not have the numerical advantage
  • The Allies knew about the offensive and chose to use the 'flexible defense' tactic which proved to be vital to the allied success
    • No unified Allied command on the Western Front
    • Haig (Ludenorffs target) received increasing amounts of evidence that the Germans were to mount a huge offensive on his right flank. Despite this, he removed men from his right to strengthen his left
  • Offensive began 4.40 am 21st March
  • The German advance used tactics learnt throughout the war
    • Creeping barrage supported infantry advances
    • Artillery targeted communication lines
  • The flexible defensive tactic was originally a German tactic which had been remarkably successful throughout the war, when the Germans chose to go offensive which was very much not their usually approach in battles during the great war, the allies were able to use flexible defense
    • The movement involved Allied forces forming a front line that had less support in its middle, so that when the centre was pushed back by German offensive the Allies would be able to fold in the sides that were particularly supported with backup, and hence were able to attack the German force on its sides to create a more promising and stronger Allied frontline.