WW1 – Oversimplified (Part 2)

With both sides stuck in a hard stalemate, they knew this war wasn’t going to be about taking territory, but about simply wearing each other down. The Allies had plenty of men to expend from its overseas dominions. And the British also started a naval blockade, so Germany couldn’t import stuff, like food. Neither side really wanted a long grueling war, though. So, they both thought of ways to break the deadlock on the western front. Idea number one: New Frontiers. When the war first broke out Australia was quick to take German New Guinea The Allies also quickly jumped on Germany’s colonies in Africa, and particularly in German East Africa, locals were enlisted as soldiers and carriers by both sides. Leading to a tragic loss of life for the Native Africans. Some new combatants entered the war as well. The Allies newest friends were Italy, and Japan. Japan was busy building itself an empire. So, it was more than happy to take away German Islands and colonies in East Asia Italy actually had an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary before the war. But after some tense relations, and then the Allies promising to give them some of Austria-Hungary’s stuff, they switched sides. Italy opened up a front in the mountains here, but like everyone else, they were stuck in stalemate for most of the war. The Central Powers’ new friend was a struggling empire in the middle East. The Ottomans…. (Ottomen?) The Ottomen where divided on whether to actually join the war or not, since they had been exhausted by the recent Balkan Wars. Some of the politicians who did want to join went off on their own and fired some shells at Russia. And then came back and said, “Whoops, looks like we’re at war now.” The Ottoman entry into the war was of particular concern to the British, since the middle East was full of oil and Britain wanted all of that oil. First, the Ottomans tried to attack Russia in the Caucasus Mountains. But they weren’t prepared for the cold and many of them froze to death. Then they crossed miles of desert to take the Suez Canal from the British. But that failed, too. Then the Allies tried to take the Dardanelles at Gallipoli in a long and hard trench warfare campaign…. but that also failed. The Ottomans blamed their initial losses on the ethnic Armenians living within Ottoman territory. And the resulting Armenian genocide led to the deaths of one and a half million people. Then, the Germans sent spies into Afghanistan to try to convince the Arab tribes there to rise up in Jihad against the British and attack India. But that plan failed. Partly because the spies got bored, brewed their own alcohol, and got drunk…. which is a bad thing to do in Afghanistan. All these new Frontiers hadn’t done much to change the war. Aware that the Allies had more men and supplies than them, the Germans knew they had to do something to break the stalemate. Before the war, there was a big conference that set out the rules of Modern warfare: No chemical weapons, no killing civilians. Basically: Don’t be jerks. The Germans held a meeting, and decided to be jerks. Zeppelin air raids commenced over British cities, they also started attacking the ally trenches with chlorine gas, and they used submarines to sink civilian ships. One such civilian ship was the Lusitania which had a hundred and fifty-nine Americans on board when it was sunk. Further swaying US opinion against the Germans. Not to be completely unfair to the Germans, the Allies also engaged in chemical warfare soon after, and they had been hiding anti-submarine weapons on their civilian ships. Which led the Germans justify their attacks. Meanwhile, Austria-Hungary still hadn’t dealt with Serbia, so the central powers enlisted some help. Bulgaria wished it was bigger and was still bitter about losing the second Balkan war. The Central Powers promised to make all of Bulgaria’s wildest dreams come true if they helped. So they signed on and together they knocked out Serbia. The Serbian troops retreated through Albania which was neutral but had some ties to Austria-Hungary. So, Austria-Hungary entered Albania in a ‘friendly invasion’ to chase down the Serbians many of whom escaped by sea. It’s 1916 and a lot is happening. As if they didn’t have enough enemies already, Germany added one more to the list. Portugal had been getting a bit chummy with the allies behind the scenes ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) and Germany didn’t like that one bit. Around the same time, the only sea battle of the war happened. Both sides had a new powerful class of battleships called “Dreadnought.” But they were so expensive to build that neither side wanted to risk losing them in a battle. So they kept them in port. Except for one time when they had a big fight and a bunch of them got damaged. So they didn’t try that again. The UK started conscripting men to the army so they had plenty of reserves. Which is just as well because the western front was about to get brutal. The longest and one of the bloodiest battles of the war started when the Germans launched an attack around the French city of Verdun. The French defended it desperately, leading to hundreds of thousands of casualties. Under pressure, the French called on its allies to do something to draw the Germans’ attention away. So, the British started their own long and brutal fight, the Battle of the Somne, with 60,000 British casualties on just the first day. It was also here that the British first used one crazy brand-new piece of Sci-Fi technology. The Russians had been getting pushed back further and further into their own territory, but in response to the French call for help, they began a huge offensive and did really well until they ran out of supplies and got stuck. Seeing how well the Russians have been doing Romania decided now would be a great time to jump in on win the war. And then they got pounded. The Greeks were fighting amongst themselves about whether to join the war or not The king liked the Central powers while the prime minister wanted to join the Allies. After a brief national Schism during which the country split into two, the king finally abdicated and the country reunited. With Allied help they began a new offensive. In the Middle East, Russia was pushing into Ottoman territory from the North. The British had also made a landing in Mesopotamia to protect Persia’s oil fields. And they’d also sent a small army up the Tigris river to try to take Baghdad but the army got sieged in the town of Kut along the way And eventually surrendered. A new offensive was launched from the south with all-out desert warfare. The offensive was aided by one famous British officer, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who helped to lead the Arab tribes in a revolt that wreaked Havoc on the Ottoman supply lines. By the time 1917 rolled around everyone was exhausted. There are mutinies in the French army, the German populace was starving, and the war had drained all of Russia’s supplies. There is no clear winner, and it was still anyone’s war. The only question now was: Who is going to break first? And the answer was: Russia. Tired of not eating and mad that a crazy magic homeless guy was calling some of the shots there was an uprising in Petrograd complete with riots and strikes. The riots turned into a full-scale revolution and a new government overthrew the Tsar. Then a few months later the Bolsheviks overthrew the new government. And they pulled Russia out of the war. This was great news for Germany that now only had to focus on the western front. But there was still one problem: The pesky United States of America was looking increasingly like it was going to join the war. America had been selling supplies to the Allies throughout the war and was getting super rich off the back of it. Meaning it was in fantastic shape and was dangerous to the Germans. So Germany sent a telegram to Mexico saying: “Wouldn’t it be crazy cool if you guys attacked America?” But the British intercepted the message, showed it to the Americans, and that was the final straw. American troops began shipping out to Europe. This was terrible news for Germany. And they knew their only hope now is to force France and the UK to surrender before the fresh American troops arrived. It was now or never. So they started one final attack. They converged their troops and hit hard at the Somme and pushed the Allies back. They hit a second time for the north, then again, and again. With each hit the germans were spending more and more resources while the allies were getting better and better at repelling their attacks. By the fifth punch, the Allies held the line and even pushed back. With American troops now arriving in larger numbers the Allies launched a counter-attack, and that was it. The central powers were being pushed back on all fronts. Bulgaria collapsed first, followed by the Ottoman Empire, then Austria-Hungary and finally on November 11th, 1918 at 11 o’clock, Germany surrendered. At the peace treaty Germany was forced to reduce its military, accept war guilt, and pay the bill for the war. After indescribable suffering and millions dead, the world learned its lesson and never had such an awful war again. For about 20 years.
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mun1dKkc_As

Related Articles

Back to top button