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145

tl; dr Is there any evidence to support the claims made by Benjamin Freedman in his 1961 speech? No. The United states entered the First World War in response to the exposure of the proposed military alliance between Germany and Mexico in the Zimmerman telegram, and Germany's stated intention to resume unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic. ...


130

Why bother to launch an attack? First thing is to realize that strategic trench warfare in the Great War was not planned. It's something that happened to prevent being strategically outflanked. While trenches were used in individual battles prior, nothing like a deadlock on this scale had been seen nor even seriously considered before. Nor had the lethality ...


76

Seeing WWI as an ideological battle between liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes requires hindsight and taking the Western perspective and adjusting your lenses for what was considered "liberal democracy" at the time. While certainly empires fell and new republics rose, other empires gained, and people continued to be oppressed. When you start to ...


73

It was foreseen that there would be new wars, and that the alliance system meant that there was real potential for a war to involve most of Europe. Otto von Bismarck said in 1897 "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." and he was generally recognised as having a very acute understanding of European politics ...


69

The unified German state was only ~40 years old at the time, while the Austrian Empire controlled its lands for much longer than that, so why was it that the former was able to stick together so much better than the latter? The German Empire was a far more homogeneous state than Austria-Hungary. While the vast majority of Germans were... Germans, Austria-...


65

sides got locked into relatively short lines of heavily defended trench warfare with little prospect of gains for either side. The lines on the Western Front were not by any stretch of the imagination "short". The Western Front ran all the way from Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean. Side attacks? Well the Race to the Sea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


65

The assassination itself did not cause the war — it only caused the first declaration of war in World War One. What really happened between the assassination (June 28) and the eruption of war (August 1 & 2) was this: Convinced that anti-Austrian propaganda coming out of Serbia had led to the assassination, Austria, or rather Austro-Hungary, declared ...


61

tl;dr Sea control is good. Sea denial is not that much worse. Sinking an enemy ship at the cost of significant damage to your own is less desirable than keeping your enemy holed up in port (where his ships do little to no harm and your own ships stay undamaged). As basically all naval strategy questions, this one puts too much emphasis on "defeating the ...


59

Communications weren't quick It would have taken hours for the news to reach all the units on the western front. Radios were not in widespread use, so many telephone calls would have had to be made to many headquarters. They would then have had to send messengers to all their sub-units that didn't have telephones. If one side stops shooting, and the other ...


58

Continuous war was not possible That period of war, mid 18th century, was before the industrial age. The ability to supply an army continuously in the field did not exist until the time of the railroads. Note that even during the American Revolution, both armies went into "winter quarters" more than once during a seven year war. (1776-1783, though after ...


51

Italy's main issue was its enmity with Austria-Hungary, Germany's main ally. That made Italy the "odd man out" in the so-called Triple Alliance with the other two. Italy had joined (reluctantly) with Germany out of a fear of France. This occurred when France and Britain concluded an alliance that made Britain responsible for the mutual defense of the ...


45

Battleships were built to engage at range. Even at that time, the rangefinding gear was fairly extensive. Concerning the HMS Barham, one of the ships in the engagement: Barham was completed with two fire-control directors fitted with 15-foot (4.6 m) rangefinders. One was mounted above the conning tower, protected by an armoured hood, and the other ...


45

This depends a bit on the definition of "match": modern rules 90 minutes kicking, level playfield, three referees, 11 players on each side, two nicely timbered goals, etc. Most popular accounts now seem to imply this. If it's that, then it's a resounding no. But bringing a ball to the trenches (in itself quite an astonishing thing to do?) and playing with ...


42

Still happening -- Ypres: World War One weapon explodes, killing two


36

Yet another concurring (tanks were important, but not the only reason), but different, answer. Already at the end of WWI, the tactics for trench assault had improved. Instead of just swarming enemy trenches with infantry, weak points were exploited and strongholds bypassed. The role and nature of artillery support also changed. The barrages that lasted ...


35

A Russian revolution caused by the Bolsheviks was most definitely the goal of the Germans when they allowed Lenin to pass through their lands. Germany wished to undermine, or end, the Russian war effort and sending Lenin back was done for that purpose. If true, who came up with the idea and was there any consideration that a communist Russia could ...


35

While I like your thinking there are a few issues with such a plan: Emerging behind enemy lines means there may well have been other enemy troops (just as fresh) in the general area. With WWI technology it would be extremely difficult to reliably pick (and hit) a suitable exit point. Tunneling to the lines was comparatively much easier in terms of judging ...


34

To expand on Sid's answer, for those who are interested. Unfortunately, it is likely to continue for a fair while. Estimates given by ordnance disposal experts in Belgium by the (BBC in 1998) and by The Telegraph in 2013 estimate that the last un-exploded munitions from WW1 won't be removed for another 50 to 400 years. It is estimated that for every square ...


34

One of the main problems with any mine, military or resource-extraction, is ventilation. It was clearly not possible to dig ventilation shafts in No-Man's-Land, so all the air for the tunnel occupants had to be provided by (man-powered) fans at the entrance; not easy, even for a party of engineers bringing up explosives. The idea of providing oxygen for ...


33

The moral justification isn't hard to find. Russia was the only Allied power to enter the war "on its own". If you look at the stated reasons of other countries: Germany declared war on France because it expected France to ally with Russia. Great Britain joined the war because Germany violated Belgian neutrality. And USA joined the war because of German ...


33

Complimentary to Tom's answer, you have to ask yourself which side they'd come in on. There's nothing really useful in terms of territory they could get out of Germany or Austria-Hungary, since both were way on the other side of Europe. If they'd gone in on the other side, they could perhaps have gotten useful territory from France. However, French forces ...


33

Traditionally, there had been no conscription in Ireland, at least not after the 17th century. Irish did serve in the British army, but only as volunteers. As an occupying country, Britain did not want to 1) antagonize and 2) train Irish soldiers who would be not loyal to them. Irish volunteers, on the other hand, served with pride so they were self-selected ...


32

Whether the assassination of an Arch-Duke is a 'minor event' is a matter of opinion. In this particular case it was also the assassination of the Heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Inspector of its armed forces (implying probable role as Commander in Chief in the event of war) and a close relative of the Emperor. Arch-Duke Franz-Ferdinand was all of ...


31

Arthur Zimmerman appears to have been trying to avoid being blamed by the German press and politicians for bringing the USA into the war. Placing your personal interests ahead of those of your country when you're a government minister is rarely a good idea. He said: ... despite the submarine offensive, he had hoped that the USA would remain neutral. His ...


31

Legally they were exempt because The Military Service Act (1916) applied to men "ordinarily resident in Great Britain" not men "ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom" But practically, it would have taken more men to supress the inevitable uprising than they would have recruited. John Dillon MP said: If you had passed a Military Service Bill for ...


30

Simply because Switzerland was a worse alternative plan strategically than Netherlands and Belgium. Hitler had a plan to attack Switzerland, named Operation Tannenbaum but the Maginot line could be breached through Belgium and Netherland. So it became needless conflict with no gain. It is a less known fact that Switzerland (German part namely) was part of ...


30

It's likely not a book per se, but a brochure, of which he published several during the war. The most likely candidate would be the pamphlet "Die Selbsttäuschung unserer Feinde", Berlin, 1916. (On the self delusions of our enemies) Sadly, the Emanuel Lasker Gesellschaft should have this, but their site is currently "under construction". Secondary mentions ...


28

I think you're asking two questions: why were such harsh conditions imposed, and why did Germany accept. As for why they were imposed: "Some also argue that the treaty was meant to permanently render Germany useless as a military might […]" — Perhaps not totally, but I think this is the answer. It's what the French wanted, and their security concerns won ...


28

There were no "sides" where one might perform a side-attack. After the initial German push was defeated at the First Battle of the Marne, the British and French attacked the Germans at the First Battle of the Aisne. There, both the Germans and the Entente found how effective entrenching was against attacking troops. Having failed the frontal attacks and ...


27

I think the book For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America said it best on page 346 "The American role in World War I derived its character less from strategic thinking than from the geopolitical notion that the future well-being of the United States depended upon the balance of power in Europe and the outcome of the war." ...


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