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The war stops here?

Discussion in 'Non-World War 2 History' started by Ebar, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Any mention of the western front of WW1 usually includes something to the effect of 'the trenches ran from the English Channel to boarder of Switzerland.'

    How did that work? Was there somekind of gentlemens agreement to not fight within a mile or two of the border, or did the swiss have there oven defences to 'cap' the ends of the German and French lines.

    Anyone know?
     
  2. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Trenches didn't actually run continuously from the coast to the Swiss border. Various terrain feautres prohibited this. Switzerland, for example, is very mountainous; far ahead of the border, a network of connected trenches would already have become a practical impossiblity.

    Rivers, streams, chasms and especially rocky grounds also occasionally interrupted the trenches along the Western front. In reality the lines were continuous only where they were most heavily contested, such as near Ypres/Passchendaele and Verdun.
     
  3. Canadian_Super_Patriot

    Canadian_Super_Patriot recruit

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    I rember seeing a pic where german trenches dug under the border for extra room.
     
  4. majorwoody10

    majorwoody10 New Member

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    as with most things the germans do in regards to war ...their trenches were much superior to those of the allies ..deeper stronger bunkers ,better drainage ,fields of fire ,fireing steps ,egress to the rear ,ect ...its... just , they always have to bite off more than they can chew ...and then almost pull it off anyway...what is it the teutonic psyche that makes them so good at war?...
    when i was a teen my neighbor and best friends family hosted for a few days a bunch of high school german boys ,a soccer team ...while haveing a pool party a dart board was produced for recreation ...the germans instead had a dart throwing contest with other swimsuite clad germans as the target ..nasty puncture wounds were accompanied by much yelling and laughter ...we ami boys were much impressed with the germans wild macho sport , but we disdained to play darts that way ourselves ....shot each other with bb guns and slingshots ...but steel tipped darts ??? lol
     
  5. TISO

    TISO New Member

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    Bloody hell! You should inform Italians and Austro-Hungarian empire of this fact at once :grin: Good thing we didn't know this at the time.
     
  6. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Surely trench warfare in the mountains would not involve continuous lines of parallel positions, like in the flatlands of Flanders?

    Or have I been saying something incredibly ignorant? :oops:

    Majorwoody: Teutonic? As far as I know, the last ones to call themselves Teutonic (other than romantic traditionalists like the Nazis) were a tiny minority of warrior monks and landowners in the Middle Ages. Hardly comparable to the Germans of the 20th century, or are they?
     
  7. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    there was a book by an englishman who walked the trenches of WW1 from nieuport to the swiss border , on and off over a year ,
    it was a pretty good book , very moving
    He wrote that close to the swiss border the ground was very broken , there was no continuous line , only outposts

    .
     
  8. Canadian_Super_Patriot

    Canadian_Super_Patriot recruit

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    The germans chose to take a defensive strategy, so they expected to be there for the long term, so they put more effor into trenchs.

    The allies were on a offensive strategy and expected to be in the trenches for a short period of time and thus their trenches were, well, inferior. generals like haig and so on thought that break through would be any minute, plus they made small gains now and then, so yeah, they had inferior trenches, cause they thought no bother putting all that effort into something youll be in temperarily.
     
  9. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    I though the fact that the french had to push the germans out of their land had the french army committed to the offensive , wich suited perfectly that generation of french officers .. and that generation of german one's

    they were short of brains and full of dash , had been told since napoleon of the virtue of offensive spirit and were full of disdain for such mundane task as digging ,
    they happily butchered their men to strike a pose ,
    it all ended in the biggest blood bath at the summer offensive of 17 and the mutiny of the french army
    the bolchevik revolution struck fear in western europeen government , it could happen to them too ,
    so they were grateful to ease up the slaughter and let the fresh faced doughboys do the dying :-?


    .
     
  10. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Good thing General Pershing wouldn't let the French or the Brits use his men as replacements to refill their decimated divisions; American deaths would have easily surpassed the 116,000 the USA actually lost in WW1.

    I've always been impressed by the way Petain put the French Army back together after the mutiny. A lot of what he did was simple fundamentals: furloughs, rotation of units off the line, better food (though you'd think that these things would already have been in place...), and so on. Plus, to rebuild their self-confidence, he also initiated two offensives. The difference here was that these had very limited objectives, just what he was certain they could do without a bloodbath. And it worked.
     
  11. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    Yes indeed , why had it not been done before ?
    The respect gained by petain then is probably why he was called back , again , to save the country in 1940
    I'm not very familliar with french war politics , it seems to have been a nest of vipers ,
    was there an attempt to carry on the fight or was it all too much ?


    .
     
  12. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    As I understand it, those in French politics who were essentially defeatist or even pro-Nazi came to hold power in France after the Germans launched their attack on France, especially after the breakthrough at Sedan.
     
  13. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    the old dictum about lacking the will to fight ,
    I walked through the auvergne and creuse ,
    in the small villages , there were more names on the WW1 monuments that on the phone directory :-? :-?

    .
     
  14. majorwoody10

    majorwoody10 New Member

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    the french army on a single day in august 1914 had 40000 men killed in combat ...its little wonder they hadent much stomach for the fight in 1940
     
  15. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    I think the losses of WW1 broke the spirit of a couple of generations ,
    Albert camus the philosopher , visiting the grave of his father killed in the trench , realised that his father died younger that he was :-?



    .
     
  16. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

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    Actually from ausust to december 1940, the french army lost some 61.000 KIA a month.(More so in august - september, lesser for the remaining months of the year.)

    In 1940 there were 92.000 french KIA in 6 weeks of figthing, so these losses are absolutely comparable(if not higher) to those of the worst months of 1914.
    I fail to see how these men can be described as don't having stomach to fight.
    The french army of 1914 could well have been defeated in a few weeks, just like it was in 1940.(There's a reason why the battle of the Marne is called a miracle by many people.)
    In that case we would now have posts here about the french army of 1914 don't having the will to fight.... :eek:

    It is also worth noting that german daily losses during the 1940 campaign in the west were actually higher than during the russian campaign from june-december 1941.
    According to swiss historian Eddy Bauer, from 10 may till 3 june the germans had 2500 casualties a day, while in the second part of the campaign from 5 to 24 june they lost 4800 men a day.
    The french army actually adapted to Blitzkrieg quickly....
    Unfortunately it did not have a sea channel to retreat behind, nor did it have almost unlimited human ressources, unlimited space to retreat and general winter coming to help....
    Braudel wasn't wrong when he said that geography explains history.
     
  17. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

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    Sorry, double post.
     
  18. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    apologies for a misunderstanding ,
    I did not mean to said that french soldiers were not willing to die for their country ,
    just that there is a feeling of fatalism about their sacrifice , no "onward to berlin" just a desire to do the job and go back home with the least blood price ,
    as opposed to the "offensive is queen " of july 14
    the whole army seems seeped in defensive at all cost , we shall sit it out and win sort of thing,
    nobody had any illusion about the war or their leaders , the autorities were discredited by a succession of scandals , recently a french judge had ruled that to call someone a member of parliament was a legaly condamnable insult
    also the country was deeply divided ( what's new :roll: ) between left and right,
    the aircraft industry was still reeling from the nationalisations and a large sector of the left ( communists ) actually calling for a sabotage of the war effort .

    The shock of the defeat followed by the mer el kebbir stab in the back by the british ( what's new :roll: ) left the country ruderless ,

    The french who wanted to fight did it outside their government reach
    partisants at home , free french colonials , airmen of the normandy squadron rather fighting for stalin that for churchill , LVF latter SS charlemagne dying to the last in the last post

    something died in the mud of the trenches ,not only a whole generation
    it's like if the cold hand of death had grabed the heart of the nation and was squeezing it

    .
     
  19. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    That sums things up pretty nicely, I think. Although whether Mers-el-kabir was a "stab in the back" or a sensible precaution can be debated (and has been, in the War At Sea section). I think that the term tragedy sums up Mers-el-kabir perfectly.
     

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