Western Front (World War I)

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The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_0

Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_1

The German advance was halted with the Battle of the Marne. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_2

Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_3

Between 1915 and 1917 there were several offensives along this front. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_4

The attacks employed massive artillery bombardments and massed infantry advances. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_5

Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery repeatedly inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_6

Among the most costly of these offensives were the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, with a combined 700,000 casualties (estimated), the Battle of the Somme, also in 1916, with more than a million casualties (estimated), and the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), in 1917, with 487,000 casualties (estimated). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_7

To break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides tried new military technology, including poison gas, aircraft, and tanks. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_8

The adoption of better tactics and the cumulative weakening of the armies in the west led to the return of mobility in 1918. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_9

The German Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war of the Central Powers against Russia and Romania on the Eastern Front. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_10

Using short, intense "hurricane" bombardments and infiltration tactics, the German armies moved nearly 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the west, the deepest advance by either side since 1914, but the result was indecisive. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_11

The unstoppable advance of the Allied armies during the Hundred Days Offensive of 1918 caused a sudden collapse of the German armies and persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_12

The German government surrendered in the Armistice of 11 November 1918, and the terms of peace were settled by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_13

1914 Western Front (World War I)_section_0

War plans – Battle of the Frontiers Western Front (World War I)_section_1

See also: Schlieffen Plan, Plan XVII, and Battle of the Frontiers Western Front (World War I)_sentence_14

The Western Front was the place where the most powerful military forces in Europe, the German and French armies, met and where First World War was decided. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_15

At the outbreak of the war, the German Army, with seven field armies in the west and one in the east, executed a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, bypassing French defenses along the common border by moving quickly through neutral Belgium, and then turning southwards to attack France and attempt to encircle the French Army and trap it on the German border. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_16

Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by Britain under the Treaty of London, 1839; this caused Britain to join the war at the expiration of its ultimatum at midnight on 4 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_17

Armies under German generals Alexander von Kluck and Karl von Bülow attacked Belgium on 4 August 1914. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_18

Luxembourg had been occupied without opposition on 2 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_19

The first battle in Belgium was the Siege of Liège, which lasted from 5–16 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_20

Liège was well fortified and surprised the German Army under Bülow with its level of resistance. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_21

German heavy artillery was able to demolish the main forts within a few days. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_22

Following the fall of Liège, most of the Belgian field army retreated to Antwerp, leaving the garrison of Namur isolated, with the Belgian capital, Brussels, falling to the Germans on 20 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_23

Although the German army bypassed Antwerp, it remained a threat to their flank. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_24

Another siege followed at Namur, lasting from about 20–23 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_25

The French deployed five armies on the frontier. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_26

The French Plan XVII was intended to bring about the capture of Alsace-Lorraine. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_27

On 7 August, the VII Corps attacked Alsace to capture Mulhouse and Colmar. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_28

The main offensive was launched on 14 August with the First and Second Armies attacking toward Sarrebourg-Morhange in Lorraine. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_29

In keeping with the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans withdrew slowly while inflicting severe losses upon the French. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_30

The French Third and Fourth Armies advanced toward the Saar River and attempted to capture Saarburg, attacking Briey and Neufchateau but were repulsed. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_31

The French VII Corps captured Mulhouse after a brief engagement on 7 August but German reserve forces engaged them in the Battle of Mulhouse and forced a French retreat. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_32

The German Army swept through Belgium, executing civilians and razing villages. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_33

The application of "collective responsibility" against a civilian population further galvanised the allies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_34

Newspapers condemned the German invasion, violence against civilians and destruction of property, which became known as the "Rape of Belgium." Western Front (World War I)_sentence_35

After marching through Belgium, Luxembourg and the Ardennes, the Germans advanced into northern France in late August, where they met the French Army, under Joseph Joffre, and the divisions of the British Expeditionary Force under Field Marshal Sir John French. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_36

A series of engagements known as the Battle of the Frontiers ensued, which included the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_37

In the former battle the French Fifth Army was almost destroyed by the German 2nd and 3rd Armies and the latter delayed the German advance by a day. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_38

A general Allied retreat followed, resulting in more clashes at the Battle of Le Cateau, the Siege of Maubeuge and the Battle of St. Quentin (also called the First Battle of Guise). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_39

First Battle of the Marne Western Front (World War I)_section_2

Main article: First Battle of the Marne Western Front (World War I)_sentence_40

The German Army came within 70 km (43 mi) of Paris but at the First Battle of the Marne (6–12 September), French and British troops were able to force a German retreat by exploiting a gap which appeared between the 1st and 2nd Armies, ending the German advance into France. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_41

The German Army retreated north of the Aisne River and dug in there, establishing the beginnings of a static western front that was to last for the next three years. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_42

Following this German retirement, the opposing forces made reciprocal outflanking manoeuvres, known as the Race for the Sea and quickly extended their trench systems from the Swiss frontier to the North Sea. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_43

The territory occupied by Germany held 64 percent of French pig-iron production, 24 percent of its steel manufacturing and 40 percent of the coal industry – dealing a serious blow to French industry. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_44

On the Entente side (those countries opposing the German alliance), the final lines were occupied with the armies of each nation defending a part of the front. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_45

From the coast in the north, the primary forces were from Belgium, the British Empire and then France. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_46

Following the Battle of the Yser in October, the Belgian army controlled a 35 km (22 mi) length of West Flanders along the coast, known as the Yser Front, along the Yser river and the Yperlee canal, from Nieuwpoort to Boesinghe. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_47

Meanwhile, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) occupied a position on the flank, having occupied a more central position. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_48

First Battle of Ypres Western Front (World War I)_section_3

Main article: First Battle of Ypres Western Front (World War I)_sentence_49

From 19 October until 22 November, the German forces made their final breakthrough attempt of 1914 during the First Battle of Ypres, which ended in a mutually-costly stalemate. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_50

After the battle, Erich von Falkenhayn judged that it was no longer possible for Germany to win the war by purely military means and on 18 November 1914 he called for a diplomatic solution. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_51

The Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg; Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg, commanding Ober Ost (Eastern Front high command); and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, continued to believe that victory was achievable through decisive battles. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_52

During the Lodz offensive in Poland (11–25 November), Falkenhayn hoped that the Russians would be made amenable to peace overtures. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_53

In his discussions with Bethmann-Hollweg, Falkenhayn viewed Germany and Russia as having no insoluble conflict and that the real enemies of Germany were France and Britain. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_54

A peace with only a few annexations of territory also seemed possible with France and that with Russia and France out of the war by negotiated settlements, Germany could concentrate on Britain and fight a long war with the resources of Europe at its disposal. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_55

Hindenburg and Ludendorff continued to believe that Russia could be defeated by a series of battles which cumulatively would have a decisive effect, after which Germany could finish off France and Britain. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_56

Trench warfare Western Front (World War I)_section_4

Main article: Trench warfare Western Front (World War I)_sentence_57

Trench warfare in 1914, while not new, quickly became much improved and provided a very high degree of defense. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_58

According to two prominent historians: Western Front (World War I)_sentence_59

Western Front (World War I)_description_list_0

  • Trenches were longer, deeper, and better defended by steel, concrete, and barbed wire than ever before. They were far stronger and more effective than chains of forts, for they formed a continuous network, sometimes with four or five parallel lines linked by interfacings. They were dug far below the surface of the earth out of reach of the heaviest artillery....Grand battles with the old maneuvers were out of the question. Only by bombardment, sapping, and assault could the enemy be shaken, and such operations had to be conducted on an immense scale to produce appreciable results. Indeed, it is questionable whether the German lines in France could ever have been broken if the Germans had not wasted their resources in unsuccessful assaults, and the blockade by sea had not gradually cut off their supplies. In such warfare no single general could strike a blow that would make him immortal; the "glory of fighting" sank down into the dirt and mire of trenches and dugouts.Western Front (World War I)_item_0_0

1915 Western Front (World War I)_section_5

Between the coast and the Vosges was a westward bulge in the trench line, named the Noyon salient for the captured French town at the maximum point of advance near Compiègne. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_60

Joffre's plan for 1915 was to attack the salient on both flanks to cut it off. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_61

The Fourth Army had attacked in Champagne from 20 December 1914 – 17 March 1915 but the French were not able to attack in Artois at the same time. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_62

The Tenth Army formed the northern attack force and was to attack eastwards into the Douai plain across a 16-kilometre (9.9 mi) front between Loos and Arras. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_63

On 10 March, as part of the larger offensive in the Artois region, the British Army fought the Battle of Neuve Chapelle to capture Aubers Ridge. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_64

The assault was made by four divisions along a 2 mi (3.2 km) front. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_65

Preceded by a surprise bombardment lasting only 35 minutes, the initial assault made rapid progress and the village was captured within four hours. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_66

The advance then slowed because of supply and communication difficulties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_67

The Germans brought up reserves and counter-attacked, forestalling the attempt to capture the ridge. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_68

Since the British had used about one-third of their supply of artillery ammunition, General Sir John French blamed the failure on the shortage of ammunition, despite the early success. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_69

Gas warfare Western Front (World War I)_section_6

Main article: Chemical weapons in World War I Western Front (World War I)_sentence_70

All sides had signed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which prohibited the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_71

In 1914, there had been small-scale attempts by both the French and Germans to use various tear gases, which were not strictly prohibited by the early treaties but which were also ineffective. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_72

The first use of more lethal chemical weapons on the Western Front was against the French near the Belgian town of Ypres. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_73

The Germans had already deployed gas against the Russians in the east at the Battle of Bolimów. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_74

Despite the German plans to maintain the stalemate with the French and British, Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg, commander of the 4th Army planned an offensive at Ypres, site of the First Battle of Ypres in November 1914. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_75

The Second Battle of Ypres, April 1915, was intended to divert attention from offensives in the Eastern Front and disrupt Franco-British planning. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_76

After a two-day bombardment, the Germans released a cloud of 168 long tons (171 t) of chlorine gas onto the battlefield. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_77

Though primarily a powerful irritant, it can asphyxiate in high concentrations or prolonged exposure. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_78

Being heavier than air, the gas crept across no man's land and drifted into the French trenches. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_79

The green-yellow cloud started killing some defenders and those in the rear fled in panic, creating an undefended 3.7-mile (6 km) gap in the Allied line. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_80

The Germans were unprepared for the level of their success and lacked sufficient reserves to exploit the opening. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_81

Canadian troops on the right drew back their left flank and halted the German advance. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_82

The gas attack was repeated two days later and caused a 3.1 mi (5 km) withdrawal of the Franco-British line but the opportunity had been lost. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_83

The success of this attack would not be repeated, as the Allies countered by introducing gas masks and other countermeasures. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_84

An example of the success of these measures came a year later, on 27 April in the Gas attacks at Hulluch 40 km (25 mi) to the south of Ypres, where the 16th (Irish) Division withstood several German gas attacks. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_85

The British retaliated, developing their own chlorine gas and using it at the Battle of Loos in September 1915. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_86

Fickle winds and inexperience led to more British casualties from the gas than German. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_87

French, British and German forces all escalated the use of gas attacks through the rest of the war, developing the more deadly phosgene gas in 1915, then the infamous mustard gas in 1917, which could linger for days and could kill slowly and painfully. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_88

Countermeasures also improved and the stalemate continued. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_89

Air warfare Western Front (World War I)_section_7

Main article: Aviation in World War I Western Front (World War I)_sentence_90

Specialised aeroplanes for aerial combat were introduced in 1915. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_91

Aircraft were already in use for scouting and on 1 April, the French pilot Roland Garros became the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft by using a machine-gun that shot forward through the propeller blades. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_92

This was achieved by crudely reinforcing the blades to deflect bullets. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_93

Several weeks later Garros force-landed behind German lines. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_94

His aeroplane was captured and sent to Dutch engineer Anthony Fokker, who soon produced a significant improvement, the interrupter gear, in which the machine gun is synchronised with the propeller so it fires in the intervals when the blades of the propeller are out of the line of fire. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_95

This advance was quickly ushered into service, in the Fokker E.I (Eindecker, or monoplane, Mark 1), the first single seat fighter aircraft to combine a reasonable maximum speed with an effective armament. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_96

Max Immelmann scored the first confirmed kill in an Eindecker on 1 August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_97

Both sides developed improved weapons, engines, airframes and materials, until the end of the war. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_98

It also inaugurated the cult of the ace, the most famous being Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_99

Contrary to the myth, anti-aircraft fire claimed more kills than fighters. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_100

Spring offensive Western Front (World War I)_section_8

The final Entente offensive of the spring was the Second Battle of Artois, an offensive to capture Vimy Ridge and advance into the Douai plain. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_101

The French Tenth Army attacked on 9 May after a six-day bombardment and advanced 5 kilometres (3 mi) to capture Vimy Ridge. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_102

German reinforcements counter-attacked and pushed the French back towards their starting points because French reserves had been held back and the success of the attack had come as a surprise. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_103

By 15 May the advance had been stopped, although the fighting continued until 18 June. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_104

In May the German Army captured a French document at La Ville-aux-Bois describing a new system of defence. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_105

Rather than relying on a heavily fortified front line, the defence was to be arranged in a series of echelons. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_106

The front line would be a thinly manned series of outposts, reinforced by a series of strongpoints and a sheltered reserve. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_107

If a slope was available, troops were deployed along the rear side for protection. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_108

The defence became fully integrated with command of artillery at the divisional level. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_109

Members of the German high command viewed this new scheme with some favour and it later became the basis of an elastic defence in depth doctrine against Entente attacks. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_110

During the autumn of 1915, the "Fokker Scourge" began to have an effect on the battlefront as Allied reconnaissance aircraft were nearly driven from the skies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_111

These reconnaissance planes were used to direct gunnery and photograph enemy fortifications but now the Allies were nearly blinded by German fighters. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_112

However, the impact of German air superiority was diminished by their primarily defensive doctrine in which they tended to remain over their own lines, rather than fighting over Allied held territory. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_113

Autumn offensive Western Front (World War I)_section_9

In September 1915 the Entente allies launched another offensive, with the French Third Battle of Artois, Second Battle of Champagne and the British at Loos. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_114

The French had spent the summer preparing for this action, with the British assuming control of more of the front to release French troops for the attack. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_115

The bombardment, which had been carefully targeted by means of aerial photography, began on 22 September. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_116

The main French assault was launched on 25 September and, at first, made good progress in spite of surviving wire entanglements and machine gun posts. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_117

Rather than retreating, the Germans adopted a new defence-in-depth scheme that consisted of a series of defensive zones and positions with a depth of up to 8.0 km (5 mi). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_118

On 25 September, the British began the Battle of Loos, part of the Third Battle of Artois, which was meant to supplement the larger Champagne attack. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_119

The attack was preceded by a four-day artillery bombardment of 250,000 shells and a release of 5,100 cylinders of chlorine gas. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_120

The attack involved two corps in the main assault and two corps performing diversionary attacks at Ypres. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_121

The British suffered heavy losses, especially due to machine gun fire during the attack and made only limited gains before they ran out of shells. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_122

A renewal of the attack on 13 October fared little better. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_123

In December, French was replaced by General Douglas Haig as commander of the British forces. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_124

1916 Western Front (World War I)_section_10

Falkenhayn believed that a breakthrough might no longer be possible and instead focused on forcing a French defeat by inflicting massive casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_125

His new goal was to "bleed France white." Western Front (World War I)_sentence_126

As such, he adopted two new strategies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_127

The first was the use of unrestricted submarine warfare to cut off Allied supplies arriving from overseas. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_128

The second would be attacks against the French army intended to inflict maximum casualties; Falkenhayn planned to attack a position from which the French could not retreat, for reasons of strategy and national pride and thus trap the French. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_129

The town of Verdun was chosen for this because it was an important stronghold, surrounded by a ring of forts, that lay near the German lines and because it guarded the direct route to Paris. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_130

Falkenhayn limited the size of the front to 5–6 kilometres (3–4 mi) to concentrate artillery firepower and to prevent a breakthrough from a counter-offensive. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_131

He also kept tight control of the main reserve, feeding in just enough troops to keep the battle going. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_132

In preparation for their attack, the Germans had amassed a concentration of aircraft near the fortress. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_133

In the opening phase, they swept the air space of French aircraft, which allowed German artillery-observation aircraft and bombers to operate without interference. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_134

In May, the French countered by deploying escadrilles de chasse with superior Nieuport fighters and the air over Verdun turned into a battlefield as both sides fought for air superiority. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_135

Battle of Verdun Western Front (World War I)_section_11

Main article: Battle of Verdun Western Front (World War I)_sentence_136

The Battle of Verdun began on 21 February 1916 after a nine-day delay due to snow and blizzards. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_137

After a massive eight-hour artillery bombardment, the Germans did not expect much resistance as they slowly advanced on Verdun and its forts. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_138

Sporadic French resistance was encountered. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_139

The Germans took Fort Douaumont and then reinforcements halted the German advance by 28 February. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_140

The Germans turned their focus to Le Mort Homme on the west bank of the Meuse which blocked the route to French artillery emplacements, from which the French fired across the river. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_141

After some of the most intense fighting of the campaign, the hill was taken by the Germans in late May. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_142

After a change in French command at Verdun from the defensive-minded Philippe Pétain to the offensive-minded Robert Nivelle, the French attempted to re-capture Fort Douaumont on 22 May but were easily repulsed. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_143

The Germans captured Fort Vaux on 7 June and with the aid of diphosgene gas, came within 1 kilometre (1,100 yd) of the last ridge before Verdun before being contained on 23 June. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_144

Over the summer, the French slowly advanced. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_145

With the development of the rolling barrage, the French recaptured Fort Vaux in November and by December 1916 they had pushed the Germans back 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) from Fort Douaumont, in the process rotating 42 divisions through the battle. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_146

The Battle of Verdun—also known as the 'Mincing Machine of Verdun' or 'Meuse Mill'—became a symbol of French determination and self-sacrifice. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_147

Battle of the Somme Western Front (World War I)_section_12

Main article: Battle of the Somme Western Front (World War I)_sentence_148

In the spring, Allied commanders had been concerned about the ability of the French Army to withstand the enormous losses at Verdun. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_149

The original plans for an attack around the River Somme were modified to let the British make the main effort. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_150

This would serve to relieve pressure on the French, as well as the Russians who had also suffered great losses. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_151

On 1 July, after a week of heavy rain, British divisions in Picardy began the Battle of the Somme with the Battle of Albert, supported by five French divisions on their right flank. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_152

The attack had been preceded by seven days of heavy artillery bombardment. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_153

The experienced French forces were successful in advancing but the British artillery cover had neither blasted away barbed wire, nor destroyed German trenches as effectively as was planned. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_154

They suffered the greatest number of casualties (killed, wounded and missing) in a single day in the history of the British Army, about 57,000. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_155

The Verdun lesson learnt, the Allies' tactical aim became the achievement of air superiority and until September, German aircraft were swept from the skies over the Somme. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_156

The success of the Allied air offensive caused a reorganisation of the German air arm and both sides began using large formations of aircraft rather than relying on individual combat. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_157

After regrouping, the battle continued throughout July and August, with some success for the British despite the reinforcement of the German lines. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_158

By August, General Haig had concluded that a breakthrough was unlikely and instead, switched tactics to a series of small unit actions. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_159

The effect was to straighten out the front line, which was thought necessary in preparation for a massive artillery bombardment with a major push. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_160

The final phase of the battle of the Somme saw the first use of the tank on the battlefield. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_161

The Allies prepared an attack that would involve 13 British and Imperial divisions and four French corps. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_162

The attack made early progress, advancing 3,200–4,100 metres (3,500–4,500 yd) in places but the tanks had little effect due to their lack of numbers and mechanical unreliability. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_163

The final phase of the battle took place in October and early November, again producing limited gains with heavy loss of life. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_164

All told, the Somme battle had made penetrations of only 8 kilometres (5 mi) and failed to reach the original objectives. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_165

The British had suffered about 420,000 casualties and the French around 200,000. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_166

It is estimated that the Germans lost 465,000, although this figure is controversial. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_167

The Somme led directly to major new developments in infantry organisation and tactics; despite the terrible losses of 1 July, some divisions had managed to achieve their objectives with minimal casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_168

In examining the reasons behind losses and achievements, once the British war economy produced sufficient equipment and weapons, the army made the platoon the basic tactical unit, similar to the French and German armies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_169

At the time of the Somme, British senior commanders insisted that the company (120 men) was the smallest unit of manoeuvre; less than a year later, the section of ten men would be so. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_170

Hindenburg line Western Front (World War I)_section_13

Main article: Hindenburg Line Western Front (World War I)_sentence_171

In August 1916 the German leadership along the western front had changed as Falkenhayn resigned and was replaced by Hindenburg and Ludendorff. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_172

The new leaders soon recognised that the battles of Verdun and the Somme had depleted the offensive capabilities of the German Army. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_173

They decided that the German Army in the west would go over to the strategic defensive for most of 1917, while the Central powers would attack elsewhere. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_174

During the Somme battle and through the winter months, the Germans created a fortification behind the Noyon Salient that would be called the Hindenburg Line, using the defensive principles elaborated since the defensive battles of 1915, including the use of Eingreif divisions. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_175

This was intended to shorten the German front, freeing 10 divisions for other duties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_176

This line of fortifications ran from Arras south to St Quentin and shortened the front by about 50 kilometres (30 mi). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_177

British long-range reconnaissance aircraft first spotted the construction of the Hindenburg Line in November 1916. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_178

1917 Western Front (World War I)_section_14

Main articles: Hindenburg Line and Tactical development on the Western Front in 1917 Western Front (World War I)_sentence_179

The Hindenburg Line was built between 2 and 50 kilometres (30 mi) behind the German front line. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_180

On 25 February German forces began retreating to the line and the withdrawal was completed on 5 April, leaving behind a devastated territory to be occupied by the Allies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_181

This withdrawal negated the French strategy of attacking both flanks of the Noyon salient, as it no longer existed. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_182

However, offensive advances by the British continued as the High Command claimed, with some justice, that this withdrawal resulted from the casualties the Germans received during the Battles of the Somme and Verdun, despite the Allies suffering greater losses. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_183

Meanwhile, on 6 April the United States declared war on Germany. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_184

In early 1915, following the sinking of the Lusitania, Germany had stopped its unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic because of concerns of drawing the United States into the conflict. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_185

With the growing discontent of the German public due to the food shortages, however, the government resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_186

They had calculated that a successful submarine and warship siege of Britain would force that country out of the war within six months, while American forces would take a year to become a serious factor on the Western Front. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_187

The submarine and surface ships had a long period of success before Britain resorted to the convoy system, bringing a large reduction in shipping losses. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_188

By 1917, the size of the British Army on the Western Front had grown to two-thirds the total numbers in the French forces. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_189

In April 1917 the BEF began the Battle of Arras. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_190

The Canadian Corps and the 5th Division, attacked German lines at Vimy Ridge, capturing the heights and the First Army to the south achieved the deepest advance since trench warfare began. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_191

Later attacks were confronted by German reinforcements defending the area using the lessons learned on the Somme in 1916. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_192

British attacks were contained and, according to Gary Sheffield, a greater rate of daily loss was inflicted on the British than in "any other major battle." Western Front (World War I)_sentence_193

During the winter of 1916–1917, German air tactics had been improved, a fighter training school was opened at Valenciennes and better aircraft with twin guns were introduced. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_194

The result was near disastrous losses for Allied air power, particularly for the British, Portuguese, Belgians and Australians who were struggling with outmoded aircraft, poor training and weak tactics. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_195

As a result, the Allied air successes over the Somme would not be repeated and heavy losses were inflicted by the Germans. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_196

During their attack at Arras, the British lost 316 air crews and the Canadians lost 114 compared to 44 lost by the Germans. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_197

This became known to the Royal Flying Corps as Bloody April. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_198

Nivelle Offensive Western Front (World War I)_section_15

Main articles: Battle of Arras (1917), Nivelle Offensive, and 1917 French Army mutinies Western Front (World War I)_sentence_199

The same month, the French Commander-in-Chief, General Robert Nivelle, ordered a new offensive against the German trenches, promising that it would end the war within 48 hours. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_200

The 16 April attack, dubbed the Nivelle Offensive (also known as the Second Battle of the Aisne, after the area where the offensive took place), would be 1.2 million men strong, preceded by a week-long artillery bombardment and accompanied by tanks. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_201

The offensive proceeded poorly as the French troops, with the help of two Russian brigades, had to negotiate rough, upward-sloping terrain in extremely bad weather. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_202

Planning had been dislocated by the voluntary German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_203

Secrecy had been compromised and German aircraft gained air superiority, making reconnaissance difficult and in places, the creeping barrage moved too fast for the French troops. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_204

Within a week the French suffered 120,000 casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_205

Despite the casualties and his promise to halt the offensive if it did not produce a breakthrough, Nivelle ordered the attack to continue into May. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_206

On 3 May the weary French 2nd Colonial Division, veterans of the Battle of Verdun, refused orders, arriving drunk and without their weapons. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_207

Lacking the means to punish an entire division, its officers did not immediately implement harsh measures against the mutineers. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_208

Mutinies occurred in 54 French divisions and 20,000 men deserted. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_209

Other Allied forces attacked but suffered massive casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_210

Appeals to patriotism and duty followed, as did mass arrests and trials. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_211

The French soldiers returned to defend their trenches but refused to participate in further offensive action. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_212

On 15 May Nivelle was removed from command, replaced by Pétain who immediately stopped the offensive. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_213

The French would go on the defensive for the following months to avoid high casualties and to restore confidence in the French High Command, while the British assumed greater responsibility. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_214

American Expeditionary Force Western Front (World War I)_section_16

On 25 June the first US troops began to arrive in France, forming the American Expeditionary Force. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_215

However, the American units did not enter the trenches in divisional strength until October. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_216

The incoming troops required training and equipment before they could join in the effort, and for several months American units were relegated to support efforts. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_217

In spite of this, however, their presence provided a much-needed boost to Allied morale, with the promise of further reinforcements that could tip the manpower balance towards the Allies. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_218

Flanders offensive Western Front (World War I)_section_17

Main articles: Battle of Messines (1917) and Third Battle of Ypres Western Front (World War I)_sentence_219

In June, the British launched an offensive in Flanders, in part to take the pressure off the French armies on the Aisne, after the French part of the Nivelle Offensive failed to achieve the strategic victory that had been planned and French troops began to mutiny. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_220

The offensive began on 7 June, with a British attack on Messines Ridge, south of Ypres, to retake the ground lost in the First and Second battles in 1914. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_221

Since 1915 specialist Royal Engineer tunnelling companies had been digging tunnels under the ridge, and about 500 t (490 long tons) of explosives had been planted in 21 mines under the German defences. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_222

Following several weeks of bombardment, the explosives in 19 of these mines were detonated, killing up to 7,000 German troops. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_223

The infantry advance that followed relied on three creeping barrages which the British infantry followed to capture the plateau and the east side of the ridge in one day. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_224

German counter-attacks were defeated and the southern flank of the Gheluvelt plateau was protected from German observation. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_225

On 11 July 1917, during Unternehmen Strandfest (Operation Beachparty) at Nieuport on the coast, the Germans introduced a new weapon into the war when they fired a powerful blistering agent Sulfur mustard (Yellow Cross) gas. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_226

The artillery deployment allowed heavy concentrations of the gas to be used on selected targets. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_227

Mustard gas was persistent and could contaminate an area for days, denying it to the British, an additional demoralising factor. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_228

The Allies increased production of gas for chemical warfare but took until late 1918 to copy the Germans and begin using mustard gas. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_229

From 31 July to 10 November the Third Battle of Ypres included the First Battle of Passchendaele and culminated in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_230

The battle had the original aim of capturing the ridges east of Ypres then advancing to Roulers and Thourout to close the main rail line supplying the German garrisons on the Western front north of Ypres. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_231

If successful the northern armies were then to capture the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_232

It was later restricted to advancing the British Army onto the ridges around Ypres, as the unusually wet weather slowed British progress. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_233

The Canadian Corps relieved the II ANZAC Corps and took the village of Passchendaele on 6 November, despite rain, mud and many casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_234

The offensive was costly in manpower for both sides for relatively little gain of ground against determined German resistance but the ground captured was of great tactical importance. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_235

In the drier periods, the British advance was inexorable and during the unusually wet August and in the Autumn rains that began in early October, the Germans achieved only costly defensive successes, which led the German commanders in early October to begin preparations for a general retreat. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_236

Both sides lost a combined total of over a half million men during this offensive. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_237

The battle has become a byword among some British revisionist historians for bloody and futile slaughter, whilst the Germans called Passchendaele "the greatest martyrdom of the war." Western Front (World War I)_sentence_238

Battle of Cambrai Western Front (World War I)_section_18

Main article: Battle of Cambrai Western Front (World War I)_sentence_239

On 20 November the British launched the first massed tank attack and the first attack using predicted artillery-fire (aiming artillery without firing the guns to obtain target data) at the Battle of Cambrai. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_240

The Allies attacked with 324 tanks (with one-third held in reserve) and twelve divisions, advancing behind a hurricane bombardment, against two German divisions. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_241

The machines carried fascines on their fronts to bridge trenches and the 13-foot-wide (4 m) German tank traps. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_242

Special "grapnel tanks" towed hooks to pull away the German barbed wire. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_243

The attack was a great success for the British, who penetrated further in six hours than at the Third Ypres in four months, at a cost of only 4,000 British casualties. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_244

The advance produced an awkward salient and a surprise German counter-offensive began on 30 November, which drove back the British in the south and failed in the north. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_245

Despite the reversal, the attack was seen as a success by the Allies, proving that tanks could overcome trench defences. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_246

The Germans realised that the use of tanks by the Allies posed a new threat to any defensive strategy they might mount. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_247

The battle had also seen the first mass use of German Stosstruppen on the Western front in the attack, who used infantry infiltration tactics to penetrate British defences, bypassing resistance and quickly advancing into the British rear. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_248

1918 Western Front (World War I)_section_19

Following the successful Allied attack and penetration of the German defences at Cambrai, Ludendorff and Hindenburg determined that the only opportunity for German victory lay in a decisive attack along the Western front during the spring, before American manpower became overwhelming. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_249

On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed and Russia withdrew from the war. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_250

This would now have a dramatic effect on the conflict as 33 divisions were released from the Eastern Front for deployment to the west. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_251

The Germans occupied almost as much Russian territory under the provisions of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as they did in the Second World War but this considerably restricted their troop redeployment. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_252

The Germans achieved an advantage of 192 divisions in the west to the 178 Allied divisions, which allowed Germany to pull veteran units from the line and retrain them as Stosstruppen (40 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions were retained for German occupation duties in the east). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_253

The Allies lacked unity of command and suffered from morale and manpower problems, the British and French armies were severely depleted and not in a position to attack in the first half of the year, while the majority of the newly arrived American troops were still training, with just six complete divisions in the line. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_254

Ludendorff decided on an offensive strategy beginning with a big attack against the British on the Somme, to separate them from the French and drive them back to the channel ports. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_255

The attack would combine the new storm troop tactics with over 700 aircraft, tanks and a carefully planned artillery barrage that would include gas attacks. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_256

German spring offensives Western Front (World War I)_section_20

Main article: Spring Offensive Western Front (World War I)_sentence_257

Operation Michael, the first of the German Spring Offensives, very nearly succeeded in driving the Allied armies apart, advancing to within shelling distance of Paris for the first time since 1914. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_258

As a result of the battle, the Allies agreed on unity of command. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_259

General Ferdinand Foch was appointed commander of all Allied forces in France. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_260

The unified Allies were better able to respond to each of the German drives and the offensive turned into a battle of attrition. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_261

In May, the American divisions also began to play an increasing role, winning their first victory in the Battle of Cantigny. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_262

By summer, between 250,000 and 300,000 American soldiers were arriving every month. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_263

A total of 2.1 million American troops would be deployed on this front before the war came to an end. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_264

The rapidly increasing American presence served as a counter for the large numbers of redeployed German forces. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_265

Allied counter-offensives Western Front (World War I)_section_21

Main articles: Second Battle of the Marne, Hundred Days Offensive, and Armistice of 11 November 1918 Western Front (World War I)_sentence_266

In July, Foch began the Second Battle of the Marne, a counter-offensive against the Marne salient which was eliminated by August. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_267

The Battle of Amiens began two days later, with Franco-British forces spearheaded by Australian and Canadian troops, along with 600 tanks and 800 aircraft. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_268

Hindenburg named 8 August as the "Black Day of the German army." Western Front (World War I)_sentence_269

The Italian 2nd Corps, commanded by General Alberico Albricci, also participated in the operations around Reims. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_270

German manpower had been severely depleted after four years of war and its economy and society were under great internal strain. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_271

The Allies fielded 216 divisions against 197 German divisions. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_272

The Hundred Days Offensive beginning in August proved the final straw and following this string of military defeats, German troops began to surrender in large numbers. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_273

As the Allied forces advanced, Prince Maximilian of Baden was appointed as Chancellor of Germany in October to negotiate an armistice. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_274

Ludendorff was forced out and fled to Sweden. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_275

The German retreat continued and the German Revolution put a new government in power. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_276

The Armistice of Compiègne was quickly signed, stopping hostilities on the Western Front on 11 November 1918, later known as Armistice Day. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_277

The German Imperial Monarchy collapsed when General Groener, the successor to Ludendorff, backed the moderate Social Democratic Government under Friedrich Ebert, to forestall a revolution like those in Russia the previous year. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_278

Aftermath Western Front (World War I)_section_22

Main article: Aftermath of World War I Western Front (World War I)_sentence_279

Western Front (World War I)_table_general_0

Military Casualties Western Front 1914–1918Western Front (World War I)_table_caption_0
NationalityWestern Front (World War I)_header_cell_0_0_0 KilledWestern Front (World War I)_header_cell_0_0_1 WoundedWestern Front (World War I)_header_cell_0_0_2 P.O.W.Western Front (World War I)_header_cell_0_0_3
FranceWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_1_0 1,300,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_1_1 c. 3,000,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_1_2 508,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_1_3
UKWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_2_0 512,600Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_2_1 1,528,500Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_2_2 223,600Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_2_3
BelgiumWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_3_0 38,200Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_3_1 44,700Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_3_2 10,200Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_3_3
AustraliaWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_4_0 48,900Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_4_1 130,900Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_4_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_4_3
CanadaWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_5_0 56,400Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_5_1 149,700Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_5_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_5_3
New ZealandWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_6_0 12,900Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_6_1 34,800Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_6_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_6_3
South AfricaWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_7_0 3,250Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_7_1 8,720Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_7_2 2,220Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_7_3
IndiaWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_8_0 6,670Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_8_1 15,750Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_8_2 1,090Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_8_3
PortugalWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_9_0 1,690Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_9_1 13,750Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_9_2 6,680Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_9_3
USAWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_10_0 51,800Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_10_1 230,100Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_10_2 4,430Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_10_3
ItalyWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_11_0 4,500Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_11_1 7,500Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_11_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_11_3
RussiaWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_12_0 4,542Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_12_1 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_12_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_12_3
SiamWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_13_0 19Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_13_1 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_13_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_13_3
AlliesWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_14_0 ~2,041,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_14_1 ~5,163,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_14_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_14_3
GermanyWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_15_0 1,493,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_15_1 3,116,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_15_2 774,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_15_3
Austria-HungaryWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_16_0 779Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_16_1 13,113Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_16_2 5,403Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_16_3
Central PowersWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_17_0 ~1,495,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_17_1 ~3,126,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_17_2 ~779,00Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_17_3
Grand TotalWestern Front (World War I)_cell_0_18_0 3,536,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_18_1 8,262,000Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_18_2 Western Front (World War I)_cell_0_18_3

The war along the Western Front led the German government and its allies to sue for peace in spite of German success elsewhere. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_280

As a result, the terms of the peace were dictated by France, Britain and the United States, during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_281

The result was the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919 by a delegation of the new German government. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_282

The terms of the treaty constrained Germany as an economic and military power. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_283

The Versailles treaty returned the border provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to France, thus limiting the coal required by German industry. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_284

The Saar, which formed the west bank of the Rhine, would be demilitarised and controlled by Britain and France, while the Kiel Canal opened to international traffic. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_285

The treaty also drastically reshaped Eastern Europe. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_286

It severely limited the German armed forces by restricting the size of the army to 100,000 and disallowing a navy or air force. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_287

The navy was sailed to Scapa Flow under the terms of surrender but was later scuttled as a reaction to the treaty. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_288

Casualties Western Front (World War I)_section_23

Main article: Casualties of World War I Western Front (World War I)_sentence_289

The war in the trenches of the Western Front left tens of thousands of maimed soldiers and war widows. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_290

The unprecedented loss of life had a lasting effect on popular attitudes toward war, resulting later in an Allied reluctance to pursue an aggressive policy toward Adolf Hitler. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_291

Belgium suffered 30,000 civilian dead and France 40,000 (including 3,000 merchant sailors). Western Front (World War I)_sentence_292

The British lost 16,829 civilian dead, 1,260 civilians were killed in air and naval attacks, 908 civilians were killed at sea and there were 14,661 merchant marine deaths. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_293

Another 62,000 Belgian, 107,000 British and 300,000 French civilians died due to war-related causes. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_294

Economic costs Western Front (World War I)_section_24

See also: French war planning 1920–1940 Western Front (World War I)_sentence_295

Germany in 1919 was bankrupt, the people living in a state of semi-starvation and having no commerce with the remainder of the world. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_296

The Allies occupied the Rhine cities of Cologne, Koblenz and Mainz, with restoration dependent on payment of reparations. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_297

In Germany a Stab-in-the-back myth (Dolchstoßlegende) was propagated by Hindenburg, Ludendorff and other defeated generals, that the defeat was not the fault of the 'good core' of the army but due to certain left-wing groups within Germany who signed a disastrous armistice; this would later be exploited by nationalists and the Nazi party propaganda to excuse the overthrow of the Weimar Republic in 1930 and the imposition of the Nazi dictatorship after March 1933. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_298

France lost more casualties relative to its population than any other great power and the industrial north-east of the country was devastated by the war. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_299

The provinces overrun by Germany had produced 40 percent of French coal and 58 percent of its steel output. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_300

Once it was clear that Germany was going to be defeated, Ludendorff had ordered the destruction of the mines in France and Belgium. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_301

His goal was to cripple the industries of Germany's main European rival. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_302

To prevent similar German attacks in the future, France later built a massive series of fortifications along the German border known as the Maginot Line. Western Front (World War I)_sentence_303


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western Front (World War I).