The August Madness and Mobilization for WWI

WWI Notes 2:
The August Madness and
the Beginning of WWI
World Wars
Ms. Hamer
February 4, 2011
Myth of the August
• While widespread fervor about the war
• During and after WWI, the vision of the
August Madness was hyped up more and
What was the August
• Widespread celebrations in European cities after
the declarations of war in early August 1914
– Especially in Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Vienna
and definitely in Berlin
• Caused by relief felt after not having to wait to
see what would happen with the tensions in
• Led to feelings of national unity
• Militarist expectations of heroism and glory
were part of it
• Some were just caught up in the excitement
Who Participated in the
August Madness?
• Urban, middle class and elites, and
especially students
– Men more so than women
• Still much objection to war
– Rural areas were not so thrilled
– Minorities were not as enthusiastic
Scenes from the August
London – Trafalgar Square
What were the Effects of the
August Madness?
• Domestic truces within countries
– Though this was followed with inner paranoia and
fear of spies…
• Mass enlistment
– 20 million men mobilized throughout Europe
• Governments harnessed this enthusiasm for
their war goals
– “Spontaneous” Propaganda
• Failure of International Socialism to prevent a
capitalist war…
Mobilization for War
British Man Ready to
• “I felt restless, excited, eager to do something
desperate for the cause of England. And then
the impulse came, sending the blood tingling
all over my body: why not join the Army
now? A great and glorious suggestion. It
might not be too late.
• Girls smiled at me, men looked at me with
respect, the bus drivers wished me luck and
refused to take money for my fare, and
everybody made way for me, as being on the
King's business.”
 Home by Christmas!
 No major war
in 50 years!
 Nationalism!
It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go;
It's a long way to Tipperary,
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Piccadilly,
Farewell, Leicester Square,
It's a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there!
Recruitment Posters
Kitchener in England
This one wouldn’t arrive until 1918, but you can see
where the US got it from
A Young Australian Recruit
Recruits of the
Central Powers
A German Soldier Says
Farewell to His Mother
New French Recruits
A German Boy Pretends to Be a Soldier
Plans of Attack
The Schlieffen Plan
• Germany’s Schlieffen Plan :
– Was to solve the problem of the two-front war
Germany would have to fight
• Knock out France in 42 days by attacking through
Belgium, then face Russia
• Would violate Belgian neutrality
• Would it have ever worked?
– Required troops to march 20-30 miles a day while
fighting resistance
– Troops would quickly outdistance supply lines and
The Schlieffen Plan
• France’s Plan XVII (keep in mind they started at
– Was based on an offensive to retake the lost provinces
of Alsace and Lorraine
– Left a small contingent to defend against the Belgian
border because the Germans would never do
anything so heinous as attacking through neutral
• Stressed the offensive, which ended up being a
bad call:
– Smaller force
– Played into the expectations of the Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen + Plan XVII
Fighting Begins
Germany Invades Belgium
– August 4, 1914
• Advance was hampered by Belgian
resistance – destruction of railroads as well
as German fear of snipers
• New technology (heavy guns) took out old
• Germans were 20 miles from Paris by early
Battle of the Frontiers
August 14 – September 6, 1914
• Germany declared war
on August 1st and
within two weeks was
fighting the French in
the series of battles
called the Battle of the
– Huge and violent
– Failure of prepared
Belgians flooding canals and battlefield
• The British
Expeditionary Force
(BEF) mobilized VERY
quickly and met the
Germans at Mons and
then retreated to Paris
with the French
– French government fled
to Bordeaux but
prepared Paris for attack
by mining bridges
– French troops mobilized
to defend Paris
Miracle of the
Marne September
• German advancing
armies got too close
to each other and
turned before Paris,
exposing their flank
to the waiting Allies
– Allies were able to
keep Germans from
– Among other acts of
heroism were the 600
taxis that brought
troops to the Marne
from Paris!
Battle of the Frontiers
Effects of the Battle of the Frontiers
and the Battle of the Marne
• German forces fell
back and dug in
• Even though shallow
trenches, it was the
beginning of trench
• Schlieffen Plan failed
so Germany would
face a multi-front war
German Atrocities in
Belgium and Northern
Reasons (?)
• Germans were really worried about French
snipers (a problem from the Franco Prussian
War of 1870)
• Problems with civilian resistance
– Germans used terror to try to stop this…
• The combination of this led to misconceptions
– “man hat geschossen” – “one has shot at us”
– Sometimes mistook friendly fire for resistance
– German soldiers drinking looted alcohol did not
German Atrocities
• Germans killed more
than 6,000 civilians
(men, women, and
children) in Belgium and
Northern France
• Burned the University at
Louvain along with its
library and killed
hundreds of civilians
• Shelled Reims Cathedral
on September 19, 1914
Problems with Rumors of
• After the real atrocities, rumors spread of
others that ended up being fakes:
– Germans chopping the hands of Belgian children
to prevent them from fighting
• Later in the war when it was realized that these
were fake, it lessened the reality of the actual
– This sentiment would later lead to disbelief of the
“rumors” of attacks on Jews by the Third Reich…
Beginning of the Western
Race to the Sea
• After the Battle of the Frontiers, the Allies
and Central Powers struggled to create a
front line in their favor
• The goal of each side was to secure a good
port on the English Channel
– Germany got Antwerp on October 11, 1914
• From this point on, there were battles on
the Western Front, but the line remained
fairly stagnant
Animated Map of the
Western Front
• Animated Map of the Western Front
Germans Digging
Trenches 1914
Trench Warfare
• Not only were the trenches
the cause of mass
destruction on the
battlefield, but they were
also havens for disease:
– Rats and lice were infected
with disease, which spread
quickly to the men.
– Trench foot was a rotting
disease that happened when
the soldiers’ feet were wet
for days on end from the
mud in the bottom of the
Wikipedia on Trench Foot
• Affected feet become numb and then turn red or blue. As the condition worsens, they
may swell. Advanced immersion foot often involves blisters and open sores, which lead
to fungal infections; this is sometimes called tropical ulcer (jungle rot).
• If left untreated, immersion foot usually results in gangrene, which can require
amputation. If immersion foot is treated properly, complete recovery is normal, though
it is marked by severe short-term pain when feeling returns. Like other cold injuries,
immersion foot leaves sufferers more susceptible to it in the future.
• Immersion foot occurs when feet are cold and damp while wearing constricting
footwear. Unlike frostbite, immersion foot does not require freezing temperatures and
can occur in temperatures up to 60° Fahrenheit (about 16° Celsius). The condition can
occur with as little as eleven hours' exposure. The mechanism of tissue damage is not
fully understood.
• Immersion foot is easily prevented by keeping the feet warm and dry, and changing
socks frequently when the feet cannot be kept dry. During World War I, trench soldiers
were provided with whale grease and told to apply it to their feet, to reduce the
prevalence of this condition; the idea was to make the feet waterproof. It was found,
however, that this made the condition worse as it made the feet perspire and absorb even
more water. It was also discovered that a key measure was regular foot inspections by
British Recollections of Life in the
On Lice and Rats:
The Confusing Layout
• “If you're nearly frozen,
they keep quiet: as soon
as you warm up those
blasted lice start to bite
like the devil. It's
horrible. I often think it
is one of the worst
things we have to
endure out here.”
• “There are millions!!
Some are huge fellows,
nearly as big as cats.
Several of our men were
awakened to find a rat
snuggling down under
the blanket alongside
“Getting along a trench is not as easy as
you think. For one thing it is not straight
for more than four yards (it is 'traversed' to
prevent crossfire and shell fire having
much effect). Then there are all sorts of
odd off-turns, to officers' dugouts, or other
lines of trenches: at other places there are
steps down and other unknown steps up
where a piece of parapet has been blown
in, or some walls of a traverse have
collapsed. In these mazes where we have
fought each other so often and each side
has held the ground in turn, you can never
be quite sure whether a trench won't lead
you straight to the German lines. In more
than one place in our present line we
actually do have communication trenches
connecting our and their lines.”
Aerial View
German SE; British
NW 1917
Periscope Rifle
Mining Trenches
• Trenches could be
attacked by digging
underground tunnels
beneath enemy
trenches and mining
underneath them and
then exploding these
• 1915- Remnants of a
German mined trench with
British captors and
German prisoners and
• This harsh warfare and the terrible living
conditions that accompanied it led many soldiers to
mutiny or mental illness.
• Commanding officers often held their troops at
gunpoint and forced them to leave the trenches
and attempt an attack on the enemy across no
man’s land.
“A Bedford patrol went out and crawled very
bravely close to the German barbed wire. They
stayed a long time and listened and they were
just about to crawl back when a voice from
the German trenches said in perfect English, 'If
you don't go away soon, we shall really have
to shoot you.' They went.”
Initial Use of Gas
• The French were the
first to use tear gas in
August 1914, Germans
used it against French
and Russians in 1914
and early 1915.
– All of these quantities
were too small to be
noticed or froze (Russia –
– Combatants did not see
this as a violation of the
Hague Treaty because
tear gas is not poisonous
British victims of tear gas
Chlorine Gas
• Germans used poisonous chlorine gas
launched from cylinders so it was wind
carried in the Spring of 1915
Opening Battles on the
Eastern Front
Eastern Front 1914
German Victory at
August 26-30, 1914
• Even though Russian
troops mobilized
against Germany and
A-H faster than the
Central Powers
expected, Germany
was able to win a large
victory against the
Russians at the Battle
of Tannenberg
Russian prisoners at Tannenberg
• At great cost to
themselves, Russia was
able to draw German
troops from the
Western Front by
engaging so quickly

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