World War One - Assignment Example

1) Both Sources paint a picture to describe how the war, however there is one significant difference, Source B is a primary source, and Source E is a tertiary source. Source B is a contemporary picture of German soldiers ‘going over the top’. It shows the trench, men who have gone over the top and men in position, waiting to go over the top. Source E is a painting from the 1970’s showing men waiting to go over the top.

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Source B shows a scene from a battle, in which German soldiers are going over the top. The battlefield does not contain an accurate representation of what the battlefields looked like at the time. The scene looks empty and quite barren and this was not what it was like. The fields of the Somme for example, were filled with corpses, shrapnel and mounds of barbed wire. In this picture there is no barbed wire to be seen, very unlikely for a scene taken at the trenches. The trench seems to be unusually dry and uncluttered, with troops rising from it with ease. Whereas the real trenches were extremely wet and often rat invested.

In the photo, the troops are carrying shovels – something that would be pointless if they are in the front line as there would be no time to use it. The soldiers are grouped together and look strangely calm as they go over the top into No-Mans-Land. Overall, the scene looks too ‘easy’ and gives the impression of a calm straightforward battle that would be over quickly. This photograph is very likely to be a reconstruction, probably to be used for propaganda purposes, in order to get more recruits. To make it look like the German soldiers were finding it easy in war.

Source E – a painting of a battle scene made in the 1970’s by an English historian – sets a more realistic impression of what trench life was like. Explosions, mud, puddles and barbed wire are included as well as troops and their natural reactions. One soldier clutches his injured leg while another instructs fellow men.

Source E’s representation of German troops is more reliable and shows more reliable evidence than Source B’s. Bias is almost eliminated from Source E as the artist is not trying to create propaganda or hide any important issues. Source B however was intended for propaganda and lacks integrity, although this does not make it totally useless.

2) Source D is a letter written by General Haig to boost morale within the British Army. It is entitled ‘Backs to the Wall.’ Paragraph one tells us about the German attacks that occurred on a fifty mile front, whilst the British forces defended Flanders. Also, it tells us what the British believed to be the German plan, to separate the British and French forces and capture the Channel ports, stopping British troops from being imported into the country.

Then, Haig goes on to say how the German army had thrown 106 divisions into battle ( having done a little research the figure was more like 174) and how the Germans had made a ‘Reckless sacrifice of human life’ This illustrates the feeling that the allies held – that Germany were the sole party responsible for starting the First World War. The source also tells us, that despite the mass loss of life, the Germans had made little progress in achieving their goals.

The actions that the British took are described by General Haig in paragraph three. It shows how proud and inspired he was by the actions that the British took to defend their positions.

The actions that the British took repelled the Germans and stopped them from capturing Flanders. This was vital, because if they had captured it, they would had primary access to the channel ports, thus giving them an ideal way to invade Britain. Haig ends his letter with the last orders – ‘Every position must be held to the last man’ and this highlights the resolve that the British army felt to hold their ground.

3) Source C is an extract from The Great War by Marc Ferro, explaining the impact of the German assault. Ferro, a French historian wrote the book in 1973, and the basis of the book revolves around the period of 1914-1918. Source F, is an extract from the book Tales Of The Old Soldiers, and was written by George Jameson in 1993.

Both sources give different accounts of events that happened during the First World War. Source C is about the impact of the German assault, on 21st March 1918, and describes how the British were broken through by the German Army. It shows that despite the fact that the British had superior artillery, the German fighting skill was greater, and had the British retreating towards the channel ports. Source F explains the same occurrence, however, it differs from the other account. Jameson tells us that although the German offensive had pushed them back, it did not break through the British line, and when the Germans eventually retreated, the British troops had gained advantage.

Source C, written by a French historian, uses many other sources to back up the account. These sources could range from maps, personal testimony (like Jameson’s) plans and official documentation. The fact that Ferro is French shows us that he has no reason to lie, or be biased, as the account does not involve his home country. As the book is written in a retrospective view, and some years later from when the war started, shows that attitudes and opinions have since changed, and that Ferro would experience or encounter no political bias or propaganda.

Jameson, however, a soldier actually there fighting in this historic battle, is bound to have slanted or biased opinions of what happened. Nevertheless, his account is still valuable in retelling what everyday life was like in the trenches. As a British soldier, he would have been conditioned to see Germany as the enemy, and despite the war having been finished, these attitudes could have stayed, and so this would explain the difference in interpretations of events.

4) Source G, is a German view of 1918, extracted from the novel All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. This account, although fictional, can still be of use to retell or study the events of 1918, as it is based on facts gathered about the Western Front after the war had ended. All sources are useful, whether they are one sided or not – they all tell of events that have happened in the past, the actual use is dependant on how easily the story they tell can be verified.

The source was written in 1929, eleven years after the war ended. Its purpose was to inform people of how the German forces suffered during the war, particularly those on the Western Front. The source tells us that whilst the German forces were outnumbered 5:1 in man power, their soldiers were better trained and more experienced than the British. The source continues to say that the British had more supplies than they did (this was not true, in fact both sides had poor food supplies) and that the German army was simply overwhelmed by the number of new soldiers that continued to be drafted into the British army.

The truth in the source is small. There is a large amount of bias in the piece, not blame, but excuses to why Germany lost the war. The fact is that the British were suffering just as much as they were, and despite the introduction of new technologies, they proved ineffective in the battlefield. Another reason for bias is due to the period in which it was written. In 1929, Germany was going through the Great Depression, after Wall St. collapsed, as well as that Germany still felt angry after the Treaty of Versailles was signed by the ‘November Criminals.’ This meant a feeling of hate was directed towards America, Britain, and France in particular as she had insisted on the high level of reparations being paid. This could have been inserted into the source.

6) The German Spring Offensives of 1918, were, at the beginning, a success. German forces had gained ground quickly and were pushing the British back towards the ports. The aim of this was to capture Flanders, separate the British from the French and gain access to the Channel ports. This is all documented in Source D. Also, the assault was to be launched across the Western Front before the American troops could grow in number. When this was done, the last task was to seize victory before the stranglehold on Germany increased.

However, as the Germans got near Flanders, the German command realized that they were outnumbered and that the British and American forces were greater in size than previously expected. This is described in Source G. The British forces began to fight harder, and faster, as this is how the Germans foresaw themselves gaining victory.

Eventually, the Germans were forced back further and further, and this is how the attack failed, as they could not gather troops quickly enough. This fact is shown in Source F, where Jameson explains how they had the Germans ‘On the run.’ As the offensive gathered pace, the German communications systems became over-stretched, and eventually collapsed. This was a vital factor in describing how the offensive failed. Troops became worried as morale was very low, and this is shown in Source E, where German assault troops are about to be sent out.