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By Richard F. Hamilton, Holger H. Herwig

You want to understand much approximately nineteenth century ecu historical past to appreciate how the 1st global battle may perhaps ensue, and this ebook takes that procedure, offering correct historical past details on all the significant nations concerned. It does not speak about the precipitating occasions, starting with Ferdinand's assasination, except references within the discussions of the most important powers' decisionmaking within the few weeks previous the conflict. yet no matter if you're not accustomed to those (for a contemporary specified dialogue, see David Fromkin, Europe's final summer season: Why the area Went to struggle in 1914 (2004)), you're at an advantage beginning the following. i've got no self sustaining wisdom of the skills of the eleven authors, yet they deal with the fabric hopefully and supply broad notes. (Many of the footnoted references are in non-English languages, however the finish of the e-book comprises references in English orgainized through country.)

Other fresh reliable books at the origins or the struggle itself are Annika Mombauer, Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the 1st global conflict (2001); David Stevenson, Cataclysm: the 1st international battle as Political process (2005); and Robert Doughty, Pyrrhic Victory: French approach and Operations within the nice struggle (2005). A similar paintings, good defined by way of its name, is Roland N. Stromberg, Redemption by way of warfare: The Intellectuals and 1914 (1982).

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42 The following year, Joffre was even more explicit. He promised that France would engage “nearly all its forces” on the northeastern frontier and would commence offensive operations on the eleventh day after mobilization. He also noted that the number of forces he would send into battle exceeded by more than 210,000 the number required by the convention. He and the Russian representative agreed: With regard to the conduct of operations, it is especially necessary that the allied armies obtain a decisive success as rapidly as possible.

In particular, German efforts to strengthen fortiªcations between Metz and Thionville (opposite French defenses from Verdun to Toul) convinced Joffre that the Germans intended to drive through Belgium. 31 At a meeting of the Superior Council of National Defense on January 9, 1912 (the one for which the council’s staff had prepared a strategic assessment advocating “crushing Germany”), political and military leaders addressed France’s grand strategy. Quickly agreeing that Germany was the principal adversary against which France and its allies should concentrate all their resources, they welcomed the possibility of Russia’s having 500,000 men ready for an offensive by the ªfteenth day of mobilization.

Such ideas would cost the French thousands of casualties in the opening battles of 1914. In numerous cases ofªcers refused to lie on the ground or seek cover when under ªre, and infantry units charged forward with little or no artillery support. These “glorious” actions bled many of the best soldiers from French units. Although Joffre’s exact role in infusing such ideas throughout the army is not completely clear, and although numerous senior ofªcers and commissions willingly contributed, there is no doubt that he bears the ultimate responsibility for those ideas and their effects.

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