Trench Warfare was the main way in which World War 1 was fought. Trenches were deep ditches which were primarily built for defense, as troops could hide out in them and be protected from gunfire. They were most commonly used on the western front and were built in zigzag patterns, so that the impact of a shell would result in fewer casualties. Although trenches were popular during the war, they were also highly controversial. In this blog post, I will be addressing different perspectives through looking at guidepost 5, which means that a variety of different perspectives will be distinguished through looking at the historical actors participating in a certain event. In this case, the historical actors that will be discussed are the German and allied military strategists, as well as the German and Allied soldiers who participated in the war.
Trenches resulted in huge numbers of deaths in WW1, so it comes to no surprise that many soldiers who fought in the war were opposed to trench warfare. Trenches were home to masses of rats and mud. This frequently led to the spreading of diseases such as trench fever and trench foot. The spreading of these diseases amounted to huge numbers of deaths. Soldiers who lived in trenches lived in constant fear of death. Getting in and out of trenches was very difficult without being seen by the enemy and getting shot.
From the perspective of the countries who enforced trench warfare, building trenches might have been seen as a useful strategy as they were ideal for defense from the gunfire above. Troops could hide out in deep trenches and be protected from the gunfire. In addition, trenches were quick, easy and cheap to build, which made them very appealing to use for both the Allies and Germany. The war resulted in huge losses of men, and thus manpower was an issue for both sides. However, trench warfare didn’t require much manpower, which made trench warfare very appealing for military strategists, as countries could be involved in more than one battle at a time without having to recruit more men.
Trenches were also used as a strategy to prevent losing any more ground. During the first battle of Marne in 1914, the Germans were losing territory as the Allies kept pushing them further back. In order to prevent any more ground being lost, the Germans dug trenches. As the Allies couldn’t push the Germans back any further, they also dug trenches. From a German military perspective, digging trenches was probably seen as reasonable because it would prevent large losses in territory.
When comparing the perspectives of military strategists who enforced trench warfare and the perspectives of the soldiers who fought in the trenches, the military perspective was more valuable at the time, as they determined how the war was to be played out. Although the conditions in which the soldiers lived were gruesome, trench warfare was seen as an essential part of maintaining and gaining territory.
The images above show the trenches in which the soldiers lived. In the image on the left, you can see the muddy ground which caused soldiers to get trench foot. In the image on the right, soldiers are pictured moving through the tight trenches.
Daniels, Patricia, Contributing Writer. “History of Trench Warfare in World War I.” ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2018, thoughtco.com/trenches-in-world-war-i-1779981.