World War 1 Source Analysis
1. Use Sources A and B and your own knowledge.
How successful were the Allies and the Germans in using technology to break the stalemate on the Western front? (6 marks)
Both the Allies and the Germans introduced new technologies in an attempt to break the stalemate on the Western Front. Source A is a photograph featuring ‘A Trench Scene’. Trenches were the greatest piece of technology used in the war, represented in the source is a group of soldiers holding rifles, however rifles were an unsuccessful attempt at breaking the stalemate on the Western Front as they needed regular maintenance to perform properly. Poison Gas was introduced throughout the duration of the stalemate; Gas was first by the enforced by German’s in 1915. Poison Gas was intended to force the soldiers from their trenches and lead them to their death, however this introduction of new technology was unsuccessful as the Allies soon after introduced masks for the horses and soldiers protection. Source B is an extract from the First World War by John Keegan; the extract holds in-depth information about the introduction of army tanks during the attack of Cambrai in World War 1. The tanks main uses were “intended to break through all (German Lines) in a single bound on the first day.” – John Keegan. British defence lines succeeded in forcefully pushing the enemy back 8 kilometres. Only in 1917 with new commanders such as the German commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff who used new technology and new tactics such as the Napoleonic tactics and the introduction of planes was it that enabled a successful breakthrough of the stalemate.
2. How useful would Sources A and B be for a historian studying the impact of new technology in breaking the stalemate on the Western Front? In your answer consider the perspectives provided by the TWO sources and the reliability of each one. (10 Marks)
Source A is a primary source, it is a photograph taken during WW1 of soldiers in a trench on the Western Front. It captures the various elements of technology available to the soldiers, weapons at he time was generally more defensive rather than offensive. Trenches were difficult to damage and easy to repair, they also provided a great deal of protection, at the periscope which enabled the soldiers to view the enemy without risking some form of casualty, and rifles were armed with bayonets on the ends in-case of an ‘over the top attack’. Source A is limited as far as its terms of reliability; the image does not display any information of the photographer, the date or what audience was intended to be viewing it. The photograph is staged and was used as propaganda as historians and authors from during the War describe the trenches being horrendous. The perspective given from Source A is a photograph from the government’s view, used as a form of propaganda to help establish a positive view and set up an enlistment rush. Despite the confined limitations, Source A would be genuinely useful to a historian studying the use of technology on the Western Front because it shows elements of the trench and gives a basic understanding although, it is not great.
Source B is a secondary source; it is an extract from the ‘First World War’ by John Keegan published in 1988. ‘First World War’ shows in depth information about the introduction of tanks, how they were used and the influence new inventions of technology had on war. Source B is from a British perspective as the author who wrote it is a British military historian, lecturer, author and a journalist who has published over 20 books. The extract is an accurate reflection of the steps taken to break the stalemate on the Western Front and can be verified by other sources, such as ‘Death’s Men Soldiers of the Great War by Denis Winter’. From examining Source B we are able to see it is a useful source for a historian studying the use of technology on the Western Front, it shows