Before the war in 1910s the generals of both sides expected a war of movement and that the war that started in the summer of 1914 would be over by Christmas, as they thought not all countries could afford a war for over 6 months. However within a few months trenches had been dug on the western front and the war became one of attrition. I believe generals had failed to anticipate the changes to weapons and tactics leading the primary of defence over attack and an inevitable stalemate.
There are several reasons agreeing with that the stalemate was inevitable. Firstly as technology wasn’t extremely advanced, for example artillery that were not very accurate or powerful and the infantry was still the backbone of countries armies and so the majority of battles was on land fought by infantry, but there was also some battles on the sea. As most battles were between infantry millions of soldiers attacked millions of other soldiers with their plans. For Germany it was the Schlieffen plan that was to take France in six weeks by invading France through Belgium and surround Paris and the French army while for France it was Plan 17 that was to attack through Alsace-Lorraine. Both of these plans were extremely risky and both failed and so both sides went on the defensive by building trenches and so a stalemate was inevitable. Another reason was that there had been huge advances in defensive weapons. From 1914 to 1918 defensive weapons such as machine guns, barbed wire and gas masks became so advanced trenches were almost impossible to take. Machine guns had been upgraded to fire eight bullets per second, that’s 480 bullets in one minute; this was able to mow down a platoon in several minutes. Even though they were awfully inaccurate the amount of bullets fired made up for it and still the machine gun caused the second most amount of deaths in the First World War. Barbed wire also made trenches almost impenetrable as when soldiers tried to climb over the wire they were sitting ducks and would be most likely killed. Also the affect of Gas attacks had worn off as Gas masks stopped the gas having any affect on the soldiers meaning more soldiers survived gas attacks to defend the trenches. During the war trains were used to move troops, ammunition and weapons around the country and so were very good for defense because when there was an attack reinforcements would arrive quickly and so making it even harder to break through lines, as the attackers would be undoubtedly outnumbered. The last reason is in the beginning of the war when Germany had launched its attack on France and Belgium they had to pull out soldiers that were send to fight against the Russians on the Easter Front. This meant the German line was stretched thin; therefore they didn’t have enough troops to penetrate the French line and if they did there were extremely few reinforcements to support them with ammunition and weapons and when they had arrived ore of the enemy reinforcements would have arrived forcing them back to where they started. This meant that in the end soldiers would end up back in their own trenches and the stalemate continued to go on and so it was inevitable.
However, a decisive strike in the early months of the war was clearly attainable and nearly achieved and a stalemate was far from the most likely outcome. The German Schlieffen plan was extremely close to success in the beginning of the war as they had forced there way through Belgium slowed down by the British Expeditionary Force. In the first few months of war the German had penetrated so deep they were within forty kilometers from Paris and so Paris was within artillery range but in truth the German army was too successful and as they were so far into France they were unable to be supplied with ammunition, weapons and reinforcements and that’s why they got forced back to Marne when they could get their reinforcements and hold their foothold