Why did the First World War end in stalemate for so long?

This enquiry examines why stalemate occurred during the First World War and how it was finally ended. Students are also asked to consider the impact of technological developments in warfare from 1914-18 and their effectiveness in ending the conflict.

Stage 1

What do we mean by stalemate?

This stage develops students’ understanding of the causes of stalemate during the First World War. Students are asked to explore why the First World War ended in stalemate for so long.

Stage 2

Why did stalemate occur on the Western Front?

This stage further develops students’ understanding of the causes of stalemate during the First World War by exploring four causes of stalemate: The Trench system, the effective use of a machine gun as a defensive weapon, the difficulty crossing No-man's land and the use of railways to mobilise/transfer troops.

Why did stalemate occur on the Western Front?

A 5 slide powerpoint presentation of images showing trench warfare, no man's land, a machine gun and Russian soldiers being mobilised and transported the front line.

Quotes from the front line

This resource features quotes from the front line – which detail the conditions of No-Man’s Land and the role of senior officers/tactics as a prelude to the next activity – other reasons for stalemate.

Stage 3

How was the stalemate on the Western Front broken?

To complete the enquiry, students are asked to consider how the stalemate was broken. All students will identify at least two factors which ended the stalemate, with an activity to stretch students focussing upon a hierarchy of significance or linking factors to highlight that no one single reason ended the stalemate.

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