World War I

Start Free Trial

How Did The Allies Win World War 1

How did the Allies win WWI?

The Allies won World War I primarily because they enjoyed massive advantages over the Central Powers in terms of quality and quantity of output. In particular, the Allies were able to maintain a steady level of agricultural production throughout the conflict, whereas the Central Powers suffered severe food shortages.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In many ways, it was luck that enabled the Allies to win the war, but they did make make slightly better strategic decisions, while the Germans made some fatal blunders.

The first blunder was to assume that they would win this war quickly, within a few months, as they had the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. As a result, troops were taken from amongst the farmworkers, and no provision was made for planting new crops. When the war bogged down into the misery of trench warfare that it became, crops weren't planted, and the food supply dwindled.

The British made the good strategic move, in contrast, of blockading the German ports. These effective blockades meant that the German people, by 1916, were literally starving—hunger effected even the upper classes. This set the public against the war effort.

Meanwhile, the Germans blundered badly in using their subs to attack a few American ships and by engaging in a plot with the Mexicans against the United States. This turned US sentiments against the Germans so that the US entered the war on the side of the Allies. This was exactly what the Germans most dreaded, and it meant that the Allies would win. England and France were beyond spent out by the time the US entered the war—the British were simply printing money to buy arms, leading to massive inflation—but the US brought in an infusion of new troops and especially supplies to the Allies.

Even with all this, the Germans probably would have held out for a better settlement, but then the Russian Revolution erupted. Communism took over in Russia, and the newly emboldened communists in Germany tried to take advantage of the bad situation in Germany—hunger, high casualties, and people fed up with corruption and war—to stage a revolution there. This was almost successful and added to the weakness of the government, leading to the Germans to abruptly sue for peace.

Neither side planned well for this war. Everyone thought it would be over fast. The leadership of every country badly bungled the war effort, leading to horribly high casualties. However, the German Axis bungled the war more badly than the Allies. They did not have the good fortune to get the US on their side (they bungled that too). They were faced with high levels of unrest and possible revolution at home. All of this allowed the Allies to squeak out a victory that nobody was very happy with, given the cost and the consequences.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A number of factors can be cited to explain the victory of the Allied powers in World War I. A huge advantage in population size, superior mobilization of men and materiel, the decisive entry of the United States into the War in 1917 all played their part. However, the main reason for Allied powers' success was undoubtedly the vast superiority they enjoyed in terms of the quality and quantity of production, both militarily and non-militarily.

At the outbreak of the conflict, the Allies had more than five times the population of their enemies, nearly twelve times the amount of territory, and almost three times the output of the Central Powers. Taken together, these huge advantages allowed the Allies to maintain consistent superiority over the Central Powers in terms of both the quantity and quality of what they produced.

The Allies' superiority was particularly marked in the area of agricultural production. Whereas Allied countries such as Great Britain were able to expand agricultural output due to the incentive of higher prices for farmers, Central Powers such as Germany experienced severe food shortages as scarce food resources were diverted from urban areas to the military.

The low fixed prices offered to farmers by the governments of the Central Powers made things worse. As farmers in these countries, unlike their British counterparts, had no incentive to produce; they concentrated on subsistence farming, which sharply reduced the already limited food supply. And so, long before the Central Powers ran out of munitions, they ran out of food—a desperate situation that contributed greatly to the Allied victory.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Allies "won" World War I by simply outlasting the Central Powers.  Germany was fighting a two front war for most of the conflict, an was bled by a long, grinding, attrition style of trench warfare that took millions of her young men.  When the United States entered the war in 1917 on the Allied side, it was fresh, with a huge industrial base already manufacturing war materiel, and a population unbloodied as of yet.  There was no way Germany could have competed long term with America allied against her.

Specifically, Germany failed to conquer Paris in the final 1918 offensive, in large part due to the presence of American troops.  Germany's economy was bankrupt and teetering, its reserves of manpower exhausted, and it was forced to sue for peace.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Basically, the Allies won the war by holding on long enough for the US to enter the war.  This is not meant to imply that somehow we were better than them, but the weight of US soliders, coming when the two sides were so equally balanced, tipped the scales to the Allied side.

The Allies managed to stop the German advance at the beginning of the war.  Then they started in on the trench warfare.  By doing this, they held the Germans in check until the US was persuaded to join the war.  This put so many fresh soldiers into the war that it made the difference.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team