Archives for category: World War I
  • Intro
    • Central Powers lose morale
      • American troops arrive
      • They bring nearly unlimited supplies
        • No one knows how many resources and men the Americans can provide.
    • Germany becomes a republic
      • Armistice Day – 11/11/1918, Veterans Day
  • Legacy
    • New technology, warfare
    • 8.5 million soldiers died
      • Not including civilian casualties
    • Destruction of lands, civilization
    • Disillusionment vs Enchantment
      • War is no longer glorified
      • Enchantment wears off
    • Global anger and resentment
      • Lack of real peace
    • European economies drained
  • Treaty of Versailles
    • Big 3/4
      • US – Woodrow Wilson
      • France – Clemenceau
      • Britain – George
      • Italy – Orlando (none of his demands were met, Italy dropped out)
  • Treaty of Versailles
    • 14 Points Rejected
      • France and Britain want to punish Germany
      • League of Nations
        • Acts as France and Britain’s “World Police”
    • League of Nations
      • France and Britain are the only major powers in the league
    • Punishing Germany
      • Germany lost land and colonies
      • Limited military and supplies
      • No submarines or air force allowed
    • War Guilt Clause
      • Germany is blamed for war


WWI ended in 1919, but the terms were still being discussed in Versailles, near Paris. The terms for peace were discussed by delegates from 32 countries, who discussed how to create a lasting peace.

  • The Allies Meet and Debate

    The major decisions were made by the Big Four: Woodrow Wilson from the US, Georges Clemenceau of France, David George of Britain, and Vittorio Orlando of Italy. Russia was not represented because it was in the middle of a civil war. Germany and the other losers were also not invited.

    • Wilson’s Plan for Peace
      • In 1918, President Wilson created the 14 points, which outlined a way to achieve lasting peace.
      • These points included:
        • No more secret treaties
        • Freedom to travel over sees
        • Free trade
        • Smaller national armies and navies
        • Fairness to colonies and their people
        • 6-13 are suggestions for changing borders and creating nation.
      • Self-determination was a guiding principle, giving people the choice to live under whatever government they wanted.
      • The 14th point proposed a union of nations that would try to guide and protect both large and small states. This organization would try to peacefully resolve world conflicts.
    • The Versailles Treaty
      • Both Britain and France disliked Wilson’s vision of peace, as they wanted to strip Germany of all war-making power. These differences led to arguments, before they finally reached the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty adopted the 14th point and created the League of Nations, which would try to keep peace.
      • The treaty also punished Germany, taking land and power away. The harshest provision was Article 231, which blamed Germany for the war and forced the to pay reparations.
      • All German colonies became territories and were taken charge of the League of Nations until they were ready for independence.
  • A Troubled Treaty

    The Versailles treaty was one of the five treaties. However, these treaties created feelings of unhappiness among victors and the defeated.

    • The Creation of New Nations
      • The Western Powers signed treaties with each other, which caused large land losses for the Central Powers. New countries were created – Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
      • The Ottomans had to give up their empire, only retaining Turkey. The lost land was split into mandates – Palestine, Iraq, and Transjordan for Britain, Syria and Lebanon for France.
      • Russia also lost land to Romania and Poland. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania became independent from Russia.
    • “A Peace Built on Quicksand”
      • The Treaty of Versailles led to a temporary peace, especially because the United States rejected it. Americans believed that they should stay out of European affairs. The US came up with a separate treaty with Germany years later.
      • Also, the treaty with Germany, especially the war-guilt section left bitterness. The losers felt cheated by the Allies and colonies continued under the mandate system.
      • Without the support of the United States, the League of Nations was too weak to take any action and the world would soon fall into another great war.
  • War Affects the World

    The combatants tried to end the stalemate by forming new alliances with other nations outside Europe.

    • The Gallipoli Campaign
      • The Allies began to attack Dardanelles, in the Ottoman Empire. This sea strait led to Constantinople, which was a supply line to Russia. However, this area was held by the Ottoman Turks.
      • This attempt started in early 1915 and was called the Gallipoli campaign. British, Australian, New Zealand, and French troops assaulted the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western side of the strait. The Turkish troops defended the region, forcing them into another stalemate. This turned to trench warfare, which lasted a year before the Allies gave up. The lost nearly 250000 men.
    • Battles in Africa and Asia
      • German colonies were being attacked in both Asia and Africa. Japanese overran Germans in China. They also conquered islands in the Pacific. English and French troops attacked German colonies in Africa, taking 3 of 4.
      • The British and French militaries hired fighting troops and laborers from India, Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, and Indochina. Some colonial subjects did not want to be involved but others volunteered, hoping to win their freedom.
    • America Joins the Fight
      • In 1917, the war spread to the seas when the German submarines began sinking any ships in British waters, a policy named unrestricted submarine warfare.
      • Germans had tried this policy before, sinking the Lusitania in 1915. This attack killed over 1000 people, and around 129 US citizens. The American public was outraged and the President protested. After 2 more attacks, the Germans stopped attacking neutral and passenger ships.
      • However, the Germans were desperate and returned to this policy in 1917. They knew this might cause war with the US but needed to starve Britain into defeat. This moved the US 1 step closer to war.
      • In 1917, a telegram was intercepted. This telegram, the Zimmerman note, was a proposal to Mexico to help “reconquer” the land they lost to the United States.
      • This note was the last straw and America declared war on the Central Powers. America joined the Allies.
  • War Affects the Home Front

    War had dragged on for three years before the United States joined in. The Great War had affected everyone.

    • Governments Wage Total War
      • World War I was a total war, taking up all the resources of each country. Governments took over the economy, telling factories what to produce (usually munitions/weapons). All citizens were working to produce goods and goods that war used for war were strictly rationed. People could only buy small amounts of the items that were used for war.
      • Governments also limited anti-war efforts and used propaganda to keep up morale and support.
    • Women and the War
      • Women began to play a larger role as they replaced men in factories, offices, and shops. They built weapons, farmed, and operated hospitals. They transported food and weapons to soldiers.
      • Others participated in the war as nurses, helping injured soldiers.
  • The Allies Win the War

    Once the US entered the war, the Allies seemed to have an inevitable victory. However, Russia was on the verge of collapse, giving Germany a hope for victory.

    • Russia Withdraws
      • In 1917, Russian people protested the shortages of food and fuel, forcing Czar Nicholas to step down.
      • The provisional government continued the fighting. The army refused to fight.
      • Another revolution began, led by Lenin. Lenin offered Germany a truce and they signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
    • The Central Powers Collapse
      • Once Russia withdrew, Germany could focus its war efforts on the West. There, they pushed into France, reaching the Marne River, less than 40 miles from Paris.
      • However, the German military was tired and the newly arrived US troops had an endless supply chain. The Second Battle of the Marne began, and the Allied forces pushed nearly 350 tanks through the German lines. 2 million more American troops arrived and they pushed towards Germany.
      • The Central Powers collapsed, Bulgarians, Turks, and finally, Austria-Hungary. In Germany, soldiers mutinied and Kaiser Wilhelm was forced to step down in 1918. Germany became a republic and a representative signed a armistice with the French commander. WWI ended on November 11, 1918.
  • The Legacy of the War
    • World War I was a unique war, fought with new technologies with the power to bring unprecedented amounts of death
    • Around 8.5 million soldiers died and 21 million were wounded. Civilians also suffered through starvation, disease, and death. This tragedy wiped out an entire generation. The war drained treasuries and destroyed farmland. The estimated cost was around $388 billion, a huge amount. This suffering left a mark on society, reminding people of insecurity and despair.
    • The peace agreement was another legacy, which brought anger and resentment.


Europe was divided in 1914, split between the Triple Entente and Alliance. Austria-Hungary was part of the Alliance, and their declaration of war against Serbia brought all of Europe into war.

  • The Great War Begins

    Russia was allies with Serbia, and Russian troops quickly approached the Austrian border. Russia also sent troops to the German border because they anticipated that the Germans would help Austria. Germans saw this as a declaration of war and declared war on Russia.

    France tried to join the war against Germany, but Germany acted first. Once Germany declared war on France, Britain declared war on Germany.

    • Nations Take Sides
      • In 1914, Germany and Austria-Hungary were the Central Powers. They were located in the middle of Europe, and Bulgaria and the Ottomans soon joined in.
      • Britain, France, and Russia were the Allied Powers, attracting nations such as Japan and Italy. Italy had been on the other side until they left after accusing Austria of starting the war unjustly.
      • In late 1914, millions of soldiers were at war, expecting a quick victory.
  • A Bloody Stalemate

    Edward Grey predicted that the war would be long. This prediction came true as they were locked into a stalemate in France. This region was called the Western Front.

    • The Conflict Grinds Along
      • Germany had a war on two fronts – France in the west and Russia in the east. Their plan was to quickly beat France and then rush to fight Russia. This Schlieffen Plan needed a quick victory over France.
      • Germany seemed to be winning at first. However, the Allies regrouped and forced the Germans into retreat after 4 days.
      • While this was the first major fight, the First Battle of the Marne was the most important. It ruined the Schlieffen Plan, making victory in the west (France) impossible. Russia had already started to invade Germany. The German leaders moved troops from France to fight Russia, allowing the war on the Western Front to settle into a stalemate.
    • War in the Trenches
      • In 1915, the war moved to the trenches. This type of warfare was extremely deadly and had small gains.
      • Trenches were miserable, swarming with rats and lacking food.
      • The space between trenches was a now mans land, where soldiers would go to try and fight. However, machine-guns would cut them down. Artillery fire hit the trenches along the 500 miles of the western front.
      • Military strategies made war long and deadly, killing more people. By the Battle of Somme, over a half a million people were dead.
      • The Germans gained 4 miles, the British gained 5.
  • The Battle on the Eastern Front

    While the stalemate was killing people on the Western Front, more men were sent to the Eastern Front. Along this German-Russian border, Russians and Serbs fought the Germans and Austrians.

    • Early Fighting
      • Russia was winning at first, but Germany counterattacked. In Tannenberg, the Germans destroyed the Russian army and forced them to retreat in four days.
      • Russians still did better than Austrians, invading deep into Austria. In December, 1914, did Austria finally push the Russians out.
    • Russia Struggles
      • Because they were not industrialized, the Russian army did not have enough supplies. By 1916, they were about to collapse. However, the Russians had huge numbers to keep fighting, tying up German troops and keeping them from fighting the west.
      • As the war dragged on, it spread to Africa and Asia, becoming a world war.


The European nations had not been fighting for nearly 30 years. By the 1900s, there were hundreds of peace organizations. However, in around a decade, there would be a massive war.

  • Rising Tensions in Europe

    While peace was present across much of Europe in the start of the 1900s, there were other forces at work. Soon, other developments would begin to push the continent into war.

    • The Rise of Nationalism
      • Nationalism was a contributing factor. Nationalism was a unifying force within an nation, but could also cause competition between nations. There was a fierce rivalry between the European Powers: Germany, Austria-Hunger, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, France.
      • This competition came from the demand for materials and markets and territory.
    • Imperialism and Militarism
      • Imperialism also helped lead to war. As the nations attempted to create colonies, they would often end up competing, building distrust and rivalry.
      • Another development was the start of the arms race. They believed in a strong military and all nations had a strong army except Britain. Military experts valued mobilized armies who could quickly move at a sign of trouble.
      • This glorification of the military was known as militarism,. Having such a strong military made people feel patriotic, but also frightened some. Peace activists were extremely disturbed.
  • Tangled Alliances

    The growing mistrust led to new military alliances between he powers. This alliance system started in the 1870’s and was designed to keep peace in Europe. This failed and started a war.

    • Bismarck Forges Early Pacts
      • Prussia’s chancellor was Otto van Bismarck, a military leader who used war to unify Germany. After 1871, he decided that Germany was large enough and that he would now move to peace.
      • Bismarck felt that France was the greatest enemy as they were still angry for losing the Franco-Prussian
        War. Bismarck’s first goal was to isolate France. He formed an alliance with Germany and Austria. Italy joined later, forming the Triple alliance. In 1881, Bismarck made an alliance with Russia.
    • Shifting Alliances Threaten Peace
      • In 1890, Germany’s foreign policy was changed by Kaiser Wilhelm II. He forced Bismarck away and decided to show the world how mighty he was. The army was his pride and he let the German treaty with Russia expire.
      • Soon, Russia formed a military alliance with France. If either France or Russia attacked, the Germans would have a war on 2 fronts, west and east.
      • Wilhelm began to work on a German navy.
      • This alarmed Great Britain, who decided to join France and Russia. The Triple Entete did not require Britain to fight with France and Russia but prevented war between them.
      • By 1907, the two groups were formed: The Triple Alliance – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy. The Triple Entente – Great Britain, France, and Russia
  • Crisis in the Balkans

    The Balkan Peninsula had a large amount of ethnic groups and was known as the “powder keg” of Europe.

    • The Restless Regions
      • In the 1900s, the Ottoman Empire was in decline. The Balkan region were trying to free themselves from the Turks, forming new nations such as Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia.
      • These countries were strongly nationalistic, longing for extended borders. Serbia wanted to expand but Austria-Hungary opposed them.
      • In 1908, Austria took over some Slavic populated land, angering Serbia. Tensions continued to rise.
    • A Shot Rings Throughout Europe
      • Archduke Franz Ferdinand rose to the Austro-Hungarian throne. However, they were shot by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian. He was a member of the Black Hand, a secret society.
      • Austria decided to use this as an excuse to punish Serbia. Only July 23, Austria gave Serbia an ultimatum of demands. Serbian leaders offered to have some settled by international conference, but Austria did not want to negotiate.
      • Austria declared war. Russia, an ally of Serbia, began to mobilize towards Austria.
      • Everyone in Europe began preparations as the war loomed ominously.


The Industrialization required more resources for more production. Many nations saw Africa as a source of raw materials and a market for new products. They began to seize parts of Africa, imperialism. Stronger countries dominated the political, economic, and social life of smaller countries.

  • Africa Before European Domination

    Prior to the European invasions in the mid-1800s, Africa was composed of many small groups. They had either traditional beliefs or believed in Islam or Christianity. These groups had their own languages and they could be anything from large empires to small villages.

    Europeans established contact in the 1450s. However, the African armies were able to prevent invasions for 400 years. Europeans were unable to control more than 10% of the land until 1880.

    Nature was another obstacle to European travelers. The African rivers had rapids, cataracts, and uneven flows. However, the newly invented steamboats could navigate into the interior of Africa. Finally, the diseases also discouraged exploration.

    The Africans also had their own specialized trade networks.

    • Nations Compete for Overseas Empires
      • The European travelers who reached the center of Africa were explorers, missionaries, and humanitarians. They learned about Africa from the media. The media of the time hired reporters to search for adventure and mystery.
    • The Congo Sparks Interest
      • In the 1860s, David Livingstone from Scotland traveled to central Africa to promote Christianity. He was gone for several years with no contact. Finally, an American newspaper hired a reporter who found Livingstone one the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
      • Stanley began to explore Africa himself, tracing the Congo River. King Leopold II of Belgium was interested and commissioned Stanley to help him find and in the Congo. Stanley signed treaties with the chiefs, giving King Leopold II control.
      • Though Leopold claimed to abolish slave trade and promote Christianity, he actually brutally exploited Africans, forcing them to collect sap from plants. Over 10 million Congolese died from hi abuses. As a result, humanitarians from around the world demanded change. Leopold’s land was taken away by the Belgian government in 1908. However, this seizure alarmed France as the colony was extremely large. Soon, other countries such as Britain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain began to claim Africa.
  • Forces Driving Imperialism

    Imperialism drove colonization in Africa was also present at other lands – the drive to take over the world was everywhere. The Industrial Revolution was a major factor, as nations looked for new markets and more raw materials for their economy.

    • Belief in European Superiority
      • The colonies grew out of national pride. Europeans felt their empire was the best and they tried to put their flag on as much land as they could.
      • Many Europeans were racist, believing that their race was superior. This attitude showed Social Darwinism. In this theory, the theories of evolution also applied to human society. Only those who were fit for survival would enjoy wealth and success. Therefore, non-Europeans were lower down because they did not make the same scientific progress. Europeans felt they had the right to bring their work to other countries. Cecil Rhodes supported this.
      • Expansion was also promoted by missionaries who wanted to convert people to Christianity. Missionaries believed European rule would end slave trade and civilize the foreign peoples.
    • Factors Promoting Imperialism in Africa
      • The European conquest of Africa was aided by their technological superiority. The Maxim gun was invented in 1884, the first machine gun. European countries had access while the Africans still relied on primitive weapons.
      • Europeans could also control their empire, easily traveling on rivers with steam engine, using railroads, cables, and steamships to communicate.
      • However, despite these superior technology, the disease still kept them away. They were still susceptible to malaria. When quinine was created in 1829, the Europeans were protected.
      • Africa’s diverse languages and cultures caused disunity, making European colonization easy. Europeans soon learned to put rival groups against each other to weaken them.
  • The Division of Africa

    The French expanded from West Africa to the west Sudan in the 1880s. The discovery of diamonds and gold increased interest. Everyone wanted into Africa.

    • Berlin Conference Divides Africa
      • The fierce competition could have resulted in war, if not for the Berlin Conference in 1885. At this conference, they decided that each nation could claim land as long as they notified the other nations and showed they had to power to control the land. The nations quickly divided the continent without thinking about the native groups. No African ruler was present at this conference but this conference decided Africa’s fate. By 1914, only Liberia and Ethiopia were free from European control.
    • Demand for Raw Materials Shapes Colonies
      • The colonizing nations believed that Africans would by European goods. This never happened. However, European factories still needed raw materials, they exploited the rich minerals. The Congo had copper and tin, South Africa had gold and diamonds. Soon, plantations grew peanuts, palm oil, cocoa, and rubber. These products made it hard for the African farmers to grow food to feed their families.
  • Three Groups Clash

    South Africa was fought over by the Africans, Dutch, and British. Though the Europeans had just arrived, there had actually been land disputes for the last 100 years.

    • Zulus Fight the British
      • From the 1700s to the 1800s, there were local wars. In 1816, a Zulu chief, Shaka, used disciplined warriors and good organization to create a large central state. However, his successors failed defending the state from the British. In 1879, King Cetshwayo of the Zulu people began to fight. The Zulus used had spears and shields against the British guns, but the Zulu almost won. In 1879, the Zulus finally lost the Battle of Ulundi and their nation, falling to British control in 1887.
    • Boers and British Settle in the Cape
      • The Dutch were first to South Africa. Their “Cape of Good Hope” was a station of ships sailing to the Netherlands from the East Indies. Dutch settlers, Boers – Afrikaners, created farms. When the British took over, they clashed with the British over land and slavery.
      • In 1830, many Boers moved north in the Great Trek. They soon began to fight with the Zulu and other African groups.
    • The Boer War
      • When diamonds and gold were discovered in the 1880s, adventurers rushed in. The Boers tried to stop them but failed. Soon, the Boers began to blame the British and took up arms.
      • The Boer war is considered the first modern war as there were commando raids and guerrilla tactics against the British. The British burned Boer farms and imprisoned women and children in concentration camps.
      • Black South Africans were also involved. They fought, scouted, guarded, drove, and worked. Many were captured and killed by the British.
      • Britain finally won in 1910, and the Boer land was under British control.
      • These colonies changed the lives of Africans as the Europeans tried to change the lives of the conquered people.