World War I
World War I's Western Front
The Schlieffen plan allowed Germany to invade two countries at once; France and Russia. In the first battle of the war, Germans attacked the city of Liege, France. On their way, the Germans left a wake of obsolete destruction, killing civilians and even executing a Belgian priest. In the first Battle of the Marne, France and Britain confronted the German fleet within 30 miles of Paris. The Allies successfully drove the Germans out of France and back to the Aisne River. A few other long and costly battles on the Western Front were at Verdun and Somme. Over one million people died in those battles alone.
World War I's Eastern Front
On the Eastern Front of World War I, Russian forces invaded East Prussia and German Poland, but were stopped short by German and Austrian forces at the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914. Despite winning that battle, Germans moved two corps of troops to the Eastern Front, which resulted in the loss of the Battle of the Marne. Russia's war machines mobilized very quickly, which led to a grueling conflict that the Allies won, instead of a quicker victory by Germany. Over the next few years, Russia began mounting offensives on the Eastern German front. Even though the attacks were very successful, Russia and the Allies could not break through the German lines. The inability to fully complete the assaults led the population to rebellious actions. This rebellion was spearheaded by Vladimir Lenin. One of his first orders was to stop Russia from continuing the war effort. His effort made a huge impact, causing the country to sign an armistice with the Central Powers, effectively taking them out of the war.
Gallipoli Campaign and Isonzo Battles
World War I was basically in a stalemate in Europe, with no side taking a visible lead for a long time. The allies attempted to invade the Ottoman Empire, which failed horribly. The Allies also tried to invade Dardanelles, which is in the Aegean Sea, and failed. To make things worse, Britain tried to invade the Gallipoli Peninsula and were defeated there. This dismal failures led to a full-on retreat from the shores. There were around 250,000 casualties in the battles fought there. To recover, Britain attacked the Turks in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The battles were fought along the Isonzo River, with twelve in all. The main battles lasted two years in total, with the first starting in late spring,1915. The final started around October of 1917. Allies also worked to capture the Italian Front.
Battle at Sea
In the midst of the land war, many battles were occurring at sea. The mighty Royal Army prevailed in Dogger Bank, intimidating the German Navy. In fact, they didn't attack for another year! In the biggest sea battle in the war, the Battle of Jutland, the Royal Navy crushed German battleships. Germany then took to attacking by U-boat. The unnecessary sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania caused widespread disagreement with Germany in the U.S.A. Eventually, the United States signed an arms appropriation bill to make the country ready for war.
Moving Towards an Armistice
Without Russian reinforcement thanks to the rebellion, the Western Front in Germany could build up power. Allies struggled to hold off the German Army. Things got much better when U.S. reinforcements arrived. On July 15, 1918, General Erich von Ludendorff launched the final offensive in the war. They attacked France, who was accompanied by 85,000 Americans and the British Expeditionary Force. This battle was the second at the Marne. The Allies stopped them in there tracks, thanks in part to French Commander Philippe Petain, who had great strategic planning abilities. This battle heavily turned the tides toward the Allies, who recaptured France and Poland. The Central Powers were unraveling at a rapid rate. Turkey was invaded by Arab revolts, defeating them. Thanks to the retreat of its allies and dwindling supplies, Germany signed armistice on November 11, 1918, ending World War I.
At a peace conference, Allied leaders met and tried to find a way to safeguard the world from another war. They agreed that the Versailles Treaty would solve all of the problems. It did not. Germany felt tricked. They had to saddle all guilt of the war, give up League of Nations entrance, and heavy reparations. Germany felt a "peace without victory." This unfair punishment led to, 20 years later, World War II.