World War 1 Timeline

William Sherman

Formation Of Alliances

In 1870, as part of its plan to unify Germany, Prussia forced France to give up territory along the German border. As a result, France and Germany became enemies. To protect itself, Germany signed alliances with Italy and with the huge empire of Austria-Hungary, which controlled much of southeastern Europe. This became known as the Triple Alliance.

New Alliance

The new alliance alarmed Russian leaders, who feared that Germany intended to expand eastward. In addition, Russia and Austria-Hungary were competing for influence in southeastern Europe. A common interest in opposing Germany and Austria-Hungary led Russia and France to sign the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894. Under the alliance, the two nations promised to come to each other’s aid in a war against the Triple Alliance.


Such alliances fostered militarism—the strong buildup of armed forces to intimidate and threaten other nations. Over time, German militarism led Britain to become involved in the alliance system. Britain’s policy was to try to prevent one nation from controlling all of Europe. By the late 1800s, Germany had clearly become Europe’s strongest nation.

Large Modern Navy

In 1898 Germany began building a large modern navy. The buildup threatened the British, who rushed to build warships. By the early 1900s, Britain and Germany were engaged in an arms race. The race convinced Britain to build closer ties with France and Russia. The British refused to sign a formal alliance, so the relationship became known as an entente cordiale, or friendly understanding. Britain, France, and Russia became known as the Triple Entente.


By the late 1800s, nationalism, or a feeling of intense pride in one’s homeland, had become a powerful idea in Europe. Nationalists place primary emphasis on promoting their homeland’s culture and interests. They believe in the right of self-determination—the idea that those who share a national identity should have their own country and government. In the 1800s, nationalism led to a crisis in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe.


In the 1700s and 1800s, imperialism—the ruling or controlling of other peoples or nations through annexation, military conquest, or economic domination—was how European powers built empires. For years the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had ruled the Balkans. But as nationalism spread in the late 1800s and early 1900s, national groups such as the South Slavs—Serbs, Bosnians, Croats, and Slovenes—began to press for independence. The Serbs, who were the first to gain independence, formed a nation called Serbia between the two empires. Serbia believed that its mission was to unite the South Slavs.

Russia supporting the Serbs

Russia supported the Serbs, but Austria-Hungary worked to limit Serbia’s growth. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia, which had belonged to the Ottoman Empire, outraging the Serbs. The annexation demonstrated that Austria-Hungary had no intention of letting the Slavic people in its empire become independent.

The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

Seven conspirators (part of the Black Hand) were involved in the plan to assassinate Ferdinand. One conspirator threw a hand grenade at the archduke's car when he was on his way to Sarajevo's city hall. The grenade bounced off the car and exploded near the following car; the archduke escaped injury. When Franz Ferdinand arrived at city hall, the Austrian commander warned the archduke that the city was about to erupt into rebellion. He convinced the archduke to escape quickly. After the reception, the archduke's car sped away from city hall, traveling fast enough to make it difficult for another attempt on his life, until the car had to make a sharp turn. The curve before the bridge over the river forced the car to slow down. There, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to approach the car and shot the archduke and his wife.

Americans Take Sides

When the war began, President Wilson immediately state that the United States would remain neutral. Despite his plea, many Americans took sides. Many side with the Allied cause, a lot of German & Irish Americans side with Triple alliance. For more than 2 years the U.S. remained neutral.

The Great Debate

Some believed that preparing for war was best way to stay out of conflict. Build up military so nobody messes with you (militarism). Others - To keep American out of war. Not getting involved in foreign issues.

British Propaganda Poster

This World War I British propaganda poster is intended to show how the war is destroying Britain's homes. It stirs the viewer's emotions, prompting anger toward the enemy and sympathy for the British cause. The destroyed home and the girl holding the baby provides impact to the poster's message. Providing statistics about those killed and wounded gives stronger evidence of what the enemy has done. "Men of Britain!" screams the text above the illustration. "Will you stand this?" issues a challenge primarily to British men to not let the enemy destroy their homes and families. An effective, persuasive appeal always ends with a call to action. "Enlist Now" suggests what citizens can do next to help protect their country.

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The Sinking of the Lusitania

In February 1915, the Germans announced that they would use submarines to sink without warning any ship they found in the waters around Britain. They made this decision b/c of the British blockade. Supplies would go to British ports for war effort, they would be hidden as passenger ships. On May 7 1915, a U-boat sunk the Lusitania killing over 1000 passengers including 128 Americans.

The Zimmerman Telegram

In January 1917, the German official sends a telegram to German ambassador in Mexico, we will support you if you side with Germany, if they reconquer the land they lost in Texas. British intercepts this telegram and tells U.S

USA joins the War

On February 1st 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted warfare. If they starve British in supplies if they sink all ships on site. They didn't believe the U.S. could raise an army and send to Europe. U-boats sank 6 American ships, because of this, Wilson petitions to Congress to go into war on April 2, 1917.

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens - grow their own vegetables and fruit and different type of produce. Women would recycle fat from other foods to use as grease. Can vegetables and fruits to preserve these foods. The U.S. government promoted the use of Victory Gardens to encourage civilians to grow their own food instead of buying it from farmer-supplied stores. A way for people who cannot go to war to participate & do their duty that is similar to the level of a soldier's duty.

Shaping Public Opinions

Progressives did not think that organizing the economy was enough to ensure the success of the war effort. They also believed he government needed to shape public opinion. Soon after Congress declared war, Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to “sell” the war to the American people. Headed by journalist George Creel, the CPI recruited advertising executives, artists, authors, songwriters, entertainers, public speakers, and motion picture companies to help sway public opinion in favor of the war.

Raising Money for WW1

Celebrities, such as "King of Hollywood," Douglas Fairbanks Encourage the average American citizen to buy bonds.

African American Soldiers March

African American civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois supported America’s war efforts, believing that the courage exhibited by African American soldiers benefited the fight for equality. This fight was hampered by the hypocrisy of some military commanders. Although publicly commending the African American troops, General John J. Pershing privately promoted the racial prejudice common at the time.

Women in the War

World War I was the first war in which women officially served in the armed forces. Women serving in the navy wore a standard uniform and were assigned the rank of yeoman. By the end of the war more than 11,000 women had served in the navy. Many performed clerical duties. Women served as nurses both in the army and navy since the early 1900s, but as auxiliaries.

Trench Warfare

By Spring of 1917, World War I devastated Europe. This is because of poor war strategy. New technology artillery resulted in terrible destruction. Many Americans believed their troops would make a difference and bring the war to an end. Early offensive demonstrated that warfare had changed. Powerful artillery guns placed far behind the front lines hurled huge explosive shells onto the battlefield. To protect themselves from artillery, troops began building trenches. Western Front- where German troops fought French, British, and Belgian forces. It was here where troops dug a trench networks that stretched from England channels to Western boarders. Both sides used barbed wire as a new weapon.

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Russia Leaves the War

March 1917, riots broke out in Russia causing Nicolas \ the leader of Russia to advocated his thrown and Russian revolution began. The temporary government did take commands whose leader wanted to stay in the war. The problem is all of the citizens are starving so no one wants to stay in the war.
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Americans Enter Combat

July 4, 1917 - AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) arrives in Paris. British and French commanders wanted to integrate American troops into their armies, but American general John Pershing refused. Eventually only one unit (93rd Africa American unit) was transferred to the French

Treaty of Versailles

January 1919, delegates from 27 countries traveled to the peace conference at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. The treaty with Germany came to be called the Treaty of Versailles
The Great War by Joe Sacco
Trench Warfare
The Zimmerman Telegram (NHD Entry)