World War I
Project by Alexandra Freeman
Formation of the Alliances
In 1870, after Germany and France became enemies due to Prussia's forcing France to give up its territory bordering Germany, Germany makes quick friends with Italy and Austria-Hungary. These three became known as the triple alliance, controlling most of southeastern Europe.
With Russia worried about Germany's intentions of expanding their territory, Russia joins with France in an alliance against Germany and Austria Hungary. Under the alliance, the two nations promised to come to each other’s aid in a war against the Triple Alliance.
Through its rise via military, Germany had become one of the more powerful countries in Europe. It also had started building warships, which mainly threatened Britain. This occurred in 1898 and continued through the 1900's. The threats the Britain felt also led to an unofficial alliance with France and Russia known as the Triple Entente.
Austria-Hungary and its Annexing
During the Serbs call for independence, Austria-Hungary found it as a good time to annex certain areas. Bosnia was quickly annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. This action outraged the Serbs and showed them that Austria-Hungary was not going to let its empires become independent.
Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by the "Black Hand". 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was responsible for the crime. This crime quickly led to war in the Eastern half of the World. Below is a video describing the event.
Submarines from Germany
- In February 1915, the Germans announced that they would use submarines to sink without warning any ship they found in the waters around Britain. This was caused by the British creating a blockade too keep other forces out.
- On May 7 1915, a U-boat sunk the Lusitania killing over 1000 passengers including 128 Americans. The U.S. was outraged that innocent American lives were lost even though they were not in the war. The video below will explain this in more detail.
President Wilson did not want to engage in the war effort and was able to stay neutral so far, but this action was very striking to Americans and encouraged many to side with war. In 1916, in an effort the keep Americans from wanting to be involved in the war, Wilson made a speech to America, campaigning that he would keep us out of war.
- In January 1917, German officials sent a telegram to a German ambassador in Mexico saying that they would support them if they sided with Germany and if they reconquer the land they lost in Texas, it would be given to them. British intercepts this telegram and tells U.S. about it. This causes the U.S. to rethink its neutral position.
U.S. Petitions to go into War
- On February 1st 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted warfare. They didn't believe the U.S. could raise an army and send to Europe and because of this U-boats sank 6 American ships, resulting Wilson petitions to Congress to go into war on April 2, 1917.
Selective Service Act
- The Selective Service Act of 1917 required all men between 21 and 30 to register for a draft for the military. Men were called up and brought before a local draft ford and charged of selected and exempting them from service. Not all American soldiers were drafted. Even though about 2.8 million were drafted, approximately 2 million men volunteered for military service.
Full War in Europe
By spring of 1917, World War I devastated Europe. Inventions such as machine guns, planes, trench warfare, and other technologies contributed to the immense destruction happening throughout Europe.
Russia Leaves the War
- March 1917, riots broke out in Russia causing the leader of Russia to dethrone. The Government was unable to deal adequately to the people's needs leading to starvation. Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Party seized power and established a Communist government in November 1917.
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
- Lenin agrees to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany March 3, 1918. Under this treaty Russia gave the Ukraine its Polish and Baltic territories and Finland. Germany could now concentrate its forces in the west now that this was in place.
Americans Enter Combat
- July 4, 1917, the AEF arrives in Paris. British and French commanders wanted to integrate American troops into their armies but American general John Pershing refused. Eventually only one African American troop was brought to the French which sparked a lot of energy in the confidence of the troops leading to the use of moral, momentum, and man power against the Germans.
Germany's Last Attempt
- March 21, 1918, Germnay gas attacks along the western front. Germany was able to easily push deep into allied lines. By early June they were less than 40 miles from Paris. On June 1 they were blocked by French forces and on July 15 the Germans made a gas attack but were held by the American and French forces in order to save Paris, which was saved.
Battle of the Argonne Forest
- On September 26, 1918, the most massive American offensive of the AEF was launched between the Meuse river and the Argon forest. Here, the Germans position fell to the Americans. In early November, Americans opened a hole in the eastern flank of the German lines and the enemy began to retreat.
- On October 19, 1918, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia declared independence. This is a huge step from being controlled by other empires and countries, and ultimately shows the weak side of the dying forces in Europe.
Government has been Decided and War Ends!
- On November 9, Germany became a republic and two days later the government agreed to stop fighting. On November 11, 1918, the war ended for Germany, due to its demoralization and American allied forces bringing it to an end. The video below describes the end of WWI in better detail.
Treaties and More
- In 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 negotiations lasted 5 months. Included were Woodrow Wilson (The U.S.), David Lloyd George(Britain), George Clemenceau(France), and Vittorio Orlando (Italy). Russian representatives were not invited because allied leaders did not recognize Lenin's government as legitimate.
Treaty of Versailles
- This treaty was signed reluctantly by Germans on June 28, 1919. Germany’s armed forces were greatly reduced and its troops were not allowed west of the Rhine River. The treaty also specifically blamed “the aggression of Germany” for the war. This allowed the Allies to demand that Germany pay reparations—monetary compensation for all of the war damages it had caused, and a commission even decided that Germany owed the Allies about $33 billion. The video below explains the Treaty of Versailles in greater detail.