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World War I - Europe


TIMELINE

1914

  • June 28 - Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

  • July 5 - Kaiser Wilhelm II promises "blank check" to Austria against Serbia

  • July 28 - Austria declares war on Serbia

  • July 30 - Russia mobilizes its army against Austria-Hungary

  • August 1 - Germany declares war on Russia

  • August 3 - Germany declares war on France

  • August 4 - Germany invades Belgium (WWI BEGINS)

  • August 4 - Britain declares war on Germany

  • August 15 - Japanese ultimatum to Germany demanding Jiaozhou (China)

  • August 23 - Japanese enters war on side of Allies

  • August 25-30 - Battle of Tannenberg (Russia defeated)

  • September 7-14 - First Battle of Masurian Lakes

  • September 6-12 - First Battle of the Marne

  • October 18 - First Battle of Ypres

  • October 29 - Ottoman Empire joins Central Powers

  • November 2 - Russia declares war on Ottoman Empire

  • November 2 - Britain begins naval blockade of Germany

  • November 5 - Britain and France declare war on Ottoman Empire

  • December - first Zeppelin is used

  • December 24 - Christmas truce

1915

  • January 1 - Bread rationing introduced in Germany

  • January 18 - Japanese present 21 Secret Demands to China

  • February 19 - Britain bombards Turkish forts in the Dardanelles

  • April 24 - Beginning of Armenian Massacres/Genocide

  • April 25-Jan. 9, 1916 - Battle of Gallipoli

  • May 7 - Lusitania is sunk by German U-Boat

  • May 23 - Italy enters war on side of Allies

  • August 5 - Germans captures Warsaw from Russia

  • October 14 - Bulgaria enters war

1916

  • January 27 - Britain begins conscription

  • February 21-Dec. 18 - Battle of Verdun

  • May 4 - Germany signs Sussex Pledge agreeing not to bomb ships without warning

  • May 31-Jun. 1 - Battle of Jutland (Naval war)

  • June 4-Sept. 20 - Brusilov Offensive

  • July 1 - Nov 18 - Battle of the Somme

  • September 15 - 1st tanks are used

  • December 7 - David Lloyd George becomes British Prime Minister

1917

  • February 1 - Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare

  • February 25 - Zimmerman Telegram intercepted

  • March 15 - Tsar Nicholas II abdicates

  • April 6 - United States enters war on Allied side

  • July 31-Nov. 10 - Third Battle of Ypres

  • October 24 - Battle of Caporetta (Italy defeated)

  • November 7 - Bolshevik Revolution in Russia

  • December 5 - Armistice signed between Germany and Russia

  • December 9 - Britain captures Jerusalem

1918

  • January 8 - Wilson issues Fourteen Points

  • March 3 - Brest-Litovsk treaty is signed between Germany and Russia

  • March 21-Jul. 18 - German Spring Offensives (beginning with Operation Michael)

  • March 29 - Marshall Foch is appointed Allied Commander on Western Front

  • July 15 - Second Battle of the Marne begins

  • August 8-Nov. 11 - Hundred Days Campaign to push Germans out of France

  • August 8-Aug. 11 - Battle of Amiens (start of Hundred Days Campaign)

  • September 19-25 - Battle of Megiddo, Ottoman Empire collapses

  • October 4 - Germany asks Allies for an armistice

  • October 29 - Germany's navy mutinies

  • October 30 - Ottomans (Turkey) makes peace

  • November 3 - Austria makes peace

  • November 9 - Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates

  • November 10 - Germany signs armistice with Allies (END OF WWI)

1919

  • January 4 - Peace conference meets at Paris

  • June 28 - Treaty of Versailles is signed by Germany

LONG TERM CAUSES

  • M.A.I.N. Causes

  • Militarism

  • Alliance

  • Imperialism

  • Nationalism

ALLIANCES

League of the Three Emperors (1873-1887)

  • Germany + Austria + Russia

  • Collapsed with rivarly between Austria (Franz Joseph I) and Russian (Alexander III)

  • Over Balkans

Dual Alliance (1879-1918)

  • Germany + Austria-Hungary

  • Secret treaty, defensive

  • Germany (under Bismarck) and Austria would help each other if Russia attacked

  • Neutrality if attacked by another country

  • For 5 years, then renewed regularly until 1918

  • Made Russia afraid

Triple Alliance (1882-1915)

  • Germany + Austria + Italy

  • Secret agreement bringing Italy into the Dual Alliance (Germany/Austria)

  • Italy wanted support against France in North Africa (Tunisia)

  • Germany and Austria-Hungary would help Italy if attacked by France

  • Italy promised to be neutral if in war between Austria-Hungary and Russia

Reinsurance Treaty (1887)

  • Germany (Bismarck) + Russia

  • Signed after the Three Emperors League collapsed

  • German and Russia would remain neutral if the other was involved in war with a third power.

  • Reinsurance Treaty ended in 1890

  • When new Kaiser, William II, replaced Bismarck with Gen.. Leo von Caprivi

Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1902-1923)

  • Britain + Japan

  • To defend British interests in the Far East against Russia

  • Japan used alliance to take German territory in China

Entente Cordiale (1904)

  • France + Britain

  • Series of treaties, not formal, no military provisions

  • Ended 1000 years of conflict

  • Allowed freedom of action in UK in Egypt and France in Morocco

  • Confirmed at the Algeciras Conference 1906

Anglo-Russian Entente (Aug. 1907)

  • Britain + Russia

  • Ended "Great Game" (competition for colonies Russia v. Britain)

  • By identifying areas of control in Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet

  • After humiliating defeat of Russia in Russo-Japanese War (1905)

  • And emergence of German Empire as a world power.

Triple Entente

  • Russia + Britain + France

  • Germany's new prime minister, Caprivi, didn't renew Reinsurance Treaty with Russia

  • Political isolation of France and Russia drove them together (despite different politics)

  • France invested in Russia

  • In exchange for Russia security against Germany (two-front war)

German-Ottoman Alliance (Aug. 2, 1914)

  • Germany + Ottoman Empire

  • Germany had already planned to build a Berlin to Baghdad Railroad.

  • Germany convinced Ottoman sultan to issue a fatwa to turn Muslims in British and French colonies against Allies

  • Muslims in British Egypt and India

  • Muslims in French Algeria and Morocco.

BALKANS


Ottoman Empire ("Sick man of Europe")

  • Artificially maintained

  • Because Europeans couldn't agree on ways to divide it

Revolts

  • Ottoman weakness encouraged Serbia and Montenegro

  • To help fellow Slavs in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Revolt against Ottomans

  • Bulgaria also rebelled

  • Russia involved

  • Wanted to control Constantinople and Dardanelles

  • And gain access to Mediterranean

  • (warm water ports)

Treaty of San Stefano 1878

  • After Russian defeat of Ottomans in war

  • Russia got territory and indemnity.

  • But Austria feared growth of Russia

  • Would threaten their own interests in Balkans

  • Britain feared disruption of balance of power

  • And threat to Suez Canal with Russia in Mediterranean


Congress of Berlin 1878

  • Met under Bismarck, the "Honest Broker"

  • Germany didn't want territory

  • Bulgaria (a Russian client) reduced by 2/3 with no access to Aegean Sea.

  • Austria given Bosnia-Herzegovina to "occupy and administer"

  • Britain got Cyprus and encouraged to occupy Tunisia

  • Russia, Bulgaria and other Balkan states disappointed.

KAISER WILHELM (WILLIAM) II

Bio

  • Succeeded his father (Wilhelm I) in 1888 at 29

  • Withered arm

  • Grandson of Queen Victoria of Britain (see family tree above)

  • Believed in rule by divine right

  • Ambitious, wanted equality with Britain (navy and colonies)



Dismissed Otto von Bismarck

  • Replaced Bismarck with Leo von Caprivi in 1890

Germany Antagonized Britain

  • At first Wilhelm wanted alliance with Britain - but Britain wanted "splendid isolation"

  • Colonies

  • Germany blocked British ambition to connect Cape Town (South Africa) to Cairo (Egypt) by railroad

  • Germany sympathized with Boers in Boer Wars

  • Insulted Britain by congratulating Paul Kruger (president of Boer Transvaal) for repulsing British raid without assistance.

  • Navy

  • 1898 German naval law provided for 19 battleships

  • 1900 law doubled the number

  • Architect was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz

  • Openly proclaimed that Germany's naval policy was aimed at Britain

  • Caused naval war with Britain

  • Britain, an island, vowed to have a navy larger than next two nations combined.

Germany Antagonized France

  • First Moroccan Crisis

  • William II wanted to prove that British-French alliance was weak.

  • March 1905 William II went to Tangier and made speech in favor of Moroccan independence

  • A challenge to France which wanted to colonize Morocco.

  • Germany demanded an international conference to show their power

  • Algeciras 1906

  • Austria sided with Germany

  • Spain, Italy, US, Britain and France allied against Germany

  • French position in Morocco was confirmed

  • German bullying drove British and French closer together.

IMMEDIATE CAUSES OF WORLD WAR I


  • Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia 1908

  • Serbians angry because they wanted to expand Serbia

  • June 28, 1914

  • A Serbian nationalist killed Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne

  • Assassin, Gavrilo Princip was from the Black Hand

  • Serbian terrorist organization

  • One month later, Austria gave Serbia an ultimatum

  • Serbia had to let Austria conduct its own investigation in Serbia

  • Serbia had to suppress all anti-Austrian propaganda

  • Serbia had to eliminate all terrorist organizations

  • Or Austria would declare war.

  • Austria asked Germany for aid in the event of a war with Serbia and its ally, Russia​

  • ​Germany offered a "Blank Check"

  • On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

  • Russia deployed troops

  • Germany employed the Schlieffen Plan

  • Designed in 1905 by Count von Schlieffen (chief of the German general staff)

  • To deal with a potential two-front war.

  • By quickly defeating France by surprising them by going through Belgium

  • Then swinging around to Russia

  • The plan was modified by Helmuth von Moltke (the new chief).

  • Who reduced the size of the attacking army.

  • Hoping to quickly defeat Russia's ally France by going through neutral Belgium

  • Britain, France's ally, entered the war on Aug. 4th after Germany attacked neutral Belgium


WORLD WAR I BATTLES

Battle of Tannenberg (Aug. 26-30, 1914), German Victory

  • Purpose

  • ​Germans wanted to counter Russians who had advanced quicker than anticipated.

  • Battle

  • Russians sent 2 armies to East Prussia while bulk of Germans were in the west fighting France

  • Germans under leadership of Paul Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff.

  • Russians, separated by the Masurian Lakes, unable to communicate with each other.

  • Germans intercepted unencoded wireless messages from Russians

  • Samsonov and Rennenkampf

  • Germans surprised Samsonov's army near village of Tannenberg southwest of Masurian Lakes.

  • Samsonov's troops retreated, they were cut off by Germans who slaughtered them.

  • Samsonov went into the forest and shot himself.

  • Notable

  • For fast rail movements by the Germans and failure of Russians to encode their radio messages.

  • Consequences

  • Brought prestige to Hindenberg and Ludendorff.

  • Resulted in almost complete destruction of the Russian Second Army and suicide of its commanding general, Alexander Samsonov.

  • Follow-up battles (First Masurian Lakes) destroyed most of the First Army as well

  • Kept Russians off balance until spring of 1915

First Battle of the Marne (Sept. 6-10, 1914)

  • Purpose

  • Germany hoped to avoid a two-front war by knocking out France then turning to Russia (Schlieffen Plan)

  • Battle

  • German First Army detoured from its planned route in order to concentrate its force on Paris.

  • Opened a gap in the German's eastern flank and exposed its western flank.

  • Desperate French armies were rushed to the front in Parisian taxicabs.

  • British army entered the war.

  • Early Germany successes but then French and British counter-offensive at Marne

  • After seven days, the Allies halted the Germans and drove them back several miles.

  • Consequences

  • Shattered German hopes that the Schlieffen Plan would succeed.

  • Both sides extended their lines more than 400 miles from the Swiss border to the North Sea and dug in for the winter.

  • Germany now stuck in a two-front war

  • German failure to defeat French and British meant Germans couldn't adequately fight Russians.

  • Meant war would not be quick.

  • Marked end of mobile warfare on the Western Front but stagnation into trench warfare.

Battle of Gallipoli (Apr. 25-Jan. 9, 1916) Ottoman victory

  • Purpose

  • To allow Allied ships to pass through Dardanelles, capture Istanbul (Constantinople) and knock Ottoman Turks out of the war.

  • To relieve pressure on the Russians on the Caucasus front

  • Battle

  • Strongly supported by Winston Churchill, the first lord of the Admiralty.

  • Mistaken belief that Ottomans could easily be defeated.

  • Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) involved.

  • ​As well as Indian and French divisions.

  • Naval bombardment was affected by bad weather -- needed land troops.​

  • Turkish forces under Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk).

  • Only successful because it pullled Turkish forces away from the Russians

  • Failed to produce decisive results

  • Poor miltiary leadership

  • Faulty tactics (no surprise)

  • Inexperienced troops

  • Inadequate equipment

  • Acute shortage of shells

  • Consequences

  • Political and diplomatic repercussions.

  • Gave impression throughout the world that the Allies were militarily inept.

  • Hastened Asquith's resignation and his replacement by David Lloyd George (Dec. 1916)

  • Deprived Russians of Allied aid through Dardanelles

Battle of Verdun (Feb. 21-Dec. 18, 1916) (French victory)

  • Purpose

  • Germans wanted to "bleed the French to death" by forcing them to sustain massive casualties defending Verdun (battle of attrition)

  • Since Britain could not be assaulted directly except by submarine warfare.

  • Battle

  • Longest battle (9 months) and one of the costliest

  • Germans fired a million shells in one day.

  • Began with German attack on fortified French town of Verdun

  • 700,000 died on both sides.

  • Consequences

  • Drastically reduced the number of French troops available.

  • Britain and its Empire would have to lead the "big push" on the Western Front

Battle of Jutland (May 31-Jun. 1, 1916) (Allied victory)

  • Purpose

  • Germans tried to lure British navy to openly engage on the seas

  • In order to break the British blockade of Germany and allow German naval vessels access to the Atlantic.

  • Battle

  • ​British Royal Navy's fought German's Navy off the coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula.

  • Largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war.

  • Consequences

  • Last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.

  • British naval victory allowed Britain to implement blockade of Germany.

Battle of the Somme (Jul. 1- Nov. 18, 1916), Stalemate

  • Purpose

  • British attack to relieve pressure on Verdun.

  • Battle

  • Joint operation between British and French forces

  • Intense German pressure on the French at Verdun throughout 1916 made action on the Somme increasingly urgent

  • Meant Britain (under Sir Douglas Haig) would take on the main role in the offensive.

  • Ended in stalemate (British had advanced only 5 miles)

  • Sparked first feature-length war documentary ("The Battle of the Somme") hoping to rally support for war and aid recruitment. The movie was brutal and controversial.

  • First tanks used in warfare (3 mph).

  • Battle claimed the life of the son of the British PM (Herbert Asquith)

  • Adolf Hitler was wounded in the leg during the Battle of the Somme.

  • Consequences

  • Casualties (more than 300,000 dead):

  • British: 420,000

  • France 200,000

  • Germany 500,000

  • First day July 1, was bloodiest in British military history, 19,240 killed (1 every 4.4 second)

  • Represented the loss and apparent futility of the war.

  • "Here chivalry disappeared for always" (Ernst Junger)

  • Ended British "pals battalion" (recruiting volunteer friends, neighbors, co-workers)

Brusilov Offensive (Jun. 4-Sept. 20, 1916)

  • Purpose

  • To relieve pressure on the French at Verdun and the Western Front as a whole.

  • Also to draw Austro-Hungarian forces away from the Italian Front

  • And put pressure on the already strained and demoralized Austro-Hungarian Army.

  • Battle

  • Russia had suffered a series of crushing defets in the first year of war.

  • Brusilov Offensive was the most successful Russian offence

  • Named after Russian commander Aleksei Brusilov, who led it.

  • Brusilov used a short, sharp artillery bombardment and shock troops to exploit weak points.

  • Coincided with the British attack on the Somme

  • Consequences

  • Forced Germany to redirect troops to the Eastern Front to support Austria.

  • Reinforced Austria-Hungary's growing dependence on Germany

  • Strained German resources.

  • Russia's last major offensive in the war which led to an overall weakening (militarily and politically) of both Russia and Austria-Hungary.

  • Led to revolution in Russia and the collapse of the Russian Army

Battle of Passchendaele/Third Ypres Campaign (Jul. 31- Nov. 10, 1917)

  • Purpose

  • British tried to break through the German "crust"

  • The area around the Belgian town of Ypres was key battleground throughout the war.

  • By 1917, British forces were suffering steady casualties

  • Sir Douglas Haig hoped to threaten the German submarine base at Bruges as the German U-boat campaign was threatening Britain with defeat.

  • Battle

  • Scarcely moved the front at all

  • Consequences

  • Symbolized the horror associated with the war on the Western Front.

German Spring Offensives (Mar. 21-Jul. 18, 1918)

  • Purpose

  • Germany to use troops freed from Eastern Front by the collapse of Russia

  • To achieve a victory on the Western Front before American troops arrived.

  • Battle

  • Operation "Michael," the first offensive.

  • Huge concentration of Germany artillery, gas, smoke and infantry.

  • German Army (under Erich Ludendorff) gained miles.

  • Weary Allied forces were beginning to suffer manpower shortages.

  • Allies appointed Marshal Ferdinand Foch as Allied Generalissimo to coordinate united defense.

  • Consequences

  • German offensives were tactical successes but strategic failures.

  • Advances had no decisive goal other than to punch a hole in Allied line.

Battle of Amiens (Aug. 8-11, 1918) Allied victory

  • Purpose

  • Counter punch to the German Spring Offensive.

  • Beginning of the Hundred Days Campaign

  • ​American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under Gen. Pershing, had arrived

  • British Expeditionary Force (BEF) reinforced by troops returning from Palestine Campaign

  • Battle

  • BEF struck on River Somme., east of Amiens,

  • To force Germans away from Amiens-Paris railway

  • German army was exhausted and morale was disintegrating because of lack of supplies and influenza.

  • Foch favored series of limited attacks in quick succession to liberate vital railway lines around Paris.

  • To divert attention and resources from one spot to another.

  • Consequences

  • German defeat on Aug. 8 led Ludendorff to dub it "The Black Day of the German Army"

  • Lundendorff told Kaiser Wilhelm II that "the war must be ended"

  • Wilhelm II said end should not come until Germany made progress

  • So that there was bargaining room.

  • German army continued to fight but was plagued by disorder and desertion.

Battle of Megiddo (Sep. 19-25, 1918), Allied victory

  • Purpose

  • To protect the Suez Canal and take Ottomans out of the war

  • Battle

  • Beginning of final British-led offensive in Sinai and Palestine

  • Combined cavalry, infantry, artillery, armored cars, aircraft

  • Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) under leadership of British Lt. Gen. Sir Edmund Allenby.

  • Offensive against Ottoman forces in northern Palestine and Jordan Valley.

  • Plan: to encircle Ottoman forces regrouping in the area around Megiddo and cut off their escape routes.

  • Deception convinced Ottoman forces that an Allied attack would come further east.

  • Decisive victory over the Ottoman Turks and their German allies.

  • Armistice signed at Mudros

  • Consequences

  • Victory opened way to Damascus

  • Start of series of important Allied victories

  • Ultimately led to collapse of Ottoman Turkish forces and their withdrawal from the war.


INVENTIONS


  • Airplanes ("aeroplanes")

  • First plane was flown by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk

  • Used for reconnaissance (along with balloons and zeppelins)

  • Planes targeted each other in "dog fights"

  • Aircraft carriers

  • First time a plane was launched from a moving ship (HMS Hibernia) was May 1912.

  • Flamethrowers

  • First used by German Army in Verdun in 1915 for trench warfare

  • Unlike grenades, flamethrowers could kill soldiers (burning them alive) without damaging the bunkers (which could be used by Germans)

  • Poison gas

  • First used by Germans in April 1915 near Ypres

  • Used by both sides in trench warfare.

  • Gas mask was invented to protect soldiers from gas

  • Tanks

  • To safely transport troops across the no-man's land between trenches.

  • British Mark I was invented in 1915, used in 1916

  • Tracer bullets

  • Emitted a small amount of flammable material that left a phosphorescent trail.

  • Made it easier to fight at night

  • It could also ignite hydrogen destroying German zeppelins

  • Portable X-Ray Machine

  • Called the "Petite Curie" after inventor, Marie Curie

  • Daylight Savings Time

  • German authorities decreed that closed should move forward an hour on April 30, 1916 to save coal for heating and light.

  • Britain followed, then other countries in Europe and the U.S. in 1918.

  • Daylight Savings was discontinued after the war but eventually returned.

  • Wristwatches

  • Not invented in WWI but popularize to keep hands free and maintain accuracy

  • Sunlamps

  • To help children who were suffering from rickets (from a vitamin D deficiency)

  • Zippers

  • Stainless steel (for better guns that didn't rust)

  • Pilotless drones

  • Vegetarian sausages

  • Kotex sanitary pads for Red Cross nurses.

  • Plastic surgery


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