World War I Section 1: The Great War Begins EUROPE ON THE BRINK OF WAR In 1914, four factors led to rising tensions in Europe. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism combined to put the continent on the brink of war. Throughout the previous decades, European countries had built up their armies and navies. They wanted to protect their overseas colonies from attack by other nations. Germany in particular had greatly increased the size of its military. This military build-up made nations nervous about the power of their neighbors. Many sought alliances for protection. In the late 1800s, Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy united as the Triple Alliance. Each nation pledged to defend the others in the event of an attack. In response, France and Russia formed their own alliance. Great Britain then made an agreement, or entente (ahn tahnt), with France and Russia. These three nations became known as the Triple Entente. Across Europe, leaders hoped these alliances would prevent any nation from attacking another. At the same time, rivalries over empires were growing. Germany, France, Russia, and Great Britain had all built foreign empires and sought to keep other nations from gaining greater imperial power. Another cause of rising tensions was an increase in nationalism, a strong pride in one’s country. In Europe, nationalism had led to the creation of countries such as Germany and Italy. It also led to struggles for power, especially on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Serbia wanted to expand its borders and unite all the Serbs living in the Balkans in a “greater Serbia.” Austria- Hungary to the north opposed Serbian expansion because it feared rebellion by other Slavic groups in Austria-Hungary. WAR BREAKS OUT As tension grew, the archduke of Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, visited the Bosnian city of Sarajevo (SAR-uh-YAY-voh). Serbian rebels had plotted to assassinate the archduke. As Ferdinand’s car rolled through the city, one of those rebels, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed the archduke and his wife Sophie. After Princip was identified as a Serb and the murder weapon was found to be supplied by the Serbian government, the Austrian-Hungary government threatened war against Serbia. Russia, which had promised to support the Serbs, prepared for war. Germany saw Russia’s war preparations as a threat and declared war on Russia. Germany later declared war on Russia’s ally, France. Germany’s army first attacked Belgium, planning to travel through that nation on the way to France. Belgium, however, was a neutral country that had promised to take no side in the conflict. Because Germany had attacked a neutral country, Great Britain declared war on Germany. The war became a conflict between two groups of nations. Germany and Austria- Hungary became known as the Central Powers. France, Russia, Serbia, and Great Britain were called the Allied Powers. FIGHTING IN 1914 German troops quickly advanced through Belgium, meeting a combined force of French and British soldiers in mid-August 1914. The first major battle, the Battle of the Frontiers, ended with a clear German victory. Meanwhile, however, Russia attacked German territory from the east. In the Battle of Tannenberg, German forces crushed the Russian army. However, the Russian attack had given Great Britain and France time to reorganize their forces. In early September, the Allied Forces succeeded in driving back German forces at the Battle of the Marne. After retreating, German soldiers dug a series of trenches along the Aisne (AYN) River. When the allies attacked again, Germany won the Battle of the Aisne. Allied forces dug trenches of their own. Despite a series of battles that followed, German and Allied forces gained little ground in the coming months. This deadlocked region in northern France became known as the Western Front. Section 2: A New Kind of War THE WORLD WAR I BATTLEFIELD By the end of 1914, the war had become one of trench warfare, or fighting from trenches. Both sides had dug hundreds of miles of trenches along the Western Front. Neither could make significant advances. Trenches were muddy, unsanitary, and crowded. When troops were ordered “over the top” of their trench to attack the enemy, many were gunned down. Often, their bodies could not be recovered. In an effort to gain an advantage in the war, both sides sought new technologies and weapons. Poison gas was developed to injure or kill enemy soldiers. However, the wind sometimes blew the gas back toward the soldiers who had launched it. Gas became even less effective when both sides developed gas masks to protect soldiers. Other technologies were more effective, such as machine guns and tanks. Aircraft quality improved, and in time, airplanes were not just observing enemy positions: they were equipped with machine guns and dropping bombs. Even with these innovations, neither side gained a battlefield advantage. The war raged on. WAR ON THE HOME FRONT World War I required all of society’s resources. This is called total war. Governments took control of important industries and the economy. They also censored newspapers. Propaganda, or information created to influence people’s opinions, helped maintain public support for the war. Women on the home front took over jobs men had left. In some cases, they worked in factories making weapons and munitions. Other women served as nurses to wounded soldiers. These efforts helped transform people’s idea of what women could do. In the United States, this new view helped women finally win the right to vote. BATTLES ON THE WESTERN FRONT In May 1915, Italy entered the war by joining the Allied Powers. In a long series of battles against Austria-Hungary on the Italy-Austria border, Italy made little progress. German leaders planned to attack Verdun, believing that the French could not bear to see the historic city captured. The German army’s goal in the Battle of Verdun was to kill as many French soldiers as possible. In 1916, German troops killed some 400,000 French soldiers. However, a similar number of German soldiers died. Both sides were badly weakened. Partly in an effort to push the Germans back from Verdun, the British launched an attack at the Somme River area in France. Like the Battle of Verdun, the Battle of the Somme resulted in massive casualties on both sides, but no major breakthrough. In July 1917, the British started the Third Battle of Ypres (ee-pruh) in Belgium. The Germans held the high ground in an otherwise flat area, easily defeating the British. WAR AROUND THE WORLD With the stalemate in Europe continuing, nations turned to other regions to seek an advantage. After the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in 1914, the Allies attacked the Ottoman- controlled Dardanelles (dahr-den-ELZ). The region is a sea passage that connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Allies relied on the passage to ship supplies to Russia. The Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 was an unsuccessful Allied effort to destroy the guns and forts in the Dardanelles. As the Ottoman Empire fought off the Allies in Gallipoli, Russia attacked the Caucasus (KAW- kuhsuhs) region on Turkey’s northern border. The area was home to millions of Armenians. Turkish leaders, accusing the Armenians of helping the Russians, forcibly removed them from the area. After some 600,000 Armenians died from neglect and violence, Turkish leaders were accused of genocide, the deliberate destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group. Later, when Ottoman subjects in Arabia began to rebel, the British sent officer T.E. Lawrence to help them win their independence. Other battles were fought in Asia and Africa as armies attacked their enemies’ colonies abroad. Colonists from all over the world took part in the fighting. Section 3: Revolution in Russia RUSSIA AND WORLD WAR I Before World War I, poor economic conditions in Russia made Czar Nicholas II increasingly unpopular. A small group of Marxists who called themselves Bolsheviks (BOHL-shuh-viks) sought to lead a revolt against the government. In 1914, conditions were so bad that government officials hoped the war would unify the Russian people’s trust in its leadership. In 1914, Russia had a huge army, but it was not prepared for war. The army was led by weak and inexperienced officers and still used out-of-date equipment. Factories could not produce supplies quickly enough. In addition, Russia’s transportation system was inadequate for moving troops and equipment. Millions of Russian soldiers died or were wounded in the first year of the war. In 1915, Nicholas decided to personally take command of the army. However, he knew little about warfare and could not lead the army to victory. The soldiers lost faith in their leaders and the army was nearly ruined. Back in Russia, Nicholas had left his unpopular wife, Czarina Alexandra, in control when he went to war. Alexandra relied on the advice of self-proclaimed holy man and healer Grigory Rasputin, who many Russian people saw as corrupt and immoral. THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION On March 8, 1917, unhappy Russians took to the streets of the capital, Petrograd, to protest the lack of food and fuel. Soldiers refused to shoot the rioters as ordered. Czar Nicholas II ordered the Russian legislature, known as the Duma, to disband. They too refused. No longer in control, Nicholas abdicated, or stepped down, on March 15. The monarchy in Russia had ended. The Duma established a temporary government under the leadership of Aleksandr Kerensky. The new government planned to continue fighting the war. This plan was unpopular with the people. The Bolsheviks opposed Kerensky’s government. They pushed for a Marxist revolution that would bring economic and social change. Because the Bolsheviks were led by Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevism was also known as Marxism-Leninism. In mid-1917 the exhausted Russian army collapsed while fighting a final battle against the Central Powers. In November, armed factory workers known as the Red Guard attacked the provisional government. Kerensky’s government was quickly overthrown; the Bolsheviks took control. Lenin became the nation’s leader. He established a radical Communist program. The program made private land ownership illegal and gave workers control over factories. AFTER THE REVOLUTION After the revolution, Lenin sent Leon Trotsky, a top Bolshevik official, to negotiate for peace with the Central Powers. The weakness of the Russian army gave Trotsky little to bargain with. Under the terms of the treaty, Russia had to give up huge chunks of its empire. Many Russians were upset by the treaty. Some of the Bolsheviks’ opponents came together to form the White Army. They went on to fight a three-year civil war against the Bolshevik government’s Red Army. By the time the Bolsheviks won, millions of Russians had died and famine had swept the country. Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy in 1921. This plan permitted some capitalist activity, such as peasants selling their food for profit. The goal was to increase food production in Russia. By 1922 the economy was improving, and Russia reunited with neighboring lands that had been part of the Russian empire before 1917. The country then became known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also called the Soviet Union. Lenin’s death in 1924 brought about a struggle for control of the nation. Section 4: The War Ends THE UNITED STATES ENTERS THE WAR Many Americans agreed with President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to keep the United States out of other nations’ affairs. America remained neutral at the beginning of World War I. However, events eventually brought the United States into the war. As part of its strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare, Germany used U-boats, or submarines, to attack any ship traveling around Great Britain. Germany hoped this would weaken Britain’s ability to get supplies needed for the war. Germany believed this would help defeat the British navy. However, attacks on passenger ships such as the Lusitania angered the American public. The Zimmermann Note further angered Americans. This was a secret message in which a German diplomat asked Mexican officials to attack the United States. German leaders hoped such an attack would keep the United States out of the war in Europe. Instead, the United States joined the Allies. THE END OF THE FIGHTING In 1917, as the United States prepared to fight in Europe, Russia accepted defeat. Germany was then able to focus all its resources on the Western Front. In March 1918, Germany launched its final attack on the Western Front, forcing the Allies back. However, the German army suffered huge losses. After fresh American troops arrived, the Allies started the Second Battle of the Marne. Pushed back, the German army collapsed. Germany and the Allies agreed to an armistice, or truce, on November 11, 1918. A DIFFICULT PEACE Before the end of the war, Woodrow Wilson had announced a plan for world peace that he called the Fourteen Points. It asked all countries to reduce weapons and give their people the right to choose their own governments. To prevent future wars, Wilson proposed forming an international organization of nations to protect each other from aggression. The other Allied leaders had different goals. The French wanted to punish Germany and destroy its ability to fight war. The British wanted to punish Germany, but preferred to keep Germany strong enough to stop the spread of communism from Russia. Italy wanted to gain land. The Allies eventually compromised on the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was forced to take responsibility for starting the war and pay huge sums of money to the Allies. The treaty limited the size of Germany’s military. Germany was also required to give up its colonies and to give back conquered lands to France and Russia. The treaty was humiliating, but Germany had no choice but to accept it. The treaty also called for creation of the League of Nations, the international body Wilson had sought in his Fourteen Points. However, Germany was excluded from membership. The organization was not as strong as it could have been because Wilson was not able to convince the U.S. government to join. The other Central Powers negotiated separate treaties with the Allies. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were broken up into the new nations of Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey. Middle Eastern lands formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire were turned into mandates, or territories to be ruled by European powers. In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, which favored establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, the ancient Jewish homeland. THE COSTS OF THE WAR World War I was the most devastating conflict the world had ever seen. Nearly nine million soldiers were killed. The next year, the world’s suffering continued. In the spring of 1919, a deadly outbreak of influenza killed up to 50 million people around the world. In Europe, the war devastated farmland, cities, and national economies. While Europe rebuilt, Japan and the United States emerged as economic powers. Monarchies were overthrown in Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. In far-off colonies, colonists who had fought in the war began to demand rights for themselves and their nations. The age of great empires was coming to its end.