Specific Objective: Analyze the arguments for entering into war presented by leaders from all sides of the Great War. Analyze the role of political and economic rivalries, ethnic and ideological conflicts, domestic discontent and disorder, and propaganda and nationalism in mobilizing the civilian population in support of “total war.”
|Competition Among Nations—Late 1800
|Competition for markets and materials
||Germany competed with Great Britain, Europe’s industrial leader.
|Competition for colonies in Africa and Asia; imperialism
||Great Britain was the leader in the race for colonies. Germany and France each sought to control Morocco, in northern Africa.
|Competition for European territory
||Austria-Hungary and Russia vied for influence in the Balkans.
The Rise of Nationalism and Militarism—Nationalism, a deep devotion to one’s own nation, fueled competition. It also encouraged the growth of militarism, the policy of glorifying military power and keeping an army prepared for war. In the 1890s, many European nations began building large armies.
The Alliance System—Each nation was required to support its allies. A conflict between any two countries could draw everyone into war. The Great Powers formed two alliances.
- In 1907, the Triple Alliance was composed of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy. By 1915, the Ottoman Turks and Bulgaria had joined and it became known as the Central Powers.
- In 1907, the Triple Entente was composed of France, Great Britain, and Russia. Italy joined in 1915; the United States in 1917. These countries became the Allies.
The “Powder Keg” Leads to Total War—The Balkan Peninsula was called the “powder keg” of Europe because of its more than 400 years of ethnic and political conflict. After the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, Serbia, a mostly Slavic country, nearly doubled its territory. Russia, also a largely Slavic country, supported Serbian expansion. Austria and Germany did not.
The Powder Keg Ignites in 1914
- June 28—Archduke Franz Ferdinand—heir to the Austria-Hungary throne—is killed by a Serbian nationalist in Bosnia, an Austro-Hungarian province.
- July 28—Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia mobilizes to aid Serbia
- August 1—Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary, declares war on Russia.
- August 3—Germany declares war on France, Russia’s ally.
- August 4—Germany tries to invade France through neutral Belgium. Great Britain, France’s ally, declares war on Germany.
Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.
- “Nationalism” is best defined as
- belief in private property.
- desire for territories overseas.
- strong devotion to one’s country.
- support for a strong army.
- Which countries made up the Triple Entente in 1907?
- Austria-Hungary, Sweden, and Russia
- The United States, Germany, and Russia
- Great Britain, France, and Russia
- Belgium, Germany, and France
- Why were the Balkans known as the “powder keg” of Europe in the early 1900s?
- Several large explosions had taken place in its factories.
- It had endured more than 400 years of ethnic and political conflict.
- It produced both weapons and gunpowder.
- It had an unusual geographic shape that others wished to change.
- The assassination of which leader led to the outbreak of World War I?
- Otto von Bismarck
- George Clemenceau
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand
- Kaiser Wilhelm II
- What did Russia, a largely Slavic nation, do after Austria-Hungary declared war on the Slavic nation of Serbia?
- declare war on Germany
- pledge to remain neutral
- prepare to send troops to support Serbia
- try to negotiate a settlement
- “Serbia must learn to fear us again.” The quotation, was spoken to the U.S. president in 1914, after the Austrian archduke was assassinated by a Serbian student. The quotation was spoken by a diplomat from
- Great Britain.
Specific Objective: Examine the principal theaters of battle, major turning points, and the importance of geographic factors in military decisions and outcomes.
During World War I, the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Turks, and Bulgaria) faced enemies on both sides of their borders—France to the west, and Russia to the east. France, Russia, Great Britain, and Italy in 1915 were the Allied Powers. Fighting concentrated in these border areas, which became known as the Western Front and the Eastern Front. Germany’s strategy, the Schlieffen Plan, was first to attack France through neutral Belgium, before Russia on the Eastern Front had a chance to gather its forces.
The Western Front
- After initial gains by the Germans, French and British troops were victorious at the First Battle of the Marne (September 1914). Germany realized that victory on the Western Front would not be quick and changed its strategy.
- Combat on the Western Front was marked by bloodshed and stalemate largely because of trench warfare, in which soldiers fought each other from deep, rat-infested trenches. By early 1915, 600 miles of trenches stretched from the English Channel to the Swiss Border. Soldiers lived in horrible conditions and faced threats from efficient modern weapons and poison gas.
- The Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme each raged for months during 1916, and the Battles of Ypres took place between 1914 and 1918. Little ground was gained in these conflicts, but the human toll was staggering—each battle yielded more than 1 million casualties.
The Eastern Front
- Russia and the Serbs battled the Central Powers on the Eastern Front. There, Germany won a number of victories. At the Battle of Tannenberg (1914), Germany won a decisive victory over Russia. In 1915, the Central Powers continued to sweep through Russia and claimed victory in Poland; in 1916 they claimed victory in Romania.
- Russia was old-fashioned country fighting a modern war. Russian soldiers faced the well-armed Germans with little more than courage. The Russians had only one asset—numbers. For more than three years, the enormous Russian army tied up the German army in the East. Thus, Germany could never hurl its full fighting force on the West.
Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.
- Why did Germany have a geographic disadvantage at the start of World War I?
- It was a landlocked nation.
- It was bordered by enemies on two fronts.
- Its inland mountain ranges were nearly impassable.
- Its major rivers blocked the movement of troops.
- Germany’s Schlieffen Plan for military attack was to
- first attack Russia with lightening speed before facing France in the West.
- attack France in the West before Russia in the East had a chance to mobilize.
- try to get the United States to align itself with Germany.
- engage both France in the West and Russia in the East at the same time.
- After the Battle of the Marne in 1914, German forces realized that victory
- would be theirs, as long as they stuck to the plan.
- on the Western Front would not be quick.
- against the West could only be won through trench warfare.
- in the East could only be achieved before the harsh Russian winter began.
- Trench warfare in World War I was characterized by
- a series of Russian victories.
- swift invasions and decisive attacks.
- heavy casualties and little territorial gain.
- tremendous German victories in the East.
- During World War I, Russia’s main strength was its
- control of the seas.
- industrial production.
- large number of soldiers.
- military technology.
- In November 2003, workers digging to build a highway near Ypres, Belgium, uncovered a network of shallow passages and found skeletons in World War I–era uniforms, newspapers, dishes and other items. The finding is most likely
- an unmarked World War I grave along the Eastern Front.
- a World War I hiding place for civilians.
- a bunk site for World War I troops.
- a site of trench warfare.
Specific Objective: Explain how the Russian Revolution and the entry of the United States affected the course and outcome of the war.
The Turning Point of the War
The war dragged on. Hundreds of thousands of people had died or were homeless. Every country was short of food and weapons. Then, in 1917, a series of events brought the war to an end. The first event took place in Russia.
Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.
- What was the immediate goal of Lenin and the Bolsheviks?
- to gain access to Germany’s industrial resources
- o help the temporary government fight the war
- to end Russia’s involvement in the war
- to return the tsar to power
- What happened when the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed?
- The Russians pulled out of the war.
- The treaty ended World War I
- Germany withdrew from the war
- The United States entered the war.
- Which German action was most important in bringing the United States into World War I?
- German invasion of Russia
- unrestricted submarine warfare
- trench warfare on the Western Front
- German use of poison gas
- By the time the United States entered World War I, fighting was focused on
- the Eastern Front
- the Western Front
- former Russian territory
- the seas around Great Britain
- After entering World War I, the United States most helped the Allies by
- fighting Germany in the sea around Britain.
- negotiating with the Central Powers.
- sending the Allies supplies, troops, and monetary loans.
- trying to convince the Russians to return to fighting.
- What main motivation finally forced the Central Powers to surrender on November 11, 1918?
- They did not have the resources or soldiers to fight the Americans.
- Their people refused to fight any longer.
- Austria-Hungary had already signed a peace treaty with the Allies.
- They no longer wanted to fight the large Russian army in the East.
Specific Objective: Understand the nature of the war and its human costs on all sides of the conflict, including how colonial peoples contributed to the war effort.
The War to End All Wars World War I was called “the war to end all wars.” The destruction it caused was so extreme, people could not bear the thought of another war.
Military Casualties In the first three years, Europe lost more lives than it had in three hundred years of war before that. Deadly new weapons, such as the machine gun and the submarine, along with infection killed an estimated 8.5 million soldiers. About 21 million more were wounded. Trench warfare led to daily deaths from artillery. Poison gas caused many deaths and serious injuries.
||Total Mobilized Forces
||Prisoners or Missing
* Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey
** 95% of troops were from Russia, the British Empire, France, Italy, the United States, and Japan.
1. Includes death from all causes. Source: U.S. Department of Defense
Effects on Civilians
- The countries involved in World War I focused their total efforts on winning. Civilians worked to produce war-related materials. Many goods, especially food and fuel, were rationed.
- Millions of civilians died from disease, starvation, and bombing and fighting on their own lands. The war destroyed their homes, farms, and towns.
- The flu epidemic of 1918 traveled around the world, wherever soldiers fought. It killed more people than the war itself.
- The Russian Revolution continued after the war ended. It resulted in millions of civilian deaths. Massacres were another source of high civilian casualties.
Colonial Participation One reason a European war, became a “World War” was the participation of colonial peoples. Great Britain used soldiers from India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and others. French colonies in West Africa, and German colonies in East Africa sent troops. Allied forces attacked German colonies in China, the Pacific islands, and Africa. Although some individuals defended their ruling countries eagerly, others fought because they were required to serve. After the war, those who survived returned home to find that, as colonial subjects, they were still second-class citizens.
- What conclusion can be drawn from these data about casualties in World War I?
- The Central Powers had more total casualties than the Allies.
- Most of the casualties were prisoners or missing.
- The Allies had a lower casualty rate than the Central Powers.
- The number killed was greater than the number wounded.
- Which reason for Allied victory is supported by the chart?
- fewer wounded soldiers
- greater number of troops
- deadliest weapons
- took more prisoners
- What is one reason why millions of European and Russian civilians died during World War I?
- They were not as strong as civilians during other wars.
- They did not hide from the enemy.
- The Allied troops ignored their plight
- Much of the fighting took place in Europe and Russia.
- Civilian casualties in World War I were
- fewer than military casualties.
- extremely rare.
- increased by disease and starvation.
- primarily due to overwork.
- Which country recruited colonial troops from India in World War I?
- After World War I, some colonies that had participated made demands for independence primarily because
- American troops taught colonists that all men are created equal.
- colonists felt entitled to citizenship because they had served in the military.
- colonists were inspired by the example of the Russian Revolution.
- colonists were afraid for their jobs in the unstable European economy.
Specific Objective: Discuss human rights violations and genocide during World War I, including the Ottoman government’s actions against Armenian citizens.
Atrocities on Both Sides
- The Allies accused the Germans of committing atrocities, or terrible crimes, against Belgium, a neutral nation. The British government issued a report investigating the situation. It was later shown to have overstated many of the claims. Still, the Germans admitted to using harsh measures in achieving their goals. An estimated 5,500 Belgians were killed. Many towns and buildings were destroyed or plundered. Charges of German atrocities were used as propaganda in neutral countries.
- Many Allies also pointed to other examples of Germany’s inhumane tactics. These included the use of poison gas and the sinking of passenger ships such as the American Lusitania. Yet the Allies themselves soon started using poison gas. The Lusitania was carrying weapons as well as passengers.
- The Allies blocked trade with Germany for five years. This blockade caused great suffering for the German people. German government records show that 763,000 people starved to death as a result of this Allied action.
The Armenian Genocide
The Armenians were an ethnic minority of about 2.5 million in the Ottoman Empire ruled by Turkey. As Christians in a mainly Muslim land, they were also a religious minority. They had long been denied basic rights and wanted to be independent. When war broke out, they pledged to support the Allies, the enemies of the Turks.
- Just before the war began, a group of extreme nationalists took over the Turkish government. They vowed to create a Turkish-only state. On April 24, 1915, the government began forcing Armenians from their homes. Some Armenians were killed outright. Many others, sent on forced marches to the Syrian Desert, died of starvation or disease. Virtually all __who survived were left homeless. The persecution continued from 1915 to 1918 and arose again from 1920 to 1923. At least 600,000 Armenians died between 1915 and 1916 alone.
- The murder and planned murder of an entire group of people, especially an ethnic group, is called genocide.
- Many foreigners in the Ottoman Empire witnessed this destruction of the Armenian population. They told the outside world of the horrors they had seen. The international community officially condemned the genocide. Yet they made no forceful effort to save the Armenians.
Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.
- Stories of German atrocities in Belgium were used as propaganda, meaning that the stories were used to
- encourage Belgium to support the war.
- make the Germans look worse than they were.
- convince neutral nations to fight for the German army.
- show that the Germans treated civilians humanely.
- Which statement best describes the existence of atrocities during World War I?
- Both sides followed the rules of warfare and avoided civilian deaths.
- Germany was the only member of the Central Powers that killed civilians.
- The Allies were fighting for democracy and did not harm civilians.
- Both sides justified the use of harsh tactics to achieve their military goals.
- The Armenians in Turkey were a minority group partly because they were
- The Ottoman Empire was ruled by
- the Armenians
- the Germans
- the Turks
- European coalition
- What was the political position of the Armenians at the beginning of World War I?
- They supported the Turks.
- They supported the Allies.
- They wished to remain neutral.
- Their position was unknown.
- How did the international community respond to Turkey’s actions against the Armenians?
- It supported the Turkish government’s actions.
- It tried to keep Turkey’s actions secret until after the war.
- It did not know about the actions until after the war.
- It condemned Turkey but did not fight to save the Armenians.