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Unit 8.1. The Great war begins. 5 Steps to War in Europe. Sarajevo, June 28, 1914: A Serbian terrorist assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand—the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire—and his wife. 5 Steps to War in Europe.

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The Great war begins

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Unit 8.1

The Great war begins

5 Steps to War in Europe

  • Sarajevo, June 28, 1914: A Serbian terrorist assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand—the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire—and his wife

5 Steps to War in Europe

2. Vienna, July 23, 1914: The Austrian government threatens war against Serbia and invades that country 4 days later

5 Steps to War in Europe

3. Berlin, August 1, 1914: As Austria’s ally, the German government under Kaiser Wilhelm I declares war against Russia, an ally of Serbia

5 Steps to War in Europe

4. Berlin, August 3, 1914: Germany declares war against France, an ally of Russia, and immediately begins an invasion of neutral Belgium because it offers the fastest route to Paris

5 Steps to War in Europe

5. London, August 4, 1914: Great Britain, as an ally of France, declares war against Germany


  • How would the sequence of events in Europe been different had Archduke Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated?


Triple Entente (Allied Powers)

Triple Alliance (Central Powers)

  • France, Great Britain, Russia (and eventually the U.S.)

  • Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy



  • As with the War of 1812, the problem was that either side was seizing American ships and blockading each other’s ports, which angered many Americans

    • Wilson: “a violation of a neutral nation’s right to freedom of the seas”

  • Great Britain the first to declare a naval blockade against Germany

    • Mined the North Sea and seized any ships attempting to run the blockade (including U.S. ships)


  • Germany’s one hope for challenging Britain’s naval blockades was a new naval weapon, the submarine

  • In February, 1915, Germany issued its own blockade against Great Britain and established a “war zone” in waters near the British Isles

Neutrality- Submarine Warfare

  • The Lusitania Crisis:

    • The Lusitania was a British passenger liner carrying U.S. citizens

    • A German torpedo sank it on May, 7, 1915, killing 128 Americans

    • Wilson sent a message to Germany warning that it would be held to “strict accountability”

    • William Jennings Bryan resigns as Sec. of State because he claims this message is too warlike

Neutrality- Submarine Warfare

  • There were several other sinkings that Germany claimed to be accidents

  • March, 1916: A German torpedo sinks the Sussex, killing several American passengers

    • Wilson and Americans very angry

Neutrality- Submarine Warfare

  • Rather than risk U.S. involvement, Germany issued the Sussex Pledge, and promised not to sink merchant or passenger ships…without giving fair warning


  • If Germany had not developed submarine technology, how might U.S. involvement in WWI been altered?

Economic Links withGreat Britain and France

  • Industrialist Partnership:

    • U.S. economy became closely tied to the Allied war effort

    • Orders for war supplies from the Allied powers increased U.S. industry during the early years of the war

    • In theory, the U.S. could’ve traded with Germany, but British blockades effectively prevented such trade


  • What could’ve happened differently for the U.S. to economically support Germany and the Central Powers rather than France and Great Britain?

Economic Links withGreat Britain and France

  • Loans:

    • J.P. Morgan and other bankers loaned over $3 billion to France and Great Britain

    • Maintained U.S prosperity because the money would be coming back to the U.S. to purchase war goods

    • Sustained the Allied war effort

Public Opinion

  • Ethnic Influences:

    • 1914: 1st- and 2nd-generation immigrants made up 30% of the American population

    • They were glad to not be fighting and strongly supported neutrality

    • Even so, immigrants often sided with their ethnic origins

      • Italians cheered on the Allied powers

      • German Americans sympathized with Germany

      • Irish hated Britain, favored the Central Powers

    • Although most wanted neutrality, the majority of native-born Americans supported Great Britain and France


  • If immigrants had not made up such a large percentage of the U.S. population in 1914, how would public opinion about U.S. involvement in WWI been different?

Public Opinion

  • British War Propaganda:

    • Britain commanded the war news that American newspapers and magazines received

    • The British government seized this opportunity to sway America’s public opinion by printing stories of evil German soldiers committing atrocities in Belgium and the German-occupied part of France


  • How would U.S. public opinion about Germany been different if Britain had not been the dominant source of war news?

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