the great war world war i its aftermath 1914 1930
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The Great War World War I & Its Aftermath 1914-1930

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The Great War World War I & Its Aftermath 1914-1930. “MAIN” Causes of the War. “MAIN” Causes of WWI. M ilitarism - competition in building the biggest, most aggressive military A lliances - complex network of “backup” between European nations if one went to war

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“MAIN” Causes of WWI

Militarism - competition in building the biggest, most aggressive military

Alliances - complex network of “backup” between European nations if one went to war

Imperialism - competition between European empires for resources, markets & colonies in Africa & Asia

Nationalism - rivalry between European nations; also certain ethnic groups want to unite & establish their own nations



Did the emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II, encourage the start of World War as a way to increase Germany’s power and dominate Europe and the world?


Allied Powers


King George V


President Poincare


Czar Nicholas II


King Emmanuel III


Central Powers


Kaiser Wilhelm II


Emperor Franz Josef

Ottoman Empire

Enver Pasha

(Prime Minister of War)



Central Powers (orange), particularly Germany, want more colonies and power overseas in Africa and Asia.

At the time, most of the world is dominated by the Allied Powers (dark green).



European nations focus on their country’s self-interests and fight to increase power.

Ethnic groups begin to fight the powerful empires to establish their own nations.


Nationalism in the Balkans 1914

The“Powder Keg”of Europe:

Various groups want their own nations, but live mixed up together.

Bosnians, Slovaks & Czechs in the Austro-Hungarian empire want their own nations.

Poles want to reclaim their homeland from Germany, Austria-Hungary & Russia.

archduke franz ferdinand
Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

Assassinated on June 28, 1914 by Serbian radicals who believed that Bosnia belonged to Serbia rather than Austria-Hungary.

Austria-Hungary accuses Serbia of plotting the assassination and threatens to go to war.

The most direct, or immediate, cause of World War I


The Assassin



The Schlieffen Plan

The German army bulldozes through neutral Belgium to attack France and threaten Britain across the waters.

Atrocities committed against the neutral country cause many Americans to see Germany as an aggressor nation that should be stopped.


Although Germans seem aggressive, many Americans want to stay isolated from the war in Europe.

Peace activists work to keep America neutral.

Immigrant families have ties to both sides in Europe.

Wilson’s 1916 slogan: “He kept us out of war!”

Jeanette Rankin

First Congresswoman

Voted against war

americans want neutrality
Americans Want Neutrality

Under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson, most Americans want to stay out of the fighting in Europe.

Let Europe solve its own problems.

Businesses do not want to upset trade and investments around the world.

Supplying materials to both the Allied and Central Powers created a boost for the US economy.

neutrality becomes difficult
Neutrality Becomes Difficult

Britain blocks US ships to Germany and confiscates materials onboard as contraband. Owners of the goods onboard lose money.

Germany uses new U-boats to blow up US ships headed to Britain. Lives and money are lost.

The loss of lives adds to the public opinion that murderous Germany is responsible for the war.

U-boat hits before April 1917

U-boat hits after April 1917


The Sinking of the Lusitania

A British cruise liner carrying war materials and American passengers is torpedoed by the Germans. Twelve hundred people die, including 128 Americans.

from isolationism to involvement
From Isolationism to Involvement
  • US bankers loan more money to Britain and France
  • US government increases military spending & practices a policy of “prepardness”
  • Germans engage in unrestricted submarine warfare
  • Zimmermann telegram is intercepted, sparking outrage across America

The Zimmermann Telegram

The Kaiser tries to make a deal with Mexico.

america goes to war
America Goes to War

IMPORTANT: Why did America join the fighting in World War I?

Although the Zimmermann note gave the President and Congress the public support to declare war, the REASON for the US to go to war was to protect its trade and shipping rights on the high seas. Germany’s use of unrestricted submarine warfare was taking lives and interfering with the American economy.


Wilson makes an idealistic case for war: the US should“Make the world safe for democracy”

Congress passes the Selective Service Act to draft soldiers into the army

Wilson chooses General John J. Pershing to train and lead the American Expeditionary Force (AEF)

us goes to war
US Goes To War

US warships escort supply ships

revolution changes the game
Revolution Changes the Game

In March of 1917, the Russian Revolution overthrew the czar and established a republic.

By November, the communist Bolshevik party took over the government and signed a peace treaty with Germany to end the fighting on the Eastern Front.

German forces were now freed up to fight the war-weary Allied Forces on the Western Front.

Bolshevik leader

Vladimir Lenin

revolution changes the game1
Revolution Changes the Game

German forces leave Russia and head to the Western Front, where worn-out British and French soldiers are starting to give up hope.

trench warfare
Trench Warfare

New military technology: machine guns, hand grenades, mustard gas, flame throwers

Both sides dug into miles of trenches on the Western Front between France and Germany.

Soldiers lived under constant fire for years in the wet, dirty, rat-infested trenches with a “no man’s land” between the two sides.

Heavy losses continued as the stalemate dragged on.

Trench Design


“No Man’s Land”

In the Trenches


New Weapons of War

  • Mustard Gas
  • Machine Guns
  • Tanks
  • Heavy Artillery

French Renault Tank

Soldiers now fought inside machines instead of on horseback.





The Airplane

“Squadron Over the Brenta”Max Edler von Poosch, 1917


U. S. Aircraft Plant

Women began working in factories to produce supplies. After the war, they would push harder for the right to vote.


WWI Flying Aces



Manfred von Richtofen

“The Red Baron”

Eddie Rickenbacker


The Zeppelin

Originally designed as a bomber, the zeppelin proved to be too slow and flammable to do much damage.


11 a.m., November 11, 1918

Armistice -

Germany Surrenders


World War I Casualties

With nine million dead and over thirty-six million casualties, many will ask the question, “What was it all for?”


The Somme American Cemetary, France

116,516 Americans Died in WWI


1918 Flu Pandemic

20,000,000 – 100,000,000 died?

effects of the war
Effects of the War
  • Deaths
    • 9,000,000 military
    • 7,000,000 civilian
    • 50,000,000 flu epidemic
  • Destruction
    • Railroads, farmlands and factories were destroyed across Europe
    • Economies crumbled and food was scarce
  • Worldviews
    • Loss of innocence: What was the point? How did progress and technology produce such horrible results?
  • Power Structure
    • US alone as an international superpower
the big four
“The Big Four”

Leaders of the Allied Powers meet at the Palace of Versailles in France to negotiate the terms of a peace agreement with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

peace talks at versailles
Peace Talks at Versailles

King Louis XIV’s “Hall of Mirrors”

“The Big Four”

the big four1
“The Big Four”

What do they want?

War Guilt Clause - The treaty should say that Germany is responsible for starting the war

Reparations - Germany should have to pay billions in damages

Security - Germany should have to disarm its military and set up a demilitarized zone on its border with France

Borders - Land divided up to weaken Germany and dissolve Austria-Hungary

Georges Clemenceau


David Lloyd George


the big four2
“The Big Four”

What did they want?

The least powerful of the “Big Four” Allied Powers, Italy joined the peace negotiations to get back land that had been taken by Austria-Hungary.

Italy felt humiliated about being ignored at Versailles, and this would contribute to resentment leading up to WWII.

Vittorio Orlando


the big four3
“The Big Four”

What did they want?

Fourteen Points

Open diplomacy - no secret deals between nations to help each other take over the world

Freedom of the seas in peace & war

Reduce arms & militaries

Self-determination - ethnic groups that want independence should have their own nations

Nations should cooperate & respect each other’s territory

League of Nations - a place to settle disputes without going to war

Woodrow Wilson


wilson s idealism rejected
Wilson’s Idealism Rejected

The League of Nations was the only one of Wilson’s Fourteen Points to make it into the Treaty of Versailles. Britain and France could not go home to their publics with an idealistic treaty that let Germany off the hook.

Ironically, the US did not join the League of Nations. Senators such as Henry Cabot Lodge felt that it would bind the US into alliances and drag it into another war.

Isolationism returned in a big way among the American public. The Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and join the League of Nations.

international cooperation
International Cooperation

Although the US did not want to become involved in international affairs after World War I, the nation did engage in two important agreements:

  • A US banker named Charles G. Dawes came up with the Dawes Plan to loan money to Germany so it could maintain its payments to Britain and France. This would help keep Europe stable and allow Britain and France to continue to buy products from the US.
  • At the Washington Naval Conference, the US, Britain, and Japan agreed to keep their navies from becoming too threatening.
federal power increases
Federal Power Increases

Wilson established the War Industries Board, led by Bernard Baruch, to control the national economy and make sure enough supplies were produced.

Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the Food Administration to conserve food for the soldiers. Americans participated in “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” and grew “Victory Gardens.”

George Creel, head of the Committee on Public Information, used all types of propaganda to encourage public support for the war - movies, posters, parades, songs.

Congress passed the Espionage and Sedition Acts to make it illegal to speak out against the government or interfere with the draft.

the red scare
The “Red Scare”

The success of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution scared many Americans, who feared that revolution would spread to the US.

As workers began to strike again after the war, some Americans became convinced that unions were being encouraged by the Communists.

the red scare1
The “Red Scare”

Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs - previously a candidate for president - was sentenced to ten years in prison for criticizing the government’s war efforts.

From jail, Debs ran for president again in 1920, gaining almost one million votes.

In Schenck v. US (1919) the Supreme Court ruled that the government could silence free speech when there is a “clear and present danger” involved.

the red scare2
The “Red Scare”

US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer authorized the Palmer Raids to round up suspected communists and “subversives.” Over 500 immigrants were deported.

the red scare3
The “Red Scare”

The fear of immigrants spreading communism and anarchy led to one of the nation’s most controversial trials.

Sacco and Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants believed to be anarchists. Although the evidence was questionable, the two men were convicted of murder and executed.

Were Sacco and Vanzetti convicted based on political or ethnic prejudice?