World War I 1914-1918 “The War to End All Wars” “…a place so terrible that a raving lunatic could never have imagined it…” Unknown
WORLD WAR I The Great War Long-Term Causes Immediate Causes • Nationalism spurs competition among European nations. • Imperialism deepens national rivalries. Haves and Have nots. • Militarism leads to large standing armies. Arms race in Europe. • The alliance system divides Europe into two rival camps. • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 prompts Austria to declare war on Serbia. • The alliance system requires nations to support their allies. European countries declare war on one another.
1. The Alliance System Triple Entente: 1907 Triple Alliance: 1879 Great Britain Germany France Pre WW I Austria-Hungary Russia Italy Europe chooses up sides
The Alliance System in 1914 Allies(Triple Entente*) Great Britain* France* Russia* Italy (changed sides from Triple Alliance) United States (entered the war in 1917) Central Powers (Triple Alliance*) Germany* Austria Hungary* Ottoman Empire
Two Armed Camps! Allied Powers: Central Powers: 1914 Ottoman Empire Italy joins the Allies 9 months after war begins
Differing Viewpoints • “Family Feud” • “The Great War” • “The War to End All Wars” • “The War to ‘Make the World Safe for Democracy’”
The Major Players: 1914-17 Allied Powers: Central Powers: Nicholas II [Rus] Wilhelm II [Ger] George V [Br] Victor Emmanuel II [It] Enver Pasha[Turkey] Pres. Poincare [Fr] Franz Josef [A-H]
2. Militarism & Arms Race Total Defense Expenditures for the Great Powers [Ger., A-H, It., Fr., Br., Rus.] in millions of £s.
Pan-Slavism: The Balkans, 1914 The“Powder Keg”of Europe Right of “Self-determination”
United States • U.S. was carrying an attitude of neutrality • Washington’s Farewell Address • No entangling alliances • More worried about their own Hemisphere
The Assassination: Sarajevo Archduke Franz Ferdinand Family June 28, 1914
The Assassin: GavriloPrincip Black Hand Society
Who’s To Blame? July, 28, 1914 – Austria declares war on Serbia World War I Begins
World War I Begins – U.S. Reaction • The U.S. Declares Neutrality the same day, war is declared in Europe • Wilson asked all Americans to remain neutral, • “The [United States] must be impartial in thought as well as in action” • Americans could not resist taking sides because many Americans could trace their heritage to Europe • *Britain - heritage & ancestry • *France - because of their help in Revolutionary War
Home by Christmas! • No major war in 50 years! • Nationalism!
The Schlieffen Plan In 1914, Germany believed war with Russia was extremely likely. If war broke out, Germany assumed France would also attack as she was both an ally of Russia and keen for revenge for her defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. If this happened, Germany would face a war on two fronts. Germany wanted to avoid this at all costs. Germany planned to defeat France rapidly and then turn to the eastern front for a major offensive on Russia. This was the basis for the Schlieffen Plan.
Reality of the Schlieffen Plan • On 2nd August 1914, the German army invaded Luxembourg and Belgium according to the Schlieffen Plan. • The Germans were held up by the Belgium army, backed up by the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) which arrived extremely quickly. • Russia mobilized in just 10 days and Germany was forced to withdraw troops from the Schlieffen Plan to defend her eastern border. • Germany did not take the chance to take Paris, instead decided to attack east of the capital. They were met by French at the Battle of the Marne (5-11 Sept, First Battle of the Marne) which halted theGerman advance.
Why was the First Battle of the Marne such an important victory at the beginning of WW I? The Allies prevented the Germany army from capturing Paris. Both sides dug in! It was the beginning of trench warfare on the Western Front.
The Western Front To avoid losing the territory already gained in France, the Germans began digging trenches. The British and French unable to break through the line of trenches, began to dig their own trenches. Throughout the entire war, neither side gained more than a few miles of ground along what became known as the Western Front.
The Eastern Front The line of fighting on the Eastern side of Europe between Russia and Germany and Austria-Hungary is known as the Eastern Front. Fighting began on the Eastern front when Russia invaded East Prussia on 17th August 1914. Germany immediately launched a counter-offensive and pushed Russia back. This pattern of attack and counter-attack continued for the first two years of the war and meant that the Eastern Front changed position as land was captured and lost by both sides. By 1917, the Russian people were fed up and demoralised by the huge number of Russian losses. The government and monarchy were overthrown and the new Bolshevik government signed thetreaty of BrestLitovsk which took the Russians out of the war.
“No Man’s Land” Area between the opposing trenches
“Over the Top” Command given to come out of the trenches and attack across no man’s land.
Many soldiers fighting in the First World War suffered from trench foot. This was an infection of the feet caused by cold, wet and unsanitary conditions. In the trenches men stood for hours on end in waterlogged trenches without being able to remove wet socks or boots. The feet would gradually go numb and the skin would turn red or blue. If untreated, trench foot could turn gangrenous and result in amputation. Trench foot was a particular problem in the early stages of the war. For example, during the winter of 1914-15 over 20,000 men in the British Armywere treated for trench foot.The only remedy for trench foot was for the soldiers to dry their feet and change their socks several times a day. By the end of 1915 British soldiers in the trenches had to have three pairs of socks with them and were under orders to change their socks at least twice a day. As well as drying their feet, soldiers were told to cover their feet with a grease made from whale-oil. It has been estimated that a battalion at the front would use ten gallons of whale-oil every day. A photograph of a man suffering from trench foot
Rat Infestation Rats in their millions infested trenches. There were two main types, the brown and the black rat. Both were despised but the brown rat was especially feared. Gorging themselves on human remains (grotesquely disfiguring them by eating their eyes and liver) they could grow to the size of a cat. Men, exasperated and afraid of these rats (which would even scamper across their faces in the dark), would attempt to rid the trenches of them by various methods: gunfire, with the bayonet, and even by clubbing them to death. It was futile however: a single rat couple could produce up to 900 offspring in a year, spreading infection and contaminating food. The rat problem remained for the duration of the war (although many veteran soldiers swore that rats sensed impending heavy enemy shellfire and consequently disappeared from view).
Frogs, Lice and Worse Rats were by no means the only source of infection and nuisance. Lice were a never-ending problem, breeding in the seams of filthy clothing and causing men to itch unceasingly. Even when clothing was periodically washed and deloused, lice eggs invariably remained hidden in the seams; within a few hours of the clothes being re-worn the body heat generated would cause the eggs to hatch. Lice caused Trench Fever, a particularly painful disease that began suddenly with severe pain followed by high fever. Recovery - away from the trenches - took up to twelve weeks. Lice were not actually identified as the culprit of Trench Fever until 1918. Frogs by the score were found in shellholes covered in water; they were also found in the base of trenches. Slugs and horned beetles crowded the sides of the trench. Many men chose to shave their heads entirely to avoid another prevalent scourge: nits.
…And the Smell • Finally, no overview of trench life can avoid the aspect that instantly struck visitors to the lines: the appalling reek given off by numerous conflicting sources. • Rotting carcases lay around in their thousands. For example, approximately 200,000 men were killed on the Somme battlefields, many of which lay in shallow graves. • Overflowing latrines would similarly give off a most offensive stench. • Men who had not been afforded the luxury of a bath in weeks or months would offer the pervading odour of dried sweat. The feet were generally accepted to give off the worst odor. Trenches would also smell of creosol or chloride of lime, used to stave off the constant threat of disease and infection. • Add to this the smell of cordite, the lingering odour of poison gas, rotting sandbags, stagnant mud, cigarette smoke and cooking food... yet men grew used to it, whileit thoroughly overcame first-time visitors tothe front.
What is meant by “War of Attrition”? During the next three years the Allies hurled eleven full-scale offensives against the Western Front. All of them were part of one basic strategic idea, to break through and win the war quickly. Few WW I commanders, enemy or allied, yet understood the nature of the war they fought. Although the great advantage of trench warfare lay with the defense, they faithfully adhered to outdated army traditions and relied on massive, head-on infantry assaults.A ghastly pattern soon developed. As attacking troops advanced over the shell-torn ground and tangled barbed wire of "No Man's Land" they were cut down by enemy machine-gun fire in the first advance, falling in tragic, ordered ranks. When the planned breakthrough did not come the uniform pace of the advance broke down, and the attack deteriorated into costly local battles which dragged on for weeks and even months. The casualty lists rose steadily into the millions proving again and again the futility of attacking on the Western Front Yet Allied commanders seemed convinced that success was merely a matter of persistence - more men, more guns, more ammunition. When one great attack failed another was planned and undertaken, and the conflict became a "war of attrition" - a grinding struggle to see which side could hold out longer against death and destruction.
Verdun – February, 1916 • German offensive. • Each side had 500,000 casualties.
The Somme – July, 1916 • 60,000 British soldiers killed in one day. • Over 1,000,000 killed in 5 months.