Europe in 1914 Triple Entente -UK -France -Russia Russia United Kingdom Belgium Triple Alliance -Germany -Austria-Hungary -Italy (for now) Germany France Austria-Hungary Neutral Countries (for now) -Belgium -Switzerland -Ottoman Empire -Serbia Switzerland Italy Ottoman Empire Serbia
The Causes of World War I • Militarism • Alliance system • Imperialism • Nationalism • The assassination of Franz Ferdinand – June 28, 1914
The War Begins – 1914 • June 28: Franz Ferdinand assassinated • July 28: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia • July 31: Russia mobilizes army • August 1: Germany declares war on Russia • August 3: Germany declares war on France
Germany’s Dilemma BELGIUM
The Schlieffen Plan in Theory • Drawn up in 1897; enacted in 1914 • Germany’s plan to avoid a two-front war • Key assumptions: • Russia was strong but slow to mobilize • France was weak and could be defeated quickly • France would have to be outflanked • Britain would stay neutral • Step 1: invade France through Belgium • Step 2: move troops back east to defeat Russia
The Schlieffen Plan in Practice: What Germany Got Wrong • August 3: Germany declares war on France • August 4: Germany invades neutral Belgium • Belgium resists the invasion, slowing down Germany; Britain comes to Belgium’s aid • France resists the invasion • Russia mobilizes in ten days • Sparks the “Race to the Sea”
Trench Warfare • Major defensive formation = the trench • Intended to cover soldiers from enemy fire • Systems of fortified ditches, defended with barbed wire • Space in between = “no man’s land”
Life in the Trenches • Confined space • Little to do • Frequent enemy fire • Diseases • Rats • Mud • Trench foot
The next image is extremely graphic A bad case of trench foot
Questions to ponder • If you were a solider in the trenches on the Western Front, what’s the last thing you’d want to be ordered to do? • Why on earth would officers order frontal charges?
From a British trench warfare manual The attack on such a, system of defenses as has been described demands in all ranks dash and gallantry of a very high order, and in the subordinate leader, clown to the lowest grades, a quick perception, rapid decision, and intelligent initiative. It is more than ever' the case that success depends upon qualities of leadership in subordinate commanders, upon rapid appreciation and readiness to accept responsibility on the part of the man on the spot. Much can be done in peace training to foster these qualities and to impress on even the most subordinate leaders the necessity for acting, in cases of urgency, on their own responsibility.
Result: a stalemate • 1914-1918 • Situation on the Western Front in which neither side could win, since the defense was stronger than the offense • Led to enormous casualties • Battle of Gallipoli (1916): 250,000 casualties • Battle of Verdun (1916): 975,000 casualties • Battle of the Somme (1916): 1,250,000 casualties