The immediate cause of WWI was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. On June, 1914, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Franz Ferdinand. Several Serbian government officials had been aware of the plot yet they didn’t warn the Austrian government. This assassination caused a chain reaction the led Europe into WWI.
Austria dealt harshly with Serbia. These were the allies at the time: Triple Alliance included Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; Triple Entente included France, Russia, and Britain. Austria-Hungary received from Germany a promise of unconditional support- a diplomatic blank check. Austria presented an ultimatum demanding that Serbia (a.) stop anti-Austrian propaganda, (b.) dismiss anti-Austrian officials, and (c.) permit Austria to investigate within Serbia, the assassination plot. Continued on next slide
Germany was alarmed when Russia mobilized its forces in preparation for helping Serbia and in anticipation of a major war. Germany therefore declared war against Russia and France. Germany moved towards France, but by going through Belgium. By invading Belgium Germany violated its pledge to respect that country’s neutrality. The British feared German control of Belgium because it was opposite of the British Isles and thought it as a threat to its security. When Germany rejected a British ultimatum to withdraw from Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany.
When WWI began in 1914, American President Woodrow Wilson urged the American people to be neutral and issued a Proclamation of Neutrality. However, confronted by world events, neither Wilson nor the American people could remain neutral. In April, 1917 Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany.
These are the reasons, the historians believe, of why Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany: 1. German Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. Germans used submarines to torpedo ships to prevent them from getting guns and ammunition to Britain. They torpedoed the ships without warning and no attempt to rescue crews and passengers. In 1915 over 100 American lives were lost on the sinking of Lusitania. The passenger Lusitania was a ship that was also taking weapons and ammunition to Germany. Continued on next slide.
2. Allied Propaganda. Americans were receptive towards Allied propaganda because (a.) they felt kinship for Britain, based upon common language and culture, and (b.) our friendship for France went back to France’s support of the colonial cause in the American Revolution. 3. Hostility Toward Germany. The American people became increasingly hostile toward Germany because the Germans (a.) invaded the neutrality of Belgium, (b.) waged unrestricted submarine warfare, (c.) attempted sabotage of American industries, and (d.) plotted to draw Mexico into war against the United States- a plot revealed in the 1917 Zimmermann Note. Continued on next slide
4. American Economic Interest. Because Britain effectively blockaded the Central Powers, the Americans sold foodstuffs and manufactured goods almost entirely to the Allies. When the Allies exhausted their funds, American investors extended them substantial loans. Americans feared that, if Germany won the war, American loans to the Allies might never be repaid. 5. American Idealism. Americans felt that a better world would emerge if the Allied nations triumphed over the autocratic Central Powers. President Wilson called WWI “a war to end all wars” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.” 6. American Security. Germany, if victorious, would replace democratic Britain as the dominant European power on the Atlantic. Continued on next slide
From this location, aggressive Germany might threaten the security of the United States.
Wilson’s Fourteen Points as an Incentive for Armistice
In 1918, before the end of the war, President Wilson addressed Congress on American war aims. His program for a lasting peace consisted of the Fourteen Points: (1.) open covenants (treaties) of peace openly arrived at, (2.) freedom of the seas, (3.) removal of international trade barriers (such as tariffs), (4.) reduction of armaments (weapons), (5.) impartial adjustment of colonial claims with due regard for the interests of the native peoples, (6-13) adjustment of European boundaries in accordance with the principle of nationality, that is, the right of any national group to self-determination regarding its own government and independent state and (14.) establishment of a League of Nations. Allied leaders approved Wilson’s Fourteen Points only with significant reservations. In particular each leader upheld his nation’s claims to territorial gains and to protection of vital national interests.
In 1919, the Big Four each sought different objectives. David Lloyd George, prime minister of Britain, sought to expand Britain’s colonial empire, preserve its naval and industrial supremacy, and “make Germany pay for the war.” Georges Clemenceau, premier of France, sought to ensure France’s security against future German invasion and to weaken Germany by imposing military limitations, financial payments, and territorial losses. Vittorio Orlando, premier of Italy, sought to enlarge Italy’s territory in Europe and expand its empire overseas. Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States, sought to provide a just peace and create a better world by implementing the Fourteen Points. After months of arguments and compromise emerged the Treaty of Versailles. On the next page is a map of what territory Germany lost.
Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men; the army was not allowed tanks. It was not allowed an air force, it was allowed only 6 capital naval ships and no submarines The west of the Rhineland and 50 kms east of the River Rhine was made into a demilitarized zone. No German soldier or weapon was allowed into this zone. The Allies were to keep an army of occupation on the west bank of the Rhine for 15 years.
1920-1923- Germany had a depression during this time. The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to pay all of the reparations. Germany didn't have enough money to pay the reparations. They were in debt and this caused inflation. By 1923 it was at its worst. 4 billion German Marks= 1 US dollar. Suitcases replaced wallets. You needed to have carts full of money to buy one loaf of bread.
1924-1929- Germany asked US to loan them money so Germany could pay their reparations back. This was the Dawes Plan. The deal was that if the U.S. loaned Germany money whenever the U.S. needed the money back Germany would pay. These were great years for Germany; everything was great. Germany was not in debt any more and they celebrated. Jazz clubs and swing became very popular now.
1929- The stock market crashed so the U.S. asked Germany for their money back and Germany didn’t have t so they went into another great depression.
Germany was having really bad inflation and they needed help. Hitler promised that he would revive the nation. Lots of people had to trust him since there wasn’t really that much hope. People started voting for Hitler and the Nazi party. Hitler also threatened people that if they didn’t vote for him he would kill their families. Hitler became chancellor and when the president died, Hitler also became president.