The Great War created by David William Phillips
During the 19 th century, the German state of Prussia became strong and prosperous under the leadership of King Wilhelm I .
In the 1860s, Wilhelm appointed Otto von Bismarck to be the Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismarck was a keen politician who declared that “the great questions of the day will not be decided by speeches … but by blood and iron ."
Bismarck united many of the smaller northern German states through a series of wars and created alliances with many of the southern German states.
In 1870, Bismarck goaded the French Empire into declaring war on Prussia.
During the Franco-Prussian war, the French were swiftly defeated.
Prussia captured the French Emperor Napoleon III and annexed the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine .
The Prussians also captured Paris and in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was declared the Kaiser , or Emperor, of a new united German Empire.
Under Kaiser Wilhelm II , Germany grew to become the strongest military and industrial power in Europe.
Like Britain and France, Germany had imperial ambitions and Wilhelm II declared that Germany too, would have “ a place in the sun .”
In the early years of the twentieth century, tensions were growing between European nations.
This was due to: 1. Imperialism European empires, especially Britain , France , and Germany, competed for control of trade and colonies .
Finally, these tension erupted into a great and terrible war in August, 1914:
4 years and 3 months (1 Aug 1914 – 11 Nov 1918)
8.5 million dead, 21.2 million wounded, 7.8 million missing in action
17 million dead from a worldwide flu epidemic
$186 billion (approx. $2.5 trillion today)
The Great War was caused by five MAIN factors: M A I N S Militarism Alliances Imperialism Nationalism Socialism
Or, in chronological order: N I M A S Militarism – increased after 1890s to protect new colonies and prove national superiority Alliances – become necessary by early 1900s in militarized environment Imperialism – increased after 1870s in part due to rivalries compelled by nationalism Nationalism – developed early-mid 1800s Socialism – Were conservative leaders willing to go to war in order to draw focus away from international brotherhood to patriotic duty and use lower class soldiers as cannon fodder to reduce threat of socialist revolution by reducing the working class population?
How the War Broke Out: The Slavs had long struggled for independence while the Austrians, Ottomans, and Russians competed for control of the Balkan Peninsula of Southeast Europe.
In 1914, Serbia wanted to form a large Slavic state in the Balkans. A terrorist organization called The Black Hand was one of several Serbian secret societies dedicated to this cause.
Serbia was supported by Russia and opposed by Austria-Hungary .
In June of 1914, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand , and his wife were killed by a member of The Black Hand while touring the city of Sarajevo .
Austria-Hungary wanted to declare war on Serbia but was worried that Russia would come to Serbia’s aid.
Austrian leaders asked for help from its German allies. Kaiser Wilhelm II agreed to give Germany’s full support.
In July, 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia . Russia responded by mobilizing the Russian army.
Austria-Hungary and Germany considered Russian mobilization to be an act of war. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 .
Russia and France were allies. Germany had prepared a strategy, called the Schlieffen Plan , to fight both countries at once.
The plan called for Germany to defeat France first and then attack Russia with full force. Germany declared war on France on August 3 .
The Germans demanded that Belgium — a neutral country — allow German armies to pass through on the way to France.
The violation of Belgian neutrality drew Great Britain , who was allied with France and Russia , into the war. On August 4 , Britain declared war on Germany and World War I had begun.
É ultimatum Serbia (10) Austria-Hungary (6) Russia (5) Germany (1) France (4) Belgium (9) Britain (2) Ottoman Turks (8) Italy (7) Italy (7) Ì assassination » back-up ¼ support º mobilizes (WAR!) ¹ É É WAR! Schlieffen Plan Schlieffen Plan » has treaty Î WAR! » alliance Î switches sides » joins » alliance Bulgaria(12) » joins É WAR!
Allied Powers: Britain (2) France (4) Russia (5) Italy (7) Belgium (9) Serbia (10) Central Powers: Germany (1) Austria-Hungary (6) Ottoman Empire (8) Bulgaria (12) OUT 1917 United States (3) IN 1917 _____________
In 1915, the Germans sank the British ship Lusitania , killing 1,100 civilians and causing strong protests from the American government.
The United States tried to stay neutral in the first years of World War I. However, in April 1917, the United States responded to unrestricted submarine warfare by declaring war on Germany .
Though large numbers of American troops did not arrive until 1918 , the Allies were given a powerful psychological boost as well as money and supplies .
World War I became a total war that required a complete mobilization of people and resources. It demanded the total commitment of the countries involved, soldiers and civilians alike. The war had an enormous impact on everyone’s life.
When the war began, government propaganda was used to urge people to defend their own country.