The rise of nationalism.
Europe avoided major wars in the 100 years before World War 1 began. In the 1800's, a force swept across the continent that helped bring about the Great War. The force was nationalism - the belief that loyalty to a person's nation and its political and economic goals comes before any other public loyalty. During the 1800's nationalism took hold among people who shared a common language, history, or culture. Such people began to view themselves as members a national group or nation. Nationalism led to the creation of two new powers - Italy and Germany - through the uniting of many small states. War had a major role in achieving nation unification in Italy and Germany. On the other hand, nationalism weakened the eastern European empires of Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Ottoman Turkey. Those empires ruled many national groups that clamored for independence. The Balkan Peninsula or the "Powder Keg of Europe" caused tensions and therefore threatened to ignite a major war. Rivalry for control of the Balkans added to the tensions that erupted into World War 1.
A build-up of military might occurred among European countries before World War 1 broke out. Nationalism encouraged public support for military build-ups and for a country's use of force to achieve its goals. By the late 1800's, Germany had the best-trained army in the world. In 1898 Germany began developing a naval force that was big enough to challenge the British navy. In 1906, the British navy launched the Dreadnought, the first modern battleship. The Dreadnought had greater firepower that any other ship of its time. Germany rushed to construct on just like it. Advances in technology helped aid in making military forces stronger. Machine guns and other new arms fired more accurately and more rapidly than earlier weapons. By the end of the 1800's, technology enabled countries to fight longer and bear greater losses that ever before.
A system of military alliances gave European powers a sense of security before World War 1. They formed these alliances with each other for protection and guarantee that other members of the alliance would come to the country's aid if attacked. Although alliances provided protection, the system also created certain dangers. If war came, the alliance system meant that a number of nations would fight, not only the two involved in a dispute. Alliances could force a country to go to war against a nation it had no quarrel with. In addition, the terms of many alliances were kept secret. The secrecy also increased the chances that a county might guess wrong about the consequences of its actions. The Triple Alliance was made up of 3 countries, Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. They all agreed to go to war if attacked by Russia. Bismarck also brought Austria-Hungary and Germany into alliance with Russia. The agreement was known as the Three Emperor's League and was formed in 1881. They all agreed to remain neutral if any of them went to war with another country. In 1890 when Bismarck left office it gave a chance for Russia and France to form an alliance. In 1894, France and Russia agreed to call up troops if any nation in the Triple Alliance mobilized. Russia and France also agreed to help each other if either were attacked be Germany.
Beginning of the War
On June 28, 1914 a Serbian terrorist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand. The Archduke's assassination triggered the outbreak of World War 1. On July 28 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Because of Austria-Hungary's alliance with Germany, Serbia sought help from Russia. In 1914 Russia vowed to stand behind Serbia, but first Russia gained support from France. Germany declared war on Russia on Aug. 1, 1914, in response to Russia’s mobilization. Two days later Germany declared war on France. The German Army swept into Belgium on its way to France. The invasion of Belgium caused Britain to declare war on Germany on Aug. 4. Germanys plan for a quick defeat of France while Russia slowly mobilized was called the Schlieffen Plan. This plan called for two wings of the German army to crush the French army in a pincers movement. A small left wing would defend Germany along its frontier with France. A much larger right wing would invade France through Belgium; encircle and capture Paris; and them move east. Belgium’s army fought bravely but held up the Germans for only a short time. By Aug 16,1914, the right wing of Germany could begin its pincers motion. It drove back French and British forces in southern Belgium and swept info France. But instead of swinging west around Paris, one part of the right wing pursued retreating French troops toward the Marne River. This maneuver left the Germans exposed to attacks form the rear.
Meanwhile, General Joseph Joffre, commander of all French armies, stationed his forces near the Marne River east of Paris and prepared for battle. This battle was later known as the First Battle of the Marne, beginning on September 6 and ending September 9 when German forces started to withdraw. The First Battle of the Marne was a key victory for the Allies because it ended Germanys hopes to defeat France quickly.
The German army halted its retreat near the Aisne River. From there, the Germans and the Allies fought a series of battles that became known as the Race to the Sea. Germany sought to seize ports on the English Channel and cut off vital supply lines between France and Britain. But the Allies stopped the Germans in the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium. The battle lasted from mid-October until mid-November. By late November 1914, the war reached a deadlock along the Western Front as neither side gained much ground. The deadlock lasted nearly 3 1/2 years.
The typical front-line trench was about 6 to 8 feet deep and wide enough for two men to pass. Dugouts in the sides of the trenches protected men during enemy fire. Barbed wire helped protect the firing trench from surprise attacks. Between the enemy lines lay a stretch of ground called "no man's land." Soldiers generally served at the front line from a few days to a week and then rotated to the rear for a rest. The smell of dead bodies lingered in the air, and rats were a constant problem. This combination made life in the trenches miserable. Soldiers had trouble keeping dry, especially in areas of Belgium. Except during an attack, life fell into a dull routine. Some soldiers stood guard. Others repaired the trenches, kept telephone lines in order, brought food from behind the battle lines, or did other jobs. At night, patrols fixed the barbed wire and tried to get information about the enemy. Both the Allies and the Central Powers developed new weapons, which they hoped would break the deadlock. In April 1915, the Germans first released poison gas over Allied lines in the Second Battle of Ypres. The fumes caused vomiting and suffocation. After the introduction of the poison, gas masks were used. Another new weapon was the flamethrower, which shot out a stream of burning fuel.
The Final Stage
During 1917, French and British military leaders still hoped a successful offensive could win the war. But German leaders accepted the deadlock on the Western Front and improved their defenses. In March 1917, German troops were moved back to a strongly fortified new battle line in northern France. It was called the Siegfried Line by the Germans and the Hindenburg Line by the Allies. The Siegfried Line shortened the Western Front and placed German artillery and machine guns to best advantage. It also led to the failure of an offensive planned by France. General Robert Nivelle had replaced Joffre as commander in chief of French forces in December 1916. Nivelle planned a major offensive near the Aisne River and predicted he would smash through the German line within two days. Germany's pullback to the Siegfried Line did not shake Nivelle's confidence. Nivelle's offensive opened on April 16,1917. By the end of the day, it was clear that the assault had failed, but the fighting continued into May. Petain replaced Nivelle in May 1917. Petain improved soldier's living conditions and restored order. He promised France would be on the defensive until it was ready to fight again. Meanwhile, it was up to the British to hold back any further offensives on the Western Front. General Haig was hopeful that a British offensive near Ypres would lead to victory. The third battle of Ypres began on July 31, 1917. For three months, British and French troops pounded the Germans in an especially terrible campaign. Heavy Allied bombardment before the infantry attacked began had destroyed the drainage system around Ypres. Drenching rains then turned the waterlogged land into a swamp were thousands of British soldiers drowned. Snow and ice finally halted the disastrous battle on November 10. In late November, Britain used tanks to bread through the Siegfried Line. But the failure at Ypres had used up the troops Britain needed to follow up that success. In 1917, first France and then Britain saw their hopes of victory shattered. Austria-Hungary drove the Italians out of its territory in the Battle of Caporetto in the fall and revolution in Russia made the Allied situation seem even more hopeless.
The United States Enter the War
At the start of the war, President Wilson had declared the neutrality of the United States. Most Americans opposed US involvement in the European war. But the sinking of the Lusitania and other German actions against civilians drew America sympathies to the Allies. German military leaders believed that they could still win the war by cutting off British supplies. They expected their U-boats to starve Britain into surrendering within a few months, longer before the US had fully prepared for war. Tension between the US and Germany increased after the British intercepted and decoded a message from Germany's foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, the German ambassador to Mexico. The message known as the "Zimmermann note", revealed a German plot to persuade Mexico to go to war against the United States. The British gave the message to Wilson, and it was published in the US early in March. Americans were further enraged after U-boats sank several US cargo ships.
Mobilization The US entered the war unprepared for battle. Strong antiwar feelings had hampered efforts to prepare for war. Government propaganda pictured the war as a battle for liberty and democracy. During World War 1, US Government agencies directed the nations economy toward the war effort. President Wison put financier Bernard M. Baruch in charge of the War Industries Board, which turned factories into producers of war materials. Manpower was a chief contribution to the United States to World Was 1. The country entered the war with about 126,000 men. It soon organized a draft requiring all from 21 through 30 years old to register for military service. The age range was broadened to 18 through 45 in 1918. Many men enlisted voluntarily, and women signed up as nursed and office workers. The US armed forces had almost 5 million men and women by the end of the war. Few soldiers received much training before going overseas because the Allies urgently needed them. Before US help could reach the Western Front, the Allies had to overcome the U-boat threat in the Atlantic. In May 1917, Britain began to use a convoy system, by which cargo ships went to the sea in large groups escorted be warships. The U-boats proved no match for the warships and Allied shipping losses dropped sharply.
The last campaigns. The end of the war on the Eastern Front boosted German hopes for victory. By early 1918 German forces outnumbered the Allies on the Western Front. In Spring, Germany staged three offensives. Ludendorff counted on delivering a crushing blow to the Allies before larger numbers of Americans reached the front. Germany first struck near St.-Quentin, a city in the Somme River Valley, on March 21,1918. By March 26, British troops had retreated about 30 miles. In late March, the Germans began to bombard Paris with "Big Berthas". The enormous guns hurled shells up to 75 miles. In April, after the disaster at St-Quentin, Allied leaders appointed General Ferdinand Foch for France to the supreme commander of the Allied forces on the Western Front. A second German offensive began on April 9 along the Lys River in Belgium. British troops fought stubbornly, and Ludendorff called off the attack on April 30. Germany attacked a third time on May 27 near the Aisne River. By May 30, German troops had reached the Marne River. American soldiers helped France stop the German advance at the town of Chateau-Thierry, less than 50 miles northeast of Paris. During June, US troops drove the Germans out of Belleau Wood, a forested area near the Marne. On July 15 German troops crossed the Marne. On July 18 Foch ordered a counterattack near the town of Soissons. The turning point in World War 1 was the Second Battle of Marne. This battle was fought from July 15 through August 6, 1918. After winning the battle, the Allies advanced steadily. On August 8, Britain and France attacked the Germans near Amiens. By early September, Germany had lost all the territory it had gained since spring. In mid-September, Pershing led US forces to an easy victory at St.-Mihiel. The last offensive of World War 1 began on September 26, 1918. Almost 900000 US troops participated in heavy fighting between the Argonne Forrest and the Meuse River. Ludendorff realized that Germany could no longer overcome the superior strength of the Allies.
The fighting ends. The Allies won victories on all fronts in the fall of 1918. Bulgaria forces under the command of General Edmund Allenby triumphed over the Ottoman army in Palestine and Syria. On October 30, the Ottoman Empire signed an armistice. The last major battle between Italy and Austria-Hungary began in late October in Italy. Italy defeated Austria-Hungary near the town of Vittorio Veneto with the help of France and Great Britain. Austria-Hungary signed an armistice on November 3. Germany teetered on the edge of collapse as the war continued through October. Britain’s naval blockade had nearly starved German people and widespread discontent led to riots and rising demands for peace. In the early morning on November 11,1918, the Germans accepted the armistice terms demanded by the Allies. Germany agreed to evacuate the territories it had taken during the war; to surrender larger numbers of arms; and other war materials; and to allow Allied powers to occupy German territory along the Rhine River. Foch ordered the fighting to stop on the Western Front at 11 am. World War 1 was over. Well, Alot of things be more specific please. Death toll? New weapons developed? Where and what battles were fought? about the same as world war 2,a lot of people died. Basically, for 4 years from Aug 1914 to Nov 1918, the Allied Forces (Britain, France and later Russia and the US) battled the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire). After many lives were lost in the gruesome war, the Allied Forces were victorious and the war changed Europe's politcal landscape. blood everywhere... hu! This belongs in "homework help," not "special education."
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