World War I
World War I was a time of struggle for Europe. Many factors lead to great tensions in Europe, sparking the need for a war. This war, otherwise known as “The Great War”, occurred in 1914 until 1918. It had many famous battles, such as the battle of The Somme, a battle of many casualties, especially for the British. The war was mainly fought between the members of The Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the members of The Triple Entente (Great Britain, France, and Russia). Eventually, countries such as the USA joined in 1917.
Rivalries between countries, arguments over empires, and an arm race are the causes of the European tensions that lead to the war. A cause thought to of sparked the war was the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, next in line to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Serbian terrorist in Bosnia. This caused the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well. Militarism was the glorification of the military. This was as romantic view of the war. Germany and Great Britain were in great competition.
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Both countries were increasing their naval spending. This arm race, or the buildup of armies and navies, caused fear and suspicion. Germany had challenged Britain as the number one naval power. This led to a hostile relationship. Alliances were agreements among nations to aid each other if attacked. By 1907, Europe was divided. Great Britain, France, and Russia all formed the Allies while Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy formed the central powers. Imperialism was the competition for trade and colonies, resulted in tense relationships between European nations.
Britain and France formed alliances against Germany as a result of competition for colonies. Germany wanted to expand and take over Europe. Nationalism was pride and devotion to one’s country. This led people to support their government even if it meant war. France, whose pride had been hurt after the Franco-Prussian war, wanted revenge against Germany and regain Alsace and Lorraine. Ethnic minorities, such as the Slavic people, wanted unity and independence. Russia felt obligated to defend all slaves because they all shared a common nationality.
By 1914, ethnic tensions in the Balkans were increasing, making it the “powder keg” of Europe. The World War I left 9,906,000 soldiers dead, 21,219,000 soldiers wounded and 7,750,000 soldiers missing. This terrible conflict lasted over 4 years, involved over 30 nations, and claimed lives of both military and civilian. It cost billions of dollars, destroyed Europe, crumbled empires, and sowed seeds of World War II. There were also others causes that led up to World War I. Over time, countries in Europe made mutual defense agreements that would pull them into battle.
If one country was attacked, allied countries were bound to defend them. Before World War I, the following alliances existed: Russia and Serbia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, Britain and France and Belgium, and Japan and Britain. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (July 28, 1914), Russia got involved to defend Serbia. Germany seeing Russia mobilizing, declared war on Russia (august 1, 1914). France was then drawn in against Germany and Austria-Hungary (august 3, 1914). Germany attacked France through Belgium pulling Britain into war (August 4, 1914). This eventually split the continent into two hostile sides.
The Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, later joined by Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire), and the Allies (Great Britain, France, Russia, later joined by Japan, Italy, and the United States). In the fall of 1914, a serious of battles occurred in the region of northern France known as the Western Front. During this time a German general, named Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, had drawn up a plan, and called the Schlieffen Plan, which called for attacking and defeating France in the west and rushing to fight Russia in the east. By early September German troops had reached the outskirts of Paris.
But, on September 5, the Allies attacked the Germans northeast of Paris, in the Valley of Marne River. The Germans retreated after four days of fighting. The battle of the Marne was an important battle because the French and British forces were able to stop the Schlieffen plan for a quick victory. However, the German army was not beaten, and its successful retreat ended all hope of a short war. By early 1915, armies on the Western Front began digging long trenches to protect themselves from opposing armies. This became known as trench warfare where soldiers fought each other from trenches.
New technology, such as machine guns, poison gas, tanks, and submarines, allowed armies to wipe out each other more quickly. War was also going in a region known as the Eastern Front, which stretched along the Russian and German border. In this region, the Russian and the Serbs fought the Germans and Austro-Hungarians. Here, the Russians lost many lives. Near the town of Tannenberg, the Germans defeated the Russians killing over 30,000 Russian soldiers. In September 1914, after defeating the Austrains twice, the Russians were defeated by the Austrians pushing them out of Austria-Hungary.
By 1916 Russia was near collapse. Russia was less industrialized than the other European countries, but they had a large population which allowed their army to rebuilt its ranks. In February 1915, the Allies made an effort to take the Dardanelles strait, which led to defeat the Turks and make a supply line to Russia. This became known as the Gallipoli campaign. The Gallipoli peninsula was attacked by British, French, Australian, and New Zealand troops. By May, the campaign turned bloody. In December, the Allies began to evacuate. They had lost over 250,000 soldiers. Germany’s colonies in Africa and Asia were attacked.
The Japanese defeated the Germans in China and captured Germany’s Pacific island colonies. Four of Germany’s colonies were attacked by France and England who took control of three of the colonies. Soldiers and laborers from India, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, and Indochina joined their French or British rulers in hope that their service would lead to their independence. In 1917, many wars took place on the sea. During the year, the Germans used unrestricted submarine warfare, in which the submarines would sink without warning any ships in the water around Britain.
In January 1917, a German submarine sunk the British passenger ship Lusitania which left 1,198 people dead, including 128 United States citizens. Germany claimed the ship had been carrying ammunition; nut still received strong protests from President Woodrow Wilson. After two more attacks, the Germans agreed to stop attacking neutral and passenger ships. In February 1917, United States officials intercepted a telegram from Arthur Zimmermann, Germany’s foreign secretary, which stated that Germany would help Mexico regain the land it lost to the United States if Mexico would help Germany fight.
This pushed President Wilson, on April 2, 1917, to ask Congress to declare war on Germany. The United States the joined the Allies. When the United States entered the war, the war had already been going on for three years. World War I became a total war because all of the countries devoted their resources to the war. The wartime government took control of the economy and told factories what and how much to produce. Nearly every civilian able to work was put to work. Governments began rationing or limiting the number of goods people bought that Might be needed at war and using propaganda to put people in favor of the war.
Women were also a big help by taking over factories jobs and to put people in favor of the war. Women were also a big help by taking over factories jobs and helping the wounded on the battlefield. In March 1917, Czar Nicholas was forced to step down due the shortages of fuel and food in Russia. By 1917, about 5. 5 million Russian soldiers were either killed, wounded, or a prisoner of war. Russia refused to fight anymore. In November 1917, a communist leader, named Vladimie llyich Lenin took control and insisted on pulling Russia out of the war. Germany and Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-
Litovsk, which ended the war between them in March 1918. In May 1918, the Germans again reached the Marne River. In July 1918, the Allies and the Germans fought the second battle of Marne. The weakened Central Powers were unable to fight off the Allies. The Bulgarians first surrendered and then the Ottomans. In Germany, the soldiers and the people revolted. On November 9, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II stepped down, and Germany became a republic with socialist Friedrich Elbert as president. A representative of the new German government met with Commander Marshal Foch near Paris. They signed an armistice or an greement to stop fighting. On November 11, the Great War came to an end. The big significance was that the United States, who used isolationist techniques during WWI after the Ferdinand assassination, realized that through the sinking of the Lusitania, isolationism did not work and the United States’s only choice was military involvement. Also the final destruction of Europe’s traditionally conservative monarchical order. It made way for the competing ideas of socialism, fascism and liberal democracy. The reason the World War I also known as “Great War” was significant to the U.
S. was that it marked a huge change in Europe, and set into motion many key changes for the US. It marked the end of the Ottoman Empire. Prussia was eliminated as a country. It marked for many European government the end of total monarchy (like in Germany), and into republics, and symbolic monarchies (like England, for example), borders changed and power shifted within Europe like never before. The power shifts in Europe, plus the financial strain of the Great War, brought new financial opportunities for the industrial engines of the US. The Great War also was pretty brutal.
It marked the end of old world warfare, and modern warfare, with the use of submarines, landmines, poisonous gases, air warfare and reconnaissance, tanks, grenades and machine guns replaced cavarlies and bayonets. This was very important. It was mostly US military technology and military forces that shifted the long held stalemate, that seemed to hold Europe hostage by constant war and moving battlefields for years. The Us participation, officially lasted only 2 years, but the US military involvement never had such dramatic effect before or since.
The US was not a world major player over the entire war, but once the US entered into the conflict, the continent was so beaten up, the addition of the US and what it brought with it was enough to basically put an end to the Great War. For those who were veterans, it had a profound effect, mostly because of the War’s sheer horrific nature. The US and other major countries outlawed poison gasses as a result of that war. World leaders questioned the ethics and morality that the new warfare brought in terms of injuries, both physical and mental. The US did not emerge as a world power until World War II.
However, President Wilson did emerge as a leading world figure, and the Great War brought the US out of a long period of mostly an isolationist policies, with a few exceptions to control the western hemisphere in terms of military safety and to protect American industrial and agricultural interests. The Great War ushered an era where the US mattered within world politics, in terms of its industrial and technological capabilities. Another noteworthy event during this time is that Russia’s Czar fell in 1917, and Stalin took over in 1922. The biggest US winners, as I mentioned above, were the industrialists.
Since a good deal of Europe was devastated by the Great War, the US was able to exploit that. The depression in Europe started way before the 1929 stock market crash. In fact, it set in almost immediately following the end of the War. After the Us went into the Great Depression, was when Europe, particularly Germany was starting to rebound and rebuild its industrial complex, and likely why the US did not enter into World War II until the US was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. Lastly with a large influx of American military men into Europe, what came with them was a lot of American Culture.
Clothing, music (like Jazz) started to catch on in Europe like never before. Yes, the Great War was very important to the US. Also to mention the importance of World War to the world was the Great Depression – debt and spending patterns established (or forced) by WW1 directly led to the collapse of the world economy once they played out. The ceding of Western literary leadership from Europe to the United States, So many men of letters and talent died in WWI that the new generation of influential writers and philosophers were almost exclusively American, simply because no one else was left alive.
Thus leadership in the arts passed to the US from Europe. Advent and justification for Total War, and the concept that civilians were legitimate targets for industrialized warfare. Plus change in government styles to concentrate power in national government. That is, the movement towards nations run by highly complex bureaucracies where practically all political power resides at the National Government level (i. e. the effective end to devolved sovereignty and the rise of strong central governments).
Also concept of global security organizations (and, more importantly, the ideas behind having a global community with actual supra-national organizations). As you can see from my essay, World War I was a major impact on the society and was a huge impact for all of those involved. The conditions were bad, conscription was terrible, but in the end the better country won. As I mentioned this war caused a lot of damages to life and property and also it lead to the World War II.