Introduction In 1914 started the first « modern » war in history, known as World war one, although most battles occurred in Europe. It was to last until 1918 and opposed two complex systems of alliances led by Germany on one side and the UK and France on the other side. Why did WWI start and what was its consequences? First, Let’s explain the roots of this conflict. Then, We will study the main steps of the war as well as the condition of the soldiers. To finish, let’s see the severe consequences of the conflict both in terms of casualties and geopolitical changes.
I/ THE ROAD TO WORLD WAR ONE A/ A complex system of alliances Source 1 What are the bones of contention opposing Britain and Germany? Vocabulary: Heligoland : a German Island off Hambourg Unfold: déplier
Germany was competing with Russia and France to expand their armies 18801914 Germany1.3m5.0m France0.73m4.0m Russia0.40m1.2m England called on new alliances: what alliances did England suggest? How did the British justify them? Source 2
Answer: Here, England suggests two types of alliances: -One with France, saying: « see article 4 » -One with Belgium, saying: « see article6 » There are three reasons behind these suggestions: -First, France was a great power before WWI and a market for British products -Then, if France was defeated by Germany, the Germans could easily reach the UK by simply crossing the Channel: this is what is suggested in article 5 -To finish, like article 6 suggests, Belgium ;has to be protected because Belgium was neutral and Germany violated its neutrality.
A complex system of alliances set up THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE:1879 Ger/Aust, 1882 rest ( Italy changed camp in 1915) THE TRIPLE ENTENTE:1892 Russia/France, 1904 Fra/RU, 1907 RU/Russie Source 3
Source 4 German emperor William trips over the Entente Cordiale : cartoon published in Punch ( satirical British cartoon first published in 1849).August 2 nd 1911. 1- What is the context here? 2- Why is the Entente Cordiale a problem for William 2nd?
B/ Sarajevo and the chain reaction to war 28 June 1914 Heir to Austrian throne Franz Ferdinand ( Franz Josef’s nephew) visits Sarajevo Capital of Bosnia. “Black Hand” terrorists attack the Arch Duke Gavrilo Princip shoots Archduke and wife in the afternoon. Austrians blame Serbia for supporting terrorists. Seal of the Black Hand group
Chain reaction to war : Austrians, supported by Germany, send Serbia a tough ultimatum. Serbia does not agree to the ultimatum. Russia mobilises her troops to support Serbia Germany demands that Russia stands her armies down. Germany declares war on Russia AUSTRIA SERBIA RUSSIA FRANCE THE UKGERMANY ITALY? August 3rd 1914 August 4th 1914
Soldiers of the Entente thought the war will be fast and Germany easily defeated… No conscription system existed in Britain, so posters called on people to get enlisted and that was not sufficient. In 1915 conscription was made mandatory for unmarried men aged between 18 and 41.
II/ BATTLES AND FRONTS A/ MAP 1-Where are the fronts located ? 2-Locate the main two alliances
B/ TYPES OF WAR -August 1914-1915 : War of manœuvre -1916 : Submarine warfare -1915-March 1918: trench Warfare/war of position/ Gassing. 2 very famous battles -VERDUN : february 1916: 240 000 French soldiers died and 275 000 German soldiers died -the battle of the Somme : the British Verdun :July 1916 : 750 000 British soldiers attacked. 100 000 died. 164 000 German died.
-March-November 1918: war of manœuvre again to the final Armistice in November 11th 1918
C/ CONDITIONS IN THE TRENCHES Soldiers were expected to carry all of their equipment with them at all times. They were supposed to keep it clean and in good condition – they were British after all. How the uniform and equipment changed after just three weeks in the trenches…
B/ Geopolitical changes after the versailles Treaty
GEOPOLITICAL CHANGES 1-The impact of the treaty of Versailles: It was signed between Germany on the one side and France, Italy, Britain and other minor allied powers on the other side and it officially ended war between those countries. Included in the 440 articles of Treaty of Versailles were the demands that Germany officially accept responsibility for starting the war and pay huge reparations. This treaty drastically limited the German military machine: the German troops were reduced to 100,000 and the country was prevented from possessing major military armament such as tanks, warships, and submarines. Germany lost territories at the East to create Poland. It was divided into two parts by the Dantzig Corridor. Germany felt cheated and nicknamed the treaty the « Diktat » or the « stab in the back ». Italy was not rewarded for changing camp: it expected to be given some territories in Dalmatia. Italian spoke about the « Victoria mutilata » and resentment built up fast.
2) New countries were created: The Baltic countries Finland Czechoslovakia: it became a multinational empire mixing different nationalities ( Slovaks, Czechs, Germans in the Sudetenland…) Yugoslavia: It gathered many different Slavic minorities: Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians… Austria and Hungary split and became two independent states Syria and Lebanon, former German colonies were given as mandates to France 3) The creation of a new organization to preserve peace: Wilson, the US president suggested in his 14 points ( article 14) to create an international organization to preserve peace/ the League of nations The League of Nations was to be based in Geneva, Switzerland. This choice was natural as Switzerland was a neutral country and had not fought in World War One. It was meant to avoid future war by negotiating peace But: the USA did not join the League, and it had No ARMY and could only take economic sanctions.
4) A new world order: -Europe was down the drain and needed time to recover -The USA asserted as a new political and economic power
CONCLUSION WWI started in August 1914 when Germany declared war to France. Both countries were kinds of « hereditary enemies » and the attempt of Sarajevo was more a pretext to start the war. Indeed it triggered a chain reaction through the complex system of alliances, which led to a world war because colonies were involved. Consequences were severe: it was the most violent war of history and it totally changed Europe’s map. Moreover, the new world order was changed with the assertion of the USA and the decline of Europe. Although the league of nations was created, WWI was not « the last of the last » as people believed. It was quickly followed by another widespread conflict, which was to be even worse: WWII.