10-5 The GREAT WAR (1914-18) – The FIGHTING
10.5.2.Examine the principal theaters of battle, major turning points, and the importance of geographic factors in military decisions and outcomes (e.g., topography, waterways, distance, climate)
3.Explain how the Russian Revolution and the entry of the United States affected the course and outcome of the war.
4.Understand the nature of the war and its human costs (military and civilian) on all sides of the conflict
1)Nationalism and “entangling” alliances, set off by the “spark” of the assassination of Austrian Franz Ferdinand, led to the “Great War”.
National alliances designed to prevent war through “collective security”, instead created a “chain reaction” guaranteeing collective involvement in a “world” war.
2)Military leaders on both sides (the “Allies” France, Britain, Italy vs. “Central” powers Germany, Austro-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey) anticipated a relatively short war.
Wars in the past had generally been “seasonal”, fought during the warmer weather months, decided relatively quickly through few, “climactic” battles.
3)All nations fully mobilized their “modern” and “industrialized” war machines.
Machines, capable of mass production, could also bring mass destruction.
4)Germany had the strategic disadvantage of being surrounded by enemies on both west (France) and east (Russia).
5)The German Schlieffen Plan (made by a German general) sought to address this disadvantage of a two front war. Germany would attack and defeat France quickly in the west first (like they had done in 1870, then turn to fight the larger Russian military in the east.
6)To gain a quick victory in the west against the French, the Germans would march though neutral Belgium, then swing south behind French defenses to encircle and crush them.
7)Just the opposite happened – quick victory against Russia in the east but “stalemate” in the west.
8)The Russians were crushed by the Germans at the Battle of Tannenburg. The Russians suffered the most casualties during the war.
9)The Germans launched a massive offensive at the French river Marne in 1915.
The French and British held this off.
This battle ended German hopes for quick victory in the west.
10)Both sides on the western front in France began to “dig in” to protect themselves from enemy artillery.
This “trench warfare” would lead to a long, deadly stalemate.
11)After more than a year of “stalemate”, the Germans would launch a massive offensive at the battle of Verdun in 1916.
The Allies held off this offensive.
The eleven month battle resulted in half a million casualties on both sides, with no side winning.
12)The Allies then launched an offensive at the river Somme. The Germans held it off.
On a single day, the British lost 60,000 killed or wounded.
The five month battle resulted in over one million casualties.
13)The technology of modern warfare led to the massive number of casualties – rapid-fire machine guns, long-range artillery, and barbed wire.
Tanks and airplanes were just being developed and used for warfare.
14)The land that separated the trenches was called “no man’s land.”
Defense held the advantage during this war. Offensives out of the trenches were often brutally crushed “suicide” charges.
15)The Turks cut off the British-Russian naval supply line through the “Dardanelles”, a narrow waterway separating the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
16)At the battle of Gallipoli, the British tried to open up this narrow water strait. After ten months and over 70,000 casualties, the British and their Indian allies finally withdrew.
17)The Ottoman Turkish Empire also fought Arab nationalists in the Middle East, who were aided by Allied support.
The Turks lost a great deal of their empire, including Bagdad.
18)The British used a naval blockade against the Central Powers on continental Europe.
They tried to “starve” Germany into submission.
19)The Germans countered with submarine warfare.
In 1915, German “U-boats” sunk the luxury liner Lusitania, killing over 1200 (mostly Irish) people, including 128 Americans.
20)The official position of American government was neutrality.
Despite this, American industry supplied the Allied (British and French) war effort.
The United States was politically, but not economically neutral.
21)The Germans countered the British naval blockade with unrestricted submarine warfare.
Any ship going to Britain or France, military or civilian, would be fired upon.
American ships were shot at and sunk by German U-boats.
22)In 1917, the British intercepted a telegram from Zimmermann, the German ambassador to Mexico. In return for Mexican support, the Germans offered Mexico lands lost to the U.S. in 1848 if the Germans won.
The Zimmermann Telegram resulted in American distrust of Germany.
23)Despite a large Germanic population, the U.S. maintained “cultural” ties to Britain and France, speaking English and being a “democracy” like France.
24)The U.S. would end its neutrality and enter the war in 1917 on the Allied side.
25)American President Wilson had won re-election in 1916 by campaigning “He Kept Us Out of the War”.
Wilson stated American involvement was, “To save the world for democracy.”
Wilson made it a “moral” crusade – “a war to end all wars.”
26)America’s fighting on the Allied side would militarily “tip the balance” in favor of Britain and France.
Both sides were “exhausted” from three years of war.
27)The war was a disaster for Russia.
They were dominated militarily by the more modern and superior German military.
The larger Russian military often lacked the weapons and
supplies necessary to fight a “modern” war. Food and resources needed to fight the war led to food and fuel shortages for the civilian population. After mass protests, Czar Nicholas abdicated his throne in 1917.
Marxist “Bolsheviks” led by Vladimir “Lenin” took over.
He quickly signed a peace treaty with Germany, ending the disastrous Russian war effort.
28)Russia’s surrender helped the German war effort. The Germans could now transfer more troops and supplies to the western front.
29)American involvement helped prevent German victory in the West. The Allies, with “fresh” American troops and supplies, pushed the exhausted Germans back.
30)Hungry city-dwellers rioted across Germany.
The British naval blockade did have a long-term effect on the German war effort. German naval officers mutinied in one instance.
31)Though the Germans remained in war ravaged France, German generals told the Kaiser that the war could not be won.
32)German military commanders “advised” the Kaiser to step down. German Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne, leaving to live in “exile” in Holland.
33)American President Wilson sought an “equitable” peace after the war, a long and ugly conflict that should end with “no victory”.
Influenced by American overtures, the new German government sought and signed an armistice to stop the fighting.
The war ended after four long years ended on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.