World War I is a major event in the history of the world. It was a war that involved Russia, France, Britain, Italy, the United States, Japan, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Montenegro, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. It lasted from 1914 to 1918. The total deaths of the war came up to eleven million.
The key starting point that triggered the war was the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand by a Serbian terrorist group called the Black Hand. The details are recorded here. This event gave the other Austrian politicians a perfect excuse to eliminate Serbia once and for all. So they thought.
In order to do this, they needed German support, because Serbia had Russian support. The Germans gave the Austrians a ‘blank check.’
Germany meanwhile, fearing a two-front war, developed the Schlieffen Plan
The Plan was simple: attack the French as quickly as possible, then turn and drive out the Russians. But it was too simple. There was no room for mistake, no room for delay. The Germans also counted heavily on the tardiness of the Russian army.
The plan turned out to be a failure. It started with the Germans marching through neutral Belgium. Belgium, unexpectedly, fought back. That delayed the march. In France, they met stout resistance. That further delayed the march. Meanwhile, the Russians were already in Germany. The plan was chaos, the Germans were dismayed, and the French and the Russians were jubilant. Eventually, the Germans and the French settled into trench warfare which lasted for four years.
There were three main battles that took place in World War I. The first was called Gallipoli. It was the first amphibious battle. The Battle of Verdun, in France, was a battle over a French fort, which was eventually taken by the Germans with a loss of 350,000 men. In the Battle of the Somme, the British lost 60,000 men in one day.
The British Hunger Blockade was a major weapon used by the British against the Germans. It prevented ships that carried food from reaching Germany. According to Winston Churchill, “It was made to starve the people into submission.” The Germans responded with submarine warfare.
Woodrow Wilson, the US President, deliberately involved himself in the war by demanding the protection of American citizens aboard armed, belligerent ships belonging to the British. They were to be protected by the Germans no matter what.
The American senators and congressmen objected to Wilson’s policy. They said that Americans should travel aboard armed, belligerent ships at their own risk, not ‘no matter what.’ There was the Gore-McLemore Resolution, which said that Americans travel at their own risk. It was voted down.
Meanwhile, in Germany, hunger was overtaking. There was the ‘turnip winter,’ where the Germans had nothing to eat all winter but turnips and a few potatoes.
In desperation, the Germans passed a law of unrestricted submarine warfare.
American merchant ships had no desire to go into the submarine war zones. However, Wilson stocked them with Navy guns, and staffed them with Navy crews, and nudged them the direction of the zones with orders to shoot any seen submarine. At the same time he told Germany that American citizens were to be protected.
Wilson entered the war officially in 1918. He entered mainly because he wanted to establish a peace in Europe based on his Fourteen Points.
The US is anti-German. There is no Beethoven. Sauerkraut is renamed liberty cabbage. Professors were forbidden to teach German.
But the American people didn’t want the war. They wanted peace and quiet. So a lot of political propaganda was made to stir into senseless fury.
Shortly after Wilson entered the war, it was ended by a declaration of peace from Germany.
The Paris Peace Conference decided that all the German speaking countries were to blame for the war and all the other countries were not to blame. Austria-Hungary was diminished to its German-speaking population. Germany had many rights taken away, and it was not even allowed to attend the Conference!
World War I was a pointless war. It was utterly useless. The powers that thought they would benefit from it ended of worse than ever! World War I only set the stage for World War II.