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World War I

The Great War

I. Setting the Stage

A. An Uneasy Peace
1. Nationalism grows
a. Rivalry between Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, and Austria-
b. Competition for materials, markets, and Industrial dominance
c. territorial disputes
d. Independence movements in the Balkans
2. Imperialism
a. In 1905 and 1911 Germany and France almost went to war over Morocco
3. Militarism
a. Arms Race
b. by 1914, all major nations in Europe except Britain had large standing
B. Alliances
1. Bismarck
a. 1879- Dual Alliance - Germany and Austria-Hungary
b. 1887- Triple Alliance added Italy
c. goal was to keep the peace and isolate France

2. Shifting Alliances
a. Wilhelm II forced Bismarck to resign in 1890
b. Let treaty with Russia lapse, Russia signed a treaty with France
c. Built up Navy and colonized widely
d. Caused Britain to strengthen navy and ally with France in 1904
e. 1907- Triple Entente France, Britain, Russia
f. Japan grows closer to Britain

C. The Balkans Crisis

1. “Powder keg” of Europe because of diversity
a. Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, had freed themselves of the
Ottomans(who were in decline), others wanted to follow
b. Serbians wanted Slavs to unify, supported by Russia which was mostly
c. Austria-Hungary feared Slavic unrest and Russian interest in the Balkans
d. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, both with large Slavic
e. Russia supported Serbia, but with Germany supporting Austria-Hungary,
they had to back downs
f. Serbia did gain other Slavic territories, but Austria-Hungary vowed to crush
and Serbian attempts to undermine their authority

2. “The Shot heard around Europe”

a. June 28, 1914

b. Archduke Ferdinand heir to Austrian throne visits Sarajevo,

capital of Bosnia
c. Gavrilo Princep, of the “Black Hand”, shoots and kills Archduke and
d. Austria wanted to get back at Serbia and had Germany’s support
e. Austria gave Serbia a harsh ultimatum, Serbia wanted to negotiate
f. Austria declared war on July 28
g. Russia mobilized in Serbia and along Austrian border
h. European leaders. Even the Kaiser attempted to get them to negotiate

II. The War Spreads

A. The Alliance System Collapses
1. Chain reaction
a. Many nations had pledged support for each other
b. Russia joined its ally Serbia
c. They mobilized near Germany because they were allied with Austria
d. August 1, Germany declared war on Russia
e. Later declared war on France to preempt their alliance with Russia
2. . by now most European nations were involved

B. The Schlieffen Plan

1. . Plan for two front war by Alfred Gray von Schlieffen(German)
a. attack France first because Russia would be slow mobilizing
1. Attack from North through Belgium
2. Belgium refused passage, so Germany attacked them
3. This brought Britain into the War on August 4
4. Bulk of German troops were to defeat France then march West to
fight against Russia
b. the plan relied on a quick win in the West
2. Europan Nations take sides
a. Central Powers-Austria-Hungary, Germany, Ottomans, Hungary
b. Allies- Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Japan

C. Stalemate Along the Western Front

1. Western Front- deadlocked region in Northern France
2. Conflict grinds to a halt
a. Schlieffen Plan worked well early on
b. by September Germans were on the outskirts of Paris
c. France mobilized with secret intelligence, drove the Germans back over 60
d. Battle of the Marne- ended chances of quick victory in France
3.. Trench Warfare
a. By 1915, miles of parallel trenches had been dug on the Western Front
b. Exchange of attacks=huge loss of life
c. Miserable conditions
d. “No man’s land”- space between the trenches
e. Attacks were met with machine gun fire,
staying put meant artillery + poison gas
f. new tools for war didn’t make the war faster, just killed more people
Tanks, Machine Guns, Poison Gas, submarine all took their toll
g. 1916- Battle of Verdun- both sides lost 300,000, Germany gained 4 miles
of land
h. Battle of the Somme-Britain gained 5 miles, lost 20,000 troops in 1 day

D. The Eastern Front

1. More mobile, German-Russian Border, Russians and Serbs fought Germans,
Turks, and Austrians
2. Central Powers took the early advantage
3. Russia’s efforts weaken
a. shortage of food
b. Allies could not ship supplies
c. strength was in population
d. problems mount back home in Russia