The Lusitania

POWER POINT PRESENTATION: WORLD WAR I (Best to view in Internet Explorer 4.X or higher)


Text, chapter 25

Underlying Causes of World War I
Nationalism - too many ethnic groups in Europe did not enjoy the fruits of common brotherhood.  Austro-Hungarian Empire, dominated by Germans (Austrians - 25% 0f Population) and Hungarians (Magyars - 14% of population), did not meet the national aspirations of Croats, Serbs, Rumanians, Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs, Italians or Slovaks who lived inside empire.  Serbs desired to be part of a greater Serbia.
Militarism - Europe was an armed camp, thanks to the advances made during industrial revolution.  New industrial technology was adapted to the needs of the military (example - steel navy).  Germans were experts at military planning through their General Staff (example - von Schlieffen Plan).
Alliance System - There is a new way of keeping the balance of power in Europe, via the alliance system.  Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy) versus Triple entente (Russia, France, Great Britain).

Effective immediate cause of the war
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, heir to the throne of the empire, by members of the terrorist organization, Black Hand, supported by the Serbian government.  With the assassination of the Archduke, Austria went looking for revenge against the Serbs, who they were quite sure had supported the assassination effort. Austria sought out Kaiser Wilhelm II, in hopes of gaining his support for their ultimatum issued to the Serbs. The kaiser, in the so-called Ablank check@ promised to back the actions of the Austrians. Thus once Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, the Russians followed their interests by allying with Serbia against the Austrians. The Triple Alliance required Germany to support Austria against the Russians. Thus, once the Russians mobilized to support the Serbs, German war plans called for the von Schlieffen Plan to begin. Germany could not risk waiting and hoping cooler heads would prevail, for once Russian mobilization began, the clock began to work against ultimate German success. The General Staff issued to appropriate orders and began to move against France, which was sure to support Russia. The outbreak of war was thus assured.

Von Schlieffen Plan - German pre-war plan on how to fight on two fronts - against Russia, and against France- at the same time.  Plan required the German Army to: first, outflank French defenses on the French-German border by marching through neutral Belgian territory, and capture Paris within six weeks; then turn and defeat Russia.
AEF - American Expeditionary Force which fought in France in 1918, commanded by "Black Jack" Pershing.
Miracle of the Marne - French Army (the "Taxicab Army") stopped the German advance against Paris in September, 1914.  Afterwards, the fighting in France was largely a stalemate along the trench lines which ran from the North Sea to Switzerland, until 1918.
Ludendorff Offensive - Huge German offensive launch in the spring of 1918, hoping to win the war before the arrival of United States military forces which could change the fortunes of the Allies. Named after General Erich Ludendorff who planned the attacks.  Offensive failed to capture Paris, and was followed by the Allied counterattack which ended the war in November.  Also called the 'Kaiser's Offensive.'
Armistice Day - November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. the guns fell silent when a truce was signed by the Germans, in a railway car located in Compiegne.
Exclusion Zone - Ocean areas around British Isles and France, designated by Germans, in which all shipping would be subject to unannounced attacks by German submarines.
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare - unannounced attacks by German submarines against Atlantic Ocean shipping, most infamous event was the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, in May, 1915.
Central Powers - wartime enemy of the United States, which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Turks.
The Allies - wartime friends of the U.S., including France, Great Britain, Belgium, Russia, and Italy.
Mobilization - everything a nation does to prepare for war.
"Blank Check" - Open ended support by Germany to Austria-Hungary to take action against Serbia for its support of the Black Hand.
Black Hand - Serbian backed terrorist group which assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.  Gavrilo Princip was one of several terrorist in Sarajevo; it was his bullets which killed the Archduke and his wife.
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk - Treaty by which Communist Russia surrendered to the Germans in March, 1918.

The United States enters the War

When the Great War erupted in 1914, President Wilson proclaimed the US neutral.  While urging Americans to remain neutral in their actions, Wilson offered himself as an 'honest broker' to both sides, willing to help mediate an end to the hostilities.  Neither the Allies nor the Central Powers were willing to accept Wilson's offer of 'Peace without Victory' as long as they believed they still had a chance of winning the war.

Regardless of the president's hopes, the US was on a collision course towards joining the war.  Unrestricted submarine warfare and the sinking of the Lusitania pushed the US in the direction of the Allied side.  British propaganda also began to convince Americans that they should support the democratic British and French against the dictatorship of Kaiser Germany.  More and more American assistance headed to the Allied side than to the Central Powers.  The Zimmerman Telegram gave  Wilson the final push to ask for a declaration of war from Congress, which voted in favor on April 6, 1917.  This came a mere month after Wilson was inaugurated for his second term, which he won after he successfully campaigned on a slogan of "He kept us out of War!"

John "Black Jack' Pershing - Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France, 1917-18.
Meuse -Argonne - Major US engagement of the war, in 1918, part of the Allied Counteroffensive which led to the Armistice in November, 1918.
Belleau Wood, St. Mihiel, Chateau-Thierry - Other major American military engagements during the war.
SGT Alvin York - best known American military hero, from Jamestown, Tennessee

The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles (1919)

President Wilson offered himself and the office of the Presidency to the warring Europeans in an attempt to stop the massive carnage of Trench Warfare.  But his offer to negotiate a "Peace without Victory" fell upon deaf ears.  Neither the Allies nor the Central Powers were ready to give up and admit their sacrifices had been in vain.  When the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies in 1917, Wilson directed his peace efforts towards the creation of a comprehensive settlement once the guns fell silent.  His efforts were built upon the model used by Prince Metternich of Austria and Lord Castlereagh of Britain at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Fourteen Points - President Wilson's vision on how to prevent future war in Europe from starting again.  The centerpiece was Wilson's "general association of nations," a permanent organization established to hash out problems between nations, later known as the League of Nations.  The Fourteen Points called for "open covenants of peace, openly arrived at"; military forces "reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety"; and meeting the national aspirations of Europe's many ethnic groups.
The Big Four - President Woodrow Wilson of the US; Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando of Italy; Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau of France; and Prime Minister David Lloyd-George of Britain.
Southern Tyrol - Territory formerly owned by Austria-Hungary which was promised to Italy by the Allies if Italy joined the war against the Central Powers in 1915.  250,000 ethnic Germans lived there.  Land was transferred to Italy at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Sudetenland - Land formerly owned by Austria-Hungary, more commonly known as Bohemia and Moravia, which was given to the new nation of Czechoslovakia in 1919.  Ethnic Germans were the dominant nationality.
Polish Corridor - German territory which was given to Poland in 1919 in order that the new nation had a port city on the Baltic.  Ethnic Germans were the dominant nationality.
Treaty of Versailles - Treaty which ended World War I between the Allies and Germany
Military limitations of Treaty of Versailles - Treaty limited German military to a 100,000 man army, no air force, no battleships, no submarines, and navy limited to coastal boats only.  The Rhineland, the traditional invasion route between Germany and France, was demilitarized, though it remained part of Germany.
Anschluss - Union between Germany and Austria, specifically forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.
War Guilt Clause - final clause of the Treaty of Versailles, whereby Germany was forced to accept guilt for starting the War.
Reservationists - Republican opponents of the Treaty of Versailles and American membership in the League of Nations, in the original form as negotiated by Woodrow Wilson.  Led by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts.  Willing to negotiate the treaty with Wilson.
Irreconcilables - Republican opponents of the Treaty of Versailles and American membership in the League of Nations, in any form.


unrestricted submarine warfare    "Blank Check" and Austrian ultimatum   Zimmermann Telegram    mobilization   Von Schlieffen Plan    Taxicab Army    Miracle of the Marne  Meuse-Argonne    trench warfare    no man=s land   poison gas    rifled artillery    barbed wire    tank    machine gun     Triple Alliance    Triple Entente    Central Powers    The Allies   Hindenburg and Ludendorff    Armistice Day    Compiegne    Western Front     Exclusion Zone    Lusitania   "He kept us out of war"    "The War to end all wars"   "The War to make the world safe for democracy"     John "Black Jack" Pershing     AEF    Archduke Franz Ferdinand      Sarajevo    nationalism

The Fourteen Points    The Big Four   The League of Nations   Paris Peace Conference    Treaty of Versailles   Reservationists   Irreconcilables    Henry Cabot Lodge


Who was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force?

What was the effective immediate cause of American entry into World War I?

What was the major American military engagement on the Western Front?

Explain the underlying causes of World War I.  What event triggered the start of the war?


Martin Gilbert, The First World War.

Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War.

Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That.

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.

Fritz Fischer, Germany=s Aims in the First World War.

Joachim Remak, The Origins of the First World War.

Barabara Tuchman, The Guns of August.

Lyn McDonald, The Somme.