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December 8, 2015
First World War A.D.1914 - A.D.1918
The great war known as World War-I made a mockery of the peace and abundance prophesied by the statesmen and scientists of the 19th century. It was called as the World War as it engulfed all the countries of the world directly or indirectly. The war had its impact on the material and non-material resources of the entire world.
Causes for the First World War Ambition of Germany
The unification of Germany in 1870 made Germany industrially developed. She needed additional markets and raw materials. Her colonies in Africa were not potentially rich as possessed by England and France. Kaiser William II of Germany believed that his country alone was competent to rule the whole world. He could not tolerate the British saying that the sun never sets in the British Empire. Germany needed colonies not only as a sign of her world importance but also for her growing population. In order to protect Germany he increased the strength of the army and stationed a fleet at Heligoland in North Sea. The aggressive policy adopted by the German ruler led to the First World War.
System of Alliance
The European powers allied themselves into opposing groups and signed several secret military alliances which led suspicion among the countries and finally resulted in the First World War. The two opposing groups were:
Triple Alliance-1882-ltaly, Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Triple Entente-1907-France, Britain and Russia.
Lack of International Organization
There was no effective international Organization to reconcile conflicting interests of nations. There was anarchy in the International relations of the various countries. The Hague conference of 1882 and 1907 which tried to do some work of reconciliation failed to show any results.
Militarism was a strong factor for war. European Statesmen often said “If you wish for peace prepare for war”.
Germany, France and Russia adopted a new programme of arms expansion. Great Britain increased its, already large, naval expenditure. Germany, in fear of an anticipated attack from France initiated military expansion.
Colonial and Commercial Rivalry
Since Geographical discovery of the 15th and 16th century there was a race for colonies among the European countries. The Industrial revolution increased the demand for raw material and market for their manufactured goods. Asian and African countries were already colonized by the Europeans. Germany made a great progress after her unification. Her goods flooded in the international market which made Britain angry.
The Moroccan Problem
When France occupied Morocco it was recognized by Britain. But it was opposed by Kaiser William II of Germany who wanted to declare Morocco an international colony. He sent two warships - Berlin and Panther to Morocco. When Britain intervened Germany withdrew her ships from Morocco. It wanted to revenge Britain.
The Balkan Problem
The Balkan countries like Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Montenegro proclaimed their independence from the Ottoman Empire due to its weakness. In 1912 the Balkan countries declared war on Turkey. This is known as First Balkan war. Turkey was defeated. The war came to an end by the Treaty of London. Dispute arose between Serbia and Bulgaria in sharing the spoils of the war. In 1913, the other Balkan countries declared war on Bulgaria. Bulgaria was defeated and Serbia gained more territories. Turkey and Bulgaria approached Germany to regain their territories. It resulted in the war.
France wanted to get back Alsace and Lorraine which she lasted during the Franco - Prussian war to Germany. France thought that the industrial development of Germany was due to those territories. So she was waiting for a chance to get back those territories.
The Congress of Berlin, 1878 gave the right to Austria - Hungary to govern Bosnia and Herzegovina but not to annex it. These territories should have gone to Serbia since the inhabitants were Slavs as in Serbia. But in 1908, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina against the congress of Berlin. It created rivalry between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
In June 28, 1914 Austrian crown prince Francis Ferdinand and his wife Isabella were assasinated by a Serbian lad at Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia with humiliating terms. When Serbia ignored the ultimatum, Austria declared war on Serbia on 28th July 1914.
Russia moved her troops to support the cause of Serbia against Austria. Germany declared war on Russia. France by her alliance went to help Russia. So Germany declared war on France. When Britain joined France against Germany the First World War started.
Course of the War
The First World War began in July,28, 1914 and lasted till November, 11,1918. The countries which were on the side of Germany were called as the Central Powers and those on the side of Britain as the Allies. Artillery, Tanks and Submarines were used in the war.
War in the Western Front
Germany started the offensive and she invaded France by crossing Belgium. The British and French forces were not able to stop the advance of the German forces. But in the Battle of Marne, the Allies were able to hold them in check. Both the armies dug trenches and fought from them.
War in the Eastern Front
The Russian forces attacked both Germany and Austria. But Russia suffered a defeat at the battle of Tennenberg. When Austria was facing a crisis, Germany came to its aid. German forces inflicted heavy losses on the Russian forces and forced them to withdraw from the Austrian territories.
War tn the Near East Front
In October 1914, Turkey entered the war extending her support to the Central Powers. This was a terrible blow because communications between Russia and the Allies were cut off. The British made an attempt to capture Gallipoli Peninsula with a view of controlling the Dardanelles and capturing Constantinople. But the Dardanelles expedition was an utter failure.
Bulgaria and Rumania in the War
The failure of the British in the Dardanelles expedition emboldened Bulgaria to join the side of the Central Powers in 1915. Rumania joined the Allies in 1916.
War on the Sea
While the British navy commanded the North Sea, the Mediterranean sea was dominated by the French and Italian navy with the British support. In the battle of Dogger bank a German battle cruiser was destroyed by the British. In spite of the heavy losses sustained by both the parties in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the German fleet retreated to the port. Since it could not break the naval blockade of Britain, it used submarines to sinkthe ships of the Allies.
Entry of US In the First World War
In 1917 Germany drowned four merchant ships of America, including Lusitania with her submarines. More than hundred Americans died in this
incident which made the American president Woodrow Willson angry. Hence, on the 6th April 1917 Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany.
Withdrawal of Russia
Russia suffered major reversal in the war. She suffered heavily both in men and materials. The discontent of the Russian people found expression in the October Revolution of 1917. The Czarist government was overthrown by Lenin and Russia withdrew from the war. Russia made peace with Central Powers at Brest - Litovsk in 1918.
End of the war
In the beginning, the Central Powers had some victories but soon their defences began to break. The Germans began to retreat. The resistance of Turkey and Bulgaria began to crumble. Austria sued for peace. In November 1918, Kaiser William II of Germany abdicated and fled to Holland. Germany sued for peace on November 11,1918.
Results of the War
The First World War came to an end by the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The main personalities of the conference were, Clemenceau of France, Lloyd George of Britain, Orlando of Italy and President Woodrow Wilson of America. The Peace Treaty with Germany was signed and it was called as Treaty of Versailles. Separate treaties were also concluded with other defeated countries. The Treaty of St.Germaine was concluded with Austria, the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary, the Treaty of Neuilfy with Bulgaria and the Treaty of Sevenes with Turkey. It was on the Fourteen Points put forward by President Woodrow Wilson the terms of the treaties were drafted. The important terms of the treaties were the following.
a. The covenant of the League of Nations was drawn up.
b. A huge war indemnity was imposed on Germany . Her army was reduced.
c. Germany surrendered Alsace and Lorraine to France. She also gave up the Saar coal field to be occupied by France for a period of 15 years.
d. The overseas possessions of Germany were divided among the victorious nations.
e. Monarchy was abolished in Germany, Russia, Austria and Turkey.
f. It caused inestimable loss of property and human lives.
g. In many countries Monarchies gave place to Democracies. New Republics of Czechoslovakia and Poland were born.
h. The Republic of Austria and Hungarywas recognised.
i. The city of Danzig was internationalized.
j. Lithuvania, Latvia and Esthonia were granted Independence.
k. The victorious nations forced the defeated nations with unfair treaties, it sowed the seeds for another world war.