The Causes of World War I were complex and included many factors, including the conflicts and antagonisms of the four decades leading up to the war. The immediate origins of the war lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the July crisis of 1914, the spark for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian irredentist.

The crisis did not however exist in a void; it came at the end of a long series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers in the decade prior to 1914 which had left tensions high almost to breaking point. In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1870.



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ww1 trenches


On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungary throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist group called the "Black Hand". This was the beginning of a series of events that lead to the First World War.

On July 28, exactly one month after Ferdinand's assassination, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia came to Serbia's defence, recruiting its very large army. It took a full six weeks to bring the entire army together.

On August 1, Germany, in defence of its ally, Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia.


France retaliated and went to war on Russia's behalf against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Britain, an ally to France, declared war on Germany on August 4. Japan, as Britain's ally, declared war on Germany on August 23 and, in return, Austria-Hungary declared war on Japan. Italy managed to avoid the war until May 23, 1915.

This was just the beginning of the war. There were numerous other countries that were involved. The war involved countries in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. One country was attacked, causing her ally to retaliate. This became a huge cycle causing a world wide "domino effect."

Involving most of Europe and spanning over four continents, World War I was the first truly global war. On August 19, 1914, The United States declared a "policy of absolute neutrality." They kept this position almost through the entire war. On April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered the war after Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare nearly wiped out America's commercial shipping. This policy allowed Germany to sink any ship that approached Britain regardless of whether it was a military ship, supply ship or even passenger ship.

The war ended on November 11, 1918 when Germany signed an armistice treaty with the allies. The home front was a huge celebration. Those on the front, however, saw the war's end in a different light. The fighting continued and several soldiers died even after the official end of the war. It had been over four years since the war began and it was very difficult to adjust to a sudden end to the war. Some suffered psychological breakdowns. They minds were simply so conditioned to the fighting that they could not imagine it being over so abruptly.

The war produced over 40 million casualties. 20 million lives were lost with as many civilian deaths as military deaths. 10 million civilians and nearly 10 million soldiers lost their lives. There were also 21 million injuries. World War I marked the end of the world order which had existed and would be a factor in the outbreak of World War II. Ironically, the First World War became known as "the war to end all wars."


Trenches of ww1


On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungary throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist group called the "Black Hand". This was the beginning of a series of events that lead to the First World War.

On July 28, exactly one month after Ferdinand's assassination, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia came to Serbia's defense, recruiting its very large army. It took a full six weeks to bring the entire army together.

On August 1, Germany, in defense of its ally, Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia.
France retaliated and went to war on Russia's behalf against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Britain, an ally to France, declared war on Germany on August 4. Japan, as Britain's ally, declared war on Germany on August 23 and, in return, Austria-Hungary declared war on Japan. Italy managed to avoid the war until May 23, 1915.
This was just the beginning of the war. There were numerous other countries that were involved. The war involved countries in North America, South America, Asia and Europe. One country was attacked, causing her ally to retaliate. This became a huge cycle causing a world wide "domino effect."

Involving most of Europe and spanning over four continents, World War I was the first truly global war. On August 19, 1914, The United States declared a "policy of absolute neutrality." They kept this position almost through the entire war. On April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered the war after Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare nearly wiped out America's commercial shipping. This policy allowed Germany to sink any ship that approached Britain regardless of whether it was a military ship, supply ship or even passenger ship.

The war ended on November 11, 1918 when Germany signed an armistice treaty with the allies. The home front was a huge celebration. Those on the front, however, saw the war's end in a different light. The fighting continued and several soldiers died even after the official end of the war. It had been over four years since the war began and it was very difficult to adjust to a sudden end to the war. Some suffered psychological breakdowns. They minds were simply so conditioned to the fighting that they could not imagine it being over so abruptly.

The war produced over 40 million casualties. 20 million lives were lost with as many civilian deaths as military deaths. 10 million civilians and nearly 10 million soldiers lost their lives. There were also 21 million injuries. World War I marked the end of the world order which had existed and would be a factor in the outbreak of World War II. Ironically, the First World War became known as "the war to end all wars."

At the start of the war, the German Empire had cruisers scattered across the globe, some of which were subsequently used to attack Allied merchant shipping. The British Royal Navy systematically hunted them down, though not without some embarrassment from its inability to protect allied shipping. For example, the German detached light cruiser Emden, part of the East-Asia squadron stationed at Tsingtao, seized or destroyed 15 merchantmen, as well as sinking a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer.

However, the bulk of the German East-Asia squadron consisting of the armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, light cruisers Nürnberg and Leipzig and two transport ships did not have orders to raid shipping and was instead underway to Germany when it encountered elements of the British fleet.

The German flotilla, along with Dresden, sank two armoured cruisers at the Battle of Coronel, but was almost completely destroyed at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December 1914, with only Dresden escaping.
In April 1914 the Serbian Civilian Government attempted to establish its authority over the Serbian Military. The Military resisted. After several moves and counter moves, the Military, in alliance with the King of Serbia and parliamentary opposition forced the Serbian Civilian Government's resignation at the beginning of June.

The Military victory was short lived as Russian Ambassador Hartwig intervened, the King reversed himself, reinstalled the old government, called new elections, and, drawing the appropriate conclusion, retired in favor of his second son, Prince Aleksandar. It is in the midst of this political crisis that politically powerful members of the Serbian Military armed and trained three Bosnian students as assassins and sent them into Austria-Hungary.The assassins departed Belgrade on May 28.


 Joseph Stalin


Joseph Stalin (December 18, 1878 March 5, 1953) (Russian was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. During that time he established the regime now known as Stalinism. As one of several Central Committee Secretariats, Stalin's formal position was originally limited in scope, but he gradually consolidated power and became the de facto party leader and ruler of the Soviet Union.

Stalin launched a command economy in the Soviet Union, forced rapid industrialization of the largely rural country and collectivization of its agriculture. While the Soviet Union transformed from an agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse in a short span of time, millions of people died from hardships and famine that occurred as a result of the severe economic upheaval and party policies. At the end of 1930s, Stalin launched the Great Purges, a major campaign of repression. Millions of people who were suspected of being a threat to the party were executed or exiled to Gulag labour camps in remote areas of Siberia or Central Asia. A number of ethnic groups in Russia were also forcibly resettled. 



The social trauma caused by years of fighting manifested itself in different ways. Some people were revolted by nationalism and its results, and so they began to work toward a more internationalist world, supporting organisations such as the League of Nations. Pacifism became increasingly popular. Others had the opposite reaction, feeling that only strength and military might could be relied upon in a chaotic and inhumane world. Anti-modernist views were an outgrowth of the many changes taking place in society.


Ethel Raine


David Gosling was for four years principal of Edwardes College in Peshawar, trying to keep the Taliban from his academy in the old British North-West Frontier Province of what is now Pakistan. But he could scarcely imagine receiving a letter from MI5 confirming that his own grandmother, Ethel Raine, had served the British empire in its heyday as “a member of the Security Service between 1915 and 1920”.

But then came the rebuff: “Unfortunately we are unable to provide any further details of her work as records were destroyed many years ago. I am sorry if this is disappointing news…” But like the academic he is, Mr Gosling has found out a lot about his grandmother – and duly passed it on to me: fake names, spies’ identities, even telephone numbers. Known to her future family as “Aunt Betty”, the daughter of Sir Walter Raine, post-Great War MP for Sunderland, was working in Belgium when the Germans invaded in 1914 but made her way safely back to England.

A century ago, in 1915, the 27-year-old joined British counter-intelligence – then called MO5 – under Sir Vernon Kell, a half-Polish veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, one of whose tasks was to spy on Indian nationalist groups in Europe, especially those which might be helping Germany. Ethel Raine was privately educated – she spoke fluent French – and found herself working alongside not only Kell but also Frank Hall, the former Northern Irish UVF officer who ran guns into what is now Northern Ireland before the First World War.

He later participated in the interrogation of another Irish gun-runner, Roger Casement, who was hanged for high treason in 1916, the year after Ethel Raine joined MI5. “All Aunt Betty ever said about her wartime experiences,” Mr Gosling tells me, “was that she worked for the War Office and that her section included the nephew of the former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli – which suggests that some of the people around her were of upper-class origin.” Ethel was probably appointed to work in one of Sir Vernon’s three departments: espionage, co-ordination of aliens and records.

MI5 had 27,000 subject files by 1917, some of them involving the so-called “Hindu-German conspiracy” which threatened the British empire’s stability in the subcontinent, flourishing in several then-Indian cities, including – ironically enough, since it was David Gosling’s old Pakistani stomping ground in the late-1990s – Peshawar on the North-West Frontier.

In her old age, Ethel never mentioned the seductive German spy Mata Hari, a Dutch national who was suspected of treachery by MI5 and later executed by the French in October 1917. But she may have known about her. Margaretha Geertruida Zelle MacLeod – Mata Hari – was a singer and striptease dancer whose supposed life of debauchery contrasted with the spotless virtue of Britain’s own executed heroine, the nurse Edith Cavell, shot by the Germans for helping British soldiers escape from occupied Belgium. In his grandmother’s belongings.

David Gosling has found a 12-page programme for a post-war MI5 stage show – or “revue” as it was called at the time – which includes a cartoon of a young woman, hair up and dressed only in a night-gown and fur shawl, but holding a dagger in her left hand, which must surely represent Mata Hari. “You had all these upmarket women from MI5,” David reflects, “all from Roedean and Somerville, all secretly admiring this Dutch stripper.”

The privately printed revue contains many actors’ names – Pigash, Tomlins, Jervis, Dicker – all of which appear to be bogus, although a cartoon of an officer “explaining… jokes” to an intelligence committee is attributed to “Augustus Lewis” – surely an allusion to ex-artilleryman Wyndham Lewis, since the latter’s mastery of Vorticist art is mimicked in the illustration. Lewis’s memoir Blasting and Bombadiering remains one of the magisterial books of the First World War.


The Hindenburg Line


The Hindenburg Line was a vast system of defences in northeastern France during World War I. It was constructed by the Germans during the winter of 1916&17. The line stretched nearly 160 km (100 miles) from Lens near Arras to the Aisne River near Soissons.

The decision to build the line was made by Field-Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, who had taken over command of Germany's war effort in August 1916, during the final stages of the First Battle of the Somme. The Hindenburg Line was built across a salient in the German front, so that by withdrawing to these fortifications the German army was actually shortening its front. The total length of the front was reduced by 50 km (30 miles) and enabled the Germans to release 13 divisions for service in reserve.

Death was a constant companion to those serving in the line, even when no raid or attack was launched or defended against.  In busy sectors the constant shellfire directed by the enemy brought random death, whether their victims were lounging in a trench or lying in a dugout (many men were buried as a consequence of such large shell-bursts).

Novices were cautioned against their natural inclination to peer over the parapet of the trench into No Man's Land.

Many men died on their first day in the trenches as a consequence of a precisely aimed sniper's bullet.
It has been estimated that up to one third of Allied casualties on the Western Front were actually sustained in the trenches.  Aside from enemy injuries, disease wrought a heavy toll. Rats in their millions infested trenches. 

There were two main types, the brown and the black rat.  Both were despised but the brown rat was especially feared.  Gorging themselves on human remains (grotesquely disfiguring them by eating their eyes and liver) they could grow to the size of a cat,  exasperated and afraid of these rats (which would even scamper across their faces in the dark), would attempt to rid the trenches of them by various methods: gunfire, with the bayonet, and even by clubbing them to death.


It was futile however: a single rat couple could produce up to 900 offspring in a year, spreading infection and contaminating food.  The rat problem remained for the duration of the war (although many veteran soldiers swore that rats sensed impending heavy enemy shellfire and consequently disappeared from view).



During World War 1, following a suggestion from three officers of the Harwich destroyer force that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the German Navy at anchor in their bases, the Admiralty gave tentative approval to the idea and, in the summer of 1915, produced a Staff Requirement requesting designs for a coastal motorboat for service in the North Sea.

These boats were expected to have a high speed, making use of the lightweight and powerful petrol engines then available. The speed of the boat when fully loaded was to be at least 30 knots and sufficient fuel was to be carried to give a considerable radius of action.

They were to be armed in a variety of ways, with torpedoes, depth charges or for laying mines. Secondary armament would have been provided by light machine guns, such as the Lewis gun. Weight of a fully-loaded boat, complete with 18" torpedo, was to not exceed the weight of the 30' motor boat then carried in the davits of a light cruiser, i.e. 4.5 tons.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand


On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, duchess of Hohenburg, were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, which Austria-Hungary had administered since 1878 and had annexed in 1908.

They were shot by Gavrilo Princip, one of the three assassins sent from Belgrade. Princip was part of a group of six assassins under the coordination of Danilo. The assassins' goal was the violent separation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and possibly other provinces from Austria-Hungary and attachment to Serbia to form a Greater Serbia or a Yugoslavia. The assassins' goals and methods are consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. 


mustard gas ww1 victems


A knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of mustard gas is essential to an understanding of its insidious action on the human body. The outstanding features are the following :

Appearance.- In the pure state mustard gas is a clear, heavy and somewhat oily fluid, straw coloured, but in the crude form it is a heavy, dark-coloured, oily liquid.

In the absence of chemical methods for the ready detection of mustard gas, the sense of smell is the most reliable guide to its presence.

The mustard-like or garlicky odour, though faint in low concentrations, is characteristic of the gas, and it is most important that the smell should be memorized as part of anti-gas training. It is well to remember that mustard gas may produce casualties in concentrations the smell of which may readily escape notice ; also, that the sense of smell tires quickly, and that after a few minutes in a mustard gas atmosphere the smell of the gas may seem to have disappeared.

Boiling Point and vapour Pressure.-The boiling point of mustard gas (2170 C. or 42.30 F.) is high, and its vapour pressure is correspondingly low (0.05 mm. Hg at 100 C., and 0.45 mm. Hg at 400 C.) - hence its slow vaporization at ordinary temperatures and its consequent quality of persistence.

Freezing Point.-The freezing point of pure mustard gas is 14.40 C. (580 F.), while that of the crude variety is considerably lower, viz. 70 to 80 C. (440 to 45.40 F.) - somewhat high freezing points which limit the usefulness of the gas in cold weather, although contact with the frozen material is still a source of danger. It should also be noted that in these circumstances there will be an almost complete absence of the characteristic odour which is often the only indication of the presence of mustard gas.

Density. - Mustard gas has a high specific gravity (1.28 at 150 C. or 590 F.) and, as it is not miscible with water, it readily sinks to the bottom when added to it.

Solubility. Although mustard gas is only very slightly soluble in water (under 1 per cent.), both the liquid and the vapour are freely soluble in animal oils and fats, and it is because of this lipoid solubility that mustard gas finds an easy entry into the skin. Other substances that readily dissolve mustard gas are alcohol, ether, petrol and kerosene, carbon tetrachloride, acetone, carbon disulphide, and many other organic solvents.

Stability.- Both physically and chemically mustard gas is a stable substance; it is unaffected by normal ranges of atmospheric temperature, though simple heat disperses it by hastening evaporation. It is only very slowly hydrolysed by water ; hot water, however, hastens this decomposition, the products of which (hydrochloric acid and thiodiglycol) in ordinary circumstances are practically harmless. For its chemical neutralization strong reagents axe usually required, such as chlorine (as in bleaching powder), potassium permanganate, or other strong oxidizing agents.

Powers of Penetration. - Liquid mustard gas has great powers of penetration, and will soak into all but the most impervious surfaces such as smooth metals, glass and glazed tiles. Like oil it is readily absorbed by clothing, but when small drops of liquid mustard gas fall on clothing any injury which results is as a rule caused by the passage of vapour of mustard gas rather than by the penetration of actual liquid.

Persistence. - Mustard gas is very persistent. Depending on weather conditions it may remain m a liquid and dangerous state for days or even weeks. It may persist under the surface of the ground which appears free of the liquid. Frozen mustard gas may continue to give off vapour slowly for months. As the temperature rises the quantity of vapour given off will increase. The frozen liquid may therefore be carried by boots, etc., to warmer surroundings where it will melt and vaporize.

Trench warfare is nearly as old as warfare itself; however, because of the relatively small size of the armies and the lack of range of the weapons, it was traditionally not possible to defend more than a short defensive line or isolated strong point. Although both the art of fortification and the art of weaponry advanced a great deal in the second half of the second millennium, the traditional rule remained; a fortification required a large body of troops to defend it. Small numbers of troops simply could not maintain a volume of fire sufficient to repel a determined attack.

Trenches did impede an attacking enemy's movement and provided a psychological benefit for the men manning them. With this in mind, it became common practice for Roman legions to entrench their encampments every night. A fortified camp was extremely hard to assault directly, and a Roman commander who did not wish to engage an enemy could often simply remain encamped.


The WW1 machine gun

 
The WW1 machine gun was not a very good weapon at first. Although most people think of trench warfare in WW1 to be dominated by machine guns, it didn't start that way at all.

The trenches of World War I eventually filled up with dead bodies from the power of machine weapons. But at first, these weapons of war were not well built or well designed. They broke down very often. At the start of WW1, the automatic gun was quite primitive and not impressive at all. They jammed up all the time and many soldiers did not even want to use them.

They were also very bulky and weighed a lot. This meant they were not easy to transport. The mobility of these guns was a serious issue for soldiers as you can imagine. They weighed between 30kg and 60kg, which wasn't too bad for holding a position defensively. But, they were terrible for troops during an advance. They caused more death to the offense in these cases due to the slow movement and exposure.

Of course, these guns were made even more unmanageable due to their supplies. There was a requirement for mountings, packing, carriages and more. They were hardly good weapons at first. The WW1 machine gun was a real dog. Many people don't know that the 1914 version of the gun was placed on a tripod or stand. It actually required large teams. In some cases, up to 6 men were required per weapon. Bullets were fed into the gun using metal strips and belts of fabric.

There were other problems too. For example, automatic gun engineers simply did not properly calculate the amount of heat given off. So, they would rapidly overheat and become useless metal slags in very little time, without cooler devices and mechanisms. They had to be used only to fire small bursts at first, versus continuous firing. As time went on, engineers learned to cool the barrels using water and air venting.

Another thing people don't know is that machine gunners would group together in very defensive positions. This would allow gunner teams to protect each other, especially in hot conditions when the gun would more likely overheat. Many people want to know the rate of fire of these weapons. A well trained group operating a well maintained automatic gun could be "worth" upwards of 60-80 rifles. However, keep in mind the requirements for teams to operate these guns so the actual body replacement was that world war one machine gun could replace about 10-15 soldiers with rifles.



Trench warfare was invented by a Canadian man named Cesar Reano in 1901; however, because of the relatively small size of the armies and the lack of range of the weapons, it was traditionally not possible to defend more than a short defensive line or isolated strong point. Although both the art of fortification and the art of weaponry advanced a great deal as time went on, the traditional rule remained; a fortification required a large body of troops to defend it. Small numbers of troops simply could not maintain a volume of fire sufficient to repel a determined attack.

Trenches did impede an attacking enemy's movement and provided a psychological benefit for the men manning them. With this in mind, it became common practice for Roman legions to entrench their encampments every night. A fortified camp was extremely hard to assault directly, and a Roman commander who did not wish to engage an enemy could often simply remain encamped.

Once siege engines (such as the trebuchet) were developed, the techniques involved in assaulting a town or a fortress became well known and ritualised the siège en forme. The attacking army would surround a town. Then the town would be asked to surrender. If it did not comply, the besieging army would invest (surround) the town with temporary fortifications to stop sallies from the stronghold or relief getting in.

The attackers would then build a length of trenches parallel to the defences and just out of range of defending artillery. They would then dig a trench towards the town in a zigzag pattern so that it could not be enfiladed by defending fire, it also created a good vantage point from which to survey the enemy.

Once within artillery range another parallel trench would be dug with gun emplacements. If necessary using the first artillery fire for cover, this process would be repeated until the guns were close enough to be laid accurately to make a breach in the fortifications. In order that the "forlorn hope" and their support troops could get close enough to exploit the breach, more zigzag trenches could be dug even closer to the walls with more parallel trenches to protect and conceal the attacking troops.


WW1 Trenches map


Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser, at the start of World War I in June 1914, provoked and conspired with Austrian government to destroy Serbian authority. The former armed forces feat was a reprisal to the latter after Serbian terrorists plotted to slay off the Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand. He also became Germany's chief commanding officer at the time of the war with Serbia along with its allied neighbouring countries as Russia, France, and Britain, the "Triple Entente" assembly.

Erich Ludendorff, German military General who powerfully headed the German troops in the declaration of war in August 1914 with France and Belgium under the Schleiffen Plan. He assisted in a submarine war defensive system, which has brought U.S. troops to step in the movement. In 1917, Russia retreated from the war. He took part of the peace agreement known as the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. This treaty settled the conflicts and build new leadership between Russia and Germany.

Paul von Hindenburg, appointed as the military official of Germany's Eight Army at the outbreak of World War 1. He fought successfully over Russia's huge militia in Battles of Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes. Then he became commander-in-chief with his records of victory. All though, intelligence reports stated that Ludendorff, his associate throughout the war, needed more of the repute and glory of their conquering feat.


Spanish flu poster


No other war had changed the map of Europe so dramatically four empires disappeared: the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and the Russian. Four defunct dynasties, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburg, Romanovs and the Ottomans together with all their ancillary aristocracies, all fell after the war.

Belgium was badly damaged, as was France with 1.4 million soldiers dead, not counting other casualties. Germany and Russia were similarly affected. The war had profound economic consequences. In addition, a major influenza epidemic that started in Western Europe in the latter months of the war, killed millions in Europe and then spread around the world. Overall, the Spanish flu killed at least 50 million people.


Czar Nicholas II, the Russian sovereign


Czar Nicholas II, the Russian sovereign who took in his state's workforce in the war in September 1915 to back up the "Triple Entente". However, his leadership never won over Germany as a result of the latter's powerful armies and effective access to munitions. Winston Churchill was the very first Lord of the Admiralty of British command. He led his troops along with their first victorious combat to Turks in Gallipoli, Dardenelles.

Lloyd George led the triump over Germany. Back then, he was the British Prime Minister. His victorious conquest in the war was the aid of convoy system in ?striving? towards huge German maritime forces. He took part and acted as well. He played a great role in the Paris Peace Conference to facilitate order along with nations following the Great War.

Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President at the time of World War I, after being impartial for some time, declared aggression in April 1917 with resilient attacks of Germany to its foes. But later on, following a year of seeing nasty post-war results, he began settlements with German regime and formed peace-making pact like the Fourteen Points, League of Nations, and the Treaty of Versailles.

These infamous men played key roles in the Great War. Any one of them made an attempt to end the warfare even from its outburst up to every closing stage of battles among European and other states. However it was only in 1918 with the development of Armistice, bound by peaceful negotiations, which World War I in effect ceased.
After the war, the Allies imposed a series of peace treaties on the Central Powers. The 1919 Versailles Treaty, which Germany was kept under blockade until she signed, ended the war. It declared Germany responsible for the war and required Germany to pay enormous war reparations and awarding territory to the victors.

Unable to pay them with exports (a result of territorial losses and postwar recession), she did so by borrowing from the United States, until the reparations were suspended in 1931. The "Guilt Thesis" became a controversial explanation of events in Britain and the United States. The Treaty of Versailles caused enormous bitterness in Germany, which nationalist movements, especially the Nazis, exploited.
The treaty contributed to one of the worst economic collapses in German history, sparking runaway inflation in the 1920s.

The Ottoman Empire was to be partitioned by the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. The treaty, however, was never ratified by the Sultan and was rejected by the Turkish republican movement. This led to the Turkish Independence War and, ultimately, to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
Austria-Hungary was also partitioned, largely along ethnic lines. The details were contained in the Treaty of Saint-Germain and the Treaty of Trianon.


Major Vojislav Tankosi


Austria-Hungary immediately undertook a criminal investigation.and five of the assassins were promptly arrested and interviewed by an investigating judge. The three assassins who had come from Serbia told almost all they knew. Serbian Major Vojislav Tankosi had directly and indirectly given them six bombs (produced at the Serbian Arsenal), four revolvers, training, money, suicide pills, a special map with the location of gendarmes marked, knowledge of an infiltration channel from Serbia to Sarajevo, and a card authorizing the use of that channel.

In their training and on their way they were assisted by other members of the Serbian Military including three sergeants, two captains and a major who the assassins fingered in addition to Major Tankosi. The full extent of Serbia's role in the plot was obscured from the investigators by Ilis silence regarding his contacts with the Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence and Montenegro and France suppressing the confession of the sixth assassin (who had escaped to Montenegro). While the investigators had not found the whole truth, what they had found warranted the interview of witnesses and the arrest of participants in Serbia.



Plans for the joint offensive on the Somme had barely begun to take shape when the Germans launched the Battle of Verdun on 21 February 1916. As the French committed themselves to defending Verdun, their capacity to carry out their role on the Somme disappeared, and the burden shifted more to the British. France would end up contributing three corps to the opening of the attack (the XX, I Colonial, and XXXV Corps of the 6th Army). As the Battle of Verdun dragged on, the aim of the Somme offensive changed from delivering a decisive blow against Germany, to relieving the pressure on the French army, as the balance of forces changed to 13 French and 20 British divisions at the Somme.

The experiences of the war led to a collective trauma for all participating countries. The optimism of the 1900s was gone and those who fought in the war became known as the Lost Generation. For the next few years, much of Europe mourned. Memorials were erected in thousands of villages and towns. The soldiers returning home from World War I suffered greatly from the horrors they had witnessed. Many returning veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, called shell shock at the time.

During the first year of the First World War, none of the combatant nations equipped their troops with steel helmets. Soldiers went into battle wearing simple cloth or leather caps that offered virtually no protection from the damage caused by modern weapons. German troops were wearing the traditional leather Pickelhaube (spiked helmet), with a covering of cloth to protect the leather from the splattering of mud. Once the war entered the static phase of trench warfare, the number of lethal head wounds that troops were receiving from fragmentation increased dramatically.

The French were the first to see a need for greater protection and began to introduce steel helmets in the summer of 1915. The Adrian helmet (designed by August-Louis Adrian) replaced the traditional French kepi and was later adopted by the Belgian, Italian and many other armies.

At about the same time the British were developing their own helmets. The French design was rejected as not strong enough and too difficult to mass-produce. The design that was eventually approved by the British was the Brodie helmet (designed by John L. Brodie). This had a wide brim to protect the wearer from falling objects, but offered less protection to the wearer's neck.

When the Americans entered the war, this was the helmet they chose, though some units used the French Adrian helmet. The traditional German pickelhaube was replaced by the Stahlhelm or "steel helmet" in 1916. Some elite Italian units used a helmet derived from ancient Roman designs. None of these standard helmets could protect the face or eyes, however. Special face-covers were designed to be used by machine-gunners, and the Belgians tried out goggles made of louvres to protect the eyes.


WW1 army helmets


World War I (1914-1918) was finally over. This first global conflict had claimed from 9 million to 13 million lives and caused unprecedented damage. Germany had formally surrendered on November 11, 1918, and all nations had agreed to stop fighting while the terms of peace were negotiated. On June 28, 1919, Germany and the Allied Nations (including Britain, France, Italy and Russia) signed the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the war.

(Versailles is a city in France, 10 miles outside of Paris.) The United States did not sign the treaty, however, because it objected to its terms, specifically, the high price that Germany was to pay for its role as aggressor. Instead, the U.S. negotiated its own settlement with Germany in 1921. Do you know what triggered the conflict, sometimes called the "Great War"?

Disagreements in Europe over territory and boundaries, among other issues, came to a head with the assassination by a Serbian zealot of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914. Exactly one month later, war broke out, and by the end of 1915, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and the Ottoman Empire were battling the Allied Powers of Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro and Japan. In 1917, the U.S. entered the war after the British passenger liner the Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine, killing 128 Americans.

The Treaty of Versailles (French: Traité de Versailles) was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919, and was printed in The League of Nations Treaty Series.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US $442 billion or UK £284 billion in 2014).

At the time economists, notably John Maynard Keynes predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a "Carthaginian peace", and said the figure was excessive and counter productive. The historian Sally Marks judged the reparation figure to be lenient, a sum that was designed to look imposing but was in fact not, that had little impact on the German economy and analyzed the treaty as a whole to be quite restrained and not as harsh as it could have been.

The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left none contented: Germany was not pacified or conciliated, nor permanently weakened. The problems that arose from the treaty would lead to the Locarno Treaties, which improved relations between Germany and the other European Powers, and the renegotiation of the reparation system resulting in the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, and finally the postponement of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. The reparations were finally paid off by Germany after World War II.


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