The First World War was conducted from 1914 to 1918 in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It was the most comprehensive war in history to date, encompassing all areas of government, society, economy and culture. In total, nearly 70 million soldiers were under arms. About 17 million people lost their lives in the bloody posture wars, which was regarded as a catastrophic event for the 20th century.
The way to war:
The origin of the crisis, which results in 1914 in a world war, are due to the preceding Balkan wars and the associated national aspirations of the individual states and the interference of the great European powers Austria-Hungary, who wanted to prevent a Greater Serbian empire by all means and Russia, their Slavic Support "brothers".
This national extremism, especially in Serbia, which wanted to expand the area conquered to date and extend it across the Balkans, led to the founding of the Mlada Bosna. This was an association of Serbian students and students who were active in the Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina and whose endeavor was the incorporation of this territory to Serbia. Starting from this group there were already some attacks in the time before 1914, whose climax, however, should be the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand.
Franz Ferdinand visited the capital Sarajevo in July 1914 with his wife Sophie Chotek, Duchess of Hohenberg. Among other things, a ride in the motorcade was planned there through the city, which the members of the Mlada Bosna wanted to use to carry out a deadly attack. Around 10 o'clock in the morning, the group drove past the assassin Mehmedbašić, who had the task of throwing a bomb into Franz Ferdinand's vehicle and killing him. Since Mehmedbašić could not recognize in which vehicle exactly Franz Ferdinand sits, he broke off his attempt.
A little later, the second assassin Čabrinović inquired of a policeman in which vehicle exactly the heir to the throne sits. When he got an answer, he unlocked his bomb and threw it in the direction of the vehicle. The driver noticed the throw, accelerated and Franz Ferdinand lifted his arm over his wife to protect him. At this, the bomb bounced off and rolled over the open top of the vehicle, then exploded the bomb in front of the next car. Čabrinović then tried to kill himself with cyanide, but the poison was too old and lost its effect. He was subsequently arrested.
Another assassin, Gavrilo Princip, dove into a coffee during the hustle and bustle and waited.
The ride of the heir apparent ended first in the town hall. Contrary to some advice, Franz Ferdinand decided to go to the hospital to visit the injured Lieutenant Colonel Merizzi. On the way there, the vehicle had to stop for a short while, just before the coffee in which Gavrilo Princip was sitting. He took the opportunity and marched straight to the vehicle. While walking he drew his weapon and fired two shots. The first shot hit Sophie Chotek in the abdomen, the second hit Franz Ferdinand in the neck, who soon lost consciousness.
Princip then tried to kill himself with cyanide, but as with Čabrinović, the poison was already too old and did not work anymore. Princip was arrested. The heir to the throne and his wife later died of the serious injuries. With the death began the so-called "July crisis".
The July crisis:
With the death of the Austrian heir to the throne, some Austrian military leaders began to press for an immediate military strike against Serbia. Although the assassins were residents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Austrian leadership saw the Serbian leadership as the mastermind behind the attacks.
After some hesitation by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the German Reich was initially consulted on the further course of action, as a military strike against Serbia would inevitably lead to a war with Russia. After the German government had promised the Austrian leadership a free hand in dealing with Serbia (which is mistaken today as a so-called blank check for a military strike), the Serbian government was given an ultimatum on 23 July 1914, which was to be fulfilled within 48 hours. This ultimatum was primarily about the ban on extremist associations, the prohibition of press releases against Austria-Hungary and the dismissal of officials who were operating an anti-Austrian hate. The most urgent and also unsatisfiable were paragraphs 5 and 6:
5. To agree that in Serbia organs of the Imperial and Royal Government participate in the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy, 6. to initiate a judicial investigation against those participants of the June 28 plot which are on Serbian territory; organs delegated by the kuk government will participate in the relevant surveys. "
The Russian Protectorate was informed by the Serbian leadership about the ultimatum. Under the highest secrecy, the mobilization of the armed forces began on July 25 in Russia, as the Russian leadership saw a conflict with Austria and its ally Germany as inevitable.
The Allied with Russia France was also informed of the ultimatum. For decades, the French military leadership was pushing for a war against Germany in order to bring back the Alsace-Lorraine lost in the Franco-German war. On 26 July, the French military leadership agreed to mobilize mobilization, but to set up the troops at a distance of 10 kilometers to the border with Germany in order not to be responsible for any border encroachments.
On the 25th of July at 5:55 pm the Serbian reply to the ultimatum to Austria-Hungary was served, but at the same time the general mobilization was also ordered in the country. Most of the Austrian demands were promised in the answer, only the entry of Austrian officials back to the country for investigation.
While the answer was considered sufficient by most major European powers, Austria-Hungary insisted on full implementation. Negotiations were held over the next three days to find a diplomatic solution when Austria declared war on July 28, 1914, at the urging of some politicians and military leaders.
On July 29, the official partial mobilization of Russia took place, with the Foreign Ministry informing the German Ambassador that this mobilization was directed only against Austria-Hungary and not against Germany.
The German government was now exposed to its alliance obligations with Austria and let the Russian leadership inform that further mobilization of the Russian armed forces would entail a German mobilization. Russia ignored this threat and issued general mobilization on July 30. At the insistence of the German Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke on July 31, the general mobilization took place in Austria and an ultimatum was sent to Russia to lift its mobilization within 12 hours. An ultimatum of 18 hours reached at the same time France, that demanded its neutral attitude in a German-Russian conflict.
After the 12 hours for the ultimatum to Russia had passed without an answer, Germany mobilized its forces on 1 August and declared war on Russia in the evening. Since the French response to the ultimatum submitted to them was inadequate, Germany's declaration of war followed on August 3, 1914. When the German troops traded under the Schlieffen Plan and marched through neutral Belgium, the British guarantee came to Belgium and the declaration of war took place to Germany on 4 August 1914.
- June 28: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo
- July 5/6: "Mission Hoyos" and the German "Blankoscheck"
- July 23: Austrian ultimatum to Serbia
- July 25: Serbian answer to the ultimatum
- July 28: declaration of war between Austria and Hungary against Serbia
- July 29: Bombardment of Belgrade
- July 29: Russian partial mobilization
- July 31: Russian General Mobilization
- July 31: German ultimatums to France and Russia
- August 1: German General Mobilization and declaration of war against Russia
- August 2: German ultimatum to Belgium and occupation of Luxembourg
- August 3: German declaration of war against France
- August 4: German invasion of Belgium
- August 4: Declaration of Britain's declaration of war on Germany
- August 6: Declaration of war of Austria-Hungary on Russia
- August 8: Declaration of Britain's war on Austria-Hungary
1914 (the first year of war):
The strategy and tactics for the campaign against France were based on the Schlieffen plan, which was drawn up in 1905 by Alfred Graf von Schlieffen. The plan, in the case of a two-front war with Russia and France, to defend the troops in the east and in the west by a pincer movement through Belgium, to bypass the French fortifications and to stab the French army in the back and so fast victory to win. then the troops should be sent to the East to fight against Russia there.
The basic structure of this Schlieffen plan was implemented in August 1914 by the highest army command. So German troops began to invade Belgium in a lightning attack in order to capture the Belgian fortress Liège. The city was already occupied on 7 August, the 12 fortifications of the belt attachment could only be gradually taken after heavy artillery bombardment or completely destroyed.
In contrast to the German strategy, the French plan envisaged an invasion of Alsace and Lorraine, annexed by Germany in 1871. Although the French troops succeeded in seizing the important industrial city of Mulhouse on 7th August, it fell back into German hands until 24th August and the French advance was averted.
In the north began after the conquest of Liège, the extensive Umfassungsbewegungen the German troops. These were aimed first at Brussels and the fortified Namur, with the Belgian army retreating at the same time in the fortress of Antwerp and had to be besieged for two months. By the end of the month, several offensives on both sides of the border between France and Germany began. The French troops in particular suffered tremendous losses as the soldiers ran blindly towards the German machine-gun positions and were mowed down by the thousands. But even the German troops did not succeed in the expected breakthrough by the French lines.
Meanwhile, the 5 German armies deployed in the north (1st to 5th Army) pushed further and further to the west. However, after the capture of Brussels, the northernmost deployed 1st Army, under the leadership of Alexander von Kluck, diverted itself from its original route and pursued the French troops and the British Expeditionary Force in a southerly direction. The plan for the 1st Army was originally the bypassing of Paris from the north and then the encirclement. Due to this swing, the front line of the German was completely overstretched and the planned encirclement of Paris had to be abandoned at the end of August.
At the beginning of September the French counteroffensive took place. But on September 6, the French troops came on the flank of the German troops, in the Battle of the Marne thus the German advance could be stopped. The too far advanced 1st Army had to turn around, opening a 40-kilometer gap between the armies, which was immediately invaded by French and British forces. Only when Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hentsch, who had command of the 1st and 2nd German Army, gave the order to retreat, was it possible to close the gap and stop the advance of the French and the British.
In mid-September, both the German and the French-British offensive came to a standstill and from 13 to 19 September started the so-called "race to the sea", both sides tried to still be able to bypass the enemy north. The front line now crossed from Switzerland to the North Sea.
In October, the German troops tried again to go on the offensive and were able to take the cities of Lille, Ghent, Bruges and Ostend despite high losses. By hastily setting up reserve corps, the German leadership at last tried to bring movement back to Ypres at Ypres. In the first Flanders battle from October 20 to November 18, 1914, tens of thousands lost their lives without any territorial gains. This ended the war of aggression and the soldiers on both sides began to dig into trenches, the trench warfare had begun.
Contrary to the calculation and opinion of the highest army command, the Russian troops were mobilized faster than expected. As a result, two weeks after the declaration of war, Russian troops launched an offensive in East Prussia. The eighth army, which was supposed to defend East Prussia, had to withdraw. As a result of the Russian offensive, the army was strengthened personnel and the leadership took over Major General Erich Ludendorff and Colonel General Paul von Hindenburg.
From August 26 to 31, the German counter-offensive took place, which succeeded in stopping and restraining the Russian troops. After the 1st and 2nd Russian army had to capitulate, the remaining Russian troops withdrew from most areas of East Prussia.
Also in the territory of Austria-Hungary penetrated Russian troops and could take Galicia (area in western Ukraine) and the k.u.k. Pushing troops back to the Carpathians, the heavily fortified town of Przemyśl was besieged by the Russians.
From September 29 to October 31, 1914, an attempt was made to advance with the German 9th Army from the south of Poland to the Vistula. This attempt failed and on November 1, Colonel-General von Hindenburg was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.
On November 9, Russian troops began the second siege of the important city of Przemyśl. The siege did not end until March 22, 1915, when the 110,000-strong remains of the k.u.k. Army surrendered.
The real war aim of Austria in the conquest of Serbia, failed because of the massive resistance of the Serbian troops, whom the k.u.k. Troops inflicted heavy losses and forced them to retreat.
The first victory was won by k.u.k. Troops in December when they repulsed the Russian offensive on Krakow. But here, too, the transition to the trench war began.
In addition to the fighting on the European continent, battles took place everywhere, where the colonies of the home countries were. The British had already decided on August 5, 1914, to attack the German colonies with the support of the Commonwealth countries.
The German colony of Togo, surrounded by enemy colonies, was completely conquered shortly after the outbreak of the war.
In Cameroon, the existing German Schutztruppen could initially resist, but had to withdraw due to the superiority of the Allied troops in late 1914, however, in the hinterland and led a guerrilla war, which only ended in 1916.
German Southwest Africa could be held in 1914 by the German troops. Here, the uprising of the Boer population against the British played a crucial role. However, when this was crushed in February 1915, the German colony also fell behind.
German East Africa was the only German colony under the leadership of Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck the enemy troops until the end of the war in 1918 could resist.
The German colonies in the Pacific were almost completely without protection troops at the mercy of the enemy. So they were handed over to Japan, Australia and New Zealand mostly without a fight.
1915 (the second year of war):
With the beginning of the second year of the war, the Allied troops attempted to push the German flanks in the north near Lille and in the south near Verdun in order to cut off the German troops from their supplies. Preparations began as early as the end of 1914 in the Champagne region, where the Allies first used the tactics of material warfare that determined the rest of the war. Here, the German positions were bombarded by the massive use of artillery to be subsequently stormed by the infantry. However, since the German troops were prepared for the shelling and their positions had expanded accordingly deep and strong, the attempt of storming ended in fiasco.
In return, the German troops tried again to launch an offensive. Chlorine gas was used for the first time in the Second Flanders Battle on April 22, 1915. Although this operation managed to panic the French and Algerian troops deployed in the front section and thus to put them to flight, however, the Germans lacked sufficient reserve soldiers to conquer the resulting gap. Shortly thereafter newly drilled British and Canadian troops were able to fill the gap.
On 9 May, British and French troops attempted to break through the German positions at Artois. Due to the high losses (on the Allied side about 110,000, on the German side about 75,000 dead), the offensive had to be stopped in mid-June again.
In September and October, the Allies launched offensive again in the area around Artois and Champagne. After losses of over 250,000 soldiers and no land gains, these offensives were canceled.
Fearing that Italy would enter the war on the side of the Allies this year, opening a third front for Austria-Hungary, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff, who had the upper command over the troops on the eastern front, invaded a quick win against Russia. For this purpose, fresh troops were brought to the front, with which it succeeded the Germans until the end of February to displace the Russian troops completely from East Prussia.
Since Galicia was still occupied, the German and Austrian troops launched in May with an offensive against the Russian troops. By mid-May, the troops were able to break through the Russian positions and to the San, which brought the decisive turn on the eastern front. Despite these successes, Austria-Hungary had already lost about 2 million men by March 1915 and was now completely dependent on the troops of the German Empire.
In June, the German offensive was continued and after the reconquest of Przemyśl on June 4 and Lviv on June 22, the Russian troops threatened the encirclement. The High Command of the Eastern Front urged fresh troops to encircle the enemy troops, but due to the high risk the request was denied.
The following offensives did not bring the desired encirclement of the Russian troops, but due to the large terrain gains Russia was forced to shorten its front and left Poland, Lithuania and large parts of the Kurland clear. At the end of September two further offensives of the Central Powers failed. Although the Russians had much higher losses to complain, the front they could still hold and thus bind troops that Germany would have needed more urgent on the Western Front.
With the Ottoman Empire's entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers in 1914, another theater of war opened up in the area of the Middle East. In February 1915, the Allied troops launched Operation Dardanelles to use targeted attacks to force the Ottoman Empire to quit the war. For this purpose, the shelling of the coastal fortifications by British and French warships along the Dardanelles began. In addition, the mine locks should be removed in order to break through to the capital, Constantinople. The breakthrough began on March 18th, but after some losses of warships, the attempt had to be stopped. The Allies now began preparing to land troops to attack the capital via land.
On April 25, around 78,000 British and 17,000 French soldiers were dropped off on the Gallipol Peninsula and the coast at Kum Kale. Contrary to the assessment of the Allied High Command, the resistance of the Ottoman troops was much stronger than expected and the landing had to be stopped again at the beginning of 1916 under heavy losses.
On May 23, 1915 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary and the opening of a third front. Previously, Germany and Austria had still attempted to neutralize Italy by submitting territorial cessions, but negotiations with the Allies gave Italy more encouragement than the Central Powers. Thus, the third front for Austria ran along the Dolomites, the Carnic Alps to the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
The Italian troops opened shortly after the declaration of war offensives on Isonzo and the Dolomites. The defense of the Austrians consisted at the time predominantly only of militia, Landwehr and the Landsturm. Although this brought the Italian troops some success, they could not achieve a decisive breakthrough and thus began the protracted Alpine war.
On October 14, 1915, Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. After the lost Balkan war and the loss of territory, the Bulgarian military pushed for a revision of the peace treaty and the renewed expansion of Bulgaria. The offensive against Serbia took place on 6 October, but the declaration of war was only issued on 14 October.
The Serbian troops, already clearly weakened by the aggressive Austrian offensive, did not have much to oppose the Bulgarian troops. Already on October 9, the capital Belgrade fell and the remaining Serbian troops had to retreat to the Albanian and Montenegrin mountains. The occupied Serbia was then divided between Bulgaria and Austria.
1916 (the third year of war):
On February 21, German troops began attacking the fortifications around Verdun. The aim of the attack was to straighten the front line in order to prevent an attack on the weakened German flanks, to move again from the war of position into a war of movement and to persuade the French military leadership, regardless of the losses Verdun want to hold for reasons of national pride.
The attack was divided into four phases. The first phase began on February 21, with the German artillery initially launching an eight-hour sustained fire on the French positions before the infantry launched an assault. Since the French troops offered more resistance than expected, the Germans could only achieve low terrain gains. Only the fortress Fort Douaumont could be taken on 25 February, but had tactically a very low value. The French had been all the more motivated by the attack and the loss of the fort, and the fortress Verdun was to be kept at bay by all means. As a symbol for the defense, the supply road from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun, over which the entire supply ran and could not be interrupted by the Germans. The first phase ended on 4 March, when the German attack came to a standstill in the face of French artillery.
In the second phase, attacks were made on the ridges. Especially the heights Le-Mort-Homme and 304 high demanded many deaths and contributed to the image of the "Hell of Verdun". A decisive victory did not succeed the German troops again this time.
In the third phase, the target was no longer placed on the fortifications but on the town of Verdun itself to cut off French supplies. On June 2, the Fort Vaux could be taken, but a breakthrough by the front line at the village Fleury-devant-Douaumont failed.
In the fourth phase, another attempt was made to break through the enemy lines, but at Fort de Souville also this attack remained stuck. Since the Allies in their turn had launched an offensive on the Somme, the army had to pull troops from Verdun and use for defense.
On 1 July 1916, the Allies began a large-scale offensive on the Somme. After eight days of constant fire through some 1,500 guns, the predominantly British soldiers stormed towards the German positions. Contrary to the conviction of the British commander Douglas Haig, however, the German positions were hardly damaged and so the soldiers were able to regain their positions after the artillery fire and covered the onrushing British soldiers with heavy machine-gun fire. Alone in the first half hour of the attack about 8,000 soldiers died in the attack.
Despite these losses, the attacks continued until the end of November, with British tanks being used for the first time in September. By the end of November, the attacks had brought the Allies 8 to 10 kilometers of terrain gains, but had to die about 624,000 soldiers.
In October, the French launched their counter-offensive at Verdun. After the Forts Douaumont and Thiaumont could be taken, the Germans had to vacate on December 2, also Fort Vaux. By the end of the year, the French were able to recapture almost all areas around Verdun, which were occupied by the Germans in the spring.
In March 1916 Alexei Brusilov took over the supreme command of the Russian Southern Army. With this he started from June 4 with a major offensive and was east of Kovel (in present-day Western Ukraine) the 4th k.u.k. Rub the army almost completely. Further south, the 7th k.u.k. Army also almost completely wiped out. Alone in the first weeks of the offensive, k.u.k. Army at around 624,000 soldiers.
Since the Russian armies were able to record large ground gains and approached the Romanian border, Romania eventually joined the Allies in the war.
However, as the supply of the advancing Russian army faltered and the attacks of the flank armies were fended off, the offensive remained hanging until the end of the year and could not be continued.
Due to the advancing Russian armies and the apparent victory of the Allies, Romania decided on 27 August to join the Allies and declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the beginning of September, the Romanian troops first managed to gain some land profits in Transylvania before the army was pushed back at the Battle of Sibiu from September 22 to 29. The 9th German Army advanced to Romania on November 23, in conjunction with Bulgarian and Turkish troops. On December 6, the Romanian capital Bucharest fell and the Central Powers now had access to the oil fields of Ploieşti and the agricultural products, which were urgently needed in their own country. Only the northeast could be held by Romanian troops with the help of Russian troops until the end of the war.
On January 4, 1916 Austrian troops launched their offensive against the Kingdom of Montenegro, which had to capitulate already on 23 January. Albania was also occupied in a further offensive also for the most part by Austrian troops, which could be withdrawn there withdrawn remaining troops of Serbia with the help of Italians. Only the port city of Vlora could be held by the Italian troops.
On the Alps front, the Austrian troops started an offensive in May to force back the Italian troops. After the heavy losses of k.u.k. However, troops during the Russian offensive had to withdraw troops and stop the offensive. In return, the Italians tried to break through the Isonzo from March to November. They succeeded in taking over the cities of Gorizia and the Doberdo Plateau, but failed to win further. On August 28, 1916, Italy declared war on the German Reich. These were already prepared and had relocated an Alpine Corps to secure the border with Italy.
1917 (the fourth year of war):
After the lossy fighting in Verdun in 1916, the German army was severely damaged and led the strategically important retreat in the strong-developed Siegfriedstellung by. From 16 to 19 March, the front bow was cleared on the Somme and relocated the troops there to shorten the front line and thus stabilize.
The Allies, however, began their spring offensives. So British troops attacked Arras on 9 April, French troops fought on the Aisne and Champagne. At Arras the German troops had been completely surprised by the attack. The British managed to take the ridge at Vimy, but then the advance remained stuck. The French troops could not fulfill their goal to occupy the ridge Chemin des Dames. Already in May both offensives had to be stopped after heavy losses.
After General Pétain was given the command of the French on April 29, the mutineers in the French divisions, which flared up after the failed offensives, could be contained and the troops re-deployed. In August and October, two smaller offensives were carried out at Verdun and on the Aisne, which drove back the German troops a few kilometers.
South of Ypres, on the other hand, British troops managed to break through the German defense and gain eight kilometers of terrain. For this purpose, miners dug tunnels under the German positions for a year and a half and provided mines for them. On May 21, they were detonated, triggering the largest non-nuclear explosion in wartime history. Around 10,000 German soldiers lost their lives and the British troops could go on the offensive to occupy the important German submarine base Ostende and Zeebrugge. But already at Langemark-Poelkapelle the advance came to a standstill and at the beginning of November the goal had to be taken to take the submarine base.
From 20 November to 6 December, the British troops in the area of Havrincourt managed to break through the Siegfriedstellung of the Germans by the use of armored units and push back about seven kilometers. Although the use of the new armored weapon was accompanied by high losses (around 30% of the 320 tanks used were destroyed) and did not represent a decisive turning point in the war, this technique should form the foundation for all armed forces worldwide. In the counter-offensive launched by the Germans on November 30, however, almost all territorial conquests had to be returned to the Germans.
At the beginning of the year, the Supreme Command of the German Kaiser was able to prevail with the demand for the resumption of the unrestricted U-boat war. Although this was already done at the beginning of the British North Sea blockade, but again limited by the protest of neutral states. After the Central Powers had submitted a peace offer to the Allies after the victory over Romania, but this was rejected and instead the American President Woodrow Wilson had submitted a counterproposal, which was also not to be accepted, the arguments with the Kaiser for the continuation sufficed. The reopening of the US broke diplomatic relations with Germany on 3 February, and the declaration of war followed on 6 April. This saw the Central Powers exposed to another strong opponent.
In early 1917, the effects of the sea blockade of the Baltic Sea and the Dardanelles on the Russian economy and society increased. High inflation and food shortages led to the rebellion of workers 'and peasants' wives in February. These mass demonstrations were politically represented by the Soviets, who built up a dual power with the bourgeois party represented in the government and persuaded the Tsar to abdicate. A continuation of the war was nevertheless decided.
Under German leadership, high-ranking Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin, were taken by train from exile to Russia. Arriving in Russia, Lenin immediately began to enforce his political goals and immediately demanded the end of the war. These demands were largely supported by the war-weary population.
Despite continuing unrest in the country, Minister of War Alexander Kerenski began implementing his doctrine "Continuing the War, No Special Peace" on June 29 and launching an offensive at Stanislau, West Ukraine. Although the Russian troops managed to penetrate as far as Kalusz, after that the advance marched on the resistance of the Central Powers. As many soldiers began to desert and the Russian army was affected by disintegration, the offensive was stopped.
Then the Central Powers began their offensive and were able to advance to Tarnopol and Chernivtsi. While German troops conquered Riga in September and some Baltic islands in October, a coup attempt by the Bolsheviks was crushed in Russia and Lenin had to flee to Finland.
At the end of September there was another coup, this time by General Kornilov. To secure his power, the Minister of War Alexander Kerensky had to resort to the Bolsheviks and thus to Lenin. He let the situation escalate in November and overthrew the government with his Bolsheviks. On 5 December, a ceasefire was agreed between Russia and the Central Powers, which was maintained until the beginning of the peace negotiations. From December 22, the talks began in Brest-Litovsk and ended on 3 March with the signing of the peace treaty.
In the south of the Ottoman Empire, the British troops began earlier this year with their offensive and were able to take on March 1, 1917 Baghdad. With this revenue, the military planning of the Central Powers came to falter and the German Reich sent the former Chief of Staff Falkenhayn in the Middle East to conquer the city back.
Another offensive by the British was carried out in the territory of Palestine. In the last major cavalry attack in military history, the British, led by General Edmund Allenby, managed to capture the city of Be'er Sheva and push the Ottoman and German troops back to Jerusalem. Falkenhayn wanted to defend the city under all circumstances against the British, but got from Germany the command to vacate the city, as the German Empire did not want to blame for the destruction of the historic city and thus further damage its reputation in the public. On December 9, the British troops entered the city without a fight.
In the Alpine front, the Italian troops tried for the 11th time to achieve a breakthrough at Isonzo. The troops of k.u.k. The army was then so weakened that the Austrian emperor had to pray to the German Emperor for support in order to continue to hold the front. The Germans then sent the 14th Army into the area and preempted the Italian offensive by launching an attack on Isonzo himself. In this attack, a new, among others, by Erwin Rommel (the later Field Marshal and Wüstenfuchs) developed tactic was applied, which provided rapid thrust without consideration of the flank protection. Thus, the German troops managed to break through the Italian defense, 130 kilometers to penetrate and reach up to 30 kilometers to Venice. Here the offensive came to a halt and the front had to stabilize again.
1918 (the fifth year of war):
With the truce on the eastern front end of 1917, German troops were released, which sent the army command immediately to the Western Front in 1918 to carry out 2 new offensives before the American troops land in France and thus had changed the strength of troops in favor of the Allies.
On March 21, the first offensive began along the Somme. The original tactic to use the troops massively in one place and thus to achieve the breakthrough was changed several times in the coming days until finally 3 peaks emerged, all of which were too weak for a decision. Over a distance of around 80 kilometers, the German troops succeeded in advancing up to 60 kilometers despite the ongoing logistical problems. But a strategic goal could not be achieved, moreover, the losses on the German side were so high that they could not be compensated. When Australian troops started a counter-offensive from Amiens, the Germans had to be broken off.
The second German offensive was carried out in Flanders along the river Leie by Ludendorff. The goal was the attack on a length of about 30 kilometers to advance to the Channel coast west of Ypres. However, since most of the soldiers were used south for the offensive, Ludendorff remained only a small part left. After taking the important Kemmelberg, the offensive was already set. In addition, more and more orders were denied by the underserved and completely demoralized German troops. To strengthen the morale again, the German Army Command opened on 27 May, a new offensive in which it was possible to 29 May on the Marne, on June 3, just before Villers-Cotterêts to stand. Due to the counterattacks of the newly arrived American soldiers and the lack of logistics, however, the offensive had to be stopped on 6 June.
The last German offensive started on 15 July at the Marne with the last available funds. After initial successes, the Germans had to retire due to the French and American counter-attacks and the massive use of the French tanks of the type Renault FT-17. After that, the German army was only on the defensive.
The Allied Counteroffensive started on August 8 at Amiens. East of Villers-Bretonneux, 530 British and 70 French tanks alone drove to the 2nd German Army, which at the time was in a completely demoralized state. Striking in this battle is the high number of German prisoners, which shows an impression in the dissolution of the German army. At the end of the battle, 50,000 Germans were in captivity with only 25,000 dead. Although the Allied troops managed to gain only 20 kilometers of terrain, the shock and the signs of dissolution in the German army suddenly increased.
Due to the progressive terrain gains of the Allies saw the Supreme Command was forced to pull his troops back in early September to the Siegfried position. On September 29, however, the American troops succeeded for the first time to push through the strong German defense line. Until the truce of 11 November, the German positions were held for the most part, so at the end of the war, a small part of northeastern France, and well half of Belgium and Luxembourg was occupied by Germany.
The situation of k.u.k. Armed forces were much worse in 1918 than in the German army. Malnutrition, desertions and suicides were the order of the day, and the arms industry was in danger of collapsing completely. From October 6, the states of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia began to form national councils. Hungary followed on 25th October. At the same time, the Allies launched a major offensive at Vittorio, as the k.u.k. Soldiers refused the order to counterattack, also interpreted the collapse of the army.
On October 28, Czechoslovakia was founded, followed a day later by the independence of the Slovene, Croat and Serbian states. On October 31, Hungary announced the union with Austria, which disintegrated the dual monarchy and left only the Austrian rump state. The signature of the truce of Villa Giusti was carried out by General Weber on 3 November, the war and the existence of Austria-Hungary came to an end.
At the end of 1917, a ceasefire was signed between Russia and Germany. Negotiations on a peace treaty negotiated in Brest-Litovsk, however, were constantly postponed by the Russian side in the hope that the workers 'and soldiers' councils would soon rise in Western Europe as well.
Moreover, on January 25, 1918, Ukraine declared itself independent and negotiated a separate peace with the Central Powers on February 9, in which large quantities of grain had to be delivered in return for promising areas in the West.
When the Russian negotiator Leo Trotsky after the separate peace of Ukraine, a partial demobilization of the army but did not yet sign the peace treaty, the Central Powers began within a short time parts of the western border areas in the Baltic, Crimea, in the industrial area on Donets and Occupy Belarus to exert pressure. Russia was now forced to sign the peace treaty on March 3, on much stricter terms.
It emerged from the treaty that the Central Powers cleared most of the occupied territories, but Russia had to cede large areas. This is how the Baltic states came into being, and after 150 years an independent Poland emerged again.
The military situation for the Ottoman Empire was catastrophic in the summer of 1918. In the southern regions of the rich rose the Arab tribes, who fought with British support for an independent country. Together with the British troops, they had conquered the major cities of Baghdad, Jerusalem and Damascus until mid-1918 and overrun the front lines in Mesopotamia and Palestine.
On 3 July also died the Sultan Mehmed V., succeeded his brother Mehmed VI. at. In order to be able to negotiate favorable peace conditions for the Ottoman Empire, the new Sultan immediately entered into negotiations with the Allies. On October 30, the ceasefire was signed by Moudros, with the sultan responding to all Allied demands as a sign of goodwill. These demands included, among other things, the complete evacuation of areas outside Anatolia and the establishment of an allied military administration for Istanbul and the strait. The Ottoman Empire thus also left the war and was dissolved as a result of the peace negotiations in the coming years.
The political revolution in Germany and the armistice:
On September 29, 1918, the supreme chief of the army command General Erich Ludendorff spoke after the breakthrough of the Allies by the Siegfried position, the German Kaiser for a truce. On September 30, however, Admiral Reinhard Scheer, head of the newly formed Naval Warfare Office, began to pull together the German High Seas Fleet in Wilhelmshaven. Background were allusions to the fleet command that in a truce the German fleet should be delivered to the Allies. In order not to comply with this request, Rear Admiral Adolf von Trotha worked out a plan of attack to draw against the twice as large British Grand Fleet. The expiration of this attack was to be an expiration end of October with the goal of an attack on the Flemish coast and the Thames estuary. The order was issued to the fleet on October 24, but on October 27, the crews of some of the largest warships began to refuse.
On October 29, the expulsion order of Admiral Franz von Hipper was revoked and the squadrons recalled to their respective locations. In Kiel, then ran on 1 November, the 3rd Fleet Squadron, where there were the leaders of the order refusal in the teams. At the same time, 47 sailors were arrested as well, which led to massive protests. On November 3, the situation escalated as 7 protesters were shot dead. In Kiel, there was then the Kiel sailor uprising, whose protests spread within a short time over the entire country and on 6 and 7 November already in Hamburg and Munich came to a change of power in the cities. Following a request by the German Kaiser to his commanders after a violent suppression of the uprisings, he was told in reply that the majority of the soldiers would refuse this order.
On 7 November, the request of the Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD) to the Chancellor was to persuade the emperor to abdicate. When the demand remained without result, the workers in Berlin's large-scale enterprises started a general strike on 9 November and the MSPD left the government. Then the Chancellor Max von Baden arbitrarily announced the abdication of the Emperor and the renunciation of the throne by the Crown Prince and handed over the office of Chancellor to Friedrich Ebert. At 2 pm on the same day Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the German Republic without consulting the Chancellor.
Emperor Wilhelm II, who had witnessed the murder of the Russian tsar's family after his removal and feared the same fate, fled into exile from his headquarters in the Netherlands on November 10, where he announced on November 28, to the crown of Prussia and to renounce the German imperial crown for all future.
From October 29 to November 4, the Allies negotiated the terms of an armistice for Germany. On 6 November, these were sent to Germany, whereupon Secretary of State Matthias Erzberger with 1 diplomats and 2 officers went on 8 November in the forest of Compiègne and began there under the leadership of French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the negotiations on the ceasefire. On 11 November, the contract was signed by the German and French delegations and initially had a duration of 36 days. Among the demands were, among other things, the evacuation of the German-occupied territories within 14 days, the evacuation of the left bank of the Rhine and the cities of Mainz, Koblenz and Cologne from any military units within 25 days. In addition, the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk between Germany and Russia and the separate peace treaty with Ukraine was revoked. The war was over on the Western Front as well.
The consequences of the war and the peace treaties:
The First World War was by then, in every respect, the largest and most extensive military conflict in history. No other war involved so many countries, deployed millions of soldiers and affected the economy, technological development and, last but not least, the civilian population.
The losses amounted to about 9.56 million for the soldiers, among the civilian population there were about 7 million deaths.
|Country:||Total soldiers used:||Fallen soldiers:||Dead in percent:|
|German empire||13,25 million||2 million||15%|
|Austria-Hungary||7,8 million||1,5 million||19%|
|Ottoman Empire||3 million||0,6 million||20%|
|England||7 million||0,85 million||12%|
|France||8,1 million||1,3 million||16%|
|Russia||12 million||1,85 million||15%|
|Bulgaria||1,2 million||0,1 million||8%|
|Italy||5 million||0,68 million||14%|
|Romania||1,2 million||0,34 million||28%|
|Serbia||0,7 million||0,13 million||19%|
|USA||4,74 million||0,21 million||4%|
|total:||63,99 million||9,56 Millionen||15%|
The total number of wounded soldiers was around 20 million.
Due to the massive use of artillery and the associated shells, fragmentation grenades, mines, etc., many of the wounded soldiers were severely injured, sometimes with amputations. As a result, the field of plastic surgery and the production of prostheses developed after the war in the health service. For the first time, the recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder, which was common among soldiers and was most frequently felt in uncontrolled tremors, also took place for the first time. This was due to the fact that the burden of the soldiers who were in the trenches and bunkers while they were shelled by the enemy artillery, led to a mental overload.
After the war countless injured soldiers died. These often succumbed to serious injuries, died of diseases that could not cure the weakened bodies or starved to death, because at that time there was no social catching mechanism in social life, for example. an invalid pension counted.
The other victims include both soldiers and civilians, who died from the spreading from 1918 Spanish flu. In total, between 25 and 40 million people died worldwide. The casualties, however, are added only indirectly to the casualties of the war.
Total spending on the war totaled around 956 billion gold marks worldwide.
|German empire||194 billion|
The creation of peace treaties between the Allies and the respective war opponents began on 18 January 1919 in the form of the Paris Peace Conference. A total of 32 states took part in this, with the victorious powers England, France, Italy and the USA taking the lead, while the central powers were excluded from the talks. These were convened only after drafting the contracts.
In total, there were 5 peace treaties:
- With Germany the Treaty of Versailles
- With Austria the Treaty of Saint-Germain
- With Hungary, the Treaty of Trianon
- With Bulgaria the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine
- With Turkey (as the legal successor of the Ottoman Empire) the Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Versailles:
The Treaty was signed by Germany (under massive protest) on June 28, 1919, following the threat of military intervention by Foreign Minister Hermann Müller (SPD) and Minister of Transport Johannes Bell (center), and came into force on January 10, 1920.
- USA (which did not ratify the treaty and on 25 August 1921 concluded a separate peace with Germany in the Berlin Treaties)
- Kingdom of Serbia
- China (since 1917 in the war against the German empire) did not sign the contract
Loss of territory:
Immediately ceded areas:
- Alsace-Lorraine to France
- almost all West Prussia to Poland
- Poznan to Poland
- the southern half of the East Prussian district Neidenburg to Poland
- the wealthy Ländchen to Poland
- small border strips of Lower Silesia to Poland
- the Hultschiner Ländchen to Czechoslovakia
- Cameroon to France
- the lease area Kiautschou to Japan
- the archipelagos of the Mariana Islands and the Carolines to Japan
Assignment after referendum:
- North Schleswig to Denmark
- Upper Silesia to Poland
- Eupen-Malmedy and the former Neutral Moresnet to Belgium
subordinated to the League of Nations:
- the Saar area
- Gdansk with surroundings
- Memel Land, occupied by Lithuania on 10 January 1923. 1924 as an autonomous area under Lithuanian sovereignty
- the remaining German colonies
time occupied by France:
The German empire had to cede an area of about 70,570 km ² and lost about 7.3 million inhabitants.
Article 231 assigned the sole war debt to the German empire. Due to this article, high reparations were made to the succeeding government. The first claims for the period 1919-1921 amounted to 20 billion gold marks. In January 1921, the amount of the total claim was set at 226 billion gold marks, objections and counter-offers from the German side were rejected.
Due to the onset of inflation in the 20s, the demand was adapted to the Germans with the Dawesplan. This was replaced in 1929 by the Young Plan, which provided for payment to 34.5 billion Reichsmark in 59 annual installments. On 3 October 2010, the last installment was paid by the Federal Republic of Germany.
Furthermore, Germany had to cede as compensation the largest part of its merchant fleet to the Allies, which led to severe impairment of imports and exports and thus to the weakening of the economy. In addition, Germany lost 80% of its iron ore deposits, 63% of zinc ore deposits, 28% of its hard coal production and 40% of its blast furnaces. The loss of Posens and West Prussia reduced agricultural land by 15%, grain crops by 17% and livestock by 12%.
Military requirements and restrictions:
In order to prevent a renewed strengthening of the German military and thus prevent further wars, the German military imposed heavy restrictions in the contract.
- The German army may hold a maximum of 100,000 men, including a maximum of 4,000 officers in a professional army
- abolition of general compulsory military service
- Dissolution of the Great General Staff
- Restriction to a one-time 12-year service with no possibility of re-engagement, a maximum of 5% of the crews are expected to retire prematurely each year (this should prevent secret conscription)
- Prohibition of military associations, military missions and mobilization measures
- The Navy may have a maximum of 15,000 men and only six armored ships, six cruisers, 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats have not exceeded a certain size and repression
- Delivery of the German High Seas Fleet (this submerged on 21 June 1919 in front of the English naval base Scapa Flow itself)
- no heavy weapons such as submarines, tanks and battleships
- Prohibition of chemical warfare agents
- Restriction of arms stocks (102,000 rifles, 40.8 million rifle cartridges)
- ban on air forces
- Demilitarization of the Rhineland and a 50-kilometer-wide strip east of the Rhine
- Prohibition of fortress construction along the German border and sanding of existing buildings
- Prohibition of fortification and artillery between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea
- Furthermore, any measures that were considered suitable for the preparation of a war were prohibited. This had, among other things, effects on the German Red Cross, which subsequently had to put its original task in the background
- no arming of civilians
The Treaty of Versailles was received in Germany by both the soldiers and the civilian population largely with incomprehension and as a "dictation". For most of the German army had not been defeated militarily (it was still in enemy territory) and brought about the surrender and the peace treaty by leftist politicians and communists / Jews. Already shortly after the war developed thereby the so-called "dagger thrust legend" which were spread particularly by politically right circles and parties.
The Treaty of Saint-Germain:
The Treaty of Saint-Germain was based on the Treaty of Versailles and considered Austria with territorial cessions and reparations payments. Already before, the monarchy of Austria-Hungary disintegrated with the secession and independence of some states. The contract was signed on 10 September 1919 and came into force on 16 July 1920.
- Great Britain
- the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian state
Loss of territory:
- Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian Silesia and some municipalities of Lower Austria (inter alia Feldberg, the station Gmund and other communities) to the newly founded Czechoslovakia
- Galicia to Poland
- South Tyrol, Welschtirol and the channel valley at Italy.
- Istria to Italy
- Bukovina to Romania
- Dalmatia, Krain, parts of Lower Styria and the Carinthian Mießtal and the Zealand to the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
- German West Hungary to Austria and receives the name Burgenland
- The use of "German Austria" as a state name was prohibited
- The connection to the German Reich was prohibited
- Austria and Czechoslovakia are required to pay reparations
- Compulsory military service was prohibited
- The professional army may have a maximum strength of 30,000 men
- Armaments factories and weapons must be destroyed
The Treaty of Trianon:
The Treaty of Trianon could only be signed on 4 June 1920 by the Hungarian ambassadors Ágoston Benárd, Minister of Welfare, and Alfréd Drasche-Lázár, ambassador, after the Austro-Hungarian monarchy broke up in 1918, declared independence for some countries and due to border disputes from 15 to 16 April 1919 the Hungarian-Romanian war broke out.
- the newly formed Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom
- The US concluded a separate peace treaty with Hungary
Loss of territory:
- today's Slovakia and the Karpatoukraine to Czechoslovakia
- today's Burgenland to Austria
- Croatia, Slavonia, Prekmurje, the regions of Batschka and South Baranya (Drávaköz) and parts of the Banat to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
- Transylvania with the rest of the Banat and with Partium at Romania
- a small area with 14 villages in the far north was awarded to Poland
- The Free City of Fiume (St. Veit am Flaum or Fiume or Rijeka) was awarded to Italy
- compensation (a sum was not mentioned)
- The professional army may have a maximum strength of 35,000 men
- Prohibition of heavy artillery, tanks and aircraft
The Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine:
The Treaty of Neuilly -sur -Seine was signed on 27 November 1919.
- Allied States with the Allies
Loss of territory:
- Western Thrace came under the administration of the Allies, with him also the important port city Dedeagatsch whereby Bulgaria lost access to the Aegean Sea to Greece
- Zaribrod, a few villages along the Timok River and Strumiza (so-called Bulgarian Western Territories) came to the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In addition, Bulgaria also had to recognize the new kingdom
- South Dobruja to Romania
- Reparation of $ 400 million
- The professional army may have a maximum strength of 20,000 men
- Population exchange between Greece and Bulgaria
The Treaty of Sevres:
The Treaty of Sèvres was signed on 10 August 1920, which could not be ratified, as the Ottoman Empire then broke apart.
- Mesopotamia (Kingdom of Iraq), Palestine, Syria and Lebanon were placed under League of Nations mandate
- Independence of Hejaz, Armenia and Mesopotamia
- Autonomy of Kurdistan with prospect of independence
- Eastern Thrace (with the exception of Istanbul and its immediate vicinity) to Greece
- The protectorates of England over Cyprus and Egypt, from France to Morocco and Tunisia had to be recognized
You can find the right literature here:
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark’s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I.
Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well-meaning leaders into brutal conflict.
Clark traces the paths to war in a minute-by-minute, action-packed narrative that cuts between the key decision centers in Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, London, and Belgrade, and examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.
Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers is a dramatic and authoritative chronicle of Europe’s descent into a war that tore the world apart.
A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed twenty million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today.
The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed twenty million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today.
World War I: The Definitive Visual History
Discover the misery of life in the trenches -- and how the Great War devastated Europe. Here is an original and exciting guide to the grim challenge of life or death on the Western Front. Devastating first-hand reports and contemporary photographs of the battles that slaughtered millions, together with a clear account of how nation upon nation sent their men to join the carnage, combine to present a dramatic "eyewitness" view of this most terrible war. See the bullet-riddled car of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, everyday life in the dugout, sappers mining tunnels beneath the enemy, and Mata Hari learning the art of spying. Learn how people avoided gas attacks, when periscopes were used, what soldiers wrote home to their sweethearts and mothers, the best way to use a tank, how troops flattened a hillside, and the meaning of Armistice Day. Discover how it felt to go over the top, what happened to all the bodies, how people dealt with shell shock, why war led to revolution, and much, much more.
World War 1: A History From Beginning to End
World War One was one of the bloodiest wars in modern history. At its end, it had claimed over seventeen million lives. It led to the collapse of nations, the abdication of monarchies and ended empires. Entire divisions of men perished in the pursuit of mere miles of uninhabitable wasteland––towns were pulverized and millions displaced. It became a horrendous war of attrition, each side competing to kill as many of their foe as possible.
Inside you will read about...
- 1914 - Blood Is Spilled
- 1915 - The Dawn Of The Industrialized War
- 1916 - Unrelenting Bloodshed
- 1917 - Revolution, Revelation and Catastrophe
- 1918 - The Great War At An End
It became the first industrialized war in history and introduced revolutionary technology into the fray. The Airplane, the Tank and the Machine Gun first saw action collectively during the conflict. It was also the first war in which poison gas was used to choke young men out of their trenches. This book is a timeline account of the important events that shaped the First World War. It details the events and causes that led the world to war. This book covers the milestone moments, important battles, and how the outcome changed the world forever.
The First World War: A Complete History
A companion volume to the highly acclaimed The Second World War recounts the course of the war, the enormity of its cost, the advances it brought in technology, and its effect on European society. 25,000 first printing. $20,000 ad/promo.
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