The Diplomatic history of
World War I
World War I covers the non-military
interactions among the major players during World War I. For the
domestic histories see Home front during World War I. For a
longer-term perspective see International relations of the Great
Powers (1814–1919) and Causes of World War I. For the following era
see International relations (1919–1939). The major allied players
included Great Britain, France, Russia, and Italy (starting in 1915)
and the United States (from 1917). The major
Central Powers included
Germany and the Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
Other countries—and their colonies—were also involved. For a
detailed chronology see Timeline of World War I.
The non-military diplomatic and propaganda interactions among the
nations were designed to build support for the cause, or to undermine
support for the enemy. Wartime diplomacy focused on five issues:
subversion and propaganda campaigns to weaken the morale of the enemy;
defining and redefining the war goals, which became harsher as the war
went on; luring neutral nations (Italy, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria,
Romania) into the coalition by offering slices of enemy territory; and
encouragement by the Allies of nationalistic minority movements inside
the Central Powers, especially among Czechs, Poles, and Arabs. In
addition, there were multiple peace proposals coming from neutrals, or
one side or the other; none of them progressed very far. Some were
neutral efforts to end the horrors. Others were propaganda ploys to
show one side was being reasonable and the other was obstinate.
1 War aims
1.1 Approaches to diplomacy
1.2 Toward a League of Nations
2 Financing the war
3.1 Great Britain
3.1.2 Balfour Declaration: Palestine and Jewish home land
3.1.3 Blockade of Germany
3.3.3 February Revolution
Bolshevik versus White
4 American entry in 1917
4.1 American neutrality
4.2 Submarine issue
4.3 Ethnic groups
4.4 National security
4.5 Decision for war
4.6 Wartime diplomacy
5 Central Powers
5.1.1 Eastern Front
5.1.2 Russia surrenders: the Treaty of Brest Litovsk
5.1.3 Subversion of enemy states
5.2 Austro-Hungarian Empire
5.3 Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
5.3.1 Armenian Genocide
6 New nations
6.3 Three Baltic states
7 See also
9 Further reading
9.2 Great Britain
9.5 United States
9.6 Central Powers
9.8 Primary sources and year books
10 External links
Further information: Causes of World War I
In 1914 both sides expected quick victory and had not formulated
long-term goals. An ad-hoc meeting of the French and British
ambassadors with the Russian Foreign Minister in early September led
to a statement of war aims that was not official, but did represent
ideas circulating among diplomats in St. Petersburg, Paris, and
London, as well as the secondary allies of Belgium, Serbia, and
Montenegro. Its provisions included:
1) " The principal object of the three allies should be to break
German power and its claim to military and political domination;"
2) "Territorial modifications are to be determined according to the
principle of nationality;"
3) Russia should annex certain parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
4) "France should take back Alsace-Lorraine, adding to it if she likes
part of Rhenish Prussia and of the Palatine;"
5-7, provisions for new territory for Belgium and Denmark, and the
restoration of the Kingdom of Hanover.
8) Austria should become a triple monarchy, upgrading the kingdom of
9) "Serbia should annex Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and northern
10-11. Territory should be added to Bulgaria and Greece.
12) "England, France, and Japan should divide the German colonies;"
13) "Germany and Austria should pay a war indemnity."
No official statement of Allied war aims was issued. The secret
treaties remained secret until the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia
in November 1917 and began publishing them. Socialists had always
alleged that capitalists were behind the war in order to line their
own pockets, and the evidence of promised new territories invigorated
left-wing movements around the world. President Woodrow Wilson
regained some of the initiative in January 1918 when he proclaimed his
Fourteen Points, the first of which demanded, "Open covenants of
peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private
international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed
always frankly and in the public view."
Hew Strachan argues that war aims focused on territorial
gains were not of central importance anyway. They did not cause the
war nor shape its course of action. Rather, he says:
Big ideas, however rhetorical, shaped the war's purpose more
immediately and completely than did more definable
objectives....[According to best-selling English author H. G. Wells],
'We fight', he declared, 'not to destroy a nation, but to kill a nest
of ideas....Our business is to kill ideas. The ultimate purpose of
this war is propaganda, the destruction of certain beliefs and the
creation of others.'
The stalemate by the end of 1914 forced serious consideration of
long-term goals. Britain, France, Russia and Germany all separately
concluded this was not a traditional war with limited goals. Britain,
France and Russia became committed to the destruction of German
military power, and Germany to the dominance of German military power
in Europe. One month into the war, Britain, France and Russia agreed
not to make a separate peace with Germany, and discussions began about
enticing other countries to join in return for territorial gains.
However, as Barbara Jelavich observes, "Throughout the war Russian
actions were carried out without real coordination or joint planning
with the Western powers." There was no serious three-way
coordination of strategy, nor was there much coordination between
Britain and France before 1917.
Approaches to diplomacy
Both sides employed secret treaties to entice neutral nations to join
them in return for a promise of spoils when victory was achieved. They
were kept secret until the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in 1917
and began publishing all the details on the Allied side. The Allies
especially promised that after defeating the Ottoman Empire they would
give large slices in return for immediate help in the war. Some
territories were promised to several recipients, on the principle that
conflicts could be sorted out after victory was achieved. Some
promises therefore had to be broken, and that left permanent bitter
legacies, especially in Italy.
Important secret treaties of this era include the secretly concluded
Ottoman–German alliance signed on August 2, 1914. It
treaty provided that Germany and Turkey would remain neutral in the
Austria-Hungary and Serbia, but if Russia intervened
"with active military measures" the two countries would become
military allies. Another important secret treaty was the Treaty of
London, concluded on April 26, 1915, in which Italy was promised
certain territorial concessions in exchange for joining the war on the
Triple Entente (Allied) side. The Treaty of Bucharest, concluded
Romania and the
Triple Entente powers (Britain, France, Italy,
and Russia) on August 17, 1916; under this treaty,
Romania pledged to
Austria-Hungary and not to seek a separate peace in exchange
for certain territorial gains. Article 16 of that treaty provided that
"The present arrangement shall be held secret." Blaming the war in
part on secret treaties, President Wilson called in his Fourteen
Points for "open covenants, openly arrived at."
The two sides had strikingly different approaches to diplomacy. The
military leadership of Field Marshal
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg and his
Erich Ludendorff increasingly controlled Germany and
the other Central Powers. They worked around the Kaiser and largely
ignored the politicians and diplomats; they focused on military
supremacy. The most dramatic example came when military command
decided on unrestricted submarine warfare against Britain in early
1917, over the objections of the Prime Minister and other civilian
leaders. Historian Cathal Nolan says their strategy was, "Germans must
win fast and win everything or lose everything in a war of exhaustion:
knock out Russia in 1917, defeat France and starve Britain, all before
the Americans arrived in sufficient numbers to make a real difference
on the Western Front." A military approach meant that victory was
to be achieved by winning great campaigns against the main enemy
armies. Allies were useful for providing hundreds of thousands of
bayonets, and access to critical geographical points.
The Allies had a more complex multi-dimensional approach that included
critical roles for diplomacy, finance, propaganda and subversion.
By 1917 talk of a compromise solution was suppressed and the British
and French war aim was to permanently destroy German militarism. When
the United States joined in,
Woodrow Wilson likewise in his 14 points
emphasized the need to destroy militarism. Austria and Turkey were
not the main targets, and a separate peace with either or both of them
was always an option. The Allies bargained with neutrals such as Italy
by promising them when victory came, the
Central Powers would be
broken up and critical territories would be given to the winners. In
Treaty of London (1915)
Treaty of London (1915) Italy was promised several large slices of
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Russia was promised
Constantinople Agreement of 1915. the Jews were promised a
homeland in Palestine in the
Balfour Declaration of 1917, but the
Arabs had already been promised a sovereign state in
Turkish-controlled regions. Aspiring nationalities were promised their
own homelands. France was promised Alsace-Lorraine, which had been
ceded to Germany in 1871.
In terms of finance, the British generously loaned money to Russia,
France, Italy and smaller allies. When its own money ran out, the
United States replaced it in early 1917 with even larger loans. The
Allies put a heavy emphasis on "soft power" including economic aid and
trade, and propaganda. For example, Britain cut off all shipments of
cotton to Germany, but at the same time subsidized the American cotton
industry by large purchases, to make sure that the rural South
supported the war effort. Historians Richard D. Heffner and
Alexander Heffner point to the "outstanding success of British
propaganda" in molding American opinion, while "Germany's feeble
propaganda effort proved highly ineffective." The Allied
propaganda emphasised the triumph of liberal ideas, and a war to end
all wars—themes with a broad international appeal. The Germans kept
quiet about their war aims of dominating all of Europe, for they
realized it would not have a wide appeal. However the German Foreign
Ministry realize the value of subversion in a total war. It used money
and propaganda to attempt to undermine morale of the allies, including
Muslims in the British, Russian and Ottoman empires. They had even
more success in subsidizing far left anti-war subversive elements,
especially in Russia. Heavy-handed German militarism, especially
seen in the rape of Belgium—the widespread and systematic atrocities
went on year after year—and the sinking of a large passenger liner
the Lusitania—became major themes in Allied propaganda warning
against the evils of militarism. The Allies were embarrassed by its
large Russian ally—it was a non-democratic autocracy that sponsored
pogroms. The overthrow of the Tsarist regime in March 1917 by Russian
liberals greatly facilitated American entry into the war as President
Wilson could for the first time proclaim a crusade for idealistic
Germany avoided internal discussions of its war aims, because debate
threatened political unity at home and with allies. As late as May
1917 the Chancellor warned the Reichstag that a discussion of war aims
would be unwise. In January 1917 Germany made a major strategic
blunder that historian
Hew Strachan speculates may have cost it
victory in the war. The German navy launched a full-scale blockade of
Britain, using its U-boats to sink all merchant ships of whatever
nationality without warning. This was in violation of international
law and of its solemn promises to the United States. The military made
the decision, rejecting civilian advice, knowing it meant war with the
United States but it was Germany's last chance for a decisive victory
before the Americans would be able to fully mobilize. By ignoring
civilian advice the military failed to appreciate that Britain was
financially bankrupt, and could no longer purchase needed raw
materials nor provide urgently needed financial aid to its friends.
Strachan maintains the new German submarine strategy "saved Britain"
because Berlin had lost sight of how close it was to success in
ruining the critical financial component of British strategy.
Toward a League of Nations
Further information: League of Nations
In the course of the war both sides had to clarify their long-term war
aims. By 1916 in Britain and in neutral United States, long-range
thinkers had begun to design a unified international organization to
prevent future wars. Historian Peter Yearwood argues that when the new
coalition government of David Lloyd George took power in December
1916, there was widespread discussion among intellectuals and
diplomats of the desirability of establishing such an organization,
when Lloyd George was challenged by Wilson to state his position
Regarding the postwar, he endorsed such an organization. Wilson
himself Included in his
Fourteen Points in January 1918 a "league of
nations to insure peace and justice." British foreign secretary,
Arthur Balfour, argued that, as a condition of durable peace, "behind
international law, and behind all treaty arrangements for preventing
or limiting hostilities, some form of international sanction should be
devised which would give pause to the hardiest aggressor."
Financing the war
The total direct cost of war, for all participants including those not
listed here, was about $80 billion (in 1913 US dollars) Since $1
billion in $1913 = about $25 billion in 2017 US dollars the total cost
comes to about $2 trillion in 2017 dollars. Direct cost is figured as
actual expenditures during war minus normal prewar spending. It
excludes postwar costs such as pensions, interest, and veteran
hospitals. Loans to/from allies are not included in "direct cost."
Repayment of loans after 1918 is not included. The total direct
cost of the war as a percent of wartime national income:
Allies: Britain, 37%; France, 26%; Italy, 19%; Russia, 24%; United
Central Powers: Austria-Hungary, 24%; Germany, 32%; Turkey unknown.
The amounts listed below are presented in terms of 1913 US dollars,
where $1 billion then equals about $25 billion in 2017.
Britain had a direct war cost about $21.2 billion; it made loans to
Allies and Dominions of $4.886 billion, and received loans from the
United States of $2.909 billion.
France had a direct war cost about $10.1 billion; it made loans to
Allies of $1.104 billion, and received loans from Allies (United
States and Britain) of $2.909 billion.
Italy had a direct war cost about $4.5 billion; it received loans from
Allies (United States and Britain) of $1.278 billion.
The United States had a direct war cost about $12.3 billion; it made
loans to Allies of $5.041 billion.
Russia had a direct war cost about $7.7 billion; it received loans
from Allies (United States and Britain) of $2.289 billion.
In 1914 Britain had by far the largest and most efficient financial
system in the world. Roger Lloyd-Jones and M. J. Lewis argue:
To prosecute industrial war required the mobilisation of economic
resources for the mass production of weapons and munitions, which
necessarily entitled fundamental changes in the relationship between
the state (the procurer), business (the provider), labour (the key
productive input), and the military (the consumer). In this context,
the industrial battlefields of France and Flanders intertwined with
the home front that produced the materials to sustain a war over four
long and bloody years.
The two governments agreed that financially Britain would support the
weaker Allies and that France would take care of itself. In August
1914, Henry Pomeroy Davison, a Morgan partner, traveled to London and
made a deal with the
Bank of England
Bank of England to make J.P. Morgan & Co. the
sole underwriter of war bonds for Great Britain and France. The Bank
of England became a fiscal agent of J.P. Morgan & Co., and vice
versa. Over the course of the war, J.P. Morgan loaned about $1.5
billion (approximately $21 billion in today's dollars) to the Allies
to fight against the Germans.:63 Morgan also invested in the
suppliers of war equipment to Britain and France, thus profiting from
the financing and purchasing activities of the two European
Britain made heavy loans to Tsarist Russia; the Lenin government after
1920 refused to honor them, causing long-term issues.
Timeline of British diplomatic history
Timeline of British diplomatic history and
History of the United Kingdom during the First World War
British diplomacy during the war focused on new initiatives in
cooperation with the leading allies, promote propaganda efforts with
neutrals, and initiatives to undermine the German economy, especially
through a naval blockade. In 1915, an Allied conference began
operations in Paris to coordinate financial support for allies,
munitions productions, and rationing of raw materials to neutrals who
might otherwise reship them to Germany. Britain established a
blacklist, a shipping control commission and a ministry of
On 4 August, the King took Britain (and his Empire) into the Great
War. The reasons for declaring war were complex. The main reason was
that Britain was required by treaty to guarantee Belgium's neutrality.
German invasion of Belgium
German invasion of Belgium was, therefore, the casus belli. It
legitimized and galvanized popular and Liberal Party support for the
war. The Liberals, not the Conservatives, needed the moral outrage
over Belgium to justify going to war, while the Conservatives called
for intervention from the start of the crisis on the grounds of
realpolitik and the balance of power.
Strategic risk posed by German control of the Belgian and ultimately
French coast was considered unacceptable. German guarantees of
post-war behaviour were cast into doubt by her blasé treatment of
Belgian neutrality. However, the Treaty of London had not committed
Britain on her own to safeguard Belgium's neutrality. Moreover, naval
war planning demonstrated that Britain herself would have violated
Belgian neutrality by blockading her ports (to prevent imported goods
passing to Germany) in the event of war with Germany.
Rather Britain's relationship with her Entente partners, both France
and Russia, were equally significant factors. The Foreign Secretary
Edward Grey argued that the secret naval agreements with France
(although they had not been approved by the Cabinet) created a moral
obligation vis a vis Britain and France. What is more, in the event
that Britain abandoned its Entente friends, it was feared that if
Germany won the war, or the Entente won without British support, then,
either way, Britain would be left without any friends. This would have
left both Britain and her Empire vulnerable to attack.
British Foreign office mandarin
Eyre Crowe said:
"Should the war come, and England stand aside, one of two things must
happen. (a) Either Germany and Austria win, crush France and humiliate
Russia. What will be the position of a friendless England? (b) Or
France and Russia win. What would be their attitude towards England?
What about India and the Mediterranean?":544
Balfour Declaration: Palestine and Jewish home land
Main article: Balfour Declaration
The British and French decided that practically the entire Ottoman
Empire would be divided up among the winners, leaving only a small
slice for the Turks. In Asia, The French would get the northern half,
and the British would get the southern half. British Cabinet paid
special attention to the status of Palestine, looking at multiple
complex factors. The steady advance of British armies moving up from
Egypt indicated that Palestine and nearby areas would soon be under
Allied control, and it was best to announce plans before that
happened. In October 1915, Sir Henry McMahon, the British High
Commissioner in Egypt, promised
Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca
Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca the
Arab leader in Arabia, that Britain would support Arab national
ambitions in return for cooperation against the Turks. London
thought there so much new land would become available that what
Balfour called a "small notch" given to the Jews would not be a
problem. The Zionist movement was gaining strength in the Jewish
communities across Europe, including Britain and the United States.
Promising them a home land would galvanize their support. Different
Christian groups, especially Biblically-oriented Protestants, had an
intense interest in the Holy Land, and in the Biblical predictions
that indicated Christ could not return until the Jews regained their
promised land. Finally British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour
himself had a long-standing Concerned with pogroms against Jews in
Eastern Europe, and for years had been looking for ways to resettle
them outside Russia. He had many in-depth conversations with the
Zionist leader in Britain, Chaim Weitzman, and came up with a plan
that Lloyd George and the cabinet approved. In November 1917, Balfour
made a very short official announcement regarding Palestine. He
promised a "national home" for the Jewish people, And said nothing
would be done to prejudice the rights of the Arabs. He made no mention
of statehood. His statement read:
His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their
best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the
civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in
Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
President Wilson had known about the plan since March, but had been
noncommittal whether to support it. Finally London asked directly his
opinion and he secretly told House to tell them that he approved it.
Historian Frank W. Brecher says, Wilson's "deep Christian sentiment"
led him to seek "a direct governing role in the Near East in the name
of peace, democracy and, especially, Christianity." In 1922, Congress
officially endorsed Wilson's support through passage of the Lodge-Fish
League of Nations
League of Nations incorporated the Declaration
into the mandate over Palestine it awarded to Britain on 24 July
On the other hand, pro-Palestinian historians have argued that Wilson
and Congress ignored democratic values in favour of "biblical
romanticism" When they endorsed the Declaration. They point to a
pro-Zionist lobby, which was active at a time when the small number of
unorganized Arab Americans were not heard. Meanwhile, the U.S. State
Department opposed the endorsement fearing it would alienate
Arabs. In terms of British diplomacy, Danny Gutwein argues that
the Declaration was the victory of the "radical" faction in the
British government debating policy regarding the fate of the Ottoman
Empire. The radicals proposed to partition that Empire in order to
solidify Britain's control of the Middle East. The “reformist”
Blockade of Germany
Blockade of Germany
Blockade of Germany by the Royal Navy was a highly effective
technique to prevent Germans from importing food, raw materials, and
other supplies. It repeatedly violated neutral rights, and the United
States repeatedly objected. British diplomacy had to deal with that
crisis. The loophole in the blockade system was shipments to neutral
countries, such as the Netherlands and Sweden, which then sold the
supplies to Germany. To stop that the British closely monitor
shipments to neutral countries, declared almost all commodities were
contraband and would be seized, rationed imports to neutrals, and
searched neutral merchant ships Allied ports. They also blacklisted
American firms known to trade with Germany. The United States
protested but Wilson decided to tolerate Britain's policy.
By 1914 French foreign policy was based on an alliance with Russia,
and an informal understanding with Britain; both assumed that the main
threat was from Germany.
The crisis of 1914 was unexpected, and when Germany mobilized its
forces in response to Russian mobilization, France also had to
mobilize. Germany then invaded Belgium as part of its Schlieffen Plan
to win the war by encircling Paris. The plan failed and the war
settled into a very bloody deadlock on the Western Front with
practically no movement until 1918.
Britain took the lead in most diplomatic initiatives, but Paris was
consulted on all key points. The
Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916
with Britain called for breaking up the Ottoman Empire and dividing it
into spheres of French and British influence. France was to get
control of southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
French credit collapsed in 1916 and Britain began loaning large sums
to Paris. The J.P. Morgan & Co bank in New York assumed control of
French loans in the fall of 1916 and relinquished it to the U.S.
government when the U.S. entered the war in 1917.
France suffered very heavy losses, in terms of battle casualties,
financing, and destruction in the German-occupied areas. At the Paris
Peace Conference, 1919, vengeance against defeated Germany was the
main French theme, and Prime Minister Clemenceau was largely effective
against the moderating influences of the British and Americans. France
obtained large (but unspecified) reparations, regained Alsace-Lorraine
and obtained mandates to rule parts of former German colonies in
Historians agree on the poor quality of Russia'a top leadership. The
tsar made all the final decisions, but he repeatedly was given
conflicting advice and typically made the wrong choice. He set up a
deeply flawed organizational structure that was inadequate for the
high pressures and instant demands of wartime. Stevenson, for example,
points to the" disastrous consequences of deficient civil-military
liaison" where the civilians and generals were not in contact with
each other. The government was entirely unaware of its fatal
weaknesses and remained out of touch with public opinion; the foreign
minister had to warn the tsar that "unless he yielded to the popular
demand and unsheathed the sword on Serbia's behalf, he would run the
risk of revolution and the loss of his throne." The tsar yielded and
lost his throne anyway. Stevenson concludes:
Russian decision-making in July  was more truly a tragedy of
miscalculation...a policy of deterrence that failed to deter. Yet
[like Germany] it too rested on assumptions that war was possible
without domestic breakdown, and that it could be waged with a
reasonable prospect of success. Russia was more vulnerable to social
upheaval than any other Power. Its socialists were more estranged from
the existing order than those elsewhere in Europe, and a strike wave
among the industrial workforce reached a crescendo with the general
stoppage in St. Petersburg in July 1914.
Tsar Nicholas II spent much of his time at Army headquarters near the
front lines, where his proclivity to misjudge leadership qualities,
and misunderstand strategy, did the most damage. Meanwhile, morale
plunged on the home front, the soldiers lacked rifles and adequate
food, the economy was stretched to the limits and beyond, and strikes
became widespread. The tsar paid little attention. Tsarina Alexandra,
increasingly under the spell of Grigori Rasputin, inadvisedly passed
along his suggested names for senior appointments to the tsar. Thus in
January 1916 the tsar replaced Prime Minister
Ivan Goremykin with
Boris Stürmer. Foreign Minister
Sergey Sazonov was not a powerful
player. Historian Thomas Otte finds that, "Sazonov felt too insecure
to advance his positions against stronger men....He tended to yield
rather than to press home his own views.... At the critical stages of
the July crisis Sazonov was inconsistent and showed an uncertain grasp
of international realities. The tsar fired Sazonov in July 1916
and gave his ministry as an extra portfolio to Prime Minister
Stürmer. The French ambassador was aghast, depicting Stürmer as,
"worse than a mediocrity – a third rate intellect, mean spirit, low
character, doubtful honesty, no experience, and no idea of state
One of Russia's greatest challenges was motivating its highly diverse
population that often lacked loyalty to the tsar. One solution was to
avoid conscripting certain distrusted ethnic minorities. Another
was a heavy dose of propaganda—using cartoons and verbal
jokes—that ridiculed Kaiser Wilhelm II. The tactic backfired as
Russians turned it against their own tsar. The stories of
miseries, defeats and incompetence told by recruits on leave home gave
a more powerful and negative narrative to every village; local
anti-draft riots became common. Britain and France tried to meet
Russia's problems with money and munitions, but the long supply line
was so tenuous that Russian soldiers were very poorly equipped in
comparison with their opponents in battle.
Meanwhile, Berlin, aware of the near-revolutionary unrest in Russia in
the previous decade, launched its own propaganda war. The Foreign
Ministry disseminated fake news reports that had the desired effect of
demoralizing Russian soldiers. Berlin's most successful tactic was
to support far-left Russian revolutionaries dedicated to attacking and
overthrowing the tsar. The German foreign ministry provided over 50
million gold marks to the Bolsheviks, and in 1917 secretly transported
Lenin and his top aides from their exile in Switzerland across Germany
to Russia. Later that year they overthrew the liberal regime and began
their march to control all of Russia. The Bolsheviks
concentrated much of their propaganda on POWs from the German and
Austrian armies. When Russia left the war in 1917 these prisoners
returned home and many carried back support for revolutionary ideas
that quickly swayed their comrades.
When the tsarist regime collapsed internally in February 1917, it was
succeeded for eight months by the Provisional Government, a liberal
regime headed by Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky. Pavel Milyukov,
leader of the moderate KADET party, became Foreign Minister. Many
ambassadors and senior aides were tsarist appointees who resigned, so
that the Foreign Ministry could barely function. Kerensky and Milyukov
wanted to continue the tsarist foreign policy especially regarding the
war. They still hoped to gain control of The Straits around
Constantinople. The British wanted to support Russian morale, while
distrusting the depth of its popular support and capabilities. After
long discussions the British settled on a cautious policy which was,
"to give the impression of support for the Provisional Government,
while at the same time delaying actual support in the form of
munitions until the British needs were met and real evidence of
Russian intention to prosecute the war actively was forthcoming."
The Provisional Government, even after giving Kerensky dictatorial
powers, failed to meet the challenges of war weariness, growing
discontent among peasants and workers, and intrigues by the
Bolsheviks. Public opinion, especially in the Army, had turned against
the sacrifices for a hopeless war. The Bolsheviks proposed a
revolutionary foreign policy that would immediately end the war and
promote revolution across Europe.
Bolshevik versus White
Main article: Russian Civil War
After Lenin and his Bolsheviks overthrew the Kerensky regime in the
"October Revolution" of 1917 (it was November by the Western calendar)
Russia plunged into civil war, pitting the Bolsheviks against a series
of "White" opponents led by tsarist generals. Finland,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland successfully broke away and
became independent countries. Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and
Azerbaijan tried to do the same but were later retaken by the
Bolsheviks. Lloyd George and French general Ferdinand Foch briefly
considered an alliance with the Bolsheviks against Germany. Instead
the Allies intervened militarily to guard against a German takeover,
and in practice to help the counter-revolutionaries. interventionist
forces arrived from Britain, the United States, Japan, as well as
France, Estonia, Poland, and Finland. The Bolsheviks proved
successful, and after defeating them all by 1920 consolidated its hold
on what became the
Soviet Union (USSR). Lenin moved the national
capital to Moscow. Diplomatically the new country was an unrecognized
pariah state; only the Danish Red Cross would talk to them officially.
Moscow was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. It was
deeply distrusted because of its support for revolutionary movements
across Europe. However, only the communist revolution in
successful, and then only for a few months. However, after the failure
of sponsored uprisings, Lenin took a more peaceful approach and one by
one set up trade relations and after that diplomatic relations with
the powers, starting with Britain and Germany in 1921. The United
States was the last to act, with official recognition in 1933.
Main article: Belgium in World War I
German invasion of Belgium
German invasion of Belgium in 1914 was the major factor
in causing British entry into the war, the government of Belgium
itself played a small role in diplomatic affairs. Its main role
came as a recipient of relief from neutral countries, and its use by
the Allies is a propaganda weapon against the Germans, and their
emphasis on the atrocities involved in the Rape of Belgium. On 2
August 1914, the German government demanded that German armies be
given free passage through Belgian territory. This was refused by the
Belgian government on 3 August. King Albert I addressed his
Parliament on 4 August, saying "Never since 1830 has a graver hour
sounded for Belgium. The strength of our right and the need of Europe
for our autonomous existence make us still hope that the dreaded
events will not occur." The same day German troops Invaded the
dawn. Almost all of Belgium was occupied for the entire war, with the
exception of a sliver in the far west, which was under the control of
the Belgian Army. The government itself was relocated to the city of
Sainte-Adresse in France; it still controlled the
Belgian Congo in
Africa. Belgium officially continued to fight the Germans, but the
amount of combat was nominal. Belgium never joined the Allies.
However, its foreign minister
Paul Hymans was successful in securing
promises from the allies that amounted to co-belligerency. Britain,
France and Russia pledged in the "Declaration of Sainte-Adresse" in
February 1916 that Belgian would be included in the peace
negotiations, its independence would be restored, and that it would
receive a monetary compensation for Germany for the damages. At the
Paris peace conference in 1919, Belgium officially ended its historic
neutral status, and became first in line to receive reparations
payments from Germany. However, it received only a small bit of German
territory, and was rejected in its demands for all of Luxembourg and
part of the Netherlands. It was given colonial mandates over the
German colonies of Rwanda and Burundi. Hymans became the leading
spokesman for the small countries at Paris, and became president of
the first assembly of the new League of Nations. When war began in
1914, Hymans met with President Wilson in Washington and got major
promises of relief and food support. Relief was directed primarily by
Herbert Hoover and involved several agencies: Commission
for Relief in Belgium, American Relief Administration, and Comité
National de Secours et d'Alimentation.
Taishō period and Japan during World War I
Japan joined the Allies, seized German holdings in China and in the
Pacific islands, cut deals with Russia and put heavy pressure on China
in order to expand. In 1915 it secretly made the Twenty-One
Demands on the new and fragile Republic of China. The demands included
control over former German holdings,
Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, as
well as joint ownership of a major mining and metallurgical complex in
central China, prohibitions on China's ceding or leasing any coastal
areas to a third power, and other political, economic and military
controls. The result was intended to reduce China to a Japanese
protectorate. In the face of slow negotiations with the Chinese
government, widespread anti-Japanese sentiment in China and
international condemnation, Japan was obliged to withdraw the final
group of demands when treaties were signed in May 1915.
Japan's hegemony in northern China was facilitated through other
international agreements. One with Russia in 1916 helped to further
secure Japan's influence in
Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. Agreements
with France, Britain, and the United States in 1917 recognized Japan's
new territorial gains. Japanese loans to China tied it even closer.
Bolshevik takeover Russia in late 1917 the Japanese army
moved to occupy Russian Siberia as far west as Lake Baikal. After
getting China to allow transit rights, more than 70,000 Japanese
troops joined the much smaller units of the Allied expeditionary force
sent to Siberia in July 1918 as part of the Allied intervention in the
Russian Civil War.
China was neutral at the start of the war, but that left her in a weak
position as Japanese and British military forces in 1914 liquidated
Germany's holdings in China. Japan occupied the German military
colony in Qingdao, and occupied portions of
Shandong Province. China
was financially chaotic, highly unstable politically, and militarily
very weak. Its best hope was to attend the postwar peace conference,
and hope to find friends would help block the threats of Japanese
expansion. China declared war on Germany in August 1917 as a
technicality to make it eligible to attend the postwar peace
conference. They considered sending a token combat unit to the Western
Front, but never did so. British diplomats were afraid that
the U.S. and Japan would displace Britain's leadership role in the
Chinese economy. Britain sought to play Japan and the United States
against each other, while at the same time maintaining cooperation
among all three nations against Germany.
In January 1915, Japan secretly issued an ultimatum of Twenty-One
Demands to the Chinese government. They included Japanese control of
former German rights, 99 year leases in southern Manchuria, an
interest in steel mills, and concessions regarding railways. China did
have a seat at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. However it was
refused a return of the former German concessions and China had to
accept the Twenty-One demands, although they had been softened
somewhat because of pressure from the United States on Japan. A major
reaction to this humiliation was a surge in Chinese nationalism
expressed in the May Fourth Movement.
King Ferdinand (right) defies the German Kaiser in this British
World War I
World War I and Union of Transylvania
Romania, a small rural Orthodox nation of 7,500,000 people in 54,000
square miles of territory, was neutral for the first two years of the
war. It had the only oil fields in Europe, and Germany eagerly bought
its petroleum, as well as food exports. King Carol favored Germany but
after his death in 1914, King Ferdinand and the nation's political
elite favored the Entente. For Romania, the highest priority was
Transylvania from Hungary, thus adding ca. 5,200,000 people,
54% (according to 1910 census) or 57% (according to the 1919 and 1920
censuses) of them Romanians. The Allies wanted
Romania to join its
side in order to cut the rail communications between Germany and
Turkey, and to cut off Germany's oil supplies. Britain made loans,
France sent a military training mission, and Russia promised modern
munitions. The Allies promised at least 200,000 soldiers to defend
Romania against Bulgaria to the south, and help it invade Austria. In
Romania entered the war on the Allied side. The Romanian
army was poorly trained, badly equipped and inadequately officered.
Romania did invade Austria-Hungary, but was soon thrown back, and
faced a second front when Bulgarian troops, supported by German and
Ottoman forces, invaded in Dobruja. By the end of 1916, two thirds of
the country (including the capital Bucharest) were occupied by the
Central Powers and only Moldavia remained free. The Allied promises
proved illusory, and when Romanian oilfields were threatened, the
British destroyed the Ploiești oilfields to keep them out of German
hands. On July 22, 1917, the Romanians launched a joint offensive with
Russia against the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army, around Mărăști and
the lower part of the Siret river, which resulted in the Battle of
Mărăști. Although there was some initial success, a
counter-offensive by the
Central Powers in Galicia stopped the
Romanian-Russian offensive. The subsequent German and
Austrian-Hungarian push to knock
Romania out of the war was stopped at
Mărășești and Oituz by the Romanian and Russian forces. When
Russia collapsed in late 1917, the Romanian cause was hopeless, and
Romania had no choice but to conclude the
Armistice of Focșani on 9
December 1917 and in May 1918 the Treaty of Bucharest. It demobilized
its surviving soldiers; nearly half the 750,000 men (335,706) it
had recruited were dead, and the economy was ruined. On 10 November
1918, as the
Central Powers were all surrendering,
again the Allied side. On 28 November 1918, the Romanian
representatives of Bukovina voted for union with the Kingdom of
Romania, followed by the proclamation of a Union of
Romania on 1 December 1918 by the representatives of Transylvanian
Romanians gathered at Alba Iulia, while the representatives of the
Transylvanian Saxons approved the act on 15 December at an assembly in
Mediaș. A similar gathering was held by the minority Hungarians in
Cluj, on 22 December, to reaffirm their allegiance to Hungary. The
Romanian control of Transylvania, which had also a minority
Hungarian-speaking population of 1,662,000 (31.6%, according to the
census data of 1910), was widely resented in the new nation state of
Hungary. This started the
Hungarian-Romanian War of 1919
Hungarian-Romanian War of 1919 between
Romania and the Hungarian Soviet Republic, which also waged parallel
Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and
Slovenes. The conflict with
Romania ended with a partial Romanian
occupation of Hungary.
Main article: Greece during World War I
The Greek government was neutral, with King Constantine I favoring
Germany, and the government favoring the Allies. In 1915 Prime
Eleftherios Venizelos negotiated with the Allies, offering
soldiers and especially a geographical launching point for attacks on
the Straits. Greece itself wanted control of Constantinople. Russia
vetoed the Greek proposal, because its main war goal was to control
the Straits, and take control of Constantinople. In 1915, the British
and French agreed to the Russian demands. Venizelos invited a
joint Franco-British (and later also Russian) expeditionary force,
formed in part by withdrawals from Gallipoli, transforming Salonika
into an Allied military base. Forces began to arrive on 3 October
1915. In the early summer of 1916, the Athens government under King
Constantine handed over
Fort Rupel to the Germans, believing it a
neutral act, though claimed as a betrayal by the Venizelists.
Nonetheless, the Allies still tried to swing the official Athens
government to their side. From their positions in Greece, Allied
forces fought the war from Greek territory, engaging Bulgarian forces
when they invaded Greece in August 1916 in the Battle of Struma. There
was little movement on the front until the spring of 1918 and the
Greek victory at the Battle of Skra-di-Legen, followed by the Allied
offensive in autumn 1918 that broke German, Austro-Hungarian and
Greece's brief role in the war was beneficial for the country in
securing new territorial expansion (
Western Thrace and Smyrna), but it
caused political and social turmoil that tore Greece into two hostile
political camps, known as the "National Schism".
American entry in 1917
Main articles: American entry into
World War I
World War I and Presidency of
American entry into the war came in April 1917, after 2 1/2 years of
efforts by President
Woodrow Wilson to keep the United States neutral.
Americans had no inkling that a war was approaching in 1914. Over
100,000 were caught unaware when the wars started when stuck, having
traveled to Europe for tourism, business or to visit relatives. Their
repatriation was handled by Herbert Hoover, an American private
citizen based in London. The U.S. government, under the firm control
of President Wilson, was neutral. The president insisted that all
government actions be neutral, and that the belligerents must respect
that neutrality according to the norms of international law. Wilson
told the Senate in August 1914 when the war began that the United
States, "must be impartial in thought as well as in action, must put a
curb upon our sentiments as well as upon every transaction that might
be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before
another." He was ambiguous whether he meant the United States as a
nation or meant all Americans as individuals. Wilson has been
accused of violating his own rule of neutrality. Later that month he
explained himself privately to his top foreign policy advisor Colonel
House, who recalled the episode later:
I was interested to hear him express as his opinion what I had written
him some time ago in one of my letters, to the effect that if Germany
won it would change the course of our civilization and make the United
States a military nation. He also spoke of his deep regret, as indeed
I did to him in that same letter, that it would check his policy for a
better international ethical code. He felt deeply the destruction of
Louvain [in Belgium], and I found him as unsympathetic with the German
attitude as is the balance of America. He goes even further than I in
his condemnation of Germany's part in this war, and almost allows his
feeling to include the German people as a whole rather than the
leaders alone. He said German philosophy was essentially selfish and
lacking in spirituality. When I spoke of the Kaiser building up the
German machine as a means of maintaining peace, he said, "What a
foolish thing it was to create a powder magazine and risk someone's
dropping a spark into it!" He thought the war would throw the world
back three or four centuries. I did not agree with him. He was
particularly scornful of Germany’s disregard of treaty obligations,
and was indignant at the German Chancellor’s designation of the
Belgian Treaty as being "only a scrap of paper"....But although the
personal feeling of the President was with the Allies, he insisted
then and for many months after, that this ought not to affect his
political attitude, which he intended should be one of strict
neutrality. He felt that he owed it to the world to prevent the
spreading of the conflagration, that he owed it to the country to save
it from the horrors of war.
Apart from an Anglophile element supporting Britain, public opinion in
1914-1916 strongly favored neutrality. Wilson kept the economy on a
peacetime basis, and made no preparations or plans for the war. He
insisted on keeping the army and navy on its small peacetime bases.
Indeed, Washington refused even to study the lessons of military or
economic mobilization that had been learned so painfully across the
The most important indirect strategy used by the belligerents was the
blockade: starve the enemy of food and the military machine will be
crippled and perhaps the civilians will demand an end to the war. The
Royal Navy successfully stopped the shipment of most war supplies and
food to Germany. Neutral American ships that tried to trade with
Germany (which international law clearly allowed), were seized or
turned back. The strangulation came about very slowly, because Germany
and its allies controlled extensive farmlands and raw materials, but
it eventually worked because Germany and Austria took so many farmers
into their armies. By 1918 the German cities were on the verge of
starvation; the front-line soldiers were on short rations and were
running out of essential supplies. The Allied blockade had done its
job. Germany responded with its own submarine-based blockade of
Britain. When the large passenger liner
Lusitania was sunk in 1915
with the loss of over 100 American lives, Wilson made clear the
lies in the practical impossibility of employing submarines in the
destruction of commerce without disregarding those rules of fairness,
reason, justice, and humanity, which all modern opinion regards as
Lusitania sinking was the event that decisively swung American
opinion; do it again and would be grounds for a declaration of war by
the United States. The British frequently violated America's neutral
rights by seizing ships, but they did not drown anyone. Berlin
acquiesced, ordering its submarines to avoid passenger ships. But by
January 1917 Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that unrestricted
submarine attacks on all American ships headed to Britain blockade was
the only way it could win the war. They knew that meant war with the
United States, but they gambled that they could win before America's
potential strength could be mobilized. They vastly exaggerated how
many ships they could sink and how much that would weaken Britain;
they did not figure out that convoys would defeat their efforts. They
were correct in seeing that the United States was so weak militarily
that it could not be a factor on the Western Front for more than a
year. The civilian government in Berlin objected to the plan, but the
Kaiser sided with the military; the civlian government in Berlin was
not in charge.
Wilson, as he made clear in his
Fourteen Points of January 1918,
believed that peace would never come to a world that contained
aggressive, powerful, non-democratic militaristic states. Peace
required a world based on free democracies. There was never a
possibility for compromise between these polar situations. America had
to fight for democracy, or it would be fighting perpetually against
ever-stronger evil enemies (stronger because they would gobble up weak
neighbors whenever they could.)
Ethnic groups in the United States became involved on both sides,
putting pressure on the Wilson administration to either be neutral, or
to give greater support to the Allies. Jewish Americans were hostile
to Russia, but when the tsarist regime fell in February 1916, their
objection to supporting the Allies fell away. When the British issued
Balfour Declaration in late 1917, which Wilson supported, Jewish
support for the Allied cause surged. Irish Catholics were very hostile
to supporting Great Britain, but Wilson neutralized that problem by
seeming to promise the issue of Irish independence would be on his
agenda after the war. He did not fulfill that promise, however,
leading to furious outrage among Irish Catholics, who played a
powerful role in the Democratic Party in most large cities. In 1919
they opposed the League of Nations, and in 1920 they gave lukewarm
support to the Democratic presidential ticket. German American
ethnics strongly supported neutrality; very few spoke out on behalf of
Germany itself. When the United States declared war, they went silent
and were closely monitored for possible disloyalty. There was no
actual disloyalty, but the political voice of the German-American
community was greatly diminished. Scandinavians generally favored
neutrality, but like the Germans they had few spokesmen in Congress or
By 1916 a new factor was emerging—a sense of national self-interest
and nationalism. The unbelievable casualty figures were sobering—two
vast battles caused over one million casualties each. Clearly this war
would be a decisive episode in the history of the world. Every
American effort to find a peaceful solution was frustrated. Henry Ford
managed to make pacifism look ridiculous by sponsoring a private peace
mission that accomplished nothing. German agents added a comic opera
touch. The agent in charge of propaganda left his briefcase on the
train, where an alert Secret Service agent snatched it up. Wilson let
the newspapers publish the contents, which indicated a systematic
effort by Berlin to subsidize friendly newspapers and block British
purchases of war materials. Berlin's top espionage agent, debonair
Fanz Rintelen von Kleist was spending millions to finance sabotage in
Canada, stir up trouble between the US and Mexico and to incite labor
strikes. The British were engaged in propaganda too, though not
illegal espionage. But they did not get caught; Germany took the blame
as Americans grew ever more worried about the vulnerability of a free
society to subversion. Indeed, one of the main fears Americans of all
stations had in 1916-1919 was that spies and saboteurs were
everywhere. This sentiment played a major role in arousing fear of
Germany, and suspicions regarding everyone of German descent who could
not "prove" 100% loyalty. Americans felt an increasing need for a
military that could command respect; as one editor put it, "The best
thing about a large army and a strong navy is that they make it so
much easier to say just what we want to say in our diplomatic
correspondence." Berlin thus far had backed down and apologized when
Washington was angry, thus boosting American self- confidence.
America's rights and America's honor increasingly came into focus. The
slogan "Peace" gave way to "Peace with Honor." The Army remained
unpopular, however. A recruiter in Indianapolis noted that, "The
people here do not take the right attitude towards army life as a
career, and if a man joins from here he often tries to go out on the
quiet." The Preparedness movement used its easy access to the mass
media to demonstrate that the War Department had no plans, no
equipment, little training, no reserves, a laughable National Guard,
and a wholly inadequate organization for war. Motion pictures like
"The Birth of a Nation" (1915) and "The Battle Cry of Peace" (1915)
depicted invasions of the American homeland that demanded action.
Decision for war
The story of American entry into the war is a study in how public
opinion changed radically in three years' time. In 1914 Americans
thought the war was a dreadful mistake and were determined to stay
out. By 1917 the same public felt just as strongly
that going to war was both necessary and wise.
Military leaders had little to say during this debate, and military
considerations were seldom raised. The decisive
questions dealt with morality and visions of the future. The
prevailing attitude was that America possessed a superior moral
position as the only great nation devoted to the principles of freedom
and democracy. By staying aloof from the squabbles of reactionary
empires, it could preserve those ideals—sooner or later the rest of
the world would come to appreciate and adopt them. In 1917 this very
long-run program faced the severe danger that in the short run
powerful forces adverse to democracy and freedom would triumph. Strong
support for moralism came from religious leaders, women (led by Jane
Addams), and from public figures like long-time Democratic leader
William Jennings Bryan, the Secretary of State from 1913 to 1916. The
most important moralist of all was President Woodrow Wilson—the man
who dominated decision making so totally that the war has been
correctly labelled "Wilson's War."
In 1917 Wilson, a Democrat, proved his political genius by winning the
support of most of the moralists by proclaiming "a war to make the
world safe for democracy." If they truly believed in their ideals, he
explained, now was the time to fight. The question then became whether
Americans would fight for what they deeply believed in, and the answer
turned out to be a resounding "YES".
In early 1917 Berlin forced the issue. The decision to try to sink
every ship on the high seas was the immediate cause of American entry
into the war. Five American merchant ships went down in March. If
further evidence were needed, the German foreign minister, Arthur
Zimmerman, approached Mexico for an alliance; Mexico would join
Germany in a war and be rewarded with the return of lost territories
in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Outraged public opinion now
overwhelmingly supported Wilson when he asked Congress for a
declaration of war on April 2, 1917. The United States had a moral
responsibility to enter the war, he proclaimed, to make the world safe
for democracy. The future of the world was being determined on the
battlefield, and American national interest demanded a voice. Wilson's
definition of the situation won wide acclaim, and, indeed, has shaped
America's role in world and military affairs ever since. Wilson saw
that if Germany would win, the consequences would be bad for the
United States. Germany would dominate Europe, which in turn controlled
much of the world through colonies. The solution was "peace without
victory" Wilson said. He meant a peace shaped by the United States
along the lines of what in 1918 became Wilson's Fourteen Points.
A timeline of events on the Eastern and Middle-Eastern theatres of
World War I
The United States was an affiliated partner—an "ally" in practice
but not in name. The U.S. has no treaty with the Allies, but did have
high level contacts. Wilson assigned
Colonel House the central role in
working with British officials. As soon as the US declared war Britain
sent the high-level Balfour Mission, April–May, 1917. France sent a
separate mission at the same time. Both missions were eager was to
publicize the Allied cause and work on plans for wartime cooperation.
Balfour met with Wilson and
Colonel House to review the secret
treaties which bound Britain and France to Italy and others. Members
of the delegations met with many senior leaders in the national
government, finance, industry and politics, to explain the British
positions. Other meetings dealt with the supply of munitions and other
exports, and the proposed Balfour Declaration. Britain asked for naval
help against the submarine menace, but realizing the small size of the
American army, did not ask for soldiers.
While the Western Front was static, the fighting on the Eastern Front
moved back and forth over hundreds of miles. There were decisive wins
and defeats, led off by the military collapse of Russia after the
failure of the
Brusilov Offensive in 1916, and the political collapse
in 1917. There were decisive victories against the Russian army,
starting in 1914 the trapping and defeat of large parts of the Russian
contingent at the Battle of Tannenberg, followed by huge Austrian and
German successes. The breakdown of Russian forces – exacerbated by
internal turmoil caused by the 1917
Russian Revolution – led to the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the Bolsheviks were forced to sign on 3 March
1918 as Russia withdrew from the war. It gave Germany control of
Russia surrenders: the Treaty of Brest Litovsk
Main article: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on 3 March 1918 between the new
Bolshevik government of Soviet Russia and the Central Powers.
Historian Spencer Tucker says, "The German General Staff had
formulated extraordinarily harsh terms that shocked even the German
Russia gave up all claims on Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and
Lithuania. Poland was not mentioned but it was taken over by Germany.
A slice of territory was ceded to Turkey. Russia agreed to pay six
billion German gold marks in reparations.
The treaty gave Germany multiple gains. Most important, it allowed the
main forces in the East to the move to the Western front, where they
outnumbered the Allies, since the Americans had not yet arrived in
strength. Second and achieve the German war aims of controlling most
of Eastern Europe. Third it supposedly solved the desperate German
food shortages, since Ukraine was the bread basket of Russia. As for
Russia, the new
Bolshevik government desperately needed to end the war
with Germany to concentrate on its multiple civil wars trying to
overthrow the new regime from the right.
However Ukraine was so poorly organized that very little of the
promised food was actually delivered to Germany. With Russia out of
the war, the diplomatic constraints it imposes on the Allied war
effort ended. That is, the promises made to Russia in 1914 were. The
Treaty proved to the Allies that there could be no negotiated peace
with Germany and that fighting would have to continue until it
surrendered. The treaty became a nullity when Germany signed the
Armistice in November 1918, which was effectively its surrender to the
Allies. When Germany later complained that the Treaty of
Versailles of 1919 was too harsh on them, the Allies responded that it
was more benign than Brest-Litovsk.
Subversion of enemy states
Further information: History of propaganda § Germany
At the start of the war, Germany expanded its unofficial propaganda
machinery, establishing the Central Office for Foreign Services, which
among other duties was tasked with propaganda distribution to neutral
nations, persuading them to either side with Germany or to maintain
their stance of neutrality. After the declaration of war, Britain
immediately cut the undersea telegraph cables that connected Germany
to the outside world, thereby cutting off a major propaganda outlet.
The Germans relied instead on the powerful wireless Nauen Transmitter
Station to broadcast pro-German news reports to the world. Among other
techniques used to keep up the morale of the troops, mobile cinemas
were regularly dispatched to the front line for the entertainment of
the troops. Newsreels would portray current events with a pro-German
slant. German propaganda techniques heavily relied on emphasising the
mythological and martial nature of the Germanic 'Volk' and the
inevitability of its triumph.
In December 1917 the German Foreign Minister Richard von Kühlmann
explained the main goals of his diplomacy was now to subvert enemy
states and make peace with breakaway states and thus undermine the
political unity of the Entente:
The disruption of the Entente and the subsequent creation of political
combinations agreeable to us constitute the most important war aim of
our diplomacy. Russia appeared to be the weakest link in the enemy
chain. The task therefore was gradually to loosen it, and, when
possible, to remove it. This was the purpose of the subversive
activity we caused to be carried out in Russia behind the front--in
the first place promotion of separatist tendencies and support of the
Bolsheviks. It was not until the Bolsheviks had received from us a
steady flow of funds through various channels and under different
labels that they were in a position to be able to build up their main
organ, Pravda, to conduct energetic propaganda and appreciably to
extend the originally narrow basis of their party. The Bolsheviks have
now come to power; how long they will retain power cannot be yet
foreseen. They need peace in order to strengthen their own position;
on the other hand it is entirely in our interest that we should
exploit the period while they are in power, which may be a short one,
in order to attain firstly an armistice and then, if possible,
Historian Ron Carden says that Foreign Ministry's propaganda in Spain
used diplomats and subsidies to networks of businessmen and
influential Spaniards. The goal was to convince Spain to remain
neutral, which it did.
Austria-Hungary § World War I
The Austro-Hungarian Empire played a relatively passive diplomatic
role in the war, as it was increasingly dominated and controlled by
Germany. The only goal was to punish Serbia and try to stop
the ethnic breakup of the Empire, and it completely failed. Instead as
the war went on the ethnic unity declined; the Allies encouraged
breakaway demands from minorities and the Empire faced disintegration.
Starting in late 1916 the new Emperor Karl removed the pro-German
officials and opened peace overtures to the Allies, whereby the entire
war could be ended by compromise, or perhaps Austria would make a
separate peace from Germany. The main effort was vetoed by Italy,
which had been promised large slices of Austria for joining the Allies
in 1915. Austria was only willing to turn over the Trentino region but
nothing more. Karl was seen as a defeatist, which weakened his
standing at home and with both the Allies and Germany.
As the Imperial economy collapsed into severe hardship and even
starvation, its multi-ethnic Army lost its morale and was increasingly
hard pressed to hold its line. In the capital cities of Vienna and
Budapest, the leftist and liberal movements and opposition parties
strengthened and supported the separatism of ethnic minorities. As it
became apparent that the Allies would win the war, nationalist
movements, which had previously been calling for a greater degree of
autonomy for their majority areas, started demanding full
independence. The Emperor had lost much of his power to rule, as his
By summer 1918, "Green Cadres" of army deserters formed armed bands in
the hills of Croatia-Slavonia and civil authority disintegrated. By
late October violence and massive looting erupted and there were
efforts to form peasant republics. However The Croatian political
leadership was focused on creating a new state (Yugoslavia) and worked
with the advancing Serbian army to impose control and end the
Alexander Watson argues that, "The Habsburg regime's doom was sealed
when Wilson's response to the note sent two and a half weeks earlier
arrived on 20 October." Wilson rejected the continuation of the dual
monarchy as a negotiable possibility. As one of his Fourteen
Woodrow Wilson demanded that "The peoples of
Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see
safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to
autonomous development." In response, Emperor Karl I agreed to
reconvene the Imperial Parliament in 1917 and allow the creation of a
confederation with each national group exercising self-governance.
However the leaders of these national groups rejected the idea; they
deeply distrusted Vienna and were now determined to get
The revolt of ethnic Czech units in Austria in May 1918 was brutally
suppressed. It was punished as mutiny.
On 14 October 1918, Foreign Minister Baron
István Burián von Rajecz
asked for an armistice based on the Fourteen Points. In an appare nt
attempt to demonstrate good faith, Emperor Karl issued a proclamation
("Imperial Manifesto of 16 October 1918") two days later which would
have significantly altered the structure of the Austrian half of the
monarchy. The Polish majority regions of Galicia and
Lodomeria were to
be granted the option of seceding from the empire, and it was
understood that they would join their ethnic brethren in Russia and
Germany in resurrecting a Polish state. The rest of
to be transformed into a federal union composed of four
parts—German, Czech, South Slav and Ukrainian. Each of these was to
be governed by a national council that would negotiate the future of
the empire with Vienna and
Trieste was to receive a special status. No
such proclamation could be issued in Hungary, where Hungarian
aristocrats still believed they could subdue other nationalities and
maintain their rule.
Karl's proposal was a dead letter when on 18 October U.S. Secretary of
Robert Lansing replied that the Allies were now committed to the
causes of the Czechs, Slovaks and South Slavs. Therefore, Lansing
said, autonomy for the nationalities was no longer enough. Karl's last
Hungarian prime minister, Mihály Károlyi, terminated the personal
union with Austria on 31 October, officially dissolving the
Austro-Hungarian state. By the end of October, there was nothing left
of the Habsburg realm but its majority-German Danubian and Alpine
provinces, and Karl's authority was being challenged even there by the
German-Austrian state council.
Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
Defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and
History of the Ottoman Empire during World War I
A German postcard depicts the
Ottoman Navy early in the war, The
portrait shows Sultan Mehmed V.
The Ottoman Empire in 1914 had a population of about 25 million
including 14 million Turks and large numbers of Arabs Armenians and
Greeks and other minorities. It had lost almost all of its holdings in
Europe and North Africa in a series of wars, most recently in 1912.
The economy was heavily traditional, but with a strong German
influence in terms of modernization, especially building railways. In
1914 the Ottoman government in
Constantinople took the initiative in
supporting the Central Powers. see
Ottoman–German alliance Its Army
already was under German guidance, especially by General Otto Liman
von Sanders. The British expected the alliance with Germany and seized
two dreadnoughts under construction that had been paid for by the
Ottomans. Negotiations with the Allies went nowhere after the Turks
demanded very large concessions. Instead a secret alliance was made
with Germany in early August, with promises of regaining territory
lost to Russia, Greece and Serbia in earlier wars. in the Pursuit of
Goeben and Breslau two German battle cruisers fled to Constantinople
for safety at the start of the war. Despite their German crews, they
were officially enrolled in the Turkish Navy and followed the Sultan's
orders. They attacked Russian ports on the Black Sea in October; that
led in a few days to mutual declarations of war.
Erich Ludendorff stated in his memoirs that he believed
the entry of the Turks into the war allowed the outnumbered Central
powers to fight on for two years longer than they would have been able
on their own, a view shared by historian Ian F.W. Beckett.
The Turks fought the war on multiple fronts: against Russia on the
Black Sea and eastern Turkey and the Russian Caucasus; against Britain
in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Sinai and Palestine in 1917; and against the
combined Allies at Gallipoli, near the approaches to Constantinople.
Their great victory was at Gallipoli. Troop movements were extremely
difficult because of the heavy inadequate and uncompleted railway
The British engaged in secret peace talks with Ottoman representatives
in Switzerland in 1917-1918, on the basis of autonomy for the
non-Turkish areas. The Turkish leadership was internally divided and
could not agree on any peace terms. The British wanted to wait until
they conquered more Ottoman territory. No agreement was reached.
Arab Revolt which began in 1916 turned the tide against the
Ottomans on the Middle Eastern front, where they initially seemed to
have the upper hand during the first two years of the war. The
Armistice of Mudros
Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October 1918, and set the
partition of the Ottoman Empire under the terms of the Treaty of
Sèvres. This treaty, as designed in the conference of London, allowed
the Sultan to retain his position and title. The occupation of
Constantinople and İzmir led to the establishment of a Turkish
national movement, which won the Turkish War of Independence
(1919–22) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (later given the
surname "Atatürk"). The sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922,
and the last sultan,
Mehmed VI (reigned 1918–22), left the country
on 17 November 1922. The caliphate was abolished on 3 March 1924.
Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman government's systematic
extermination of its Armenian subjects. The number of dead reached
perhaps 1.5 million.
Main article: Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide was the deliberate decision of Ottoman officials
to remove Armenians from Easter Turkey, in a way that killed upwards
of a million or more fleeing civilians. In 1915, as the
Russian Caucasus Army continued to advance into its eastern provinces
the Ottoman government started the deportation of its ethnic Armenian
population. The genocide was implemented in two phases: the wholesale
killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and
subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the
deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death
marches to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the
deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic
robbery, rape, and massacre. The diplomatic dimension considered
here was the diplomatic response of Allied powers. Ottoman officials
denied any massacre, and their German allies helped cover for them.
Allied governments tried diplomacy to stop the genocide but were
On 24 May 1915 the Allies issued a joint public denunciation of the
“mass murders” of the Armenians, denouncing a new "crime against
humanity and civilization," for which all guilty parties would be held
personally responsible after the war. The victors brought the matter
to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. It did not follow-up. The
new Ottoman government did put some high officials on trial, punishing
some—and executed a few. They condemned to death in absentia the top
leaders, but these men had fled and were in hiding. However, Armenians
did track down the interior minister
Talaat Pasha and assassinated him
in 1921 in Berlin. The
Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 gave amnesty to the
rest of the perpetrators. The United States never declared war on
Turkey, and did not join the condemnation of crimes against humanity,
despite the urgent pleadings of the American ambassador to
Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau Sr..
Main article: Bulgaria during World War I
Further information: Bulgaria–Germany treaty (1915),
Ottoman–Bulgarian alliance, and Bulgarian–Ottoman convention
A German postcard welcoming the entry of Bulgaria into the war and
showing Bulgaria's Tsar Ferdinand.
In the aftermath of its defeat and territorial losses in the Balkan
Wars Bulgaria felt betrayed and turned against its former ally Russia.
Bulgaria in 1914-15 was neutral. In 1915 Germany and Austria realized
they needed Bulgaria's help in order to defeat Serbia militarily
thereby opening supply lines from Germany to Turkey and bolstering the
Eastern Front against Russia. In return for war, Bulgaria insisted on
major territorial gains, especially Macedonia, which Austria was
reluctant to grant until Berlin insisted. Bulgaria also negotiated
with the Allies, who offered less generous terms. In 1915 the
government of liberal prime minister
Vasil Radoslavov therefore
aligned Bulgaria with the
Central Powers even though this meant
becoming an ally of the Ottomans, Bulgaria's traditional political and
religious enemy. While Bulgaria now had no land claims against the
Ottomans, it resented Serbia, Greece and
Romania (allies of Britain
and France) for seizing lands the Bulgarians decided belonged to them.
Bulgaria signed an alliance with Germany and Austria in September 1915
that envisioned that Bulgaria would dominate the Balkans after victory
in the war.
Although the Bulgarian army was militarily successful in 1915-1917,
its effectiveness collapsed in the summer of 1918. Morale was bad
because of shortages of food at home, the munitions at the front. Both
at the leadership in the popular level, there was a growing distrust
of Germany intentions. War weariness was prevalent, and soldiers felt
betrayed. Many resented having to fight their fellow Orthodox
Christians in alliance with the Muslim Ottomans. The leadership lost
the support of the Bulgarian people. The
Russian Revolution of
February 1917 crystallized the resentments in Bulgaria, spreading
anti-war and anti-monarchist sentiment. In June Radoslavov's
government resigned. In September, 1918, the Allies invaded with 29
divisions and 700,000 troops. Bulgaria was quickly overrun and agreed
to an armistice. Tsar Ferdinand abdicated, mutinies ravaged the army,
and a republic was proclaimed. The Ottoman Empire now became
disconnected from Germany and Austria and it too soon collapsed. On
November 8, Bulgaria reentered the war on the Allied side. However it
was too late: a year later the allies imposed very harsh Treaty of
Neuilly-sur-Seine that stripped away more territory. Germany had
loaned Bulgaria the money to fund the war; that debt was cancelled at
Paris but the Allies imposed a £100 million reparations debt that the
impoverished nation could not pay.
Main article: History of Poland during World War I
Poland For a century had been split between Russia, Austria, and
Germany. It was the scene of numerous battles, most of which were
defeats for Russia. Historian M. B. Biskupski argues that Poles tried
to influence international diplomacy in several ways. In 1914-1916,
they appealed to popular sympathy for the plight of suffering
civilians, and forced onto the agenda the "Polish Question" (that is,
creating an independent Poland). Efforts to bring food relief failed.
Both sides needed Polish soldiers, and had to make promises to get
them. In 1918, Polish independence was promoted By both sides as proof
of their morally superior vision for the postwar world. Polish
nationalists gained political leverage when offered promises of
concessions and future autonomy in exchange for Polish loyalty and
army recruits. Russia recognized Polish autonomy and allowed formation
of the Polish National Committee, which supported the Allied side.
Russia's foreign Minister
Sergei Sazonov proposed to create an
autonomous Kingdom of Poland with its own internal administration,
religious freedom and Polish language used in schools and
Roman Dmowski tried to persuade the Allies to
unify the Polish lands under Russian rule as an initial step toward
Meanwhile in Germany
Józef Piłsudski formed the Polish Legions to
Central Powers in defeating Russia as the first step toward
full independence for Poland. Berlin set up a puppet state, the
Kingdom of Poland (1917–18). When the Bolsheviks took power in late
1917, they effectively surrendered control of Eastern Europe to the
Germans. The Allies were now free of promises to Russia, and the entry
of the United States into the war enabled President Wilson to
transform the war into a crusade to spread democracy and liberate the
Poles. The thirteenth of his
Fourteen Points adopted the
resurrection of Poland as one of the main aims of the war. Polish
opinion crystallized in support of the Allied cause. Józef Piłsudski
Rejected the Germans. In October 1918, Poles took control of Galicia
and Cieszyn Silesia. In November 1918, Piłsudski returned to Warsaw.
and took control over the newly created state as its provisional Chief
of State. Soon all the local governments that had been created in the
last months of the war pledged allegiance to the central government in
Warsaw. Poland now controlled Privislinsky Krai, western Galicia (with
Lwów besieged by the Ukrainians) and part of Cieszyn Silesia.
Main article: History of Ukraine
Unlike Poland, Ukraine did not have the world's attention. There were
Ukrainians living in the United States and Wilson largely ignored
the issues. The
Ukrainians in exile nevertheless managed to
overcome bitter internal disputes, and set up a Ukrainian National
Rada and, after several schisms, a Ukrainian national Committee. It
sent representatives to the Peace Conference in Paris and carried on
much relief and informational work. The most active lobbying work
dealt with the Ottoman Empire, but it was in no position to play a
major role. The Ukraine National Republic proclaimed its
independence on 22 January 1918. It was recognized by Russia, Great
Britain and France, it sent delegates to Brest-Litovsk to claim
recognition from Germany and the Central Powers, who granted this in
February 1918. From its inception independent Ukraine had only a
tenuous existence as it was intrinsically unstable, never in full
control of its territory, and threatened by enemies from without and
within. Historian Orest Subtelney outlines the confused
In 1919 total chaos engulfed Ukraine. Indeed, in the modern history of
Europe no country experienced such complete anarchy, bitter civil
strife, and total collapse of authority as did Ukraine at this time.
Six different armies-– those of the Ukrainians, the Bolsheviks, the
Whites, the Entente [French], the Poles and the anarchists –
operated on its territory. Kiev changed hands five times in less than
a year. Cities and regions were cut off from each other by the
numerous fronts. Communications with the outside world broke down
almost completely. The starving cities emptied as people moved into
the countryside in their search for food.
Britain saw Ukraine as a German puppet during the war. At the Paris
Peace Conference in 1919, British prime minister David Lloyd George
called Ukrainian leader
Symon Petliura (1874-1926) an adventurer and
dismissed his legitimacy. By 1922 Poland took control of western
Bolshevik Russia took control of eastern Ukraine.
Baltic region with railroads and main roads
Three Baltic states
Main articles: History of Estonia, History of Latvia, and History of
The Baltic region from Lithuania in the south, Latvia in the center
and Estonia in the north were parts of the Russian Empire. A sense of
nationalism emerged after the revolution of 1905 and February 1917 in
Russia. By October 1917, the demand had moved from autonomy to
independence. In 1915-17, Germany invaded from South to North and
imposed military rule. Great armies marched back and forth--Riga,
Latvia went through seven regime changes. Across the three states
there were attacks on civilians, deportations, scorched earth
campaigns, and concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands of people
fled as refugees in Russia as far away as
Vladivostok in eastern
Siberia. Local nationalists and Bolsheviks tried repeatedly to
take control in the chaos. Bolsheviks controlled Latvia as the Iskolat
regime and as the
Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic
Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic in 1917 until they
were driven out in May 1919. Bolsheviks also controlled Estonia until
forced out by the Germans in early 1918. The Red Army of Soviet Russia
invaded all three states in December 1918 to January 1919. However
they were driven out by August 1919 by local forces aided by Finland.
Peace treaties between the Soviets and the three Baltic states were
finalized in 1920, and they remained independent until 1940.
A portion of southern Lithuania around
Vilnius became the Republic of
Central Lithuania in 1920-1922. It was a puppet state controlled by
Poland, and was absorbed into Poland in 1922. Poland's seizure of
Vilnius made normal relations with Lithuania impossible.
A Czechoslovak provisional government had joined the Allies on 14
October 1917. The South Slavs in both halves of the monarchy had
already declared in favor of uniting with Serbia in a large South Slav
state by way of the 1917
Corfu Declaration signed by members of the
Yugoslav Committee, and the Croatians had begun disregarding orders
from Budapest earlier in October.
The American rejection of Emperor Karl's last minute proposal for a
federal union was the death certificate of Austria-Hungary. The
national councils had already begun acting more or less as provisional
governments of independent countries. With defeat in the war imminent,
Czech politicians peacefully took over command in Prague on 28 October
(later celebrated as the birthday of Czechoslovakia) and followed up
in other major cities in the next few days. On 30 October, the Slovaks
followed in Martin. On the 29th of October, the Slavs in both portions
of what remained of
Austria-Hungary proclaimed the State of Slovenes,
Croats and Serbs. They also declared their ultimate intention was to
unite with Serbia and Montenegro in a large South Slav state that in
1929 was renamed Yugoslavia.. On the same day, the
Czechs and Slovaks
formally proclaimed the establishment of
Czechoslovakia as an
Causes of World War I
Home front during World War I, covering all major countries involved
Belgium in World War I
History of France during World War I
Economic history of World War I, covers major countries
History of Germany during World War I
British home front during the First World War
Minority Treaties, protecting minorities in new nations post 1919
United States home front during World War I
Revolutions of 1917–23
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^ See complete document at George Katkov, "German Foreign Office
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International Affairs 32#1 (April 1956) Document No. I, Berlin, 3rd
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^ Z.A.B. Zeman, A diplomatic history of the First World War (1971) pp
^ Stevenson, The First World War and International Politics (1988) pp
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Historical Journal 34#1 (1991): 65-86.
^ Edward P. Keleher, "Emperor Karl and the Sixtus Affair:
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^ Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and
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1914-1918 (2014). pp 536–40.
^ Ivo Banac, "'Emperor Karl Has Become a Comitadji': The Croatian
Disturbances of Autumn 1918." Slavonic and East European Review 70#2
^ Watson, Ring of Steel pp 541–2
^ Robert Gerwarth (2016). The Vanquished: Why the First World War
Failed to End. p. 180.
^ Ivo Banac, "'Emperor Karl Has Become a Comitadji': The Croatian
Disturbances of Autumn 1918." Slavonic and East European Review 70#2
(1992): 284-305 in JSTOR.
^ Watson, Ring of Steel pp 542–56
^ Z.A.B. Zeman, The Break-up of the Habsburg Empire: 1914-1918 (1961).
^ Ian Beckett, "Turkey's Momentous Moment" HistoryToday 63#6 (2013)
^ Matthew Hughes (2013). Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle
East, 1917-1919. Routledge. p. 91.
^ Hakan Ozoglu (2011). From Caliphate to Secular State: Power Struggle
in the Early Turkish Republic. ABC-CLIO. p. 8.
^ Jo Laycock, "Beyond National Narratives? Centenary Histories, the
First World War and the
Armenian Genocide Armenian Genocide."
Revolutionary Russia 28.2 (2015): 93-117.
^ For studies from scholars of the Ottoman Empire, see David Gutman,
"Ottoman Historiography and the End of the Genocide Taboo: Writing the
Armenian Genocide into Late Ottoman History." Journal of the Ottoman
and Turkish Studies Association 2:1 (2015) pp 167-183. online[dead
^ Taner Akcam, The Young Turks' Crime against Humanity: The Armenian
Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton UP,
^ Thomas Schmutz, "Reacting to Violence: The Diplomatic Context of the
Armenian Question and the
Armenian Genocide (1913–1917)." Australian
Journal of Politics & History 62.4 (2016): 501-513.
^ Raymond Kévorkian (2011). The Armenian Genocide: A Complete
History. I.B.Tauris. pp. 763, 770–73.
^ Errol Mendes (2010). Peace and Justice at the International Criminal
Court: A Court of Last Resort. p. 4.
^ Samantha Power, "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of
Genocide (2002), pp 1-12.
^ Charles Jelavich and Barbara Jelavich, The Establishment of the
Balkan National States, 1804–1920 (1977) pp 289–90
^ Richard C. Hall, "Bulgaria in the First World War," Historian,
(2011) 73#2 pp 300–315
^ Richard C. Hall, "'The Enemy is Behind Us': The Morale Crisis in the
Bulgarian Army during the Summer of 1918," War in History 11#2 pp
^ Mieczyslaw B. Biskupski, "War and the Diplomacy of Polish
Independence, 1914–18." Polish Review (1990): 5-17. online
^ R.F. Leslie, ed. The history of Poland since 1863 (Cambridge UP,
1983) p 98
^ Norman Davies, God's Playground A History of Poland: Volume II: 1795
to the Present (2005) pp 279-95.
^ Christopher G. Salisbury, "For Your Freedom and Ours: The Polish
Question in Wilson's Peace Initiatives, 1916‐1917." Australian
Journal of Politics & History 49.4 (2003): 481-500.
^ Wolodymyr Stojko, "The Attitude Of The United States Towards
Ukrainian Statehood, 1917-1920" Ukrainian Quarterly (2001) 57#3 pp
^ Clarence A. Manning, "The
Ukrainians and the United States in World
War I," Ukrainian Quarterly 13 (1957) pp. 346-354
^ Vladyslav Verstiuk, "Conceptual Issues in Studying the History of
the Ukrainian Revolution." Journal of Ukrainian Studies 24.1 (1999):
^ Orest Subtelny (2000). Ukraine: A History. U of Toronto Press.
^ Natalya Yakovenko, "Ukraine in British Strategies and Concepts of
Foreign Policy, 1917-1922 and After," East European Quarterly (2002)
36#4 pp 465-79.
^ Timothy Snyder (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland,
Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999. pp. 61–65.
^ Aldis Purs, "Working towards 'an unforeseen miracle' redux: Latvian
refugees in Vladivostok, 1918–1920, and in Latvia, 1943–1944."
Contemporary European History 16#4 (2007): 479-494.
^ Alan Palmer, The Baltic: A new history of the region and its people
(New York: Overlook Press, 2006; published in London with the title
Northern shores: a history of the Baltic Sea and its peoples (John
Murray, 2006). ch 21-22, pp 252-92.
^ Dovile O. Vilkauskaite, "From Empire to Independence: The Curious
Case of the Baltic States 1917-1922." (thesis, University of
Connecticut, 2013). online
^ Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine,
Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 (2003), p. 64;
^ Brent Mueggenberg, The Czecho-Slovak Struggle for Independence,
^ Z.A.B. Zeman, The Break-up of the Habsburg Empire: 1914-1918 (1961).
Further information: Bibliography of
World War I
World War I § Causes and
diplomacy, and Home front during
World War I
World War I § Further reading
Albrecht-Carrié, René. (1958). A Diplomatic History of Europe Since
the Congress of Vienna. - 736pp; basic survey; available in many
Fisk, H.E. The Inter-Ally Debts: An Analysis of War and Post-War
Public Finance, 1914-1923 (1924) online Questia
Godden, Christopher. "The Business of War: Reflections on Recent
Contributions to the Economic and Business Histories of the First
World War." Œconomia. History, Methodology, Philosophy 6#4 (2016):
Herwig, Holger H., and Neil M. Heyman, eds. Biographical Dictionary of
World War I
World War I (Greenwood, 1982); includes prime ministers and main
Higham, Robin and Dennis E. Showalter, eds. Researching World War I: A
Handbook (2003) online
Hollander, Neil. Elusive Dove: The Search for Peace During World War I
(2014), popular history; excerpt
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Economic Change
and Military Conflict From 1500-2000 (1987), stress on economic and
Keylor, William R. (2001). The Twentieth-century World: An
International History (4th ed.).
Klingaman, William K. 1919, The Year Our World Began (1987) world
perspective based on primary sources by a scholar.
Laidler, Harry W. Socialism in thought and action (1920) covers
wartime roles in many countries online.
Langer, William L. Encyclopedia of world history: ancient, medieval,
and modern, chronologically arranged (1968).
Marks, Sally (2002). The Ebbing of European Ascendancy: An
International History of the World 1914-1945.
Marquis, Alice Goldfarb. "Words as Weapons: Propaganda in Britain and
Germany during the First World War" Journal of Contemporary History
13#3 (1978), pp. 467–498. online
Martel, Gordon, ed. (2008). A companion to international history
1900-2001. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) - chapters
9-21 pp 118–282. essays by experts; excerpt
Martel, Gordon, ed. A Companion to Europe 1900-1945 (2010), ch 17-26
pp 259–422; essays by experts; excerpts
Matthew Stibbe. "The War from Above: Aims, Strategy, and Diplomacy" in
Martel, Gordon, editor. . A Companion to Europe: 1900-1945 (2011)
Meiser, Jeffrey W. Power and Restraint: The Rise of the United States,
1898--1941 (Georgetown UP, 2015).
Mowat, C. L. (1968). The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 12: The
Shifting Balance of World Forces, 1898-1945 (2nd ed.). - 25
Rich, Norman. Great power diplomacy. Since 1914 (2003) pp 1–40.
Stevenson, David. The First World War and International Politics
(1988), thorough scholarly coverage
Stevenson, David. "The Diplomats" Winter. Jay, ed. The Cambridge
History of the First World War: Volume II: The State (2014) vol 2 ch
3, pp 66–90.
Strachan, Hew. The First World War: Volume I: To Arms (Oxford UP,
2003), thorough scholarly coverage to 1916
Taylor, A.J.P. The struggle for mastery in Europe 1848-1918 (1954) pp
532–68 online free;
Tooze, Adam. The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of
the Global Order, 1916-1931 (2014) emphasis on economics excerpt.
Tucker, Spencer, ed. The European Powers in the First World War: An
Encyclopedia (1999); 783pp, comprehensive
Winter, Jay, ed. The Cambridge History of the First World War (2 vol.
2014) v 2 "Diplomats" pp 62–90
Zeman, Z.A.B. A Diplomatic History of the First World War (1971); also
published as The gentleman negotiators: the diplomatic history of
World War I
Cassar, George H. Lloyd George at War, 1916-1918 (2009) full text
online at JSTOR; excerpts
Egerton, George W. Great Britain and the Creation of the League of
Nations: Strategy, Politics, and International Organization, 1914-1919
French, David. British Strategy and War Aims 1914–1916 (London:
Allen and Unwin, 1986)
French, David. The Strategy of the Lloyd George Coalition, 1916-1918
Grey, Edward. "Twenty-Five Years, 1892-1916 (vol 2 1925).
Grigg, John. Lloyd George: War leader, 1916–1918 (2002),
Hayes, Paul. Modern British foreign policy: The 20th century 1880 –
1939 (1978), pp, 177-222
Hinsley, Francis H, ed. British foreign policy under Sir Edward Grey
Horn, Martin. Britain, France, and the financing of the First World
Johnson, Gaynor. Lord Robert Cecil: politician and internationalist
Larsen, Daniel. "War Pessimism in Britain and an American Peace in
Early 1916." International History Review 34.4 (2012): 795-817.
Lowe, C.J. and M.L. Dockrill. The Mirage of Power: British Foreign
Policy 1914-22 (vol 2 1972) pp 169–423.
Lutz, Hermann and E.W. Dickes, Lord Grey and the World War (1928)
Rothwell, Victor. British war aims and peace diplomacy, 1914-1918.
(Oxford UP, 1971).
Taylor, A. J. P. English History, 1914–1945 (1965) pp 1–125
Weigall, David. Britain and the World: 1815-1986: A dictionary of
international relations (1986)
Woodward, Llewellyn. Great Britain and the War of 1914-1918 (1967)
Bernard, Philippe, and Henri Dubief, The Decline of the Third
Republic, 1914–1938 (1988) pp 3–82.
Blumenthal, Henry. Illusion and Reality in Franco-American Diplomacy,
Brecher, F.W. "French policy toward the Levant 1914-18." Middle
Eastern Studies (1993) 29#4 background to the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
Dutton, David. Politics of Diplomacy: Britain & France in the
Balkans in the First World War (1998). online review; also excerpt
Greenhalgh, Elizabeth. "Paul Painleve and Franco-British Relations in
1917." Contemporary British History 25.01 (2011): 5-27.
Greenhalgh, Elizabeth. Victory through Coalition: Britain & France
during the First World War. 2006, 304p
Hanks, Robert K. "‘Generalissimo’ or ‘Skunk’? The Impact of
Georges Clemenceau's Leadership on the Western Alliance in 1918."
French History (2010) 24#2 pp 197-217.
J. Nere (2001). The Foreign Policy of France from 1914 to 1945. Island
Press. pp. 1–10.
Philpott, William. "The Anglo–French Victory on the Somme."
Diplomacy and Statecraft 17.4 (2006): 731-751. Looks at 1916 Somme
offensive in terms of the British-French alliance, especially its
military strategic, operational, and tactical progress. Argues it
turned the tide of the war in their favour
Schuman, Frederick. War And Diplomacy In The French Republic (1931)
Stevenson, David. French War Aims Against Germany, 1914–1919
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982). The best and most detailed book on
French war aims
Stevenson, David. "French War Aims and the American Challenge,
1914-1918" Historical Journal 22#4 (1979) pp. 877–894 in JSTOR
Acton, Edward, et al. eds. Critical companion to the Russian
Revolution, 1914-1921 (1997).
Boterbloem, Kees. "Chto delat'?:
World War I
World War I in Russian Historiography
after Communism." Journal of Slavic Military Studies 25.3 (2012):
Gatrell, Peter. Russia's First World War: A Social and Economic
Gatrell, Peter. "Tsarist Russia at War: The View from Above,
1914–February 1917" Journal of Modern History 87#4 (2015) pp
Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of Russian history (1993). pp 79–108.
Jelavich, Barbara. St. Petersburg and Moscow: tsarist and Soviet
foreign policy, 1814-1974 (1974). pp 280–332.
Lincoln, W. Bruce. Passage through Armageddon: the Russians in war and
revolution, 1914-1918 (1986)
MacKenzie, David. Imperial Dreams, Harsh Realities: Tsarist Russian
Foreign Policy, 1815-1917 (1994). pp 172–82.
Morris, L. P. "The Russians, the Allies and the War, February–July
1917," Slavonic and East European Review 50#118 (1972),
pp. 29–48 in JSTOR
Neilson, Keith E. "The Breakup of the Anglo-Russian Alliance: The
Question of Supply in 1917." International History Review 3.1 (1981):
Neilson, Keith. Strategy & Supply: The Anglo-Russian Alliance,
Sanborn, Joshua A. Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the
Destruction of the
Russian Empire (2014). excerpt
Sanborn, Joshua A. Drafting the Russian Nation: Military Conscription,
Total War, and Mass Politics, 1905-1925 (2003)
Saul, Norman E. Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Foreign
Ulam, Adam B. Expansion and coexistence: Soviet foreign policy,
1917-73 (1974), pp 31–125.
Ullman, Richard Henry. Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921: Intervention
and the War. Vol. 1 (1961).
Zeman, Z. A. A diplomatic history of the First World War (1971) pp
Main article: American entry into
World War I
World War I § Bibliography
*Adas, Michael. "Ambivalent Ally: American Military Intervention and
the Endgame and Legacy of World War I" Diplomatic History (2014) 38#4:
700-712. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/dh/dhu032
Clements, Kendrick A. "
Woodrow Wilson and World War I," Presidential
Studies Quarterly 34:1 (2004). pp. 62+. online edition
Cooper, John Milton. Woodrow Wilson. A Biography (2009), major
Doenecke, Justus D. "Neutrality Policy and the Decision for War." in
Ross Kennedy ed., A Companion to
Woodrow Wilson (2013)
pp. 243–69 Online; covers the historiography
Doenecke, Justus D. Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America's
World War I
World War I (2011) 433 pages; comprehensive history online
Esposito, David M. The Legacy of Woodrow Wilson: American War Aims in
World War I. (1996) 159pp online edition
Floyd, M. Ryan. Abandoning American Neutrality:
Woodrow Wilson and the
Beginning of the Great War, August 1914-December 1915. (2013)
Hannigan, Robert E. The Great War and American Foreign Policy, 1914-24
(2016) excerpt; online at Questia
Hodgson, Godfrey. Woodrow Wilson's Right Hand: The Life of Colonel
Edward M. House (2006).
Kazin, Michael. War Against War: The American Fight for Peace,
Keene, Jennifer D. "Remembering the "Forgotten War": American
Historiography on World War I." Historian 78#3 (2016): 439–468.
Keene, Jennifer D. "Americans Respond: Perspectives on the Global War,
1914-1917." Geschichte und Gesellschaft 40.2 (2014): 266-286. online
Kennedy, Ross A. The Will to Believe: Woodrow Wilson,
World War I
World War I and
America’s Strategy for Peace and Security (2009).
Link, Arthur S.
Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910–1917.
May, Ernest R. The World War and American Isolation, 1914–1917
(1959) online at ACLS e-books, highly influential study
Tucker, Robert W.
Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering
America's Neutrality, 1914–1917. (2007).
Asprey, Robert B. The German high command at war: Hindenburg and
World War I
World War I (1991).
Craig, Gordon A. "The
World War I
World War I alliance of the
Central Powers in
retrospect: the military cohesion of the alliance." Journal of Modern
History 37.3 (1965): 336-344. in JSTOR
Kann, Robert A. et al., eds. The Habsburg Empire in World War I:
Essays on the Intellectual, Military, Political and Economic Aspects
of the Habsburg War Effort (1977) online borrowing copy
Leidinger, Hannes. "Historiography 1918-Today (Austria-Hungary)"
1914-1918 Online (2014) online
Lutz, Ralph Haswell, ed. Fall of the German Empire, 1914–1918 (2 vol
1932). 868pp online review, primary sources
Newman, John Paul, Samuel Foster, and Eric Beckett Weaver.
"Austro-Hungarian War Aims in the Balkans during World War I." Journal
of Genocide Research 18.4 (2016): 503-513.
Pribram, A.F. Austrian Foreign Policy, 1908-18 (1923)
Stevenson, David. "The failure of peace by negotiation in 1917."
Historical Journal 34#1 (1991): 65-86.
Watson, Alexander. Ring of Steel: Germany and
Austria-Hungary at War,
Wawro, Geoffrey. A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of
World War I
World War I and
the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire (2014).
Gerwarth, Robert, and Erez Manela. "The Great War as a Global War:
Imperial Conflict and the Reconfiguration of World Order,
1911–1923." Diplomatic History 38.4 (2014): 786-800.
Keene, Jennifer D. "Remembering the “Forgotten War”: American
Historiography on World War I." Historian 78.3 (2016): 439-468.
Leidinger, Hannes. "Historiography 1918-Today (Austria-Hungary)"
1914-1918 Online (2014) online
Shinohara, Hatsue. "International Law and World War I." Diplomatic
History 38.4 (2014): 880-893.
Winter, Jay. "Historiography 1918-Today" 1914-1918 Online (2014)
Winter, Jay and Antoine Prost. The Great War in History: Debates and
Controversies, 1914 to the Present (Cambridge UP, 2005).
Winter, Jay, ed. The Legacy of the Great War: Ninety Years On (U of
Missouri Press, 2009).
Primary sources and year books
Adamthwaite, Anthony P. ed. The Lost Peace, International Relations in
Europe, 1918-1939 (1981) 236pp; excerpts from 69 documents.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Official communications
and speeches relating to peace proposals 1916-1917" (1917) online free
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Official Statements of War
Aims and Peace Proposals: December 1916 to November 1918, edited by
James Brown Scott. (1921) 515pp online free
Collins, Ross F. World War I: Primary Documents on Events from 1914 to
1919 (2007) excerpt and text search
Gooch, G. P. and Harold Temperley, eds. British Documents on the
Origins of the War 1898-1914 Volume XI, the Outbreak of War Foreign
Office Documents (1926) online
Gooch, G. P. Recent Revelations of European Diplomacy (1940); 475pp
detailed summaries of memoirs from all the major belligerents
Gooch, G. P. "Recent Revelations on European Diplomacy," Journal of
the British Institute of International Affairs 2.1 (1923): 1-29. in
Lowe, C.J. and M.L. Dockrill, eds. The Mirage of Power: The Documents
of British Foreign Policy 1914-22 (vol 3, 1972), pp 423-759
Mombauer, Annika. The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and
Military Documents (2013), 592pp;
Scott, James Brown, ed. Official Statements of War Aims and Peace
Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918 (NY: Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, 1921) Online at Questia
Zeman, Z. A. B. ed. Germany and the Revolution in Russia, 1915-1918:
Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry (1958) in
Annual Register 1915. world coverage; strongest on UKand British
Annual Register 1916
Annual Register 1917
Annual Register 1918
Annual Register 1919
New International Year Book 1914, Comprehensive coverage of world and
national affairs, 913pp
New International Year Book 1915, 791pp
New International Year Book 1916 (1917), 938pp
New International Year Book 1917 (1918), 904 pp
New International Year Book 1918 (1919), 904 pp
New InternationalYear Book 1919 (1920), 744pp
World War I
World War I Document Archive" at Brigham Young U.; contains the
full texts of the key treaties, declarations, speeches, and memoranda.
Links to other sites, by county
World War I
World War I by region and country
South West Africa
World War I
Sinai and Palestine
Asian and Pacific
German New Guinea and Samoa
North Atlantic U-boat campaign
Indian, Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans
Más a Tierra
Scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa (1880–1914)
Russo-Japanese War (1905)
First Moroccan (Tangier) Crisis (1905–06)
Agadir Crisis (1911)
Italo-Turkish War (1911–12)
French conquest of Morocco
French conquest of Morocco (1911–12)
First Balkan War
First Balkan War (1912–13)
Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War (1913)
Anti-Serb riots in Sarajevo
Battle of the Frontiers
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First Battle of the Marne
Siege of Tsingtao
Battle of Tannenberg
Battle of Galicia
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Race to the Sea
First Battle of Ypres
Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes
Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of Gallipoli
Second Battle of Artois
Battles of the Isonzo
Second Battle of Champagne
Siege of Kut
Battle of Loos
Battle of Verdun
Lake Naroch Offensive
Battle of Asiago
Battle of Jutland
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Romani
Battle of Transylvania
Capture of Baghdad
First Battle of Gaza
Second Battle of Arras
Second Battle of the Aisne
Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)
Battle of Mărășești
Battle of Caporetto
Southern Palestine Offensive
Battle of Cambrai
Armistice of Erzincan
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Second Battle of the Marne
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Hundred Days Offensive
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Third Transjordan attack
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Armistice of Salonica
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Armistice of Villa Giusti
Armistice with Germany
Mexican Revolution (1910–20)
Somaliland Campaign (1910–20)
Libyan resistance movement (1911–43)
Maritz Rebellion (1914–15)
Zaian War (1914–21)
Indo-German Conspiracy (1914–19)
Senussi Campaign (1915–16)
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Easter Rising (1916)
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German Revolution (1918–19)
Revolutions and interventions in
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Irish War of Independence
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Iraqi revolt (1920)
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Franco-Syrian War (1920)
Soviet–Georgian War (1921)
Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War (1922–23)
Schlieffen Plan (German)
Plan XVII (French)
Last surviving veterans
1918 flu pandemic
Destruction of Kalisz
Rape of Belgium
German occupation of Belgium
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German occupation of northeastern France
Pontic Greek genocide
Blockade of Germany
German prisoners of war in the United States
Partition of the Ottoman Empire
Agreement of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
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