World War One

  • Treaty of Frankfurt

    Treaty of Frankfurt
    Treaty ending Franco-Prussian War. Germany, being the victor, demanded the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, an indemnity of 5 billion francs, and German occupation of France until the debt had been paid. It left a permanent scar on the state of relations between France and Germany many years afterward.
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    Bismarck's Alliances

    Once Germany was "satisfied" with its position in Europe, it made no more attempts to acquire more territory. Bismarck's policy turned inwards, on the lookout for Germany's best interests. Through negotiations, Germany did its best to keep peace in Europe between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans territories and isolate its rivals, the French, in a series of treaties.
  • Three Emperors' League

    Three Emperors' League
    Wanting to maintain peace in Europe, Bismarck took a step with the Emperors' League to a far-sighted goal of keeping Austria-Hungary and Russia peaceful over the tense Balkan situation. The League connected the warring factions together in a peaceful union against radical movements, with Germany overseeing the alliance.
  • German Forces Leave France

    German Forces Leave France
    After being paid in full, the Germans finally withdrew their military force from France. Though physically gone, the French continued to detest their enemy, easily reminded by the examples of Alsace and Lorraine, which were under German control.
  • Congress of Berlin

    Congress of Berlin
    Lasting an entire month (until July 13), the Congress of Berlin was organized after the Russo-Turkish War to reorganize the Balkan states in the best interests of Russia and Austria-Hungary. Bismarck played the role of host and peacemaker. Germany's nosiness annoyed Russian nationalists. The re-heightened tensions then led Germany to create a defensive alliance with Austria the next year, the beginnings of the Triple Alliance.
  • Triple Alliance/Central Powers

    Triple Alliance/Central Powers
    The Triple Alliance was created when Italy joined Germany and Austria's ranks in a defensive unity against future Russian threat. Italy joined when relationships with France went sour, and the alliance of these Central Powers remained intact until 1918.
  • Russian-German Reinsurance Treaty

    Russian-German Reinsurance Treaty
    When Russia declined an interest in continuing in the Alliance of the Three Emperors, Bismarck made sure that niceties were maintained with Russia in the Russian-German Reinsurance Treaty, a crafty move wherein both countries guaranteed neutrality if the other was attacked.
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    Emperor Wilhelm II

    Made emperor in 1888, Wilhelm II soon fudged up his career with three major mistakes: the dismissal of Otto von Bismarck in 1890 for his friendly German policy; refusing to renew the Russian-German Reinsurance treaty (leading to France's alliance with Russia); and approving the amassing of a navy larger than Britain's without truly understanding Britain's own navy policy. These errors only helped to bury Germany in the mess of World War One.
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    Gavrilo Princip

    Gavrilo Princip was a member of "Young Bosnia" and The Black Hand, a radically nationalistic Serbian movement. On June 28, 1914, Princip murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia, visiting dignitaries from Austria-Hungary. Following arrest, Princip and his comrades gave more names, causing Austria-Hungary to issue the July Ultimatum against Serbia. Because of this chain of events, Princip's assassination proved to be the spark that caused World War One.
  • Franco-Russian Alliance

    Franco-Russian Alliance
    After Wilhelm II's bold move to discontinue friendly relations with Russia by breaking off the Russian-German Reinsurance Treaty, France saw its chance to gain a potent military ally, being by itself in Europe. Together, France and Russia formed an alliance that was to exist as long as the Triple Alliance was in effect.
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    Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz

    After a successful career in the German Navy as chief of the naval staff and Rear Admiral, Tirpitz accepted the post of Secretary of the Imperial Navy Office. On June 15, 1896, he presented a memorandum to the Kaiser identifying Britain as Germany's enemy and a plan to increase the German Navy by 19 ships by 1905. Tirpitz was of the firm belief that a large navy was the official sign of a great world power, which would lead to increased patriotism and pride amongst citizens.
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    South African War

    The South African War was fought between the British and the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State. White (predominantly British) settlers in the southern African region were not accorded full equal rights because of the fear that the native population would lose control of their republic. After a British ultimatum demanding their rights was issued (and rejected), war was declared. Britain won, and the Treaty of Vereeniging placed the lands under British rule.
  • German Naval Policy

    German Naval Policy
    A third rather grandiose mistake made by Wilhelm II was the "risk policy" developed under him for the German navy. Because Britain was still undeniably the king of the seas, Germany decided to challenge that by amassing a larger navy than them. However, Britain's own navy policy was to have a navy larger than the next two largest navies combined, so Wilhelm's effort only increased Britain's ships' numbers.
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    The Black Hand

    The Black Hand was a movement with the goal of uniting all of Austria-Hungary's annexed territories with Serb populations. It was a secret military society formed under the Serbian army. Colonel Dragutin Apis was the leader, militarily trianed like other members. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was conducted by the Black Hand, who sent three men, including Gavrilo Princip, across the Bosnian border to kill him. Princip succeeded but named his counterparts after interrogation.
  • The Balkans and their Nationalism

    The Balkans and their Nationalism
    The Balkans' nationalism was on the rise in 1903, led by the Serbian Black Hand's assassination of the king and queen during the night between May 28 and 29. With the royals out of the way, Peter I came to the throne, a favorite of the Black Hand. Serbia in particular continued to butt heads with the way things were supposed to go, a fact Austria-Hungary noted. To exert more control over the area, Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908.
  • Anglo-French Entente

    Anglo-French Entente
    Though Britain and France had long been more of enemies than friends, the attempts of the French foreign minister, Theophile Delcasse, to bring them together were outstanding. In 1904, a treaty of peace was concluded in which France agreed to allow British rule in Egypt if Britains would support the French plans to take over Morocco. The past was forgotten with this treaty, as all colonial disputes were settled between the two countries.
  • Schlieffen Plan

    Schlieffen Plan
    The Schlieffen Plan, developed by Count Alfred von Schlieffen, was Germany's plan of attack should there ever be a two-front war between France and Russia. The strategy depended on the time it would take the countries to prepare themselves for war, so the generalized goal was to quickly crush France in the West and move fast enough to stop Russian interference. In 1906, Helmuth von Moltke edited the plan to modernize the then-current threats. Though well thought out, it failed in the end.
  • Algeciras Conference

    Algeciras Conference
    Frustrated by mixed signals given off by Britain as to where their alliances lay (between France and Germany), Germany called the Algeciras Conference to test the strength of the Anglo-French Entente. They meant to bully France over the question of their possessions in Morocco and degrade their name, but Britain continued to back France. In fact, the obvious hostility of Germany towards members of the conference was off-putting enough that Britain sided with France more willingly than before.
  • Anglo-Russian Agreement

    Anglo-Russian Agreement
    Though not seen as likely allies at first, war-beaten Russia, following humiliating defeat by Japan and the revolution of 1905, put aside its arguments with Britain in Persia and Central Asia. Paranoia swept over Germany as a result, as its enemies and supposed friends were uniting against them.
  • Daily Mail: British Anti-German Propaganda

    Daily Mail:  British Anti-German Propaganda
    Anti-German feelings from the British started developing following the Algeciras Conference, but it was all the more motivated by what the papers were saying at home. In a 1909 copy of the Daily Mail, Robert Blatchford wrote, "I believe Germany is deliberately preparing to destroy the British Empire" after several trips to Germany to report on the situation. The article roused Britain's nationalistic and supportive spirit, giving more gusto to their decision to enter the war.
  • First Balkan War

    First Balkan War
    Tensions in the Balkans had a minor upset in 1912 when Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Greece banded together as the Balkan League to fight off the grasp of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of London concluded the war on May 30 of the next year, pronouncing the Balkan states the victors against the lesser and more inept armies of the Ottoman Empire. As a result, the states of the Balkan peninsula were reorganized, and the Empire lost almost all of its European holdings.
  • Second Balkan War/Ottoman Empire Destruction

    Second Balkan War/Ottoman Empire Destruction
    No sooner had the First Balkan War ended had the second started. Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its negotiated holdings in Macedonia, attacked Serbia, which had refused to relinquish its holdings in the area, despite a treaty promising Bulgaria the land. Greece and Serbia, along with newcomer Romania, all banded together to defy Bulgaria. After brief fighting (mainly between Greece and Bulgaria), an armistice was signed on July 18, and the successive treaties redivided the land once again.
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    Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff

    Both Hindenburg and Ludendorff played key parts in World War One for the Germans. Hindenburg was called back from retirement in 1914 to lead the Eighth Army in combat with the First and Second Russian armies in East Prussia. They produced essential victories at the Battles of Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes, both becoming national heroes because of it. Following chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg's dismissal, they became the real rulers of Germany, calling for a full state of total war.
  • War Raw Materials Board

    War Raw Materials Board
    The War Raw Materials Board was the brainchild of the Jewish industrialist Walter Rathenau, the owner of Germany's largest electric company. He convinced the government to create the board to ease the rationing and distribution of raw materials. Every useful material for the war was inventoried and rationed. The board also oversaw the creation of synthetic materials to replace essential machine and explosive parts, along with a strong recycling campaign to make sure nothing went to waste.
  • Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

    Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
    The spark that began the "War to End All Wars" occurred in Bosnia, when the archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Black Hand. Outraged by the loss of a nobleman, Austria-Hungary placed most of the blame on the Kingdom of Serbia, located in the Serbian and Bosnian areas. They demanded a full investigation be started, but when the Serbs refused, they declared war on them.
  • The "Blank Check"

    The "Blank Check"
    Austria-Hungary and Germany had been allies since their alliance in 1879. When Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June, Austria looked to its cousin to back her up. Germany issued a "blank check," displaying their loyalty and willingness to do whatever would help Austria out. Wilhelm II and his chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, encouraged aggressive measures, and having their support in going to war (most likely against Russia), Austria declared war.
  • Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum

    Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum
    Following the murder of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28 of 1914, Austria-Hungary was in an uproar over the assassination. Though Gavrilo Princip, the murderer, had been caught, the names that he gave the authorities induced Austria to demand Serbia investigate the suspects. A list of the demands was sent in late July, but Serbia refused to comply, expecting Russian assistance if attacked. Because of this, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on the 28th.
  • Russian Subordination

    Russian Subordination
    Russia committed a subordination of political considerations by only partially mobilizing their army on July 28 when called to do so. Pre-concluded plans had always predicted a war with two enemies: Germany and Austria. Nicholas II's mobilization could not be done just against one more proximal threat (in that case, Austria at the gates of Belgrade). Full mobilization would have to occur to get the army moving at all, so the following day, the tsar called the rest of the army to action.
  • Full Russian Mobilization

    Full Russian Mobilization
    When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and Germany emphasized its assistance, Russia, an ally of Serbia, went into action. Tsar Nicholas II ordered a partial mobilization of the army on July 28 because of Austria-Hungary's aggression to its western border. Realizing that the plan could not go through without the full power of the army, however, he changed it to a full start-up of the army to fully aid its allies.
  • Triple Entente/Allied Powers

    Triple Entente/Allied Powers
    Britain, France, and Russia were natural allies preceding the war, but their formal alliance, the Triple Entente, only came into being following Austria-Hungary's declaration of war. Besides the insulting bullying of the Triple Alliance against Serbia and Belgium, the Allies were also world powers concerned with the threat of Germany's voracious appetite for power. The main goals of the alliance was to check Germany's power, strangle Austria-Hungary, and to counter the Central Powers.
  • Ottoman-German Treaty

    Ottoman-German Treaty
    The Ottoman Empire, often referred to as the "sick man of Europe" in that time, underwent an alliance with Germany because they hoped to be on the winning side (Germany's early victories put them as the most likely to succeed) and avoid the absolute disintegration of the empire with a victory against the Entente, who were upset over the Turks harboring enemy vessels in their ports. A secret treaty was signed on August 2 in Turkey, and on October 28, 1914, the Ottomans entered the war.
  • German Subordination

    German Subordination
    Germany showed subordination of political considerations to military strategy when they launched their plan of attack. Following the Schlieffen Plan, they thought to fight a two-front war, they should eliminate France from the running via Belgium. However, Belgium, being neutral, had its big brother Britain watching over it. The direct violation of Belgium's neutrality pulled the British into the war, so instead of just France, Germany had to face both France and Britain.
  • Battle of Tannenberg

    Battle of Tannenberg
    The Battle of Tannenberg was fought from August 23-30. It was fought by the Russians and Germans on the Eastern Front. Russia's First and Second Armies went against Germany's Eighth Army, but the bigger numbers did not help Russia. Germany, with an extensive line of railroads, was able to move quickly to counter Russia's movements, catching them off-guard. The main battle took place from the 26th on, during which time the Germans proceeded to rip apart the Second and then First Russian Army.
  • Battle of the Marne

    Battle of the Marne
    The Battle of the Marne was fought from September 6 to September 13 between the Germans and the Allies. The battle took place along the Marne River, a few miles from Paris, which the Germans had hoped to capture. The Germans made up two armies led by General Helmuth von Moltke. These engaged the Fifth and Sixth French Army and a British Army, nearly winning, until 10,000 reserve troops in 600 taxicabs arrived from Paris. At the end of the battle, the Allies were victorious.
  • Battle of Masurian Lakes

    Battle of Masurian Lakes
    The Battle of Masurian Lakes was fought from September 7-11, a week after the Battle of Tannenberg. Masurian Lakes was looked at as the sequel to Tannenberg, as the German army, having destroyed the Second Russian Army on September 2, pushed the First Russian Army back across the land they had taken. Reinforcements arrived for Germany, outnumbering the Russians and giving them the advantage. The Russians fled back to Russia, completely leaving Germany's soil. This was a humiliating for them.
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    Trench Warfare

    The most effective fighting method on the Western Front was the use of the trenches. Trenches were the most reasonable shelter on the open plains of the front, and they did well against small ammunition fire. The lines of the different armies consisted of miles of trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the border of Switzerland. The loss of life was extraordinary because advancement into enemy territory involved running from the trenches across the open ground dubbed "No Man's Land."
  • Race to the Sea

    Race to the Sea
    After the fighting of World War One began, battles sparked all along the Western Front. The push of the Germans to take France was known as the Race to the Sea. Most of the fighting took place in France, and a clear line of armies, created by the 200 or so miles of trenches, cut through the countrysides. The brutality of the fighting led to the extreme form of trench warfare, becoming the symbol of the war on the Western Front.
  • Total War

    Total War
    Due to the intensity of the war, governments soon realized that simple nationalism was not going to be enough to get them through. They began measures to control their people's social and economic lives to successfully wage total war. Free capitalism was temporarily abandoned, with governments making demands for specified supplies and rationing them carefully. Every citizen was expected to do their share, whether they be men to serve in battle or women to work as the main labor force.
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    Submarine Warfare

    Early on in the war, the Allies installed a naval blockade to choke off the Central Powers. The Germans then enacted a countermeasure to take them on: the use of submarine warfare. On February 4 of 1915, the German Empire announced that from the 18th of February on, the waters around Britain were a war zone and ships bearing the Allied flags would be sunk without warning. This deadly practice continued for the entirety of the war, sinking around 90 ships in the first three months.
  • Sinking of the RMS Lusitania

    Sinking of the RMS Lusitania
    On February 4, 1915, Germany declared the waters around Britain a war zone. On April 22, . Captain William Thomas Turner was the captain of the RMS Lusitania on her last voyage. In the afternoon of May 7, 120 miles west of the southern tip of Ireland, the U-20 U-boat, commanded by Walther Schwieger, fired a missile at 3:10 PM at the Lusitania. 1,198 people died, with 761 survivors. Though the ship was carrying war ammunition, people were horrified by the deaths of the passengers.
  • Battle of Verdun

    Battle of Verdun
    One of the most important battles fought on the Western Fron was the Battle of Verdun, which lasted until December 18 of 1916. Around 306,000 lives were lost (163,000 French and 143,000 German), with half a million casualties for those 10 months. It was a strategic victory for the French, who beat back the Germans from around Verdun. The French forces were led by General Robert Nivelle, famous for the words in his Order of the day, "You shall not let them pass, my comrades."
  • Arab Revolt Begins

    Arab Revolt Begins
    The Ottoman Empire, though feeble, still fought strongly in World War One in their encounters with the Russians in the Middle East. The Allies' best hope of upsetting the Central Powers' balance were the disgruntled Arabs under the Ottoman Empire, like the Armenians. In 1915, Henry McMahon of Britain shared a correspondence with the Sharif of Mecca, promising him control of certain Arab lands in return for the Arabians' help against the Empire. The Sharif agreed and became an ally in 1916.
  • Battle of the Somme

    Battle of the Somme
    The Battle of the Somme was one of the biggest battles fought in World War One. Between July 1 and November 18 of 1916, a mixture of British, French, and German troops fought on both sides of the Somme River in France. Britain took the lead in the battle, losing some 60,000 men in the first day alone. Over the five months it was fought, a total of 1.5 million casualties were suffered, as soldiers ran straight into machine gun fire, gaining six miles of German-occupied land for the Allies.
  • German Auxiliary Service Law

    German Auxiliary Service Law
    When Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff came to power in the empire, they led the way for Germany to enter a state of total war. They, along with other military leaders, put the Auxiliary Service Law through the Reichstag. This law announced that all males between 17 and 60 were required to only work jobs that contributed to the war effort. Specific fields requiring more workers included the war factories, mines, and steel mills of Germany. Women and children also worked alongside them.
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    David Lloyd George

    David Lloyd George, once considered an opponent of war, gave his full support of the Great War for the injustice done to Belgium. He believed that Germany's naval increase was a threat and challenge, which caused Britain to waste the "People's Budget" on battleships. In 1915, he was made Ministry of Munitions, in which he did well, and in 1916, he was promoted to Secretary of State for War. Late 1916, in December, after Prime Minister Asquith was forced out of office, George took his place.
  • Tsar Nicholas II Abdicates the Throne

    Tsar Nicholas II Abdicates the Throne
    Troubles plagued Russia as they became involved in the war. The people were restless, and when the tsar departed for the front in September of 1915, all hell broke loose. March 8 brought bread riots in Petrograd, and when Nicholas ordered his troops to restore peace, they switched loyalties to support the crowds. The Duma declared a provisional government, and Nicholas left the throne, leaving power with the Duma, and later, Vladimir Lenin.
  • T.E. Lawrence

    T.E. Lawrence
    An essential key to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and removal of the Empire from the war was T.E. Lawrence, AKA Lawrence of Arabia. Trained as a British Army officer, Lawrence was a liason with the Arabian states. During the war, he fought with soldiers in guerilla operations against the army of the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, he arranged a joint attack on the crucially located but sparsely guarded city of Aqaba. Surprise was an advantage, and he and his fellow soldiers took the city.
  • Georges Clemenceau Appointed Prime Minister

    Georges Clemenceau Appointed Prime Minister
    Georges Clemenceau was a Frenchman with strong republican ideas who had worked in the government advocating a strong defense against Germany in the event of war. In 1917, he was chosen by the president to lead as the premier of France. He raised the military's moral as the war dragged on and convinced the British to unify theirs and France's armies under Ferdinand Foch of Tantes. At the war's end, he insisted on humiliating Germany at the peace conference with harsh terms and reparations.
  • Balfour Declaration

    Balfour Declaration
    A secret treaty between France and Britain, created on May 16, 1916 and called the Sykes-Picot Agreement, declared how Britain and France would divide up the Arab lands and internationalize Palestine following the war. Holding to that promise, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, in 1917, declared: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...", giving Israel back to the Jews.
  • Lenin Convinces People to Abandon War

    Lenin Convinces People to Abandon War
    As early as September of 1917, Vladimir Lenin had advocated that Russia be pulled from the war, believing that the distraction of the war would disrupt the rather shaky government he had created. A ceasefire against Germany was called for on December 2, 1917, and Leon Trotsky organized a conference in Brest-Litovsk. The Communist Party wouldn't declare peace, so Lenin used the fear of a German invasion to change their minds. On February 19, Russia sent a message of peace to Berlin.
  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

    Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
    The Russian-German conference at Brest-Litovsk began in December of 1917 and lasted through February. Leon Trotsky was the Russian negotiator, but he was incapable of satisfying the Germans. Annoyed, they threatened to resume the fighting, backing up their statement with 700,000 troops. Debate was sparked amongst the Bolsheviks, with Vladimir Lenin telling them to sign the treaty. Agreeing, it was signed on March 3, with harsh terms, including reparations and loss of land and people.
  • Second Battle of the Marne

    Second Battle of the Marne
    The Second Battle of the Marne lasted from July 15 to August 6 of 1918. It was Germany's last attempt at an offensive to put them on the winning side of the war. The British Expeditionary Force was the biggest threat to Germany, so General Ludendorff planned the battle as a diversion to attack the BEF through Flanders. The Germans took two bridgeheads in the assault, but a massive Allied counterattack of 26 divisions (two American) took the victory. The Allies took 29,367 prisoners that day.
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    German Revolution

    The November Revolution in Germany shared much with the Russian March Revolution in 1917. Both followed military defeat and consisted of the lower classes overthrowing their authoritarian rulers to replace them with more liberal governments. However, the German revolt took place with much less violence. Members of the Social Democratic Party helped by accepting defeat and ending the war when they took power, preventing a disintegration of the army so they could control minor uprisings.
  • World War One Armistice

    World War One Armistice
    On September 29, the Kaiser was informed that all of hope of winning the war was gone. On October 5, a telegram was sent to Washington, D.C. asking for peace, but not surrendering. When the U.S. asked for surrender. Originally, Germany refused, but in the midst of their own revolution, they did not hold out for long. The armistice was signed in a railway carriage in the Compiegne Forest in France, calling for a cease-fire. Official peace was not achieved until 1920.
  • Peace Conference of Paris

    Peace Conference of Paris
    The Paris peace conference took place about two months after the signing of the armistice. The main participants were Britain, France, and the U.S. (Germany and Austria-Hungary, being the losers, were not in attendance). Each had specific goals in mind: Clemenceau wanted to permanently weaken Germany; George wanted them punished; and Wilson wanted to establish a League of Nations. The conference lasted from January 18 to the 25th, with the result being the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Treaty of Versailles

    Treaty of Versailles
    The treaty ending the war, created sans Germany, was not completely unreasonable. Germany's lands were divided between France (who regained Alsace and Lorraine), Britain, and Japan, and Polish areas were ceded to make the new Polish state. They were to limit their army to 100,000 men, with no military fortifications to be built. Hardest to swallow was Article 231, placing all guilt for starting the war on Germany (with Austria), and declaring they pay all war indemnities.
  • War Guilt Clause

    War Guilt Clause
    Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, more commonly called the War Guilt Clause, attributed all responsibility for causing the war to Germany and Austria. This crucial part of the treaty caused hesitation by the German government to sign it because of the huge indemnity it asked to be paid, but due to the Allies' naval blockade, Germany had little choice but to sign the treaty. The indignity of the clause led to great resentment in Germany, acting as motivation when WWII occurred.
  • League of Nations

    League of Nations
    The League of Nations was the idea of Woodrow Wilson, outlined in his Fourteen Points. He brought up his plan during the Paris Peace Conference, which gave it a leg up onto the world scene. It was the first international security organization to maintain world peace, a precursor to the modern United Nations. The first council meeting took place in Paris on January 16, 1920, six days after the Treaty of Versailles went into effect, and a general assembly was called November 15, 1920 in Geneva.
  • "All Quiet on the Western Front"

    "All Quiet on the Western Front"
    Many years after the war was concluded, a German veteran named Erich Maria Remarque put out "All Quiet on the Western Front," a description of the physical and mental stress the German soldiers dealt with and how they felt after returning to the peace of their own homes. Declared a classic, it was produced as a movie in 1930, but it and "The Road Back," its sequel, were banned from Nazi Germany.