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The Road to War

The Causes of World War I There was no single event that led to the outbreak of World War I - rather there were a series of events which on their own might have not been too serious, but when combined together created the conditions for a major war to occur.

The Causes of World War I Imperialism

Many of the European countries wanted to have colonies.  They were important because they supplied the mother country with resources for their economy, and in turn the mother country sold them manufactured goods.  

They could also supply  manpower and come to the aid of the mother country in the case of  war.  

The British Empire controlled colonies around the world, including Canada, Australia , New Zealand, South Africa, and India.   

“The sun never sets on the British Empire”.   


The Russian Empire did not need colonies because it was so large and had lots of resources.

France had colonies on the continents of Africa, Asia, and in the Caribbean.                                        

Since Germany was so late in developing it had very few colonies.  Most of the good colonies had been claimed already, and there was considerable frustration on Germany’s behalf at being shut out.


There was also a degree of rivalry because the Kaiser of Germany - Wilhelm II, the Tsar of Russia - Nicholas II, and the King of Great Britain - George V, were cousins.  


Militarism is the belief in security in strength.  

If a country had a powerful military then its enemies would never attack it.  The threat of military force could also be used to intimidate any potential enemies. 

It was important therefore to build up the military, which led to  an arms race.   

Technological and industrial developments meant that large numbers of men could be quickly and inexpensively equipped with very lethal weapons (rifles, machine guns, and artillery in particular).  

A large population and conscription (compulsory military service) provided the manpower.  As a result the nations of Europe could mobilize millions of men to fight in a short span of time.


France, Germany, and Russia all wanted to have the largest and  best equipped army.  

Britain and Germany were rivals for control of the seas.  Britain is on an island which made having a strong navy very important.  

Both the British and Germans began building dreadnoughts or battleships .  They both wanted to have the largest and most powerful navy.

Militarism was intended to prevent war; instead it insured that if a war broke out both sides would be well equipped to kill each other.


Patriotism is having pride in your country.  Most countries encourage patriotism through the use of national symbols, flags, a national anthem, etc.  

Nationalism is an intense form of patriotism - a belief that your country is better than others, and that others are inferior.  

Ultra-nationalism is an extreme form of nationalism which is essentially xenophobic - a belief that your country is superior, that others are inferior, and that any means (including terrorism and assassination) are justified in advancing your national interests.  

19 year old Gavrilo Princip was a member of the Serbian ultra-nationalist group “the Black Hand”, which hated the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


An alliance is a defensive agreement - security in numbers.  If one member of an alliance is attacked then the other members of the alliance will come to its aid.  Europe was divided into two main alliances: The Triple Alliance consisting of Germany, Austria Hungary, and Italy

The Triple Entente consisting of Great Britain, France, and Russia


Although Canada was not a member of the Triple Entente this alliance was important to us because Great Britain made all of the decisions for us in international affairs. 

Other countries were "neutral" meaning that they were not allied with either side.

Although the purpose of an alliance was to prevent wars, in the event of a conflict happening between two countries the alliance system  insured that more countries were involved as their allies were dragged in.


France and Germany have a long history of antagonism towards one another.  In 1871 the two nations went to war.  

The French had expected to defeat the Germans - instead they suffered a series of crushing defeats and embarrassments which resulted in the loss of the eastern departments (provinces) of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany.  

The French did not trust the Germans, nor did the Germans trust the French.


A series of events further increased the tension between nations, including the Tangiers Crisis of 1905 and the Agadir Crisis of 1911.  

In 1905 the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, visited the city of Tangiers, in French controlled Morocco,  and made comments about Moroccan independence which inflamed French passions. 

 Both France and Germany mobilized elements of  their armies, but were able to resolve their differences peacefully at a conference in 1906


In 1911 the German Imperial Navy warship Panther visited the Moroccan port of Agadir.  

In France this was interpreted as a direct threat to French control of Morocco, while the British Royal Navy was alarmed at the prospects of Germany establishing a naval base with access to the Atlantic Ocean.  

The situation was resolved when the Panther withdrew, but both the French and British remained wary of Germany’s intentions, and strengthened their alliance.

The Balkan “Powder keg”

The Balkans are deeply divided along ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious lines.  The region includes Serbs, Croats, Hungarians, Bulgarians, as well as Muslims, and has been the site of much conflict over the years.  

The Balkans had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks, but the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and other European Powers - especially Austria Hungary - took great interest in the region along their southern border. 

In 1912 Serbia formed the Balkan League, and in two short wars succeeded in driving the Ottomans out, and almost doubling its own territory.  

As a Slavic nation Serbia shared many cultural aspects with Russia, and formed an alliance with them.  Serbia desired to unite all the Slavs, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was part of Austria Hungary.  

The Causes of World War I

Imperialism Militarism Nationalism Alliances Crises The Balkan Powder Keg All that was needed was a trigger…

The Causes of World War I

Assassination at Sarajevo

On June 28th, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Crown Prince and popular heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, visited the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina with his wife, the Archduchess Sophia.  

While touring the city a small bomb was thrown at their car - fortunately it did not go off until they were already safely past.  

The Crown Prince was assured that there would be no further incidents, but while travelling in a car from the City Hall, an assassin, 19 year old Gavrilo Princip, jumped onto their car and shot both the Archduke and Archduchess.

Sophia died almost instantly; Franz Ferdinand lingered for a short while before he died.

Assassination at Sarajevo

Princip was immediately arrested.  

The police discovered that he was part of a Serbian Ultra-nationalist group called “The Black Hand”.  

Authorities intercepted a coded message to Serbia that “the sale of the horses went well”, indicating that this was part of a larger conspiracy.  

Austria-Hungary was outraged!  Their popular Crown Prince had been murdered, and they wanted justice!  They sent an ultimatum to Serbia. 

Assassination at Sarajevo

The Serbs must condemn the violence against Austria-Hungary.  

The Serbs must hand over the conspirators to Austria-Hungary for justice

The Serbs must allow Austro-Hungarian officials into Serbia to investigate and pursue the terrorists.

Serbia agreed to all the conditions of the ultimatum except the last.  They did not want Austria-Hungary to compromise their sovereignty.  

This did not prove acceptable to Austria-Hungary, and started the chain of events that led to war!

Trench Warfare

War in the Trenches

When the Schlieffen Plan failed, both sides (German and French/British) “went to ground” – looking for the relative safety of low spots such as ditches or shell craters

Dug trenches to protect their troops

 They set about improving and fortifying their positions                                 

Each trench was about 2 m deep and protected at the top by sandbags

To keep feet dry, duckboards were added, though they rarely worked

The ideal versus the reality

The battlefields of N. France and Belgium were fought over mostly flat lowlands, sometimes below sea level

In the Spring and Fall heavy rains soak the earth, creating a quagmire of mud

As the war continued, the rain, combined with the constant churning of soil from artillery shells largely turned the battlefield into a “moonlike” surface

Staying dry became its own kind of battle for soldiers, as the constant dampness spread disease, as bloated corpses rotted in the damp, muddy battlefield

The Landscape of France and Belgium

While early trenches were made from road ditches or self dug holes, as the war wore on both sides built ever increasing defensive positions

Trench lines were dug behind the “front line” to house reserve units

Machine gun nests were set up in small intervals with overlapping fields of fire

Barracks were dug underground to house soldiers during shelling

Underground railroads were built to bring supplies to the front

Barbed wire was placed in front of the trench to slow down attackers

Constantly Improved Defences 

Between the opposing front line trenches was a narrow strip of territory called no-man’s-land

The ground was heavily cratered by artillery, and criss crossed with barbed wire entanglements 

Rifle and machine gun fire splattered across no-man’s-land whenever  a soldier detected movement in the enemy trenches

Shells flew from behind front lines, spraying shrapnel everywhere


The ground was littered with the unburied corpses of soldiers killed in earlier battles

The soldiers often pitched cans of excrement into no-man’s land 

The stench was often overpowering….


Officers would order an advance which meant going out of the trench and running across no-man’s-land, fully exposed to enemy fire

Barbed wire stretched across the new patch of no-man’s-land if troops managed to capture the enemy’s front line

A few meters could be won or lost

Hundreds or thousands of soldiers might be killed in the process, and the whole dreary business would begin all over again

Over the Top

Soldiers fought, ate, and slept in the trenches

1 week in the front line

1 week in the secondary trenches

1 week in reserve trenches

1 week in billets, and then back into the rotation

In the winter, soldiers froze in the snow and sleet; in the spring and fall heavy rain  resulted in trenches waist deep with icy water, and fields of mud

Summer brought heat, clouds of dust, swarms of flies, the stench of decay, and the likelihood of attack…

Day to Day Life – Hurry up and Wait
Passchendaele – August, 1917

There’s  an old saying – an army marches on its stomach

Food was an important part of a soldier’s day

Soldiers were expending huge  quantities of energy while in the trenches

Working on “fatigues” and maintaining their lines

Simply trying to stay alive – especially in the winter

Normal caloric intake for  an adult male is ~ 2000 calories per  day – troops in the line might consume 2 to 3 times that amount.


The  army tried to provide at least one hot meal to the troops each day

Food came forward in “dixies” or hayboxes  in an attempt to keep it warm

After  a time all of the food took on a similar taste 


If  the cooks  were unable to bring  the food forward troops would have to eat “Iron Rations” – canned  and preserved food


Bully Beef

M & V = meat  and veg

Maconchie = stew

Plum and apple jam

The food was often unappealing – but it beat going hungry

Food – Iron Rations

Safe water  was often in short supply; soldiers carried a water bottle for drinking only.

Water  was often brought forward in old gasoline cans, so it had an aroma of gas about it.

Soldiers usually made “black tea” –  heated / boiled on a “Tommy cooker”, sweetened with molasses and cut with condensed milk

Soldiers were also given a “tot” of rum each day


Soldiers  in the trenches had to contend with long periods of limited activity

Priorities were  keeping your self, your  rifle and equipment clean 



Reading letters from home / writing letters

Playing cards – especially euchre  and cribbage

Collecting / making souvenirs 



Horrors of the Trenches

Lice – infested clothes  and bedding = being lousy

The troops picked them off, this was known as chatting

The trenches were a breeding ground of disease due to unsanitary conditions –




Small wounds quickly 

became septic


Enemy snipers would try to locate the latrines in order     to harass the troops

You didn’t wanted to die  “with your pants down” so rather than using the latrines, troops would sometimes use old ration cans and toss the  excrement into no- man’s landTrench Foot and Trench Mouth

This was caused by prolonged exposure to polluted water

The  constant noise was often unbearable 

Machine guns

Snipers and rifle fire

Whiz-bangs, rifle grenades, and trench mortars

Light, medium and heavy artillery

Shell Shock

Four-fifths of shell shock cases were never able to return to military duty

Gas (chlorine, mustard, etc.)

At night it was the scariest time to be in the trenches

Small units would go on “trench raids” where you would attempt to sneak into the enemy trench and take prisoners, steal intelligence, and create panic

Shelling was constant, flares brightened the night sky

A “stand-to” was a 1.5 hr period at dusk and dawn when attacks would generally be launched.

A soldier would stand on the firing line for that entire time with rifle loaded, bayonet fixed, until the “stand-down” order was given. Then breakfast was served

Nighttime in the Trenches

Global History -  WWII

Battles Part 2, the Pacific, Dieppe

Battle of
Hong Kong

Britain wanted to reinforce its colony, Hong Kong – fear of a Japanese attack

Canada loaned 2 battalions: 1,975 personal).  They were under trained

Canada believed there would be plenty of time to get its troops in Hong Kong battle ready.

Canadians arriving in Hong Kong

November 1941

Dec 7, 1941

Mass Japanese offensive 

Japanese attacked U.S.A. – Pearl Harbor, Malaya, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and Hong Kong

USA joins the war

Canadians see combat for the first time in WW2

Hong Kong

December 8-25, 1941

A quick and decisive victory for the Japanese.  The Canadian rookies were no match for the battle ready and hardened Japanese

Canadians surrendered on Christmas day, 1941 – “Black Christmas”

Battle of Hong Kong aftermath

3 years, 8 months of Japanese Imperial rule in Hong Kong

Japanese army terrorized local populations (murder, rape, looting)

1,689 Canadians became POWs. It's thought that 1,405 survived the camps in Hong Kong and Japan. They would be liberated in August 1945 when the Japanese surrender

Dieppe – Summer 1942


The War to Date:  1942

Hitler and Mussolini controlled Europe

Japan attacked US and Britain (Canada)  in the Pacific

Dieppe Raid - August 1942

Dieppe was a coastal French city that was being held by the Germans. 


A Canadian operation

Our first attempted landing on W. Europe since Dunkirk

900 Cdn. Soldiers were killed, 2000 taken prisoner

Learned many lessons that would be put to use on D-Day 

Dieppe continued

Why did the Allies choose to raid Dieppe?

Public opinion-- the Commonwealth was enraged at the falling of Hong Kong

Soviet Union—providing relief for Russia 

Soldiers—restless from no activity

Tested German coastal defenses and might help to plan a full-scale invasion.

The Invasion

Dieppe Invasion

1942, Aug. 9, 5,000 Canadians landed at Dieppe to take the town

Allied ships got off course and were spotted by Germans while crossing the English Channel.  

The Canadians failed to surprise the Germans and many soldiers died.

raid was late, Germans were ready, many killed before the beach

town was fortified with artillery, barbed wire, land mines & tanks

Why Dieppe

Intelligence—didn’t realize how strong the German defenses were

Geography—the Allies attacked a fortified beach without bombing it first

Bad planning---the Allies left too late and the Germans spotted them

Lessons learned

Much stronger military forces needed to break through the lines.

higher number of forces must be held in reserve for second attack

Aerial and naval bombardment needed before attack

These lessons were used in the planning of the D-Day invasion

Global History

Blitzkrieg and the Battles


Blitzkrieg – Lightening War

Relentless Nazi air and ground attack using Stuka dive-bombers, tanks and mobilized infantry

Was quick and took the enemy by surprise

Sept 1939, Spring 1940

Sept 1939 - crushed:  

Poland > 1 month

The Phony War (Spring 1940) when no fighting took place

Spring 1940 - Crushed:  

Denmark - 1 day

Norway - 2 days

The Netherlands – 5 days

Belgium – 18 days

France – 6 weeks

Spring 1940 - Dunkirk

Fall of France

British and French troops pushed back to the English Chanel by advancing German soldiers – town of Dunkirk

Britain could not afford to have any naval ships sunk during an attempted rescue

Fisherman, ferry boats and pleasure sailors rescued trapped British soldiers. 

350 000 rescued, equipment left behind 

Blitzkrieg – the strategy

Air attack

Take out strategic sites

Create chaos in civilian population

Paratroopers secure strategic sites

Armored tank attack – break through into towns (create an entry ‘column’)

Infantry attack (troops arrive in truck loads – enter after tanks

City surrenders

“blood, toil, tears, and

Summer 1940

Britain stood alone in Europe

Winston Churchill – Britain’s new P.M. “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”

Halifax – assembling convoys (food, weapons, soldiers)

Eiffel Tower – 1889 centennial  

of French Revolution

Battle of Britain

British air force (RAF) and navy controlled the 50km Channel, separating Britain from France

Germany needed to control the skies over the Channel before its planned invasion fleet could sail

Battle of Britain continued

July 10, 1940 German air force Luftwaffe set out to clear the skies

Targeted radar stations, airfields, ports and factories

Slowly the first RAF planes were wiped out

Battle of Britain

August – RAF bombed Berlin

commander of the German air force, Herman Goering retaliated with the “blitz”  - bombing cities with the intention of terrorizing the civilian population into surrendering

London bombed 57 consecutive nights. By the end of May 1941, 

over 43,000 civilians had been killed by bombing, ½ in London

Battle of Britain continued

Londoners responded by moving into air-raid shelters, subway stations, reopening their stores every day and just “carrying on”

British resistance grew stronger, not weaker

Battle of Britain continued

London raids allowed few remaining spitfires and Hurricanes to regroup:

new pilots were trained

Planes came off assembly lines at about 500/month

Sept 15, 1940: Luftwaffe attacked but the RAF was ready.  The Luftwaffe was decidedly beaten!

Battle of Britain continued

Battle of Britain won by a few hundred pilots:




South Africans

New Zealanders

RAF lost 915 planes, Luftwaffe lost 1,722 planes

Never was so much owed to so few

Winston Churchill

What did he mean?

WW2, a new direction for Hitler

If Hitler could not wipe out Britain, he would turn against the Soviet Union

WWII overview

Sept 1939

Invasion of 


Spring 1940

W. Europe Blitzkrieg

Fall of:  Denmark, 

Norway, Netherlands, 

Belgium, France

- Miracle at Dunkirk

Summer 1940

Battle of Britain

June 1941

O. Barbarossa

Nazi invasion of

the Soviet Union

Dec 1941

Japanese invasion

of Pearl Harbor

Hong, Kong, and

Many islands in 

The Pacific

U.S. Join the war





Sept. 1943



June 1944

D-Day – allied

Invasion of 

W. Europe

 “O. Overlord”

May 1945

V.E. Day

USSR Land Grab

Aug 1945

V.J. Day

Atom Bomb

Operation Barbarossa, June 1941

Hitler redirects his attack eastward

Breaks the non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union

Attacks the Soviet Union

The Allies and Soviets now united over a common enemy - Hitler

Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis 

powers invaded the USSR along a 

2,900 km front

Operation Barbarossa continued

The Nazi would advance into the Soviet Union until the winter 1942. 

 Hitler underestimated the strength of soviet tanks and manpower

Soviets would eventually push the Germans back

This marks the beginning of the end for the Nazis

  • June 28, 1914
    Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, are assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo.

  • July 28, 1914
    World War I begins when Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

  • August 1–28, 1914
    Germany declares war on Russia, France, and Belgium. Britain declares war on Germany. Austria declares war on Russia. Montenegro declares war on Austria. France declares war on Austria. Britain declares war on Austria. Montenegro declares war on Germany. Japan declares war on Germany. Austria declares war on Belgium.

  • September 6, 1914
    First Battle of the Marne begins. The Germans had advanced to within 30 miles of Paris, but over the next two days, the French are reinforced by 6,000 infantrymen who are transported to the front by hundreds of taxis. The Germans dig in north of the Aisne River, and the trench warfare that is to typify the Western Front for the next four years begins.

  • November 5, 1914
    Britain and France declare war on the Ottoman Empire.

  • April 22, 1915
    The Second Battle of Ypres begins. The German army initiates the modern era of chemical warfare by launching a chlorine attack on Allied trenches. Some 5,000 French and Algerian troops are killed. By war’s end, both sides have used massive quantities of chemical weapons, causing an estimated 1,300,000 casualties, including 91,000 fatalities.

  • April 25, 1915
    Landings begin on the Gallipoli Peninsula at Cape Helles (British 29th and Royal Naval divisions) and at ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Cove. The attempt to force the Dardanelles and capture the Ottoman capital at Constantinople (now Istanbul) is a disaster almost from the outset. Altogether, the Allies suffered more than 200,000 casualties during the subsequent nine-month campaign. The failed offensive becomes the war’s signal event for Australian and New Zealand troops and eventually leads to the collapse of the British government.

  • May 7, 1915
    The British ocean liner Lusitania is torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland. It sinks in just 18 minutes, and nearly 1,200 people are killed, including 128 U.S. Citizens. The ship had been carrying over 170 tons of rifle ammunition and artillery shells, and Germany felt fully justified in treating the Lusitania as a legitimate target in a declared war zone.

  • February 21, 1916
    The Battle of Verdun begins. Over the next 10 months, the French and German armies at Verdun, France, suffer over 700,000 casualties, including some 300,000 killed. By the battle’s conclusion, entire French villages had been wiped from the map; they were subsequently memorialized as having “died for France.” More than a century after the battle’s conclusion, over 10 million shells remained in the soil around Verdun, and bomb-clearing units continued to remove some 40 tons of unexploded munitions from the area annually.

  • May 31, 1916
    The British and German fleets meet 60 miles off the coast of Jutland, Denmark, in the war’s only major encounter between the world’s two largest sea powers. Although a naval arms race between Britain and Germany had been one of the causes of World War I, the clash of the battleships is largely indecisive.

  • July 1, 1916
    The First Battle of the Somme begins. The British offensive is intended to draw German attention from Verdun, and in that regard only could it be considered a success. The nearly 20,000 killed in action on July 1 marks the single bloodiest day in the history of the British army. By the time the Somme campaign ground to a halt some four and a half months later, the combined casualties of both sides topped 1,000,000.

  • March 15, 1917
    Tsar Nicholas II abdicates the throne after a week of riots in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg. The Russian Revolution saw the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty and, ultimately, the rise to power of Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

  • April 6, 1917
    The United States declares war on Germany. In his address to Congress four days earlier, U.S. Pres. Woodrow Wilson had cited Germany’s practice of unrestricted submarine warfare and the “Zimmermann Telegram” as key reasons behind the abandonment of his long-standing policy of neutrality.

  • November 20, 1917
    A British offensive at Cambrai, France, marks the first large-scale use of tanks in combat. Attacking with complete surprise, the British tanks ripped through German defenses in depth and took some 7,500 prisoners at low cost in casualties. Bad weather intervened, however, and adequate infantry reinforcements were not available to capitalize on the breakthrough. Within two weeks the British had been driven back almost to their original positions.

  • March 3, 1918
    After months of delays, the Soviet government concludes a separate peace with the Central Powers when it accepts the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Russia surrenders its claim to Ukraine, to its Polish and Baltic territories, and to Finland.

  • November 11, 1918
    Germany and the Allies conclude an armistice based largely on Wilson’s Fourteen Points. With the threat of revolution gripping German industrial centers and Allied armies on the verge of flanking the entire German defensive line, the ability of Germany to continue the war seemed doubtful at best. Nevertheless, a group of hard-core militarists, led by Erich Ludendorff, would perpetuate the “stabbed in the back” myth, claiming that Germany had been betrayed by its politicians and that the German military had been unbeaten in the field. This sentiment would do much to propel the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power in 1933.

Bismarck Diplomacy

1873- Dreikaiserbund, Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Russia v


1878- Dual Alliance, Austria and Germany v Russia

Later became Triple Alliance including Italy

Scramble for Africa

Germany gets Togo, Cameroon, German East-Africa, and SouthWest- Africa

Whole notion was diplomatically settling issues instead of resorting to War

The Schlieffen Plan

Field Marshal Alfred Graf von Schlieffen served as the Chief of Staff of

the Imperial German army from 1891 to 1906. He had fought against France in the

Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871), and saw the French as a potential threat to Germany.

Schlieffen was also worried about France’s alliance with Russia, as it put Germany right

in the middle of two powerful armies. He knew that fighting a two front war would be

very difficult, since it would mean dividing the German army into two forces to fight on

two sides.

Schlieffen developed “The Schlieffen Plan” for dealing with the dual threat. Of

the two powers, Russia ultimately wasthe most dangerous, because it had the largest army.

However, Schlieffen knew that Russia was very large, and that its army was spread out

over thousands of kilometres away from the border with Germany. He also believed

Russia had a poor transportation system, so it would take a long time before the Russians

could mobilize (get ready) their troops. He figured it would take some time for Russia to be ready to fight.

On the other hand, Schlieffen knew that France was ready to fight. The French had a series of forts and

prepared defences along the border. If the Germans attacked directly they would be slaughtered. However, the

borders between Belgium and France, and between Belgium and Germany were only lightly defended. If Germany

attacked quickly through Belgium they could hook around the defences, capture Paris, and take France out of the

war - the plan allowed six weeks to do this. Then they could turn around and deal with the Russians - possibly even

before the Russians finished mobilizing! For the plan to succeed the Germans would have to be quick, and

completely organized.

Field Marshal von Schlieffen died in January of 1913.

On August 4, 1914 the German army implemented a modified version of the Schlieffen plan. They invaded

Belgium, and demanded Belgium allow them to pass through, with the aim of breaking through to France. However,

the Belgians refused, and put up a spirited and tenacious defence, slowing the advance of the German troops.

At this time the Germans discovered a major flaw in their plan - German rail cars use a different “gauge”

and could not run on Belgian tracks - so all the German cars bearing men and equipment had to be unloaded and

moved to Belgian cars. This caused a huge delay. When the Belgians realized what the Germans were doing they

began sabotaging their own railways to slow the German advance.

Great Britain had promised to protect Belgian neutrality. When Germany attacked Belgium, Britain stepped

into the conflict, bringing Canada, Australia, and the rest of its empire with it. The British quickly sent 75,000

troops across the Channel by ferry, and they harassed and slowed the German advance.

The French were also quick to react. The French military rounded

up over 600 taxis in Paris, and used them to rush 6,000 troops to the front,

clashing with the Germans at the Marne River and stopping their advance.

Each side engaged the other with rifles, machine guns, and heavy artillery.

As the metal flew through the air the troops tried to seek protection by

finding the low ground - creeks, ditches, shell holes etc. As the fighting

continued the soldiers made their holes larger, and started connecting them

together - giving rise to the trenches which were the defining characteristic

of World War I.

CHC 2D - The Time Line of World War I

As a student of history you will gradually develop a sense of time (chronology). It is important to

know when things happened - this is not just to memorize dates, but to know the sequence of events,

because frequently one event causes or influences a later event. Complete the time line for the years 1914

to 1919. Mark sections of the line with a different colour representing each year. Arrange the following

major events into chronological order on your time line, International Events on the left, Canadian events

on the right:

International Events

June 28, 1914 - Assassination in Sarajevo

July 28, 1914 - Ultimatums and Declarations of


August 2, 1914 - Germany launches Schlieffen

Plan Attack through Belgium

August 4, 1914 - Britain declares war - Canada

is automatically at war too

September, 1914 - Germany’s Gamble Fails at

the Marne River; beginning of trench warfare

September 1914 - Russian Army faces major

defeat at Tannenberg - casualties > 1 million

May 1915 - RMS Lusitania is sunk by German

U Boat. Many Americans drowned.

Feb. 1917 - Russian Revolution begins

April 1917 - U.S. Enters the war

Sept. 1917 - Conscription Crisis in Canada

Dec. 6, 1917 - Halifax Explosion

March, 1918 - Russian Armistice & Peace

Treaty - Germany transfers troops to the

Western Front and launches “final offensive”

November 11, 1918 - Armistice on the western


Feb. 1919 - Treaty of Versailles is signed

Canadian Battles & Casualties

April 1915 - Second Ypres (6 035)

May, 1915 - Festubert (2 468)

June, 1915 - Givenchy (900)

April, 1916 - St. Eloi Craters (1 373)

June, 1916 - Mount Sorrel (8 430)

The Somme: July - November 1916

Sanctuary Wood

Somme (Total for these battles - 24 029)


Regina Trench

April 1917 - Vimy Ridge (13 400)

May 1917 - Scarpe (14 000)

August 1917 - Lens & Hill 70 (9 198)

October 1917 - Passchendaele (15 654)

August, 1918 - Amiens (11 725)

August 1918 - Arras (11 000)

September 1918 - Canal du Nord (13 672)

September 1918 - Cambrai (18 000)

October 1918 - Valenciennes (380)

November 1918 - Pursuit to Mons (75)

At 11:00 a.M. On November 11th

, 1918 the Armistice came into effect. An Armistice is a ceasefire - if the

the armistice is broken and the fighting can start up again. Only when a peace treaty is signed does a war officially end.

The treaty which officially ended World War One

is known as the Treaty of Versailles, after the palace

where it was negotiated. Representatives from many

countries (including Canada) met to discuss the terms for


Germany had agreed to the Armistice in the hope

that they would be treated fairly. The three main allied

negotiators were Premier Georges Clemenceau of France,

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and President

Woodrow Wilson of the United States. These men held

very different views on what would be a fair peace.

Of all of the western Allied nations, France had

suffered the greatest losses, including the most soldiers

and the most civilians killed. Most of the fighting on the

Western Front had occurred on French soil, and huge

amounts of French property were damaged or destroyed.

Premier Clemenceau wanted revenge -the French wanted

to make sure Germany would never, ever be able to attack

them again.

Britain had also suffered very many military casualties, and a number of British civilians had been killed

during the Zeppelin bombing raids and U-boat attacks on shipping, Prime Minister Lloyd George held a more

moderate but still stern view on how Germany should be treated. The British did not want revenge as such, but

wanted to hold Germany responsible for the losses and suffering that it had caused, and also to make sure Germany

would not be able to threaten Britain again in the future with submarines or aircraft.

The United States had entered the war late, in 1917. It had suffered relatively few military casualties (about

50,000 dead; compared to Canada which had lost 60,000 soldiers in the war with a population 1/10th

the size of the

US). Some US civilians had died when U-boats sank their ships while crossing the Atlantic, but the States had not

actually been attacked by Germany. President Wilson advocated for a just and fair peace with Germany, not to

punish it. His views were outlined in his “Fourteen Points”, which had helped bring about the Armistice. Wilson’s

main aim was to make Germany a democracy, so that an emperor would not be able to start a war again in the future.

Germany was not allowed to actually negotiate at the treaty conference - the Allies dictated the terms of

their peace. The French, bitter over their losses, pushed their viewpoint heavily, and in the end they dominated the

process. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in February, 1919. Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden signed

for Canada - the first major international treaty signed by a Canadian. Many Germans were very upset by the treaty,

but were powerless to act because their military forces were exhausted and their civilian population starving. The

Allies threatened to recommence the warif Germany did not comply with their demands. An Austrian-born corporal

in the German Army was particularly angry - his name was Adolf Hitler. The roots of a second World War were

planted by the Treaty of Versailles

Terms of the Treaty:

Article 42

Germany is forbidden to build any military fortifications on the left bank of the Rhine River. It may not build any

fortifications on the right bank for a distance of 50 km.

Article 45

To pay for the destruction of the coal mines in the north of France, Germany turns over to France its coal mines in

the Saar Basin for fifteen years.

Peace negotiations in the Hall of Mirrors - 1919

Article 51

The territories of Alsace and Lorraine taken from France in 1871 are restored to it.

Article 80

Germany must accept the complete independence of Austria.

Article 81

Germany must accept the complete independence of Czechoslovakia.

Article 119

Germany must give up all its rights and titles to its overseas possessions (colonies in Africa and the Far East).

Article 160

After 31 March 1920, the German army must not exceed 100000 soldiers. The army shall be used only to maintain

order within Germany and to control the frontiers.

Article 181

German naval forces must not exceed six battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve torpedo boats.

Germans are forbidden to have any submarines.

Article 198

The armed forces of Germany must not include any military air force.

Article 231

Germany must accept the responsibility for causing all the loss and damage that the Allies and their citizens have

suffered. (This is known as the "War Guilt Clause" and made many Germans very angry because it placed the blame

for starting the war on Germany)

Article 232

The Allied governments require Germany to pay for all wartime damages to the civilian population and the property

of Allied powers. (These payments are known as reparations.)

Article 23 The amount of the Reparations will be determined by an Allied Commission. (= $33 billion)

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