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Exploring American
Unit VII- The Beginning of Modern
Chapter 23 Section 1
The Road to War
The Road to War
The Big Idea
In 1914 tensions in Europe exploded into the deadliest war
the world had ever seen.
Main Ideas
• Many factors contributed to the outbreak of World War I.
• European nations suffered massive casualties in the war’s
early battles.
Main Idea 1:
Many factors contributed to the outbreak
of World War I.
• Nationalism, a
strong sense of pride
and loyalty to one’s
nation or culture,
created tension
between nations.
• Nations competed
for control of
territories both in
Europe and
• Austria-Hungary
included people from
many cultural groups.
• Germany took the
region from
France in 1871,
and France
wanted it back.
• Slavic nationalists
wanted to break
away from AustriaHungary and join the
independent Slavic
country of Serbia.
• Nations focused
resources on
militarism, the
strengthening of
armed forces.
• Raced to build
armies and navies
• Made alliances to
The Spark
• Feelings of fear and distrust grew among
European powers in the early 1900s.
• In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and
– Slavic nationalists resisted violently; wanted to be a
part of Serbia
• June 28, 1914: Archduke Francis Ferdinand of
Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo.
– Killed by a Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip
• Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia
• Nations began to mobilize, or prepare their
militaries, for war.
The Spark
Serbians feared that the Archduke would
continue and even heighten the persecution
of Serbs living within the Austro-Hungarian
Serbia had gained independence in 1878, and
claimed several regions of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. which Austria-Hungary officially
The Serbian terrorist organization, the Black
Hand, would carry out the assassination of
the Archduke. First the Black Hand
operatives tossed a bomb at the Archduke's
automobile. This missed.
The Archduke's chauffeur took a wrong turn
and drove within ten feet of another Black
Hand agent, Gavrilo Princip. Princip stepped
up to the car and fired two pistol shots. One
bullet hit Sophie, killing her instantly. The
other hit Francis Ferdinand, who died within
minutes. Princip attempted suicide, but was
captured before succeeding.
Pulled into the Fighting
Allied Powers
• Russia, an ally of Serbia
• France, an ally of Russia
• Belgium, brought into the fighting because Germany marched
through it to get to France
• Great Britain, an ally of Belgium
Central Powers
• Austria-Hungary
• Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary
The Great War- Two Sides
• Allied PowersTriple Entente
Great Britain
United States
• Central PowersTriple Alliance
Germany Empire
Turkish Empire
Causes of World War I
• No one event or person caused the Great War. There were
many factors that contributed to mobilization of the
Five Major factors often identified
as causes of World War I (but not
causes of U.S. entry)
Events or Economics
World War I Begins - The Great War
• Kaiser Wilhelm II on July 5th
pledged that Germany would
fully support Austria-Hungary
in any action against Serbia.
On July 23, 1914, AustriaHungary presented Serbia with
a lengthy list of demands.
On July 28, 1914, AustriaHungary declared war on
Serbia. World War I had
Schlieffen Plan
Both sides originally believed that the Great War
would be over quickly.
In Germany, this belief was based on a long
established war strategy called the Schlieffen Plan.
Start with a German army invading Belgium(avoiding
eastern French Forts) to reach Paris.
The German generals were so confident of success
that Kaiser Wilhelm II proclaimed that he would have
"Paris for lunch, St. Petersburg for dinner."
The plan required precise timing, with no
interruptions in the timetable -- its first objective was
to capture Paris in precisely 42 days, and force the
French to surrender. The German armies would then
shift their focus to the eastern front and defeat the
Russians before they were fully prepared to fight.
It started quickly on Aug. 2, 1914 with Germany
invading Luxembourg and Belgium, but the British,
French and Russians mobilized quicker than
Outbreak of War
• Define- What is nationalism?
• Identify Cause and Effect- Why
did other countries join the fight
between Austria-Hungary and Serbia?
• Analyze- How had European Nations
prepared for war?
Main Idea 2:
European nations suffered massive
casualties in the war’s early battles.
• The French army blocked the German advance at the
Marne River, east of Paris, in September 1914.
– The First Battle of Marne marked the first major battle of the
– French and German forces faced each other along a long
battle line known as the western front.
• Russian and German armies struggled back and forth on
the eastern front.
• The war became a stalemate– a situation in which neither
side can win a decisive victory.
• Clear that this war would be longer than expected.
The First Battle of the Marne
• The German army quickly advanced through northern France and
after only one month of fighting were barely 25 miles from Paris.
• The French, however, would not give up.
The Battle
• The French launched a
counterattack along the Marne
River east of Paris on September
7, 1914.
• This battle became known as the
First Battle of the Marne.
• 2 million men fought on a battlefront that stretched 125 miles.
• After five days and 250,000
deaths, the French had rallied
and pushed the Germans back
some 40 miles. 600 taxicabs
were even used to get men to
the front.
The Aftermath
• The French paid a heavy
price, as countless redcoated French troops had
fallen in the battle.
• Despite the loss of life, it
helped the Allies by giving
Russia more time to mobilize
for war.
• Once Russia mobilized,
Germany had to pull some
of its troops out of France
and send them to fight
Russia on the Eastern Front,
which stretched from the
Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.
The War Reaches a Stalemate
• The First Battle of the Marne ended in a stalemate, and both French and
German soldiers dug trenches, or deep ditches, to defend their positions and
seek shelter from enemy fire.
By late 1914, two massive systems of trenches stretched 400 miles across
Western Europe, and the battle lines known as the Western Front extended
from Switzerland to the North Sea.
Trench warfare, or fighting from trenches, was an old strategy that had been
used in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
This trench warfare, however, was different because of its scale.
– Soldiers lived in trenches, surrounded by machine-gun fire, flying grenades,
and exploding artillery shells.
– Opposing forces had machine guns pointed at enemy trenches at all times,
firing whenever a helmet or rifle appeared over the top.
– Thousands of men that ran into the area between the trenches, known as
“no-man’s-land,” were chopped down by enemy fire.
Neither the Allies nor the Germans were able to make significant advances,
creating a stalemate, or deadlock.
Realities of War- The Trenches, Weapons and Death – 3:30
Technology of War
• Trench warfare, defending a position by fighting from the protection
of deep ditches, helped make the war long and deadly.
– Cold, wet, and muddy
– Disease ran rampant
• New technologies made land warfare even more deadly
– Machine guns
– Poison gases
– Tanks
• Airplanes used in large-scale battle for the first time
– Fired down on soldiers in the trenches
– Gathered information on enemy locations
– Battled each other in the air in “dogfights”
• Fighting in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea
• Used Naval blockades and mines to block supply lines
• U-boats, German submarines, launched torpedoes against
Allied supply ships.
New Weapons of War
Poisonous Gas
German military
experimented with
gas as a weapon.
• Both sides used
planes to map and
to attack trenches
from above.
Gas in battle was
risky: Soldiers didn’t
know how much to
use, and wind
changes could
backfire the gas.
• When soldiers
began to carry gas
masks, they still
faced a stalemate.
• British forces soon
developed armored
tanks to move into
Then Germans threw
canisters of gas into
the Allies’ trenches.
• These tanks had
limited success
because many got
stuck in the mud.
Many regretted using
gas, but British and
French forces began
using it too, to keep
things even.
• Germans soon
found ways to
destroy the tanks
with artillery fire.
• Planes first
dropped brinks and
heavy objects on
enemy troops.
• Soon they
mounted guns and
bombs on planes.
• Skilled pilots
sought in air
battles called
• The German Red
Baron downed 80
Allied planes, until
he was shot down.
A New Kind of Warfare
• Word of Germany’s invasion of Belgium quickly spread to France and other
European nations.
French troops mobilized to meet approaching German divisions.
– They looked much as French soldiers did over 40 years earlier, wearing
bright red coats and heavy brass helmets.
– The German troops dressed in gray uniforms that worked as camouflage
on the battlefield.
French war strategy had not changed much since the 1800s.
– French soldiers marched row by row onto the battlefield, with bayonets
mounted to their field rifles, preparing for close combat with the Germans.
– The Germans, however, had many machine guns, and mowed down some
15,000 French troops per day in early battle.
– A well-trained German machine-gun team could set up equipment in four
seconds, and each machine gun matched the firepower of 50 to 100 French
Many Europeans wrongly thought these technological advances would make
the war short and that France would be defeated in two months.
• The Allies used four "types" of trenches. The
first, the front-line trench (or firing-andattack trench), was located from 50 yards to
1 mile from the German's front trench.
Several hundred yards behind the front-line
trench was the support trench, with men and
supplies that could immediately assist those
on the front line. The reserve trench was dug
several hundred yards further back and
contained men and supplies that were
available in emergencies should the first
trenches be overrun.
• Connecting these trenches were
communication trenches, which allowed
movement of messages, supplies, and men
among the trenches. Some underground
networks connected gun emplacements and
bunkers with the communication trenches.
Trenches were not built in straight lines. This was
so that if the enemy managed to get into the front
line trench they would not have a straight firing
line along the trench. Trenches were therefore
built with alternating straight and angled lines.
The traverse was the name given to the angled
parts of the trench.
The typical front-line trench was about 6 to 8 feet
deep and wide enough for two men to pass.
Dugouts in the sides of the trenches protected
men during enemy fire. Barbed wire helped
protect the firing trench from surprise attacks.
Between the enemy lines lay a stretch of ground
called "no man's land." Soldiers generally served
at the front line from a few days to a week and
then rotated to the rear for a rest
Every soldier carried iron rations -- emergency
food that consisted of a can of bully beef, biscuits
and a tin of tea and sugar.
Except during an attack, life fell into a dull routine. Some soldiers stood guard. Others repaired
the trenches, kept telephone lines in order, brought food from behind the battle lines, or did other
jobs. At night, patrols fixed the barbed wire and tried to get information about the enemy.
Trenches- Trench Foot
• Much of the land where the trenches
were dug was either clay or sand. The
water could not pass through the clay
and because the sand was on top, the
trenches became waterlogged when it
rained. The trenches were hard to dig
and kept on collapsing in the
waterlogged sand. As well as trenches the
shells from the guns and bombs made big
craters in the ground. The rain filled up
the craters and then poured into the
• Soldiers who spent prolonged periods of
time standing in waterlogged trenches
were liable to suffer from frostbite and/or
trench foot. To prevent trench foot,
soldiers were instructed to change their
socks frequently, wear waterproof
footwear and to cover their feet with
whale oil.
Rats, Lice and Trench Fever
Many men killed in the trenches were buried almost where they fell. If a trench
subsided, or new trenches or dugouts were needed, large numbers of decomposing
bodies would be found just below the surface. These corpses, as well as the food
scraps that littered the trenches, attracted rats. One pair of rats can produce 880
offspring in a year and so the trenches were soon swarming with them.
Men in the trenches suffered from lice. Various methods were used to remove the
lice. A lighted candle was fairly effective but the skill of burning the lice without
burning your clothes was only learnt with practice. Where possible the army
arranged for the men to have baths in huge vats of hot water while their clothes
were being put through delousing machines. Unfortunately, this rarely worked. A
fair proportion of the eggs remained in the clothes and within two or three hours of
the clothes being put on again a man's body heat had hatched them out.
As well as causing frenzied scratching, lice also carried disease. This was known as
pyrexia or trench fever. The first symptoms were shooting pains in the shins and
was followed by a very high fever. Although the disease did not kill, it did stop
soldiers from fighting and accounted for about 15% of all cases of sickness in the
British Army.
Soldiers in the trenches often depended on impure water collected from shell-holes
or other cavities, causing dysentery.
Early Battles of the War
• Make Inferences- What effect did having
fronts in the west, north and east have on
the German and Russian Armies?
Evaluate- What is a possible reason that
soldiers felt safe in the trenches at the
onset of the war?
Describe- What was living in a trench
Identify Cause and Effect- The arrival of
tanks ended what type of fighting
Submarines - U-Boats
1:15 min.
Submarines - U-Boats
• Torpedoes were used by submarines.
The Germans used torpedoes to blow
up ships carrying supplies from
America to Britain.
• In February 1915 the German
government announced its solution to
the problem -- unrestricted submarine
warfare. The Germans realized they
didn't have to capture a merchant ship,
just sink it - crew and all. They
declared a war zone around the British
Isles within which they would sink any
allied merchant vessel on sight.
• The Germans torpedoed the passenger
liner Lusitania on May 1st 1915 which
sank with a loss of 1,195 lives.
Americans were outraged and joined
the war in 1917 on the side of the allies.
Early Battles of the War
• Explain- How did the Germans
respond to the British port
• Predict- What do you think
neutral countries might do after
German U-boats attacked their
Total War on the Western Front
In the spring of 1915 the trenches along the western front were
filled with millions of soldiers, at the average rate of one
soldier per four inches of trench. The job behind the front lines
was to keep the men fed, equipped and ready to continue the
fighting until the end came.
Since both sides targeted both civilians and military personnel,
and mobilized men and resources at an unprecedented rate,
the Great War was a "total war”.
This total war effected the lives of many different people:
in some communities unprecedented casualty rates especially
among young officers stripped young women of all their male
West African soldiers were shipped in from the colonies to fight in
the trenches;
brave Englishwomen traded other jobs for more dangerous jobs in
weapons factories. Everyone was affected. T
he first genocide of the 20th century -- the ultimate form of total
war against civilians -- was also part of this conflict. Over the next
two years the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey was
uprooted and expelled to the desert regions of Mesopotamia. In the
process between 500,000 to one million Armenians where killed or
died of exposure or disease.
Slaughter on the Western Front
Impersonal killing- Hand to hand, sword, rifle, machine
gun, bomb and airplane
1914- each side lost a 1/2 million men
1915- British and French advance was less than 3 miles
anywhere. France lost 1.5 million men
In early 1916, the British had over 1 million men in
Belgium and France, while the French and German
armies had re-supplied their front line troops. The
stage was set for both sides to try to make the
breakthrough on the battlefield that would assure each
victory. By 1916’s end, both sides would lose nearly one
million men with very little change in position of the
front line trenches
1916 Battle of the Somme- 5 months. Germans lost over
600,000 men. 20,000 British soldiers died in one day.
Before the end of the war over 10 million men would die on
both sides. Another 10 million civilians from disease,
starvation, and revolutions.
1918- German trenches were 50 miles from Paris, the
German hope was to reach Paris and defeat the French
before the Americans came into the war.
World War I Casualties
Central Powers
Austria-Hungary 1,200,000
Italy 680,000
Japan 1,344
65 million mobilized both sides
Montenegro 3,000
8.5 million killed
Portugal 8,145
21 million wounded
Romania 300,000
7.7 million POW’s and missing
37million total casualties
57% of all men mobilized
Belgium 45,550
British Empire 942,135
France 1,368,000
Greece 23,098
Russia 1,700,000
Serbia 45,000
United States 116,516
Bulgaria 87,495
Germany 1,935,000
Ottoman Empire 725,000
Total Casualties
Over the Top - An Interactive Adventure
15 min or the entire period.
• Over The Top
Weapons of World War I
If there is time
• The main weapon used by
British soldiers in the trenches
was the bolt-action rifle. 15
rounds could be fired in a
minute and a person 1,400
meters away could be killed.
• The single-shot, bigger-bore
rifle was the subject of
development in the latter
portion of the nineteenth
century, with the result that
the major powers introduced
new models that were smallbore,
capable of firing multiple
rounds from a spring-loaded
clip inserted into a rifle
Rifles, Bayonets and Hand guns
Veterans of the Great War, when interviewed, tended to
play down the impact of the bayonet during the war.
Many remarked (partly in jest) that the bayonet was
used primarily as a splendid means of toasting bread,
and for opening cans, to scrape mud off uniforms,
poking a trench brazier or even to assist in the
preparation of communal latrines
In essence a bayonet is simply a simply a blade that is
attached to the barrel of a rifle for use in close combat.
Most bayonets were of simple design, of the knife
variety, although variations existed. For example the
French devised a needle blade for use on Lebel rifles.
Notoriously, the German army produced a 'saw-back'
blade that, as its name suggests, gave the appearance
of a saw with its double row of teeth on the back edge.
One advantage of using a bayonet in close crowded
combat, as opposed to a rifle or handgun, was its
avoidance of risk in injuring one's fellow soldiers. A
bullet fired at close range into an enemy could well pass
through his body and enter a friend standing (or
fighting) behind him.
There was undeniably
psychological value to the
infantry in carrying a bayonet,
even if in practice it was seldom
used. Bayonets continued to be
commonly issued in the Second
World War.
Hand guns
• The pistol, originally designed as a cavalry
weapon, was the staple weapon for a variety of
personnel during World War One (and beyond).
Traditionally issued to officers of all armies the
pistol was also issued to military police, airmen
and tank operators.
• Reasons for Pistol Use
• For men involved in the latter professions the
pistol was essentially the only weapon that
would serve under their unique environments:
the cramped conditions of both the tank and
aircraft dictated that the rifle - which was
otherwise issued to virtually all regular soldiers was impractical.
• Three Basic Types
• When war began there were three types of pistol
in general use: revolvers, clip-loaded automatics
and the so-called 'blow-back' models (where
expanding propellant gas caused the gun to
reload by forcing the bolt back when fired).
Colt 45
Machine Gun
• Horses were still being used during
WWI, but the machine gun was
devastating to both men and horse.
This marked the end of the horses
usefulness in war, millions of horses
would die.
• Machine guns, usually positioned on a
flat tripod, would require a gun crew
of four to six operators. They had the
fire-power of 100 guns.
• The 1914 machine gun, in theory,
could fire 400-600 small-caliber
rounds per minute, a figure that was
to more than double by the war's end,
with rounds fed via a fabric belt or a
metal strip.
Machine Gun
• The reality however was that these early machine guns would
rapidly overheat and become inoperative without the aid of
cooling mechanisms; they were consequently fired in short
rather than sustained bursts. Cooling generally took one of two
forms: water cooled and, increasingly as the war developed, air
cooled. Water jackets would be provided for the former (which
held around one gallon of liquid) and air vents would be built
into the machine gun for the latter
• Water cooled machine guns would still overheat relatively
quickly (sometimes within two minutes), with the consequence
that large supplies of water would need to be on hand in the
heat of a battle - and, when these ran out, it was not unknown
for a machine gun crew to solve the problem by urinating into
the jacket.
• Whether air or water cooled, machine guns still jammed
frequently, especially in hot conditions or when used by
inexperienced operators. Consequently machine guns would
often be grouped together to maintain a constant defensive
Poison Gas
• Considered uncivilized prior to
World War One, the development
and use of poison gas was
necessitated by the requirement of
wartime armies to find new ways
of overcoming the stalemate of
unexpected trench warfare.
• First Use by the French
• Although it is popularly believed
that the German army was the
first to use gas it was in fact
initially deployed by the French. In
the first month of the war, August
1914, they fired tear-gas grenades
(xylyl bromide) against the
Germans. Nevertheless the
German army was the first to give
serious study to the development
of chemical weapons and the first
to use it on a large scale
Austria-Hungary 100,000
British Empire
Russia 419,340
Poison Gas
• The German army were the first to use
chlorine gas at the battle of Ypres in 1915.
Chlorine gas causes a burning sensation in
the throat and chest pains. Death is painful
– you suffocate! The problem with chlorine
gas is that the weather must be right. If the
wind is in the wrong direction it could end
up killing your own troops rather than the
• In
undertaken to deliver the gas payload in
artillery shells. This provided the additional
benefits of increasing the target range as
well as the variety of gases released.
• Phosgene
• Following on the heels of chlorine gas came
the use of phosgene. Phosgene as a
weapon was more potent than chlorine in
that while the latter was potentially deadly
it caused the victim to violently cough and
Poison Gas
• Mustard Gas
• Mustard gas was the most deadly weapon used. It
was fired into the trenches in shells. It is colorless
and takes 12 hours to take effect. Effects include –
blistering skin, vomiting, sore eyes, internal and
external bleeding. Death can take up to 5 weeks.
• Remaining consistently ahead in terms of gas
warfare development, Germany unveiled an
enhanced form of gas weaponry against the
Russians at Riga in September 1917: mustard gas
(or Yperite) contained in artillery shells.
• Mustard gas, an almost odorless chemical, was
distinguished by the serious blisters it caused both
internally and externally, brought on several hours
after exposure. Protection against mustard gas
proved more difficult than against either chlorine or
phosgene gas.
• The use of mustard gas - sometimes referred to as
Yperite - also proved to have mixed benefits. While
inflicting serious injury upon the enemy the
chemical remained potent in soil for weeks after
release: making capture of infected trenches a
dangerous undertaking.
Poison Gas- Mustard Gas effects
• Tanks were used for the
first time in the First World
War at the Battle of the
Somme. They were
developed to cope with the
conditions on the Western
Front. The first tank was
called ‘Little Willie’ and
needed a crew of 3. Its
maximum speed was 3mph
and it could not cross
• The more modern tank was
not developed until just
before the end of the war.
It could carry 10 men, had
a revolving turret and could
reach 4 mph
• By the time the war
drew to a close the
British, the first to use
them, had produced
some 2,636 tanks. The
rather more, 3,870.
The Germans, never
convinced of its merits,
innovation, produced
just 20.
• The basic idea of a flame-thrower is to
spread fire by launching burning fuel. The
earliest flame-throwers date as far back
as the 5th century B.C. These took the
form of lengthy tubes filled with burning
solids (such as coal or sulfur), and which
were used in the same way as blow-guns:
by blowing into one end of the tube the
solid material inside would be propelled
towards the operator's enemies.
• Quite aside from the worries of handling
the device - it was entirely feasible that
the cylinder carrying the fuel might
unexpectedly explode - they were marked
men; the British and French poured riflefire into the area of attack where
Flammenwerfers were used, and their
operators could expect no mercy should
they be taken prisoner. Their life
expectancy was therefore short.
During the war the Germans
launched in excess of 650
flame-thrower attacks; no
numbers exist for British or
French attacks.
The British bombing team usually consisted of
nine men at a time: an NCO, two throwers, two
carriers, two bayonet-men to defend the team and
two 'spare' men for use when casualties were
As an attack or raid reached an enemy trench the
grenadiers would be responsible for racing down
the trench and throwing grenades into each
dugout they passed: this invariably succeeded in
purging dugouts of their human occupants in an
attempt at surrender (often not accepted as they
were promptly shot or stabbed).
Grenades - either hand or rifle driven - were
detonated in one of two ways. They were either
detonated on impact (percussion) or via a timed
Generally speaking, infantrymen preferred timed
fuses (of whatever amount of time) to percussion
devices, since there remained the constant risk of
accidentally jolting a grenade while in a trench
and setting off an explosion.
Mortars and Artillery
Large field guns had a long range and could deliver
devastating blows to the enemy but needed up to 12
men to work them. They fired shells which exploded on
mortar is essentially a short, stumpy tube designed to
fire a projectile at a steep angle (by definition higher
than 45 degrees) so that it falls straight down on the
The chief advantage of the mortar was that it could be
fired from the (relative) safety of the trench, avoiding
exposure of the mortar crews to the enemy.
Furthermore, it was notably lighter and more mobile
than other, larger artillery pieces. And, of course, the
very fact that the mortar bomb fell almost straight
down meant that it would (with luck) land smack in the
enemy trench.
Mortars were variously used to take out enemy
machine gun posts, suspected sniper posts or other
designated features. Larger mortars were occasionally
used to cut enemy barbed wire, generally in situations
were field artillery could not be used.
• The Zeppelin, also
known as blimp was
an airship that was
used during the early
part of the war in
bombing raids by the
Germans. They carried
machine guns and
bombs. However,
they were abandoned
because they were
easy to shoot out of
the sky.
• Planes were also used for the
first time. At first they were used
to deliver bombs and for spying
work but became fighter aircraft
armed with machine guns,
bombs and some times cannons.
Fights between two planes in
the sky became known as
• Light
adopted too for incorporation
into aircraft from 1915 onwards,
particularly with the German
equipment, which enabled the
pilot to fire the gun through the
aircraft's propeller blades.
World War I Disabilities
• Over 1.65 million men
in the British Army were
wounded during the
First World War. Of
these, around 240,000
British soldiers suffered
total or partial leg or
arm amputations as a
result of war wounds.
Most of these men were
fitted with artificial