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Causes of the War:

• Nationalism,
• Industrialization (economic growth), which gave industrialized nations the ability to wage
mechanized war for long periods of time – an advantage over other countries
• Tensions between industrialized nations grew after 1900 as each country tried to increase its
influence and power – the unification of central European states into Germany in 1870 created
another industrial power by 1900 and as the country sought to expand its territory in order to
sustain its economic growth, it became a threat to other countries
• The Balkan states fronted the sea corridor for trade from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean
that the industrial nations needed – see http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/maps/ for Europe in 1914
(7 animated maps together with links to excellent historian comments)
• When the Austro-Hungarian archduke by killed on June 28th by a Serbian nationalist, it gave
Austria-Hungary a reason to invade Serbia; Germany sent Russia an ultimatum to stop
mobilizing and France an ultimatum to be neutral. When Russia didn't respond and France said
it would act in its own interests, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1st and on France,
3 days later. This gave other countries an opportunity to settle “the German Question” by force
of arms.
• The Christmas truce: http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/historian/hist_wilson_03_christmas.html

Characteristics of World War One:

• initially, the outbreak of war was greeted with enthusiasm, and it was anticipated that it would
be over by Christmas, however...
• first industrial war in which machines such as machine guns and field artillery were mass
produced and used to slaughter thousands of soldiers; only those nations such as Germany and
Britain had the industrial base to continue fighting for 4 years
• “Total War” - governments took control of domestic resources so they could control materials,
resources, food, everything that supported the war effort – all industrial processes and domestic
institutions were centrally organized for a total war effort (eg. Women working in factories,
food rationed, conscription, etc.) -see http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/chapters/ch2_overview.html
and Stockwell's story of the Christmas Day soccer match
• war technology changed – the automatic machine gun, tanks, poison gas, airplanes, German U-
boats infiltrated the sea lanes around Britain and this attempt to starve England into
surrendering provoked the US into entering the war in 1917 – Germany and Austria Hungary
did not have the resources to continue the war (although Germany had won the war in the east
against Russia)
• it was a battle of attrition and left 10 million dead, and 21 million wounded – a lost generation
of youth, and costs were estimated at $330 billion.
• See www.pbs.org Owen “Dulce et Decorum Est” and Sasson poems – also
http://archives.cbc.ca/war_conflict/first_world_war/ and the radio program “Gas, Gas”
• Canada's involvement: http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/guerre/home-e.aspx
• Also, shortly after the war, there was an epidemic of influenza which killed millions between
1918 and 1920

Post-War Security – The Paris Peace Conference (Idealism v. Realism)

concept of “self-determination” - democratic concept (people choose (eg. Voting) with whom
they wanted to live
however, the concept was flawed because the ethic divisions in Eastern Europe were not always clearly
defined – areas of mixed ethnicity
however...the principle of self-determination drove the boundary drawing process during the peace
making negotiations after WW1 – and...it was also applicable later when colonies struggled for
independence – India from 1919 – 1948 and Vietnam during the war against the French – a notable
exception was Hitler who defied the treaties and his consistent foreign policy to reunite all German
people under the flag of the Third Reich, most notably Austria, Sudetenland, and the Polish Corridor.

• Meeting in Paris in January 1919; 3 central players David Lloyd George for Great Britain,
Georges Clemenceau for France, and Woodrow Wilson for the United States – Wilson was
welcomed royally as Wilson “le juste”
• Wilson's 14 points – he wanted a “peace without victory” - suggested a just peace, whereas the
French and Belgians wanted revenge and punishment – the first 8 points proposed territorial
arrangements he thought just – the last 6 were his ideals – proposed a move from nationalism to
internationalism – completely new and foreign to European countries who had acted in self
interest in their alliances – Wilson expected the Allies to adopt collective security in which self-
interest was replaced by mutual concern for the security of all member nations – a tough sell for
Wilson and accepted by the French because they believed it would involve the Americans in
protecting them from the Germans...

the changing map of Europe:


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/europe/02/euro_borders/html/2.stm

• private meeting to redraw boundaries (compare maps in Notebook page 7 and 52); Russia did
not attend; Germany was disarmed and allowed an army of only 100,000 men (France's security
concerns), the army could not have airplanes, warships, submarines, or offensive weapons
• Treaty of Versailles: “war guilt” clause, Germany to pay $33 billion reparations, Alsace-
Lorraine returned to France, Poland created, etc. - Germany was shocked and viewed the Treaty
as unjust and punitive; although forced to sign the country did not accept it.
Idealism and Realism were opposites poles in the negotiation – and the treaty was a compromise
between the two – but....a compromise based on opposing and irreconcilable views. The result was a
treaty which severely punished Germany and made the German people bitter ...BUT left her industrial
infrastructure in place – the Nazis were willing to defy the Treaty and in a relatively short period of
time, prepare a military juggernaut more powerful than the Kaiser's imperial army.

The Effects of the War

Social – cynicism and impact on the role of women

Economic – shift in economic power from Europe to the US; the level of economic difficulties
produced by the war in countries like Germany (reparations)

Political – Wilson's idea of collective security which went beyond alliances; collective security as
represented by the League of Nations was an ideal; that peace-loving nations could use arbitration to
solve disputes and that collective action would deter aggressors; also economic sanctions would force
aggressors to abandon their ambition. - a community of nations as opposed to an alliance of nations

This ideal was compromised when the Americans rejected the League of Nations – also the League was
based on the principle of internationalism and countries still needed to protect their own self-interest –
nationalist interests, so there was an inherent conflict.

League of Nations – had some success as forerunner of the United Nations; also the notion of collective
security was a radical departure from nationalism and time needed for change; nationalism produced
conflict, competition and confrontation, whereas internationalism is based on cooperation and
collaboration among nations.

When the Americans pulled out of the League of Nations, it left Britain and France as the reluctant
leaders – France became obsessed with internal affairs during the Depression and had only approved of
the League because of America's involvement – also at the time it was created there was no way of
predicting the aggressive nature of fascist ideology.

The Shaping of the 21st Century:

http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/thenandnow/