A School History of the Great War
by Albert E. McKinley, Charles A. Coulomb, and Armand J. Gerson
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Great Britain's agreement with France and Russia, the other members of the Triple Entente, did not go so far as to require her to join them in case they should be involved in war. It is difficult to say whether or not Great Britain would have decided to enter the conflict at this time if a new element had not been introduced into the question by Germany's invasion of Belgium. Of this invasion more will be said in the following chapter. All that need be mentioned here is that Germany, in spite of a long-standing treaty to observe Belgium's neutrality, had decided on marching through that country as the best route to Paris. Great Britain, as one of the nations which had promised to protect the neutrality of Belgium, immediately demanded of the German government that it withdraw its plan of invasion. Germany refused, and on August 4 Great Britain declared war. So one week after Austria's declaration of war against Serbia all the powers of the Triple Entente—commonly called the Allies—were in arms against Germany and Austria. Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, on August 1 declared herself neutral, much to the disappointment and anger of the Central Powers, her former allies. Her treaty with them provided that she should come to their aid only in case they were attacked, and so did not apply to the present war, in which Germany and Austria were the aggressors.

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY.—1. Locate the Kiel Canal. What is its other name? When and why was it constructed? 2. Locate Potsdam, Belgrade, Serajevo. 3. Define ultimatum; mobilization; "Der Tag"; Jugo-Slavs. 4. What is the meaning of the prefix "pan" in Pan-Slavism, Pan-Germanism, Pan-Serbism? What do you know about each of these movements? 5. What is a declaration of war? Who has the power to declare war in the United States? In Germany? 6. Where are the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina? How were they governed before 1878? Between 1878 and 1908? Since 1908? 7. Review the efforts for peace made by the British government between the Austrian ultimatum and Germany's final declarations of war. Explain the attitude of Austria, Russia, France, and Germany during these days.

REFERENCES.—War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.); Study of the Great War (C.P.I.); The Government of Germany (C.P.I.); Davis, The Roots of the War.



GERMAN PLAN OF ATTACK.—As soon as the German leaders had determined upon war, their military machine was set in motion. The plan was first to attack France and crush her armies before the slow-moving Russians could get a force together; and then, after the defeat of France, to turn to the east and subdue Russia. The success of the plan was dependent upon the swift overthrow of France; and this in turn hinged upon the question as to whether German armies could invade France before the French were ready. Speed was the essential thing, and in order to gain speed Germany committed one of the greatest crimes in modern history.

From the nearest point on the German boundary to Paris is only one hundred and seventy miles. But no rapid invasion of France could be made in this direction for two reasons: first, because of the very strong forts which protected the French frontier; and second, on account of the nature of the land, which presents to the east a series of five easily defended ridges, each of which would have to be stormed by an invader. A German attack directly across the French frontier could move but slowly past these natural and military obstacles; and the French nation would have ample time to mobilize its forces.

Consequently the German military leaders determined to attack France from the northeast. Here a comparatively level plain stretched from Germany through Belgium and France up to Paris itself. Many good roads and railways traversed the land. Few natural barriers existed to aid the defenders, and France, trusting to the neutrality of Belgium, had no strong fortifications on her northeastern frontier. One obstacle to German invasion existed; it was what the German Chancellor once[2] called "a scrap of paper"—a promise to respect the neutrality of Belgium, which Prussia, France, and England had agreed to by formal treaties. Similar treaties guaranteed the neutrality of Luxemburg, a small country east of Belgium. Upon these promises France had depended for the protection of her northeastern border; for the German Empire had accepted all the rights and all the duties of the treaties made by Prussia. But now, under the plea of necessity which "knows no law," the German rulers determined to break their promises, violate the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg, and crush France before an aroused and alarmed world could interfere.

BELGIUM BLOCKS THE GERMAN PLAN.—The invasion of Belgium had two results which the Germans had not foreseen. In the first place, it brought Great Britain immediately into the war to the aid of Belgium and France. In the second place, the Belgian king and people refused to be bought off with a promise of compensation; they made the high decision to defend their country as long as possible against the terrible German army-machine. Said the Belgian king: "A country which defends itself commands the respect of all; that country cannot perish." This action of Belgium disarranged the German army plans; instead of reaching Paris according to schedule, the Germans were delayed in Belgium for ten days. These ten days were full of horror and suffering and defeat for the brave Belgians; but they are precious days in the light of history. They gave time for the French to mobilize their armies and bring them up to the northeast; and they enabled Great Britain to send across the English Channel her first hundred thousand troops. In this way Paris was saved from capture, and France from conquest; and probably the whole world from German domination. The German plans for world conquest met their first defeat at the hands of brave little Belgium. The would-be conquerors had forgotten to include in their time-table the elements of honor, patriotism, and self-sacrifice.

THE GERMAN ADVANCE.—Luxemburg was occupied without resistance, for that little country had no army. On August 4, 1914, the German armies attacked the Belgian fortress of Liege (lee-ĕzh'), and within twenty-three days Belgium was overrun, its capital taken, and all the important places except Antwerp captured. After the delay in Belgium, the main German armies advanced into France. Here they were met (August 21-23) by French and British troops; but the defenders were not yet strong enough to stop the German advance. For twelve days they fell back toward Paris, fighting continually, until the invaders were within twenty miles of the city. The French government and archives were withdrawn from Paris to Bordeaux in the southwest, so imminent seemed the capture of the capital. The battle line now extended for one hundred and seventy-five miles eastward from near Paris to the fortress of Verdun.

THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE MARNE.—In the meantime the French commander, General Joffre (zhofr), had secretly been collecting another army with which to attack the invaders on the flank from the west. At the right moment he hurled this army upon the German flank, while the men on the main battle line were commanded to "face about and accept death rather than surrender." On September 6-10 took place the first great battle of the Marne, during which the Germans, under these new attacks, were compelled to retreat fifty miles from their most advanced position. The French armies had rescued Paris in the nick of time. The French government once more returned to its capital. "France had saved herself and Europe."

THE RACE TO THE COAST.—On reaching the river Aisne (an) the German armies had time to entrench themselves and thus beat off the heavy attacks of the French and British (September 12-17). The Allied armies in turn began to entrench opposite the German positions. But both armies turned toward the north in a race to reach the North Sea and outflank the enemy. The Germans were particularly anxious to reach Calais (ca-lĕ') and cut the direct line of communication between England and France. Antwerp surrendered to the Germans on October 9; Lille (leel) on the 13th. In tremendous massed attacks the Germans sought in vain to break through the British lines (Battle of Flanders, October 17 to November 15). The German losses were upwards of 150,000 men. On the coast the Belgians cut the dikes of the river Yser (ī'ser) and flooded the neighboring lowlands, thus putting a stop to any further advance of the enemy.

TRENCH WARFARE.—By this time the combatants had reached a temporary deadlock. Both had adopted trench tactics, and for over three hundred miles, from the sea to the Swiss border, two systems of entrenchments paralleled one another. The trenches were protected in front by intricate networks of barbed wire. Looked at from above, the trenches seemed to be dug with little system. But they rigidly adhered to one military maxim,—that fortifications must not continue in a straight line, because such straight trenches are liable to be enfiladed from either end. Hence the trenches curve and twist, with here and there supporting trenches and supply trenches. Sometimes the trenches are covered; sometimes dugouts and caves are constructed. Every turn or corner is protected with machine-guns. In some portions of the line these trenches faced one another for over four years with scarcely any change in their relative locations.

GERMAN TREATMENT OF OCCUPIED TERRITORY.—Eastward of the German trenches lay all of Belgium except a very small corner, and the richest manufacturing districts of France, including eighty per cent of the iron and steel industries, and fifty per cent of the coal. On the other hand the Allies had occupied only a small section of German territory at the southern end of the line, in Alsace.

German occupation of Belgium and northeastern France was accompanied by horrible barbarities and systematic frightfulness, which were in violation of the Hague Conventions as well as of other laws and usages of civilized warfare. The aim at first was to terrorize the people and reduce them to a condition of fear and of servility to the conquerors. Men and women were executed without adequate evidence or trial; many German soldiers were quartered in the homes; at the slightest sign of resistance innocent persons were punished for the guilty; immense fines and forced contributions were imposed upon the communities; furniture, works of art, beautiful buildings, and historic structures were ruthlessly pillaged and destroyed. In the second place, the Germans began a systematic plundering of the occupied country, taking for transportation to Germany anything they deemed useful or valuable. Nearly every article made of metal, wool, rubber, or leather was seized. Machinery from Belgian and French factories was taken to German establishments. Households were compelled to surrender bathtubs, door knobs and knockers, kitchen utensils, gas fixtures, bedclothes, etc. Food, farm animals, and farm products were confiscated; and the population was saved from actual starvation only by the energies of Belgium's friends in France, England, and America. At a later time, a third policy of the Germans was to drag Belgian and French young men and women away from their families and relatives and compel them to work far from their homes in factories, fields, and mines. Probably more than two hundred thousand persons were forced into this industrial slavery. Finally, where the Germans were forced to retire from the lands they had occupied in northern France and in Belgium, they sought to reduce much of the evacuated territory to a desert condition. Not only were bridges and roads destroyed, but houses, factories, and churches were leveled to the ground, and the foundation walls and cellars were obliterated. In some parts of France even the fruit trees and grapevines, the product of many years' growth and care, were systematically destroyed, and everything which might make the land habitable disappeared.

THE WAR IN THE EAST.—As has already been explained, the German military leaders had counted upon a rapid crushing of France by way of Belgium before Russia should have time to complete her military preparations for attacking eastern Germany. But during the time lost through the unexpected resistance of Belgium huge Russian armies were gathered together in Russian Poland for an invasion of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The western border of Russian Poland is less than two hundred miles from Berlin. But Russia could not advance along this road without running the risk of having the Germans from the north and the Austrians from the south cut off her armies from their sources of supply in Russia. In other words, Russia dared not advance on Berlin without first driving the Germans out of East Prussia and the Austrians from Galicia. Hence the plan of her campaign in 1914 was to invade these two provinces.

BATTLE OF TANNENBERG.—Two Russian armies entered East Prussia in the middle of August. At first they met with success. The nature of the country, however, was against them, as there was a chain of almost impassable lakes, marshes, and rivers stretching across their route. In this difficult territory they were surprised by German reinforcements which had been rushed to the east. In the battle of Tan'nenberg (August 26-31), the German troops under the command of General von Hindenburg inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Russians, capturing 70,000 men and large quantities of supplies. Hindenburg followed up his success, and the Russians were completely expelled from East Prussia.

THE RUSSIANS OVERRUN GALICIA.—The second part of the Russian plan, the invasion of Galicia, was more successful. In September the important city of Lemberg was taken, and the fortress of Przemysl (pshem'ishl) was besieged. By December almost the whole province was in Russian hands. South of Galicia, separating it from Hungary, are the Carpathian Mountains. Russian troops penetrated the passes of this mountain wall and conducted a series of successful raids upon the plains of northern Hungary.

THE RUSSIAN SITUATION AT THE CLOSE OF 1914.—At the end of the year Russia, while she had achieved success in Galicia, had failed in East Prussia. An advance toward Berlin was for the time out of the question. Indeed the Germans had themselves taken the offensive and had entered Russian Poland. In October an advance of German and Austrian troops threatened Warsaw, the most important city in Poland. The Russians in spite of strong efforts were unable to drive their enemies entirely out of this region. On the whole, therefore, the Russian situation at the end of 1914 was disappointing. Russia's accomplishment consisted of her victories in Galicia, and, probably more important, the drawing of German troops from the western front and the consequent weakening of Germany's offensive in France and Belgium. Russia was no farther on the road to Berlin than at the opening of the war.

SERBIAN RESISTANCE TO AUSTRIA.—An Austrian attempt to overwhelm Serbia in the first weeks of the war met with disastrous failure. This was due to two causes: (1) the brave resistance of the Serbian troops; (2) the fact that the greater part of the Austrian forces had to be used for defense against the Russian invaders of Galicia. Serbia after severe fighting compelled the Austrians to retreat beyond their own boundaries. Early in September the Serbians took the offensive and began an invasion of Austria-Hungary. This venture failed, and before long Serbia was once more resisting the enemy on her own soil. Belgrade fell into Austrian hands on December 2. It did not long remain in the possession of the conquerors. On the 14th, it was regained by the Serbians, and the Austrian armies once more expelled. The little Balkan kingdom seemed to be holding her own.

TURKEY ENTERS THE WAR.—In the years before the war, Germany had carefully cultivated the friendship of the Turkish government. By means of intrigue, she had practically made herself master of that country, particularly in military matters. The Turkish army had been trained by Germans, and many of its officers were Germans. Although at the opening of the war Turkey declared herself neutral, she soon showed herself an ally of the Central Powers. There is evidence to show that as early as August 4 she had entered into a secret treaty with Germany. In October Turkey startled the world by bombarding a Russian port on the Black Sea and destroying French and Russian vessels at Odessa. These acts were regarded by Russia as acts of war. A few days later France and Great Britain declared war on Turkey.

Germany welcomed the entrance of Turkey into the war for two reasons. In the first place she expected that the Mohammedans under English and French rule, that is, those living in Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and India, would join the Turkish Sultan, the religious head of the Mohammedan world, and engage in a "Holy War" against Great Britain and France. In this hope she was doomed to disappointment. In the second place Germany rejoiced at the arrival of a new enemy for Russia who might keep the Russians occupied along their southern borders and so weaken their efforts on other fronts.

GERMAN COLONIES IN THE PACIFIC.—During the first four months of the war all of Germany's possessions in the Pacific were lost to her. On the outbreak of the war, Australia and New Zealand promptly organized expeditionary forces which attacked and captured the German colonies and coaling stations situated south of the Equator. German Samoa, the first to be taken, surrendered to the New Zealand expeditionary force August 29. The other German possessions in the South Pacific surrendered to the Australians.

England's ally, Japan, having entered the war August 23, 1914, sent an expeditionary force which captured and occupied the German islands in the North Pacific. Kiaochow (kyou'chō'), Germany's only colony in China, was captured by a combined Japanese and British force early in November.

The loss of these colonies so early in the war interfered seriously with German plans for a war on Allied commerce by fast cruisers. In the absence of German coaling stations, the only way such vessels could obtain coal during a long raiding voyage, would be by the chance capture of coal-laden vessels.

GERMAN COLONIES IN AFRICA.—During the last quarter century Germany had succeeded in getting control of considerable territory in Africa. There were few German colonists there. However, Germany hoped that the Boers, who had recently fought a war with the British, and had been defeated, would attempt to regain their independence. In this case there was also the possibility of capturing Cape Colony and Rhodesia from the British. Much to the surprise and disgust of Germany, the Boers promptly showed their loyalty to Great Britain and aided in capturing the German colonies.

The struggle for Germany's African colonies continued for more than three years. Togo, a comparatively small colony, was captured by French and British troops shortly after the outbreak of the war. Under the Boer leaders, Generals Smuts and Botha, German Southwest Africa was conquered by July of 1915. Kamerun in West Africa was freed from German forces in 1916. The final chapter in the fight for the German colonies was written in December of 1917, when an army from British South Africa, in cooeperation with Belgian forces, completed the conquest of German East Africa.

GERMANY'S FLEET.—When war was declared the German fleet, which had cost the people of Germany a billion and a half of dollars, was something less than two thirds the strength of the British fleet. Germany's task was to destroy the British fleet or to weaken it to such an extent that it could no longer protect the British trade in food and munitions from over seas, nor assure the safe transport of troops from Great Britain or her colonies to the various fronts.

THE WORK OF THE BRITISH NAVY.—The British navy had two pieces of work to perform. In the first place its aim was to destroy or bottle up in port the main German fleet so that it should not be able to interfere with the British plans for the war. In the second place squadrons had to be sent out to search for and destroy German squadrons or vessels that were far from home ports at the outbreak of war or that were sent out to raid British and neutral commerce.

COAST PROTECTION.—Both Great Britain and Germany protected their coasts by laying fields of mines in the sea so placed that they would float just under water and arranged to explode on contact with the hull of a ship. Through these mine fields carefully hidden channels gave access to the different ports. So long as ships stayed in port or inside the fields of mines they were safe from attack.

THE BLOCKADE OF GERMAN PORTS.—In July, 1914, the British navy had a grand review. When the review was over, the war clouds were so threatening that the vessels were not dismissed to their stations. At the beginning of the war Great Britain announced a blockade of German ports and assigned to her main fleet the task of carrying out the blockade.

THE BATTLE OF HELGOLAND BIGHT.—Hel'goland is a small island rising steeply out of the North Sea; it has an area of one fifth of a square mile. It was ceded to Germany by England about twenty years before the war. Germany had fortified it and made it a sort of German Gibraltar to protect her chief naval ports. The Bight of Helgoland is the passage about eighteen miles wide between the island and the German coast. Here a portion of the British fleet engaged in patrol or scout duty came in contact with a part of the German fleet (August 28, 1914). The arrival of four fast British battleships decided the contest. Germany lost three cruisers and two destroyers, while every British vessel returned to port, though some were badly battered.

GERMAN COMMERCE RAIDERS.—A few days before the outbreak of the war the German fleet in China slipped out of port. The cruiser "Emden" was detached for work in the Indian Ocean, and the rest of the squadron raided over the Pacific. November 1, a British squadron met the German ships near the coast of Chile. In a little over an hour two of the British ships had been sunk and the remainder fled to the south. Immediately on news of the defeat the British Admiralty sent a squadron of seven powerful ships to find and destroy the German squadron. The British vessels stopped at the Falkland Islands to coal. The next day the German ships appeared. When they saw the strength of the British squadron they vainly attempted to escape. In the battle that followed, four German vessels were sunk. Of the two that escaped one was, a few months later, interned in a United States port and about the same time the other was destroyed.

The "Emden," after separating from the other warships, cruised in the Indian Ocean for three months, and was the most destructive of the German raiders. She was finally located by an Australian cruiser. After a fight the German captain drove his vessel on the rocks to escape sinking. A lieutenant and forty men who had landed to destroy a wireless station, seized a schooner and escaped, landed on the coast of Arabia, and finally made their way back to Germany.

NAVAL SITUATION AT THE CLOSE OF 1914.—As a result of the activities of the Allied fleets, the German navy was shut up in port back of its mine fields, German commerce raiders had, with a few exceptions, been driven from the sea or destroyed, German merchant vessels were laid up in neutral or German ports, and the Allies were free to carry on the transport of troops, munitions, and other supplies with practically no fear of interference from the enemy. "The British ships, whether men-of-war or merchantmen, are upon the sea, the German in their ports."

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY.—1. Locate Metz, Cologne, Liege, Namur, Lille, Verdun; the Meuse, the Marne, the Oise, the Aisne; Lemberg, Warsaw, Koenigsberg. 2. Look at a large map of Europe and by reference to the scale find out the following distances: Metz to Paris; Cologne to Paris (via Liege); Verdun to Berlin; Verdun to Strassburg; Liege to Paris; Warsaw to Berlin. What is the length of the Belgian coast-line; of the Dutch coast-line; of the Franco-German frontier? 3. Collect pictures and charts illustrative of trench warfare, and of devastated areas of Belgium and France. 4. Explain fully the influence of geography upon the campaigns of 1914. 5. Define neutrality; guarantee; treaty. 6. On an outline map of Europe indicate the countries fighting against Germany at the close of 1914. Indicate those fighting on the side of Germany at that time. Indicate the date when each of these countries entered the war. Draw a line showing the farthest German advance into France, and the farthest Russian advance into Germany and Austria (map, page 124). 7. What might have been the consequences if the Belgians had not resisted the German invasion? 8. Describe the German effort to reach the French coast in 1914. What would have been the probable consequences of its success? 9. What was the purpose of the English blockade of Germany? How did this blockade affect the rights of neutrals? Find out what the United States government did in the matter.

REFERENCES.—War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.); Study of the Great War (C.P.I.); McKinley, Collected Materials for the Study of the War; National School Service, Vol. I, No. 3 (C.P.I.); New York Times History of the European War.


[2] In an interview with the British ambassador, as reported by the ambassador August 4, 1914.



THE WESTERN FRONT.—The deadlock which existed on the western front at the close of 1914 continued with little change during the year 1915. There were indeed many contests which, on account of the men involved and the casualties, would in previous wars have been considered major engagements; but in spite of great preparations neither side was able to make much impression upon the entrenched line of the enemy. From the sea to the Swiss border two apparently impregnable lines of trenches faced each other.

German ingenuity and barbarity were shown in two new forms of warfare introduced during this year. Poison gas was first used, contrary to the terms of the Hague Conventions, against the Allied line on April 22, 1915. It brought on the most horrible forms of suffering and torture, and compelled a temporary withdrawal of the French and English from trenches near Ypres (eepr). Later, masks were used as a preventive of gas poisoning. Eventually the Allies were forced to adopt the use of poisonous gases in bombs and shells in order to fight the Germans with their own weapon. The other innovation was the "flame-thrower," an apparatus which threw a flame of burning liquid or gas far ahead of the troops. This has never been widely used by the Germans, because it proved almost as dangerous to themselves as it was to their opponents. A sharpshooter's bullet or a piece of shell might pierce the apparatus and the containers and produce dangerous results among the Germans.

THE GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN.—In the east the year opened with an attempt on the part of the Allies to force the Dardanelles with their fleets and take possession of the city of Constantinople. The campaign gets its name from the peninsula of Gallip'oli, the European shore of the Dardanelles. In February the campaign opened with a naval attack. The Turkish fortifications, however, were strong enough to defeat a purely naval attempt and the Allied fleets met with heavy losses. It has been stated since that had the Allies continued the attack one more day the Turks would have had to yield, as their ammunition was nearly exhausted. In April troops were landed on the peninsula to aid in the attack. The landing was accomplished at a terrible cost of life. Siege operations were then begun against the Turkish and German forces defending the peninsula. Month after month the fighting continued, but nothing worth while was accomplished. Finally, in January of the next year, the campaign was abandoned. It had cost the Allies heavily in money and lives, and its failure had lost to them the respect of the hesitating nations of southeastern Europe, Bulgaria and Greece.

THE WAR ON THE RUSSIAN BORDER.—Along the Russian frontier also the Allied cause met with serious reverses. The year had opened favorably with the Russians in control of most of Galicia. In March the great Galician fortress of Przemysl, which had successfully withstood the attacks of the Russians the previous autumn, was compelled to surrender.

Meanwhile, in January, Russia once more attempted to carry out the other part of her general plan, the invasion of East Prussia. The Russian troops succeeded as before in entering the coveted territory, this time crossing the troublesome lake region while the waters were frozen. Soon, however, the invaders met with a decisive defeat. In the Battle of the Mazurian Lakes, General Von Hindenburg took 100,000 Russian prisoners; the number of killed and wounded Russian soldiers is said to have been 150,000. The Russians hurriedly retreated from German soil.

The time had now come for the Germans and Austrians definitely to assume the offensive. A strategic blow in Galicia imperiled the whole Russian front and compelled a general retreat of the Russian armies in Galicia and Poland. In June both Przemysl and Lemberg were recaptured by the Central Powers. By September all of Russian Poland had been conquered. Russia had lost 65,000 square miles of thickly populated territory. But the land was so thoroughly plundered by the German conquerors that many of the people died of starvation.

BULGARIA ENTERS THE WAR.—The sympathies of the Bulgarian government had been with the Central Powers from the beginning of the war. Bulgaria had not forgiven the neighboring Balkan states for their treatment of her in the second Balkan war (1913). Against Serbia her feeling was particularly bitter. The Allied disaster at Gallipoli and the military successes of Germany and Austria in Poland and Galicia in the spring and summer of 1915 led the Bulgarians to believe that now was the time for them to strike. In October Bulgaria declared war upon Serbia, thus definitely taking her stand as an ally of the Central Powers.

Bulgaria's entrance into the war was followed by simultaneous invasions of Serbia from Austria and from Bulgaria. Under these blows the Serbians were crushed. Together with her neighbor and ally, brave little Montenegro, Serbia was overrun by her enemies. The cruelties inflicted upon the Serbian population by the invading Bulgars are said to have been fully as horrible as those which had taken place during the conquest of Belgium in 1914 and of Poland in 1915.

There was serious danger that the government of Greece would follow the lead of Bulgaria and also enter the war on the side of the Central Powers. This was prevented by two things. In the first place, a majority of the Greek people favored the cause of the Allies and were opposed to Bulgaria. In the second place, the Allies promptly landed an army at Salonica. Later on, they removed Constantine, the pro-German king of Greece, and placed his son Alexander upon the throne.

THE EAST AT THE CLOSE OF 1915.—On the eastern front 1915 had been a year of failure. The Gallipoli campaign had been a humiliation for the Allies. The Russians had been driven from Russian Poland and from the Austrian province of Galicia. Bulgaria had joined the Central Powers, linking Austria-Hungary with Turkey. Serbia, the country whose quarrel had been the occasion of the whole world struggle, had been conquered by the enemies of the Allies.

ITALY ENTERS THE WAR.—In May, 1915, Italy declared war upon Austria, and more than a year later upon Germany. Her reasons for this action were: (1) her old enmity toward Austria; (2) her desire to annex the neighboring territory inhabited by Italians, but ruled by Austria; and (3) her feeling that Austria was opposed to Italian interests in the Balkans.

Italy entered the war with vigor although at a great disadvantage. When the northern Italian lands were freed from Austrian rule in 1866, Austria kept the highlands and mountain passes, from which she could easily descend upon the Italian lowlands. Now that war was begun, the Italians were compelled to force their way up the heights and against the fire from well-protected Austrian forts. Here upon the dizzy peaks of the Alps, or the icy surfaces of glaciers, or the rocky mountain sides, warfare has been more spectacular and has called for more daring and recklessness than anywhere else. Slides of rock and avalanches of ice sometimes have been the ammunition of armies. During the year the Italians made some progress and by December occupied positions well within the Austrian frontier; but no decisive battle had been fought or important city or fortress occupied.

ALLIED CONTROL OF THE SEA.—Throughout 1915—as in the preceding and the following years—the Allies maintained their control of the ocean. As a result of a proclamation declaring the North Sea a military area, and the more strict enforcement of the proclamation against sending contraband articles to Germany, the blockade against the Central Powers was more tightly drawn.

This seriously affected the commerce of the United States, not only with Germany but with neutral countries, such as Holland or Sweden, that could easily transship to Germany the supplies received. Neutral vessels were stopped and taken into Allied ports, there to be detained sometimes for long periods until a decision was reached as to the legality of their traffic. Moreover, the expense of this detention was laid upon the owners of the vessel and cargo. These acts brought forth a series of protests by our government against the policy of the Allies. The correspondence continued with varying results until the United States entered the war.

FORCED DECREASE OF NEUTRAL TRADE WITH GERMANY.—Neutral countries adjoining Germany had been making huge profits by selling their food and other products to Germany, replacing their stores with material imported from over seas. As part of the preparation for a long war, the Allies blocked the renewal of neutral stocks of goods. The neutral countries complained vigorously, but they soon cut down their trade with Germany since they were no longer able to replenish their stock of food, rubber, metals, and other supplies.

SUBMARINE WARFARE.—In 1914, when the war broke out, Germany is said to have had but four seaworthy submarines. It is difficult to believe that she had so few, but it is certain that she did not have so many as either England, France, or Russia. German naval authorities were not convinced of the value of the submarine in war.

However, about a month after the war began, a German submarine torpedoed a British cruiser, and, within a few minutes, two others that had gone to assist the first. Germany, now realizing the value of the new weapon, began the construction of a numerous fleet of underwater boats, or U-boats. But against war ships, properly defended by guns and other means, they proved of little avail after all. Toward the end of the year, Admiral von Tirpitz, head of the German navy, hinted at an extension of the use of submarines to attack merchant ships.

Soon numbers of the submarines made their way to the waters surrounding the British Isles, where they torpedoed merchant vessels taking food and supplies to Great Britain and France. The vessels sunk were chiefly British, though some were neutral.

PROTECTION AGAINST SUBMARINES.—Large war ships were protected from submarines by keeping them in a mine-protected area until there was need for them at sea. At sea they were protected largely by the patrol and scouting operations carried on by lighter and faster vessels. To reduce the danger to merchant vessels from submarines, harbors and sea lanes were protected by mines and by great nets made of heavy wire cables. The seas in the immediate vicinity of Great Britain were patrolled by thousands of small, swift vessels constantly in search of U-boats.

ATTEMPTED BLOCKADE OF GREAT BRITAIN.—In February, 1915, Germany declared a blockade of the British Isles. Under an actual blockade she would have the right to prevent neutral vessels from trading with Great Britain. But inasmuch as it was not possible to take seized neutral ships to German ports, the submarines would sink them, often without providing for the safety of the passengers and crews. The ultimate object of this course of action was so to reduce the world's shipping as to make it impossible for Great Britain to be supplied with the food or other materials that would enable her to carry on the war. This method of warfare, however, was contrary to the well established rules of international law. Against it the United States and other neutrals made vigorous protests.

THE LUSITANIA.—The most notable loss by submarine attack was that of the "Lusitania," sunk without warning off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. Nearly twelve hundred lives were lost, including many women and children. One hundred and fourteen of those lost were Americans. An advertisement had been inserted in the papers warning passengers not to travel on Allied ships, but no one believed that Germany would go so far in violation of international law as to torpedo, without warning, a passenger vessel carrying civilians of neutral as well as of warring nations. The people of the whole civilized world were horrified by the deed. Germany's attitude is shown by the fact that medals were struck commemorating the act, and the commander of the submarine was rewarded.

President Wilson wrote a series of notes to the German government insisting that Germany conduct her warfare in accordance with international law. This resulted in a promise by the German minister to the United States, that liners would not be sunk by German submarines without warning and without safety to the lives of noncombatants, provided that the liners did not try to escape or offer resistance.

RAIDS ON COAST TOWNS.—Several times in 1914 German vessels managed to escape through the cordon of Allied ships. They proceeded to the east coast of England and bombarded defenseless fishing ports and watering places such as Yarmouth, Whitby, and Scarborough. These raids had no military effect, but they resulted in the killing or wounding of hundreds of women, children, and old men. They were undertaken for the purpose of terrorizing the civilian population of England in order to arouse a desire for peace. In January, 1915, a German squadron attempting a similar raid was intercepted and defeated by British war ships.

ZEPPELINS.—At the outset Germany had great faith in the usefulness of her immense dirigible balloons, or Zep'pelins, as they are commonly called. In the attack on Belgium, they were used for observation, incidentally dropping a few bombs on Antwerp. Early in 1915, Zeppelins made their appearance over England, bombing many of the smaller towns and villages, as well as London. Such raids might have some effect on the war if they were directed toward munition plants, railway stations, or naval depots. The Germans, however, generally contented themselves with attacks on defenseless residential towns and cities. Up to October, 1917, there were thirty-four such raids, resulting in the death of nearly one thousand persons and the wounding of three times as many. The result on the military situation was practically zero, except to increase the British determination to see the war through.

Later the protection afforded Great Britain by anti-aircraft guns and especially by airplanes, made it highly dangerous for Zeppelins to continue their raids. Many of them were destroyed. The later raids were made by squadrons of airplanes which had greater chances of escape. German air raiders found it increasingly difficult to get past the defenses, and in 1918 the raids on England became infrequent.

ALLIED RETALIATION.—For a long time the Allies refused to retaliate by bombing unfortified towns in Germany, but finally they decided to do so. The immediate results were a protest from Germany that the Allies were violating international law, and a petition to the German authorities from the towns in western Germany, asking that air raids on places not in the military area should be stopped, so that the German cities should not be bombed in retaliation. Nearly all such Allied air raids, however, were directed against railroads, munition factories, and other objects of military importance.

THE ALLIES ORGANIZE FOR A LONG WAR.—When Lord Kitchener, the great British general, predicted that the war would last at least three years, hardly any one believed him. It was thought that the cost of a modern war would be so great that nations would not be able to stand the strain for more than a few months. When the Allies realized that Kitchener was right, they prepared for a long struggle. The munition factories in all the countries were reorganized, and the output of war material was increased many fold, more being produced in a few days than had formerly been produced in a year. Great Britain and France appointed ministers of munitions whose sole work was to see that the armies were supplied with guns, ammunition, and other fighting needs.

The people in the British overseas dominions remained loyal, and sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the battle fronts in order to protect the mother country from threatened defeat. To secure still greater cooeperation throughout the British Empire, the prime ministers of the self-governing colonies were invited to places in the British imperial war conferences.

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY.—1. Locate Przemysl, Lemberg, the Mazurian Lakes, Scarborough, Helgoland, Essen. 2. On an outline map of Europe indicate the countries engaged in the war at the end of 1915. Which of these countries had entered during the year? 3. By use of the scale on your map of Europe determine the following distances: Ostend to Scarborough; Berlin to Warsaw; Brussels to Paris. 4. When did the kingdom of Poland pass out of existence? What became of it? 5. What was the purpose of the Allies in the Gallipoli campaign? What would have been the consequences of the success of this campaign? 6. Collect pictures of Zeppelins, of gas attacks, and of methods of defense against gas.

REFERENCES.—War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.); Study of the Great War (C.P.I.); New York Times History of the European War; McKinley, Collected Materials for the Study of the War; German War Practices (C.P.I.), parts I and II.



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS!"—Early in 1916 the Germans began a furious attack on the strong French position at Verdun. This point was a highly important one for the French, because if it were captured by the enemy, he could make flank attacks upon their adjoining lines and perhaps compel a general retreat. The Germans had long been massing materials and men for the greatest military offensive which the world had ever seen. Twenty thousand men were placed on each mile of the front for a distance of twenty-five miles, while hundreds of thousands more were held in reserve. Thousands of guns of all sizes were brought up for the attack. Under the command of the German crown prince, the German people and the whole world were to be shown that the German army was still invincible.

Beginning on February 21, the titanic struggle around Verdun continued until July, when the attacks and counter-attacks were gradually suspended. In the early attacks the French were driven in from advanced positions, and then the Germans charged the heavily protected woodlands and hills. In massed formation they advanced in the face of artillery, machine-gun, and rifle fire of the heaviest character. The first waves were mown down like grain; but other troops, and still others climbed over the bodies of their dead comrades. Never since the world began had such slaughter been seen.

During the intervals between the infantry attacks the French troops were subjected to an unprecedented artillery fire. Suffering under a strain such as armies had never hitherto known, the French patriots yet held true to their watchword,—"They shall not pass." General Petain (pā-tăn'), in a stirring address, said to his entrenched heroes, "Courage, we'll get them!" ("Courage, on les aura!"), and this phrase became the Verdun battle-cry. Try as the Germans would, from every possible point, they could not break through the living wall of Frenchmen. A little ground was won here and there, but before the end of the year nearly all had been retaken by the French. At a frightful cost the German crown prince and his military advisers had put their fighting machine to the test, and it had failed. A half million men, killed, wounded, or prisoners, were lost to the Germans before they ceased their attacks at this point.

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME.—In July, 1916, while the Verdun struggle was still undetermined, the French and British troops began an advance on the German line along the river Somme (som). Exceedingly heavy artillery attacks first battered down the enemy defenses, and then the infantry went "over the top." During the long course of the Battle of the Somme (July 1 to November 17) the Allies advanced on a front of twenty miles to a maximum depth of about nine miles. Slowly, and at great expense of ammunition and men on both sides, the Allied progress had been won. They had failed to break through the German line, but they had shown how it might gradually be pushed back. And they had relieved the important position of Verdun from further severe attacks, because German forces were needed to the westward.

In the course of this battle, on September 15, the British first used their most original military machines—the "tanks." Thereafter these armored cruisers of the land were to play an increasingly important part along the western front.

INCREASED USE OF AIRCRAFT.—Aircraft, too, were every day becoming more valuable. In the first year of the war airplanes were used mainly for observation purposes: to find the location of enemy forts, trenches, troops, and batteries; and to direct the fire of the aviator's own batteries. Hundreds of photographs were taken by the airmen, rapidly developed, and within thirty minutes the staff officers could be seen studying them with microscopes to determine what changes had taken place within the enemy's lines. Anchored balloons, too, were used for similar purposes.

Airplane construction and use developed more rapidly than any other feature in the war. After the observation machines, came the battle-planes, whose first purpose was to clear the way and protect the observation planes. Later, heavy machines for bombing expeditions were constructed; and squadrons of airplanes now took part in every battle, preceding the attacking party, and firing with machine-guns and bombs upon the enemy's trenches or his massed troops back of the line.

THE RUSSIANS INVADE TURKEY IN ASIA.—In the early months of 1916 Russian troops met with success in an offensive in the part of Turkey south of the Caucasus. This territory, known as Arme'nia, is inhabited by a Christian population who for many years had been the victims of Turkish persecutions; half a million were cruelly exterminated after Turkey allied herself with Germany in 1914. The Russians advanced steadily, inflicting serious defeats upon the Turkish forces. In February they took possession of Erz'erum, a strongly fortified city of Armenia. The capture of this point was of importance because it was a step in the plan for cooeperation with the British armies which were pushing their way north from the region of the Persian Gulf. It had the further important result of interrupting Turkish plans for an invasion of Egypt by way of the Isthmus of Suez, as Turkey was compelled to concentrate her power for the defense of her own territory.

In April, Treb'izond, the most important city on the Turkish shore of the Black Sea, surrendered to the invading Russian army. The Russians, supported by fleets along the coast, had made the defense of the city impossible. The fall of Trebizond was a very serious blow to the power of Turkey in Asia Minor.

THE CAMPAIGN IN MESOPOTAMIA.—Part of the Allied plan in the east was for the junction of Russian armies operating from the region of the Caucasus with British troops from the land around the Persian Gulf. While the Russians, as we have seen, were making a noteworthy success of their part of this program, the British had not been so fortunate. Their plan was to take possession of Mesopotamia, the valley of the Tigris-Euphrates, and occupy its capital, the famous city of Bagdad. General Townshend with an insufficient force had begun his march up the Tigris River the year before and in March, 1915, had occupied the stronghold of Kut-el-Ama'ra, about 100 miles below Bagdad. Here later he was besieged by a Turkish army. A Russian army on the way from Erzerum and an English relief force from the south failed to reach the place in time, and April 29, 1916, General Townshend was forced by starvation to surrender.

RUSSIAN SUCCESSES IN AUSTRIA.—During the summer months the Russians under the command of one of their greatest leaders, General Bru'silov, renewed their offensive against the border lands of Austria-Hungary. It looked for a while as if the disasters of 1915 in this region were about to be redeemed. On a wide front extending from the Prip'et marshes in eastern Poland all the way to Bukowina (boo-ko-vee'nah), the Austrian province southeast of Galicia, the Russian armies advanced. They invaded Galicia and took hundreds of thousands of Austrian prisoners. Austria was compelled to transfer troops from her Italian front. The year 1916 closed with the Russians in a decidedly more favorable military position than they had occupied a year before.

ROUMANIA IN THE WAR.—Roumania had long looked forward to an extension of her boundaries to include all the Roumanians of southeastern Europe. Across the border, in southeastern Hungary, were more than two million Roumanians living in the large region known as Transylvania. The annexation of Transylvania was one of the greatest ambitions of Roumanian leaders. In August, 1916, encouraged by the promises of Russia, her powerful neighbor and protector, Roumania entered the war on the side of the Allies.

On her western front Roumania could easily defend herself from invasion because of strong mountain barriers. Her point of danger was the Bulgarian boundary between the Danube and the Black Sea. Here she should have concentrated her strength for defense against the Bulgarian forces or even for an offensive into Bulgaria. Instead she sent most of her armies west into Transylvania. Presently a strong force of Germans and Bulgarians crossed the border into southeastern Roumania (the Dobrudja) and marched north in a resistless offensive. Meanwhile the Roumanians in Transylvania, far from their base of supplies, had advanced too fast for safety. Moreover, they suffered from a shortage of ammunition, probably caused by the failure of certain pro-German Russian officials to cooeperate with the Roumanians as they had promised. A large German army attacked the Roumanian forces and drove them back with heavy losses to their own borders. The boundaries were then crossed by the invaders and the greater part of the country occupied. This disaster brought enormous advantages to the enemy. The battle front of the Central Powers was shortened by five hundred miles, the oil and wheat fields which constitute the chief wealth of Roumania fell into their hands, and their communications with Turkey were materially strengthened.

THE ITALIAN FRONT.—The winter of 1915-1916 was uncommonly severe in the Alps; snow thirty feet deep lay on some of the passes, and military operations were brought almost to a standstill. During the spring the Austrians made preparations for a great offensive against Italy, collecting over a third of a million of men and enormous stores of provisions and munitions. During May and June, 1916, this Austrian force drove back the Italians from their advanced positions in the Trentino valley. It seemed that the enemy would enter the valley of the Po and capture the cities of the most prosperous part of Italy. But the farther the Austrian army advanced, the more difficult it was to bring supplies up the narrow Alpine valleys. Meantime, on the eastern frontier the Russians began their great drive into Austrian territory. There was nothing for the Austrians to do but retire from the Trentino front. This they did with the loss of one third of their force, and of great quantities of war material.

The Italians now took the offensive, not only on the Trentino, but also on their eastern frontier, where, the year before, they had begun an advance toward the "unredeemed" territory around Trieste (map, page 50). The Ison'zo River was crossed and after months of warfare the city and fortresses of Gorizia (go-rit'si-a) were occupied (August 9, 1916). From this point the Italians continued slowly, overcoming great difficulties, on their way toward Trieste.

THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND, MAY 31, 1916.—A minor division of the British fleet under Admiral Beatty was scouting in the neighborhood of Jutland (the peninsula of Denmark). The main German fleet came out to attack it. The small British squadron, instead of withdrawing, gave battle to the whole German high seas fleet. After the fighting had gone on for several hours in fog and mist, the British grand fleet approached, but night came on before a decision was reached. During the night the German fleet retired back of the defenses of mines and shore batteries. In the battle the British fleet had lost three battle cruisers and fifteen or sixteen other vessels. The German losses were not completely published but were certainly heavier. The Germans claimed a victory, and a general holiday was ordered that all might celebrate. Nevertheless, the British vessels were on the scene the next morning picking up survivors, while the German fleet has not (up to the present writing) come out of harbor in order that it might try to repeat its so-called victory.

SUBMARINE WARFARE.—During the year 1916 Germans continued with increasing success their policy of sinking merchant vessels, neutral and enemy. Out of a total of nearly 4,000,000 tons of shipping destroyed from the beginning of the war to January 1, 1917, more than half was lost during 1916. Occasional loss of life also caused much doubt on the part of our government as to whether Germany was keeping her pledge to safeguard the lives of noncombatants on torpedoed liners.

When a passenger steamer, the "Sussex," plying between England and France, was torpedoed without warning (March 24, 1916), eighty of the passengers were killed or injured, two of the latter being Americans. Germany at first said that one of her submarines had torpedoed a vessel in the vicinity, but not the "Sussex." The finding of fragments of a German torpedo on the "Sussex" after it was brought into port conclusively proved that the Germans were responsible, and that Germany had broken her promise. President Wilson addressed a note to the German government, stating that he would sever diplomatic relations with it unless Germany should both declare and effect an abandonment of her unlawful methods of submarine warfare. Thereupon the German government gave a written pledge that merchant ships "shall not be sunk without warning and without saving human lives, unless these ships attempt to escape or offer resistance." This pledge was given on the condition that the United States should demand that Great Britain observe certain (disputed) rules of international law; but our government refused to agree that Germany's respect for our neutral rights should be made to depend on the conduct of other nations. President Wilson thus made clear his intention to sever diplomatic relations if Germany's pledge should be withdrawn or violated.

CONSCRIPTION IN GREAT BRITAIN.—The British government had kept up its army by volunteering. The need of an army of five million could not depend on this plan. A conscription bill therefore was passed making all males between certain ages liable for military service. Ireland was excepted from the provisions of this act.

SINN FEIN REBELLION.—Some of the more radical among the Irish Home Rule party had formed an organization known as the Sinn Fein (shin fān), an Irish phrase which means "for ourselves." Their aim was to make Ireland an independent nation. The leaders of this group got into correspondence with persons in Germany and were promised military assistance if they would rebel against England. The rebellion broke out April 24, 1916, without the promised help from Germany. For several days the rebels held some of the principal buildings in Dublin. After much bloodshed the rebellion was put down, and Sir Roger Casement, one of those who had been in communication with Germany, was executed for treason.

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY.—1. On an outline map of Europe indicate the countries engaged in the war at the end of 1916. Indicate the date of the entrance of each and the side on which it was fighting. 2. Collect pictures illustrative of life in the Balkans and of the war in that region. 3. Locate Armenia. What do you know of the race and religion of its population? 4. Where is Bagdad? Why is it important for the British Empire that the valley of the Tigris-Euphrates should not fall into the possession of a strong hostile power? What do you know of the history of this region in ancient times? What may become of Mesopotamia at the close of the war? 5. In regard to Roumania tell what you know of its race, language, religion, and industries prior to the war. Compare this country with Bulgaria in regard to the facts you have mentioned.

REFERENCES.—War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.); Study of the Great War (C.P.I.); McKinley, Collected Materials for the Study of the War; New York Times History of the European War.



THE WESTERN FRONT.—During the winter of 1916-1917 there was little infantry warfare in France, although the heavy guns kept up their cannonades. In the spring of 1917 the Allies planned a great drive on the enemy positions in the valley of the Somme. But in March the Germans began a general retirement to a more easily defended line—the so-called Hindenburg line—on a front of one hundred miles, from Arras (ar-rahss') to Soissons (swah-sawn')[3]. Completely destroying the villages, churches, castles, vineyards, and orchards, they left a desolate waste behind them. In this retreat the Germans gave up French territory to the extent of thirteen hundred square miles.

The German retirement was closely followed by British and French troops. Great courage was shown by Canadian troops in the taking of Vimy Ridge on April 9. In the following month many attacks were made by the British and French, which resulted in the taking of nearly 50,000 prisoners and large quantities of munitions, and the breaking through the Hindenburg line in one place. During the summer and fall the Allied attacks continued to win small territorial gains. The artillery fire was very heavy during all this time. During a period of three weeks the French city of Rheims (reemz or rănss) alone, with its magnificent cathedral almost in ruins, was bombarded with 65,000 large caliber German shells.

Two very important ridges, from which artillery could reach German positions, were taken during the heavy fighting in November. The French forced a retreat of the Germans over a thirteen-mile front and occupied the ridge known as Chemin des Dames (shmăn dā dahm); while the Canadians secured Passchendaele (pahss-ken-dĕl'ā) Ridge.

Late in the year the British introduced a new method of warfare. Instead of beginning their attack with a great bombardment lasting many hours and thus indicating to the enemy the approximate time and place of attack, they sent over the front a large number of "tanks" which broke through the barbed wire entanglements and opened the way for the infantry. By this means the British successfully surprised the enemy in the battle of Cambrai (cahn-brĕ'; November 20 to December 13). Unfortunately they could not hold most of the land occupied,—which was lost later in the battle,—but they did show the possibility of breaking the old deadlock of trench righting. The new method was to be used by both sides during the campaigns of the following year.

THE WAR IN THE AIR.—During this year warfare in the air continued to advance. Guynemer (geen-mĕr'), the great French ace, who was lost on September 11, had to his credit the destruction of fifty-four enemy machines. The increase in the number of airplanes led to the grouping of large numbers into regular formations (escadrilles), sometimes composed of over a hundred planes. Each year showed a steady increase in the effectiveness of this kind of warfare. In 1916 a total of 611 enemy machines had been destroyed or damaged by the Allied forces. In 1917 the French destroyed forty-three in twenty-four hours; and the British brought down thirty-one enemy planes in one combat. In a single week in 1918 the Allies destroyed 339 German planes. On one day, October 9, 1918, three hundred and fifty airplanes were sent forth by the American army in a single bombing expedition.

THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.—In 1917 the Allied cause received a heavy blow through the collapse of the Russian government. Long before the war there had been parties in Russia which desired to do away with the autocratic government of the Czar and substitute some sort of representative system which would give to the people a voice in the management of their affairs. These reforming parties did not agree among themselves as to the kind of government they wished to set up; their ideas extended from limited monarchy of the English type, all the way to anarchy, which means no government at all. In 1905 the Czar met the wishes of the reformers to the extent of establishing the Duma, a sort of representative assembly or parliament, which should help in making the laws. The Duma, however, was never given any real authority, and as time passed those who believed in Russian democracy became more and more dissatisfied.

During the war the Germans by means of bribery and plotting did all they could to weaken the authority of the Russian government. There existed, moreover, much corruption and disloyalty among high Russian officials. As the war dragged on a shortage of food added to the general discontent. By the early months of 1917, conditions were very bad indeed, and dissatisfied crowds gathered in the streets of Petrograd. Hunger and hardship had made them desperate, and they refused to disperse until the government should do something to relieve the situation. Regiments of soldiers were summoned to fire upon the crowd. They refused to do so and finally joined the mob. Thus began the Russian Revolution.

At a meeting of the revolutionists a group of soldiers and working men was selected to call upon the Duma and ask that body to form a temporary government. Another committee was sent to inform Nicholas II that he was deposed. Messages were sent to the armies to notify the generals that there was no longer a Russian Empire and that they were to take their orders thereafter from the representatives of the Russian people. Within a few days the revolution was complete. On March 15, the Czar signed a paper giving up the throne of Russia. Moderate reformers were placed in charge of the different departments of the government. The new government was recognized by the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. It looked as if the revolution had established a free government for Russia and that thenceforth, as a democratic nation, she would fight better than ever by the side of her allies. In all the Russian provinces, elections were called for choosing delegates to an assembly that should make a new constitution for Russia.

RUSSIA UNDER KERENSKY.—Meanwhile the extreme socialists began at once to make trouble for the new government. These men for the most part owned no property and wanted all wealth equally divided among the entire population. They considered the new government as tyrannical as that of the Czar had been. They also favored an immediate peace. Chief among the moderate leaders during this period was Alexander Keren'sky. He saw the necessity of keeping the revolution within bounds. For a while he was strong enough to maintain a moderate government in spite of the opposition of the extreme socialists. The Germans, meanwhile, through spies and secret agents, had been spreading among the Russian soldiers the idea that Germany was really their friend and that it was to their interest to stop fighting and retreat. Kerensky personally visited the battle front in Galicia, and for a time by means of his rousing speeches to the soldiers kept up their fighting spirit. New advances were made, the Germans and Austrians being driven back many miles. Lemberg itself seemed about to fall once more into the hands of the Russians. But this success was only temporary. Owing to the shortage of ammunition and the rapid spread of peace sentiments among the troops, the Russian army became disorganized and retreated from Galicia.

THE BOLSHEVIKI.—Bolsheviki (bōl-shĕv'e-kee) is the name given to the extreme socialistic party in Russia. From the beginning they had opposed the control of affairs by the moderate revolutionists under Kerensky. At last, in the fall of 1917, helped by the depression caused by the German advance and by the strikes and food riots which once more broke out in the capital, they succeeded in winning over to their side the Petrograd garrison and the navy, and drove Kerensky from the city (November 7). Their revolt was led by two of the most extreme members of the party, Lenine and Trotzky, who had at their disposal large sums of money furnished by Germany.

No sooner were the Bolsheviki in control than they announced themselves in favor of an immediate peace. They proclaimed that all the land should at once be divided among the peasants. When the new representative assembly met to make a constitution, it was found to be too moderate to suit the Bolshevik leaders, who dispersed it before it could accomplish anything. The rule of Lenine and Trotzky promised to be even more tyrannical than anything that had preceded it in Russia.

Meanwhile the Bolsheviki had arranged for an armistice with Germany with a view toward immediate negotiations for peace. This arrangement for the cessation of military operations became effective December 7. In spite of its provisions, however, the Germans, who had taken Riga (ree'ga) in September, continued their advance into Russian territory. By the close of 1917 peace negotiations were in progress between Russia and her enemies. Russia under Bolshevik control had definitely deserted her allies.

THE BRITISH IN MESOPOTAMIA.—It will be remembered that the Allied war plans in 1916 had included the junction of Russian armies operating from the Caucasus with British troops advancing north from the Persian Gulf. After the disaster at Kut-el-Amara the British still held the territory about the mouth of the Tigris. In January, 1917, they began a new advance up the river in the direction of Bagdad. This time their efforts proved successful. In February, Kut-el-Amara was retaken from the Turks, and on March 11 the British entered the city of Bagdad. They also continued their advance a considerable distance along the Bagdad Railway and occupied much of the Euphrates valley.

Still more important victories would probably have resulted from this campaign had it not been for the outbreak of the Russian revolution. This had the effect of weakening Russian military cooeperation, and finally of removing Russia entirely from the war, leaving to Great Britain alone the task of dealing with the Turkish armies in Asia. But the British kept their hold on the city of Bagdad, thus checkmating the German scheme of a Berlin-Bagdad railway and protecting India from any offensive on this side.

THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN.—The year 1917 witnessed still another military success for the British in Asia. The Turks had made several attempts to seize the Suez Canal and so inflict a serious blow against the communications of the Allies with the Far East. To remove, if possible, the danger of further threats against this vital spot, the English at last decided upon an offensive in that region. Early in 1917, the British advance began. During January and February important positions on the Sinai peninsula were seized. This success was followed by a slow progress north into Palestine. The resistance of the Turks was powerful and the British met with serious reverses. The terrible heat of the summer months further held up their operations. In the fall, however, the advance was resumed and a number of towns in the Holy Land fell into the hands of the British. In November, Jaffa, the seaport of Jerusalem, was taken. All the Turkish positions around the Holy City were carried by storm, and on December 10 Jerusalem surrendered to General Allenby.

This successful campaign in Palestine had several important results. The capture of Jerusalem after almost seven centuries of Turkish control led to general rejoicing among the Allied nations. Large numbers of Jews throughout the world, who had long looked forward to the reestablishment of a Jewish nation in Palestine, now felt that a long step had been taken toward the realization of their hopes. From a military point of view, however, the chief result of the British campaign in Palestine was that it definitely freed the Suez Canal from further danger of a Turkish attack.

THE OFFENSIVE AGAINST ITALY.—At the beginning of 1917 the Italian forces were within eleven miles of their great objective, the city and port of Trieste. During the late spring and summer the advance continued. Austrian trenches were occupied and tens of thousands of Austrian soldiers were captured. After two years of effort it seemed that the Italians would obtain the city and incorporate its population—very largely Italian—into the kingdom of Italy. But conditions in Austria and Germany had greatly changed. The cessation of war by Russia relieved the Central Powers of the necessity of keeping large armies on the eastern front. Further, the campaign had been going against Germany on the western front, and an easy victory in Italy might quiet criticism at home.

An immense army of Austrians and Germans was gathered together to attack the Italian forces. The Italians were spread out in a semicircle about one hundred and fifty miles long stretching from near Trent to within a few miles of Trieste. The Austrians controlled the upper passes in the mountains, so that they could attack this long line where they would. Thus the Italian military position was difficult to defend. The campaign began with a surprise attack by picked German troops at a point where the morale of one Italian division had previously been weakened by the pretended fraternizing of Austrian troops.

The Austro-German drive (October-December, 1917) swiftly undid the work of two years of most arduous endeavor. The Italians were forced back from Gorizia and compelled to surrender mountain positions which had been captured by them at enormous cost. Back across the boundary they retreated, losing heavily in men and material. The enemy advanced into the low country near Venice, and it seemed for a time that the city would fall into their hands. But British and French assistance was sent to Italy, the Italian army recovered its spirit, and a permanent check was put to the enemy's advance before Venice was reached. Upon a much shorter but more defensible line the Italians held the enemy at bay in the mountains and along the river Piave (pyah'vā).

UNRESTRICTED SUBMARINE WARFARE.—On January 31, 1917, the German ambassador to the United States, Count von Bernstorff, announced to President Wilson that Germany would begin unrestricted submarine warfare the following day, in the waters around Great Britain and France,[4] thus withdrawing the pledge given as a result of the sinking of the "Sussex." Three days later the President handed Count von Bernstorff his passports and recalled Ambassador Gerard' from Berlin, thus severing diplomatic relations with Germany.

During the next six months shipping was sunk at an average rate of 600,000 tons per month, three times as fast as before, and two or three times faster than it was being replaced. The highwater mark was reached in April, when 800,000 tons of shipping were destroyed. Unless this loss could be greatly reduced the Allies for want of food and materials would soon have to give up fighting.

But methods were quickly devised to combat the new danger. The patrols were increased, ships voyaged under convoy of fast destroyers constantly hovering about on the watch for submarines, and other protective measures were taken, so that the submarine menace was soon much reduced. By September, 1918, the sinkings were only about 150,000 tons a month, while the production of ships, especially in the United States, has increased to several times this amount.

Apparently Germany had waited until she had built a large number of submarines, thinking that by the use of a great fleet of them in a ruthless warfare on shipping she could force a peace within a few months. In this expectation she was disappointed. The principal result of the withdrawal of her pledge to this country was the entrance of the United States into the war on the side of the Allies. Captain Persius, an expert German naval critic, admitted in November, 1917, that the German admiralty was grossly mistaken in its calculations and that Germany had no reason for believing in the decisive influence of the submarine war.

THE UNITED STATES DRIFTS TOWARD WAR.—The breaking off of diplomatic relations is not a declaration of war. Nevertheless the events immediately succeeding the withdrawal of Count von Bernstorff made a declaration of war increasingly probable. The most important of these were the publication of the Zimmerman note, the fact that several American merchant ships were actually sunk by German submarines, and the discovery that members of the German embassy and other German diplomatic representatives had been concerned in plotting on United States soil against the Allies, thus endangering our peaceful relations with them. Not only so, but there was evidence that plots had been laid to destroy American lives and property in this country and to stir up internal disorders, such as strikes and riots.

THE ZIMMERMAN NOTE.—On the last day of February, the Secretary of State published a note that had come into his possession which was addressed by Dr. Zimmerman, the German foreign minister, to the German minister in Mexico. The note stated that Germany would soon begin a ruthless submarine warfare and proposed, if the United States should declare war on Germany, that Mexico should enter into an alliance with Germany. Germany was to furnish money and Mexico was to reconquer New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. It was also hinted that Mexico should suggest to Japan that the latter country should come into the agreement. The interesting thing about the note is that it was dated January 19, twelve days before Germany announced to us her plan for ruthless submarine warfare, and during a time when our relations with Germany, though under a great strain, were still peaceable.

ARMED NEUTRALITY.—About the time the Zimmerman note was published, President Wilson asked Congress to authorize the arming of American merchant ships for their own defense. A small minority in Congress by their obstructive tactics prevented the passage of the desired resolution before Congress expired on March 4. On March 12 the President announced that this country had determined to place an armed guard on all United States merchant vessels, which under international law might defend themselves from attack, although Germany denied this right. There is no evidence, however, that there was any encounter between these armed ships and German vessels prior to the outbreak of the war.

THE PRESIDENT'S WAR MESSAGE.—When Russia deposed the Czar and established a democratic government, in March, 1917, the last reason was removed which might have held us back from a declaration of war. Many believed that it would have been illogical for us to fight for democracy side by side with one of the greatest of autocracies. President Wilson called Congress in special session and on April 2 delivered his famous war message, asking Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany.

In the message he told of the various acts of Germany which had led up to the verge of war, recited the steps which our government had taken to bring Germany to realize the inevitable results of her crimes against civilization, and concluded by asking Congress to declare war. The President stated that the aims of the United States in the war are:

1. That the people of every nation may determine the form of government under which they wish to live.

2. That the small nations may have the right to exist and be protected against aggression.

3. That the future peace of the world may be guaranteed through the formation of a league of nations.

4. That the world may be made safe for democracy.

THE DECLARATION OF WAR.—In accordance with the recommendation of the President, Congress declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. War was not declared at this time against Germany's allies, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria. A few days later, however, at the instance of Germany, Austria and Turkey broke off diplomatic relations. On December 7, 1917, the United States declared war on Austria-Hungary.

Following the declaration of war with Germany, steps were at once taken to put the country in a position to give effective aid to our associates, and the President from time to time has requested Congress to grant authority to do those things that would enable us to take an active part in the war.

OTHER COUNTRIES ENTER THE WAR.—After the United States entered the war, many other countries, especially Brazil and some of the Spanish American countries, either broke off relations with Germany or declared war against her. Most of these countries had close commercial relationships with the United States, which would have been seriously interfered with had they remained neutral.

SPURLOS VERSENKT.—The decision of some of the South American countries to side against Germany was probably hastened by a typical piece of German bad faith. Argentina was at peace with Germany. In spite of that fact, the German minister at Buenos Aires (the Argentine capital) telegraphed to his government that if possible Argentine ships should be spared, but if not, they should be sunk without leaving a trace ("spurlos versenkt)." This would involve the drowning or murdering of the crews, so that there would be no inconvenient protest on the part of the Argentine government. It should be added that at the request of the German minister, the Swedish minister at Buenos Aires sent these dispatches in code as if they were his own private messages. In this way the German minister was able to have them sent over cable lines controlled by the Allies.

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY.—1. What is a "tank"? What are small tanks called? 2. Define socialism; Bolsheviki. 3. On a map of Europe show Germany and her allies in black. Mark with black lines other territory held or controlled by the Central Powers at the close of 1917. 4. On a map of southern Europe show Italy's farthest advance into Austrian territory in 1917. 5. Collect pictures of Rheims Cathedral, before and after being bombarded by the Germans; also pictures of other places destroyed by bombardments. Get pictures of different sorts of tanks and airplanes, of destroyers and Eagle boats. 6. What was the object of the Germans in devastating the country when they retreated to the Hindenburg line? 7. Why did Germany think Mexico and Japan might join her in an attack on the United States? 8. What was the date on which the United States declared war on Germany? 9. Why did not the United States declare war on Turkey or Bulgaria? 10. Make a list of the countries of South America and Central America that declared war on Germany.

REFERENCES.—War Cyclopedia (C.P.I.); The Study of the Great War (C.P.I.); War, Labor, and Peace (C.P.I.); How the War came to America (C.P.I.); The War Message and the Facts Behind It (C.P.I.); New York Times History of the European War.


[3] The Hindenburg line was very nearly the same as the battle line of Jan. 1, 1918, as shown on the map, page 145.

[4] Except that the United States, on certain conditions, might send one ship a week to Falmouth.



FAILURE OF GERMAN PEACE OFFENSIVE.—During the fall of 1917 Germany had started a great discussion of the terms of the peace which should close the war. In general the position taken by German spokesmen was "peace without annexations and without indemnities," as proposed by the Russian Bolsheviki. Such talk was designed to weaken the war spirit of the Allied peoples, and perhaps to make the German people believe that they were fighting a war of self-defense. The time was ripe for a statement of the war aims of Germany's opponents. This statement, later approved in general by Allied statesmen, was made by President Wilson in his address to Congress on January 8, 1918. It is discussed in detail in Chapter XIV. It was not satisfactory to Germany's rulers, for they hoped to secure better terms in a peace of bargains and compromises.

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