Book Notes: A World Undone

This book was great. Lots of notes below. One thing I loved was the inclusion of “background” chapters. These chapters were brief interludes in the story to provide context to the story that wasn’t necessarily part of the story, such as background on the Hohenzollern family, women in the war, and the mood of various cities involved in the war. One thing that I wish this book covered more of was the development and use of aircraft during the war. There are mentions of aircraft usage, but nothing in depth.

A World Undone

Part 1

Chapter 1: June 28th, The Black Hand Descends

  • Franz Ferdinand was a big, beefy man and well-regraded. He was a family man and revoked his future children’s right to succession to the throne so he could marry Sophie Chotek, who wasn’t of royal lineage and came from an impoverished Czech family. She wasn’t consider to be a royal by the rest of the court
  • Six young men traveled to Sarajevo to kill he archduke. Five were Bosnians if Serbian descent and linked to Young Bosnia, a radical organization linked to a Serb nationalist group know to its members as the Black Hand. It’s intent was to expand Serbia so that all Serbs of the Balkans could be united
  • June 28th was St. Vitus Day, which was a day of rememberance and mourning for the Serbs, as it marked the anniversary of the defeat of a Serbian kingdom at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 that sparked the demise of the kingdom. The Serbs then became subjects and slaves of their conquers until the Turks were driven out in 1912. The sentiment of foreign rule was still felt, as portions of the Balkans were still under Habsburg rule
  • Franz Joesph was relieved at the killed of Ferdinand, as it cleared up the nuisance that Joesph felt Ferdinand was. Other world leaders would mourn, but none felt this would be cause of a crisis; many leaders had been killed in the decades before 1914 without launching the world into chaos
  • Ironically, Ferdinand was believe to have attempted to incorporate the Slavs into the government during his time on the throne, and was considered a friend to the Slavs

    Background: The Serbs

  • The Balkans was and arguably still is the most unstable region of Europe, with small nations and volatile borders, intermingled ethnic groups and nationalist sentiment
  • 2000 years ago the diving line between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire resided in the Balkans, which has marked the divide between the Catholic and Orthodox worlds. It became the home of only European indigenous Muslim population after the Turks came in. Russians also had their eye on Constantinople, along with the Turks and the Serbs. The Russians felt themselves to be the rightful leader of the whole Orthodox world, and thus patrons and protectors of Slavic and Orthodox populations in the Balkans, including the Serbs
  • The Serbs (part of Yugoslavs that migrated to the Balkans in the Seventh Century) identified with Russia due to their Orthodox religion, as Austria would be catholic and Magyars (Hungary) would be Calvinist
  • In the eighteenth century the Turks, Austrians, and Russians were entangled in a two hundred year conflict in and over the Balkans. In the 1870s a Russo-Turkish war creates the Kingdom of Serbia, placed within the ethnic turmoil of the Balkans. Many Serbs still lived outside the kingdom, and thus the will of the Kingdom was to incorporate neighboring countries with Serb populations, no matter how small a proportion of the population
  • In the early 1900s Serbia’s will to incorporate Bosnian Serbs manifested in violent ways: disposal of a Hapsberg-friendly royal family in 1903, the first Balkan war driving out of the Turks in 1912, defeat or Bulgaria a year later. France was also investing in Serbia to enlarge a foe of the Austria-Hungarians and ally of the Russian’s (France’s ally)
  • Pasic was Serbia’s Prime Minister and at odds with the chief of military intelligence (also the leader of the Black Hand) Dragutin Dimitrijevic. Pasic wanted the country to recoup after two exhausting wars, and knew that the kingdom didn’t stand a chance against Austria-Hungary. Dimitrijevic felt that Pasic was in the way of Serbia’s ambitions, and may have felt that Ferdinands assassinationt would underline his power and trigger a crisis to fell Pasic

Chapter 2: Never Again

  • in 1914 the Austria-Hungarian empire was a massive second-rate power which had fallen in status over the previous half a century. Germany had displaced Austro-Hungary as the leader of German states. It had lost some territory to the new Kingdom of Italy. It was a nation of thirteen nationalities, had five major religions, and organized into 17 “lands”. Franz Conrad, Chief of the General Staff, felt that the monarchy had squandered too many opportunities in the Balkans. He convinced Leopoldo von Berchtold of the same after the assassinations. The Balkans were always thought to be the weak spot, as Serbia had allowed to grow in power
  • Serbia was a problem for Austro-Hungary as
    • Each Serbian success bolstered nationalist support within the empire for other subjects
    • Serbia was tied to the Russians, opponents of the empire
    • Serbians wished to absorb Bosnia, an annexed part of the empire
  • In 1914, the Balkans were as volatile as ever
    • The first and second Balkan war redrew the map in Serbia’s favor, drawing the eyes of Austro-Hungry
    • The Turks had lost everything in the region
    • Bulgaria had lost mist of its gains from 1913 (the first Balkan war)
    • Greece did not think it had been given enough
    • Serbia had to give back the land making up the country of Albania when the Austro-Hungarians insisted
    • Russia was too weak to give support to Serbia, and wanted to strengthen its military
    • The Germans had not supported Austria’s proposed hostilities against the Serbs when their empire increased in power. Their only formidable ally was Austro-Hungary, and they wanted to ensure them of their strong alliance through involvement in the next action

Background: The Hapsburgs

  • the Hapsburgs had ruled as Kings for six and a half centuries (of places such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Spain)
  • Guntram the Rich was the first member of the line to appear in history. One of his descendants became the first monarch, King Rudolph I of Germany in 1273
  • Charlemagne of the Germanic tribe called the Franks was crowned in 800 as ruler of Rome, and thus German rulers since then felt themselves as successors to the ancient emperors of Rome
  • The Hapsburgs expanded their empire through advantageous marriage. Fredrick III married his son Maximilian to the heiress of some French-like possession, and his son married the heir of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. A few generations later it all came down due to failure to produce children, dying out of family lines due to inbreeding, the Reformation, and Napoleon

Chapter 3: Setting Fire to Europe

  • Austria-Hungary wished for action against Serbia, but needed to be sure it had German support; Vienna was not strong enough to dissuade Russia from entering to protect Serbia. Germany and Wilhelm made it clear there was support. Mobilization would be slow however, and even further, there was a French state visit to Russia from July 20th to 23rd, and an attack or hint of mobilization before that would allow the two allies to coordinate
  • Austria-Hungary felt that reduction of the Serbian empire was an existential necessity. They drafted a list of demands intended for refusal by Serbia, but not hard enough as to raise suspicion from Germany and Russia of its intentions to carve up the empire after taking it by force
  • Due to Austro-Hungary’s secrecy (as they finally wanted action in Serbia and didn’t want anything holding this wish up), Russia and Germany were both surprised by this advancement of the reaction. Russia’s foreign minister assumed that Germany must have had knowledge about the ultimatum and figured that Russia was being plotted against by Germany and Austria.

Background: The Hohenzollerns

  • in 1914, a still-rising family at the top of a rising nation. They had been rising for 500 years. They invented modern Germany with the help of Otto von Bismark
  • Prussia had originally been inhabited by Slavs but was conquered and christianized in the 1200: by the military religious order of the Teutonic Knights.
  • The head of this order in 1525 was a member of the family named Albert. With the Reformation sweeping across Europe, he declared himself a Protestant as well as that he was the Duke of Prussia. Bundled with another Hohenzollern line in Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm from 1640 to 1688 originated the famous Prussian army. Out of diplomacy and military might rose Frederick the Great.
  • Frederick the Great was an outstanding ruler, raising Prussia to a leading power at the time of his death in 1786. Napoleon undid most of the work, but at the Congress of Vienna had power restored in a way that made it the only major power whose entire subjects were German
  • In the mid-1800s Prussia expanded its dominance by taking possessions from Denmark and Austria in the region. It 1870 it smashed France and entrenched its place at the top of the German food chain

Chapter 4: July 25th to 28th, Secrets and Lies

  • Meyer points out a few mistakes that led to war
    • Serbia artfully responded to Austria’s demand with a conciliatory tone, raising questions on a few points and refusing on only one point. However, by not yielding, this gave Austria the excuse to execute military action
    • Serbia’s Russian diplomat was optimistic about Russia’s willingness to engage militarily due to some manipulation by France’s Russian ambassador Paleologue. Nicholas II and the foreign cabinet did not believe they could wage war with Germany yet (though felt good about the future)
    • In an election year the prime minister Pasic wanted to show himself willing to stand up to Austria. He also did not want the Austria’s to know (one of their points was to participate in the investigation) the cabinets involvement and his knowledge prior to the attacker
  • Austria and Serbia began mobilization on the 25th of July. Russia began to begin a “prepatory period” in a hope to intimidate Austria into backing down. Germany learned that Russia was quietly mobilizing on fronts that could attack Berlin, raising German suspicion of a Russian attack
  • July 27th, Britain requested a peace talk including France, Russia, and Italy. Germany and Austria felt that the conference would substitute talk for action and that Serbs would just be legitimized in their future trouble making. Hungary was also financially strapped and wanted to get something for its money
  • Some confusion when Wilhelm II got home from his vacation on this day. He read the Serbian response and Sir Edward Gray’s transmission from Britain that the response was grounds for negotiation, and issued his foreign minister to tell Vienna to negotiate rather than attack. However, his foreign minister had not informed him that Vienna was prepared to declare war that afternoon and delayed his transmission to Vienna, as he figured the Kaiser to be unpredictable and contradictory, and felt that he was acting in the way the Kaiser actually felt, and not on his latest whim

Background: The Romanovs

  • in 1914 the Romanov dynasty celebrated 300 years on the throne. It had been a reign complete with bizarre situations, royal murders and assassinations
  • Peter the Great, The Westernizing dictator, was part of the dynasty, and transformed Russia into a major world player. Upon his death, his wife ruled as Catherine I
  • Catherine the Great was spawned from a foolish grandson of Peter the Great, Peter III. She married Peter and he was murdered less than a year after assuming the throne
  • She didn’t trust her son (who may or may not have been fathered by Peter III) and instead groomed his son, Alexander I, to become king.
  • It’s rumored Alexander I, who thwarted Napoleon in the end, retracted into a monastery after faking his own death. His younger brother Nicholas I took over
  • Nicholas II was Nicholas I’s great grandson, and had no wish to be the Czar or training to do so. His father. Alexander III’s sudden and surprising decline launch him to a place of power

Chapter 5: July 29 to 31, Fear is a Bad Counselor

  • Nicholas II and Wilhelm were cousins by marriage, and communicating in a hopes to avoid the war. Only two things could stop the war: Russia refraining from general mobilization and Austria not fully attacking Serbia
  • Russia ordered partial mobilization in an effort to deter Austria. Austria needed German support to attack Serbia, and Germany was lukewarm about the attack (prior they were encouraging Austria to invade Serbia, but now that the cards were on the table were apprehensive)
  • Misinformation of Sazonov (that partial mobilization was not practical, that the Germans wouldn’t necessarily take full mobilization as a threat, that Germany was trying to buy time to mobilize itself) and fear on either size led to full mobilization of Russia to ensure proper defense and support of Serbia
  • On Thursday, July 39th, war seemed inevitable with Austria hellbent in attacking Serbia. Russia mobilized. France was trying to draw in Britain on their side to deter any German thoughts of entering the war. The Germans figured mobilization was required with Russia mobilizing and the fear of encirclement. Germany was afraid of being unprotected on their eastern front with Austria directing a majority of troops to the Serbian border
  • The German war plan did not consider a variation where Russia mobilized without declaring war. With the situation unprecedented, German generalship pushes for engaging in their original war plans rather than waiting for French and Russian military buildup
  • Britain realized due to a German proposal for British neutrality that Germany may be intending to violate Belgian neutrality. It issued requests to both France and Germany to clarify their respect of Belgian neutrality; Germany did not respond.

Background: The Ottoman Turks

  • the power vacuum in Balkans upon the Turks departure allowed the Kingdom of Serbia to exist and the Hapsburgs to annex Bosnia
  • It’s apex was 1520 to 1566 during Suleiman the Magnificent , and was founded 300 years before
  • The Ottomans were first into Europe in 1354 and in 1453 captured Constantinople
  • Suleiman did something no ruler of the empire had done in quite some time: he married. He already had an heir that was beloved by the people and a capable ruler. Suleiman’s wife Roxelana convinced Suleiman that Mustafa, his son, was plotting against him. He was killed and Roxelana’s son with Suleiman became heir. From there, the empire dissolved into ruin as each successive ruler engaged in hedonistic lifestyles. With the sudden descent of the empire, it has been rumored that Roxelana’s son was not in fact gathered by Suleiman
  • In 1908 a group called the Young Turks led by army officer Enver Pasha seized control of the government promising reforms. In 1912 after the first Balkan War, the group was replaced by nationalist extremists led by Enver Pasha again. In January 1914 Pasha became minister of war

Chapter 6: Saturday, August 1, Leaping into the Dark

  • Moltke and Germany’s military plans were singular: mobilization means executing the Schlieffen plan. It expected Russia to take six weeks to mobilize. With Russian mobilizing to deter Austria’s advances, Germany had no choice but to do the same
  • Sir Edward Gray sent a request to Germany right at the time they signed mobilization asking if they would not attack France if France stayed neutral in a Russo-German war. The Kaiser was ecstatic: a great diplomatic victory and the chance to bring Russia to heel as the singular focus. Moltke refuses, saying “the deployment for an army of a million men was not a matter of improvisation”. The Kaiser responded with “Your uncle would’ve given me a different answer”. This greatly affected Moltke and shook the Kaiser’s confidence in the plan

Part 2: Racing to Deadlock, August - December 1914

Chapter 7: The Iron Dice Roll

  • Germany army had two million men
    • 87 infantry divisions averaging 18000 men each, 11 Calvary divisions
    • 8 field armies
  • Austria had 1.3 million men, 49 infantry and 11 Calvary
  • Serbia has 250,000 making up 12 and a half divisions
  • Russia has 3.5 million troops with 114 infantry and 36 Calvary
  • France has 1.8 million in 80 infantry and 10 calvary

Background: Paris in 1914

  • a paradoxically bourgeoisie Leftist politician who had proposed an income tax and disagreed with a recent extension of required conscription time was the talk of the town. His name was Caillaux
  • His second wife had shot and killed a conservative newspaper editor after he released some letters between Caillaux and his first wife while she was still in her first relationship

Chapter 8: Full Blood

  • the German right wing had 750,000 troops
  • (Most of this covered in The Guns of August)
  • French casualties for the first month are believed to be 260,000 with 75,000 dead (27,000 on August 22nd alone)
  • Germany had 18,000 perish on the western front in August

Background: London in 1914

  • that Britain was in this conflict at all was a bit of a surprise. The British had involved themselves in discussions but from an impartial place of promoting peace
  • At home, the public was focused on Irish Home Rule
  • The Liberal Party in power needed the Irish Home Rule voting block to stay in power. The Conservatives and Protestant Northern Irish were adamantly opposed and threatening violence
  • The Curragh Mutiny was when Unionist supporting officers rejected the notion they would put down a Protestant rebellion

Chapter 9: A Perfect Balance

  • at Mons on August 23rd, the British ran into von Klucks army. They lost 1600 while the Germans lost st least 5000.
  • French was not a fan of Smith-Dorrien
  • Understanding that their tactics would not be sustained and their offensive blunted, Joffre ordered “The Great Retreat” on August 24, in which the Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies fell back toward Paris
  • The Sixth army was assembled and given to Gallieni, who became military governor of Paris and proceeded to prep Paris for defense
  • Moltke pulled some troops from the right wing to bolster the surprising successes seen in the southeast. Along with other troop adjustments made earlier, this reduced the size of the hammer substantially (about a third)
  • The Battle of Tannenberg resulted in 250,000 casualties, with 92,000 of those captured for the Russians with 37,000 for the Germans

Background: The Junkers

  • East Prussia was the heart of the Hohenzollern empire as it was the ancient home of those that regarded themselves as Germany’s rightful leaders
  • Hindenburg, who took command of the Eighth Army, descended from one of the families
  • Originally the home of Slavs. In the thirteenth century the Teutonic Knights, an order of religious warriors created to participate in the Crusades, were invited to help ambitious German bibles seize territories around the Vistula River. A Slavic tribe was there called the Prussians
  • Germans were slow to settle their with poor soul and dank climate, so the area produced a mix of Christian Slavs and Germans resulting in an ethnically mixed local aristocracy called the Junkers
  • The Junkers were not rich, and life was hardscrabble, Lutherans with a deeply held respect for law and class structure, and tied their allegiance to the Hohenzollern dynasty
  • With a rapidly changing, modernizing world, the Junkers were ill-equipped for change. They were farmers and not well-educated (as a tradition). Bismark and the unified German still gave a larger share of government positions to Junkers, and economically supported them through tariffs on food imports
  • Thus, the political life of the nation remained in an atrophied state with a group undereducated and adverse to change
  • Falkenhayn was nearly the ideal Junker, and being a product of Prussia, rose surprisingly quick through the ranks to minister of war in 1913

Chapter 10: To The Marne

  • a visit from Kitchener in military inform to French persuaded the commander of the BEF to act in accordance with the French rather than his planned retreat south of Paris
  • Moltke altered his plans in early September, informing the right wing to stay put and the left wing to attack, hoping for encirclement at Verdun. It’s unclear if this was from optimism of the left wings success or pessimism in the right wing

Chapter 11: Back from the Marne

  • Von Klucks army was incredibly exhausted after marching 40km a day. The army was only able to proceed with the goal of Paris energizing the troops
  • Von Kluck’s army turned southeast, away from Paris, to instead find the flank of the 5th army or BEF. Discovered notes on a killed German officer and I coded radio messages alerted Gallieni, who confirmed with airplane recon. Von Kluck’s flank was exposed to Gallieni and the Sixth army, and Gallieni hoped to attack
  • The Sixth army attacked on the fifth and sixth to lukewarm success - von Kluck’s fighting force had more experience and effective use of artillery
  • The left of the French was attacking Bulow and Kluck’s army while the right attempted to hold steadfast against Moltke’s ordered breakthroughs. With Kluck pulling back his units to the Ourq to deal with the Sixth, a gap opened between Bulow and Kluck. Advancing north, the BEF ended up in between the two armies
  • The outcome of the battle of the Marne would be whether the German armies could crack the eastern line or whether Klucks or the Sixth army would beat their foe
  • Foch at Saint-Gond continues his philosophy of the offensive, though being pushed back by the Germans
  • Von Bulows situation became increasingly dangerous, deadlocked with Franchet d’Esperey’s Fifth Army (Lazrenac was replace)
  • On Wednesday, September 9th Kluck counterattacked the Sixth Army. The Sixth promptly fell apart
  • Conrad attacked and disastrously failed in an attack on the Russians. He had lost a fourth of the available men to wounds, capture or death and Austria shrank to a useless military ally for the Germans
  • Bulow was forced to retreat as the gap between him and Kluck expanded over 50 miles. Right at the time of success against the Sixth, with only 30 miles to Paris, Kluck was required to retreat as to save his army from encirclement and destruction

Background: The British Commanders

  • the British suffered embarrassing difficulties in the Boer wars of the early 20th century
  • The status quo of the British military was that appointments used to be bought, and that only gentleman of a certain class could become officer. There was a culture of amateurism in that it was frowned upon to read too much military history, etc.
  • French’s Chief of Staff in the Boer War was Douglas Haig. Haig relied on connections, not aptitude, to raise through the ranks
  • Kitchener ascended through the ranks brilliantly. He was despised by Henry Wilson (the Francophile who was the main French contact), French and Haig. He was correct in his predictions ore-war of Germans violation of Belgian neutrality, a long and protracted war, and the large sizes of the armies

Chapter 12: Flanders Field

  • Moltke was replaced by Falkenhayn
  • The Germans retreated to the Aisne, but without capturing Verdun, was unable to hold the line due to lack of supplies and support
  • The Germans took Antwerp, where the remains of the Belgian army were holed up. After much shelling, the Belgians retreated to Ypres on the English Channel in early October. Foch implored King Albert II to hold that line, or else he would not find himself in power after the war. In a final desperate attempt to thwart the German offensive, the dikes were cut and the area about Ypres flooded
  • In the East, the Germans and Austrians were greatly outnumbered and attempted to slow down the Russian juggernaut. The joining of the two armies set the stage for the first battle of Warsaw.
  • Both the German army and the French-British armies approached the sea around the Belgian-French line near Ypres in an attempt to find a flank. Here, new German recruits, often young men fresh from school, were slaughtered en masse due to their inexperience. A memorial is present today at the site
  • An internal war within the German general staff was brewing - which front was the most likely to yield a victory, the west or east? Hindenburg and Ludendorff were squarely focused on the east, with Falkenhayn on the west
  • The Germans lost 100 thousand men while inflicting 530 thousand casualties on the Russians throughout the eastern front at the end of 1914

Part 3: 1915: A Zero-Sun Game

Chapter 13: The Search for Elsewhere

  • At the start of 1915 most governments and military leaders were split on what to do. The Germans were fighting on two fronts and Falkenhayn felt only a peace on one front would allow a victory. The Russians, knowing they needed to proceed west to demolish the Germans, were unsure of just how to with opposing factions inside the government.
  • The Germans pressured the Turks into joining the central alliance after denials of alliance from Russia, and a swipe of British-made ships purchased by turkey yet undelivered before the war. Germany presented two warships as a gift (I.e., keep the German crews but fly the Turkish flag) and then promptly used those ships to stir up a crisis which would force Turkey into the war by shelling Russian cities and inviting a Russian declaration of war on turkey. Britain had amassed a large army due to volunteer enlistment, but wanted to leave the western front fighting to the French and the Germans, hoping to tip the scales once both sides were exhausted. They looked elsewhere on the war map to exert their influence
  • An internal struggle erupted with the German general staff that had been brewing between the easterners and westerners. It came to a head with the removal of Falkenhayn as war minister but an underline of support from the Kaiser
  • Together with the Austrians, Ludendorff and Hindenburg began a war of attrition with the Russians in the east around Galicia and Przemsyl, slowed by the winter snow and cold (Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes)

Chapter 14: The Dardanelles

  • looking for a more efficient place to put men than the western front, Britain searched for a new front. They settled on the Dardanelles after it was rumored Bulgaria was to join the central powers. Britain would launch from Lemnos, a Greek island (Greece was neutral but not unfriendly to British interests).
  • A British-French fleet began to creep up the Dardanelles at the same time, proceeding cautiously and rendering obsolete the woeful defense of the Turks, backed by Germany. The British were perhaps too cautious, giving time for rushed fortifications by taking their time with advancement. Russia was not involved, and did not really want ally involvement in this region: Constantinople had always been in the view of the Russians, and the fear was that capture by an ally would mean Russia would be blocked from controlling the city again. Sir Edward Grey promised Constantinople to be a Russian possession at the end of the war
  • Greece had offered some troops, leaning toward joining the Entente. This may persuade other Balkan countries such as Italy, Bulgaria and Romania to lend a hand, providing great strategic landing spots. However, the Russians were opposed, as its potential post-war effects would be a strengthening of competitors in regions Russia wished to control (by the way, the wife of the King of Greece was Wilhelm’s sister)
  • On the western front, with timing largely seen as an attempt to deflect focus on the Dardanelles front by the British war cabinet, the British renew an offensive at Neuve Chapelle employing colonial troops with heavy artillery. The German line was frightfully thin - in fact, the British troops were able to push through with minimal resistance and found fortifications unmanned. This incredible opportunity was squandered by some tactical miscalculations resulting in a delay of advancement, which lost the opportunity. The British captured little and learned almost nothing about their tactical mistakes, but this confirmed for the Germans that they could still defend with less men, freeing up western front troops to be moved east
  • Carefully and quietly placed mines by the Turks and Germans resulted in slowing the Entente warship advance, and sunk and maimed a few battleships. Top brass began to think a ground assault was necessary and that naval warfare alone was no sufficient, although the situation on the ground for the central powers was rough, with limited supplies and ammo
  • Przemysl was finally taken by the Russians after a siege of almost half a year. It captured 120,000 troops

Chapter 15: Ypres Again

  • before the Second Battle of Ypres began, British miners dug under the German lines to Hill 60, the highest point on the Messiness Ridge taken by the Germans in autumn. Once underneath, it was packed with explosives and blown up in April 17, followed by an infantry attack to take the hill. 1000 Germans died, with 7 casualties on the British side
  • Both sides wished to attack in the area of Ypres - the Germans for a diversion, as they were moving troops to the east, and the British, encouraged by Joffre and used to show London command that more troops were needed along the west
  • On April 22, artillery commenced. The Germans unleashed a dangerous, relatively new weapon - chlorine gas. It wiped an entire 4-mile expanse of the French line as the men died from suffocation or flee. The Germans simply marched toward their objective, the city of Ypres, but were unable to take and occupy it as many troops had been sent east.
  • The effects of chlorine were nullified by the used of a rag or sock stained with urine over ones mouth and nose
  • The area became classic western fodder - horrible accommodations for troops, attack and counterattack gaining no ground and only resulting in the loss of men, etc. Eventually in May, Joffre moved troops south for a separate offensive

Chapter 16: Gallipoli

  • the Turks were given a few lucky breaks of the back of the failed Dardanelles sea assault by the British on March 18 - the army to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula headed by General Ian Hamilton was completely in disarray, and needed to be offloaded, reorganized and reloaded - this was done in Egypt. Another lucky break was that the British would not attack again for another month, giving plenty of timing to reinforce the woefully under defended area and prep the troops commanded by General Otto Liman von Sanders, head of the German military mission in Constantinople.
  • The landing should have been a tout for Hamilton, as Sanders made wrong assumptions about where the assault would land. The 16,000 French soldiers were landed at Kum Kale as a bit of a diversion, the 30k Anzac (NZ + AUS) troops were halfway up the Aegean side of the peninsula, and the 27k British soldiers landed at 5 different beaches along the tip, Cape Helles. The Turks, misplaced, didn’t offer much resistance - however, with lack of communication between different groups of British soldiers at each beach upon landing, no advancement or coordination ensued.
  • Mustafa Kemal uttered the immortal words “I don’t order you to attack, I order you to die” to his Turkish troops, barely resisting the Anzac onslaught and saving the high points of Gallipoli from Entente hands
  • The Dardanelles and Gallipoli fell into the same sterile trench warfare as the western front

Chapter 17: The Ground Shifts

  • with a new army (the Eleventh) scraped together by reducing the number of battalions per division from 12 to 9, Falkenhayn looked to the east for its deployment. He placed the army under the command of August von Mackensen.
  • Falkenhayn took a new strategy with the east - don’t conquer the Russians, but disable them so that they were no longer a factor in 1916, and effort could be redoubled to the west after
  • Conrad of Austria-Hungary suggested an attack on Gorlice and Tarnow near Galicia, as to thwart an inevitable Russian continuation of attack on the Carpathian offensive
  • With an intense artillery barrage, the Russian Third Army collapsed, isolated from help and worn down from a winter of doubting. 60k men retreated, losing Gorlice and Tarnow within 5 days. Their general, Radko Dimitriev, begged for approval to abandon Przemysl in retreat - Grand Duke Nicholas refused.
  • Joffre started his Artois offensive against a weakened German line along with the British. It accomplished almost no taking of ground, with temporary piercings that eventually were brushed back. It resulted in the French losing a hundred thousand men to the German’s 50k. Largely due to excellent defenses and impotent artillery. It’s largest effect was the start of ungluing Joffre’s status in France and Paris, as the carnage was seen to be hopelessly suicidal
  • Henri-Philippe Petain was the General with the most success in the Artois offensive, and had risen in prestige quite rapidly over the past year. He was a hard disciplinarian but showed concern for his troops living conditions, often with his men when they were under bombardment. He was promoted to commander of the French Second Army. He took the view that this was a war of attrition, not of the offensive, and how to effectively use artillery and ground troops together.
  • Kitchener felt that removing the men from Gallipoli would be disastrous - he’d lose many men and it may incite Muslim subjects in Egypt to revolt). He attempted to use the navy again in the Dardanelles, which resulted in the sinking of the battleship Goliath. Admiral John Fisher resigned upon learning that yet more ships were being sent by Churchill and sent a wildly emotional letter to the Tory opposition.
  • On May 25th the first U-boat to reach the Aegean sink two battleships in as many days, silencing any thought of using the navy in the Dardanelles
  • Sir John French began rallying against Kitchener when troops and shells were redirected away from the western front. He lay blame at the feet of Kitchener, airing his grievances in the media. This created the impression of a government in chaos
  • The Liberals lost control of the government as the government was dissolved and a coalition cabinet installed. With many Conservative members and Lloyd George as leader of the liberals. They created a new ministry of munitions to take the responsibility of armaments out of Kitcheners hands
  • Churchill was removed from his role as First Lord of the Admiralty after the Gallipoli disaster and at the request of the incoming Conservatives
  • The Summer of 1915 was “relatively quiet” for the western front, but the east rumbled on. Falkenhayn pushes on with the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive, earning back some land that the Russians had taken
  • Italy found its moment to enter the war on the Entente side, exacting a large ransom for its allegiance - however, the Catholic Church and the socialists opposed this, and the government fell and was to be replaced by a large protofacist group, declaring war on only Austria-Hungary on May 23rd.
  • The Central Powers push into Russia was a tremendous achievement, but it was known that like Napoleon, the Russians could not be pursued fully into their land mass. However, France and Britain were concerned that the Russians may make a separate peace due to their losses. Thus, a need for a victory at Gallipoli and a western front offensive in the fall was clear

Chapter 18: Gallipoli again, and Poland, and…

  • August 9th meeting of British troops and Turkish troops clamoring for the top of the Tekke Tepe Ridge, the top most point in the center of the peninsula, resulted in the British being pushed back, surprises by the Turks. The British air reconnaissance had shown it was undefended; both British and Turkish armies marched for day’s to be the first to the top of the hill, and the Turks best out the Brits by near minutes
  • The Russians left Warsaw and this Poland to the Germans. Russians Jews confined to that area by the state were driven from their homes out into the roads as the Russians took a scorched earth policy, slaughtering cattle and destroying foodstuff
  • Joffre’s large fall offensive was repelled by a smaller number of Germans, who had become quite adept at defensive positions in both trench building and gun placement. Sir John French was let go, as some military mistakes were provided as some reasons why the British portion of the attack was unsuccessful
  • Serbia was crushed once Bulgaria threw its hat in the ring with the central powers. Attacked on two sides, the Serbian army and whole of its country fled south, resulting in a chaotic scene of atrocities at the hands of neighbors in the Balkans. The failure of the Entente to protect Serbia caused the French government to cycle through and many leaders were replaced
  • Gallipoli was slowly drained of entente soldiers, moving slowly under the cover of night sat by day as to not alarm the Turks that the firepower of those remaining was diminished

Part 4: 1916: Bleeding to Death

Chapter 19: Verdun: Preparation

  • On the western front the Germans had 94 divisions + 26 in reserve, with the Entente having 91 + 59 in reserve. The Entente thought their numerical advantage to be much greater than it actually was
  • In December 1915, leaders of many Entente countries met to discuss a planned offensive timed to happen almost simultaneously
  • Falkenhayn felt that the war would never end until Britain was induced to give up. German generals and Admiral von Tirpitz assured him that a U-Boat campaign would destroy Britain’s ability to wage war within two months. Falkenhayn knew that without suppressing Britain, Germany would lose an elongated war
  • Falkenhayn also knew that France would need to be knocked out of Britain’s hand as it’s best weapon. He knew a traditional victory was not possible in this age of machinery, but that he needed to break the will to fight. France had already expended many lives - what he needed know was a killing field
  • Verdun was not much in the way of strategic importance, but had been highly contested and had been attached importance to by the French. Falkenhayn also knew of Joffre’s penchant to spend huge resources on actions with limited rewards
  • Falkenhayn was cagey with his generals about his actual intent - he didn’t want to capture verdun but rather make a meat grinder of it - and his timidness even with a large numerical superiority in concentration stifled some of the results he was looking for

Background: Old Wounds Unhealed

  • Verdun has always been a place of military importance, as it sits along a place on the Meuse where travelers could cross the river with comparative ease
  • The Romans named in Verodunum, or “strong fort”
  • It was where the quarreling grandsons of Charlemagne met to divide the Frankish empire into West Franks (France), East Franks (Germany), and Lotharingia (Lorraine)

Chapter 20: Verdun: Execution

  • battle was originally set for February 12th, but snow pushed it back to the 21st. It began with a bombardment not seen before, and a slow infantry engagement in the evening, feeling the French forces out
  • Castelnau rushed to Verdun at the start of battle to take stock. He recommended to Joffre that Petain and his second Army be moved to Verdun
  • Fort Douaumont was impenetrable but gravely undefended, and taken by the Germans without a shot being fired; small parties of German soldiers entered and rounded up the 60 troops inside
  • Petain, upon arrival as the commander in charge of verdun, was gravely ill with double pneumonia. However he was the right man for the job, an infantryman and an expert in artillery. He gather, organized and energized the French troops
  • There was a single road connecting Verdun to supplies. Bar-le-Duc was 40 miles to the south, and the road connecting the two (later called The Sacred Way) was widened so that 2 trucks could fit side by side. The path was used to constantly send supplies and rotated troops at a rate of a truck arriving once every 14 seconds at the peak of the conflict
  • Three-fourths of the French Army was rotated through, making verdun the most shared experience of France in the war
  • Verdun was held largely due to fortunate weather for the French; rain bogged down German advances and supply lines. Falkenhayn also miscalculated his strategy, urging verdun to be taken after the opportunity had passed and ample time was given to the French to prepare defenses.
  • Joffre was not content with Petain’s strategy to play defense, but Petain had quickly become a national hero and the “savior of verdun”. To get rid of him, Joffre kicked him upstairs to lead a Army Group Center which includes Petain’s Second Army.
  • At the same time, Tsar Nicholas booted his minister of war Alexei Polivanov, who had been achieving near miracles and reforming the military. But because he was a reformer, the Tsarina hated him and had long wanted him out of the way. She believed he was an enemy of the autocracy. He intervened when he learned Rasputin had access to the ministry’s fastest automobiles to enable him to escape police agents. With Nicholas II away in charge of the army, the government at home was essentially run my the Tsarina and this Rasputin

Chapter 22: Maelstrom

  • All in all, things were going right for the Central powers as of spring 1916
    • They slowly broke through at verdun
    • In the only real naval battle, the Germans drew with the British (which was essentially a win)
    • A German attack to disrupt the coming Somme offensive was much more successful that anticipated, driving back the British
    • Austria had success in attacking the Italians and were close to encircling them
    • The Germans captured high ground in Flanders
  • Brasílov at this time, newly in command, launched and offensive that eschewed the usual tactics of the war. He launch an assault along a line of 250 miles, his reserves close to the front, and against troops of equal numbers. The Austro-Hungarian Fourth and Seventh armies nearly disintegrated, with 300,000 prisoners being taken. Most of the best Austria-Hungarian troops were south of the alps in Italy. And, the senior commanders were at a birthday party away from the lines (this started on June 4th).
  • The offensives drew troops away from verdun just as the Germans were making final advances, perhaps stifling a German victory at verdun
  • However, Brusilov had paid a dear price in men and ammo, and supply lines were tough to come by. With a morale boost and offensive successes, the failure to result Brusilov was a fatal error ### Chapter 23: The Somme
  • the Battle of the Somme was conceived to be an attack on the central powers from all directions with the most firepower that could be mustered. It was originally supposed to be spearheaded by the French. But from the unexpected upheavals from the first half of 1916 - Verdun (grinding up French troops), Lake Naroch (tendering the northern Russian forces timid about offensives), Conrad’s invasion of Italy and the Brusilov offensives rendering those armies incapable of a summer offensive
  • The German defense was an engineering masterpiece, with an underground network on tunnels, rows of trenches, fortifications built to isolate enemy breakthroughs. They planned to counterattack and camouflaged and silenced their artillery until the time was right
  • The British, mostly “Kitchener’s Army”, were fresh troops and just trained. They were instructed to go over the top on July 1st after 5 days of heavy bombardment. They crossed no mans land in a marching pace (their commander thought their greenness meant they couldn’t run in order) and were slaughtered by the excellent German defenses and the openness of them upon no mans land. It was the first day in the history of British warfare with 60k casualties and 20k dead. In WW2 Nordmany would take 20 days for 20k casualties combined between the British and Americans

Chapter 24: Exhaustion

  • New offensives in the east and west spilled blood daily. The central powers were a bit on their heels - the Austria-Hungarians were in crisis facing Brusilov and the Turks were dissolving facing Russian attacks in the Caucasus
  • Romania’s entry into the war in August on the aide of the Entente, hoping to regain Transylvania which was taking by the Austrians and was home to many Romanians, spurred the departure of Falkenhayn and the arrival of Ludendorff and Hindenburg at the top (Falkenhayn had assured the Kaiser they wouldn’t enter until later if st all). They entente was not entirely in on Romania joining the war - their army of half a million men was not seen to be effective at all
  • The Somme battles continued, with the French eventually retaking Fort Vaux and Douaumont. While not of military or strategic important, it was of national pride. The Germans had methodically withdrawn, so it wasn’t that they had been overrun.
  • The battle of the Somme ended with half a million British casualties, 200k French, and 237k German
  • Romania feel in quick order, out of ammo and ridden with disease. The capture of Bucharest was a moral and propaganda victory, and the resources in the country fueled the Germans ability to continue to wage war
  • Beat the end of the year the political ice under Joffre cracked. He was moved to an advisor position and made a Marshall of France. Nivelle, the “hero of verdun” who had led the recapture of East bank verdun properties, was installed. Foch, Castelnau and Petain were not chose as successors either due to religious leanings or politics

Part 5: 1917: Things Fall Apart

Chapter 25: Turnips and Submarines

  • the central power position during the 1916-1917 was much more dire than the year before - Austria-Hungary armies had collapsed beyond repair, the Ottoman Empire unraveling, and a growing tiredness of war on the home front. Verdun and the Somme and the Brusilov offensive exhausted the German military.
  • As early as Oct 1916 Germany’s Chancellor Bergman Hollweg was looking toward the US president to intervene as peacemaker between the two sides. Germany made no note in their initial proposal of returning Belgium and did not accept responsibility for the war
  • Ludendorff, now in command, resurveyed the western front. It was clear German would need to take a defensive strategy that would expend less troops as well as take an new approach to offensive strategy
  • The Entente had small troubles with food rationing, but the central powers had devastating starvation, medical issues, skyrocketing rates of infant mortality, and hyperinflation of prices compared to wages. It led to food riots and a bubbling up of issue with the war
  • In January, the Germans military leaders persuaded Bethmann-Hollweg and the Kaiser of the necessity of U-boat attacks on merchant shipping. In yielding to the military leadership, Wilhelm essentially lost his control on the German government
  • Ludendorff also proposed a different defensive strategy, once that would bolster the line while taking less losses. On the western front, the Germans withdrew 20 miles across most of their line, giving up 1000 square miles. The line they withdrew to is known as the Hindenberg line. Construction began in early February to be completed by April, in time for a new Entente attack. The system was built for prime defensive positions, as well as the ability for defenders to fall back to reinforced lines if overran.
  • At the same time Nivelle, new leader of the French and supposed hero of verdun, proposed a plan for an attack at Chemin des Dames. He wooed non-military leaders such as David Lloyd George (who was often disregarded by his own military leaders), while military leaders foresaw the plan as a potential failure. Nivelle has framed his plan as war-deciding and one that would not take more than a day or two

Chapter 27: Revolution and Intervention

  • The winter of 16-17 was especially hard, and the Russian people felt it. Many urban dwellers began to loot, sick of working tireless hours with meager pay, and restlessness was present in all levels of society. Many advisors were urging Nicholas to form a new government or pick a new cabinet to quell the unrest. However, his wife always urged him to rule with an iron fist, and that any acknowledgement or change in government would smell of weakness
  • On March 7th, Nicholas announced he would visit the Duma to appoint a new cabinet the next day. He then later relented and went off to military HQ. this lie bubbles up, resulting in demonstrations in the street, strikes, and eventually the Cossacks aligning with the demonstrators. It was the end of Nicholas, and he abdicated the throne.
  • Ludendorff, now wielding the power of the government, misplayed his hand politically many times. In an attempt to wring manpower from the previously Russian owned Poland, he promised a polish state at the conclusion of the war. He hoped this would incite polish men to enlist. Instead, it angered them as it appeared to be a mockery, puppet state of Germany
  • He transported Belgians to factories in Germany, causing a PR disaster for Germany, appearing to be a total war state hellbent on winning at all costs

Chapter 28: The Nivelle Offensive

  • April 1918
  • with the Ludendorff defensive strategy and the retreat back to the Hindenburg line, many assumptions had changed for the attach on Chemin Des Dames. However, Nivelle persisted. It was a disaster. Haig and the BEF he captures Vimy Ridge and some guns , but that was mainly it. Weather throughout the offensive ride not help the offensive, with some snow squalls in April
  • All belligerents were cracking under the pressure. After Neville’s failure he was replaced by Petain, and Neville went down swinging, blaming others for the failure. Germany’s political leaders were already making plans for post-war. The new empower of Austria-Hungary, Karl I, tried to negotiate a separate peace and failed. Large parts of the French army were in mutiny over conditions and pointlessness of the war - Petain acted quickly to quell them. The Russian provisional government was fumbling around about staying in the war or getting out. Everywhere, workers were striking

Chapter 29: Wars Without Guns

  • struggles in government were abundant. In German, the old powerful conservative factions were behind Ludendorff and Hindenburg, postulating that a war victory was the only way to maintain the status quo. Bethmann-Hollweg was opposed, for seeing the need for reform to appease the people. In Britain, there was a struggle between Lloyd George and the military leaders about how to deploy the BEF. Lloyd George was horrified by the casualties inflicted for minimal gain, and with the latest Nivelle offensive a disaster, unsure about the military leaders plans
  • Until a build authorized in 1916, the US only had an army of 130k men. It had no divisions, with its largest unit being a regiment. It issued its first draft since the civil war, with 32 training camps occupying 40k men each were built along the east coast. Entente war veterans came to help prep instructors
  • With a growing sense from the reichstag that peace was needed, Belgium to be returned, and war to end, Ludendorff and Hindenburg offered their resignation in a blackmail play. It worked. Bethmann resigned. Without Bethmann, there was no path to a satisfactory peace for Berlin

Background: Enter the Tiger

  • Clemenceau was given the responsibility of forming a new government after Poincare’s was unstable, as two factions within the government formed: those led my Clemenceau who wanted to war to continue until Germany fell, or those who wanted a satisfactory peace with Germany, lead by Callioux (the would-be primmer had his wife not shot his mistress)
  • Clemenceau was an outsider: at various points he was embraced by liberals and others embraced by conservatives. He was anti-monarchist, anti-clerical. He was involved in journalism and produced scathing reviews of the government at the start of the war through his newspapers. He had visited the US during the civil war for 4 years.

Chapter 30: Passchendaele

  • The Third battle of Ypres. Much like Neville, Haig could not get away from major ground attacks that comprise most of the western front. Haig’s focus on Ypres was to capture the Belgian ports.
  • Haig was able to push forward with the attack against the wishes of Lloyd George, mostly due to Lloyd George’s fears of political repercussions
  • Haig had a few points against him: the Germans knew what was coming with plenty of time to prepare (he had amassed the largest concentration of guns and troops in the history of the British army), and that Flanders was often a marsh land around late set especially with much of the drainage system destroyed, which made attack almost impossible
  • The BEF has unable to meet most of their objectives, but did manage to capture the 4 miles and the Passchendaele Ridge. The final assault in October was mostly handled by Anzacs and Canadians, as many of the British divisions were reduced to tatters
  • The barrage and gun density used was bigger than Verdun and the Somme
  • On the western front, 1917 claimed 226k British, 136k French, 121k German lives

Part 6: 1918: Last Throw of the Dice

Chapter 31: Going for Broke

  • creation of the Inter-Allied Supreme War Council, which helped in administration between various entente players
  • All players were spent, Germany as well. However, it had made some gains in Belgium and France and was fully dug in, on the defensive
  • Ludendorff knew that once mid-year came, the Americans would be in fighting force and the war would be all but over. With that in mind, he knew he needed a way to attack to hopefully force the BEF out of the war
  • After much consternation and discussion, it was decided Th e attack would be at St. Quienten, nick named Micheal

Chapter 32: Entangling Misalliances

  • there was much discussion between the French and the British about where and when and what the Germans would do. While they had agreed there were no new large offensives in 1918, Haig’s troops were positioned as such and thus not in the best defensive positions.
  • There was much struggle for “control” in each government, as Lloyd George tried to do all but replace Haig (he eventually force realignment from Robertson, one of the most capable generals), letting go his chiefs of various military committees, and installed an anti-Haigian, Henry Wilson
  • Much of the same on the French side - Petain was of the mind that peace may be the best option for France, opposite Clemenceau. Clemenceau thus wished to install Foch (a apostolate of the offensive) somewhere, hopefully as commander of the Supreme War Council
  • Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points speech approached the subjects of Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium as nearly non-negotiable, inspiring the Germans to take as much Russian land as they could. In turn, this revealed to potential peacemakers Berlin’s true aim: total conquest of the European continent and breakup of its sovereign nations
  • Breakthrough was achieved through Hutiers tactics and Bruchmullers artillery barrages, though not in the points Ludendorff expected. He was pushing for a breakthrough more north, so had not prepared for reinforcements to the south
  • It was the first time the western front had seen a breakthrough, and the first time an offensive advance on the second day
  • Ultimately, the prize sought after would be Amiens, a central point for all railways in the area. It was poorly defended at first, but quickly reinforced by the Entente once realizing its importance. Ludendorff realized to late, and was unable to mount a force strong enough to take it. The land grab and casualties were massive, but the Germans were overextended, without their incredible defensive positions along the Hindenburg line, and had capture nothing of strategic importance
  • The sudden rush and almost detachment of British and French armies as the Germans poured through caused both powers to agree to place Foch in control of entente troops along the western front

Chapter 34: An Impossibly Complex Game

  • after Michael failed to gain any ground of strategic importance, even some German military commanders such as Hoffman saw peace as a potential way to end the war.
  • Foch was given the title of General in Chief of the Allied Armies on April 14, 1918, much to the chagrin of Haig.
  • Georgette (battle of Lys or Fourth Ypres) was a miniature version of what Ludendorff had originally planned for Flanders after Michael, probably nicknamed George One.
  • Georgette drove the British back to the point where Haig and a Wilson were discussing evacuating the continent. However, Ludendorff spread his frontward troops too thin trying to do everything at once
  • The Germans got closer to Paris, but were stretched thin, tired and hungry. They also didn’t have a cohesive plan since Ludendorff was expecting breakthroughs elsewhere

Chapter 35: The Black Day of the German Army

  • Near the end of May, parts of the German army were 50 miles from Paris
  • The Allies were rightfully concerned - the Germans had pushed through, creating a large salient, and was close to taking Reims at the mouth of the salient. The government in Paris was preparing to leave as citizens fled the city, Lloyd George deposited the troops he was harboring on the island, and French commanders were ready to fight to the sea. However, American involvement stymied the Germans crossing the Marne, and the French held out against the attack at Reins.
  • Ludendorff’s next move was to widen the hole of the salient by attacking at River Matz. It was initially successful, with a disciple of Foch having not learned the lessons of the western front, gathering his men up close to the front line only to be destroyed while defending. A surprise counter attack pushed the Germans back and stopped the offensive
  • John Monash, a Jew with Prussian roots living in New Zealand, planned and executed the battle of Hamel, its aim being to clear away German threats to Amiens. He was an extraordinary story and had been recognized by some as having the “greatest capacity of command in modern war among all while held command.” The battle has been called the first truly modern battle
  • The situation was eerily similar to 1914: the Germans reached and cross the Marne, had been unable to sustain their advance, and had recovered their footing along the Aisne after a hurried withdrawal
  • On August 8th, the Black Day of the German Army, the British attacked East of Amiens (also planned, organized and executed by Monash) which broke the morale of the troops and scattered their organization. 2/3s of the 26k casualties willingly surrendered
  • With German military leaders understanding that a military victory was no longer possible, Austria-Hungary crumbling and telling Berlin they were calling it quits, and the Turks overextending themselves, the allies were also feeling the pain: 40-50 year old men were drafted, strikes happened by factory workers and police, and general unrest persisted
  • Army of the Orient looks interesting

Chapter 36: The Sign of the Defeated

  • knowing that an end to the war was coming as the allied force brushed back the German line over and over, the government attempted to save Germany and the Hohenzollern dynasty by attempting to transform the German political system to a more progressive style to show the allies that Germany had changed.
  • Woodrow Wilson was hanging on as president, but the mid-term elections loomed and the nation was fervently anti-German after years of propaganda and patriotic oratory, which pressured a resolution from his end
  • Ludendorff, irrational and maybe the only man for a time in German not looking for peace, kept talk up of a final stand, of not coming to an agreement. Finally, the Kaiser received his resignation once it was more than clear that his position was impossible
  • Hungary broke from Austria, Austria tried to quell the many nationalities within it by promising councils to represent various nationalities, Turkey and Austria surrender, Bavaria began to look for a separate peace, and revolution broke out in nearly every provincial capital
  • The terms put forth by the allies were German withdrawal East of the Rhine, repudiation of the Treaty or abreast-Litovak, handing over of African possessions, and the handing over of many guns
  • Not all were happy: Mangin, a French General, exclaimed: “we must go right into the heart of Germany. The armistice should be signed there. The Germans will not admit that they are beaten. You do not finish wars like this…it is a fatal error and France will pay for it”


  • 9.5 million men were dead. 4 on the central powers. 1.8 million Russians, 1.4 French, 800k Turks, 723k British, 578k Italians, 114k Americans. 2m german, 1m Austro-Hungarian
  • 15m wounded and 9m POWs
  • Russian civil war led to more of its people killed than the Great War.
  • Central Europe becomes unrestful, with Bolshevik and communist revolutions in cities, and territory fought for by new and old countries
  • British interests were Germany as a potential buffer with communist Russia and future trading partner. It had dispelled the up and coming naval power, gained land in the Middle East, saved Belgium, and garnered support for the government
  • France, without their Russian ally, saw Germany as a threat with its larger population. They wanted Germany dismantled
  • Wilson thought of himself as disinterested mediator free of the Old World selfish perspective. He looked to created the League of Nations, but eventually abandoned the pretense of the 14 points and became vengeful against Germany.
  • Italy left with more than it had been promised, but still left at the snubbing of its wish for Fiume in Croatia. It was at its strongest since the Roman Empire, had no dangerous neighbors, so felt like it did not need to keep on the friendly side of Britain and France
  • Jason profited greatly thoughojt the war by selling material, won Germany’s pacific possessions, and had big plans on mainland
  • The Middle East was divided by Britain and France. The creation of Iraq mixed Kurdish, Sunni and Shia populations together. France took Lebanon and Syria. Britain took Palestine
  • The terms of the treaty of Versailles were allies occupation of some German regions west of the Rhine, surrender of German territory to Poland, Belgium and Denmark, military limits, exclusion from the League of Nations, and heavy reparations, as France and Britain had to pay back US loans
  • This was done with just the government officials in Weimar, without consultation from the Germany army, which had never surrendered. This lead to feelings that Germany had been stabbed in the back by its politicians. There was also contempt for the treaty, as the armistice was signed under the guise of the 14 points but the treaty terms clearly violated many of the points.
  • Hindenburg was eventually elected president in 1925, and eventually named Hitler to the chancellorship in 1933, thinking he could be contained in that role
  • Petain led the Vichy government during the Second World War, out of a belief that being out of office would lead to worse Nazi outrages, and attempted to obstruct the occupiers. He was eventually condemned to death that was reduced to life in prison after liberation