Causes of the War - Ector County Independent School District

"The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon
the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We
desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no
material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make.“
- Woodrow Wilson -
Causes of the War
-Lots of Instability – in Europe
•Devotion to one’s country; leads
to competition and rivalries
(fear of Germany)
Old Empires
•Competition for colonies
•Ethnic groups want to become
independent from empires
Old Style Gov’ts (Militarism)
•Imperial nations building large,
competitive armies and navies
Alliance System
•Nations fear other militaries,
begin to form alliances
-Led to an arms race
•Major nations all racing to build
and arm large armies and navies
-Triple Alliance
(Central Powers)
Germany, Austria-Hungary,
Ottoman Empire
Just prior to WWI, the major imperial
nations of Europe began competing to
build bigger and better armies and
navies. Wanting to become the leading
imperial power, Germany competed with
rival Great Britain to build the world’s
largest navy. Both countries successfully
built strong navies, and competed with
one another in the arms race.
-Triple Entente
France, Britain, Russia
•Later Italy and the U.S. will
join the Allied war effort
-War starts
Assassination of Archduke
Ferdinand – heir to AustroHungarian throne
• Shot by Serbian nationalist
• Alliances cause chain reaction to
Austria-Hungary’s attack on Serbia
after the assassination
• Austria-Hungary declares war on
• Russia declares war on AustriaHungary
• Germany declares war on Russia
and its ally France (all within
• Britain declares war on Germany
and Austria Hungary
Memoir of Count Franz von Harrach
As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood
spurted from His Highness's mouth onto my right
check. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe
the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out
to him, "For God's sake! What has happened to you?"
At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the
car, with her face between his knees.
I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had
simply fainted with fright. Then I heard His Imperial
Highness say, "Sophie, Sophie, don't die. Stay alive for
the children!"
At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his
uniform, to stop his head dropping forward and asked
him if he was in great pain. He answered me quite
distinctly, "It is nothing!"
His face began to twist somewhat but he went on
repeating, six or seven times, ever more faintly as he
gradually lost consciousness, "It's nothing!"
Then came a brief pause followed by a convulsive rattle
in his throat, caused by a loss of blood. This ceased on
arrival at the governor's residence.
The two unconscious bodies were carried into the
building where their death was soon established.
- Witness to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand -
Russia, France,
Great Britain,
of Ferdinand
-War develops into trench
warfare after initial German
advance failed to defeat
-Germany wants to defeat
Russia first if faced with two
front war
•Does not want to split forces on
Western Front in France and
Eastern Front in Russia
-Allies want to force fighting on
two fronts and get help from
Germany’s first strategy was to avoid
fighting a war on two fronts. To keep
this from happening, German leaders
developed the Schlieffen Plan, which
would have them defeating France on
the Western Front to later focus on
Russia on the Eastern Front. To get to
France, Germany had to invade neutral
Belgium, which brought Great Britain
into the war. What Germany thought
would be a quick, easy victory ended up
being anything but that as stalemate
U.S. Neutrality
-U.S. declares neutrality in the
war– President Wilson
-develops sympathy for the
Allied cause
Some atrocity stories—spread by
British propaganda—referred to
Germany as the “Bully of Europe.”
Stories of Germany attacking
civilians, destroying villages,
cathedrals, libraries, and even
hospitals prompted sympathy
among Americans. This was spread
through British propaganda aimed
at the US:
"It should be America's duty to help
us subdue the mad dog of Europe."
•Americans feel loyalty to
Britain as stories of atrocity
circulate through propaganda
-Begin to export war materials
•U.S. begins to ship millions of
dollars in supplies to Allies
U.S. Neutrality
-Submarine warfare begins
•British blockade German coast
and severely limit supplies
•Germans use u-boats to attack
British blockade (and others)
-Wilson wins 1916 election on
“He kept us out of war!”
-isolationist policy
View from the tower of an attacking uboat as a torpedo hits home on a
merchant ship.
•Wilson sticking to policy to stay
out of European affairs
• Both sides want U.S. involvement
-War quickly reaches a stalemate
• Neither side winning on the
Western Front
-Trench warfare
• Thousands of miles, no territory
Over the Top – charge!
No Man’s Land – space between
enemy trenches where men were
gunned down by machine guns
new technology
submarines (u-boats)
horrible weapons
poison gas
mustard gas
U.S. Enters War
-U.S. continues to export war
• Hindered by British blockade and
German u-boat attacks
-German u-boats sink any ships they
find – unrestricted submarine
Lusitania sinks, 1915
British ship sunk by German sub
128 Americans killed; passenger ship
Sussex Pledge
• Germany promises not to use
unrestricted submarine warfare
and will warn ships prior to attack
U.S. Enters War
-Wilson wins 1916 election
calls for peace
-Zimmerman Note
Attempt to get Mexico involved
in war vs. U.S.
•Final straw for U.S. citizens
•Push for war declaration
Think SLUTZ:
S= Sussex Pledge
L= Lusitania
U= Unrestricted submarine
T= Treaties and Alliances
Z= Zimmerman Note
19 January, 1917:
The Zimmerman Note to the German Minister to Mexico
Berlin, January 19, 1917
On the first of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In
spite of this, it is our intention to endeavor to keep neutral the United States of
If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis
with Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We
shall give general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to
reconquer the lost territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are
left to you for settlement....
You are instructed to inform the President of Mexico of the above in the
greatest confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of
war with the United States and suggest that the President of Mexico, on his
own initiative, should communicate with Japan suggesting adherence at once
to this plan; at the same time, offer to mediate between Germany and Japan.
Please call to the attention of the President of Mexico that the employment of
ruthless submarine warfare now promises to compel England to make peace
in a few months.
(Secretary of State)