World War I 
Key Events &

"This war, with all its ghastliness, is nevertheless grand and wonderful. It is worth experiencing."
--Sociologist Max Weber (1914)

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

--W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming" (1919)

The "great War" itself was proceeded by national and economic rivalry among the European nations of which the Imperial and Colonialist policies are the most glaringly evident. The European powers had drawn themselves into two broad networks--the Triple Alliance or Central Powers, and the Triple Entente, more commonly known as the Allies. The vast public opinion in those nations was also deeply nationalist, even jingoistic, and the public appetite for heroic warfare was quite palpable. What almost no one expected was a sustained, brutal conflict that would change the nature of warfare and that would act as a great cultural trench between the long nineteenth century (1789-1914) and the modern world. The war allowed for the Russian Revolution under Lenin to come to fruition. Imperial ties drew in numerous forces from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and the failure of WWI to achieve any lasting results give rise to numerous rebellions and wide-spread dissatisfaction in the colonized countries. Likewise, the outcome of WWI created the conditions of dissatisfaction that would create a failed Weimar Republic and a fascist Nazi Germany.

28 June 1914--Assisination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalist triggers alliance system of Europe. On July 23, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Remaining powers declare war between July 29 and August 4.

2 August 1914--Ottoman Empire signs an accord with Germany; enters war in November.

1914-1917--Western Front at an impasse; trench warfare immobilizes both sides with horrific results.

1915--Italy joins the Allies.

1915--The Aremenian Genocide

1916--Battle at Verdun lasts 6 months--Germany loses 281, 000; France loses 315, 000.

1916--Battle at the Somme lasts four months--Germany loses 450,000; France loses 200,000; Britain loses 420,000

7 May 1915--British ocean liner Lusitania sunk, killing 1, 198 people, including 139 Americans; Germany agress to stop submarine patrols to keep U.S. neutral.

25 April 1915-6 January 1916--Gallipoli campaign fails to take Constantinople, despite heavy costs to Turkish forces; first sustained experience of war for Australians and New Zealanders.

January 1915--Twnety-One Demands--Japan's gives China an ultimatum to become a protectorate.

1917--Russian Revolution under Bolsheviks & Lenin

April 1917--Germany renews submarine patrols; United States enters war against Germany.

3 March 1918--Treaty of Brest-Litovsk--Russia exits the war with German concession of Baltics, Caucasus, Finland, Poland, and Ukraine.

Spring 1918--Allies break through the line and begin to push Germany back.

11 November 1918-- Armistice

1919--Paris Peace Conference opens; despite Wilson's Fourteen Points, Germany effectively crippled by British and French demands. Austria-Hungary dismantled

1920--League of Nations meets

1920--Treaty of Sèvres--Ottoman Empire dismantled

1923--Treaty of Lausanne--Republic of Turkey recognized


"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding