HIS1101 – Lecture 4
1904-05 – Russo-Japanese War
1906,1908,1911 – Moroccan Crisis
1911 – Italy vs. Ottoman Turkey/Libya
1912 – Balkan League War vs. Turkey of 1912
1913 – Bulgaria vs. Greece, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey
2001 – NY/Washington Sept. 11 – War on
2001 – Afghanistan War
2003 – Iran War
2006 – Lebanon War
2008-09 – Gaza War
2013 – Syria?
Reflection on Last Class
Serbia& Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Reaction to his assassination
June 28 1914
Austria-Hungary dispatched an ultimatum to Serbia making certain demands. They
were upset with the Serbs for not going to war.
- The Serbian government should suppress all anti-Austrian activities in Serbia
and dismiss officials fomenting it.
- Austria-Hungary officials be permitted to aid in the work of suppression and
the punishment of the conspirators. They felt that the Archduke’s death was
planned in conjunction with the Serbian officials (somewhat like the
- A reply to the ultimatum was demanded within 48 hours.
The Serbs yielded to most of the demands, except they felt that they did not
particularly want the Austrians to come in and have a say towards the punishment
of the conspirators. While they were saying that, they were mobilizing their forces
and preparing to go to war. The A-H deemed the answer of the Serbs to be evasive.
They said ‘they aren’t really giving us an answer and this is unsatisfactory.’
On July 28, one month after the assassination, Austria declared war on Serbia.
A-H counted on German support; after all, they had signed an alliance in 1879 (dual
alliance which became triple alliance) and Russian non-intervention. Russia, on the
other hand, was confident of French aid. In fact, it just happened that the French
president, Pointcaré, happened to be visiting St. Petersburg at this time from July
20-23 for a state visit. He assured Russia of Franco-Russian solidarity on July 23.
The Russians at this point, while the French president was there, prepared for
mobilization as early as July 25.
At this point, Germany is not concerned with Serbia. The main German concern was
Russia. They wanted to be sure that Russia doesn’t get into the war. The Germans
did not like Russian mobilization and when they heard that they were mobilizing
forces, this meant that hostilities were inevitable. The German Keizer, Wilhelm II, now has to do something to stop that war. He contacted Nicholas II (his cousin)
entreating (begging) him earnestly to withdraw his mobilization. They started a
correspondence (wili-niki correspondence). Nicholas, at this point, suspended the
order of mobilization on July 29 (the day after Serbia was at war). But it seems
someone got to him, many suspect that it was Rasputin, and on July 30 told him to
re-order mobilization. Rasputin was a terrible man who did a lot of harm for the
On July 31, Wilhelm offered Nicholas 12 hours to countermand his continued
mobilization. He waited 24 hours for a reply, and no reply came. On August 1,
Wilhelm announced that the state of war existed between Germany and Russia. In
the meanwhile, France was quietly mobilizing their forces, since July 30 . Germany
at this point demanded a statement of policy from France. “Why are you mobilizing
your forces??” The French did not give them a clear answer, knowing that they and
the Russians were working together on that. As a result, Germany declared war on
Now, what about Britain? Their foreign minister, Edward Grey, faced a dilemma. He
wanted to help the French (because they had the entente cordiale) because they had
to honor their agreement. However, public opinion in Britain was against the war,
not wanting to get involved. They loved the splendid isolation at the turn of the
century. Edward Grey is facing a dilemma because Public Opinion and Parliament
says don’t go to war, but the Government is saying yes because of the Entente.
This is where Germany made a mistake. They demanded permission to march its
armies to attack France on August 3. The Germans wanted permission to march
through Belgium territory to march to attack France. Belgium said no.
On august 4 , Britain warned Germany that a state of war would commence at
midnight unless Germany promised to respect Belgium’s response, otherwise they
would be in war with Britain.
Edward Grey said that there is a treaty that states Belgium is neutral. German
ambassador ‘you’re going to go to war over a scrap of paper?” Now, Britain is at war
on August 4 . The Germans did not reply to the British and thus considered
themselves at war.
Within a week, 5 great powers were at war. (Germany, Russia, France, Britain, A-H)
Has Russia not gone to war, maybe we never would have had WWI.
What about Italy? They deserted the Triple Alliance and argued that Germany and
A-H were on an offensive war rather than a defensive war. They would have gone to
war if it was a defensive war, so they quit the triple alliance.
Japan, an ally of Britain since 1902, jumped in at this war, and declared war on
Germany on August 23 . rd
One nation, Ottoman-Turkey, was missing at this point. They did not join the Central
Powers (Germany, A-H) even though they were allied with Wilhelm, until November
5, 1914. Russia attacked the Ottomans, putting them into the war, despite their
desire to remain neutral. Now we had Britain, France, Russia and Serbia vs
Germany, A-H and Ottoman-Turkey by 1914. Each of the participants tried to justify
the war. You cannot justify destroying a whole generation of people (70 million
people). Each one was trying to convince the world that they were right in going to
war. Each country wanted to say that their government was in the right. The people of Europe at that time had no idea of all these alliances and secret
treaties. The people did not have a say.
The War on Land 1914-1917
The Western Front
The German plan was to destroy the French armies in the West. They were to
advance 5 German armies/regiments through Belgium and Northern France. The
intention was to sweep past Brussels, Belgium capital, and carry on West from there
until they reach South of Paris. This is was one intention. Another one of their forces
was going to heard the French forces to the Alsas frontier. They felt that they would
pound the French forces to pieces. The Germans resisted the Belgium invasion, but
nevertheless swept successfully through Belgium, seizing them within a week. They
drove the French forces with a British force away. The Germans were not 50km
from Paris and were ahead of schedule.
Sept.6-12, 1914, the French checked the German advance on Paris. The Germans
had hoped to capture Dunkirk and Calais (close to the coast where the British would
come in and help the French) in order to cripple communications between Britain
and France. They failed at this and the battle of Ypres was commenced.
By the end of 1914, the struggle in the West had changed from a war of movement
to a war of position. No one was advancing anymore. Trenches were fortified with
barbed wires and men sat in these trenches with their machine guns, awaiting the
opposing side. This was now a war of position. They occupied a part of Northern
France rather than advancing. At one point, the German lines were attacked by the
British when more than 13,000 people were killed in March 1915.
In April 1915, they surprised the allies with waves of poison gas, but failed to break
Verdun February-December, 1916 – The battle of Verdun was very important. More
than a quarter of a million of German forces were killed. The allies paid with half a
million dead. The allies were able to hold a major victory. This was a stale mate, no
one was winning the war. French general, Péta