The Crisis of the Imperial Order, 1900–1929
I0. Origins of the Crisis in Europe and the Middle East
A0. The Ottoman Empire and the Balkans
10. By the late nineteenth century the once-powerful Ottoman Empire was in decline and
losing the outlying provinces closest to Europe. The European powers meddled in the
affairs of the Ottoman Empire, sometimes in cooperation, at other times as rivals.
20. In reaction, the Young Turks conspired to force a constitution on the Sultan, advocated
centralized rule and Turkification of minorities, and carried out modernizing reforms.
The Turks turned to Germany for assistance and hired a German general to modernize
Turkey’s armed forces.
B0. Nationalism, Alliances, and Military Strategy
10. The three main causes of World War I were nationalism, the system of alliances and
military plans, and Germany’s yearning to dominate Europe.
20. Nationalism was deeply rooted in European culture, where it served to unite individual
nations while undermining large multiethnic empires. Because of the spread of
nationalism, most people viewed war as a crusade for liberty or as revenges for past
injustices; the well-to-do believed that war could heal the class divisions in their
30. The major European countries were organized into two alliances: the Triple Alliance
(Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the Triple Entente (Britain, France, and
Russia). The military alliance system was accompanied by inflexible mobilization plans
that depended on railroads to move troops according to precise schedules.
40. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, diplomats, statesmen,
and monarchs quickly lost control of events. The alliance system in combination with the
rigidly scheduled mobilization plans meant that war was automatic.
II0. The “Great War” and the Russian Revolutions, 1914–1918.
A0. Stalemate, 1914–1917
10. The nations of Europe entered the war in high spirits, confident of victory. German
victory at first seemed assured, but as the German advance faltered in September, both
sides spread out until they formed an unbroken line of trenches (the Western Front) from
the North Sea to Switzerland.
20. The generals on each side tried for four years to take enemy positions by ordering their
troops to charge across the open fields, only to have them cut down by machine-gun fire.
For four years the war was inconclusive on both land and at sea.
B0. The Home Front and the War Economy
10. The material demands of trench warfare led governments to impose stringent controls
over all aspects of their economies. Rationing and the recruitment of Africans, Indians,
Chinese, and women into the European labor force transformed civilian life. German
civilians paid an especially high price for the war as the British naval blockade cut off
access to essential food imports.
20. British and French forces overran Germany’s African colonies (except for Tanganyika).
In all of their African colonies Europeans requisitioned food, imposed heavy taxes, forced Africans to grow export crops and sell them at low prices, and recruited African
men to serve as soldiers and as porters.
30. The United States grew rich during the war by selling goods to Britain and France. When
the United States entered the war in 1917, businesses engaged in war production made
C0. The Ottoman Empire at War
10. The Turks signed a secret alliance with Germany in 1914. Turkey engaged in
unsuccessful campaigns against Russia, deported the Armenians (causing the deaths of
hundred of thousands), and closed the Dardanelles Straits.
20. When they failed to open the Dardanelles Straits by force, the British tried to subvert the
Ottoman Empire from within by promising emir Hussein ibn Ali of Mecca a kingdom of
his own if he would lead a revolt against the Turks, which he did in 1916.
30. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917 the British suggested to the Zionist leader Chaim
Wiezman that they would “view with favor” the establishment of a Jewish national
homeland in Palestine. Britain also sent troops into southern Mesopotamia in order to
secure the oil pipeline from Iran, taking Baghdad in early 1917.
D0. Double Revolution in Russia, 1917
10. By late 1916 the large but incompetent and poorly equipped Russian army had
experienced numerous defeats and had run out of ammunition and other essential
supplies. The civilian economy was in a state of collapse and the cities faced shortages of
fuel and food in the winter of 1916–1917.
20. In March 1917 (February by the old Russian calendar) the tsar was overthrown and
replaced by a Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky. On November 6,
1917 (October 24 in the Russian calendar) Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks staged an
uprising in Petrograd and overthrew the Provisional Government.
E0. The End of the War in Western Europe, 1917–1918
10. German resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare brought the United States into the
war in April 1917. On the Western Front, the two sides were evenly matched, but in 1918
the Germans were able to break through the front at several places and pushed within 40
miles of Paris.
20. The arrival of United States forces allowed the Allies to counterattack in August 1918.
The German soldiers retreated, many sick with the flu; an armistice was signed on
III0. Peace and Dislocation in Europe, 1919–1929
A0. The Impact of the War
10. The war left more dead and wounded and caused more physical destruction than any
previous conflict. The war also created millions of refugees, many of whom fled to
France and to the United States, where the influx of immigrants prompted the United
States Congress to pass immigration laws that closed the doors to eastern and southern
20. One byproduct of the war was the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919, which started
among soldiers headed for the Western Front and spread around the world, killing some
30 million people. The war also caused serious damage to the environment and hastened
the build-up of mines, factories, and railroads.
B0. The Peace Treaties
10. Three men dominated the Paris Peace Conference: United States President Wilson,
British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and French Premier Georges Clemenceau.
Because the three men had conflicting goals, the Treaty of Versailles turned out to be a
series of unsatisfying compromises that humiliated Germany but left it largely intact and
potentially the most powerful nation in Europe. 20. The Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart. New countries were created in the lands lost by
Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary.
C0. Russian Civil War and the New Economic Policy
10. In Russia, Allied intervention and civil war extended the fighting for another three years
beyond the end of World War I. By 1921 the Communists had defeated most of their
enemies, and in 1922 the Soviet republic of Ukraine and Russia merged to create the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
20. Years of warfare, revolution, and mismanagement had ruined the Russian economy.
Beginning in 1921 Lenin’s New Economic Policy helped to restore production by
relaxing government controls and allowing a return of market economics. This policy
was regarded as a temporary measure that would be superceded as the Soviet Union built
a modern socialist industrial economy by extracting resources from the peasants in order
to pay for industrialization.
30. When Lenin died in January 1924 his associates struggled for power; the two main
contenders were Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. Stalin filled the bureaucracy with his
supporters, expelled Trotsky, and forced him to flee the country.
D0. An Ephemeral Peace
10. The 1920s were a decade of apparent progress behind which lurked irreconcilable
tensions and dissatisfaction among people whose hopes had been raised by the rhetoric of
war and dashed by its outcome. The decade after the end of the war can be divided into
two periods: five years of painful recovery and readjustment (1919–1923) followed by
six years of growing peace and prosperity (1924–1929).
20. In 1923 French occupation of the Ruhr and severe inflation brought Germany to the
brink of civil war. Currency reform and French withdrawal from the Ruhr marked the
beginning of a period of peace and economic growth beginning in 1924.
IV0. China and Japan: Contrasting Destinies
A0. Social and Economic Change
10. In the first decades of the twentieth century China was plagued by rapid population
growth, an increasingly unfavorable ration of population to arable land, avaricious
landlords and tax collectors, and frequent devastatin