War and Social Upheaval: World War I--Country Overviews

Figure 1.--The European militaries by the time of World War I had begun to increase the age of enlistment. Still many teenagers were involved in the War. This young German soldier has been awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and the Bavarian Military Cross. One wonders what he did to earn these decorations.

Here we are collecting overviews of the experiences of individual countries in World War I. The central conlict was the tension between Germany and France. This time French diplomats were careful not to face Germany alone. In the end, Germany defeated Russia and destroyed the offensiveccapability of the French Army, but was defeated by the British and American Armies. The war in many ways was the central event of the 20th century and the consequences of the War affected much of the 20th century and have not yet fully played out. We do not yet have many extensive country entries here, but have begun to collect information. Here we have included notonly the belligerent countries, but also colonies and areas that were to emerge as independent countries after the War.

Individual Countries: Alphabetical Listings

We have developed information on the World War I experiences in individual countries, both beligerants and neutral countries. We are also covering important developments in the many European colobies throughout the workd. Er hve pages on miosdt of the importabt beligerant countries, but are still working on the smaller countries. We incourage readers to provide information on their countries.

Countries A-E

Countries F-L

Countries M-Z

Empire Forces

Many of the countries involved in World War I had overseas colonies. Almostall of the colonial powers were Allied powers (Belgium, Britain, France, and Portugal). Germany has a growing colonial empire, mostly in Africa, but because of the Allied navies, especially the Royal Navy, could not support their colonies orobtain shipments from them. The Ottoman Emore had colonies, mostlty the Arab lands, but received very limited support from them and in fact the Arabs rose up in revolt and joined the Allies side. The Allied colonies in contrast played an important role in the War. Several important forces were raised. This was especially true of the British and French. The British Empire forces are a little complicated. The Dominions were more like associated countries. There were also colonial forces, called Frontier Forces. In between was the very important Indian Army. The primary French colonil force was the Tirailleurs. The Sengalese Tirailleurs are the best known, but this was a generic term for all sub-Saharan African units. They would play an important role in the western Front. The Germns also had African units. They would resist Alied incursions, but were unable to provide any support to the German war effort in Europe. After some impressive battles against superior Allied forces they had to retreat into th Mozambique jungle where they sat out the War.

Regional Developments

At the time of World War I, little regional organization was possible. This was because even in Eurooe, many modern countries were parts of imperial or colonial states. Only in Latin Anerica were their large numbers of independent republics, Although it came to be called World War I (rather than the Great War), the War was essentually a European war. Europe except for a few neutrals was largely divided into warring camps, in part because so much of Europe was dominated by the great empires (Austria-Hungary, German. Ottoman, and Russian), all of which were belgerants. The basic issues as the war developed was the desire of the Imperial powers to supress the rising desires of subject nationalities, the desire for territorty (especially French desire to regain Alsace Loraine), and the German desire to dominare the continent. What did not develop was an effort by monarchial regimes to preserve monarchial rule which until he War dominated the Continent. Only a few European countries remained neutral (Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) in this struggle. A factor here that many modern European countries were provinces of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires and to varying degrees supressed by imperial authorities. Most of the other independent countries were located in Latin America, The one world region where a degree of regional organization was possible was Latin America, much of which achieved independence during or in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Most Latin Americans believed the war in Europe had nothing todo with them, but as theWar orogressed cane to see that they were to varying degrees affected. Most of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania were colonies or protectorates. Even so, there were notable developments in these regions. Some campaigns were fought in the German African colonies. And sympathy for the Germans among Afrikaaners was a serious problem in South Africa. The major African engagement was the fighting between the Ottomans over the startegic Suez Canal in Egypt. The major dervelopment in Asia, was the Japanese joining the Allies seeing that territorial gains were possible byseizing German possessions in China. The Japanese also tried to get a foothold in Siberia. China joined the war belatedly, primarily out of concern for European treaty ports and Japanese aggressiveness. India was a important support for the British warc effor, supplying both vitally needed men and supplies. Australia and New Zealand (the ANZUS countries) played an important role in the British war effort. There was some limited naval action in Oceania. The major issue in the Pacific was the disposition of German colonial possessions. Several were assigned to Jaoabn as League of Nations Trusreeships. These islands, seemingly of little value and largely unknown to the public, would play an important role in World War II. Of all the regions, however, it was North America that held the key to victory. Canada was brought into the War at the onset. As the war bogged down and largely stalematted in trench warfare, it became clear that Americawould decide the outcome of the War if it dropped its m\neutral sranse. The British unferstood this, the Germans did not.


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Created: 8:21 PM 7/8/2004
Last updated: 5:11 PM 5/30/2013