Here we will collect 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 offensive capability 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 not only the belligerent countries, but also colonies and areas that were to emerge as independent countries after the War.
Albania had for centuries been part of the Ottoman Empire and to a greater than degree than elsewhere in the Balkans, Albanians converted to Islam. After the Balkan states defeated the Ottomans (1912), the Great Powers (Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) convened in London to negotiate a range of issues issues raised by the Balkan Warconflict (December 1912). Austria-Hungary and Italy supported the creation of an independent Albania. Borders for the new state proved controversial. Serbia demanded and was awarded Kosvo, depite the large Albanian population there.
Greece received ?Mameria. This left anout half of etnic Albanians in neighboring countries. The problem was further compiunded by the fact that the Albanian-populated areas were more productive lands (food grains) and livestockthan the territory assigned to Albania itself. A small Greek community was included within Albania, creating future problems between the two countries, primarily because the Greek claimed the Greek community was much larger. The Great Powers at the 1912 London Conference also selected a German prince, Wilhelm zu Wied, to rule the new country. Wilhelm arrived in Albania a year later (March 1914). Wilhelm knew nothing about the country or people and setting up a new government did not know smoothly. When World War I broke out, Wilhelm returned to Germany to serve in the Army. Albania which had no army of its owm was during the War invaded and occupied by Austria-Hungary, France, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, and Serbia. The Serbs and Montenegrans occupied nothern Albania. The Greeks and Italians the south. This allowed the defeated Serbian Army to execute their Great Retreat through Albania (1916). With no government or national political leadership, Albania was in chaos by the end of the War. The Allies (Britain, France, and Italy) wanted to partition Albania among neighboring states. President Wilson opposed partition, largely because of his commitment to natiional self determinstion. Tha Albanians held a national congress at Lushnje (January 1920). The Albanians applied and were granted admission to the League of Nationss (December 1920). Britain endorsed their request.
Algeria at the time of World War was a French colony that France was attempting to turn into an overseas version of France through emigration and other policies such as education. More than 150,000 Algerian soldiers fought with the French during World War I. We are not sure yet about French policies like consciption. They presumably varied for the French colonists and Algerian natives. I think that French Algerian and native/Arabic people might have been put in different units. We also do not know how conscription was implemented in Algeria. The French 45th Division played a role in the Miracle on the Marne which stopped the German drive toward Paris (1914) was an Algerian Division. [Keegan, pp, 109, 111] Algerian troops in the Ypres Salient were among the first to be hit by poison gas which the German introduced. The troops reported a strange yellow cloud drifting toward their position. There were also Zouave units. Zouaves wewe recruited from Algerian Berber tribesmen and the European emigrant population in Algeria. I have also noted references to "white Zouaves and native riflemen". [Keegan, p. 198.]
Zouaves were Known mainly for their flamboyant uniforms with bright colors. The uniforms were all to visible on the battlefield. Within a year after the War began, the uniforms were standardized to more sensible khaki. French commanders concluded that the smoke was a cover for a German attack. The Algerians were were ordered to hold their positions. As a result, the Algerians were decimated. The Germans broke the Salient and the Allies had to retreat. Nearly 25,000 Algerian soldiers were killed. France recruited about 86,000 Algerian laborors to work in war industries in France. Many Algerians stayed in France after the War, perhaps as many as 70,000 men. Many supportd their families at home with remittances. It was also an eye-opening experience for the individuals involved. The Algerians who served in the Army and who moved to France during the War would play an role in the independence movement that began to develop after the War.
American President Woodrow Wilson camaigned for re-election in 1916 with the
slgan "He kept us out of war". America at various points tried to negotiate an end to the War. Wilson in a 1917 speech called for a "peace without victory". None of the major European combatants showed much interest in the American efforts. The Britsh were still hopeful that America would join the Allies. Kaiser Wilhelm dimissed Wilson's efforts as unrealistic. The Germans seriously under estimated the potential impact of American involvement and failed to recognize the full consequences of American entry into the War. The German military were convinced that with the empending collapse of the Russian Eastern Front that they could force a decission on the Western Front. Military commanders convinced Kaiser Wilhelm to resume unrestricted sunmarine warfare. After German U-boats sank five American merchant vessels, President Wilson on asked Congress to Declare War on Germany which was approved April 6. Historians speculate as to Wilson's motives. The German decession to resume unrestricted submarine warfare not to mention the Zimmerman telegram proved to be a disastrous German miscalculation. The unrestricted U-boat campaign gained Germany very little. The American and Britsh Navies introduced a convoy system and defeated the U-boat campaign. The collapse of Russia in late 1917 and peace treaty forced upon the Bolsevicks in 1918 enabled the Germans to transfer powerful forces to the Wesern Front. By the tinme they were able to launch their offensive, an American Army of over a million men awaited them in the Allied trenches. Without the arrival of the Americans, it is likely that the Germans would have reached Paris and forced an end to the War. German General Ludendorff was to say after the War that it was the arrival of the American infantry that was the decisive factor on the Western Front.
Argentina remained neutral in World War I. Given the many European immigrants, however, there were groups in the country clamoring for Argentina to enter the War. Many Argentines of British and German ancestry rushed to Europe to join the fight. After Italy etered the War, many Italian immigrants demnded that Argentina enter the War. Influential British cattle barrons also wanted Argentina to enter the War. The Argentine intelectual community was strongly influenced by French and also favored the Allies. The small German community supported the Fatherland. President Hipolyto Irigoyen was committed to neutrality.
President Irigoyen was an Argentine nationalist who had no sympathy for the mostly foreign-oriented groups (Anglophile cattle barons, Francophile intellectuals, and Italin immigrants) promoting intervention.
President Irigoyen's main focus was on how Argentina could benefit economically from the increasing war orders. And here the Argentine economy did benefit enormously. There is no real definitive assessment of public opinion, but outside immigrant group there does not seem to have been any real public desire to enter the War. After America entered the War (1917), President Irigoyen seems to have been even more cmmitted to staying out of the War. President Wilson asked the still neutral countries to follow the U.S. and sever relations with Germany. The Argentine government declined explaining that it was distant from the conflict. Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare campaign resulted in the sinking of two Argentine ships. This provoked large anti-German demonstrations in Buenos Aires. German Foreign Minister Alfred Zimmerman offered to apologize and to have the Argentine flag saluted. U-boats proceeded to sink two more Argentine ships. The Argentina Government presented an ultimatum to the Germans. The German response was slow and basically unsatisfactory. The Germans promised to investigate any further incidents and if proven to be at fault make reparations. The German Government then agreed not to sink any further Argentine ships. Argentina agrees to sell surplus wheat to Britain and France (September 1918). This helped to substantially reduce the problem of surplus agricukltural production. Argentina thus at the end of the War was a highly prosperous country free of foreign debts for the first time. The Latin American nations that had declared war or broken relations with Germany were invited to the Paris Peace Conference. Argenina as it did not declare war was not invited.
The Ottoman Turks conquered the Christian population of Armenia (16th century). The Russians pressed south into the Balkans Caucauses (19th century). Thus in the early 20th century Armenians found themselves in both the Russian and Ottomon Empires. As in the Balkans there were nationalist opposition to Ottomon rule. The Turks brutally suppressed Armenian nationalism and massacres and other represive actions were reported (1894 and 96). The Ottomons were unable to effectively resist Russian pressure, but atempted to deflect it by developing economic nd diplomatic gies with Germany. Thus they joined the Central Powers and entered World War I with the goal of defeating Russia and recovering lost territory. The Ottomans entered the War after the Western Front had settled down to static trench warfare, but the Germans had achieved major victories against the Russians on the Eastern Front. The Ottomons declared war on Russia (October 29, 1914). The first operation was a combined German-Turkish bombardment of Russian Black Sea ports. Russia and Britain and France quickly declared war on Turkey (November 2-5). The first Ottoman offensive was aimed at the Russian Caucauses (December). There were some initial success. At the same time ultra nationlist Young Turks dreamed of a Turkish Empire streatching into Central Asia. The problem was that large areas of eadstern Anatolia was populated by Armenians--a Christian enclave dividing what they saw as a vast Turkish empire. In addition the Young Turks saw the Armenians as a disloyal population. The result was the Armenian genocide, the first major ethnic cleansing action of the 20th century. The Turkish operation began (April 1915). Men were shot. Women and children driven into the Syrian desert. Estimates of the numbers killed varied, but most historians estimated 0.6-1.5 million people were murdered. The Turks continue to deny the genocide ever took place. A Turkish army suffered terrible losses in a campaign aginst the Russians in the Caucauses. The Russians retook much lost ground (August 1915). Surviving Turkish soldiers retreating out of the Caucuses conducted masacres of Amenians who had survived the initial phase of the genocide. Armenians in the former Tsarist Empire affter World War I attempted to establish an independent Republic in the final months of the War. They declared independence (May 28, 1918). The Republic of Armeniia function for over 2 years. Red Army victories in the Russian Civil War enabled the new Soviet Union to restablish Russian control of the Caucuses and Central Asia. The Soviets annexed the Armenian Republic (November 29, 1920). The Soviets subsequently created the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic, joining Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (March 12, 1922). Later Armenia became a separate constituent republic of the USSR (1936).
World War I was the most costly war ever fought by Australia. Australia's population in 1914 was less than 5.0 million people, less than Belgium. Conscription proved to be highly controversial. Australians reacted to the outbreak of the War in Europe with a wave of enthusiam to support Britain. Over 0.4 million men enlisted. The Army set very demanding physical standards. The first Australian troops were deployed to Egypr to protect the Suez Cannal which was threaened after the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers. The Australians were rushed Egypt with little military training. They were trained after arriving in Egypt. The Australians were used along with New Zealand, British, and French troops in the costly Gallipoli campaign (1915). After Gallipoli the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was reorganised. Reinforcements arrive from Australia expanded the force from from two to five infantry divisions. The AIF was shifted to France, beginning in March 1916. There they participated in the bloody engagements on the Sestern Front. Caulties totaled 60,000 killed, four times that of Belgium where much of the War was fought. Another 156,000 men were wounded or captured.
Austria had for centuries been a major European power, dominating the Holy Roman Empire. Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) essentially ejected Austria from Germany. The Hapsburgs then recreated Austrial as the Dual Monarchy--the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary became a large multi-ethnic empire dominated by a Grman and Hungarian rukling class. The Empire dominated much of central Europe. Ousted from Germany, it expelled into the Balkans where it came into conflict with Russia which had ethnic ties and expansionary goals. These conflicts escalated as Ottoman power wained. Its dealings with the various nationalities were a major political problem. The Hungarians were give dual royal status with Austria. Other nationalities felt oppressed, none more than the Slavs. Serbia secretly supported terrorist forces in Bosnia withits substantial Slavic population. This led to the assasination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and Austria's decession to punish Serbia. The Austrians had no desire to launch a world war which was reflected in their war planning. There were two Austrian war plans, Plans B and R. The difference in the two plans reflected the unknown of the Russian reaction. Plan B provided only for hostilities in the Balkans against Serbia. Three Austro-Hungarian armies would invade Serbia. Three other armies would be heldin reserve along the Russan border. Plan R was a more expansive plan, a modification of Plan B in case the Russians invaded. In this case only two armies would invade Serbia and four armies would defend against the Rusians.
It assumed that the Germans would enter the War if the Russians declared war. Ecalating nationalist tensions came to a head when Serbian nationalists assasinated Archduke Ranz Derdinand, heir to Emperor Franz Josef. Germany's decession to support Austria's desire to punish Serbia turned a Balkans crisis into a mjor European war.
Belarus along with most of Poland and the Baltics were part of the Russian Tsarist Wmpire at the time of world War I. Poland at the onset had been a major battlefield on the Eastern Front. After seizing Warsaw (1915), the Germans advanced east. The Bolsheviks seized powe (November 1917). They dithered, however, on ending he war. The Germans launched a new offensive and took Minsk (February 21, 1918). World War I proved to be period in which Belarusian culture started to flourish. The German administration, presumably to undermine Russian control allowed schools to be taught in the Belarusian language, something that had been banned by Tsarist officials. Belarus was occupied by Germans under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Belarus National Republic was proclaimed (March 25, 1918). This was part of the German Mitteleuropa plan. The Armistice was essentially a German surrender to the Allies. As part of the provisions, the Trearty of Brest Litovsk was abrogated. This rendered the Mitteleuropa Plan null and void. The Germans withdrew from the Ober-Ost territory (December 1918). Several Belarusian schools had been opened. This was, however, banned by Polish authorities who seized control in many areas (1919) This began a period in which a political vacuum was created in which various nationalist and foreign factions attempted to contol the area. The Russian Revolution led to the and Russian Civil War.
Germany with Russia allied with France conceived a war plan to rapidly defeat France before the superior resources of these two countries could be brought to bear on Germany. Because the French had heavily fortified the border, the German Schliffen Plan called for a massive stike through neutral Belgium to avoid the French fortifications along the French-German border. The Germans invaded Belgium (August 4, 1914). This horified the world because it was correctly seen as the Germans trampeling the rights of a small neutral coutry in violation of international law. Thus from the beginning the Germans were seen in American and other countries as an unprincipled aggressor in the War. More importantly at the time, the German invasion brought Britain into the War (August 4, 1914). Britain had understandings with France and Russia, but there were not firm treaty commitments. Britain had guaranteed Belgian independence in the Treaty of London (1839). Britain may have entered the War anyway, but it was the invasion of Belgium that triggered the British declaration of war and the dispatch of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to stop the Germans. The Germans gambled that they could defeat the French quickly as they did in the Franco-Prussian War. They disregarded the Belgian Army and calculated that they could defeat the French army before the British could deploy a substantial force to aid the French. Te Belgians put up and unepectedly stiff resistance, slowing the German advance. King Albert I proclaimed, "Belgium is a country, not a road map." The BEF although at first small also slowed the Germans. A Russian offensive forced the Germans to divert forces from the drive on Paris. In the end the Germans were stopped by the Miracle on the Marne (September 1914). Although the Germans were stopped, they had overrun most of Belgium which remained in German hands for most of the War.
Bolivia like many neutral countrieswas affected by trade disruptions. The coutry had to arrange loans from an American bank. In the long run the country benefitted from war orders. Both Bolivia and Peru broke relations with Germany. The two countries had fouught Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879) and lost territory to that country. Bolivia had lost its access to the Pcific Ocean leaving it a land-loked country. Both countries hoped that supporting U.S. policy might gain support for their claims to lost territory.
This did not occur. The Bolivian tin industry in particular boomed as the result of British war orders. A German U-boat tpedoed a neutral Dutch ship that was carrying the Bolivian Ambassador and his family to Germany (1916). This caused a great deal od animosity among ipper-class circles and intelectual circles in Bolivia. When the United States declared war (April 1917), Bolivia broke relations with Germany.
Brazil was the only one of the four major Latin American countries that actually declared war on Germany. Brazil like the other Latin Americans countries benefitted by war orders and increased exports. As with the United States, the major issue became German submarines. German U-boats sunk several Brazilian ships as the War progressed. The Brazilian press was outraged when the Germans sank the Rio Branco which was named after a famed statesmen (May 1916). The newspapers quieted down when news emerged that no one was killed and the ship was registered in Britain. Te Brzilian Government warned German diplomats that diplomatic relations could continue only if Brazilian ships were not attacked. A German U-boat sank
the Parana off the French coast (April 5, 1917). Brazilians were outraged when reports emrged that the U-boat fired into te ship even as it was sinking resulting in three deaths. Mobs in the capital of Rio de Janeiro attacked German businesses. President Wenceslau Braz expelled German Ambassador von Pauli (April 11). Despite this action, the Government declared its neutrality in the war between America and Britain (April 25). There was sympathy for the Allies. Ruy Barbosa headed the League for the Allies. Barbosa wanted Foreign Minister Lauro Muller fired, citing his German origins. The President did fire Barbosa and replaced him with Nilo Pecanha who announced a new pro-Allied policy. President Braz released a statement, "Brazil should adopt the attitude that one of the belligerents forms an integral part of the American continent, and that to this belligerent we are bound by traditional friendship and by a similarity of political opinion in the defense of the vital interests of America and the principles accepted by international law." Attacks occured on German ships that were in Brazilian ports. The Government proceeded to seize 46 German ships, in part to protect them. The Government revoked its neutrality declaation (June 1917). American and other Allied escorts began guarding Brazilian ships. This did not prevent German attacks. The Germans sank four more Bralian ships an took a Brazilian ship maser prisioner. Brazil declared war (October 26, 1917). The Brazilian presss aplauded the action. The Congress enacted the War Law (November 1917). The Govenment seized German assets in Brazil, mainly banks and insurance companies, in additin to the 46 ships that had been impounded earlier. The president was given the authority to declare any area "under siege". This was largely seen as necessary because of the large number of Germans in southern Brazil.
Brazil did not play an important part in the War, but the declaration was more than an empty geture. Authorities expressed an interest in committing troops to fight the Turks in Mesopotamia where the climate was seen as more appropriate for Brazilian soldiers. Transporting troops was a main obstacle. Brazil did send small military and naval missions to Europe. Some units saw combat. Brazil also dispatched Airmen to Italy for training. The Brazilian Navy was committed for anti-Uboat patrols in the South Atlantic. This included mine-sweeping off West Africa. The major limitation on Brazilian involvement was the war ended only a year after Brazil entered the War. Hd the War lastd longer, the Brazilian contribution to the Allied war effort would have been larger. The country's most important contribution was food shipments (beef, beans and sugar). The 46 seized German merchant ships also aided the Allies.
Britain was the key country in the Great War. Germany was without doubt the most powerful continental power. Germany indutry combined with the professionalism of the Germany Army meant that it could defeat either France and Russia and even the two countries combined. But defeating an alliance including Britain proved to be too much for Germany. Had Germany prevailed in their initial offensive and defeated France, the War would have probably ended quickly. A protravted war of attrition, however, swung the advantage to the Allies because the powerful Royal Navy gave the Allies access to the resources of the Empire as well as neutrals like America. And it enabled the Allies the ability to blokade Germany, cutting it off from raw materials and food. The key conflict in World War I was the conflict between France and Germany which had historic roots but in modern terms began with Franco-Prussian War and the unification of Germany. Britain at times had sided with the German states when France was the dominant European power. Many historians believe that the British alliance with France (the Entant Cordial) was a foregone conclusion given the rise of Germany and the threat of German dominantion of the continent. This was of course intensified by Kaiser Wilhelm's decession to build a highseas fleet that could challenge the Royal Navy. British policy at the turn of the 20th century, however, seems curiously crafted to oppose German hegenomy. Certain the British were firmly committed to maintaining naval speriority which was demonstrated by the contruction of HMS Dreadnought and the even more powerfull battleships that followed. While the fleet could be used to protect the Empire, it could not be used to oppose the Germany Army. For this Britain needed a large conscript army. Probably for political and financial reasons this was not possible. As a result, when Germany invaded Belgium and France, the BEF which was rushed across the Channel was such a small force that the Germans almost reached Paris and won the War.
Bulgaria believed that it had a right to Macedonia. Nationalists were upset with thecsmall part of Macedonia it received in the First Balkan War (1912-13). As a result it largely caused the Second Balkan War (June–Aug. 1913). This time Bulgaria not only fought Turkey, but its former Christian allies as well. Not surrisinly Bulgaria lost the War and substantial territory, primarily to Serbia. The territory gained by Serbia made it a growing threat to Austria-Hungary which had a Slavic minority in its southern provinces, especially newly annexed Bulgaria. The desire to destroy Serbia as a threat to the Empire was why Austrian authorities made such onerous demands on Serbia following the assasination of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand (June 1914). With the outbreak of the World War I (August 1914), Germany courted allies. One of the few countries to respond was Bulgaria. German diplomats promissed Bulgaria territories it lost during the Balkan Wars if they joined the Central Powers. And Bulgaria was still intent or obtaining Macedonia. Even before Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, the Bulgarians allowed the German to ship pontoon bridges to the Ottomons to be used in crossing the Suez Canal in an attack on Egypt. Bulgaria participated in the attack on Romania after that country joined the Allies (1917). A new front opened up when Greece entered the War on the Allied side (1917). Although Romania was defeated, the Bulgarians had to face a new front opened from Greece with Greek, Serbia, and British troops. The demise of Austria-Hungary and the defeat of Germany on the Western Front ended the War. The defeat of Germany on the Western Front (1918), With his failures to obtain Macedonia in the Balkan WSars and World War I, King King Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son (1918). Bulgaria was punished by the victorious Allies in the the Peace treaty of Neuilly (1919). Bulgaria had to cede southwest Thrace to Greece and much of Macedonia to Serbia which became Yugoslavia. Bulgaria as a result lost access to the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria also had to ceed territory to Romania.
Germany as part of the Scramble for Africa established a protectorate over the Douala region (1884). Britain did not dispute the claim located southeast of Nigeria. Germany began building roads, begun the construction of a railroad and cultivated large plantations of cacao, palm and rubber in the region. They built a city, Douala, on the Atlantic coast, which by 1914 served as the principal port and wireless station in the Cameroons. The British launched a campaign immediately after Germany launched World War I by invading neutral Belgium. The Allies failed to anticipate the German strategy or the strength of the German hold on the colony. The Germans, fully understanding the power of the Royal Navy decided not to defending the coast, but withdraw inland and utilize rough teraine inland to mount a defense, hoping for a quick German victory in Europe. This might have worked had it not been for the unexpected Belgian-British resiistance leading to the Miracle on the Marne. A mixed forcde of British, French, and Belgian troops seized the German Kamerun colony. They quickly seized Doula (September 27, 1914), but were not able to fully take control of the German colony for more than a year. The Germans finally surrendered (February 1916). The British West African Frontier Force was one of two sets of colonial troops that the British turned to in Africa. The other was the South African Defense Force, which was primarily deployed in German Southwest Africa (Namibia). The British and French when they occupied German Kamerun during World war I split the colony, but not equally. The British acquired a narrow mountaneous strip which was administered as part of Nigeria. The French acquired the larger proportion which they administred as a separate colony.
Canada like America had no treaties with European countries. Canada was, however, not an independent country. Thus Britain’s declaration of war on Germany meant that Canada was also at war. Germany's plan was a quick victory against France following the Schliffen Plan (August 1914). France's victory at the Marne meant that there would be no quick German victory. This gave the Allies time to marshal their resources and for Britain this included the resourxes of the Dominions. Britain declared war, but the Canadian Government controlled the level of participation. Canadians like Europeans were enthusiastic about the war. Few had a realistic idea of modern war. There were differences of opinions about the War. The most enthusiastic were those with the closest ties with Britain. This was especially true of recent immigrants with family in Britain. The least enthusiastic were French Canadians. Although France was the country most threatened, few French Canadians had family ties to France. Mist saw it as a British war. Many English speaking Canadians volunteered. Few French-Canadiand did so. The Canadian recruits were trained at Valcartier, Québec. Canada sent its first troops to Britain (October 3, 1914). The first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) totaled 32,000 men. Newfoundland which at the time was a separate British colony contributed 500 men. The CEF was deployed with the British on the Western Front in France and the small area of Belgium the Allies still held. The War by this time was settling into the terriblr trench warfare for which it is known. The Canadian 1st Division fought its first major engagement suring the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium (April 15, 1915). It was here the Germans introduced poison gas. After months of grueling warfare, the Canadians fought on the Somme with the British (1916). The Canadians gradually expanded their force and totaled 4 divisions (October 1916). They were organized as the Canadian Corps and included four infantry divisions supported by artillery, cavalry, engineer, and auxiliary units. The Canadian Corps consuisted of about 80,000 men. The single most important Canadian operation of the War was the capture of Vimy Ridge (April 1917). The Canadians Corps was involved in a larger British offensive near Arras (April 1917). The Canadian were ordered to take 7-km long Vimy Ridge. It was part of the heavily fortied German trench system. It was the first operation conducted entirely by the Canandian Corps. The Canadians crossed no-man's land and stormed the German positions. Thgey took all most all of the German positions (April 9). The last two positions fell (April 12). The human cost in World war I battles was dreadful. The Canadians at Vemy Ridge lost 3,598 killed and over 7,000 wounded.
Battlefield losses resulted in the need for more men on the Western front. Britain for the first time in its long history instituted conscription. The Canadian Government followed suit (1917). Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden belierced that the CEF could be based on volunteer recruitment. After receiving large numbers of voluntters (1914), but volunteers had declined substantially by the end of 1915. Primeminister Borden announced a plan to deploy 500,000 men overseas (January 1916). A force of this size could not be fielded on a volunteer basis. Canada at the time had a populatiion of only 8 million. The Government passed the Military Service Act (August 1917). French Canadians stronly opposed conscription for a war in which they did not believe. Other groups opposed conscription including farm and labor groups. The issue of conscription sharply divided Canadians.
Chile when the War broke out in Europe declared itself neutral. Neutrality in Chile did not become a major issue as was the case in Argentina. Britin and German fought a naval engagement off Coronel early in the War. The greatest British violation of Chilean neutrality was attacking the German cruiser Dresden where it took refuge in Chilean waters at Juan Fernandez Island. The German U-boat attacks on cargo and passenger ships was, however, a far greater violation and Chile was dependent on foreign trade.
The Chilean Government expressed concern when Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare,
There were some pro-Allied demonstrations in important cities. The Chilean Government warned Germany that as long as Chilean ships were not attacked, diplomatic relations could continue. Leading Chileans saw neutrality as an important aspect of Chilean diplomacy and "an essential step toward creating a bloc of truly independent South American nations capable of standing up to the United States in hemispheric relations." There was in Chilean neutrality among other factors a combination of anti-American and pro-German sentiment. A united South American front on the War did not develop. Except for Argentina, Chile was largely isolated. Chilean diplomacy was furthur complicated when Peru and Bolivia responded to Wilson's call for an Inter-American anti-submarine solidarity. Peru and Bolivia of course fought the War of the Pacific with Chikle and had lost territory. Chile begun to rethink its diplomacy and by the end of the War was making oertures to the United Sates. The Chilean Government took over German-owned nitrate plants in northern Chile. The Government seized the plants after the German Government sequestered Chilean government funds in German banks. Chile benefitted from the War, especially by the increased for stratehic materials, especially nitrates and copper. Mining companies expanded operations and exports soared. Although neutrl, because of the Allied naval blockade of Germany, almost all of these shipments went to the Allies. After the War, these shipments declined to normal levels. The result ws soaring unemployment. This generated support for fire brand Luis Recabarren. He founded the Chilean Communist Party and was an admirer of the Russian Revolution. President Juan Luis Sanfuentes reactionary Government was confronted with urban rioting. Strikes wee supressed with bloodshed. This was the beginning of a class struggle in Chile. Unfounded rumors circulated that that German U-boats used Chile's Easter Island to resupply.
China was far away from both the Eastern and Western Frontgs and at the time saw itself victimized by all of the major beligerant countries. Some early fighting, however, occurred in China. Japan which had a naval treaty with Britain declared war on Germany. The British wanted to use the Japanese rather than weaken the Grand Fleet to dispatch vessels to the Pacigic. Japan spmewhat to Britain's surprise, eagerly joined the war, seeing the possibility of acquiring Germany’s Pacific colonies and take over its Chinese concessions. The Japanese dispatched a naval squadron to intercept the German Pacific Squadron commanded by Admiral von Spee seeking refugee in Tsingtao Harbour. The Japanese blockaded Tsingtao and minor naval skirmishes occurred. The Japanese landed troops on the Shantung Peninsula and moved south toward Kiaochow (September 2, 1914). Kiaochow had a garrison of 5,500 German and Austro-Hungarian troops. The Japanese drive was reinforced by a British expiditionary regiment made up of Indian (Sikh) and Welsh troops (September 24). After some intense fighting the Germans and Austro-Hungarians surrendered (November 7). This was the only significant fighting taking place in China. Britain like the other major beligerant countries were running short of men because of the terrible casulties. The British suffered dreadful casulties on the Somme (1916). One effort to address this problem was to recruit workers throughout the Empire. As Britain had Chinese treaty ports, this meant China was one of the countries where workers were recruited. Most came from Shan Tung (Shandong), but there were also recruits from Honan (Hunan). The British also recruited missionry and sinologue officers. About 100,000 Chinese were recruited. The Chinese labor units under British military descipline debarked from Weihaiwei (Weihai) which was a British treaty port until 1930. The Chinese were used to dig trenches and build other fortifications. They were not used in the actual fighting, but about 2,000 died from mines, illness (such as the Inflenza Epidemic after the War), and other causes. A few were shot as a result of a mutiny at Boulogne. [Summerskill]
China declared war on Germany (1917). There was no real Chinese concern about Germany as the British and Japanese has seized Germany's concessions in China. China sa, however, diplomatic problems since Japan had joined the Allies and the Royal Navy commanded the seas. Despite the declaration of war, I do not know of any significant Chinese contribution to the Allied war effort. China after the War benefited from American insistence at Versailles that the Open Door Policy be accedpted by the major powers. This was a major issue at the Washington Naval Conference (1921-22).
Panama was part of Colombia. When the Colombian Senate dithered on a Canal Treaty with the United States, President Roosevelt used the U.S. Navy to prevent the country from supressing a revolt in Panama (1903). The new Panamanian Government signed the treaty President Roosevelt wanted and America proceeded to build the Canal. The whole affair soured Colombian relations with the United States, generating a great deal of anti-American feeling. Colombia was strictly neutral throughout the War. The American declaration of War on Germany only confirmed Colombian neutrality. Colombian diplomacy continued to be largely determined by the anti-American orientation resulting from the Canal affair.
Costa Rican President Federico Tinoco decided to declare war on Germany. He wnted to legitimize his regime. He had not been elected, rather he had seized power ias part of a military coup. President Wilson had refused to recognize his Government. Tinoco broke relations with Germany (September 1917). He then ordered all German citizens interned. Opponents claim this was not to prevent sabatoge, but to make sure they did not suport the previous president that he had ousted. He followed this by declaring war (May 1918). Tinoco's plan gained him nothing. President Wilson did not recognize his government and even intervened to make sure that the Tinoco Government was nor represented as the Paris Peace Conference (1919).
Croatia's struggle for greater autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was interrupted by the World War I. Croats were inducted into the Austrian-Hungarian army andthus foughtvfor the Central Pwers. There were, however, no Croat formations. As with many other national groups within the great European empires (Austrian, German, Ottoman, and Russian) the War provided a range of options. Croatian nationalists had been divided before the War. There were nationalists who wanted autonomy within the Empire, indeendence, and union among the southern Slavs. The Allies while fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not at first seem to offer a hope of independence. The Allies to enduce Italy to enter the War signed the Treaty of London (1915). This offered Italy the Adriatic terrirories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This included territories populated by ethnic Croats. Representatives of the southern Slavs in exile, headed by Ante Trumbic and Franjo Supilo, established a Yugoslav Committee to promote a new unified state for the southern Slavs after the War. The Commotte adipted the twin principles of national unity for the southern Slavs and the principle of national self-determination. The entry of Bulgaria into the War nd German support of Austria, enabled the Central Powers to defeat the Serbs and occupy almost all of the Balkans except for Greece. With the aid of the Royal Navy, however, the Serbian Army escaped (1915). The Yugoslav Committee and Serbian government-in-exile reached agreement over the future political arrangements. Their concept as expressed in the Corfu Declaration involved a unified southern Slav nation (July 1917). It would be a democratic, constitutional, and parliamentary monarchy under the Serbian Karageorgevic dynasty. Serbia and Croatia at the time was still occupied by the Central Powers, but America had entered the War. President Wilson in his 14 Points made national self determination an aspect of American policy. American entry into the War changed the military situation, despite the collapse of Russia and the Eastern Front. The War had devestated Austria-Hungary. An Allied offensive from Greece with the Serbian Army defeated Bulgaria and moved into Serbia. Futher north a regrouped Italian Army made progress against the Austrians. The Habsburg monarchy was near collapse. The peasantry began to revolt against conscription and near confiscatory seizures. The Croatian Sabor declared its separation from the Empire (October 1918). The Sabor also declared an Croatian state, including Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia and the decession to join a southern Slav state. The Sabor then transferred its power to the National Council of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs which had been set up in Zagreb. There was widespread agreement on this action. One member who had quams about the decession was Stjepan Radic, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party. He was concerned about a hasty commitment to unification with thecSerbs. He thought that some kind of referendum was in order and given that Croatia would be a minority under a Serbian monarchy, he was concerned about national equality in the proposed state. The National Council, the Yugoslav Committee, and the Serbian government signed the Geneva declaration (November 1918). This became the basis for post-War Yugoslavia. There was to be a southern Slav state. The government to be decided by a national Constituent Assembly The National Council met Serbia's regent, King Alexander I, to affiliate themselves to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (December 1918). President Wilson after the fall of the Russian monarchy, on the basis of his 14 Points succeeded in making national self determination an aspect of Allied policy. The importance of immigrant communities in the United States was a factor here. This and Serbia's influence meant that after the War Italy would not get the Adriatic territory it coveted. Italian nationalists felt cheated, a factor in the rise of Fascism. The situation in what became Yugoslavia was also unsettled. The Serbs saw the territory acquired such as Croatia as an extension of the Serbian administrative structure and desired to play the dominant role in the new state. The other southern Slavs (Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia) envisioned more of a partnership with a degree of autonomy. These differentv concepts after the War would result in increasing turmoil, especially in Croatia, also fueling the growth of Fascism.
Cuba was still a newly independent country when World War I broke out in Europe. Cuba's economy was based primarily on sugar, exporting sugar. Cuba was the world's largest exporter. Sugar became a particularly scarce food commodity during the War. In Germany and Austria-Hungary it became sarce because of the Royal Navy blockade. Among the Allies it became scarse because of American policies toward Cuba. Herbert Hoover oversaw the International Sugar Commission who sought to limit the sugar prices. Unlike other agricultural commodities Hoover sought to regulate, sugar was mostly imported and Cuba was the primary source. The inevitable impact of price controls set at abnormally low levels was to produce a shortage. The Cuban Government was prepared to cooperate with the United States after America declared war on Germany (April 1917). This meant that the Allies had access to an important source of sugar. President Mario Menocal proposed that Cuban join with the United States in pursuing "international justice". The Cuban Congress approved the policy. Cuba's geographical position made it difficult to pursue any other policy. Cuba was an important part of the American defenses of the Panama Canal. The United States had a naval base at Guantanamo. Cuba's declaration of war on Germany meant that it was virtually impossible for German U-boats to operate in the Caribbean. Most of the other islands were British and French colonies abd thus histile to Germany. The Cubans interred German and Austrian citizens in a camp. The Cubans sent a hospital unit of 100 Cuban doctors and nurses which set up on the Western Front. The Government approved a conscription law and 25,000 Cuban soldiers were preparing for transport to France when the Armistice ended the War (November 1918). The sugar price issue with the United States was finally resolved and Cuban planters increased production. The shortage turned into a glut after the War and the price plummeted to only 1.8¢ a pound, adversely affecting the economy.
The Czechs and Slovaks when World War I broke out were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were two of several restive minorities within the Empire. As Slavs they were not enthusiastic to fight with the Austrians, Germans and Hungarians against fellow Slavs (Russians and Serbs).
Many Czechs and Serbs on the Eastern front defected from the Austrian-Hungarian Army and formed the Czechoslovak Legion to fight with the Russians. Thomas Masaryk who emerged as a leader in the Czech independence movement went to western Europe with his American-born wife to promote the the idea that the Austro-Hungarian Empire should be disolved after the war and the new nation of Czechoslovakia created. The Allies resisted at the time because the Russians still fighting on the Wastern front were a multi-national empire not well-disposed toward national self-determination in Eastern Europe. Masaryk along with fellow Czech Eduard Benes and Milan Stefanik (a Slovak war hero), established the Czechoslovak National Council. Masaryk went to America to promote the idea. Benes worked in in France and Britain. The Russian Revolution and the entrance of America into the War changed the political situation. President Wilson in his 14 Points had embraced national self-determination. Britain and France hesitated because they were involved in secret talks with Austrian Emperor Karl I (1916-18) who had replaced Emperor Franz Josef. They hoped to convince the Emperor Karl to make a separate peace. When this failed, the Allies recognized the Czechoslovak National Council (summer 1918). as the supreme organ of a future Czechoslovak government. The German German Western Front began to crack under British and American offensives (September 1918). German and Austrian officials began making peace feelers (early October). Masaryk from America declaraed Czechoslovak independence (October 18). As in other Eastern European countries, borders became a controversial issue. Many areas included mixed ethnic populations. Masaryk wanted Czechoslovakia to be built around the historic Bohemian Kingdom, but include the German-populated Sudetenland. As the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to desintegrate, German deputies from the Sudetenland joined other German and Austrian deputies in the Austrian parliament and declared a new German-Austrian state (October 21). Emperor Karl abdicated on the same day the armistice on the Western Front went into effect (November 11). Czech troops also occupied the Sudetenland (November 11). The Slovaks to the east had the Hungarians to deal with. Hungary officually withdrew from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (November 1). Count Michael Karolyi formed a liberal-democratic government. This Government attempted to retain control over Slovakia. The Czechs gained Allied approval and occupied Slovakia. The Hungarians withdraw. The Czechs and Allies agreed on the Danube and Ipel' rivers as aborder between Hungary and Slovakia. This meant that in the west there would be a German minority and inthe east a substantial Hungarian minority.
Denmark had been a major European power. The Danish war (1864) was the last war fought by Denmark. Danish forces were overwealmed by Prussian and Austrian forces. When Prussia later defeated France in the Franco Prussian War (1870-71) it became clear to Danish officials that Denmark could not militarily resist the Germans. Thus the only viable option was neutrality. A debate began among right-wing and left-wing Danish leads as to what form Danish neutrality should take. The conservatives wanted a strong defense, a kind of armed meutrality and fortifications were built in Copenhagen. Left-wing parties had no agreed view, but some wanted complete disarmament. Danish Goverments attempted to convince the Germans to recognize German neutrality. This was complicated by differences of opinion in Denmark and the anti-German sentiment resulting from the Danish War. Here the most antiGerman Dane was the young Princess Alexandria who married the British Prince of Wales. She would do her part in changing public opinion in Britain toward the Germans. Reports of the mistreatment of the Danish population in Schleswig further fueled anti-German sentiment. German when the World war broke out did generally recognize Danish neutrality, except that they insisted the Danes lay mines in the Great Belt (August 1914). The Danes complied being unwilling to resist a German invasion. The British did not react militarily as they understood the Danish position and were not significantly affected by the action. The kings of the three Scandinavian countries met in Malmö to make a joint declaration of absolute neutrality (December 1914). The War created export markets for the Danes although the British naval blockade and the German U-boat campaignmade it difficult for Danish companies to obtain raw materials. As a result, the Danish Government had to ration some consumer goods. The Government also had to take a range of economic steps to deal with the adverse conditions created by the War.
The Dominican Republic ws at the time known as Santo Domingo. U.S. Marines occupied the country (late 1916). U.S. officials compeled Dominican authorities to sever diplomatic relations with Germany after the United States declared war.
The British during World War I seized control of German East Africa. Even though cut off from supplies and aid, the Germans put up quite afight. And while few except for a handful of historians know much about it, all of us who have enjoyed the Hollywood classic, 'African Queen', have been exposed to it. The campaign was a World war I side show, but it had areal impact on East Africa. Tragically as a result of the campaign, some 0.3 million Africns perished in the resulting campaign. Unlike World War II, Germany had colonies in Africa and the Pacific. Thus a series of colonial campaigns played out when war broke out in Europe. At the center of East Africa was the German colony of East Africa. This was the colony which is today Tanzania, before British Zanzibar added, Rwanda and Burundi. German East Africa was surrounded by Allied colonies: Kenya to the north, the Belgian Congo to the west and Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) and the two British colonies of Nyasaland (modern Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (modern Zambia) in the south. The British saw German East Africa as a threart to the sea India Ocean sea lanes to India. The German Navy, however did not have the capability of utilizing bases in East Africa anf the Royal Navy not only put in place a North Sea blockade of Germany, but isolated the German colonies in East and West Africa. Unlike other colonial campaigns, it would take the Brtish 4 years to complete the East African campaign. While the campaign was led by the Germans and British, but it was primarily Africana and some Indian troops that did the fighting. The campaign was a series of battles began with the British invasion of the German colony. The fighting aspread all over Est Africa (Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia, British East Africa, Uganda and the Belgian Congo). It finally essentially ended when the Germans retreated in to the jungles of Portuguese Mozambique (November 1917). There they lived off Portuguese supplies until the War ended.
Unfounded rumors circulated that that German U-boats were using Ecuador's Galapagos Islands to resupply.
Both Japan and Britain order naval patrols to the Galapagos hunting for Von Spee's squadron. The Ecuadorians were not affected by U-boat attacks and as aresult the anti-German feeling in neigboring Peru did not developin Ecuador. The country did, however, eventually break relations with Germany. The issue was German diplomaic arrgance. When Peru severed relations with Germamy, the German Ambassadr there, Dr. Perl, moved to Quito and declared himself to now be the German Ambassador to Ecuador. The German Government had, however, not so informed the Ecuadorians. The Ecuadorian Government refused to recognize his official status. This did not deter Dr. Perl. He proceeeded to set up an embassy and began crashing official functions. This might have been tolerated, but he was apparently behave arrogantly with Ecuadorian officials. This only created anti-German feeling in a country that saw itseelf as having very little stake in the War.
Egypt after the construction of the Suez Canal (1869) became strategically important in the Euroean power balance. It represented a key link in the sea lanes connecting Britain and India--Britain's most important collony. Tewfiq Pasha attempted to modernize the Egyptian economy. He turned over financial control to the British who began to administer Egypt increasingly like a colony in some respects. Britain did not, however, get involved in social policy, except bnning slavery. Egyptian nationalists resented Tewfiq's seeming submission to the British. Orabi was first significant Egyptian political and military leader to rise from the fellahin, ‘Urabi was involved mutiny that developed into a general revolt against the Anglo-French consortium that dominated Khedive Tewfik's government (1879). Tewfik attemoted to defuse the sitution by appointing ‘Urabito the cabinet as Minister of war. He initiated reforms of Egypt's military and civil administrations, but anti-British riots in Alexandria resulted in a British bombardment and invasion (1882(. The British deposed ‘Urabi and his asociates. The British and French shelled Alexandria and seized Ismailiyya. The Allies defeated Orabi's army at Tel El Kabir. The British reinstated Tewfiq as a subseriant puppet. Orabi was exiled. Mustafa Kamil assumed leadership of the Egyptian nationalist movement. By the outbreak of World War I, Egypt has become essentially a tacit British colony in ecomiic terms, but not social terms. An Egyptian Government remained in place.
The Ottomans entered the War (November 1914). The Sultan declared a jihad, hoping to raise an Islamic revolt in Egypt, the only Allied controlled area within striking distance. The real prize was of course the Suez Canal. The Ottomans launched an unanticipated attack from Palestine, but were repulsed after heavy losses. The limited Ottoman logisticical capability was a major factor. The sultan's call for jihad had no impact. We are not entirely sure why. We suspect tht while the Egyptians wanted to get rid of the Britih, but had no interest in Ottomn rule. After the Ottoman attack, the British began building up a substantial force in Egypt. They were reiforced by ANZACs. And they provided some limited support to the Arab Revolt. This aid and a young academic, T.E. Lawrence, helped turn a limited, isolated revolt into a major movement. Despite British support for the Arab Revolt, Egypt played no role in the fighting between the British and Otomons. The British launched an offensive into Palestine and with the Arab Army supported by Col. Lawrence on its flank pulverized the Ottomon Army and seized Damascus (1918). Fouad become Khedive, but was consided under British control by most nationalists. Sa'ad Zaghloul demanded autonomy which the Brish rejected (1918). The British arrestedand deported him to Malta. This caused anti-British riots. After the War, the British ended the protectorate and recognized Egyptian independence (1922), although retaining some controls over the government, economy, amd most critically the Suez Canal. Fouad was proclaimed King of Egypt (March 1922). The British began reducing their footprint in Egypt until the NAZI's seized power in Egypt and began to change the strategic ballance (1933).
Estonia was acquired by Russia in the Great Northern War (18th century). The principality had cities with German populations and aargely Estonian countryside. As with the other Baltic principalities, there were closer ties with the West than was the case with other areas of Russia. Estonia in the early 20th century, while a small part of the Russian Empire, had perhaps the most advanced economy in the Russian Empire. A desire for autonomy, however, caused friction with the Imperial Government. The Government of Russian Primeminister Pyotr Stolypin devised plans to strengthen the central government and Russify Estonia and Latvia. The Government assessed the colonisation of the Baltics with Russian peasants. The Baltics played an important role in Russian military planning, especially the defence of Petrograd. The Russians built fortifications in Estonia. Especially important was the Baltic fleets naval base and shipyards at Tallinn. Another naval base was built on the Northern coast--Peter I. About 100,000 Estonians were drafted into the Russian Army. About 10,000 Estonians killed in the War. Estonian politicians generally remained loyal to Russia during the War. They hoped to be rewarded with greater autonomy after the War and feared Germanification if the Germans prevailed. The Tsar's abdication brought a Provisional Government to power (March 1917). The Provisional Government moved toward autonomy for Estonia. The Bolshevick Revolution (October 1917) changed the situation and more Estonians began demanding full independence.
Keegan, John. The First World War (Knopf: New York, 1999), 475p.
Strachan, Hew. The First World War (Viking Press, New York, N.Y., 2004).
Summerskill, Michael. China on the Western Front, Britain's WorkForce in the First World War (Summerskill, 1982).
Navigate the CIH World War I Pages:
[Return to Main World War I country page]
[Aftermath] [Alliances] [Animals] [Armistace] [Causes] [Campaigns] [Casualties] [Children] [Countries] [Declaration of war] [Deciding factors] -------[Diplomacy] [Economics] -------[Geo-political crisis] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[Military forces] [Neutrality] [Pacifism] [People] [Peace treaties] [Propaganda] [POWs] [Russian Revolution] [Signals and intelligence] [Terrorism] [Trench warfare] ------[Technology] ------[Weaponry]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War I page]
[Return to Main war essay page]