World War I

WWI was one of the most devastating conflicts in human history; it affectedrussia virtually the whole world in one way or another. This mayor war had lots of causes, including:

  • The Armed Peace: It was a time between 1870 and 1914 in which the countries where faking a state of peace, but fighting behind the scenes to avoid conflict.
  • Alliances:
    • The Three Emperor League (1873): It was made between Germany, Prussia and Austria-Hungary, to protect themselves from France. Unfortunately, this alliance broke in 1878, because the conflict in the Balkans between Russia, Austria-Hungary and France.
    • The Double Alliance (1879): It was made between Germany and Austria-Hungary, to support Austria-Hungary in conquering the Balkans, and they were against France and Russia.
    • The Triple Alliance (1882): It was made between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary, to protect themselves from Russia and France.
    • The Franco-Russian Entente (1893): It was made between France and Russia, to protect themselves from The Tripe Alliance.
    • The Entente Cordiale (1904): It was made between France and England, in order to reach an agreement for the distribution of Africa.
    • The Triple Entente (1907): it was made between France, Russia, and England, in order to solve colonial rivalries between them.
    • Nationalism: A strong sense of competition between the countries.
    • The Crisis:
      • Balkans: France, Russia and Austria-Hungary wanted to conquer Serbia, but it fought back, so Russia and France gave up, but Austria-Hungary insisted. The Serbians asked England, France and Russia for diplomatic support, England accepted but the other two refused. In the end Austria-Hungary obtained Bosnia and Hersegonia with the help of Germany.
      • Morocco: The French sent a ship to Morocco’s city Fez, and the Germans got mad at them for trying to conquer their colonies. They agreed on an exchange, the Germans would give-up Morocco in exchange for some French colonies in Africa.
      • The imperialist rivalries: Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, USA, Japan, England and Austria had a strong competition in monopolies.

The Incident of Sarajevo (1914): This incident might also be known as the russia 5detonator of the war. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia from Austria visited Serbia, because they were going to be named King and Queen of Serbia. Naturally, many Serbian were mad about this, so on June 28, 1914 a man from the Black Hand named Gavrilio Princip shot and killed them. Austrian went to Germany for help, and Germany sent an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia then went to Russia for help.

Finally, Austria declares war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, also known as the start of WWI. Two days later, July 30, 1914 Russia declares war on Germany. And on August 3, 1914 France enters the war.

WWI is divided in two stages, the first stage is also known as the European War. At the outbreak of World War I, the German army carried out the Schlieffen Plan. This plan consisted in marching through neutral Belgium and in order to conquer France. This plan failed and causes the first battle of Marne between France and Germany; it also caused England to join de war and the start of the Battles of the Northern Sea, between England and Germany.

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The war in the east began with the Russian invasion of East Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, in order to draw German troops from France; this resulted in the Battle of Tannenberg, and the Battle of the Masurian Lakes.

In response to the Russian attacks, Austria and Bulgaria invaded Serbia, but they failed. After this, the Allies (The Triple Entente) made an expedition to the Dardanelles, with objective of occupying what is now Turkey. This lead to a battle called the Campaign of Gallipoli, in which the Central powers (The triple Alliance) won.

The second Part of WWI
starts with the war of Attrition, also known as the war of trenches,which ran 700km from Switzerland to the Northern Sea. During this war, there were three mayor battles, the Battle of Champaign, the Battle of Artois, and the Battle of Verdun, which was the turning point when the Allies defeated the German Army. Meanwhile, the Battle of the North Sea broke out in Jutland, between Germany and England, England being the winner.

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In the year 1917, Germany sunk the American boat Lusitania, which provokes the US entering the war. This year also brought the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Military disasters at the Masurian Lakes and Tannenburg greatly weakened the Russian Army in the initial phases of the war. The growing influence of Gregory Rasputin over the Romanov’s did a great deal to damage the royal family and by the end of the spring of 1917, the Romanovs, who had ruled Russia for just over 300 years, were no longer in charge of a Russia that had been taken over by Kerensky and the Provisional Government. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin had taken power in the major cities of Russia and introduced communist rule in those areas it controlled. The transition in Russia over the space of four years was remarkable – the fall of an autocracy and the establishment of the world’s first communist government.

russia 6On October 26, 1917, the Soviet government issued a decree of peace, insisting that all belligerent powers open immediate negotiations for a democratic peace without annexations, and guarantee the right of every nation to self-determination (Russia was the only nation to do so at the end of the war, allowing all the former territories of Russia to self-determination. Independence was short lived however, as each republic was later incorporated/annexed into the Soviet Union by Stalin.) . The Entente refused to recognize the Soviet government, and continued the war. The Soviet government signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918, ending four years of aggression between Russia and Germany.

In the last year of the war, Italy was defeated by Austria in the Battle of Caporetto. The Second Battle of Marne Broke out and it was Germany vs. France and USA. Germany lost, which lead to the End of the war and the Armistice Signature. William II abdicated and Germany is proclaimed a republic, the First German Republic also known as Weimar.

The loses  Russia suffered in the world war were catastrophic. Between 900,000 and 2,500,000 Russians were killed. At least 1,500,000 Russians and possibly up to more than 5 million Russians were wounded. Nearly 4,000,000 Russian soldiers were held as POWs (Britain, France and Germany had 1.3 million POWs combined).

Economically Russia was devastated. 8,000,000,000 rubles in war debts were outstanding, strangling the national economy of its breath. Inflation soared; the gold reserves (then backing the currency) were nearly empty, revenues were exceedingly low while reconstruction costs were huge. Russia was on the verge of complete collapse.

The Russians that prospered the most during the war were peasant land-russia 4owners: Kulaks. Cunning muzhiks bribed local officials to prevent conscription and saw a field of opportunity open up during the war. While more and more peasants were sent to their deaths on the front lines, kulaks grabbed up their land in a free-for-all. By 1917, kulaks owned more than 90% of the arable land in European Russia, where once the majority or arable land had been in the hands of peasant communes.

The most valuable commodity throughout the war was grain, and kulaks understood this with absolute clarity: food prices climbed higher than any other commodity during the war. In 1916, food prices accelerated three times higher than wages, despite bumper harvests in both 1915 and 1916. The price of grain in 1916, already at two and a half rubles per pud, was anticipated to raise up to twenty five rubles per pud. Hoping to raise prices, the kulaks hoarded their food surplus.

Throughout 1916, the average urban labourer ate between 200 and 300 grams of food a day.

In 1917, the urban populations of Russia were allowed to buy only one pound of bread per adult, per day. In practice, workers sometimes went days without food. As a result of the Land Decree of October 26, 1917, when the peasants took back their land from the kulaks, food slowly came back into the cities again. Though the Kulaks were overwhelmed by the peasants at home and those returning from the front, many responded later in the year, during the coming Civil War.

WWI a wave of peace treaties, including:

  • The Treaty of Versailles (1919): in which Germany had to pay for war damages, reduce its army, and returned Lorraine and Alsace. The league on Nations was created by Woodrow Wilson.
  • The Treaty of Saint Germain (1919): It separated Austria from Hungary. Reduced Austrian army and forced them to pay for war damages.
  • Treaty of Nevilly(1919): Reduced Burglary’s army and territory and forced them to pay for war damages.
  • Treaty of Sevaes(1920):The fall of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire. England takes Syrian, and France takes Lebanon.
  • Treaty of Teianon (1920): Separated Hungary from Austria, reduced Hungarian territory and army, and the Romanians took part of their lands.

World War I was a mayor conflict in world history; it produced all kinds of very important geological, ideological and technological changes. During this war Russia had a very large army but it didn’t have the weapons and technology needed to play a larger role in it. Furthermore, Russia’s participation was cut short dew to internal conflicts, the start of the Russian Revolution.

References:

“World War I.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Mar. 2013. Web. 03 Apr. 2013.

“Russia and World War One.” Russia and World War One. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2013.

“WWI — Russia.” Glossary of Events: WWI: Russia. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2013.

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