Friday, April 10, 2015

World War One: The United States Turns the Tide of War.

Although  War  War One began in August 1914, the United States didn't get into the fight until 1918.
The United States was very hesitant to get involved in the war.  After all, it was a European conflict, and we didn't have any reason to jump in. 
President Woodrow Wilson ran for reelection in 1916 on the slogan "He Kept Us Out Of War."  But the situation in Europe was a stalemate, no one was winning, and the war kept grinding on.  The Americans were sending aid to Great Britain, but were not interested in joining the conflict.
In 1917, the Germans resumed submarine warfare, which they had stopped for two years. Russia, an ally of Great Britain and France withdrew from the War since the Bolsheviks gained control of the government in  the October Revolution. Germany was able to withdraw troops from the Eastern Front and concentrate on defeating Great Britain and France on the Western Front.

The United States entered the War on April 6, 1917, almost three years after it began.  President Wilson had campaigned on a platform of keeping the United States out of war, but after the  Germans resumed submarine warfare, withdrew from the Eastern Front and meddled in Mexican politics, war was declared. 

Germany offers Mexico part of the United States in exchange for joining the war and attacking the United States.

Wilson said that we were getting into the War to shape the peace--"To make the world safe for democracy."  

The first US soldiers arrived in Europe in the summer of 1918, under the command of General John J. Pershing.  About four million soldiers were mobilized. By this time, the Allied European forces were worn down by years of fighting.  The United States soldiers turned the tide of the War. 

The War ended with an armistice, not a surrender.  All sides agreed to lay down their weapons and go home.

Although American soldiers helped to turn the tide of the war, and enabled the Allies to win, the United States did not suffer from deaths and casualties like the Europeans did.  Germany lost the greatest number of soldiers, followed by Russia, France and Austria-Hungary.  Approximately 110,000 United States soldiers died in the War, 43,000 from the influenza epidemic.

In 1919 the victors met in Versailles, France to work out a peace treaty.  Germany was not allowed to participate.  Wilson presented a plan, called the Fourteen Points, which he hoped would bring about a lasting world peace. Instead the European powers led by France, decided to punish Germany. A League of Nations was created to help sort out world problems, but it was given no real power.

The Treaty required Germany to repay The French for all War damage.

One of the results of the Versailles Treaty was to break up the Ottoman Empire and Germany's  Empire and create a new world map.  This created a lot of new and weak countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Contrary to Wilson's hopes, the War did not make the world safe for democracy.  Epidemics, starvation, inflation, The Great Depression, and The Russian Revolution followed the War. The United States refused to sign the Peace Treaty and to join the League of Nations.  Twenty years later in 1939, War broke out again in Europe. 

Interested in more World War One information?  Check out these blog posts.
World War One Comes to Galicia
World War One in Galicia: Katherine's STory
World War One in Galicia: The Russian Occupation
Living on a Battlefield: Katherine's World War One STory
LIving on a Battlefield: Katherine's Story Continues