World War I
Background: After the dismissal of Bismarck, the young Kaiser, William II, of Germany sought to build a supreme Navy to dominate the Atlantic and to push towards the East. This was known as his policy of Drang mach Osten. Germany's rival was the Triple Etente, formed between Britain, France and Russia during the period of Armed Peace (1905-13) in Europe.
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It was Germany's ambition to be a world power but she found herself thwarted in every direction. She was determined to have her place in the sun and for this purpose, she acquired a dominating influence over Turkey and committed herself to support the Balkan policy of Austria. She looked upon England as her greatest enemy.
Immediate Cause of War: Archduke Ferdinand, the Austrian heir-apparent to the throne, was murdered in the street of Serajevo, the capital of Bosnia, an annexed territory of Austria, by a Serb national. Austria held Serbia responsible for this act and delivered an ultimatum and moved for war. This brought Russia into the field as the felt a kinship with Slavic People. Russia's entry brought Germany to the side of Austria. One by one France and England, both signatories of the Triple Etente, entered the war.
Main Contestants of World War I: There were two camps. One was the Central Powers comprising Germany, Austria, Hungry, Turkey and Bulgaria and the other was the Allied Powers - England, France Belgium, Serbia, Russia and Japan. Italy and the USA joined the Allies in 1915 and 1917 respectively.
Results of the War: The Central Powers were completely defeated by the Allied Powers and an Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, followed by a Peace Conference at Paris and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919-the principal treaty, curbing the power of the German Empire.
The Treaty of Versailles: It was signed in June, 1919. According to this treaty boundaries of European countries were re-arranged and many new states vis Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, etc were formed.
At the instance of Woodrow Wilson, the American President, the League of Nations was established on Jan 10, 1920, "to prevent all future wars."
Wilson's Fourteen Points: In an address to the Congress in January, 1918, American President Wilson outlined the basis of a peace settlement-his famous Fourteen Points- for lasting peace in the world:-
The remaining points dealt with the formation of new boundaries and new States on the basis of nationality and demanded that Germany must evacuate all lands she had forcibly occupied.
- There was to be no more secret diplomacy.
- Freedom of the Seas
- Removal of economic barriers of international trade.
- Reduction of Armaments
- Impartial adjustment of all colonial claims on the basis of the interest of the subject population.
- National self-determination
- Establishment of a League of Nations for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity of great and small State alike.