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World War I

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Designed By:
Christian Alas
Created and illustrated By:
Angelo Romero and Camilo Sanabria

World War I

In 1914, some of the European countries created a military alliance. A military alliance was an agreement between countries in which they agreed to help each other if a war should start. There were two important military alliances: the Triple Alliance formed by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy, and the Triple Entente formed by France, England, and Russia.

The Serbians wanted to be free of Austrian rule, so they killed Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. As a consequence, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Because of the alliances, what began as a war between two countries soon became a war in almost all of Europe. Russia went to help Serbia, and Germany went to help Austria-Hungary.

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France and England entered the war because of their alliance with Russia. During the war, the Triple Alliance countries were called the Central Powers, and the Triple Entente countries were called the Allies.

August 4, 1914, marked the beginning of World War I. The Germans attacked Western Europe, going through Belgium against the resistance until they reached the Marne River near Paris. In Paris, the French were helped by the British and drove the Germans back. The two sides faced each other in a double line of trenches 400 miles long.

In Eastern Europe, the Russian Army moved into action against Germany. At the end of 1914, Germany expelled the Russians from its country.

U.S. President Wilson did not want to involve the United States in a foreign war. He worked very hard avoiding any U.S. involvement in combat against any European country. But it was hard to stay neutral.

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The British set up naval blockades to keep countries from trading with Germany. Germany reacted using its newest weapon: the submarine. The submarine was going to help Germany to sink, without warning, any enemy merchant ships found. In May of 1915, a German torpedo sank the British passenger ship, Lusitania, killing almost 1,200 people, 128 of which were Americans.

Despite his will to stay out of the war, President Wilson announced that if Germany sank any American ships, the United States would declare war on them.

In the fall of 1916, the third year of fighting in Europe, it was seen that both sides of the fighting countries had suffered terrible losses. British ships had cut off supplies to Germany and Austria, and the people in those countries were beginning to starve. In a desperate move, the Germans continued the submarine attacks, even though it might bring the United States into the war.

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Germany hoped to force Britain and France to surrender before the Americans had time to train soldiers and send them into battle.

On March 1, 1917, The United States gained knowledge of the Zimmermann telegram. This was a message from Germany to Mexico. Germany was promising the Mexican government the return of the old Mexican territory of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona if Mexico would join the German side against the United States. Americans felt it was getting harder for them to stay neutral.

Two weeks later, on March 15, Nicholas II, the Czar of Russia, gave up his throne. The new government, a democracy, wanted to continue the war, but soldiers and civilians wanted out of the war. Russians were hungry. They could not continue in the war for much longer.

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In the same month, German submarines sank three American merchant ships. The United Stated would not tolerate such acts against its citizens. The U.S. declared war on Germany.

Quickly, the nation began to mobilize its war resources. All over the country soldiers were training hard and fast. The government began to regulate private businesses, railroads, telephone companies, and factories.

The government needed a lot of supplies to take to Europe, and for that reason the government rationing these critical supplies in the U.S. As a war policy, the government began to regulate what Americans could buy, what they could eat, and how much fuel they could use.

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Meanwhile, in Russia, a group of communists, led by Vladimir Lenin, took control of the government. This new government asked the Germans for peace. Russia left the war accepting all of Germany’s demands. Now Germans could concentrate all their troops in the western part of Europe and fight aggressively against the French and British.

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During the spring of 1918, American troopships were carrying nearly 100,000 soldiers a month across the Atlantic Ocean. America’s plan was to help the Allies fend off the Germans. When they reached the French battlefields they helped blockade the last great German offensive. By June of 1918, the Germans had lost the war. Germany’s government fell, and their ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm, went into exile.

The German leaders who replaced Kaiser Wilhelm accepted the peace offer made by the Allies. All the fighting finished at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918. The peace treaty was signed in Versailles, France, and is called the Treaty of Versailles.

The United States was involved in World War I for only 18 months.

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Vocabulary

Find the vocabulary words (in bold), write them below, and find the definition of each in a dictionary.

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Write 5 sentences using some of the vocabulary words.

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Reading Questions

Write one sentence to describe the history of World War I for each area below:

What?

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When?

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Where?

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Why?

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Who?

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