World War I: The Great War

The following document is designed to be a quick reference for teaching and learning about World War I. For greater detail, visit the resources section at the end of this document.

Table of Contents

Fill in the blanks below using the World War I lecture notes.

WORLD WAR I: Causes 

From 1871 to 1914, these factors led to war in Europe: 

1) NATIONALISM: exaggerated _________________. 
2) IMPERIALISM esp. _________________ in Asia and Africa. 
3) _________________: A build-up of armies and weapons. 
4) _________________: Lack of international control to prevent armed conflict. 
5) The ALLIANCE SYSTEM: Allowed a chain-reaction to take place. 

As the 19th century closed, Britain, France, & Russia formed the _________________  _________________. Germany, Austria-Hungary, & ITALY formed the _________________  _________________ (w/ OTTOMAN EMPIRE). These forces would become the ALLIED and CENTRAL POWERS. 

EVENTS: A number of wars in the Balkan nations and in Morocco during the early years of the 20th C. increased tensions in Europe. 
June 28, 1914: The _________________  _________________ of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia came to Serbia’s defense. Germany backed its Germanic ally and went to war against Russia & Serbia. France & Britain then went to war against the monarchies of Germany & Austria-Hungary. 

THE US TRIES TO STAY NEUTRAL: Wilson asked the American people not to take sides, but most Americans supported the ALLIES. Many German-Americans and Irish-Americans were anti-British, supporting the CENTRAL powers. Britain’s navy was the strongest in the world. Its stopped all shipping on the seas carrying weapons to Europe.


 Later, Britain stopped all trade with nations on the European continent. The US protested, but Britain remained careful in its relations with the US. Germany tried to break the British blockade by using the submarine, called U-BOAT. In May, 1915, Germany sank the British liner _________________. 1198 died, including. 128 Americans. As Wilson campaigned for re-election, he began a naval rearmament program. Germany sank all ships in the waters around Britain. This UNRESTRICTED _________________ WARFARE made Wilson break off diplomatic relations with Germany. When Britain intercepted the _________________ NOTE, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, which he got on April 6, 1917. 


MOBILIZATION: Wilson was given full power to direct the war. The US Navy joined Britain against the U-boats. A draft of men 18 to 45 years of age was started. 


1) the WAR INDUSTRIES BOARD: Produced war materials. It was run by banker Bernard Baruch. 
2) The FOOD ADMIN.: Set rationing with "_________________ Mondays" and "Meatless Thursdays." Run by Herbert Hoover. 
3) RAILROADS: Nationalized along with communications. 
4) COUNCIL of NATIONAL SECURITY: Run by Samuel Gompers
5) COMMITTEE on PUBLIC INFORMATION: Put out _________________ against Germany. 
6) SHIPPING BOARD: Had to replace sunken vessels. 


RESTRICTING WARTIME FREEDOM: Laws were passed to put down opposition to the war. 
1) The _________________ ACT of 1917: Jailed or fined those who interfered with the draft or who encouraged disloyal actions. 
2) The SEDITION ACT of 1918: Jailed anyone who criticized the govt. Since the SOCIALIST Party opposed the war, EUGENE V. DEBS was put in jail for fighting the draft. The govt. also moved against the IWW, arresting over 100 of its leaders. These violations of the Constitution led to the 1920 creation of the _________________ to protect the Bill of Rights. 

THE US FIGHTS TO VICTORY: American soldiers, called _________________, began fighting in Europe in 1918 under Gen. John J. Pershing, who led the AEF, a force of 1 mil lion men. 1918: Russia pulls out of the war after the Communists take power. In Belgium and France, _________________ WARFARE led to stalemate. Germany first used POISON GAS in 1915, and Britain introduced the tank in 1916. The turning point came in mid- 1918 in favor of the Allies. Germany signed an _________________ on Nov. 11, 1918, which ended the fighting. 

The 14 POINTS: Wilson presented his peace plan of 14 major ideals in Jan., 1918. These ideals included freedom of the seas, disarmament, national self-determination, and territorial changes. The 14th point was a _________________ of _________________: an international congress where nations could prevent war through negotiation. 

Left: An example of trench warfare
Image Courtesy of 
Trenches on the Web
© 1996-2000 Mike Iavarone


 Wilson went to Paris to attend the peace conference. There he made up the Big 4: with England’s David Lloyd George, France’s Georges Clemenceau, and Italy’s Vittorio Orlando. Wilson demanded that the LEAGUE of NATIONS be included within the peace treaty. The TREATY of VERSAILLES contained an agreement to form the League, part of which was called _________________  _________________, which stated that a member nation must help defend another nation that was attacked. This is called COLLECTIVE SECURITY. The treaty included other changes: 

1) Germany gave up territory to France 
2) Germany was forced to pay huge _________________. 
3) It had to admit to ‘WAR GUILT’ 
4) and give up its colonies, 
5) recognize new European nations, 
6) limit the size of its armed forces. 

Wilson faced OPPOSITION TO THE TREATY IN THE SENATE: Most Americans were in favor of the treaty, but it was opposed by Sen. HENRY CABOT LODGE of Mass. He led a group of senators called _________________, who were willing to accept the treaty with changes, especially Article 10. Another senator, William. F. Borah of Idaho led a group of 16 isolationist senators called the IRRECONCILABLES, who opposed the League of Nations in any form. In order to gain support for the treaty and the League, Wilson toured the West and Midwest in 1919. While in Colorado, Wilson suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. 

WILSON vs. The SENATE. While recovering, Wilson refused to accept Lodge’s changes to the treaty. The Senate voted in 1919 and 1920 on the treaty, and it was defeated twice. The Democrats lost the election of 1920 when Warren G. Harding defeated James Cox. This ended the fight over the Treaty of _________________. In a joint resolution, Congress officially declared the war over on July 2, 1921. The US signed separate peace treaties with Germany, Austria-Hungary was broken up, Yugoslavia was created, and the League of Nation never included the US, which made it a weak and ineffective body.


PBS: The Great War

Europe before and After WW1 (Encarta)

Trenches on the Web

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

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