After 1870, Europe exercised unprecedented influence and control over the rest of the world.
European dominance brought every part of the globe into a single world economy.
The new global economy increased hostility and led to intense nationalism.
Section One: Expansion of European Power and the New Imperialism
Explosive developments in nineteenth-century science, technology, industry, agriculture, transportation, communication, and military weapons.
Europeans used these developments to impose their will upon others as they considered their civilization and way of life to be superior to all others.
Although the early nineteenth century was generally hostile toward colonization, in the last decade of the century European states swiftly spread their control over perhaps ten million square miles and about 150 million people,
The New Imperialism
Imperialism (definition): the policy of extending a nation’s authority by territorial acquisition or by establishing economic and political hegemony over other nations.”
Characteristics of the “new imperialism”
European nations “invested” capital in less industrialized countries to develop mines and agriculture, to build railroads, bridges, harbors, and telegraph systems and to employ many natives in the process.
To protect their investments, European states wither loaned the local governments money or intimidated them with force in order to create a favorable balance of trade.
Sometimes direct rule or annexation took place
In some areas, European powers created “spheres of influence” in which they received special commercial and legal privileges without direct political involvement.
Capitalists run out of profitable areas in their countries’ and persuade their governments to gain colonies in “less developed” countries.
The case of Britain proves Lenin’s theory wrong
Britain made heavier investments abroad before 1875 than during the next two decades it declined.
European imperial powers did not rely heavily on their colonies for raw materials.
Social Darwinism and Imperialism
Some argued that advanced European nations had a duty to bring the benefits of their higher culture and superior civilization to more backward peoples.
Religious groups insisted that their governments support their missionary efforts.
Colonies would attract a European country’s surplus population.
The Scramble for Africa (late 1870s to about 1900)
Motivation and control of Africa
Motivated by intense economic and political competition, they rationalized their expansionary policies on both religious and cultural grounds.
European control forcefully entered Africa into the global economy.
For centuries, European slave-trading bases had dotted the African coastline, but few Europeans had penetrated the interior but when the Congress of Vienna ended the Atlantic slave trade—and Africa was no longer a source of slave labor—Europeans began to explore the interior for raw materials.
Ivory, rubber, minerals, and, notably, diamonds and gold to the West
British, French, Belgians, Germans, Italians, and Portuguese sought to maximize their access to resources.
German chancellor Otto von Bismarck called for a conference in Berlin in 1884-1885 to map out European-controlled Africa.
Forms of European control in Africa
Diplomacy, superior force, direct, and indirect control was exercised over Africa by European powers.
Justification for control of Africa
Europeans were bringing civilization to “savage” and “backward” natives.
Since Ottoman rule still existed in North Africa, European powers secured their interests primarily in two ways
Economic penetration through investment and loans
Application of diplomatic pressure
By 1914, European powers controlled all of North Africa
Throughout the nineteenth-century, Egypt functioned as a semi-independent province of the Ottoman Empire.
Egypt was controlled by hereditary Muslim rulers, the Khedives
Khedives tried to modernize Egypt
Built new harbors, roads, and a European-style military
Borrowed money from European powers to finance the project
Egyptian government became dependent on European creditors.
Suez Canal and its implications
Significance of the canal
Opened in 1869 and was built by French engineers
Connected the Mediterranean and Red seas which meant European ships no longer had to sail around the tip of Africa to reach Asia
Revolt in Egypt
Egyptian government went bankrupt and Egypt revolted against foreign exploitation
Britain sent a fleet and army that easily defeated the Egyptian army and established 70 years of dominance
The British established a naval base at Alexandria and installed a large garrison in Egypt.
British dominance over Egypt
Established municipal government that collected taxes and performed public services
Expanded cotton cultivation
Prevented Egyptians from establishing a textile industry
Per capita income in Egypt declined which led to increase in Egyptian nationalism
In the 1880s, the lands drained by the Congo River and its tributaries became the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium (1865-1909).
Leopold gained this land under the guise of a humanitarian mission
He gathered geographers, explorers, and anti-slavery advocates in Brussels and formed the International Africa Association
He hired the English explorer Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) to undertake a major expedition into the Congo.
Stanley ventured through the Congo and made treaties with local rulers—who had no idea what they were signing--on Leopold’s behalf.
Leopold exploited the Congo and his administration used slave labor, torture, intimidation, mutilation, and mass murder to extract rubber and ivory from what became known as the Congo Free State.
An African-American reporter, George Washington Williams, led a group of advocates, including the English journalist E.D. Morel and the diplomat Roger Casement, to expose Leopold’s crimes against the Congolese.
Historians estimate that half the population of the Congo was wiped out by Leopold’s cruel policies.
These cruelties in the Congo became the basis for Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Leopold was forced to hand formal control over to the state of Belgium.
South Africa’s fertile pastures and farm land and its vast deposits of coal, iron ore, gold, diamonds, and copper made it appealing to a host of people.
Settlement in the Cape of Good Hope
The Afrikaners or Boers, descendants of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Dutch settlers, had long inhabited this region.
The British started to settle there after it took control from the Dutch during the Napoleonic Wars..
Zulu, Shona, and Ndebele peoples resisted British authority, but the powerful western military of Britain dominated much of South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Oppressive imperialist policies
Africans and people of mixed race were forbidden to own land, denied the right to vote, and were excluded from positions of power.
To enforce their power, the elite white leaders implemented a system of segregation known as apartheid, or “separateness.”
Rise of Japan as a powerful nation frightened other powers—like Russia and the US—who, with Japan, shared an interest in China.
Russia, France, and Germany pressured Japan to withdraw from the Liaotung Peninsula in northern China, and its harbor Port Arthur.
The United States proposed an Open Door Policy in 1899 in China that allowed entrepreneurs of all nations to trade in China on equal terms.
Rise of the US on the International Scene
Spain was forced from Cuba and the US established it as an informal protectorate along with Puerto Rico.
The US forced Spain to sell the Philippine Islands and Guam, and Germany bought the other Spanish islands in the Pacific.
US had dominated Hawaii for some time and annexed it in 1898, five years after an American-backed coup had overthrown the native Hawaiian monarchy.
Due to these acquisitions, the US became a major imperialist power in the Pacific.
Section Two: Emergence of the German Empire and the Alliance System (1873-1890)
Otto von Bismarck Establishes the Three Emperors’ League (1873) which brought Germany, Austria, and Russia into a non-binding agreement of cooperation
The league collapsed soon after when a feud broke out between Austria and Russia in the Balkans
War in the Balkans
The Ottoman Empire had controlled much of a region in Eastern Europe known as the Balkan states. Ottoman weakness caused two independent nations in the Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro, to come to the aid of fellow Slavs in Bosnia and Herzegovina when they revolted against Turkish rule
Russia entered the war for the purpose of expanding its power at Ottoman expense and to achieve two goals: control of Constantinople and Pan-Slavism
Pan Slavism was the movement to unite all Slavic-speaking peoples, even those under the control of Austrian and Ottoman rule, under the protection of Russia
Treaty of San Stefano
This treaty was a Russian victory as Russia was given control of all Ottoman Slavic speaking territories in the Balkans
Austria feared the Russian influence in the Balkans would threaten its own Balkan provinces
Russian influence in the Balkans and Mediterranean area concerned Great Britain because they controlled the Suez Canal; therefore, the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli—with strong support from the people of Great Britain—took a firm stance against Russian influence in the Balkans
The Congress of Berlin (1878)
Britain and Austria forced Russia to agree to an international conference at which the other great powers in Europe would review the provisions of San Stefano
The meeting was held in Berlin and Bismarck led the conference; this symbolized Germany’s new importance. It was also decided to be held in Berlin due to Bismarck’s insistence that Germany desired no further territorial acquisitions and only wanted to avoid being drawn into a war between Austria and Russia if the two didn’t settle their differences. Bismarck referred to himself as “the honest broker” at the conference.
Provisions of the conference
Russia’s territory in Bulgaria was reduced by two-thirds and this territory was deprived access to the Aegean Sea
Austria-Hungary was given Bosnia and Herzegovina to “occupy and administer” although it was still formally under Ottoman rule
Britain received Cyprus
France was encouraged to occupy Tunisia
Reactions to the provisions
Russia resented German influence at the conference and believed that Germany owed Russia since Russia had defended Prussia against Napoleon and the French army in 1807
The southern Slavic states of Serbia and Montenegro resented Austrian control of Bosnia-Herzegovina as did many of the natives of those provinces
The Dual Alliance of 1879
Germany brokered an alliance with Austria. It was agreed that Germany and Austria would come to each other’s aid if Russia attacked either of them. If another country attacked either one of them, each promised at least to maintain neutrality
Bismarck ensured the German people that this alliance was strictly a defensive alliance and that Germany would not assist Austria in an invasion of Russia. In fact, Bismarck hoped the Dual Alliance would scare czarist Russia into establishing closer ties with monarchical Germany and Austria-Hungary in opposition to revolutionary republican France and increasingly democratic Britain
Bismarck was right and in 1881 he renewed the Three Emperors’ League
The Three Emperors’ League dissolved again in 1885 when a war erupted in the Balkans between Serbia and Bulgaria that again estranged Austria and Russia
Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria, and Italy)
Italy, ambitious for colonial expansion and angered by French occupation of Tunisia, asked to join the Dual Alliance.
Bismarck had achieved cooperation between three European powers. Britain, for the time, refused to enter any alliances and France was isolated and no threat
In 1888, William II came to the German throne and this upset the Bismarck’s alliance system. William II was just 29 years old, imperious in temper, and believed he ruled by divine right. He wanted recognition of at least equality with Britain, the land of his mother and grandmother, Queen Victoria. In order to amass an empire like that of Britain, William II would have to neglect Bismarck’s policy of no territorial expansion on the continent of Europe
In 1893, Russia proposed to Germany that they renegotiate closer ties. Bismarck’s successor, General Leo von Caprivi, refused. Caprivi wanted to establish closer ties with Britain and feared cooperation with Russia may damage that possibility
Russia, in need of capital and investors to help stimulate its economy, asked for economic support from France. French investors poured capital into Russia’s economy in exchange for a promise from Russia to secure France from a German aggression; and thus in 1894 France and Russia signed a defensive alliance against Germany
Britain and Germany’s Fractured Relationship
By the turn of the twentieth century, Germany had replaced France as Great Britain perceived enemy. Germany’s quick rise to economic and colonial prosperity caused growing concern from Great Britain
William II tried to establish Britain as an ally. However, Britain sought to retain its policy of “splendid isolation.” Due to Britain’s refusal to enter an alliance with Germany, William II—supported by politicians and intellectuals—worked to ingrain hostile feelings in Germans toward Britain. William II used schools, universities, and press to distribute this sentiment
Germany Causes Problems for the British in Africa
Germany blocked Britain’s plan to construct a railway from Capetown to Cairo
William II openly sympathized with the Boers of South Africa in their resistance to British expansion in that region
Germany publicly announced that their efforts to construct a dominant navy was aimed at Britain
The Entente Cordiale
In 1902, Britain ended its policy of splendid isolation when it established an alliance with Japan to defend Britain’s interests in the Far East against Russia
In 1904, Britain worked to negotiate closer ties with France. They did not establish a formal alliance but it settled all outstanding colonial differences between the two nations.
In particular, France was given control of Morocco in return for French recognition of British control over Egypt
Russia suffered a humiliating defeat to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War. This revealed the previously well-concealed weakness of Russia. Since Russia was weak, it eased British concerns and led Britain to seek closer ties with Russia
The First Moroccan Crisis
In March of 1905, German Emperor William II landed in Tangier, Morocco, made a speech in favor of Moroccan independence, and by implication asserted Germany’s right to participate in Morocco’s destiny.
German chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bulow, the mastermind behind this plan, hoped to show French weakness and inability to challenge Germany on this front
A conference met in 1906 in Algeciras, Spain and was attended by German, Austrian, British, and French leaders. Here, France, Britain, and Spain challenged Germany’s position by asserting France’s right to Morocco
This crisis brought France and Britain closer together and they established a formal military alliance against German aggression
British Agreement with Russia
Britain’s fear of Germany’s growing naval power, its concern over German ambitions in the Near East (as represented by the German-sponsored plan to build a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad), and its closer relations with France made it desirable for Britain to become more friendly with France’s ally, Russia
In 1907, Britain established a Entente Cordiale with Russia. The Triple Entente (France, Britain, and Russia) was an informal, yet powerful, alliance that stood in opposition to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy
France and Britain were not eager for war and made several attempts to resolve issues diplomatically; meanwhile, Russia worked to mobilize for war against Austria-Hungary
In response, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914
The Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen, a top German general, devised a plan to help ensure that Germany would avoid a simultaneous invasion from Russia in the east and France in the west
The Germans believed that Russia, due to its size and limited infrastructure, would take a long time to mobilize and prepare for war. Therefore, Germany planned to invade France quickly—through Belgium—in order to avoid crossing the heavily fortified Maginot Line that protected France from German aggression along its eastern border
From Belgium, the German army swept into France along the English Channel and then wheeled to the south and east to envelop the French and crush them at the German fortresses in Lorraine
Germany violated Belgium’s declaration of neutrality and the Belgians resisted as the German army crossed Belgium to invade France from the north
In response to Germany’s violation of Belgium’s neutrality, Great Britain declared war on Germany
Meanwhile, a small number of German troops were fighting off Russia on Germany’s eastern border
Although the Schlieffen Plan is remembered in history as a German failure since they did not execute the invasion of France quickly enough to paralyze France and move all of its troops to face Russia in the east
Strengths and Weaknesses
Allies (as the Triple Entente became known when war erupted) initially included Great Britain, France, Russia, and Serbia who were later joined by Greece, Romania, Italy, and the United States of America
superiority in numbers
more financial resources
command of the sea
Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria
possessed internal lines of communication
launched their attack first
The Battle along the Western Front
Following the failure of the Schlieffen Plan, France attempted to invade, but failed, to invade Germany along the border France and Germany share
The Battle of the Marne
The German army made a strong advance toward Paris in September of 1914
A coalition of French and British soldiers met the German army at the Marne Rive in mid-September and fought a battle for position
The British and French were able to push the German army back and prevented Paris from falling to Germany
A battle for position
the western front was the line of defenses set up from the North Sea all the way to Switzerland that was lined with barbed wire and trenches
strategically placed machine gun nests made assaults difficult and dangerous
both sides attempted massive attacks preceded by forceful artillery bombardments
both sides quickly brought in reserves to fill the vacancies on the front line previously occupied by soldiers killed in raids
Germans used poisonous gases against the allies; this is the first time gas was used in this form in war
The British invented a tank that proved to be an effective counter punch to the machine gun
The Battle along the Eastern Front
Began with Russia invading Austrian lands and inflicting heavy casualties on the Austro-Hungarian army
Battle of Tannenberg
German officer, Erich Ludendorff, under the command of elderly general Paul von Hindenburg, led German troops at this battle
The German army destroyed an entire Russian army at this battle
Central Powers drove quickly into modern-day Poland—part of Russia at this time—and also into the Baltic states where they inflicted more than 2 million casualties in a single year
Italy Enters the War (1915)
Italy singed a secret treaty with the Allies in 1915 that agreed that Italy would be awarded South Tryol, Trieste, some of the Dalmatian Islands, plus colonies in Africa and a share of the Ottoman Empire as compensation for entering the war with the Allies
The involvement of Italy in World War I moderately weakened Austria Hungary and diverted some German troops, but overall Italy’s involvement in the war is believed to have had only a marginal impact on the war
The Role of the Colonies in World War I
Japan enters the war
Japan honored its alliance with Britain by taking possession of German colonies in China and the Pacific
The Allies and the Central Powers appealed to nationalistic movements in areas the enemy held as colonies
Germans supported nationalists movements of the Irish, the Flemings in Belgium, and the Poles and Ukrainians under Russian rule
Germans tried to persuade the Turks to lead a Muslim uprising against the British rule in Egypt and India and against the French and Italians in North Africa
Allies sponsored movements of national autonomy for the Czechs, Slovaks, the south Slavs, and against the poles who were under Austrian rule
Allies supported an Arab independence movement from Turkey
Winston Churchill’s Plan (1915)
Although later a prime minister, during World War I, Winston Churchill was the first lord of the British admiralty
Churchill proposed a plan to capture Constantinople
this policy would supposedly knock Turkey out of the war, bring help from the Balkan front, and ease communications with Russia
troops landed on the peninsula of Gallipoli—along the Dardanelles—and the Turkish resistance slaughtered nearly 150,000 Allies soldiers
The Battle of Verdun (1916)
German general planned an attack near the French fort of Verdun with the aim of killing as many French troops as possible
Many French troops were slaughtered; however the fort at Verdun proved capable of resisting a massive onslaught and the few surviving French soldiers were able to kill as many German soldiers as French men had died
Verdun was a huge moral victory for the Allies as the quote “They shall not pass” by Henri Petain, the commander of Verdun, became a slogan of French national defiance against Germany
Battle of the Somme (July 1916)
the Allies launched a major offensive along the River Somme
Enormous casualties were suffered on both sides without result
The War at Sea (1916)
The British Blockade
The British ignored the distinction between war supplies—which were contraband according to international law—and food or other peaceful cargo—which was not subject to seizure—and imposed a strict blockade meant to starve out the enemy
German Submarine Attacks
Germany unleashed its newest weapon, the U-boat submarine, on British ships
Germany declared the waters around the British Isles a “war zone”
the sinking of neutral ships in the area by German submarines was both more dramatic and offensive than the British Blockade
German submarines attacked the British liner Lusitania—among the 1200 civilians who drowned were Americans
Woodrow Wilson warned Germany to end targeting civilian ships
America Enters the War (1917)
In December 1916, President Woodrow Wilson attempted to negotiate peace for both sides but was unsuccessful in coming to a compromise that both sides would accept
On February 1, Germany announced the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare; this caused the United States to break off diplomatic relations with Germany
Wilson was hesitant to enter the war earlier due to the fact that tsarist Russia was fighting alongside Britain and France
Wilson expressed that the reason for the U.S entry into the war was “to make the world safe for democracy”
The Russian Revolution (March 1917)
Background to Revolution
Russia’s tsar, Nicholas II was weak, incompetent, and suspected of being under the domination of his German wife and the insidious peasant faith healer Rasputin, whom a group of Russian noblemen assassinated in 1916.
The price of war led to increased taxation, starvation, and overall civil disorganization in Russia
The tsar took personal leadership of Russian forces on the eastern front and his absence from the capital allowed corrupt ministers to discredit him
Outbreak of Revolution
Worker strikes and demonstrations erupted in Saint Petersburg in early March 1917
Tsar’s troops in cities refused to fire on demonstrators
Tsar Nicholas abdicated on March 15
Government fell to the Duma—Russia’s legislative body
Bolsheviks, under the leadership of V.I. Lenin, achieved an alliance with the peasant workers who bought into his speeches that focused on “bread, land, and peace.”
The Bolsheviks unsuccessfully attempted a coup of power from the provisional government, but due its failure, Lenin was forced to flee to Finland and his chief collaborator, Leon Trotsky, was imprisoned
Trotsky was released from prison and Lenin returned from Finland in October 1917; they planned a coup that Trotsky organized which concluded with an armed assault on the provisional government
The provisional government had already established a date for elections to the Constituent Assembly which was scheduled for late November; the Bolsheviks lost a majority of seats to the Social Revolutionaries; when the Assembly gathered to meet in January 1917, it met for only a day when the Bolshevik Red Army dispersed it
All other political parties ceased to function as the Bolshevik government nationalized the land and turned it over to its peasant proprietors, factory workers put in charge of plants, and the property of the church was turned over to the state
Lenin hoped Russia’s movement would lead to Communist revolutions across Europe
Russia Withdrew from the War (December 1917)
Russia signed an armistice with Germany in December 1917 and in March 1918 accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by which Russia forfeited possession of Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine
Since Russia was no longer in the war, Germany could turn all its attention to the war along the western front
Assisted by the United Stated of America, the Allies were able to deter one last German onslaught; the German reached the Marne, again, and were forced to retreat
Austria lost a series of battles in Italy which caused Turkey and Bulgaria to drop out of the war
German general, Ludendorff was determined to make peace
Revolution in Germany and Armistice (Fall 1918)
Due to the disintegration of the German army, Kaiser William II was forced to abdicate on November 9, 1918 and the majority branch of the Social Democratic Party proclaimed a republic and worked to prevent their rivals from setting up a soviet government in Germany
Two days later, this republican, socialists-led government signed the armistice that ended the war by accepting German defeat
German Reaction to Armistice
The German people were, in general, unaware that their army had been defeated and was crumbling
Many Germans believed their country had not been defeated but tricked by the enemy and betrayed by republicans and socialists at home
Section Four: The Settlement At Paris
Representatives of the victorious states gathered at Versailles in the first half of 1919 to work out the details of the fall-out from the Great War
The Big Four—representatives from the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy carried the most influence at the conference
Goal of the conference was to restore order to the world after a long and costly war
Obstacles the Peacemakers Faced
Nationalism had become almost like a secular religion, and Europe’s many ethnic groups were suspicious of the great powers who they feared would draw arbitrary borders that did not consider these ethnic sensibilities
Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points set forth the right of nationalities to “self-determination”; that is, ethnic groups had the right to their own sovereignty
However, it would be impossible to accommodate all groups seeking nationhood
Secret Treaties and Agreements
The British and French people had been told that Germany would be made to pay for the cost of war
Russia had been promised control of Constantinople in return for recognizing France’s claim to Alsace-Lorraine and British control of Egypt
Romania had been promised Transylvania at the expense of Hungary
Some of the agreements contradicted others
Italy and Serbia had competing claims in the Adriatic
The British had encouraged Arab hopes of an independent Arab state carved from the Ottoman Empire; that claim seemed to contradict the Balfour Declaration in which the British seemed to accept Zionist ideology and to promise the Jews a national home in Palestine
France was eager to weaken Germany permanently
Fear of the spread of communism concerned the diplomats at Versailles as the spread of Bolshevism gripped eastern Europe
Liberals and idealists expected the conference to work out a new kind of international order in a new and better way
The notion of “a peace without victors” was supposed to be the ideal
It was determined that Russia and Germany would be excluded from negotiating the settlement and that they would be presented with a treaty and compelled to accept it
The ideal of self-determination was violated many times and diplomats from smaller nations became irate because they were excluded from decisions that impacted them directly
Yugoslavia was created as a state for southern Slavs
Russia lost vast territory including Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Initially, the Germans promised to pay compensation for all damages “done to civilian populations of the Allies and their property”
The Americans determined this would be roughly between $15 and $25 billion
France and Britain, worried about the debt they owed to the United States, were eager to have Germany pay for the full cost of the war including pensions to survivors and dependents
There was general agreement that Germany would not be able to pay for the cost; therefore, Germany was to pay $5 billion annually until 1921 when a final figure would be set and Germany would have 30 years to pay it
This fell under the notorious “war guilt clause” of the treaty
Germany bitterly resented paying reparations
The Social Democrats and the Catholic Center Party formed a new government and their representatives signed the treaty
These parties formed the backbone of the new Weimar government that ruled Germany until 1933
The Weimar government never overcame the stigma of having signed the Treaty of Versailles