In August 1914 the Great Powers in Europe went to war and changed the history of the world forever. Four years later over 10 million people had been killed as a result of the “Great War”. Understandably, people across the world wanted someone to blame for the unimaginable tragedy and Germany became the scapegoat. In 1919, representatives of the victorious powers met at the Palace of Versailles in France to resolve unfinished conflicts and hopefully prevent future conflict. Sadly, the outcomes of the Treaty were mainly to assess blame for World War I and unintentionally sow the seeds of World War II. One of the most infamous parts of the Treaty of Versailles was Article 231 (called the “war guilt clause”) which stated that “Germany and her allies [caused] all the loss and damage” from the war. As a result of the treaty, Germany was forced to make massive reparation payments to the Allies, lost territory and had the size of its military severely restricted.
Germany was a powerful country who had been growing their army and weapons before the war, so they were responsible, right? Or did responsibility for WWI lay with more than a single nation? Exploring these questions in order to better understand the complex causes, escalation and consequences of World War I is the focus of a mock trial simulation our class will prepare for and conduct over the next week or so.
1) Germany was ultimately responsible for the outbreak of the Great War. 2) Germany was ultimately responsible for the escalation of the Great War. Witnesses
You and a partner will be assigned one of the countries involved in World War I listed below. Your tasks are:
Step 1: Research the role your nation had in World War I. Consider narrowing research to some of the people, events and ideas relating to your country in World War I listed below. Take notes to turn in with your testimony. (5 points)
Step 2: Create 4-6 questions and responses (testimony) from the point of view of someone from your country. The questions should address:
How did your country become involved in WWI?
What was your country’s experience in WWI?
Given your country’s involvement, what reasons would you have to blame Germany OR another country for the war’s outbreak and/or escalation? (15 points)
Step 3: Read your testimony during the mock trial. Be sure you describe relevant background and specific historical evidence based on research notes that have relevance to the charges against Germany. (5 points) Witness Nations Some Key People, Events, Ideas associated with Each Country’s Role in WWI
Invasion of Belgium, Committee on German Outrages, Albert I
Nicholas II, Use of Poison Gas on Eastern Front, Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
David Lloyd George, Battle of Marne, Battle of Verdun, Battle of Somme, U-Boats,
Clemenceau, War Guilt Clause, Battle of Marne, Battle of Verdun, Battle of Somme
Schlieffen Plan, Naval Blockade, Paul von Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff, War Guilt Clause
You and a partner or two will be assigned to either defend or prosecute Kaiser Wilhelm II in relation to the two charges. Your own personal feelings are not relevant. Instead as a lawyer, your tasks are:
Research (takeresearch notes) arguments that could be used to either defend or prosecute Germany.
Write a speech (1 page) aimed to persuade a neutral judge & jury that your view on both charges is accurate.
Read your speech either at the introduction or conclusion of the trial and ask witnesses questions they provide.
Witnesses and Lawyers will be assessed on research notes and use of preparation time (5 points), their testimony/speech (15 points) and verbal participation during the mock trial (5 Points)
MY ROLE IN MOCK TRIAL IS: ______________________________________________________
Article on Differing Interpretations on Who is to blame for WWI