Unit 7 Our World Today (1914-Present) Chapter 21

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Our World Today


Chapter 21

World Wars and Revolutions (1914-1945)

Chapter 22

The World Today (1945-Present)

In 1961, East Germany's communist government built the Berlin Wall to prevent East Germans from fleeing into democratic West Germany. In 1989, the East German government allowed its citizens to pass freely through the Berlin Wall. Germans celebrated by climbing on top of the wall and later tearing it down.


Chapter 21

World Wars and Revolutions

Chapter Preview

This chapter will introduce a major revolution and the two world wars that shaped the first half of the 1900s.

Section 1

World War I

Section 2

The Russian Revolution

Section 3

Crises Around the World

Section 4

World War II

Target Reading Skill

Cause and Effect In this chapter you will learn to identify and see the relationship between the causes and the effects of historical events.

Painting by BM. Cerbakov called The Invincible Soldier


MAPMASTER Skills Activity

Location The World Wars in the twentieth century affected the whole world, and that is the reason for their names. However, the fighting took place only in certain parts of the world. Read a Map Key Find the parts of the world where the battles of the World Wars were fought. Analyze Information Which areas saw no battles in either war? Which areas were battlegrounds in only one of the wars? Which suffered during both wars?


Section 1

World War I

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Identify the causes of World War I.

2. Learn why the war resulted in battlefield stalemates.

3. Find out how the United States' involvement led to the Allies' victory.

4. Learn about the harsh terms of peace and their effect on postwar Europe.

Taking Notes

As you read, note the two types of causes of World War I: long-term causes and short-term causes. Copy the chart below. Then fill it in with the causes you discover as you read.

Target Reading Skill

Identify Causes and Effects Determining causes and effects will help you understand relationships between situations or events. A cause makes something happen. An effect is what happens. As you read this section, note both the long-term and short-term causes of World War I. Record them in your Taking Notes diagram.

Key Terms

alliance (uh LY uns) n. a close association between nations to achieve a common objective, usually by treaty

neutral (NOO trul) adj. not taking any side

reparations (rep uh RAY shunz) n. payments for harm done to other countries

Ignoring warnings of anti-Austrian unrest, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophie set out on a tour of Sarajevo (sa ruh YAY voh). News of the visit angered Serbians who saw the Austrians as tyrants.

On June 28, 1914, the archduke and his wife rode through Sarajevo in an open car. During their drive, a bomb was hurled at the car. The bomb missed the archduke but injured an officer in another car. Later that day, the archduke asked to visit the wounded officer. As the car set out, a hidden gunman sprang forward and fired twice into the back seat. Moments later, the archduke and his wife were dead. This assassin's bullets set off the "gunpowder" that ignited a war that engulfed much of the world for four bloody years.

The assassination of Austria's archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie made headlines around the world.


British Troops in World War I

These soldiers are members of the British cavalry, or troops that serve on horseback. Summarize What were the long-term causes of World War I?

The Causes of World War I

Historians disagree about what caused World War I. Long-term causes such as nationalism, imperialism, and the system of alliances created by the great powers originated in the 1800s. The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, a short-term cause, also contributed to the war.

Nationalism Nationalism is a feeling of loyalty or attachment to a culture, language, or territory. Prior to World War I, nationalism in the Balkans (BAWL kunz), a region of southeastern Europe, had been strong. Greece, Montenegro (mahnt uh NEE groh), Serbia (SUR bee uh), Romania (roh MAY nee uh), Bulgaria (bul GEHR ee uh), and Albania (al BAY nee uh), had gained independence by 1914. But other nationalities, such as the Yugoslavs (yoo goh SLAHVS), Czechs (cheks), Slovaks (SLOH vahks), and Poles, remained subject to foreign powers.

Serbia's effort to unite the region's Slavic peoples worried Austria-Hungary (AWS tree uh HUNG guh ree). One concern was Bosnia (BAHZ nee uh), which was pressing to break away from Austria-Hungary and combine with Serbia.

Nationalist feelings were also strong in western Europe. France wanted to recover Alsace-Lorraine (al SAYS law RAYN), which it lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian (FRANG koh PRUSH un) War. Germany sought to increase its influence at France's expense. Germany also challenged Britain's control of the seas.

Imperialism Imperialism is the policy of building an empire, usually by taking over foreign colonies. Imperialist rivalries also led to World War I. France and Germany fought for control of Morocco (muh RAH koh). Britain and Germany each wanted maximum advantage in Africa and the Middle East. Russia and Austria-Hungary competed for influence in the Balkans.


Identify Causes and Effects

What was the effect of the system of alliances?

Alliances In 1914, international bodies like the United Nations did not exist to help calm international tensions. Instead, the major powers relied on alliances to maintain the peace. An alliance is a close association between nations to achieve a common objective, usually by a treaty. The major powers believed that if they agreed to help an ally threatened with force, would-be aggressors would think twice about starting a war. There were two major alliances in 1914: The Triple Entente (thuh TRIP ul ahn TAHNT), made up of France, Russia, and Britain; and the Triple Alliance, made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Unfortunately, the system of alliances failed. When one country moved toward war, several others became involved as well, turning a regional conflict into a world war.

MAPMASTER Skills Activity

Regions world War I forced many European nations to take a position because of alliances they had made before the war. Read a Map Key Which countries were successful in staying out of the war? Note where the Allied Powers are. Draw Conclusions A front is a line of separation between warring sides. Which side had a disadvantage because they had to defend more than one front? Which side could more easily carry on trade and obtain supplies?


Declarations of War The spark that brought European alliances to war was the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. The leaders of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. They suspected the Serbians of organizing the killing of the archduke. Russia, alarmed by this move to war by its chief rival, announced that it was preparing its army.

Europe's alliance system drew more countries into the conflict. Germany moved to protect its ally, Austria-Hungary, by declaring war on Russia on August 1, 1914. Two days later, Germany declared war on Russia's ally, France. When Germany invaded Belgium to attack France, Britain responded. Belgium was a neutral country; that is, it had not taken any sides. On August 4, Britain declared war on Germany. Only a few weeks after the gunshots in Sarajevo, the entire European continent was at war.

Reading Check What causes led to World War I?

Battlefield Stalemate, 1914-1917

Germany had hoped to swiftly conquer France so that it could turn its attention to Russia. Although the Germans quickly came within miles of Paris, they met fierce resistance from French and British troops along the Marne River (mahrn RIV ur).

By the winter of 1915, the Allies (Great Britain, France, and Japan) and the Central Powers (Germany, Turkey, and Austria- Hungary) were stalled on both the western and eastern fronts. The vast armies began three long years of deadly trench warfare.

Most of the burden of battle fell on foot soldiers. The traditional horse-borne cavalry was of no use against the spray of bullets from modern machine guns. Air warfare was just beginning, and tanks were not invented until late in the war. Foot soldiers formed charges against enemy lines. They were cut down by artillery or poison gas from enemy troops who were protected by a network of trenches. By 1917 the French had 3.3 million persons dead and wounded, the British more than 1 million, and the Germans more than 2.5 million.

Reading Check What dangers did foot soldiers face in battle?

Advances in Military Technology

World War I was the first modern, fully industrialized war. Some weapons, such as the U-boat and the aircraft changed the nature of fighting. The gas mask helped protect soldiers from gases that could cause rashes, blindness, and even death. Predict Which invention do you think has done the most to change how wars are fought? Explain your answer.


The British ocean liner Lusitania is pictured sinking after being attacked by a German submarine on May 7, 1915.

World War I recruitment poster

US Involvement and Allied Victory

Germany started submarine warfare at the outset of war but had backed down due to U.S. pressure early in the war. By 1917 the Germans resumed using submarine warfare. After German submarines sank several American merchant ships, the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

It was a timely decision that helped the Allies. After the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, which you will read about in the next section, Russia withdrew from combat. Russia's absence allowed the Germans to add more troops to the Western front. However, the arrival of American soldiers by the summer of 1918 was too much for the Germans, who finally signed an armistice, or cease-fire agreement, on November 11, 1918.

Reading Check Which event allowed the Germans to add more troops to the Western front?

A Hard and Bitter Peace

The Treaty of Versailles (TREE tee uv vur SY) was signed in 1919 and was named after the French town in which it was signed. This treaty brought peace to a Europe exhausted by years of war.

The Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to formally accept responsibility for the war, to turn over territory to the Allied powers, and to give up its foreign colonies. It also limited Germany's armed forces to 100,000 volunteers and required Germany to pay reparations, payments for harm done to other countries, to the Allied powers. Many historians believe that the harshness of the treaty caused resentment among the Germans and became a cause of World War II.


The League of Nations A major feature of the Treaty of Versailles was the creation of the League of Nations. This international organization was one of the Fourteen Points that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proposed to encourage democracy and prevent future wars.

The League, however, turned out to be mostly ineffective in a tense postwar world. Europe still had much to overcome from the war. Some W million men died during the war, and 20 million were wounded. Starvation was widespread throughout Europe. In 1919 European industrial production was one quarter of what it had been in 1914, and millions of people were out of work. This poverty and despair contributed to still another world war, only twenty years later.

Reading Check What steps were taken to restore peace, encourage democracy, and prevent future wars?

President Woodrow Wilson addresses Congress.

Section 1 Assessment

Key Terms

Review the Key Terms at the beginning of this section. Use each term in a sentence that explains its meaning.

Target Reading Skill

What effect did modern weapons have on the war?

Comprehension and Critical Thinking


(a) Identify Cause and Effect Identify the main longterm and short-term causes of World War I.

(b) Explain How did the system of alliances in Europe fail in its goal of preventing war?


(a) Identify Where did the German's westward drive stall?

(b) Explain Why did the foot soldiers bear most of the burden of battle in World War I?


(a) Recall What was the main reason for U.S. entry into World War I?

(b) Explain What was the most important effect of the U.S. entry into the war?


(a) Identify Cause and Effect Identify three key effects that the Treaty of Versailles had on Germany.

(b) Draw Conclusion Explain why the Treaty of Versailles is often considered a cause of World War II.

Writing Activity

Suppose that you were a government official in Europe just before the start of World War I. What kind of plan or treaty might you have suggested in order to prevent the outbreak of war? Be specific in your answer, drawing on what you have read about the political situation in 1914.


Section 2

The Russian Revolution

Prepare to Read


In this section you will

1. Understand why the Russian people revolted against the czar

2. Learn about the revolutions in 1917.

3. Identify the main features of the new revolutionary government in Russia.

4. Understand why the Russian Revolution led to civil war and dictatorship.

Taking Notes

As you read this section, note at least three causes of the Russian Revolution. Copy the chart below and use it to record your findings.

Target Reading Skill

Recognize Multiple Causes Sometimes an effect can have more than one cause. For example, the Russian Revolution of October 1917 had many causes. As you read this section, identify at least three causes of the Russian Revolution. Record the information in your Taking Notes chart.

Key Terms

revolution (rev uh LOO shun) a change or overthrow of a government or social system

socialism (SOH shul iz um) a social system that seeks to abolish all forms of social classes and create a society of complete equality

capitalist (KAP ut ul ist) n. a person who provides ideas and money for investing in businesses; a wealthy person

soviet (SOH vee ut) n. an elected workers' council or committee set up by Russian laborers

The modern world has been shaped by three major revolutions: the American Revolution of 1776, the French Revolution of 1789, and the Russian Revolution of 1917. A revolution is a change or overthrow of government or social system.

The American Revolution was the most successful and lasting of the three. The French Revolution had a promising start, but ultimately ended in disorder and terror. The Russian Revolution, the boldest change, was the most miserable failure.

The people who led the Russian Revolution were the first to try to put the theories of socialism into practice. Socialism is a social system that seeks to abolish all forms of social classes and create a society of complete equality, with no private property or bosses. Far from fulfilling its promises to individuals of more control over their own lives, this revolution led to one of the harshest dictatorships in history.

Russian soldiers marching through the streets of Moscow


Czar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra surrounded by their children: Olga, Marie, Anastasia, Alexis, and Tatiana. Revolutionaries executed the royal family in 1918.

The Revolt against the Czar

A series of czars (zahrz) had ruled Russia for 400 years. The Russian czar had all the power of a king and ruled with the support of wealthy nobles and landowners. But many Russians had become upset with the way the Czar ruled. They demanded change.

The Czarist Regime In 1900 Russia was less democratically and economically developed than other European countries. Peasants who worked for nobles and had no say in the government made up the majority of the population. These peasants were very poor and had almost none of the freedoms that citizens of Western European countries enjoyed. Russia was also far behind economically because it relied mostly on farming long after the Industrial Revolution had taken hold in Western Europe and the United States.

Russia's Economy Starts to Catch Up By 1905, however, Russia began to develop. Although Russia lagged behind Western Europe, a small but important class of capitalists, people who provide ideas and money for investing in businesses, began to emerge in Russia. These capitalists financed and managed the building of factories and railroads.

This industrial growth created a class of industrial workers in Russia. Industrial workers were poor and often worked long hours in awful conditions. They were far smaller in number than the peasants. The workers only made up about 10 percent of Russia's population by 1917, but they were crucial to the workings of Russia's young manufacturing economy.


Bloody Sunday, 1905

The Revolution of 1905 began in St. Petersburg when troops opened fire on a defenseless crowd of workers marching to the Czar's palace to ask for reforms. The attack became known as "Bloody Sunday." Identify Effects What events took place after Bloody Sunday?

The Revolution of 1905 With these economic changes came political changes. Young college students formed the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SOH shul ist rev uh LOO shun ehr ee PAHR tee) and campaigned for greater rights for poor peasants. The capitalist manufacturers sought greater economic freedom and political power as part of the Constitutional Democratic Party, This group was called the Cadets for short. Meanwhile, the urban workers were drawn to the Marxist (MAHRKS ist) socialism of the Social Democratic Labor Party. This group was later called the Communist Party (KAHM yoo nist PARR tee). These Marxists soon split into two groups: the Mensheviks (MEN shuh viks), and the Bolsheviks (BOHL shuh viks). Vladimir Lenin (vlad uh MIHR LEN in) led the Bolsheviks.

These anti-czarist forces joined together in a large demonstration for reform in St. Petersburg on January 22, 1905. The Czar's police fired guns into the crowd of peaceful marchers in an attack that later became known as "Bloody Sunday:' The attack began a series of strikes and riots throughout Russia. Czar Nicholas II put down the protests with force, but he also introduced a fairly small series of reforms. The reforms included limited civil liberties and the creation of Russia's first elected legislative body, the Duma (DOO mah). But the Duma had very little power.

Reading Check What was the largest social class in Russia in 1900?


The first Russian legislative body, the Duma, in session in 1906

The Year of Revolution

The Czar's reforms of 1905 did not quiet Russia's growing revolutionary spirit. Russia's participation in World War I was a military, economic, and political disaster. The stage was set for revolution.

February to July 1917 Russia's horrible wartime conditions led to a series of massive strikes and demonstrations in the nation's capital, Petrograd (PEH truh grad), now called St. Petersburg. The Czar's troops, most of them from the peasant class, joined the protesters they were supposed to be battling. With no army to enforce his orders, Czar Nicholas II was forced to give up power. Later, he and his family were executed. Control passed to a temporary democratic government based on the Duma. The peasant-based Socialist Revolutionaries and the moderate Menshevik socialists controlled this government.

Revolutionary Rumblings While the Czar gave control to the Duma, the Petrograd workers formed their own elected body, the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. This group was one of many soviets, or elected workers' councils set up by laborers. It challenged the Duma for control of Russia.

Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders had been banned from Russia since 1907. In April 1917, the German government allowed them to return to Russia, hoping that their revolutionary activities would undermine the Russian war effort. Back in Russia, Lenin and the Bolsheviks demanded "land, bread, and peace:' Land would be for poor peasants, who had already begun seizing land and forming their own soviets. Bread was for hungry workers. Peace meant an end to Russia's participation in World War I. Most importantly, the Bolsheviks also demanded a government by and for the workers and peasants.

Bolshevik-led workers revolted in Petrograd in July 1917. The provisional, or temporary, government put down the July uprising, and Lenin escaped to Finland. Late in July 1917, Alexander F. Kerensky (al ig ZAN dur (F) kuh REN skee) took control of the provisional government. He wanted a peaceful, gradual change and opposed the Bolsheviks' revolutionary approach.


Vladimir Lenin

Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin was one of the major forces of the Russian Revolution. In 1917, he led the Bolsheviks as they took over Russia's government and set up the world's first Communist state. Identify Effects How did the Bolshevik takeover affect private ownership of land in Russia?

October 1917 By the fall of 1917, some members of the provisional government had become more concerned about the soviets' growing power. One such person was General Kornilov (JEN ur ul kur NYEE luf), Kerensky's military chief. In late August 1917, Kornilov ordered troops to stop the soviets by moving on Petrograd. This action caught the attention of the opposition of both the Bolsheviks and Kerensky. Together, they defeated Kornilov's attempt to take over the government. Afterward, the workers became more extreme. In September 1917, the Bolsheviks won a majority in a number of key soviets including Petrograd, Moscow (MAHS kow), and several other cities.

The revolution grew daily. In October 1917, Lenin returned from Finland and urged the Bolsheviks to begin planning to take power. On October 25, 1917, armed Bolshevik workers entered the main government buildings in Petrograd and arrested the cabinet members. A week later the Bolshevik workers controlled Moscow. Kerensky was forced to leave. The Bolsheviks had led the world's first socialist revolution, but the hardest days for Lenin and the Russian Revolution still lay ahead.

Reading Check Who ordered the takeover of the Russian government in August, 1917?

A New Government

Changes spread quickly in the first months of the revolution, as the Bolsheviks seized power in other Russian cities. Lenin declared the formation of the world's first Communist state. Its capital was the city of Moscow. The Bolsheviks ended private ownership of land and distributed land to the peasants. All land was declared to belong to the people, and some 500 million acres were turned over to peasants. Workers were given control of factories, mines, and industries. The Bolshevik government took control of banks. Trade was outlawed, as was the ownership of most private property. The government formed a secret police unit, the Cheka (CHEK uh), to keep track of opponents of the new government.

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