Outburst and progression
As the German empire was surrounded by Great Britain, France and Russia, the Supreme Army command’s general staff devised a military plan: the German army was to defeat the French in a blitzkrieg and then fight against Russia.
The German government felt threatened by the two fronts and wanted to use the preemptive war to protect itself, thus it was later on argued that the war had been imposed by the other nations.
In his speech from the throne in 1914 Wilhelm II.Wilhelm II. was the last German Emperor from 1888 to 1918 convinced the Germans of the so called “BurgfriedenBurgfrieden is a German term used for the political truce the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the other political parties agreed to during World War I”, thus parliament agreed to the necessary loans for warfare.
Wilhelm II. excited total war fever in the German empire1.
Outbreak of the war
The assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand by the Serbian Gavrillo Princip on the 18th of June in 1914 stroke the last spark necessary for the international conflicts to escalate.
Serbia wanted to separate itself from Austria-Hungary in order to become an independent state, however Franz Ferdinand had repressed all liberation movements during his reign.
The assassination engendered several declarations of war; Austria-Hungary issued Serbia an ultimatum, supported in this by the German empire.
As a consequence Russia mobilised its troops and declared its support to Serbia. Additionally the German declarations of war on Russia and France followed, pursued by a British declaration of war on Germany, after German troops had crossed neutral Belgium2.
Course of the war
The „Schlieffenplan“, using a blitzkrieg to defeat France, was unsuccessful. The onslaught miscarried, eventually leading into static warfare. As early as 1914 the chances of winning the war were small for the German empire.In the east however the German army was initially successful, yet later on defeated by two fronts. When Germany aimed to stop the British supply with goods by the use of submarine warfare in 1917 America engaged in the war, in order to assist Great Britain. Following the Bolshevik October revolution in 1917 Russia agreed to relinquishing certain territories to Germany in the peace treaty of Brest-LitowskThe Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended Russia's participation in World War I. According to the treaty, Soviet Russia defaulted on all Imperial Russia's commitments to the Triple Entente alliance. Nevertheless the German empire had no chance of winning the war. After the USA had entered the war the Germans were forced to surrender in the autumn of 19183.