The archduke of Austria, nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph, and heir to the Habsburg throne. Franz Ferdinand’s assassination on June 28, 1914, by Serbian militant Gavrilo Princip, is widely considered the unofficial start of World War I.
A German military plan, formulated in 1905,
Germany's strategic vulnerability, sandwiched between its allied rivals, led to the development of the audacious (and incredibly expensive) Schlieffen Plan. It aimed to knock France instantly out of contention, before Russia had time to mobilize its gigantic human reserves. It aimed to accomplish this task within 6 weeks. Germany could then turn her full resources to meeting the Russian threat. Although Count Alfred von Schlieffen initially conceived the plan before his retirement in 1906, Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 exposed Russia's organizational weakness and added greatly to the plan's credibility. The significance of the Schlieffen Plan is that it forced German military planners to prepare for a pre-emptive strike when war was deemed unavoidable. Otherwise Russia would have time to mobilize and crush Germany with its massive army. On August 1, Kaiser Wilhelm II briefly became convinced that it might be possible to ensure French and British neutrality and cancelled the plan despite the objections of the Chief of Staff that this could not be done and resuming it only when the offer of a neutral France and Britain was withdrawn.
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland is considered to be the only major naval battle of World War One. Jutland witnessed the British Navy losing more men and ships but the verdict of the Battle of Jutland was that the German Navy lost and was never in a position again to put to sea during the war. Admiral John Jellicoe's tactics were criticised by some, but after the battle the British Navy remained a powerful fighting force whereas the German High Seas fleet was not. The Germans claimed that Jutland was a victory for them as they had sunk more capital ships than the British. Jellicoe claimed that the victory belonged to the British as his fleet was still a sea worthy entity whereas the German High Seas fleet was not. The British did lose more ships (14 ships and over 6,000 lives) than the Germans (9 ships and over 2,500 casualties). But the German fleet was never again to be in a position to put to sea and challenge the British Navy in the North Sea.
In November 1917 the French president, Raymond Poincare appointed Clemenceau as prime minister. Clemenceau, who also became minister of war in the government, and played an important role in persuading the British to accept the appointment of Ferdinand Foch as supreme Allied commander. He also insisted that the exhausted French Army led the offensive against the German Army in the summer of 1918. At the Versailles Peace Conference Clemenceau clashed with Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George about how the defeated powers should be treated. Lloyd George told Clemenceau that his proposals were too harsh and would "plunge Germany and the greater part of Europe into Bolshevism." Clemenceau replied that Lloyd George's alternative proposals would lead to Bolshevism in France. At the end of the negotiations Clemenceau managed to restore Alsace-Lorraine to France but some of his other demands were resisted by the other delegates. Clemenceau, like most people in France, thought that Germany had been treated too leniently at Versailles.
Second Moroccan Crises
The Agadir Crisis, also called the Second Moroccan Crisis, or the Panthersprung, was the international tension sparked by the deployment of a substantial force of French troops in the interior of Morocco. France thus broke both with the Act of Algeciras (that ended the first Moroccan crisis) and the Franco-German Accord of 1909. Germany reacted by sending the gunboat Panther to the...