A CONCISE VIEW OF ITS CAUSES, COUNTRIES INVOLVED, THEATERS OF ACTION, LEADERS AND CHIEF EVENTS SHOWN IN PARALLEL COLUMNS AND STRIKING PICTURE MAPS
No war in the history of the world has equalled this conflict in mere stupendousness. In number of nations actually engaged; in its reckless abandon of human lives, destruction of wealth and the treasured creations of the ages; in titanic battles and sieges; fury of martial combat; prostitution of every known achievement of science to death-dealing devices and instrumentalities; in its subversion of the civilizing processes of morals and mind to justify the extremities and perversions of racial and human passions; in the overturning of law and order; and in the undermining of human confidence in the higher institutions of society, it stands naked and alone in its saturnalia of destruction.
THE BELLIGERENT NATIONS: This great epic destruction engulfed twenty-three nations---all driving their energies of life and economic resources toward the highest possible point of efficiency---now to destroy, but finally, we hope, to upbuild a new and super-civilization. The group of so-called Central Powers embraces Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. The opposing group of the Entente Allies---originally headed by Russia, France and Great Britain, include the following, eighteen in all:
Servia, Russia,. France, Great Britain, Montenegro, Japan, Belgium, Italy, San Marino, Portugal, Roumania, Greece, Cuba, Panama, Siam, Liberia, China, the United States and Brazil.
Declarations of war were made as follows:
Austria vs. Belgium, August 28, 1914;
Austria vs. Montenegro, August 9, 1914;
Austria vs. Russia, August 6, 1914;
Austria vs. Servia July 28 1914
Bulgaria vs. Servia, October 14, 1915;
China vs. Austria, August 14, 1917;
China vs. Germany, August 14, 1917;
Cuba vs. Germany, April 7, 1917.
France vs. Austria, August 12, 1914;
France vs. Bulgaria, October 18, 1915;
France vs. Germany, August 3, 1914.
Germany vs. France, August 3, 1914;
Germany vs. Portugal, March 9, 1916;
Germany vs. Russia, August 1, 1914.
Great Britain vs. Bulgaria, October 16, 1915;
Great Britain vs. Austria, August 12, 1914;
Great Britain vs. Germany, August 5, 1914;
Great Britain vs. Turkey, November 5, 1914.
Greece (Provisional Government) vs. Bulgaria, November 28, 1916;
Greece (Provisional Government) vs. Germany, November 28, 1916;
Greece vs. Bulgaria, July 2, 1917;
Greece vs. Germany, July 2, 1917.
Italy vs. Austria, August 21, 1915;
Italy vs. Bulgaria, October 19, 1914;
Italy vs. Germany, August 28, 1916.
Japan vs. Germany, August 23, 1914;
Liberia vs. Germany, August 4, 1917;
Montenegro vs. Austria, August 10, 1914;
Panama vs. Germany, April 7, 1917;
Roumania vs. Austria, August 27, 1916.
Servia vs. Turkey, December 2, 1914;
Siam vs. Austria, July 21, 1917;
Siam vs. Germany, July 21, 1917;
Turkey vs. Allies, November 23, 1914;
Turkey vs. Roumania, August 29 1916;
United States vs. Germany, April 6, 1917.
Brazil vs. Germany, October 26, 1917;
United States vs. Austria-Hungary, December 7, 1917.
CAUSES, REAL AND CONJECTURAL: The causes and justifications of the war have been variously set out and just as variously defended with conspicuous vigor and characteristic prejudice. Undoubtedly, opportunists have arisen in all countries to becloud the basic truths; and the ultimate responsibility must necessarily involve long periods of investigation, reflection and clarification by mighty and rare minds. This is all too close to our imperfect senses at the present moment. More calm, more justice, more honesty is required. All that we can now do is to set out the apparent reasons and the record of actual events as they have reached us up to the present time from various credited sources.
From the voluminous diplomatic "papers" given out from time to time by the belligerents, the nations themselves assign the following reasons:
Austria: Because Servia would not permit Austrian officials to take part in investigations in Servia into the responsibility of Servians for the murder of the Austrian Crown Prince and Princess.
Servia: Because upon her refusal to accede to this demand of Austria on the ground, that she would be sacrificing her own sovereignty, and in spite of her proposal to leave the matter to arbitration, Austria attacked her.
Russia: Because Austria was making war upon Servia.
Germany: Because Russia declined to cease mobilizing her army---a mobilization which Germany believed was directed at herself as well as at her ally Austria.
France: Because her ally Russia was attacked by Germany.
Belgium: Because her neutral territory, whose neutrality was guaranteed by a treaty signed by Germany, was invaded by German arms.
England: Because Germany had violated the treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium, of which both Germany and England were signers.
Japan: Because her treaty with England bound her to join with England when the peace of the Far East was threatened.
United States: Because "the world should be made safe for democracy," and the dictates of humanity prevail over selfish national ambitions.
The more closely reasoned causes might be classified thus:
(1) The immediate occasion of this great conflict was the murder of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of the Austro-Hungarian empire, on June 28, 1914, at Sarajevo, Bosnia, through the alleged instigation of a Servian revolutionary society, called the Narodna Odbrana, which had for its purpose the disrupting of the Austro-Hungarian empire, particularly those parts inhabited largely by Servians and other Slavic races. A peremptory demand followed on the part of the Austro-Hungarian government that Servia suppress the criminal organization and permit the former to cooperate in the inquiry as to the accomplices on Servian territory in the murders of the Prince and Princess. This demand was refused by Servia, which immediately received the support of Russia, France and Great Britain, while Austro-Hungary received the support of Germany, and, later, of Turkey.
(2) The underlying causes were the following:
(a) The policy of Russia (popularly known as Pan-Slavism), an age-long political creed of Russian ambition, to dominate the Balkan countries and extend her dominions to the Bosphorus, the Ægean and the Adriatic.
(b) The ambitions of France to regain Alsace-Lorraine, lost to her by the Franco-Prussian war.
(c) Violation of Belgian neutrality by German military forces in their attempt to invade France.
(d) The political, industrial and commercial rivalry of Germany and Great Britain, involving the mastery of the "high seas," and problems of colonization.
(e) The projected "Berlin to Bagdad" railway, paralleling the "Suez route" to the Far East.
(3) More remote, but equally potent, causes are:
(a) The European political doctrine of the "Balance of Power," which was the outgrowth of the Napoleonic wars, and received its first stamp of approval at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, which settled the important boundaries of the map of Europe for more than half a century afterward. Subsequently, the "great powers" of Europe assumed the point of view that any acquisition of power, territory or population by any one of them entitled all the others to compensation; so that the relative strength and importance might not be disturbed. This rule has been applied to every important war since Napoleon's time, and any threatened disturbance of this "balance" has always had in it the germ of a general conflict. Hence arose the historic "alliances," known as the Triple Alliance, embracing Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy, on the one hand, and the Triple Entente, comprising France, Russia and Great Britain, on the other.
(b) Prussian "Militarism," so-called, with its autocratic doctrine of force, and attendant jealousies and obstacles to social and economic reforms, which might be said to be the direct fruits of the "balance of power" doctrine, as is also the doctrine of the "guaranteed neutrality" of certain small countries of Europe, which astute European diplomacy created as "buffer" states in the event of armed or other conflicts among the "great powers."
MILITARY LEADERS: (1) Entente Allies, Kitchener, French, Haig, Byng, Joffre, Petain, Foch, Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, Kouropatkin, Brusiloff, Admirals Fisher and Jellicoe, Cardona, Diaz, Pershing; (2) Central Powers, Emperor William II, Ludendorff, Emperor Karl of Austria, Hindenburg, Mackensen, Klock, Falkenhayn, Archduke Frederick, Hoetzendorf, Crown Prince Frederick William, Admiral Tirpitz, Crown Prince Rupprecht, Enver Pasha.
CHIEF THEATERS OF ACTION: (1) Belgium: (2) Northern France; (3) Poland; (4) Dardanelles; (5) Servia and Balkans; (6) Roumania; (7) Austro-Italian Front; (8) Courland and Lithuania; (9) North Sea and Inlets; (10) Mediterranean; (11) German Colonial Possessions throughout the world; (12) High Seas; (13) Italy.
RESULTS: The surrender of the Central Powers, marked by the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, followed by the Peace Conference in Paris which met Jan. 18, 1919. This Conference reduced Germany to a second rate power; restored Alsace-Lorraine to France; placed the German Colonies under Entente control and erected a number of independent European states.
WAR EVENTS: 1914
WAR EVENTS: 1915
WAR EVENTS: 1916
WAR EVENTS: 1917
WAR EVENTS: 1918