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HIST202: History of Europe, 1800 to the Present

Unit 6: The Great War   In the late nineteenth century, a new alliance system developed in Europe.  In the 1890s, the Triple Alliance was formed between Austria, Germany, and Italy.  Meanwhile, Britain became an ally of Japan in 1902, formed the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904, and drew up a similar agreement with Russia in 1907.  In the early 1900s, these two alliances had a major focus: the Balkans.  Russia and Austria both vied for the region; a crisis broke out when an Austrian heir was assassinated at Sarajevo in June of 1914.  The Balkan calamity became the immediate cause of the Great War, a conflict that involved 30 countries and left over 30 million people dead.  Trench warfare in Europe and the use of modern weapons, such as the machine gun and poison gas, made World War I the deadliest in history.

In this unit, we will study the causes and effects of the Great War.  We will see that within five years (1914-1919), the European landscape changed completely; the German, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires were either crippled or totally destroyed by war’s end.

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 8 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 6.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 6.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 6.4: 1 hour

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the origins, major events, and lasting consequences of World War I.
  • Discuss the “inevitability” of the Great War.
  • Evaluate the causes and effects of the 1917 Russian revolutions.
  • Analyze how the World War I reshaped economic and political power balances through the world.

6.1 The Outbreak of War   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 16: The Coming of the Great War” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 16: The Coming of the Great War” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
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Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute lecture linked above.  In this video, Dr. Merriman discusses the complex causes—cultural identities, nationalism, imperial competition—of the Great War. 
 
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  • Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Outbreak of World War One” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Outbreak of World War One” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a good overview of the origins and causes of World War I.  Please note that this reading covers the material outlined in all sections for 6.1, including 6.1.1-6.1.3.
     
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6.1.1 The Bismarckian System of Alliances   6.1.2 Rival Blocs   6.1.3 The Beginning of War   6.2 The Course of the War   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 17: War in the Trenches” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 17: War in the Trenches” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions:  Please watch the entire 50-minute video lecture for a discussion of the most conspicuous feature of World War I: trench warfare.
 
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  • Reading: Collin County Community College: Prof. Kyle Wilkinson’s “Background to the War Nobody Won: World War I, 1914-1918” Links: Collin County Community College: Prof. Kyle Wilkinson’s “Background to the War Nobody Won: World War I, 1914-1918” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read Professor Wilkinson’s extensive article for a solid overview of the causes of World War I.  Please note that this reading will also cover the topics outlined in subunits 6.2.1-6.2.3.
     
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6.2.1 Western Front   - Reading: Clinch Valley College's version of Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" Link: Clinch Valley College's version of Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" (HMTL)

 Instructions: Please read the entire excerpt.  This 1929 novel,
written by the German World War I veteran Erich Maria Remarque,
tells the story of the young German soldier Paul Bäumer, who
experiences the horror and dislocation of trench warfare.    

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6.2.2 Eastern Front   - Reading: University of Montana: Dr. David W. Tschanz’s “Typhus Fever on the Eastern Front in World War I” Link:  University of Montana: Dr. David W. Tschanz’s “Typhus Fever on the Eastern Front in World War I” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read the entire article to get a sense of the deadly and devastating effect that typhus fever has on the Central Powers during World War I.
 
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6.2.3 Home Front   - Reading: BBC’s British History In-depth: Professor Joanna Bourke’s “Women on the Home Front in World War One” Link: BBC’s British History In-depth: Professor Joanna Bourke’s “Women on the Home Front in World War One” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article in order to get a sense of how World War I changed the position of women in the workforce.
 
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6.3 The Russian Revolution of 1917   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 19: The Romanovs and the Russian Revolution” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 19: The Romanovs and the Russian Revolution” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute lecture linked above.  In this video lecture, Dr. Merriman discusses the downfall of the Romanov dynasty and the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
 
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  • Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: “Revolutions and Civil War and The February Revolution,” “The Period of Dual Power and The Bolshevik Revolution,” and “Civil War and War Communism” Links: Library of Congress Country Studies: “Revolutions and Civil War and The February Revolution,” “The Period of Dual Power and The Bolshevik Revolution,” and “Civil War and War Communism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read each article linked above in its entirety.  Please note these readings cover topics outlined in subunits 6.3.1-6.3.4. These readings provide a comprehensive overview of the Russian Revolution, from the fall of the Tsar, to the creation of a provisional government in Russia, to the rise of Lenin and Trotsky, and to the triumph of communism.
     
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6.3.1 Fall of Imperial Russia   6.3.2 A Provisional Government   6.3.3 Lenin and Trotsky   - Reading: Fordham University: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of V.I. Lenin’s “What Is to Be Done, 1902” Link: Fordham University: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of V.I. Lenin’s “What Is to Be Done, 1902” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  In this 1902 treatise, Lenin grapples with Marxist revolutionary ideology.  While Marx had theorized that the proletarian revolution would lead to ultimate freedom for the masses, Lenin thought differently.  In fact, in this piece, Lenin outlines a very different view of freedom.
 
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6.3.4 Dictatorship and Civil War   6.4 Peace Settlement, 1918-1919   - Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Peace Settlement” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Peace Settlement” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a good overview of the end of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles.  Please note that this reading covers material for 6.4.1-6.4.3.
 
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6.4.1 The End of the War   6.4.2 Revolution   6.4.3 Treaty of Versailles   - Reading: “Treaty of Versailles” Link: “Treaty of Versailles” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage linked above.  To open the file, click on “View transcript (PDF)” on the left side of the webpage.  This 1919 treaty contained several provisions, the most controversial of which required Germany to accept sole responsibility for the war—to disarm, maker territorial concessions, and pay reparations.  The Treaty of Versailles is widely considered to be a major cause of World War II.
 
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