Imperialism/World War I Key Terms
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference was held in 1884 in order to establish rules for the conquest of Africa. Otto von Bismarck, who was still Prime Minister of Germany, wanted his newly unified nation to focus on cementing its power on the continent because grabbing more territory in Africa would upset the balance of power in Europe, which Germany had already disrupted when it became a unified, powerful nation. Since Germany was not part of the Imperialist conflict, Bismarck was a neutral figure and was able to lead the conference in hopes of preventing a European war in Africa and more BOP problems. The conference established rules for claiming territory and maintaining free trade in the region. (The participating nations did not even consider inviting the African leaders to the Berlin Conference.)-Grace
Boer War (1899-1902)- As Britain pressed into Afrikaner territory in South Africa, fueled by Cecil Rhodes’ ideas of creating a trans-African railroad and by the discovery of diamonds in the region, social tensions between the Dutch Africans (Boers) and the British rose. As the Boers receded from the area during the Great Trek, they landed on more diamond rich land, and a conflict with the British ensued. Britain progressed slowly over several years, containing many of the Boers in concentration camps. As the war went on, people in Britain lost a lot of their nationalist fervor for the cause, and began to be disillusioned by the sheer loss of life over diamonds and land. - Alexis
British raj - The British Raj was the system of government that the British set up in their colony, India. They enforced a system of indirect rule (rather than direct control), allowing local officials and leaders to maintain their positions as long as they satisfied the wishes of the British government. This would eventually prove ineffective after the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, after which the British changed their system of governing to a direct approach. ~Ashley
Cook, Captain James Captain James Cook was a British explorer and cartologist who was also a member of the Royal Navy. His journals were published and brought him a fair amount of fame. His voyages to New Zealand and Australia greatly altered Europe's perception of the geography of the Pacific region. —Connie
Eugenics -Eugenics is the applied science and social philosophy, which advocated improving the genetic composition of a population, specifically the human population. To improve the human population, society promotes increased reproduction of desired people and traits and less reproduction of less desired people and traits. Today, eugenics is largely associated with the Nazi party. – Erin
Indirect rule, Direct rule The British first used a policy of indirect rule to control India, which meant that native leaders of the Mughal dynasty were left in charge. However, the native leaders were still under the control of the British and served as puppet rulers. In response to the Sepoy Rebellion in 1857, the British sent 200,000 troops to India, and a system of direct rule came into effect. Queen Victoria was named Empress of India. -Grace
Leopold II of Belgium - King Leopold privately owned the Congo Free State and exploited its inhabitants to get rubber and ivory. He is often depicted as the worst example of imperialism because of his brutality, like his common practice of cutting people’s hands off to somehow increase productivity. Ironically, Leopold was seen as a humanitarian in Europe because he used the money he earned form rubber and ivory production to support an anti-slavery organization.- Erin
Congo Free State - The Congo Free State was the area of land owned by King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold owned this land, not just controlled it – it was not owned by a state. The rest of the Belgian state had no say on what was going on down there – no say in the laws, etc., because Leopold as an individual controlled it. It was rich in rubber and ivory and the center of forced, cruel labor since Leopold exploited natives for labor. From 1865 to 1909, the population was reduced from 20-30 million people to 8 million because of famine and slaughter during Leopold’s control. In 1908 the Belgian Parliament took the free state away from Leopold in response to a human rights international outcry and most of the exploitation ended. - Leora
Livingstone, David David Livingstone was a missionary-explorer who believed he had a duty to bring Christianity, commerce, and civilization to Africa. He wrote of his experiences and observations in letters, which were published and read worldwide. However, the letters stopped when Livingstone got lost in central Africa and became mentally ill. He was later found by Henry Stanley, who had helped Leopold II gain the Congo. -Grace
Opium Wars These wars were a result of British attempts to imperialize and trade with China. The English were buying tea from the Chinese, controlled by the Manchu dynasty, but the Chinese were not buying anything from the British in return. In 1839 the Chinese Emperor banned the smuggling of opium into the nation which is how British traders had been making money in those parts. In 1840 the First Opium War began. This whole ordeal is just a good example of Europeans trying to force their ways of trading (in hopes of turning a profit) into all corners of the world. ~Ashley
The fact that war broke out illustrates just how much better the British and Europeans in general thought they were. The British were mad because the Chinese had tried to stop the smuggling of illegal narcotics into their country, something any country has a right to do. Great Britain went on to defeat the Chinese and reopen ports there, showing that the only cause for war was economics. -Sam
Sepoy Rebellion - This was a rebellion of colonized Indians against their imperialists, Britain. Indian soldiers in the British military were frustrated with the lack of independence and manipulation of their local culture by the British. The British banned their cultural custom of "suttee" and also were issuing rifles greased with pig and cow fats (Buddhists don't eat pigs, and cows are sacred to Hindus —> this was disrespect for all Indian religions). The soldiers rebelled and were crushed by 200,000 British soldiers. After this rebellion the British style of rule changed from indirect rule to direct rule. ~Ashley
The Sepoy Rebellion posed the first legitimate threat to the ‘rule’ of the British East India Company in India. India was England’s greatest economic asset so this rebellion sparked a complete change in the governing of India to a more strict, direct rule. The revolt was a result of many built up grievances by members of the Bengal Army, Indian soldiers (sepoys) including impending enlistment requirements and a general lack of respect for Indian culture and traditional customs like castes, suttee, etc. The revolt was extensive and spread from its origin in Meerut across India. Following the revolt, the Mughal Empire was completely collapsed. -Becca
Shaka Zulu was a military genius whose expanding Zulu empire clashed with European expansion in the 1870s. The empire was located in the Natal region in the south of Africa, leading to conflicts with the Afrikaners of the area and the encroaching British, and the displacement of many Bantu peoples into Afrikaner territory. The Zulus were also responsible for the first defeat of a European military in Africa, though they were ultimately crushed by Britain. -Alexis
Spencer, Herbert-An English philosopher and biologist, he wrote about evolution before Darwin, and was one of the first proponents of Social Darwinism, extending evolution to sociology and ethics. He coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” in his book Principles of Biology. His ideas were used as an excuse to conquer other civilizations during the age of imperialism because Western civilization was stronger/more fit. Kristen.
Stanley, Henry - an explorer and journalist famous in Europe for his writings about his adventures in Africa. He was hired by Leopold II to trick and bribe the inhabitants of the Congo Free State into letting Leopold take their land. Stanley is also known for finding the lost David Livingston (“Dr. Livingston, I presume?”) – Erin
Explorers like Stanley became immensely popular back in their home countries. His letters were published daily and the public became enthralled with the Romantic adventures through the wilderness. However, their exploits often involved the mistreatment of natives and were usually for monetary gain or power over the land. - Hayes
Suez Canal - The Suez Canal, built in 1869 by Ferdinand de Cesseps connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The Suez Canal was run as a company, and the biggest shareholder was the Egyptian government. When the Egyptian government had to sell their shares, Britain eagerly bought them in order to secure a trade route with India should a war arise. – Erin
The buying of the canal proved to be very beneficial in Britains war effort. It allowed them to trade easily with their largest colony, India, and also prevented belligerent nations from doing the same. It was targeted several times but the attacks never were successful in taking the control of the Suez. - Hayes
Armenian genocide The Armenian genocide, which took place in 1915, was the Ottomans' reaction to the refusal of the Armenian Christians to support the war effort. 1.75 million were deported, and over 800,000 died. The Armenian genocide reinforces the weight the governments put on civilian support and engagement in a situation of total war. —Connie
The Armenian Genocide is arguably the most tragic genocide apart from the Holocaust. The genocide of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire following WWI unfolded in two phases: the massacring of men and the forced labor/forced desert march of women, children, and disabled. -Becca
Article 231, Treaty of Versailles-Also known as the "war guilt clause," it was the first article of Part VIII, reparations, of the Treaty of Versailles, and placed all blame for the war on Germany, justifying the reparations forced on Germany. Kristen.
Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles was dually crafted by John Foster Dulles and Norman Davis, both representatives of the U.S. This portion of the treaty is known as the War Guilt Claus and essentially blamed the entire First World War on Germany. I found it interesting that post-war proceedings were being determined by Americans rather than the more involved British or French. Perhaps this played a part in the subsequent imbalance of power following WWI as Germany became completely powerless- a drastic change from the past almost half century since Germany was unified. -Becca
Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal)- Ataturk was the founder of the Republic of Turkey (Ataturk=”Father of the Turks”) and the first President of Turkey. Ataturk was known for his modern approach to politics and economics shaping Turkey into a more secular, European-like state. His reforms led to more schools, public education, lowered taxes for peasants, etc. This series of reforms is the basis for modern day Turkish society and is called Kemalism. Ataturk was also a military officer for the Ottoman Empire during WWI, primarily/most importantly involved in the Battle of Gallipoli. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, he started the Turkish national movement and defeated the Allies in the Turkish War for Independence. -Becca
Balfour Declaration - This document was issued by the British government to Baron Rothschild, a British leader in the Jewish community. The document stated that the British government would be in support of and advocate for the existence of a Jewish state. ~Ashley
The affects of the Balfour Declaration, however, had longer lasting results and seeped very deeply into the mindset and overall politics of GB during WWI. The British government would feel such support from the people regarding the Declaration that it would come to be included in many of the War propaganda when referring to Jews joining the British war efforts. -Rory
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk This treaty was signed in March of 1918 by Lenin with the backing of the Bolsheviks, who wanted to get Russia out of the war. Russia is forced to give up vast amounts of territory to the Germans (including Finland, Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic States), which further demonstrated Germany's desire for territorial gain. The harsh terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk boosted the Allies' desire for victory, while men were needed to maintain this new territory, effectively weakening the German offensive. —Connie
Dreadnought The Dreadnought was a new battleship that was created to be the ultimate fighting machine. It was first built by the British and was later imitated by the Germans, which angered the British because Germany already had the most powerful army, and Great Britain had been known for its superior navy. The Dreadnought issue was one of many arms race conflicts that resulted because of increased militarism in Europe in the years leading up to World War I. -Grace
Dreadnoughts were new, fully clad metal Battleships that were steam powered and held at least two large caliber guns. The British built HMS Dreadnought in 1904, triggering an arms race between Germany. It has been argued that if Britain did not build and show off their new ship, the resulting German Navy would not have been as powerful, without the need to match the British. - Hayes
Fourteen Points- The reasons, largely based on morality and the desire for peace, President Wilson gave for fighting the war and that he hoped the treaty of Versaille would. They consisted of:
1. Covenants of peace/no secret alliances
2. freedom of the seas
3. Free trade
4. Reduced military forces/weapons.
5. Fair readjustment of colonies.
6. Russian self-determination.
7. Respect for Belgium integrity.
8. Restoration of French territory—Alsace and Lorraine.
9. Readjustment of Italian territory based on nationality (It didnt say this explicitly, but im assuming that means lombardy and venetia)
10. Free autonomous development for Austria-Hungary.
11. Evacuation of occupied Balkan territories and allowance for territories in the Balkans to be independent.
12. Self-determination for Arab nations and free passage through the Dardanelles.
13. Polish independence.
14. Formation of a League of Nations.
yay im finally done. Kristen.
The Fourteen Points show the idealism felt after WWI finished and also demonstrate that Wilson was a kind of idealistic rock star. Wilson, as the prime author of the Fourteen Points, cemented the U.S. into the European struggle for power and established the U.S. as the moral "protector" of Europe, a role which we would fill later on, as well. - Leora
Gallipoli (Winston Churchill) The Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 was Winston Churchill's plan to open a third front against the Germans. His goal was to seize the Bosporus and the Darnadelles, important trade routes with Russia that had been blocked by the Ottomans and could also possibly give British imperialists an advantage in the Middle East. However, the plan was a huge failure for the British. —Connie
Turkey at the time was controlled by the Ottoman empire. The dardanelles strait connecting Russia to the Mediterranean was blockaded by the Central powers. An attack led by Britain, but populated with nearly all New Zealanders and Australians failed when they tried to break through and ran into a minefield. The land offensive also resulted in a massive loss of life for the attacking forces. The was limited to two main fronts for the rest of it's duration. - Hayes
Irish Free State-Established in 1922 as an autonomous nation under British sovereignty with the Anglo-Irish treaty. It originally included the entire island of Ireland, but Northern Ireland excised its right stated in the treaty to remove itself from the state. In 1937 a referendum called for the 1922 constitution to be replaced and the modern sovereign state of Ireland was created. Kristen.
Lusitania Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom to be a war-zone, and Germans in America had been specifically warned by their embassy not to sail on the Lusitania. On the afternoon of May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland and inside the declared “zone of war”. A second internal explosion sent her to the bottom in 18 minutes, claiming the lives of 1198 people. It’s believed that the 2nd explosion was due to the hidden ammunition in the cargo hold. International law required that before opening fire on a non-military ship that the U-boat was required to give the crew and passengers time to leave safely. However the U-boat did not follow this process because the Germans considered the Lusitania to be a legitimate military target, in that the ship was carrying munitions. This failure caused an international uproar led by the United States, which resulted in a limitation of German U-boat warfare for two years. The sinking of the Lusitania heightened tensions between the U.S. and Germany and helped sway American opinion in favor of joining the war. -Chuka
Mandates (mandate system) and the mandate system were products of the League of Nations established in treaties following the end of WWI. In an attempt to curb imperialism in general and especially internally within Europe, the League of Nations created the mandate system to place Imperial Germany and Ottoman territories under the governing power of victors of WWI. This system had the eventual intention for both empires to become independent with time. However, there were three types of mandates; A, that the territory would be independent once it could function on its own; B, the territory's government would be under inspection and checked power by governing nation; and C that the territory would be completely and irrevocably absorbed into the governing state. -Rory
Princip, Gavrilo Gavrilo Princip was a member of the Serbian Black Hands and assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the archduke’s wife, Sophie. This assassination set the events leading up to WWI into motion. - Leora
Although Princip and the Serbian Black Hands were working as an individual terrorist group this assassination set into events a declaration of War by Austria-Hungary that would eventually develop into WWI. A-H thought this assassination was in some way funded by the Serbian government and took their chance to gain more power in the Balkans by declaring war on Serbia, a war which quickly expanded with the support of Germany to A-H's aid. A-H then sent Serbia an ultimatum of demands that had to be met to prevent war; the Serbians agreed to all but one and A-H officially declared war on July 28, 1914. -Rory
- Black Hand Society Many members of the Black Hand were Serbian army officers and held important army and government positions.. The professed goal of the group was the creation of a Greater Serbia, by use of violence, if necessary. The Black Hand trained guerillas and saboteurs and arranged political murders. Crown Prince Alexander was an enthusiastic and financial supporter. The group held influence over government appointment and policy. The Serbian government was fairly well informed of Black Hand activities. Of the seven young men involved in the plot, Princip Gavrilo succeeded in killing the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. This caused the beginnings of World War I. - Chuka
Although the Serbian government was aware of the Black Hand Society, it did not fund the terrorist organization, as Austria-Hungary claimed. It was this incorrect link that led to the harsh demands they imposed on Serbia, which led to the war when the demands were not accepted unconditionally. -Sam
Reinsurance Treaty (1887)- The Bismarck-conceived “gentleman’s agreement” between Germany and Russia to stay neutral if one were to go to war against a third country. However, if Germany attacked France, Russia would not have to aid Germany, and the same if Russia attacked Austria-Hungary. Following Bismarck’s dismissal, Wilhelm II failed to renew the agreement in 1890. Shortly after, France and Russia became allies, bringing Bismarck’s fears to life. -Alexis
The Reinsurance Treaty was always on shaky ground due to the strained relationship between Germany and Russia, but it was an agreement that was beneficial to both sides, so both sides overcame their suspicion and signed it. However, when Wilhelm II replaced Bismarck, he had no desire to have any sort of treaty with someone he perceived to be a potential enemy, so he refused to sign it when it came back up for renewal a few years later. Taking this as a potential act of hostility, Russia quickly formed an alliance with France, ending any German hopes of avoiding a two-front war. -Sam
Schlieffen Plan-The Schlieffen plan was implemented by Germany to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia, which were allies as of 1894. This plan involved invading France through neutral Belgium, and not at the obvious border between France and Germany, in order to take out the French army early in the war, so that the Germans could then focus their energy at the larger enemy, Russia. However, Belgium proved more resistant to their plan than they expected, and Russia mobilized more quickly, leading to revisions of the plan and a strained German army. -Alexis
Although Great Britain had an alliance with both France and Russia, they were willing to ignore it to not get involved in the continental war. However, the German violation of Belgian neutrality, the major part of the Schlieffen Plan, was too much for them to turn a blind eye to, so they were forced to get involved to prevent further German aggression. -Sam
Self-determination (Paris Peace Conference) was a principle established during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which was a meeting of the victorious Allied Powers of WWI to dictate the terms of defeat for the Central Powers. This is often considered the most influential conference in all of the 20th Century because the majority of historians argue that the seeds of resentment planted in the peace treaty developed at this conference were the roots of the Second World War. However, an extremely important idea that sprang from this conference is the right to self-determination, an idea highly advocated for by President Woodrow Wilson. The right to self-determination is the right of any peoples to govern themselves within a democracy in their nation or state. -Rory
Somme, Battle of - Also known as the Somme Offensive occurring between July 1st and November 18th 1916 on either side of the Somme River in France. The battle saw the British Army and the French Army mount a joint offensive against the German Army, which had occupied a large part of Northern France since its invasion of the country in August 1914. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the war; by the time fighting paused in late autumn 1916, the forces involved suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. This is the battle where the Tank is first introduced as well. As a result the battle was indecisive but the German Army withdrew 40 miles back to the Hindenburg line in February of 1917 and overall this battle inflicted more damage on the Germans. -Chuka
Total War Young men were removed from production jobs to serve in military roles, and women replaced them on the production line. Rationing occurred on the home fronts. One of the features of Total War in Britain was the use of government propaganda posters to divert all attention to the war on the home front. Posters were used to influence public opinion about what to eat and what occupations to take, and to change the attitude of support towards the war effort. Even the Music Hall was used as propaganda, with propaganda songs aimed at recruitment. Domestic Food production decreased but Britain still imported most of its food, which was done despite the German introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare. - Chuka
Verdun, Battle of The Battle of Verdun was between the Germans led by General Falkenhayn and the French led by General Petain. The battle lasted for months and was a competition about who could “out-attrition” the other. The French were determined not to lose Verdun since the French had controlled it since the 3rd century – it was a matter of national pride and honor. Falkenhayn went into the battle saying it would be a 2:5 ratio (German:French casualties), which demonstrates that even in “victory” a huge amount of casualties was assumed. There were 540,000 French casualties and 430,000 German casualties. The French ended up holding onto Verdun and “winning”, but it was a hollow victory. - Leora