VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > B. World War I, 1914–1918
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Aug. 6)
B. World War I, 1914–1918
Declarations of War
  July 28Austria on Serbia
  Aug. 1Germany on Russia
  Aug. 3Germany on France
  Aug. 4Germany on Belgium
Great Britain on Germany
  Aug. 5Montenegro on Austria
  Aug. 6Austria on Russia
Serbia on Germany
  Aug. 8Montenegro on Germany
  Aug. 12France on Austria
Great Britain on Austria
  Aug. 23Japan on Germany
  Aug. 25Japan on Austria
  Aug. 28Austria on Belgium
  Nov. 4Russia on Turkey
Serbia on Turkey
  Nov. 5Great Britain on Turkey
France on Turkey
  May 23Italy on Austria
  June 3San Marino on Austria
  Aug. 21Italy on Turkey
  Oct. 14Bulgaria on Serbia
  Oct. 15Great Britain on Bulgaria
Montenegro on Bulgaria
  Oct. 16France on Bulgaria
  Oct. 19Russia on Bulgaria
Italy on Bulgaria
  March 9Germany on Portugal
  March 15Austria on Portugal
  Aug. 27Romania on Austria
  Aug. 28Italy on Germany
Germany on Romania
  Aug. 30Turkey on Romania
  Sept. 1Bulgaria on Romania
  April 6U.S. on Germany
  April 7Panama on Germany
Cuba on Germany
  April 13Bolivia severs relations with Germany
  April 23Turkey severs relations with U.S.
  June 27Greece on Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, and Turkey
  July 22Siam on Germany and Austria
  Aug. 4Liberia on Germany
  Aug. 14China on Germany and Austria
  Oct. 6Peru severs relations with Germany
  Oct. 7Uruguay severs relations with Germany
  Oct. 26Brazil on Germany
  Dec. 7U.S. on Austria
  Dec. 8Ecuador severs relations with Germany
  Dec. 10Panama on Austria
  Dec. 16Cuba on Austria
  April 23Guatemala on Germany
  May 8Nicaragua on Germany and Austria
  May 23Costa Rica on Germany
  July 12Haiti on Germany
  July 19Honduras on Germany
1. The Western Front, 1914–1915
GERMAN STRATEGY was based on the Schlieffen Plan, which provided for the concentration of the main German forces on the French front, the passage through Belgium, and a huge wheeling movement to encircle Paris. This plan required a massing of forces on the German right flank, but even before the outbreak of war the German chief of the general staff, Gen. Helmuth von Moltke (1906–Sept. 14, 1914), had transferred some divisions from the right to the left (Lorraine) wing in order to block an invasion of south Germany. The Germans concentrated about 1.5 million men organized in seven armies. On the eastern (Russian) frontier, German forces were relatively few in number and were intended merely to delay the invaders until a decisive victory could be won in the west.  2
The French plan of campaign (Plan 17) had been drawn up in 1913by Gen. Joseph Joffre (chief of general staff, July 28, 1911–Dec. 12, 1916) under the influence and teaching of Gen. Ferdinand Foch. The plan ignored the danger of a great German advance through Belgium and depended entirely on a vigorous French offensive on the right wing and center. The French reckoned on a Russian advance in the east with about 800,000 men on the 18th day of mobilization. Britain was expected to contribute about 150,000 men.  3
1914, Aug. 4
In the night the Germans crossed the frontier of Belgium, forcing Belgian troops back to Brussels and Antwerp.  4
The French offensive (five armies) developed in the region between Mézières and Belfort, Joffre hoping for a breakthrough on either side of Metz.  5
Aug. 14–25
Battle of the Frontiers. French forces met with failure in their invasion of Lorraine.  6
Aug. 23
Battle of Mons. First contact between Germans and British resulted in the latter's retreat.  7
A German advance forced the French and British to fall back to the Marne River. The French government moved to Bordeaux (Sept. 3–Dec. 1914). Joffre hastily formed a sixth army on his left, to outflank the German fifth army. Meanwhile Moltke, believing a decision had already been reached by August 25, detailed six corps from the second and third armies to serve on the Russian front.  8
Aug. 30
Kluck gave up his advance to the west of Paris in order to keep contact with Bülow's second army. By September 4 Kluck realized the danger threatening him from the sixth French army before Paris. On the same day Moltke ordered Kluck and Bülow to turn southwest to meet this danger. In the course of the operation a gap was allowed to open between the first and second German armies.  9
Sept. 5–12
BATTLE OF THE MARNE. The opposing armies tried to outflank each other, resulting in a German withdrawal west of Verdun and a cautious British and French advance.  10
Oct. 10–Nov. 10
THE RACE FOR THE SEA. The Germans failed to push through to the Channel ports.  11
By the end of 1914 the line on the western front had become fairly well fixed and the war had become a war of position, confined largely to trench warfare. All but a tip of Belgium was in the hands of the Germans. The Belgian government was established at Le Havre, while the occupied area was governed successively by Gen. Colmar von der Goltz (to Nov. 1914), Gen. Moritz von Bissing (to April 1917), and Gen. Ludwig von Falkenhausen (to the end of the war). The Germans also retained about one-tenth of the territory of France (21,000 square kilometers), including many of the most valuable coal and iron mines and several important industrial areas. The line, which in the course of the next three years did not vary by more than ten miles, left to the Allies Verdun, Rheims, and Soissons and thence turned northward between Noyon (Ger.), Montdidier (Fr.), Peronne (Ger.), Albert (Fr.), Bapaume (Ger.), Arras (Fr.), Lens, La Bassée (Ger.), Armentières, Ypres (Brit.), Passchendaele, Dixmude (Ger.), Nieuport (Brit.), Ostend (Ger.).  12
The operations in France in 1915 were devoid of broader interest. The commanders on both sides persisted in the belief that a decision was to be won in this area, and consequently devoted as many men and guns as possible to renewed efforts to break through the opponents' line. None of these “offensives” had a notable effect. All were characterized by appalling loss of life.  13
April 22–May 25
May 9–June 18
SECOND BATTLE OF ARTOIS. After an unprecedented bombardment, the French succeeded in breaking through on a six-mile front north of Arras and facing Douai.  15
The western front was unusually quiet during most of the summer, the Allies using this period for preparation of a “great offensive” for the autumn.  16
Sept. 22–Nov. 6
SECOND BATTLE OF CHAMPAGNE. After many weeks of desperate fighting the French offensive revealed little gain.  17
Sept. 25–Oct. 15
THIRD BATTLE OF ARTOIS. The failure of the great offensive of the French and British, which Joffre had hoped would work like a pair of pincers to force the German withdrawal from northern France, left the situation in the west substantially where it had been a year previously. (See The Western Front, 1916–1917)  18
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.