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Americans Join the Allies
Transcript of Americans Join the Allies
The Russian Revolution
Russia had been devastated by the war. Their Czar, Nicholas II, had grown more and more unpopular as casualties mounted.
Cleverly, the Germans had released a prisoner named Vladimir Lenin, a communist. He escaped to Russia and began preaching the message of communism, encouraging the people to overthrow their leaders. It worked.
Vladimir's Bolsheviks overthrew the government and set up their own, which made peace with the Germans. Germany no longer had to fight a two-front war.
The Spring Offensive
Moving troops from East to West, the Germans hammered the Allied lines in France.
The British and French fall back unable to stop them.
For the first time in years, a German victory looks not just possible but likely.
Here come the Americans
In the Spring of 1918, American soldiers began appearing in France. The French and British wanted to mix Americans in with their armies, but the American General Pershing refused, wanting to keep them as their own fighting force.
With the help of American soldiers (called "doughboys" by the Allies), the exhausted German army was stopped short of Paris.
Acts of Heroism
While Americans spent little time in the war, there was time for heroes to be made.
Corporal Alvin York took 132 German prisoners with just seven men.
An American pilot, Eddie Rickenbacker, shot down 26 enemy aircraft.
Germany all alone
As Germany desperately held on in France, their allies were falling apart.
The Ottomans were facing defeat by the Arabs in Palestine. Austria-Hungary was facing a major revolution- Hungary and Czechoslovakia had declared independence.
By November 1918, Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans had surrendered to the Allies.
Things were going badly in Germany. While their army had fought fantastically, the home front was falling apart.
There were shortages of food due to the British blockade. Socialists (largely led by Eastern European jews and inspired by the Russians, which will be important later) had led strikes at munitions factories. On November 9th, the Kaiser stepped down and Germany became a Republic.
On October 4th, 1918, the Germans went to American president Woodrow Wilson for an armistice (an end to fighting). Wilson agreed as long as the Germany pulled their troops from Belgium and France.
On November 11, 1918, the Great War was over.
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
In 1848, a man named Karl Marx wrote a work called the communist manifesto. It was immensely popular and laid out a new ideology.
In it, Marx lays out the "Materialist conception of history" stating that all of history is about class struggle (what is a class?).
Let's look at it more closely.
For Marx, there are two categories of people throughout history- the proletariat (workers) and bourgeoisie (owners).
The proletariat (serfs, slaves, factory workers) actually do all the producing while the bourgeoisie (lords, bankers, factory owners) do all the taking.
Therefore, the only way to solve this is for the proletariat to overthrow the bourgeoisie and remove all private property- only then can there be a classless society.
Marx's ideas had grown fashionable among some circles, however had not yet taken root in a country.
However, one country is about to be ripe for revolution....
Go Go Go!
After years of stalemate, Germany has a chance! Hundreds of thousands of troops are freed up to go west now that the Russians are out.
But they have to go quickly- the Americans are coming. Paris needs to be taken before they show up.
The Germans had figured out a few new tactics that they think can turn the tide.
First was the rolling artillery barrage- this meant artillery would bomb right in front of their own troops to shield them, then hit the trenches right before.
Second, they used "stormtroopers"- highly trained men hand-picked for aggressiveness. These would go in right at the end of the barrage and wreak havoc.