What Led to World War 1 And How Did it End for Different Nations Term Paper

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In 1917 Russia suffered two revolutions, which resulted in a drastic change of leadership. Tsarist Russia became Lenin's Soviet Russia and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed shortly thereafter in March 1918 with Germany. The treaty gave Germany much: over a million square millions and 60 million people -- a third of Russia's population -- were annexed. Russia lost railroads, factories, the majority of its coal and iron -- but Germany was in no position to immediately profit from the treaty. The Western Front was calling. Russia gained some peace from the treaty, and could now focus on its internal problems resulting from the recent overthrow and the war effort. Leading up to the treaty, Imperial Russia had suffered devastating casualties and food shortages. The Bolsheviks called for an end to the war on the Eastern Front, and Germany supported this call, allowing Lenin himself to return to Russia from his exile in Switzerland. A Soviet force called the Red Guards -- a paramilitary outfit opposed to Russia's provisional government -- formed and overtook the Winter Palace in October 1917. Peace talks led by Joffe on the Bolshevik side stalled when Germany demanded territorial concessions. Trotsky replaced Joffe and Lenin urged a quick signing, certain that peace would help to establish Bolshevik control on the homefront. But Trotsky also refused to make territorial concessions and walked away from talks. The Central Powers resumed hostilities against Russia, taking the Baltic States and Ukraine by force. They now threatened Petrograd, but opened the door to a renewed peace before striking. Lenin again urged the signing of a treaty. This time he won majority support from the Soviets. Russia gave up Finland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States. The acquisitions did not help Germany, however, as now it had to spread troops far and wide in foreign territories, which considered the military presence an occupation. Germany needed troops on the Western Front and now instead of war on the Eastern Front, it now had to "govern" its booty. Lenin consolidated his power with the treaty and all it cost Russia was a few territories that it could hope to take back when the time was right. Under Nicholas II, the cost to fight the war had been great -- deprivations and deaths on the homefront -- and millions of soldiers dead on the Eastern Front. Lenin got his peace, but he also changed the face of internal Russia in the process -- a step that, under Stalin, would prove to be as costly as any war.


Protests and workers' strikes were increasing on the German homefront as war continued into 1918. The Hundred Days Offensive had resulted in sound beating of German military forces on the Western Front. A mutiny by the Imperial German Navy ignited the German Revolution. Germany sued for peace, expressing a desire to accept Wilson's 14 Points, which touted free trade and self-determination as ideals to be guaranteed should all sides agree to end the war. Wilson's 14 Points were idealistic and not what Clemenceau nor Lloyd George nor Orlando had in mind. Just as Germany had demanded territorial concessions of Russia, the Allied Powers wanted to carve up Europe and limit German hegemony. On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that gave Germany two weeks to pull out of France, Belgium and Luxembourg. It also called for the Allies to occupy Germany. Germany (and the UK) were dependent on imports from America. Previously, an Allied blockade had been in effect to starve the Germans, and it is estimated that between half and three-quarters of a million civilians died as a result of it (Grebler, 1940). Germany was demilitarized (a demand of France, since it was not allowed to expand its borders to the Rhine). John Maynard Keynes observed that France wanted to "set back the clock" and return Germany to its mid-19th century, pre-Industrialization state. This too was wishful thinking and an insult to German ingenuity to think that it could be stymied. Gustav Bauer signed the Treaty of Versailles after attempting to have a number of articles removed, which the Allies refused to allow. Terms were not particularly favorable to Germany: it was forced to abandon its claims won by the treaty with Russia. It also had to cede territory to an independent Poland. On top of…[continue]

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