France & Germany; key historical events (from 1/1/1870 to 31/12/1928)
This page also covers World War One
Page last modified 10/1/2021
1928. Jean Marie Le Pen, French Far Right Wing politician was born, son of a Breton fisherman. He formed the National Front Party in 1972.
27/8/1928. In Paris, 15 nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war. The USSR signed the pact on 6/9/1928.
28/6/1928, In Germany, Hermann Muller, Social Democrat, was appointed Chancellor following the resignation of Wilhelm Marx on 13/6/1928.
13/6/1928, In Germany, Chancellor Wilhelm Marx resigned.
20/5/1928, In Germany, Socialists won the elections. The result was, Social Democrats rose from 131 seats to 153, to become the largest party but without an overall majority. Centre Party, 62 seats. Communists, 54 seats. German National People’s Party, 73 seats. German People’s Party, 45 seats. Nazis, 12 seats.
22/4/1928. In French elections Right-wing Parties won 325 out of the 610 seats.
28/3/1928. France shortened its term of compulsory military service to one year.
16/9/1927. President Von Hindenburg repudiated German responsibility for the Great War (World War One).
24/7/1927, The Menin Gate, a memorial at Ypres to the soldiers of the British Empire, was unveiled by Lord Plumer.
7/2/1927, Emile Coue, French psychotherapist, died at Nancy.
8/9/1926. The League of Nations voted to admit Germany as a member. On 11/9/1926 Spain left the League in protest at Germany joining.
29/8/1926. A Nazi Party rally was held at Nuremberg.
24/4/1926. Germany signed a friendship treaty with the USSR.
13/3/1926. Germany was refused a place on the League of Nations Council.
8/2/1926. Germany applied to join the League of Nations.
2/2/1926, Giscard D’Estang, French President, was born.
30/1/1926. British troops ended a 7-year occupation of the Rhineland.
1/12/1925, The Peace of Locarno was signed (by UK, France, Italy, and Germany), guaranteeing peace and existing national frontiers in Europe.
27/11/1925, Aristide Briand formed a Government in France.
9/11/1925. The German Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squad (SS), was formed.
16/10/1925, France and Germany concluded the Locarno Treaty, guaranteeing their mutual frontier. Italy and Britain also signed. Germany reaffirmed its renunciation of Alsace-Lorraine and guaranteed not to attack France or Belgium. Russia feared the Locarno Treaty meant an alliance of western powers against it, see 24/4/1926.
12/10/1925, Germany and the USSR signed a commercial treaty.
5/10/1925, The Locarno Conference opened, to decide the German border and future of the Rhineland.
13/7/1925. French troops begin to withdraw from the Rhineland.
18/6/1925. France accepted German proposals for a security pact. Hitler’s Mein Kampf was published.
25/4/1925. Hindenburg became President of Germany. He won 48.5% of the popular vote, against 42.5% for Wilhelm Marx of the Centre Party.
10/4/1925, In France, Paul Painleve became Prime Minister after the defeat of Edouard Herriot.
26/3/1925, Hindenburg was elected President of Germany.
27/2/1925, Hitler spoke at a Nazi meeting at a Munich beer hall.
14/2/1925. The ban on the Nazi Party in Bavaria was lifted.
15/1/1925, After a month of intense political negotiations in Germany, Hans Luther (Independent) succeeded Wilhelm Marx as Chancellor, and Gustav Stresemann became Foreign Minister.
20/12/1924. Adolf Hitler was freed from prison on parole after serving just 8 months of his jail term for high treason.
7/12/1924, In German elections, the Communists (45 seats) lost ground to the Social Democrats (131 seats). The Conservative Nationalists also gained (103 seats) whilst the Nazis slumped to 14 seats. The Centre Party won 69 seats.
2/12/1924, The UK and Germany signed a trade pact.
30/11/1924, The last French and Belgian troops left the Ruhr.
7/11/1924, Germany announced its first balanced budget since the war.
30/8/1924, The German Reichsbank was made independent of the government. It issued a new currency, the ReichsMark, at 1,000,000 million old Marks to the new currency.
17/8/1924. French and Belgian troops agreed to withdraw from the Ruhr within 1 year following Germany’s agreement on war reparations.
16/8/1924, The Allies and Germany accepted the Dawes Plan, for a revised timetable of reparations.
8/8/1924, A ten-nation summit agreed a plan drawn up by US banker Charles Dawes, designed to assist Germany’s economy and fulfil reparation payments.
8/7/1924, Adolf Hitler resumed leadership of the Nazi Party.
11/5/1924, In French elections the Left bloc emerged with the largest number of seats, 287 out of 581.
4/5/1924, In elections to the German Parliament (Reichstag), the Nationalists made gains, winning 95 seats, as did the Communists with 62 seats. The Social Democrats won 100 seats and the Centre Party had 65 seats. For the first time the National Socialist (Nazi) Party entered Parliament, with 32 seats.
1/4/1924. Adolf Hitler was jailed for 5 years for his part in the abortive Munich beer hall putsch.
26/2/1924, Adolf Hitler was charged with treason for his part in the abortive Munich beer hall putsch.
28/12/1923. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed the 300 metre Eiffel Tower, Paris, died aged 91.
15/11/1923. Rampant German inflation peaked with the Mark worth 4,200,000 Million to the US Dollar, and 10,000,000 Million to the UK Pound – if you could find anyone willing to change your marks for dollars. It had been 4.2 to the Dollar in 1914, 350,000 to the pound (1 pound was 5 dollars) on 1/6/1923, and 622,000 to the pound on 22/6/1923. A loaf of bread cost 63 pfennigs in 1918, and 250 pfennigs in January 1923. But by July 1923 a loaf cost 3,465 pfennigs, and by November 1923, 201,000 million marks. Workers were paid twice a day and by the evening a loaf of bread would cost what a house was worth in the morning.
Money had effectively become worthless; trade was done by barter. Middle class families with cash in the bank had been ruined. The problem had been that, after French troops occupied the Ruhr to enforce war reparations, the German Government began to print marks in huge numbers. German industry was unable to produce the goods to match the vast increase in money supply. On 15/11/1923 Germany introduced the Rentemark, tied to the country’s real estate. Each rentemark was worth 1,000 million old marks.
9/11/1923. The Munich beer hall putsch marked the start of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. This putsch against the Bavarian Government failed and Hitler was arrested on 11/11/1923 in a village outside Munich and imprisoned. Hitler then spent several months in prison in Landsberg Am Lech, Bavaria, where he dictated part of his Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess.
23/10/1923, A Communist uprising occurred in Hamburg.
22/10/1923, Communists in Hamburg led by Ernst Thälmann were secretly called on to mobilize.
11/10/1923, The German Mark reached 10,000 million to the UK Pound.
1/10/1923, The German mark reached 242,000,000 to the US$
30/9/1923, A German uprising in Dusseldorf against French occupation of The Ruhr.
27/9/1923. Martial law was proclaimed in Germany, under Article 48 of the Constitution.
15/9/1923, As the German economy deteriorated, the German Bank Rate was raised to 90%.
2/9/1923, Hitler fiercely denounced the Weimar Republic.
10/8/1923, Civil unrest began in Germany; strikes and riots, until 13/8/1923.
6/8/1923, In Germany, Gustav Stresemann was appointed Chancellor following the sudden resignation of Wilhelm Cuno. Stresemann formed a coalition Government.
1/7/1923, The German Mark reached 160,000 to the US$. Pre 1914 it had been 4.20; during 1922 the rate fell from 162 to over 7,000 to the US$.
31/5/1923, Prince Ranier III, prince of the House of Grimaldi, was born in Monaco.
31/3/1923, Rioting German workers at the Krupps works in Essen in French-occupied Ruhr were shot by French troops.
1/2/1923. Inflation in Germany continued; £1 was now worth 220,000 Marks. On 2/1/1922 £1 had been worth 30,000 Marks.
27/1/1923. The German Nazi Party held its first rally, in Munich.
12/1/1923 Germany protested at the occupation of the Ruhr (see 11/1/1923) and ceased all coal reparations shipments to France. The French erected customs posts and economically divided the region from the rest of Germany. This was a serious blow to the German economy, especially after the loss of the industrial Upper Silesia to Poland. The resultant economic disruption hit the German economy and its currency began to collapse. See 31/7/1925.
11/1/1923, Germany defaulted on reparations payments (see 26/12/1922), and French and Belgian troops occupied Essen and The Ruhr.
23/12/1922, Birth of Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor.
16/12/1922, The Reparation Commission accused Germany of intentional shortfalls in wood and coal deliveries to France. See 11/1/1923.
22/11/1922, Wilhelm Cuno succeeded Wirth as German Chancellor.
4/9/1922, Silesia voted to remain with Prussia.
24/6/1922, German Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau, aged 54, was murdered by anti-Semitic nationalists.
16/4/1922. Germany restored relations with the USSR, signing the Second Treaty of Rapallo. Secretly, the USSR agreed to let Germany build and test weapons in Soviet territory that were forbidden within Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.
26/2/1922, Britain and France concluded a 20-year alliance.
25/2/1922, The French murderer Henri Landru, known as Bluebeard, was guillotined. He had killed 10 women after luring them to his flat by dating adverts in newspapers.
31/1/1922, In Germany, Walter Rathenau was appointed Foreign Minister.
15/1/1922, In France, Raymond Poincare formed a Government in France, following Aristide Briand’s resignation on 12//1/1903.
13/1/1922, At a conference at Cannes, the Allies agreed to postpone Germany’s reparation payments.
2/1/1922. As inflation soared in Germany, £1 bought over 30,000 German Marks. See 1/2/1923.
15/12/1921. Germany sought a moratorium on reparations.
4/11/1921. The German currency began to collapse.
17/10/1921, Ludwig III, King of Bavaria, died.
14/10/1921, Demolition of the great fortress of Heligoland was completed.
30/9/1921. French troops pulled out of the Ruhr.
21/9/1921, Large explosion at German factory near Mannheim; 2,000 killed or injured.
26/8/1921, The former German Finance Minister, Mathias Erzberger, was assassinated by a nationalist gang.
25/8/1921. Peace treaty (Treaty of Berlin) signed between Germany and the USA.
29/7/1921 Hitler became President of the National Socialist Party.
28/5/1921, In Germany, Chancellor Wirth appointed industrialist Walter Rathenau as Minister for Reconstruction, including responsibility for reparations.
20/5/1921, Germany and China resumed diplomatic relations.
6/5/1921, Germany and Russia signed a peace treaty.
4/5/1921. France invaded the Ruhr to enforce reparations.
2/5/1921, France mobilised its troops in preparation for an invasion of the Ruhr.
27/4/1921, The Allies claimed £6,650 million (132,000 million gold Marks) compensation from Germany. Germany reluctantly agreed, but it would put a great strain on the German economy. The Fehrenbach German government at once resigned. The Allies threatened that if Germany did not agree, they would occupy the Ruhr.
24/4/1921. Germany pleaded in vain to the USA for aid on reparations. On 27/4/1921 reparations were set at £6.65 billion.
24/3/1921, Pro-Communist riots in Hamburg, Germany.
23/3/1921. Germany defaulted on reparations.
20/3/1921, A plebiscite in Upper Silesia resulted in a majority vote for remaining with Germany. Germany tried to claim that the whole territory should therefore remain as German, no part passing to Poland. The resultant crisis, with France supporting Poland, was passed to the League of Nations, see 20/10/1921.
8/3/1921. Because of Germany’s failure to give a satisfactory response to demands for war reparations, Allied troops occupied the Ruhr towns. Germany agreed to pay war reparations on 11/5/1921. These consisted of £10 billion in gold over the next 42 years plus a 12.5% tax on Germany’s exports.
1/3/1921, Allied troops entered Germany to enforce war reparations payments.
24/1/1921, The Reparations Conference in Paris fixed German war reparations at US$ 56 billion, to be paid over 42 years; of this sum, France would get 52%. German politician reacted with outrage, seeing this as ‘enslavement of the German economy’, and defaulted on repayments on 23/3/1921. Under pressure from the US, the Allies reduced their claim but when Germany defaulted on this, too, they reoccupied the Rhineland.
16/1/1921, In France, Aristide Briand formed a Government.
10/1/1921, In Leipzig, war trials began at the German Supreme Court.
30/12/1920, The French Communist Party was founded at Tours.
10/12/1920, Woodrow Wilson and Leon Bourgeois were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
23/9/1920, Alexandre Millerande was elected President of France, succeeding Paul Deschanel who had resigned due to ill-health.
10/8/1920. Other post-war provisions included the creation of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, Galicia was given to Poland, Transylvania to Romania, and Istria, Trentino, and South Tyrol to Italy. Greece and Yugoslavia acquired parts of Bulgaria. German East Africa went to Britain, the Samoan Islands to New Zealand, and South West Africa to South Africa. Germany itself lost territory to Poland, France, Denmark, and Lithuania.
11/7/1920, The result of a plebiscite in East and West Prussia was a 97% vote to remain with Germany.
21/6/1920, In Germany, Konstantin Fehrenbach of the Centre Party became Chancellor. His coalition Government of Social Democrats and Centre Party was joined by the People’s Party.
14/6/1920, Max Weber, German sociologist died aged 56.
6/6/1920, In Germany, the first elections held after the Treaty of Versailles showed a shift away from the Social Democrats and Centre, towards extremist Parties.
1/4/1920, The Nazi Party was officially founded in Germany.
19/4/1920, The Conference of San Remo opened. Following on from the London Conference (see 12/1/2920), post World War One frontiers in Europe were settled.
19/3/1920. In Germany, Socialists rebelled and captured Essen.
14/3/1920, A plebiscite in the middle zone of Schleswig favoured integration with Germany.
13/3/1920. A pro-Royalist coup was attempted in Berlin, led by Dr Wolfgang Kapp. The German Government had to retreat to Stuttgart but the German workers opposed the coup and began a general strike; the coup plotters had to flee.
24/2/1920. The National Socialist Workers (Nazi) party, led by Adolf Hitler, published a programme for a Third Reich.
6/2/1920, The League of Nations took over administration of Saarland from France.
5/2/1920, Germany refused to hand over alleged war criminals to the Allies.
23/1/1920, The Netherlands refused to extradite Kaiser Wilhelm II, as demanded by the Suprme Allied War Council.
20/1/1920, Peace Talks in Paris concluded, see 18/1/1919.
17/1/1920, Paul Deschanel was elected President of France.
31/7/1919. Germany adopted the Weimar Constitution, named after the town where the constitution was drafted.
12/7/1919, Britain and France authorised the resumption of commercial relations with Germany.
4/7/1919. France demobilised its troops.
28/6/1919. The Treaty of Versailles was signed. This peace treaty between the Allies and the Germans was signed at Versailles and officially ended World War One, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand started it. Alsace Lorraine was returned to France, German colonies were under mandate, German East Africa went to Britain and German South West Africa (Namibia) to South Africa. The west bank of the Rhine and a zone 30 miles deep on its east bank was demilitarised. See 7/5/1919.
22/6/1919, The German National Assembly at Weimar authorised the signing of the Peace Treaty.
20/6/1919, The German Chancellor, Schiedemann, fell due to his opposition to the Paris Peace Plan. On 21/6/1919 Gustave Bauer formed a Cabinet comprising Social Democrats, Centre, and Democrats.
29/5/1919, German delegates made counter-proposals to the Paris Peace conference,
7/5/1919, Peace terms were dictated to Germany. Germany had to ceded Alsace-Loraine to France; Upper Silesia, most of Poznan, and West Prussia went to Poland. This separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany as Poland gained a corridor to the sea at Danzig. North Schleswig went to Germany and Memel went to Lithuania. See 28/6/1919.
6/5/1919. Peace conference shared out former German colonies.
2/5/1919. German troops entered Munich to crush the fledgling Soviet Republic in Bavaria.
4/4/1919. At Versailles, the Germans agreed to make Danzig a ‘free city’.
11/3/1919. The Allies agreed to supply famine-hit Germany with food.
22/2/1919. After the murder of the Bavarian Prime Minister, Kurt Eisner, a Soviet Republic was declared in Bavaria.
4/2/1919, The ‘Soviet Republic of Bremen’ was suppressed.
23/1/1919. The Socialists won the German elections.
18/1/1919, Peace talks opened at Versailles. See 20/1/1920. 27 nations attended; Germany was excluded
12/1/1919, Delegates arrived in Paris for the Peace talks, see 18/1/1919.
11/1/1919. The Spartacus League initiated a week of revolt in Berlin. Led by Rosa Luxembburg and Karl Leibknecht, they wanted a Communist workers State in Germany
10/1/1919, Bremen declared itself a Soviet Republic; this was crushed on 4/2/1919,
5/1/1919. The Nazi (National Socialist) Party was founded in Germany. Adolf Hitler, a soldier in World War One who was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, and who was angry at the armistice terms imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, and extremely opposed to Communism, headed the new Party. Hitler was a poor student in the Austrian secondary school system. He became an artist but failed to gain entry to the Academy of Fine Arts; Hitler was a melancholic character, obsessed by fears that Jews, linked to communists, would take over the world.
30/12/1918, The German Communist Party was founded. However within a fortnight, irregular German troops had murdered its leaders.
23/12/1918, Helmut Schmidt, German leader, was born (died 2015)
6/12/1918. Allied troops occupied Cologne.
5/12/1918, The British Prime Minister demanded that the ex-German Kaiser be prosecuted by an International Court.
2/12/1918, One of the last acts of the British War Cabinet; it demanded the extradition of the German Kaiser Wilhelm.
1/12/1918. The British Second Army entered Germany.
30/11/1918. German occupation of Bucharest, capital of Rumania, ended, see 6/12/1916.
25/11/1918, French troops entered Strasbourg.
23/11/1918, Mutinous German sailors occupied the Chancellery and took Ebert hostage; he was rescued on 24/11/1918 by soldiers from Potsdam.
21/11/1918. Surrender of the German Fleet to the Allies at Scapa Flow, for internment. On 21/6/1919 it was scuttled at Scapa Flow, in the Orkneys.
18/11/1918. The German occupation of Brussels ended, see 20/8/1914.
11/11/1918. Armistice Day. World War One ended. Fighting ceased on the Western Front, and Austro-Hungary signed an armistice with the Allies. See 29/9/1918. Church bells rang out across Britain in celebration. The Allies had not expected such a sudden collapse of Germany; in September 1918 they were planning campaigns for 1919. However General Ludendorff was shaken by the sudden Allied advance (see 8/8/1918) and begged Kaiser Wilhelm to seek an armistice immediately. The Armistice was signed in Marshal Foch’s railway carriage, near Compiegne. Warsaw became the capital of a restored Polish State. The armistice required Germany to relinquish 5,000 heavy guns, 30,000 machine guns, 2,000 aircraft, all U-boats, 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 wagons and 5,000 lorries. The surface fleet was to be interned (see 21/11/1918), the Allies were to occupy the Rhineland, and the blockade of German ports would continue. World War One cost 9 million lives, with a further 27 million injured. Britain alone had lost 750,000 men, and a further 200,000 from the Empire, with another 1.5 million seriously injured. The War had cost the Allies an estimated US$ 126 billion, and the Central Powers a further US$ 60 billion. Britons now celebrated, and wages rose, although higher food prices eroded some of those gains. Women, at least those over 30, finally had the vote, and smoking, gambling and movies boomed, with Charlie Chaplin as movie star. The US was the greatest beneficiary of the War. US losses amounted to 53,000 men, a small number compared to 8,500,000 casualties of the European combatants. US industry had become more efficient, and key sectors such as chemicals had learned to do without Europe; the US aviation industry had been transformed. Economically, The US had needed European capital before 1914; by 1918 Europe owed the US some US$ 10,000 million.
9/11/1918. Kaiser William II abdicated and fled to Holland, and a German Republic was founded. On 11/11/1918 the Emperor of Austria, Karl, abdicated and a Republic was founded.
8/11/1918, Abdication of the King of Wurttemberg and Duke Ernest of Brunswick.
3/11/1918.. Austria signed an armistice with the Allies.
30/10/1918. Austria completed the evacuation of its troops from Italian territory. Austria became an independent German speaking state. See 23/10/1918,
28/10/1918, Mutiny broke out amongst German sailors at Kiel, spreading rapidly to Hamburg and Bremen. On 7/11/1918 insurrection broke out at Munich.
23/10/1918, Italian forces counterattacked against the Austrians near Vittorio Veneto, reaching the Piave River on 27/10/1918, By 30/10.1918 the Italians, with the aid of British forces, had the Austrians in full retreat.
20/10/1918. Germany stopped U-boat warfare.
19/10/1918, Belgian forces recaptured Zeebrugge and Brugges.
18/10/1918. Lille was recaptured from the Germans.
12/10/1918, Germany and Austria agreed to US President Woodrow’s demand that their troops should return to their own territory before an armistice could be signed.
9/10/1918, British forces took Le Cateau.
8/10/1918, The French retook Cambrai, see 26/8/1914.
29/9/1918. (1) Allied troops captured part of the Hindenburg Line. Ludendorff called for an armistice to avert a catastrophe for Germany. Negotiations opened with President Woodrow Wilson of the USA on 4/10/1918 but fighting continued till 11/11/1918.
(2) Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies.
26/9/1918, General Allied offensive on the Western Front; the Germans were fighting now only to cover their retreat.
14/9/1918, Austria-Hungary attempted to negotiate a separate peace deal with the Allies, which was refused.
13/9/1918. In the USA, 14 million men had registered for conscription.
12/9/1918, At the Battle of St Mihel, the US 1st Army under Pershing captured the St Mihel salient.
4/9/1918. The Germans retreated to the Siegfried Line.
30/8/1918. British troops crossed the Somme.
8/8/1918. General Haig initiated a surprise offensive against the Germans at Amiens which started a continuous retreat of the Germans through to Armistice Day on 11/11/1918. The lessons of The Somme (see 13/11/1916) had finally been learnt. Low flying aircraft drowned out the noise of tank manoeuvres, ammunition dumps were camouflaged, and decoy tank movements distracted the Germans. When the Allies began a major creeping bombardment, the tanks moved in behind to crush the barbed wire and infantry swiftly followed to consolidate the territorial gains. On their part, the Germans were demoralised by the stalling of their great Spring offensive (see 13/4/1918) and also by news of hunger, rioting and strikes back in Germany. Reinforced by US troops, the Allies found the Germans ready to retreat, and advanced eight miles on the first day. The battle lines had become mobile again, and were moving east. In Ludendorff’s words, it was a black day for the German Army.
The Allies were reinforced by US troops and further British troops were returning from Palestine. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, agreed to release reserve divisions of conscripts, which he had held back, now convinced he was not simply sending them into another meat grinder like The Somme or Passchendaele. With an assembly of 456 tanks and 2,000 guns and howitzers the Allies forced the Germans back on a 14-mile front, for 8 miles. 400 German guns were captured, along with 12,000 prisoners. The new Allied tactics continued to work against stiff German resistance and by mid September the Germans had retreated to the massive defences of their Hindenburg Line, 3 miles in depth. However the Germans were demoralised and after 10 days of fighting the Hindenburg Line was broken through at Saint Quentin. German soldiers going on home leave, passing fresh troops travelling west to the front, taunted them with calls of ‘you’re only prolonging the war’. However casualties on all sides were very high. In the three months following Amiens, August 1918, 531,000 French soldiers died or were wounded or captured, as many as in the eight months of Verdun 1916. The figure for US soldiers for those three months was 127,000, over twice as many as lost in Vietnam. For British and Empire troops, the toll was 411,000, the same as during the 4 ½ months of The Somme. German losses were even higher; 785,000 killed and wounded, and 386,000 prisoners taken by the Allies.
A major issue for Germany was lack of food. Germany had been over 80% self-sufficient in food in 1914, but the military had removed labour from the farms without compensatory inputs of fertiliser or mechanisation. German food production plummeted and by 1918 German citizens had just 64% of pre-war cereals, 18% of the meat, and 12% of the fats they had consumed in 1913.
On the German Home Front, Ludendorff and the other Generals knew the War was lost weeks before the November 1918 Armistice. Although by then Germany was effectively a military dictatorship, the military pretended that surrender was only due to the wishes of civilian politicians. This perpetuated a post-War myth that the German Army had not been defeated at all, but betrayed by left-wing politicians, that the German Army was in fact invincible. Less than 20 years later that myth helped fuel the rise of the Nazis.
From this day, the final German retreat began. Closing stage of World War Two.
18/7/1918. Allied forces launched a counter offensive on the Marne, capturing Soissons (see 9/4/1918).
15/7/1918, The Second Battle of the Marne began, when General Ludendorff attempted an advance; this was thwarted by British, French, and US troops. Marshall Ferdinand Foch of France launched an offensive on the Marne which led the Germans to seek an armistice in November 1918.
15/6/1918, The Austrians began an offensive against the Italians along the Piave River Front; they were attempting to break through to the fertile farmlands of the Veneto. See 23/10/1918.
10/6/1918, The Battle of Belleau Wood ended.
9/6/1918, Germany opened an offensive near Compeigne.
6/6/1918, Battle of Belleau Wood began.
27/5/1918, The Germans took Soissons in a thrust towards Paris.
9/5/1918, British troops averted a German attack on Ostend, Belgium.
7/5/1918. Romania signed a peace treaty with Germany (The Fourth Treaty of Bucharest). Southern Dobruja was transferred from Romania to Bulgaria; Bulgaria had been seeking the whole of the Dobruja. See 27/11/1919.
29/4/1918. The last big German offensive on the Western Front petered out.
23/4/1918.British forces raided Zeebrugge. They accomplished their objective of sinking concrete-filled British ships in the harbour entrance to block it, bottling up German submarines.
9/4/1918. Germany launched a major offensive at Ypres. Reinforced by the arrival of 70 divisions freed up on the eastern front by the capitulation of Russia, Germany tried to knock the western Allies out of the war before new American troops could arrive. However instead of concentrating his attack here on the British forces, Ludenforff ordered secondary attacks on the French sector of the front at Chemin des Dames on 27/5/1918 and west of Reims on 15/7/1918. The Allied line held and a major counter offensive was launched on 18/7/1918,
28/3/1918, Ludendorff launched Operation Mars against the left wing of the British Third Army, to force a salient into Allied lines, but he was repulsed.
26/3/1918, The Battle of Rosieres, northern France, began.
24/3/1918, The Battle of Baupame, northern France, began.
23/3/1918. Ludendorff made a tactical error. Believing the Allied forces were already almost defeated, he failed to set definite objectives for his offensive and simply made general thrusts, gaining territory to the north west, west and south west, towards Beauvais and Paris. However he should have concentrated his efforts towards capturing the strategic rail junction of Amiens, whose loss would have forced the Allies to the negotiating table before US troops could be fully deployed. Meanwhile German troops shelled Paris from a distance of 75 miles, using a large gun called ‘Big Bertha’.Bertha’.
21/3/1918. Major German offensive began on the Somme. This was Ludendorff’s desperate bid for victory before American troops could become effective. British casualties were over 300,000, and the Germans advanced on a 50 mile-wide front, in an attempt to reach the Channel ports, and drive a wedge between the British and French Armies, but the German advance was halted.
The last German offensives on the Western Front began. Penultimate stage of World War One.
3/3/1918. The Bolshevik government in Russia assigned the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with the Germans. Lenin insisted on signing, against the wishes of Trotsky. Trotsky wanted the Communist Revolution to spread throughout Germany, but Lenin feared the rapid advance of German troops into Russia, approaching Petrograd.
Russia lost heavily in terms of land and industry (Russia lost 56 million inhabitants, 79% of its iron, and 89% of its coal production), but the Bolsheviks needed peace at any cost before their new and shaky administration was overthrown, by Germany or by anti-Bolshevik White Russians and Czechoslovak troops. Under this Treaty, Finland regained its independence from Russia. The Baltic Republics were ceded to Germany. Communists (recruited from Finnish labourers) joined Red Guards to try and re-establish Communist control in Finland. Germany moved in to repulse them. See 6/4/1918. Turkey regained territories lost to Russia even in 1877.
For events of 1917 Russian Revolution see Russia
25/2/1918. Minsk was occupied by the Germans.
21/2/1918. Australian cavalry captured Jericho from the Turks.
18/2/1918, Germany launched a big offensive on the Russian Front.
9/2/1918. Ukraine signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.
28/1/1918. A general workers strike began in Berlin.
20/1/1918, The German naval base at Ostend was bombarded by Allied ships.
31/12/1917, During the year 1917 German submarines sank 6,500,000 tons of Allied shipping whilst only 2,700,000 tons was built. In April 1917 Britain had only two months’ worth of food stocks. However with US destroyer patrols searching for German submarines, escorted transatlantic convoys and the mining of the seas between Scotland and Norway, Allied losses were dramatically reduced and after April 1918 never exceeded 200,000 tons a month.
22/12/1917. The Bolsheviks opened peace talks with Germany and Austria. The Allies accused |Russia of betrayal.
10/12/1917, Italy torpedoed the Austrian warship Wien in Trieste.
5/12/1917. Russia signed an armistice with Germany, at Brest-Litovsk.
3/12/1917, Britain refused to recognise Bolshevik Russia. Meanwhile German and Austrian delegates met at Brest-Litovsk to end Russian participation in World War One, see 3/3/1918.
1/12/1917. German East Africa cleared of German forces.
29/11/1917, The Inter Allied War Conference opened. Lloyd George of Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France and Baron Sidney Sonnino of Italy were concerned that US soldiers and material quickly reach the front lines against Germany, since post-Revolution Russia had ceased fighting.
20/11/1917. Major British tank offensive at Cambrai. The Battle of Cambrai ended on 3/12/1917.
15/11/1917, General Allenby advanced to within three miles of Jaffa.
12/11/1917, Austrian forces established a bridgehead at Zenson, 20 miles north-east of Venice.
10/11/1917, The Third Battle of Ypres ended, see 31/7/1917. The plans of British General Haig to break through the German lines was in tatters; all the Allies had gained was a few square miles of swamp and an obliterated village, after 156 days of fighting and 250,000 deaths, at Paschaendaele. The tremors from the mining of the Messines Ridge had been felt in Downing Street. That August had been the wettest in living memory, turning the ground into an impassable quagmire; Allied troops faced death by drowning as much as by gunfire. The constant shelling had disrupted the system of dykes and streams which drained the flat fields of Flanders. Meanwhile in Palestine, British forces captured Tel-Aviv.
6/11/1917. Canadian troops captured the village of Paschendaele, during the Third Battle of Ypres.
5/11/1917. American troops under General Pershing went into action for the first time on the Western Front.
1/11/1917, In Germany, Count von Hertling was appointed Chancellor.
31/10/1917. The Italian army was shattered unexpectedly by a German onslaught in northern Italy and was retreating towards the Piave River, just 15 miles from Venice. The Italian Second Army had held the Austrians off during 1916 and had captured the fortress of Monte Santo only 2 months earlier. The Italians had seemed well dug in around the mountains of Caporetto and Udine. However a heavy creeping artillery barrage by the Germans and gas attacks drove the Italians back. Morale collapsed within the Italian army, and despite roadblocks and court martials, up to half a million soldiers deserted. A further 300,000 Italian soldiers were captured by the Germans, and the Italians lost 10,000 dead and 30,000 wounded in the German attacks.
24/10/1917, The Austrian offensive against Italy was halted on the Piave River. Boroevics army was so reduced by Italian forces during August and September 1917 that Germany and Austria feared a collapse of Austro-Hungary.
23/10/1917, The Battle of Caporetto began.
15/10/1917. The legendary Dutch spy Mata Hari, who danced in the nude, was executed by a firing squad in Paris, having been found guilty of espionage by the Germans.
4/10/1917, British victory on Passchendaele Ridge.
3/10/1917, The Battle of Polygon Wood (Ypres) ended.
1/10/1917. (1) Air raids on London.
(2) Damascus fell to General Allenby.
1/9/1917, German offensive against Russia; Riga fell to the Germans.
20/8/1917 The French broke through the Verdun front on an 11 mile wide offensive.
17/8/1917, Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo; Italy made minor gains.
3/8/1917, German sailors mutinied at Wilhelmshaven.
31/7/1917. The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began, see 10/11/1917.
25/7/1917, Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman called Margaretha Geetruida Macleod (nee Zelle), aged 41, who used her charms to tempt French Army officers to betray military secrets, was found guilty of spying by a military court (despite very little evidence of her guilt) and sentenced to death by firing squad. She was initially hired by the French to spy in German-occupied Belgium.
19/7/1917. Mutinies broke out in the German Navy. The German Reichstag passed a motion to end the war.
14/7/1917, General Pershing, 57, arrived in Paris to set up the headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).
27/6/1917. 14,000 American troops arrived in France to fight with the Allies. The American expeditionary force was commanded by General John Pershing.
8/6/1917. Haig launched a new Flanders offensive.
7/6/1917, The British captured the Messines Ridge. The British had begun tunnelling under the Ridge from august 1915, and placed high explosives in the tunnels, detonated at 3.10 am. A million pounds of explosive was used, and the explosion was heard in London and Dublin.
4/6/1917. Brazil declared war against Germany and seized all German ships in its ports In France, with the co-operation of the provisional Russian government, a Polish army was formed to fight Germany.
15/5/1917. Henri Petain became French Commander in Chief.
5/5/1917. The Battle of Arras, 9 April to 5 May. The Allied Spring offensive against the Germans pushed them back 3 to 4 miles from the eastern suburbs of Arras, capturing several important hills.
4/5/1917. Widespread mutiny amongst French units on the Front.
3/5/1917, US destroyers arrived to join the British navy.
18/4/1917, The Second battle of Gaza; Turkish forces, with German support, forced back British forces.
11/4/1917. (1) Brazil broke off relations with Germany after the steamer Parana was torpedoed off France. On 1/6/1917 Brazil revoked its neutrality in the War as a mark of ‘continental solidarity and friendship with the USA’. After more Brazilian shipping was sunk, Brazil declared war on Germany on 26/10/1917. Brazil’s direct contribution to the war was the dispatch of part of its fleet to European waters and the sending of a medical mission and some aviators to the Western Front. The main contribution was placing its food supplies and other resources at the disposal of the Allies.
(2) British general Sir Edmund Allenby, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, occupied Jerusalem following his victory in Palestine over the Turks.
10/4/1917 Canadian troops captured Vimy Ridge in northern France, with heavy casualties. This was a major assault during the Battle of Arras, World War One.
9/4/1917, The Canadians stormed Vimy Ridge, see 10/4/1917.
7/4/1917. Cuba declared war on Germany.
6/4/1917. The USA declared war against Germany, with a declaration signed by President Woodrow Wilson. This followed the revealing by the British on 1/3/1917 of the Zimmerman Telegram, a missive from Germany to Mexico urging it to declare war on the USA and recover its lost territories. The German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman, had sent a coded telegram to the German Ambassador in Mexico offering an alliance against the US, in which Mexico would recover its territories of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. British naval intelligence intercepted and decoded the message and passed it to President Wilson. American shipping bound for Britain had also been attacked by German submarines
The Germans did not believe that the US could raise and equip an effective army quickly enough to make a difference in Europe, and that even if they did, it could not be transported across a submarine-infested ocean. They seriously underestimated the determination and resources of the US. The US did indeed have only a relatively small standing army, 300,000 men including the National Guard and reserves, but conscription was introduced and many willingly signed up.
Meanwhile this day the King and Queen of England attended a Thanksgiving service at St Pauls Cathedral for the US’s entry into the ‘war for freedom’.
26/3/1917. Britain attacked the Turks at Gaza (First Battle of Gaza).
20/3/1917. A German U-boat sank a fully-lit hospital ship.
19/3/1917, French Prime Minister Briand resigned. Alexandre Ribot formed a Cabinet.
26/2/1917. News of the sinking of the Cunard liner Laconia by German U-boats reached capitol Hill just as Congress was debating measures to protect US shipping from the growing menace of U boats in the Atrlantic. Earlier in February 1917 a US ship, the Housatonic was sunk, making a total of 134 neutral ships destroyed by the Germans in the last 3 weeks. The US navy was already mounting patrols to protect its ships in the Atlantic.
The entry of the United States of America into the War; from this time on the German cause was doomed.
25/2/1917. The Germans retreated on the Ancre, and on 28/2/1917 the British captured Gommecourt.
13/2/1917, The Dutch spy Mata Hari was arrested by the French.
12/2/1917, US President Wilson refused to reopen negotiations with Germany until it abandoned its policy of unrestricted naval warfare; on 3/2/1917 the US liner Housatonic had been sunk by a German U-boat.
31/1/1917. Germany announced a policy of unrestricted naval warfare. All ships, passenger or cargo, found by Germans could now be sunk without warning. This was a calculated risk by Germany because it was bound to involve US shipping being sunk, and would therefore bring the USA in against Germany. But Germany reckoned on the inevitability of the USA entering the war against here soon anyway, and believed she could win the war before this happened. The German Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Von Holtzendorff, presented a memo to the Kaiser saying that if 600,000 tons of Allied shipping could be sunk each month, within five months Britain would have to surrender. In fact, in the worst month, April 1917, German U-boats sank 869,103 tons of shipping, 373 ships. The British adopted a convoy system, despite fears that a convoy’s speed was limited to that of the slowest ship. The Navy had feared it had too few destroyers for this job but then realised that it had enough if only ocean-going ships, not cross-Channel traffic, was guarded.
Meanwhile the British navy deployed Q-ships, gunships disguised as merchant ships which lured U-boats to the surface then opened their gun hatches at the last moment. The first trial convoy ran from Gibraltar on 10/5/1917. The convoy system worked; of 26,604 vessels convoyed in 1917, only 147 were sunk. Meanwhile the Germans lost 65 of their 139 U-boats. Meanwhile Allied shipping blockaded German trade, creating shortages of tea and coffee, but more seriously, fertiliser shortages too. In the final German land offensive of 1918, advancing German troops discovered their privations were not being endured by the enemy, and German morale fell.
4/1/1917, Britain and Germany agreed to exchange all internees aged over 45.
31/12/1916, By the end of 1916, Russia had seen some 3,600,000 of its citizens killed or wounded in the Great War, and a further 2,000,000 taken prisoner by the Central Powers.
15/12/1916. The Battle of Verdun, which began on 21/2/1916, ended. 364,000 Allied soldiers and 338,000 German soldiers, had died in this battle.
13/12/1916. New British offensive in Mesopotamia.
12/12/1916, Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander in Chief of French armies in N and NE France.
6/12/1916, The Central Powers occupied Bucharest.
13/11/1916, The Battle of the Somme ended. It had begun on 1/7/1916, and succeeded in driving the Germans north towards the coast, but cost over 600,000 Allied lives; 420,000 British and 200,000 French. German casualties were 450,000. At Verdun, ten months of fighting had cost another 400,000 men from both sides. The Allies gained, at the Somme, some two miles of ground for these casualties, about five lives lost per inch gained. The Germans knew the ‘Big Push’ was coming, and had prepared well by stockpiling ammunition then sitting deep in underground bunkers waiting. The Allied bombardment fully announced this push, but did not destroy the German bunkers. After the bombardment the Allied soldiers walked forward over no man’s land carrying their kit, guns, and grenades, at least 30 kg or 60 lbs per person on a hot summer day. The Germans, as soon as the bombardment ended, climbed back up and scythed down the Allies in a hail of machine gun fire. On the first day of that offensive, the Allies lost 19,000 men with a further 57,000 wounded, the greatest loss ever on a single day. Bad communications and slowness meant the few gains made were mostly lost again.
10/11/1916, Theobald von Bethmann, German Chancellor, made a speech to the Reichstag pledging that Germany would join or even lead a peace league after the War, to prevent such a catastrophic war from ever happening again. In part he was responding to anti-war concerns from Social Democrats within Germany. The German Government was also now open to a peace agreement for the same reason as the Allies opposed it – because Germany was now in control of large swathes of Europe from France to Russia.
2/11/1916, French forces recaptured Fort Vaux, which the Germans had taken on 7/6/1916.
26/10/1916. Francois Mitterand, President of France from 1981, and founder of the French Socialist Party, was born.
24/10/1916. French troops broke open a four mile stretch of the German lines at Verdun, and another offensive started there.
24/9/1916, The French bombed the Krupp works at Essen. A second Zeppelin was shot down in England.
17/9/1916, Manfred von Richtofen, the ‘Red Baron’, Germany’s greatest air ace, won the first of his 80 confirmed kills over Cambrai, France.
14/9/1916, Seventh Battle of Isonzo; Italian forces made small gains.
12/9/1916, British and Serbian forces mounted an attack from Salonika, but were unable to help Romania.
9/9/1916, Battle of Ginchy. The Irish 16th Division captured the German-held village of Ginchy in north eastern France, but at a cost of 4,330 casualties.
4/9/1916. British troops took Dar Es Salaam in east Africa.
30/8/1916. Paul Von Hindenburg became Chief of General Staff in Germany. He became Commander in Chief on the Western Front on 29/11/1916.
28/8/1916. Italy declared war on Germany.
27/8/1916. Rumania declared war on Germany, see 6/12/1916. Austria declared war on Rumania.
26/8/1916, Battle of Delville Wood. After a week’s delay due to rain, the British attacked and captured the German trenches.
22/8/1916, Romania declared war on Austro-Hungary. Its troops crossed the passes into Transylvania but were expelled again by mid-November.
19/8/1916. German warships bombarded the east coast of England.
17/8/1916, The UK, France, Russia, and Italy guaranteed Romania the Banat, Transylvania, the Hungarian Plain as far as the Tisza River and Bukovina as far as the Prut River, if it declared war on Austro-Hungary.
19/7/1916, At Fromelles, a preliminary British bombardment of a German salient gave away all hopes of a surprise attack, then troops were ordered to advance across open marshy ground towards a well defended German position. Allied casualties e3xceeded 7,000 with only minor and temporary territorial gains.
14/7/1916, Bazentin le Grand and Bazentin le Petit, villages in the Somme area, were taken by the Allies. They were lost and then recaptured again in 1918.
1/7/1916. Battle of the Somme began. Britain and France launched a major offensive. This offensive lasted until 8/11/1916, and one million were killed, including 500,000 British. However the Germans were only beaten back ten miles – over one casualty per inch of ground won. The Germans retained the key rail junction of Bapaume. On this first day of battle alone, there were over 100,000 casualties, including 60,000 British. However for the Germans the massive casualties of the Somme made it impossible thereafter to obtain enough trained soldiers, hence it marked the turning point of the War for France.
24/6/1916. A new German offensive began at Verdun.
23/6/1916. A Russian offensive captured most of Galicia.
22/6/1916, The Germans gassed French artillery positions around Verdun, France, causing 1,600 casualties.
18/6/1916, Russian forces took Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine).
14/6/1916, Allied economic conference in Paris.
7/6/1916, German forces captured Fort Vaux. Recaptured by the French on 2/11/1916.
6/6/1916, Allied forces blockaded Greece.
5/6/1916. Lord Kitchener, British General and conqueror of the Sudan, born 24/6.1850 near Listowel, County Kerry, died when his cruiser HMS Hampshire hit a German mine off the Orkney Islands, en route to Russia. There were no survivors.
4/6/1916, Russia began the Brusilov Offensive, pushing back Austrian forces south of the Pripet Marshes. German reinforcements halted the Russian advance.
2/6/1916. Second Battle of Ypres.
1/6/1916, Germany established a War Food Office to set controlled prices for food. A bad harvest in Autumn 1916 led to strict food rationing.
31/5/1916. Battle of Jutland. On 31/5/1916 German Admirals Scheer and Hipper set sail from the Jade and Elbe estuaries. British intelligence picked up on this and Admirals Beatty and Jellicoe set out to engage them. Beatty happened to meet Hipper’s battle cruiser squadron, and the two main fleets began to engage. Although the British suffered larger losses, the British fleet had been much larger to begin with, and Scheer managed to retreat back to the safety of the Jade estuary. The German fleet rarely ventured to sea after this.
16/5/1916, French diplomat Francois-Georges Picot and British diplomat Mark Sykes began a secret correspondence to decide how the Middle East would be divided up after World War One (see also 30/10/1917). The Western Powers had already decided that the Ottoman Empire was too vast and too corrupt to be allowed to survive. Britain would claim Jordan, most of Iraq, and the port city of Haifa. France would take SE Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Palestine would be jointly administered between Britain and France. Russia would be granted the city of Constantinople and several Armenian-dominated regions. In fact the Russian Revolution of 1917 and further diplomatic developments meant that not all these provisions became reality, but the Sykes-Picot agreement set the scene for many of the issues of the Middle East during the 20th century.
8/5/1916. Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in France.
18/4/1916, Russian forces captured Trebizond, Turkey.
17/4/1916. The Boer leader Jan Smuts led an anti-German drive from Kenya.
24/3/1916. German forces sank a cross-Channel steamer, the Sussex, after a decision in February 1916 that German forces would sink any armed merchant ships on sight. See 31/1/1917.
21/3/1916. Austrian soldiers killed 10,000 Serbian civilians.
20/3/1916. Food scarcities in Germany caused rationing to begin.
13/3/1916, Germany loosened its rules on its submarines attacking ships; they could now sink vessels around Britain if they ‘appeared not to be passenger ships’.
9/3/1916. Germany declared war on Portugal.
21/2/1916 Battle of Verdun began. The Germans launched an all-out attack on the fortress of Verdun, but Petain took over the defence and repulsed the Germans, achieving victory by June 1916. See 15/12/1916. The previous commander, General Joseph Joffre, had ignored intelligence reports and, believing the German attack would come at Champagne, failed to reinforce Verdun.
15/2/1916, Fifth Battle of Isonzo, between Italy and Austria
11/2/1916, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered an escalation of the U-boat warfare.
28/1/1916. British and Belgian troops took Yaounde, capital of the German colony of Cameroon.
27/1/1916. In Berlin, the German Communist Party, Spartacus, was formed.
21/12/1915, William Robertson became British Chief of Staff.
31/12/1915, On the Western Front, positions had scarcely changed for a year amongst the trenches, despite appalling casualties. Major attacks became bogged down in bad weather, and tens or hundreds of thousands died for little territorial gain by either side. France had seen, during 1915, 330,000 soldiers killed and a further one million wounded, in addition to the 900,000 killed or wounded during 1914. In 1915 alone, 170,000 German soldiers were killed and 680,000 wounded. In 1915 alone, Britain saw 73,000 soldiers killed and 240,000 wounded.
19/12/1915, Douglas Haig replaced John French as British Commander in Chief for France and Flanders.
12/11/1915, Roland Barthes, French philosopher, was born (died 1980).
11/10/1915, Henri Jean Fabre, French entomologist, died in Serignan, France (born 21/12/1823 in St Leons, France).
21/10/1915, The Battle of Isonzo began; Italian forces made small territorial gains.
9/10/1915. The Serbian capital, Belgrade, fell to the Austro-German army.
26/9/1915. British and French troops began two big offensives, in Champagne and Flanders.
25/9/1915. (1) The Battle of Loos began, and the London Regiment’s 18th battalion went over the top kicking a football.
(2) The British forces used poison gas for the first time. Its first use was by the Germans on 22/4/1915.
19/9/1915. The Germans took Vilna (Vilnius), capital of Lithuania.
18/9/1915, (1) The Kaiser gave renewed assurances that passenger ships would not be attacked.
(2) German forces entered Vilnius, Lithuania.
30/8/1915. The great Russian fortress of Brest-Litovsk fell to the Germans.
19/8/1915, Battle of the Gulf of Riga. The German High Seas Fleet was able to clear the Russian minefields and enter the gulf, but withdrew after German cruiser SMS Moltke was hit by a torpedo fired by British submarine HMS E1.
18/8/1915, The Germans took the fortress of Novo Georgievsk.
17/8/1915, The Germans took Kovno.
5/8/1915. Austro-German forces took Warsaw as the Russian abandoned it.
4/8/1915, Nurse Edith Cavell was arrested in Brussels, see 12/10/1915.
12/7/1915, The German Government took control of the coal industry.
23/6/1915, Italy launched its first major military campaign in World War One with an army of 225,000 under command of Luigi Cadorna attacking Austro-Hungarian positions above the Isonzo River in the Alps.
22/6/1915. The Austrians retook Lemberg (Lvov), capital of Galicia, which they had lost to Russia on 3/9/1914.
11/6/1915. Serbian troops invaded Albania and took Tirana, the capital.
9/6/1915, British troops in France were first issued with hand grenades.
6/6/1915, The Kaiser promised that in future the German Navy would not attack passenger vessels. However on 28/6/1915 a German submarine sunk the passenger liner Armenia off Cornwall, and the passenger liner Arabic was sunk on 19/8/1915.
4/6/1915. Austro-German troops retook Premsyl from the Russians.
23/5/1915, Italy entered the war on the Allied side, see 25/4/1915.
15/5/1915, Unsuccessful British and French offensive in NE France.
10/5/1915. Fierce fighting in the Ypres area.
9-25/5/1915, Battle of Aubers Ridge (second battle of Artois); the French advanced three miles at great cost.
2/5/1915, German forces broke through on the Eastern Front at Gorlice.
1/5/1915, (1) The US ship Gulflight was sunk without warning by a German U-boat.
(2) The Austrian commander Mackensen reversed earlier weaknesses of the Austrian Army, which in Spring 1915 was on the verge of collapse after repeated Russian attacks. At Dunajec-San, he forced the Russians to retreat.
30/4/1915. Germany invaded the Russian Baltic provinces.
25/4/1915. Italy signed a secret treaty, the Treaty of London, with Britain, France, and Russia. Italy agreed to enter the war on the Allied side within one month in return for territorial gains. Italy was to gain the Austrian provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol, Istria, Gorizia, Gradisca, and Trieste, also a large stretch of the Dalmatian coast and islands, some Albanian territory around Valona, full sovereignty over the Turkish-controlled Dodecanese Islands, the Turkish province of Adalia in Asia Minor, colonial gains in Africa, and a share of war indemnities. The Allies agreed to this because they believed that Italian intervention would soon destroy Austro-Hungary, opening the ‘back door to Germany’. Italy duly entered the war on 24/5/1915, but the expected breakthrough against Austria never materialised. When the Bolsheviks took over in 1917 they revealed the terms of this secret treaty, which ran totally against the ethnic-determination principles of President Wilson of the USA; he stated he did not consider the treaty terms as binding. At the Paris Peace Conference the UK and France also opposed implementation of the treaty’s terms, and Italy received far less than originally specified. This created popular resentment in Italy and was a factor in the rise of Mussolini and Fascism in Italy.
22/4/1915. (1) The British began a new offensive at Ypres.
(2) The Germans began using poison gas, chlorine, against the British north of Ypres. 4,000 tons of chlorine were sent over Allied lines, killing 6,000. Many Germans were also killed whilst releasing the gas and they did not press forward, losing any advantage gained from using the gas. The new weapon was used by Britain on 25/9/1915.
19/4/1915, The British captured Hill no.60.
5/4/1915. France began a broad offensive from the Meuse to the Moselle.
23/3/1915, The Hungarian fortress of Przemysl fell to Russian forces.
14/3/1915, The German battle cruiser Dresden was sunk.
11/3/1915. Britain began a naval blockade of Germany.
10/3/1915, Battle of Neuve-Chapelle began. By 12/3/1915 the Allies had captured the village and just 4 square miles of countryside. 40,000 Allied soldiers fought, and of these there were 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian casualties; the Germans lost a similar number. This amounted to one casualty per 5,000 square feet of ground won.
1/3/1915. Britain began blockading German ports.
27/2/1915, In Paris, the Moulin Rouge burnt down.
18/2/1915. Germany’s blockade of Britain by submarine began.
17/2/1915. Germany captured the Polish port of Memel.
16/2/1915, France began a bombardment of German forces in the Champagne area.
7/2/1915-15/2/1915. Battle of the Masurian Lakes. The Russian 10th Army was defeated by the Germans under Otto Von Below.
4/2/1915, (1) British war casualties now stood at 104,000 dead.
(2) Germany began using submarines in warfare to blockade Britain.
(3) The Sarajevo conspirators were executed in Bosnia.
31/1/1915, Battle of Bolimov; German forces attacked Russian positions near the Polish village of Bolimov, using poison gas.
24/1/1915. Admiral Hipper was intercepted by the British navy off Dogger Bank after bombardment of UK coastal towns. The superior British force sank the German battleship, Blucher. After this German naval raids on UK coastal towns ceased.
23/1/1915, Heavy fighting began in the Carpathian Mountains between Russian and Austro-Hungarian forces. This continued until mid-April.
8/1/1915, Heavy fighting in the Bassee Canal and Soissons area of France.
3/1/1915, Tear gas was used in warfare for the first time; by Germany against the Russians, in Poland.
See also Russia 1910s
31/12/1914, By the end of 1914, France alone had seen 900,000 of its citizens killed or hospitalised.
30/12/1914, First Battle of Champagne. As the French launched a new assault, the German counterattacked their right flank and took out three lines of defence and inflicted major casualties.
26/12/1914, The German Government took control of food supplies and distribution.
25/12/1914. In World War One, an informal truce between the combatants ended at midnight.
24/12/1914. The first air raid on Britain took place. A single bomb fell in the grounds of St James Priory, Dover.
22/12/1914, Turkish forces made unsuccessful attacks on Russian forces in the Caucasus.
17/12/1914. Anzac (Australia, New Zealand, army corps) troops occupied Samoa and German New Guinea.
16/12/1914. The German navy bombarded Hartlepool, Scarborough, and Whitby with over 1,000 shells, killing 102.
14/12/1914, Serbian forces recaptured Belgrade.
8/12/1914. Battle of the Falklands. Six of the seven ships in the German Pacific Squadron were sunk. Admiral Sturdee’s victory over Vice-Admiral von Spee ended German naval activity in the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, allowing the British navy to concentrate on home waters and the Mediterranean for the remainder of World War One.
6/12/1914 The Germans captured Lodz, Poland.
5/12/1914, The Austrians defeated the Russians at Limanova, but failed to break the Russian lines at Krakow.
2/12/1914, The Austrians took Belgrade from Serbia.
30/11/1914, The Great War was spreading from the Franco-German border to encompass the world. There was fighting in the Dardanelles region of Turkey, Britain has occupied Cyprus, Russia invaded Armenia and naval battles off Sumatra. There were also conflicts in various parts of Africa between German and Allied colonies.
23/11/1914. The British navy bombarded Zeebrugge.
21/11/1914. Indian troops occupied the port of Basra, Persia.
19/11/1914, The Battle of Kolubara. Austro-Hungarian forces gained a foothold in Serbia as the opposing armies fell back towards Belgrade.
18/11/1914, On the eastern front, the Germans broke the Russian line at Kutno.
10/11/1914, The Australian cruiser Sydney sank the German cruiser Emden off Sumatra. This cleared the Indian Ocean of German forces.
3/11/1914. (1) German ships bombarded Yarmouth.
(2) Britain declared the North Sea to be a military area, dangerous to merchant shipping, and mined it. Germany responded on 4/2/1915 by making a similar declaration and also mining, the area of the English Channel and waters around Ireland. Germany began a submarine blockade of Britain. On 1/3/1915 Britain announced that all ships presumed to be carrying goods of enemy origin, destination or ownership would be seized, regardless of ownership or destination of the ship.
1/11/1914. The British fleet was defeated at the Battle of Coronel, Chile.
31/10/1914, The front line in the Great War had stabilised into trench warfare, stretching from the Swiss border to the English Channel (see 30/9/1914). Fierce battle s raged for front-line towns such as Ypres, and Paris was bombed by Zeppelins.
29/10/1914, (1) Turkish warships bombarded the Russian ports of Sevastopol, Odessa and Novorossiysk. This provoked a declaration of war by Russia against Turkey on 4/11/1919; also by Britain and France on 5/11/1914. In Turkey the Young Turks, in 1908, had had two aims; to pull together the disintegrating remains of the Ottoman Empire, and to recover land lost to Russia. However they found the Turkish Treasury in debt to European banks by the then-colossal sum of £200 million. They sought an alliance with a wealthy European nation that could help rebuild the Turkish economy. Britain, which had helped found Turkey’s National Bank in 1908, was approached, as an enemy of Germany with whom the former Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid had been friendly. Britain declined the approach, believing that an alliance with Turkey would unite Europe against it. Turkey again approached Britain during the Balkan War (1912-13) and was again rebuffed. In July 1914 France also rejected overtures by Turkey. Moreover on 1/8/1914 Winston Churchill ordered the requisition of two warships being built in Britain for the Turkish Navy. Meanwhile the German General Otto Liman von Sanders was assisting the modernisation of the Turkish Army. Germany hoped that Turkey, possibly allied with Bulgaria, would threaten Russia without direct German involvement. The Young Turk, Ismail Enver Pasha, Minister for War, approached the German Ambassador in Constantinople on 22/7/1914 to propose a formal alliance. The German Ambassador, Freiherr von Wangenheim, declined; Germany assessed that an alliance with Turkey would exacerbate tensions with Russia, and therefore be of advantage to Britain and France, but be of no gain to Germany because of the weak state of the Turkish Army, and the parlous state of the Turkish economy that retarded the development of the Turkish military. However Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, on learning of Enver’s approach, overruled Wangenheim and instructed Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann to open negotiations with Turkey. A secret treaty of alliance between Germany and Turkey was signed on 2/8/1914, essentially a mutual guarantee of defence against, only, any attack by Russia. The secrecy allowed Enver to hedge his bets and only intervene against Russia when it suited him. Therefore although Germany had mobilised against Russia on 1/8/1914 Enver did not attack immediately. German Admiral Wilhelm von Souchon sailed two German ships, the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, past British ships in the Mediterranean just hours before Britain declared war on Germany, on 4/8/1914. Britain chased these ships but did not prevent their arrival at Constantinople, where they became part of the Turkish navy, replacing the ships confiscated by Britain. They were renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, and Turkey also received 20 million marks in gold by train from Germany, to assist in updating Turkish military capabilities. Once the gold was received, and Turkey had witnessed German successes against the Russians in East Prussia (following initial defeats inflicted on Germany at Tannenbirg and the Marne) the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, complete with German crews, bombarded the Russian ports. Churchill was not too perturbed by Turkey’s entry into the Great War on the German side. Almost all the Turkish Army’s 43 divisions were only on peacetime strengths of 4,000 men, not the wartime basis of 10,000. The Turkish divisions based in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), also Arabia and the Levant, were manned by local recruits of dubious loyalty to the Ottoman Empire. The British enjoyed easy victories against these divisions in the Basra area, where the local oilfields were secured. However later in the war the Young Turks reinforced the fighting capabilities of the army, giving Britain a harder battle.
(2) Near Nieuport, Netherlands, the Yser area was flooded tactically
17/10/1914. German U-boats raided Scapa Flow, the main base of the British Fleet. Four German destroyers were sunk.
15/10/1914. The Germans, having captured Ghent and Bruges, took Ostend.
14/10/1914. British and French troops occupied Ypres. The Belgian government fled to France. Canadian troops arrived in Britain.
12/10/1914, The German Army entered Lille, after several days bombardment.
11/10/1914. Paris was bombed.
10/10/1914. The Germans took Antwerp.
9/10/1914, The Germans took Ghent.
30/9/1914, Paris was saved from occupation as German forces were driven back (see 31/8/1914). However |British losses were heavy and Germany still occupied a strip of northern France, along with almost the whole of Belgium. and all of The Netherlands. See 31/10/1914.
28/9/1914. German guns began bombarding Antwerp. Antwerp capitulated on 10/10/1914.
27/9/1914. The Russians invaded Hungary.
26/9/1914. The Australians took the German port of Friedrich Wilhelmshafen in German New Guinea.
23/9/1914. The British suffered heavy casualties at Mons, and retreated.
22/9/1914. Three British cruisers, Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy, were torpedoed by a German submarine, 1,500 were killed.
20/9/1914, Germany bombarded Rheims Cathedral.
17/9/1914, The ‘race to the sea’ between Allied and German forces trying to outflank each other; this established the Western Front from the North Sea to Switzerland.
16/9/1914, Trench warfare began on the Aisne salient.
14/9/1914. (1) The Allies drove back the Germans on the Marne, relieving the threat to Paris. The Germans retreated to Verdun.
(2) The Russians were forced to retreat from East Prussia, after the battle of the Masurian Lakes.
13/9/1914, The Battle of the Aisne began. It lasted until 28/9/1914.
9/9/1914, The first Battle of the Marne ended when the German advance on Paris under Von Moltke was halted by the British Expeditionary Force and the French under Joffre and Foch. This marked Germany’s furthest penetration into France.
8/9/1914, The French fortress of Maubeuge fell to the Germans.
6/9/1914. Battle of the Marne began. Advances by British and French forces. The Germans retreated to Verdun.
5/9/1914. The Germans took Rheims.
4/9/1914. Britain, France, and Russia agreed not to make separate peaces.
3/9/1914. Russian forces took Lvov.
31/8/1914. The German General Hindenburg had reversed earlier Russian successes (see 24/8/1914), surrounding and beating the Russians under General Samsonov, at the Battle of Tannenburg, taking 100,000 Russians prisoner. In the following week, Russian General Rennenkampf was forced to retreat and east Prussia was cleared of Russian forces. In France the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) initially held back the German advance but the French retreated, leaving the flank of the BEF exposed. The allies retreated towards Paris, but then halted the German forces before they occupied Paris. See 30/9/1914.
30/8/1914. (1) The Germans took Amiens.
(2) A New Zealand expeditionary force occupied the former German colony of Samoa.
29/8/1914, Battle of Guise, northern France.
28/8/1914. (1) The Germans began besieging Antwerp (see 18/8/1914), capturing it on 10/10/1914.
(2) The British sank three German cruisers and two destroyers off Heligoland Bight, opening the war at sea.
26-31/8/1914. Germany defeated Russia at the Battle of Tannenberg.
26/8/1914, (-11,213) (1) The German cruiser Magdeburg ran aground in the Baltic whilst on a reconnaissance mission. Unable to free her, the captain, Richard Habenicht, decided to scuttle his ship; however the appearance of two Russian cruisers prompted the German crew to set off the explosives prematurely. Habenicht and 57 of his crew were captured. Significantly also captured were German code books; Germany did not realise this had happened and carried on using the same codes for radio messages, enabling the Allies to track German warship movements.
(2) The Germans occupied Cambrai. See 8/10/1918.
25/8/1914, The Germans sacked Louvain.
24/8/1914. Belgian forces attacked the rear of the German right flank, to ease the pressure on the British and French left flank. This campaign halted on 25/8/1914 when news arrived of the Franco-British retreat into France, but the Belgian offensive had tied down some German forces. On learning, on 7/9/1914, that some of these forces were to be sent to France, the Belgians launched a fresh offensive on 9/9/1914, a crucial day in the Battle of the Marne. Meanwhile the Russians under General Alexander Samsonov and General Paul Rennenkampf were advancing into East Prussia, driving back a numerically inferior German force. See 31/8/1914.
23/8/1914. Battle of Mons, in Belgium near the French frontier. The heavily outnumbered British Expeditionary Force under Sir John French, in its first important battle, was forced to retreat after bitter fighting with Germany. This retreat continued until the Marne, where the tide turned against Germany.
22/8/1914, The Germans took Namur. The fortress of Namur had been expected to hold out for several months; its ‘impregnable’ defences were shattered by new German high explosives.
21/8/1914. (1) German atrocities were committed in Belgium to deter Belgian civilian resistance. On 21-22 August 384 Belgian civilians were shot in the market square at Tamines, and from 24 to 30 August the Cathedral city of Louvain was given to looting and burning by German troops.
(2) The Germans took Brussels. See 18/11/1918. France and Russia agreed that on Germany’s defeat an independent Poland would be restored, France would recover Alsace Lorraine and Denmark would recover Schleswig-Holstein from Germany, Bohemia would have independence from Austro-Hungary, and all German colonies would be confiscated.
20/8/1914. The German army was defeated by the Russians at Grumbinnen; Russian forces had mobilised faster than anticipated. French forces made headway a short distance into Germany but were turned back this day in battles at Mulhouse and Strasbourg.
18/8/1914. The Belgian government left Brussels for Antwerp. See 28/8/1914.
17/8/1914. A British Expeditionary Force of 70,000 men landed in France.
16/8/1914 Liege, Belgium, fell to the Germans. The Battle of Liege had begun on 4/8/1914 and the resistance here had seriously delayed the German occupation of Belgium.
15/8/1914, Russia invaded East Prussia.
12/8/1914. Britain and France declared war on Austria.
9/8/1914. The first British troops arrived in France. The British Expeditionary force was landed from 9th to 17th August at Boulogne.
8/8/1914. German troops entered Liege, Belgium.
7/8/1914. The French counter offensive began. French troops entered the upper Alsace, partly for political effect and partly to distract from the main French goal of destroying a German base at Basle and the Rhine bridges below this. By 19/8/1914 this French force reached the Rhine.
6/8/1914. (1) A major deployment of German troops westwards began. Between 1870 and 1914 the number of double German railway lines running towards her western frontier had been raised from 9 to 13, and all German railway development required approval from the Chief of Staff. Now, 550 trains a day crossed the Rhine, westwards, and by 12//8/1914 seven German armies of a total of 1.5 million men were fully supplied. The first British casualties of the War occurred when the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Amphion was damaged by mines in the North Sea and 150 men died as she sank.
(2) Austro-Hungary declared war on Russia. Serbia declared war on Germany.
4/8/1914. Britain declared war on Germany for violating the Treaty of London. President Wilson declared the USA neutral. That morning, Germany began the invasion of Belgium (see 2/8/1914, and 6/8/1914). The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia brought Russia in as Serbia’s ally, and Germany entered as Austria’s ally. Britain might well have stayed neutral had Germany not invaded Belgium in an attempt to outflank France. Germany began mining Danish waters and requested Denmark to mine the Great Belt. Denmark, believing Germany would mine it anyway, said it would do so. Britain believed the war would be over by Christmas.
3/8/1914. (1) Germany declared war on France, after false accusations of French air raids on Nuremberg. Germany had sought assurances that France would not intervene in a Russo-German war, but France merely said it would ‘act in its own interests’. Germany was seeking control over Belgium and the French coast from Dunkirk to Boulogne, cession by France to Germany of the Briey-Longwy iron basin and the fortress of Belfort, and German control of the French and Belgian colonies in Africa. France had fewer fighting men, with a total population of 40 million against 65 million Germans. However Russian and French forces combined were bigger than Germany plus Austria; Germany could, though, bank on Russia being slow to mobilise.
(2) Britain warned Germany it would honour the 1839 Treaty of London guaranteeing Belgian neutrality.
2/8/1914. (1) Britain mobilised the Royal Navy after Germany declared war on Russia.. The British Cabinet had finally agreed that a German presence in French Channel ports could not be tolerated, and so France must be helped against Germany (see 9/8/1914), although at the end of July most of the Cabinet had been for non-intervention in Europe.
(2) Belgium had failed to guarantee German troops free passage across its territory, as demanded by a German ultimatum delivered on the evening of 2/8/1914; Germany occupied Luxembourg, and invaded Belgium 2 days later, on 4/8/1914. Russian troops crossed into East Prussia.
1/8/1914. Kaiser Wilhelm II declared war on his cousin Czar Nicholas II. Italy declared herself neutral. France ordered the mobilisation of the army, but as a last-minute gesture had withdrawn its forces to 10 km behind the frontier. Denmark declared itself neutral, and mobilised an emergency force of 54,000 men.
31/7/1914. Germany ordered a general mobilisation of the army, rejecting Britain’s offer of mediation in the Austro-Serbian crisis as ‘insolence’.
30/7/1914. The Czar of Russia ordered general mobilisation of the army. European stockmarkets began to panic as war loomed.
29/7/1914, Russia, under Tsar Nicholas II, ordered a limited mobilisation of its 1.2 million strong army against Austria. However this move reassured Serbia in its resistance, and produced a German mobilisation.
28/7/1914. Austria declared war on Serbia. See 23/7/1914. Belgrade was bombarded by Austria on 29/7/1914, the first engagement of World War One. The Austrians took Belgrade on 30/7/1914, and Russia began to mobilise. The Serbs initially drove back the invading Austrians and themselves entered southern Hungary in the autumn of 1914. Russia attacked Austria and made advances against the Austrians in southern Galicia. France, as the ally of Russia, was also drawn in. Germany moved to help Austria and in early 1915 drove the Russians out of southern Galicia. Later in 1915 the Germans overran Serbia. On 9/10/1915 Belgrade fell to the Germans. Italy declared war on Austria on 23/5/1915, and here too the Germans were needed to help Austria against Italy.
26/7/1914. Serbia mobilised its army. Meanwhile in view of the deteriorating international situation, the British Admiralty ordered the Fleet, which had assembled at Portland for review, not to disperse. On 29/7/1914 the Fleet was able to set sail for the North Sea, giving Britain a vital dominance there for the duration of the War.
24/7/1914. The Russian Council of Ministers began plans for partial mobilisation of the army.
23/7/1914. Austria determined that the government of Serbia was involved in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on 28/6/1914, and sent an ultimatum to the President of Serbia, Narodna Odbrana, drafted so as to prepare for war with Serbia. The terms were designed to be too humiliating for Serbia to accept. In fact Serbia accepted most of the terms, but insisted that an Austro-Serbian judicial enquiry into the assassination would be subject to Serbian law, and Austria rejected this condition. See 28/7/1914. Austria’s real issue with Serbia was that it blocked potential Austrian territorial expansion southwards into the Balkans, to give Austria domination of the Aegean Sea,
22/7/1914, In Europe the financial press began to realise a major war might be starting. The first symptom of crisis was a rise in insurance rates for shipping.
5/7/1914. Germany promised support to Austria.
28/6/1914. Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, nephew of Franz Joseph, in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo. Along with his wife he was shot and killed by the terrorist Gavril Princip, thus precipitating World War One. Born in Graz, Austria, in 1863, Ferdinand was the eldest son of the Archduke Charles Louis, who was the brother of the emperor Francis Joseph. When Francis Joseph died in 1896 Ferdinand became heir to the throne but because of his bad health in the 1890s his younger brother Otto was regarded as more likely to succeed to the throne of Austria. In foreign affairs he tried, without endangering the alliance with Germany, to restore Austro – Russian understanding. In 1913 Ferdinand became Inspector General of the Army. This was just before he was assassinated in June 1914, starting World War One with Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia. The assassin’s first bullet hit the archduke in the neck; his second hit his wife, who had flung herself in front of him. She died almost immediately, he died ten minutes later.
Gavril Princip was born in June or July of 1894 in the village of Obljaj, in what is now Bosnia. His father was a postman and the Princip family was very poor, and heavily taxed by local overlords. Bosnia had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878 when it was taken by Austria. Gavril left Obljaj for Sarajevo in 1907, enrolling in a secondary school where he did well academically; here he joined other teenagers seeking home rule for the Slav peoples. Archduke Ferdinand wanted to balance out competing nationalisms within his empire by minimising the over-arching influence of Serbia amongst the Slavic peoples under Austrian rule. Princip wanted Bosnia to become part of a greater independent Serbia. See 23/7/1914.
Gavril himself, arrested immediately after the shooting, was just under the 20-year age limit for the death sentence under Hapsburg law; he received a 20-year prison term, to be denied food one day each month, and was chained to the wall of his cell. He died in Spring 1918, just before the end of World War One, of skeletal tuberculosis that had caused the amputation of his right arm.
16/3/1914, Madame Caillaux, wife of the French Finance Minister, shot dead the editor of Le Figaro to protect her husband against libel.
18/12/1913, Willy Brandt, German Chancellor, was born in Lubeck as Karl Herbert Frahm.
20/11/1913, The Zabern Incident. A German officer insulted Alsatian recruits, causing friction between France and Germany.
7/8/1913, France passed an Army Bill, imposing three year’s compulsory military service.
6/6/1913. Germany passed a Bill for a large increase in its army.
7/4/1913, Jean Constans, French politician, died in Paris (born 3/5/1833 in Beziers).
5/3/1913, 71 sailors drowned when the German destroyer S-178 was accidentally rammed by the German cruiser Yorck in the North Sea off of Helgoland.
24/2/1913, Jules Gabriel Compayre, French educationalist, died in Paris (born 2/1/1843 in Albi).
21/1/1913, In France, Aristide Briand succeeded Poincare as Prime Minister.
5/1/1913, Gottlieb von Jagow became German Foreign Minister.
8/12/1912, The German Kaiser held a secret meeting with his military chiefs. It was agreed that the Schlieffen Plan, to quickly conquer France before turning east on Russia, should not be delayed much beyond 1914 because after that swifter Russian mobilisation would cause a collapse of the German Eastern Front before France fell. The Schlieffen Plan, named after Graf Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff 1890-1905, was to attack France through Belgium, by-passing the heavily-fortified Franco-German frontier. German troops defending this frontier were to be reduced, possibly even allowing for French advances into Germany here. However the German advance through Belgium would then swing eastwards to the south west of Paris and come round to hit the French Army in the rear. Schlieffen allowed for ten German divisions to hold the Russian front until France could be crushed (six weeks allowed for this task); also for a British Expeditionary Force of 100,000 to assist the French.
27/11/1912. France and Spain agreed on their respective spheres of influence in Morocco.
6/2/1912, Eva Braun, mistress of Adolf Hitler, was born.
4/11/1911, Germany settled the Morocco crisis with France. Germany agreed to allow France a free hand in Morocco, in exchange for territory in the Congo.
27/8/1911. At Hamburg the German Kaiser made his ‘place in the sun’ speech, foreshadowing a large increase in the German navy. Britain responded by increasing its navy, although Anglo-German relations remained friendly.
16/8/1911, E F Schumacher, German economist and statistician, was born (died 1977).
1/8/1911. Germany began to fortify Heligoland, a small island in the North Sea.
21/7/1911, Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned Germany not to threaten British interests in the western Mediterranean, or Gibraltar. See 1/7/1911. Germany denied such ambitions, but Britain began preparing for war with Germany.
10/7/1911, Russia warned Germany that it supported France in the Morocco crisis.
5/7/1911. Birth of Georges Pompidou, in Montboudif, Auvergne. He was French President from 1969 until his death in 1974.
1/7/1911, Germany sent the gunboat Panther to Agadir, Morocco, to protect German commercial interests there from French expansion in Morocco. Britain was concerned about Germany’s ambitions in Africa so close to Gibraltar. See 21/7/1911.
26/5/1911, The German Reichstag granted the former French territory of Alsace-Lorraine its own legislature and a large measure of autonomy.
15/5/1911, King George V and his cousin the Kaiser reasserted their friendship.
10/3/1911. France adopted Greenwich Mean Time as standard time across the country.
24/2/1911, The Reichstag voted to increase the German Army by half a million men.
24/7/1909, Aristide Briant became French PM.
8/7/1909, Gaston Galliffet, French General, died (born 23/1/1830).
7/6/1909. France joined the arms race by announcing it was to spend £120 million on new naval ships.
8/5/1909, Friedrich von Holstein, German statesman, died (born 1837)
13/9.1908, In Germany the Social Democrats staged a rally at Nuremberg.
6/8/1908, The British Admiralty stated that the new battleships being built by the Germans would be the most heavily armed in the world.
8/7/1908. The German Navy was catching up in strength with the British, according to the 'World Navy List'.
31/8/1907, The UK and Russia agreed an entente, defining spheres of influence in Persia, Tibet, and Afghanistan. There was an implicit agreement that Britain would not allow Russia to control the Bosporus, and the entente opened up the London money markets to Russia, allowing it to recover from the Japanese defeat of 1904/5. France was also part of this agreement, forming a Triple Entente to contain the newly unified Prussian-dominated Germany.
3/8/1907, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II met at Swinemunde to discuss the Baghdad Railway.
2/5/1907, King Edward VII of Britain met the French President in Paris.
28/1/1907, 164 miners died in a pit explosion at Saarbrucken, Germany.
11/1/1907, Pierre Mendes-France, French politician, was born (died 1982)
13/12/1906, A revolt of the Centre Party in the German Reichstag opposed spending on colonial wars. Von Bulow dissolved the Reichstag; in subsequent elections the Socialists lost ground.
25/10/1906, Georges Clemenceau became PM in France.
5/6/1906, Germany decided to build more battleships.
24/4/1906, The Nazi collaborator William Joyce, or ‘Lord Haw Haw’, was born in Brooklyn, New York City.
5/4/1906, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany dismissed Count Friedrich Holstein, a key advisor in the Foreign Department, ending fears of a German war with France over Morocco.
19/3/1906, Adolf Eichmann, German Nazi responsible for the execution of millions of European Jews during World War II, was born in Solingen. See Jewish History.
11/3/1906, 1,200 miners died in a pit explosion in northern France.
10/2/1906, Britain launched the revolutionary new battleship Dreadnought. She made every other warship obsolete, outgunning and outranging them all. Her new steam turbine propulsion made her much faster than older ships. This marked the start of a keen naval arms race between Britain and Germany. Germany now realised that the latest class of battleships were too big to pass through the Kiel Canal. The Russo-Japanese War demonstrated the need for such battleship innovation, as naval battles were now fought at long range, using torpedoes, and torpedo boats therefore had to be destroyed at a distance with accurate long-range artillery.
4/2/1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian who was part of the group who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler, was born.
17/1/1906, In France, Clement Fallieres was elected president, through the influence of Georges Clemenceau.
1/1/1906, General Von Moltke was made head of the German armed forces.
29/11/1905, Marcel Lefebvre, French Roman Catholic Bishop, was born (died 1991)
25/9/1905, Jacques Cavaignac, French politician, died (born 21/5/1853).
19/9/1905, Britain and Germany held simultaneous war manoeuvres.
13/9/1905, Rene Goblet, French politician, died (born 26/11/1828).
24/7/1905, Kaiser William of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia signed the Treaty of Bjorko at a meeting in Finland. This proposed a mutual defence pact between the two countries if either was attacked by another European power. However the Russian Foreign Office opposed the Treaty because it threatened Russia’s relationship with France, upon whom Russia was dependent for aid. The German Chancellor, Von Bulow also opposed the Treaty, and Franco-German tension over the Morocco crisis left the Treaty dead in the water.
6/6/1905, Theophile Delcasse, French Foreign Minister since 1898, resigned under pressure from Germany.
1/5/1905, In talks lasting until the 5th May, Paul Rouvier, French Prime Minister, failed to settle the Moroccan Question with Germany.
31/3/1905, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany arrived in Tangier, Morocco, to give a speech in favour of Moroccan independence. This was intended to humiliate France, who saw Morocco as their own protectorate, and to test the closeness of the Franco-British entente. Germany intended to subsequently ‘grant France limited control in Morocco’, a move supposed to bring France closer to Germany and away from Britain. However Germany was surprised by the forcefulness with which British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey backed France; Germany was further isolated from France, Britain and hence Russia too. This event paved the way for the Agadir crisis of 1911.
15/10/1904, George, King of Saxony, died.
12/7/1904, Britain and Germany signed a five-year treaty, to resolve disputes through arbitration rather than by military means.
28/8/1904. A treaty was concluded in London whereby France would allow the British freedom of action in Egypt in return for the British allowing the French a free hand in Morocco. For many years the nominally independent Sultanate of Morocco had been losing power as it became increasingly dependent on French, Spanish, and German business and subsidies for financial security. In October 1904 the French also concluded a secret treaty with the Spanish. This disturbed Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany who saw his country being squeezed out of North Africa. Wilhelm II therefore landed at Tangier on 31 March 1905. The sultan sided with the Germans and serious friction with the French resulted. On 161/1906 the Algecieras Conference was held. German claims were backed by Austria whilst French claims were backed by Britain. Germany failed to curb France’s privileged position in Morocco. See 8/4/1904.
8/4/1904. Entente Cordiale set up between Britain and France. Each country recognised the other’s colonial interests. France agreed not to interfere in Egypt and England agreed not to interfere in Morocco. Germany, which also wanted control in Morocco, felt threatened by this entente. Britain had become unpopular with many countries after the Boer War, and needed friends; relations with France had been strained since the Fashoda incident in 1898. Now both Britain and France felt anxious over the rise of the German economy and military might, especially its navy. The entente meant Britain’s navy could concentrate on defending the North Sea whilst France’s monitored the Mediterranean. See 28/8/2904.
1/2/1904, Britain agreed with France to remain neutral if there was war between Russia and Japan.
6/7/1903, French President Emile Loubet, and Theophile Delcasse, visited London to begin the Entente Cordiale.
4/3/1903, King Edward VII of Britain concluded a visit to Paris, during which Anglo-French relations were strengthened.
1/2/1903, Martin Delbruck, Prussian statesman, died (born 16/4/1817).
22/11/1902, In Germany, the steel magnate Friedrich Krupp (1854-1902), head of Germany’s largest manufacturing firm and the richest man in the country, died unexpectedly of a stroke. He was aged 48. Friedrich’s father Alfred had founded the Krupp Company but Freidrich had been in charge since the age of 33 when his father died.
8/11/1902, The Kaiser arrived in London on a 12-day State Visit to try and improve Anglo-German relations.
1/11/1902, France signed the Franco-Italian entente with Italy. Italy assured France it would remain neutral if France was attacked.
7/8/1902, Rudolf Bennigsen, German politician, died (born in Luneburg 10/7/1824).
10/6/1902, Frederick Augustus, King of Saxony from 1873 (born 23/4/1828) died.
3/6/1902, In France, Rene Waldbeck-Rousseau resigned, despite having a majority on the Chamber, over disputes with extremists. He was succeeded by Emile Combes, who pursued a strongly anti-clerical policy.
27/10/1901, Negotiations on an Anglo-German alliance broke down, after the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, made an anti-German speech in Edinburgh.
5/8/1901, Victoria, Empress of Germany, 60, daughter of Queen Victoria of the UK, sister of King Edward VII, wife of Kaiser Friedrich III, and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, died aged 60.
1/7/1901, France enacted its anti-clerical Association Law, which outlawed all religious institutions not formally registered with the State.
29/5/1901, Lord Salisbury, in a confidential memo, decided against developing an alliance between Britain and Germany.
24/4/1901, 200 were killed in an explosion at a chemical factory in Griesheim, Germany.
6/3/1901, Anarchists attempted to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm, who escaped with face wounds.
21/12/1900, Leonhard Blumenthal, Prussian Field-Marshal, died in Quellendorf (born in Schwedt on Oder 30/7/1810).
16/12/1900, France and Italy agreed to respect each other’s sphere of influence in North Africa.
10/11/1900, The first World Fair closed in Paris; it had been open since 14/4/1900. It had included over 70,000 exhibitors, and co-run with the Olympic Games also in Paris this year. The scale of the event meant that, despite huge numbers of visitors, it was a financial loss, covered by the French Government, Culturally however the event was good for France, promoting art-nouveau, and precipitating a rash of construction projects in France including new boulevards, new Paris rail termini, and the Paris Metro.
7/10/1900, Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler was born in Munich. He was leader of the Nazi SS, second in command to Hitler from 1929, and gained notoriety in 1934 when he masterminded the assassination of several Nazis whose loyalty to Hitler was in question. He controlled the concentration camps in which millions of Jews, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others, died.
14/4/1900, The World Exhibition opened in Paris. See 10/11/1900.
28/3/1900, Vincent Benedetti, French diplomat, died in Paris (born in Bastia, Corsica 29/4/1817).
1899, The Right-wing French movement Action Francaise was founded by the poet and political journalist Charles Maurras (1868-1952). It sought to rally the defeated opponents of Dreyfus, and was anti-Semitic, nationalistic and royalist. Its influence peaked in the 1920s. Supporting the Vichy Government of 1940-44, the movement became indistinguishable from fascism.
2/5/1899, Martin Simson, German politician, died (born 10/10/1810)
16/2/1899, Francois Faure, President of France, died (born 30/1/1841).
6/2/1899, Georg Caprivi, German statesman (born 24/2/1831) died.
28/7/1898,Bismarck died, three years after his wife, at Friedrichsruh. He was a Prussian politician and founder of the modern state of Germany.
28/3/1898, Germany passed an Act allowing for substantial expansion of its navy.
13/2/1898, August Potthast, German historian (born 13/8/1824), died.
29/10/1897, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi political leader and propagandist, was born in Rheydt, son of a factory foreman.
27/9/1897, Charles Bourbaki, French General, died (born in Pau 22/4/1816).
15/6/1897, Tirpitz was appointed German Naval Secretary.
7/5/1897, Henri Aumale, French statesman, died in Zucco, Sicily (born 16/1/1822 in Paris).
19/2/1897, French tightrope walker Charles Blondin died. He was born on 28/2/1824.
8/12/1896, Ernst Engel, German political economist, died (born 21/3/1821).
26/10/1896, Paul Challemel-Lacour, French politician, died (born 19/5/1827).
18/8/1896, Richard Avenarius, German philosopher, died in Zurich (born 19/11/1834 in Paris).
18/5/1896, Otto von Camphausen, Prussian statesman, died.
20/1/1896, Henry Prince of Battenberg died (born 5/10/1859).
1895, In France the CGT (Confederation Generale du Travail) was formed, a Trades Union organisation.
29/12/1895, Leander Starr Jameson, an agent of the British South Africa Company, invaded the Boer Republic of Transvaal with 470 men. On 2/1/1896 Jameson surrendered At Doorn Kop after a defeat at Krugersdorp. On 3/1/1896 Kaiser William II sent a telegram to Paul Kruger congratulating him on the defeat of Jameson. This caused outrage in Britain, which saw the telegram as an attempt by Germany to expand its influence in Africa. Britain mocked the German Navy, saying it would be ‘child’s play’ for the British Navy to wipe it out. Wilhelm I now decided on a course of massive expansion of the German Navy, seeing Britain no longer as an ally but a potential threat.
24/11/1895, Saint Hilaire Barthelemy, French politician, was born in Paris (died 24/11/1895).
22/7/1895, Heinrich Gneist, German politician, died (born 13/8/1816)
28/1/1895, Francois Canrobert, French military leader (born 27/6/1809) died.
12/12/1894, Auguste Burdeau, French politician, died (born 1851).
24/6/1894, The President of France, Marie Francois Carnot, was stabbed to death at Lyons by an Italian anarchist.
26/4/1894, Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, was born in Alexandria, Egypt.
15/3/1894, Germany and France signed a treaty outlining their spheres of influence in tropical Africa
10/2/1894, Germany signed a commercial treaty with Russia.
4/1/1894, Russia and France signed a treaty of mutual defence. Despite huge differences between their political systems, both countries felt threatened by encirclement. France felt threatened by a rare entente between Germany and Britain. Russia saw itself threatened to the south and east by the British Empire in central and eastern Asia.
22/8/1893, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe Coburg Gotha, died (born 21/6/1818).
13/7/1893, Germany passed a bill to substantially increase the size of its army.
30/4/1893, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s foreign minister, was born
17/3/1893, Jules Ferry, French politician, died (born 5/4/1832).
12/1/1893, Hermann Goering, German Nazi leader and founder of the Luftwaffe, was born in Rosenbaum, Bavaria.
17/8/1892, Russia and France signed a military convention.
2/5/1892, Baron Mandred von Richtofen, German air ace of World War One, known as the ‘Red Baron’ because he flew a red Fokker, was born in Schweidnitz in Prussia, to aristocratic parents.
24/1/1892, Henri Baudrillart, French economist, died in Paris (born in Paris 28/11/1821).
12/12/1891, Charles Freppel, French politician and Bishop, died (born 1/6/1827).
15/11/1891, Birth of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Corps, in Heidenheim, Germany.
30/9/1891, George Boulanger, French General, committed suicide in Brussels (born in Rennes 29/4/1837).
16/9/1891, Karl Doenitz, German Admiral, was born in Berlin.
9/9/1891, Francois Grevy, French President 1879-87, died (born 15/1/1813)
1/5/1891, In a violent clash between striking French workers and French troops, nine workers, including two children, were killed as troops opened fire. 60 more workers were injured. The workers were campaigning for an 8 hour day.
24/4/1891, Helmuth von Moltke, Prussian general, died.
8/4/1891, Edmond Dehault de Pressense, French cleric (born 7/1/1824), died.
22/11/1890, Charles de Gaulle, French President, was born in Lille (died 1970).
17/9/1890, Jules Joffrin, French politician, died (born 16/3/1846).
9/8/1890, Heligoland was formally transferred from Britain to Germany.
1/7/1890, Britain and Germany signed the Heligoland Treaty, by which Germany gave up claims in East Africa, including Zanzibar, in return for the British island of Heligoland in the Elbe estuary. Germany soon made Helogoland a major naval base for the defence of the newly constructed Kiel Canal.
18/3/1890, Prince Otto von Bismarck was dismissed from the German Chancellorship by Kaiser Wilhelm II, after 29 years as Germany’s first Chancellor. Bismarck’s foremost achievement had been the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, but there had been increasing political dissent between Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm from 1888.
18/3/1890, Prince Otto von Bismarck was dismissed from the German Chancellorship by Kaiser Wilhelm II, after 29 years as Germany’s first Chancellor. Bismarck’s foremost achievement had been the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership. He had held Germany back from a damaging competitive rush for colonies that would cause conflict with other European powers, and he negotiated the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia that limited the possibility for conflict between them. However when Wilhelm II succeeded his father Kaiser Frederick III, German policy changed. Bismarck was replaced by Leo von Caprivi, who allowed the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia to lapse. This pushed Russia into closer relations with France, Germany’s enemy. Meanwhile Germany pursued a fruitless attempt to make a friendship treaty with Britain.
17/10/1899, Maximilian Gagern, German politician, died (born 26/3/1810).
29/9/1889, Louis Faidherbe, French general, died (born 3/6/1818).
20/4/1889. Birth of Adolf Hitler, in Braunau, Austria (died 1945). His father was a customs official who changed his name from Schicklgruber.
23/9/1888, Achille Bazaine, French Marshal, died in Madrid (born in Versailles 13/2/1811).
15/6/1888, Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, died. He was succeeded by his 29-year son, Wilhelm II, who was the last German monarch.
9/3/1888, Death of Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia, aged 90. He was succeeded by his 57-year old son, Friedrich Wilhelm, but he died of cancer later in the year, on 15/6/1888.
27/2/1888, As Italian-French relations deteriorated, France imposed selective duties against Italian products. Italy retaliated in kind on 1/3/1888.
2/12/1887, Francois Grevy, President of France from 30/1/1879, resigned after a scandal involving his son in law Daniel Wilson
24/11/1887, Erich von Manstein, military adviser to Adolf Hitler in World War Two, was born in Berlin He died on 9/6/1973, having been imprisoned by the British in August 1945. His advice on attacking France through the Ardennes in 1940 was crucial to Nazi success here.
21/10/1887, Jean Jaureguiberry, French Admiral, died (born 26/8/1815).
18/7/1887, Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian diplomat who turned traitor, was born in Fyresdal, Telemark province, southern Norway.
14/7/1887, Alfred Krupp, German manufacturer of arms in Essen, the Ruhr, died.
23/5/1887. The French crown jewels went on sale and raised six million francs.
29/1/1887, Construction work began on the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
14/1/1887. Bismarck dissolved the Reichstag because it refused to vote for the military budget.
11/1/1887, Bismarck proposed an expansion of the German Army.
29/6/1886, Robert Schuman, French politician and Prime Minister, was born in Luxembourg.
16/9/1886, Louis Decazes, French politician, died (born 1819).
13/6/1886, Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, drowned, probably suicide.
16/1/1886, Frederic Falloux, French politician died (born 11/5/1811). He organised the Loi Falloux (Education-Schools, France, 15/3/1850).
20/11/1885, Albert Kesselring, German Air Force Commander, was born in Markstedt.
1/2/1885, Stanislas Dupuy, French naval architect, died (born 15/10/1816).
24/8/1883, Henri Chambord, contender for the French throne, died (born 29/9/1820).
29/4/1883, Franz Schulze-Delitzsch, German economist, died in Potsdam (born 29/8/1808 in Delitzsch).
4/1/1883, Antoine Chanzy, French General, died (born 18/3/1823).
28/2/1883, Louis Bertillon, French anthropologist, died in Neuilly (born in Paris 1/4/1821).
31/12/1882, Leon Gambetta, French statesman, died (born 2/4/1838).
6/12/1882, Louis Blanc, French politician, died in Cannes (born in Madrid 29/10/1811).
15/6/1882, Ernest Cissey, French general, died (born 23/9/1810).
25/9/1881, Franz Ahrens, German scholar (born 6/6/1809) died.
28/6/1881, Jules Dufaure, French politician, died (born 4//12/1798).
19/5/1881, Harry Arnim, German diplomat, died (born 3/10/1824).
12/5/1881, Tunisia became a French Protectorate. The French invaded in April 1881 when the Tunisian first minister made various reforms taking away French economic privileges. This French move was disturbing to Italy, who had believed that Britain would never permit an extension of French power in North Africa.
22/5/1880, Heinrich Gagern, German politician, died (20/8/1799).
102/1880, Isaac Cremieux, French statesman, died (born 1796).
20/1/1880, Jules Favre, French statesman, died (born 21/3/1809).
18/1/1880, Antoine Gramont, French statesman died (born 14/8/1819).
29/10/1879, Franz von Papen, German politician and ambassador, was born in Werl, Westphalia.
20/10/1879, Bernhardt von Bulow, German statesman, died (born 2/8/1815).
1/10/1879, An Austro-German alliance was signed.
2/6/1879, Louis, Prince Imperial of France and prospective Napoleon IV, was killed by a Zulu assegai. The French suspected British connivance.
23/2/1879, Albrecht Roon, Prussian Field-Marshall, died (born 30/4/1803).
19/11/1878, Theresa Essler, wife of Prince Adalbert of Prussia, died (widowed 1873).
31/10/1878, Louis Garnier-Pages, French politician, died (born 1803).
19/10/1878, Bismarck passed an anti-Socialist law, placing many restraints on socialist meetings and banning trade union activities.
1/3/1878, Johann Baptist Alzog, German theologian, died (born 29/6/1808 in Ohlau, Silesia).
17/12/1877, Aurelle de Paladines, French General, died in Versailles (born 9/1/1804 in Malzieu, Lozere).
14/2/1877, Nicolas Changarnier, French General, died (born 26/4/1793)
5/1/1877, Hermann Brockhaus, Professor of ancient Semitic at Leipzig, died.
7/8/1876, Dutch spy, Mata Hari (Margarete Gertrude Zelle), who passed secrets to the Germans in World War One, was born in Leeuwarden. The French arrested her in 1917 and she was executed by firing squad.
2/7/1876, Wilhelm Cuno, German statesman, was born at Suhl.
5/1/1876, Konrad Adenauer, West German Chancellor, was born in Cologne.
20/10/1874, Karl Homeyer, German jurist, died (born 13/8/1795).
12/9/1874, Francois Guizot, French statesman, died (born 4/10/1787).
29/10/1873, John, King of Saxony, died (born 12/12/1801). King Albert of Saxony succeeded his father to the throne. He was born on 23/4/1828, and died on 10/6/1902.
16/9/1873, The last German troops left France. An economic recovery of France had taken place, which was to enable it to build up its military forces. However a recession began in France from 1873 onwards.
6/8/1873, Camille Barrot, French politician, died in Bougival (born in Villefort, Lozere 19/9/1791).
24/5/1873, M Thiers ceased to be President of France.
9/1/1873, Napoleon III of France, nephew of Bonaparte, died in exile at Chislehurst, Kent, to where he had withdrawn following his defeat by the Prussians and his imprisonment at Wilhelshohe Castle.
29/11/1872, Johann Baehr, German scholar, died in Heidelberg, 29/11/1872 (born in Darmstadt 13/6/1798).
30/9/1872, The last date for the inhabitants of Alsace, conquered by Germany in 1870, to opt for either German nationality and remain or French nationality and leave for France. Around 45,000 opted to leave for France.
20/6/1872, Elie Forey, Marshal of France, died (born 5/1/1804).
23/1/1872, Gustav Hindersin, Prussian General, died (born 18/7/1804).
29/8/1871, Albert Lebrun, French President, was born.
7/6/1871, August Bekker, German philosopher, died in Berlin (born 21/5/1785).
25/1/1870, Achille Duc de Broglie, French statesman, died (born 28/11/1785).