Germany's Domestic Toll (03:49)
German civilians suffered malnutrition as food rations were reduced during a British naval blockade. Women took over men's jobs. A propaganda film warned children about tuberculosis. By 1917, one million soldiers had been killed. (Credits)
Russian Revolution (03:06)
In 1917, Germany defended territory in France and Northern Belgium. A Kiev factory manufacturing artificial limbs symbolized a regime crippled by war. Soldiers mutinied to join their wives protesting in St. Petersburg. The army sided with the rebels in Moscow. On March 15, Czar Nicholas II abdicated.
Strategic Patriotism (02:23)
The Soviets demanded an end to the Romanov Dynasty. Alexander Kerensky advocated Czar Nicholas II's exile. Nicholas requested asylum from George V but George refused, worried that revolution would spread to England. Karensky planned a Russian offensive to unite the people around his government.
Austro-Hungarian Fragility (02:19)
Half the Austro-Hungarian army was destroyed. Emperor Franz Josef I had died in 1916 after a 50 year reign. Karl I hated the war and believed the Russian Revolution would spread if European monarchs did not make peace. In March 1917, he sent a secret peace proposal to Paris, but it failed.
German Fragility (02:21)
France rejected Germany's peace proposal. General Ludendorff worried about revolution in Berlin; socialist leaders called for the war's end. He ordered submarines to attack all commercial ships, regardless of neutrality. Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg feared an American reaction.
First Battle of the Atlantic (03:07)
U-boats were ordered to torpedo any ship supplying England, including American vessels. Submarine captains became German heroes, including Lothar von Arnauld de la Periere, who appeared in a propaganda film. Most ships were sunk without regard to crew members.
Overcoming U.S. Isolationism (03:02)
Woodrow Wilson wanted to support France and democracy; the French and British also owed money to the U.S. However, the U.S. had profited from neutrality and six million voters were of German origin. When Germany was discovered to be funding Mexican sabotage attacks, Congress agreed to enter the war.
U.S. Enters the War (03:17)
In April 1917, General Joffre visited the U.S. to encourage popular support. With only 125,000 troops, the U.S. Army launched a recruitment campaign that resulted in few volunteers. The Selective Service Act brought recruits but training was rudimentary, with insufficient uniforms or weapons.
Convoy System (01:26)
U.S. troop transport vessels were escorted by destroyers that could spot and sink submarines. German losses increased and more supplies reached England and France.
French Military Crisis (02:38)
In spring 1917, the disastrous Chemin de Dames campaign caused troops to question leadership. General Petain appeared in a propaganda film to quell unrest. Several thousand soldiers had mutinied. Hear letters intercepted from court martialed men.
Postal Censorship (01:28)
Ten billion letters were exchanged during the war; messages from home boosted troop spirits. Hear a love letter from a French soldier to his girlfriend.
One Week of Respite (02:59)
In June 1917, General Petain ordered soldiers on leave for 7 days. Many felt unappreciated at home and believed the war enriched profiteers. Despite propaganda films showing soldiers frolicking at the North Sea, wives knew their husbands were suffering.
Hope from America (04:23)
French mutinies subsided but the army was too weak for offensives. General Pershing received a hero's welcome and visited Lafayette's tomb with General Joffre. One million U.S. soldiers arrived; hear examples of cultural interactions between French and American troops.
Preparing for Combat (02:40)
Pershing resisted pressure to integrate American soldiers in French units, but he assigned African-American soldiers to amalgamated units. The French welcomed them and treated them equally. Jazz became popular. The U.S. Army received additional training.
Business of War (02:13)
Short of equipment, the U.S. Army purchased weapons and tanks from the French—financed by liberty bonds. Citroen and Renault grew wealthy manufacturing arms; female workers were underpaid and overworked.
Passchendaele Plan (03:29)
On July 1, 1917, George V reviewed Belgian troops with Albert I. German U-boats were starving the British; he planned to seize submarine bases. David Lloyd George opposed the offensive in the German stronghold, but General Haig refused to wait for American backup.
Battle of Passchendaele (02:49)
The British began with a 15 day artillery offensive, and then sent in Mark IV tanks that opened a path for infantry. The Allied advance was stopped by a freak rain storm. Hear a description of combat conditions. Tanks became easy targets for German artillery.
Passchendaele Aftermath (03:27)
Field Marshal Haig relaunched the attack; it took three months to capture the town instead of one day as planned. More than 200,000 Allied soldiers died to advance five miles. Hear John McRae's "In Flanders Fields."
Credits: Apocalypse WWI: Episode 4—Rage (00:53)
Credits: Apocalypse WWI: Episode 4—Rage
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