World War I

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What were 10 major events/battles that helped the Allies win WWI? 

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It is a little hard to narrow these down to ten events/battles, as one cannot point to any one event and state that is why Germany lost the war.

1. Britain enters the war on the side of the Entente due to Germany's invasion of Belgium. The British blockade of...

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It is a little hard to narrow these down to ten events/battles, as one cannot point to any one event and state that is why Germany lost the war.

1. Britain enters the war on the side of the Entente due to Germany's invasion of Belgium. The British blockade of the North Sea did more to hurt German commerce than the German U-boat menace. The winter of 1917–1918 was referred to as the Turnip Winter in Germany as people were forced to eat food reserved for their livestock. It was the harsh conditions in Germany that caused the revolution that forced the Kaiser's abdication.

2. The Germans were stopped at the Battle of the Marne. The Schlieffen Plan depended upon France's quick capitulation early in the war so that multiple German divisions could be shifted to the Russian front. Germany had to fight a war of attrition on two fronts, and this was key in forcing the armistice in 1918.

3. Britain cut the German cable across the Atlantic in 1914. By severing the German cable, Britain ensured that only Allied-friendly news reports reached the United States. This allowed the Allied press to portray the Germans as barbarians bent on world conquest.

4. The Germans sink the Lusitania in 1915, causing outrage and forcing the German government to stop unrestricted submarine warfare. This attack on a passenger ship angered many in the US government since 128 Americans lost their lives as a result of the sinking. The outcry against the attack made the German government more timid in unleashing its best naval weapon at a time when it would have made a huge impact in the war.

5. The Italians enter the war on the side of the Allies. Italy was a member of the Central Powers but mainly sat on the sidelines early in the war. The Allies promised Italy parts of Austria-Hungary if they would join the Allied Powers. The Italians did not fare well in the war, but they tied down German forces in the Alps at a time when those forces could have made a difference on the Western Front. The Italians felt betrayed when they received nothing during the Versailles Conference.

6. The Zimmerman Note was a diplomatic gaffe that helped to bring the Americans into the war against the Germans in 1917. Germany hoped that Mexico would launch a war in order to divert American attention from Europe; in return, Mexico could expect Germany to broker a deal that would give Mexico back lands lost in the Mexican War. This outraged the American public and helped to bring American industrial muscle into the war.

7. Germany agreed to restart its unrestricted submarine warfare campaign in 1917. Many in the German field staff thought that this gamble was necessary in order to force a quick end to the war. Germany's attacks on American shipping forced Wilson's hand into the war.

8. The German spring and summer offensives in 1918 served as an all-out attempt to win the war. The Germans had little in reserve in the event of a counter-offensive. German morale at home finally broke due to a lack of consumer goods and news from the front that the Allies were not suffering as badly as the German news suggested.

9. The Allies, spearheaded by General Pershing's American Expeditionary Force, launch a counter-offensive in the late summer-fall of 1918. These attacks take many miles of German trenches and threaten to push the Germans out of France and Belgium altogether. Despite heavy losses, it appears as though the Americans will break into Germany itself at some point in 1919.

10. Due to massive socialist demonstrations and the threat of naval mutiny, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates in November 1918. The Ottoman Empire had already brokered an armistice, as had Bulgaria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Germany agrees to an armistice on November 11, 1918.

I realize this list may focus a great deal on the diplomatic side of the war, but WWI was a war of attrition, especially on the Western Front. At many points early in the war, one could not point and say that either side was clearly winning. While many major wars have battles that can be labeled as turning points, one can understand this war better by examining diplomatic and economic history.

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Here are a few events that we can say were important in allowing the Allies to win World War I.

September 1914.  The First Battle of the Marne stops the German advance through France.  If the French and British had not won this battle, Germany might have managed to force France to surrender and the war might have been over very quickly.  Another battle that had a similar effect was the First Battle of Ypres in September and October of 1914).

January 1917.  The Zimmermann Telegram is released in the United States.  This helps makes Americans angry at Germany.  That helped the Allies because it helped cause the US to enter the war.

February 1917.  Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.  Germany had stopped sinking ships without warning because it did not want to antagonize the US.  However, it now decided that it had to resume unrestricted use of its submarines so it could try to end the war quickly.  This helped the Allies because it helped bring the United States into the war.

April 1917.  The United States enters WWI.  This did not have an immediate effect, but it would be a major factor because it eventually gave the Allies more soldiers and supplies to use in the war.

April 1918.  The Allies stop a German offensive on the Western front.  The Germans launched the offensive to try to end the war before the American soldiers really joined the fighting.  Battles include the Battle of Cantigny.

July and August 1918.  The Allies launch counteroffensives after they stop the German offensive.  Battles include the Second Battle of the Marne and the Hundred Days Offensive.

November 9, 1918.  Kaiser Wilhelm abdicates.

All of these helped the Allies win.  There were many other major battles in this war.  Since the Allies did not lose those battles catastrophically, I suppose you could say that they helped the Allies win, but they really did not do the Allies any good in the short term.  Major battles include the Battle of the Somme (July to November 1916), the Battle of Verdun (most of the year 1916).

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