Talk:World War I

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for World War I:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Verify : From Wikipedia:WikiProject_Military_history/Assessment/World_War_I: Add inline citations. Reference list needs auditing. First thing checked was Fromkin2004, p.94. One hopes he is authoritative, because the claim that military expenditure rose by 50% needs to be explained in a little detail, since there could be so many different variables. (see David Fromkin)
  • Other : Make sure that all images are properly sourced, or replace unsourced ones. For example, the information about the "Austrians in Tyrol" isn't sufficient.
Former featured article World War I is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on June 8, 2004.

Soldiers who didn't fire at the enemy[edit]

I once read in a paper (around 1990) that in World War I, 90% of soldiers didn't fire their ammunition at the enemy, but in the air. Can this be true???Marcin862 (talk) 19:11, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Much as I would love to have this discussion this is for discussing improvements to the article, not general discussion about the Great War.Slatersteven (talk) 19:16, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 12 February 2017[edit]

WORLD WAR 1 was a problem that faced america in the first decade of the 19OO's — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brian20021 (talkcontribs) 22:49, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Firstly World War 1 took part in the 2nd decade of the 20th Century, not the first, secondly, you havn't said what change you want to make.Nigel Ish (talk) 22:55, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

misspelling ?[edit]

in the lead, should the word "gruelling" be replaced with "grueling"? L.S. inc. (talk) 23:49, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

The article uses British English spelling, "gruelling" is correct". Mediatech492 (talk) 00:37, 17 February 2017 (UTC)

okay. L.S. inc. (talk) 00:40, 17 February 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 21 February 2017[edit] (talk) 14:34, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

dear sir mixalot, please let me edit

You need to say what your edit is going to be.Slatersteven (talk) 14:39, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
X mark.svg Not done This is not the right page to request additional user rights.
If you want to suggest a change, please request this in the form "Please replace XXX with YYY" or "Please add ZZZ between PPP and QQQ".
Please also cite reliable sources to back up your request, without which no information should be added to, or changed in, any article. - Arjayay (talk) 15:25, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

alliances - inaccurate and misleading[edit]

In order to understand the causes of the WW1 it is essential to counteract popular misconceptions of how the war started. One of the most enduring misconceptions is that the "alliance system" started the war - and -linked to this- is the idea that the central powers are deliberately provoking war with Russia.

It becomes essential to explain that Serbia is not allied to Russia. That is Russia is not obliged by treaty to come to her defence. Unless you explain this you cannot understand how Austria can declare war on Serbia without expecting the Russians to come to Serbia's aid. Rather Russia makes a decision to come to Serbia's aid wholly independently of any treaty obligations.

Equally, Great Britain is not allied to France or Russia. Again, Great Britain makes a decision to enter the war wholly independently of any treaty obligations to France or Russia. We must make this clear and avoid using the word alliance in both these context-, because it is both inaccurate and misleading.Keith Johnston (talk) 08:51, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

this graphic is better Keith Johnston (talk) 09:31, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
European diplomatic alignments shortly before the war.
But it throws away the geography. Why not just edit the legend/colours of the previous map? GraemeLeggett (talk) 17:09, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
that would be ideal, but I have no access to the map to do that. Since the map is inaccurate in important ways it should be amended, but in the absence of that, it should ultimately be removed if no-one can edit it.Keith Johnston (talk) 18:56, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Is this OR or do RS make counter the claim made in many RS that the alliance system was partially responsible for the war?.Slatersteven (talk) 19:05, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
The key point is that the map is inaccurate - there is no alliance between Serbia and Russia (if there is give me the date, name and terms?) or Great Britain and France. The Entente is not an alliance - As British Foreign Office Official Eyre Crowe minuted: "The fundamental fact of course is that the Entente is not an alliance. For purposes of ultimate emergencies it may be found to have no substance at all. For the Entente is nothing more than a frame of mind, a view of general policy which is shared by the governments of two countries, but which may be, or become, so vague as to lose all content." Also Ponting, Clive (2002). Thirteen Days: The Road to the First World War. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-7293-0."Russia had no treaty of alliance with Serbia and was under no obligation to support it diplomatically, let alone go to its defence" — Preceding unsigned comment added by Keith Johnston (talkcontribs) 19:16, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
And it was not the invasion of France that brought Britain into the war, it was the invasion of Belgium. As a result of negotiations, the representatives of the Russian and French general staffs signed a military convention on Aug. 5, 1892, which provided for mutual military aid in the event of a German attack. By an exchange of letters between Dec. 15, 1893, and Dec. 23, 1893 (Jan. 4, 1894), both governments announced their ratification of the military convention. It was not Russians alliance with Serbia, but Frances alliance with Russia that was the issue.Slatersteven (talk) 21:09, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
I have added the erroneous map here as this is what is being discussed. That map contains a number of important errors most importantly - there is no alliance between Serbia and Russia. The Entente is not an alliance.
Map of Europe focusing on Austria-Hungary and marking central location of ethnic groups in it including Slovaks, Czechs, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians, Poles.
Rival military coalitions in 1914; Triple Entente in green; Triple Alliance in brown
Keith Johnston (talk) 08:58, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
I expanded the caption to explain the "alliance" issue. The map does NOT assert an "alliance between Russia and Serbia." RS often use "ally" eg Lyon 2015: "For Serbia, the most pressing question centered on Russia: would the Tsar honor Russia's commitment to Serbia?51 A Russian refusal of support to its Balkan ally would mean Serbia must stand alone against Austria" [here are examples used in 2017 by multiple online dictionaries: a formal treaty is NOT necessary to be an ally: 1) Canada and the United States were allies in World War II.; 2) There may be occasions when America can ally with some of those states, as we did during the Gulf War. 3) An example of an ally is Britain to the US in World War II. 4) One in helpful association with another: legislators who are allies on most issues. 5) a nation, group, or person associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose. 6) a country that agrees to help or support another country in a war Rjensen (talk) 09:51, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
The expanded caption describes the relationships as "coalitions". A coalition is a temporary alliance for combined action. This is 1) not the relationship between Serbia and Russia immediately prior to the war. 2) Neither is it the relationship between Britain on the one hand and Russia and France on the other. Therefore I cannot agree with coalition. Moreover the problems with the map goes beyond the visible caption as the text in the map says "Military Alliances in 1914". The map certainly asserts an alliance between Russia and Serbia - describing Serbia and Montenegro as "Slavic Allies of Russia" ( an-a historical term it itself, what does "Slavic Allies mean?). As for historians using the term, "ally" imprecisely, let us not compound that error by repeating it. I repeat Ponting, Clive (2002). Thirteen Days: The Road to the First World War. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-7293-0."Russia had no treaty of alliance with Serbia and was under no obligation to support it diplomatically, let alone go to its defence". See OS Eyre Crowe on the Entente (above) - The Entente is not a military alliance, this map says it is. This map is wrong and misleading. In the absence of an alterative suggestion I would remove the map and, ideally replace it with a map of Europe in 1914 and the graphic previously suggested. This map creates confusion. Can I suggest we focus on the content of the map (which cannot easily be changed) rather than the caption, which can be changed but does not matter in the sense that the text in the map will remain even if we change the caption? Please also address both the errors - 1) The Entente and 2) Serbia Keith Johnston (talk) 10:25, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
It would be nice to fix the wording on the map....who knows how to do that? The caption now explains away the term "alliance". The map does NOT say there was an alliance between Russia and Serbia. it uses "ally" (RS use "ally" when there is no treaty--as in Israel is an important American ally.) Note: historians agree that Serbia was a client state of Russia which protected it against Austria. Clark says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov warned Austria in 1914 that Russia "Would respond militarily to any action against the client state." Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2012) p 481. As for the map, there is no available alternative and a map of July 1914 is essential to understand that critical month. I changed the caption to this: Only the Triple Alliance was a formal "alliance"; the others listed were informal patterns of support. Serbia was a client state of Russia which told Austria it would protect its client. that takes care of Entente & Serbia, I think. As for the graphic proposed: it has many major mistakes. it falsely states there was an "alliance" between Germany and Ottomans in 1914. Not true. It also gets Bulgaria all wrong. Its spatial relations are badly garbled. Rjensen (talk) 11:11, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
agreed that the graphic has its own problems. Rjensen is quite correct in that there is no alliance between Ottomans and Germany. In the absence of a better map, which would be the best solution, I agree that the best solution is to change the caption. If we agree that the map should convey the alliances and alignments of pre war Europe then I suggest a slight alteration of Rjensen text to state: "Note: The map in incorrect - only the Triple Alliance and the Franco-Russian Alliance were formal defensive "alliances"; the others listed represent informal patterns of support rather than formal alliances." "Client-state" is a controversial and non-neutral statement. The Russians may have seen the Serbs as a Client-state, but did the Serbs? Did The British? Did the Germans? Did the Austrians? We can quickly see the term is too subjective to be used as a factual statement without substantial caveat. Such caveats are better inserted in to the text of the body of the article (probably on the Causes of the War), not a caption which should be brief.Keith Johnston (talk) 17:07, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
Re "client state" -- the issue is do the 21st century RS see Serbia as a client state of Russia and the cites prove yes they do. 1) "Serbia was essentially a client state of Russia," [ Stokesbury, A Short History of World War I (2009) p 20. 2) "Serbia itself became a Russian client state " [Reneo Lukic, ‎Allen Lynch - 1996 p 331] 3) "Austria-Hungary's leaders hesitated only because Serbia was a client-state of Russia, and Russia had an ally in France" [Bowman - 1998 p 372]; 4)--here's a 1922 usage: " Serbia, which had become almost a. client state of ... Russia" [Ency Britannica 1922]; 5) "great tension between Austria and Serbia, a Russian client state. " [Haffner 1989 p 78]; 6) in July 1914 "Russia promptly mobilized to protect its little client state," [Merry 2005]; 7) " St. Petersburg had many motives for acting as the patron of a greater-Serbian client state." [Hermann, 1997 p 115] 8) "Russia's status as a Great Power required that it not allow its client state, Serbia, to be humiliated, much less obliterated. " [Noble et al 2007 textbook]. 9) "Montenegro was effectively a Russian client state" [Ponting 2002 p 60] 10) "Britain regarded Serbia as a client state of Russia" [Cowper 1990 p 209] 11) " Serbia's overt hostility to Austria was made possible by Russian patronage of its most reliable client state" [Lowe 2013]. Rjensen (talk) 02:47, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
The caption is still incorrect, you need to add the caveat on the Franco-Russian alliance. Should state "Only the Triple Alliance and the Franco-Russian Alliance were formal defensive "alliances"; the others listed represent informal patterns of support rather than formal alliances." Informal pattern of support is an improvement on "client-state", which is too subjective to be defensible and we have a good alternative. Clarke uses "client state" (p481) in the context of referring to the Sazanov's view of Serbia, not as an objective statement of fact. In any case Russian influence and support varied significantly between Serbia and Bulgaria almost on a monthly basis. There is no need to give undue prominence to Sazanoz's warning as it is not dated so we don't know where that fits into the chronology of the July crisis. The warning is better placed in the text (most usefully in the Causes of WW1 article, where it can be placed into context) and where it can be sourced and caveated.Keith Johnston (talk) 12:56, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
On use of "client state" - Christoper Clark is explicit on use of the term client state, on exactly this issue: Russia's view of Serbia and Sazanov's view in particular: "It was a risk enhancing initiative to see Serbia as a kind of client...Serbia to my knowledge, has never been a client of anyone. This is a mistake, when Great Powers think they can secure the services of "client states". That "clients" are never, in fact, "clients". But this is a mistake that is presumably going to be keep being made by our political leaderships, though one hopes one day it will stop." CIRSD Conference on WWI: Panel "What Kind of Failure?" - Prof. Christopher Clark, 21:48. Published on 30 May 2014. Hence client state is too subjective a term to be allowed, or at the very least too subjective to be used without caveat in the body of the text.Keith Johnston (talk) 14:10, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

Chronology of the start of the war[edit]

The article states:

On 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia.[13][14] As Russia mobilised in support of Serbia, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany.

This is misleading as it gives the strong impression that as the Russian are merely mobilising, the Germans are invading Belgium. In fact the Russians begin mobilisation on 25 July and in response to this the Germans mobilise. A more neutral and informative explanation would be:

On 25 July Russia began mobilisation and on 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia.[13][14] Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany.

I realise the need for brevity in this section, and this adds a lot of meaning in a few words.Keith Johnston (talk) 09:18, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

The meaning that it adds is misleading. The mobilisation period for Russia was much longer than that for Germany, so Germany's invasions & declaration of war on Russia were not the consequences of the Russian mobilisation. Your statement of the chronology implies causation, but Germany's actions were simply in accordance with their long-planned war plan.
Gravuritas (talk) 15:49, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
1) I can reference historians who would disagree on the causation, latterly Clark: "The Russian general mobilisation was one of the most momentous decisions of the July crisis. This was the first of the general mobilisations. It came at the moment when the German government had not yet even declared the State of Impending War". Clark, Christopher (2013). The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. And: "German efforts at mediation – which suggested that Austria should “Halt in Belgrade” and use the occupation of the Serbian capital to ensure its terms were met – were rendered futile by the speed of Russian preparations, which threatened to force the Germans to take counter–measures before mediation could begin to take effect" ibid.
Thus, in response to Russian mobilisation, Germany ordered the state of Imminent Danger of War (SIDW) on 31 July, and when the Russian government refused to rescind its mobilisation order, Germany mobilised and declared war on Russia on 1 August. Given the Franco-Russian alliance, countermeasures by France were, correctly, assumed to be inevitable and Germany therefore declared war on France on 3 August 1914.
2) The idea of a ″long-planned war" (Fischer et al) is rejected by almost all modern historians (Clark, Macmillan, Strachan) and is to say the least highly controversial. among the few still peddling that are the journalist Max Hastings. Hence the absolute need to amend the text to something more neutral. Even if we disagree the rules of Wikipedia would make that conclusion too controversial to stand alone as it does at present. Keith Johnston (talk) 19:09, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
In addition to comments on 1) I would add Clark

"Yes, the Germans declared war on Russia before the Russians declared war on Germany. But by the time that happened, the Russian government had been moving troops and equipment to the German front for a week. The Russians were the first great power to issue an order of general mobilisation and the first Russo-German clash took place on German, not on Russian soil, following the Russian invasion of East Prussia. That doesn’t mean that the Russians should be ‘blamed’ for the outbreak of war. Rather it alerts us to the complexity of the events that brought war about and the limitations of any thesis that focuses on the culpability of one actor."[1]Keith Johnston (talk) 08:40, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

Im planning to make the change proposed above tomorrow. Any further comments let me know. Keith Johnston (talk) 21:14, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
The above is not remotely NPOV. Why is the geography of the first Russo-German clash of any significance, given that the German strategy was to knock out France first, and until that had been done, be defensive in the East? If you or Clark want to refer to who mobilised first, why are you studiously avoiding the considerable difference in mobilisation leadtimes btw Russia and Germany? The initial para to which you are objecting is a more neutral staement than the line you are peddling of Germany purely reacting to Russian orders to mobilise.
Gravuritas (talk) 02:14, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
I take Clark's point to mean that even if a country believes its acting on the defensive, its military can invade other countries. Equally, the fact that a country declares war first, as Germany did join this case with Russia, does not on its own mean that country was the agressor (e.g. Germany/UK WWII). Clark believes it is vitally important to be aware that the Russian's mobilised on 25 July, prior to the Austrian declaration of war and prior to any military actions by Germany. Hence my proposal to add that to the timeline. The initial para makes no mention of Russian partial mobilisation on 25 July, nor the German ultimatum to Russia. Not only is it factually incorrect (Russia starts to mobilise before Austria declares war) it also gives the strong impression that as the Russian are merely mobilising, the Germans are invading Belgium. There is an intermediate stage -namely the German ultimatum and declaration of war, which can (and surely must, the German declaration of war is important in an article about WW1, right?) be included and what more we can still maintain the structure of the paragraph. Its unclear to me why you object to this. Perhaps you are concerned that this points the finger at Russia? As Clark states:"That doesn’t mean that the Russians should be ‘blamed’ for the outbreak of war. Rather it alerts us to the complexity of the events that brought war about and the limitations of any thesis that focuses on the culpability of one actor." Clark is a distinguished RS, do you have any RS in support of your assertions? However, all that is sort of besides the point, I am making changes to account for important facts. To my mind to object to these changes you would need to find sources to demonstrate that Russia did not begin to mobilise 1.1. million men on 25 July, that Germany did not declare war on Russia on 1 August or that for some reason these are not important. Keith Johnston (talk) 13:27, 16 March 2017 (UTC)