Unit 2: World War IChapter 9

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Life in the trenches

Unit Overview:

  • "We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war."
    - Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front, Ch. 5

  • The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. Woodrow Wilson , 4/12/17 Speech Before Congress Requesting a Declaration of War

  • "What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the creator." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925

  • The war has ruined us for everything."
- Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front, Ch. 5

Life Long Understandings:

  1. The forces of imperialism, nationalism,and militarism, effectuated through the political alliances, propelled the world into a global conflict of unprecedented magnitude in terms of loss of life, property and global peace.

  2. While all thought the War would be a quick and decisive battle, new and deadly instruments of destruction perpetuated the war into a bloody stalemate as demonstrated by trench warfare.

  3. While those who fought in the "Great War" hoped it would be the "war to end all wars," the terms dictated by the Treaty of Versailles left most parties disillusioned with the war and created a breeding ground for Hitler's rise to power in Germany.
  4. From an American perspective, Woodrow Wilson's high ideal of creating a world safe for democracy falls short as he is unable to get Congressional approval of the Treaty of Versailles.

  5. Disillusionment and fear of communism led to US the Red Scare and a policy of isolationism from European affairs .

Key Questions:

  1. Why did the world leaders of their time period not foresee the tragic path they were on which led to the bitter stalemate and destruction of World War I?
  2. What where the varying goals of victorious allied nations at Versailles? Why does it lead to a flawed peace?
  3. What is Woodrow Wilson's legacy: a visionary of global cooperation before his time or a flawed diplomat and politician who fails at a most crucial moment in history?
  4. When should individual rights be sacrificed for the safety of a nation?

Study Guide:


Lecture PowerPoint:


Homework Activities:

Supplemental Websites and Activities:

Supporting Videos:
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French Soldiers with gas mask
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Trench foot

Activities and Exercises:
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/ww1posters/5045