World War I
The Signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles
First World War (1914–1918) was fought across
Asia. Countries beyond the war zones were also affected by the disruption of international trade, finance and diplomatic pressures from the belligerents.
 In 1917,
two revolutions occurred within the
Russian Empire, which led to the collapse of the Imperial Government and the rise of the
Bolshevik Party led by
On 6 April 1917, the United States entered the war against the
Central Powers due to German submarine warfare against merchant ships trading with France and Britain, which led to the sinking of the
RMS Lusitania and the loss of 128 American lives, as well as the interception of the
Zimmerman Telegram, sent by the Empire of Germany to
Mexico, urging for a declaration of war against the United States. The American war aim was to detach the war from nationalistic disputes and ambitions after the Bolshevik disclosure of secret treaties between the Allies. The existence of these treaties tended to discredit Allied claims that Germany was the sole power with aggressive ambitions.
On 8 January 1918,
United States President
Woodrow Wilson issued a statement that became known as the
Fourteen Points. This speech outlined a policy of
open agreements, democracy and
self-determination. It also called for a diplomatic end to the war, international disarmament, the withdrawal of the Central Powers from occupied territories, the creation of a
Polish state, the redrawing of Europe's borders along ethnic lines, and the formation of a
League of Nations to afford "mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike".
 Wilson's speech also responded to
Decree on Peace of November 1917, which proposed an immediate withdrawal of
Russia from the war and called for a just and democratic peace uncompromised by territorial annexations. The Fourteen Points were based on the research of the
Inquiry, a team of about 150 advisors led by foreign-policy advisor
Edward M. House, into the topics likely to arise in the anticipated peace conference. Europeans generally welcomed Wilson's
Georges Clemenceau of France,
David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom and
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy were sceptical of
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 1918
The borders of Eastern Europe, as drawn up in Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
After the Central Powers launched
Operation Faustschlag on the
Eastern Front, the
new Soviet Government of Russia signed the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on 3 March 1918.
 This treaty ended the war between Russia and the Central powers and annexed 1,300,000 square miles (3,400,000 km2) of territory and 62 million people.
 This loss equated to a third of the Russian population, a quarter of its territory, around a third of the country's arable land, three-quarters of its coal and iron, a third of its factories (totalling 54 percent of the nation's industrial capacity), and a quarter of its railroads.
During the autumn of 1918, the Central Powers began to collapse.
 Desertion rates within the German army began to increase, and civilian strikes drastically reduced war production.
 On the
Western Front, the
Allied forces launched the
Hundred Days Offensive and decisively defeated the German western armies.
 Sailors of the
Imperial German Navy at Kiel
mutinied, which prompted uprisings in Germany, which became known as the
 The German government tried to obtain a peace settlement based on the Fourteen Points, and maintained it was on this basis that they surrendered. Following negotiations, the Allied powers and Germany
signed an armistice, which came into effect on 11 November while German forces were still positioned in
The terms of the armistice called for an immediate evacuation of German troops from
Luxembourg within fifteen days.
 In addition, it established that
Allied forces would occupy the Rhineland. In late 1918, Allied troops entered Germany and began the occupation.
German Empire and
Great Britain were dependent on imports of food and raw materials, primarily from
the Americas, which had to be shipped across the
Atlantic Ocean. The Blockade of Germany (1914–1919) was a
naval operation conducted by the Allied Powers to stop the supply of raw materials and foodstuffs reaching the Central Powers. The German
Kaiserliche Marine was mainly restricted to the
German Bight and used
commerce raiders and
unrestricted submarine warfare for a counter-blockade. The German Board of Public Health in December 1918 stated that 763,000 German civilians had died during the Allied blockade, although an academic study in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000 people.
In late 1918, a Polish government was formed and an independent Poland proclaimed. In December, Poles launched an uprising within the German
province of Posen. Fighting lasted until February, when an armistice was signed that left the province in Polish hands, but technically still a German possession.