The turning of the tide in World War 1 was manifested by the Second Battle of the Marne (Lengel et al, 2004). German led forces began the offensive during the conflict and the first European allied offensive retaliated with a victory in the year 1918. In the first and last advances, the American troops were extremely instrumental; fighting with more than 1 million troops under General John J. Pershing, and taking final direction from the European Allied Supreme Commander. The United States however suffered a major setback with more than 30,000 soldiers killed and 117,000 badly wounded. The Great War caused so many American casualties and when it became clear that the Germans’ assault in the area would be renewed, they chose to let them tire. However we should understand in clarity the conditions that lead to American involvement in World War I.
Describe the conditions that lead to American involvement in World War I. The United States had chosen to remain neutral since the beginning of the First World War in the year 1914. It only fought for the rights of neutral states and its congress had passed the isolationist foreign policy that hindered other countries from interfering with the peace and tranquility of the American population. However, much propaganda was directed to it by the Allied and Central powers. The US was said to be sympathetic to Germans, but the American population did not buy this. Most felt that the power and democracy of the United States was being undermined by the Germans who they described to be dangerous monarchy (Lengel et al, 2004). Their government was also said to have a military thinking that was autocratic and undiplomatic.
The allied forces also alleged that the US was kept busy in the home front by industrial incapacitation, poisoned water supplies and massive frequent kidnappings. The Germans were also said to be engaging in surveillance and intelligence activities within American labor unions. Another issue was the violation of the neutral rights at sea (Submarine Warfare) in 1915 and 1916. In 1915, the Lusitania American ship was sunk by the Germans killing more than 120 Americans and 1916, the Sussex was sunk and more Americans perished. A stronger stance was undertaken by President Wilson in the year 1916. He increased the size of the military and also gave a stern warning to the Germans. Germany through Minister Zimmerman provoked Mexico and Japan to attack the United States after which it will aid them and conquer the European. This together with the Pro-British propaganda enabled President Wilson to finally gain approval from congress to go to war in the year 1917.
Describe the results of the Second Battle of Marne as represented by American involvement in World War I. Americans through President Wilson sought for international peace that was summarized in fourteen points. They were based on the interests of all populations involved. They included: open diplomacy, removal of all trade barriers and freedom of operation in the seas. All nations were also to reduce their armament an impartial adjustments towards colonialism. This led to a call for evacuation of occupied lands by the central powers (Triple Alliance composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy). The Americans also sought independence for Poland without being landlocked to sea and the formation of the League of Nations as guarantor for peace.
However, this strategy was meant to maintain Russia’s presence in the war, act as a reassurance to the Allies (Triple Entente composed of France, Great Britain and Russia) that they were acting for a noble cause as they would disfigure the Central Power’s governments thus maintain peace though at a price. The treaty of Versailles was also signed where Germany was to sign that it was solely responsible for the war. It was also to pay veteran pensions as well as the whole reparations amount for the war in installments over 70 years as it was 8 times more than its net capital. Nevertheless, this promoted resentment towards the Germans. It paved the way for the Second World War.
American soldiers after the war found no work as no demilitarization process had been set in place. They had also encountered the deadly Spanish Flu which killed more than 500,000 American citizens in 1918 and 22 million worldwide that same year. The war had frozen workers’ wages and labor strikes became common. Racial riots arose in the summer of 1919 and government officials were frequently bombed.
Discussion of a soldier’s experience. Infantry Lieutenant Hervey Allen participated in America’s attack of German troops in 1918 in Fismette (Browne & Snead, 2006). Most American soldiers were new to war and they moved with uncertainty to places they had never been before, their unknown enemies and allies. Imminent death, village life, bridges, rivers and stone walls were what they knew and experienced on a frequent basis. They fought in the trenches, the bad odor of death and blood frequented them, boredom, lice, rats, food scarcity, and battlefield engagements were top of their daily agendas.
He talks of how soldiers went without food and water. Their figures were bent and their bodies numbed with exposure but he mainly recounts about the passion seen in each soldier’s life. They all wanted the war to end so that they would return home, back to their families and regain their normal lives. It was sad to see loved ones perish during the war and each day passed with them having to lose a colleague. From this soldier’s perspective the war should have been avoided at all costs. Innocent civilians were killed the most. Enemy troops used villagers as bait and set bombs where the Americans had gone to seek food reinforcement or water.
Days of quietness and days of attacks clouded the soldiers’ minds. Truly the war had brought more harm than good, but there was no turning back. One thing that Allen knew at the end of the war on November 1918 was that there was going to be World War 2 and possibly even a third.