The World Wars were among the key events by which the 20th century was characterized, alongside the world’s quest for peace and co-operation as well as developments and challenges in postcolonial Africa.

                      THE WORLD WAR 1 (1914-1918)

This was the first total war in the modern history of mankind. Almost all countries in the world were involved in it.

In what two ways were most nations involved in the First World War?

This involvement took two forms:

  • Soldiers who were actually fighting in the war front.
  • Civilians who were entrusted with the task of providing needs for the soldiers.

Explain why the First World War was the first mechanized war in world history.

  • Much of the fighting was done with machines such as Automatic Rifles, Machine Guns, large Battle ships and submarines, Tanks and Long-range field guns.
  • For the first time in history, man used 19th and 20th century scientific and technological development for the destruction of mankind.
  • The Poison gas, which was developed during the war, killed many soldiers and caused permanent ill health to others.
  • The development and use of aircraft during the war led to civilian involvement, causing civilians who were far away from the battle areas to get attacked.

Explain the causes of the First World War. (Identify the factors that led to the First World War).

  • Colonial rivalry between Major European powers, particularly Britain, France and Germany.
  • Economic rivalry between the European powers due to competition for raw materials and market for European manufactured goods.
  • The first and Second Moroccan Crisis, arising from rivalry between the French and the Germans over Morocco, which increased political tension.
  • The Arms Race among European powers.
  • The system of alliance, I.E the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.
  • Loss of the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, which caused France to spoil for war to revenge.
  • The 1911 dispute between Italy and Turkey over Libya, which caused ill feelings, particularly between Italy and Germany, because Germany was also interested in Libya apart from being an ardent supporter of Turkey.
  • Nationalism all over Europe as European nationalists contested for more power for their peoples.
  • The 1912-1913 Balkan wars, which caused tension in Europe.
  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, which activated and antagonized the alliances already in place, leading to outbreak of the war.

Explain the Alliance system and how it facilitated the First World War. (In what ways did the Alliance system lead to (cause) the First World War?)

  • Bismarck (the German Chancellor) arranged a dual alliance that comprised Germany and AustriaHungary and was later joined by Italy to form the Triple Alliance in order to maintain German power in Europe after Prussia (a German state) had defeated France, which led to German unification. Such arrangement was also motivated by Bismarck’s fear that France would attack Germany in revenge. He extended the Triple Alliance by encouraging Romania to sign separate pacts with the members.
  • To counter Germany’s power, Britain moved closer to France and Russia. The three formed the Triple Entente (Triple Understanding) of 1904.
  • The Alliance system caused countries to act rashly, knowing that they would be supported. It also ensured that if a war broke out between two countries, the rest would join the war.

 In what ways did Imperialism cause (lead to) the First World War? (Explain how Imperialism fuelled the First World War. Or: Explain how Economic rivalry between European powers fuelled the First World War. Or:

Explain how colonial rivalry between major European powers facilitated the First World War.)

In late 19th century, the Western European nations, Japan and the USA competed among themselves for colonies as a result of the Industrial Revolution because:

  • Each needed raw materials for their factories.
  • Market for industrial products was of great necessity.
  • Others wanted to invest capital in their new lands.

Although most colonial conflicts were solved in the 1884-85 Berlin Conference well before 1914, there was a lot of distrust, which no country could alleviate.

Describe the Arms Race and how it led to the First World War. (Analyse the Arms Race among the European powers and its influence in the First World War.

(In what ways did the Arms Race feature as a factor in (cause of) the First World War?)

  • From 1900-1914, there was competition for military supremacy among Western European countries, Japan, the USA and Russia, which made each of them aggressive and militant, ready to fight at the slightest provocation.
  • Between 1906-1912, the Germans embarked on construction of nine Dreadnoughts.
  • Britain concentrated on construction of eighteen Dreadnoughts.
  • France and Russia expanded their armies by lengthening the conscription service and calling up training reservists.

Describe the first and second Morroccan crisis and how it facilitated the First World War.


  • As members of the triple Entente, France and Britain were great friends. They used the Entente to solve their colonial disputes. For example, France gave Britain a free hand in Egypt and Sudan while Britain recognized the supremacy of France in Morocco.
  • Germany decided to test the Anglo-French alliance. On 31st March 1905, Kaiser William 2 alighted at Tangier in Morocco and delivered a speech on the importance of keeping Morocco an independent state. This did not please Britain and France.
  • The German government then suggested an international conference to decide the future of Morocco.
  • At the conference, which was held at Algesiras in Spain, Italy did not support Germany. This strengthened the Anglo-French alliance.


  • In July 1911, a German gunboat was sent to the port of Agadir in Morocco to protect German interests on the pretext that the French had recently sent troops to occupy the interior of Europe to quell disorders there, although the real problem was caused by the unpopularity of the new Moroccan Sultan, who favored the French.
  • Germany’s aims in Morocco became clear when the German foreign Minister suggested in Berlin that France gives up the French Congo to compensate for the exclusion of German interests in Morocco. This was a way of making France to go to war, which France was in no position to do.
  • Since Germany was determined to win more concessions, Britain helped to arrange a compromise whereby Germany agreed not to interfere in Morocco in return for a gift of part of French Congo.

Analyse the 1911 dispute between Italy and Turkey over Libya and how this dispute led to the First World War.

  • In 1911, Italy declared war on Turkey, taking advantage of the Agadir Crisis and the nationalist wave in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Within a year, Italy had annexed Tripoli and the neighbouring province of Cyrenaica, implying that she was in possession of modern day Libya.
  • Feelings resulted between Germany and Italy, because Germany supported Turkey and was also interested in Libya.

Name the nations that emerged as a result of disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Or:

Identify the nations that emerged in Europe as countries disintegrated during the First World War. Explain how nationalism in Europe facilitated the First World War

  • The emergence of Germany and Italy as formidable powers in Europe disrupted the existing balance of power in Europe.
  • The situation was worsened as Belgium broke away from Holland in 1930, while Norway was busy declining herself from Sweden.
  • That very moment, the Ottoman Empire was quickly disintegrating into several fragments, leading to emergence of Greece, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria as sovereign states.
  • Elsewhere in Europe, there was a serge of strong nationalist aspirations among minority states or communities.

Identify Minority communities that depicted a surge of nationalism in the events leading to the First World War in Europe. 

  • Greeks and Bulgars in Macedonia, who hoped to be liberated from Turkish rule.
  • The Italian and Romanian speakers within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who aspired for political liberation.
  • The Slavic peoples (the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Slovenes, Croats and Serbs), who were unhappy with Austro-Hungarian rule. The Serbs in particular sought reunification with Serbia across the Danube River. The Slavs were supported by Russia, Britain and France in their quest.

 In what ways did desire for revenge fuel the First World War?

  • The French harboured a deep-seated desire to settle old scores with the Germans due to their defeat by Germany during the 1870-71 Franco Prussian war, which culminated in the German annexation of Alsace and Lorraine provinces, which were rich in industrial raw materials, particularly coal and iron ore, which undermined prestige of the French, who were regarded as the major land-power.
  • France was eager to occupy large areas of Africa, regardless of whether they were productive or not, in order to boost her ego.

Analyse the 1912-1913 Balkan wars and their role in fuelling the First World War.

  • In 1912, in what became the First Balkan war, a Union of the Balkans, which comprised Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, attacked Turkey on the pretext that the Young Turks movement was persecuting Christians in Macedonia. Turkey sued for peace as it was apparent that she was losing the war. The hostilities were concluded through the Treaty of London in 1913.
  • In what became the Second Balkan war, nations engaged in border and related disputes, characterized by demarcations and settlements, all of which were sealed at the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, which ended the war.
  • Although the Western powers were not involved in the Balkan wars, the wars increased international tension, which caused a lot of concern.

Discuss the conflicts (demarcations and settlements) that characterized the second Balkan war.

  • Bulgaria and Serbia were contesting ownership of Macedonia, which had been carved out of Turkey by the 1913 Treaty of London.
  • Serbia sought allies in Greece and Turkey. As a result, Greece and Serbia acquired Macedonia while Turkey recaptured Adrianople, which she had earlier lost at the Treaty of London.
  • Romania acquired some valuable territory from Bulgaria, who lost much of what she had gained earlier on at the Treaty of London.
  • Romania acquired Dobruja a coastal region between the Black Sea and river Danube.

In what ways did the Balkan war increase international tension?

  • Bulgaria was left hunting and spoiling for an opportunity to recoup her losses.
  • Because of her successes, Serbia was inspired in her ambition of uniting all Serbs in the Balkans under one rule.
  • Hostilities between Austria and Serbia increased (were accentuated) as the Serbs were bitter after being denied occupation of Albania by Austria-Hungary during the first Balkan war.
  • Occupation of Albania would have afforded the Serbs direct access to the sea.
  • Serbia was unhappy as Austria and Hungary ruled about six million Serbs and Croats.
  • Austria was unhappy with the emergence of Serbia as a powerful state, which set stage for the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

 Discuss the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in relation to the First World War. (In what ways did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand fuel the First World War?)


  • In June 1914, Franz Ferdinand (the Austro-Hungarian heir apparent) and his wife Sophie were killed in Sarajevo: the capital of the annexed province of Bosnia. The two were killed by Gavrilo Principe: a young Bosnian student, backed by a secret Serb organization called The Black Hand, which aimed at uniting all Serbs as one nation, and was therefore opposed to continued Austrian rule in Bosnia: a province largely inhabited by Serbs. However, the Serb government did not fully support The Black hand, since it regarded the organization as too radical and dangerously militant.
  • Germany responded quickly by assuring Austria-Hungary of full support, regardless of whatever course of action she took. Therefore, Austria accused Serbia for the killing and presented Serbia with a stiff ultimatum and a list of demands, threatening to go to war if the demands were not met.
  • Serbia accepted nearly all the terms except the fourth and sixth, which she suggested could be handled by the International Court of Justice at The Hague in Holland for arbitration.
  • Austria-Hungary refused and therefore declared war on Serbia.
  • In support of Serbia, Russia ordered full mobilization of her forces.
  • In response, Germany demanded demobilization of Russia’s forces, but Russia did not, so Germany declared war on Russia.
  • Germany demanded that France remains neutral, but France refused, so Germany declared war on France.
  • German armies invaded Belgium, which caused Britain to join the war in defense of the 1839 treaty that guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium, a Treaty that Bismarck (the German chancellor) referred to as a scrap of paper not worth Britain’s defense.

State the demands of Austria against Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

  • An explanation for the assassination.
  • Apologies by Serbia to Austria-Hungary
  • Suppression of all anti Austrian publications and organizations.
  • Participation of Austrian officials in the enquiry, including the institution of judicial proceedings against those who committed the crime.
  • The dismissal of all officials that Austria objected to.
  • That Austrian police be allowed to enter Serbia’s territory to ensure that these demands were fulfilled.

What two of Austria’s demands was Serbia not ready to fulfil in relation to the Sarajevo Assassination? v The dismissal of all officials that Austria objected to.

  • That Austrian police be allowed to enter Serbia’s territory to ensure that these demands were fulfilled.

Describe two camps into which the powers were divided during the First World War.

  • The one made up of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
  • The one known as the Allies, which comprised Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium, France, Russia and Britain.

Many other nations joined the allies while Turkey joined the Central Powers in 1914. The First World War was fought in Europe, Asia and Africa. It was fought both on land and at sea.

                           THE COURSE OF THE WAR

Name the countries that were directly involved in the First World War.

Name the countries that:

  • Formed the Triple Entente.
  • Formed the Central Powers (Triple Alliance).
  1. Identify the war fronts during the First World War.

Identify the countries involved in fighting on the War Fronts during the First World War.

  1. What was the Gallipoli campaign?

Why did the Gallipoli campaign fail?

  1. Why was Russia defeated in the First World War in spite of her large army and her mobilization of her army faster than Germany expected?

Why did Russia withdraw from the First World War in 1917?

Why did the USA enter the First World War?

World War 1 broke out in Europe, where it was fought on two main fronts, namely:

  1. The Western Front (mainly in France and Belgium).
  2. The Eastern Front (in Russia and the Balkans).


Here, the Germans were fighting British, French and (later on) American forces. The war on the Western front was part of the Von Schlieffen plan.

 Explain the Von Schlieffen Plan.

  • As far back as 1905, a German Field Marshal called Alfred Von Schlieffen had planned for a war against France, whereby France would be attacked through Belgium. Schlieffen believed that within a fortnight, German forces would capture Paris, thereby ending French resistance and force Britain to sign a separate peace treaty.
  • Confident in the Schlieffen plan, the Germans invaded and overrun Belgium and Luxembourg on their way to attack the French.
  • The French tried to launch their own attack against the Germans in the Alsace-Lorraine region, but they failed miserably. Even a British force sent to assist the French was nothing much for the Germans, who easily pushed it back.
  • By September 1914, the German forces were only fifty miles from Paris: the French capital, which caused the French government to flee to Bordeaux.
  • Germany attacked France from the east and from the west, creating a vacuum in the centre, which the British and the French used to attack the Germans.
  • Sensing danger, the German forces drew back across the Marne River.

Why did the Von schlieffen Plan fail?

  • Russia mobilized her forces faster than expected, which compelled Germany to deploy her forces to the Eastern front earlier than anticipated.
  • The German invasion of Belgium was not as fast as anticipated.
  • Britain entered the war, for which the Germans had not prepared.
  • The German and the French sides were evenly matched, which Germany had not expected.

The rest of the war mostly took the form of Trench Warfare, whereby each side dug up a network of trenches reinforced with barbed wire for protection against artillery and machine gun fire. However, no side advanced against the other.

Explain why the position of the opposing armies did not change in the Trench Warfare in spite of many attempts against each other during the First World War.

  • The two sides were evenly matched.
  • The Trench warfare mainly sheltered defenders, which made attack more difficult than defense.
  • The defenders used modern weapons and techniques such as Machine Guns and Barbed Wire defenses.

Describe the new war methods employed to end the Trench Warfare stalemate during the First World War.

  • The Poison Gas, used by the Germans in 1915.
  • Use of aeroplanes from 1915.
  • Use of tanks from 1916, particularly by the British.

In May 1915, the Allies won Italy to their side by promising the Italians the two Austrian districts of Trieste and

Trerti after the war, which was crucial as it held the Austrian forces in the Alps and stopped them from attacking Russia in the east. There was intense fighting in 1916 at Verdun and Somme, where a combined force of the French and the British kept the Germans at bay.

In late 1915, many countries joined either the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. Japan, Italy, Belgium, Serbia and Montenegro supported the Triple Entente while Turkey and Bulgaria supported the Triple Alliance. Consequently, the triple Alliance changed its name to Central Powers while the Triple Entente became the Allied Powers, popularly known as the Allies.


Here, war was between Russia and Germany on one hand and between Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other. Although Russia mobilized her forces faster than Germany had expected, she was badly defeated because:

  • She invaded both Germany and Austria at the same time.
  • Although the Russian army was large, it was badly led, poorly trained and ill equipped.
  • From the beginning of the war up to 1917, Russian casualties remained high.
  • Russia was in a worse situation when Turkey joined the war in 1915 and cut off the main supply and trade route through the Dardanelles straits.

To assist Russia, the Allies launched the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, aimed at opening up the Dardanelles. But this campaign failed because:

  • Anglo-French ships in the attack that was aimed at capturing Constantinople were destroyed by mines in the Dardanelles, which caused a delay that enabled turkey to reinforce her defence.
  • Troops brought in from Australia, New Zealand and Britain failed as the Central Powers had already taken position, ready for war. This caused the Allies to evacuate their forces.

The Allied military campaign in the Eastern Front encountered many more difficulties, which climaxed in the withdrawal of Russia from the war in 1917 as the Russian army had many problems such as:

  • Lack of arms,
  • Insufficient food supplies,
  • Lack of clothing,
  • Incompetent (poor/bad) leadership,
  • Poor transport and communication.

In March 1917, a revolution broke out in Russia, which led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas 2. The new Russian government did not wish to continue the war against Germany. It formally ended the war in March 1918 with the signing  of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


Explain how the First World War was fought at sea.

  • Before 1914, the British fleet was numerically superior to that of Germany, although the German navy had superior armour and weapons. In 1914, the German navy upset British naval supremacy in the Pacific, but it was eventually defeated at the battle of Falkland Islands.
  • In 1916, after decoding the German wireless cord, the British Royal navy fully countered the German fleet that had been stationed in the North Sea to attack the British fleet. In spite of losing many naval officers, Britain managed to route the German army out of the sea.
  • Britain finally retained her supremacy in the sea, which was important to the Allies.
  • Because of severe food shortages caused by the British blockade, the German high command declared unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, meaning that ships from nutral countries were sank on sight without warning, just like enemy ships.
  • In March 1917, German submarines torpedoed several U S merchant ships. This angered the U S A, which joined the war on the side of the Allies and upset the balance of power against Germany.

Why was it important for Britain to retain her supremacy in the sea during the First World War?

  • The British blocked access  by the central Powers to food and raw materials from other parts of the world.
  • The British were able to capture the colonies of the Central Powers.
  • The Allies maintained uninterrupted communication with other allied forces and could safeguard British food and raw material supplies from other parts of the world.

Explain why the USA remained neutral in world warfare up to 1917.

Upton 1917, the USA had remained nutral in World warfare because:

  • She did not want to involve herself in the quarrel of European powers.
  • There was fear that if the USA declared war on Germany, Americans of German descent might fight with those of other backgrounds on US soil.
  • Upton 1916, the war had not directly interfered with US interests.

End of World War 1

Explain two major events that made 1917 the decisive year for the end of the First World War.

1917 was the decisive year for the end of the First World War because of two major events. These were:

Russia’s withdrawal from the war after the Great Russian (Bolshevik) revolution. US declaration of war against the Central powers.

Explain why the USA joined the First World War. (What were the reasons for US entry into the First World War? Or:

Explain the factors that facilitated entry of the USA into the First World War. Or:

What were the reasons behind US entry into the First World War?)

  • Pressure on the US government by Allies’ sympathizers within the USA, particularly those with blood or other ties with either France or Britain.
  • US anger over a secret telegram by the German foreign minister: Arthur Zimmerman to the German embassy in Mexico urging Mexico to attack the USA in case the USA joined the Allies.
  • If the allies lost war, US industrial and financial institutions would suffer serious losses as the USA had close trade links with Britain and France.
  • British and US intelligence linked some of Germany’s sympathizers with industrial sabotage through strikes and explosions in US factories.
  • Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare, particularly after Germany sank the Sussex, A British ship that was ferrying American passengers to Europe.

The entry of the USA into the war gave the Allies an upper hand, leading to the defeat of Germany and her Central Power allies in 1918.

Explain why the Central Powers were defeated in the First World War.

  • More manpower on the side of the Allies due to the large groups of supporters such as France, Britain, the USA, Australia, new Zealand and south Africa.
  • The Allies had more financial and industrial resources.
  • The Allies had more powerful weapons like tanks, aircraft and battle ships.
  • The Allies had more sea power, which they used to blockade the central Powers.
  • The Allies had more political leadership.
  • Germany was let down by her allies.
  • The entry of the USA tilted the balance in favour of the Allies.

Explain the terms that Germany was given by the Allies as a result of her defeat in the First World War.

Due to her defeat, Germany was given the following stiff terms by the Allies:

  • That Germany withdraws from all occupied territories including overseas colonies.
  • Withdrawal of all German forces west of the Rhine.
  • Surrender of all German war ships to the Allies.
  • Allied occupation of some parts of Germany.
  • Release of all Allied prisoners of war.


Identify the principles on which peace with Germany would be based as outlined by US President:

Woodrow Wilson in 1918.

In 1918, US President: Woodrow Wilson outlined the principles on which peace with Germany would be based as follows:

  • The return of Alsace and Lorraine provinces and restoration of freedom to France.
  • Abolition of secret diplomacy.
  • Adjustment of Italian frontiers on nationality basis.
  • Free navigation at sea for all nations  in war and peace.
  • Self determination for Austria-Hungary.
  • Removal of economic barriers between states.
  • Evacuation of Serbia, Montenegro and Romania and provision of access to the sea for Serbia.
  • Reduction of Armament.
  • Self government for nonturkish peoples in the Turkish Empire.
  • The opening of the Dardanelles.
  • Adjustment of colonial claims in the interest of the peoples concerned.
  • Independence and provision of access to the sea for Poland.
  • Vacating of Russian territory by German forces.
  • Creation of an association of world nations to preserve peace.
  • Restoration of independence to Belgium.

However, due to recurrence of World War 1 bitterness, these principles did not bring the desired peace. In January 1919, the Allies convened a peace conference in Paris: France, at which treaties were signed with each of the five central Powers.

Identify the treaties signed during the Paris Conference (1919).

  • The Treaty of Versailles with Germany.
  • The treaty of Saint German with Austria.
  • The Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria.
  • The treaty of Trianon with Hungary.
  • The treaty of Lausanne with Turkey.

All these  treaties were  together called the Treaty of Versailles.

Name the four Heads of State that dominated the Paris Conference (1919).

The Paris conference was dominated by four heads of state. These were:

  • Woodrow Wilson: the President of the United States of America.
  • Lloyd George: the British Prime Minister.
  • Georges Clemenceau: the French Prime Minister.
  • Victoria Orlando: the Italian Prime Minister.

What were the results of the Versailles Treaty?

  • Germany was solely held responsible for World War 1.
  • Germany was reduced in size by an eighth and in population by 6.5 million.
  • Germany lost claim to her colonies and overseas investments, which were put under the League of Nations as Mandate Territories.
  • Germany lost the provinces of Schleswig, South-Eastern Silesia, Alsace, Lorraine and a strip of Prussia.
  • Danzig port, which was claimed by both Germany and Poland, was put as a free city under the League of Nations.
  • The Saar valley, which was rich in coal and iron, was to be administered by the League of Nations for fifteen years, after which the inhabitants of the region would be allowed to vote on whether it should belong to France or Germany.
  • Germany was forced to pay war reparations of over 6.5 billion Sterling Pounds to the Allies.
  • Germany’s army recruitment was restricted to a hundred thousand men, with limited military equipment. Tanks, heavy Artillery, military aircraft, airships, poison gas and use of submarines were banned, which weakened Germany militarily.
  • No possible union between Austria and Germany would be allowed. Austria was allowed to remain independent in spite of having a large German population while Italy acquired Stria: the Italian-speaking region of Austria.
  • An independent Hungarian state was created.
  • Emergence of some new states such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • Finland acquired complete independence from Russia.
  • Syria, Palestine and Iraq became mandated territories and were no longer Turkish possessions. Turkey also lost Egypt.
  • The League of Nations was established to prevent another war outbreak.

However, the Versailles treaty did not bring lasting peace because.

Explain why the Versailles treaty was ineffective. (Identify the factors that undermined the Versailles treaty.


Explain why the Versailles treaty did not foster lasting peace after the First World War.)

  • Germany felt that the treaty was being used to punish and humiliate her.
  • The interests of people under colonial rule were largely ignored by the European powers
  • The interests of minorities, particularly in Europe were ignored or inadequately catered for by the Allies. For instance, Austria was forbidden from merging with Germany.
  • Italy was embittered as she was given only the Italian-speaking region of Stria as the British and the French
  • Got the lion’s share of the territories taken over from the Central Powers.
  • The US Senate refused to ratify the charter of the League of Nations since the Constitution of the USA prohibited commitment to such an organization, whose membership required a nation to help a future victim of aggression.

Explain the impact of the First World War.

  • Many deaths as more than thirteen million people perished.
  • Diseases and Exposure. Soldiers and many other people were infected with Pneumonia, Spanish Influenza, Sexually transmitted and all manner of other diseases.
  • Mass starvation as most of the productive people were sent to war while land and crops were devastated.
  • Severe weakening of Europe’s economic domination over the rest of the world since greater expenditure was devoted to war rather than economic growth.
  • Destruction of the industrial and community lives as schools, factories, roads, bridges and railways in the Fighting zones were left in ruins.
  • Insecurity due to the Refugee crisis in continental Europe.
  • Emergence of the USA as the world’s leading power after the war.
  • Alteration of European boundaries as empires disintegrated while new nations emerged E.G Hungary, Yugoslavia, etc.
  • Erosion of Europe’s domination of overseas colonies as many Indians and Africans involved in the war returned home with revolutionary ideas, especially on the need for self determination.
  • Displacement of many people, which caused great misery and suffering, among other problems.
  • Establishment of an international organization (the League of Nations) for preservation of international peace and security.
  • Advancement in surgery and manufacture of pharmaceuticals as many injuries and ailments were incurred and experienced during the war.
  • Widespread use of motor vehicles and aircraft, which eased transportation in many parts of the world.
  • Promotion of gender equality as women took up jobs previously performed by men. This happened due to the great demand for manpower for military duties.

 The impact/results of the First World War could be classified into political, economic and social results as follows:


  • Creation of new nations in Europe, e.g. Hungary and Yugoslavia.
  • Involvement of the USA in the war.
  • Emergence of the USA as a leading world power due to victory over the Central Powers. v It undermined the existence of Great turkey, part of whose empire gained independence. v The size of Germany was reduced.
  • Germany lost her colonies.
  • France regained her territories of Alsace and Lorraine from Germany.
  • Rise of nationalism in Africa through the Exe soldiers who fought in the war, who went back home determined to achieve self independence.
  • European domination of overseas colonies was undermined.
  • Creation of the League of Nations to maintain international peace and security.
  • Revolution in Russia, which led to the collapse of the Tsar Regime and rise of communism in Russia. v Anarchy, which led to rise of dictators like Benito Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.


  • A lot of money was spent on the war as the warring sides bought arms.
  • Strain to the economy of many countries, thus weakening European domination of the rest of the world.
  • Disruption to economic activities like trade, agriculture, etc.
  • Industries were destroyed.
  • Destruction of property, hence economic loss e.g. roads, railways, schools, etc.
  • The use of vehicles and air craft became widespread during the war, thus easing transportation in the world.


  • Millions of people died during the war.
  • Thousands of people were displaced and rendered homeless, creating a refugee problem.
  • Outbreak of diseases in epidemic proportions, e.g. Spanish Influenza.
  • Separation of families and many children were orphaned, causing misery and suffering.
  • Starvation due to food shortage.
  • The art of surgery advanced due to many injuries.
  • Many women began to work due to demand for manpower, leading to Gender equality in many parts of Europe.


Explain the origin of the League of Nations.

There was public demand for prevention of renewal of war after World War 1.

Several agencies of international co-operation were formed E.G the Universal Postal Union.

Some world leaders such as US President Woodrow Wilson saw the need for political co-operation as the benefits of the economic and social agencies were realized.

A general association of nations was formed as a result of the 1919 Peace conference, which paved way for the formation of the League of Nations.

The headquarters of the League of Nations was established in Geneva: Switzerland, because of Switzerland’s neutral stand in European conflicts. Sir Eric Drummond from Britain was its first Secretary General.

The league initially comprised the Allies and their associates, but later, other states joined, including Germany. Members of the League had to observe peace. Disarmament, peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the sovereignty of other states were emphasized.

The league could recommend economic or diplomatic sanctions or the use of military force against aggressions or those countries that violated its terms.

What were the aims of the League of Nations? 

  • Achievement of international peace and security.
  • To reduce armament and to prevent war.
  • To encourage nations to settle disputes peacefully.
  • To take action against aggressors.
  • To improve people’s working and living conditions.
  • To supervise former territories of the Central Powers.


Identify the main organs of the League of Nations.

The main organs of the League of Nations include:

  • The assembly.
  • The Council.
  • The secretariat.
  • The Permanent court of International justice.
  • The international labour office.
  • Specialized Commissions and committees.

 Describe the Assembly as constituted within the League of Nations.

  • It comprised all League member states.
  • Its members met annually in Geneva, although special sessions could be held whenever need arose.
  • All members had equal vote (one vote each). Its president and other office bearers were elected on a simple Majority basis.
  • No member could send more than three delegates to the Assembly.
  • The Assembly meeting handled world affairs and any other issues of relevance, including operation of the league.

Explain the functions of the Assembly as an organ of the League of Nations.

  • Control of the budget of the league.
  • Admission of new members.
  • Appointment of nonpermanent members to the League of Nations council. v Review of the various treaties.
  • Supervision of the work of the League of Nations’ Council.
  • Appointment of judges of the permanent Court of international Justice. v Approval of the appointment of the Secretary General.
  • Amendment of the league’s covenant.

Describe the Council as constituted within the League of Nations.

  • It comprised permanent and nonpermanent members.
  • Its nonpermanent members served a three-year term.
  • It met three times annually, except for emergency sessions.

Name the countries that served as permanent members of the League of Nations.

  • France,
  • Britain,
  • Italy,

Explain the functions of the Council as part of the League of Nations.

  • Carrying out recommendations of the Assembly.
  • Appointment and control of various committees of the league.
  • Appointment of the Secretary General, but with the Assembly’s approval.
  • Preparing agenda for the Assembly.
  • Generally, the council carried out the work of the league. Describe the Secretariat of the League of Nations.
  • It was the league’s administrative body. v It was based in Geneva: Switzerland.
  • It was mainly headed by a Secretary General, assisted by selected staff.
  • Its expenses were met by members of the league.

What were the functions of the Secretariat as part of the League of Nations?

  • Preparing agenda for Assembly and council meetings.
  • Carrying out all League correspondence.
  • Publication of reports.
  • Carrying out research.
  • Carrying out the League’s decisions.
  • Provision of continuity between council and assembly meetings.

Describe the International Court of Justice as constituted within the League of Nations.

  • It was based at The Hague: Holland.
  • It comprised seven judges and four deputy judges of different nationalities, who served a nine-year term.

State the functions of the International Court of Justice as an organ of the League of Nations.

  • Settlement of international disputes.
  • Judicial advice to the Assembly and council on international disputes.
  • Interpretation of treaties.

Describe the International Labour Office.

The International Labour Office was established in 1919 as an independent agency of the League of Nations to promote the welfare of workers. It exists today as the international labour Organization: an auxiliary of the United Nations organization.

Explain how the International labour committee improved working conditions in Europe after World War 1

  • Maximum working hours per day and per week were fixed.
  • Adequate minimum wages were specified.
  • Sickness and Unemployment benefits were introduced.
  • Old -Age pension schemes were enacted.

Define Specialized agencies as constituted within the League of Nations.

These were commissions and committees that handled specific problems, mostly arising from the period after the First World War. I

Identify the problems/issues that League of Nations’ specialized Agencies handled.

  • Mandates,
  • Military affairs,
  • Minority groups,
  • Disarmament,
  • International labour,
  • Health,
  • Economic and financial organizations,
  • Child welfare,
  • Drug-related problems,
  • Women’s welfare.

                           Achievements of the League of Nations

Explain the successes/achievements of the League of Nations.

  • Establishment of and fair settlement of disputes through the International Court of Justice.
  • Successful administration of Trust Territories.
  • It focused World attention on the need to protect minorities.
  • Settlement of various international disputes E.G between Turkey and Iraq over Mosul (1913-26).
  • Restoration of financial stability in Austria during the Great Depression.
  • Continental co-operation in social and economic issues.

Identify the international disputes that were settled by the League of Nations.

  • The 1913-1926 Turkey-Iraq dispute over Mosul province.
  • The 1931-1935 Colombia-Peru dispute over the Leticia trapezium.
  • The Poland-Germany dispute over northern Silesia. Ø The Sweden-Finland dispute over the Alan islands.

Describe the League of Nations’ peace pacts.

  • The 1925 Locarno treaty, which settled boundary disputes between Germany and France and between Germany and Belgium, leading to Germany’s admission into the League of Nations in 1926.
  • The 1928 Kellog-Briand pact, by which nations had to renounce war and adopt peaceful settlement of disputes.

Explain the failures of the League of Nations. (What problems did the League of Nations face/experience? Or: Explain the shortcomings of the League of Nations. Or:

Explain the factors that undermined the League of Nations.)

  • In 1931, Japan defied the league and invaded Manchuria in China.
  • In 1935, Benito Mussolini of Italy invaded Ethiopia and pulled out of the league.
  • Germany broke (went against) the Treaty of Versailles with impunity and embarked on a remilitarization programme.
  • Nations continued to sign secret treaties in total disregard of the league and its terms.
  • Germany and Russia invaded Holland, Austria and Finland between 1936-1939.
  • Germany occupied the Rhineland without hindrance.

Explain why the League of Nations failed to meet its objectives.

  • It was considered partisan as many countries associated it with the Allies. Ø Its rejection by the USA weakened it.
  • It initially lacked Powerful Countries’ support.
  • The conference of Ambassadors interfered with its work.
  • Member states were preoccupied with nationalism. Ø Inadequate funds.
  • Germany’s aggression against other member states due to the Appeasement policy practiced by Britain and France.
  • Lack of a military wing to enforce its decisions.
  • Conspicuous absence of many members at its meetings. Ø Its covenant did not forbid war.



Explain the influence of Adolf Hitler in World War II.

The Second World War and its outcome revolve around Adolph Hitler: an Austrian, who served as a corporal in the German army during the First World War as follows:

  • By the end of World War 1, the German empire collapsed. The German Emperor (William 2) fled to Holland. The German economy declined due to the Versailles settlement, which held Germany responsible for the First World War.
  • In November 1923, Adolph Hitler and his friends launched an unsuccessful coup. But later, having taken advantage of the World recession of the 1930s, Hitler and his National socialist (Nazi) loyalists seized power.
  • In 1936, Hitler made himself leader of Germany, with absolute power over his subjects.
  • Instead of colonies, Hitler preferred and embarked on expanding Germany eastwards, effectively removing the Slav threat and bringing under control the most fertile and strategically secure land in Europe. France had to be crashed for Germany to expand into Eastern Europe and, hopefully, restore the glory enjoyed by Germany before the First World War.
  • Hitler demanded rearmament of Germany and set out to assert Germany’s authority over smaller and weaker states, which greatly destabilized European peace.
  • Hitler discredited heavy reliance on trade, which, to him, would only benefit the Jews, who controlled it. In his speeches, Hitler clearly stated that unless other powers submitted to his will, Germany’s expansion could not be effected without a new war.
  • To eliminate opposition from within Germany, Hitler made all political parties subordinate to and coordinated by the state. From 1933, he launched Nazi purges, whereby millions of Jews and all other potential dissidents were killed.
  • Although several peace settlements were signed to strengthen relations between world powers after the First World War, there was general increase of aggression because of the bad conditions many European countries found themselves in during the 1930s.

Therefore, coupled with Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany, events prior to 1939 culminated in the Second World War.

Explain the causes of World War II. (Explain the factors that led to World War II.)

  • Extreme nationalism in Italy under Benito Mussolini and in Germany under Adolph Hitler.
  • The Great Depression (1929-1939), which caused economic problems that triggered conflict between nations.
  • The policy of Appeasement practiced by France and Britain, which encouraged dictators to be even more aggressive.
  • The League of Nations was weak and could not stop the aggressive nations like Germany, Japan and Italy.
  • The military alliance encouraged aggression among some states.
  • The rise of dictators in Europe such as Hitler and Mussolini, which provoked war as they made unfair demands on other countries.
  • Germany’s violation of the Versailles Treaty. Germany blamed this treaty for all her problems.

Describe two rival groups that were involved in World War II.

The Second World War involved two rival groups, namely:

  • The Allied forces, which comprised France, Britain and the USA.
  • The Axis Powers, which consisted of Germany, Italy and Japan.

Name four fronts on which World War II was fought.

  • Western Europe.
  • North Africa.
  • Eastern Europe.
  • The Far East.


Discuss the process of World War II. (Analyse the course of World War II.

  • A month before the outbreak of the war, Hitler unexpectedly signed the Nazi-Soviet Friendship pact, enabling Germany to fight on one front and the Soviet Union to prepare for war. The war was fought on the western and eastern fronts.
  • Hitler felt he could attack Poland without hesitation, thinking that Britain would not support Poland, which would enable him to dispose off Poland and carry out his plans in Eastern Europe.
  • In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, with devastating results, for the Soviet Union occupied Poland.
  • Britain ordered Germany to withdraw immediately, but Germany did not. Britain therefore declared war on Germany.
  • That same moment, France declared war on Germany.
  • Later that same month, Germany invaded Belgium, which led to the outbreak of the Second World War.
  • Britain and France supported Belgium.
  • Italy supported Germany, and then France surrendered.
  • Germany occupied all the coastal zones and ruled France through the Vichy, which was a puppet government.
  • In 1940, Germany launched a daylight attack on Britain and the war went on unto the winter season of 1941.
  • Hitler then attacked the Soviet Union and made Germany to fight on two fronts.
  • Without warning, Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour in 1941 and made the USA to join the war on the side of Britain and the Soviet Union.
  • China also joined Britain and the Soviet Union, but Germany and Japan were well prepared. They fought at lightning speed to the borders of India.
  • In North Africa, Italy attacked Egypt, but was pushed back by Allied Forces at the battle of El-Amein, where the Germans were defeated by the British.
  • In Europe, Mussolini was over throne by Anglo-American forces and the new Italian government declared war on Germany.
  • From June 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy and eventually liberated France. The Allies and the Soviet Union rushed to Berlin. The Germans tried to fight back but they were defeated.
  • Having been defeated unto his doorstep, Hitler killed himself to escape capture by Allied and Soviet troops. By 30th April 1945, the war was over in the West.
  • In the east, the Allies and the USA dropped Atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, with devastating results. Japan surrendered and the war was over.

Explain why the Axis powers were defeated by the Allies in World War II.

  • The Allies had a large army compared to that of the Axis Powers.
  • Germany’s failure to effectively control her expansive conquered territories, some of which rebelled as others joined the Allies against Germany.
  • The entry of resource-rich USA into the war, which turned the tables against the Axis Powers. Shortage of raw materials on the side of the Axis powers E.G rubber, oil and cotton for sustenance of their economies and the war.
  • The Allies had the most powerful weapon: the Atomic Bomb, which they used against Japan.

What were the results of World War II. (What were the effects/consequences of World War II.

  • Massive loss of life and destruction of property.
  • Untold suffering to war and other victims.
  • Division of Germany into West and East after the war.
  • Emergence of the USA and USSR as two superior powers as European nations had been devastated by the war.
  • Unemployment as demobilized servicemen and prisoners of war increased demand for jobs.
  • Increased US involvement in European affairs through the Marshal plan.
  • Loss of confidence in existing governments in Europe as the economic ruin of World War 2 disoriented citizens.
  • A refugee crisis.
  • Displacement of many people from their countries.
  • Emergence of nationalism both in Asia and Africa.
  • Communism became more widespread due to suspicion between the capitalist and communist nations.
  • Advancement of military technology.
  • Establishment of the United Nations Organization (U N O) after the war to promote international peace and security.
  • Women changed their status and participated in the war.
  • Dependence of European nations on their colonies for reconstruction materials.
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