You are on page 1of 9

World War I Alliances

Objective: Students will understand the meaning and purpose of alliances and simulate
how alliances led to World War I.
Stage 1 Understanding an Alliance:

Video on alliance

Understanding the Alliance System:

1. Most countries created alliances in secret.
2. Many alliances were dealing with the probability of war
3. Alliances threatened to pull all allies into war
4. Some alliances were becoming more war-like
5. Some countries such as Germany began to feel trapped.
6. Some countries were officially neutral but had preferences towards one side or the
7. Many European countries were headed by royal families that were related to each
other. Like all families, many didnt get along with each other.

Stage 2. Simulating Alliances

Students will simulate a countrys participation in World War I.
1. In advance print individual cards for each of the countries below. On one side,
provide the background information. On the other side, print the name of the country in
large bold print. These might be laminated or inserted into sleeve protectors for
durability. For smaller classes, be sure to select those countries that had a direct
involvement in events so that an important position is not overlooked. If possible, move
to a larger space or outdoors. Post signs labeled CENTRAL POWERS, NEUTRAL and
2. Review task instructions (below). These may be kept on display or printed as poster
for reference during the lesson.

Your Task:
1. Read your card and become familiar with which country you represent and
what your country thinks. Remember, these countries worked in secret;
therefore, you cant shout out your preferences.
2. Look for clues on your card to help you find an ally.
3. When allies find each other, they have to stay together as they search for
more allies.
4. Allies can help each other

5. Neutral countries have to stay out of alliances

6. When you are able to determine this, stand next to the sign that represents
your position, either CENTRAL POWERS, NEUTRAL and ALLIES.
7. Once you have found your allies, organize your countries by dates of entry
into the war.
Countries bolded are enemies, countries underlined are allies

Germany wanted a system of alliances to keep its domination of Europe. Germany
wanted to isolate France by making these alliances. Germany was friends with Austria
because of ethnic ties and because Austria was a weaker nation. Also, Austria was close
to Serbia where Germany wanted influence. When Serbia threatened Austria, Germany
threatened to make war with Russia, Serbias ally.
Eventually, Germany will be part of the CENTRAL POWERS. Go stand next to this sign.
Germany entered WWI on August 1, 1914

France was determined to challenge Germany because Germany took two French
territories- Alsace and Lorraine. France allied with Russia against Germany. In 1904,
France also allied with Britain to stop Germany.
Eventually, France will be part of the ALLIED POWERS. Go stand next to this sign.
France entered WWI on August 1, 1914

Russia supported Serbia and Bulgaria. Russia was angry that Austria was occupying
Bosnia and Herzegovina in Serbia. When Germany began to seem less friendly towards
Russia, Russia also allied with France.
Russia entered WWI on July 29, 1914

Austria was allied with Hungary. Both Austria and Germany promised to support each
other if attacked by Russia. Austria also allied with Italy.
Austria entered WWI on July 28, 1914

Serbia was allied with Russia and was fearful of invasion from Austria. Serbia
threatened war with Austria and began to build an army. In 1914 a Serbian assassinated
the Austrian Archduke who was in line to become Emperor of Austria.
Serbia entered WWI on June 28, 1914

Bulgaria owed its existence to Russia. Bulgaria though was later divided into the new
country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country was occupied by Austria which angered
Bulgaria entered WWI on July 28, 1914

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had previously lost territory in a war with Russia. Because of this
the empire eventually allied with Germany to get back at Russia.
The Ottoman Empire entered WWI on October 24, 1914

Hungary was allied with Austria. Both countries promised to support each other if
attacked by Russia.
Hungary entered WWI on August 6, 1914

Great Britain
Great Britain saw Germany as a rival. Eventually, Britain created an alliance with France
to stop Germany from becoming more powerful. Before joining with France, Great
Britain had also already been allied to Japan. Lastly, Britain had strong ties in Egypt
because of British influence there during Imperialism.
Great Britain entered WWI on August 4, 1914

Italy was angry that France had seized territories in Africa during Imperialism. It became
allies with Germany and Austria to get back at France.
Italy entered WWI on April 26, 1915

At the request of Great Britain, Japan entered the war on the side of the Allies and
attacked Germany.
Japan entered WWI on August 23, 1914

Egypt was claimed by the Ottoman Empire but was encouraged to revolt against the
Ottomans by Britain.
Egypt entered WWI on August 4, 1914

France claimed Morocco as a colony during Imperialism. So Morocco had to go where
France went!
Morocco entered WWI on August 1, 1914

The Netherlands
The Netherlands remained neutral.

Switzerland remained neutral.

Spain remained neutral

Sweden remained neutral on the surface but secretly supported the Allied Powers.

Norway remained neutral on the surface but secretly supported the Allied Powers.

United States
The United States officially remained neutral at first. However, since US companies had
contracts to supply weapons to France and Great Britain during the first years of the war,
the U.S. eventually had to enter the war on France and Britains side in 1917.
The United States entered WWI on April 6, 1917

There were too many political problems within Mexico. Mexico maintained that it was
neutral. Germany tried but failed to convince Mexico to join the war and reclaim
territory lost to the United States during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

A former British colony and a member of the British Commonwealth, Canada followed
Britains lead.
Canada entered WWI on August 4, 1914

A former British colony and a member of the British Commonwealth, Australia followed
Britains lead.
Australia entered WWI on August 4, 1914

At this time, Cuba was a US treaty protectorate and it had to support the US. Cubas
location was an advantage to the US in protecting the Gulf of Mexico from German
Cuba entered WWI on April 6, 1917

At this time, Panama was a US treaty protectorate and it had to support the US.
Panama entered WWI on April 6, 1917

Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic was under occupation by US and declared war against
The Dominican Republic entered WWI on April 6, 1917

China joined the Allies (Britain, France, and the USA) because it hoped the Allies would
help stop Japanese Imperialism in China.
China entered WWI on August 23, 1914

Germany declared war on Belgium because it was allied with France.
Belgium entered WWI on August 4, 1914

Stage 3 Report from Alliances

After all students have found their positions, it is time to see how World War I started.
1. Project a reference map with countries labeled and a blank outline map of the world to
students. Create a legend by designating colors to represent the Central Power, Allies, and
Neutral Countries. As countries are introduced to them, they are to color (and label if
possible) that area on the map. If you are having the class stand and report , you might
select a class recorder to create this map for students to use later as they make their own
maps in their interactive notebooks. Other details can be added at your discretion.
2. Begin by asking Serbia to step forward and read the background information on the
card to the class.
3. If possible, have the class self-direct themselves by stepping forward when their
country comes into the conflict and reading the information about their country to the
class. Teacher Notes below will help with tracking the sequence. Prompt students when
needed to recall clues that would indicate which country should step forward next. Ask
students to hold their cards so the class can see the name of the country. When necessary,
if a country is out of place ask a volunteer to provide evidence why that person should
move to a different side and then reposition that person. This may require movement of
allies as well.
4. Students return to their seats and complete maps if needed.
Stage 4 QUICK WRITE : Alliances
Close the lesson with a Quick Write.
Possible topics include:
What are alliances and how can they impact world events?
How did alliances lead to World War I?

Teacher Notes:
Use this as students reveal their countries and alliances.
The war started because.
1) On June 28th 1914, A Serbian (Call Serbia to step out) assassinated the Archduke of
2) One month later, on July 28th, Austria (Call Austria to step out) declared war on Serbia.
3) By declaring war on Serbia, Austria occupied Bulgaria (Call Bulgaria to step out).
4) Frustrated by this occupation of Bulgaria, Russia (Call Russia to step out) declared war
on Austria (a day later) to support her ally Serbia.
5) Luckily Austria had a secret ally that said it would protect her in case of war from
Russia. Do you know who you are (Call Germany to step out)? Germany declared war on
August 1st to support her ally Austria.
6) A few days later, Austrias ally Hungary also joined Austria and Germany to fight
Russia. They were referred to as the Central Powers.
7) Russia however had made an alliance with France (Call France to step out) during the
Imperialist period in case a potential war broke out. France saw this war as an
opportunity to get back at Germany for prior wrongs it had done to France in taking its
territories Alsace and Lorraine. By declaring war on Germany on August 1st, France
joined Russia and Serbia. They were referred to as the Allied Powers. In addition, since
France had been an Imperialist power, it also brought its African colony, Morocco (Call
Morocco to step out) into the war. Morocco had no choice but to follow France into this
8) Lets return to the Central Powers though. Germany knew France had made a secret
alliance with Russia back during the Imperialist period and knew France would mostly
likely attack Germany very shortly. Worried that fighting in the East would leave
Germany open this attack in the West from France, Germany decided to strike first. So on
August 4th Germany declared war on Belgium (Call Belgium to step out) so that it could
quickly get to France.
9) Attacking Belgium proved to be a fatal calculation on Germanys behalf. Germany did
not realize that Great Britain (Call Great Britain to step out) had been allied to Belgium.
When her ally was attacked, Great Britain quickly joined the Allied Powers to stop
10) However like France, Great Britain had also been an Imperialist power at this time.
Because of this Great Britain also brought her colonies into the war too. On August 4th

Australia and Canada (Call Australia and Canada to step out) joined the Allied Powers as
well to follow Britains lead.
11) Great Britain though had been so successful during Imperialism that it had managed
to extend its influence in Ottoman controlled Egypt (Call Egypt to step out). Great Britain
had suspected the Ottoman Empire (Call the Ottoman Empire to step out) of having a
secret alliance with Germany during this time. Great Britain worried the Ottomans (who
were located in North Africa and the Middle East) would jeopardize British holdings and
ports near the crown jewel of their empire, India. Because of this, Great Britain
encouraged the Egyptians to revolt against the Ottomans. It was because of this that
Egypt joined the Allied Powers on August 4th too.
12) Britain also managed to get its ally Japan (Call Japan to step out) to join the Allied
powers too on August 23th. Yes, Great Britain really did have that much influence in the
world at this time!
13) China (Call China to step out) also joined the Allied powers on the 23rd as well.
Unlike previous countries, China had not been allied to anyone during this time. Instead,
China joined the Allies in hope that Russia, Great Britain, and France would help to end
Japanese imperialism within Chinese territories.
14) WOAH still with me? We got side tracked with Great Britain but back to the Central
Powers! Disgusted by this British treachery in Egypt, the Ottomans decided to join the
war. Although the Empire had not been allied to Germany despite British suspicions, it
joined the Central Powers to spite Britain. In addition, the Ottoman Empire had
previously lost territory to Russia in a prior war, so the Ottomans ended up seeing this
war as an opportunity to reclaim what had been taken from them and more.

Germany tries to ally with Mexico so the USA joins the war (call USA over to ally side.)
With the USA come those nations under treaty to the USA such as Cuba, Panama,
Philippines, Nicaragua)
Mexico remains neutral (have Mexico stand alone)
China, while worried about the intentions of Russia and Japan, joins the allies thinking its
friends might not turn on China.