One of the most consequential years in world history, highlighted by the Communist revolution in Russia and the United States’ entry into the World War, has come to an end. In December 1917 the Bolsheviks, having driven the Provisional Government from power, occupy Russian Army headquarters and murder the Army’s former commander-in-chief. An armistice is declared on the Eastern Front and negotiations begin for a permanent peace treaty between the new Russian government and the Central Powers. The announced goal of the talks is a peace on the basis of no annexations and a withdrawal of occupying forces, but the difficulty of achieving that goal in practice becomes apparent when the two sides present their proposals. In Palestine, a British Army commanded by General Edmund Allenby occupies Jerusalem. On the Western Front the British stall German counterattacks at Cambrai and dig into defensive positions for the winter; Italian forces, aided by British reinforcements, turn back the Austrians on the Asiago Plateau. Ships collide in Halifax harbor, causing a fire and a massive explosion that kills thousands. An American destroyer is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. The United States declares war on Austria-Hungary. Colonel House returns from Paris where he has been meeting with the Allies. President Wilson, using his war powers, takes control of the nation’s railroads. The House of Representatives joins the Senate in approving a prohibition amendment to the Constitution.
In November 1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issues a declaration stating the British Government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The Bolsheviks seize power in Russia and proclaim to the world that the new government intends to negotiate an “immediate democratic peace.” Prime Minister Kerensky escapes Petrograd and rallies the Army in an attempt to retake control, but is defeated and goes into hiding. Trotsky publishes the text of confidential diplomatic communications and secret treaties with foreign governments discovered in the Russian Foreign Office. Armistice negotiations between Russia and Germany begin. On the Western Front, the battle of Passchendaele comes to an end after weeks of intense combat and high casualties on both sides. The British Army launches a surprise tank attack at Cambrai; initial gains are lost in German counterattacks. Allied leaders meet in Rapallo to coordinate strategy. French Prime Minister Painleve is forced to resign after losing a vote of confidence; former Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau assumes leadership of a new government. An American delegation led by Colonel House arrives in Paris for the inaugural conference of the Inter-Allied Supreme War Council. In Great Britain, the Marquess of Lansdowne, a former Foreign Secretary, sends a letter to the Daily Telegraph urging the Government to seek a negotiated peace with Germany. In an agreement finalized in Washington, the United States agrees that Japan has “special interests” in China and Japan agrees to the “principle” of the “open door” policy; China is not consulted. President Wilson tells the annual convention of the American Federation of Labor in Buffalo that the way to a permanent peace is through victory. American forces achieve their first victories and suffer their first casualties of the war. Woman suffrage, still making slow but steady gains state by state, is approved in New York but rejected in Ohio. New York City’s reform mayor John Purroy Mitchel loses his bid for reelection to Tammany Hall’s candidate. The Espionage Act survives a First Amendment challenge.
In October 1917 the Allied offensive in Flanders bogs down in mud and heavy rains near Passchendaele. The Austro-Hungarian Army, aided by German reinforcements, breaks through the Italian Army’s lines at Caporetto, sending the Italians into a headlong retreat. French Army forces commanded by General Petain attack German Army positions on the Chemin des Dames, forcing them to withdraw.
Ceremonial GROUNDBREAKING for AMERICA’S WWI MEMORIAL
On Thursday, November 9 at 11am ET the US World War I Centennial Commission will host a ceremonial groundbreaking for America’s World War I Memorial to engage the American people in remembering our veterans from WWI. Watch a live-stream of the groundbreaking through Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/ww1centennial
In September 1917, the Central Powers reply to Pope Benedict’s peace initiative, saying they welcome it as a basis for negotiation but not agreeing to any specific concessions. In a supplemental message delivered to the Papal Nuncio at Munich, the German government says it would consider evacuating Belgium and contributing to reparations for war damages in return for certain guarantees from Belgium, an offer the Allies consider unacceptable.
Throughout the world there are numerous examples of individual burials that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has accepted responsibility for but relocation of the remains to a CWGC location is impractical. In the U.S. there are 356 such graves.
Nick Metcalfe MBE is a former British Army officer who is compiling data on all of the individual graves in the U.S. which are maintained by the CWGC. There are two of these here in Kansas.
It’s August 1917. As the World War enters its fourth year, there’s no end in sight. Pope Benedict XV makes a peace proposal, which President Wilson rejects after conferring with the other nations at war with Germany. Former Secretary of State Elihu Root returns from a mission to Russia designed to keep Russia in the war. An attempted coup by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army fails, but the Provisional Government is weakened and the Bolsheviks are strengthened. Recently arrived American troops parade in London. The Allied offensive on the Western Front, after initial success, bogs down in the mud of Flanders. Italy attacks Austria-Hungary again at the Isonzo River. On the Eastern Front, the German Army advances in Romania to the south and moves against the Baltic port of Riga to the north. In the United States, racial tensions flare as African-American troops are based in segregated southern cities and a deadly race riot breaks out in Houston. The Senate passes a proposed Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquor.
The Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections is accepting applications for an Archival Fellowship, in conjunction with the closing year of University of Kansas’ World War I Commemoration.
The Archival Fellow will work with Dole Archives staff to evaluate relevant archival holdings and develop a topic guide and online teaching module based on Senator Bob Dole’s career advocacy on behalf of Armenia. The final product will be used as an introduction to this topic for K-12, university, and general public audiences.
From The US World War 1 Centennial Commission:
“Apt quotations are often powerful elements of memorials, and we plan to include similar inscriptions at the WWI memorial. Hence, this request to you: Could you please identify what you consider to be worthy quotations for inclusion on the memorial. There are no restrictions on what might be a suitable quotation (other than probably being limited to a paragraph in length)–we are looking for: