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20 October 2014
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Outcomes of the War: Europe
How did the War shift the balance of power in Europe?

Wilson encouraged the idea of independence for smaller nations, which had been under the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. Lloyd George and Clemenceau, despite their extensive colonies in Asia and Africa, felt they could support Wilson in this, as long as it didn't affect them. Finland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Yugoslavia (Croatia and Serbia had unified), Lithuania and Czechoslovakia were created as the Germanic empires grew smaller.

Italy was waiting to claim parts of the defeated Austria-Hungary, as was promised by the Treaty of London which brought them into the War in 1915. A new struggle broke out between Italy and the newly founded Yugoslavia over other territory in the region. The Allies, led by Wilson, would not support Italy's claim for more than they were promised and it was never resolved by the Versailles Treaty. The end result was that Italy became even more isolated from the Allies after the War.

Russia, who had been one of the first to go to war, was left out of the Armistice negotiations since they agreed the Brest-Litovsk treaty with Germany. However, the force of the new Communist government was felt all over Europe. The abdication of the Kaiser and the bad conditions in the country meant there was a real possibility that the people might try to overthrow the new weak government. Britain had men stationed in Russia, under the pretence of defending their ammunition stores, but were also involved in supporting anti-Communist groups.



Lenin led the Communists in taking over after the Russian Revolution, © IWM

A successful revolution by the people, their taking control of the government, and the execution of the Tsar and his family were terrifying ideas to established governments. If Russia had not rebuilt its military power since the War, it clearly had ideological strength.



The old alliances had been split up. Germany was forbidden by the Treaty to make any alliances with Austria. Britain and France were too terrified of Bolshevik revolution spreading in their own countries to form any alliance with Russia. Italy was disillusioned about the sidelining of its territory claims by the Allies. New 'unofficial' alliances arose between Britain and the US, as Lloyd George recognised the extent of Wilson's influence in Europe.

For a closer look at the peace treaty, check out the Interpretation: Treaty of Versailles article.

How do you think Europe was better off after the War than before?

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A - It wasn't - there were still countries who wanted to grab territory when they wanted.

B - Everyone had seen how bad war could be and would not let it happen again.

C - Small countries with a strong national identity had gained independence.

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