World War I, also known as the Great War, began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, where it ignited a war that raged throughout Europe until 1918. Germany desired to sever the Franco-Russian alliance and was ready to risk a disastrous war in the process. Wilson’s determination to lead the United States into World War I was primarily fueled by Germany’s reintroduction of submarine attacks on commercial and passenger ships in 1917. Germany also believed that by agreeing to the Allied blockade of Germany, the United States had jeopardized its neutrality. The Western Front, a roughly 400-mile-long area in France and Belgium, spanning from the Swiss border to the North Sea, was the crucial front of WWI. Regardless of which side won, either the Central Powers or the Entente could have declared victory for their respective alliances. After forces halted the German advance towards northern France in 1914 at the Battle of the Marne, the Western Front began to take shape. Their objective was to break the enemy forces’ advance, defend supply lines, and seize control of France’s key ports and industrial districts.
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At the end of World War I, in the aftermath of the Soviet Union revolution and other developments in Russia, the Treaty of Versailles was adopted in 1918. Nations enacted the Treaty of Versailles near Paris at the massive Versailles Palace, thus the designation shared by Germany and the Allies. The controversial War Guilt clause held Germany accountable for World War I and imposed costly reparations, including territory losses, military restrictions, and compensation to Allied states. The Germans disliked the Treaty of Versailles and the devastation of their country because the participants did not invite them to take part in the Conference. The treaty compelled Germany to pay £6,600 million in compensation, an excessive amount that German people thought that the treaty would devastate their economy and starve their people.