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1918

Jan 1  Kaiser Wilhelm's New Year message: "God will aid us in the New Year, and will know how to break the ill will of our enemies, who cling to their program of destruction."

Jan 14  To her mother-in-law, Eleanor Roosevelt writes that she had to go to a party attended mostly by Jews, a party to honor the financier Bernard Baruch, at which, she writes, she would "rather be hung than seen at." (Human Smoke, p. 4.)

Jan 25  The Ukrainian People's Republic declares independence from Russia.

Jan 31  In Russia, armed detachments of workers and poor peasants are confiscating food that farmers had stored.

Feb 19  Lenin is leading Russia's government, and he has opted for peace at any price. At the border town of Brest-Litovsk his government signs a treaty with the Germans that involves the loss of territory, including the Ukraine, desired by Germany as a source of food. This will create a conflict with his allies in the soviets. Meanwhile, rather than apply regulations to some business enterprises and nationalize some others, the Bolsheviks aim at elimination of all privately owned businesses, large and small.

Mar 11  At Fort Riley in Kansas, where new recruits are being trained, an outbreak of a new and most virulent form of flu occurs.

Mar 1  The promised victory by Germany's admirals has not materialized. A naval convoy system introduced by the Allies in May 1917 had reduced the effectiveness of Germany's submarines. But rather than respond with an offer at a negotiated settlement, Germany's military command wanted to go for victory with a huge ground offensive.

Mar 21  The German military begins an offensive, Plan Michael, employing 182 divisions opposite the French and British, hoping to knock France out of the war. They kill 20,000 British soldiers on the first day. After six days the Germans advance 40 miles but have to wait for other units to catch up. The Germans have a large artillery piece with a range of 130 kilometers that has begun to shell Paris.

Mar 21  The Belarusian People's Republic, formerly a part of the tsar's empire but recently overrun by Germany, declares independence.

May 15  The virulent flu that began at Fort Riley in Kansas appears among French soldiers. It is soon to appear in nearly all European countries and is to be called the Spanish Flu. Spain is not in the war and lacks wartime press censorship and reported the flu, hence the Spanish flu. Death often comes within two days.

May 16  The US Congress passes the Sedition Act of 1918, an extension of the Espionage Act of 1917. It extends offenses to include expressions of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light.

May 26  Formerly a part of the tsar's empire, the Democratic Republic of Georgia declares its independence.

May 30  The Germans have advanced to within 90 kilometers (56 miles) of Paris, with an advance party within 63 kilometers (39 miles) of Paris. The Germans need a break. The British and French have a few days to recuperate and to bring up reinforcements.

Jun 6  President Woodrow Wilson agrees to US intervention in Siberia. The purpose is said to be to help the withdrawal of Czech and Slovak former prisoners of war passing through Siberia on their way home.

Jun 9  Eager American troops have entered the war in force. The Battle of Belleau Wood has been underway since June 1. They halt the German advance.

Jun 15  The Italians smash Austro-Hungarians at the Battle of Piave River. Austria-Hungary's military begins to disintegrate.

Jun 16  Eugene Debs (62) makes an anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio. For this he will be arrested under the Sedition Act and convicted in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio. In England, the philosopher Bertrand Russell is already serving a six-month sentence for writing an article critical of the war. Russell advocates young men declaring conscientious objection to Britain's draft law. For this in 1916 he was fined and dismissed as a lecturer at Cambridge University. Russell advocates a negotiated settlement of the war.

Jun 28  The Bolsheviks have lost control of eastern Siberia. Japan has troops in Vladivostok and were advancing along the trans-Siberian railway. British and French troops were in Murmansk. The Soviet government institutes "War Communism." All major branches of industry come under military discipline.

Jul 17  The Bolsheviks shoot Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei, rather than allow them to be rescued and used by forces advancing in Siberia.

Jul 18  Second Battle of the Marne has been underway since the 15th. The French and US infantry are using a new weapon, the tank. The last of Germany's offensives in France collapses. General Ludendorff is making decisions for the government and rejects retreating to defensive positions, saying this would help enemy morale and have a negative affect on German troops and people on the homefront.

Aug 8  The British and French begin an offensive. With 430 tanks the British advance nine miles by evening on the first day, and they capture 16,000 German prisoners, including division staffs, and 161 big guns. Ludendorff calls August 8 a "black day" for the German army.

Aug 31  A second wave of the "Spanish flu" strikes three port cities: Boston, Brest (France) and Freetown (Sierra Leone).

Sep 28  General Ludendorff is under enormous pressure. He has been drinking alcohol, suffering crying spells and temper tantrums. He is fantasizing that a miracle can save Germany, that the flu will destroy the French army. He learns that Germany's ally Bulgaria is seeking a peace deal, and he will be described as having collapsed.

Sep 29  Allied forces break through the Hindenburg Line.

Oct 4  Germany has a new parliamentary government responsible to the chancellor rather than Kaiser Wilhelm and responsible for the war effort.

Oct 14  Wilson tells the Germans they must immediately evacuate occupied lands, end their submarine warfare, guarantee constitutional reforms and transform Germany into a democracy – a polite way of demanding that Wilhelm abdicate.

Oct 20  Germany's General Hindenburg, Chief of the German General Staff, has aroused himself and tells the German chancellor that the government should keep Germany fighting "for our honor to the very last man," and if this results in Germany breaking off negotiations with Wilson so be it.

Oct 24  In the US, Congressional elections are 12 days away. Woodrow Wilson issues an open letter to his "fellow countryman" suggesting that a Republican victory would somehow provide aid and comfort Kaiser William II. It backfires. Wilson's popularity has been ebbing.

Oct 28  Czechoslovakia declares its independence from Austria-Hungary.

Oct 30  The Allied powers sign an armistice with the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).

Nov 3  Austria-Hungary signs an armistice with the Allies.

Nov 3  Poland (the Second Polish Republic) declares independence from Russia.

Nov 3  Sailors in the German fleet at Kiel mutiny and throughout northern Germany soldiers and workers begin to establish revolutionary councils on the Russian soviet model.

Nov 5  Elections in the US give a big win for the Republicans. They gain 25 seats and a majority in the House of Representatives and 5 seats and a majority in the Senate.

Nov 8  In Germany the Kaiser is being scapegoated. The German army withdraws its support of him.

Nov 9  Germany is declared a republic, not to have a constitutional monarch like Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and many other European countries. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates and goes into exile in the Netherlands.

Nov 9  Revolt has spread to enlisted German sailors, to soldiers and some civilians. A rebel group of socialists have taken power in Munich and have proclaimed Bavaria a democratic republic.

Nov 10  in a French forest in Compiègne, a German and French delegation meet to arrange an armistice.

Nov 11  Warsaw is free of German troops. This is to be Poland's Independence Day.

Nov 11  The armistice is signed. Government is handed a new chancellor, a Social Democrat, Friedrich Ebert. Kaiser Wilhelm objects but he is powerless without an army to back him up. People from Germany to the US crowd together for the noisiest celebration ever. General Pershing is disappointed because he wanted to take the war into Germany.

Nov 11  influenza has almost disappeared from the city of Philadelphia.

Nov 12  The Habsburg monarchy ends in Austria, which becomes a republic.

Nov 14  Czechoslovakia is free from Habsburg rule and becomes a republic. The empire that Franz Joseph went to war to maintain is disintegrating – as is he.

Nov 16  Hungary is declared a Democratic Republic .

Nov 18  Latvia declares its independence from Russia.

Nov 21  With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, Poles are fighting Ukrainians for domination of Lviv (formerly Lemberg). Both see the city as theirs. Polish troops, volunteers and freed criminals massacre at least 320 Ukrainian Christians and Jews.

Nov 22  The Sparticist League founds the German Communist Party.

Nov 23  In Palestine, Britain's military government begins.

Nov 29  In Sweden voting is extended to include those without taxable assets. Each adult is to have one vote.

Dec 1  A union of Serbs (with Montenegrins), Croats and Slovenes is formed and declared be a kingdom (later to be called Yugoslavia).

Dec 4  President Woodrow Wilson departs by ship to the Paris Peace Conference, becoming the first United States President to travel to any foreign country while holding office.

Dec 27  Poles in and around the city of Posen rebel against German control. Posen is about to become Posnan.

Dec 28  In the United Kingdom's general election, extending to representatives from Ireland, the party of "moderates" loses to the political party Sinn Féin (We Ourselves), which is dedicated to Irish sovereignty. Elected Sinn Féin will refuse to attend parliament in London. Instead they will form a parliament in Dublin.

Dec 31  In the United States, Britain and Australia the first mass-marketed laundry detergent, Rinso, is selling well.

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