World War I documents

This collection of World War I documents has been compiled by Alpha History authors. This section is a work in progress: we are continually reviewing, transcribing and adding new documents. If you would like to suggest a document for inclusion, please make contact.

Prelude to war

The Treaty of London (1839)
The Dual Alliance between Austria-Hungary and Germany (1879)
The Russo-German Reinsurance Treaty (1887)
The kaiser addresses new military recruits in Potsdam (November 1891)
German report on the first Moroccan Crisis (1905)
The Daily Telegraph interview with Kaiser Wilhelm II (October 1908)
Statement of Serbian nationalist group Narodna Odbrana (1911)
General von Moltke on the Schlieffen Plan (1911)
General Henry Wilson on how Britain should prepare for a German war (August 1911)
A British diplomat reports on the state of Anglo-German tensions (January 1914)
A German writer, von Bernhardi, on the troubled Anglo-German relationship (1914)
A German writer on problems confronting the Triple Alliance (1914)
A German writer on the necessity and social basis of war (1914)
Major-General Sir Alfred Knox on the state of the Russian army before 1914 (1921)

The road to war

House’s advice to Woodrow Wilson on Europe (May 1914)
Count von Harrach’s account of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (1914)
A Serbian account of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (1914)
Austro-Hungarian ministers debate action on Serbia (July 1914)
The Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia (July 1914)
Serbian response to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum (July 1914)
Germany’s ‘blank cheque’ to Austria-Hungary (July 1914)
Austrian emperor Franz Josef letter to the Kaiser (July 1914)
July crisis telegrams to the Kaiser (July 1914)
The ‘Nicky and Willy’ telegrams (July 1914)
The British foreign minister on Serbia’s response to the Austrian ultimatum (July 1914)
A German diplomat’s attempts to resolve the July crisis (July 1914)
Britain’s position on the eve of the war (July 1914)
Clemenceau calls France to arms (August 1914)
British news report on the outbreak of war (August 1914)
“The dogs of war are loose”, a satirical pamphlet (1914)

The world at war

A British diplomat reports on the Russian mobilisation (August 1914)
Belgium’s King Albert urges his people to resist the German invaders (August 1914)
The German chancellor outlines his country’s war aims (September 1914)
General Congreve describes the Christmas truce (December 1914)
A Briton reports on the fighting in Galicia on the Eastern Front (March 1915)
American memo to Germany after the sinking of RMS Lusitania (1915)
An American report on the use of gas at Ypres (April 1915)
The Treaty of London brings Italy into the war (April 1915)
Recollections of a Canadian soldier at Gallipoli (1915)
A British officer describes on the opening of the Battle of the Somme (July 1916)
The memoir of a Western Front soldier (1917)

War poetry

Anthem for Doomed Youth (Wilfred Owen)
A Terre (Wilfred Owen)
Dulce et decorum est (Wilfred Owen)
Mental Cases (Wilfred Owen)
Spring Offensive (Wilfred Owen)
Glory of Women (Siegfried Sassoon)
They (Siegfried Sassoon)

The home front

Excerpts from Britain’s Defence of the Realm Act (August 1914)
An eyewitness account of anti-German riots in Liverpool (1915)
A British pamphlet encouraging self-rationing of vital goods (1916)
A London woman’s diary accounts of work in a munitions factory (1916)
A London union objects to the employment of women drivers (February 1917)
US anti-sedition legislation (May 1918)

Towards a conclusion

The Zimmerman telegram (January 1917)
United States declaration of war on Germany (April 1917)
Germany responds to the United States declaration of war (April 1917)
David Lloyd George on British war aims and conditions for peace (January 1918)
Leon Trotsky’s speech prior to the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (February 1918)
King George V’s letter to American soldiers (April 1918)
General Haig calls on British troops to resist the Spring Offensive (April 1918)
Allied demands for a German surrender (November 1918)
Abdication of the Kaiser (November 1918)
An American soldier in Paris on the day of the armistice (November 1918)


Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918)
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918)
General Sir Douglas Haig on the war and British casualties (March 1919)
The Treaty of Versailles – military restrictions (May 1919)
German delegates respond to the Treaty of Versailles (May 1919)
Henry Cabot Lodge opposes the League of Nations (August 1919)
Woodrow Wilson speaks in support of the League of Nations (September 1919)