In 1917, in World War I, Germany resumes its unrestricted submarine warfare in February and this leads to the United States entering the war on the side of the Allies in April. On the Western Front, the French try to break the stalemate through the Nivelle Offensive. However, it is a major failure as it achieves little in the way of territorial gain and there are heavy casualties on both sides. In Russia, Tsar Nicholas II is forced to abdicate due to the February Revolution. This ends 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia. The Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin assume power after the October Revolution and, on December 15, Russia signs an armistice with the Central Powers ending their participation in the First World War. Here is a timeline of events in World War I which took place in 1917.
16: Zimmermann telegram sent
German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sends a telegram to German Minister to Mexico, Von Eckhardt, offering United States territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause. This telegram is intercepted and deciphered by the British cryptographers and would play a role in United States joining the World War a few months later.
1: Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare
The Germans decide to resume their policy of unrestricted U boat warfare. It is expected to bring America into the war, but the Germans gamble on defeating Britain by this means before the US could mobilize.
1: Arz von Straussenberg replaces Conrad von Hötzendorf as Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff
After the succession of Karl I, Austria-Hungary witnesses a wave of changes across the upper echelons of the government and military command. The most prominent of them during war times is the replacement of Conrad von Hötzendorf as the Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff. Arz von Straussenberg takes his place and would be the last to occupy the position.
8: February Revolution begins in Russia
The war is having a catastrophic impact on the Russian economy and its people. The celebrations of the International Women’s Day in Petrograd spawn severe protests that will evolve into the February Revolution.
15: Nicholas II abdicates
Following the February Revolution, Nicholas II is forced to abdicate, ending 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia. A provisional government is hereby formed. Nicholas II and his family are imprisoned and would be later executed by Bolshevik guards in July 1918.
6: US declares war on Germany
America has been out of the war for close to two and a half years while maintaining trade relations with nations at war. By April 2017, with the return of German submarine warfare, Zimmerman telegram and host of other issues have turned the political opinion against Germany and the Central Powers. Thus, on 6th of April, America decides to join the Allies in World War I, declaring war on Germany.
9: Nivelle Offensive – Battle of Arras begins
British troops attack German defenses near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. Among its first skirmishes, four Canadian divisions attack together as the Canadian Corps, and emerge victorious by capturing Vimy Ridge in northern France. An event that would play a pivotal role in the development of a Canadian identity.
16: Nivelle Offensive – Second Battle of the Aisne begins
Under the leadership of Robert Nivelle, the French attempt to inflict a decisive defeat on the German armies in France by an offensive of several French army groups.
9: The Second Battle of the Aisne ends
The Nivelle Offensive ends in a virtually unmitigated disaster for the French Army. A hugely costly attack, ultimately involving 1.2 million troops and 7,000 guns, it achieves little in the way of territorial gain. There are heavy casualties on both sides. However, the effect on French military and civilian morale is worse than the casualties. Robert Nivelle is relieved of his duties in late April replaced by considerably more cautious Henri-Philippe Petain.
17: Battle of Arras ends
Though the British achieve the longest advance since trench warfare has begun, the German defenses recover and the Battle of Arras results in another costly stalemate. The British Third and First Armies suffer about 160,000 and the German 6th Army about 125,000 casualties.
12: Constantine I of Greece abdicates
King Constantine I has been long involved in a series of disagreements with Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over whether Greece should enter World War I. The King favors remaining neutral which is in the interest of Germany while Venizelos wants to partner with the Allies. After intense diplomatic negotiations and an armed confrontation in Athens between Allied and Royalist forces, the king abdicates.
27: Batterie Pommern fires close to 50 kms
Batterie Pommern also called Lange Max, the largest gun used in WWI fires for the first time from Koekelare in Belgium to Dunkirk in France; a distance of about 50 kilometers.
30: Greece declares war on Central Powers
1–19: The Kerensky Offensive fails
Also called the July Offensive, the Kerensky Offensive is the last Russian initiative in the war. Discipline within the Russian Army has reached at a point of crisis since the Tsar’s abdication. After an initial success, the offensive is halted because the Russian soldiers mutiny and refuse to fight. It collapses altogether by July 16.
20: Corfu Declaration about the future Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Corfu declaration is signed on the island of Corfu, by the Yugoslav Committee of politicians in exile, which represent Slovenes, Croats and Serbs living in Austria-Hungary and the representatives of the Kingdom of Serbia. It is politically backed by Great Britain and France.
31: The Third Battle of Ypres begins
Third Ypres begins as Sir Douglas Haig’s Allied forces breakthrough in Flanders.
14: Russia is declared a Republic
Russia is declared a republic by the Russian Provisional Government, with Alexander Kerensky as its president.
24: Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo begins
The Central Powers are able to break into the Italian front line near the town of Kobarid beginning the Twelfth Battle of Isonzo, also known as the Battle of Caporetto.
2: Balfour Declaration
A public statement is made by the British government announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. It is contradictory to both the secretive Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Ḥussain-McMahon correspondence.
4: Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo ends
The battle ends with the Italian army defeated and falling back on the Piave River. It is a demonstration of the effectiveness of the use of Stormtroopers and the infiltration tactics developed in part by Oskar von Hutier. The use of poison gas by the Germans also plays a key role in the collapse of the Italian Second Army.
7: October Revolution
The Bolshevik Revolution under Vladimir Lenin begins with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7th November (25th Oct O.S.). President Kerensky flees Petrograd just before the Petrograd Soviet seizes the Winter Palace.
8: Armando Diaz replaces Luigi Cadorna as Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Army
10: The Third Battle of Ypres ends
The offensive results in gains for the Allies but is by no means the breakthrough Haig had intended.
13 – 26: First Battle of the Piave
Austro-Hungarians and Germans try unsuccessfully to cross the river. After an all-out retreat, the Italian front along the Piave river is stabilized and the Central Powers fail to enter the plains beyond and to take the city of Venice.
7: United States declares war on Austria Hungary
15: Armistice between Russia and the Central Powers
An armistice is signed between the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on one hand and the Central Powers on the other. The armistice will come into effect two days later and mark the exit of Russia from the First World War.