World War I Resources

In many ways, World War I set the fault lines of the modern world.  It was the end and the beginning of an age.  But a hundred years later, why does this war still matter? What were the causes of the war? And, who were the major players? 

These free MacArthur Memorial educational resources will help students answer these important questions, while reinforcing SOLs related to US History, World History and Geography.  USII.1, USII.2, WHII.1, WHII.10a, WG.1  

These resources will also reinforce AP US History, World History, and European History curriculums. 

In Their Shoes: World War I Through the Eyes of Early Participants

A multi-day warm-up that encourages exploration of the impact of the war on both sides of the conflict.  Students are assigned the profile of an individual who was involved in World War I.  At the end of the activity, the fate of all the individuals is revealed.  

1914: Identifying Players and Perspectives

A collaborative activity that uses primary source documents to help students identify the countries involved in the war and the attitudes of these countries towards the war.  Who blames who?  And why?  

The Long Shadow: World War I and Current Events

After stalemate was achieved on the Western Front in winter 1914, many of the combatants began focusing on winning the war on battlefields outside of Europe.  The Middle East was one of these areas and the region underwent a major transformation as a result of World War I.  Many historians consider World War I an event with a "long shadow."  This activity asks your students to find traces of this "long shadow" in current events in the Middle East. Students will find several current event articles about the Middle East and will answer a series of questions about the articles that will lead them to a better understanding of the roots of some conflicts in the Middle East. (Email if you would like the Memorial to send you a short PowerPoint to help explain WWI in the Middle East to your class.)  

World War I Series
These films are the first in a series of ten short films that will be produced over the next few years to cover different aspects of World War I.  Free educational activities will be available to complement each film.  If you are interested in supporting this series of films through a sponsorship opportunity, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact Jennifer Cottle, Education Manager, at or 757-441-2965.

The Road to War Film 

Part 1 of 10.  The year is 1914. Europe is the center of commerce, industrialization, science, art and culture. It is home to great empires and glittering monarchies.  It is a golden age of European power and civilization.  Many in this era feel that they are living in the most civilized, technologically advanced time in history -- and they are proud of their achievements. 

So, how does this self-proclaimed, modern, civilized world crash into a war that engulfs the globe and consumes 10,000,000 lives? Produced by the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, this short 13 minute film traces the events leading up to World War I in Europe.
Watch The Road to War Film

The Best Laid Plans Film 

Part 2 of 10.  August 1914. The nations of Europe march enthusiastically to war. Capturing the mood of the time, famed sociologist Max Weber declares: "Regardless of outcome, this war is great and wonderful."  With war plans like Germany's Schlieffen Plan and France's Plan XVII in place, each side is confident in early August that they can secure a quick victory. What they ultimately discover is that war is easy to plan...until it actually starts.
Watch The Best Laid Plans

Stalemate Film 

Part 3 of 10.  September 1914. The German army is nearing Paris.  People around the world expect a German victory in a matter of days.  Then, the unexpected happens.  After weeks of retreating, French and British forces make a stand east of Paris in what comes to be called the First Battle of the Marne.  Against all odds, the Germans are pushed back and Paris is saved. The Allies call it the "Miracle of the Marne," but it has come at a cost of approximately half a million casualties on both sides.  It has also ended any hopes of a quick war of movement. With the battle ended, both sides start digging trenches.  Over the next years, trench warfare will dominate the Western Front from the North Sea to Switzerland, bringing with it new technologies, new horrors, and a new word: stalemate.   Watch Stalemate.
Trench Warfare 

Part 4 of 10.  Winter 1915.  The war of movement is over, the war of attrition has begun. Defensive trenches stretch 475 miles from the English Channel to Switzerland’s mountains. Over the next years, neither side is able to gain the advantage and success is often measured by the gain of mere yards of territory.  Millions of men are killed and wounded.  Barbed wire, machine guns, chemical weapons, and tanks figure prominently in this new troglodyte world. Both sides desperately seek a path to victory.  Between 1915 and early 1917, they fail.