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1917 January Leon Trotsky arrives in New York City and becomes an editor of the Russian socialist newspaper Novy Mir (New World). He spends only 10 weeks in America, but long enough to raise millions of dollars for a revolution in Russia.
1917 January The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce appeals to the Kaiser to start unrestricted submarine warfare. Max Warburg voices his opposition even though he knows his brothers and their associates in America will reap huge profits (See December 1916). (Warburgs)
1917 January 8-9 In the Battle of Magruntein, British forces clear the Sinai Peninsula of all organized Turkish forces. Sir Archibald Murray is then authorized to begin a limited offensive into Palestine, where the Turks have established defensive positions along the ridges between Gaza and Beersheba, the two natural gateways to the region.
1917 January 22 President Wilson appears before Congress and outlines a plan for a league of peace, an organization designed to bring about a federation of peaceloving nations.Wilson asks for a "Peace without victory," a concept that is unappealing to both warring factions.
1917 January 31 Germany announces it is resuming unrestricted submarine warfare, stating that neutral ships, armed or unarmed, that sail into a German war zone will be attacked without warning
(Note: On this same day, Max Warburg lunches at his club with Admiral Arndt von Holtzendorff, HAPAG's Berlin agent, and Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman. (Warburgs)
1917 Lazar Kaganovich first meets Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev at a meeting of leather tanners in Yuzovka and soon recruits him into the Bolshevik party. (Wolf)
1917 February 3 President Woodrow Wilson breaks off all diplomatic relations with Germany, less than a month after his inauguration for a second term, citing Germany's renewed submarine warfare as reason enough to intervene. That same day the the American steamship Housatonic is sunk without warning.
1917 February 22 In Mesopotamia, Sir Frederick Maude skillfully assaults Kut, forcing the Turks back toward Baghdad.
1917 February 23 Anticipating a major Allied offensive, the Germans begin withdrawing to a well fortified defensive zone known as the Hindenburg line, or Siegfried zone, about 20 miles behind the winding and overextended line from Arras to Soissons (to April 5).
1917 February 25 General Khabalov issues a police proclamation forbidding all assemblies in the streets of Petrograd and warning that his troops have been ordered to use their weapons to maintain order. Only hours later, 300 people are killed near Nicholas Station.
1917 February 24 The Zimmerman note, written by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the German Ambassador in Mexico, is turned over to President Wilson by British intelligence, who had earlier intercepted and decoded the message. The note indicates that if Germany and the United States were to go to war, Germany would seek an alliance with Mexico -- offering the Mexicans Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in return for their efforts. The British had held onto the note, waiting until the most propitious moment to present it to Wilson. It now becomes one of the most important factors in leading him to declare war on Germany. (Tuchman I)
1917 February 26 Wilson asks Congress for permission to arm merchant ships. Pacifist Senator La Follette leads a filibuster against the legislation.
1917 March 1 Bread riots in Russia are followed by more killings.
1917 March 5 President Wilson is inaugurated.
1917 March 8 Food shortages provoke more street demonstrations in Petrograd (February 23, O.S.), and garrison soldiers refuse to suppress them. Duma leaders demand that Czar Nicholas transfer power to a parliamentary government.
1917 March 9 President Wilson issues a directive for the arming of U.S. merchant ships after the Attorney General finds that such an order is within the power of the presidency.
1917 March 11 Revolution breaks out in Russia. (Sturdza)
1917 March 11 After several days of fighting along the Diyala River, General Maude enters Baghdad. He then launches three columns up the Tigris, Euphrates, and Diyala rivers, securing his hold on the city.
1917 March 12 The garrison and workers of Petrograd (St. Petersburg), capital of Russia, mutiny, beginning the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Food riots, strikes, and war protests turn into mass demonstrations. The army refuses to fire on the demonstrators. (February 27, O.S.)
1917 March 12 The American merchant ship Algonquin is sunk without warning.
1917 March 13 Heavy fighting breaks out in the streets of Petrograd.
1917 March 15 The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, a special Duma committee, establishes a provisional government headed by Prince Georgi Lvov, a liberal. Aleksandr Kerensky becomes the new Minister of Justice (March 2, O.S.).
1917 March 15 The Soviet defies the provisional government and issues the notorious "Order No. 1," depriving officers of disciplinary authority. The Russian army and navy collapses as threadbare, battle-weary soldiers and sailors murder or depose their officers.
1917 March 15 Czar Nicholas II abdicates in favor of his brother, Archduke Michael.
1917 March 16 Archduke Michael refuses to accept the crown and abdicates in favor of Prince Lvov's Provisional Government. The 300-year-old Romanov dynasty comes to an end (March 3, O.S.).
1917 March 17 The new Provisional government is almost universally welcomed. Civil liberties are proclaimed, new wage agreements and an 8-hour day are soon negotiated. Discipline in the army is relaxed, and elections are promised for a Constituent Assembly that would organize a permanent democratic order. The existence of two seats of power, the Provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet, however, creates a political rivalry representative of the differing aspirations within Russian society.
1917 March 18 The City of Memphis, Vigilante and Illinois, all American ships, are sunk without warning.
1917 March 21 Another American ship, the Healdon, is sunk off the Dutch coast.
1917 March 22 The U.S. recognizes the new Russian government formed by Prince Lvov and Aleksandr Kerensky.
1917 March 24 The Sixtus Letter - a secret letter sent by Karl I, emperor of Austria, attempts to negotiate a separate peace with England and France. Karl willingly offers to recognize France's "just demand" in regard to Alsace-Lorraine.
1917 March 26 An attack on Gaza, led by Gen. Sir Charles Dobell, fails because of defective staff work and bad communications. General Murray's report, however, presents this First Battle of Gaza as a British victory, and Murray is ordered to advance without delay to take Jerusalem.
1917 March 27 Leon Trotsky and a group of communist revolutionaries sail from New York aboard the S.S. Christiania Fiord, bound for Russia.
1917 March British naval authorities in Halifax, Novia Scotia, remove Trotsky and five of his companions along with millions of dollars in gold from the Christiania Fiord.
1917 Stalin returns to Petrograd after the March Revolution had overthrown the monarchy.
1917 April 2 President Wilson asks Congress to declare war on Germany. "The world," he says, "must be made safe for democracy."
1917 April 4 The U.S. Senate concurs with Wilson's request to declare war on Germany.
1917 April 5 Two telegrams reach the office of British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour. One, from Berne, informs Balfour that Lenin and his group of Russian Communists are negotiating with the Germans for safe passage through Germany. The other, from Lord Halifax, informs him that, Trotsky and five of his associates have been seized in Nova Scotia and that Trotsky is now "the leader of a movement to start a revolution against the present Russian Government, the funds being subscribed by socialists and Germans." (Tuchman II)
1917 April 6 The U.S. House of Representatives approves Wilson's resolution against Germany and the United States declares war. The Zimmerman note along with the news that more American ships had been sunk by U-boats had finally aroused Americans out of their isolationism.
1917 April 9 The long-awaited Allied Offensive (the Nivelle Offensive) begins when British troops, following a heavy bombardment and gas attack, assault the German Sixth Army positions near Arras. British air superiority is rapidly achieved.
1917 April 9 In Russia, widespread popular opposition to the war causes the Petrograd Soviet to repudiate annexationist ambitions (March 27, O.S.).
1917 April British and American diplomats pressure for Trotsky's release even though he has promised to take Russia out of the war. An act which is almost certain to cost the lives of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers on the Western Front.
1917 April Trotsky is freed by the British and steams off to ferment a revolution in Russia with an American passport and millions of dollars in gold at his disposal.
1917 April 15 The British advance near Arras is finally halted.
1917 April 16 The French armies attack on a 40-mile front between Soissons and Reims to take the Chemin des Dames, a series of rocky, wooded ridges running parallel to the front. The Germans, fully aware of French plans as a result of Nivelle's confident public boasts, turn the assault into a disaster. The entire operation is a colossal failure, costing the French nearly 120,000 men in 5 days.
1917 April 16 Lenin, Zinoviev, Lunacharski and 30 other Bolsheviks, a number of them from New York City, arrive in Petrograd by train from Switzerland, via Germany, Sweden and Finland.
1917 April 17 Trotsky and his companions arrive in Petrograd from New York and soon join forces with Lenin.(Prince Michael Sturdza of Romania says Lenin arrived on the 17th and that Trotsky was already in Petrograd when Lenin arrived.) Stuart Kahan in The Wolf of the Kremlin says that Trotsky didn't arrive until early May, and went directly to the Tauride Palace where the Soviet was already in session.
1917 April 29 Almost the entire French army, disheartened and exhausted after the disastrous Nivelle offensive, rebels in mutiny.
1917 April German submarine warfare reaches its peak. Adoption of the convoy system greatly reduces Allied losses.
1917 May A coalition government is established in Russia that includes several moderate socialists in addition to Aleksandr Kerensky, who had been in the cabinet from the beginning. The participation of such socialists in a government that continues to prosecute the war and fails to implement basic reforms, however, only serves to identify their parties -- the Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and others -- with government failure.
1917 May 8 Aleksandr Kerensky is appointed minister of war and soon responds to pressure from the alarmed Allies by ordering Brusilov, now commander in chief, to mount an offensive on the Galician front.
1917 May 10 The Allied convoy system is officially adopted.
1917 May 12 The Italians once again attempt to battle their way over mountainous terrain in the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo. Casualties are huge: 157,000 Italian and 75,000 Austrians.
1917 May 13 Our Lady of Fatima, an apparition of the Virgin Mary, is allegedly seen by three Portuguese children near the village of Fatima in Portugal.
1917 May 15 Nivelle is replaced by General Philippe Petain, who quells the mutiny and restores the situation with a combination of tact, firmness, and justice. French counterintelligence completely blots out all news of the mutiny, even from the Germans.
1917 King George of England changes royal family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor (1901-1917).
1917 May 16 Kerensky becomes Minister of War and begins a systematic disintegration of the Russian Army (Prakkase No. 1). It is Kerensky's persistence in fighting the war that dooms the provisional government. The Bolsheviks led by Lenin continue to undermine the war effort by spreading communist propaganda among the soldiers and the working class.
1917 May 18 The Selective Service Act, a draft and conscription law, is passed in the U.S. for all men between 21 and 30.
1917 June General Lord Edmund Allenby takes command of the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force, which will soon take the war to the Turks in Palestine.
1917 June 7 After a 17-day general bombardment, British mines, packed with over a million pounds of high explosives tears a huge gap in the German lines on Messines Ridge. General Sir Herbert Plumer's Second Army successfully occupied Messines. This clear-cut victory bolsters British morale.
1917 June 12 Britain and France force Constantine I to abandon the Greek throne to his son, Alexander.
1917 June 24 The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and the First Division, an amalgam of existing regular army units, under Major. General John J. Pershing arrive in France. Pershing's calls for a million-man army overseas by May 1918.
1917 June 26 King Alexander of Greece reinstates Eleutherios Venizelos as prime minister.
1917 June 27 Greece enters the war on the side of the Allies.
1917 Summer By the summer of 1917 a social upheaval of vast proportions is sweeping over Russia. All over Russia, peasants are expropriating land from the gentry. Peasant-soldiers flee the trenches so as not to be left out, and the government can not stem the tide. New shortages consequently appear in the cities, causing scores of factories to close. Angry workers form their own factory committees, sequestering plants to keep them running and to gain new material benefits.
1917 July A mutiny is successfully put down at the German naval base at Kiel.
1917 July 1 Russian Commander-in-Chief Brusilov attacks toward Lemberg with the few troops still capable of combat operations. After a few minor gains, the Russian supply system breaks down, and Russian enthusiasm and discipline quickly disappears as German resistance stiffens.
1917 July 4 Colonel Charles E. Stanton, speaking at the tomb of Lafayette, the French hero of the American War of Independence, proudly states, " Lafayette, we are here."
1917 July 14 The U.S. House of Representatives appropriates $640 million for the military aviation program. The army begins the war with 55 planes and 4,500 aviators. By the end of the war more than 16,000 U.S. aircraft will be in service.
1917 July 16-17 Following a disastrous military offensive, Petrograd soldiers, instigated by local Bolshevik agitators, demonstrate against the government in what be comes known as the "July Days." (July 3-4, O.S.)
1917 July 16-18 The Bolsheviks make a premature attempt to seize power in Petrograd. Trotsky is arrested and Lenin is forced to go into hiding in Finland.
1917 July Stalin plays an important organizational role in the Bolshevik party after the first unsuccessful Bolshevik attempt to seize power during the "July days".
1917 July 19 General Max Hoffmann, commanding on the Eastern Front, begins a new German assault, crushing the demoralized Russian armies. The Germans halt their advance at the Galician border.
1917 July 20 Prince Lvov resigns and Kerensky becomes Prime Minister and head of the provisional government.
1917 July 25 Rudolf Hess is injured in his left arm at Oituz Pass in Romania, but stays with his unit. (Missing Years)
1917 July 31 The bloody Third Battle of Ypres begins when the British attack the Germans from the northeast. The low ground, sodden with rain, has been turned into a quagmire by a preliminary 3-day bombardment, and the British advance quickly bogs down. More than 250,000 British troops will be killed capturing the small village of Passchendaele.
1917 August Trotsky joins the Bolshevik Party, whose longtime loyalists (including Stalin) regard him as an interloper. Nevertheless, Trotsky soon wins a leading role with his spellbinding speeches and organizational energy.
1917 August Rudolf Hess is felled by a rifle bullet in his left lung during a charge by the 18th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment at Unguereana in Romania, and almost bleeds to death. (Missing Years)
1917 August 10 Herbert Hoover is put in charge of the food program set up by the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act. It is designed to increase food production and distribution.
1917 August 18 General Luigi Cadorna launches the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo with 52 Italian divisions and 5,000 guns.
1917 September Austria is reinforced in Italy by seven German divisions under General Otto von Below.
1917 September 1 General Oscar von Hutier's Eighth Army attacks Riga, northern anchor of the Russian front. As a holding attack on the west bank of the Dvina River threatens the city, three divisions cross the river to the north on pontoon bridges, encircling the fortress, while exploiting elements pouring eastward. The Russian Twelfth Army flees, and a small German amphibious force occupies Osel and Dago islands in the Gulf of Riga. The German victory at Riga leaves Petrograd unprotected.
1917 September 8 General Lavr G. Kornilov attempts to establish a right-wing military dictatorship in Russia. He is backed by the Cadets, traditionally the party of liberal constitutionalism.
1917 September 8-14 Kerensky puts down the conservative revolt led by General Kornilov and arrests the general. Kerensky quickly releases Trotsky and dozens of other terrorists from prison. (To Kornilov, the real enemy was socialism, personified by Kerensky. To Kerensky, the conservatives represented counterrevolution. Both factions despised and underrated Lenin because of his extremism.) (Sturdza)
1917 September 20 At Ypres, a series of British assaults inch forward against determined counterattacks. The Germans, for the first time, use mustard gas, scorching and burning the British troops.
1917 September The Bolsheviks gain a majority in the Petrograd Soviet and Trotsky is elected Chairman.
1917 September Adolf Hitler receives the Cross of Merit, third class.
1917 October The Austrians and Germans attack the Italian forces at Caporetto. More than 265,000 Italians are taken as prisoners of war.
1917 October Zinoviev votes with Lev Kamenev against seizing power, earning the undying enmity of party comrades and Bolshevik historians; nevertheless, Zinoviev is given command of the Petrograd party organization.
1917 October 22 Lenin secretly returns from Finland. After giving his instructions to the Bolsheviks at a secret session of the Bolshevik Central Committee, he once again goes into hiding.
1917 October 24 German troops under Gen. Otto von Below lead a powerful attack against the weak Italian defenses at Caporetto, forcing Cadorna to withdraw along the entire front (The twelfth Battle of Isonzo).
1917 October 25 The Military Revolution Committee of the Petrograd Soviet launches an successful insurrection. Lenin's influence is decisive, but the actual organizer is Trotsky. (Lazar Kaganovich, himself of Jewish descent, later said that the percentage of Jews in the party at this time was 52%, rather high he noted, when compared to the percentage of Jews (1.8%) in the total population.) (Wolf)
1917 October 27 The first American soldier fires a shot in World War I. (Schlesinger I)
1917 October 31 Allenby attacks in the Third Battle of Gaza (Battle of Beersheba). Allenby leaves three divisions demonstrating in front of Gaza and secretly moves against Beersheba. The surprise is complete, and an all-day battle culminates in a mounted charge at dusk by an Australian cavalry brigade over the Turkish wire and trenches into Beersheba itself, capturing the vital water supply.
1917 November 2 The Balfour Declaration - Arthur James Balfour, in a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild of England, affirms Britain's commitment to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
1917 November 3 Three American soldiers are killed in action. They are the first official American casualties in World War I. By the end of the war 49,000 will be killed in action and another 230,000 wounded. Disease will take a greater toll than bullets, claiming 57,000 men. (Schlesinger I)
1917 November 5 The Rapallo Conference, a direct result of the disaster at Caporetto, sets up the Supreme War Council, the first attempt to establish overall Allied unity of command.
1917 November 6 After more than 3 months of fighting at Ypres and a total advance of 8 km (5 miles), the British offensive comes to an end with the capture of the ridge and village of Passchendaele. More importantly, it distracts German attention, from the collapsing French armies, thus helping to prevent a German victory in 1917. The British suffer more than 300,000 casualties, the French about 9,000, and the Germans about 260,000.
1917 November 6 Allenby strikes north, launching the Desert Mounted Corps across the country toward the sea. The Turks evacuated Gaza in time to avoid the trap, but are closely pursued by Allenby.
1917 November 6 Lenin reappears to direct the revolution in Petrograd (October 24, O.S.).
1917 November 7 Just before daybreak, the Bolsheviks seize the railway station, state bank, the power stations, and telephone exchange. In the evening they arrest the cabinet members meeting in the Winter Palace.
1917 November 7 The Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets proclaims the establishment of Soviet power.
1917 November 8 By evening, Petrograd is firmly in the hands of the Bolsheviks. A new Government headed by Lenin is quickly organized. Trotsky becomes Commissar for Foreign Affairs and Stalin Commissar for Minorities. They soon take the name: Council of the People's Commissars. Fighting in Moscow will continue for several more days.
1917 November 8 The Second All Russia Congress of Soviets proposes that all combatant nations begin immediate negotiations on concluding a just, democratic peace without annexations or indemnities. (Polyakov)
1917 November 8 Kerensky escapes to Finland, and then travels on to Paris. He will eventually settle in New York City.
1917 November 9 Lenin forms the world's first Communist government and quickly asks Germany for an armistice. (Compton's)
1917 November 12 The arrival of British and French reinforcements in Italy enables Cadorna to stabilize the Italian front at the Piave River. Italy suffers over 40,000 casualties, as well as 275,000 prisoners.
1917 November 13 General Allenby, closely pursuing the Turks, strikes again, driving them back to the north. Turning then toward Jerusalem, Allenby is detained by the appearance of Turkish reserves and the arrival of General von Falkenhayn, who reestablishes a front from the sea to Jerusalem.
1917 November 20 The British unleash the first large-scale tank attack. At dawn approximately 200 tanks, followed by wave after wave of infantry, plow into the Germans positions in front of Cambrai. German defenses temporarily collapse and the assault breaks through the Hindenburg line for 5 miles along a 6-mile front.
1917 November 20 A preliminary armistice is signed between Germany and Russia (according to Russian historian Yuri Polyakov, who also stated the Allies never replied to the Soviet peace proposal of November 8)
1917 November 25 A Constituent Assembly is elected in Russia. Few of his opponents appreciate Lenin's political boldness, audacity, and commitment to shaping a Communist Russia (November 12, O.S).
1917 November 26 The Russian revolutionary government abandons the war effort after tens of thousands of Russian soldiers desert in droves, lured by promises of "land, peace, bread."
1917 November 30 In France, Germans forces counterattack in the Cambrai salient.
1917 November 30 The U.S. Rainbow Division, commanded by Colonel Douglas McArthur and representing men from every state of the Union, lands in France.
1917 December 3 General Haig orders a partial withdrawal from the Cambrai salient. Nonetheless, Cambrai marks a turning point in tactics on the Western Front on two counts: (1) successful assault without preliminary bombardment and (2) the mass use of tanks.
1917 December 3 A truce is signed between the new Russian Bolshevik government and Germany, ending hostilities on the Eastern Front, and permanently erasing Russia from the Allied ranks.
1917 December 7 The United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.
1917 December 8 Allenby assaults the Turkish and German positions, driving them from Jerusalem.
1917 December 9 Peace talks begin between Germany and Russia at Brest-Litovsk in Belorussia. (Polyakov)
1917 December 9 Jerusalem is occupied by Allenby's British cavalry.
1917 December 17 Lazar Kaganovich sets out for Petrograd where he has been appointed a delegate to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. (Wolf)
1917 December 20 The Soviet Cheka is established as an investigative agency and quickly transforms itself into a political police force committed to the extermination of all opponents of Soviet ideology. Its founding director was the mysterious Felix Dzerzhunsky, who is quoted as saying, "The Cheka is not a court. We stand for organized terror. The Cheka is obligated to defend the revolution and conquer the enemy even if its sword by chance sometimes fall upon the heads of the innocent."
1917 December 21 Sebottendorff, who has communicated regularly with Pohl throughout 1917, attends the dedication ceremony of the reorganized Germanenorden in Berlin at Pohl's invitation. Sebottendorff offers to publish a monthly Order periodical and is formally elected Master of the Bavarian province. (BHK; Roots)
1917 December Lazar Kaganovich meets Kliment Voroshilov and Sergo Ordzhonikidze, acquaintances of his two older brothers, Mikhail and Yuri, who are now living in Arzamas. Mikhail is also a close friend of Nikolai Bulganin, whom Lenin considers one of the Bolshevik's leading theorists. (Wolf)
1917 December During the Battle of Caporetto, on the Italian Front, Austria forces the Italians to retreat, losing 600,000 prisoners and deserters (October-December).
1917 Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli becomes Papal Nuncio in Germany (to 1929).
1917 The Allies station 15,000 British and Americans at Archangel. 8,000 more Americans occupy Siberia. These forces will remain in Russia even after the close of the war and will not leave until 1919.
1917 Chaim Weizmann becomes head of the World Zionist Organization.He will hold this office from 1917 to 1931 and again from 1935 to 1946.
1917 In his fourth publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion Sergei Nilus attributes them for the first time to Theodor Herzl. (Segel/Levy)
1917 Edward R. Stettinius, Sr., is appointed as surveyor-general of all purchases for the U.S. government.