This is a copy of the actual outline I passed out to my classmates during my presentation.  It summarizes the background and simulation of actual event pages. 

Thesis: The sinking of the Lusitania was one of the greatest tragedies that occurred during WWI; due to the unrestricted U-boat warfare by the Germans, many lives were lost, and it indirectly caused the US to join the war.

WWI: The Sinking of the Lusitania - Outline


A German U-Boat

I.    Situation of war resulting in sinking: land war at 
      stalemate turned to war at sea
      A.    British Royal Navy exercised superiority by 
              controlling ports
      B.    U-boat warfare (Germans) - most reliable of all 
              "weapons"
              1.    Declared warning but no liner sunken yet
              2.    U-20 controlled by Walther Schweiger 
                     recently sent

II.   Actual event
      A.    Conditions
              1.    Began 202nd Atlantic crossing from New 
                     York City on May 1, 1915
              2.    1257 passengers, 702 crew members
              3.    Warnings sent about dangers in water, 
                     Captain William Turner not nervous
              4.    Conserve coal --> 6 out of 10 boilers 
                     shut down --> speed reduced
              5.    Had lifeboats, passengers not assigned, 
                     didn't know how to use life vests
              6.    Inexperienced crew except for Captain 
                     Turner (experienced veteran commander)
              7.    Only got full passenger list by lowering 
                     prices
      B.    Timeline of actual event
              1.    Sunday, May 2: first day out
              2.    May 6: prepared to enter Berlin's war 
                     zone; at most dangerous portion of 
                     voyage; told to avoid, but ignored 
                     commands
              3.    May 7: heavy fog --> reduction in speed
                     a.    1:40pm: swung back, heading east 
                            towards U-20 --> torpedoes shot it
                     b.    Sank in 18 min (munitions?) --> 
                            many deaths: 1198 (128 Americans 
                            - included celebrities: Frohman, 
                            Hubbard, Vanderbilt), 140 
                            unidentified, 900 never found
               4.   Turner survived: criticized for ignoring 
                     orders, never went to sea again
               5.   Schweiger: became one of Germany's top 
                     U-boat aces, glorified for destroying
                     190,000 tons of Allied shipping, died on 
                     U-8 journey
               6.   Research (looking back):
                     a.    Ship lies on starboard (right) side, 
                            295 ft underwater
                     b.    Torpedo struck near coal bunker
                     c.    Advanced safety systems couldn't be 
                            activated
                     d.    August 1993: expedition led to 
                            wreck, found interior collapsed, but 
                            no boiler explosion)


Advertisement for the May 1st voyage

 


      The Lusitania, being torpedoed

 


Walther Schwieger, captain of the U-20

 

"It would have been impossible for me… to fire a second torpedo into this crowd of people struggling to save their lives." -- quote from Schweiger's log.  He denies shooting a second torpedo into the Lusitania.


A FAKE "postcard"

 


The United States' initial failure to respond to the situation

III.    Results on WWI
        A.   Germans: refused to apologize, purchased postcards 
               promoting sinking
               1.   Finally issued statement expressing regret
               2.   Lost propaganda war (blamed + forced to pay 
                     damages @ end of WWI)
        B.   British: immediate + violent reaction
               1.  Denied suspicions that Lusitania carried  
                    contrabands
               2.  May 12: govt released report on German 
                    atrocities in Belgium (exaggerated) -->
                    destroyed Germany's image 
        C.   US failed to respond (not ready for war but 
               indifferent --> side with allies)
        D.   August 19, 1915: another British liner, Arabic
               torpedoed --> two Americans died -->
               Germans regretted, apologized, promised no more 
               torpedoing w/o warning --> 
               American threats receded 
        E.   January 3, 1917: Berlin announced submarines  
              would sink on sight --> US joined war

Conclusion: As a result, not only did this tragedy trigger American involvement in WWI, but it resulted in great political repercussions and insured that Germany had lost US support.

 

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