Key Political Figures of WWI

The Global Post compiled a list of the key political figures during the First World War. Here are their profiles.


David Lloyd George (1853 to 1945)

David was a pacifist finance minister who rallied behind the war effort. He first was the minister of munitions in 1915 then becoming war minister and ultimately prime minister in the following year. He was credited with creating the civil infrastructure to support the war and unifying the Allied military command in 1917. He was also a key player in the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850 to 1916)

Horatio became the British war minister in 1914. He was known for being an effective organizer. He was able to raise a massive army of volunteers. Because of this, the initial military force of 170,000 jumped to 1.3 million soldiers by 1915. He killed in 1916 when the ship he was on hit a mine off the coast of Scotland.

Winston Churchill (1874 to 1965)

For over 50 years, Winston Churchill was an admired political figure during and even after the First World War. He was made First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. Late in 1914, he realized that there was no breakthrough in the offing on the Western Front. He tried to advance against the Turkish forces in the Dardanelles in February 1915. The Gallipoli Campaign resulted in disaster and he was made to resign. He then served for a period of time on the Western Front before he returned to Britain. When he returned, he was made minister of munitions and then the war secretary between 1917 and 1922.



Raymond Poincare (1869 to 1934)

The conservative French Prime Minister and President was noted for being very anti-German positions. He advocated moving further into Germany before the Armistice was signed. It was said that Raymond was cold and unimaginative. He came from the Lorraine region that was claimed by both France and Germany. His call for a “Sacred Union” in 1914 which was to bring political figures together, led him to become a highly respected figure post-war.

Georges Clemenceau (1841 to 1929)

Georges was one of the political figures who did not attend the “Sacred Union” request to support the war. Although Poincare did not like Georges, he was made Prime Minister in 1917. Georges was nicknamed “The Tiger” because he had a strong backing because of his visits to the front-line. He was one of the main writers of the Treaty of Versailles 1919.



Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859 to 1941)

He was the last king of Prussia and German emperor. He led his nation into war in 1914. Wilhelm was the grandson of Queen Victoria of Britain and he ascended the German throne in 1888. He was behind the resignation of chancellor Otto von Bismarck. With the support from conservative factions, Wilhelm was able to lead Germany on an expansionist path. He broke traditional alliances with Russia and cultivated closer relations with Austria-Hungary and Italy. He was made to abdicate on November 9, 1918 and then went into exile in the Netherlands.



Franz Joseph (1830 to 1916)

Franz was the emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. He created hostilities in World War One when he declared war on Serbia on June 28, 1914—a month after the assassination of his nephew and heir, Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Franz was a member of the Habsburg family and the widower of the Empress Sisi. He was the senior European sovereign in 1914. Franz ascended to the Austrian thrown after a revolution in 1848, and he ruled as an absolute monarch until he was forced to adopt policies that were more liberal. He died during the war in 1916.

Charles I (1887 to 1922)

Charles was the last of the Habsburg emperors. He became heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914 after his uncle, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated. He was made emperor in November 1916 and ultimately crowned apostolic king a month later in Hungary. In 2004, Pope John Paul II beatified Charles because of his commitment for peace; however, this cause controversy among the Austrians because Charles allowed the use of mustard gas during the First World War.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863 to 1914)

His assassination was considered to be the catalyst for be First World War. He was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He was a Slavophile that favored a federation that would replace the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He and his wife, Sophie, were murdered in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 by a Serbian nationalist.


United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 to 1924)

Wilson was part of the Treaty of Versailles and used “Fourteen Points” to negotiate it. He also is credited to creating the League of Nations. He was unable to get the US Senate to ratify membership though. Wilson tried to keep the US out of the war, but he relented and decided to join in when countless US ships were sunk all over the Atlantic Ocean due to a German U-boat campaign. Wilson was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920.



Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868 to 1918)

Nicholas was the last Russian tsar and he approved Russia’s entry into WWI in August of 1914. The Imperial Army suffered a severe loss—approximately 3.3 million casualties—and this is often cited as the catalyst for the fall of the Romanov dynasty. In his younger days, Nicholas led his country into a war with Japan in 1904. The war lasted only a year, but it was horrific. When the first Russian revolution took place, the tsar was forced to abdicate in March of 1917. He and his entire family were executed by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918.

Leon Trotsky (1870 to 1924)

Leon’s birth name is Lev Davidovich Bronstein. He is a Russian revolutionary who lived abroad during most of the war. He returned home in February 1917. He convinced his fellow Bolsheviks to revolt in 1917 and he became head of the Council of People’s Commissars—mercilessly crushing any opposition. He was the force behind Russia for the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.



Peter I of Serbia (1844 to 1921)

Peter joined the Foreign Legion in 1870 with an assumed name: Pierre Kara. He ascended the throne in 1903 but he chose to retire in 1914 because of poor health. Peter handed down royal prerogatives to his son, the Crown Prince Alexander, who directed Serbian military operations during the First World War.

Gavrilo Princip (1894 to 1918)

Gavrilo was behind the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in June of 1914. He was a Serbian nationalist student who came from Bosnia-Herzegovina which was under Austro-Hungarian rule at the time. Gavrilo was considered to be a national hero in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and later in the Yugoslavia of former strongman, Tito. He died in prison due to tuberculosis in 1918.



Albert I of Belgium (1875 to 1934)

Albert was a Belgian king who succeeded his uncle, Leopold II in 1909. Albert took an active role in the war at the side of France, Britain, and Russia—both military-wise and diplomatically. He earned the nickname “The Knight King”.



Mustapha Kemal (1881 to 1938)

Mustapha is also known as Ataturk and was considered to be the father of Turkey that we know today. Winning the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, he led a nationalist movement that opposed the Treaty of Sevres which was signed in August 1920 by the Allies and the Ottoman Empire. He later commanded an army that took Armenia and Kurdistan back and drove the Greeks out of Asia Minor.


Enver Pacha (1881 to 1922)

Enver was a leader of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, he became a member of the triumvirate and war minister in 1913, and the architect of the Ottoman-German alliance forged soon after the outbreak of the war. In April 1915 he authorized the deportation of Ottoman Armenians, and he is considered a key figure behind the Armenian and Assyrian genocides. He fled to Germany at the end of the war and was sentenced to death in absentia. He tried to return to Turkey in 1920 but was prevented by Kemal.

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE